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Local Headlines Archives for 2017-05

New Fairfield officials drop plans to add herbicides to Candlewood Lake

New Fairfield officials have dropped plans to add herbicides to a section of Candlewood Lake.  The Newstimes reports that more than 200 people packed a town hall meeting last night and most voted for an ordinance that would require a townwide vote whenever officials want to use chemicals on the lake.  A group called Candlewood Voices pushed for the ordinance.  New Fairfield officials will no longer apply for a permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to add Diquat to about 10 acres of the Shelter Harbor Cove area of Candlewood.  Residents of that part of the lake reportedly approved of adding the herbicides.  

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Brookfield Police caution people from approaching wildlife

Brookfield Police were called recently about a report of a sick fox.  It turned out that the fox was not sick or abandoned.  Brookfield Police say the young pup was left by its mother in what she believed to be a safe place.  Wildlife officials say without human intervention, the mother will return for the fox.  It's normal at this time of year for many animals to leave their young alone for long periods of time, likely watching nearby.

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Local lawmakers praise bipartisan deficit mitigation plan

Danbury State Senator Mike McLachlan says the bipartisan agreement reached in the Senate to close the $317 million deficit in the current fiscal year shows that they an fund vital programs without shortchanging municipalities and those with disabilities. 

 

The proposal restores $1 million for employment opportunities and day services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

 

McLachlan says with a tied chamber, the only way to accomplish meaningful legislation that serves the best interests of our state and taxpayers is through cooperation. 

 

State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, praised passage of the plan.  He said this is the kind of collaborative leadership that needs to continue in the biennial budget deficit negotiations.  He also called for a budget process that address fundamental and structural changes to state government that creates predictability, sustainability and transparency. 

 

The Senate bill now mores to the House. 

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New Milford sewer system superintendent resigns

New Milford's sewer system superintendent has resigned.  Michael Finoia was on the job for about four months.  Mayor David Gronbach says town officials have accepted his resignation, which takes effect Friday. 

 

Finoia threatened to quit if the town doesn't cap the amount of waste taken into the treatment plant because it will violate state permits if the volume continues on the current pace.  The cap was approved earlier this month. 

 

The Sewer Commission owes little more than $4 million to the town for repayments of the 2012 plant upgrade.  Sewer line connection fees, which the Water Pollution Control Authority agreed to pay the town back with, didn't come in as high as expected and the debt is increasing. 

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Police investigate break in at Danbury restaurant

A burglary at a Danbury restaurant is being investigated.  Danbury Police were called to Tuscanero's Pizza on Mill Plain Road early Tuesday morning by an employee opening for the day.  The employee found the rear door pried open and the cash registers ransacked.

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Overturned tractor trailer dumps concrete blocks in Route 22 crash

A tractor-trailer truck crash closed Route 22 in Patterson this morning.  The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office says the rollover happened around 11am when the driver of a southbound truck hauling a flatbed loaded with concrete blocks lost of control and ran off the shoulder near Havilland Hollow Road.

 

The truck smashed through a guardrail and overturned down an embankment.  The truck driver, who complained of head and neck pain, was transported to Danbury Hospital for evaluation. 

 

The load of concrete blocks was flung from the truck and at least one of the truck fuel tanks was ruptured, spilling diesel fuel onto the ground.  Officials from the New York State Department Environmental Conservation responded to the scene to coordinate a cleanup of the diesel fuel spill, which was estimated at about 125 gallons.

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Danbury Police launch recruitment campaign, seeks to hire nearly a dozen officers

The Danbury Police Department has launched a recruitment campaign and is aiming to hire nearly a dozen entry level officers.  In an effort to entice candidates, an informational video was released by the Department.  They wanted to have fun with the recruitment campaign, touting the different positions within the police department such as the K9 Unit, SWAT team and detective bureau—while emphasizing the dedication of officers to the Danbury community. 

 

The video includes important application deadlines, informational session dates and requirements that candidates must meet. 

 

The new hiring video, which takes a light-hearted approach, was produced by RMediA, a full-service video production company based in Danbury.  The video featured Lt. Vinny Daniello, along with members of the Community Services Division.

 

 

Chief Patrick Ridenhour told a crowd of potential applicants that being a police officer is more than just a job.  They want people who are ready to not only protect, but engage with the community.  Ridenhour says it’s a stressful job, but they try to have fun.  He noted that there are times when it gets serious, so applicants have to be on their A game. 

 

Applications will be accepted June 12 through July 31.  More information can be found online on the Danbury Police Department website, and through PoliceApp

The Department is looking to give the test in September.

 

Informational sessions will be held June 19 and July 8.

 

Usually the state police academy hosts a small class, but other departments have satellite academies so Danbury could hire 5 to 8 officers at a time.

 

Ridenhour says it’s in everyone’s best interests to have a department reflective of the community that it serves.  There are certain benefits for bilingual officers and those who are veterans.

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Woman who abandoned baby in Danbury released from the hospital

The mother of a newborn found abandoned behind a Danbury grocery store has been released from the hospital.  Danbury Police say the woman went to the police station after photos were released of the clothing that the boy was found wrapped in last Sunday night.  The baby boy was being evaluated at a hospital and is currently in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.  Police did not have an update on the infant’s condition.  The investigation into the matter is still ongoing.

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New York man struck and killed by car on highway ramp in Newtown

A New York man who pulled his car to the side of the Exit 11 off ramp in Newtown this morning got out of his vehicle and was struck by another driver.  State Police say 64-year Gerard Mauskapf of Red Hook New York was pronounced dead at the scene.  18-year old Michael Alan Vitti of Sandy Hook struck the man and his car around 9am.  Both vehicles were towed from the scene.  The accident remains under investigation.  Any witness is asked to contact Trooper Cimelus at 203-267-2200.

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New Milford Police searching for woman who opened credit card in another's name

New Milford Police are asking for the public's help in finding a woman they say opened a credit card in someone else's name earlier this month.  New Milford Police say the suspect used another person's social security number at Walmart to apply for the credit card on May 6th.  The woman has made substantial purchases with the credit card since then.  Anyone with information is asked to contact New Milford Police Officer Hayes at 860-355-3133 or the anonymous TIPS line.

 

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Pedestrian fatally struck by car on highway ramp in Newtown

A pedestrian was struck and killed by two cars on a highway ramp in Newtown this morning.  The accident happened around 9am.  Around 11am, State Police said that the pedestrian died for injuries sustained in the crash.  The I-84 Eastbound Exit 11 off ramp remains closed at this time due to the accident.  Drivers are urged to use caution in area.

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Redding fire official touts life saving measures administered to patient by Joel Barlow staff

Redding Fire and EMS officials are touting the early intervention of Joel Barlow staff for helping to save a patient who experienced a medical emergency at the high school's tennis courts May 8. 

 

It was reported that the patient had stopped breathing and didn't have a pulse.  CPR instructions were provided by dispatch and chest compressions were administered.  The automated external defibrillator was also applied.  Three shocks were delivered before the ambulance arrived and paramedics could perform advanced life support measures. 

 

The patient regained a heartbeat while en route to the hospital.  The patient was released from the hospital several days later. 

 

Fire Chief Sean McKenney says the prompt response by Joel Barlow staff and EMS resources led to a positive patient outcome that could have been much different otherwise.

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SHPMC provided with site survey of SAC field

A Newtown resident who owns an architecture and land survey firm has given an update to the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission about the site selected for a future memorial.  Jim Ryan provided the Commission with a site survey, which resulted in a map that can be distributed to prospective designers.  He is a member of the Newtown Conservation Commission and offered to have the wetlands flagged at the SAC field site.  The analysis included property lines, easements, topography, trees over 8 feet, and existing and proposed trails.  Concept drawings for possible access and parking layouts were also included.

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Motorcyclist hits two cars, killed in crash

A motorcyclist was killed in a crash in Danbury Sunday afternoon.  Danbury Police say 23-year old Ariel Suero was headed north on Clapboard Ridge Road shortly after 11am at a high rate of speed, when he hit a car headed in the opposite direction.  That driver, an 18-year old, was making a left turn.  Suero's motorcycle continued along Clapboard Ridge, hitting another southbound vehicle.  The motorcyclist was transported to Danbury Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.  The accident remains under investigation.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Danbury Police Sgt Rory DeRocco at 203-797-2157.

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Parking limit changes coming to downtown New Milford

There are some changes being made to parking restrictions in New Milford.  The Traffic Authority has changed the three hour parking limitation in the downtown area.  It's now effective from 8am to 8pm daily. 

 

Mayor David Gronbach says that means any driver who parks at 5pm or later will not be subject to three hour parking as the three hours will expire after the end of the enforcement period.  Gronbach says the change was made in response to complains about people wanting to go to dinner and a movie, but having to move their car in between. 

 

He says this should help retain turn over of spots during daytime hours and will enable residents to spend more time downtown in the evening. This rule change only applies to areas that did not already have other restrictions in place.

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Partial road closure in Bethel due to paving

Bethel officials are alerting drivers to a partial road closure this week as part of an intersection realignment and bridge replacement project.  Today through Thursday, the right lane of Plumtrees Road between the police station driveway and the new Whittlesey intersection will be paved.  Traffic will be reduced to one lane during the work.  Drivers should expect delays and are asked to use an alternate route if possible.

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Bill authored by Esty to cut VA backlog gains House approval

A bill to improve the appeals process at the Department of Veterans Affairs co-authored by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty passed the House unanimously.  The measure is aimed at cutting down on the claims backlog and reduce delays. 

 

Under the current system, veterans must often wait five years or longer for their appeals to be resolved.  The bill would require the Secretary to submit periodic reports to Congress, including information on how many appeals are pending in both the modernized system and the legacy system.

 

Esty noted that claims appeals are backing up and veterans are waiting too long for benefits they have rightfully earned.

 

Given that there are 470,000 pending appeals nationwide, Esty says this legislation is well overdue and would offer much needed relief for veterans.  Esty said the House moved one step closer to providing all veterans with the timely compensation they deserve for the injuries they sustained in service to this country.

 

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 would create three “lanes” for veterans’ appeals, including the “Local Higher Level Review Lane” in which an adjudicator reviews the same evidence considered by the original claims processor; the “New Evidence Lane,” in which the veteran could submit new evidence for review and have a hearing; and the “Board Lane,” in which jurisdiction for the appeal would transfer immediately to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

 

Esty is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.  Should the legislation becomes law, it will mark the first significant update to the VA appeals process in 30 years.  Esty said she was pleased to bring this news back to veterans over Memorial Day weekend, a time to honor service men and women who gave their lives when they answered the call to service.

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Time running out for lawmakers to act on judge's education funding order

With limited financial resources, the General Assembly is grappling with how to meet Connecticut's state constitutional obligation to provide all students with adequate education.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the legislature has this session to fix some of the things pointed out by a judge, or run the risk of having the decision upheld by the Connecticut Supreme Court. 

 

The legislative session ends June 7th. 

