The new Connecticut Institute for Communities Greater Danbury Community Health Center at 120 Main Street in Danbury has been officially dedicated. The property is the site of the old Danbury Police Station. The 37,000 square foot, four-story structure will house several services. They include pediatric and adolescent medical and behavioral health services; comprehensive women's health services; an on-site blood sample suite; full service pharmacy; patient intake, enrollment and insurance assistance; and headquarters for the CIFC.
The federally qualified health center serves all people regardless of income or insurance.
The new building will bring approximately 60 new jobs to downtown Danbury with a total annual payroll of more than $6 million.
The building was constructed by Verdi Construction Company of Bethel, and involved about 100 full and part-time jobs.
The financing for the building involved a mix of public and private funding. The state provided a $4 million grant. Private mortgage financing totaled about $6 million. Private investment through the Federal New Market Tax Credit program were provided to the tune of about $5 million.
The facility should be fully operational by the end of the year. Some services will be moving from the Greater Danbury Community Health Center's 70 Main Street facility, which will then be dedicated primarily to Adult Medicine and Family Dentistry.
Kids and their parents are being invited to trick-or-treat at the Danbury Police Station this evening.
Danbury Police Community Services Division Commanding Officer Lt. Vincent Daniello says they have teamed up with the Police Activities League to serve the youth of the community. In addition to candy for trick-or-treaters, and because the event is outside, police will be handing out hot chocolate.
Daniello says this is the first time they're holding the event but hope to continue it in the future.
The Halloween event is from 4pm to 6pm.
Police are reminding trick-or-treaters to be bright at night, look before crossing a street and to go out in groups. Young children should always be accompanied by an adult and older trick-or-treaters should let a parent know their planned route.
A federal agency has approved the expansion of an existing marina on Lake Lillinonah. Fishel Properties is looking to expand West Cove Marina to 136 slips, a reduction of about two dozen from the draft proposal. The expansion is part of a residential development project in New Milford. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission signed off on the plans Tuesday at the request of FirstLight Hydro Generating Company.
FERC did include some restrictions.
FirstLight must make sure the permittee's use of the project lands and waters doesn't endanger health, create a nuisance, or otherwise be incompatible with overall project recreational use, and that construction will protect the scenic, recreational, and environmental values of the area. A report has to be provided to FERC within two years, including photographs showing the completed project. If partially completed or construction has not begun, FirstLight must file an extension request to file the construction completion report.
In response to concerns from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection about crowding in the narrow channel of the lake, all parties agreed to expand existing "Slow No Wake" restrictions.
The parcel was purchased by Fischel Properties in 1988, with the intention of converting an existing industrial building to residential units and adding 250 boat slips in the river upstream of Lovers Leap State Park at the inflow to the project just below the Bleachery Dam. The property development didn't occur, but a full service marina was developed.
In 1995, the facility was rented to West Cove Marina, which has operated it ever since. The slip count has varied over the years, but has operated continuously since it opened. Serious storm damage to docks in recent years has reduced the current number of slips to about 25.
There is an open state House seat in the 138th District, which includes parts of Danbury, New Fairfield and Ridgefield. The position is being vacated by Republican Jan Giegler, who is now the Danbury Town Clerk. The two men competing for the job are a community college professor and a City firefighter.
Republican Michael Ferguson is a Danbury High school graduate who earned his Bachelor and Master degrees from Western Connecticut state University. He's spent the last three years serving on the Danbury Board of Education. Ferguson is an adjunct professor at Naugatuck Valley Community College and works at the Information Desk at Danbury Hospital. He says he will bring all of these experiences to Hartford if elected.
A Danbury firefighter and Marine Corps veteran, Democrat Jeff Tomchik also serves as president of the Danbury Professional Fire Fighters, Local 801. He's been a City employee for about 20 years. Tomchik says being in the Marines is one of the greatest accomplishments of his life. He entered into an officer development program allowing a transition to Reserve duty while attending Norwich University, the military college of Vermont. While enlisted, he participated in support services for Haiti, and other training and humanitarian deployments.
For the last four years Tomchik has worked in Hartford advocating for public safety bills. He says that experience of lobbying and drafting bills has led to passage of legislation. One example is a bill to provide wage replacement coverage to firefighters if they develop cancer in the line of duty. He says work started last year, but there was a perceived financial burden placed on municipalities. The task force came up with a solution that alleviate the burden, by creating a new fund using money from an existing communications tax on people's phone bills. More than 30 other states have similar laws. He says it's in his nature to roll up his sleeves and do that hard work that's needed to better the community. He thinks the community needs critical services restored.
Education reforms will take up a lot of the General Assembly's time. A judge called for a complete overhaul of policies across the board. Ferguson says there's a big flaw with how Connecticut funds education. He says Danbury is underfunded in the Education Cost Sharing formula by 51-percent. No matter the outcome of the state Supreme Court ruling, Ferguson hopes the legislature sits down to reevaluate how education funding is distributed. He wants the legislature to also address higher education in Connecticut.
Tomchik says the way funding is applied across the state under the Education Cost Sharing Formula needs to be changed. He says it needs to be evaluated each year. If funding is cut and then schools degrade, that needs to change. He says an open discussion is needed about investing as much as possible in as many schools as possible to improve the outcomes for as many children as possible. Tomchik says education is a major driver of the economy. He says students need to be prepared for the workforce, whether it's out of vo-tech schools or colleges.
Ferguson says transportation is a big issue for the 138th district. He is opposed to border tolls because that would put a strain on local roads and local resident's wallets. He says that would also impact federal transportation funding. He says the Transportation Fund should not be tapped for other uses. He says the people of Connecticut expect that the money they send to Hartford will go where it's designated.
When it comes to ways to pay for transportation infrastructure improvements, Tomchik says more of a burden cannot be placed on residents. He says tolls would cause more damage to local roads and provide more cost to municipalities than it would ever be gained across the state. With one of the highest gas taxes in the country, he says that money needs to be used for its intended purpose. He says a crumbling infrastructure needs to be repaired with the funds already dedicated for repairs. Tomchik says he wants to go to Hartford to remind state leaders that the Connecticut border doesn't stop at Waterbury, that it goes all the way to New York.
Ferguson says mental health service funding is an area that's been cut recently, and that's the opposite of what's needed. He says communities are also facing an opioid addiction epidemic that needs to be address. Ferguson says more communication of current services can help tremendously.
Tomchik says opioid overdose epidemic facing the state is a big problem, and something he's encountered as a firefighter. He says providing first responders with Narcan is a good first step to combat the issue. But he says getting patients further support is the next step. He wants to come up with a plan that will address the social outcomes to help people be productive members of society.
Ferguson called the fundamental issue of the election, getting the economy in order. He says a series of policies implemented in the last few years have done nothing to encourage entrepreneurship. He wants to freeze some taxes and see others rolled back. He says that will encourage more people to stay in Connecticut and encourage employers to expand. Ferguson wants to reverse some policies that have made Connecticut to expensive for both young families and businesses.
Tomchik says the deficit is a complex issue. He says residents pay enough taxes and the ability of workers to live here is getting harder and harder. He wants to come up with out-of-the box ideas to improve the economy, rather than increase taxes. He says there needs to be an equal balance between lowering the deficit and raising revenue, but that can only be done through long term corrections. believes spending can be done in a more efficient way in order to maintain services. He says building high tech and biotech education will help draw employers and jobs. Tomchik says he has a unique background and brings a fresh perspective of every day life. He says there are qualified candidates and current legislators, but he says everyday workers need to be represented in Hartford. Tomchik says the state is at a critical juncture.
A large scale drill involving state and federal first responders took place Tuesday through Thursday about what to do in a terrorist attack scenario involving transit commuters. Investigators combed through the site of a Metro North train car on its side with mannequins around.
Public Health Preparedness and Response Director John Best says the most important aspect of the drill is how agencies work together. Best says no one ever expects a mass casualty event in a small town, but that's exactly what they learned from the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook School.
The last mass fatality event in Connecticut was 12/14/12.
During a Connecticut Against Gun Violence Event in Bridgeport on Wednesday, the attorney representing Newtown families suing Remington Arms said that they are planning an appeal. A judge recently threw out the lawsuit citing federal law protecting gun manufacturers from liability lawsuits. Attorney Joshua Koskoff said that the case will go to the Connecticut Supreme Court. He told the group gathered for the conference that cars are safer now than they were before because car makers can be sued, and believes the same logic should apply in the Sandy Hook case.
A part of budget cuts in the state Judicial Branch, the Danbury Juvenile Court was closed. That means children and families have to have their cases heard in Bridgeport or Waterbury. Retiring state Representative Cecilia Buck-taylor, an attorney, told The Newstimes that the closure is not in the best interest of these children, who need something stable and local. She cited a transportation concern of people getting to Bridgeport if they don't have a car, and the time out of school or work that juveniles will have to take in order to make their court appearances.
The full list of write-in candidates in Connecticut has been released. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says there are 20 candidates each for president and vice-president, two for U.S. Senate, 10 for U.S. Representative as well as a number of people vying for state offices.
Write-in candidates must register with the Secretary of the State in order to have their votes counted on November 8th. Voting machines are programmed to accept votes for write-ins if they are registered with the Secretary of the State.
Write ins include:
4th Congressional District candidate Carl E. Vassar
5th Congressional District candidates Ann-Marie Adams, Mark Greenstein, John Pistone, and Aaron Sperry
State Representative candidate in the 2nd House District Ann-Marie Adams
President of the United States
Andrew D. Basiago
Vice Pres. of the United States
Karen D. Kinnison
President of the United States
Paul E. Blumenthal
Vice Pres. of the United States
President of the United States
Robert L. Buchanan
Vice Pres. of the United States
Jason A. Washington
President of the United States
Darrell L. Castle
Vice Pres. of the United States
Scott N. Bradley
President of the United States
Jeffrey A. Cooper
Vice Pres. of the United States
Mikael C. Meyer
President of the United States
Vice Pres. of the United States
President of the United States
Vice Pres. of the United States
President of the United States
"Rocky" Roque De La Fuente
Vice Pres. of the United States
President of the United States
Vice Pres. of the United States
Jason M. Fitch
President of the United States
Vice Pres. of the United States
President of the United States
Vice Pres. of the United States
President of the United States
Jeffrey John Klojzy Jr.
Vice Pres. of the United States
Thomas A. LeMay
President of the United States
Vice Pres. of the United States
President of the United States
Gloria La Riva
Vice Pres. of the United States
President of the United States
Vice Pres. of the United States
President of the United States
Vice Pres. of the United States
President of the United States
Vice Pres. of the United States
James Creighton Mitchell, Jr.
President of the United States
Vice Pres. of the United States
President of the United States
Vice Pres. of the United States
President of the United States
Jeffrey Anthony Wu
Vice Pres. of the United States
Jeffrey Michael Wu
United States Senator
United States Senator
John M. Traceski
The state Department of Transportation is replacing guide rails on a seven mile segment of Route 107 in Redding between Route 53 and Route 58.
Lane closures are expected to last until Wednesday, November 23rd. The regular work schedule for this project is Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm for the Georgetown section to Cross Highway, and 7am to 5pm for Cross Highway to Route 58.
Modifications or extensions to the work schedule may be needed due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions. Police and local officials are reminding drivers to maintain a safe speed when driving in this vicinity.
Just days after the state Department of Public Health declared a water emergency in Danbury, Governor Dannel Malloy announced that six of the state's eight counties are under a drought watch. The watch includes Fairfield and Litchfield counties. Malloy says Connecticut is coming off one of the warmest summers in history in which precipitation was about 60 to 73 percent of normal amounts, and that was after an exteremly dry winter.
The drought watch declaration includes a voluntary 15 percent drop in usage of water in the affected counties.
Earlier this month, Danbury officials called on residents to conserve water. At that time, reservoir levels were at 66% of full capacity or about 11% below normal for this time of year. The state directive will allow Danbury to use Lake Kenosia for the water supply.
To date, 20 water companies have requested voluntary conservation or imposed mandatory restrictions. A continually updated list of these water companies is available on the Department of Public Health’s website.
While this is the state’s first Drought Watch, lower-level Drought Advisories were previously declared in 2002, 2007, 2010, and earlier this year. A Drought Watch is the second of four stages of drought defined in the Connecticut Drought Preparedness and Response Plan.
There is an open state House seat in the 67th District of New Milford. The position is being vacated by Republican Cecilia Buck-Taylor, who is retiring after two terms. The race to succeed her features a Democratic Town Council member and a Republican youth sports coach.
Democrat Mary Jane Lundgren grew up in New Milford, worked at the Hospital for 46 years and she has a background in social work, with a specialty in legislative and political social work. After graduating from UConn with that Master's Degree, she ran for New Milford Town Council. She's been on the Council for 14 years and retired form her nursing job last year. She wants to go to Hartford to bring more resources to the community.
Republican William Buckbee is a longtime volunteer, justice of the peace and youth sports coach. He's served on the New Milford Sewer Commission and New Milford Homeless Shelter Coalition. The 44-year old is marketing director and fundraising coordinator for Harrybrooke Park. He's also been a volunteer firefighter. In that capacity, the 6-foot-3 man with a white beard has also played Santa Claus.
Education Cost Sharing formula changes will likely be made by the General Assembly in the coming session. Lundgren says it needs to become more equitable for all towns. She also wants more funding for special education. She wants the state to step up, because special education is costing all municipalities a lot. She wants to bring vocational technical programs to the northwest corner of the state. She says vo-tech schools are training students for the types of jobs that the state is trying to attract.
Buckbee wants to find more money to be allocated for different programs. He also wants to expand vocational schools to build on the state's workforce.
When it comes to transportation, Buckbee says the state must alleviate traffic. He says the proposed mileage tax is not the answer, but agreed that alternative methods should be reviewed. He says he would like to see the special Transportation Fund protected. He also suggested the state pursue commuter rail service again to bring new revenues to downtown business.
Lundgren says transportation infrastructure needs improvement. She supports the Governor's 30 year, $100 billion improvement plan. Lundgren says good highways are key for business to come in and for people who commute. She would like to see the Danbury Branch of Metro North expanded up to New Milford. She used to commute to school in New York City and says it's a service that would be fantastic for the district.
Lundgren has the backing of the Conservation League of Voters. Lundgren is concerned about air quality and water quality. She says the area around the Housatonic River is going to become a great recreational site in New Milford soon, and wants to see that protected. Lundgren also called Candlewood Lake a jewel of the community. She wants more funding form the state to protect the tourist industry generated by the lake. She is concerned about blue-green algae and zebra mussels. Lundgren has advocated for maintaining New Milford's share of funding for the Candlewood Lake Authority.
Buckbee called for protecting natural resources. Buckbee also would like to see an increased tourism campaign to promote the beauty of Candlewood Lake.
Heroin and opiate addiction is a topic of concern as the epidemic spreads. Buckbee says opiate usage is causing overdoses at an alarming rate statewide. He wants the state to continue to work with mental health professionals, hospitals and counselors along with law enforcement to stem the tide. Buckbee also called for an increase in the penalty for opioid dealers.
When it comes to improving mental health services, Lundgren says there is a lot of room for improvement. She called for more community access, more community programs and an increase in places where people can go for counseling. She says making improvements in this area is vital.
On the topic of firearms, Buckbee says more laws on gun owners is not the solution, but enforcement is the right step. He says greater public safety has to be done while ensuring the rights of gun owners are left intact.
While out walking in the district, Lundgren says a lot of people are talking about health care. She says people in Access Health CT are struggling to pay for insurance plans. She would like to look into how to lower the prices.
Buckbee says he's fiscally conservative and wants to work in a bipartisan manner to help New Milford residents. He says the key to getting anything done though is compromise. Buckbee says the only way out of the perpetual state deficit is long term structural change. He says if that is not addressed, the state cannot sustain, let alone grow. He called for no new tax increases. He was critical of what he called the “corporate welfare” handed out from the governor in bond issuance as an incentive for businesses to stay in Connecticut.
Area police departments are offering safety tips for Halloween. Residents are being urged to use care on Monday to help ensure the safety of children celebrating Halloween.
Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith says face paint is safer than a mask for costumes, but if a child is wearing a mask parents are asked to make sure it has adequate holes for proper vision and breathing. Trick-or-treaters are being reminded to avoid dark, unlighted houses and not to go to the door of a house that seems unoccupied or has no outside lights on.
Trick-or-Treaters are encouraged to wear some sort of reflective clothing, carry a flashlight or glow stick, walk on the sidewalk or on the left side of the road facing traffic and young children should always be accompanied by an adult. Older children should always travel in pairs or groups. They are asked to not go down dark, empty streets and let parents know their route. Smith is urging trick-or-treaters to take safety precautions while they're out, and also when they get home. He encouraged parents to inspect all candy and throw away all unwrapped or opened candy or suspicious looking goodies.
He also issued safety tips to avoid fire hazards. Those tips include keeping jack-o-lanterns out of the reach of small children and away from flammable materials.
The Sheriff's Department, New York State Police and local departments will have an increased number of patrols on duty during the evening of October 31st. Community organizations will also have volunteer members out to act as extra eyes and ears for law enforcement.
Smith says causing mischief and damaging or defacing other people's property are negative activities that will be prosecuted. He reminds residents that an empty house on Halloween is an invitation to trouble so if you have to leave your house, make sure all the doors are locked.
A local police dog will be getting body armor. Monroe Police Department's K9 Murphy will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s and manufacturer Armor Express. This is part of the incentive program for which one free vest is awarded for every 15 vests purchased by the charity.
(Photo: Monroe Police, Facebook)
The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.
Vests were donated to K9s in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 2,000 protective vests, in 50 states at a cost of over 1.7 million dollars. All vests are custom made in the USA by Armor Express in Central Lake, MI.
The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $1,050. Each vest has a value between $1,795 – $2,234, a five-year warranty, and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.
A program created by the General Assembly this year has awarded grants to new entrepreneurs. CTNext chose 12 projects for grants to support local strategic planning efforts to develop destinations for entrepreneurs and talent in Connecticut.
