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Local Headlines Archives for 2016-12

Boucher: Malloy Administration waited until after election to make budget cuts

Connecticut education and municipal leaders are voicing concerns about $50 million worth of mid-year cuts to state aid for local schools and governments.  A $20 million cut mostly affecting Connecticut's largest education grant was included in Governor Malloy's changes to the 2017 budget. 


The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities says the remaining $30 million cut in funding for local infrastructure "goes far beyond cuts called for in the state budget."  Malloy's budget office says the change is a temporary freeze on new infrastructure project authorizations, affecting only reimbursements beyond the $825 million lawmakers authorized.


Wilton state Senator Toni Boucher says this was unwelcome and disappointing news to hear right before a holiday weekend.  She says this will be the number 1 topic on her agenda when the new General Assembly session begins January 4th. 


Boucher was critical of Malloy's budget office for waiting until after an election to tell municipalities they would be getting a reduction, even though the deficit was growing at the start of the fiscal year.  Boucher says the state has a huge structure cost and fringe benefit cost that need to be reduced so these types of cuts don't fall on local taxpayers.  Even though the cuts are to municipalities and schools, Boucher says the ultimate burden falls on local property tax payers.


Several town officials are worried about the next shoe to drop.  Boucher talked with several town leaders in her district who were concerned, and had a premonition that something would befall them.

Newtown celebrates Fairfield Hills building demolition completion

Newtown officials are celebrating the demolition of another building on the Fairfield Hills campus.  The building known as Canaan House was not up for reuse because of hazardous materials and small rooms.  The structure, built in the 1930s, was across from the municipal center and that parcel of land will be returned to use as a field.  The demolition project cost about $3 million. 


First Selectman Pat Llodra says town officials will start to consider whether the five acres near Newtown Youth Academy is still the best place for a community center, being paid for with a $15 million donation from GE.  The community center could be moved closer to Town Hall. 


Newtown officials are also starting to plan for a new police station.  Streetscape improvements to the entrance of the Fairfield Hills campus are planned for next year. 


The town bought the former psychiatric hospital from the state in 2004 for $33 million.

Local leaders decry $50 million in mid-year state aid cuts

Mayors and First Selectmen are speaking out against $20 million in education funding cuts made by the state and $30 million in municipal aid being being cut. 


Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, President of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, tells the Courant that this is horrible timing because reducing aid in the middle of a fiscal year means layoffs may be the only way communities can immediately deal with the loss of funding.  Boughton says he will have to tell School Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella that he's going to have to find areas to cut that $250,000 or start laying people off.


CCM says the remaining $30 million cut in funding for local infrastructure "goes far beyond cuts called for in the state budget."


Malloy's budget office says the change is a temporary freeze on new infrastructure project authorizations, affecting only reimbursements beyond the $825 million lawmakers authorized.


The following chart includes education grant cuts expected for Greater Danbury area municipalities.

Municipality  $ reduction  -Percentage
Bethel $119,449 1.5%
Bridgewater $17,720 43.5%
Brookfield $126,295 8.2%
Danbury $250,000 0.8%
Easton $67,274 27.4%
Kent $25,631 50.0%
Monroe $134,966 2.1%
New Fairfield $95,053 2.1%
New Milford $176,974 1.5%
Newtown $186,185 3.7%
Redding $83,699 31.7%
Ridgefield $234,100 29.1%
Roxbury $30,851 47.9%
Sherman $34,351 42.4%
Southbury $129,892 3.6%
Washington $47,779 48.5%
Weston $118,049 30.9%
Wilton $202,441 30.4%


Rare praise for DMV coming from local lawmaker

Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher is commending the Department of Motor Vehicles on dramatically reducing customer wait time.  She noted that having Voya Financial COO Judeen Wrinn as Deputy Commissioner has helped bring about positive changes.  Wrinn has brought in a best practice from the business world known as process reengingeering. 


Boucher says this will increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve service. 


Boucher said she will continue to monitor the performance of DMV branches to ensure customers’ needs are being met, noting that there are still branches where wait times exceed an hour.  Boucher says she understands that some efficiency measures are still being rolled out, but she looks forward to hearing about a further reduction in wait times.

Metro North makes schedule, other changes for New Year's weekend

Metro North is making some changes for the New Year's holiday weekend.  The commuter railroad is banning all alcohol from noon on Saturday, New Year's Eve, until noon on New Year's Day.  Metropolitan Transportation Authority police will be at several stations to make sure the ban is followed and to issue a summons to any violator. 


Gate collection will be in effect for ticket collections at Grand Central Terminal after the ball drops.  That means riders must have purchased a ticket before boarding a train to head back to Connecticut and the Brewster area. 


Metro North will have extra inbound late afternoon and early evening service to Grand Central.  There will also be extra early morning outbound service Sunday to Connecticut.


On Monday, Metro North will operate on a Saturday schedule.

Danbury Water Department offering water conservation tips

The Danbury Water Department has issued water conservation tips.  Conservation measures have helped to mitigate the drought situation, but the Danbury Water Department always recommends the careful use of water, especially in a time of lower than normal rainfall. 


The Department issued four basic tips this month: economize, repair leaks, install water saving devices and reuse water. 


The department recommends shutting off the valve to outdoor fixtures in winter and drain back the pipes feeding these fixtures to prevent frozen pipes.  You can check a water meter to see if the dial is moving when all water-using appliances are not being used in order to detect leaks.

Danbury officials start to address coming fiscal year's budget challenges

The City of Danbury is under staffing and fiscal constraints so officials are getting a jump start on the budget process.  Mayor Mark Boughton met with department heads this month about the coming fiscal year. 


He says Danbury is operating at peak capacity, and he can't lay off more people because otherwise essential work won't get done.  Boughton says he refuses to close firehouse and won't jeopardize public safety by laying off police officers, so the City will just have to get creative.  He acknowledged complaining about the state every year, but says this will be the first year that budget season will be a challenge. 


Boughton says there are whole departments that don't exist anymore that existed when he took office.  He says he can give City employees two titles, but can't give them three.


Boughton says Danbury taxpayers will feel the effect of a $2.5 billion state deficit and everyone will have to work together to mitigate the impact on the mill rate. 

Danbury to begin live Christmas tree pick up Monday

Danbury will begin picking up live Christmas trees on Monday, January 2nd.  The City’s Highway Department will pick-up trees through January 31st, weather permitting.


There is no set schedule for this free program so residents are encouraged to place their live trees curbside as close to January 2nd as possible to assure the tree is picked up while the trucks are in each neighborhood.


Everything must be removed from the tree, including decorations, tinsel, lights, tree stands and other items.  No artificial trees will be collected.


Live Christmas trees can also be dropped-off free of charge for Danbury residents, as “wood waste” at Ferris Mulch Products, located on Plumtrees Road. Call 203-790- 1155 for times and more information, or visit their website.

DMV implementing wait-time reducing initiatives

New efficiency measures are being rolled out to state Department of Motor Vehicle branch offices around Connecticut based off a pilot program in two branches.  Governor Dannel Malloy says there are more conveniences through time-saving measures and the loosening of certain requirements.  Long wait times arose at DMV branches following shut down for a computer replacement and modernization effort which was rife with delays and technical glitches. 


At the pilot program branches, Malloy says there was a 10 percent reduction in the number of repeat visits that are needed as the result of form changes and the elimination of red tape.


The branch offices saw significant changes in wait times during the month of November compared to the same month the previous year, with a 13-percent drop in wait time at the Danbury branch.  The wait time last November was about 51 minutes.  Last month it was a 44 minutes.


Three changes are being implemented.  A customer advocate will check all paperwork and compliance requirements after customers have a quick ticket to ensure that customers are fully prepared.  The Quick Ticket service gives customers a number as soon as they arrive at the DMV.  All branch doors will open 15 minutes early, with advocates reviewing paperwork for as many customers as possible to smooth out the early morning peak volume.  Malloy says that will allow all employees to serve customers as soon as the offices formally open.

3D mammograms to be covered by some health insurance policies in 2017

A new year will bring new laws to Connecticut.  Several pieces of legislation are set to take effect January 1st.  Certain health insurance policies must cover 3D mammography beginning next week.  The technology for 3D screenings was developed by Danbury-based Hologic.


Unlike conventional 2D mammography, where the presence of overlapping breast tissue can make it more difficult to detect cancer, Hologic's 3D screening makes the image clearer.  The Danbury-based company says the technology detects invasive cancers earlier, when the disease is easiest to treat.


Governor Malloy had some reservations about the bill, but signed the measure into law in June.  Malloy considered a veto because he had lingering questions about its cost.  He also was concerned with possible legal issues, including if women who had their insurance-covered breast screening for the year now want the high-tech test. 


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


The bill passed the legislature with virtually no opposition.  Local lawmakers said at the time that the accuracy will ultimately lower costs, by preventing false positives that lead to more tests.

Putnam County identifies services to be shared with Danbury in new partnership

As Danbury and Putnam County work together to come up with areas that would be mutually beneficial to share services, the two sides are touting their services and programs.  Mayor Mark Boughton proposed the partnership to the City Council earlier this month and members are studying the possibilities.  One of the biggest is to open the City's sewer system to the Brewster region.  


From education and recreation to transportation and economic development, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the service sharing is limitless.


When it comes to education, Odell notes that they just opened a culinary arts BOCES educational program at Tilly Foster Farm.  BOCES, Boards of Cooperative Educational Services, provide shared educational programs to school districts within New York state.  She would like to invite Danbury students to join those programs.  As the program gets its footing, it will be expanded into bioscience and adult education.


Odell says Putnam County officials are looking at early intervention pre-k programs.  She says the transportation costs can double what the program costs taxpayers.  Odell says that money should be shifted back into the students themselves.

Sandy Hook Promise looks ahead to work to be done in 2017

Sandy Hook Promise says they have made a real difference this year, and even though there is a lot of uncertainty about what will happen next year under a new President and Congress, there is important work still to be done. 