 

In September, the judge ordered Connecticut officials to develop plans to revamp the Education Cost Sharing grant, saying a huge gap in test scores between students in rich and poor communities shows parts of the system are unconstitutional.  Lawmakers were given six months to overhaul the 28-year-old formula, among other recommendations.

 

Some people believe the lower court ruling was an overreach by the judge, but Boughton thinks there will be aspects upheld.

 

The ruling stemmed from an 11-year-old lawsuit filed against the state by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, a nonprofit group that includes cities, towns, local school boards, parents groups and public school students.

 

Boughton says there is a historic irrationality to how schools have been funded.

 

The decision is currently on appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

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Candlewood Lake Authority stocks grass carp, reminds boaters of safety regulations

As boating season gets underway this Memorial Day weekend, the Candlewood Lake Authority is reminding people to stay safe out on the lake.  The top five boating violations as reported by the CLA Marine Patrol last year were:
1) Bow Riding: Allowing any persons on bow of decked-over vessel without handrail while underway

 

2) Operating a PWC in excess of slow-no-wake withing 200 feet of shore/dock/pier/float/anchored/moored vessel

 

3) Failure to display prescribed lights when underway

 

4) Insufficient personal flotation devices

 

5) Operating in excess of slow-no-wake within 100 feet of shore/dock/pier/float/anchored/moored vessel

 

As part of the Candlewood Lake Authority's ongoing Sterile Grass Carp Program, the CLA will be stocking an additional 4,450 grass carp in June.  The carp are being used lakewide to help control the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil.  This helps reached the target goal of 15 sterile grass carp per vegetated acre of milfoil.

 

Some of the sterile grass carp have transmitters so their movements can be tracked by Western Connecticut State University researchers.  Squantz Pond will also receive 585 fish from the Town of New Fairfield, which will arrive with the delivery of the Candlewood fish. 

 

Given time to grow to adults, and become bigger and better eaters, CLA officials say they are optimistic for the promise that this milfoil control program holds.

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Danbury student named finalist in state essay contest

A Danbury middle school student has been named a finalist in a state essay contest.  Megan Quinn, a sixth-grader at Broadview Middle School, wrote about her math teacher's dedication to helping students who struggle with math.  The essay was one of ten finalists in the Connecticut Great Teachers Essay Contest, sponsored by the Connecticut State Department of Education. The first annual contest was an opportunity for students to let their teachers know how valued they are.  Megan will receive a certificate from the state Department for being a finalist.

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WCSU graduates, students awarded "Art at Ives" scholarships

Three recent Western Connecticut State University graduates and two current students were awarded "Art at Ives" scholarships.  The alumni and students displayed their work alongside professional artists during the second annual Art at Ives, Juried Fine Art & Crafts Show this Memorial Day Weekend at Ives Concert Park in Danbury. 

 

Jasmine Bailey, of Torrington, displayed her senior capstone project, the animated short film “Star Story.” Bailey also will have ink drawings, mixed media illustrations and paintings on display and for sale. Killian Bradbury, of Bethel, displayed her illustrations; and Taylor Dalton, of Colebrook, presented her ceramic endeavors.

 

The three graduated from WestConn on May 21st. 

 

Nghiep Luu, of Danbury, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Supervisory Management, displayed his origami creations and give demonstrations on the ancient art of folding during the three-day event. Brian McCarley, also of Danbury, who is pursuing a Master of Science in Counselor Education - Clinical Mental Health, displayed his ceramic and leather workmanship.

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Urban sculpture park to be unveiled in Danbury

Eight artists will install eight sculptures on Danbury sidewalks and green areas for a new Urban Sculpture Park on Main Street.  The sculptures will remain on display for one year.  The Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut says the sculptures fit into a larger plan to attract visitors to enjoy Main Street’s many amenities.  A ribbon cutting to officially open the exhibit will be held by CityCenter on Friday at 4:30pm.

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EnCon Officer receives Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year Award

A state Environmental Conservation Officer has been presented with the Shikar-Safari Officer of the Year Award.  Shikar-Safari Club International promotes wildlife conservation and protection, recognizes an EnCon officer each year who has shown exemplary performance of their duties in the protection of wildlife, enforcement of game laws and implementation of conservation programs.

 

EnCon Officer Erin Flockhart joined the Division in October of 2005, and throughout her career has been assigned to the Western District.

 

Over the past year Officer Flockhart’s case load has been very diverse.

 

Flockhart is a member of the Division’s K-9 Unit as well as being a member of the Connecticut State Police K-9 search and rescue team. Over the past year she and her K-9 partner responded to over fifteen calls for service, with the majority being for missing persons and suicidal individuals. The most noteworthy case consisted of her assistance with the investigation of a missing Easton couple, whose bodies were ultimately recovered.

 

While patrolling in the town of Kent, off River Road and National Park Service Property, on December 8, 2015, Officer Flockhart observed a vehicle parked suspiciously. She and her K-9 partner, tracked from the vehicle into the adjacent wood line.  K-9 Ellie tracked up to an individual who was carrying an unloaded shotgun. Flockhart and Ellie then performed a search of the area for evidence and located two shotgun shells that were consistent with what was on the individual. The convicted felon later admitted to throwing out the shotgun shells that were in his weapon when he heard officers approaching.  That person was charged and indicted in federal court.

 

Flockhart also conducted a lengthy illegal deer hunting investigation on the Kent Land Trust Property, by an individual with several aliases and a lengthy criminal history. The investigation included the use of Social Media, video recordings, and networking with local police departments. The investigation concluded with Flockhart obtaining an arrest warrant for the New York resident.

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GOP, Dems play politics with Yogi Bear and Winnie the Pooh

A little humor at the state capitol by a Democratic lawmaker led to a fundraising email sent out by the Connecticut Republican Party critical of wasting state resources.  Senator Mae Flexor proposed an amendment protecting some cartoon bears from a bear hunting bill. 

 

That prompted an email from the GOP saying “Democrats in this state have completely lost their minds. They are too busy filing amendments referencing fictional characters to solve the state's real budget crisis."  The only catch was that Flexor based her amendment on one previously offered by former New Milford Republican Senator Clark Chapin and then-Representative Craig Miner on a bill prohibiting feeding bears and other wild animals. 

 

Flexer changed the prohibition on feeding to a prohibition on hunting.  The bill was introduced by Miner, who now holds Chapin's state Senate seat. 

 

The Miner-Chapin amendment said, “It shall not constitute a violation of this section to feed an American black bear provided such bear is (1) smarter than the average bear, (2) fed from a picnic basket, (3) merely nibbling or noshing, (4) not knowingly featured in or associated with any film production of The Walt Disney Company, or (5) fed from a honey pot provided such pot is of sufficient size, as determined by the commissioner, such that the tongue, snout and head of such bear has sufficient space to extend, lick, sniff and explore, as applicable, without becoming stuck in such pot.” 

 

The Connecticut Mirror reports that the Miner-Chapin amendment was called during debate last year.  Flexor's was not called for debate because the bill was scuttled by an amendment turning it into a bill discouraging big-game trophy hunting.

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Praxair makes another try for merger with Linde AG

Danbury-based Praxair confirmed that it has reached agreement in principle on the terms of a merger with Linde AG.  The companies would form a new holding company through an all-stock transaction, consistent with the one they announced in December.  The agreement is subject to approval by the Board of Directors of Praxair and the Executive Board and Supervisory Board of Linde.  In a news release, Praxair cautioned that there is no assurance that Board approvals will be obtained.

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WCSU professor named to Observer's best jazz albums list

The Observer has released it's mid-year Top 10 list of best jazz albums out this year, and one of those showcased is from a professor at Western Connecticut State University.  Jimmy Greene's album Flowers: Beautiful Life, Volume 2 made the list. 

 

Observer said Greene continues to be a beacon of strength as he channels his grief of losing a child to gun violence into some of the most vibrant, lyrical jazz coming out of America today.  The album is a tribute to 6-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene, who was killed on 12-14. 

 

Greene's quartet and his Love In Action provide the music that he says inspired his daughter to dance.  Greene previously said of his first album tribute to Ana that it helps to keep the vibrancy of her beautiful, young spirit alive.

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New novel penned by NTY best selling author set in Fairfield County

New York Times best selling author Jane Green is coming out with a new book, and it's set in Fairfield County.  Those who read The Sunshine Sisters will recognize some spots featured in the new novel.  Green will also be hosting some local events to promote the release of the novel next month.

 

Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood in the sixties to become a charming starlette.  But at home, she was a disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.  When Ronni discovers she has a serious illness, she calls her now-adult girls home to fulfill her final wishes.  The estranged sisters, who are going through crises of their own, are forced to confront old jealousies and secret fears.  In the end, they discover that blood might be thicker than water.

 

On June 3rd, Green will be hosting a book launch, birthday bash, and benefit with a farm-to-table dinner at Gilbertie's Farm in Easton.  In addition to dinner and conversation with the author, attendees will receive a signed copy of The Sunshine Sisters.  Proceeds will benefit Pink Aid, based in Westport.  Pink Aid’s mission is to help underserved local women survive breast cancer treatment with support and dignity.   The organization's grants support programs that provide services including free breast cancer screening and help covering non-medical expenses such as food cards, household bills, wigs, recovery garments and transportation for patients undergoing treatment.
 

On June 7th, Green will be at Norwalk Public Library for an Author Luncheon.  The event is at noon.

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Brookfield officials approve processing fee for land use permit

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has approved a measure allowing the Land Use Office to charge a $25 processing fee for Wetlands permit transfer applications.  There's a processing that has to take place when there's a change in ownership and a permit is still outstanding.

 

The board also approved a new ordinance that would establish additional Land Use fees.  The ordinance delegates back to the land use agencies the ability to set their fees without going through an ordinance change every time.

 

The ordinance allows the Inland Wetlands Commission, Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and Zoning Commission to set and collect fees for the processing of permits, design review approvals, subdivisions and resubdivisions of land, and petitions for variances, appeals and site plans, and more.

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Update on some Greater Danbury area Memorial Day parades

The Memorial Day parade hosted by the Danbury Council of Veterans has been cancelled.  A service at St. Joseph's Church is still planned.

 

Weston officials will make a decision about their annual Memorial Day parade at 7am.

 

New Milford will remember those who died serving in our country's armed forces with a Memorial Day Ceremony at 10am.   In case of inclement weather, the parade will be cancelled, but the ceremony will be held at the VFW hall on Avery Road.

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Immigrant students continue push for financial aid bill

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Immigrant students without legal status in the United States are making a last-ditch pitch for legislation that would make them eligible for institutional financial assistance at state-run colleges and universities in Connecticut.

A coalition of higher education institutions, labor groups, faith leaders and community organizations is scheduled to appear with students Wednesday at a state Capitol news conference to urge the General Assembly to pass the bill before this year's legislative session adjourns on June 7.

This marks the fourth year that advocates have pushed for the bill.

Danbury High School graduate Camila Bortolletto, campaign manager for the group Connecticut Students for a Dream, says "it's resoundingly clear" the state supports the proposal. She says students "can wait no longer."

Two version of the bill are awaiting action in the House of Representatives and Senate.