A $24,000 planning grant has been awarded to the Danbury Hackerspace. The non-profit corporation was founded in 2012 to assist start-up businesses by providing office space, equipment and other support. The makerspace has 3D printers, prototyping tools, a mockup studio, a common work area, program space and co-working space.
Danbury state Representative Bob Godfrey championed this bill and says it will help increase economic development opportunities throughout Connecticut. He says the state needs to continue to build up and support new and existing businesses and in the process create jobs.
A public hearing is being held on Tuesday in Bethel about a proposed lease. The Bethel Board of Selectmen is holding a public hearing on November 1st to receive public comments on a proposed lease with BSGB LLC for a portion of the land and the building located at 5 Depot Place, commonly referred to as the “Old Train Station”.
The hearing is at 7pm in Meeting Room A of the Municipal Center.
The space was last occupied by Bethel Cycle.
BSGB LLC is owned by three local entrepreneurs who are looking to open a brew pub at the site, which is owned by the town. There are 3 principal owners of the business. Lisa Tassone owns nearby La Zingara restaurant, Chris Sanzeni of Bethel is an experienced brewer, and Paul Mannion owns the Green Grunion food truck in Danbury.
Danbury's free Fall Leaf Pick-up Program started this week. The leaf collection program will run for six weeks, through December 2nd. Only leaves bagged in paper leaf bags with no tape should be left at curbside for the city’s Highway Department to pick-up. No plastic bags, large debris like tree stumps or grass clippings will be collected.
Branches will be picked up separately. Limbs must be cut into lengths no longer than 4 feet, no limb may be larger than 4 inches in diameter. Branches must be bundled with twine in bundles no heavier than 35 pounds.
The Leaf Pickup Program is divided by I-84; Section A is to the south with zip code 06810 and Section B is to the north with zip code 06811. Section A pick up continues tomorrow before switching to Section B. This cycle will be repeated through December 2nd.
Pick-up dates are subject to change throughout the program depending on weather and the Highway Department’s work schedule.
Ferris Mulch Products at 6 Plumtrees Road is open for Danbury residents who wish to drop off their own bags or tree and yard debris throughout the year for free. The hours are Monday through Friday 7:00 am through 3:30 pm. Saturday from 7:30 am to 12noon. Closed on Sundays.
One of only two open State Senate seats is for the 30th District, which includes New Milford.
Republican Craig Miner is currently serving his 8th term as state Representative for Bethlehem, Litchfield, Morris, Warren and Woodbury. In the legislature, he is a member of the Appropriations, Environment, Labor & Public Employees, and Public Safety committee.
Democrat David Lawson teaches in Dover Plains, New York. He lives in New Milford with his wife, and that's where they raised their children. He is serving his fourth term on the Board of Education and is currently the chairman. His priorities would be economic growth and development, education, health, and the environment. He decided to run for the legislature because of the partisan bickering in Hartford. He wants to help end that and start the General Assembly working as a team.
During the last term, Miner says he worked with the outgoing Senator from the 30th District, Clark Chapin, to secure statewide municipal grants to deal with invasive species in Connecticut waterways. He supported legislation to give financial assistance to firefighters who suffer from certain diseases as a result of performing their jobs. The funding comes from the Firefighter Cancer Relief Program.
Lawson wants to protect and preserve wildlife, waterways, and air quality. When it comes to preserving open space, he says the state is not currently transparent in land transfers, and would like to change that.
Miner says he's concerned about the lack of job growth. He thinks Connecticut has a lot to offer and he'd like to turn the state's economy around. He believes the legislature should get into budget issues earlier. He says there is some wasteful spending that needs to be addressed. Miner says post employment benefits, wages and benefits for state employees should all be on the table. He says once the state gets a hand on expenses and bonding, corporations and residents will feel more secure and will stay.
Lawson agrees that the Education Cost Sharing formula needs to be reworked and more equitable. He was pleased when he first heard the judge rule that the state is not constitutionally fulfilling its role in funding education. But he says the ruling went far beyond the scope of the initial lawsuit. He says the idea of one-size fits all needs to be looked at, as do teacher evaluations.
He would advocate for the Northwest corner to expand vocational and technical opportunities. Lawson wants the state to be proactive and not reactive. He would work to keep the hospitals in the district open. He says they cover a wide area and are a big asset to the region.
Miner served on a subcommittee of the Task Force dealing with guns and ammunition. He voted in opposition to the Gun Safety Bill passed in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook School, but voted in favor of some fixes to the bill. He says he voted against the large bill because of questions that came up, including what happens if someone leaves their gun to a relative in their estate. Miner said another issue dealt with antiques and curios, a group covered under a federal license for selling high value firearms. One fix Miner introduced was allowing people to get their firearms back that were in a gun shop on consignment with a magazine larger than a certain size. The original bill didn't allow for those guns to return to their owners. Another provision gave equality to constables as to police.
The opiate, drug and alcohol issues are also a priority for Lawson. He says the state has learned that Connecticut can't arrest its way out of it. He called for more education and opportunities for people with addiction to get the help they need.
The development of the Century Brass property in New Milford is a contentious topic. A proposal has been made to enter into an Option Agreement with Panda Power. Texas-based Panda Power Company has proposed a twin turbine, air cooled, natural gas electricity generation plant. Two informational sessions have already been held and three more are scheduled.
New Milford Mayor David Gronbach says preliminary estimated tax revenue from the tax assessor when the plant is running is between $7.5 million and $11 million. The old Century Brass Mill property is 72 acres and designed as a brownfield site. It was acquired by the town through a foreclosure process.
The informational session with Panda Power Plant representatives are scheduled for November 9th and 10th at 7pm at Sarah Noble School and November 10th at 1pm at Town Hall.
The chairman of the Fairfield Board of Education is looking to unseat the incumbent Republican state Senator in the 28th District, which includes Newtown. State Senator Tony Hwang faces a challenge from Democrat Philip Dwyer, who served the community through the YMCA and three different elected offices.
Hwang says he wants to bring greater transparency, sustainability and predictability to the state budgeting process. He says the way tax revenue and resources are managed, and how spending is allocated impacts every facet of every community. He says the current budgetary process is broken because all parties involved aren't brought to the table. Hwang says cutting school budgets, impacting municipalities and those most at risk is flawed. He says the most vulnerable; the developmentally disabled, seniors and hospitals need to be protected. He says the state is in a crisis and lawmakers need to send a message that they are working together to create an environment where businesses and people can sustain themselves in Connecticut. He says government needs to be accountable to the people they represent.
Dwyer says community engagement is important to quality of life in the state. He wants to help the legislature have a better understanding of local school districts. Job development is also a focus for Dwyer. His top priorities are improvements in public schools, job growth, transportation and services for those most in need.
There is a court ruling making its way to the state Supreme Court about education funding fairness and other reforms to the education system in Connecticut. Dwyer says the judge made it seem like it's a question of rearranging allocations between rural, suburban and urban. But he says it goes much deeper than that, it's about closing the achievement gap in all districts. He says there are achievement gaps across the state. Dwyer says that's where the focus of the state should be when it comes to educating all children.
Hwang agrees with a state judge who ruled recently that Connecticut's education funding formula needs to be reformed. He says it's become a political doling out of favors without true application. Hwang says there's a lack of equity in the current system. But he was critical of the school construction funding part of the ruling should be allocated based upon the wealth of each community. He says schools are built for every future child who may use that school. Hwang also disagreed about special education funding reforms. He says every child deserves a quality education and should have an opportunity to live a fulfilled life. Hwang says America's greatness is predicated on the quality of educational foundations, and that shouldn't be allowed to lapse into mediocrity.
Dwyer says government works best when it takes care of those most in need. He called for better services to those who need mental health services and those who are not as financially well off as others. He says the state can't grow jobs without a strong transportation system.
Hwang says mental health is a critical component to everyone's well being. He says mental illness is no different than physical ailments, and efforts should be made to eliminate the stigma. He called for education, supportive services and counseling. He says the Be Kind Program and initiatives started by Sandy Hook parents in the wake of tremendous tragedy are making people's lives better.
Dwyer says Connecticut has a big budget problem. His career has been spent balancing budgets while preserving services for those most in need. He says there are tough decisions and prioritizations that have to be made.
Hwang says the state taxes far too much and spends too much. He believes the state has to balance needs against wants. Before tolls or a mileage tax can be taken seriously, Hwang says the Special Transportation Fund needs to be used solely for transportation infrastructure projects.
Having affordable health care costs is a concern. Dwyer says the Board of Education has found a way, working with employee groups, to make changes to health insurance plans that saves them money, saves the town money while preserving the basic services they want. He touted the state for passing Partnership 2.0 for making it possible for the Fairfield school district to $3.5 million on health insurance costs. Employees saved $800,000.
Hwang says some bills he's proud of working in a bipartisan manner include protecting the state's waterways. He says the Long Island Sound Plan maps out the topography and the shipping routes that can boost the state's commerce while protecting the waterway. He also touted legislation to give financial assistance to firefighters who suffer from certain diseases as a result of performing their jobs. He also praised the School Safety Zero Tolerance bill. He says there's been a rash of threats of violence against schools. He says the financial trauma to first responder resources and the emotional trauma to students, faculty and parents causes havoc and is not a laughing matter.
Dwyer says Connecticut's gun safety law isn't about gun control, it's about gun violence prevention. He says Connecticut is number 2 in terms of responsible actions taken. He says there are more steps that can be taken to change the gun culture in the country, and to put laws on the books that help communities be safer. He notes that a majority of those in the gun sale industry are responsible make sure people have background checks. He wants bad actors in the gun sales industry to be held accountable to higher standards.
Hwang called on his fellow lawmakers to be models of cooperation and compassion to make positive contributions to the state. In walking the district, he's learned that people don't begrudge paying their fair share of taxes. But he says they don't believe their tax dollars are being spent properly, efficiently and respectfully. He says government has a role in ensuring the most vulnerable are protected, that public safety is upheld and the infrastructure is safe. Hwang says government has a responsibility to stay out of people's lives and empower businesses, but not be the solution to growing jobs. He's also heard that the unrelenting burden of taxes and regulations are driving people from the state. He wants the state to reign in spending and treat each tax dollar coming in as any other household does.
A 30-day public water supply emergency has been declared by the state for the City of Danbury. This follows an order locally for residents to conserve water. At that time reservoir levels were at 66% of full capacity, which is approximately 11% below normal for this time of year.
The City's Public Utilities Department says water supply reservoirs are approaching critically low levels.
The state Department of Public Health declaration is valid for 30 days, but the City can apply for additional 30 day extensions, up to a maximum of 150 days. The order means that Danbury can tap Lake Kenosia to bolster the water supply.
Danbury also provides water to certain portions of Bethel and Ridgefield.
The current drought conditions are taxing many of the state’s reservoirs and forcing public water systems to ask for an emergency declaration to protect their supplies. This is the third such order.
The League of Women Voters of Fairfield County hosted a debate on Sunday night between 4th District Congressman Jim Himes, the Democratic incumbent, and his Republican challenger John Shaban. Shaban is a state Representative from Redding. Himes is seeking a 5th term in office. Himes repeatedly cited remarks made by Republican Donald Trump and the Republican majority in the House as being problematic. Shaban fought back each time saying that in his opponent's first term there was a Democratic President and majority in both chambers.
The candidates were asked about specific action to update Social Security so that it is financially sound and beneficial for recipients.
Himes says solvency is one of the essential things, and something that the Presidential candidates haven't talked about. He says if nothing is done, some 25 years from now, benefits will have to be scaled back so about 70-percent of what people are expecting. Himes says now is the moment to deal with it by making relatively small adjustments. He would raise the cap on which income is no longer subject to payroll withholding tax. He would support measures that would have the wealthiest Americans pay an increased tax rate on Social Security earnings or scale back their Social Security benefits. He said he wants to be careful when talking about the retirement age, but would raise it when in combination with a progressive change in contributions. Himes opposes privatization of Social Security.
Shaban says means testing makes sense on the receiving end or the cap end. He called it a math problem, not a political problem. He says changes for people who are getting ready to retire in the next 10 or 15 years would not happen. But he would like to see a discussion about raising the retirement age, linked with a scaled pay out system. He says the rate of benefit could change depending on how early a recipient takes pay outs. Shaban opposes privatization of Social Security because that flies in the face of why the system was set up in the first place.
Several questions about immigration were posed. One was about how to balance reforms to the system with needs of constituents.
Shaban says people who are here are constituents, part of the fabric of the community and citizens. He says almost everyone comes from a family of immigrants. He called immigration a political football that's been kicked around for some 25 years. Shaban would like to take what he called a "stand up and stand out" approach. He wants to make it easier and more efficient for people who have come to this country legally to gain citizenship, noting that it shouldn't take a decade to get through the process. He says the millions of people here illegally will not be deported en mass, that's not the first step. He says there may be a small fine, but those residents should then go to the back of the line and go through the citizenship process. If people here illegally don't pay their taxes or commit a crime, then Shaban says they should be deported.
Himes says one of the first things that has to happen is a change in the way people talk about immigrants. He says building a wall is not a constructive policy. Himes also said there shouldn't be a religious test to keep Muslims out of the country. He says he would have voted in favor of a bill approved by the U.S. Senate, but never came up fro a vote in the House. The bill would have done three things including provide more money for border security. But he says a majority of the undocumented aliens didn't cross the border, they overstayed their visas. Himes says as long as employers continue to pay the undocumented, they will come. The bill would have provided technology and systems that would allow employers to know if employees were entitled to work, and penalties for those who break the law. The bill would have also included an earned path to citizenship.
Himes says "The Dreamers", children who were brought to this country by their parents and know no other home, should be taken care of. He says his opponent was wrong to oppose a bill in the General Assembly giving in-state tuition rates to children living in Connecticut who were brought to this country illegally by their parents.
Shaban says the blame can't be placed on the Republican majority, because Himes had a Democratic majority during his first term. He says it's against federal law to provide different benefits to a federally funded institution. Shaban says the state Attorney General agreed. He called for an expedited path for The Dreamers to gain citizenship.
Climate change was also addressed.
Himes says climate change is real and human caused. He says scientific consensus is behind that belief. Himes says the bizarre weather is proof of climate change. He called it a profound problem that's been too long in addressing because so many people have denied it exists. He says increased standards for automobiles has helped reduce the effects of climate change. He also touted a bill he helped get passed which would increase home and office efficiencies. Savings would be shared with properties that increased their energy savings. He says battery technology was improved for cars, which has started to bend the curve. Himes wants to reduce carbon-based energy sources and nuclear energy and move toward renewable energies.
Shaban is an environmental lawyer and sits on the Environment Committee in Hartford. He says it doesn't matter if climate change is man-made or not, it's happening and needs to be addressed. Shaban says carbon in the atmosphere is a problem and needs to be addressed. He says there are things that can be done to move toward to renewable energy. Shaban says a carbon tax doesn't really work because carbon is being emitted by everything that burns and everything that breathes. He called for long term production tax credits. Shaban says companies don't know if tax credits will stay in place so they're not sure if they'll be able to invest. He noted that the General Assembly passed the Long Island Blue Plan to protect the shoreline and figure out what's changing in the water of Long Island Sound.
The candidates were asked if they support gun control legislation, and if so, what type of restrictions.
Shaban says he's already supported gun control legislation. Shaban worked on the 2013 gun bill approved by the General Assembly. He says what makes a device dangerous is the person holding the device, but he does believe some controls are needed. He touted legislation for better background checks, safe storage and better security at schools. Shaban also touted better mental health screenings. But he says if the laws can't be funded, they won't do anyone any good. He says people lose focus of what needs to be done to deter a majority of gun violence, stemming the illegal flow of guns across the state lines. Shaban called the walk out by Himes on a 'moment of silence' an inappropriate reaction. He says Himes should have instead pitched a bill. Shaban says if he is elected he would push for a bill to stop the illegal trafficking of guns across state lines.
Himes agreed with Shaban that nothing is getting done in Congress, and there will be more 'moments of silence' as a response to non-stop violence. He says now is not the time to stop talking. Himes said he made the 'symbolic gesture' to protest an abdication of duty. He says those so-called stunts didn't accomplish a lot, but if enough of them occur, eventually the chambers will act. He says the walk out, sit in and filibuster mattered. If reelected, Himes says he will continue to sponsor every bill he can that will end gun violence and continue to raise symbolic hell. He says the majority of gun violence is not illegally trafficked guns citing suicide, San Bernardino, Orlando and Columbine.
Himes did commend Shaban for voting for the Connecticut gun safety bill. He said it was a courageous vote for a Republican. Shaban says they’re saying the same thing, but there’s a difference between talk and action. He said it wasn’t a tough for him as a Republican, it was a tough vote for him because a lot of kids got killed and he had to look at their parents each day when they came to Hartford. Shaban says if the bill was just about device restrictions, they missed the point. He noted that it was also about mental health, school security and funding. He called it groundbreaking legislation, which is almost meaningless because of a lack of funds.
The next question was about the Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United. The ruling holds that political spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, and the government may not keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections.
Himes says he opposes the ruling and would like to see it reversed. He says money is not the same as speech. He called for similar controls to the Connecticut public campaign financing system.
Shaban says there is still room under the decision to make things more transparent. He says it takes a long time to reverse a case and would prefer to see a campaign financing system. He also called for term limits. Shaban says there’s nothing illegal about large campaign war chests, but the optics are funny.
The Affordable Care Act was the next topic.
Shaban says it has to be repaired and then replaced. He says repeal and replace doesn’t work because that leaves a coverage gap. He says some people have arguably benefited from it, but vastly more people have been hurt by ACA. Shaban says the premise of the ACA didn’t pan out. He says there needs to be interstate commerce, plan clarity and torte reform. He says there has to be an Exchange, but coupled with a competitive interstate marketplace. Shaban cited studies finding the cost as $1.2 trillion to implement the ACA and insure 20 million people, but if the Medicaid limits had only been increased it would have cost $116 billion. Shaban says a top-down, one-sized fits all federal government doesn’t work.
