A newly restored sign has been unveiled in Ridgefield commemorating General Wooster. After British troops made their way up to Danbury for a raid, the two sides clashed in Ridgefield. A reenactment of the Battle of Ridgefield, where Wooster was fatally wounded, will be held this weekend to commemorate the 240th anniversary. A series of events will be held today, including that reenactment at the Keeler Tavern Museum. Resident Elaine Cox underwrote the restoration costs. Ridgefield Representative John Frey took the sign to Designs and Signs in Brookfield for the restoration work. The sign is along Route 116.
A bill has been introduced in Congress that would eliminate the $200 transfer tax on firearm silencers. Anyone buying a silencer from a licensed gun dealer will still be required to pass a background check. But 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the bill opens silencers up to the internet and gun show loophole.
Any person who pays a transfer tax on a silencer after January 9th 2017, may receive a refund. The bill also amends the federal criminal code to preempt state or local laws that tax or regulate firearm silencers. Esty notes that the fees are used to support the background check system.
900,000 silencers have been sold in the United States under the current system.
Gun rights advocates say silencers are a safety device since they reduce the noise associated with firing many firearms.
The Danbury Police Department is having a week long leadership academy for local middle school and high school students this summer. Academy participants will learn what it is like to be a Police Officer. Applications for the program, which starts July 17th, can be picked up at the Danbury Police Department lobby or from School Resource Officers.
Brookfield has opened the bid process for High School water system improvements. The 15,000 gallon atmospheric tank will be replaced with a new one and the water supply will be connected to the fire suppression system. Bids are due May 10th with work scheduled to begin after the end of the school year on June 22nd.
The Danbury Democratic Town Committee is hosting the first in a series of outreach initiatives this weekend. The Community of Compassion forum tomorrow is being hosted by the group's Social Justice Task Force. It's aimed at engaging with residents and discuss issues that impact Danbury neighborhoods.
The forum tomorrow from 10am to noon is at Danbury Democratic Headquarters on Main Street.
Rather than speculate on what the relevant issues are, DDTC officials say they are reaching out to local activists groups to expand the conversation. They've been in touch with the Danbury Area Justice Network, CT Students for a Dream, and Act Together CT-Northern Fairfield County.
A community survey will be launched at the "Community of Compassion Forum" Saturday. The Social Justice Task Force will use the results to compile a proactive, working list of issues that the Democratic Party will address this year.
New Fairfield state Representative Richard Smith says the Republican alternative budget proposal checks all of the boxes for addressing the root cause of Connecticut's fiscal catastrophe. He says the plan maintains the property tax credit and restores critical municipal aid for cities and towns.
Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan called it a blueprint for navigating Connecticut out of the cycle of deficits, job losses, and population decline. He says the legislature must restore confidence in the state’s ability to govern responsibly and that means producing a budget where Connecticut lives within its means.
Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky touted the plan as being transparent, without the trick of moving liabilities off the balance sheet. He called for streamlining state government and making hard decisions about wasteful or wastefully run programs. Bolinsky notes that the budget proposal preserves Newtown's 2018 educational cost grants and increases them by about $500,000 in 2019, before entering a ten-year transition into a functional ECS formula in 2020. Sharing in the cost of state-negotiated teachers' pensions, is off the table under the plan as well.
Danbury Representative Michael Ferguson says the plan spares already financially strained and overtaxed groups by not relying on toll revenue or taxing hospitals. He says the plan would restore confidence in Connecticut at a time when the state finds itself in a historically dismal fiscal crisis.
Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding called it a positive first step. He says the state must mitigate the $1.7 billion deficit without raising taxes on an already overburdened population and provide the proper funding to local schools.
Monroe state Representative JP Sredzinski says the Republican alternative budget proposal maintains most, if not all, municipal funding and does not raise taxes. He added that Connecticut's fiscal crisis requires immediate action and severe, long-term structural changes to the budget. Sredzinski says for too long there has been too much spending, and has been coupled with the two largest tax increases in state history.
The annual March for Babies March of Dimes event is being held this weekend in Danbury. Sunday's event raises money to fight prematurity and birth defects. NICU nursery graduates and their families will be celebrated with special moments during the event. A new March for Babies Memory Garden will be open for the first time to participants. Those who have experienced the loss of a baby can remember them by planting a memorial butterfly sign. Registration for the March for Babies at Tarrywile Park Sunday starts at 9:30am.
Due to construction at Danbury High School, all Danbury Public Schools will start after Labor Day for the 2017-2018 school year.
Tuesday September 5th will be a full school day. The plan is to return to a start date in late August the following school year. Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella says construction at DHS is on schedule, but they want the an extra week to assure that the building is ready to accommodate students.
The entire school year calendar has been adjusted so that the school year is not unnecessarily extended to make up for the late start. A half day of school is scheduled for Wednesday, November 22, the day before Thanksgiving break. A full day has also been added on Tuesday, February 20th, following President’s Day.
The tentative last day of school for students will be June 15, 2018. The new start date will not affect the Early Release days for Professional Development that were built into last year’s calendar.
Procedures were open to employee fraud and abuse when it comes to in-house fueling operations for Department of Transportation vehicles, according to a new report by state auditors. Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, co-chair of the Transportation Committee, says the findings are cause for concern.
The report found that there were insufficient policies for lost fuel cards, missing items from inventories, federal funds not spent in a timely fashion, late billing and missed paperwork.
Boucher says the state credit card should be identified to the vehicle the employee is driving so it can be audited properly.
Given the state's fiscal condition, Boucher says it's critical that every dollar spent on fuel be accounted for. She added that it's important procedures be followed. Boucher says it's good that the auditors found this out, and now it's time for the DOT management to take corrective action.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is being held Saturday. It aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating people about the potential for abuse of medications.
Potentially dangerous, unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications will be collected at several police stations and other locations in the Greater Danbury area. At the end of the event, the medication will be destroyed.
Danbury Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says prescription drugs that languish in medicine cabinets create a public health and safety concern because they are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. He added that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the family medicine cabinet.
The take back day collection is from 10am to 2pm tomorrow.
The Danbury School District has sent a letter home to parents to recommend that they not let their kids watch a new Netflix series, or to discuss the themes if the kids watch the show. The show, titled 13 Reasons Why, is based on a book about a teenager who commits suicide. The book and series also depicts the difficult and sensitive topics of bullying, rape and drunk driving.
Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says if students are watching the series, he asks that parents engage in thoughtful conversation with their kids about the show and the consequences of certain choices.
He ended his letter saying that school social workers, psychologists and counselors are available to speak with parents and children about these issues.
Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi hasn't ruled out a run for governor next year. The Democrat appeared on the HAN Network’s CT Pulse politics show and was asked about running for the state's top spot. Marconi filed an exploratory committee in 2010 for gubernatorial bid, He says some people have asked him to run next year and he's thinking about it, but he's not sure.
The Brookfield Board of Education is holding a special meeting tonight to talk about budget cuts. The Board of Finance tasked the panel with trimming $271,000 from their proposal for the coming fiscal year. Once that's done, the school budget will be $40.8 million. Tonight's meeting is at 7pm in the Brookfield High School Media Center.
The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has authorized town officials to apply for a 2017 Candlewood Lake Authority grant request through FirstLight Powers Resources. Brookfield is seeking $2,40 for the continuation of the boat decontamination program.
The program is aimed at controlling invasive species in Candlewood Lake.
The boat inspection and decontamination program is a voluntary initiative. It runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The grant will pay to staff the trailer on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. First Selectman Steve Dunn says Khols has already given permission to use their parking lot for the program.
To pass the inspection, boats need to be clean, drained and dry. Boats can be decontaminated for free using a machine if they don't meet that standard. It takes about 20 minutes to decontaminate a boat and several minutes to complete the inspection.
The state Department of Energy says this program was the first of its kind in Connecticut.
Another contentious public hearing was held in Danbury about a zone change to allow for off track betting. The Zoning Commission is considering whether an OTB facility can be an accessory use in a restaurant. Sportech Venues has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and wants to move into the second floor of Two Steps on Ives Street.
Attorney Bill Sweeny argued that this is a text amendment, not a spot zoning move.
Chairman Rob Melillo admonished the crowd for talking while a speaker was at the podium. He reminded them that this was a public hearing and not an exhibition. Melillo also cautioned that he would clear the room, have people line up outside, and call them in one by one to express comments.
Councilman Paul Rotello expressed concerns that there was no cut out for placing OTB in a restaurant near a school, day care or playground.
The public hearing was closed, but no vote was held Tuesday night.
New Milford has applied for a state grant to rehabilitate the old Boardman Bridge. Plans call for work to allow foot traffic to cross the bridge. Mayor David Gronbach says this is an important investment in historic preservation of a bridge whose style and design could not be replicated today.
He notes that it will also help quality of life with bike/walking trails.
New Milford has also applied for a state grant to improve the parking lot at the new Pettibone Community Center. Gronbach says this meets a lot of the State’s priority of rehabilitating old buildings with mixed use, providing an emergency shelter for the community, and servicing recreation, educational, and social service clients.
The New Milford Town Council also authorized a Phase 1 study to upgrade heating, cooling, and electric generation at Pettibone. A new roof with possible solar arrays, financed by the energy savings from new technology, was also authorized. Gronbach hopes to work with UCONN on this project.
A Republican will continue to serve residents the 68th House District of Woodbury and Watertown. Joe Polletta handily won over Democrat Louis Esposito, gaining 78-percent of the vote.
About 19-percent of registered voters in Watertown cast ballots while about 16-percent of Woodbury residents voted.
The 28-year old Polletta switched to the Republican party two years ago. He is a member of the Town Council and the Blight Task Force, and works for his family's real estate business. Polletta opposes recreational marijuana and a state tax on social security.
The legislature's budget-writing committee has suddenly halted plans to vote on an alternative to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's budget proposal.
Democratic leaders of the Appropriations Committee made a surprise announcement Tuesday that they were adjourning without taking the scheduled vote, expressing disappointment there wasn't bipartisan support for the two-year, $40.3 billion proposal.
It's unclear whether a spending bill can be passed before the committee's Thursday deadline, or whether a separate tax bill will be voted on as well.
Democrats say they didn't know until recently that Republicans weren't supporting the spending bill and instead planned to release their own budget. But the GOP leaders say they've been upfront for weeks about their budget proposal, expressing concerns with proposed Democratic tax increases.
Democrats hold a slim majority on the committee.
A local lawmaker is critical of what he said was a tone-deaf budget proposal. Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski says a 5.2 percent spending increase was proposed, and then a vote quickly cancelled.
The Democratic spending plan did remove some of the governor’s more controversial proposals to substantially redistribute local education aid and to shift teacher pension costs onto municipalities. But Sredzinski says the plan would have spent $403 million more than what the governor proposed. He railed against the his Committee colleagues saying it's another example that the majority doesn't grasp how angry and frustrated taxpayers are.
He added that Connecticut will not tax its way out of this problem and the legislature needs to proceed with that mentality.