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Drivers in limbo after track owner's sex traffic arrest

WATERFORD, Conn. (AP) - A small Connecticut racetrack and the drivers who compete there have become collateral damage in a Danbury-based sex trafficking case.

The New London-Waterford Speedbowl, which has been in operation since 1951, in in danger of not opening this season. NASCAR pulled its sanctions last month after 63-year-old owner Bruce Bemer was arrested in an investigation into the sex trafficking of boys with mental illnesses.

Bemer is charged with patronizing a trafficked person. His attorney has asked the public not to rush to judgment. He's due in court Tuesday.

The track postponed its planned May 6 opening. Officials released a statement last weekend on Facebook saying a lease deal was in the works that would allow racing. That post quickly disappeared. Speedbowl spokesman Chuck Corsey called it premature.

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Connecticut man convicted of manslaughter in 2014 slaying

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut man has been convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of another man in downtown Danbury three years ago.

The News-Times reports that 23-year-old Garfield Sanderson, of Bridgeport, was found guilty Friday of first-degree manslaughter with a firearm in the May 2014 death of Jeiel Kingston. He faces up to 40 years in prison.

Sanderson was acquitted of murder.

Authorities say the shooting happened after Sanderson and Kingston, both members of rival gangs, got into a fight inside a nightclub.

Sanderson testified that the 23-year-old Kingston and another man approached him and he saw Kingston reach for an object he assumed to be a gun. Sanderson's attorney argued his client acted in self-defense.

Authorities have said no weapon was found on Kingston.

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Round up of Greater Danbury area Memorial Day commemorations

A ceremony at Redding Elementary School auditorium begins at noon Saturday, with parade step-off at 12:15.

 

The Annual Strawberry Festival in Brookfield will take place Sunday between 12:30 and 3pm outside the Brookfield Museum.  The festival, located at the intersection of Routes 25 and 133 in Brookfield Center, follows the Town's Memorial Day parade.

 

The Monore Memorial Day Parade is scheduled for Sunday and will begin at 2pm. The parade will travel north on Monroe Turnpike up to the Town Green, where a Memorial Service and Wreath Laying Ceremony will take place. The roads surrounding the parade route will be closed at 1:45pm.  All side streets and shopping plazas will also be blocked preventing vehicles from entering onto the parade route.

 

The Danbury Council of Veterans is hosting today's Memorial Day Parade.  The morning starts with a service at St. Joseph's Church.  Wreath layings followed the church service.  In Danbury, the parade steps off at 9:30.  The theme is “Remembering Our Deceased Veterans, Honoring the Men and Women who served Our Country and displaying the American Flag”.  Honoring the sacrifices of the men and women who served in the Armed Forces of this nation, the Skydiving Demo Team of the Blue Sky Ranch will be parachuting into Rogers Park at the baseball field adjacent to the Junior High School and behind the Memorial Parade reviewing Stand at approximately 10:45am.

 

The Easton Memorial Day parade is at 9:30am.  Parade marchers assemble at the Easton Fire House.  The parade will proceed to Easton Town Hall, after which a ceremony will be held at town hall.  The Easton Exchange Club will be hosting its eighth annual Memorial Day Mile road race today. It will kick off from the Easton firehouse at 8:30 am. This will give runners ample time to regroup and be able to participate in the Memorial Day parade.

 

Weston will also celebrate Memorial Day with a fair at Hurlbutt Elementary School. The fair offers carnival rides and games for all ages as well as fair food, and live entertainment.  Fair hours today are noon to 4pm. The Weston Memorial Day parade is set for 10am.

 

New Milford will remember those who died serving in our country's armed forces with a Memorial Day Ceremony and Parade today.  The ceremony is slated for 10am in front of the Library. The parade will begin after the ceremony, heading south on Main St., turning right on Bridge St., down to Railroad St., right on Bennitt St. and right on Main St. to the War Memorial on the Green.  In the event of rain, the Parade will be cancelled and the Ceremony will be held at The VFW on Avery Road.  Drivers are cautioned to expect minor delays due to road closures for the parade route. 

 

Ridgefield's annual Memorial Day Parade is scheduled to start at 11:30 am from the Jesse Lee Memorial Church, marching down Main Street ending in Ballard Park where a closing ceremony will be held.  8 bands, some floats and about 2,000 participants are being featured.  Participants are urged to arrive at the Church between 10am and 11am.  King Lane will be a one-way street from 9:30 am until the end of the parade.

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Candlewood Lake Authority thanks volunteers for clean up effort

This past weekend, Candlewood Company of the Brookfield volunteer fire department participated in the 17th annual Candlewood Lake Clean Up, hosted by the Candlewood Lake Authority.  Volunteers have participated in this event several times in the past and encouraged the public to help keep the lake clean of debris and garbage when either boating or spending time at the local beaches and picnic areas.  In total, over 150 volunteers helped clean up the shores of Candlewood Lake.

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Student Boating Safety Ambassadors recognized by state DEEP

50 students who participated in this year's pilot Student Boating Safety Ambassador Program were recognized yesterday.  It was part of National Safe Boating Week.  Students are in grades 5 through 12 will receive credit for their project as either a community service project, senior project or extra credit.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection awarded the students Certificates of Appreciation.

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New Milford lawmaker touts bill recognizing veterans

New Milford State Representative Bill Buckbee voted in favor of legislation allowing veterans in Connecticut to obtain the designated veteran’s driver’s license, with the American Flag on it, at no additional fee prior to the renewal date.  The bill effectively erases the previously imposed $30 fee on the veteran indicator plate on duplicate identification card or driver’s license. 

 

The bill garnered unanimous support when it was considered in both committees of cognizance, Veterans’ Affairs and Finance. 

 

There are approximately 217,000 veterans across the state. 

 

While there is no additional cost for veterans to receive the veteran's driver's license when obtaining a license or renewing a license, Buckbee says this legislation will provide a mechanism for veterans who would like an updated license to indicate their veteran status if it is not yet due for renewal.  After being passed in the House of Representatives, with no dissenting votes, the legislation now awaits further action in the Senate.

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Candlewood Lake Authority dedicates new boat for Marine Patrol

The Candlewood Lake Authority dedicated a new Patrol Boat this morning for the CLA Marine Patrol.  The boat is replacing a 2002 vessel which had to be taken out of service due to hull issues.  60% of the cost of the boat was paid for through a Connecticut Intertown Grant Equipment grant. Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope helped secure the grant with the support of elected officials from New Milford, Danbury, Brookfield and New Fairfield.  The dedication ceremony was held at Sherman Town Park near the boat launch.

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Man charged with murdering New Fairfield woman earlier this month

State Police have formally charged a man with murder for the death of a New Fairfield woman earlier this month.  32-year old Steven Flood was also charged today with aggravated sexual assault of 55-year old Susan Guido. 

 

Flood was also charged with criminal trespass, larceny, murder of a victim of sexual assault and sexual assault in a cohabitation relationship.  He was held on $1 million bond. 

 

Flood was previously found in possession of the woman's car.  State Police say a Trooper and his K9 partner located Flood camping in the woods in the Town of Union May 4th.  He was identified as a person of interest during the investigation into Guido's death in her Candlewood Road home May 2nd. 

 

New Fairfield Resident Trooper constables had responded to conduct a well-being check, forced entry and found the woman dead.

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Danbury Police locate woman who abandoned baby behind super market

Shortly before 1am today, Danbury Police located the mother of the newborn baby who was found abandoned late Sunday.  Police spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says the woman's name is not being released at this time.  She is being treated at the hospital.

 

Yesterday, Danbury Police released the 911 call from a man who found the newborn behind a grocery store on Main Street. 

 

In the call, the man tells dispatch that he’s found a little boy, someone dropped it off and it’s crying.  He pleads with dispatch to send someone to Patch and Main Streets.  The caller sounds more frantic as he tries to explain that the baby is close to the police station, behind La Polla.  The man expresses concern that if police don’t arrive, the newborn may die.  The caller tells a new dispatcher that they “just need to come, he’s crying.”

 

The newborn is still being evaluated at a local hospital.

 

Danbury Police also released photos of the clothing that the baby was found wrapped in at approximately 11:38pm Sunday.

 

 

Danbury Police were concerned that the mother may need medical attention or is a victim of a crime herself. 

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Bethel woman killed in head-on crash in Danbury

There was a fatal accident in Danbury yesterday afternoon.  Police responded to Shelter Rock Road around 12:45pm on a report of a speeding car, crossing the center line and crashing head-on into another vehicle.  Police determined that 44-year old Frankie Macnear of Brewster crashed into 85-year old Hannelore Hillebrand of Bethel.  Hillebrand later succumbed to her injuries at Danbury Hospital.  Macnear was also hospitalized.  This collision remains under investigation. Anyone who witnessed the crash or has information is asked to call Danbury Police.

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Southbury man killed in highway crash

A Southbury man was killed in a single car crash on I-84 last night.  48-year old Sevdi Coma was travelling westbound in the area of exit 17 around 9:30pm when he lost control around the curve in the road.  His car spun counterclockwise and continued off the road, striking a rock embankment.  The man's car rolled over and he was ejected from the vehicle.  Coma sustained fatal injuries.  The highway was closed for several hours.  The accident remains under investigation. 

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Ridgefield Fire Commission taps new Chief for Fire Department

Ridgefield's acting fire chief has been chosen to officially lead the department.  Jerry Myers was selected by the Fire Commission Wednesday night in a unanimous vote.  The Board of Selectmen is expected to approve the recommendation at their meeting on June 7th. 

 

Myers is a 36-year veteran of the Ridgefield Fire Department.  He stepped in to the acting role about six months ago when former Chief Kevin Tappe retired after town officials completed an investigation into unspecified “policy violations”.  

 

A document, released by the town in response to Freedom of Information requests, suggested that Tappe showed up to a fire scene intoxicated. 

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Man sentenced for distributing heroin that contributed to overdose death in Monroe

A Connecticut man has been sentenced for distributing heroin that contributed to the overdose death of a Monroe woman last year.  33-year old James Hayes of Waterbury was ordered to 6 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. 

 

Hayes has been detained since his arrest on August 22.  The Judge also ordered Hayes to forfeit $710 in cash seized from him at the time of his arrest.  He pleaded guilty to one count of distribution of heroin in January. 

 

Monroe Police and emergency medical personnel responded to a report of a possible heroin overdose last June and found an unresponsive 32-year-old woman on the floor of her bedroom.  Investigators seized various items, including several empty wax folds and one wax fold that contained suspected heroin. 

 

The investigation revealed that Hayes distributed heroin that was consumed by the victim shortly before her death. 

 

There is an ongoing statewide initiative targeting narcotics dealers who distribute heroin, fentanyl or opioids that cause death or serious injury to users.

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Land cleared to make way for new Bethel police station

Work is under way on the new Bethel police headquarters. Crews cleared the site to prepare for foundation excavation.  The driveway for the new facility would be on Judd Avenue with an emergency entrance on Route 302.  The project will more than double the size of the current police station, built in 1974.

