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Local Headlines Archives for 2016-08

State Police Labor Day weekend patrols start Thursday

State Police are getting a head start on their Labor Day weekend enforcement.  Troopers from the Southbury barracks will have extra patrols of the roads, concentrating their enforcement efforts on intoxicated motorists, aggressive drivers and distracted drivers.  Troopers will be conducting roving patrols tomorrow, Friday and Saturday between 7pm and 3am.  The patrols will be in the Danbury and Waterbury areas on Interstate 84 and Route 7.  If you see a suspected DUI or dangerous driver, state police are asking that you call 911 and report it to police.

Local lawmaker touts signing of anti-human trafficking bill

A local lawmaker is touting a bill signed into law yesterday by Governor Malloy.  The ceremonial signing was of an anti-human trafficking bill co-sponsored by Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski. 


The bill aims to increase protections for victims while imposing stronger penalties on perpetrators.  Sredzinski says the bill also raises awareness of an important issue. 


It requires lodging operators to maintain a record of all guest transactions for at least six months to help police investigations and to train their employees to recognize the signs of human trafficking.  Police would also be required to report annually to the legislature about any human trafficking cases in their jurisdictions.


Blight, stormwater discharge ordinances rejected in New Fairfield

New Fairfield residents approved only one of the proposed ordinance measure before them at a Town Meeting last week.  The revisions ot the town's Code of Ethics was approved on a voice vote.  A blight ordinance was rejected by a margin of 3-1.  98 residents voted against it, 35 for it and four abstained.  A stormwater runoff ordinance was also rejected.  52 residents voted against it, 18 in favor and two abstained. 


New Fairfield's Code of Ethics was crafted before the state had one, and residents voted in favor of minor changes to bring the town ordinance into compliance with state statute.  


First Selectman Susan Chapman says the blight law was proposed for the third time in four years because her office has received a number of complaints, but those raising concerns didn't attend the town meeting.  She says she isn’t likely to introduce a blight ordinance again.  Broad language killed the proposal twice before.  Chapman says right now town departments don't have the authority to force homeowners to clean up their properties. 


Chapman says she will likely introduce another a stormwater discharge ordinance, calling it a matter of safety.


The stormwater ordinance is being proposed because of previous safety concerns about icing and other damage to the roads.  Several steps for remediation were outlined in the draft.  The first step would have been a citation providing written notice of the violation.  If the violation isn't fix within a reasonable amount of time, a fine of up to $250 could have been issued.  If the violation isn't cleared up after the fine, the town would have been allowed onto the property to make the corrections, at the homeowner's expense.

Vigil in New Milford for International Overdose Awareness Day today

A Candlelight vigil is being held in New Milford tonight to honor the lives lost to addiction on International Overdose Awareness Day.  The New Milford Substance Abuse Prevention Council is hosting the vigil on the New Milford Village Green from 4pm-8pm.


Council co-chair Lindsey Marr says they will have support and services on hand.  The vigil is being held by a parent and a person in recovery at 6:30pm.


The Narcan Training Class that the council held on Monday filled up in a couple of days of announcing it.  There were about two dozen people on a wait list, and Marr says that shows the need in this region.  She says it's important for people to get support, because addiction doesn't just affect the person suffering from the illness.  She notes that it affects friends, family and anyone who knows them.


Marr says bringing awareness to the community is important because a lot of people think they're suffering alone, but they're not.

Informational meeting in Monroe about Route 34 project proposal

The state Department of Transportation is holding a Public Information Meeting tonight about a proposed project in Monroe.  A bridge, built in 1915 and reconstructed in 1930, is a single span bridge which carries Route 34 over Boys Halfway Brook.  The structure is just west of the Oxford town line. 


The proposed project consists of replacing the existing concrete slab with a new reinforced one in order to address the bridge's deteriorated condition. The road will be widened to accommodate a 12-foot travel lane and a 5-foot shoulder in each direction. 


There will be alternating one-way traffic over six weeks, along with off peak lane closures before and after this six-week period.  Construction is anticipated to begin in the spring 2018, and cost about $700,000.  80 percent will be paid for with Federal funds and 20 percent State funds. 


The public information meeting is at 7pm in Monroe Town Hall. 


State Representative J.P. Sredzinski says the project will also move Route 34 from its current position directly over the dam.  He says the two options being most carefully explored by the state are to either bring the crossing of Route 34 over the river about 1000 feet south of where it is now, down near Webb Mountain and down passed the dam, or to bring the roadway across a significant portion of Lake Zoar further north.

Sandy Hook School building project under budget

The Newtown Public Building and Site Committee has gotten an update on the cost of the Sandy Hook School project.  A $50 million grant was awarded to Newtown, and the town could be sending more than $1 million of that back to the state.  According to minutes from their most recent meeting, the project has come in slightly under budget.  The budget still has $980,000 unspent, but there is also some money left in the contingency account.  The remaining Connecticut taxpayer dollars could be returned soon.

Brookfield police reminding motorists of fine for passing stopped school buses

The Brookfield Police Department is reminding drivers that a majority of area schools will be returning from the summer break this week, which means that school buses will be out picking up and dropping off children.  Brookfield Police are asking motorists to watch their speed and be extra vigilant for stopped school buses and pedestrians.  Police are also reminding drivers that the fine for passing a stopped school bus with lights activated is $465.

Brookfield Police announce 'U Text. U Drive. U Pay.' campaign results

Brookfield Police were among the local departments to participate in a nationwide crackdown on distracted drivers.  The "U Text. U Drive. U Pay." enforcement started August 2nd and continued for two weeks.  During that span, Brookfield officers conducted 158 motor vehicle stops, which resulted in 107 infractions, and 3 drug related arrest. 


Police reminded motorists that when officer say "Phone in one hand, Ticket in the other" they meant it. 


Connecticut is the only state in the country to receive special distracted driving prevention funds.  That grant money allowed Brookfield and other local police departments to implement special patrols to identify, stop, and cite drivers who chose to ignore distracted driving laws. Over $6.8 million has been awarded to the state over the last three years specifically for campaigns like this one.  Brookfield Police say Connecticut qualifies for this federal funding source though a combination of tough laws - and, a proven track record in strong enforcement of distracted driving laws.


During the April operation, over 12,000 citations issued to motorists by police across Connecticut.  The state Department of Transportation says there was an eight percent drop in mobile phone use by drivers at observation locations during last year's crackdown.


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

Group working on new plan to help Connecticut municipalities

Connecticut's largest association of cities and towns is coming up with a plan to increase regional cooperation and review new taxing options.


The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities intends to have a comprehensive package of proposals "designed to break new ground" ready in December. The 2017 legislative session opens in January.  CCM on Monday announced a new 13-member State-Local Partnership Panel.


The CCM President, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, will lead the panel.  He says the focus is on creating policies that deal with property taxes, local revenue diversification and regional service delivery. The panel plans to expand the work of the 2015 State Tax Panel and increase cooperation between municipalities.


Boughton says the legislature and Governor are going to be facing a daunting task with the next biennium budget, with a nearly $5 billion deficit. He says that trickles down to cities and towns, which don't have enough money to provide the services that residents want and ask for.


The panel is hoping to answer three questions; what services do they want in Connecticut, how will they be paid for and who pays for them.  Boughton says that will provide a roadmap to ensure Connecticut is on a sustainable path forward.


There's been about half a dozen reports over the last several years by various groups, Blue Ribbon Panels and commissions created by the legislature.  CCM Executive Director Joe DeLong says the group's recommendations "won't be another study that will be filed on an office shelf."


The panel also includes Coventry Town Manager John Elsesser, East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, Litchfield First Selectman Leo Paul, Mansfield Town Manager Matt Hart, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, North Haven First Selectman Michael Freda, Norwich Mayor Deb Hinchey, Stamford Mayor David Martin, Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary, and Wethersfield Town Manager Jeff Bridges.

Panel discussion Wednesday about opioid addiction

A panel discussion about the opioid addiction crisis is being held tomorrow night in Weston.  State Representative John Shaban has organized a community discussion on Connecticut’s Opioid Addiction Crisis. There will be a panel of local officials to guide the discussion, share information and answer questions.  Panelists include the First Selectmen and Police Chiefs of Easton, Redding and Weston.  The Associate Planner of the Western Connecticut Council of Government and the Director of Mid-Fairfield Substance Abuse Coalition are also taking part in the panel discussion.  The free event, open to the public, is being held tomorrow night from 6:30 to 8 o'clock at Weston Town Hall.

Uneventful day for Sandy Hook School opening

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Elementary school students attended school in Sandy Hook on Monday for the first time since a shooting rampage there killed 20 first-graders and six educators.


Joseph Erardi, Newtown's School Superintendent, said it was a great and uneventful day for the just under 400 students at the new 86,000-square-foot Sandy Hook Elementary School, which was built to replace the one torn down after the December 2012 shooting.


"I spent all day there and it felt the way that it should feel," he said. "Students were excited to be there."


The $50 million replacement was built on the same property as the former school, but not in the old footprint. All that remains are two large concrete slabs containing dinosaur footprints that also sat outside the old building.


About 70 current students attended the Sandy Hook Elementary School when the shooting occurred. School officials say about 35 of them were in the building at the time, but none witnessed the shootings. Those students, who were all in kindergarten at the time, are now fourth graders.


Erardi said he visited all of their classrooms and there were no issues.


Because of retirements and transfers, about 60 percent of the staff members from the original Sandy Hook are still with the school. Others left through retirement or job changes, and a handful chose to transfer as part of their recovery process, Erardi said


He credited parents for creating a smooth first day back for students, noting the vast majority of families took the time to tour the new school in advance of opening day to prepare the children.


"It was a back to business first day," he said. "There was nothing extraordinary that took place with announcements with any type of ceremonies. Just off the bus and let's go to work."


After the shooting, Sandy Hook students attended a school in neighboring Monroe, which renovated a previously closed elementary school to serve as a temporary home for them.

New Milford official tells solar company no commitment at this time

New Milford officials have informed US Solar that they won't be able to commit to a lease of some of the Sullivan Farm property at this time.  The New Milford Town Council had a proposal before them at their last meeting, but the item was tabled for a possible special meeting. 


The lease of 10 acres of the more than 100 acre farm for solar panels came with a September 1st deadline to participate in a state run program. 


Mayor David Gronbach says while the possibilities at Sullivan Farm are exciting, an implementation plan takes more time that the deadline allows for.  He told US Solar that New Milford won't be able to offer the level of committment they need at this time, but that he wants to continue exploring projects with them to invest in renewable energy.

Svigals official discusses design of new Sandy Hook School

Sandy Hook School students have returned to Newtown for the first time in several years, in a new building designed to nurture their learning experience. 


Svigals Project Manager Julia McFadden says Svigals has found that nature is helpful in a learning environment and is soothing.  She says there have been studies showing that the color green can lower blood pressure and heart rate.  Their design opens the school to nature.  In the lobby there are metal steel forming tree trunks and colored glass panes in the widows create the effect of sunlight streaming through the leaves.  Wood was also used on the ceiling by that back wall.



Vertical sunshades address some of the solar gain in the classrooms.  Instead of plain grey, designers wanted do something lively.  McFadden says the autumnal color scheme make it look like a xylophone.


The old school was a single story and McFadden says the teachers were a little reluctant to have two stories.  They wanted the same sense of community so the designers create an open atrium in the lobby.  Kids going to the library, gym or cafeteria can see and be seen.


McFadden says the wood was chosen to evoke the identity of Newtown.  The local ecology was something that people held strongly and talked about during the planning meetings.  The gables peak over the rolling landscape.  South American hardwoods, naturally colored, were chosen to evoke the New England character.  A concrete cistern covered in a mosaic collects rain water from the roof.  The water is naturally treated by plants in a rain garden that spans the front of the building, before it flows down into the aquifer.



There are three weather vanes outside the school.  One features an eagle, the school mascot.  Another is a bear cub.  The last is a mamma duck and ducklings, a theme in other artwork throughout the school.  The former Sandy Hook School courtyard was home to a family of ducks, and the community is hoping to attract them to the site.  Sandy Hook also has a duck race every year.  In the waiting area of the main administration office hangs a painting of birds in flight.  It was painted by Robert Reynolds, a local artist. 


The Sandy Hook School Foundation donated funds to create an alcove to relocate the school's turtle.  Shelly had a small aquarium before, but now has a large tank in the main lobby.


There are two so-called treehouse locations in the building.  The designers were told that parents sometimes come with a sibling and that tutoring that gets done so these are meant as a breakout spaces.


The classrooms have a teaching wall.  There is a white board, an interactive smartboard and a tack board.  The doors have a side window and the only other window into the hallway is above teacher height.  There are built in book cases.  The lower grades have in classroom bathrooms.

New school opens at site of Sandy Hook shooting rampage

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- About 400 students have returned to Sandy Hook Elementary School for the first time since a shooting rampage there killed 20 first-graders and six educators.


A new 86,000-square-foot school opened Monday in Newtown, Connecticut. It replaces the one torn down after the 2012 shooting.


The $50 million replacement was built on the same property but not in the old footprint.


About 70 current Sandy Hook students attended the old school when the shooting occurred. School officials say about 35 of them were in the building at the time, but none witnessed the shootings. Those students are now fourth-graders.

Sandy Hook School students return to classes in Newtown

Newtown children are back in school today.  This is the first time in more than three years that Sandy Hook School is holding classes in Newtown.  First Selectman Pat Llodra says there is a lot of excitement and the school community is happy to be home.  During an open house, Llodra said they're pleased to have their own beautiful space, design to speak to the hearts of young people.





Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Erardi said that the children's excitement, laughter and desire to return to school is amazing. 


Sandy Hook School Principal Dr. Kathy Gombos says there's always anxiety on the first day of school, but they're also excited.  She says the kids are in awe of the space.  Gombos called it a touching moment for them to return to the site after all this time.



Gombos also praised the teachers.  She says they're strong and resilient, and have always put the kids first.  But Gombos noted that it's been a difficult transition back to Newtown, emotionally.  She says they spent a lot of time last year focusing on that.  The teachers spent a lot of time in the last few weeks in their classrooms to prepare for the start of the year.