Himes says it’s profoundly wrong to say that more people have been hurt than helped by the Affordable Care Act. Himes says the uninsured rate is down and millions of people have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act. He says there is no perfect legislation, and noted that there are problems in the small business and individual market. Himes says the donut hole for Medicare beneficiaries is gone because of the Affordable Care Act. He wants to keep the good parts and look for ways to draw more healthy people into the market. Himes says some 30 states haven’t expanded Medicaid as they were invited to do under the ACA.
A question from the audience was about what the one thing that Congress needs to tackle. Himes says too few Americans are feeling the benefit of economic recovery. He’d like to see an investment in national infrastructure to help people more productive. Himes says he’s tried to bring in federal resources to create construction jobs, but he’d like to get ahead of some problems like the Walk Bridge failure. He says rebuilding highways, railroads and laying fiber optic cable, the government is helping to put people back to work. Himes says when the economy tanked in 2008, government missed an opportunity to put people to work and bring the nation’s infrastructure into the 21st century.
Shaban says the question is who would manage the resources to do that. He says the biggest challenge is how to keep the federal government as small as possible. Shaban says he has more trust in Redding’s Democratic First Selectman to manage resources than all the Republicans in Congress. He notes that right now Connecticut residents send dollars to Washington, DC and only get pennies back. He added that the money comes back with strings attached. He says things are managed better from the ground up with a limited government. Shaban says model of the FAST Act is a classic example. He was critical of the Hartford-New Britain busway, which was built with federal money. He says the $600 million project was a waste and a failure because there are no jobs in either city. He says it would have been less of a waste to build the same busway between Stamford and Bridgeport. Shaban says Congressman Larson was in Hartford lobbying to get the busway pushed through, but if he had been in Congress he would have been fighting to get the busway in Fairfield County. He called the 4th District a cash machine for the state and for the country. Shaban also said the federal Department of Education should be phased out and the money returned to the states.
Himes countered that it’s easy to criticize how politicians spend money. He also said it’s not true that Connecticut only gets pennies back on the dollar. He says people don’t like politicians because they play fast and loose with the facts. Himes says a lot of the federal money that gets sent back is for Medicaid and food stamps for people. He says getting more of that back would not bode well for the state’s wellbeing.
A question was posed about hacking and cyber security. Shaban says intellectual property laws need to be beefed up. Himes says everything will be networked soon and he’s been pushing for an international agreement like the Geneva Accords, which he’s dubbed E-neva Accords. He says there needs to be agreement on the rules of cyber warfare, which includes agreeing not to attack critical infrastructure anymore than it is permissible to bomb a hospital. He says an agreement to go after the rogue hackers needs to be reached. Himes has a new cell phone, because his old cell number got posted during the DNC hack. He called cyber security a huge economic and job opportunity.
A political newcomer and a former Selectman are vying to fill an empty legislative seat in Bethel. The 2nd State House District seat is being vacated by Dan Carter. Democrat Raghib Allie-Brennan and Republican Will Duff are each seeking to be the area's next legislator.
Allie-Brennan grew up in Bethel, went to St. Mary's Church and did mission trips across the country. During his senior year at Mary Mount Manhattan College, he took a course on natural disasters, with a focus on Hurricane Katrina. He became passionate about protecting cities below the sea level, Homeland Security and government oversight. Allie-Brennan served on the Bethel Inland Wetlands Committee. He also worked as a legislative aide in Washington, DC.
Duff is a former member of the Boards of Education, Selectmen and Tax Review. He says the state has been taking advantage of residents, and notes that area towns aren't getting their moneys worth out of Hartford.
Allie-Brennan says millennials, seniors, middle class families and businesses are all being pushed out. He wants to go to Hartford to shake things up because the majority incumbents have dropped the ball. Allie-Brennan says the welfare of the state is at stake.
Duff says Connecticut is one of only four states that tax social security income and pension revenue. He called it immoral and says he wants to eliminate that tax. He also wants to look at affordable housing laws to strengthen municipal sovereignty over zoning decisions.
Education reforms will be a big topic in the coming session. Allie-Brennan says good schools attract more families. He says Bethel has a great special education program, but there's a lack of funds. He says fighting for funding fairness will be one of his top priorities.
Duff says there is no concrete formula to the Education Cost Sharing money. He says the ECS is robbing towns like Danbury and Bethel. He says every child is equal and deserves the same amount of funding.
When it comes to transportation infrastructure improvements, Duff says the big problem is that there is no more money. He says bridges and road aren't the only infrastructure in need of upgrading. He wants to the full Danbury branch line of Metro North to be electrified. Duff says the idea of a mileage tax is insane. He doesn't want to raise the gasoline tax anymore.
In order to attract business to Connecticut, Allie-Brennan wants to have more walkable communities and better rail service. He says the Bethel Train Station is very crowded and would like to make the most of the current resources. He called for Metro North to double track, electrify and move people in and out as quickly as possible. He notes that traffic congestion is a deterrence to business growth. He wants to study how to fund infrastructure improvements. Allie-Brennan also called for the Transportation Fund to be used only for transportation projects.
Duff says the experiment over the last six years of the state taxing itself into prosperity has been a failure. He wants to look at why Connecticut is so expensive to do business. He says there are layers of taxes that are prohibitive. Duff says simplifying the tax code is a major part of it. But he also called for severe cuts to stop the cycle of deficits year after year.
Allie-Brennan says it's unfortunate that Connecticut is in a place where the state has to aggressively incentivize businesses. But he says through energy grants, tax incentives or equipment grants can be incentives for businesses.
Opioid addiction needs to be addressed as well, according to Duff. He called it an epidemic that affects entire families. He says there are programs that need better funding to help end the opioid addiction.
Allie-Brennan says he's been going door to door in the district to see what the priorities of the constituents are, because he wants to represent their agenda and not impose his own priorities. A topic he sees a place for bipartisanship work is on Transit Oriented Development. He says good families are attracted to Bethel and more jobs need to be attracted to help keep families in town.
Duff says the race is one of experience. He says that's the key to being a good legislator in Hartford.
When it comes to the recently enacted gun laws, Allie-Brennan says he doesn't want to turn the clock backwards. He says people he's talked to want to move forward. He says that includes talking about mental health care.
The Danbury Dog Park is now open on Miry Brook Road.
The City Council approved the use of the land off Miry Brook for the dog park in April 2015. Construction began in June of this year. Council President Joseph Cavo says the off-leash dog park will be a great addition to the diverse recreational inventory in Danbury.
Mayor Mark Boughton says he's excited to provide a place for Danbury dog lovers to exercise their companions. He says dog parks are one of the fastest growing recreational spaces that a community can provide for its residents. Danbury saw a 6.5% increase last year in the number of licensed dogs in the city. Boughton says this is the largest completely fenced in off leash dog park in Western Connecticut. The Southbury dog park is larger, but bordered on one side by a river.
Part of the advocacy for the dog park came from an 8-year old boy. Jacob Saadi, son of Councilman Tom Saadi, had a class assignment to write about a problem in Danbury or something the City was missing. Jacob wrote about the need for a dog park, and after turning in the assignment to his teacher, sent the letter to the Mayor.
The dog park contains two fenced in areas; 0.82 acres for small dogs and 1.1 acres for large dogs (20lbs and over). Water is provided on site and the park is open from sunrise to sunset. The project cost about $150,000. Most of the cost was for fencing. The funding came from left over money in an old recreational bond.
An environmentally sensitive area is protected with fencing.
Residents will not be allowed to park on the side street due to airport restrictions. The FAA did sign off on use of the land for a dog park.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Republican challenger Dan Carter took each other to task during an hourlong debate that touched on a range of issues, including gun control and the federal health care law.
The Sunday debate, the only one between the nominees, aired live on WFSB-TV.
Blumenthal criticized Carter, a Bethel state representative, for his 2013 vote against a gun control package passed after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School and his opposition to a law confiscating guns from alleged domestic abusers served with a temporary restraining order.
"I think the NRA already has enough friends and defenders in Washington," Blumenthal said, referring to the politically influential National Rifle Association.
Carter said Democrats have done nothing to address illegal gun trafficking while making money off the gun control issue.
"That bill that I voted against in 2013 would have done nothing to prevent Sandy Hook from happening," Carter said.
Carter criticized the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature legislation, saying it has failed to reduce the cost of health insurance. He said families and small businesses have seen their premiums and deductibles "go through the roof."
Blumenthal acknowledged the law needs improvements but said it would be a disservice to roll back coverage guarantees for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
"I'm not willing to throw those people out of health insurance," Blumenthal said.
The Senate race has been low-key. The well-known Blumenthal, who is seeking re-election to a second six-year term, has raised much more money than Carter and has been running a series of TV ads.
As of September 30, Blumenthal had $4.7 million in cash on hand while Carter had $35,014.
The 24th state Senate District includes Danbury, Bethel, New Fairfield and Sherman. Republican incumbent Mike McLachlan is seeking a 5th term in office. He is being challenged by small business owner Democrat Ken Gucker.
A Deputy Minority Leader, McLachlan is ranking member on the General Assembly’s Government Administration and Elections Committee. McLachlan says there are more challenges ahead. He says there seems to be much more cooperation now to come up with ideas to address runaway spending.
Gucker is a small business owner who was a volunteer fireman in New Fairfield who now lives in Danbury. He's been an advocate locally on land use, environmental and historical issues. He cited the saving of the McLean house, stopping a zone change in the Long Ridge neighborhood and the Cotswold property.
When it comes to education reforms, McLachlan says two major education judicial decisions have been handed down in the last 40 years and they have been largely ignored by the legislature. Now that there is a third court ruling, which is headed to the state Supreme Court, McLachlan says he fears the General Assembly won't take it seriously. McLachlan says Danbury is dramatically underfunded compared to similar municipalities. He notes that special education is woefully underfunded.
Gucker called the education court ruling a mixed bag. He says the Education Cost Sharing formula does need to be addressed. But he disagreed with the Judge's ruling on special education reforms. As someone who has dyslexia, he says a different method of learning may be needed. He credited good teachers and an involved mother for not being passed over. He says children with special needs need to have all available resources.
Gucker says it sounded an alarm bell for him when Danbury officials approved spending $50,000 to hire a lobbyist to send to Hartford. He says the legislative delegation should be lobbying on behalf of Danbury. He says that money would have been much better spent in the schools.
The state has a Transportation Fund now, which is supposed to be a lockbox. But McLachlan says Governor Malloy's administration has taken, on average, $75 million a year from that fund to pay for other items. He says government needs to be responsible with transportation priorities and buckle down. He called the constitutional lockbox proposed recently a gimmick.
Gucker wants to see improvements to rail infrastructure. He says there's more of a need for rail than there has ever been. He says it's sad that more Danbury area residents travel to Brewster to use Metro North than take the Danbury branch. He would prefer a better option so people don't have to travel as far in their cars just to get on a train. While improvements are being made to the exit 5 and 6 area, he would like to see more being done. Gucker opposes a mileage tax and bringing back tolls. There's other infrastructure that he would like to see improved, including WiFi to attract businesses.
McLachlan wants the legislature to focus, like a laser beam, on the Interstate 84 corridor. He says the amount of traffic is dramatic, and the lack of resources is equally as dramatic. McLachlan says the state has spent tons of money on projects that he believes is misguided. He cited the $675 million busway between New Britain and Hartford. He would have preferred that money spent on adding a third lane all the way from Danbury to Waterbury and for the planning stages to redesign the MixMaster in Waterbury.
New Fairfield officials have been fighting for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to ban walk ins to state parks after they are closed to cars. McLachlan says there were meetings with DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee last year, and new regulations were promised for the 2016 summer season. But McLachlan says Klee dropped the ball. There are some simple fixes to take care of the problem and DEEP needs to not drop the ball again. He says he is disappointed in the agency's follow through.
Gucker says Candlewood Lake is special to him because he learned how to swim in that lake, and then became a water safety instructor and lifeguard. He would like to see greater enforcement of and communication with the lake's owner FirstLight Power Resources. He says last year's winter drawdown, done to kill off the invasive Eurasian water milfoil, wasn't done because of pump damage. He would have liked FirstLight to go ahead with the drawdown to also fix the pump.
McLachlan serves on the Judiciary Committee and the Finance Revenue & Bonding Committee. He says he is trying to keep a close watch on state borrowing and notes that Connecticut is exceeding the state's capacity to pay back the amount of money owed.
Gucker says the state can't cut its way to having balanced books; and that bringing in more revenue is the way. In order to do that, he wants to provide people with a living wage. He says low wage jobs means more people reliant on programs like HUSKY and food stamps. He says having a living wage will be less of a drain on Connecticut's resources. Gucker says top down economics doesn't work. He also encouraged people to shop local as a way to help the economy.
Gucker says small businesses aren't getting enough help. He related the story of a friend who purchased a dilapidated business in order to help improve the quality of life in a neighborhood, but he can't get assistance. He called for tax deferrals and assistance getting through the bureaucratic red tape.
The state does encourage some areas for development and some for open space. McLachlan says the state requires each town to have a Master Plan of Development. McLachlan says the Stony Hill corridor has been a high priority for commercial development, but the challenge has been nearby residential neighborhoods.
Gucker encouraged people to vote down the entire ballot, because the state races are the candidates who can affect Connecticut resident's lives the most. As he's been out campaigning Gucker says he's been hearing that people feel like they haven't been heard in Hartford.
Ballots for every town in Connecticut are now available for viewing online.
There are a lot of bubbles for people to fill out this coming Election Day. In Danbury there are bond issues to be decided, Newtown residents will be voting on Charter revision questions and several towns including Bethel are selecting a new Probate Court Judge.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says having the sample ballots posted gives the state’s two-million registered voters an opportunity to get familiar with the general election races before November 8th. With many offices on the ballot this year, Merrill says a little preparation never hurts. She encouraged voters to see who is running and to get comfortable with the ballots they'll be using on Election Day.
Voters can check their registration status online and find the location of their polling place.
Danbury's Public Works Director was asked recently by City Councilman Duane Perkins about what can be done about a spate of water main breaks.
Antonio Iadarola says some water main breaks are unavoidable, for example when there's a stub coming off the main that doesn't get picked up in the Call Before You Dig process. He says that's what happened by Exit 6 when a million gallons of water spilled into the street.
Iadarola says it's a complicated issue. He noted that no contractor purposely tries to break a water main because it creates havoc. But if the City sees an intentional disregard for Call Before You Dig markings, they will go after the contractor and also file a complaint with Call Before You Dig. Iadarola says Call Before You Dig investigates those contractors who continuously disregard the markings.
He says the look at each case on an individual basis.
When the City loses a significant amount of water, large valves have to be closed. If they're closed too quick, Iadarola says the valve will blow apart. He says the City has one of the best Water Departments in the state so they work quickly, while not damaging the infrastructure. He says it's a balance to close the system without damage so there aren't more significant issues.
Iadarola says both plants were affected, and they couldn't keep up making water because of the amount of loss. He says it's a dangerous situation because if the wells that feed the entire city go dry, air and contaminants would have been put into the entire distribution chain.
All of the appropriate alarms went off, staff went to their posts and the plants came right back online. Iadarola says they were able to maintain usage across the board, except for the piece that broke.
The two candidates in the 5th Congressional race met for a debate in Danbury on October 20th.
One of the issues they discussed was gun control. They were asked specifically about closing the background check loophole. Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Esty says when the law was passed 20 years ago, very few people bought anything on the internet. She compared it to a terrorist going to an airport and choosing to go through a security check or walk right onto a plane with a bomb. She says Congress is responsible to ensure that law enforcement has the resources they need to make sure felons, the mentally ill, and domestic abusers don't have access to guns. She also said that if someone is too dangerous to fly, they are too dangerous to buy a gun.
Republican challenger Clay Cope says gun control is a three-pronged issue. He says there is a mental health issue, a failure of the FBI to keep track of criminals, and a need to keep the 2nd Amendment in tact. Cope says background checks are a matter of due process. He wants to make sure citizens rights are not infringed upon by new laws. As First Selectman in a town with a Resident State Trooper, Cope is also the Chief of Police. He has to sign every gun permit. Every time Congress makes a move toward violating someone's 2nd Amendment rights, he inevitably gets an influx of gun permit applications. He knows there is a vetting process in place for those applications.
Esty says Cope is woefully ill informed. Since 12/14, Esty says there have been 100,000 Americans who have died from gun violence. She says the problem is that someone could go to the equivalent of "guns.com" and buy whatever they want without showing an ID. Esty says ATF, the FBI and others are saying that this loophole is something that can be fixed.
Cope said that Esty should be focused on issues directly impacting the 5th District, and not helping 18 other states get the same strict gun laws that Connecticut now has. He said the shootings in Orlando, hit close to home for him as a gay man. Cope looked at his challenger and said that he didn't feel safer after the sit-in she and other Democrats held on the House floor. He would have instead immediately had meetings with the FBI about why they took the gunman off their watch lists.
Esty said for the 5th District, to represent Newtown, it's incumbent upon someone running for Congress to know details on these laws.
Cope says as he's travelled around the district, people are passionate about their 2nd Amendment rights. He noted that he doesn't have people coming up to him and asking for stricter gun controls. What he's heard is "don't take away my rights".
The discussion turned to mental health services.
Esty says part of the problem is the stigma associated with mental illness. She and Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Tim Murphy have been working to craft a bill to provide wrap around resources for families dealing with mental health issues. She called for first aid-like classes for teachers and coaches to look for signs in changing behavior in teenagers.
Cope says he has a similar philosophy. His mother is a marriage and family counselor. He says it's important to get those who need help, the help they need. Cope says that's mirrored in the opioid addiction crisis that's seen across the country. He says addiction can be tied to mental health issues, noting that his family has dealt with this problem. Cope is referencing his brother, who has a learning disability and was medicated through much of his early life and susceptible to drug addiction. Tim Cope soon turned to criminal activity to support his drug habit and used several aliases to try to cover his tracks. Clay Cope was one of the aliases he used. These events happened more than 30 years ago. Clay Cope shared this story during the primary race to clear up claims made by a challenger earlier this year. He said at the time that his family does not know where Tim is, or what might have happened to him.