Earlier this week, the non-partisan Office of Legislative Research announced an update to revenue projections indicating a shortfall of more than $260 million based on tax collections.
There was relatively low voter turn out in Newtown yesterday for the budget referendum, just 20-percent. Residents did overwhelmingly pass the municipal and school spending plans, along with all six of the capital items on the ballot. On the advisory questions, residents said that if the budgets hadn't been approved they should not be increased.
Charter revisions meant that this was the first time certain capital items weren't decided on at Town Meetings. They were listed on the ballot at random.
According to unofficial tallies, the $40.39 million municipal budget was approved 2,227 to 1,130. The $72.99 million education budget was approved 2,150 to 1,214.
$1.8 million for middle school improvements was approved 2,053 to 1,292.
$3 million for a new senior center was narrowly approved 1,930 to 1,391.
$750,000 toward the final phase of high school auditorium improvements got a total 2,026 yes vote and 1,295 no vote.
$850,000 for a roof replacement at Hawley School was approved 2,158 to 1,196.
$1 million for paving was approved by the largest margin of 2,841 to 485.
$300,000 to begin the design phase for a new police station was approved 2,214 to 1,109.
The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury is participating in Denim Day today as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Denim Day was originally started by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove them, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament wore jeans in solidarity with the victim. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault.
The Women's Center asked people to participate today in making a social statement by wearing jeans. Officials say the activism provides an opportunity to start discussions about consent and what consent really is.
Western Connecticut State University and the Women's Center will talk about consent from 11am to 2pm in the Student Center on the university’s Midtown campus on White Street.
Plans for a Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the New Milford Town Green have been unveiled. Local veteran Ray Crawford worked on these plans for a number of months. Mayor David Gronbach says the cost is estimated at $3,000 and the VFW will be accepting donations to offset that cost. New Milford is providing financial backing. The Memorial is proposed on what Gronbach says is a conspicuously empty space on the All Wars Memorial at the south end of the Green.
Officials from Danbury-based FuelCell Energy contributed to the clean coal discussion at the recent National Coal Council’s Annual Spring Meeting. They highlighted the company's fuel cell carbon capture solution that captures carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants in an affordable way, while simultaneously producing power. FuelCell Energy says about 70 percent of the smog producing nitrogen oxide in the coal flue gas is destroyed by the fuel cells. Vice President of Advanced Applications & Technology Development Tony Leo told the gathering that the benefits are industry-changing from an environmental, economic and energy standpoint.
An informational meeting is being held in Newtown tonight about the 2017 Revaluation Project. Newtown is currently in Phase 2: Market Analysis.
Newtown Officials say a variety of resources are used to analyze the real estate market. While the physical data is being collected by Vision data collectors, appraisal personnel will be analyzing sales that have taken place over the last few years to determine which market factors influenced property values.
Once all the data is collected and reviewed for accuracy, the appraisers will determine land value and set neighborhoods that rate the desirability of locations throughout Newtown. Individual property values will not be discussed at this meeting.
New property values will be announced at a later date.
Tonight's meeting is at 6:30pm at the Municipal Center.
Two properties owned by New Milford will be put up for sale. The Town Council voted Monday to list a vacant 1.64-acre lot on Perry Drive and the 19 acre Still Meadow property. The Council also opted to send out a bid request for 25 Church Street, which once housed the New Milford Art Commission's gallery. The recommendations came from the Surplus Properties Subcommittee.
New Milford bought the Perry Drive property in 2001 through the foreclosure process, and will be listed at $50,000. While that decision was unanimous, there was one dissenting vote on the Still Meadow decision.
The Newstimes reports that two parcels on Route 7 will be listed at $2.2 million, slightly more than the town purchased it for in 1998. Republican Paul Szymanski said more big-box stores could come to New Milford if the property is listed. Democrat Scott Chamberlain asked Szymanski to recuse himself because Szymanski had done work on the land for his engineering firm.
Newtown residents are voting on a budget today. The proposed municipal budget is $40.3 million. The proposed education budget is $72.9 million. Debt obligations are 7.9 percent of the total budget. There is a .27 mill rate increase included in the plan being voted on today. Spending is up about .82 percent. Newtown officials cautioned that state revenue is expected to decline.
Six capital items are also being decided today.
$850,000 for a new roof at Hawley School, $1.8 million for improvements to the Middle School and $750,000 for Phase 2 of the Newtown High School auditorium project are on the ballot. $1 million for paving, $300,000 for planning of a new Police Station and $3 million for a new senior center are also being voted on.
Residents can vote at Newtown Middle School until 8pm.
One of the items on tonight's Zoning Commission meeting in Danbury is a continuation of a public hearing on a proposed zone change that would allow off track betting in the City. It would make an OTB facility an accessory use to a restaurant.
Sportech Venues, which has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut, wants to renovate the first floor of Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street into a sports bar and restaurant. OTB gaming would be added to the second floor.
If the Zoning Commission gives their OK, the City Council must approve the application.
During the meeting earlier this month, resident Ken Gucker voiced concern that this was "spot zoning" for the benefit of one person, which he believes is illegal.
The Chairman of the Jericho Partnership also spoke out against an OTB site in Danbury. He says to add more gambling to the City sends the wrong message as Danbury struggles to fight substance abuse, human trafficking and address fear in the immigrant community.
There is a special election in the 68th Assembly District of Woodbury and Watertown. The seat was vacated by Republican Eric Berthel--who was recently elected to the state Senate. Democrat Louis Esposito and Republican Joe Polletta, both of Watertown, are running.
There is no Election Day Registration for special elections.
The 70-year old Esposito is a retired postal worker, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission and a former Town Councilman. He wants to advocate for seniors and supports tolls.
The 28-year old Polletta switched to the Republican party two years ago. He is a member of the Town Council and the Blight Task Force, and works for his family's real estate business. Polletta opposes recreational marijuana and a state tax on social security .
5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty opposes draft legislation that would institute a monthly reduction in pay for troops as a means of offsetting the cost of expanding G.I. Bill eligibility and longevity for future veterans. She is concerned about asking the troops, who she says have already sacrifice more than enough, to bear any additional burden in exchange for the benefits they deserve. Esty says asking the troops to pay for their own benefits while the country is still engaged in conflict sends the wrong signal. Esty is a member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Easton First Selectman Adam Dunsby will seek a third term in that role. Dunsby told the Easton Courier that he plans to run in November for the part time position. The Easton First Selectman also serves as state Representative for the 135th District of Easton, Redding and Weston. That is also a part time position. Dunsby was unopposed when he ran for a second term. In the House, he serves on the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, the Education Committee, and the Environment Committee.
Easton Police Officer Mark Pastor has been selected to receive the Daryl F. Gates D.A.R.E. Lifetime Achievement Award. Pastor is being recognized for over 27 years of teaching the D.A.R.E. curriculum to students. He was selected from numerous entries from across the country. He's been an instructor throughout the northeast and is the lead senior mentor for the Connecticut State Police. Pastor will be honored during the 30th Annual D.A.R.E. International Training Conference in July.
The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has authorized the First Selectman to apply for STEAP grant funding for Phase II of the Four Corner Streetscape project. Brookfield is applying for up to $500,000 in Small Town Economic Assistance Program funding.
First Selectman Steve Dunn says he's not sure if funding will be awarded because of the state's continued financial problems. But he says it's a good thing anytime 50-percent of a project can be paid for with a grant.
Selectman Sue Slater asked about a time frame. Dunn said he expects to hear back in three to six months. He noted that the state will likely wait to finish their budget process before sending out award notices because that's been the process in the past.
The state signed off on the first phase of the Four Corners streetscape project last week after some adjustments were made ot the plans. Brookfield residents voted to borrow $1.7 million for the project, with the balance of the $3.5 million paid for with grants. The project calls for sidewalks, planters and other beautification in the Four Corners area. Construction on the first phase could begin as soon as next month.
An aggressive crackdown on distracted drivers is underway. Several Police Departments in the Greater Danbury area are participating in a campaign to stop drivers talking or texting on their cell phones.
Brookfield Police say officers are stationed around town and say there's been no shortage of motorists to stop. They are reminding drivers that if they have a cell phone in one hand, they'll get a ticket for the other. Brookfield Police are asking motorists to put the phone down and just drive, and drive safely.
Danbury Police spokesman Lt Christian Carroccio says texting while driving is more than just personally risky, it makes you a danger to everyone around you. Carroccio urged passengers to speak up if they see the dangerous activity. He says no one likes to criticize a friend, but notes that it's worse to get caught by law enforcement doing something wrong.
The fine is $150 for the first offense. The fine is $300 for a second offense and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.
The enforcement effort runs through the end of the month.
Sunday is Volunteer Firefighter Day in Connecticut, and kicks off National Volunteer Week. More than 60 fire departments will hold open houses Sunday from 10am-2pm. Visitors to the fire houses will be able to talk with volunteer firefighters about the work they do, see demonstrations, explore fire apparatus and turnout gear, get a tour of the fire house, and fill out an application.
More than 80 percent of all fire personnel in Connecticut are volunteers. Officials say the majority of fire departments throughout the state are experiencing a volunteer shortage.
Volunteer Firefighter Day is part of Everyday Hero CT, a program to increase the number of volunteer firefighters throughout the state. It's a partnership of the Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Below is a list of some volunteer departments in the area:
Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company
92 Pocono Road, Brookfield
Easton Volunteer Fire Company
1 Center Road, Easton
Kent Volunteer Fire Department
28 Maple Street, Kent
Northville Volunteer Fire Department
359 Litchfield Road, New Milford
Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company, Inc.
34 Hawleyville Road, Newtown
Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Department
55 Dodgingtown Road, Newtown
West Redding Volunteer Fire Department
306 Umpawaug Road, Redding
Weston Volunteer Fire Department
52 Norfield Road, Weston
Earth Day is being celebrated in Bethel today. Bethel Community Earth Day is co-sponsored by the Town of Bethel, Bethel Parks & Recreation, and the First Congregational Church of Bethel. They are calling on the town to come together to build and support a healthy environment.
The Bethel Community Earth Day event, which will be hosted on the lawn of the Bethel Municipal Center, will include local vendors, non-profit organizations, community groups, artists, craftspeople, farmers, animals and animal lovers, and others who are dedicated to environmental awareness and preserving the planet. Throughout the day there will be live music performed by local musicians, a kid’s activity station, and service projects including a town clean-up.
The event is from 9am to 4pm.
An LGBTQ Pride Parade is being held in Bethel Sunday. Hailey Gesler and her friend Marcella Antunes are organizing this parade to show support for others in the community that need a place to feel like they can be themselves.
About a month ago the 12 year old was tasked by a school project to pick an issue that affects society and write about it. She chose LGBTQ rights. She also said that she wanted to organize a parade for people in the area to come and support people from all walks of life.
The parade will officially kick off on main st by the church and end at the municipal center in downtown Bethel. Several speakers are slated to make remarks.