World Languages pilot program launched at two Danbury elementary schools

A pilot program is in place in two Danbury elementary schools for the new school year.  A World Language experience at Shelter Rock and South Street elementary schools is being tested.  Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sal Pascarella says they've tried to expand parent choice in the district with two magnet schools. 


He says they've been struggling with how they can offer world languages at other schools, but they may have figured it out.  A partnership with Rosetta Stone has worked well in other districts, so they are starting a pilot program here.  The struggle has been with limited resources.  Pascarella says the two schools will pilot a program during the day using Rosetta Stone. 


After-school programs will also be in place at various elementary schools.  Pitney Bowes like the idea and is sponsoring part of the program.  A grant covers eight schools and 225 students.

WCSU aims to continue serving students after graduation

1,500 new students are joining other Western Connecticut State University students for the start of classes today.  University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says the new president, John Clarke, has been at the helm for a year.  He spent the first year meeting the university community.  He's done a lot to increase the offerings for students who have entrepreneurial leaning, not just in the Business School, but across the schools.


Drivers in Danbury are being reminded about the increase in pedestrian traffic on White Street now that classes are back in session.  The westside campus is also bustling.  It's been two years since the new arts center opened, to great acclaim. 


The theater department won a national award last year for best college play with its presentation of Parade.  It was the highest honor a college theater program can get.  Steinmetz says they've always had great theater, music and arts professors--and now they have a building to match the talent.  It's helped to attract a lot of students, those areas all have full programs.


Steinmetz says Clarke has also concentrated on making sure that services are available from the time they enroll to when they are employed after graduation.


Steinmetz says if it happens when they graduate that's great, but if it takes longer the university will continue to advise former students and give them resources.  There's been a push to make sure students understand what they need to do to prepare themselves for the workforce, and to let them know that WCSU will be with them through the time they get their first job.  He says West Conn recognizes how important it is to the student, their families and the region's economy to move students from the classroom into the workforce.

Pilot program could offer NY residents in-state tuition at WCSU

A board of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities has approved a pilot program which would allow Western Connecticut State University to charge students from certain parts of New York in-state tuition.  The full Board of Regents must approve the plan. 


If it does, beginning next fall, students from seven New York counties could pay in-state tuition at West Conn.  The pilot program was proposed as the four state colleges and 12 community colleges face declining enrollment. 


West Conn officials say enrollment has dropped at the Danbury institution over the last five years, a decline seen in grade schools across Connecticut.  West Conn enrollment was down 15 percent, but the incoming class is a 15 percent increase over last year's freshman class.


Out of state tuition and fees for two semesters is about $24,000.  In-state tuition and fees costs about $12,000.  Housing is a separate fee. 


The Connecticut Mirror reports that West Conn has 200 empty dorm rooms.

Cigna to cover 3-D mammograms

The Connecticut General Assembly passed a law this past session requiring health insurers to cover 3-D mammograms if a woman asks for one, but they can charge a co-pay.  The Courant reports that Cigna is the the first national insurer to cover the 3-D breast cancer screening. 


Traditional mammograms are free under the Affordable Care Act for women 40 and older. 


Cigna's announcement comes on the heels of a recommendation from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of major hospitals' cancer centers.  Part of the alliance, Yale Cancer Center, participated in clinical trials testing the machines.  The technology is manufactured by Danbury-based Hologic. 


The company funded the Yale study which, according to the Courant, found that for every 1,000 women screened, the combined tests found 4.1 cancers, compared to 2.9 with a traditional mammogram a year earlier.

Backpack selection advice offered by Beyond Urgent Care

Back to school should not be a pain in the back for your child.  Beyond Urgent Care in Bethel is issuing some reminders for parents about selecting a backpack for carrying books and other items.  Spokesman Sam Yates says with a little proper planning, you can make sure your child’s backpack does the job it’s supposed to do without creating pain or other health issues.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a lightweight pack that doesn't add a lot of weight to your child's load.  Yates gave the example that even though leather packs look cool, they weigh more than traditional canvas backpacks.


Two wide, padded shoulder straps; a padded back; and a waist belt, which helps to distribute the weight more evenly across the body, are recommended.  Multiple compartments can help distribute the weight more evenly.


Yates says because children are in the process of forming and building bones, it is very important to prevent spinal alignment problems.  Experts say it is a good idea to make sure your child never carries a backpack that is 15% of their body weight or heavier.


Yates is reminding parents that a backpack with wheels might seem light a good idea, but says they're extremely difficult to pull up stairs and to roll through snow.  Some schools also don't allow wheeled backpacks because they can pose a tripping hazard in the hallways.

Danbury Board advised on scope of cease and desist order question

About 60 people turned out to the Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals meeting last night to hear their decision about whether a cease and desist order issued to the Dorothy Day homeless shelter at 11 Spring Street would be upheld.  The meetings have been tense, and there were several police officers on hand last night as the Board announced that the order would remain in place. 


Attorney Sharon Dornfeld, providing a requested opinion to the Board, said the question was narrow: whether the Zoning Enforcement Officer erred in issuing the order on the basis that there is no current zoning permit. 


She said the question is not about whether the comfort and aid provided is a worthwhile activity, whether the City supports providing assistance to the needy, whether the neighbors are being reasonable in posing the appeal, or if whether the Zoning Enforcement Officer was acting at the behest of a local developer.  She said all involved; Dorothy Day supporters, neighbors and City officials; must be given the benefit of the doubt that they are acting in good faith.


There has been some speculation by Dorothy Day supports and others that the decades old issue came up now because luxury apartments are opening around the corner. Kennedy Flats is a 5 minute walk from the 11 Spring Street facility.

Naugatuck Valley Community College Danbury campus renovations nearly complete

Students who attend Naugatuck Valley Community College at the Danbury branch will start classes at the 183 Main Street location on Monday.  Classes will then move to their new, 190 Main Street location in mid- September. 


The college is undergoing a major renovation of a vacant downtown building, leasing about 20,000 square feet at the corner of West Street.  The building features classrooms, computer labs, science labs, a library and lecture space. 


There are about 1,300 students enrolled at the Danbury campus. 


Naugatuck Valley also has shuttle buses running between the satellite campus and their Waterbury location offering students a reduced rate.  There is also free unlimited HART bus access for students.

Route 133 detour around Bridgewater returns in September

Route 133 in Bridgewater is being closed again for advance work on a state Department of Transportation project.  Route 133 will be closed beginning September 6th through the 22nd. 


A detour is being put in place so utility work can continue.  The road was reopened just before the Bridgewater Fair. 


The utility work includes replacing some 3,000 feet of conduit and various utility vaults along with the installation of 25,000 feet of new fiber optic cable. 


The detour will route traffic along 133 to through New Milford.  Drivers can then take 202/7 south to Route 25 in Brookfield and back to Route 133. 


The DOT project planned for next year includes guide rail replacements in the area of the Lake Lillinonah Bridge.  3,000 feet of roadway will be fully reconstructed and the rest of the road will be milled and paved.

Danbury Board upholds cease and desist order against Dorothy Day homeless shelter

Chants of “shame, shame” rang out from the crowd gathered at City Hall after the Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the cease and desist order issued to Dorothy Day’s homeless shelter.  The order was issued by Zoning Enforcement Officer Sean Hearty in an effort to bring the shelter into compliance.  He urged the operators to apply to the Planning Commission for a special exception use.  Asked if Dorothy Day is allowed to continue to operate until the issue is resolved, Hearty gave a simple answer: Yes.


Attorney Neil Marcus says Zoning Boards of Appeal never overturn the decision of their Zoning Enforcement Officers.  But he said the Board didn’t do what their attorney advised them to do.  Marcus acknowledged that the ZOE was charged with a job, and takes that job seriously.  But he says this is a complicated issue and a lot of things need to be taken into account.  Marcus said that in his experience in the region, Boards would rather have the courts say there was an error, which sometimes they do, than to rule against a City employee.


Marcus says the Planning Commission wants to subject Dorothy Day to criteria that is expensive and unnecessary.  One item he mentioned was a traffic study.  Marcus pointedly said that except for a few volunteers, the homeless are not adding to the car traffic on Spring Street.  Part of the process would also include an analysis of real estate values of the neighborhood.


Marcus questioned why after 33 years is the permit question an issue. 


He intends to appeal the decision made Thursday night based on what he says is a flaw in the analysis from the Commission’s attorney.  A 1989 Zoning Regulation amendment made it so homeless shelters did not need a special exception permit.  In 2014, it was changed back.  Marcus argues that once the 1989 amendment took effect the Dorothy Day operation was legal, and grandfathered in.


Marcus noted that the building and the site haven’t changed in 33 years.


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


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

New Milford Library repair cost to be split with town

The town of New Milford and the Library will be splitting the cost of needed repairs.  The Town Council voted unanimously on Monday to equally share the $70,000 allocation.  Mayor David Gronbach says the Library Board initially asked that the town cover the full cost to fix the elevator, which has been out of service.  But he says the Investment Trust Account, set up by the New Milford Charter, has $1.5 million.  Gronbach says no money has been spent to maintain the Library in recent memory from that account, including to fix a leak that was plaguing the basement.  The Library was looking to save money to invest in technology and to hold for a possible expansion.

New Fairfield residents to vote on three ordinances

There is a Special Town Meeting in New Fairfield tonight.  Residents will be voting on three ordinances.  One is an update to the Code of Ethics


New Fairfield's Code of Ethics was crafted before the state had one and residents will be voting on minor changes to bring the town ordinance into compliance with state statute.  The law is not currently clear, but the proposal would make complaints confidential unless the ethics committee determines that there is a violation. 


Residents will also be voting on a stormwater ordinance.  The stormwater ordinance is being proposed because of previous safety concerns about icing and other damage to the roads. 


Several steps for remediation are outlined in the draft.  The first step is a citation providing written notice of the violation.  If the violation isn't fix within a reasonable amount of time, a fine of up to $250 can be issued.  If the violation isn't cleared up, the town will be allowed onto the property to make the corrections, at the homeowner's expense.  The ordinance also requires a homeowner looking to connect to the town's stormwater drainage system to get a permit. 


A blight ordinance is being proposed for the third time in New Fairfield.  The first two times, it failed because the language was overly broad.  First Selectman Susan Chapman says they receive a few complaints of blighted properties and right now town departments don't have the authority to force homeowners to clean up their properties. 


Examples included in the proposal include unsightly or excessive amounts of debris, refuse or excavated material, infestation by rodents or other pests, and excessively overgrown lawns or yards.  There is an exception for properties that are being regularly maintained such as a meadow or natural area. 


The Special Town Meeting tonight is 7 o'clock in the community room of the Senior Center.

Senator hosts roundtable discussion with Danbury educators

Senator Chris Murphy hosted a roundtable discussion in Danbury Wednesday on a new education law repealing No Child Left Behind.  Murphy helped author the Every Students Succeeds Act, which passed last year.  He says it will improve educational achievement, reform school disciplinary practices, and support underperforming schools. Murphy met with the Danbury educators to learn firsthand about their needs and concerns, and to hear feedback on what he can do to support teachers.


Murphy says the law gets the federal government out of the business of determining what a good school is, what performance measures should be and what to do to turn around bad schools.  He says it leaves the decisions up to the state.  He says there still needs to be some accountability to make sure kids are performing.  A good school isn't just going to be based on a test anymore.  He called it a more comprehensive way of thinking.


Teachers told Murphy that they are concerned with a subset of kids who've been through traumatic experiences, have learning disabilities and are just learning to speak English.  They want to make sure that the performance standard wasn't something these kids can't meet, but rather based around growth.  He says making progress every year is a good benchmark. 


Murphy says the new law recognizes that the rates of growth are going to be different because there are more non-English speakers than ever before.  One administrator talked about a teen entering Danbury High School who moved to the country and had never had formal schooling before.  22-percent of kids in Danbury speak a different language as their first language.

New Milford Town Council votes along party lines on East Street Building sale

The New Milford Town Council voted five to four to list the East Street building for sale.  It was a party line vote with Democrats voting in favor of the list and Republicans in opposition.  The Town Council received a report last week with two scenarios for the property. 


While there has been interest in the property for assisted living,  Mayor David Gronbach says he would like to see what other proposals are presented. 


He will be issuing a Request for Proposals for the East Street Property and will then present the Town Council with the most promising ones, and a recommendation.  


The Board of Education and Youth Agency, which currently use the East Street Building, could be moved to the former Pettibone School.

Bethel Police host viewing of lost and stolen items

If you've lost an item in Bethel or had something stolen from you--the item could be at the Bethel Police Department.  On Saturday, Police are holding a public viewing of found property as well as evidence recovered in criminal cases where the owner is unknown.  Members of the public are encouraged to attend to view the property. You must provide documentation of ownership.  The viewing is on Saturday at the Bethel Police Station from 8am to noon.

Agreement reached with some members on New Milford's health insurance policy

An agreement to resolve an insurance issue in New Milford has been reached.  Children's Center and two employee from Center Cemetery are currently on the town's health insurance plan.  The town's attorney said they could not legally stay on the Town's Plan, which is limited to Town Employees.  Under the agreement, the employees of both would stay on the plan through December.  New Milford would pay the difference between what the Children's Center currently pays and the private Platinum Century Preferred Plan that they want through June.  Children's Center can then ask for an increased budget to subsidize the payments next year, which will be discussed during budget season.

Brookfield officials look to share generator at proposed cell tower

The Connecticut Siting Council has held a public hearing in Brookfield on an application from Homeland Tower, LLC and Cellco Partnership, doing business as Verizon Wireless.   The companies are seeking a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance, and operation of a telecommunications facility at 100 Pocono Road, behind the firehouse. 


The tower would be about 150 feet tall.


First Selectman Steve Dunn told the Board of Finance at their meeting this month that the hearing went well.  He spoke in favor of the proposal. 


One of the issues that came up though was the back up power supply.  Brookfield wants to piggy back off of Verizon and use their generator for the fire, police and emergency medical services antenna.  Dunn says right now Verizon had not planned to do that, but it doesn't make sense for the town to put two, three or four generators on the site.  Dunn says they are figuring out a way to share the power source. 