 

(Photo: Town of Bethel)

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Senate votes to halt state's participation in mileage study

Connecticut lawmakers want to ensure the Department of Transportation does not decide on its own to contribute to a multi-state study into the possibility of taxing motorists based on the amount of miles they drive.

The Senate voted unanimously yesterday in favor of legislation requiring the agency to seek approval from the General Assembly before spending any state money on studies and other activities looking into a mileage-based user fee.

The bill now awaits action in the House of Representatives.

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says the legislation officially puts an end to this debate.  She said the state doesn’t need to study something that Connecticut taxpayers are against.

Connecticut was awarded a federal grant to launch a pilot mileage tax program so long as the state invested a matching $300,000.  Boucher called it disturbing that, as a co-chair the Transportation Committee, she learned about this grant from an article in the Washington Post and not from the DOT or the administration.

To add insult to injury, Boucher pointed out that it ignored the Transportation committee's rejection of the 2015 Governor’s Transportation Finance Task Force's mileage driven proposal.

 

Because such a tax would involve some way of monitoring driving activity, Boucher says it not only represented another tax on an already over-taxed public, it represented a government intrusion into their lives.

 

She called for House passage, saying that Connecticut can not become the first state in the nation to monitor taxpayers’ every move and tax them on every mile they drive.

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Gov. commends Llodra for leadership as she announces retirement

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra will not seek re-election in November after the 75-year-old Republican finishes her fourth term.

Governor Dannel Malloy says Llodra will be remembered as a remarkable leader who brought stability, peace and unity to her community in its darkest hours.  Llodra was a key figure in coordinating the town's response to the shooting at Sandy Hook School.

She later testified before the legislature about lessons learned in dealing with things such as the mental-health needs of the community, the massive influx of donations, and the overwhelming media coverage of the shooting.

 

Governor Malloy said, “Pat Llodra is a remarkable leader who puts the needs of her constituents and neighbors above everything else. During the town’s darkest hours, Pat worked day in and day out to bring stability, peace, and unity when her community needed it most. Having spent many hours with her in the weeks and months that followed, she became a true and trusted friend, and I thank her for her partnership during those trying times. There’s no doubt that her service to the Town of Newtown will forever be regarded as courageous, compassionate, and resilient.”

Lt. Governor Wyman said, “I want to thank Pat for her service to the people of Newtown, particularly her tirelessness and empathy when tragedy struck the community. She is a true public servant and excellent civic leader. I wish her only the best.”

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Danbury Police release 911 call about abandoned baby, photos

Danbury Police have released the 911 call from a man who found a newborn abandoned behind a grocery store on Main Street. 

 

In the call, the man tells dispatch that he’s found a little boy, someone dropped it off and it’s crying.  He pleads with dispatch to send someone to Patch and Main Streets.  The caller sounds more frantic as he tries to explain that the baby is close to the police station, behind La Polla.  The man expresses concern that if police don’t arrive, the newborn may die.  The caller tells a new dispatcher that they “just need to come, he’s crying.”

 

The newborn is still being evaluated at a local hospital.

 

The Special Victims Unit is still actively investigating the discovery of the boy.  Danbury Police continue to ask for the public’s assistance in identifying the mother.  They have released photos of the clothing that the baby was found wrapped in.  The child was born and shortly thereafter left behind 397 Main Street on Sunday at approximately 11:38pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danbury Police say their main concern at this time is for the mother, who may need medical attention or is a victim of a crime herself. Anyone who may have information is asked to call 203-797-4662 or the anonymous tips line at 203-790-8477.  All calls will remain confidential.

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Area police departments look to hire more officers

Several area police departments are looking to hire.  The application deadline for the Brookfield Police Department is June 5th.  The deadline for Ridgefield is July 25th.  Testing will begin in August 2017. The department is anticipating one opening and creating an eligibility list.  The Danbury Police Department is holding a Recruiting Campaign Kick-Off Event.  It will take place on the 30th at 2pm in the Danbury Police Department Community Room.

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New Census Bureau population estimates show gains in Danbury, Bethel

The U.S. Census Bureau is out with new population data.  Danbury was one of just 4 of the state's large cities to gain residents from 2015 to 2016.  Danbury added 756 residents, a .90-percent gain.  The Census defines large cities as having populations higher than 50,000. 

 

Of towns under that threshold, Bethel had the second largest increase in the state. 

 

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there's several factors for the growth which he called a slow, steady and manageable growth.  He first cited the school system, which is gaining in reputation as it's recognized regionally and nationally in several hours.  He called Bethel a close knit town with a lot of amenities that people are seeking.  The town is close to the highway, along the rail line, has a downtown shopping districts and a variety of restaurants. 

 

Knickerbocker noted that compared to other Fairfield County municipalities, Bethel is the most affordable small town on this side of the state.  While there's been a lot of new housing development in Bethel, Knickerbocker says it's also families turning over existing homes.  He says empty-nesters are selling their homes to new families, which makes for a vibrant community.

 

Nationally, Connecticut is third for population losses, and ranks 29th in the country for total population.  

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Newtown First Selectman opts not to seek reelection for fifth term

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra has announced that she will not be seeking reelection.  Llodra told the Newtown Bee that after her four terms, she is ready to end her career as her community's top elected official.  Llodra was first elected in a four-way race in 2009 and plans to spend more time with her family. 

 

She told the Bee about the progress that she's helped usher in over the last eight years.  Llodra talked about Hawleyville sewer installation, renovations at the Fairfield Hills campus and creation of a skate park.  She also presided over the demolition and rebuilding of Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Llodra also discussed in the published report construction of the Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue substation, and the new Hook & Ladder headquarters, the new volunteer ambulance station, the dog park and animal control facility, Eichler’s Cove recreational area, and streetscape improvements. 

 

Llodra also talked about the lessons learned from devastating storms that have hit the region in recent years.  During her time leading the town, Newtown's bond rating was increased to AAA status.

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Danbury Detective's name added to Law Enforcement Memorial

State, local and federal law enforcement officers came together yesterday for the 29th annual Connecticut Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony held at the Connecticut Police Academy.  The names of two fallen officers are being added to the memorial, including Detective William E. Hull Sr. of the Danbury Police Department. 

 

(Danbury Police delegation)

 

Law enforcement officers from across the state honored the 140 Connecticut state, local and federal law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. 

 

(Photos: Conn. State Police)

 

Yesterday's ceremony also honored the family members of the fallen who were in attendance.

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Esty reacts to CBO report on new health care act

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has issued a statement about the Congressional Budget Office report on Affordable Care Act replacement passed with only GOP support.  Esty said she heard from constituents concerned that it would risk their loved ones’ health and ruin them financially. She says the CBO report confirms their worst fears.  Esty says it was completely irresponsible for the House to pass this bill without a full understanding of the effect it would have on American families.  She previously acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act has problems, but called on her colleagues to work together to fix that measure. 

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Woman plans guilty plea in Sandy Hook parent threat case

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) An attorney for a Florida woman says she will plead guilty to threatening a man whose 6-year-old son was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at a school in Connecticut.

The public defender for 57-year-old Lucy Richards said in court papers filed Wednesday the case will be resolved in a guilty plea. Richards failed to appear at a March plea hearing and was later arrested at her Tampa-area home.

Under the previous agreement, Richards was to plead guilty to a charge of interstate transmission of a threat to injure for threatening Lenny Pozner, the father of Noah Pozner, who died in the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Prosecutors said Richards told them the shooting was a hoax.

Terms of a new plea agreement have not been made public.

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Police identify man killed in Brewster crash

The man killed in a head on collision in Brewster earlier this week has been identified. 

 

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office says 59-year old Gelsomino Lombardo of Hopewell Junction was headed north on Route 22 near Milltown Road on Tuesday when he crossed over the center line.  His car struck a vehicle driven by 69-year old Josephine Cardone.  Her husband, 72-year old Peter Cardone was also in the vehicle. 

 

Deputies were patrolling nearby and arrived on the scene moments after the crash. 

 

The Queens couple sustained non-life threatening injuries and were transported to Danbury Hospital.  Josephine Cardone had injuries to her ankle, back and neck.  Peter Cardone had apparent injuries to his neck and back.  

 

Lombardo was unconscious and with no vital signs.  A passing federal Homeland Security Investigator helped extricate him from the vehicle and started CPR.  State Troopers, equipped with an automated external defibrillator, tried to revive Lombardo.  But he was pronounced dead at the scene. 

 

Route 22 was closed for about four hours. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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State Senate approves changes to Safe Haven Law days after baby found abandoned in Danbury

Unaware that a newborn baby boy was found abandoned behind a Danbury grocery store, Connecticut state Senators approved changes to the state's Safe Haven Law.  The law allows parents of newborns to leave the baby at a hospital with no consequences. 

 

In the early hours Wednesday, Senator Mike McLachlan voted for a measure to speed up the process of matching a safe haven baby with a Department of Children and Families-approved caregiver. It also further protects the identity of the child’s birth parents. 

 

He says there is a need for more education about protections provided by the law, passed in 2000 to prevent the needless deaths of abandoned infants.  McLachlan says while the changes approved yesterday would not have made a difference in this most recent incident, more education about it may have. 

 

It’s been recommended that the teaching of the Safe Havens Law be required in high school health classes. 

 

It is likely that the mother of the baby found in Danbury does not know about the Safe Haven Law, or if she is undocumented, McLachlan says she may have feared detainment if she went to a hospital.

 

The baby found late Sunday night is in the NICU of Danbury Hospital.  Danbury Police are searching for the mother.

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100 foot flagpole installed on Main Street in Danbury

A new 100-foot flagpole has been raised in Danbury.  It stands on a large traffic island between Danbury Library and the new Naugatuck Valley Community College building.  The Civil War monument on the green was recently refurbished as well. 

 

 

Engineers lowered the new pole into a 12-foot hole with the help of a crane yesterday. 

 

(Photo: Mayor Boughton)

 

The old flagpole was rusted out and some of the bolts were also rusted.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says a large community event will be planned for the dedication, similar to what was done in 1937.  The dedication ceremony will be held on Flag Day.  The city plans to fly the flag until Memorial Day and then take it down until the June 14th ceremony.

 

Councilman Tom Saadi pointed out that 2017 will be the 80th anniversary of when the Grand Army of the Republic dedicated that flagpole. 

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Tribal casino bill faces challenges despite Senate passage

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The state Senate passed a bill early Wednesday allowing a new satellite casino to be built by two Native American tribes in East Windsor, but it's doubtful it will clear the House.  Majority Leader Matt Ritter confirmed Wednesday that the bill cannot pass the House in its current form.


Some lawmakers want to create a competitive process for a potentially lucrative state casino license that would allow other entities to develop a casino. Others oppose expanded gambling in general. And there are legislators who want some assurances that off-track betting facilities in their districts will be protected with the prospect of increased competition.

MGM is suing Connecticut over the current process, claiming it's unfair to outside casino developers to grant exclusive casino rights to the two tribes.  The company has expressed interest in opening a casino in southwestern Connecticut to capture the New York City market.

On Wednesday, the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, which wants to open its own casino, announced it "will have no alternative" but to sue the state if the legislation allowing the two federally recognized tribes to open the $200 million-to-$300 million East Windsor facility prevails.