Sandy Hook Promise co-founder Nicole Hockley says her son Dylan's legacy will be her work to protect other children from gun violence. 


The organization sent out an email survey to supporters about the type of work they should focus on next year.  The issues range from teaching others the warning signs of violence and promoting mental health and wellness to advocating for gun safety policies on the state and federal level.

Fuel cell facility planned at Danbury business

Bloom Energy Corporation is making a petition to the Conneticut Siting Council about a development in Danbury.  A 200-Kilowatt Fuel Cell Facility at the Frontier building on West Street in Danbury is proposed.  Bloom is seeking a declaratory ruling that no Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need is required.  Electricity generated by the facility will be consumed primarily at the site, and any excess electricity will be exported to the electric grid.  The facility will be fueled by natural gas.  The proposal is being made to convert the building to a renewable energy source, achieve sustainability goals, and improve reliability of electrical systems and equipment.

Danbury Police add new member, Firefighter promoted to Lt.

There's a new Danbury Police officer on the force.  The City Council earlier this month confirmed the appointment of Frederick Bauer to the position.  Bauer has an Associate's degree in general studies from Naugatuck Valley Community College.  His recommendation letter said that Bauer has a long standing and successful work history as a sales representative.  He is currently attending the Bridgeport Police Academy. 


A Danbury Firefighter was also promoted to Fire Lieutenant.  Nicholas Velotti began his career with the Danbury Fire Department in 2007.  He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Sacred Heart University and an Associate of Science degree in Fire Technology from Naugatuck Valley Community College.  Velotti holds certifications as a Fire Service Instructor, Core Rescue, Hazmat and Tanker Endorsement. 


Mayor Mark Boughton says he saw Velotti twice during the promotion process, and learned that he is a dedicated firefighter who wants to enhance the department.

Praxair facilities in western New York to remain open

TONAWANDA, N.Y. (AP) - A business merger involving Danbury-based Praxair isn't expected to affect the company's work force in western New York.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says Praxair has committed to preserve its facilities in that region of the state, where it employs more than 1,000 workers. The New York Democrat says Praxair will preserve its entire work force after completing a merger with a German firm.

Praxair Technology Center is the company's primary engineering arm and is located in Tonawanda. The company also manufactures hydrogen at its Niagara Falls location.

Praxair produces, sells and distributes atmospheric, process and specialty gases and high-performance surface coatings. It has 26,000 employees in 50 countries.

Plumtrees bridge work in Bethel stopping for winter

The Plumtrees Road bridge replacement project is two to three months ahead of schedule.  But First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker cautioned that winter is shaping up to a typical New England winter, not like the easy one from last year. 


The project is in the winter shut down phase now.  But all lanes are open and traffic signals functioning as normal.  Knickerbocker says it's actually easier to get through the intersection now than before work started.  The busy and narrow intersection is being turned into an “x” shape where it meets Walnut Hill Road and Whittlesey Drive. 


Knickerbocker says they haven't run into any unexpected features underground, the project is beyond that part now.


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


Plans call for adding sidewalks to Plumtrees Road for students who walk to the Educational Park.  There will also be cross walk signals added.  The $2.4 million project is being paid for mainly with federal funding.  The project is slated for completion in October 2017.


Bethel had bad luck in recent years with Knickerbocker joking that "bridge" got to be a bad word in town for a while.


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

Danbury official hopes income Administration will reduce EPA rules on sewer plants

With an incoming Trump administration and an Environmental Protection Agency Administrator nominee who wants to get rid of some regulations, there are questions about an expensive phosphorus reduction effort being planned in Danbury.  The Waste Water Treatment Plant is due for an upgrade, but the EPA and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection are requiring the City to remove phosphorus to improve emissions from the plant. 


Mayor Mark Boughton says while they're hoping the federal mandate will be nixed, the City still has to plan in the meantime.  He notes that the federal government takes a long time to turn things around, so any change wouldn't happen overnight.  Regardless, Boughton says the permit from the state requires that the process begins.  Even if the phosphorus removal system isn't implemented, the upgrades still need to happen. 


He says these types of facilities have a shelf life of about 20 years, and Danbury's is five years past that so it's time for a refurbishment.  When the work is done, Boughton wants to bring in new technologies that will make it even cleaner, and cause less of an odor in the Newtown Road area.


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


The phosphorus removal and upgrade projects are expected to cost upwards of $70 million.

Danbury area doctors tracking Lyme Disease in hopes of better diagnostics

Members of the Western Connecticut Health Network met with Senator Richard Blumenthal this week to talk about their Lyme Disease Registry.  Language to strengthen Lyme prevention introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal was incorporated into wide-ranging health bill signed into law last week.  The 21st Century Cures Act also includes language about Lyme Disease education and research.  


Network Principal investigator and researcher Dr Paul Fiedler says they have interviewed over 400 patients who have been diagnosed with Lyme Disease. 


Fiedler says in well documented cases, doctors are hoping to follow a marker over time to look at the clearance from patient's blood streams.


Fiedler says 10 to 20 percent of people who are treated, still feel sick for up to a year or longer after diagnosis.  In well documented cases, they're hoping to follow a marker over time to look at the clearance from patient's blood streams to see if that puts them at risk for these prolonged symptoms.

STOP-DWI Foundation creates app to help users find safe rides home

Local police departments are stepping up patrols for the holidays to deter intoxicated or impaired driving.  The Putnam County Sheriff department has increased patrols on the lookout for drunk drivers during the upcoming holidays. The extra sheriff’s deputies will be deployed until January 2nd.  The advance announcement of the stepped up anti-drunk driving efforts is aimed at discouraging drunk driving. 


Sheriff Donald Smith says people should make arrangements for getting home safely from parties, such as using taxis or designated drivers.  This year, the STOP-DWI Foundation has created a new GPS enabled smart phone app called “Have a Plan” that helps users find safe rides home wherever the need may arise.


The app is available as a free download for smart phone users.  Smart phone users may access the app at online or their app store.


Smith says historically, holiday festivities usually gives rise to increased incidents of impaired driving and drinking related crashes, resulting in injuries and deaths on New York roadways.  He cited research showing that high-visibility enforcement can reduce fatalities caused by drunken driving by as much as 20 percent.


While STOP-DWI efforts across New York have led to significant reductions in the numbers of alcohol and drug-related fatalities, Smith says too many lives are still being lost because of crashes caused by drunk or impaired drivers.

Danbury Salvation Army makes last minute plea for red kettle donations

In the 35 days that the Red Kettle drive has been underway, the Salvation Army says little more than $43,000 has been raised in Danbury.  While that seems like a large amount, Salvation Army Captain Timothy Shaffer says it's far below the amount raised last year. 


The fundraising goal is $75,000 for the year.  So far, the Salvation Army is only about 57-percent of the way to that goal.  At this time last year, they were 74-percent of the way to their fundraising goal.  Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan and Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding helped out during the collection drive by taking a shift bell ringing for the Salvation Army.


The money collected locally, stays local.  Shaffer says the community always has come through in the past, and he is hoping residents do so again.


The Danbury Salvation Army will be helping over 900 children and 30 senior citizens for Christmas.  300 families are registered for the Christmas program, where food and toys are distributed to families.  A Thanksgiving distribution is also done by the Salvation Army. 


Throughout the rest of the year, the organization offers food pantry services, and rent and utility emergency assistance for anyone in need. Other programs include the Women's Group, Kids 4 God Kids Club for children 12 years old and under, homework help, Teen Club for teenagers 13-19 years old.

Danbury Police offer holiday safety tips

Last minute holiday shoppers are being reminded of some safety tips, which  the Danbury Police Department is hoping will be used year round.  With the hustle and bustle of the season, stores are more crowded and there are more distractions and Police spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says it's a good idea to make a plan in case you become separated from your children.  Children should never leave the store or go to the  parking lot to look for you or your car.  Parents are being urged to teach their children to stay by their side at all times while shopping, and accompany young children to the restroom.


Leave clothing that displays your children’s names at home, as it can prompt unwelcome attention from people who may be looking for an opportunity to start a conversation with your children.  Never leave children in toy stores or public facilities like movie theaters, and expect store personnel to supervise them.


Park in well lit areas, lock your car, and place packages and other valuables out of sight.


Crimes of opportunity are also taking place at this time of year.  Police are urging residents to be aware that some persons collecting for charities or causes are collecting for themselves.  Do not give personal information over the phone to unsolicited callers.  If you're looking to help someone who comes to your house asking to use a phone, bathroom or for a drink of water, police say you shouldn't let strangers in the house.  Do not let a stranger know that you are alone.

Dog park proposed by Joel Barlow student

A dog park has been proposed in Redding.  The idea comes from a Joel Barlow High School junior who is looking to create the dog park near the Redding Community Center.  The proposal was made to the Redding Board of Selectman at their meeting earlier this week.  The Parks and Rec Commission has signed off on the idea, forwarding it to the Planning Commission.  The high schooler is proposing a donation drive to pay for the brush clearing, fencing and benches.

Candlewood Lake Authority researches how to fight blue-green algae

A presentation has been made to the Candlewood Lake Authority about technology that could control or prevent blue-green algae blooms.  LG Sonics spoke with the CLA yesterday about ultrasonic pressure.  Buoys that produce sound waves would be able to detect when the toxic blooms are about to form, cause the organism to sink and eventually die off because of a lack of sunlight. 


Blue-green algae blooms closed several town parks on Candlewood this summer.  The toxin can irritate skin, eyes and noses if people or animals come in contact with it.  If swallowed, it can have other more serious effects. 


The specially equipped buoys cost about $45,000 each, are powered by solar panels and have a 50 acre effective area.

Lyme Disease prevention, research discussed by Senator Blumenthal in Danbury

Senator Richard Blumenthal joined doctors, patients and advocates to call for new measures to combat Lyme disease.  This followed passage of legislation Blumenthal helped to write to strengthen Lyme prevention, education and research.  After introducing bills in 2011, 2013 and 2015, similar language was incorporated into the 21st Century Cures Act and signed into law last week.