A Board of Finance member noted that the fire department has an emergency generator on site.  Dunn says they did think of that, but then there could be voltage drops and it is 100 feet away so they'd have to dig up parking lot in order to put in a connection to the antenna.  Dunn added that it would be cheaper to put a new generator on site.

Route 53 detour to end Friday

The detour at Route 53 in Redding will come to an end on Friday afternoon.  When the state Department of Transportation closed the road at Umpawaug Road, the work was slated to wrap up Tuesday.  The weather cooperated for the most part, but there was a slight delay.  The bridge carries traffic over a brook and was built in 1928.  A 21-foot section was rebuilt so that there can be 12-foot travel lanes and 4 foot shoulders in each direction.  Some other minor safety improvements were also completed.  There will be some alternating one way traffic through mid-September for minor work including tree replanting.

War of words over Navy moving Marine One maintenance to Fl.

Connecticut's congressional delegation is urging the U.S. Navy to suspend any possible plans to shift maintenance of the Marine One presidential helicopter fleet from Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford to a facility in Florida.  Senator Richard Blumenthal and others sent a letter Monday to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus urging him to conduct a "thorough review". 


Republican Senate candidate Dan Carter said outrage after the fact is only lip-service. 


Carter, who is challenging Blumenthal in November, says the Senator should instead write to Governor Malloy and Democrats in the legislature asking them to embrace economic policies that make Connecticut a better place to grow business and create jobs.

Solar panel proposal for Sullivan Farm tabled by New Milford Town Council

The New Milford Town Council opted to not act right away on a proposed lease of some of the Sullivan Farm property. The item was tabled last night.  A special Town Council meeting could be held as early as next week.


Mayor David Gronbach says US Solar is interested in leasing about 10 acres near the back of the 110 acre property.  There is a September 1st deadline for this company to participate in a state-run program.


Rather than a traditional farm output, Gronbach says those acres would be farming energy.  New Milford would receive credits off its electric bill as well as the rental income of $1,500 per acre. 


Even if the Town Council does eventually approve the lease, it will require Town Meeting approval. 

Discussion continues on vendors in Ridgefield

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen will continue discussing whether or not to lift the moratorium on mobile vendors.  At their meeting last week, a part of the moratorium was lifted for those seeking to cater private events with a food truck.  The discussion will continue at their meeting on September 7th. 


Two vendors and three ice cream trucks are grandfathered in, as long as they continue to renew their annual permits.  Two other current vendors are allowed to operate at private events. 


The Ridgefield Press reports that questions were raised concerning the decades old peddling and soliciting ordinance and whether it included non-food trucks like dog grooming.  The ordinance does allow farmers to sell produce of their gardens from their property.

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

A local swim area is closed because of elevated bacteria levels in the water.  Kettletown State Park in Southbury is not granting access to the designated swim area because of that.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection tests the water weekly at state parks.  DEEP says the elevated bacteria level could be from stormwater run off from the recent rainfall.  The water will be retested and when the all clear is given, the beach area will be reopened.  Local health departments are responsible for sampling municipal beaches and swimming areas.

'Cops & Cones' ice cream social planned with Ridgefield Police

Ridgefield police are inviting residents to have ice cream with them.  An event being called Cops & Cones is being held tomorrow night in Ridgefield. 


The Police Department is partnering with Deborah Ann’s Sweet Shoppe for the program.  Officers will be at 381 Main Street to answer questions and interact with the community. 


A police car will be on display and officers will have items for the kids.


Deborah Ann’s will be offering a discount on ice cream cones during this event.  The Cops & Cones event is tomorrow from 5pm until 7pm.

State transportation officials design Federal Road improvements

The Brookfield Land Use office is hearing from the state about a proposed road improvement project.  The state Department of Transportation has presented their preliminary design for roadway improvements on southern Federal Road. 


The scope of work for this project is from the street light at BJ's Wholesale to the intersection near Brookfield Animal Hospital. 


The design includes sidewalks, additional turn lanes and a wider road shoulder.  Funding is anticipated to come from Federal Department of Transportation grants. The state DOT is working with Brookfield's Land Use Office on developing the design.


When completed, the plan will be presented to residents for public comment.

Senator to host telephone town hall about mental health reform laws

Senator Chris Murphy is hosting a telephone Town Hall tonight to talk about mental health reform.  A bipartisan mental health reform bill passed almost unanimously in the House last month and awaits action by the U-S Senate.  The bill was promoted by Sandy Hook Promise. 


Senator Chris Murphy says he's spent the past two years working with a Republican colleague on what he called the most consequential mental health bill Congress has considered since the passage of mental health parity laws. 


Joining Murphy for the Telephone Town Hall is Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed on 12-14, and Bill Sherlach, husband of slain school psychologist Mary.  Mark Barden has told Murphy that his son might still be alive today if this bill had been in place years ago.

Danbury educators prepare for Monday opening of new school year

Danbury students are getting ready to head back to school on Monday.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says the District is growing at a much more rapid rate than neighboring school districts.  This year alone, Danbury is expected to welcome more than 800 new kindergarteners and more than 250 other new students.


Danbury had one of the longest summer breaks that they've had in recent years because only one snow day was used.  School was out for the session on June 8th.  Pascarella says teachers are setting up their classrooms.  Returning teachers start Friday.  New teachers who replace retirees, along with opening a third level for the new middle school, started yesterday.


There are four new school principals, three of whom are from within the district.  Dan Donovan, principal of the Danbury High School Freshman Academy, is now the principal of Danbury High School, replacing Gary Bocaccio who retired this year.  Dr. Edie Thomas of Pembroke School will head Broadview Middle School, replacing Edward Robbs who retired this summer after 50 years as an educator.  Dr. Alison

Villaneuva, interim principal of Shelter Rock Elementary School following the retirement of Julia Horne, will remain at Shelter Rock as its principal.  Bethel native Dr. Sharon Epple, a former principal in the Hartford Public Schools, will take the helm at Pembroke.


There is a new bus contract, but with the same provider so the routes remain pretty much the same as in previous years.  Some adjustments have been made to accommodate out of district magnet school students. 


Danbury is getting a new fleet of buses next year.  They will be larger than the current buses.  The district is moving from gasoline powered buses to ones that run off propane.  Pascarella says that should save the district money on fuel costs.

Danbury woman pens book about blood cancer diagnosis, treatment, and aftermath

A Danbury woman is sharing her journey through a dire blood cancer diagnosis, treatment, and the aftermath.  Mary Teicholz served ten years on the Danbury City Council and was diagnosed with leukemia while serving her second term.  She has now written a book about her experience.


She brings readers through the emotions associated with lengthy hospital stays, hair loss and blood type changing.  Part of her treatment involved a bone marrow transplant from her sister.  She says the unexpected side effect of her blood type changing from B positive to A positive was phenomenal and creepy.  It meant the transplant was working.

Teicholz says it's not meant to be a book that makes people cry, but rather serves as encouragement.  It's called "BE POSITIVE TO A PLUS: My Trek Through MDS, AML and Bone Marrow Transplant".


Teicholz says part of her personality is to be extremely honest and to find humor in unusual circumstances, and that's how she hopes the book comes across.  A few friends encouraged her to write down her trek, and she decided to do that as a history to hand down in the family.  But then she just kept writing, and it became a book.


She is hosting a book launch party in Danbury on September 15th, where the book will be available for sale.  The launch will be held at  VIVO! Bar and Grill, 42 Lake Ave. Ext, from 6pm-8pm.



Books are available for purchase from or and Barnes And Noble, in 6-8 weeks.

Solar panel proposal for Sullivan Farm before New Milford Town Council

There is an add on to the New Milford Town Council agenda tonight.  It's a proposed lease for solar panels at Sullivan Farm.  Mayor David Gronbach says US Solar is interested in leasing about 10 acres of the 110 acre property.  He notes that the proposal is for a lot barely visible from the road near the back of the farm.  He says the acres are not currently used, but are mowed. 


Gronbach says they will have less impact than the high tension power lines that already cross the property. 


He says the lease was proposed to generate income so it can continue to be a farm and more of a community resource.  New Milford would receive credits off its electric bill as well as the rental income of $1500 per acre. 


Gronbach says while the Youth Agency has done an amazing job planting crops and operating the farm stand this year, but a long-term plan is needed.  He envisions the farm becoming self-sustaining with a full-time manager that not only carry’s on farming, but also provides educational and community services.


Even if approved tonight, it will require Town Meeting approval. 


There is a September 1st deadline for this company to participate in a state-run program.


Several residents are already voicing their concerns. On a Facebook post about the proposal from Gronbach, residents questioned if the solar panels would be appropriate considering that when New Milford acquired Sullivan Farm it was for active and passive recreational use.  The resolution was only specified that the land would be obtained for town purposes. 


One previous solar panel proposal in town failed.  A resolution to put lighted ball fields on Sullivan Farm also previously was denied.

Filmmaker who made illustrations into moving images dies

WESTON, Conn. (AP) An Oscar-nominated filmmaker who developed a technique to transform illustrations from children's books into moving images for films has died. Morton Schindel was 98.

Kyle Good, a senior vice president at Scholastic Inc., says Schindel died of natural causes Saturday at his Weston, Connecticut, home. Scholastic bought Schindel's company, Weston Woods Studios, in 1996.

Schindel's filmmaking technique involved using cameras to make original artwork from books move across the screen. It was used in the 1973 film ``Where the Wild Things Are'' based on Maurice Sendak's children's book of the same name.

The Orange, New Jersey, native and former New York resident produced more than 300 movies and 450 recordings.

In 1986, he received an Academy Award nomination for ``Doctor De Soto,'' based on the children's book by William Steig.

When schools are threatened, untold learning time is lost

Police, school employees, security consultants and others say threats to schools are increasing nationwide.  They come both from local students and outsiders seeking to cause disruptions or a big emergency response.  One researcher estimates there were about eight bomb threats per school day nationwide during the 2015-16 school year, and that doesn't include other threats of violence or disruption.

Ohio is believed to be among the states with the most threats. The Associated Press tallied more than 170 there in the 2015-16 school year.


In the Connecticut General Assembly this past year, a bill to increase penalties against those under age 18 who made threats against schools failed to gain approval.  The bill was co-sponsored by Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky, Steve Harding of Brookfield and Bethel Representative Dan Carter.  State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, was also a co-sponsor.


Testimony on that bill included an appearance by a Newtown woman who said that since the tragedy at Sandy Hook School, St. Rose of Lima experienced several phoned-in threats both to the church and the school. She recalled that Police and SWAT teams have rushed the school building yelling at students and staff to get down and that they experience all kinds of anxiety and fear that 12-14 is happening all over again.

Learning time lost to evacuations and cancellations adds up, as do the hours police spend responding and investigating.  Less measurable are the ways threats can dent staff and students' sense of security even when they're false alarms, as they almost always are.

Cheers! 1st drink in 81 years sold in formerly dry town

BRIDGEWATER, Conn. (AP) -- A simple plastic cup of beer has made history by being the first alcoholic drink sold in a small Connecticut town in 81 years.


The affluent bedroom community of Bridgewater had been the last dry town in the state until residents approved alcohol sales in 2014.


The News-Times reports that the first booze sold in town since 1935 was a cup of beer purchased Friday at the Bridgewater Country Fair.


Bridgewater native and volunteer firefighter Jim Lillis took the first sip before passing the cup to other firefighters and fair volunteers who gathered for the ceremonial sale.


Voters legalized alcohol sales two years ago as developers proposed restaurants in the western Connecticut town of 1,700 residents on the condition that they could sell booze. No restaurants have opened yet.

Push for regional cooperation intensifies in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Facing a massive deficit that's more than 12 percent of his city's budget, the new mayor of Hartford is appealing to wealthier neighbors to help find regional solutions that benefit Connecticut's struggling capital city and its suburbs.


Luke Bronin, a Democrat who took office in January, is pitching the idea of greater regionalism. While acknowledging Hartford has made some poor financial decisions, he reminds people that his and other Connecticut communities can only tax local property. And in Hartford, which is nearly 18 square miles, "there's basically too little property" to pay the bills.


"That is a municipal funding structure that's broken," Bronin said. "If we want to have strong, vibrant cities that can be engines of growth for our state, we've got to fix that and we've got to fix it quickly."


Bronin's personal campaign isn't the first push for greater cooperation between the 169 cities and towns in a state of 3.6 million. Some communities already purchase items together in bulk and share equipment. But advocates of regionalism in the General Assembly, who have been passing bills to encourage municipal cooperation, agree there's a new urgency for bigger initiatives given the financial challenges confronting local communities and the state, which is grappling with its own projected budget deficits.


"We have to face the reality the state cannot continue to subsidize the inherent inefficiencies in our current system," said House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, a Democrat from Hamden. "When you have every town doing the same thing over and over again, that just inherently is a waste of taxpayer dollars."


It's a scenario unique to New England, dating back to the Colonial period, Sharkey said. Towns would form around a church and build a green. Members with religious differences would later splinter off and set up another church with another green elsewhere.


"That tradition developed over time, over the centuries, into the system we have now," he said.


Sharkey, who is retiring from the legislature, predicts lawmakers may start getting tough on communities who refuse to work together to save money, possibly tying state aid to how efficient a community is operating.


Democrat Joe Ganim, mayor of Bridgeport, said recent legislation setting aside a small portion of the state sales tax for municipalities gives him hope lawmakers realize cities and towns need additional revenue streams. He said relying on the property tax to fund local governments and schools "is just a ridiculous formula."


Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican and president of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said his organization is developing its own plan for lawmakers to consider when they return in January. Boughton contends municipalities need additional taxing authority and suggested regional councils of governments could distribute those funds, bypassing the state.


"There are a lot of different ways to go out there and raise revenue that we haven't looked at," he said.


Bronin isn't wedded to any particular ideas for helping his city or encouraging more cooperation. Rather, he wants to build a coalition to push for strong, healthy cities.