Cope says the biggest challenge to mental health services, is funding. He supports "Did You Know" campaigns. Cope says if people know where they can go to get help, another big challenge can be overcome.
The pair was asked what changes they would make to the country's immigration system.
Cope wants current laws enforced, steps taken to seal the border to keep illegal immigrants from coming in and to reform the process for people to become citizens. His partner is here legally from Peru, but can't get his citizenship. He says people are coming into this country illegal because they're not able to become citizens. For one friend's parents, he says it it took 17 years.
Esty says the current system is broken. She wants to secure the border, keep families together and give them a legal path to citizenship that includes paying back-taxes if any are owed. She says farmers in the district can't find legal labor to do the work. Esty says the dysfunctional system forces them to make a choice between hiring illegally or being uncompetitive. Esty said she supported a comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced by Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio in 2013.
The economy and changes to the tax code were also addressed.
Esty says the tax code is massively complicated and needs to be streamlined. She says the system rewards companies for shipping jobs overseas and has a lot of unpredictability. Esty specifically mentioned research and development tax credits that are subject to an end date, which she says makes companies uneasy about making investments. She says good policies make a difference in creating jobs. She added that fewer tax lawyers and more innovators are needed.
When it comes to taxes and spending, Cope says this is one of the places where Republicans and Democrats differ. But he says simplifying the tax code is a point they can agree on. He owned a small business and had to navigate import taxes for garments. He called the tax system wildly complicated.
Cope says the tax and spend philosophy doesn't work. He wants to keep spending down and to keep government as small as possible.
Transportation and infrastructure are a top concern for people in the district.
Esty says she helped craft legislation for the first long-term highway bill in almost 10 years. $3.5 billion for Connecticut was included in the bill. She notes that bipartisan support on the Transportation Committee was key to getting laws passed. She also sits on the rail subcommittee. Esty says speedy and safe rail are needed. She advocated for Positive Train Control technology to prevent crashes like those seen recently on Metro North and New Jersey Transit. Esty proposed high-speed rail from New York City to Danbury, Waterbury and Hartford and then on to Boston.
Cope says the condition of the roads is so poor, and they don't ever seem to be repaired. He says the priorities need to be shifted back to taking care of the roads. He is against bringing tolls back to Connecticut because it would cripple border towns. He opposed the I-95 toll study that Connecticut recently committed funding for.
If reelected, Esty says she wants to focus on "info-structure", giving an examples of the electric grid and the internet. She says energy is key to the rapidly evolving economy. Esty says an aging electric grid is subject to failure, and to cyber attack. She says briefings on the vulnerability of the electric grid were alarming.
Cope says paying for improvements is a challenge. He is in favor of a pay-as-you-go system. In Sherman, he's been able to keep taxes flat or reduced and change the rating outlook from negative.
The questions moved to foreign policy and the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
Cope says Syria is a crippled, flawed state because of Obama Administration policies. He says the focus should be on rooting out ISIS. Cope says not all Syrian refugees want to kill Americans, but this country has to be concerned with the ISIS terrorists who want to throw Americans off buildings, referencing some videos posted to Youtube showing that tactic. He called for a multi-national effort to come to a solution, saying ISIS is a deadly challenger.
Esty says Syrian refugees should be welcomed to this country, after a thorough vetting. She believes refugees from war-torn countries should be welcomed. She added that given America's leadership position in the world, it's imperative to this country's moral position to accept refugees. Esty says it takes two years to come to America from Syria. Those seeking to come here must be in a Syrian refugee camp and vetted by international experts. Militarily, Esty says a no-fly zone is something that should be considered.
Cope said something he would have done differently than Esty was on the Safe Act. He would have voted for it, siding with Congressmen Jim Himes and Joe Courtney. Cope says he doesn't feel safer knowing that the pause button wasn't pushed on Syrian refugees coming in. He did agree though with bringing people in safely and legally.
While they agreed on some policy issues, there was a difference of opinion about the Affordable Care Act. Cope called Obamacare an epic failure and would like to see it replaced. A Sherman resident shared with him that their family's premium was $570, but it's now tripled and is the same amount of money as their mortgage payment, with fewer benefits. He would like to see private market solutions implemented. He doesn't think there should be government-required insurance. Cope says somehow the Affordable Care Act became the wildly Unaffordable Care Act.
Esty says the Affordable Care Act is doing a lot of good for a lot of people, but it's not perfect. She compared it to Medicare, which got amended over and over again like any big piece of policy will. She touted a change getting rid of a medical device tax, and noted that the Affordable Care Act has been especially beneficial for people with pre-existing conditions. Esty says the private marketplace was the system before the Affordable Care Act and led to more emergency room visits.
The candidates were also asked about education equality among the states and how to address college debt.
Cope says education is a state and a local concern, but it should not be a federal government concern. He wants dollars redirected to states and towns to take care of education. Cope compared education to shopping local, saying no one knows better what students need than local boards of education. He also called for colleges and universities to tighten their belts when it comes to administrative costs.
Esty says there was bipartisan support to change the No Child Left Behind Act to give more autonomy to states and municipalities. Despite the laudable goals of No Child Left Behind, Esty says it wasn't working. In 2013, she fought to keep the interest rates from going up on student loans. She proposed allowing young people to refinance private sector student loans and allowing people with older federal loans to refinance. She says community colleges need to remain affordable, and technical high schools need to be kept open.
Cope says it's crippling for a young person to come out of college in debt, but there are things that cane be done to help them. He says raising awareness about the best fit for students is one strategy. He noted that there are some students in traditional colleges who could be better served by vocational schools.
A question was also asked about the Trans Pacific Partnership, TPP.
Esty voted against TPA, Trade Promotion Authority, and said she would vote against TPP. She said she came to that decision after meeting with people across the district, and recognizing the fact that Connecticut is an export state. She says any trade deal needs to be good for Connecticut working families. As she understands TPP, she says it doesn't do enough for labor standards, environmental standards, stopping currency manipulation or dealing with consumer health issues and consumer safety.
Cope says he is opposed to TPP, in part because it was negotiated in secret. He says in light of the failures of NAFTA and Obamacare, he's skeptical of it working. Cope says there's no rush to pass this through. He also pointed out poor enforcement from other countries. He wants U.S. interests fully considered. He also doesn't like the exclusion of the U.S. justice system.
An audience member posed questions about air quality and clean air.
Cope says those aren't priorities he's heard from people in the district. He called it an interesting question, but one that hasn't been brought up to him.
Esty says air doesn't stop at the borders and water doesn't respect state boundaries, but notes that Connecticut remains downwind from some coal plants. She says children in Connecticut have higher asthma rates and that's why states can't be decentralized. She says Connecticut is not isolated from the effects of what other states do or don't do.
Cope says truck idling bills and clean diesel acts to replace public works vehicles with outdated engines have been a boon for Connecticut.
Esty says there are members of Congress who don't believe in climate change and pushed Cope to answer whether or not he believes in climate change. Cope responded that the climate has changed, but he can't say the cause of it. He reiterated that this hasn't been an issue people in the 41 towns in the District have pressed him on. Cope says there are much bigger issues that are important concerns for people.
Each candidate was asked what his or her first piece of work would be in the new session. Esty says she would reintroduce a comprehensive background check bill. She says 189 bipartisan cosponsors signed on to the last gun safety measure. Cope says he would address illegal immigration and how to create legal immigrants. He says the system is terribly flawed and it needs to be addressed in a bipartisan way.
In closing statements, Cope said continuing down the current path of increased spending and taxes will not improve people's lives. He says there's evidence under Governor Malloy that that is not the solution. He called for a fresh start and a new direction with a commitment to serving the people's needs and not the special interest's needs. He believes the problems and challenges facing Americans are not insurmountable if there is a move toward focusing on solutions and working together. To make Washington work and to change Washington, Cope said people need to change who they send to Washington. He asked for the chance to make his brand of small town customer service work in Washington.
Esty says the election is about the future of the country, and whether to move forward together or turn on each other. She doesn't want to blame the other guy, but to work to make things better. Esty touted legislation she's been able to get approved ranging from aid for farmers to helping fuel cell companies. She says the district is wonderfully diverse. Esty says hard work and knowledge are needed to work across the aisle to get things done. She thanked constituents for the honor of serving them, and asked for the opportunity to continue to do so.
Danbury and other police departments around the state are participating in the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration's prescription drug take back day. State Police spokeswoman Trooper Kelly Grant says this is an opportunity for people to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs.
Prescription drugs that languish in medicine cabinets create a public health and safety concern because they are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.
Local collection sites include the police stations in Danbury, Newtown and Weston. Resident State Trooper Offices in New Fairfield, Sherman, Bridgewater, Roxbury and Oxford will be collecting. Bissell Pharmacy on Governor Street is serving as the collection site for Ridgefield Police. The Sherman firehouse on Route 39 and Easton Library are also collection sites today.
The Drug Take Back Day event is from 10am until 2pm.
Ridgefield and other Police Departments also have a drug take-back box in their front lobby year round, for anonymous drop off.
4th Congressional District incumbent Democrat Jim Himes and Republican challenger John Shaban will square off in a debate on Sunday. The event is being sponsored by the League of Women Voters representing 12 Fairfield County communities.
Himes is seeking a 5th term in office. Shaban is a state Representative from Redding.
The debate on Sunday is from 5 to 6:30pm, at the Clune Performing Arts Center at Wilton High School.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization which encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
Metro North is encouraging riders to use their new mobile app, and in order to push that along the MTA is ending online ticket sales. Monthly Metro North tickets will no longer be for sale online as of Tuesday. Riders will be unable to buy any other ticket online after November 30th.
Commuter Action Group founder Jim Cameron says it's unfortunate, because there was a 2-percent discount.
MTA eTix allows riders to purchase tickets directly on their mobile device. The ticket must be activated just before boarding the train. The conductor will then look at the ticket to confirm it's active, and scan the barcode on the screen. Tickets remain active for the duration of your trip.
A 26-year incumbent is being challenged for the state House seat representing the 110th District in Danbury. Democrat Bob Godfrey is seeking a 14th term. Republican Emanuela Palmares is looking to unseat the Deputy House Speaker.
Palmares says the district has change a lot in the last two and a half decades. She says there are different needs and challenges facing the constituents of the district. She believes a government should be reflective of the people it's serving.
Godfrey touted Connecticut as being one of the safest states in the country, in part because of the gun laws passed in 2013. He praised the deal to keep Sikorsky in the state, because there are several suppliers in Danbury that Sikorsky uses. As a Navy veteran, Godfrey says he's proud of Connecticut's role in the defense industry. He acknowledged that there is some dissatisfaction with government. He said he's tried his best to help people in the district. He said another accomplishment he's proud of is bringing back money to the district for school building projects. He's pleased to see the rehabilitation of the Glen Apartments in the Roger's Park area.
As a mother of a child with special needs, Palmares says she would like her son to attend public school, but notes that there isn't enough funding in Danbury for special needs programs. As an immigrant who came to Danbury from Brazil without speaking English, saw her parents go from a construction worker and a house cleaner to being small business owners. Her family founded The Tribuna, a bilingual newspaper. Palmares says they are feeling the burden of the state's tax and regulatory climate. She is also a member of the Danbury Aging in Place Council.
The court ruling ordering the legislature to overhaul the state's education system is being appealed to the State Supreme Court. But Godfrey says he hopes portions of the judge's ruling will be taken up. He wants to change the Education Cost Sharing formula. Godfrey says it's going to be a difficult discussion because towns receiving a lot of funding, will not want to vote for a decrease.
Education funding will be a priority for Palmares if elected. She says the legislature needs to remember that there is a difference between equity and equality. Palmares believes that's how education funding should be reworked. She wants equity, giving people what they need, as opposed to equality and giving everyone the same thing. She says the judge's ruling is an opportunity for a fresh start and to be able to affect generations to come. Palmares noted that up to 50% of students in the district are English Language Learners.
Palmares says if municipalities can bring grades up for ESL students, they won't get funding because they're a failing school district they'll get funding because they're doing well. She says better education will lead to more families looking to move into the district. Palmares also says better education will lead to better jobs.
Godfrey is proposing to deduct the interest paid on student loans from the state income tax from adjusted gross income. He wants to make things easier for people going into their first job and for people changing careers. He says good jobs, with good wages, is the both the short and long-term answer to what Connecticut needs to do to turn things around.
The number one thing to fix transportation problems, Palmares says is to create an enforceable lockbox for infrastructure funds. She also called for a better working mass transit system. Palmares says it's hard to move around the state without a car, and that affects quality of life.
An area he would like to work on if reelected is to figure out how to make the Transportation Fund inaccessible for expenditures that aren't transportation projects. Godfrey says the problem with a lockbox is that someone has a key. He wants to figure out who would hold the key. He proposed an oversight board, but getting consensus on that has been an issue. He says the Governor's 30-year, $100 billion plan is a good plan on how to move forward. But the big question is how to pay for all of the proposals. Godfrey says the mileage tax is not a viable option for Connecticut. He is also opposed to tolls. Godfrey says something that has to get resolve is electric cars not using as much gasoline, but wearing out the roads.
Godfrey says Connecticut lost 27% of the state's revenue in a three-week span during the crash of 2008. He says by creating jobs, the state will continue to turn the economy around. The Connecticut Next Program provides funding to groups around the state to become business incubators. Godfrey says the Hackerspace at Danbury Library has applied for funding. He says a man looking to do an agricultural start up by doing high-rise farming could apply as well.
Palmares says the Connecticut Next Program works will for innovative businesses, but small businesses that aren't tech-related have a hard time being viable in Connecticut. As for the Small Business Express Program, she would like to see changes. She says in order to get a loan a business has to be in near-excellent condition, but business need loans when they need help. Palmares would like to see a climate that encourages people to stay rather than paying people to stay. She encouraged bipartisanship to look at how to make Connecticut a sustainable place to live and work.
Work to improve mental health services and early intervention is another area Godfrey would like to address. He acknowledged the challenges to that; it's expensive and the outcomes vary from person to person.
Palmares says a lot of people are on fixed incomes so she would like to focus on social services. She related a story about seniors struggling to budget when the senior center got rid of the Wednesday lunch. She also noted that 60% to 70% of families in the school system in the district are part of the free or reduced price lunch program.
Seniors and millennials can be served in a similar way, according to Palmares. She says both age groups want a vibrant downtown and a walkable community. She is concerned that her son won't be able to afford to live in Connecticut when he is older.
Godfrey addressed GE leaving Fairfield for Boston. He says GE also pulled jobs out of Wisconsin for Canada. Godfrey says that's because Gov. Scott Walker's austerity budget killed the business climate in that state. For a while, corporations wanted suburban campuses, but now they're moving back to big cities. He says for too long Connecticut has neglected its cities. He would like to see Connecticut cities better develop their cultural, arts and dining districts to attract the creative class. He says there also has to be affordable housing, not luxury housing, and an atmosphere in a downtown where people can meet up and live without a car.
A replica of the Vietnam Wall memorial is making its first stop in Litchfield County with a limited engagement in New Milford. The Wall That Heals is a 250-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Mobile Education Center spreads a healing legacy of The Wall and educates about the impact of the Vietnam War.
The Roger Sherman Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution is hosting The Wall That Heals in New Milford.
The Wall will arrive at Young's Field next Wednesday at about 11:30am, escorted by the CT Patriots Guard. There will be daily Opening Ceremonies with a Closing Ceremony scheduled for Sunday October, 30 at 3pm.
The Wall That Heals honors the more than three million Americans who served in the U.S. Armed forces during the Vietnam War and its walls bear the names of the more than 58,000 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is the most visited memorial in the Nation’s Capital, but many Americans have not been able to visit. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund built the wall to give veterans and their family members across America an opportunity to see the Memorial.
The bulk of the cost to host The Wall, $7,500, is being paid for by the DAR. In order to raise the approximate $4,000 balance , a unique fundraiser is being held. Two-inch, 24K gold medallions are made in the U.S. and adorned on both sides can be purchased for $30. There are only 500 of these medallions in existence.
The Roger Sherman Chapter, DAR has the support of the Town of New Milford, POW/MIA CT Forget-Me-Not Organization, Ezra Woods Post 31 American Legion and Andrew B. Mygatt VFW Post 1672.
The Connecticut State Library Board has approved a grant of more than 24-thousand dollars to the Easton Public Library for a high-speed fiber connection to the Connecticut Education Network. The Connecticut Education Network was established in 2000 with a mission to deliver reliable, high-speed Internet access, data transport and value added services throughout Connecticut at equitable rates. The Easton Public Library is one of the first libraries in the state to receive such a grant. Bethel also was recently awarded such a grant. The connection is expected to be completed just after the New Year.
A political newcomer is looking to unseat a two term incumbent in Danbury's 109th State House District.
Democrat David Arconti Jr. says there are a lot of things that he's been able to accomplish for Danbury. One was a project he took on at the request of Mayor Mark Boughton. That was increasing the reimbursement for the Danbury High School expansion project. Usually schools construction projects are guaranteed a 62% reimbursement rate. Arconti says Danbury schools are underfunded in the Education Cost Sharing formula and a growing district, so he was able to make the case for 80% reimbursement.
Arconti says he's been able to increase municipal aid funding to the City in his two terms. He wants to continue that work in a third term. He says education funding will be one of the top three issues the legislature needs to work on in the coming session. He says parents, teachers and other want change to how Danbury is funded by the state. He says the problem has been that legislators don't want funding decreases and that has led to a lot of other towns being overfunded, even though their enrollment is decreasing.
Republican Veasna Roeun has spent most of his life in Danbury. His family came to America in 1983 as a war refugee from Cambodia. He served in the United States Army National Guard and was deployed to conduct peace-keeping missions in the Balkans and then for combat operations in Afghanistan. He went on to earn a degree in Justice and Law Administration from Western Connecticut State University.