Blumenthal says he took on the matter after hearing from people across Connecticut whose lives have been devastated by Lyme.  Some of their stories include children who no longer have the energy to attend school and people whose life savings have been drained seeking treatment.  He says now that the 21st Century Cures Act includes language to fight Lyme, the work must begin to bring critical improvements to prevention and treatment.


Western Connecticut Health Network President and CEO Dr. John Murphy says members of the community approached the hospital about a decade ago about doing more to promote Lyme Disease prevention strategies.  He says there are 400 patients on a Lyme Disease Registry. 


Doctors meet with the patients to collect demographic and clinical data, as well as blood samples.  They can be followed over time so doctors can understand what is happening to the genetics of Lyme, who has gotten well with antibiotics and who hasn't.  Murphy says an important part of the registry is to determined what the patient's clinical outcomes can tell researchers about what's in their blood so doctors can develop more sensitive and specific diagnostics.

Congresswoman takes walking tour of downtown Danbury businesses

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty took a walking tour of downtown Danbury Wednesday morning.  During her stops along Main Street, Esty spoke with small business owners about the challenges they face and how they are reaching out to new customers. 


During one of her stops, at AWA Medical Supplies, Esty heard about some changes to Medicare and Medicaid that have helped their business and about other changes they they believe need to be made. 


Esty also learned about the American Dream story of Irene Rocha Bridal's owner, an immigrant who started out making alternations for a dry cleaner and eventually found success on her own.  Esty wrapped up her Main Street walking tour at Workspace Collective, an art space selling unique, upcycled works. 


Part of the reason she took this tour was also to see foot traffic in the downtown area, and learn what could be done to improve the market for small businesses.  She says having evening hours is a benefit not just to the shops, but to the community as a whole.  She says it leads to more people being downtown and to safer places.  Esty also discussed how federal dollars could be sent to cities and towns for sidewalk improvements in business districts. 


Esty was joined on the tour by Danbury state Representative David Arconti, CityCenter Director PJ Prunty, and Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce President Steven Bull.

Ridgefield officials to meet about personnel matter involving town policy violation

A special joint meeting of the Ridgefield Board of Selectmen and Fire Commission is being held Thursday morning.  The notice from First Selectman Rudy Marconi's office says they will meet, possibly in executive session, to discuss a personnel matter in regards to a violation of town policy.  The meeting is scheduled for 8:45am tomorrow in the Ridgefield Town Hall large conference room.  The meeting will be open to the public, but the selectmen and fire commission can then close the meeting to the public.  Details about what prompted tomorrow's meeting were not made public.

Danbury Library launches community survey

Danbury Library has launched a community survey and is asking residents to weigh in on the city asset.  Library officials say they are committed to being responsive to the varied needs of the city’s diverse community, and the responses will help re-envision the library's role in addressing the community's needs, priorities, and aspirations.  Among the open ended questions are about important attributes people see in Danbury, core factors that make the community what it is and what exists now that will enable the community to realize its aspirations.  The survey can be found on the Danbury Library website homepage.

WCSU Police host 'Coffee with a Cop' event

The Western Connecticut State University Police Department has held it's first in a series of “Coffee with a Cop” meetings.  More than 100 students, faculty and staff members attended the event to discuss issues over coffee. Among the topics discussed were safety on campus and in the community and the desire for more police presence.  Lt. Richard Montefusco says their goal is to break down the barriers between police and the community they serve.  The West Conn Police Department plans to hold quarterly "Coffee with a Cop" events.

Ridgefield Bach to Rock hosts benefit for Women's Center

A benefit for the Women's Center of Greater Danbury is being held in Ridgefield tonight.  The Sing, Sip and Shop event is being held at Ridgefield Bach to Rock music school.  Site Director Wendy Mitchell says there will be food, local vendors and music.  People can go into recording studio and record a karaoke song onto CD. 


There is a $15 donation entry fee.  The event is 7pm to 9pm.  Ridgefield Bach to Rock is located at 15 Danbury Road, off Route 35. 


Childcare will be available for $10 per child by a Bach to Rock teacher who will entertain them with music, crafts and games.

Danbury officials approve tax abatements for two Housing Authority properties

The Danbury City Council has approved two tax abatement agreements with the Housing Authority.  The agreements are for the Ives Manor and Fairfield Ridge housing complexes. 


The Housing Authority requested the tax abatement for the proposed 58-unit Fairfield Ridge Apartments Tax Credit Project.  The agency applied for and was awarded up to $8.8 million from the federal government for the rehabilitation and redevelopment of the property providing housing for low and moderate income families. 


The tax abatement for Ives Manor, a 98-unit elderly housing program, would be an extension of the 1975 tax agreement.  The 40-year term expired in October 2015 and was in consideration for continued state and federal funding assistance.  The abatement for Ives Manor is for an additional 40 year term, or until 2055.

Special Town Meeting in Brookfield about Four Corners streetscaping

A Special Town Meeting is being held in Brookfield tonight about funding for the Four Corners Streetscape Project.  Town approval in May of a $1 million appropriation and $500,000 in borrowing, based on a matching grant that didn't come through, needs to be rescinded. 


Then, a resolution for a $1.7 million appropriation needs to be approved and sent to referendum.  $500,000 approved in 2014 is still available for Phase 1.  That part of the project includes design, construction and installation of streetscape improvements from the junction of Routes 25 and 7, including new lighting, sidewalks, signage and utility pole relocation. 


The Board of Selectmen is calling for a referendum to be held on February 7th for a vote on the $1.7 million appropriation.  Brookfield has $2.2 million in grants for the project.  Phase 1 is expected to cost about $3.5 million. 


There will be an assessment on some of the properties.  The goal is to have Phase 1 completed at the same time as Brookfield Village LLC finishes the first two apartment buildings nearby. 


Tonight's Special Town Meeting is at 7:30 in Meeting Room 133 of Brookfield Town Hall.

Danbury-based Praxair and Linde announce intention to merge

Danbury-based Praxair is entering into a proposed merger with a Germany-based company.  Officials say the merger leverages the unique strengths of each company--Linde’s long-standing leadership in technology with Praxair’s efficient operating model.  Praxair also touted their combined enhanced ability to provide innovative, reliable and cost-efficient solutions for customers. 


In the all-stock transaction, Linde shareholders would receive about 1.5 shares in a new holding company and Praxair shareholders would receive one share in the new holding company.  They will be governed by a single Board of Directors with equal representation from Linde and Praxair.  Praxair’s Chairman and CEO, Steve Angel, would become CEO and a member of the Board of Directors. 


Corporate functions would be split between Danbury and Munich, Germany to help achieve efficiencies for the combined company.  No further details about how the merger would affect the Danbury workforce was immediately released.


The parties expect to complete their internal approvals in the coming months.  Linde and Praxair are confident that any required regulatory approvals, including any required divestitures, could then be obtained in a timely manner. 


In the 2015 financial year, The Linde Group generated revenue of EUR 18 billion, with approximately 65,000 employees working in more than 100 countries worldwide.  Praxair, Inc., a Fortune 300 company with 2015 sales of $11 billion, is a leading industrial gas company in North and South America and one of the largest worldwide. 

Second chance adoption offered for two horses seized from Redding woman

Several horses placed in the care and custody of the Department of Agriculture through investigations by the agency’s Animal Control Unit are being offered for adoption to responsible individuals or organizations.  All of the horses have been cleared to move to new homes, are up to date with vaccinations and have been implanted with a microchip.  Some of the horses were removed from their owners due to complaints of neglect or abuse, and may have physical and social limitations that could require continued medical care or special living conditions.


Second Chance Adoption is available for Chinook and Cheyenne, Mustangs that came to Connecticut from Wyoming as part of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program.  The horses were seized from a Redding woman in 2014.



Animal Control Unit Supervisor Ray Connors says all of the cases have been resolved and the Department is the legal owner of the animals.


A full medical history will be provided to each adopter. They are now housed at the department's large-animal rehabilitation facility in Niantic. 


Potential adopters will be required to submit an adoption application and signed adoption agreement, agree to a background check and inspection of where the horses will be housed prior to being approved and agree to other announced or unannounced inspections by Department of Agriculture Animal Control Officers.


Connors says they have people go through all of that to make sure the animals don't fall back into the hands of the people that the Department had to remove the horses from.

State law needs changing for Danbury low cost internet plan to work

Work continues on an initiative introduced in Danbury at the end of 2014 called "Connect Hat City".  Mayor Mark Boughton says one change is needed to state statute though before low cost internet could be offered in Danbury.  A vendor has been selected for the public-private partnership to increase service.  Frontier Communication could offer every household in Danbury $15 a month high speed fiber optic internet, without bundling in other services.


Boughton hopes the legislature will be receptive, especially because the idea doesn't cost the state anything.  But the change in a state law is needed for Danbury to be able to offer this.  Boughton will present the law change to the General Assembly when the new session starts next month.


Boughton says the digital divide is real, and with this low cost option more people will have access to the internet. He says that will help to close the achievement gap for Danbury students.


Boughton also wants to convert street lights to LEDs and install technology to create free WiFi zones for access by students at Naugatuck Valley Community College and WestConn, library patrons and downtown business.  Boughton noted that it would be too cost prohibitive to offer free WiFi throughout the City, but that in targeted business corridors and the downtown revitalization zone it makes sense.

Danbury man chosen as chairman of Connecticut's electors

Connecticut's seven electors have formally cast their votes for Hillary Clinton, winner of the state's presidential election.

The electors, all Democrats, chose Clinton for president and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine for vice president in Monday's solemn ceremony. held in the state Senate chamber.

While the outcome was expected, about 50 protesters rallied outside the state Capitol, expressing concern with the Electoral College process.

Some Connecticut electors say it's time to scrap or considering changing the Electoral College System. Clinton won the nationwide popular vote. 


Deputy House Speaker Bob Godfrey of Danbury was selected as chairman of the electors.  He thanked his fellow electors for their confidence in him to lead, and for being there to perform their Constitutional duty. 