Newtown State Representative Mitch Bolinsky participated in the Alzheimer's Association Connecticut Chapter Lobby Day at the State Capitol Wednesday. Bolinsky, who personally serves as a caregiver, says this disease should not be viewed as a political matter. He called it a public health priority to find ways to ensure adequate funding for accessible support systems.
Bolinsky says the statewide Respite Care Program is resource for families to create contingent care plans and also offers services for those diagnosed with Alzheimer's and related dementias. He is advocating for the full restoration of funding in the upcoming budget.
More information on the Respite Care Program can be found by calling the State Department of Aging at 1-866-218-6631.
Starting next week, there will be a traffic pattern change in Weston. The state Department of Transportation is rehabilitating the Route 57 bridge over Kettle Creek. Route 57 in Weston will be open with one lane in each direction on the east side of the road with temporary precast concrete barrier in place to protect the work zone. This is a change from the travel pattern during stage 1 which allowed one lane in each direction on the west side of the road.
Some firefighters in New Fairfield are taking part in a traditional ceremony today for their new fire engine.
A Wet Down ceremony will be held by Squantz Engine where their new truck will be sprayed with water. The two other fire companies from New Fairfield will be in attendance. Assistant Chief Timothy Pfeiffer says firefighters from Sherman, Putnam Lake, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont will also be on hand.
Connecticut is one of the last places to hold wet down ceremonies.
All of their rigs will be out and opened up for visitors to see. If there's enough interest, Pfeiffer says they might take people for a ride around the block in the engine.
The wet down ceremony and open house is from noon to 4pm at 255 Route 39.
Renderings of a proposed roundabout in Monroe have been released. The roundabout would replace the intersection of Routes 110 and 111. The stone wall around firemen's field in the rendering will not be included after the state opted instead for natural vegetation.
The project is aimed at addressing operation and safety concerns at the intersection of Routes 110 and 111. The project consists of removing the existing flashing beacon and constructing a modern roundabout. The proposed work includes converting Hurd Avenue to a cul-de-sac, as well as installing sidewalks throughout the project area. Landscaping and other decorative features will also be included.
The estimated construction cost for this project is approximately $4.1 million, anticipated to be undertaken with 80% Federal funds and 20% State funds.
The New Fairfield Board of Finance has signed off on a no-increase budget for the towns and schools. But town officials caution that pending cuts in state aide could add 4-percent to tax bills. The proposed school budget was reduced by $1.5 million. The Newstimes reports that 6 new employees will not be hired by the Board of Education and two restoration projects will be put on hold. Those two changes account for $670,000 of the needed reductions. The municipal budget is pegged at $10.91 million.
The 7th Annual Conversations with Extraordinary Women event was held in Danbury last night. The discussion hosted by the Women's Business Council of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce featured Gretchen Carlson. She became the face of sexual harassment in the workplace last year and is now promoting having a safe work environment for all women.
Motivational speaker Holly Dowling says there’s a good way for women to feel empowered in the work place, and noted that it’s something that is cross cultural. She believes women should give themselves permission to stand up for and fall in love with who they are. Dowling said it’s not about waiting for the world to hand you something, it’s about standing up for yourself.
Moderator Christine Palm is the head of the state Commission on Women, Children and seniors. She was asked if it’s been a challenge to oversee the merged Commission. Palm noted that the biggest legislative initiative this session is paid family leave, which affects all three groups. She notes that women are still the primary caregivers of children and elderly parents. She says this is a turbulent time right now and a lot of women’s issues have been brought to light. Palm noted that the two speakers have experienced the yin and yang of corporate life. Palm says it was a powerful message about how everyone can take ownership of their own destiny and affect policy.
(Gretchen Carlson, Holly Dowling, Christine Palm, Women's Business Council Director JoAnn Cueva)
Carlson, just named to TIME’s 100 most influential people of 2017, started the Gift of Courage Fund this year. It empowers young girls by helping them build self-esteem and instill them with confidence. When she sued Fox News leader Roger Ailes for sexual harassment last year, she heard from thousands of women who had similar experiences with sexual harassment. She felt like she had to do something. Besides advocacy, that was setting up a fund to financially support existing organizations that do the same work.
Carlson spoke with several members of Congress recently about the issue of arbitration clauses, which are prevalent in business contracts now. She says people are basically signing away the 7th amendment rights. In many cases that go to arbitration, the perpetrator would stay in their job and nobody would ever find out about it because it’s done in secret. Carlson added that 9 times out of 10 the woman has to leave her workplace. She says what’s happened in 2017 is that we’re fooling our culture into believing that we’ve made advances in combating sexual harassment because there’s less talk about the cases. But it’s because many are being forced into secrecy in arbitration.
Changing the workplace culture should not just be on the shoulders of women, according to Carlson.
If it’s just one or two women speaking up, it’s hard to make a change. She encouraged everyone who’s been a victim of sexual harassment in the work place to speak out. But she also encouraged men to be part of the equation. As long as men are still in power in 95-percent of Fortune 500 companies, they need to understand this issue. Carlson called on men not to label women who speak out as “trouble makers” and to celebrate women who come forward. Carlson suggested that the way in which sexual harassment cases are reported may need to be taken out of the hands of HR and instead placed in an outside, independent group that people can feel comfortable going to.
Carlson says he life has worked in mysterious ways. She never expected to be the face of this issue, but the one constant is that she never gives up. Carlson says that’s the one thing that everyone should wake up with, that whatever the challenge—find the strength to never give up.
Danbury-based Praxair has been named to Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2017. This is the fifth consecutive year Praxair has been recognized by this publication.
Praxair was acknowledged for its leadership and achievements based on the company’s performance in seven categories: environment, climate change, human rights, employee relations, governance, corporate philanthropy & community support, and financial.
Praxair officials says their customers just in the last year were able to avoid more than twice the greenhouse gases than were emitted in all of the company's operations and to provide safe drinking water to more than 125 million people globally.
Danbury officials are looking for volunteers to help with the second year of the Clean Start program. The initiative is a joint effort with Jericho Partnership to offer help to the city's homeless population.
Each team of participants is led by volunteers/job coaches. Jericho Partnership is actively searching for more volunteers to lead teams this summer. Approximately 1,000 hours were spent on beautification projects by program participants in exchange for gift cards. Four people found jobs during the program.
Last year, participants worked with CityCenter Danbury to clean streets downtown, with the Danbury Department of Public Utilities to paint fire hydrants, with the Danbury Housing Department to clean streets and yards, with Tarrywile Park to widen walking paths and landscape, and with the Danbury Parking Authority to clean and paint.
Mayor Mark Boughton says the initiative to combat the issue of homelessness helps get people involved in the community and begin a pathway to employment.
Each volunteer would lead either a two or a four hour shift twice a week, Monday & Wednesday or Tuesday & Thursday between 9am-1pm.
To volunteer or to find out more information, contact Harry Pugner at Jericho Partnership, 203-791- 1180 / email@example.com.
When Bethel residents went to their voting place Tuesday, there was a new computer in place for people with sight impairment. The state is rolling out the Accessible Voting System for people who have difficulty filling in the ovals on the ballot.
The system involves headphones to hear the ballot questions, a keypad to select responses and a touch screen tablet to send the responses to a printer which marks the ballot. The paper ballot is then placed by the voter into the tabulator, just like all other ballots.
There are no electronic ballots, and there is no electronic record of who used the system and how they voted. Registrar Tim Beeble explained in a written statement that the tablet system is not linked to the internet.
The vote data is not recorded or stored on the tablet.
(Photo: Bethel Registrar's Office, Facebook)
The 7th Annual Conversations with Extraordinary Women event is being held in Danbury Thursday night. The discussion is hosted by the Women's Business Council of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce. Gretchen Carlson is headlining the event at the Amber Room.
Carlson became the face of sexual harassment in the workplace last year and is now promoting having a safe work environment for all women. She plans to testify before Congress about workplace inequality and the prevalence of forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts that she says often keeps sexual harassment claims shrouded in secrecy.
Carlson created the Gift of Courage Fund this year. The foundation empowers young girls by helping them build self-esteem and instilling within them the confidence of knowing that they can be anything they to be. A portion of the proceeds from Thursday's event will be donated to the Fund.
Global keynote speaker Holly Dowling is also participating in the panel event. She is an expert in strengths-based leadership, change management, and corporate women's empowerment.
The moderator will be Christine Palm, a Communications & Women's Policy Analyst at the CT Commission on Women, Children and Seniors. She also gives the Commission's Sexual Harassment Awareness & Prevention trainings to state agencies and educational institutions.
Google’s Online Safety Roadshow made a stop in Monroe Tuesday. The program to educates students about how to stay safe and secure online was at Jockey Hollow Middle School. The middle school students learned skills like how to create a smart password and how to identify phishing scams.
The program was created in partnership with principals and child safety groups, National Association of Secondary School Principals and iKeepSafe, to develop a digital literacy assembly that could be shared across the country.
4th District Congressman Jim Himes participated in the 45 minute assembly about share tips, how-to’s and ways to be smart about the content they share online. Himes says the students were also told about the immediate and future consequences of posting embarrassing things online. Social media posts can impact college admission or future job offers.
(Photo: Jim Himes, Twitter)
There are people that deliberately target users to steal data, get to bank accounts or to meet children online. Himes says the students were taught how to protect themselves from those elements.
Bullying can be as bad or worse online, with potentially the entire school seeing the bullying. It can also be anonymous. Google taught the students to be positive online and support people rather than tear them down.
Lynn Deming Park in New Milford will be temporarily closed to the public May 1st through May 5th. The closure is for grading and paving work to create a safer and expanded parking lot.
(Photo: Mayor Gronbach, Facebook)
The paving work is weather dependent. It's part of a bigger project to revitalize the lakeside park.
The work includes adding a fishing dock, playground, trails into the woods, kayak/canoe/paddle board racks, a building for Parks and Rec equipment, benches and grills, new swimming docks, and other improvements.
New Milford has been awarded a $10,000 grant to upgrade the lighting at the Police station. The upgrade to LEDs is estimated to save 56,857 kWh per year and reduce yearly energy costs by approximately $9,300. The grant came from Energize CT.
A meeting is being held this afternoon in Redding to set the time and date for the annual budget referendum. The Board of Selectmen voted March 20th to send the budget to a machine vote. Today's meeting is at 3pm in the hearing room of Redding Town Hall.
After a reduction by the Board of Finance, the education budget proposed to voters will be $20.7 million. The municipal budget of $14.7 million was accepted as is. It's a 2.9 percent increase.
The referendum date will likely be set as May 2nd.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Board of Education in Newtown, Connecticut, is waiting to hear back from President Donald Trump after asking him to take a stand against conspiracy theorists.
A letter it sent to the president asks him to publicly reject those who question facts regarding the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including the radio host Alex Jones.
The White House this week told The Associated Press that Trump has been clear that "we, as a nation, are united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms."
One man whose son was killed at Sandy Hook says he doesn't think the president would be able to help much because conspiracy theories are rooted in mistrust of government.
Leonard Pozner (POH'-znur) is among the victims' relatives who have faced harassment from people who claim the shooting was staged.