Governor Dannel Malloy, who has not pushed for casino expansion, has said he's now inclined to support the tribal casino bill over an open bidding process.

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Brookfield applies for grant for elderly transportation program

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has signed off on an application for a state matching grant program for elderly and demand response transportation.  The yearly program provides funds for transportation of seniors and persons with disabilities to each municipality based on the land area and population of those over age 60.

 

Selectman Marty Flynn asked if the town is picking up part of the cost since the grant pays for half.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says this is for programs already in place.  The town is not planning to expand the program at this time.

 

Dunn noted that Brookfield has the largest percentage of elderly people in the state by population.

 

He says sometimes municipalities will get an accessible van to help with transportation, but that it's not currently needed.  At some point Dunn says the town may need to get an accessible van, but noted that it would ramp up expenses because of drivers and other related costs.

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New Milford Zoners meet about changes to Pettibone community center plans

The New Milford Zoning Commission met Tuesday night to discuss changes to the former John Pettibone School as town officials look to convert the building into a community center.  Parks and Recreation, Social Services and the Youth Agency could be housed in the facility. 

 

The changes were to the parking area, raising the total number of spots to 120.  Sidewalks and landscaping were outlined. 

 

The next Zoning Commission meeting is set for June 13th. 

 

The Newstimes reports that the heads of the departments slated to move in spoke in favor of the idea at Tuesday's meeting.  They said that their current facilities are too small for staff and program participants, they lack technology and aren't air conditioned.

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Discussion tabled on proposed sewer rate increase in New Milford

The New Milford Sewer Commission has tabled a discussion on a proposed sewer rate increase. 

 

The Newstimes reports that the Water Pollution Control Authority Superintendent threatened to quit Monday night if the town doesn't cap the amount of waste taken into the treatment plant because it will violate state permits if the volume continues on the current pace. 

 

The cap was eventually approved Monday.  The published report says Superintendent Michael Finoia could lose his license and be criminally charged if he knowingly allows the facility to accept more septic waste than permitted. 

 

The Sewer Commission has a massive debt owed to the town from the 2012 plant upgrade.

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Public hearing in Newtown tonight on proposed animal sanctuary

The Newtown Inland Wetlands Commission is holding a public hearing tonight about the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation's proposal to build an animal sanctuary off Old Farm Road.  The foundation, named for a girl killed on 12-14, is looking to develop the 34 acre property at Fairfield Hills. 

 

Plans call for a water course crossing via a driveway, altering about 750-feet of wetlands.  Tonight's presentation and discussion is set for 7:30pm at the Newtown Municipal Center. 

 

An environmental review is being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

 

The sanctuary would includes a community garden, with a farm-to-table cafe.  Hiking and dog walking trails would also be included at the site.  Two barns, paddocks, an amphitheater and educational facilities have also been proposed.  The project also includes a veterinary center.

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Easton Library to open 'Innovation Space' tonight

Easton Library is holding a Grand Opening event for their new Innovation Space.  The center is being called Easton Library's new do-it-yourself space.  Demonstrations will be held tonight during the event of the craft space, the technology can be explored by patrons and residents can learn about all things STEM--science, technology, math and science.  Easton Library officials say they are starting on a small scale and hope the space becomes a destination for people to create, collaborate and share. The Innovation Space grand opening is set for 6:30 tonight.

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Conn. Congress members react to budget proposal

Members of Connecticut's Congressional delegation are reacting to President Trump's budget proposal. 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is calling on her colleagues to start from scratch on a budget plan.  Esty says the goal should be to expand economic opportunity in Connecticut and across the country, protect air and water, supports children and seniors, and makes the country safer.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes chairs the New Democrat Coalition. 

 

He says the budget proposal should be a visionary document or how to create good paying jobs, promote opportunity for all, and keep America safe. He says the proposal spends billions on defense while ransacking investments in jobs, education, clean energy and lifesaving medical research.  Himes says New Democrats believe any budget document should put the country's finances on a sustainable trajectory.  He says the budget proposal is full of reckless and radical cuts that damage this country's ability to advance and protect America's interests in the world. 

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Early voting proposal clears Connecticut House

State lawmakers are moving closer toward changing Connecticut's constitution to allow people to cast their ballots before Election Day.  The House voted 78-70 in favor of the proposed constitutional amendment. It now awaits action in the Senate.

The bill needed 114 votes Tuesday for the question to automatically appear on the 2019 ballot.  Voters will be asked in 2020 to approve such a change if both chambers pass the bill again next year by a simple majority

 

New Milford Representative Bill Buckbee voiced concern that it could be confusing and lead to voting mistakes.  Some lawmakers said that added voting days would put financial strain on towns. 

While the bill allows the General Assembly to determine the details of early voting, it provides an overall framework, such as limits on when the voting can occur.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says Connecticut will join the majority of other states if it ultimately allows early voting.

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Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission moves forward with design process

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission is moving on to the next phases of planning now that a land deed has been signed and filed. 

 

According to minutes of their meeting earlier this month, the group is starting to talk about what needs to be included in a request for proposals.  First Selectman Pat Llodra brought three templates with her to the meeting for members to look at.  She suggested that outlining what the memorial is about is important because it will give designers background on what the Commission is looking for. 

 

Some money donated to Newtown after 12-14 was specifically earmarked for a memorial.  In order to pay for the balance of the project, there are some options.  The Commission discussed having it be either town funded or donor funded, with a third possibility of partnering with the town while also raising donations. 

 

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission will next meet on June 8th.

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Connecticut senators pass measure approving casino proposal

The state Senate took a big step in expanding gambling approving a new satellite casino to be built by the two federally recognized Native American tribes.

The measure passed 24 to 12 after debate, and still requires approval by the House.  Governor Dannel Malloy says this bill is the only casino measure he would consider signing.

Supporters of the bill say it would create more than 1,200 permanent jobs, while opponents say the state is risking a legal problem by granting a monopoly on gambling to Native American tribes on nontribal land.

Senators crossed party lines to vote for the measure, with both Democrats and Republicans voting in support of the bill.

 

Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan reluctantly voted in favor of the bill.  He said he would give it a chance' despite having reservations about the casino.  But he cautioned that his support was because of the location.  McLachlan noted that he does not want to be back in three or four years to find people saying a casino is needed in Danbury.  He also asked his colleagues when the state is going to stop chasing easy money like this. 

 

Among those voting against the bill were Wilton Senator Toni Boucher; Craig Miner, whose district includes New Milford; Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown; and Eric Berthel, whose district includes Southbury.

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Stronger protections for pregnant women clear House

A bill that would expand protections for pregnant women in the workplace was approved by the state House yesterday. 

 

Under the bill, employers would be required to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, such as allowing them to sit while working or take more frequent breaks. The bill also prohibits employers from limiting or segregating a pregnant employee in a way that would deny her employment opportunities.

 

Wilton Representative Tom O'Dea opposed the bill.  He says the intent is laudable, but predicted it will lead to lawsuits.  O'Dea, a lawyer, says this will make it harder for small businesses to make money and survive.

 

New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith, also a lawyer, says this bill is good for the lawyers but it's not good for small businesses.

 

The bill passed on a 130 to 20 vote.  It now moves to the Senate for further action.

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Danbury effort to buy street lights stalls

Danbury has been trying to buy street lights from Eversource Energy so they can be converted to LEDs. 

 

Currently, if bulbs are broken, the city still pays energy costs for them.  With the LED bulbs, the city would only pay for the energy it used. 

 

Eversource hasn't yet told the City how many street lights there are.  The utility wants to go out at night to count the ones that are lit.  City Finance Director David St. Hilaire says it could be late summer by the time the street lights are counted.  The current street light replacement program is budgeted at $200,000.

 

During the replacement, technology could be installed to create free WiFi zones for access by students at Naugatuck Valley Community College and WestConn, library patrons and downtown businesses.  The WiFi initiative, dubbed ConnectHatCity, was proposed by Mayor Mark Boughton during his state of the city address in December 2014. 

 

Boughton previously estimated it would cost $3 million to buy the light poles from Eversource.

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Newborn baby found behind grocery store in Danbury

A baby was found behind a grocery store on Main Street in Danbury. 

 

Police and firefighters responded to 399 Main Street around 11:30pm Sunday after someone called 911 saying that they found a baby near the Polla Supermarket.  Officers were directed to the back of the Zaytuna Grocery Store next door.  The newborn baby was wrapped in several pieces of women’s clothing.  The infant boy was checked by medical personnel and admitted to the Neo Natal Care Unit at Danbury Hospital.

 

The Special Victims Unit is currently investigating the circumstances of this case.  SVU is attempting to locate the mother to determine if she is okay.  Danbury Police Spokesman Lt. Joseph LeRose says they are concerned that the baby’s mother may need medical treatment or may require some other services.

 

Anyone with information is asked to call 203-797-4662 or 203-790-TIPS.  All calls will be kept confidential.

 

Connecticut's Safe Haven Act for Newborns indicates that a parent of an infant that is 30 days or younger can bring their baby to the nursing staff of an emergency room.  The parent will not be subject to arrest for abandonment. This act does not protect the parent from being arrested and criminally prosecuted if abuse or neglect has occurred.

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One person killed in head-on collision in Brewster

A fatal car accident in Brewster is under investigation.  The two car crash happened on Route 22 around 1:15pm today.  A northbound vehicle and a southbound vehicle collided head-on just north of the Milltown Road intersection.  The male driver of the northbound vehicle was killed in the crash. The female driver and the male passenger of the southbound car were transported by ambulances to Danbury Hospital with injuries of unknown severity. 

 

The identities of the crash victims were not immediately available. 

 

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office, with assistance from New York State Police, continues to investigate.  Route 22 remains closed between Route 312 and Milltown Road until further notice.

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New Milford officials get update on Century Brass site clean up

The New Milford Public Works Director gave an update to the Town Council last night about the clean up of the former Century Brass mill site.  Lead paint, PCBs and asbestos have been found at the site, which New Milford started cleaning up nearly two decades ago.  The town acquired the land off Housatonic Avenue in 1999. 

 

Town officials say they're optimistic that remediation will be completed by the 2020 deadline. 

 

The Newstimes reports that demolition began in October, but the town is waiting for approval from the Environmental Protection Agency to remove steel from the site. 

 

Michael Zarba told the Council that their biggest obstacle will be determining if contaminants are in the nearby river and how to address them.

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Siting Council holds hearing about cell tower proposal for Easton

A pre-hearing conference was held this morning by the Connecticut Siting Council about an application for a telecommunications facility on Morehouse Road in Easton.  Homeland Towers LLC and Verizon Wireless have filed for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need.  The 157-foot tower would be a faux branch top tower.  A public hearing will be held in Easton next month on the proposal.

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Danbury launches well water testing program for private wells

A program has been launched in Danbury that will allow 150 residents served by a private well system to have their drinking water analyzed free of charge.  In Connecticut, private well owners are responsible for testing the quality of their own drinking water and maintaining their own wells, but the City's Department of Health & Human Services is looking to give residents the best access to resources for their wellbeing. 