Godfrey called it the real Election Day.  He says it's being done though during a troublesome time nationally and internationally, and he emphasized the importance of the vote.


Godfrey called the opportunity to be an elector the highest point of his political career, which is lengthy.  But he says it's the first position he's ever held that he would like to do away with.  Godfrey says there should be a direct election for President, as is done with every other elected officials in the United States of America, down to dog catcher.

250 jackets donated to needy kids in Danbury

¨Coats for Kids¨ donated 250 jackets to students at a number of Danbury schools last week, including Shelter Rock School, which received 37.  The Danbury School District says longtime Danbury resident William Taylor, of the Knights of Columbus, met with the school's social worker to determine the neediest students.  The Knights of Columbus has been donating coats to area school children for more than four winters.  Shelter Rock principal Dawn Bartz says some students don't have coats and the social worker is a miracle worker.  Caroline Crouch says it's a caring community with strong leadership and noted that the kid's needs wouldn't be met without parents like William Taylor.

Firefighters escort Santa through weekend snow to greet children

Santa came to Monroe a little early this year as volunteer firefighters escorted him on the fire engine to visit a few children in need of a little extra attention this holiday season.  There were a number of toys handed out, some fire truck tours, and Santa's firefighting elves out and about. This was the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department's 3rd annual event to help grant Christmas wishes to a total of 20 deserving children in town. 


(Photo: Monroe VFD)


Also braving the snow on Saturday, was the Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department.  Members escorted Santa around part of Bethel to greet children.


(Photo: Stony Hill VFD)

Bethel officials appoint new town Treasurer

The Bethel Board of Selectmen has appointed a new town Treasurer. 


Bethel's former Treasurer, Dan O'Grady, won election in November as Northern Fairfield County Probate Court Judge and vacated the seat.  John Kelly will now fill the role.  Kelly is an attorney by trade who has worked in the area since 1990, focusing on business law matters and tax concerns.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says Kelly is well acquainted with financial issues and a fine choice to replace O'Grady. 


Kelly has been a volunteer in Bethel for many years, most recently serving as chairman of the Ethics Commission.


The Town Treasurer is responsible for the supervision of the investment and expenditure of all town funds.  According to the town Charter, the Board of Finance appointed an Acting Town Treasurer until the Board of Selectmen could make an appointment to that office. 


It's an elected position.  Kelly will fill the role for about 11 months.

'Know the Signs' video from Sandy Hook Promise viewed millions of times in weeks

A video about identifying the warning signs of gun violence released just three weeks ago by Sandy Hook Promise has been viewed more than 70 million times on Youtube.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says this underscores the need to reach out to youths who feel isolated and may be thinking about harming themselves or someone else.

The Know the Signs campaign includes the 2.5 minute video public service announcement designed to show how easy it is to overlook at-risk behavior.



The group's founders include Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden. Both had 6-year-old sons who were among the 26 children and educators killed four years ago.

Sandy Hook Promise is also offering a Know the Signs guide on how to recognize the warning signs of gun violence as well as how to bring their no-cost trainings to schools and youth organizations.  The organization says they have trained over 1.5 million youth and adults in 22 months on how to recognize warning signs of gun violence and intervene effectively. 

Sandy Hook Promise says these programs have spurred interventions in response to multiple threats – including a school shooting, suicides and firearms brought to schools – as well as helped to reduce bullying and get hundreds of individuals mental health assistance.

Police urge caution during first significant snow storm of winter

New York State Police are urging motorist to use extreme caution when traveling the roadways this weekend during the winter storm.  The area’s first significant winter storm has made roadways slick and unpredictable.
If you must travel, police are asking you to slow down, leave extra space between vehicles and have a full tank of gas.

Police also say it's a good idea to make sure your car is stocked with survival gear like blankets, shovel, flashlight with batteries, extra warm clothing, snacks, jumper cables, and tire chains if you have them.  An extra bottle of washer fluid should also be available.
A charged cell phone battery is a plus, should you become stranded and need to call for help.

Economic development partnership with Waterbury proposed by Danbury Mayor

During his State of the City Address to the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Mayor Mark Boughton proposed a partnership with the City of Waterbury.


Boughton says by almost every measurement, Danbury leads the state in vital economic statistics.  He noted that over three dozen small and medium-sized businesses have opened throughout Danbury over the course of the past year.


The City Council signed off on a strategic partnership this month with Putnam County to share services and facilities, work on economic development projects, and leverage resources to become more efficient.  Boughton says his administration has also begun informal discussions with Waterbury Mayor O’Leary about a new economic development zone that would stretch from exit 1 to exit 25.


Boughton says if one community does not have the right piece of property or the right infrastructure for a company that wants to relocate, this Economic Development Zone would open the doors to recruitment,

retention, and business expansion. Boughton says with two airports, a highly educated workforce, and a solid public transportation system, Danbury to the west, and Waterbury to the east, the Housatonic Valley can be a powerhouse of innovation, job growth, and creativity.

Danbury Mayor proposes merger of Dorothy Day shelter with City-run homeless shelter

A quality of life issue for residents in the Spring Street neighborhood is being addressed in Danbury.  The proposal Mayor Mark Boughton calls "disruptive" involves a merger of the City run shelter and the one at Dorothy Day Hospitality House.  He made the announcement during his State of the City address at the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce annual leaders luncheon today. 


The food service would be operated by Dorothy Day volunteers, and the shelter would be managed by city staff.  Each shelter currently has 20 beds each.  His proposal is for a 40 bed facility, with a commercial kitchen, cafeteria, and a counseling center.  Boughton says because teen homelessness is a growing problem, he wants the new facility to be able to house families and teens as well.  Offices will be available for non-profits for outreach purposes, and Boughton says that includes for organizations like the Jericho Partnership. 


Boughton says it will be more efficient, save taxpayers money and bring volunteers and paid staff together to work toward the same goal of ending chronic homelessness.


A new location for the merged shelter has not been identified.  Boughton says City officials are looking at a few locations, close to the downtown, along the bus line which are zoned industrial.


Danbury will be hiring a Main Street Enforcement Officer for the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team next year.  That UNIT member would focus on quality-of- life issues in the challenging area around Spring and New Streets in particular.  This would build on Danbury's increased presence on Spring Street.  The City purchased the Octagon House last year, which will be renovated and turned into a police substation and UNIT offices.

I-84 widening project in Danbury enters planning phase

Planning has started for a project to relieve traffic congestion on Interstate 84 in Danbury.  The project is included in “Let’s Go CT” – Governor Malloy’s 30-year, $100 billion transportation investment plan.  The Connecticut Department of Transportation has entered the planning process phase to rebuild an eight-mile stretch of I-84 between Exits 3 and 8 in Danbury.  DOT officials say the project is aimed at improving safety, increasing capacity, and improving operations and access to the highway.


DOT Commissioner James Redecker says their focus will be on public engagement and developing a preliminary assessment of alternatives.  Future phases will include environmental documentation, identification of a preferred alternative and preliminary engineering.


Consultants from CDM Smith plan to work with the City of Danbury, local businesses, community groups, and commuter and freight interests among others to ensure that project meets public expectations.  Milone and MacBroom of Cheshire will lead the environmental documentation phase.  The I-84 Danbury Project team will be launching a website and hosting a series of public meetings in the coming months.


Construction is expect to start by 2022 and continue for several years.  The project cost is estimated at $640 million.

Danbury entrepreneur to be presented with Previdi Award

The Cecil Previdi Award is being presented this afternoon to a Danbury entrepreneur.  The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce is recognizing Jim Kennedy, the President of The Network Support Company.


Jim Kennedy has more than 30 years of technology experience and client-centered service experience.  Prior to launching The Network Support Company, Kennedy co-found Personal Computer Technology Group in 1983, the first computer rental company in Connecticut.  He served as president there until 1992. From 1993 until 1996, Jim was Vice President of Network Technology for Maplecrest Software Development, where he initiated, developed, and led their IT infrastructure practice.


Kennedy founded the Hospitality Technology Consortium, a profitable venture that operated from 1999–2002, and the launch of Homeology in 2005, which specializes in providing integrated system automation solutions to homes and businesses.


Kennedy is Chairman of the Board at Western Connecticut Health Network, a member of the Western Connecticut State University Ancell School of Business Advisory Council, serves on the IT Advisory Board for Ability Beyond Disability, and is the founding chairman of the Samaritan Health Center, a low-cost pediatric clinic in Danbury.

Connecticut Electoral College voters aggravated by outcome

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) --Most of the seven Connecticut voters casting ballots for the Electoral College - all of them Democrats - say it is time to scrap or at least consider changing the system that awarded the presidency to Republican Donald Trump despite Democrat Hillary Clinton's advantage in the popular vote.

On Monday, the electors will gather in state Senate chambers in Hartford to formally vote for Clinton, the winner of Connecticut's statewide vote. Electors in states where Trump won are expected to affirm his victory.

In interviews, Connecticut electors said it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have such a role in the electoral system, but they are aggravated to see the process play out the way it did this year.

Bob Godfrey, of Danbury, an elector and deputy state House speaker, said it is time to get rid of the Electoral College.

"The popular vote is the way to go. This is supposed to be a Democratic republic," he said. "People should know the person who gets the most votes wins the seat, the same as every other elected official in the country."

Ellen Nurse, a Hartford constable, said she sees the Electoral College as a byproduct of the country's slave-owning past and believes it is time for it to be repealed, perhaps through a constitutional amendment.

When the Electoral College was devised in 1787, the founders were worried about one state exercising outsized influence. Small states didn't want states with big populations to dominate, and Southern states with slaves who couldn't vote worried that Northern states would have a stronger voice.

Another elector, state Rep. Christopher Rosario, of Bridgeport, said it's worth looking into having the popular vote decide the winner. But he said Democrats are not looking for changes after winning the presidency in 2008 and 2012.

"We need to pick stronger candidates," he said. "I think what happens is the party becomes top heavy, they don't build up the ranks."