Roeun then worked for the state Department of Labor. He promoted the Governor's Advanced Manufacturing Initiative by helping to create the Southwest Manufacturing Consortium and Greater Danbury Manufacturing Working Group. Roeun also served on the Military Occupation and Licensing Legislative Task Force. The group worked to pass a bill making it easier for returning veterans to obtain licenses and certificates needed to advance their careers.
When it comes to education, Roeun says there's a classroom shortage at Shelter Rock Elementary School that he would like to see remedied. He says the problem is two parts: students who live practically across the street are bused to another school in the City or they have to have classes in "pods", temporary mobile classrooms.
Arconti says it was a local decision not to expand the physical building, but to go with the portable classrooms. He says he did help secure the state funding needed for the City project.
Rouen worked with Henry Abbott Technical High School while he was with the state Department of Labor, and would like to see more funding for that school so more people can take advantage of that resource. He wants to foster a good environment to increase manufacturing jobs.
While there were significant budget cuts last year, but Arconti says Connecticut can't cut its way back to prosperity. He wants to grow the bioscience in the state to bring in good quality, high paying jobs. He says an educated workforce is needed for these high tech manufacturing and STEM jobs. In order to bolster those industries, Arconti touted the Entrepreneurship Learner's Permit. He says that allows new businesses to be reimbursed for fees associated with state filing, permitting and licensing. Arconti says that should help knock down one barrier the business community has told lawmakers about.
Roeun says the state is putting band aids on the economy, and those aren't the solutions needed in this economic climate. He says there's a lot of wasted spending in Hartford. He says cuts to services for people with special needs or mental health problems need to be reversed. Roeun agrees with some of the gun safety measures passed in 2013, but disagrees with other portions. He says the mental health side of gun control needs to be addressed.
Roeun says the state doesn't have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. He was critical of retroactive tax hikes placed on businesses. He called for a hiring freeze, and to take back some administrative raises that were issued in the last few years.
Arconti opposes border tolls. He called the idea an unfair fee on Danbury area residents. He notes that on a per capita basis, Danbury already contributes among the most tax dollars to the state. He supports a Transportation Funding Lockbox. He says transit orient development is a key policy idea that needs to be explored. Arconti says young people want to live near restaurants, stores and jobs that are easily walked to or easily reached by mass transit. He worked last year to make sure Danbury was included on a list of cities to receive grant money to spur residential and commercial growth near a transit hub. Danbury received a $225,000 grant, which he says that was great for CityCenter.
Transportation is a top priority that Roeun is hearing from people. He was critical of the New Britain to Hartford Busway. He would have preferred to see that money used to expand Interstate 84 from the state line all the way out to Waterbury. He says the Special Transportation Fund shouldn't be used to pay pensions and other bills. He is opposed to a proposed mileage tax and opposed to tolls. He called it a waste of taxpayer money to study a mileage tax if no one intends to implement it.
In 2014, the delegation from the five towns that surround Candlewood Lake were able to work on an invasive species grant program. The Lake is being stocked with sterile carp to eat milfoil. He wants to tackle the blue-green algae issue as well. Over the summer, municipal officials and the Candlewood Lake Authority told state lawmakers that if the blue-green algae bloom was bad this year, it could lead to a month long closure of the whole lake. He says that would be detrimental to the area. A program currently in existence, the Community Investment Act, provides funding for openspace and farmland preservation. He wants to explore if a revenue stream from that program to various lake authorities to help them get more resources to fight invasive species and algae blooms.
Roeun wants to make Connecticut a place where people can live, work and then retire. He called it shameful that the state taxes social security and inheritance.
The Danbury Parking Authority could soon be writing fewer tickets for people who've let their meter expire. Danbury has launched a program that will allow drivers to use their mobile phones to pay for parking at 400 on-street spaces throughout the city. Customers can pay for parking with their cell phone using Parkmobile’s mobile app for the iPhone, Android, and Windows smartphones.
Mayor Mark Boughton says this is an innovative service that will enable residents to experience downtown Danbury in a more convenient and accessible way. He says the partnership with Parkmobile is helping to bring Danbury into the 21st century as a city of the future.
Time limits on meters still apply and the app will not allow users to purchase more time than allotted by the meters.
To use the new Parkmobile system, customers register free at www.parkmobile.com. Once registered, they can use a mobile app, internet, or call toll free to pay for parking. Up to five license plates can be associated with each user profile.
It was free to partner with ParkMobile. Enforcement officers will be able to see that a motorist has paid with Parkmobile using a wireless handheld device. The parking authority paid for the handhelds.
Mobile app users may also choose to receive alerts and reminders 15 minutes prior to expiration of their parking session. The app charges users 35 cents for every transaction.
Parkmobile, LLC is the leading provider for on-demand and prepaid mobile payments for on- and off- street parking and mobility related services. The Parkmobile network spans across more than 2,000 locations. Parkmobile serves over 20 airports as well as provides reserved parking solutions for private operators, the Super Bowl, the College Football Championship Series, Fenway Park, and Nationwide Arena among others.
Brookfield Police are mourning the death of a longtime member of the Department. Retired officer Kevin Seeley died at Danbury Hospital on Monday. Seeley began his law enforcement career in Newburgh, New York before joining the Brookfield Police Department in 1977.
He served with Brookfield for nearly 36 years, retiring as a full-time officer in 2013. Seeley then served as a Special Police Officer, until the time of his death. During his lengthy career with the Brookfield Police Department, Seeley was a member of the SCUBA Team, served as a Field Training Officer, was a police union official and received numerous awards and commendations for exceptional police work.
The Brookfield Police Department said Facebeook post that they will miss Seeley and bear his passing with heavy hearts as they hold his family uppermost in their thoughts and prayers.
The Seeley Family will receive friends at the Brookfield Funeral Home on Federal Road Thursday, 4pm-7pm. Funeral Services will be held privately at Cedar Hill Cemetery, Newburgh, NY.
The Eureka water tank is now complete and delivering water to Bethel households. First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker previously said the 750,000 gallon tank will provide better water pressure and volume needed for fire suppression. That will in turn allow for further expansion of Clarke Business Park. The tank is located on Long Ridge Road off Reservoir Road in Danbury on property owned by Bethel.
The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission has voted unanimously on a property to recommend to town officials. The group is proposing that Newtown discuss placing a memorial at the SAC Field. Discussions will be transferred from the Permanent Memorial Commission to the Town.
If the trustees and the town agree on the location, the Commission will move into the design stage of the project. If the site is not feasible, a new location will need to be identified.
Riverside Road residents near SAC Field were contacted to get insight and recommendations, and to address any concern with the proposed site. The Commission is looking for a design that will have a minimal impact on the neighborhood while ensuring that the location is secure and safe for everyone.
Not a definitive portrayal, meant as visual to help identify property under consideration
(Photo Courtesy: SHPMC)
Families directly impacted on 12-14 continue to be updated by the Commission to ensure the design guidelines are accurately constructed. Once the town's Land Use Office and legal team update the Commission on the standing of using their recommended location, the group will give an update to the community.
Redding has launched an initiative being called "vonate". The Redding Town Clerk and Registrar of Voters are working with the Redding Food Pantry this election season to restock the shelves. Supplies are low and the town officials are hoping that residents will help out.
As Redding residents go to Town Hall to register to vote or apply for an absentee ballot and those voting at the Community Center on Election Day are being called on to bring an item to donate to the Redding Food Pantry.
They are also collecting gift cards to grocery stores.
The Food Pantry Needs: Ground coffee Tea Cooking Oil (Canola, Vegetable, Olive) Pasta Pasta Sauce Rice Fruit Cups Beets Apple sauce Cereals Box Milk Diapers (baby & adult) Dish Soap (Dawn, etc.) Laundry Detergent Household Cleaners Paper Towels Toilet Paper Shampoo Deodorant Toothbrushes Toothpaste Snacks (individual for student lunches - such as potato chips, goldfish, etc.)
There is also a large freezer at the Community Center so donations will also be collected of: frozen fruit and vegetables and individually packaged pieces of frozen chicken, beef, fish, etc.
A two term Republican incumbent is being challenged by a community organizer to represent the 106th District of Newtown.
Republican incumbent Mitch Bolinsky says he's proud of protecting funding for Newtown schools. He also helped to bring dollars back to the district to help with mental health needs following 12-14. Even though there's been significant help, the healing continues. Bolinsky says the funding has been subjected to budget cuts.
Democrat Eva Zimmerman works with the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, ConnPIRG. She filled a vacancy on the Legislative Council in Newtown for part of a term. The state deficit is one of her top concerns. Zimmerman says Connecticut is at a crossroads of figuring out a strategic plan. Her other priorities include education reforms and senior tax relief.
A priority for 2017 will be to balance the budget. Bolinsky says the state needs to change the way government spending money. He wants to see more investments in critical infrastructure, education reforms and mental health initiatives, while attracting good jobs back to the state. He called for using the resources Connecticut already has rather than raising taxes to get more resources. If the economy isn't turned around, Bolinsky says there may not be a Connecticut to come home to in a few years. Bolinsky says the alarm needs to be sounded because the recent tax policy has been so incredibly straining for residents and businesses. He says retirees, young people and businesses are all voting with their feet and looking for the exit.
Education funding is going to be a big topic in the new session. A more than decade old legal battle is headed to the Connecticut Supreme Court. Zimmerman wants to bring back education dollars to Newtown, including for social services. She says Newtown lost funding in the Education Cost Sharing formula. Zimmerman called the court ruling a perfect opportunity to make sure the state is doing the best for Connecticut children and those with special needs.
Zimmerman also wants to bring back funding to help seniors. She notes that a lot of seniors are leaving because taxes are too high. She would like to incentivize young people to stay in Connecticut as well.
Bolinsky is the ranking member of the Aging Committee. The Care Act has made Connecticut a leader in providing ongoing care and custodial services for people who are suffering from dementias such as Alzheimers. He says the Committee is also doing positive work for veterans and making Connecticut a leading place for allowing seniors to age in place. Bolinsky say a lot of the issues the Aging Committee are non-partisan. If more committees would work in a bipartisan manner, he says so much more could be done.
Bolinsky says Connecticut has passed the tipping point because each tax increase leads to decreased revenue as more companies and families leave.
While the General Assembly has implemented some school safety measures and gun control laws, mental health reforms have yet to be tackled. Zimmerman says she disagrees with Governor Malloy's decision to privatize group homes. Legislation has been considered to provide worker's compensation coverage for first responders needing mental health assistance for PTSD, but there were cost concerns. Zimmerman says that care should be covered.
When it comes to transportation infrastructure, Bolinsky says Connecticut has a long way to go. He says there are some good projects in progress now, but funding remains a concern. He says Connecticut has plenty of money; it's just not being appropriated correctly.
Danbury officials have met with state agencies about the City's plan for creating a walled garden at Hearthstone Castle. The concept was developed in a 2013 study partially funded by the state. A Historian/Environmental Reviewer/Freedom Trail & W3R coordinator from the state Department of Economic and Community Development State Historic Preservation Office and members of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation agree that the proposal is the best use for the historic ruin.
Danbury residents will be voting on Election Day in a Bond referendum. The $10 million Public Improvement Bond contains $1.6 million for improvements to Tarrywile Park. Some of that funding will go toward preparation of detailed design and construction plans for the walled garden. If approved, the funding will also pay for removal of the contaminated debris, stone removal, and stabilization of adjacent rock retaining walls.
Stability of the exterior walls of the Castle has to be analyzed once the debris is removed. Initial structural reports have shown that the interior floors and roof collapsed into the basement leading to a continued deterioration of exposed interior masonry.
State officials agreed that final wall height can only be determined after analysis once the debris is removed. Additional funding from state or federal sources will be sought for the work.
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) - The Mount Van Hoevenberg sliding track outside Lake Placid is open for the season.
Despite temperatures hovering around 50 degrees, USA Luge's Tucker West of Ridgefield took the first run of the season on Monday morning on the mile-long track.
The U.S. skeleton squad and bobsled teams also are scheduled to start sliding on the track later in the day.
Top competitors are due at the 16-year-old Adirondack Mountain venue on the first weekend in December for Luge World Cup racing.
There is an open seat in the state House to represent Redding, Easton and Weston. Bonnie Troy is a Green Party candidate, cross-endorsed by the Democratic Party. Adam Dunsby is the Republican First Selectman of Easton.
Dunsby is currently serving his second term as First Selectman. He was a member of the Board of Education from 2009 through 2013, and previously served as an adjunct professor of finance at Fairfield University. He was a founding partner of a Stamford-based investment firm.
Troy, a Weston resident, has an organic land care business and an associate with a company that educates people about green energy options. She also works with land trusts and nature conservation organizations on sustainability events. She's also a beekeeper.
Troy ran as a Green Party candidate in the district two years ago and gained 19.5% of the votes. The Democratic Town Committees of the three towns in the district also endorsed Troy. She says that speaks volumes as to how people feel about this political climate. She notes that the Democratic Party was willing to move laterally to get behind what she believes in.
Education reforms will likely take up a large portion of the session given the more than decade old legal battle that's headed to the Connecticut Supreme Court. A Connecticut judge laid out a lot was about what the state should be doing to improve the state's education system. Dunsby says his experience serving on the Board of Education and the regional education service center has put him in a good place to deal with education issues.
Troy says the state needs to look at what's working, where is the money being spent, where are the kids being left behind, where the money is being lost. She doesn't think it's a one-sized fits all solution. While there might be some shared regionalization that might work with resources or equipment, Troy says that won't work for education reforms. Troy notes that as a Green candidate, she's not running on party lines but running for a community.
Funding for all of the initiatives in Governor Malloy's 30-year transportation plan is a lingering question. Troy says the first thing is to track the money make sure those who are supposed to be overseeing the funding are actually overseeing the funding. Right now, she says the money isn't going to where it needs to go. If the state wants businesses and people who want move or stay in Connecticut, Troy says the government needs to have state of the art transportation.
Dunsby also called for improved infrastructure. He says the best way to achieve that is to use the funds allocated for transportation on transportation. Dunsby says it's important to budget long-term for capital projects. He is not in favor of a mileage tax or tolls. Dunsby says introducing new revenue sources will generate new ways to spend the money. He instead called for operating with current dollars.
Economic issues are the top of a lot of people's minds. He says one of the biggest challenges facing the government is that the state keeps borrowing more and more. He believes the state needs someone who will fight to reduce spending and taxes, and will fight to maintain local control for the towns. The number one issue is fixing the business climate, making the state a more welcoming place. Dunsby called for a stable tax environment, rolling back taxes and creating a stable regulatory environment.
Troy would like to see incentives created to help small businesses thrive. She notes that the district has a lot of open space and farmland. She's been touring farms to see what they're doing and what they need. She encouraged more people to shop local.
Bethel Public Library is getting a grant for high speed internet access. The Connecticut State Library Board has approved $25,100 for Bethel Library to install a high-speed fiber connection to the Connecticut Education Network.
The network delivers reliable, high-speed Internet access, data transport and value added services throughout Connecticut at equitable rates. The connection at the Bethel Public Library is expected to be completed just after the New Year.
State Representative Stephen Harding says libraries are no longer merely home to countless shelves of books, today they are hubs of varying informational resources. According to the Library Board, public libraries give people free access to research and other networks online, which helps close the digital divide.
Fitch Ratings has upgraded Bethel's bond rating. Bethel's bond rating from Fitch has been upgraded to 'AAA' from 'AA+'. The Rating Outlook is Stable.
Fitch says the upgrade reflects continued improvement in the town's financial performance and the town's low long-term liability burden coupled with exceptional financial operations. Fitch says Bethel has positioned itself to withstand the challenges associated with a moderate economic downturn. Fitch noted that generally conservative budgeting and steady, moderate tax rate increases have allowed revenues to keep pace with spending growth, yielding very stable financial results and modest operating surpluses.
The bulk of the town's spending is related to education (65% of general fund expenditures) followed by public works (18%). Fitch says total spending has increased at a manageable pace in recent years, maintaining alignment with revenue performance.
The legal case surrounding continued operation of the Dorothy Day homeless shelter has been transferred out of Danbury Superior Court. Danbury Zoning Enforcement Officer Sean Hearty issued a cease and desist order to Dorothy Day homeless shelter in an effort to bring the shelter into compliance. The order was upheld by the Zoning Board of Appeals in August. The ruling is being appealed in court. The zoning case has been transferred to Hartford Superior Court's land use litigation docket. There have been complaints from nearby neighbors about the shelter on Spring Street. Neighbors say there’s increased drug traffic, and prostitution.
A presentation by the Connecticut Fair Trade Coalition on the Trans Pacific Partnership will be held at the Roxbury Congregational Church tonight. Part of the presentation will be about how TPP will affect jobs, the environment, human rights, health care, food and product safety standards and more. Representatives from MoveOn.org, Democracy for America - Fairfield County, and Sierra Club will be among the speakers.
The event Tuesday from 7pm 8:30pm.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade agreement among twelve of the Pacific Rim countries - notably not including China. TPP writes the rules for global trade. It will reportedly make it easier for American entrepreneurs, farmers, and small business owners to sell Made-In-America products abroad by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes and other trade barriers on American products across the 11 other countries in the agreement.
Critics argue TPP will intensify competition between countries' labor forces. The biggest criticism on the campaign trail is that alleges that TPP was done in secretive negotiations to make sweeping changes without voters' knowledge.
Texas-based Panda Power Company has proposed a twin turbine, air cooled, natural gas electricity generation plant for the Century Brass property in New Milford. The Economic Development Commission held a meeting about the proposal Thursday night. Mayor David Gronbach noted that if environmental permits are not obtained, or if the Town believes the environmental impacts do not justify the sale, the property will not be sold.
He says that process will likely take over a year.
The old Century Brass Mill property is 72 acres along Housatonic Avenue and Aspetuck Ridge Road.
The Town Council will take up the item again at their meeting on the 24th.