 

The well water analysis will be performed at a licensed State Certified Laboratory and will test for: total coliform, nitrate, nitrite, pH level, odor, chloride, hardness, apparent color, sulfate, turbidity, iron, and manganese.  Residents also have the option to add a test for lead for a fee from the laboratory. 

 

Residents can request this service by contacting the Department of Health & Human services at 203-797- 4625. 

 

Following this program, the City will begin subsidizing the cost of private well water analyses.

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Congressional Art Competition winners announced

The winners of the 2017 Congressional Art Competition for Connecticut's Fifth District have been selected.  A sophomore at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury took the top prize.  Shannon Rupar made a watercolor painting titled “Farmer’s Market.”

 

 

Rupar's piece will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. for the next year and she will have the opportunity to fly to Washington, D.C., for the national reception in June honoring winners from districts across the country. 

 

Molly Humphreys, a senior at Nonnewaug, received Honorable Mention for her piece, “Stage-Lights in a New Light,” a charcoal piece on paper.  Her piece will remain on display at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury.  Humphreys was the 2016 Fifth Congressional District Art Competition winner. 

 

 

A total of 115 pieces of artwork were submitted this year in the 5th District, with students' submissions coming from 13 different schools. Winners were chosen by a panel of local judges.  Since its inception in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students nationwide have participated in the annual Congressional Art Competition.

 

This is the fifth consecutive year in which Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has organized the local competition.

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137,000 pounds of food collected for local food banks

A record amount of donations came in during the Postal Service's annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive held last week.  Coordinator Dennis Sideropolous says   With 137,000 pounds of non-perishable items collected, Coordinator Dennis Sideropolous says local food banks will benefit greatly. 

 

The United Way and Salvation Army are processing the items for distribution.  Last year, approximately 121,000 pounds of food was collected in the Greater Danbury area. 

 

Sideropolous says the timing of the food drive is important because food banks are running low on items donated during Thanksgiving and Christmas, at the same time that schools are dismissing and children won't have access to free or reduced price meals.

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Esty calls for bipartisan support on infrastructure investments

In a speech on the House floor, 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty called on her colleagues to come together and pass a bipartisan plan to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure.  The Vice Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said at the end of the day, infrastructure is about jobs.  But more importantly, she said infrastructure improvement is about getting people to work safely and on time.

 

Esty spoke about specific areas of improvement that need to be made, including to roads, bridges, rail, airports, clean water, wastewater, and internet connectivity.

 

Esty said looking into public and private partnerships could be a viable way to make improvements, but added that the job can't be outsourced to financiers.  If that were the case. Esty said the private sector would have already made the improvements.

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Danbury officials consider $1 land sale to Women's Center

Danbury could donate the Mallory Hat site to the Women's Center for a new transitional housing center.  A City Council Committee met Monday night to review the donation of city owned property at 89 Rose Hill Avenue. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the property does contain a level of environmental contamination, but wants the City to work with the Women's Center to seek grants and other funding opportunities to make the project happen. 

 

The Women's Center hired an environmental engineer to assess the property, and it was determined that the clean up will cost $700,00 to $800,000.  Boughton told them that the City doesn't have that kind of money on hand, and that it wouldn't be appropriate for the City to foot the bill for a non-profit.  He noted that if the City did that for one, they would have to do it for all.  But if the Women's Center can get the property cleaned up, Boughton says it would be appropriate for Danbury to sell the land to the Women's Center for $1.

 

The Women's Center hired a lobbyist who has spoken with Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, and others at the Office of Policy and Management, about a special grant fund they have to clean properties.  They don't have a final committment yet, but Boughton says if a grant can be secured Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola will oversee and manage the clean up.  Once it's certified for use, and the City Council gives the ok, they can transfer the property to the Women's Center.

 

Another challenge is that there is a viaduct under the property, which Boughton believes is near 100 years old.  He says no business is likely to be interested in the land because they wouldn't be able to build over that structure.  The viaduct limits the build-ability to about 2.5 acres.  Danbury issued several requests for proposals from businesses over the years, but there weren't any takers.  At one point, the owner of nearby Fairfield Processing asked the City to hold off on looking into bids because they were thinking about expanding.  Those plans have since changed because their business changed. 

 

The Women's Center raised $4 million in capital fund to build the transitional housing.

 

The Women's Center has provided a safe haven to victims of domestic and sexual violence since its founding in 1975.  The Center serves 20,000 people in northern Fairfield and southern Litchfield Counties each year.

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Trinity College taps Danbury-based FuelCell Energy to help with energy saving measures

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy is entering into a power purchase agreement with Trinity College in Hartford.  FuelCell will install a 1.4 megawatt fuel cell power plant, projected to save the college approximately 30 percent in annual energy costs.

 

The combined heat and power fuel cell plant will be located adjacent to the school’s athletic center, and will generate a continuous supply of on-site electricity and steam for the campus.  This installation could lead to future implementation of a micro-grid for the campus.

 

Trinity College will pay for power as it is produced, avoiding a capital investment in power generation.  Minimizing use of boilers for steam reduces operating costs for the College as well as reducing associated emissions from the combustion-based heating process.

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Family-owned Danbury business featured as Murphy's Monday Manufacturer

A Danbury company was featured yesterday by Senator Chris Murphy for his so-called Monday Manufacturer.  RK Manufacturing is a family-owned company that was founded in 1978.  They design and manufacture machine tools and medical devices. 

 

The Danbury manufacturer provides custom tooling and fixtures, and works with established medical companies and life science startups to provide sterile and nonsterile sutures, bone anchors, spinal implants, and other innovative medical devices.  All of RK Manufacturing’s medical devices are produced in a specialized cleanroom with a controlled environment.

RK Manufacturing employs 120 Connecticut workers out of their 57,000 square foot facility. Over the last six years, they have experienced an average continued growth of 30 percent, and increased the capacity of their cleanroom by 35 percent.

Connecticut's 4,600 manufacturers account for 10% of the state’s jobs and 87% of the state’s total exports. In order to protect and grow manufacturing jobs in Connecticut, Murphy has introduced two pieces of legislation that aim to strengthen existing standards and prioritize the purchase of American-made goods, the 21st Century Buy American Act and the American Jobs Matter Act.

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House approves bill setting standards for cell phone searches

A bill setting standards for school officials searching student cell phones and other electronic devices has been approved by the state House.  One opponent suggested that students not bring a phone to school or to leave it in a locker.  Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey told the Courant that the thinking is an outdated approach to technology.  He said smart phones, iPads and other devices are sometimes used for legitimate purposes during the day.  The bill prevents school officials from taking a personal electronic device unless they have reasonable suspicion the student violated school policy.  The bill also limits any subsequent search.  The measure now moves to the Senate.

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Lake Zoar Authority warns of blue-green algae blooms

Blue-green algae blooms are likely this summer.  That warning from the Lake Zoar Authority.  Exposure in high levels is a suspected cause of illness as severe as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The authority says the neurodegenerative disease can be fatal to pets and livestock.  Runoff from fertilizer, chemicals and waste elevates the blooms.  They float on the surface of the water and look like green paint.  A dry season intensifies the toxicity whereas a rainy climate dilutes the presence of the bacteria-like growth.  

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New Milford Sports Club members get another chance to reclaim property from lockers

Members of the now-closed New Milford Sports Club who didn't get a chance to remove personal items from the lockers earlier this month will have another opportunity tomorrow.  New Milford officials have worked out an agreement with the landlord to allow more time to reclaim property.  People must bring their membership cards to enter the building Tuesday between 4pm and 7pm.  State Police arrested business owner Dominick Donofrio Jr earlier this month on behalf of the Department of Labor, which received more than 50 complaints from New Milford Sports Club employees about not being paid. 

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Rollover crash cleared from I-84 in Danbury

There was a rollover accident on I-84 Eastbound between Exits 4 and 5 in Danbury this morning. The right and center lanes were closed shortly before 11am.  Traffic was backed up beyond exit 2 because of the emergency response.  The accident was cleared around 11:45am.  

 

(I-84 E exit 4 on ramp)

 

Danbury Fire Department Deputy Chief Bernie Meehan found that a driver was trapped in his Oldsmobile. Danbury firefighters, utilizing the "Jaws of Life" tool, cut away the roof of the vehicle so the operator could be removed and taken care of by Danbury Paramedics. The sole occupant of the vehicle was transported by ambulance to the hospital.

 

(DFD)

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UPDATED: Motorcyclist killed after crash in the Town of Washington

One man injured in a motorcycle accident in the Town of Washington over the weekend has died.  State Police say 25-year old Thien Truong had been airlifted to the hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries. 

 

The East Hartford man lost control around a curve on Route 109 near Popple Swamp Road around 8pm Saturday.  He flipped his bike and hit a guardrail. 

 

A motorcyclist following him also lost control on the curve.   30-year old Michael Masser of Hartford was thrown from his bike and transported by ambulance to Danbury Hospital with minor injuries. 

 

The accident remains under investigation.

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Brewster man due in court on DWI charge following hit and run accident

A Brewster man is due in court today on DWI charges stemming from a hit and run accident.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office received calls of an erratic driver in Brewster May 7th.  The driver nearly hit a car in the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts, almost hit the building and then almost caused an accident while pulling out onto Route 22. 

 

Deputies spotted the car hit another vehicle in traffic on Main Street and then drive off.  The driver, later determined to be 28-year old Obdulio Mendez-Perez, stopped for police. 

 

He was charged for driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident and half-a-dozen other infractions for the alleged erratic driving. 

 

No injuries were reported in the crash.

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Newtown Police seek public's help in motorcycle crash investigation

Newtown Police are asking for the public's help in solving a January motorcycle accident.  Police continue to investigate the crash that killed 42-year old Michael Defusco of Southbury on January 19th.  The accident happened on Mount Pleasant Road near Reservoir Road.  The motorcycle was found down an embankment on the southbound shoulder of the roadway around 3pm.  While some witnesses have been interviewed, Newtown Police say more information is needed.  Anyone who may have witnessed the crash or arrived shortly after the accident is asked to call Newtown Police.

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Firefighters contain massive blaze along Appalachian Trail

About 200 acres of Schaghticoke Mountain burned in a brush fire last week before firefighters were able to extinguish the flames.  17 departments helped keep the blaze contained in a remote area near the Appalachian Trail in Kent. 

 

The fire, which broke out Wednesday, disturbed the dens of the Timber rattlers, and well over a dozen snakes were spotted fleeing the heat, including one that slithered between the legs of a firefighter. 

 

 

Now that the fire is out, wildlife experts will go in looking to rescue any injured snakes.

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WCSU commencement ceremony held Sunday

Graduation ceremonies were this weekend for a number of higher education institutions in Connecticut, including for Western Connecticut State University students. 

 

The 119th Commencement was held at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport on Sunday.  More than 1,200 undergraduates, 112 masters and 8 doctoral degrees were awarded.  This is the third consecutive year that the ceremony will take place at the Fairfield County venue.