Likewise, Steven Jones, the 26-year-old chair of the Tolland Democratic Town Committee, said he does not see a need for immediate change but a review is warranted.

But Barbara Gordon, 81, of West Hartford, said a change is necessary after an election in which the loser actually won the popular vote by more than 2 million.

"I really do think the total vote of people who bothered to vote needs to be dealt with more," said Gordon, secretary of the Democratic State Central Committee. "Two million votes is a lot of votes and I'm concerned the average person will say 'Why do I have to bother?' That is very bad."

The other two Connecticut electors, Edward Piazza and Tyisha Walker, both of New Haven, could not be reached for comment.

Lawmakers discuss gun violence prevention in Washington, D.C.

A Vigil of Remembrance and Mourning took place last night at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington DC to Commemorate 400,000 victims and survivors of gun violence since December 2012. 


5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy will be joined this morning by advocates for gun violence prevention to talk about the current state of gun violence in the United States and to demand action.


The Chair of Newtown Action Alliance and the Newtown Foundation. the President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and more than 80 family members of victims and survivors of gun violence from 20 states will be on hand for the remarks.  Carlee and Matthew Soto, the sister and brother of Sandy Hook School teacher Victoria Soto; Gilles and Joyce Rousseau, parents of teacher Lauren Rousseau; Hannah D’Avino, sister of educator Rachel D’Avino; and Francine and David Wheeler, parents of 1st grader Ben Wheeler will be among the Connecticut delegation.


The parents of journalist Alison Parker, who was killed on live television in Virginia, the daughter of a San Bernardino worker, two survivors of the Pulse Nightclub shooting also plan to attend.

Previdi Award to be presented at Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce luncheon Friday

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce annual Leaders Luncheon is tomorrow.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton will deliver his State of the City address during the gathering.  Chamber President Steve Bull says that's always a highlight because Boughton announces new initiatives .  He says Boughton has a major announcement included this year as well.  Calls to Boughton for comment were not immediately returned.  The chamber also presents the Cecil J. Previdi Award.  This year's recipient is Jim Kennedy, CEO and founder of The Network Support Company.

Congressional delegation reflects on 12/14 anniversary

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says the anniversary knocks him in the gut every year.  Himes said he can’t help but imagine what those twenty children would be doing now, in 5th grade.  As ten- and eleven-year-olds, Himes said they’d be in that special place between little kid and teenager, finding their independence and awakening to the world outside.  Himes says today is a time to remember the victims and the Sandy Hook community, and tomorrow the struggle to prevent this from ever happening again continues.


Senator Richard Blumenthal says the pain and grief of 12-14 still feels fresh, but so too is the determination to make the world better and safer in memory of the 20 children and 6 educators killed that day.  Blumenthal says he continues to stand with Newtown, a community that confronted unspeakable tragedy with unimaginable courage and strength.  Blumenthal says since that day 4 years ago, more than 120,000 people have perished due to gun violence, and Congress continues to be complicit by its inaction.


Senator Chris Murphy says today is a day of crippling sadness and a day of unanswerable questions.  Murphy says so many people's world fractured four years ago and the pieces cannot ever be reassembled the same.  But he says everyone can promise to be kinder to one another, to hug loved ones and friends a little tighter, and reach out to those who may need a helping hand.  Murphy says a big step forward was taken this week with the signing of a bill into law reforming the nation's mental health care system.

Connecticut governor to activate cold weather protocol

Governor Malloy says he will activate the state's severe cold weather protocol in anticipation of single-digit temperatures and below-zero wind chills that are forecast over the next couple of days.

The protocol will be activated beginning Thursday evening and continue through Saturday morning. They call for state police and other state agencies to coordinate efforts with shelters and community groups to ensure that the most vulnerable residents are protected from the cold.

The Democratic governor says it's the first time he has ordered the protocols to be activated this season.

Malloy says anyone who needs shelter can call the 211 help line. He also is encouraging communities to open warming centers.


Newtown First Selectman and the Emergency Management Office urge residents to be prepared for the severe cold weather and make appropriate preparations to protect pets.  Llodra is also asking that residents check on any elderly or frail neighbors to be certain they are doing OK in this weather.  Residents can so to several locations to seek relief from the cold including CH Booth Library, Edmond Town Hall and the Municipal Center.

Obama signs bill reforming mental health system

Senator Chris Murphy attended a bill signing ceremony at the White House on Tuesday where President Obama signed into law the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act, co-authored by Murphy, as part of the 21st Century CURES Act.  Murphy’s bill will comprehensively overhaul America’s mental health system, expand federal resources, and improve coordination for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.


The mental health portion of the bill was advocated for by Sandy Hook Promise, an advocacy organization created after the shootings at Sandy Hook School.


The 21st Century Cures Act invests $1.8 billion for a cancer research ``moonshot'' that is strongly supported by Biden. The vice president's son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015.


The bill also authorizes giving states $1 billion over two years to prevent and treat the abuse of opioids and other addictive drugs like heroin.


Overall, the measure plans $6.3 billion in new spending over the coming decade. The bill also streamlines the approval process for drugs and medical devices at the Food and Drug Administration.



Murphy said it was an honor to stand behind President Obama at his final bill signing ceremony and watch him enact the most significant reforms of our mental health system in decades.  He added that mental illness and addiction do not discriminate, so the health care system shouldn’t either.

Walkway by Bridgewater Town Hall completed

The walkway from Bridgewater Town Hall to the Fire Department property is now finished.  First Selectman Curtis Read says it includes a 5-foot wide concrete path, a flagstone connector to the Peck House, and two Roxbury granite “bump-outs” with stone benches on either side of the Burnham Library. The Roxbury-Bridgewater Garden Club donated two trees and a stone bench along the Walkway to mark their 100th anniversary.  Read says the contractors did beautiful work, which was paid for by a Connecticut Local Capital Improvement Program grant.


Redding Board of Selectmen confirms new member

Redding has a new selectman.  Peg O'Donnell replaces Leon Karvelis who moved to Bethel and resigned last month.  O'Donnell was unanimously approved to fill the vacancy at last night's Board of Selectmen meeting.  She previously spent more than a dozen years as treasurer in Redding and was on the Board of Finance for a year.  The Redding Board of Finance will now have to appoint O'Donnell's replacement.

Boughton appoints senior strategist for exploratory committee

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton continues to fill out his exploratory committee.  The group, called the Connecticut Comeback Committee, is his latest attempt to seek a statewide office.  He had recruited his 2014 gubernatorial campaign political director to be his senior strategist.  Boughton said in a statement that John Kleinhans of East Lyme has worked with him in the past and his experience will serve the organization well.  Kleinhans said in the statement that he is looking forward to guiding the committee to the strongest position as Boughton explores a run for statewide office in 2018.

FuelCell Energy acquires CCSU project

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy has acquired an operating megawatt-class fuel cell project that generates in excess of 11 million kilowatt hours annually.  The owner had been selling power and steam to Central Connecticut State University under a multi-year power purchase agreement.  FuelCell says they will capture recurring and predictable monthly electricity sales by acquiring the project. Central Connecticut State official Richard Bachoo says the fuel cell project is saving the state money on operating costs and enhancing power reliability.

4 years after Newtown, gun control advocates tailor efforts

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- With the election of NRA-backed Donald Trump as president, gun control advocates are putting more emphasis on a long-term strategy of electing like-minded lawmakers, passing state legislation and fostering a grassroots network that grew out of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting four years ago.


Activists say they have generated a big enough support base since the massacre of 20 children and six adults inside the Newtown schoolhouse to bypass Washington and push for state-level measures such as universal background checks and persuade more restaurant chains to stop allowing patrons to carry guns.


"We're pivoting to the states and to American businesses and saying, 'OK, when Congress won't protect constituents, it's up to state lawmakers and companies to protect their constituents and customers,'" said Shannon Watts, who founded Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America following the Sandy Hook shooting of Dec. 14, 2012. "It's a proven, effective strategy and winning strategy. And we're going to keep at it as long as it takes - to point Congress and the Supreme Court in the direction the nation is headed in."


Watts' group counts 3 million people as members, and she said it has benefited from a surge of interest since the election, with standing-room-only events in West Virginia and the Carolinas following Trump's win. Among its next priorities, the group wants to help pass a requirement for background checks on gun buyers in New Mexico and to defeat an Ohio bill that would allow guns in areas including daycare centers, police stations and colleges.


Supporters of more restrictive gun laws were encouraged by some victories on Election Day. In New Hampshire's Senate race, Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte narrowly lost to Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan after being targeted by gun-control groups and a political action committee of Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy.


They are also heartened that gun control-related ballot initiatives passed in three states - California, Nevada and Washington - in this year's election. California's measure prohibits the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and requires certain individuals to undergo background checks before they can buy ammo. Nevada voters required firearm transfers go through a licensed gun dealer, a process that involves a background check. And the Washington measure will allow courts to issue so-called extreme risk protection orders to remove guns from someone showing signs they're a risk to themselves or others.


Those measures come after groups successfully persuaded restaurants and stores including Starbucks, Target, Trader Joe's and Panera to stop allowing customers to bring in guns.


But advocates still had their hopes set on Democrat Hillary Clinton winning the presidency.


"We always knew it would be a marathon and not a sprint," said Po Murray, chair of the Newtown Action Alliance, a group also created after the school shooting. "But this is a major bump in the road in our marathon."


Firearms enthusiasts are expecting a sweeping expansion of gun rights with Trump in the White House and continued Republican control of Congress. Their priorities include eliminating gun-free zones at schools, reducing requirements for background checks and ensuring that concealed carry handgun permits from one state are recognized everywhere in the U.S.


"This is our historic moment to go on offensive and to defeat the forces that have aligned against our freedom once and for all," said Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association, in a video released after the Nov. 8 election.


Still, some groups that will likely oppose such steps are taking a wait-and-see attitude with Trump, while moving ahead with their causes.


Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son, Daniel, was among those killed in Newtown, is the co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, an organization working to prevent gun violence deaths through various initiatives. Barden said he is heartened the Senate gave final approval last week to a bill aimed at improving access to mental health services, something Sandy Hook Promise has sought for nearly four years. Barden said he is also encouraged more people are being trained to reduce bullying and recognize signs of gun violence.


"We know that gun violence is preventable if you know the signs. And that doesn't require an act of Congress," Barden said. He said his group can continue its efforts to better protect children "regardless of who is in the White House."

30-percent drop in donations to Monroe Food Pantry

The Monroe Food Pantry saw a 30-percent drop in donations in November.  First Selectman Steve Vavrek told the Monroe Courier that both food and cash donations are down headed into the holiday season.  There are about 275 families who need assistance because of financial hardships.  The Courier reports that patrons come in once a month for non-perishable items and once a week for fresh produce and bread.  It's free for registered families.

Sandy Hook father who received threats speaks out

The father who received threatening messages from a Florida woman, who has now been charged, is speaking out.  Authorities charged Lucy Richards last week.  One of the threats reported in the federal indictment included Richards saying in a voicemail that "death is coming to you real soon and there's nothing you can do about it."


Len Pozner said on CNN that when he started seeing hoax content online, he worked to get videos with false evidence removed, correct conflicting news reports and sharing his first hand stories.  Pozner's 6-year old son Noah was among the 20 children killed on 12-14. 


Pozner says so-called Truthers don't think anything bad ever happens and when they see anything on the web or tv about a mass casualty event, that it has to be a hoax.

Brookfield applies for brownfield remediation assessment grant

As Brookfield works on the Four Corners revitalization project, the town is looking to find out how much chemical contamination there is under a former dry cleaners at 20 Station Road.  A grant will allow Brookfield to assess the property and determine what needs to be done to get it in saleable or useable condition.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says there is a bloom they believe is going out under Station Road.  The assessment will determine what's there, the level that's there and the extent of what's there.


While on the Sewer Commission, Selectman Marty Flynn says they would get projects where contractors were digging and found that the ground water was so polluted with gasoline it was flammable.  He asked if this grant singles out the one property, or if it could be used to look under the gas stations in the Four Corners as well.


Dunn says the gas stations have been under remediation for the last 20 years.  It's gotten to the point where Department of Economic and Community Development allowed for the remediation building to be removed.  That's where they could check the water and filter it.  Dunn says they are in good shape.


Dunn noted that the town is not doing remediation, just an assessment.  He says that will help the property owner, the town and future development.

Tree clearing by Danbury airport completed

Danbury has completed all of the tree trimming needed to have regular air traffic flow at Danbury Municipal Airport. 


The Federal Aviation Administration recently made the approach to the airport wider and changed the geometry.  The height of the trees affecting the approach were then reviewed.  During nighttime flying in inclement weather, the planes had to be rerouted.  The Aviation Administration Flight Standards Division for the New England Region required Danbury Municipal Airport to cut additional trees on the approach to Runway 8.


Six easements from property owners in Danbury were needed in order to clear more trees. The easements from the property owners on Briar Ridge Road, Cel Bret Drive and Miry Brook Road would cost $951,000. The FAA will pay 95-percent of the total cost.  The easements needed to be in hand before a grant from the FAA will be issued.

Congresswoman to participate in Day of Kindness activities

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will be traveling across the region to recognize and celebrate a Day of Kindness by participating in acts of service.  It's part of a week-long campaign to promote community service in recognition of the fourth anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook School.


Esty will start the day by hosting a press conference with Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, along with representatives of the Newtown Action Alliance.  They are urging residents to engage in service in their own communities.  Esty, Blumenthal, and Murphy will then read to a classroom of preschoolers at the YWCA in New Britain. The books will have themes that touch upon the ideas of kindness and acceptance.


Esty will then visit Tunxis Community College Veterans Oasis, where she will meet with student veterans. Final exams began yesterday, and Esty will be bringing by snacks and drinks for the veterans who are in need of study snack and break.


Later in the day, Esty will participate in the Torrington Chore Program for the Elderly. This housekeeping service is offered to low-income, elderly residents in Torrington and Harwinton. Through the assistance of a chore worker, the program has been successful in enabling older residents to remain in their home and age in place.


Esty will conclude her day of service at Saint Vincent dePaul Homeless Shelter in Waterbury, where she will help clean and prepare the dining hall for the meal. She will also have the opportunity to serve dinner to neighbors who rely on the shelter’s services.

Brookfield Senior Center collecting items to send to soldier in Afghanistan

The deadline for collecting items to send to Brookfield Troops stationed overseas is coming up.  The Brookfield Senior Center says shipment will be sent to a Brookfield resident stationed in Afghanistan before the holidays so he may receive it on Christmas or New Years.  The collection deadline is December 12th.  The Senior Center has a collection box at the front desk.  Requested are: Chap Stick, Q-Tips, Deodorant, Chocolate Kisses,  Christmas cards, wool socks, Sunscreen, Winter Gloves, Wool Hat, Pop Tarts, Disposable Razors, Candy Canes,Pop Tarts, Granola Bars, Trial Size moisturizer, White Hanes Undershirts, and homemade cookies.

Mayor reprises 'Mother Ginger' role in The Nutcracker

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton reprised his role as Mother Ginger in the Danbury Music Centre's annual staging of The Nutcracker.  He took to the stage last night, is taking off today's performances and will return to the role tomorrow. 


During the City Council meeting earlier this week Boughton cautioned people in the room that if they posted pictures of him in a wig, there's going to be problems.  He also joked that Police Chief Ridenhour would track them down for him.  Below is a photo from a previous year's performance.


(Photos Courtesy: Sherryl Hauck)


Boughton said in all seriousness, it's a good time and it's Greater Danbury area students participating in the show.

Eversource to conduct aerial inspections of equipment

Eversource is conducting aerial inspections of its high-voltage electric equipment and lines in Connecticut. This annual inspection involves the use of a helicopter flying low over transmission lines to detect any potential equipment issues before system reliability is impacted. 


Weather-permitting, the aerial inspections will continue through December 15th between 9 am and 4 pm, covering several Greater Danbury area municipalities.  The cities and towns include Bethel, Bethlehem, Brookfield, Danbury, Monroe, New Milford, Newtown, Oxford, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Washington, Watertown, Wilton and Woodbury. 


The aircraft being used for the inspections include a blue and silver helicopter (tail # N1431W) and a blue and white helicopter (tail # N411DD).

Monroe Police Chief delivers holiday PSA on behalf of DOT

The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, is reminding people to stay safe this holiday season.  Monroe Police Chief John Salvatore gave this year's public service announcement.  In a video, he called on everyone to wear seat belts, to not drink and drive, and lock up valuables in the trunk.  Salvatore went on to say that there is one kind of lights that no one wants to see at this time of year, police lights.


Immaculate girls cross country team honored in Danbury

December 7th 2016 was Immaculate High School Girls Cross Country Team Day in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton recognized the girls and their coach during the City Council meeting this week for their outstanding season and championship. 


Boughton said he was proud to honor the Mustang Girls for their performance and achievement throughout the 2016 season.  They had a 12-1 record for the season. 



He says Coach Brian Hayes has done a great job not only building good athletes, but good people.  Boughton says the student athletes learn how to problem solve and to handle wins and losses in a professional manner, which are lessons they will take with them for the rest of their lives.  He says the program is not just about building good athletes, but building good people.

Newtown offices to close for 15 minutes on 12/14

Newtown municipal offices will close for about 15 minutes on December 14th for a moment of silence and reflection to honor those killed at Sandy Hook School in 2012.  First Selectman Pat Llodra said in a memo to the Nwetown Bee that there is a mutual commitment that 12-14 will never be forgotten, and that the town will honor the children and educators each year to keep their memories alive.  No work will take place in Newtown departments from 9:30am to 9:45, and the public is being asked to respect this period by not entering municipal spaces at that time.

Outgoing Brookfield Police Chief decorated Navy veteran

A new Police Chief has been named in Brookfield.  The Police Commission's recommendation to promote Major Jay Purcell was unanimously approved by the Board of Selectmen on Monday.  He will begin that job January 1st.  


Chief Montgomery will retire December 31st after 16 years leading the Brookfield Police Department.  For his service in Vietnam, Montgomery was awarded two Purple Hearts and the Navy Cross, America's second highest medal for "extreme gallantry and heroism in combat." 


On 8 June 1969, while Second Lieutenant Montgomery was leading the advance party to a previously selected battalion command post site, the Marines were pinned down in an open rice paddy by a heavy volume of mortar, antitank rocket, and automatic weapons fire from enemy troops occupying well-fortified emplacements. Realizing the need for immediate action, Second Lieutenant Montgomery crawled close to the enemy lines and, pinpointing several principal sources of hostile fire, stood in full view of the enemy soldiers as he initiated an aggressive assault against the nearest machine-gun position, destroying it and silencing the fire from that sector. Although seriously wounded during this action, and suffering intense pain, he again braved the enemy fusillade to single-handedly destroy a machine-gun position occupied by several of the enemy. Weakened by loss of blood and the severity of his wounds, he was unable to continue his combat efforts.


The citation continues by saying that his heroic and determined actions so inspired his vastly outnumbered men that they surged forward and fought through the enemy lines. By his courage, aggressive fighting spirit and unfaltering devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger, Second Lieutenant Montgomery contributed significantly to the defeat of the enemy force and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.


Montgomery went on to serve 26 years as a special agent with the FBI, and interviewed President Ronald Reagan after he was shot in 1981.


Montgomery was inducted into the state to the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame for his post-military achievements.  He is a founding member of the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, which created the Armed Forces Family Scholarship and Assistance Fund.

Conn. Senators praise passage of mental health reforms

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is applauding the Senate’s passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes emergency federal funding to combat the opioid and heroin epidemic, significant reforms to the mental health system, and funding for medical research on cancer and other diseases. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives last week, and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.


Blumenthal says investment is key to saving lives. He notes that the bill will also spur landmark action in the effort to address Lyme Disease, and increases support for groundbreaking medical research.