Nine proposed highway projects across the country – slated to cost at least $10 billion – have made a list of Highway Boondoggles. ConnPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group just published report that includes the proposed widening of I-84 in Danbury. The $715 million project is 4th on the list.
The report found that while congestion is a problem, traffic has been roughly stable over the last 15 years. Daily traffic at one of the highway’s busiest points increased by 5 percent in total between 2000 and 2015.
This comes as ridership on Metro-North has been rising sharply, including on the Danbury branch. Despite including Danbury branch electrification and an extension up to New Milford, the projects are not in the state’s immediate plans. A 2016 state study concluded that “investment in these two improvements is not justified at this time.”
The boondoggle report says Connecticut should prioritize public transportation, as well as repairs to existing highway infrastructure, over expansion projects because of recent trends in rail ridership and vehicle travel, along with research documenting the inability of highway widening to reduce congestion.
A roundtable discussion has been held in Danbury about Veterans Health Administration services. 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty met with others at the Danbury War Memorial Monday about how to most effectively combat drug and alcohol addiction amongst veterans.
Among the speakers at the meeting were Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Connecticut, Yale University faculty members, the Chief of Community Based Outpatient Clinks and a Readjustment Counselor from Danbury Vet Center. Members of the Connecticut National Guard and veterans were also in attendance.
Esty then made a stop at the United Way of Western Connecticut to talk about the services they provide, and to hear their concerns about possible budget cuts. Esty also took a tour of the New Fairfield Senior Center, and spoke to seniors there about their concerns.
With low voter turn out, Bethel residents have approve a budget for the coming fiscal year. The Bethel Registrar of Voters has released the following vote counts:
Too High: 1216
Too Low: 550
Too High: 1113
Too Low: 672
With Governor Dannel Malloy's announcement last week that he won't seek reelection to a third term, there's been a lot of speculation about which Democrat would head the top of the ticket in 2018. One politician is a firm 'no'. 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will not be running for governor. Esty said in a statement that at this critical juncture, she believes she can best serve Connecticut by continuing to give her all in Congress.
Danbury is getting ready for the annual Clean City Danbury Day being held May 6th.
The City is looking for volunteers to pick up litter in a neighborhood, park or waterway. Last year, nearly 1,000 volunteers picked up litter throughout the city. The city provides trash bags, safety vests, and gloves.
Volunteers are also needed at each of the five dumpster location. Those volunteers are tasked with assisting residents in the drop-off process. The dumpster locations are at City Hall, Rogers Park, the P.A.L. Building, Public Works Building and WCSU Westside Campus.
Danbury's free Spring Leaf Pick-Up Program started this week and will run through the end of next month.
Only leaves bagged in Paper Leaf Bags with No Tape will be collected from the curbside in front of homes. Branches will be picked up separately. Tree limbs must be no longer than 4 feet and no larger than 4 inches in diameter. Branches must be bundled with twine, no heavier than 35lbs.
The collections will be done every other week in neighborhood by zip code. Collections this week are in the 06810 zipcode. Collections next week move to 06811 neighborhoods. This cycle will be repeated through May 26th.
Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra will have extended office hours, starting tomorrow, for residents and taxpayers to learn more about the proposed municipal budget. The plan is set to go to referendum on April 25th. The office hours will be held in the small conference room located in the Selectman's Office at the Municipal Center. Llodra is calling on residents join the conversation, ask questions, and share thoughts and ideas.
Wednesday 4/19 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Thursday 4/20 4:30 - 6:30 pm
Saturday 4/22 1 - 3 pm
Monday 4/24 6 - 7 pm
Two construction projects are underway in Bridgewater. One is a new entryway at the Senior Center, partly underwritten by the Town but mostly by private donations to the Senior Center Building Fund. The other project is a new Pavilion concrete floor and fireplace at the Recreation Area. Bridgewater officials say the supporting posts also require a new anchoring system to improve long term structural integrity. Both jobs are expected to be finished by June 1st.
A referendum is being held in Bethel today on a budget. The $28.6 million municipal budget and the $44.3 million school spending plan, is an overall 2.3 percent increase over the current fiscal year. First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker called it a reasonable budget, under the rate of inflation.
The budget maintains school programs like the Junior ROTC, AP classes and Pathways to Professions Program. On the municipal side, the town has eliminated two government positions due to new efficiencies. Knickerbocker says the budget does however move social services from part time to full time, due to an increase in demand.
The tax watchdog group Bethel Action Committee opposes the budget. Representatives of BAC say further efficiencies can be found.
Bethel residents can cast ballots until 8pm.
Lawmakers held a public hearing Monday on a proposal that could lead to someone else developing a new Connecticut casino besides the federally recognized tribes. The proposed legislation requires state agencies to develop and issue a request for proposals for a business or tribe to develop, manage, operate and maintain a possible casino.
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation Chief Richard Velky testified in support of the bill. The Kent-based tribe wants to open a casino in Western Connecticut. He says during their 300 years of state recognition, there have been broken promises and stolen opportunities, but that this bill gives them a chance to compete on a level playing field.
Velky says this bill gives them a pathway to compete with the two federally recognized tribes.
The General Assembly is considering a Special Act allowing the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to build a satellite casino in East Windsor to compete with a planned Springfield, Massachusetts casino.
Velky says that plan is designed to disrupt MGM, not spur economic growth.
Among other things, the legislation up for a hearing Monday would require a nonrefundable $50 million state licensing fee and agreement to invest not less than $500 million. Velky said this bill finally takes the expansion of gaming seriously.
The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs revoked federal recognition from the Schaghticokes in 2005. At that time, Velky says they had the backing of several casino-minded investors and had already drawn up plans with developers, investors, casino operators and local mayors. Velky says they continue to have the vision and backing to build a casino in southwestern Connecticut.
A public hearing has been scheduled for next month in Ridgefield on an application to create a little league field. The Ridgefield Little League wants to create a small park on a vacant 2.5 acre property off Route 7 owned by the state. The Ridgefield Press reports that a dollar-a-year lease from the state to the town, and then to the Little League has been proposed. The plans call for a 59 spot parking lot, a small grandstand, batting cages, picnic tables, indoor bathrooms, a storage space, a snack shack, and LED stadium lights. The property is near the intersection with Simpaug Turnpike.
NEW YORK (AP) - Fifth Avenue in New York City came alive on Easter Sunday where costumes mingled with elegant bonnets fit for St. Patrick's Cathedral and nearby churches. The secular spectacle was a takeoff on a New York tradition from the 1800s, when the city's elite paraded their Sunday best to mark the holiday.
Cynthia Gable, of Easton, attended Sunday Mass wearing a shocking pink suit and a hat exploding with matching-colored feathers, while her husband, Scott Doerr, wore a black top hat.
(Photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
New York's Easter parade is now an outdoor free-for-all of participants and spectators from around the world. Weeks were spent making costumes.
There was a segment on "60 Minutes" last night about Sandy Hook Promise. The piece featured Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden, who each lost a son on 12-14. They co-founded Sandy Hook Promise, and the televised segment showed the lasting impact and recovery from the gun violence that happened more than 4 years ago. The pair also showcased a program they created called "Know the Signs", which teaches kids and adults how to be upstanders instead of bystanders.
Newtown Police K9 Saint Michael passed away last night. Saint had recently been diagnosed with cancer. Newtown Police said in a Facebook post that they sincerely appreciate the medical staff at NVS Animal Hospital of Newtown for trying to give Saint a fighting chance. Despite his cancer diagnosis earlier this month, police Ofc. Felicia Figol said he was very playful and in great spirits. Officials believed that with the right treatment plan, and with his great physical condition, his life could have been extended for at least a year if not more so his death was not expected.
Time is running out for people to register to vote in Connecticut's latest special election.
Tuesday marks the deadline for eligible voters to register by mail or online for special elections in the 68th Assembly District. April 24 is the deadline to register in person.
The district includes Watertown and Woodbury and the was seat vacated by Republican Eric Berthel--who was recently elected to the state Senate.
Democrat Louis Esposito and Republican Joe Polletta, both of Watertown, are running.
5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is supporting a petition by Connecticut and 8 other states that would require upwind states to reduce air pollution emissions that are carried to the Northeast by prevailing winds. Esty says despite Connecticut being a national leader in reducing air pollution, families here still suffer the serious health consequences of pollution. Esty says air pollution causes an estimated 168 deaths in Connecticut, higher than any other New England state, and more than 470 hospitalizations each year.
5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty recently welcomed the 2016 Congressional App Challenge winners to Capitol Hill. The four winners from the district, Raul Calderon, Joseph Grenier, Matthew Jones, and Veronika Cordero, created an app called “Unmutable.”
It's aimed at providing a voice to people who are unable to communicate verbally. To use the app, the user must type what they would like to say, and the word is then spoken aloud by the phone.
Esty says she hosts the Congressional App Contest every year because it enables students across Connecticut to showcase their creativity and build skillsets that will serve them well throughout their lives.
Approximately 100 students from over 50 Congressional Districts traveled to Washington D.C to demo their winning apps to an audience of 400 people, including 38 Members of Congress. The 2017 Congressional App Challenge will begin on July 26th, and run until November 1st.
Recent municipal budget increases proposed by Sherman and New Fairfield first selectmen have prompted state Senator Mike McLachlan to push for a bill that would require the legislature to adopt portions of the state budget by March 1st of each year.
Municipalities are concerned about massive proposed cuts in education aid coupled with mandates like paying for teacher pensions and resident state troopers--and have increased their budgets to make up for the potential shortfalls. McLachlan says passing this bill would stop the guesswork in local budgets and force legislators to be more accountable to their constituents.
The legislature's Appropriations Committee has until April 27th to take action.
The Women's Center of Greater Danbury raised more than $245,000 during their annual gala event held last week. Local Law Enforcement from the 13 towns served by the Women's Center were the 2017 Women's Center Founders Award recipients. The money raised will support Women's Center's critical programs and services.
A Town Meeting was held in New Milford this week where residents gave approval for capital improvement projects. $3.45 million with short-term financing will be borrowed. A bulk of that money, $2.1 million, is for road improvements. $1 million will be for bridge renovations. State and federal funding will help pay for the renovations to Aspetuck Ridge, Mud Pond, and Mill Street bridges. The balance of the short-term borrowing is for part of the improvements being made at Lynn Deming Park.
Monroe State Representative JP Sredzinski is touting a bill passed by the House this week to create a state-wide police training program on best practices for locating and communicating with children with autism who wander from home or adult supervision. The bill was approved Wednesday, which was Autism Awareness Day at the Capitol. In his advocacy for awareness of Angelman’s Syndrome, Sredzinski said he recognizes the unique set of skills needed to help all non-verbal children.
New Milford State Representative Bill Buckbee co-sponsored a bill which was approved on a nearly unanimous vote this week. The bill seeks to improve brownfield remediation efforts by creating a legal blueprint for organizing and operating local nonprofit land banks to acquire and remediate tracts of land that have been identified as brownfields.