Graduating senior Madiha Khan, of Danbury, delivered the Keynote Address.  During the ceremony, Khan received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, Biochemistry option. She is one of two WCSU students to receive this year’s Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.

 

Presidential Medals were awarded to WCSU alumnus Attorney Robert Yamin and Danbury Probate Judge Dianne Yamin.

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Danbury Police kick off 'Click It or Ticket' enforcement campaign

The Danbury Police Department will be conducting a Click It or Ticket Campaign heading into the summer driving season.  The increased enforcement will take place starting today and continuing through June 4th. 

 

The Danbury Police Department will ramp up patrolling and be on the lookout for seat belt violations.  With Memorial Day weekend approaching, the department intends to promote safe driving and increase protection for motorists. 

 

With more vehicles on the roadway, Spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says this means more potential for more crashes and more fatalities.  He says wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to save your life while on the road.

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Local legislators participate in 'Manufacturing & Technology Day'

Manufacturing & Technology Day was held at the State Capitol this week. 

 

Bethel state Representative Will Duff met with pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim.  BI has three business areas; human pharmaceuticals, animal health and biopharmaceutical contract manufacturing.  Duff called Boehringer Ingelheim an essential economic engine in the Greater Danbury region, providing over 2000 jobs and indirect employment to thousands more. 

 

New Milford Representative Bill Buckbee met with several businesses and organizations related to state manufacturing.  He discussed the industry and its role in the state's economy.  Buckbee said manufacturers face a unique set of issues, stifling regulation and off-shore competition.  He wants to offer more incentives for locally manufactured products to be used in state projects relating to aerospace, defense, and infrastructure.

 

More than forty Connecticut manufacturers exhibited their products and services at the State Capitol as part of a Manufacturing & Technology Day celebration.  According to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, more than one-half of the top 100 companies headquartered in Connecticut are manufacturing firms.  

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Newtown state lawmaker tours newly renovated NYFS facility

Newtown Youth and Family Services held an open house event this week showcasing recent renovations to the facility.  State Representative Mitch Bolinsky visited and noted that the community depends on the services and programs offered at NYFS. 

 

He touted the organization for coordinating with other community resources and outside-the-box therapy disciplines, in addition to their regularly-scheduled preventative interpersonal and safety programs. 

 

(Photo: Bolinsky speaks with Matt Ariniello, NYFS Operations and Development)

 

The recent renovations will provide more space for NYFS to administer the programs and services.  NYFS is a licensed, non-profit, mental health clinic and youth services bureau dedicated to helping children and families by providing programs, services, activities, counseling, support groups and education throughout the Greater Newtown area.

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Danbury Day held at State Capitol

Danbury Day was held at the state Capitol this week.  Legislators set up a reincarnation of the Danbury State Fair to celebrate the Hat City's history.  Freshman lawmaker Michael Ferguson volunteered to organize the annual event that in addition to featuring fair food, honored four community members and the principals of Danbury's schools of distinction. 

 

 

Representative Bob Godfrey presented General Assembly citations to Danbury NAACP President Glenda Armstrong and Danbury Nurses Union President Mary Consoli for their lifelong dedication to the improvement of Danbury.  Senator Mike McLachlan presented General Assembly citations to CityCenter Danbury founder Frank Capiello and Rizzo Companies founder and CEO Anthony Rizzo Sr. for their years of service to the city and its residents. 

 

Representative David Arconti said he hopes those who attended the event will be motivated to visit and learn more about Danbury.  Attending his first Danbury Day at the Capitol, Representative Will Duff said the event was an opportunity to showcase the positive aspects Connecticut’s seventh largest city and celebrate its diverse culture  Representative Stephen Harding touted Danbury for its rich history, culture, and economy. 

 

Representative Richard Smith said he hopes that having six city schools named as Schools of Distinction will show businesses that Danbury is committed to education and can provide the workforce they need.  The schools and principals honored are Ellsworth Avenue School with Dr. Anna Rocco, Hayestown Avenue School with Stephanie Furman, Mill Ridge Primary School with Dr. Mary Cronin, Morris Street School with Bill Santarsiero, and South Street School with Heather Pellicone. A sixth school, Park Avenue School with principal David Krafick was not present to accept a citation.

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Danbury student receives '8th Grade Excellence in Citizenship Award'

A Danbury student has been selected to receive the 8th Grade Excellence in Citizenship Award from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.  Broadview Middle Schooler Charlie Wimer was chosen for his  volunteer service to the community, involvement in citizenship or character building organizations, good scholastic record, and leadership ability to motivate others to act to benefit the community. 

 

One eighth-grade student from each participating school is selected who demonstrates the qualities of active participation in civic or community activities, good scholarship and school involvement. 

 

School officials say Wimer has been a leader the Unified Sports program where he exemplifies the qualities of acceptance, kindness and inclusion. He has prepared and presented schoolwide events and grade-level assemblies for the programs of the Sandy Hook Promise.  He was a key organizer for the Danbury Middle School Leadership Conference. He is also a straight-A student.

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Minor Metro North derailment prompts renewed calls for Positive Train Control technology

Following a minor Metro North train derailment on the New Haven line yesterday, officials are renewing their calls for implementation of Positive Train Control. 

 

A dozen people were injured when 5 of the train cars left the tracks around 5:15pm in Rye, New York as the passengers traveled to Connecticut.  Four people were hospitalized for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.  Eight others refused medical attention. 

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal says it's been nearly a full decade since Congress first mandated the basic technology.  He called on Metro North to investigate if PTC could have prevented or mitigated this latest incident.  Blumenthal also wants Metro North to explain how a train in a low-speed area jumped the tracks, injured passengers, and triggered delays throughout the system.  The railroad is facing a December 2018 deadline to install the technology. 

 

PTC was first urged by the National Transportation Safety Board in 1970 after a train collision in Darien. It's a GPS-based system designed to prevent certain types of train accidents caused by human factors.  In 2008, Congress mandated railroads install PTC by the end of 2015; however, Congress extended the deadline to 2020 last year.

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Stranger Danger classes to be held in Monroe elementary schools next week

A Stranger Danger class is being held in Monroe elementary schools following an incident earlier this week in which a Stepney School student just getting off the bus was approached by a couple in a minivan.  Monroe Police say a Stranger Danger class was held this past fall.  The next round will begin next week.  The Detective Division continues to investigate leads in the case while the patrol division remains on the lookout for the couple.  Monroe Police are reminding residents to talk with their child about strangers.

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Police Officers recognized by MADD

The 2017 Mothers Against Drunk Driving awards have been presented.  This is the 2nd year in a row that Monroe Officer Michael Johnson has been a recipient for his efforts to keep drunk and drugged drivers off the roads.  Redding Officer Michael Livingston was honored for his DWI enforcement activities during the midnight shift.

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Drop in homelessness reported in Danbury

Homelessness in Danbury has dropped 12-percent over the past year.  The result was part of a report by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness on their annual Point in Time Count.  110 people were determined to be homeless in January during the the count.  This is the third year in a row that homelessness has gone down in Danbury. 

 

Coalition Executive Director Lisa Tepper-Bates says a separate count of homeless youth in Connecticut was also conducted.  4,396 people under the age of 25 are homeless, or facing severe housing instability.  She noted that the practice of couch surfing is very dangerous, and this is an issue they hope to address soon.

 

Tepper-Bates says coordinating resources and ending duplicated efforts by municipalities and non-profits has led to the overall decline.

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New Fairfield to hold meeting about petition to stop herbicides being added to Candlewood

New Fairfield officials have scheduled a special town meeting to decided on a proposed ordinance aimed at stopping a plan to use herbicides in Candlewood Lake.  The meeting is set for 7pm on May 30th. 

 

The group Candlewood Voices filed two petitions calling for a townwide vote whenever chemicals were proposed to go into the lake.  The Board of Selectmen met yesterday on the revised petition, after calling the first one unlawful and not subject to an ordinance that would have triggered a special town meeting. 

 

New Fairfield scaled back its plans to only add a milfoil-killing herbicide to 10 acres at Shelter Harbor Cove, down from a proposed 60 acres. 

 

Candlewood Voices co-founder Carolyn Rowan says even that plan sets a bad precedent for use of chemicals in the lake.

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Brush fire continues to burn in Kent

A brush fire is still burning in Kent.  The blaze broke out Wednesday in a remote location near the Appalachian Trail on Schaghticoke Mountain.  The fire consumed more than 60 acres by yesterday afternoon. 

 

The fire had spread to some rattlesnake habitats and officials say the displaced snakes made for a challenge to an already difficult response.  Firefighters have to carry in water to try to contain the flames.  The timber rattlesnakes are venomous, but there have not been any reports of bites.  

 

Four firefighters have been injured while fighting the blaze. 

 

The cause of the fire remains unknown at this time.

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More victims come forward in alleged sex trafficking ring

New lawsuits have been filed by alleged victims of a Danbury-based human trafficking ring.  7 victims have come forward since the arrest of alleged ring leader Robert King.  Two men have also been arrested for patronizing a trafficked person.

 

The Newstimes reports that the latest filings including a man purportedly abused when he was around 15.  Another man, who authorities claim killed himself during a police pursuit nearly a decade ago, is the other victim.  The published reports say King had a shrine to the victim in his mobile home, which included a hand-written note from that victim.

 

The state legislature is considering a bill this session about human trafficking.  The House approved the bill unanimously Wednesday.

 

The bill would do three things, including to increase the penalty to a Class A felony.  It creates a new crime of commercial sex abuse of minors, which would be the equivalent of patronizing a prostitute under the age of 18.  The bill also adds members, including a victim of human trafficking, to the state's Trafficking in Persons Council.

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DEEP honors Environmental Conservation police at awards ceremony

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has recognized several Environmental Conservation Police Officers and others for their work in protecting residents and the environment. 

 

A Unit Citation was awarded in recognition of the collective effort by members of a district.  EnCon Officers Edward Yescott, Erin Flockhart, K9 Ellie, and Sergeant Tate Begley received the recognition for the response to an incident in Kent.  The Western District EnCon officers apprehended a convicted felon in possession of a firearm as part of a long term investigation into illegal poaching activity occurring on National Parks Service property.

 

A medal for outstanding service was presented to Sergeant Tate Begley for his response to a report of a possible missing female hiker on the Appalachian Trail in Kent.  The response turned into a drug bust of a disheveled male hiker.  

 

When Begley approached, the man dropped his gear and jumped off a cliff into the Housatonic River.  Begley apprehended him on the opposite side of the river.  During the foot pursuit the man dumped a container believed to contain heroin in the river.  The suspect, Justin Kyle Hoffman, was subsequently arrested for an incident involving unwanted sexual advances of teenage girls at a private school not far from his camp.

 

Among the awards was the Boating Officer of the Year. 

 

Officer Joseph Ruggiero, a 22-year veteran of the Environmental Conservation Police force, was this year's recipient.  Officer Ruggiero has conducted patrols on Connecticut’s busiest waters during that time, including the Housatonic Rivers, and many lakes, ponds and most of Long Island Sound. He was originally assigned in his earlier years to the Western Marine sector.  DEEP officials say his dedication to conservation law enforcement and the public’s boating safety continues to be outstanding.