U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, author of the bipartisan Mental Health Reform Act praised the 94-5 Senate vote.  He called the measures the most comprehensive reform of the nation's mental health laws in a generation.  He says the bill means millions of dollars in new treatment, and a pathway to a better integrated, more coordinated system for people with serious mental illness. The Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 served as the basis for the mental health language included in the bill passed Wednesday.


Sandy Hook Promise co-founder Mark Barden, whose son was killed at Sandy Hook School, praised the measure.  He says it speaks to the very core of their mission--preventing other families from having to live with the pain of the loss of a loved one to preventable acts of violence.  Barden says the gunman on 12/14 was suffering mental illness and his mother didn't know what to do with him.  If something like the Mental Health Act of 2016 were in place then, Barden says the quality mental health care that person needed would have been available to them.

Brookfield officials name next Chief of Police

With the pending retirement of Brookfield Police Chief Robin Montgomery at the end of the month, the Police Commission held deliberations about the direction of the department.  As a result of this process, the Police Commission voted unanimously to recommend the promotion of Major James Purcell to the Police Chief position. 


At a special meeting held Monday, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to endorse the Police Commission's recommendation to appoint Jay Purcell as the town of Brookfield's next Chief of Police.  He will begin that job January 1st. 


The Board of Selectmen congratulated Major Purcell and said they believe he will do an outstanding job in continuing the Police Department mission to provide the community with the finest public safety services in an ethical, professional and sensitive manner. 


The Brookfield Board of Selectmen expressed their appreciation and gratitude for the work of Chief Montgomery over the years.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says Chief Montgomery served the Police Department and the Brookfield community with dedication and integrity for over 16 years.  The Board wished him a health and happy retirement.

DMV, AAA franchise at impasse over licensing services

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Department of Motor Vehicles says it's been unable to reach an agreement with one of Connecticut's two regional automobile clubs to continue providing driver licensing services.

DMV Commissioner Michael Bzdyra announced Tuesday his agency and AAA Northeast, which serves Fairfield and New Haven counties, have reached an impasse.

The AAA franchise decided in October it would only provide licensing and ID car renewal services to its members and not the general public, prompting the governor to threaten legal action. It later agreed to continue providing the services until Dec. 31 and meet with DMV about a possible compromise.  The AAA offices includes the one on Lake Avenue in Danbury.

Bzdyra says he hopes the franchise will reconsider DMV's proposals. Meanwhile, DMV will explore other options for maintaining the services. AAA Allied will still renew licenses in the other counties.

Screening in Bethel of Robert Vaughn's final film

The New England premier of Robert Vaughn's final film performance takes place tonight at Bethel Cinema.  The longtime Ridgefield resident passed away last month.  Independent film Gold Star also features Connecticut Filmmaker Victoria Negri.  She also served as the writer and director of the film.  Negri has performed in award-winning independent films, webseries, and television.


After dropping out of Juilliard, Vicki drifts aimlessly between her family's house in Connecticut and an itinerant existence in New York. When her father suffers a debilitating stroke, she finds herself becoming his primary caretaker. Vicki resists connecting with him, and making peace with herself, but finds a way forward thanks to a new friend and a life-changing event.


There is a VIP Reception with the director, cast and crew at 6:30pm.  Gold Star will be screened at 7:30pm, followed by a Q&A and Lobby After Party. 


Negri says she feels like she owes Vaughn everything.  He took on the role because he wanted the challenge of acting without words and getting across character's motivations without speaking a single thing.  Negri says Vaughn did a brilliant job and became like a father figure during the shoot.

Brookfield Department of Health fees to increase

The Brookfield Department of Health permitting and licensing fees have been increased by the Brookfield Board of Selectmen.  A public hearing was also held on Monday night about the proposal, but only one person attended. 


Officials say fees have not increased since 2010, even though costs of permitting has gone up.  The increase averages about 6 percent, with fees for subsurface disposal system permits, well permits, soil testing and food service establishment licenses increasing by $20 to $50. 


Selectman Marty Flynn voted against the proposal citing other fee increases approved by the town recently.  Those include a new pumping fee for septic tanks, an increase in fire marshal inspection fees, new water assessments starting and recently approved streetscape assessments. 


First Selectman Steve Dunn and Selectman Sue Slater voted in favor of the increase.

Brookfield High School championship teams congratulated by town officials

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has presented certificates of recognition to two sports teams.


The Brookfield High School Varsity Boys Soccer team placed first in the Patriot Division of the South West Conference, advancing to winning the SWC championship and the 2016 Class M state Championship title.  The Brookfield High School Varsity Girls Swim and Dive team was recognized for winning the 2016 Class M state Championship. 


First Selectman Steve Dunn said it was with admiration and appreciation that he commended members of the teams.  He acknowledged the coaches and parents for their sportsmanship.


Dunn called the efforts outstanding accomplishments.  He noted that this is the first state championship the girls have won.

Congressional members prepare for Inauguration Day

Members of Connecticut's Congressional delegation are getting ready for Inauguration Day. 


Senator Richard Blumenthal says it's his duty to attend the swearing in ceremony next month.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says her constituents were split in their support of the presidential candidates so she will try to work with President-elect Trump where she can.  Senator Chris Murphy has set up a webpage for people to request tickets.


Each House member and Senator are alloted a certain number of tickets for the inauguration, though gathering on the National Mall to view the ceremony via jumbotron does not require a ticket. 

Himes introduces bill to take back war-making authority

Prior to the election, 4th District Congressman Jim Himes said that one of the first actions of Congress should be to take back its war-making authority.  He says it's something that's been talked about for decades.  Since World War II, despite a lot of military activity, there hasn't been a formal declaration of war. 


He introduced the Reclamation of War Powers Act on Monday. 


Without a formal declaration of war, or a resolution, the President can't introduce armed forces into hostilities according to the legislation.  He says the bill will stop the President from taking military action, except in emergencies, without Congressional approval.  The exceptions would be an attack or imminent attack on the United States.


The one tool Congress has, the power of the purse, would be used to take that power back.  Himes says money could not be expended to engage in war unless a deceleration is made by Congress. 


Himes notes that the bill will also repeal the two existing Authorizations for Use of Military Force under which the country has been operating.  Himes says the President-elect who says he has a secret plan to defeat ISIS; he cannot be allowed to operate without Congressional approval under AUMFs from 15 years ago.


AUMFs were for the War in Iraq and to go after Al Qaeda.  Himes wants a new declaration to go after ISIS.

Library offers fine forgiveness for donation to Monroe Food Pantry

If you have overdue books due to Edith Wheeler Memorial Library in Monroe, now is the time to return them.  In exchange for each item donate to the Monroe Food Pantry, the Library will forgive 50-cents in late fines.  If you don't have any late fees owed, the library is offering a raffle to Linda's Story Time in exchange for donations.  The library is collecting non-perishable items through December 31st.  A list of supplies most needed by the Monroe Food Pantry can be found on the Town’s website.

Sandy Hook group begins violence warning-signs campaign

A group formed by families who lost children in the shootings at Sandy Hook School has started a new public service campaign designed to teach people to recognize the warning signs of someone who may be contemplating gun violence.

The Know the Signs campaign from Sandy Hook Promise includes the launch on Friday of a new 2.5 minute video public service announcement designed to show how easy it is to overlook at-risk behavior.



The group's founders include Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden. Both had 6-year-old sons who were among the 26 people killed by a gunman inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.


Sandy Hook Promise is also offering a Know the Signs guide on how to recognize the warning signs of gun violence as well as how to bring their no-cost trainings to schools and youth organizations.  The organization says they have trained over 1.5 million youth and adults in 22 months on how to recognize warning signs of gun violence and intervene effectively. 

Sandy Hook Promise says these programs have spurred interventions in response to multiple threats – including a school shooting, suicides and firearms brought to schools – as well as helped to reduce bullying and get hundreds of individuals mental health assistance.

Connecticut Supreme Court to hear Danbury man's case

The Connecticut Supreme Court will start the fourth term of the 2016-17 court year today.  One of the cases being heard is the State of Connecticut versus Michael Pelella, from the Danbury Judicial District.  The state charged the defendant with threatening to commit a crime of violence against his brother, Francis Pelella, with the intent to terrorize.  The state also charged the defendant with threatening with reckless disregard of the risk of causing terror. 


In a memorandum of decision last February, the trial court dismissed the state's charges.  An appeal was granted. 


The charges stemmed from a January 2014 domestic disturbance in Danbury.  According to court documents, Danbury Police responded to the Fairlawn Avenue home on numerous occasions. 


On this particular day, officers saw the then 22-year old Francis Pelella standing at the top of the stairs and the defendant, then-31-year old Michael Pelella, standing at the bottom of the stairs with their mother.  The younger brother told the defendant that he was going to move into the attic, and the defendant reportedly became mad because his belongings were in the attic.  Michael allegedly told his brother that he would hurt him.  The brother said that he feared for his safety because the defendant had hurt him physically in the past. 


Francis Pelella was also arrested on a disorderly conduct charge for yelling at his mother and getting into her face.

Local lawmaker touts Intelligence Authorization Act

The threat posed to global security is real and being treated with a high level of seriousness in a new bill, according to a local lawmaker.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes is a ranking member of the NSA and Cybersecurity Subcommittee. 


He says the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 funds protection measures. Himes believes that this bipartisan bill achieves that goal, but because of the sensitive and often classified nature of intelligence work, much of the bill cannot be openly shared. 


One aspect of the bill creates a new committee dedicated to countering active measures by Russia to exert covert influence across the globe.  This bill commissions a report on cybersecurity threats to infrastructure, seaports and shipping in the United States.  The bill also authorizes special outreach to recruit intelligence employees with science, technology, engineering or math experience to help combat future threats. 


To balance the intelligence portion of the bill with privacy protection, Himes says the bill also authorizes more that $10 million for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.  The Board provides additional review of covert actions to help ensure that rights are protected. Himes believes that security and privacy are not mutually exclusive, and he wants to ensure that the government is able to keep citizens safe without unnecessary infringement on rights.