Buckbee says only government entities have previously been allowed to apply for brownfield remediation incentives, such as tax credits, but by allowing qualified nonprofit organizations to also access these resources is a win-win. According to Buckbee, for a nonprofit to qualify as a Connecticut Brownfield Land Bank it must apply to the Department of Economic and Community Development.
The bill passed with only one dissenting vote and now awaits further action in the Senate.
A Republican gubernatorial candidate is weighing in on Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy's announcement not to see a third term. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton called it a sign that Connecticut is ready for a comeback. Boughton says the damage caused by Malloy's leadership has harmed Connecticut tremendously. He cited GE's exit and the two largest tax increases in the state's history.
Danbury Hospital has been awarded a $4.5 million grant to serve as a model for advanced integrated health services for Medicare and Medicaid patients. Danbury Hospital was chosen as one of 32 health systems in the nation for the award.
The five year grant will establish a program to address health-related social needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. The program will screen 75,000 Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and direct them to appropriate services based on needs such as transportation, housing, food insecurity, access to utilities and domestic violence. Danbury Hospital was the only Connecticut-based group to receive the Track 3 “Alignment” designation.
Danbury Hospital worked with the Value Care Alliance hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, behavioral health and community organizations. They also partnered with Norwalk, Griffin, Middlesex, and St. Vincent’s hospitals in developing the proposal, and will collaborate in expanding this innovative model throughout their respective service areas across the state.
If you've driven on Kenosia Avenue in Danbury over the last several months, you've noticed orange cones and signs about a narrow bridge.
A temporary repair was done in conjunction with the state because two outside beams completely rotten. The state Department of Transportation says the structure was in need of immediate repair. City officials recently redesigned plans with construction slated to potentially start in May.
Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the structural plans were forwarded to the pre-caster and the City has received the Prestressed Structural Beam Slabs shop drawings which were reviewed and approved.
A detour route has been developed, but Iadarola is concerned because it's pretty long. He is contemplating whether to close the road to expedite construction, or have alternating one-way traffic.
The Newtown Legislative Council has voted unanimously to accept a donation of land proposed as the site of a Sandy Hook permanent memorial. The commission charged with planning for a memorial found out that the SAC field property owner wanted to donate it for that use. The 5.3 acre plot is appraised at $16,000.
The Boys Social and Athletic Club of Sandy Hook was incorporated with the state in 1949 to hold community events and play other clubs in various sports. With the modernization of the Parks and Recreation Department, SAC fell into disuse and lost its standing with the state in 1989.
George Lockwood Sr., representing SAC, donated two other portions of the property to town organizations. The parcel with a house on it was donated to Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Company. Newtown Underwater Search and Rescue was gifted the plot containing a red steel building, where NUSAR is currently housed out of.
The property abuts Treadwell Park and not far past the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department, just past Dickenson Drive. The property consists of a meadow, and two baseball fields. It also includes two ponds that are slightly wood, which used to be the old swimming hole.
The Planning and Zoning commissions have reviewed the donation, which has also been approved by the Board of Selectmen. The donation includes easements for possible public access from Riverside Road. Discussions about the permanent memorial will come in phases.
While on spring recess, students from Danbury, Stamford, and UCONN marched in Caps and Gowns to the Capitol Building. They were rallying in support of immigrant students and the Afford To Dream campaign for equal access to higher education.
Among the speakers yesterday were the UConn Dean of Students, the President of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system and the Executive President of the American Federation of Teachers union.
Bills being considered by the state legislature would make undocumented students eligible for institutional financial assistance at state-run colleges and universities--funded by tuition payments from all students. Advocates say the current system is unfair to the immigrant students, who must pay into the fund but can't apply for the money.
The chair of the Brookfield Charter Revision Commission has presented recommendations to the Board of Selectmen of changes they want brought forward to voters. They are recommending 9 changes be listed as separate questions on a ballot.
1. Increase the Board of Selectmen from three members to five
2. Make a 10 day minimum for Boards to appoint replacement members.
3. Standards, authority and jurisdiction of the Board of Ethics would clarified under a proposal when it comes to the authority the Board has under state statute.
4. A clarification of what items can be petitioned to a town meeting
5. Having separate votes for First Selectman and Selectmen. The losing First Selectman candidate would not be eligible to run for or be included in the Selectmen vote. Currently if the defeated First Selectman candidate garners enough votes, they could become a Selectman.
6. Review budget transfers allowed to be made by the Boards of Selectmen and Finance. Consider raising or eliminating the dollar amount they could reallocate in a budget at any time before going to a town meeting for approval.
7. Clarify the Charter so that wide scale transfers cannot be made early in the fiscal year
8. Add the ability to restore individual line items at the annual town meeting, but only to levels approved by either the Board of Selectmen or Board of Finance
9. Consider increasing the number of members on the Library Board of Trustees to 9 regular members
With the warmer weather, thoughts are turning to summer. New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman told the Newstimes she wrote to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner this week about capacity at Squantz Pond.
Chapman has been pushing for a ban on walk-ins for several years. She wants the ban to take effect when parking lot capacity is reached, but the state Regulation Review Committee rejected the proposal in January. Chapman is concerned because the parking lot cap was put in place to control crowds, but allowing foot traffic could strain staff resources.
Committee members were concerned because the language on the ban was vague.
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) A member of the New York Army National Guard has been named the U.S. Army's Military Photographer of the Year.
National Guard officials say Wednesday that Sgt. Harley Jelis, a New Milford, Connecticut resident, was selected for the honor during the Army's annual Keith L. Ware Communications Award competition.
The competition is named after a major general who ran the Army's public affairs efforts in the 1960s. It recognizes the work of Army photographers, journalist, and broadcasters in the active duty Army, the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard.
Jelis is assigned to the 138th Public Affairs Detachment at Camp Smith Training Site in Cortlandt Manor in Westchester County.
He's scheduled to receive his award during an Army-wide public affairs conference in November.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Self-service liquor machines may soon be coming to a Connecticut bar near you.
The House of Representatives voted 129-19 Wednesday in favor of legislation allowing businesses with state liquor permits to offer automated machines that dispense beer and wine to customers.
The bill now awaits action in the Senate.
Under the proposal by Danbury Representative David Arconti, a person verified to be at least 21 years old can purchase a payment card and then obtain up to 32 ounces of beer or 10 ounces of wine. The alcoholic beverage would be dispensed in single-serve 12-ounce glasses.
Proponents say the machines are novelty items, allowing customers to sample different flavors in small amounts before making a final purchase.
But Rep. Devin Carney, a Republican who voted no, said he worries such automation might lead to fewer jobs.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Jim Himes has taken on the role of being a chief proponent of Darwinism in the House of Representatives.
For the third year in a row, the Connecticut Democrat has proposed perennial, longshot legislation that commemorates the birth date of Charles Darwin. The late British naturalist developed the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection.
Himes realizes the bill's chances of passage are slim. But he took it over from a retiring lawmaker because "science and truth remarkably always need advocacy against the forces of nostalgia and fear and irrationality."
Himes says that message is especially important now as skepticism surrounds science.
Himes was accused by his recent political challenger, Republican John Shaban of Redding, of offering the bill as a political stunt.
The Danbury Zoning Commission met for nearly four hours Tuesday night about a zone change to allow for an off track betting facility as an accessory use to a restaurant. The panel decided to keep the public hearing open, continuing it to April 25th.
Sportech Venues, which has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut, wants to renovate the first floor of Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street into a sports bar and restaurant. OTB gaming would be added to the 2nd floor. Only 18 OTB licenses are allowed statewide. If approved, the Danbury location would be the 17th OTB site in Connecticut.
The Danbury Planning Commission has already signed off on the plan. If the Zoning Commission gives their OK, the City Council must approve the application. The state Department of Consumer Protection Gaming Division must also inspect and approve the facility before operations can begin.
A state statute sends 3.5-percent of gross revenue to the state General Fund, with the state keeping 1.9-percent. Sportech would provide 1.6-percent of gross revenue to the City. But Commissioner Candace Fay noted that the state statute providing that money back to the host community was repealed in 1993. In 1993, Sportech paid $12 million for exclusive rights, in perpetuity, to operate these types of facility. The company attorney provided citation for where that statute language was added at that time.
Plans call for adding an elevator and converting the upstairs private dining room into an exclusive wagering area. The OTB area will be limited to people 21 and over. Sportech plans to hire 8 to 10 employees. Hours of operation have not been determined.
5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is co-sponsoring legislation she says is aimed at strengthening and expanding Social Security. The measure cuts taxes for Social Security recipients and provides a benefit bump for current and future beneficiaries. Esty says this will ensure the system stays solvent through the next 75 years. There are more than 600,000 retired workers, disabled people, and families who depend on Social Security to pay their bills in Connecticut. Esty notes that includes 135,000 in the 5th district.
New Fairfield has scaled back its plans to add herbicides to Candlewood Lake. The revised proposal is to add a milfoil killing herbicide to 10 acres at Shelter Harbor Cove, down from 60 acres, and to not use copper sulfate at all. The Newstimes reports that originally copper sulfate would have been added to 160 acres to treat blue-green algae. Shoreline residents opposed the initial plan during a public hearing. More than 26-hundred people signed an online petition against the proposal. New Fairfield will have to apply to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for a permit. Some testimony in support of the pilot program by cove residents has already been submitted.
A film is being screened in Bethel tonight about the teaching method of Connecticut resident Diana King, a pioneer in the field of dyslexia. "One by One" showcases the multi-sensory literacy instruction she provides to students aged 5 to 15 years old. In the film, King discusses the importance of early intervention, motor memory and teacher engagement. She shares concrete tools, techniques and best practices for early intervention and working with students, particularly those with dyslexia and learning differences. There is a Meet and Greet Reception with King at 6:30pm followed by a screening and panel session at 7:30pm at Bethel Cinema.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut legislators are praising a decision by the state Department of Transportation to drop plans to participate in a multi-state study of a possible mileage tax.
Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says such a tax would place a financial burden on commuters. She says there's no reason to spend $300,000 for a study that's going nowhere. Boucher notes that it would have been irresponsible to move forward after Governor Malloy and others distanced themselves from the study.
A mileage tax is essentially a user fee that's based on how much someone drives.
DOT Commissioner James Redeker sent a letter last week to the Coalition, explaining how his state agency is facing large budget cuts that prevent it from providing about $300,000 in state matching funds to help pay for the study.
Redeker says he still supports the study.
The coalition includes transportation agencies, toll authorities and other groups from Maine to Florida that focus on transportation issues of common interest.
Boucher had been spreading the word about an online petition to de-fund the state study. She and other lawmakers want the $300,000 to instead be put toward keeping rest stop toilet facilities open in Danbury and elsewhere.
While Congress is on break from session in Washington, D.C., Representatives are spending time in their home districts. Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty toured Del-Tron Precision Tuesday morning. She met with its President, Ralph McIntosh, Jr., to discuss the advanced manufacturing industry.