"If folks who live in the suburbs around Hartford want their kids and grandkids to move back to the area, if they want their kids and grandkids to get jobs in the area, if they want to be able to sell their house down the road for more than they bought it," he said, "then they have a direct interest in making sure there's a strong, successful city in the center of the region."

Former First Selectman blasts DEEP on Squantz Pond management

A former New Fairfield First Selectman is weighing in on the stalemate between the town and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  There is a disagreement on allowing walk-ins to the park after the 250 car capacity is reached.  John Hodge was recently forwarded a letter from DEEP in response to a resident voicing concern on the issue.  The vehicle limit was put in place after there were 13 drowning deaths in 11 years.  There have been two deaths at the park since then, including one person who had a medical condition and wasn't swimming. 


But town officials are concerned that there will be more drownings because the park is over capacity.  The capacity issue has only resurfaced recently, in part Hodge says because the former park supervisor banned walk-ins.  The new supervisor does not.  He says that means DEEP had a rogue supervisor. 


Hodge called the letter from DEEP to a concerned citizen self-serving, fake and misleading. 


DEEP contends that if the town of New Fairfield didn't allow people to park along residential streets and at businesses, there wouldn't be walk ins.  DEEP also suggested that it's on the town to hire more police to prevent people from stopping on Route 39 to let people out to walk into the park. Hodge acknowledges that DEEP doesn't have jurisdiction outside of the park boundaries, but says the policies inside the park have a direct affect on what happens outside the park.  Towns are required by law to allow non-residents to park at town facilities.  He said for DEEP to make it sound as if the town has the option is disingenuous. 


(Photo: Susan Chapman, from 8/14)


14 months after walk-ins were reestablished and DEEP was notified, Hodge says even the most ineffective bureaucracy could have drafted a regulation prohibiting such activity.  He concluded his letter by saying DEEP is acting with arrogance and impunity because they know they can't be sued for mismanagement.


DEEP officials say limiting walk-ins would have to be done through a standing committee of the General Assembly.  Spokesman Dennis Schain previously said 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.

Lifeguards to be on duty only for a few more weekends

The summer is winding down and that means soon there will be fewer lifeguards on duty at start park swim areas.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is reminding state park visitors that the number of lifeguards will be significantly reduced as the end of the summer swimming season fast approaches.  Many lifeguards are returning to school.  Lifeguards are expected to be on duty at Squantz Pond State Park on weekends only through Labor Day Weekend.  After Labor Day, there will be no lifeguards on duty at any of Connecticut’s designated state park swimming areas.  Most of the state park swimming areas are unguarded on weekdays. Swim areas will be posted with signs where there are no lifeguards on duty.

Danbury to be included in flood mitigation planning pilot program

Danbury is part of a pilot program that provides flood insurance savings. 


The Western Connecticut Council of Governments is meeting next month to discuss the Regional Community Rating System Program.  It's a credit-based incentive program that provides flood insurance savings for policy holders based on municipal participation in flood mitigation activities.


The initial effort will target four municipalities as the pilot area: Danbury, Darien, Greenwich, and Norwalk. 


WestCOG says they are best positioned to receive the largest financial benefit from the program.  The regional planning agency intends to broaden the program to other member municipalities sometime next spring.

Deceased Sandy Hook woman's estate declared insolvent

Another chapter is closed in the fall out from the shootings at Sandy Hook School, according to the Hartford Courant.  Northern Fairfield County Probate Court Judge Joseph Egan has declared Nancy Lanza's estate insolvent.  Court documents show a final accounting of her money. 


About $13,500 in state and federal taxes was paid, nearly $19,000 in legal bills to settle the estate was paid and $10,000 in maintenance expenses for her former Yogananda Street property. 


The house was sold for $1 to a bank in 2014 and the deed was turned over to the town.  Newtown officials decided to demolish the house and let the land return to nature. 


A case was settled between some of the victim's families and the estate agreeing that a homeowner's insurance policy be divided equally.  The lawsuit alleged that the woman knew or should have known that her son's mental and emotional condition made him a danger to others.

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue renovated substation dedication

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue is inviting residents to see their new renovated and expanded substation.  It will be formally dedicated at noon.  Members will be on hand to answer questions about the station and to lead tours. 


Chief Bill Halstead says they not only serve the district, but the entire town and even the region through mutual aid.


The substation at 249 Berkshire Road is being dedicated to Richard Andrews.  He was a 63-year member of the department and instrumental in building the facility in the late 1960s.  He was also instrumental in getting their main station on Riverside Road.  The dedication is at noon.


Two new bays were added.  They were operating out of a two and a half bay building with no kitchen area, dayroom area for the members or storage. 


Halstead hopes neighbors who have been seeing the renovations go on since November come out to see what has been accomplished.  The open house is from 11am to 2pm.

New Milford Mayor proposes sale of East Street Building

New Milford officials have been presented with a report with an appraisal of the East Street building.  Mayor David Gronbach says the facility requires significant upkeep, is not ADA compliant, and obsolete given the space available at the former Pettibone School.  He is looking to sell the building and move the Board of Education and Youth Agency to Pettibone. 


He plans to ask the New Milford Town Council on Monday for authorization to list the property. 


Gronbach says a liability for the town could be turned into a productive asset if it is sold to a private developer.  Scenario one is that the building be demolished and sold.  He says the town has received interest in using the property as an assisted living facility, but that is not the only potential use.  Scenario two is that the building be retained and redeveloped.  That scenario includes an assisted living facility on the rear of the site and adaptive reuse of the existing building for multi-family housing.


The property is 4.63 acres.  The building is 23,604 square feet.


The 64 page executive summary says that while no approvals have been given for development, but notes that assisted living is typically purchased on the basis of price per achievable unit.  The density for the subject is projected based on recent comparable developments in the region.


The current market value for scenario one is estimated at $1.93 million.  The current market value for scenario two is estimated at $1.63 million.


Gronbach says he prefers a development that would keep the building, preserve the stained glass and any relevant art work.  Gronbach plans to negotiate for Theater Works to continue using the parking lot. Alternative sites for Life Star are being explored.

Rail commuters can soon buy tickets on mobile devices

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Riders on the New Haven Line will soon be able to purchase their commuter rail tickets using a smartphone.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, the Department of Transportation and Metro-North Railroad announced Thursday the new application is now available for download. It will become functional for stations along the New Haven Line and its New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury branch lines, beginning Monday, Aug. 22.

Versions of the app are available for both Apple and Android devices. They can be downloaded at app stores using the keyword ``MTA eTix.''  The app is already in use on the Harlem and Hudson lines.

Riders will be able to purchase their train tickets using their mobile device and show their digital ticket to the train's conductor.

The New Haven Line is the nation's busiest commuter rail line, surpassing 40.3 million passenger trips in 2015.

DOT proposes changes to Route 25, Pecks Lane in Newtown

A Public Informational Meeting was held by the state Department of Transportation this week about proposed intersection improvements for Route 25 and Pecks Lane in Newtown. 


There are several parts to the plan including elimination of a connector roadway, realigning Pecks Lane to intersect Route 25 at a 60-degree angle--south of the existing intersection, and an extension of the southbound bypass shoulder on Route 25 from the Cedar Hill Road intersection through the proposed Pecks Lane realigned intersection.  The proposed changes means drainage will be have to adjusted.  A stone wall at 128 South Main Street will have to be removed. 


Sight line improvements are also being proposed. 


Construction is anticipated to begin in Spring 2018. The estimated construction cost is $2.2 million with 80-percent coming from federal funds.  The balance will be paid for with state funds.

Pettibone School could be repurposed as New Milford Community Center

New Milford officials are working on the creation of a Community Center at Pettibone School.  This plan was part of Mayor David Gronbach's campaign platform.  He says this would provide additional space for meetings.  Although organizations are currently charged a fee to use the Railroad Station building, he is proposing that no fee be charged for simply holding a meeting in any Town building.


Gronbach called New Milford unique with many non-profits and volunteer organizations who all need a place to meet. With no current community center, Gronbach says there are a bunch of disjointed places that people vie to book time in.


He is calling for a consolidation of some departments, currently spread out around town, into that space.  He gave the example of Social Services, Parks and Rec and the Youth Agency.  Gronbach called it a one-level space where the community can take advantage of these services in one place.  It will also then create a space for the community to meet, ranging from classroom size to the old library and cafeteria.


The school was closed before Gronbach took office.  One of his goal was to preserve the building because it's town property and should be used.


He and others are putting together a budget, which would include the cost of putting in fiber optic cable.  The plan has to go to the Zoning Commission because it requires a zone change.  He says it's not a tremendous amount of work, and is hoping to get something in place by the fall.  The work includes cleaning out the building and making some upgrades.

Danbury Police offer 'Citizen's Police Academy'

The Danbury Police Department is offering the Citizen’s Police Academy to residents, business owners and people who work in the city.  There is no participation fee.


The course is intended to give people the opportunity to learn more about the operations of the police department and police procedures.  It is not intended to make citizens into police officers, but rather to heighten awareness of both the public and police in an effort to develop a partnership between both.  Participants will have an opportunity to role-play and have hands on experience with the tools of the police trade.  The Danbury Police Department is hoping to improve relations with residents, breakdown barriers between the police and the public and enhanced police/community relations.


The Citizen’s Police Academy requires a commitment of one night per week for eleven weeks beginning Tuesday September 13.  The academy will continue every Tuesday evening, until November 22, from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm.


Applications must be submitted by September 6th.  Classes are open to 25 people each session.

Danbury to host another Citizen Government Academy

Applications are currently being accepted for a citizens government academy.  Mayor Mark Boughton's Citizen Government Academy is being held for seven weeks beginning September 7th.  Applications can be submitted through next Wednesday.  The program meets one evening a week and classes are limited to 30 Danbury residents or property owners.  The goal of the program is to give people a chance to learn about city government from Department leaders, familiarize people with operations of Danbury government and to encourage participants to become involved with city government.  Each session runs from 6pm to 8pm at specified locations.

DHS students participate in summer program about Associate Degree

Some new Danbury High School students are meeting to get a head start on the Associate Degree program offered at DHS.  A summer program is preparing the second group of Freshmen for the Danbury Early College Opportunity program. 


100 students enrolled in the program at Danbury High School are meeting this week to learn about the program, their mentors, and what it takes to set long-term goals as they begin working toward an Information Technology degree.  The program gives students an opportunity to earn an Associate Degree from Naugatuck Valley Community College simultaneously with their high school diploma. 


Students in the summer program will be introduced to the workplace environment from practicing interview skills to learning to actively listen.


Students begin accelerating their high school requirements so that by sophomore or junior year they can begin incorporating college-level courses. 

Danbury school officials say the Early College Opportunity is part of a growing nationwide trend modeled after the first program in Brooklyn, New York, at IBM’s acclaimed P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School). This school recently graduated its first cohort. The first program in Connecticut, Norwalk Early College Academy (NECA), began in fall 2014 as a partnership between IBM, Norwalk Public Schools and Norwalk Community College. Danbury is one of three partnerships in the state slated to begin this fall; schools in Windham and New London are also beginning programs.


Danbury is partnered with NewOak Capital LLC, serving as the lead industry partner, Danbury Public Schools and NVCC. Pitney Bowes has agreed to provide mentors for the program. Additional funding for the program is provided by the state Board of Regents, which operates the state universities and community colleges system.

Redding Town Clerk reminds college students about absentee ballots

College students who live in Redding are being reminded to fill out applications for absentee ballots before returning to school.  Registered voters can vote by absentee ballot if they are unable to appear at the required polling place during the hours of voting for a variety of reasons.  


The Redding Town Clerk is reminding college students going away to school who will not be in town on election day, to complete an application for an absentee ballot as soon as possible and deliver it to the Town Clerk’s Office.  An application must first be completed, and then the ballot can be issued in person or mailed to the address indicated on the application.  Applications for Absentee Ballots may be picked up at the Town Clerk’s Office.


Applications for Absentee Ballots may be picked up at the Town Clerk’s Office Monday-Wednesday from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Thursday from 8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.., may be mailed upon request, or can be downloaded from the town's website. Complete application, date, sign and return to: Town Clerk, P.O. Box 1028, Redding, CT 06875.  Contact the Town Clerk at (203) 938-2377with any questions.

Brookfield Police promote Narcan training class by New Milford Substance Abuse Prevention Council

Brookfield Police are partnering with the New Milford Substance Abuse Prevention Council and New Milford Youth Agency for a free Narcan Training Class. 


In June, all Brookfield Police officers completed training in the administration of Narcan and carry Opiate Overdose Kits.  Several people then asked if that type of training was available to the public. 


The free Narcan Training Class will be held on August 29th from 6pm to 7pm.  Those in attendance will be provided a free Opiate Overdose Kit. 


New Milford Substance Abuse Prevention Council and New Milford Youth Agency request that anyone interested in attending this training class, contact or 860-210-2030 to reserve a seat for training.

150 backpacks delivered to Danbury students

The United Way of Western Connecticut delivered 152 backpacks filled with back-to-school items to Shelter Rock School in Danbury.  Three individuals and 15 area companies, including Praxair, Goodrich, Duracall and Pitney Bowes donated the backpacks. 


Each was personalized for students according to their favorite color or theme.  Students receiving the backpacks were chosen by school personnel according to need. 


(Photo: Danbury Public Schools)


Danbury, New Milford and Stamford received the backpacks for back-to-school through the efforts of the United Way of Western Connecticut.  For 25 years United Way has made this effort for Danbury students; last year students at Ellsworth Avenue School received the donation.

Squantz Pond, Waramaug swim areas temporarily closed

Two local swim areas are closed because of elevated bacteria levels in the water.  Lake Waramaug State Park in Kent and Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield have closed the designated swim areas.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection tests the water weekly at state parks.  Local health departments are responsible for sampling municipal beaches and swimming areas.  DEEP says the elevated bacteria level could be from stormwater run off from the recent rainfall.  The water will be retested and when the all clear is given, the beach areas will be reopened.

Ridgefield to consider restrictions on vendors

About a year ago the Ridgefield Board of Selectmen voted to declare a moratorium until they could get a better understanding and process for food vendors.  There are three ice cream trucks that travel around town and two permanent locations, the hot dog cart on Main Street and another location on Route 7 on the south end of town.