The Republican challenger running for the 5th Congressional District seat has released a statement in response to a Connecticut judge dismissing the wrongful death lawsuit filed by some Newtown families against Remington Arms. Clay Cope says while he is still deeply saddened by the terrible loss of life at Sandy Hook, he applauds the court ruling. Cope says the manufacturer of the firearm is not responsible for the horrific killings.
Cope says it's long past time to stop demonizing firearms and the law-abiding citizens who, while exercising their Constitutional rights protected by the 2nd Amendment, use firearms responsibly for protection of self or loved ones or for recreation.
He called on incumbent Democrat Elizabeth Esty to instead, advocate like he is, for more effective diagnostic and therapeutic mental health services. He says that is the best path to stopping mass killings.
The 31st annual Danbury College and Vocational Fair takes place Monday at the Danbury Mall. Over 235 two-year and four-year schools will be represented. The Armed Services, trade schools, business schools and the job service will also be at the fair.
5,000 students and their parents are expected to visit the college and vocational fair. Adults interested in further training are also being urged to attend. Chairwoman Valerie DeRubertis says this is one of the largest and most successful college fairs in the country.
Students and adults can talk with school representatives about majors, costs, entrance requirements, student life, sports and scholarship information among other topics. Students are urged to write up a short list of questions to ask admission representatives, including what the two or three most popular majors are. That can give a good idea of the main interests of the majority of the students. Students who are undecided should ask about what services and support are available to help them explore various majors.
Freshmen and sophomores are urged to ask admission representatives what they should do to strengthen their transcripts and activities. Juniors who attend are urged to start making a list of colleges they are interested in to learn more about heading into senior year. Seniors can make another contact with a school they're interested in or find a school they weren't aware of before the fair.
DeRubertis says college fairs can be very informative but they can also be overwhelming. Danbury High School counselors, including Spanish speaking counselors, will be on hand to help fair attendees. She says it's easy to get caught up in the crowds and confusion, criss-crossing the room, stopping at any booth that seems popular.
The Danbury School District website shows the list of institutions attending. There are also tips on what to ask college representatives and financial aid information on the Danbury site.
Students with access to a computer can print a few sheets of self-stick address labels with contact information, high school, year of graduation, intended major(s), and any extracurricular activities of interest. The label can then be put on information cards to save time in filling out the same information at each college’s table.
The College Fair will be held on both levels of the mall from 5pm to 8:30pm.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A Connecticut-based Native American tribe is suing the state for at least $613 million in damages for land it says was taken from the tribal reservation more than a century ago.
The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation said in the suit filed Thursday the state took 2,000 acres it was managing for the tribe without compensation between 1801 and 1918.
Attorney Austin Tighe, a lawyer representing the Kent-based tribe, said the Schaghticokes still don't have a full accounting of the property from the state and that the actual amount may be more than $613.
"It's time to go forward with this now," Tighe said Friday.
Once the case gets into the court system, he said the tribe will demand the state provide the full information about the tribal land. Tighe contends the state took land from the tribe on 91 different occasions over 117 years, promising to pay for the property but "repeatedly broke its promise."
A spokeswoman for the state attorney general said the complaint is under review and any response will be made in court.
The Schaghticokes are not federally recognized, a designation the tribe has sought for many years. Former Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut had opposed their recognition when he was in office but now represents the tribe as an attorney in this case.
"Looking back on what happened 12 years ago, for me, the opportunity to be involved in this litigation on behalf of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, might be called a second chance to do right by them," Lieberman said.
Both Lieberman and Tighe stressed the tribe is not attempting to recoup the land it lost but rather be fairly compensated. The $613 million figure stems from the value of four parcels of land at the time they were taken, adjusted by a 6 percent interest rate compounded annually.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dan Carter is weighing in on Friday's dismissal of the case against Remington Arms by the families of nine children and adults killed and one teacher who survived the shootings at Sandy Hook School. Carter said the judge's decision is an awful reminder of the evil perpetrated on those innocent victims at Sandy Hook.
As a State Representative for the neighboring town of Bethel, Carter said he proposed legislation in the General Assembly that would have made guns and gun owners safer, that would have prevented another tragedy like Sandy Hook from ever happening again. But Carter says people like his opponent, Democratic incumbent Senator Richard Blumenthal, wanted to go after legal gun owners and gun makers.
Carter voted against the gun bill approved by the state legislature in the wake of the shootings.
Carter says he would propose legislation in the U.S. Senate to keep guns away from people like the man who carried out the shooting on 12-14 without wrongly persecuting gun manufacturers and responsible gun owners.
He says common sense gun legislation is needed.
Carter criticized Blumenthal and others for using the tragedy as a means to a political end. He says people like Blumenthal are pushing a political agenda to raise money for their campaigns and make a name for themselves while gun crime is rampant on the streets.
Naugatuck Valley Community College has opened it's new expanded space in Danbury. The facility at 190 Main Street has been serving students since shortly after the fall semester started September 19th. The new 20,000 square foot campus features spacious classrooms, student lounge and on-site library. By moving across the street, Naugatuck was able to offer expanded financial aid and academic advising, a computer lab, health care training lab, science lab and prep room.
The old campus was 6,000 square feet. The first two weeks of classes were held at Danbury Library as the college prepared for the move to the second and third floors of the old Pershing Building on the corner of West Street.
Little less than 400 students took classes at NVCC in Danbury when it first opened in 2009. There are now about 1,200 students, including 600 full-time.
Part of the move also included crediting students with a free HART bus pass and a parking permit for the nearby Patriot Garage. Peter Pan bus lines will offer students transportation between the Danbury and Waterbury campuses for $2 each way.
NVCC offers degrees in General Studies and Business Management and more than 100 credit degrees or certificates offered at the main campus in Waterbury. There is credit transferability to any of Connecticut’s state universities, Charter Oak or the University of Connecticut. Certain programs also maintain special articulations with private colleges throughout the region.
De Filippis said she will keep weekly office hours in the new location.
The annual Walk of Honor is being held this weekend in Danbury. In addition to the walk, this year's Warrior Award recipient will be presented with the recognition. Organizer Mary Teicholz says the event will begin at noon on Sunday and the ceremony will be followed by the one-mile walk.
Teicholz says they are paying tribute to those who not only gave their lives at war, but also those who have given of their lives after they’ve retuned home.
This year there was also an essay contest for 4th and 5th graders at King Street Intermediate School. One student from each grade will be presented with a medal for writing the winning essays. The students will also be this year's guest speakers. The essay contest was entitled “What a Veteran means to me”.
A Marine Corporal injured in Afghanistan has been named this year's Warrior Award recipient. The award is being presented at the Walk of Honor to Roger Rua. Rua was riding in while serving with a security platoon, ran over an improvised explosive device. Rua was initially paralyzed from the chest down, but is now able to walk with the use of a cane.
The ceremony is at the Danbury War Memorial at noon tomorrow.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A judge on Friday dismissed a wrongful-death lawsuit by Newtown families against the maker of the rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre, citing an embattled federal law that shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products.
State Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis granted a motion by Remington Arms to strike the lawsuit by the families of nine children and adults killed and a teacher who survived the Dec. 14, 2012, school attack, in which a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators with a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle made by Remington.
The families were seeking to hold Remington accountable for selling what their lawyers called a semi-automatic rifle that is too dangerous for the public because it was designed as a military killing machine. Their lawyer vowed an immediate appeal of Friday's ruling.
The judge agreed with attorneys for Madison, North Carolina-based Remington that the lawsuit should be dismissed under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was passed by Congress in 2005 and shields gun makers from liability when their firearms are used in crimes.
Advocates for gun control and against gun violence have criticized the law as special protection for gun makers. It became an issue in the presidential campaign this year when Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic nominee, criticized then-challenger Bernie Sanders for his support of the law in 2005. Sanders, a Vermont U.S. senator, is now backing a bill to repeal the law.
Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal along with 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty released the following statement:
“The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act denies victims of gun violence their fair day in court. This misapplied and misguided law protects gun manufacturers from liability even for dangerous and irresponsible practices – an unprecedented and indefensible legal shield available to no other American industry. We disagree with today’s decision and will continue our fight to repeal this reprehensible law.”
Governor Dannel Malloy said that while the decision is a deeply disappointing day for the families, their appeal will continue this fight for justice. He says the laws providing unique protections to gun manufacturers need to be changed to give crime victims a right to pursue legal remedies.
Lawyers for Remington said Congress passed the act after determining such lawsuits were an abuse of the legal system.
But the families' attorneys argued the lawsuit was allowed under an exception in the federal law that allows litigation against companies that know, or should know, that their weapons are likely to be used in a way that risks injury to others, and the judge disagreed.
"While the families are obviously disappointed with the judge's decision, this is not the end of the fight," said Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the families. "We will appeal this decision immediately and continue our work to help prevent the next Sandy Hook from happening."
Jonathan Whitcomb, an attorney for Remington Arms, declined to comment.
The company recently had been fighting to keep internal documents requested by the families from public view. The judge issued an order in August allowing certain documents containing trade secrets and other information to be kept from public view, but she said the order did not apply to all other documents in the case.
Besides Remington, other defendants in the lawsuit include firearms distributor Camfour and Riverview Gun Sales, the now-closed East Windsor store where the Newtown gunman's mother legally bought the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle used in the shooting.
A Connecticut judge has dismissed the wrongful death lawsuit by families of some Sandy Hook School shooting victims against rifle maker Remington Arms.
The families of nine children and adults killed, and a teacher who survived, claims that Remington knew the AR-15-style rifle was dangerous and meant for the military but sold it to the public anyway and should be held accountable.
Remington Arms is the parent company of Bushmaster Firearms, which made the AR-15-style rifle used in the shooting. Their lawyers argue the lawsuit is barred by a 2005 federal law that shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products.
The families' lawyers said their lawsuit was allowed under an exception to the act
Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis disagreed.
The trial was not slated to start until 2018. The judge initially wrote in her decision that she would hear Remington's argument for dismissal in December 2017.
A lawyer representing the families says they will appeal the judge's dismissal of the lawsuit. Attorney Josh Koskoff says the families are disappointed by the decision, but it is ``not the end of the fight.'' He says an appeal of the decision will be filed immediately.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - One of the two regional automobile clubs in Connecticut says it will continue to provide driver licensing service to the general public until the end of the year, when the organization's current contract with the Department of Motor Vehicles expires.
Thursday's announcement comes after Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy threatened legal action when AAA Northeast last week stopped serving non-AAA members at its eight offices in Fairfield, New Haven and Litchfield counties. AAA Northeast says the influx of public customers hurt its customer service to dues-paying members.
AAA Northeast has an office in Danbury.
AAA Northeast president and chief executive Mark Shaw says the club hopes to reshape its partnership with DMV "to meet the needs of both sides."
DMV relies on AAA Northeast and AAA Allied to provide licensing services to alleviate demand at branch offices.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut-based Native American tribe is suing the state for hundreds of millions of dollars for land it says was taken from the tribal reservation starting centuries ago.
The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation said in the suit filed Thursday that the state took 2,000 acres of land it was managing for the tribe without compensation.
The lawsuit says the tribe is owed at least $613 million, but the actual amount may be more.
A lawyer for the tribe tells the Hartford Courant that ``we're simply asking the state to do what it promised to do and what it is constitutionally required to do.''
The Schaghticokes are not federally recognized.
A spokeswoman for the state attorney general said the complaint is under review and any response will be made in court.
The two candidates in the 5th Congressional race met for a debate in Danbury last night. One of the issues they discussed was gun control laws. They were asked specifically about closing the background check loophole. Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Esty says when the law was passed 20 years ago, very few people bought anything on the internet.
Republican challenger Clay Cope says gun control is a three pronged issue. He says there is a mental health issue, a failure of the FBI to keep track of criminals, and a need to keep the 2nd Amendment in tact.
Esty says Cope is woefully illinformed.
Cope said that Esty should be focused on issues directly impacting the 5th District, and not helping 18 other states get the same strict gun laws that Connecticut now has.
The pair was asked what changes they would make to the country's immigration system.
Cope wants current laws enforced, steps taken to seal the border to keep illegal immigrants from coming in and to reform the process for people to become citizens. His partner is here legally from Peru, but can't get his citizenship. He says people are coming into this country illegal because they're not able to become citizens. For one friend's parents it it took 17 years.
Esty says the current system is broken. She wants to secure the border, keep families together and give them a legal earned path to citizenship that includes paying back taxes if any are owed. She says farmers can't find legal labor to do the work. Esty says the dysfunctional system forces them to make a choice between hiring illegally or being uncompetitive.
While they agreed on some policy issues, there was a difference of opinion about the Affordable Care Act.
Cope called Obamacare an epic failure and would like to see it replaced. He would like to see private market solutions implemented. He doesn't think there should be government-required insurance.
Esty says it's doing a lot of good for a lot of people, but it's not perfect. She compared it to Medicare, which got amended over and over again like any big piece of policy will. Esty says the private marketplace was the system before the Affordable Care Act and led to more emergency room visits.
During the New Milford Town Council meeting, a presentation was made about a development proposed for the Century Brass property. The old Century Brass Mill property is 72 acres along Housatonic Avenue and Aspetuck Ridge Road. The land was acquired by the town in 1999 through a foreclosure process. It's a designed brownfield site.
Texas-based Panda Power Company has proposed a twin turbine, air cooled, natural gas electricity generation plant. The company wants to build a 550 megawatts plant, enough to power 500,000 homes.
Mayor David Gronbach says the land was appraised at $2.4 million, but Panda Power could pay $2.8 million under a tentative agreement proposal. Gronbach says the investment is estimated at $600 million, and would employ 300 to 500 people over the course of an estimated 2.5 year construction period. 30 full time jobs will be generated when the plant is operational.
Gronbach says challenges to selling or developing the site have included limited access by road due to the a low bridge and the ongoing environmental cleanup.
The Economic Development Commission is meeting about the plan at 5:30 tonight. The Town Council will take up the item again at their meeting on the 24th.
It's back to the drawing board for the Bethel Police Station plans. The estimates for the new building came in $1.5 million over budget. Residents approved spending $13.5 million during a referendum last year. The current police station was constructed in 1974. Bethel Police officials say it's too small for the current size of the force and floods.
Construction of a new 26,000 square foot building was scheduled to start in Spring 2017. Design plans include a bigger lobby, a shooting range, a community room, a training room and two stories for offices.
The Bethel Public Site and Building Committee has to get approval from the Planning and Zoning Commissions on changes before going out to bid.
The Brookfield Board of Finance is getting an update on the proposed Streetscape Project in the Four Corners. The Town is initiating discussions with each of the 32 property owners who will benefit from the first phase of the Streetscape Project.
To help the community visualize sidewalk location, pink colored lines and stakes have been placed on the sidewalk edge along the intersection and on both sides of Federal Road south. Brookfield officials say the stakes and marks won't be in place for a long time and encouraged interested parties to drive by and see where the placement of the sidewalks will be.
An update on the project cost and schedule will be made to the Board of Finance tonight.
A two mile trail that's been more than a decade in the making will open soon in Brookfield. The Still River Greenway is scheduled to officially open at the end of October. Planning for a grand opening ceremony is underway. Brookfield officials say they have arranged to have temporary parking at the northern end of the Greenway at 763 Federal Road. Officials are working to develop a permanent parking area for the Greenway on the northern end of the trail in the Four Corners area. The trail parallels Route 7 and the Still River. It's handicap accessible and is paved.
With drought conditions persisting in the State of Connecticut, and too little precipitation forecast for the foreseeable future, the City of Danbury is requesting all water customers to initiate water conservation measures and specifically reduce all non-essential water use.
Danbury reservoir levels are currently at 66% of full capacity, which is approximately 11% below normal for this time of year.
The City is asking residents to do the following:
-Refrain from use of outdoor water devices, including irrigation systems, sprinklers, soaker hoses and hand held hoses.
-Use brooms and blowers instead of water to clean decks, driveways and sidewalks.
-Repair leaks in plumbing and fixtures (repair leaky toilets and faucets)
-Run only full loads in the clothes washing machine and in the dishwasher.
-Take shorter showers.
-Do not leave water running while washing hands, shaving or brushing teeth.
-Install low-flow toilets as well as faucet and shower-head flow restrictors
Moody's has assigned Connecticut's bond rating "Aa3", and designated the outlook as Negative. Moody's says that reflects a lagging economy and weakening demographics that have led to budgetary strain. Moody's believes that economic trends will place negative pressure on the state's finances in the next few years, while the very high fixed costs reduce flexibility.
Connecticut has still not fully rebounded since the 2008 recession. New Fairfield State Representative Richard Smith says while there has been a recovery of jobs, it's been low wage positions. In order to reverse the economic trend, Smith says the legislature must put forth measures that will encourage businesses to invest in Connecticut’s workforce.
According to the Tax Foundation, Connecticut’s state and local tax burden is the 2nd highest in the nation. Despite the two highest tax hikes in state history, both occurring within the past five years, budget deficits remain.
Forbes has also cited Connecticut as being a poor place for businesses to operate in. The cost of doing business in Connecticut is 10.8% above the national average.
There was a large turn out to the New Milford Zoning Commission meeting where members were discussing the change of nearly 40 acres of land from restricted industrial to industrial. Another public hearing has been slated for October 25th.
This follows a 3 to 2 vote by the New Milford Planning Commission for two properties off Route 7 near Pickett District Road.
Plans for this property haven't been made public. There's been speculation that the move is being made to allow for a Super Walmart to open.
Mayor David Gronbach said if corporate offices or an outlet mall are proposed for the property, he would be behind that decision. He cautioned that if Walmart were to close it's current location, other smaller stores in that plaza could be affected.
Several Greater Danbury area towns made the top 20 list of safest cities in the latest SafeWise Report. Based on the most recent FBI Crime Report, the violent crime rate in Connecticut is nearly 40% lower than the national average and the property crime rate is over 25% lower. In 2014, roughly 30 out of every 1,000 people across the U.S. were victims of crime, while Connecticut’s crimes affected only 21 out of 1,000 people.