Del-Tron is a family owned business that specializes in creating anti-friction linear bearing slides. The company also produces positioning stages, ball and lead screw actuators, and other linear motion devices—many of which are used in today’s science and medical equipment, 3D printers, and many other products. Del-Tron currently has 43 employees at its corporate offices located in Bethel, as well as distributors throughout the United States, Germany, and Singapore.
Esty also toured Toplands Farm in Roxbury to highlight Connecticut's agricultural economy. The farm, though historically a dairy farm, now primarily focuses on hay production, as well beef, pork, and egg products. Toplands Farm is also home to the largest collection of restored antique tractors and farm equipment in the Northeast.
Esty then met with entrepreneurs at Makery Coworking, an incubator space in New Milford. Makery Coworking opened in February and allows professionals to work with likeminded individuals with access to shared resources. Freelancers, small business owners, and nonprofit personnel can rent a workspace in the facility for a small membership fee.
Esty was joined at the site for a tour and conversation with Makery Coworking Founder Tony Vengrove and New Milford Mayor David Gronbach. New Milford's Economic Development Director, the Small Business Administration's District Director and people who have used Makery Coworking were on hand for the discussion.
A public hearing is being held tonight in Danbury about a zone change to allow for an off track betting facility in Downtown Danbury. The Zoning Commission will be considering if an OTB facility at Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street can be an accessory use in a restaurant.
Sportech Venues has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and would provide 1.6 percent of gross revenue to City Center. Sportech would renovate Two Steps into a sports bar and restaurant on the first floor, with OTB gaming on the second floor.
The Zoning Commission is meeting at 7:30pm at Danbury City Hall.
The Zoning Commission rescheduled the public hearings on two other applications. One is a petition to add Municipal animal control facility a particular zone. Danbury residents recently approved bond money for a new facility to be built. That hearing was postponed from tonight to May 9th The public hearing to clarify regulations about drive-in & drive-through facilities in a certain zone was bumped to April 25th.
A Monroe Town Council member has announced his intention to run for First Selectman in November. Democrat Dan Hunsberger previously served on the Board of Finance and Inland Wetlands Commission. Current First Selectman Steve Vavrek announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection. Hunsberger ran against Vavrek in 2013. Republican Town Council member Ken Kellogg has also announced his intention to run for First Selectman.
The state has signed off on the first phase of the Four Corners streetscape project in Brookfield. First Selectman Steve Dunn reportedly called the Department of Transportation yesterday to follow up on adjustments the agency had asked for. Brookfield residents voted to borrow $1.7 million for the project, with the balance of the $3.5 million paid for with grants. The project calls for sidewalks , planters and other beautification in the Four Corners area. Construction could begin as soon as next month.
The head of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system has proposed a "Student First" plan to direct more resources to teaching and student services, but the plan is drawing fire from 15 Faculty Senate presidents and union leaders. They released a group statement about the plan saying a 15-page PowerPoint Presentation was completely lacking in details about how savings would be achieved.
The system is facing a $35 million deficit for the coming fiscal year.
System President Mark Ojakian has scheduled a listening tour of all 17 campuses to hear from students and faculty. He will be at Western Connecticut State University April 20th at 9 am.
The Wilton Police Department approved the reopening of the Wilton Loop of the Norwalk River Valley Trail late yesterday afternoon following a dog-coyote encounter Saturday. The yellow tape and notices were removed after monitoring the Trail since the incident. Animal control found no evidence of current coyote presence. But trail officials reminded users that coyotes are common in the Wilton area. On Saturday a dog broke free of its leash and owner when a coyote was spotted. The dog was uninjured during the close encounter.
Bob's Clothing Stores is shutting down nine of its Connecticut locations, including the Federal Road store in Danbury. Bob's parent company Eastern OUtfitters LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. British sporting goods retailer Sportsdirect.com has put in an offer to buy "substantially all" of its assets. This is the second round of bankruptcy proceedings for the company.
About two acres of land in New Milford were scorched by a brush fire yesterday afternoon. Firefighters responded to Route 7 near Faith Church. Mutual aid from Brookfield and elsewhere was called in to help extinguish the brush fire. State Officials are warning of a high probability of brush fires today.
Danbury saved about $4 million in the last fiscal year. The City Council will look into taking $3.7 million of that and using it for two separate projects.
One is a $2 million reserve for unused vacation time to reduce the financial stress on current operations. Mayor Mark Boughton says it's a legacy benefit for people who’ve been long-time City employees. The ability for non-union employees to roll over vacation ends July 1st. As a result of the modification to the non-union pension ordinance, auditors are requiring this reserve fund be established Boughton says this will allow vacant positions to be filled immediately if necessary.
The other part is a $1.7 million reserve for capital projects. $75,000 for a major emergency elevator repair at ACE would be used immediately. A $325,000 capital fund for emergency projects, authorized by the Mayor’s Office, and $1.3 million for capital projects in the 2017-2018 fiscal year budget would be set aside
The elevator at ACE, which is needed for handicap accessibility, has not been working for several months. It required more money than was available in the Public Works budget. The money for emergency repairs is being set aside so that Boughton doesn’t have to keep calling in the City Council every other week because a boiler burst at a school, for example. This would be different than the contingency fund, which is for bigger capital items.
When her daughter was killed at Sandy Hook, Alissa Parker found the light and goodness. She has written a new book called "An Unseen Angel: A Mother's Story of Faith, Hope, and Healing". She says by processing the loss of Emilie, she saw a larger picture. Alissa drew strength from the acts of kindness during that time.
The book started as a way to preserve the Parker family's story for their daughters, Samantha and Madeline. "An Unseen Angel" went on sale last week.
Parker says she often thinks of her last conversation with Emilie. Her daughter had just gotten ready for school and discovered something special on the wall behind her bed. Two flowers painted in pink, black and blue were connected. Emilie was excited to show her mother how many connections there were, and Alissa says that was a powerful insight into the world she was unknowingly about to enter on 12-14.
Parker leaned on the lessons from Emilie's example to get through the last few years, looking for the good and seeing connections around her.
Alissa and her husband, Robbie, created The Emilie Parker Art Connection to honor their daughter, by continuing to support the things that she loved. Emilie was an artist, and this foundation brings funding for art programs in the community and schools.
Absentee ballots are available now in Newtown for the April 25th budget referendum. There are capital improvement projects also being decided. The municipal budget is proposed at $40.39 million. The schools are asking for just shy of $73 million. Newtown residents can also say if the revised budget should be higher if they aren't approved on the 25th.
$850,000 for a new roof at Hawley School, $1.8 million for improvements to the Middle School and $750,000 for Phase 2 of the Newtown High School auditorium project are on the ballot. $1 million for paving, $300,000 for planning of a new Police Station and $3 million for a new senior center are also being voted on.
Hawley School's roof replacement would be for the 1948 and 1997 sections. The Middle School improvements include a boiler replacement, new LED lighting and converting from oil to natural gas. PHase 2 of the NHS auditorium program includes replacing stage lighting, lighting controls, AV equipment, rigging components, stage draperies, electrical components and catwalk safety enhancements.
The existing police station is located at Town Hall South at 3 Main Street, and is a tight fit for the 45-member force. The funding on the ballot would go toward a schematic drawing, artistic rendering of a new facility , further site selection progress and analysis of what the actual cost would be for a new police facility.
An off track betting facility could be coming to Downtown Danbury.
The Zoning Commission is meeting tomorrow about the proposal for the second flood of Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street. The Newstimes reports that the Commission will have to figure out if OTBs can be an accessory use in a restaurant.
The Planning Commission has given approval already and the idea would have to go to the City Council if a zone change is allowed. The published report says that Sportech Venues has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and would provide 1.6 percent of gross revenue to City Center. Sportech would renovate Two Steps into a sports bar and restaurant on the first floor, with OTB gaming on the 2nd floor.
The Zoning Commission is meeting at 7:30pm at Danbury City Hall.
The United Way has released data about the type of calls that came into the state's 211 help line last year. In the Greater Danbury area, there was a higher percentage of calls from people looking for mental health and addiction services compared to other parts of the state. 211 call takers are trained to respond to a number of issues and to refer callers to local social service providers. The data from Connecticut can be found online at CT.211counts.org.
The New Milford Board of Finance has made another round of cuts to the proposed budget. $968,000 from the municipal spending plan and $532,000 from the schools will make up for a $1.5 million revenue miscalculation by the town's finance director. Initially Mayor David Gronbach included the sale of some town properties to offset the problem. The New Milford school budget is $62.8 million, with $38.2 million for the town.
City Hall will be Blue tonight. A Light It Up Blue event is being held in Danbury to mark World Autism Month. The lighting ceremony will be a sensory friendly event with a lower sound level, a designated quiet area and ear muffs available--so that all families can attend the ceremony in their honor. The event is being organized by Emanuela Palmeras, whose son is on the Autism Spectrum. The ceremony is at 6:30pm.
The state Department of Transportation Commissioner will be in Wilton tonight for a forum about how to improve the Danbury branch of Metro North.
Tonight's forum is being billed as a listening session rather than a presentation. Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle organized the meeting with James Redecker to best understand what kinds of changes would really make a difference to commuters.
A bipartisan group of nearly a dozen lawmakers who represent districts on the branch line are backing a proposal to require previously authorized bonds be reallocated for service improvements. During a public comment period on the bill, lawmaker heard some suggestions from commuters. They asked for more afternoon or evening trains, improved connections with the main line, to have more doors open at station stops, and for conductors to be provided with more information on delays or service issues to help them respond to passengers' questions.
The listening session is being held at Wilton High School's Clune Center on Route 7 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm.
A bill that will help communities take more control of spending decisions will be considered by state officials tomorrow. The Act is about the amount a School District may reduce its minimum budget when it experiences a decline in student enrollment. Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan says this bill basically prevents the state from forcing communities to spend the same amount of money to educate fewer students. He says paying the same amount of money for a shrinking student population is a senseless mandate. The Office of Legislative Research and Office of Fiscal Analysis will meet tomorrow about the measure.
Progress is being made on the renovations to Danbury High School. There are six phases, but because there's significant state grant money, the City just just got approval for the last construction phase Bidding will open this month. Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says $8.5 million will go toward work in the front of the school.
An addition to the current building would include a two story gym, an academic floor and a level for science and computer labs, with the possibility in the future for another level. The design would essentially give the 9th grade their own building, creating the Freshmen Academy.
The last phase of the overall project is to purchase furniture and equipment.
The DHS 2020 project includes construction of a theater, two music classrooms, a new entrance way and an expansion of the exiting cafeteria. Various other upgrades to the building's existing infrastructure are also planned.
The goal is to have everything finished by the start of school for the 2018-2019 school year.
A bill has been placed on the state House calendar to permanently restore funding for honor guard rifle salutes at veteran’s funerals. Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan says the Act Honoring Deceased Veterans is necessary because the Governor has once again sought to cut the funding. He says these services shouldn't be subject to the budgetary whims of a governor or legislature.
Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan is touting a bill making its way through the General Assembly to boost veterans' services at state colleges and universities. The proposal would create Operation Academic Support for Incoming Service Members, or OASIS centers. The facilities provide support and outreach to help veterans succeed at college. The bill was referred by the state Senate this week to the Committee on Higher Education and Employment Advancement.
A bipartisan group of 167 members of Congress are requesting a minimum of $75 million in funding for the National Instant Background Checks Systems Improvement Amendments Act. 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the bill gives grants to states seeking to upgrade their electronic databases and to ensure critical information, like mental health records and domestic violence restraining orders, is available for the NICS system.
Esty says the NICS Improvement Amendments Act has been severely underfunded in years past, and keeping citizens safe should be Congress's top priority. She notes that over the past 20 years, the system has helped stopped 2.6 million sales of guns to people like felons, the dangerously mentally ill and domestic abusers.
Since 1995, Connecticut has received more than $16 million in National Criminal History Improvement Program grants. These grants support the state’s efforts to maintain complete and accurate criminal history records for the purposes of background checks.
CT Against Gun Violence Executive Director Ron Pinciaro says the number of statewide homicides dropped to 53 in 2016, the lowest number in recent history. He says no single law has been more instrumental in keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people than the Brady Background check bill. He added that no bill has been more significant in bolstering the Brady bill than the NICS Improvement Act.
16 Danbury students have been selected to present their inventions at the 34th annual Connecticut Invention Convention on April 29 at UConn. They were chosen at a regional invention competition last weekend at Western Connecticut State University. The Invention Convention is part of the science curriculum. School officials say the invention convention is aimed at fostering interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics learning.
Western Connecticut State University has taken home a number of awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Seven WestConn students are being recognized for Distinguished Achievement by an Actor of Actress in a Musical. Production, Director, costume design, choreography, and Ensemble recognitions were also awarded to Western for work in the eight regional festivals that were held from January through March.
Outstanding Production of a Musical—The Drowsy Chaperone, Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar and Music and Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, Western Connecticut State University
Outstanding Director of a Musical—Tim Howard, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
Distinguished Achievement in Costume Design:
Sharon Sobel, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
Outstanding Choreography— Elizabeth Parkinson, Scott Wise, and Tim Howard, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical —Jillian Caillouette, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
Distinguished Achievement by an Actress in a Musical:
Shaylen Harger, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
Distinguished Achievement by an Actor in a Musical:
Ryan J. Taylor, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
T.J. Swetz, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
Sergio Mandujano, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
Manuel Torres, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
Jared Starkey, The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
Outstanding Ensemble of a Play or Musical —The Drowsy Chaperone, Western Connecticut State University
5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is leading a bipartisan effort to urge House leaders not to cut federal funding to veteran suicide prevention and outreach programs. She and more than 125 representatives sent a letter to officials that requests $173 million in funding--the same level as this fiscal year --to address the veteran suicide crisis.
20 veterans take their own lives each day, according to a comprehensive 2016 study conducted by the VA.
The study found that in the year 2014 alone, more than 7,400 veterans committed suicide. Veterans account for about 18 percent of all suicides in the United States, despite making up less than 9 percent of the population.
VA suicide prevention and outreach programs include a 24/7 Crisis Line; screening, assessment, and early intervention procedures for at-risk veterans; in-person counseling; TeleMental health services; peer-to-peer support; coaching for family caregivers; partnerships with educational and health institutions; and social media outreach.
The Danbury Education Foundation has made $10,000 in funding available to support educational projects and events at seven district schools. The grants and scholarships takes applications from schools for needed items, such as field trips or equipment. The projects that received funding this year include Little Free Library Outreach to Heart Rate Monitoring in Physical Education.
Darren Wittko and Mary Fee, Broadview Middle School: “Creative Publishing and Production.”
Debbie Ireland, Stadley Rough Elementary School: “Little Free Library Outreach.”
Susan DeMattio, Danbury High School: “Student Centered Learning.”
Tracey Scalzo, Morris Street School: “Hatching Baby Chicks.” Students will see the developmental stages of chicks as they grow in their eggs. The chicks, once hatched, will be donated to a local organic farm.
Mark Ottusch and Will Hauser: “Heart Rate Monitoring in Physical Education.” Students will use heart-rate monitors during physical education class. Parents will also have the opportunity to log in through a portal to track their children’s progress.
There is a water main break in Danbury. Public Utilities Crews are working at the intersection of Great Plain Road and Germantown Road. Excavation and repair are expected to last through midday. Danbury officials say they do not anticipate needing to shut down water to any customers and emergency vehicle traffic should not be impacted by the repair work.
One of Danbury's Police K9s has been discharged from service due a tumor on his brain. K9 Koda joined the force in 2011.
Similar to efforts in Newtown to raise money to cover medical bills for their K9, a friend started a Go Fund Me page on behalf of Koda. 45 people surpassed the $9,000 goal in just one day for the Danbury K9. That included a $4,000 donation on behalf of Wilton-based Blue Buffalo pet products.
Officer Kupchok's parents also made a large donation to the medical bills saying that Koda has watched over and protected their son, noting that they have an unbreakable bond.
Koda was purchased for Danbury Police with a $10,000 donation. The Hungarian-born German shepherd went on patrol with his handler, Officer Travis Kupchok, and was also trained to sniff out narcotics.
A two year grant worth $100,000 has been awarded to a program in Danbury that encourages kids to walk to school. The Walking School Bus program is aimed at combating absenteeism and encouraging exercise. It was implemented in 2015 at Park Avenue School. The funding from the Aetna Foundation will be used to add signs to walking bus routes in Danbury and to expand the program to a second elementary school.
Members of the Bethel High School class of 2020 have participated in the first annual Community Service Day. Assistant Principal Mari Lerz was brought an idea from Applied Studies Department business teacher Jennipher Israelite, who used the program at her previous school.
April 5th was testing day for upperclassmen, giving the freshman class an opportunity to serve the community without missing class. Principal Chris Troetti says instead of staying home Wednesday morning, the students spent signed up for something they were interested in. If they didn't sign up, Lerz and Israelite gave them an assignment.
There are 230 students in the BHS freshman class and close to 100-percent participated this week.
Bethel has a community service credit that students earn throughout their four years. All Bethel High School students must complete 60 hours of community service over their four years, but Troetti says a majority of students complete that before their Junior year.
Troetti says he's proud of the efforts of everyone involved and thanked community members who supported the project. This will now be an annual event.
The students created artwork for the Women's Center of Greater Danbury, cleaned up around Meckauer Park, worked at the community garden at Berry School, and read to elementary students. They also made tiaras for participants in the SCOTTY Fund picnic. The SCOTTY Fund is a local non-profit which provides financial and family support to children with life-threatening and critical illnesses and their families.
Once the Freshman Academy is open at Danbury High School, the City will turn its attention to ACE, the Alternative Center for Excellence. A study about how to best to utilize the Locust Avenue building was included in the DHS expansion project. The building is short of room for about 25 students, among other issues.
Mayor Mark Boughton says they've had some success with the temporary classrooms at Shelter Rock Elementary School so that kind of model may be used at ACE. But he notes they still have to see if that kind of building will work on Locust Avenue. He says they're inexpensive and could help get a full complement of 125 students into the program.
The program for at-risk students has a class size of about 10 students each. The students must meet DHS graduation requirements and receive a diploma from DHS upon graduation.
The building is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The building opened in 1896 as an elementary school. It was later used as a laboratory school for recent teacher training school graduates to work with students before they obtained teaching jobs. It has housed the ACE program since 1977.
The Bethel Historical Society has received a donation from the Elizabeth Raymond Ambler Trust. The $4,600 will be used to complete the website section of the Historical Society's Museum in the Streets initiative. It's a project highlighting about 30 historic Bethel locations. The organization has the first group to be installed in downtown Bethel listed on their website. They plan to make update over the next several months as the number of sites grow.
The Ridgefield Board of Education has been directed to reduce their budget request for the coming fiscal year by $884,000. The Board of Finance decided unanimously this week to hold education spending increases to 2.5 percent.
The municipal spending plan is proposed at $37.39 million. It's a 2.2-percent increase in spending over this year. In order to keep the tax increase under 2-percent, at 1.92, Ridgefield officials are opting to use $1.8 million from the fund balance.
The state budget, as presented by the governor, would zero out education funding for Ridgefield.
The Board of Ed will meet April 19th to go over where to make cuts. The annual town budget meeting will be held May 2nd at 7:30pm at the Ridgefield Playhouse.
Hospital officials turned out at the state capital yesterday to urge lawmakers to reject Governor Dannel Malloy's proposal to allow cities and towns to tax hospitals. Western Connecticut Health Network CEO Dr. John Murphy says eliminating hospital's property tax exemption would impact the care hospitals provide. He says this would close the door that permits access to health care.
Connecticut hospitals collectively pay $556 million in taxes. Murphy says for WCHN, that's $1 million a week in taxes.
Murphy says the state must stop taxing hospitals for the care they provide to patients. He also wants the state to adequately fund Medicaid. Connecticut's Medicaid reimbursement is the lowest in the United States. He says the current rate undermines access to care.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz says he's trying to explore other possibilities to do the same thing as ending the property tax exemption, including new investments in cities and encouraging hospitals to take advantage of all available federal reimbursement opportunities.
Newtown Police K9 Saint Michael has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The emergency animal hospital determined that Saint Michael had cancer in his spleen area. The K9 was brought to the vet last week and his spleen was removed.
Newtown Police spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde says the K9 is an asset to the police force and he will return to the job on modified assignment as soon as possible. With the diagnosis, he will be limited in terms of being an aggressive-type of dog. He will do more sniffing and tracking rather than chasing criminals.
Saint Michael joined the Newtown Police force in 2014 and serves with his handler Officer Felicia Figol.
(Photos courtesy: Facebook)
Bahamonde says they are looking into holistic treatment and chemotherapy. They are looking to offset the costs, which can get expensive. The department wants to treat Saint Michael and prolong his life as long as they medically can, with a good quality of life.
Budgets everywhere are tight, and this kind of immediate need will be tough to handle, so the Newtown Police Department is seeking donations to help offset the $5,000 to $7,000 related to his diagnosis. Bahamonde says the donations will help cover the costs of his medical treatment and potentially save his life.
Danbury has purchased the Tuxedo Junction building. The one-story, 7,000 square foot space will be turned into a community theater. The $395,000 purchase was completed Thursday, just under the list price.
Money for the renovation work wasn’t included in the budget proposal given to the City Council Tuesday, but Boughton says he’s going to see how to make it work. He believes it can be done fairly quickly and inexpensively, while also providing a first class venue for concerts and shows.
The building is on Post Office Street, the walkway off Main Street, and does not include the adjoining bar on Ives Street. The nightclub closed after 21-year old operator Ian Bick was sentenced to prison for an investment fraud scheme.
Boughton says Tree House Comedy Club has reached out to City officials about renting the space for 50 nights a year. An inquiry has also been made by Richter Park Musicals. The Danbury Music Centre could also use that space.