People have gone to Town Hall looking for permits to have parking locations on Main Street.  That includes flower trucks, fresh vegetables and specialty food items like crepes.  The Board decided that before approving additional permits, they wanted to understand the positives and negatives associated with a food truck. 


First Selectman Rudy Marconi says a food truck has a fixed, single cost of overhead whereas a restaurant has to pay rent, utilities and additional payrolls.  If it is a food vendor seeking a permit, Marconi says they don't want it to park right in front of a restaurant.  He says that leads to a discussion of where would they locate.


The Board of Selectmen is hoping to put together an ordinance that is fair to everyone in town.


Marconi spoke with one restaurant owner, who purchased his own truck to cater parties and other events.  He discussed the issue of an independent food truck selling similar products right in front of the restaurant.  Marconi said the restaurant owner agreed that he wouldn't want a competitor in the parking lot.


Marconi says the Board has to make a decision one way or another, whether it's to allow permits carte blanche or to put some restrictions in place.

Vandalism cases at Cadigan Park down since renovations

Some Brookfield residents have voiced concerns about vandalism at Cadigan Park and use of basketball courts by what some are assuming are non-residents 18-24 years old.


Parks and Rec Director Dennis DePinto says the concerns brought up at the Board of Selectmen meeting last month were never reported to his department. 


First Selectman Steve Dunn says they are continuing to review what's going on at Cadigan Park.  DePinto reported that the amount of vandalism is much lower than before the park was completely renovated.


DePinto addressed a few concerns at the Board meeting this month.  One was about Lacrosse goals being torn.  He says laying on the goals like a hammock will put unnecessary wear and tear on them.  He says this happens at the high school and other parks.  The only solution is to have the youth lacrosse clubs to chain up the goals after use, but they haven't done that.  He said that leads him to believe that they don't think that's a big issue.


Storage under the announcers booth, which Pop Warner Football built years ago, had a door that was barely hanging on.  DePinto says it was on the short list to fix before it was broken into.  The football club had it fixed before the season started.  A door to the tennis courts being broken was likely from someone pushing too hard on the cast aluminum.


Police were at Cadigan 111 times since January 1st that they made note of, but Dunn says officers have been there many more times than that.  Officers check the park every evening to make sure the lights are off at the time dictated in town ordinance.  Dunn says there's just been one call recently for police, who didn't find anything when they arrived.


One resident suggested surveillance cameras at the park.  Dunn said that these trips are not taking away from any thing else they might do.  He added that it's always good to have a police presence in the park so even if the town does put in surveillance cameras police patrols wouldn't end.

Eversource to conduct aerial patrols in Connecticut

Low flying helicopters may be spotted over the next few days in the Greater Danbury area.  Due to the recent storms, Eversource Energy will be conducting aerial patrols of vegetation on all transmission lines in Connecticut between today and August 26th.  The patrols will be conducted between 7am and 5pm, weather permitting.  


Ridgefield Police said they do not have the specific date that the patrols will be done there, but will keep residents informed. 


Typically Eversource conducts inspections twice a year.  Utility officials say the overhead inspections of equipment, often located upwards of 100 feet in the air, help engineers detect potential problems in advance.  That allows Eversource to schedule necessary maintenance and upgrades before reliability issues arise.

Hot riding mower parked inside Newtown garage ignites fire

On one of the most humid days of the year so far, a hot riding mower parked inside a Newtown garage ignited a fire which left the garage gutted.  Hook & Ladder and Hawleyville firefighters responded to a home in the Shade Rest section of Sandy Hook Saturday afternoon. 


(Photo Courtesy: Newtown Fire Marshal's Office)


Firefighters found heavy black smoke coming from the garage on Overlook Knoll.  The garage doors were closed so firefighters wen in through the home's front door.  The fire spread to other nearby objects and smoke entered the home. Firefighters were able to contain the flames to the garage. 


Three people home at the time were outside the house when firefighters arrived. 


(Photo Courtesy: Newtown Fire Marshal's Office)


About 250 gallons of water was used to douse the blaze. Firefighters were able to prevent several cans of stored gasoline from igniting.  The fire did not cause any structural damage to the home.

United Way Back to School Drive helps 245 children

The United Way of Western Connecticut has hosted its 25th annual Back to School Drive.  245 children in the Greater Danbury area are being provided with a backpack full of grade level appropriate school supplies.  $100 gift cards for back to school clothes shopping are also being provided. 


16 area businesses, civic groups and individuals sponsored children.  The total value of donated items this year was nearly $43,000. 


Members of the Youth Volunteer Corps of Western Connecticut were on hand to volunteer at the drive. 


United Way CEO Kim Morgan says this is a day that pulls together the generous resources in greater Danbury to help families during a time that's meant to be exciting, not stressful.  The program is aimed at alleviating financial stress associated with getting a child ready for school.

State police saves 100th life by administering Narcan

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut State Police saved their 100th person with the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan this past weekend.

Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the milestone on Monday after troopers saved an overdose victim's life early Sunday morning in Woodbury.

Troopers have been carrying Narcan since October 2014, when a state law was passed to provide civil and criminal liability protection to anyone who administers the drug in good faith. State troopers were among the first law enforcement officers in Connecticut to carry the life-saving drug.

Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora Schriro says the state police's commitment to protecting the safety and wellbeing of Connecticut residents is second to none.

Malloy thanked the state police for their service and work in helping addicts onto the path toward recovery.

Route 53 detour to end this month

Drivers who regularly take Route 53 will be getting some relief soon with a detour coming to an end.  Route 53 in Redding was closed for a bridge replacement project starting in mid-June.  Route 53 was closed at Umpawaug Road.  The state Department of Transportation says the detour is anticipated to end on August 23rd.  The project consists of the replacement of the abutments, deck and parapets along with minor safety improvements.  The project was bid at a cost of $2.7 million.  The entire project is scheduled to be completed in September of 2016.

Route 133 reopened temporarily, utility work goes into overtime

Route 133 is open to two-way traffic, for now.  Route 133 in Bridgewater was closed at the beginning of July for utility work, in advance of a project on the state Department of Transportation calendar next year. 


Bridgewater officials say sometime after the Bridgewater Fair or Labor Day, Route 133 will have to be closed again.   All work was not finished by the contractor in the allotted timeframe.  A representative from the DOT told Bridgewater officials that Route 133 will eventually by cut down to one way traffic by late September to start the next phase of the reconstruction project. 


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


25,000 feet of new fiber optic cable is being installed.

Nashville Rd closure announced for Bethel paving project

Storm water drainage repairs and installation have been completed on Nashville Road in Bethel.  The Highway Department says that was done in preparation of rebuilding the road.  Nashville Road will be closed daily between Route 53 and Nashville Ext. to through traffic during paving operations. 


Emergency and school bus traffic will not be interrupted.  Residents will have access if they live within the project boundaries. 


The road will be torn up and graded starting Tuesday, continuing through August 23rd.  That means there will be a loose gravel road surface for a time.  Paving is scheduled for the 24th through 26th. 


The Highway Department says the road closure helps to provide a safe work zone, and makes the project go quicker. 


Driveway aprons and curbing will happen about 20 days after paving.  Curbing will only be installed in areas prone to erosion, and areas that cause water run off problems.

Authorization rewritten for state funding for temporary classrooms in Danbury

The Danbury City Council has once again 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.  There was a technical issue that had to be cleared up.  Corporation Counsel Les Pinter says the state required the motion to restate the essence of the resolution, and wanted the actual language in there before adoption.  The City must send a resolution including three specifics.  A school building committee must be established, the City Council must authorize schematics for the project, and the Board of Education must submit a grant application to 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.


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.

Ceremony marking 71st anniversary of end of WWII held in Danbury

Danbury is holding a ceremony this morning in commemoration of the 71st anniversary of the end of WWII.  It's at 10am at the Rose Garden on Memorial Drive, sponsored by the Danbury Council of Veterans and hosted by Catholic War Veterans Post 1042.


City Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi, an Army Reserve Captain, says these ceremonies about memorializing the dead are also about never forgetting those still with us today. 


As part of the ceremony the names of those Danbury WWII Veterans who have passed away during the previous year will be read. Also at the ceremony all WWII Veterans in attendance will be recognized by name.  More than 80 living WWII veterans were honored in Danbury last year with certificates of recognition from federal, state and local governments.


Saadi says with each passing year, as the Veterans are near or greater than 90 years of age, it is all the more important to also recognize the living Veterans of the Greatest Generation.  He says it is they who triumphed over Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan ensuring the freedom of this Nation and hundreds of millions of people around the world.


Saadi says what they found last year is that there is still a large number of WWII veterans in the Greater Danbury area.  He says that's a testament to how many seniors served during WWII.  Well over 12 million Americans served during that time, when the population was significantly smaller than it is today.  He says veteran posts in this area are also very active.


Saadi works with the Commissioner of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, who war and peace time veterans serve their communities in civic and charitable organization or boards and commissions at a higher percentage than the general population.  Saadi says many come back and serve in a civilian capacity and are active members of the community.

Area legislator goes on police ride-along to learn about police needs

A local lawmaker recently took a ride-along with a Newtown Police Officer to get an inside look at a typical day on the job for members of the department.  State Representative Mitch Bolinsky said the police are prepared for really any situation and it was a wonderful thing to see.  Bolinsky says he was able to observe the sensitive way they protect the community.


Bolinsky also toured the police department and spoke to officers and command staff about local issues affecting the department, including Connecticut’s drug overdose epidemic and the use of body cameras.


He says it's important for legislators to spend one-on-one time with law enforcement to better understand the challenges faced each day they put on their uniforms.  He said it's time well spent in understanding and crafting solutions to the issues that affect all of communities, including the drug addiction epidemic.


Bolinsky rode with Patrolman Matthew Hayes, an 8-year veteran of the force, who heads the Adventurers program, works with the K-9 unit, participates in the regional SWAT team and is a Commander of the Police Honor Guard.  Hayes was awarded a Purple Heart for his service to the nation in the Iraq War.

“I've never been in a car that was waved to by so many people. It was clear to me that our community respects and appreciates Newtown's hard working and professional men and women in blue, or in our case, gray. I was also impressed with how many residents knew and loved seeing Officer Hayes. He's a popular guy!”

Danbury Police Union officials want more communication with civilian dispatchers

Danbury Police Union officials are speaking out about delayed response by civilian dispatchers to officers in need of assistance.  The Newstimes reports that the nearly four minute response time to Office Joe Pooler last month when he was being violent beaten in an unprovoked attack was not the first time that officer's called for help because they were being assaulted. 


The report says on New Year's Eve, an officer was choked by a motorist who was pulled over for drunk driving and officers in the field overheard the call on the radio.  The dispatch center allegedly never heard the call and the other officers coordinated their own response. 


In November there was a domestic violence incident response where the suspect returned to the home while an officer was there, and started to attack police. 


The published report says the delayed response to a dispatcher bathroom break.  Union officials say there is a frequent turn over of dispatchers, a lack of knowledge of the area and lack of communication with officers.

Power outages and trees blocking roads remain a problem following storm

Danbury seems to have taken the brunt of the storm last night.  There were multiple road closures due to flash flooding and downed power lines. Manhole covers were dislodged due to rushing water.  Danbury Fire Department Assistant Chief Mark Omasta says many motorists became stranded in the flooding roadways in low lying areas. 


There was also a storm related gas leak on Stetson place where the gas service needed to be shut down to 5 units. 


Bethel Emergency Management officials say an assessment shows the town made it through pretty well, with the storm staying just north in Danbury.  There were no reports of damage of major outages in Bethel.


Other Greater Danbury area towns report thunderstorms with some localized flooding.

Danbury man is new Board of Directors member for Connecticut Humanities

The newest member of the Connecticut Humanities Board of Directors is a former state lawmaker. The state’s nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities newest Board of Directors is Lew Wallace Jr.  Wallace joins two others as board members. 


He was a State Representative for 10 years, serving on the Education Committee.  He also worked as an Assistant to the Mayor and Administrative Manager for the City of Danbury. 


Wallace holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from the College of William and Mary.  


Wallace is currently the Director of Relationship Management for Commonfund, a non-profit organization focused on asset management for nonprofits and educational programs. Prior to joining Commonfund, Wallace owned and operated a Money Concepts financial planning firm.

Residents speaking out against demolition of Hearthstone Castle

Some concerned residents are making their voices heard about a proposal from Danbury officials to create a walled garden at Hearthstone Castle at Tarrywile Park.  The design plans haven't been created, but City officials did approve sending a $1.6 million request to residents in November as part of a larger bond package. 


About $700,000 of that price tag is for environmental remediation alone.


Mayor Mark Boughton says this is something that the City has studied for the past decade.  The cost to rebuild the castle is $15 million to $18 million.


Boughton says they are not demolishing the castle.  He says they have to clean out the basement, which is a contaminated site.  The roof and the upper floors of the home have collapsed into the basement.  The soil is contaminated with diesel fuel from the boiler room, there was a full free standing boiler room.  There's also asbestos, arsenic and other contaminants.  But he says they don't know the extent of it because they haven't been able to get underneath the debris.


Boughton says they will retain as much of the walls of the original building as possible, and that's what the garden will be built around.  How high those walls will go and to what extend they'll remain will depend on how stable they are.  He says they won't know that until the excavation is completed.  The foundation and the other stonework holding up the structure have to be examined.


The hilltop castle, built in 1899, has fallen into disrepair and become overgrown with weeds since the City acquired it in 1985.


Boughton says trespassers have built fires inside, and a blaze that got out of hand last year showed how the site has become a safety liability.  There are no trespassing signs on a fence because it's not stable.  He notes that people have been hit by falling parts of the castle or have become stuck in the basement.  Firefighters have had extricate some trespassers.


Hearthstone Castle was a 16-room, three-story home.  The first owner of the castle was E. Starr Stanford, a photographer of actors and high-society members who also invented an early movie camera.  It was later bought by Charles Darling Parks, a hatting manufacturer whose relatives lived in the castle into the 1980s.