18 of Connecticut’s 20 safest cities reported zero murders, and the other two cities reported one each.
SafeWise reviewed the most recent FBI Crime Report statistics from 2014, along with population data, eliminating all cities with fewer than 5,000 residents.
The rankings were based on the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) and property crimes (burglary, arson, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft) in each city. To level the playing field, SafeWise calculated the likelihood of these crimes occurring out of 1,000 people in each city.
7. East Hampton
8. New Canaan
Brookfield ranked 24th, New Milford came in at 29 and Danbury broke the top 50 at number 44 on the list of safest cities in Connecticut.
The 2016 Walk of Honor Warrior Award recipient is Marine Corporal Roger Rua. Presentation of the Warrior Award and the Essay Awards will take place at the Walk of Honor on Sunday at the Danbury War Memorial at Noon. A one-mile walk will follow the ceremony.
Cpl Rua was serving in Afghanistan with the Security Platoon attached to the 9th Engineer Support Battalion, when the vehicle he was riding in drove over a command detonated improvised explosive device. Cpl Rua sustained fractures to his spine, femur, and sternum and suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the explosion. Although he was initially paralyzed from the chest down, miraculously through determination and physical therapy, Cpl Rua is now able to walk with the use of a cane.
He is currently on a wait list for a home from Homes For Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that builds mortgage free, specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans.
This year an essay contest entitled “What a Veteran means to me” was added to the event. The Participants were 4th and 5th graders from King Street Intermediate School with heart-warming results. Medals will be awarded to the top essay in each grade.
Event founder Mary Teicholz says many heroes walk among us, whose dedication to people they have never met is awe inspiring. She says Roger Rua is one of those heroes. Teicholz added that his story is inspirational.
DANBURY, Conn. (AP) A man who spent 48 years as a fugitive before being found in a small Connecticut town is now under a parole officer's supervision after the one remaining criminal case against him was dismissed.
A state judge in Danbury on Tuesday dropped a fugitive-from-justice charge against 71-year-old Robert Stackowitz. He'll be under parole supervision until 2022.
Stackowitz escaped from a prison work camp in Carrolton, Georgia, in 1968 while serving a 17-year sentence for robbery. He was arrested at his home in Sherman in May.
Georgia officials recently withdrew their extradition request and accepted the parole supervision plan after learning that Stackowitz has serious health problems, including heart failure and bladder cancer.
Stackowitz's lawyers say his health problems have made it difficult for him to leave home.
With the weather turning cooler, the Candlewood Lake Authority expects fewer boaters to be on the water. The annual winter draw down is also slated to begin soon. The Lake Authority has started the process of removing about 80 hazard, speed and navigation buoys from the lake. Officials cautioned boaters who still go out on Candlewood Lake to take any necessary precautions on the water.
There is a debate in Danbury Thursday night between the two candidates vying for the 5th Congressional District seat. Two-term incumbent Democrat Elizabeth Esty and Republican challenger Clay Cope, Sherman's First Selectman, will field questions from a panel. League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization that encourages people to vote and participate in government in an educated and informed way.
The debate is at 7pm Thursday at the Portuguese Cultural Center on Sand Pit Road.
The debate is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Northern Fairfield County, the League of Women Voters of Litchfield County, the Portuguese Cultural Center and The Newstimes. WLAD's Jillian Mauro will be one of the panelists.
Delays are to be expected in Ridgefield on Route 35 through Wednesday in the area of Fox Hill condos. The state Department of Transportation has told the town of Ridgefield that alternating one-way traffic will be in place for the next two days from 9am to 3pm. Taking an alternate route, if possible, is being encouraged. This all stems from a bridge replacement project. During the two year, second phase of the project, the existing superstructure will be replaced.
The 34th Annual Columbus Day Observance Parade will proceed down Bethel roads this morning. The event features local residents dressed as Christopher Columbus, Queen Isabella and George Washington with Billy Michael leading a quartet in the “Tarantella".
Longtime organizer Geraldine Mills says the parade starts at Caraluzzi’s parking lot at 8:45 am. The parade moves down South Street, Depot Place and onto Greenwood Avenue where it ends at about 9am with speeches at P.T. Barnum Square. The Italian flag will be raised at P.T. Barnum Square following the parade.
The half-hour event will celebrate the contributions and history of Italian immigrants and their descendants to the town and the country.
Over 200 people attended last year.
The New Milford Planning Commission has voted 3 to 2 in favor of a controversial zone change. The two properties off Route 7 near Pickett District Road total just under 40 acres. The land is currently zoned as Restricted Industrial, but the Planning Commission Thursday night voted to make it Industrial Zoned.
The controversy is that the plans for this property haven't been made public. There's been speculation that the move is being made to allow for a Super Walmart to open.
Mayor David Gronbach said in a statement about the Planning Commission vote that approving a change without knowing the ultimate use is the opposite of planning. The New Milford Zoning Commission next takes up the issue. The Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday is at 7pm at New Milford Town Hall.
Gronbach says if corporate offices or an outlet mall are proposed for the property, he would be behind that decision. He cautioned that if Walmart were to close it's current location, other smaller stores in that plaza could be affected. But he noted that 600,000 feet of new retail space doesn't make sense when there are open store fronts.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has promoted Environmental Conservation Police Officer Greg Ulkus to the rank of Sergeant.
Sergeant Ulkus will be the Western District Lake Supervisor. He will be responsible for training both the Lake Housatonic Authority and Candlewood Lake Authority Officers, and supervise CLA officers as well. Candlewood Lake is Connecticut's largest lake attracting thousands of boaters. Sergeant Ulkus will be responsible for coordinating boating initiatives on water bodies in his district.
Sergeant Ulkus has been with the State EnCon Police for six and a half years and prior to that he worked for the DEEP Boating Division. He has been the recipient of many department awards, including Medals for Outstanding Service in 2011 and 2015 and a Medal for Meritorious Service in 2016.
Sergeant Ulkus is currently a Field Training Officer and certified instructor responsible for the training and evaluation of junior or probationary level members. His specialized team is the Boating Accident Reconstruction Unit.
This promotion follows the previous promotion of Keith Williams to Captain. He is heading up EnCon’s Marine Division.
The Weston Board of Selectmen is considering a request by First Selectman Nina Daniel for an extension to her medical leave. Daniel's two sons told The Weston Forum that their mother has a mental health problem and is undergoing treatment.
Selectman Dennis Tracey has been interim First Selectman since Daniel took time off in September.
Daniel's children told The Weston Forum that they've received a tremendous outpouring of support from the community and are asking for continued understanding.
The report says Daniel has a history of mental illness, with periodic delusional episodes, but that she hasn't had such an episode in the last decade. Daniel recently changed medications because of side effects and the new medication may not be working to its full effect.
The Forum says that in the past few weeks Daniel said inappropriate things to town employees and reportedly made rambling statements to police that Hillary Clinton was following her.
Fewer boat slips are now proposed for West Cove Marina on Lake Lillinonah. Fischel determined that the final project will be limited to 136 slips and an associated gas dock for the fueling of vessels. This is a 24 slip reduction from the draft proposal of 160 slips.
FirstLight Hydro Generating Company wants the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to sign off on the expansion of West Cove Marina, an existing marina on Lake Lillinonah, to provide additional recreational access and boat moorage in the Town of New Milford.
In response to concerns from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection about crowding in the narrow channel of the lake, FirstLight met with DEEP Boating Division Staff, the Lake Lillinonah Authority Marine Patrol Chief, GMS Rowing Club Staff and other stakeholders on September 2nd.
All parties agreed during the meeting that the boating safety concerns could be addressed by the expansion of the existing Connecticut Boating Regulations "Slow No Wake" restrictions from the mouth of the Lovers Leap Gorge to the Bleachery Dam, the navigational end of the Project. DEEP will seek to amend the boating laws to include the 10,500 foot long, approximately 83 acres area Slow No Wake Zone.
The parcel was purchased by Fischel Properties in 1988, with the intention of converting an existing industrial building to residential units and adding 250 boat slips in the river upstream of Lovers Leap State Park at the inflow to the project just below the Bleachery Dam. The property development didn't occur, but a full service marina was developed. In 1995, the marina was rented to West Cove Marina, which has operated it ever since. The slip count has varied over the years, but has operated continuously since it opened. Serious storm damage to docks in recent years has reduced the current number of slips to 22 to 25.
Fischel and an affiliated entity now propose to construct a new 109-unit residential building on the parcel, with enough slips for 136 boats at West Cove Marina, control of which will revert to Fischel.
Fischel has received the necessary zoning, site plan, and other permits for the mixed residential and commercial development project from New Milford. A permit application for the marina was finalized and submitted to the Town on October 5th.
FirstLight believes that approval of the reduced marina expansion plan will not adversely affect any project resources or public safety and is consistent with the shoreline management plan and other license provisions. Although a 50-foot-wide vegetative buffer is not possible, FirstLight says the expanded docks will occupy essentially the same shoreline area as the existing docks, so the existing shoreline vegetation will be minimally disturbed.
FirstLight is requesting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approve the application for a non-project use of project lands.
West Cove Marina is the only commercial marina on the river from the Shepaug Dam upriver to the Bulls Bridge Development. Lake Lillinonah has three multi-vessel noncommercial community docks. There are also 13 other recreation sites at the Shepaug Development, including several town parks, a bird sanctuary, and two state and four municipal public boat launches. These facilities offer a variety of recreational opportunities in addition to boating.
Danbury Police had two clown-related incidents in the past few days.
One incident reported to Danbury Police involved a Danbury High School student who said she saw a man dressed as a clown with a knife in the area of Putnam Drive. The area was checked and no one dressed as a clown was found. No other sightings were reported in the area that day.
Another incident involved a student who received an unsolicited request from a Clown Page on her Instagram account. The Danbury School Administration requested additional officers at Rogers Park and Broadview Middle Schools.
The Danbury Women's Center is nearing their fundraising goal set ahead of this past weekend's SafeWalk.
The 2016 SafeWalk saw more than 1,000 supporters pack the center court at Danbury Fair Mall on Sunday morning. It was the most successful SafeWalk to date. The Women's Center has raised little more than $42,000 as of Wedensday night, just shy of their $45,000 goal. Donations are still being accepted by the Women's Center.
All proceeds support the only state certified agency, which serves over 26,000 individuals from the 13-town Greater Danbury area. Their free and confidential services are available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, including Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Resource Services programs.
The 18th annual "Run For Joe" benefitting Canterbury School is taking place this weekend. Joe Leto graduated from Canterbury School in 1997. He died in 1999 during training exercises while a Lance Corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps.
His family started this 5k fundraiser as a way to celebrate Joe's life. The event is being held on Sunday at Canterbury School, rain or shine. Those participating in the run are asked to make a donation to the Joe Leto Scholarship Fund. Each running will receive a T-shirt.
More than $7,000 was raised last year. Joe's mother, Mimi Leto, says they hope to meet or exceed that goal this year.
Mimi Leto received a kidney transplant in May, and the donor was one of her son's friends. Mimi Leto was the recipient of the 1000th kidney transplant from a living donor performed at Yale-New Haven hospital. Jason Gaddy, a childhood friend of Joe's, was the donor. The 38-year old Gaddy grew up in New Milford and now lives in New Jersey, but saw Leto's post online about needing a transplant.
Registration is from 12:30pm to 1pm with the run starting at 1:30 on Sunday. A reception will be held near the football field following the run. If it's raining, the reception will be held in the Wresting Room of the Athletic Center.
Donations can be made online, and write Run for Joe in the comments box.
Leto died during a 7-mile night march in 80-degree heat during July 1999. He got sick, went off into the woods and was found unconscious hours later. A military trial and action against the unit's commanding officer followed his death. It also resulted in changes in conditioning hikes, to lessen the danger of heatstroke.
A law named fro an Oxford woman killed in 2014 by her estranged husband is being advocated for by Connecticut's two U.S. Senators. The Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act would be similar to a new law that took effect in Connecticut Sunday. Residents with temporary restraining orders against them have to surrender their guns.
Lori's mother Merry Jackson was injured in the shooting that killed her daughter. She says the pain never goes away, but they are honored to have the bill in Lori's name.
Senator Chris Murphy says there are a lot of controversial aspects of the gun violence conversations, but this should not be one of them.
Bethel has conducted an online survey about the town's Transfer Station. The transfer station advisory committee is studying how to operate the facility so that it doesn't need taxpayer funding to break even each year. First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the "directional poll" was done to give a general idea of why people use or don't use the transfer station.
The web poll only allowed 100 responses.
Knickerbocker says 66-percent of respondents said they don't use the transfer station, with about half of those people noting that the annual permit cost of $50 a year is too high. 43-percent said it's easier to hire someone to pick up trash at their homes. 17-percent responded that they didn't know the town has a transfer station.
Half of those who responded that they use the facility said it's for the swap table, 46-percent for general recycling and 33-percent for dropping off household garbage.
Knickerbocker said feedback included lowering the permit cost and having more convenient hours.
The Western Connecticut State University Police Department has received calls about a person or persons on campus wearing clown costumes. Police say this has caused alarm in the university community due to the proliferation of “clown sightings” around the country. Most, if not all, of the reports are being proven as hoaxes.
These reports are being spread through social media posts, in some cases, by people trying to panic the public. University Police are reminding students and others that false reporting to law enforcement agencies ties up resources that could be focused on real issues, and anyone engaging in false reporting can and will be criminally charged.
As with any suspicious activity, the WCSU Police requests that they be notified immediately so that the activity can be investigated.
Officers are conducting regular patrol checks on campus and in public areas to ensure the safety of the community.
Connecticut State Police are warning that clown pranks are no laughing matter. In the bizarre trend sweeping the nation, people dressed as clowns have stricken fear into communities. State Police say while it's not illegal to dress as a clown, it's illegal to do so with the intent of causing alarm.
Troopers warned that people dressing as clowns and engaging in threatening or alarming behavior will be immediately addressed by law enforcement.
State Police says there are many other emergencies and calls for service that troopers and other first responders need to get to without being misdirected to a prank. These incidents are similar to the swatting where resources are carelessly misdirected. State Police say these clown pranks can cause major disruptions leading to schools, businesses and neighborhoods being placed into lockdown unnecessarily.
Creating social media pages inciting violence or alluding to creating fear in communities will be handled as criminal matters. State Police are reminding people that online actions are not anonymous and officers will continue working with social media companies to identify those inappropriately using social media to cause panic.
At least five individuals have already been taken into custody in Connecticut for engaging in this type of behavior.
With Halloween on the horizon, creep clown reports are on the rise. There have been several recent reports nationwide of people having frightening encounters involving clowns.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton joked on Twitter about clowns and clarified that there haven't been any sightings in Danbury.
The Dutchess County Sheriff's Office says “creepy clown” reports have caused alarm in some communities and have been frustrating for first responders, as many of the reports have been proven to be hoaxes. The Sheriff's Office says some of the incidents reported have been legitimate, however the vast majority have turned out to be hoaxes or pranks.
If someone is acting suspiciously, whether or not they are wearing a clown costume, people are encouraged to report it to law enforcement. The Sheriff's Office is also reminding people that common sense should prevail in these situations.
Building on the success of a “Walking School Bus” event that was held last spring, a coalition of community partners is planning a second event today. Children who attend Park Avenue Elementary School, parents and volunteers will gather at 7:30am at City Hall to make the approximately one-mile walk to the school, picking up other children at stops along the way.
Children who participate will each receive a pedometer. This is a rain or shine event.
Walking School Buses are being promoted across the country as an innovative way to incorporate more exercise into the daily life of school children, and to address chronic absenteeism.
More than 150 children participated last Spring, along with parents, guardians and school staff.
The Walking School Bus is co-sponsored by the Coalition for Healthy Kids, Danbury Public Schools and United Way of Western Connecticut. Today's event will kick off what will become an ongoing Walking School Bus at Park Avenue School as part of Strong Start Neighborhood Initiative.
Funding from The Grossman Family Foundation is allowing United Way to work with school staff and parents to make the Walking School Bus part of the regular life of the school. United Way CEO Kim Morgan says the children were so excited last year and the parents and school staff were very supportive. The Walking School Bus will be coordinated through a Parent Outreach Worker, funded through the Neighborhood Initiative. The initiative provides support and funding for playgroups, workshops, and other activities that promote school readiness and success in the early elementary grades.
Park Avenue School Principal David Krafick says when more children walk to school they arrive in the classroom energized and ready to learn. He added that Park Avenue School's neighborhood setting makes it the perfect place to pilot an ongoing Walking School Bus.
Danbury has started preliminary work to get the Octagon House property ready for renovations. The dilapidated building, now owned by the City, was purchased as a community improvement and neighborhood restoration project.
The vacant house on Spring Street was in foreclosure and the blighted property attracted vandalism and squatting in recent years.
Mayor Mark Boughton wants to house the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team and a police substation on the property. He says the bike patrol and other related officers would likely operate out of the substation. He wants to convert the upstairs into a community room for residents to use. The backyard would become community garden monitored by a non-profit.
A Danbury firm, Seventy2 Architects, was awarded the bid to conduct an analysis of the historic home to see what kind of restoration work is needed.
The building is one of only a handful of eight-sided houses left in the country and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built in 1852. It was eventually converted to apartments, and abandoned by its owner in 2008.
Firefighters, police officers and civilians have been recognized by the Danbury Fire Department for their efforts to protect the City over the past year. An awards committee received suggestions of who would get awards and why, and then determined what awards to present.
The Award for Bravery is one of the highest honors that the Danbury Fire Department gives. It was presented Sunday to Firefighter Gabe Rivera for an encounter with a man holding a shotgun, who threatened suicide.