The City Council first met in executive session at their February meeting about buying the building.
Put your phone away or get ready to pay. Brookfield Police will be out in force through the end of the month looking for drivers as part of the U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign. The high-visibility effort is aimed at enforcing distracted-driving laws. Captain Pete Frengs says everyone knows texting and driving is illegal and dangerous, and everyone knows they shouldn’t be doing it—but they see it happen all the time.
Monroe police are also participating in the enforcement effort. They are asking drivers to put the phone down when behind the wheel. If you need to text, pull over and park your vehicle in a safe place first.
Drivers who are ticketed can be fined $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $500 for third and subsequent offenses.
Of the $3 million Capital Improvement budget in Danbury, about $1 million is going to paving. Mayor Mark Boughton says $1.7 million will be used for continued clean up of the Still River. This builds on the $1.5 million spent last year to mitigate flooding in the downtown area cause by trees, debris, and brush. He believes residents will start seeing a difference in some of the areas that traditionally flood. Some of the other capital budget funding will be used to replace Tasers for police officers, police cars that needed work and equipment for the public works division.
Brookfield residents have sounded off about a proposed $40.8 million school budget and an $18.6 million municipal spending plan. The Board of Finance held a public hearing last night on the proposal. $1.2 million for capital projects and $4 million for debt service has also been presented. Taxes would go up 1.8 percent under the proposal. The annual town meeting will be held May 2nd, with a referendum vote likely to be held May 16th.
Changes to grade levels in Bethel's elementary schools will be discussed at a community forum tonight. The Board of Education has voted to make Berry Elementary a pre-K through 2nd grade school, and Rockwell a kindergarten through 2nd grade. Johnson School would house 3rd through 5th graders. Berry and Rockwell are currently K-3 schools with Johnson only serving grades 4-5. Renovation projects are planned at Rockwell and Johnson, with state funding possibly covering about half of the expense. Tonight's forum in Bethel is at 7pm in the Johnson School Media Center.
There's a public hearing in New Milford tonight about a budget proposal for the coming fiscal year. Taxes would increase 1.87-percent under the plan, which includes about $39 million for the town and $63 million for the schools. Overall spending is up about 2.7 percent. Most of the school spending increase is for contractual obligations and health insurance hikes. A controversial part of the proposal is a 30-percent cut to nonprofits. The plan also includes $1.2 million in revenue from sales of town-owned properties, which have not yet been sold. The public hearing at New Milford High School is at 7pm.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Democratic and Republican lawmakers say they want to pass legislation this session that addresses a Danbury-based human trafficking ring police say exploited young men with mental health issues.
Authorities say the men were plied with drugs and money and delivered to wealthy clients to have sex for money after they had built up substantial drug debts. Three men have been arrested so far in connection with the case. More arrests are expected.
The General Assembly's Judiciary Committee voted Tuesday to forward a bill that creates tougher crimes for human trafficking. Stamford State Rep. William Tong, the committee's Democratic House chairman, says lawmakers are ``well aware'' of the Danbury case ``and want to do something on it.''
The bill will likely be changed after it moves to the House of Representatives.
A status quo budget has been presented to the Danbury City Council. The school budget is $2.6 million more than last fiscal year. City spending is up 2.6 percent. That's statutorily under the new state spending cap of 2.5 percent because some state spending doesn’t count toward the cap. The mill rate is going up .24, a less than one percent increase. The average household’s property tax bill will go up about $50 for the entire year.
Boughton is proposing the creation of two new basketball courts, and the expansion of the Library parking lot.
There will be no increase in sewer and water rates because the City is waiting to see if the new EPA reduces phosphorus removal mandates.
Spending is going up, because a new wing of the high school, the Freshman Academy, is opening up this fall. Staffing the new academy is the biggest driver in the budget. 12 vacant municipal positions will be filled at a later date saving the city $500,000.
None of the new revenue from the state was included in the budget so that the City can be in the best possible position when the state finally adopts a budget, for example Boughton didn’t assume that the City could start taxing Danbury Hospital. He says he didn’t want to be put in a position of having to send out supplemental tax bills based on what the state does, nor be in the position of operating with a huge surplus.
After 14 years, Boughton says City officials have been able to wean Danbury off using the savings account to help offset tax increases. No money from the savings account is being spent this year. There's no one-shot sources of revenue, selling off properties and the like.
With the exception of $3 million in notes, all capital spending—roads, bridges, roof repairs—is pay as you go. Boughton says that way taxpayers can know that the City is not racking up a long term debt for future generations.
Western Connecticut State University has hosted a panel discussion about legalization of recreational marijuana in Connecticut. Panel moderator, Law Professor Dr George Kain says students, community members, law enforcement members and legislators talked about the pros and cons last night.
Kain notes that Massachusetts legalizing recreational use will have an impact on Connecticut, regardless of what is done in this state.The state's budget woes may be making some lawmakers softer on the issue, but Kain called that a short-sighted approach.
One of the areas covered was taking possession out of the criminal justice system and treating it as a public health issue. Kain says the criminal justice system is not equipped to handle the drug problem, and he suggested more treatment and intervention programs.
The Bethel budget proposal has been approved to go to referendum. During the annual town meeting Monday night, residents nearly unanimously sent the budget to an April 18th vote. The plan represents a 2.38 percent increase in spending over the current fiscal year.
First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said under the circumstances, that's a reasonable increase. He noted that it's below the average rate of inflation and modest by modern standards. Knickerbocker says the budget maintains school programs like Junior ROTC, AP classes and Pathways to Professions.
On the town side, two positions have been eliminated from the budget due to new efficiencies.
There was a motion raised that could have saved the town about $5,000. Bethel Action Committee founder Billy Michael says the tax watchdog group wants legal notices published in the Penny Saver rather than in a daily circulated newspaper. Michael says the less expensive medium goes to every household, and is currently used by Brookfield and Hamden.
State statute required published written notification of meetings and votes.
But Knickerbocker says the Town Charter calls for notice in a newspaper of general circulation, and the Penny Saver doesn't fit the legal definition.
The Monroe Police Department is part of the Southern Fairfield County Traffic Unit. As of Thursday, Bridgeport, Fairfield, Trumbull, Easton, Stratford and Monroe Police Departments entered into an agreement allowing the agencies to work in a coordinated effort to help reduce traffic crashes and enhance traffic safety. The joint venture will allow them to share resources, participate in training opportunities, and further enhance communications that cross jurisdictional lines. Officers from these six departments may be working in each others towns during pre-planned traffic details with a certain objective. It ranges from seatbelt enforcement to DUI checkpoints.
New Milford has been assigned a AA+ bond rating from S&P, with a healthy financial outlook . The rating is the same level as the existing Moody’s rating, which was assigned 7 years ago. New Milford Mayor David Gronbach says the rating is above average for the State and demonstrates the town's strong financial position. The town's short term financing was rated at the highest possible level.
The Wilton Police Commission has sworn in John Lynch as Chief of Police. Lynch joined the Department in 1985 as an auxiliary officer. He helped created the community bike patrol division. Chief Robert Crosby retired at the end of last year. The ceremony was held at Wilton Library Monday afternoon.
While members of the Brookfield Police Department took part in a cold water training dive recently, they investigated a report of possible zebra mussels in Candlewood Lake. What they found were Asian clams, a different non-native mussel. Those have been spotted in the lake for years.
While similar in size, Candlewood Lake Authority officials say they do have a different shape and coloring/pattern from the zebra mussels. Asian clams live in the sediment, while zebra mussels are usually found attached to hard surfaces.
To date, the CLA does not have any confirmed reports of zebra mussels in Candlewood Lake.
Proposed renovations to the Bantam Lake State Boat Launch in Morris have been discussed by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Plans are to make the launch a state-of-the-art, handicapped accessible facility.
The ramp will be replaced with a single, grooved, concrete slab surface along with a separate car top launching area. Concrete pavers will be installed along the ramp sides to prevent erosion. An ADA accessible, floating dock system will be added to make launching and retrieval of boats safer and more efficient.
In addition, a solar powered street light will be installed near the ramp to assist boaters launching or retrieving boats at night, and a protected concrete portable toilet pad will be installed.
The legislature’s Judiciary Committee has advanced a bill that would authorize police to operate a drone that could release tear gas, an explosive or incendiary device. The bill also outlines penalties for people who are not police officers who fly weaponized drones.
A now 20-year old Connecticut man posted widely viewed videos online of drones that could shoot bullets and flames. Austin Haughwout hasn’t been charged in connection with the 2015 flamethrower and gun incidents, but the FAA is investigating.
Several Greater Danbury area lawmakers are members of the Judiciary Committee and voted in favor of advancing the bill. They include Senators Mike McLachlan and Tony Hwang, along with Representatives Bob Godfrey, Stephen Harding and Richard Smith.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Farms in New Milford and Suffield are the latest to be protected under Connecticut's Farmland Preservation Program.
The Department of Agriculture said the purchase of the two farms' development rights will ensure the 53-acre Triple Creek Farm in New Milford and about 60 acres of the Stiles Farm in Suffield will always remain available for agriculture production.
Hay grown at the Triple Creek Farm helps to feed a herd of about 250 beef cattle raised by the Stuart Family Farm in Bridgewater. It's one of the largest grass-fed beef operations in the state.
Hay, tobacco and vegetables, including sweet corn, are grown at the Stiles Farm.
More than 43,000 acres on about 335 farms have been protected from development under the state program.
Metro North Railroad and the state Department of Transportation have notified the Redding Police Department of some road closures through Wednesday or Thursday for track reconstruction. Simpaug Turnpike at Route 7 and Fire Hill Road, along with Topstone Road at the Ridgefield Line and Bayberry Lane will be closed to thru traffic. This is the Topstone Road Rail Crossing.
Three students in Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District have been accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, including one from Danbury. Joseph Waldron reached out to Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty for a nomination to accompany his application.
Esty says she was impressed with the students’ academic, social and professional achievements. A congressional nomination is required for, but does not guarantee, admission.
Waldron served as a Cadet Commander and has previously been honored with awards from the Civil Air Patrol. He received the Billy Mitchell Award, the Commanders Commendation Award, the Connecticut Congressional Award, the Air Force Association Cadet Aerospace Education Officer of the Year Award for the Northeast Region and the Air Force Association Squadron Cadet of the Year Award.
The Danbury Water Department will be flushing fire hydrants beginning today. It will take about 9 weeks to complete the entire process. Officials say the annual activity will help provide better quality water and fire protection. Customers may experience fluctuations in pressure and discoloration of their water during hydrant flushing. During periods of discoloration, postpone washing clothes and limit your use of hot water until the cold water clears.
The Greater Danbury Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Coalition is again running a program sponsored by the IRS to help low and moderate-income families prepare and file state and federal tax returns. Families who had an income of $54,000 or less in 2016 may qualify for free tax preparation services. Last year, trained volunteers in Danbury prepared almost 500 tax returns, which included $208,420 in federal Earned Income Tax Credits which may have otherwise gone unclaimed.