Secretary of the State officially certified election results

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has officially certified the results of the November 8th General Election. The final figures reveal that 1,675,955 people cast a ballot out of an all-time high 2,178,169 registered voters, amounting to just under 77 percent turnout.  Overall turnout was higher than the presidential election year in 2012, but lower than 2008.


Merrill says election modernization, like online registration and same day registration, is working. She says the state needs to continue looking for conveniences to offer Connecticut voters. 


A full Statement of the Vote including final vote tallies for candidates for President of the United States, U.S. Senator, Members of Congress, General Assembly, and Registrars of Voters by town, county, Congressional District and Legislative District will be published by the beginning of the General Assembly’s 2017 legislative session in January. 

Race, community and Policing to be discussed at WCSU

A panel of law enforcement and Western Connecticut State University student leaders are taking part in a discussion today about how citizens and police can work together.  The “Race, Community, Policing and YOU — A Conversation to Make a Difference,” event is about protecting the liberties and lives of both civilians and law enforcement officers whose job it is to safeguard the public.


Participants include Danbury Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour; Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs, who is also a WestConn instructor; State Police spokeswoman Trooper Kelly Grant; WestConn Police Chief Roger Connor; and student representatives.


University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says the discussion will be the first of several events to engage students, faculty, and the community in creating understanding about the approach police take toward their job and the experiences of residents, particularly students, who interact with law enforcement.


University student organizations such as the Black Student Union, the Latin American Student Organization, the office of Multicultural Affairs & Affirmative Action Programs and others are coordinating the event.


The panel discussion is at 11am in the ball room of the Westside campus center in Danbury.  The event is free and open to the public.

Area legislator doesn't want to wait for January to fix state budget deficit

A local lawmaker is calling for the General Assembly to meet now to get Connecticut's finances in order. 


Wilton state Senator Toni Boucher says the state has been in deficit every year since she's been in the Senate.  She says waiting is what got the state into this bind.  Boucher says the Democratic majority burying their heads in the sand and kicking the can down the road is the wrong approach to turning the books around.


Boucher says Connecticut still continues to recover from the economic recession that began in 2008, only recouping 76% of jobs lost.  She compared that to Massachusetts which has recovered 300-percent of job losses.


Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano is urging Governor Dannel Malloy to meet with Connecticut lawmakers to discuss the state's budget deficit problems.  Fasano, who will represent Republicans next year in an 18-18 split Senate, says people are losing confidence in the state and officials need to "show to the public that all parties can work together to face these challenges with a united front."


The Democratic governor's budget office estimates the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, will be about $1.3 billion in the red. 


The shortfall stems from a host of things, including payments due for teacher and state employee pensions. Malloy notes how previous governors underfunded those pension programs, helping create today's problem.  Scheduled debt payments and slower-than-anticipated revenues also pose challenges.

Sandy Hook Tree Lighting to feature only 1 tree this year

This year's annual Sandy Hook Tree Lighting ceremony will be a little different.  The Newtown Bee reports that instead of a pair of trees being lit, only one will.  The tree in The Glen, has been lit by Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity for the past six years.  But the Newtown Public Works Department said they would not be able to use bucket trucks to string the lights because the tree has grown too close to power lines.  They can't get within 10 feet of wires.  


The tree at 2 Washington Avenue, in Sandy Hook's business center, has been lit for the past three years and will be the focus of tonight's ceremony. 


The Bee reports that SHOP has asked attendees to bring donations for FAITH Food Pantry in exchange for a chance to light the Glen tree, but a family in Sandy Hook had already been chosen to light the other tree.  The random winner will join the family in lighting the other tree. 


The 16th Annual Sandy Hook Tree Lighting begins at 4pm, with the actual lighting taking place at 6pm.

Boughton hires GA woman as Finance Director of statewide campaign

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has hired a Georgia woman to oversee fundraising operations for his statewide campaign.  Boughton formed an exploratory committee last month and announced Wednesday that he has hired Lindsay Jacobs as finance director.  He says Jacobs' track record and experience are unparalleled. 


Boughton says in order to effectively communicate his message across the state, he is  building a strong team at every level. 


He fell short in his fundraising during a 2014 gubernatorial run in order to qualify for the state's Citizens Election Program.  Boughton would have needed $250,000 in small donations to receive millions in public financing. 


Jacobs said she is excited to join Boughton and the Connecticut Comeback Committee.  She said in a statement that during his tenure as mayor, Danbury has not only become Connecticut's safest city, but also its best place to start a business and create jobs.

Danbury FCI to resume housing female inmates this month

The Bureau of Prisons will resume housing female inmates at its facility in Danbury this month, making it easier for female inmates from the Northeast to remain in contact with their families.  The Department of Justice made the announcement in a report released Wednesday about a series of reforms at the Federal Bureau of Prisons designed to reduce recidivism and increase the likelihood of inmates’ safe and successful return to the community.  


FCI Danbury will house the Bureau's first-ever integrated treatment facility for female inmates, which will feature a mental health unit and a women’s Residential Drug Abuse Program, the agency’s most intensive substance abuse treatment course.


Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement that these critical reforms will help give federal inmates the tools and assistance they need to successfully return home as productive, law-abiding members of society.


Last year, with the department’s support, BOP retained outside consultants to review the agency’s operations and recommend changes designed to reduce the likelihood of inmates re-offending after their release from prison.

NTSB releases new report on 2015 North Salem plane crash

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a new report about the small plane that crashed in North Salem last November killing two Danbury restaurant owners. 


The information issued this week included a toxicology report which determined that pilot Val Horsa and passenger Taew Robinson tested negative for the presence of volatiles or drugs for all of the submitted samples.  The NTSB concluded that the accident was a result of loss of control in flight, not mechanical deficiencies. 


The plane was en route to Danbury Municipal Airport when it crashed into a reservoir less than 10 miles away.  90-percent of the wreckage was recovered , with the landing gear was in the up/locked position. 


The South Salem couple owned Bangkok Restaurant.

Redding, Danbury Police raise funds for 'No Shave November'

Two area police departments have raised thousands of dollars in support of cancer research.  During No Shave November, Redding Police were able to raise $1,785.  Police thanked donors for their support, with Chief Douglas Fuchs joking that all participants should go get a new razor now that it's December.  Danbury Police raised $2,100 during No Shave November.  The Danbury Police Department chas a strict facial hair policy, but Chief Ridenhour has allowed for some exceptions as a way to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

Connecticut Supreme Court to hear Sandy Hook lawsuit appeal

The Connecticut Supreme Court will hear an appeal of the case brought by some Sandy Hook families against Bushmaster Firearms.  The lawsuit be families of 9 victims killed and an injured teacher shot on 12-14 alleges that the sale of a military weapon violated Connecticut's Unfair Trade Practices Act and State Common Law, negating the gun company's claim of immunity. 


The lawsuit is bypassing the Appellate Court, and will be heard directly by the state's highest court.  The families are appealing a decision by a Bridgeport Superior Court judge to dismiss the case.


Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed, said their goal has always been to help prevent the next Sandy Hook.


Attorney Josh Koskoff says they welcome the Court’s swift action, particularly as the fourth anniversary of the shooting approaches.  The suit alleges that the AR-15 assault weapon used in the shooting was negligently entrusted to the public, and that the defendants violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act in aggressively and unethically marketing the AR-15 to the public.


Koskoff says the gun was built for warfare and has been the military’s weapon of choice for 50 years because of its efficiency as a mass casualty weapon.  When entrusted to the military, he says the AR-15 requires more than 100 hours of training and is subject to strict protocols on safety and storage.


The families’ appeal papers described the profound effect of the shooting on Connecticut: “The loss of twenty first-graders and six educators would shake any community to its core. Ours had to grapple with the manner in which those lives were lost. Children and teachers were gunned down in classrooms and hallways with a weapon that was designed for our armed forces and engineered to deliver maximum carnage. The assault was so rapid that no police force on earth could have been expected to stop it. Fifty-pound bodies were riddled with five, eleven, even thirteen bullets. This is not sensationalism. It is the reality the defendants created when they chose to sell a weapon of war and aggressively market its assaultive capabilities. Ten families who paid the price for those choices seek accountability through Connecticut common and statutory law. It is only appropriate that Connecticut’s highest court decide whether these families have the right to proceed.”

Funding approved for next phase of New Milford Library expansion

The New Milford Town Council has approved using waste management fund money for the next phase of the library modernization project.  The Town Council unanimously approved allocating $162,700 for schematic designs.  It was ruled that money from the waste management fund is an appropriate funding source. 


The architect previously presented the proposed design to the Town Council, and recently gave a written estimate of the scope of work for the new phase of the project.  The proposal to add 10,000 square feet of usable space features another story built on top of the addition, constructed in the late 1970s.  The library would also be made more accessible. 


Director Sally Tornow says story hour, a safe spaces for teens and room for adults to sit and read is done in the programming room.  But it's the same for children, teens and adults.  She says to have separate areas would be a vast improvement.  The expansion would open up more meeting and program space, alleviating cramping in the young adult and children’s libraries. 


The overall project is anticipated to cost $7 million.

Danbury firefighters kick off annual food drive collection

The International Association of Firefighters, Danbury Professional Firefighters Union Local 801, is once again conducting a canned food drive on behalf of the Salvation Army's Holiday Food Bank and Holiday Baskets.  For over 30 years the Union has sponsored the collection to help those in the area who are in need.  Food Drive Chairman Chip Daly says the generous community donations are combined with donations from Local 801's 115 member donations.  All non-perishable food will be accepted.  The collection will run through Friday, December 23rd.

Food Drive collection sites are located at the following DANBURY CAREER FIRE STATIONS:

Fire Headquarters 19 New Street

Engine Company 23 208 Osborne Street

Engine Company 24 36 Eagle Road, Commerce Park

Engine Company 25 171 South King Street

Engine Company 26 75 Kenosia Avenue Ext.

Fire Marshals Office 1st floor City Hall, Deer Hill Ave.


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