The historic structure is one of a dwindling number of stone fortresses built more than a century ago by industrial barons across the Northeast.  The landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an example from America's castle-building period. More than a hundred stone castles or fortresses were built in the Northeast around the late 19th century, but many already have been demolished or destroyed in fires.

State agency warning pet owners to check home kennel credentials

The death of a dog at an unlicensed boarding facility in Redding has prompted a warning to pet owners to check business credentials.  The state Department of Agriculture says the recent death of a dog at an unlicensed, home-based boarding facility that led to animal-cruelty and other charges against a Redding woman demonstrates the need for all pet owners to be vigilant about ensuring their animals are being cared for in a licensed facility inspected by the Department. 


Kathryn Stergue, owner of Katie’s Critter Care, was charged last week in the June 16th incident in which one of her dogs attacked and killed a dog that was being boarded at her business.  The 49-year old had advertised her Redding Road business as being licensed and insured.  State records show, however, that the business was not licensed as a commercial kennel as required by law, which would have triggered inspections by the Department.


Potential customers can check if a pet boarding, “day care” or grooming facility is licensed by going to


The owner of the dog that was killed told officers that her family had boarded their two dogs with Stergue several other times without incident.  The two dogs were dropped off for boarding on June 10, and were to be picked up on June 22. The owner learned of the dog’s death when she received a call from Stergue just before 10 p.m. on June 21.  The owner’s family immediately went to Stergue’s house and retrieved the deceased dog, “Romi,” as well as their other dog.  Stergue had bandages on one of her arms at the time stemming from bites she sustained in the incident.


Stergue told officers that her dog “Jacob,” a 4-year-old neutered mixed-breed male, was responsible for the attack and had been taken by a friend to be euthanized by a veterinarian.  She could not provide the name of the veterinarian, and officers have not been able to confirm that the dog was euthanized.  Stergue also could not provide documentation that Jacob or either of her other two dogs had received Rabies vaccinations.


The owner said Stergue had told her that Jacob did not do well with other dogs, and would be kept away from her dogs while at the facility.


Stergue is free on $500 bond and is to appear in Danbury Superior Court on Aug. 25.

Bethel to hold referendum on state loan for infrastructure project

A special town meeting is scheduled in Bethel for next month, to be followed by a referendum about  a critical infrastructure project for the Bethel Water Department.  The Special Town Meeting is set for September 6th with a referendum, tentatively scheduled for September 13th.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says they are looking for permission for the Bethel Public Utilities Commission to accept a state loan to fund critically needed upgrades to the Bethel water distribution system.  


The loan will be used to fund the replacement and upgrade of a key pumping station, and to construct new wells to improve water supply.  Knickerbocker says both upgrades are necessary to continue to provide clean, safe drinking water that meets all state health standards, improve fire fighting capabilities and allow for new business development at the town’s business park.


The loan will be repaid through water rates over a 20-year period.


No taxpayer funds are involved and there is no impact on the town budget or on property tax rates. Funding for the projects will be provided by a state Department of Public Health low interest loan for small-town water systems.  


Because the value of the loan exceeds $1 million, town charter requires voter approval via referendum before work can begin.

Danbury officials postpone discussion, action on Dorothy Day compliance issue

The Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals is meeting tonight, but they will not be discussing or taking action on the Dorothy Day permit issue.  The Board is slated to take up the matter at their meeting on the 25th.  The public hearing closed in June. 


Dorothy Day Hospitality House was issued a cease and desist order because the emergency shelter hasn't had a permit to operate at their Spring Street facility for more than three decades.  In 1983, the Planning Commission gave Dorothy Day permission to operate for a year, and then granted a one year renewal. 


The Zoning Enforcement Officer asked the operator to submit an application to be granted a "special exception use" for the shelter in order to come into compliance with zoning regulations. When that didn't happen, a cease and desist order was issued.

Credit rating agencies reaffirm Danbury's scores

Fitch, Moody’s and S&P rating agencies have reaffirmed Danbury's credit ratings.  Fitch has affirmed an AAA credit rating for the City while S&P affirmed an AA+ with a stable outlook.  Moody’s affirmed an Aa1 rating.


Mayor Mark Boughton says every time a city raises money through the issuance of municipal bonds, credit rating agencies establish a rating for the debt issuance, much like a credit score of the modern consumer.  He says these ratings help to determine the rate of interest that is attached to borrowed funds.


The AAA rating from Fitch is the highest rating possible.


The agencies cited rigorous fiscal standards within the City. They also lauded Danbury for strong financial management.


Boughton says given the economic crisis that the State is going through, it is not easy to achieve ratings like these.


Boughton hopes with helps people make up their minds about whether or not to vote for bond questions being put to them in November.  He says the ratings reflect that the City has done its due diligence on Danbury's ability and capacity to borrow, and the ability to pay back those notes.  Interest rates are at an all time low and Boughton says that also makes it a really good time to go out and borrow money.

Danbury Chamber Music Intensive to perform series of concerts

The Danbury Chamber Music Intensive, a program at the Danbury Music Centre, brings emerging and talented musicians from Juilliard and other major music conservatories to teach and perform with local aspiring musicians for a week every August.  This year, there are 35 participants. 


While the musicians are in Danbury, they perform a concert series.  The artists perform classic favorites, modern masterworks, and celebrate the legacy of Danbury-native Charles Ives.  


A concert Tuesday featured percussion artist Simon Boyar.   He has performed as a soloist with The American Symphony Orchestra and The Korean Symphony Orchestra among others. The concert showcases his original solo music.


On Thursday at 7pm in Marian Anderson Recital Hall, the third-ever “Charles Ives and His Living Legacy” concert is being held.  A pre-concert talk by CMI conducting artist-faculty Yuga Cohler will start the evening.  CMI Artist-faculty violinist Hannah Ji and pianist Robert Fleitz will perform an all-American program curated around the works of Danbury-native Charles Ives and his living legacy.  Ji and Fleitz will also perform works by Grammy-nominated Robert Beaser, CMI Artist Director Paul Frucht, two emerging young composers, Jon Cziner and Josh Getman, Fleitz himself, as well as a contemporary of Ives: the first female African-American symphonic composer, Florence Price.


On Friday at 7pm in Marian Anderson Recital Hall a concert will be held in memory of Steven Stucky, a Pulitzer-prize winning American composer who passed away earlier in 2016.


The concert on at the City Center Green, entitled Diversity and American Art Music of the Future, will showcase American music that reflects the diversity of the American experience and of today's American musical culture.  Guest Artists violinist Charles Yang and pianist Peter Dugan will perform their own pop crossover arrangements of music by Ariana Grande, The Animals, and more along with some of their original music.


All events are free, no tickets are required, and seating is on a first come-first serve basis.


Black Bear spotted in Brookfield neighborhood

There have been some bear sightings in Brookfield this week.  Brookfield Police are reminding residents that Black Bears DO live in the area, and it's not uncommon to see one.  A Black Bear was spotted in the Powder Horn Hill Road, Willow Run Road, and Sunset Hill Road areas. 


Connecticut state Environmental Conservation Police ask that if you spot a bear, to report it to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. 


From August of last year to this month, there have been 35 reports sent to the state.  Officials say there may not be that many bears wandering around, if many neighbors spotted a bear and all reported it, there is a higher report total.

Former Probate Court Judge wins GOP nomination for regional judge position

A man with 20 years of experience as a Probate Court Judge has won the Republican primary for an open Probate Court Judge seat. The winner of the contest yesterday for Northern Fairfield County Probate Court Judge is Bethel Town Treasurer, former Bethel Probate Court Judge Daniel O'Grady, winning in three of the four municipalites served by the court.  Ridgefield Attorney Patrick Walsh won in his hometown.


  Daniel O'Grady Patrick Walsh  
TOWN     Voter Turnout
Bethel 563 69 20%
Newtown 334 105 8%
Redding 163 75 11%
Ridgefield 97 517 10%
TOTAL 1,157 766  



*Unofficial results from the Secretary of the State's Office


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.  The Court is based in Bethel.


O'Grady goes on to face Democratic nominee Sharon Dornfeld and petitioning candidate Jennifer Collins.


O’Grady has owned a private law practice for 30 years.

Collins has served as a magistrate and commissioner of small claims court for six years.  She is the founder and managing member of Collins & Associates LLC.


Dornfeld has been an attorney in private practice, and a sole practitioner since 1988.  She has also served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in Danbury since 1991.

56 drivers ticketed in Brookfield in 1 week for cell phone use

The first week of an effort to combat texting while driving has wrapped up.  The Brookfield Police Department is among the law enforcement agencies participating in the "U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY." campaign. 


Brookfield officers made 78 motor vehicle stops after drivers were spotted using their cell phones.  The stops resulted in 56 infractions being issued and two drug related arrests being made. 


Brookfield Police say one motorist who was issued a ticket said that they knew police were out, was looking for the unmarked patrol car but didn't see one.  Police are reminding drivers that officers will see you. before you see them.  Motorists were also encouraged to drive safely.


The Brookfield Police Department is working in conjunction with the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office on this grant-based enforcement campaign.

Closing arguments begin in school funding trial

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Closing arguments have begun in a trial over whether Connecticut adequately funds its public schools.


A coalition of municipalities, education groups, parents and students sued in 2005, saying the state was violating the Connecticut constitution by not providing enough aid to municipalities to allow them to properly educate students. The coalition cited vast differences in test results between rich and poor towns.


Danbury Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sal Pascarella was among those who testified.


State officials deny the claims and say more money doesn't necessarily lead to higher test scores.


Closing arguments began Monday in Hartford Superior Court and are scheduled to continue Tuesday.


One of the plaintiffs, the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, says that because public school funding in the state heavily relies on local property taxes, students in wealthy towns receive a much better education.

Contractor hits water main at construction zone in Danbury

The contractor working on State Route 37 has struck an 8 inch water main at the intersection of North Street, Padanaram Road and Hayestown Avenue.


Those without water at this time include Costello's Restaurant, all customers on Padanaram Ave, and one residential house on Padanaram Road. Surrounding customers may experience discolored water as a result of the break.


The hydrants in the area will be flushed to alleviate any discoloration once the repair has been completed.

Brookfield Craft Center seeks help with sign restoration project

A non-profit group is looking to give an iconic sign in Brookfield a face lift .  The Brookfield Craft Center campus has six buildings spanning two and a half acres, but one of their most prominent locations is the Mill Building. 


Executive Director Howard Lasser says the sign on the side of the Mill Building is a connection with Brookfield's farming history and links the past to the present.  He says the sign looks worn down, and the restoration project is part of a continuing effort to maintain and upgrade the Craft Center's facilities. 


The last time the sign was repainted was almost 20 years ago.  At that time, the Craft Center first planned to paint over the sign.  But he says the community recognized the value and historic importance of the sign and stepped up to support restoring, rather than painting over it. 


Lasser says they have been reaching out to local businesses about the importance of the organization's presence in the 4-corners redevelopment.  Local painters Dan McKee and Steve Turco are expected to start the restoration work in early September.  Lasser says the project cost is estimated at $9,000.  He notes that they are already past the halfway point.

Danbury officials declare City 'Purple Heart City, dedicates parking space for vets

On National Purple Heart Day yesterday, Danbury dedicated Combat Wounded Parking Spaces at the Danbury War Memorial.  Mayor Mark Boughton also declared the City a Purple Heart City.  He says the City strongly supports its military population and appreciates the the sacrifices Purple Heart recipients have made in defending freedom. 


The request to establish Danbury as a Purple Heart City was spearheaded by Danbury resident Lee Teicholz, whose father William received two Purple Heart medals for wounds he received in France and Germany during World War II. 


The Greater Danbury area has a large, highly decorated veteran population including many Purple Heart recipients.  A proclamation was given to John Kwiatkowski, the State Commander for The Military Order of the Purple Heart at the event.


(Photo: Mayor Mark Boughton)


The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in present use. It was initially created as the Badge of Military Merit by General George Washington in 1782. The Purple Heart medal is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who have been wounded or paid the ultimate sacrifice in combat with a declared enemy of the United States of America.

Election day hotline set up for Primary Day tomorrow

The State Elections Enforcement Commission has launched a primary day hotline to respond to any voter problems at the polls.  The SEEC will have the phones fully staffed to answer questions, advise on complaint procedures and, if appropriate, request the assistance of state criminal or federal law enforcement authorities.  The public can access the hotline by dialing 866-SEEC-INFO or emailing The hotline and email address will be monitored throughout the day by SEEC and the Secretary of the State’s office.


Concerns may be reported anonymously, however, it is requested that callers identify the town and polling place where problems occurred in addition to as many details as possible. 


There is no same day registration for primaries in Connecticut.  Polls are open from 6 am to 8 pm tomorrow. 


Northern Fairfield County Probate Court Judge Joseph Egan is leaving office in October when he reaches the mandated retirement age of 70.  Republicans in Bethel, Newtown, Redding and Ridgefield are choosing a candidate.  Daniel O'Grady and Patrick Walsh are on the ballot.

Money being set aside from now for looming massive infrastructure improvement project

Danbury officials have been setting aside money knowing a huge infrastructure project is on the horizon.  While residents are being asked in November to support a request for $10 million for improvements to the waste water treatment plant, that's just a small part of the projected cost. 


About $45 million for improvements done in 1993 and 1994 were taken off the sewer funds bond rolls.  Mayor Mark Boughton says that's a lot of debt and a steep drop off in borrowing on the City side.  He notes that the sewer fund itself is in pretty good shape.  Boughton says the impact on the rates won't be as bad as initially projected.  He says it will be bad, but not as bad as thought. 


Technology is continually improving, and he hopes that as the project moves along some cost will be reduced.


Assuming voters approve the $10 million bond in November, the City will issue a Request for Proposal for a consultant, engineer and architectural firm.  That won't be awarded until Spring 2017, and the big borrowing likely won't be before the voters until 2018.