The call started with firefighters responding to a fire in a boat parked between two homes last April. They were then alerted to a situation on the front lawn. Rivera came face to face with the suicidal man and talked him out of firing the weapon. He tackled the man and pulled the weapon away. Unit Citation: D/C Bernie Meehan, Capt Joseph K Halas, Lt Jamie B Schiller, FF Stephen R Johnson, FF Gabriel Rivera, FF Keith J Sellick
(Bravery Award / Unit Citation recipients for 47 Hospital Ave. Structure Fire)
Lynda Miguel and her daughter Karyssa were recognized for alerting dispatchers and keeping them up to date about a Danbury Police Officer being assaulted by a civilian. Miguel was driving on Germantown Road near Jimmies Market in July when they saw the struggle. While waiting for other officers to arrive, they drove to a nearby firehouse to seek additional help for the officer.
(Civilian Award recipients Miguel Family Germantown Plaza Aid to Danbury Police Officer)
2015 Exchange Club Firefighter of the Year: Captain Joseph K. Halas
Associates Degree in Fire Technology from NVCC; Deputy Chief Paul Omasta
Bachelors Degree in Fire Administration from Waldorf College; Deputy Fire Marshal Tyler H Bergemann
Masters Degree in Science of Leadership from Grand Canyon University; Captain David Easter
On December 25, 2015, the Danbury Fire Department responded to 276 Main Street for a reported structure fire with possible people trapped in the building. Firefighters attempted to make entry to the rear of the location but were hampered by an unexpected amount of musical equipment and shipping containers stored haphazardly throughout the building. Based on these actions, The Danbury Fire Department awards Unit Citations to the personnel operating at this incident. These actions reflect a great credit upon themselves, The Danbury Fire Department and the citizens of Danbury that they serve.
(Unit Citation recipients for 276 Main St (Christmas Day) Structure Fire)
Deputy Chiefs Stephen G Williams, Bernard M Meehan
Squad: Lt Karl O Drentwett, FF’s Richard M Gallagher & Michael J Sedgwick
E-22: Lt David P Kirkwood, FF’s Jean R Boullianne & Jonathan Mackey
E-23: Lt Thomas S Corbett, FF’s Daniel Mansdorf & Scott E Newton
E-24: Lt Kenneth E Appley, FF’s Joseph A Stabile & Joseph Capalbo
E-25: Lt Robert C Forbes, FF’s Alan J Bertrand & John A Whitehead
E26: Lt Jamie B Schiller, FF’s Timothy W Smith & Adam P Hughes
Truck : Act/Capt Albert L Mion, FF’s James C Lillis, Kevin F Lunnie & Nate R Chapin
Training Officer Steven Rogers
Provisional Communication Supervisor James A. Gagliardo
On February 15, 2016, Danbury Fire Department Units were dispatched to an accident in the area on King St. While enroute units were advised that the vehicle was now on fire. The driver and passenger had been removed from the car and were being attended to by bystanders. The accident had occurred in front of Michael and Gabriella Taubaum’s home, who both came outside upon hearing the accident. The Busse Family, Donald, Laurie and Ashley stopped their vehicle when they came upon the accident. They worked together to move the driver to safety and remove the passenger from the vehicle. Based on their actions, The Danbury Fire Department recognizes The Taubman’s and Busse’s with Civilian Awards. Their quick actions directly led this incident being resolved with a favorable outcome. Their actions reflect a great credit upon themselves, and the Citizens of the City of Danbury.
Donald Busse, Laurie Busse, Ashley Busse, Michael Taubaum, Gabriella Taubaum
Award of Merit:
On March 3, 2016, Officer’s Bardelli and Malone were sent to check on the well-being of a Dixon Road resident who had been sending disturbing texts messages and hadn’t shown up for work. Bardelli and Malone observed through a window a male lying motionless on the floor of the garage with a motorcycle running. They made the decision to force the rear garage door, without use of tools and made entry. They began providing emergency care, until relieved by EMS unit’s arrival. Based on their actions, The Danbury Fire Department recognizes Officers Bardelli and Malone with Awards of Merit. Their quick actions directly led this incident being resolved with a favorable outcome. Their actions reflect a great credit upon themselves, The Danbury Police Department and the Citizens of Danbury that they serve.
Danbury Polcie Officer Gary Bardelli & Officer Matthew Malone
Award of Merit:
On March 8, 2016, DFM Handau noticed black smoke coming from the chimney and vent pipes of 8 Main St. Handau, utilizing a fire extinguisher, was able to hold the fire in check along with a sprinkler head that had activated. Based on his actions, The Danbury Fire Department recognizes DFM Handau with an Award of Merit. His actions in identifying a hazard, determining the cause and taking steps to mitigate the hazard directly led to this incident being resolved, minimizing property damage and impact to occupants of the building. His actions reflect a great credit upon himself, The Danbury Fire Department and the Citizens of Danbury.
DFM Eric P Handau
Award of Merit:
On March 25, 2016, Danbury Fire Department Units were dispatched for a fire in the kitchen of the Western Connecticut State University Student Center. Upon arrival units were met by Patrol Officer Dos Santos, who reported that a custodial worker had moved a large, oil filled deep fryer to clean the area, when the attached flexible propane gas line failed. The leaking propane gas then ignited. Based on his actions, The Danbury Fire Department recognizes Officer Dos Santos with the Award of Merit. His quick action directly led to this incident being resolved with a minimal property damage occurring and minimizing the hazard to WESTCONN Community. Officer Dos Santos actions reflect a great credit upon himself, The WESTCONN Police Department, WESTCONN Community and City of Danbury Community.
Patrol Officer Louis Dos Santos
On June 12, 2016, the Danbury Fire Department responded to a reported MVA with entrapment on I-84/7 Northbound at Exit 11. The vehicle was in a very unstable location and the driver was thrown partially out of the vehicle and his head was nearly crushed by the vehicle. Units on scene were presented with a very difficult extrication that required an all hands operation. First stabilizing the vehicle and then cautiously cut away parts of the truck to allow the driver to be safely extricated. Based on these actions, The Danbury Fire Department awards Unit Citations to the unit’s operating at this incident. These actions reflect a great credit upon themselves, The Danbury Fire Department and the Citizens of Danbury that they serve.
D/C Paul Omasta
Squad: Lt John J Halas, FF’s Walter M Arteaga & John A Whitehead
E23: Lt Kenneth E Appley, FF’s Keith J Sellick & Jonathan Mackey
E24: Act/Lt Timothy W Smith, FF’s Jean R Boullianne &Nate R Chapin
Truck: Capt Robert C Forbes, FF’s James C Lillis, Jeffrey A Tomchik & Denis Rickard
On the morning of June 13, 2016, Danbury Fire Department units were dispatched for a reported male choking. Witnesses reported that male had been turning blue and lost consciousness. His friend Bill Barrett, a member of the Wilton Police Department, was dining with him and performed the Heimlich maneuver. It was also reported that Mr. Barrett had performed CPR on the man. For his actions the Danbury Fire Department recognizes Bill Barrett with the Civilian Award. His quick actions played a significant factor in saving of his dining companion’s life. These actions reflect a credit upon himself, the Wilton Police Department and members of the Danbury Community.
Award of Merit:
On July 20, 2016, DFM’s Bergemann and Timan were finishing up conducting a routine residential fire safety inspection when they detected an intermittent odor of gas outside the residence. Based on their actions, The Danbury Fire Department recognizes DFM Bergemann and DFM Timan with Awards of Merit. Their actions in identifying a hazard, taking the steps to determine the cause directly led to this incident being resolved with the identified hazard being located and mitigated. Their actions reflect a great credit upon themselves, The Danbury Fire Department and the Citizens of Danbury that they serve.
DFM Tyler H Bergemann
DFM Terrence Timan
On July 23, 2016, Danbury Fire Department Units were dispatched for a structure fire. A fire had occurred on the deck outside the residence and had been extinguished by a neighbor. Sandoval had his wife call 911, then proceed across the street with an extinguisher, extinguished the fire and then met Danbury Fire Department units when they arrived on scene, briefing them on what had occurred. For his actions the Danbury Fire Department recognizes Mr. Sandoval with the Civilian Award. His quick actions played a significant factor in mitigating the hazard present. His actions reflect a great credit upon himself and the Citizens of Danbury
Award of Merit:
On September 4, 2016, Danbury Fire Department Units were dispatched to vehicle in the water, unknown if occupied. FF Mackey with an attached safety line, swam out to the vehicle to search it and the surrounding area for possible victims. After conducting a search FF Mackey returned to shore and reported no occupants were present. Based on his actions, The Danbury Fire Department recognizes FF Mackey with an Award of Merit. His actions reflect a great credit upon himself, The Danbury Fire Department and the Citizens of Danbury.
FF Jonathan Mackey
Firefighters who responded to a fatal blaze on March 2, 2016 were recognized for their efforts fighting that fire. 10 people were able to make it out of the Stevens Street home. Members of the Fire Attack Group began an aggressive offensive attack. Members of the search and rescue group began looking for access into the house. While doing so, they saw a man lying face down on the porch roof with fire coming out the window above him. The man was semi-responsive and had severe burns to his hands and face. Based on the actions of the units on scene during the initial stages of this incident. The Danbury Fire Department recognizes them with Unit Citations. LT Kirkorian, FF’s Nolet and More were recognized with Honorable Service Awards.
Civilian Award of Merit:
Lt Richard L Kirkorian, FF’s Jeffrey Nolet & Christopher Moore
DC Charles F Slagle
SQ1: Lt Richard L Kirkorian, FF’s Adam P Hughes & Jeffrey Nolet
E22: Lt Theodore J Mourges, FF’s John A Kennedy & Jean R Boullianne
E23: Lt Daniel W Gregory, FF’s Michael F Jewell & Seth P Ambruso
Truck 1: Capt William J Lounsbury, FF’s Philip R Espitee, Roger A Bohan & Christopher Moore
Governor Malloy is threatening possible legal action if an automobile club follows through with its plans to stop providing driver licensing services to non-members. AAA Northeast indicated in a letter to the state that they plan on implementing the change as of Monday.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles has been trying to reduce wait times at DMV branches ever since a major computer upgrade brought services to a halt last summer. In the wake of the several hours long wait times, DMV officials directed people to use AAA offices for driver licensing services.
Governor Dannel Malloy is urging AAA Northeast to reconsider its decision to discontinue offering the services for people who are not members of their motor clubs. Malloy said the state will not allow the actions of AAA Northeast to disrupt the DMV's progress in reducing wait times for customers.
AAA Northeast says they can no longer effectively service the volume of DMV customers visiting their offices without negatively impacting services to members. The motor club cited two reasons for the decision. One is that the federally secure licensing requirement mandated by the Department of Homeland Security has added as much as 50% to the time needed to complete the transactions. Another is that the number of office transactions has nearly doubled and the number of non-member transactions has increased from 17% five years ago to almost 50% in 2016.
AAA Northeast serves nearly 600,000 members through a network of branch offices in Branford, Hamden, Fairfield, Norwalk, Waterbury, Danbury, Stamford and Milford, and offers DMV services six days a week at all eight of its offices free of charge to its members.
AAA Northeast President & CEO Mark Shaw says he hopes they can work together with the DMV to find a solution that helps meet the expectations of members while keeping the lines at DMV offices from getting unbearably longer.
Following an extensive investigation of sewage discharges statewide, Connecticut Fund for the Environment has sent Danbury a 60-day "Notice of Intent to Sue".
Staff Attorney Jack Looney says their investigation has uncovered a troubling pattern of sewage discharges in Danbury that violate the Clean Water Act. According to state records, Danbury has released raw or untreated sewage into local rivers and streams at least 66 times from early 2011 to early 2016. Looney says if Danbury does not take action to remedy these violations within the next 60 days, CFE may file a citizen suit in federal court.
CFE says the majority of the sewage discharges were into the Still River, which flows through neighborhoods, commercial districts, and forested areas. There were also raw and undertreated sewage discharges into Limekiln Brook, Beaver Brook, and Padanaram Brook.
Most of the bypasses were caused by blockages in various components of the sanitary sewer collection system. Other causes include repeated failure of electrical and mechanical equipment, insufficient capacity to accommodate wet weather, and inflow/infiltration. Looney says these issues indicate a lack of routine maintenance and preventative maintenance by the town.
In addition to the sewage and bacteria discharges, CFE's investigation discovered that Danbury also repeatedly exceeded its state-issued permit limit for total discharges of lead in 2015 and 2016, and its limits for total copper and zinc in 2015.
Mayor Mark Boughton says they have set several meetings with CFE to review discharge plans and discuss how Danbury operates. He says the discharges they're citing are called a bypass. Danbury made 20 in 2015 and 13 in 2016, so the City sas been able to lower some of those. He says they are both on the same page about limiting those discharges.
Boughton says the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection knows about them and they're authorized under the law.
Boughton says Danbury is doing what the City can to comply with the law. He notes that they will work with any interest group that wants clean water. Boughton called this notice ironic given that Bridgeport and New Haven dump raw sewage into Long Island Sound.
Danbury is looking to make almost $100 million in improvements at the Waste Treatment Facility. The overall plant needs to be updated. It's been about 20 years since it's been upgraded. Boughton says that's past the shelf life for a lot of the equipment. But he says the bypasses that the City has done aren't a reflection of the technology in place currently at the plant. He says some times it's a reflection of break in sewer line.
Danbury routinely bypassed the plant when there was a hurricane and too much water was coming into the plant. Boughton says that was done with the permission of DEEP. He says CFE doesn't think that's good enough, but that's what the law requires.
A food vendor ordinance is headed to a public hearing on Thursday in Ridgefield. The cost of permits and requirements for background checks would be updated. Three ice cream trucks that travel around town, the hot dog cart on Main Street and another location on Route 7 on the south end of town would be grandfathered in.
The draft ordinance would allow food vendors to cater private events, and to set up in public locations for events authorized by the Parks and Rec Department or sponsored by recognized charitable organizations.
The public hearing is at 7:30pm Thursday in town hall. A town meeting will be held at a future date.
State Environmental Conservation Police Sergeant Keith Williams has been promoted to the rank of Captain. Williams will head up EnCon’s Marine Division. State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Dennis Schain says these officers are a unique and special law enforcement unit with responsibility for protecting both the public and the state's natural resources.
(Contributed Photo: Williams, DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee, Col. Kyle Overturf, EnCon commander)
Williams has been with State EnCon Police for eight years and has served as Sergeant for the last two years, responsible for Candlewood Lake and coordination of the Hunting Related Shooting Incident Team. He serves on both the Boating Accident Reconstruction Unit and Chemical Immobilization Unit, as a Field Training Officer.
Williams was Officer of the year in 2011, received an award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his efforts against Boating Under the Influence in 2013 and 2015.
In 2013, he was presented with a Unit Citation Award for his response to the shootings at Sandy Hook School. Williams arrived minutes after the initial call and helped evacuate hundreds of students from the building. At the time there were reports that there may have been two or three shooters involved and police assets were actively searching the school. EnCon Police maintained the perimeter of the scene until it was declared secured four hours after the shooting.
In wake of the New Jersey Transit commuter train crash last week, some Connecticut officials are giving an update on safety controls in place on Metro North. While the commuter railroad doesn't yet have Positive Train Control technology in place, Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redecker says the New Haven line is the first phase of implementation on the Metro North system.
Connecticut owns the tracks that Metro North trains use in the state, and is responsible for paying for the safety system. Redecker says Positive Train Control technology has been fully funded for some time. But the technology won't be in place until near the 2018 deadline for installation.
Redecker says some speed controls are in place, but PTC is not fully functional.
The technology can automatically stop a train before an accident occurs. It's a GPS-based system that monitors a train's location. Sensors can apply the brakes if a train is moving too fast for conditions. The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 required the system be installed on all commuter trains.
The Connecticut Family Stability Pay for Success Project is working to promote family stability and reduce parental substance use for DCF-involved families.
$11.5 million in private donations and capital funds will expand the family-based recovery program to 500 more Connecticut families over the next four years. The goal is to keep kids with their recovering parents and out of foster care.
The program was developed a decade ago by the Yale Child Study Center with a cut-off age of three years old, and is being expanded to cover children up to age six. There is currently a waiting list. The project is designed to help ensure family stability and keep children with their parents.
The expanded program will create six new family recovery teams and will reach new areas, including Waterbury, Danbury, Torrington, Norwich, the Middletown region, and New Haven.
Civil Air Patrol’s 399th Composite Squadron will collect American Flags no longer fit for service so they can be formally retired in an approved ceremony, conducted by United States Veterans, on Flag Day.
Public Affairs Officer Major Peter Milano says the collection is Saturday from 9am to 4pm, at the Stop & Shop on Lake Avenue Ext. in Danbury. The service is free of charge.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 60,000 members nationwide. In its Air Force auxiliary role, the Civil Air Patrol performs about 85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. They are credited with saving an average of 70 lives annually.
Its unpaid professionals also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 25,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet programs.
Author Jack Stetson will launch his newly-authored book entitled The Life & Times of the Great Danbury State Fair this afternoon. The book is presented in two part. The first was written by Gladys Stetson Leahy in the 1950s and the second was penned by her grandson, Jack. He said he decided to complete the history by adding his firsthand experiences of growing up in and around the fair.
The book launch is being hosted by the Danbury Museum & Historical Society.
The fair had fallen into disrepair during World War II and had a lot of debts.
Stetson details how his grandfather, John Leahy, was sold a share of fair stock by one customer who wanted to pay a bill that way. He went to the President of the Fair and to another official of the fair, and discussed the proposition of buying it from them.
They didn't have children interested in reopening the fair after World War II and were excited to find someone who was interest. They sold their stock little by little until Leahy owned a controlling interest in 1945. Leahy then used his own money to refurbish the buildings, pave the streets and get the fair ready to reopen.
Festivities will begin at 4pm in Huntington Hall, located on the museum campus at 43 Main Street. Stetson will lead a discussion at 4pm and at 5:30pm about his inspiration for writing the book. Stetson will also sign copies for attendees.
Danbury Museum & Historical Society Executive Director Brigid Guertin says the Danbury Fair is an iconic and well-loved symbol of the history of the city. The organization provided archival research and photos to Stetson. A portion of all sales at the launch and signing event are being donated to the museum by Stetson. Books may be purchased at the museum beginning today in the gift shop.