Richter Park cell tower proposal moves to Conn. Siting Council

A proposed cell tower at Richter Park in Danbury is moving on to the next step.  The Danbury City Council signed off on a tentative lease agreement between the Richter Park Authority and Bay Communication to place a cell tower on their 180-acre property.  The Richter Park Authority wants to improve service in case of emergency, and to generate revenue to fund items in the Master Plan.  The Richter Park Authority is submitting three locations to the Connecticut Siting Council, with a preference of the lot located by the maintenance area.  The proposal for the monopole structure has an estimated height of 150 feet. 


Authority Vice Chairman Al Mead says the Friends of Richter Park group has raised about $70,000 toward the Master Plan.  That plan was completed in 2007.  Estimates at that time was that it would cost $8.5 million  to $10 million to complete the entire Master Plan.


City Councilman Ben Chianese says a cell tower doesn't belong at Richter Park.  He says there is new technology that can address safety concerns.  He is also concerned with the lease being vague.

Hours left to register to vote in Tuesday's GOP primary for Probate Court Judge

There is a Republican primary Tuesday for an open Probate Court Judge seat. The Northern Fairfield County Probate Court Judge position is on the ballot because Judge Joseph Egan is leaving office in October when he reaches the mandated retirement age of 70. 


Unaffiliated and new voters have until noon Monday to enroll in the Republican party in order to vote in the primary.  It is too late to switch parties.  Connecticut has a 90-day waiting period to participate in votes after changing affiliation between parties.  There is no same day registration in Connecticut for primaries.


The Court serves about 80,000 people in Ridgefield, Redding, Newtown, and Bethel.  


Bethel Town Treasurer, former Bethel Probate Court Judge Daniel O'Grady and Ridgefield Attorney Patrick Walsh are competing to be the GOP candidate in November. The winner will then face Democratic nominee Sharon Dornfeld and petitioning candidate Jennifer Collins.


Walsh practices law with the firm of Hastings, Cohan & Walsh LLP.  He served three years on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the last 12 years as a Planning and Zoning commissioner.  He has represented people in a variety of probate matters.


O’Grady served as Bethel’s probate judge for 20 years before the court system was consolidated.  He has owned a private law practice for 30 years.

Collins has served as a magistrate and commissioner of small claims court for six years.  She is the founder and managing member of Collins & Associates LLC.


Dornfeld has been an attorney in private practice, and a sole practitioner since 1988.  She has also served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in Danbury since 1991.


Stranded swimmers rescued by Danbury Fire Department

Four teenagers stranded on an island in the West Lake Reservoir Friday night were rescued by the Danbury Fire Department.  A call for assistance was received shortly after 5pm.  Emergency responders determined that the four boys swam across the lake, but one boy was unable to swim back so they were stuck on the island. 


The Danbury Fire Department set up at the pump station off of Middle River Road, where they launched their zodiac rescue boat.  



Emergency responders went out to the island, retrieved the boys and brought them to shore, where it was determined they were not injured.



(Photos Courtesy: Danbury Fire Department)

Proposed bond money for Hearthstone Castle project will not be separate vote

Despite an attempt to separate out some proposed items into their own bond package, the Danbury City Council did vote to pass the $10 million question on to residents in November. 


Some members wanted to pull out $1.6 million for design and construction plans for a walled garden at Hearthstone Castle at Tarrywile Park along with related safety repairs.  Some Councilmen also wanted the $950,000 allocation for Richter Park golf course improvements and renovations to the Richter House mansion to be in a separate question with the Tarrywile funding .  The Richter Park money would cover structural, environmental, utility and code related issues.


City Council President Joe Cavo says he sees all of the items as infrastructure projects.  He said while on the surface it might make sense to try to break out the Richter Park and Tarrywile Park portions as recreational.  But he says the projects themselves are infrastructure improvements.  He called Hearthstone Castle a problem, which will be a bigger problem if someone gets hurt.


Councilman Vinny DiGilio says the proposed garden is a working commitment to the park, done in collaboration with the Tarrywile Park Authority.  He says the process and studies the City has put forth resulted in this bond request.  DiGilio says those plans are coming to fruition, and were based on third party professional recommendations.


DiGilio says the City has significant data that shows what's at risk in not addressing the crumbling structure.  He says the remediation work that needs to be done outweighs any recreational benefit from trying to save the derelict castle.  The outer walls are all that is left of the 1897 house after years of neglect saw the roof and internal structure collapse into the basement. 


(Photo: DFD, drone)


When it comes to the funding for improvements to Richter House, DiGilio says the Richter Park Authority is doing the responsible thing in trying to generate stand alone revenue streams to keep it operational.  He doesn't want that bond request jeopardized by lumping the funding in with money for Tarrywile Park.


Last August, the estimate of turning the walls back into a fully rebuilt castle was about $10 million.  There are no utilities at the site, making new uses limited.


Hearthstone Castle was built for E. Starr Sanford by New York architect Earnest George Washington Dietrich.  The land was bought in 1902 by New York financial mogul Victor Buck, who sold the castle in 1918 to Charles Darling Parks.  His oldest daughter occupied the castle until her death in 1983.  The City purchased it as part of the acquisition of the Tarrywile property in 1985.

Low interest in cameras by Connecticut police

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Few Connecticut police departments are showing interest in a new state program that encourages them to begin using body cameras as a way to increase communities' trust in law enforcement and improve police accountability.


Only 12 of the more than 100 law enforcement agencies in the state have contacted the state Office of Policy and Management about receiving reimbursement for body camera costs under the $15 million program, the office told The Associated Press.


Like their counterparts around the United States, several Connecticut police departments cite concerns about the high cost of storing video and other issues, but some critics say the low adoption rate raises questions about their commitment to transparency.


"This is very disappointing news," said Scot X. Esdaile, president of the Connecticut State Conference of NAACP Branches. "It shows there's no real strong will on law enforcement's part. I think police officers really don't want this to work."


In the aftermath of fatal shootings of unarmed black men by police around the country, Esdaile said body cameras can improve trust currently lacking between many police departments and the communities they serve. He said a conversation among lawmakers, community activists and others needs to be held on how to improve the body camera program.


Many police officials across the state believe their departments will use body cameras in the near future, but they say problems need to be addressed first, including how to pay for video storage costs, deciding when officers must turn on the cameras and developing policies for public access to video footage.


"The biggest concern we all share is video storage," said Monroe Police Chief John Salvatore, president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association. "When you try to add a couple thousand dollars to a budget in these times of austerity, it's difficult.


"It seems like everybody is taking it slow," he added, referring to implementing body camera programs.


Storing video can cost departments tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, depending on their size. Salvatore said it would cost his department, which has about 40 officers, an estimated $28,000 a year for a cloud-based storage system.


Six departments in Coventry, Vernon, Orange, Redding, Naugatuck and at Western Connecticut State University have submitted applications for reimbursement, while agencies in North Haven, Norwalk, Milford, Berlin and Branford have inquired with OPM officials about submitting applications. Plainfield police have submitted estimates to OPM for their camera costs, but have not turned in a final application. 


OPM has not yet dispersed any money from the program.


Many departments in the state already are using body cameras, while others are in various stages of discussion and implementation. It's not clear exactly how many agencies are using the cameras. A survey by the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association in December 2014 showed 16 departments had cameras.


State police and public university law enforcement agencies in the state were required to begin using body cameras July 1, under the state law that created the body camera program.


The $15 million state program, signed into law last year by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, allows reimbursement for only one year of video storage costs, while providing 100 percent reimbursement for buying cameras this fiscal year and 50 percent reimbursement for buying cameras the next fiscal year. Officials have set aside $2 million from the program for state police.


Lawmakers proposed adding more money to the program during this year's legislative session, but the bill died as the state faced a budget deficit.


West Haven Democratic state Rep. Stephen Dargan, co-chairman of the Legislature's Public Safety and Security Committee, said he expects lawmakers to take another look at adding funding to the program next year. He said he wasn't discouraged by the low interest by police.


"I think this is just a starting point and hopefully in the future there will be more departments that will apply for the state grant," Dargan said. "I think with any new technology that's out there for law enforcement, there are always issues that come up. The issue for law enforcement right now is ... the storage."


Some Connecticut departments have received federal grants for body cameras. Last year, Stamford police were awarded $600,000 and New Haven police were awarded $90,000 in U.S. Department of Justice grants for body cameras, part of an effort by President Barack Obama to increase communities' trust in police and improve police accountability.

Brookfield implementing accounting transparency software

Brookfield is going to be tracking expense and revenue items for large projects differently.  In order to ensure Brookfield's finances are managed properly and accurately, the Capital Project module will be implemented in the town's accounting software package. 


First Selectman Steve Dunn said in his monthly newsletter that large projects will be tracked from inception to final closeout of the books. The Accounts Receivable module has also been implemented to track every source of revenue to the town including grants. Dunn says when these modules are used together, the town will be able to quickly pull reports about exactly where things stand on a specific project. 


He says implementing these modules will help assure that Brookfield never finds itself with missing funds in the general fund.  The town is working to resolved a $3 million bond discrepancy issue.


A program called Open Books will allow anyone to easily see what the town is spending its funds on and allows residents to keep track of where their money is spent.   Dunn says the town will be ramping this up over the next few months and hopes to have it fully operational by the end of the year.

Danbury officials warn of consequences to treatment plant bonding failure in Nov.

Part of a costly project to meet a state mandate will be sent to Danbury voters in November.  The City Council this week agreed to forward a request for $10 million in bonding for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant and facilities system.  A phosphorus removal system is needed because of mandates to improve emissions from the plant.  The plant in Danbury serves several area towns including Bethel, Brookfield and Ridgefield.  Council President Joe Cavo says they will have to share the burden of the cost.


Councilman Paul Rotello asked Public Utilities Superintendent David Day about orthophosphate being added to the water.  Day says it provides corrosion protection for the pipes.  DEEP brought up the additive, but he doesn't think the amount put into the water isn't affecting the phosphorous that has to be removed.


There was some discussion about what would happen if voters reject this $10 million in November.


Corporation Counsel Les Pinter says Danbury potentially face a state consent order to fund this project some other way.  He says the City would probably petition the state about what happened and request a delay, but he notes they are pretty strict with their requirements.


Mayor Mark Boughton says when the federal Environmental Protection Agency and DEEP were approached about the possibility of voters rejecting the funding.  Those agencies said it's not their problem, and the permit could be rescinded.  Boughton says the City wouldn't be able to discharge and the plant would have to be shut down.


When it comes to state grant funding, a delay could bump Danbury to the back of the line.  The City is just under the wire now on timelines presented to DEEP.  He says DEEP could go to next community in line and give them the money Danbury is waiting for.


The other municipalities that use the plant kick in about 13-percent.  Boughton met with those municipal leaders Wednesday to tell them what their share would be.

Tribe drops lawsuit challenging Connecticut casino law

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A western Connecticut tribe is dropping a lawsuit challenging a state law allowing two other tribes to pursue a new casino project.

The Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation filed a motion to withdraw the federal court lawsuit Wednesday. The move came several weeks after a judge dismissed a similar lawsuit by MGM Resorts, which is planning a casino in Springfield, Massachusetts. MGM is appealing the decision.

MGM financially backed the lawsuit by the Schaghticokes, who say they were unfairly excluded from seeking their own casino. The tribe plans to focus on changing the state law.

The law passed last year created a process for the two tribes that own Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun to build an off-reservation casino, likely in northern Connecticut, to help fend off competition from MGM's casino.

DEEP warns of aggressive swans in Newtown

State environmental officials are warning people about reports of aggressive Mute Swans in Newtown. 


The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says the swans were reported on Lake Zoar near Alpine Drive.  There also may be a nest located near the wooden roofed “umbrella” pavilion, a recreation and picnic area used by many visitors of the area.  DEEP says swans can be particularly aggressive toward boaters when protecting their nests. 


People on the water have indicated to DEEP that the swans have caused their small boats to capsize. 


Any cases in which swans or other wildlife species are causing a threat to public safety should be reported to DEEP through their 24-hour hotline: 860-424-3333.

In-person voter registration deadline for Aug. 9 GOP primary looming

There is only one primary in the region on Tuesday, and it's for Republicans to select a candidate for Probate Court Judge.  The August 9th GOP primary is taking place in Bethel, Newtown, Ridgefield and Redding.  Northern Fairfield County Probate Court Judge Joseph Egan is reaching the mandatory retirement age.  Unaffiliated voters still have some time to enroll in the Republican party in order to vote August 9th.  The cutoff for online and mail in voter registration is today.  In person registration must be done by noon on Monday.  There is a 90-day waiting period to switch parties.

Remington asks Judge to dismiss wrongful death lawsuit

A Connecticut judge was asked this week by Remington Arms to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit against the gun maker brought by the families of nine killed at Sandy Hook School and an injured teacher.  In the motion filed this week, Remington says it does not qualify as the seller and didn't want the court to waste it's time or the two sides to waste their money. 


The lawsuit says Remington should have known the AR-15-style rifle was dangerous and meant for the military but sold it to the public anyway. 


Remington argues the lawsuit is barred by a 2005 federal law shielding gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products.   Earlier, Remington filed a motion for the suit to be tossed out of court, but the judge set a trial date for 2018 and ordered both sides to exchange evidence.

Bridgewater resident shot in home invasion, suspect sought

State police are searching for a suspect after a person was shot during a home invasion in Bridgewater.

Trooper Kelly Grant says officers were called to the home on South Main Street shortly after 3:30 am on Thursday. The shooting victim, who was said to be alert when police arrived, was taken to Danbury Hospital for treatment and was not immediately identified.


(Photo Courtesy: State Police)


A police tactical unit was searching the nearby woods where the male suspect may be hiding.  K9s, police from surrounding towns and the Western District Major Crime Squad assisted. 


The suspect was described as light skinned or Hispanic man.


A car that was found in the driveway of the home where the attack took place was seen speeding on Route 7 in New Milford before the home invasion.  An officer attempted to stop the Subaru but the driver did not pull over and the officer ended the pursuit, police told Hearst Connecticut Media.


While on scene troopers located a vehicle reported stolen out of New York State on South Main Street in Bridgewater, and are working to confirm if it is related to the home invasion.


Grant says a firearm has been recovered.  A shotgun was found a little ways down the road from the home invasion.


Town officials said the assailant apparently attempted to switch vehicles after hitting a construction roadblock.  Selectman Alan Brown told the Hearst group that they have some peace of mind knowing it was not a target, but bad luck that the escape route came through Bridgewater.


A vehicle was reported stolen from a residence not far from the home invasion scene.  Grant did not immediately have a description of the vehicle.  The stolen vehicle was found on North Main Street in Waterbury.  State Police are working to determine if that stolen vehicle is related to the original Bridgewater investigation.


Grant says Troopers believe the suspect is no longer in the area of South Main Street in Bridgewater.  Troopers are following other leads in an attempt to locate the suspect.

Danbury residents to vote in November on $10 million in bonding

The City Council has agreed to send a $10 million bonding request to Danbury voters.  Six projects would share in the bond money if approved.  There was some discussion about breaking the bond package into two requests, but that was ultimately not agreed to.  Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi wanted the funding for Tarrywile and Richter parks in a separate question for the voters.


$1.6 million would go directly 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. 


Councilman Paul Rotello says he recognizes the need for street and drainage improvements, but that he's spoken with many constituents upset over the plans for Hearthstone Castle.  He's concerned they will come out and vote against the entire package, or have to sacrifice a historic structure to the necessary infrastructure improvements.  He called the bond items fundamentally different.  He called for efforts to try to preserve the castle.  Otherwise, he says it will end up like the fountain of Danbury Library, a partial foundation of the old victorian building that used to be City Hall.


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. 


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.

Danbury's first 'Noise Buster' on the job

The first noise control officer in Danbury has been appointed.  Edwin Duran will be driving the “Noise Buster” cruiser around Danbury as the City cracks down on noisy cars and parties.  Duran is bilingual.  He will be driving the vehicle primarily on week nights and the weekends, centered in Rogers Park and Hatters Park.


(Photos: Danbury City Hall)


Danbury officials recently amended the City's noise ordinance in response to resident complaints.  Instead of requiring the use of specialized sound meter equipment, the ordinance allows for a standard known as “plainly audible.”  Mayor Mark Boughton says issuing noise violations solely with specialized equipment has placed onerous burdens on the municipality. 



The noise regulation will be monitored and enforced by Danbury Police officers as well. 


There are some limitations to the power of these part time noise control officers.  Someone with a noise complaint is encouraged to call 311, which is staffed 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.  But Boughton says they may not be able to dispatch an officer at that point.  Officials will mark it down as an area that gets noise complaints and send noise enforcement out later.


The noise enforcement officers will have a walkie talkie, but no arrest powers.  Boughton says they are on the job to calm the situation down by talking with offenders first.  If they refuse to comply, a ticket will be issued.


Danbury already had the vehicle, but the wrap for the logos cost $1,500.

Brookfield Police K9 Argo begins training

A 16-month old has joined the Brookfield Police Department.  K9 Argo has begun his training and is expected to complete his certification in October.  Last month the Department's K9, Bruno, passed on having recently retired due to illness.  Sergeant Jeff Osuch has agreed, once again, to be the K-9 partner.  Long-time residents Ruth and Warren Malkin made a donation of $12,500 to pay for the new K9.  The couple were able to meet Argo at the Board of Selectmen meeting last night.  They were also thanked for their generosity. 


Ruth and Warren Malkin, First Selectman Steve Dunn, Sgt. Jeff Osuch, Argo

(Photo Courtesy: Brookfield Police, Facebook)

Danbury officials warn PokemonGo players to stay out of WWII monument area

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton put out a warning to PokemonGo players Tuesday who were at the World War II Rose Arbor: it's not a good idea, and police were on the way. 


Dozens of comments started flooding Boughton's Facebook and Twitter pages about it being public property.  He wrote back that it's only one tiny piece of Rogers Park and he was only asking that players stay out of the area dedicated to fallen soldiers.  Boughton also noted that it wouldn't be different if people were playing baseball in the Rose Garden, not PokemonGo. 


He called it disrespectful to set up tens over the stones and to be yelling and screaming in that area of the park. 


Danbury Police said in a statement that while the PokemonGo craze has gone viral across the world, with many injuries and unusual incidents being reported, Danbury has only luckily had a small handful of complaints.  Police asked players of the GPS-based mobile app to stay in areas that they are familiar with, to not trespass on private property and respect other people's privacy. 


Danbury Police said they do not consider playing PokemonGo to be appropriate decorum on cemetery and memorial grounds. 


Several Greater Danbury area police department have warned players to not wander alone in search of Pokemon.  Police say having another person on the look out for potential dangers is a good preventative step.  Dangers can not only be the immediate landscape, but strangers who may try to lure the player to a secluded location.

DOT extends hours of hearings about proposed rail fare hike

After outcry over the hours for a series of public hearings about a plan to raise fares on Metro North's New Haven Line, the times have been doubled.  Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, a ranking member of the legislature's Transportation Committee, says she's hearing an earful from her constituents who depend on the train to get to and from work who weren't able to make it to daytime sessions.  The plan calls for a 5-percent hike in December to help balance the State Department of Transportation's budget.  None of the hearings scheduled for September are in the Greater Danbury area.  The closest is Waterbury on September 13th.

Greater Danbury area police crack down on drivers using cell phones

The Danbury Police Department, along with the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office, is continuing the “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.” initiative.  It's an effort to crackdown on motorists who choose to text, talk or otherwise distract themselves from the task of driving by using a hand-held mobile phone.


Brookfield and Ridgefield are also among the participating departments.


The campaign will run from August 3rd through the 16th and marks the second time this year law enforcement agencies will mobilize by adding special patrols.

According to surveys conducted last year’s crackdown, there was an eight percent drop in mobile phone use by drivers at observation locations throughout municipalities where police conducted enforcement.  Danbury Police spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says the drop in observed use is encouraging, and demonstrates the need to reinforce to motorists that mobile phone use while driving is both dangerous and illegal.

Nearly 50 law enforcement agencies including both state and local police are again participating in this operation.  The last operation, which took place during April 2016, resulted in over 12,000 citations issued to motorists who chose to ignore Connecticut’s distracted driving laws. 

Under Connecticut’s cell phone and texting law, violations involve heavy fines, ranging from $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second violation, and $500 for each subsequent violation.

Blumenthal's military record resurrected in new Senate race

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal's Republican challenger is reviving a six-year-old controversy about whether the Democrat intentionally distorted his Vietnam-era military service.

Leaders of veterans' organizations contend that Blumenthal has been a strong ally during his first term in the U.S. Senate. Blumenthal is a ranking member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Bethel Republican state Rep. Dan Carter, an Air Force veteran, says many people he speaks with on the campaign trail are still angry that Blumenthal said he served ``in'' Vietnam. Blumenthal made the comments while he was attorney general. Blumenthal served statewide in the Marine Reserves.

When the controversy erupted on the campaign trail in 2010, Blumenthal said he had ``misspoken'' on a ``few occasions'' and he regretted it.

A campaign adviser calls Blumenthal a ``tireless advocate'' for vets.

Informational forum about proposed health insurance rate hikes

A local lawmaker is hosting an informational forum tonight on Connecticut’s proposed health insurance and long term care rate increases.  State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, organized a forum featuring a panel discussion with guest speakers including insurance and health care policy experts.  Hwang says the average increases on individual and small group employer plans in Connecticut could be as high as 28 percent among plans that cover thousands of workers and their families. 


Under Connecticut statute, there is no requirement for a public hearing.  Hwang says through his efforts, and those of Danbury state Senator McLachlan the Insurance Department agreed to hold a hearing.  Hwang says another reason he is holding tonight's forum is because the public hearings are inconvenient for many working people. 


Public hearings on the potential double-digit hikes will take place at the Insurance Department on August 3 and 4, but at 9am. 


Tonight's forum is from 7- 8:30 pm at Sacred Heart University’s Schine Auditorium in Fairfield.

Comments can be registered with the state Insurance Department online.

Bethel Police participate in 'National Night Out'

Bethel Police are participating in Target’s National Night Out.  The Department will have a K9 demonstration, Car Seat Safety Inspection, SWAT team equipment, police vehicles and meet one of our School Resource Officers.


National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live.


There will also be a fire department exhibit, car show, info booth and activities for all ages.


The event at Target on Stony Hill Road is from 5PM-9PM.

Danbury officials consider adding dirt bikes to ATV laws

Danbury is looking at revisions to all-terrain vehicle laws, and violators could lose their ATVs.  The use of all-terrain vehicles on property owned and controlled by Danbury was regulated back in 2003.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the law was designed to prevent damage to parks and public areas, as well as for the safety of park users.  


During the recently completed state General Assembly session, municipal ability to protect and preserve public areas was expanded.  Local regulation of the use of ATVs was expanded to include dirt bikes and mini-motorcycles, and penalties were increased. 


A committee of the City Council will be asked tonight to consider several changes.  One includes that operators or owners be responsible for damage done to city property.  Another is that the ATV, dirt bike or mini-motorcycle be subject to seizure.  Another is that violators would be fined $1,000 a second offense would result in a $1,5000 fine and $2,000 for each subsequent violation.

Danbury to study satellite dish placement

The Danbury City Council is being asked tonight to authorize a committee to look into satellite dishes.  Danbury officials are looking to crackdown on satellite dish placement, which some say could be an indication of over-occupancy of residential properties. 


Mayor Mark Boughton says the City is continuing to implement certain legislation to better residents lives, and a review of regulations about the placement of satellite dishes on structures within Danbury is the next initiative.  An ordinance is under development and will be completed soon. 


His concern is about what he called the excessive and unbridled proliferation of such devices with no recognition of structural, safety and aesthetic integrity.  Boughton noted that potential over-occupancy continues to be a major safety issue and processes are pending that will address that specific concern.

'Buddy Bench' located at new Sandy Hook School

There is a special installation in one of the playgrounds at the new Sandy Hook School.  A so-called buddy bench dedicated to a second grader who recently passed away.  Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Erardi says it's dedicated to Collin Whitmore as a class gift.  


The 8-year old's family asked that donations be made for research of AVM, an abnormal connection between arteries and veins.  These malformations most often occur in the brain or spine.


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



In his obituary, it was written that Collin's quiet enthusiasm for life not only shown in the sports he loved, hockey and golf but more importantly his ability to make anyone he came in contact know that their lives were special and that people such as Collin cared in a special and humble way.

K-9 Argo to join the Brookfield Police Department

The Brookfield Police Department is getting a new member.  K-9 Argo is joining the Brookfield Police Department.  Last month the Department's K-9, Bruno, passed on having recently retired due to illness.   Sergeant Jeff Osuch has agreed, once again, to be the K-9 partner.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says they honor Bruno's work, and thank his handler for all they have done for the town. 


Long-time residents Ruth and Warren Malkin made a donation of $12,500 to pay for the new K-9.  At the Board of Selectmen meeting tonight the couple is being thanked for their generosity. 


The Board will also thank artist Rachael Chandler, who runs a pet portrait business called 4 Paws and a Paintbrush.  She recently presented a painting in memory of Bruno to his handler. The portrait will hang at Brookfield Town Hall.



Public hearing to be held about proposed cell tower in Brookfield

A proposed cell tower in Brookfield is up for a public hearing tomorrow.  People driving along Pocono Road in Brookfield may see a large balloon floating about 150 feet in the air behind the firehouse.  Weather permitting, Homeland Tower, LLC and Cellco Partnership, doing business as Verizon Wireless, will be testing the site of a proposed cell tower between 8am and 6pm. 


A field site visit is being made by the Connecticut Siting Council at 2pm tomorrow to get more information form engineers and consultants.  A public hearing on the proposed cell tower will be held tomorrow at 7pm at Brookfield Town Hall. 


The companies have applied for and the Siting Council is vetting the Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the construction, maintenance, and operation of a telecommunications facility.

'Sacred soil' remains in storage for use at future Sandy Hook permanent memorial site

Newtown residents had a chance on Friday to see the new Sandy Hook School, which is set to open August 29th for classes.  First Selectman Pat Llodra says there's nothing specific in the school to honor the memory of the 20 children and 6 educators killed on 12-14.  Llodra says the building is really a tribute to the entire community.


A Permanent Commission was established to identify the scope and scale of a project to become the memorial.  There has been no officials site selection and the group hasn't determined kind of memorial there should be. 


Llodra says the one thing that is certain is that it will not be located on school grounds. 


In the wake of the shootings, hundreds of thousands of cards, letters, banners, stuffed animals, children’s art and other items were sent to Newtown.  Some have been kept in their original form. Other items were documented as an archived photos, some have been recycled into material that officials are calling “sacred soil.”  


Initial plans called for mixing about two cubic yards of the substance into construction materials.  Llodra says it will be used for the permanent memorial site of building, whatever the final project is.  Llodra says they have the sacred soil stored securely off-site.  


Many of the toys and stuffed animals were donated.

$10M considered in Danbury for upgrades to wastewater treatment plant

$10 million in bonding for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant and facilities system in Danbury is being considered.  A phosphorus removal system is needed because of mandates to improve emissions from the plant.  City Council President Joe Cavo says this is going to be a large expense, the $10 million is just the tip of the iceberg.  Cavo says he's heard cost estimates of $50 million to $70 million to meet the goals of the state.  The mandate is for all municipalities with a wastewater treatment plant.


The plant in Danbury serves several towns, including Bethel, Brookfield, Newtown and Ridgefield.  Cavo says they will have to share the burden of the cost.  Some funding could come from the state.


Environmentalists say phosphorus is coming in to Lake Lillinonah from several sources, including the treatment plant, and increasing algae growth.  Environmentalists say that algae removes oxygen from the water that is needed by other aquatic life.


In 2014, Danbury Public Utilities Superintendent David Day submitted testimony to the state about the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's mandates, and what funding would be available to help meet the goals.  One of his main concerns was the burden on sewer ratepayers.  He was concerned about a fair time frame for implementing the capital upgrades necessary to meeting the limits.  Day said it would only be fair if every municipality with a waste treatment plant would be eligible for funding, not just the first three to enter into construction contracts.


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