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Connecticut Senate scuttles proposed bear-hunting season

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Legislation that could have led to bear hunting in one Connecticut county has been snuffed out.

Senate Democrats on Thursday successfully scuttled the bill by replacing it with other legislation that makes it illegal to bring certain big game specimens into Connecticut.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman broke a tie vote in the Senate. The bill was ultimately referred to the Judiciary Committee.

Litchfield Sen. Craig Miner, whose district includes New Milford, originally proposed requiring the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to come up with bear-hunting season regulations.

Recognizing he faced opposition, Miner amended the bill, allowing DEEP to decide whether to seek such regulations. Also, his revised bill limited potential bear hunting to Litchfield County.

However, all of that language was stripped and replaced with the ban on big-game trophies.

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NY man arrested for fight at Southeast pub

A Carmel man is facing charges stemming from a bar fight.  New York State Police arrested 21-year old Justin Velez for assault, harassment and disorderly conduct over the weekend.  Troopers were dispatched to a fight at O’Connor’s Pub on Route 22 in the Town of Southeast.  An investigation revealed that Velez stuck a man in the face during the altercation.  Velez was arraigned and ordered held at Putnam County Jail on bond.

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Couple tried to lure Monroe child into their minivan

Monroe Police are alerting residents that a child was approached by a couple in an older red minivan who tried to lure her into their vehicle.  Police say a Stepney Elementary School child was dropped off at her normal bus stop Tuesday afternoon. 

 

The child ignored the woman with bright red hair and the man with bright green hair and ran to her home.  Police responded to the area and searched for the minivan, but were unable to locate it. 

 

The driver of the older red minivan was described as a 45-50 year old woman, slender built, short bright red hair, with hair ends dyed green. The male passenger was described 45-50 year old male, overweight, with bright green hair. 

 

All officers remain on the look out for the vehicle and the suspects.  The Monroe Police Department asks that parents remind their children to not get into any vehicles occupied by any people they do not know. 

 

Anyone with information about this vehicle or the couple is asked to contact the Monroe Police Department at (203) 261-3622.

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Congress members react to appointment of Special Counsel in Russian investigation

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has released a statement about the appointment of a Special Counsel in the investigation into possible Russian interference in the election. 

 

Esty says the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller is an immensely positive step toward determining the facts and preventing future attacks on our democratic institutions.  She added that the American people deserve to know the full scope of Russia’s activities, including who within the United States may have participated.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has also released a statement. 

 

Himes said Mueller brings with him two vital factors: a reputation as a man of the highest integrity, honesty and fairness and the widespread respect of the entire FBI.  Himes said he's optimistic that under this new leadership the FBI will be able to carry on its vital work. 

 

Himes added that during the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the election and possible links to the Trump campaign, the concurrent FBI investigation brought needed manpower and resources. 

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Danbury City Hall to host light bulb swap

A light bulb swap is being held at Danbury City Hall on Saturday.  Residents can bring incandescent light bulbs and exchange them for new, LED  bulbs, free of charge.  Proof of city residency will be required. 

 

Residents can bring up to five incandescent light bulbs in any condition and exchange them for the energy-efficient bulbs, while supplies last.  Energy experts from Eversource will be on-hand to answer questions and provide information on how to save energy at home. 

 

The light bulb swap Saturday is from 10am to 2pm. 

 

Danbury has been a Clean Energy Community through Energize Connecticut since 2014.  Eversource is working with Danbury to help the City reduce municipal building energy consumption by 20 percent by 2018.

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3 men busted for alleged drug sale in Danbury condo complex parking lot

Three men have been arrested on drug related charges after being caught making an illicit transaction in a Danbury condo complex parking lot this week.

 

On Monday, members of the Danbury Police Department's Special Investigations Division and a federal law enforcement official were conducting a surveillance of the Brookside Condominium complex into reported illicit drug sales happening in the complex parking lot.  Investigators learned that the operator of a gray Volvo was selling illicit drugs from his vehicle.

 

The car pulled into the lot and the two occupants sat in the vehicle for more than 20 minutes until a small white car park alongside it.  That driver approached the Volvo, where an exchange of drugs for money took place.

 

22-year old Aaron Batista of Waterbury, 23-year old Alec Buday of Bridgeport were in the Volvo.  The other driver was identified as 37-year old Marc Vachovetz of Danbury.  Batista and Buday were in possession of a substantial quantity of heroin packaged for sale and a substantial amount of marijuana. Vachovetz was found to be in possession of 20 packets of heroin.

 

  

(Batista, Buday)

 

Vachovetz was released for a promise to appear in court at a later date and time, while Batista and Buday were each held on $100,000 bonds pending release or arraignment.

 

Batista and Buday were each charged with Possession of Narcotics, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Narcotics with intent to sell more than 1oz , Possession of a Controlled Substance within 1500’ of a School, Sale of Narcotics, Possession of Narcotics with intent to sell more than 1/2 oz but less than 4 oz, Sale of Narcotics Within 1500’ of a School, Possession of a Controlled Substance  with intent to sell within 1500’ of a School, Possession of Narcotics within 1500’ of a School, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia with intent to sell within 1500’ School, Possession of Narcotics  with intent to sell within 1500’ School, and Operating an motor vehicle with a suspended license.

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Connecticut boarding school sued over alleged sex assaults

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut boarding school is being sued over allegations that a teacher repeatedly sexually assaulted a female student in the late 1980s.

The lawsuit against the Kent School was filed Wednesday in state Superior Court by the former student. It follows recent disclosures of sexual abuse allegations dating back years at other prestigious Northeast boarding schools.

The Kent School suit alleges former French teacher Clyde Douglas Fenner sexually assaulted the girl numerous times. It also alleges school officials failed to report the abuse and retaliated against the girl.

The school's business manager, Jeff Cataldo, says he can't comment because school officials are reviewing the allegations.

Fenner resigned from the school in 1988. Public records show he lives in Evansville, Indiana.

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CSCU president warns budget cuts could force school closures

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities leader is warning that campuses may close if the system's budget is cut to the degree suggested by the governor and state lawmakers.

CSCU President Mark Ojakian said Wednesday that recently revised budget proposals from Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican and Democratic lawmakers include cuts ranging from an additional $5.4 million to the state universities and $19 million to the community colleges to upward of $90 million to the overall system.

Malloy and legislative leaders, who began budget talks Wednesday, updated their respective budget proposals to accommodate a larger-than-expected deficit for next fiscal year. It has grown from $1.7 billion to $2.3 billion.

Besides closing campuses, Ojakian says CSCU may have to eliminate certain student services and make significant workforce reductions.

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Memorial service held for wife of ESPN broadcaster Berman

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (AP) - A memorial service honoring the wife of longtime ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman has been held in Connecticut.

The Hartford Courant reports friends, colleagues and relatives of Berman and his wife gathered Wednesday at Seymour St. John Chapel at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford.

Sixty-seven-year-old Cheshire resident Katherine Ann Berman was killed in a two-vehicle traffic crash May 9 in Woodbury.

Police say her car struck the rear of an SUV and both veered off the road. Her car went down an embankment and overturned in a body of water. The SUV driver also was killed.

The burial will be in Cheshire Hillside Cemetery.

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New Fairfield group launches petition to fight herbicides being added to Candlewood

It's now a waiting game for a group of lake advocates to see if a second petition will change New Fairfield official's minds about adding herbicides to Candlewood Lake.  A group calling itself “Candlewood Voices” wants a townwide vote whenever officials want to use chemicals in the lake.

 

According to New Fairfield's ordinances, a petition garnering more than 20 signatures from registered voters must be discussed in a special meeting of the Board of Selectmen. But that only happens if it's for a lawful purpose.  The Selectmen got a legal opinion stating that having votes on using chemicals in the lake could frustrate existing state regulations and infringe on the health director's authority.

 

Candlewood Voices Co-founder Carolyn Rowan says a revised petition was started to overcome the legal objection. 

 

New Fairfield scaled back its plans to only add a milfoil-killing herbicide to 10 acres at Shelter Harbor Cove.  The original proposal called for adding herbicides to 60 acres and to use copper sulfate in 160 acres.  That would have been an effort to treat blue-green algae.

 

Rowan says adding herbicides to a small portion of the lake is a dangerous precedent, noting that the company's goal is to show that the lake needs chemicals.

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WCSU theater program gains national accreditation

Western Connecticut State University has earned accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Theatre.  The NAST Commission on Accreditation notification of the university’s acceptance marks the completion of a process that began in the fall 2014. 

 

The peer review of the university and its theatre program represented the first time that Western has sought NAST accreditation.  WestConn is just the second Connecticut higher education institution to be granted accreditation by NAST. 

 

Officials say the opening of the Visual and Performing Arts Center in fall 2014 provided the necessary teaching and performance facilities to achieve NAST accreditation.

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Brush fire burning on Schaghticoke Mountain in Kent

There is a large brush fire on Schaghticoke Mountain in Kent.  10 fire departments have responded to the scene. 

 

Officials with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection say the fire is in a remote location along the Appalachian Trail.  The statewide forest fire danger is moderate today, and there are some high wind gusts. 

 

(Photo: Litchfield County 911, Twitter)

 

Firefighters from Bantam, Kent, Goshen, Harwinton, Lakeville, Norfolk, Sherman, Sharon, and Warren, along with a crew from Dover Plains, New York, have all responded to the fire.

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Stamp Out Hunger food drive deemed a success

The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is being called a big success in the Greater Danbury area.  Postal Service food drive coordinator Dennis Sideropolous says food is still coming in.  The United Way and Salvation Army are processing the donations to distribute to local food banks.  Sideropolous says there was a great participation in Bethel and Ridgefield this year.  Last year, approximately 121-thousand pounds of food was collected locally.

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Esty weighs in on recent controversies surrounding President Trump

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has released a statement about recent reports about goings on in Washington .  Esty says if true, President Trump's conduct has raised very serious and concerning questions that demand full and independent investigation. 

 

Esty is referring to reports of classified national security information being shared with Russian officials and a possible effort to end an FBI investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.  She called for subpoenas of any recordings that exist of relevant conversations. 

 

Esty added that now is the moment for representatives to find the courage to put the good of the country before loyalty to party.

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Plumtrees bridge project ahead of schedule in Bethel

More progress was made yesterday on the Plumtrees Road bridge replacement and intersection realignment project in Bethel.  The new section of Whittlesey Drive, which will make a 4-way intersection with Plumtrees and Walnut Hill roads, was paved yesterday.  Plans call for activating the traffic light at the new intersection today and the new road opened tomorrow.  The project is about 4 months ahead of schedule and could be wrapped up by June.

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Wilton man, with loaded gun in pocket, gets DUI after car accident

A Wilton man is facing a number of charges after allegedly rear ending a car, failing field sobriety tests and having a loaded handgun in his pocket.  Wilton Police say 37-year old Michael Corsi sped in his Ferrari past an unmarked police cruiser and skidded into another car shortly before 2am yesterday.  His blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.  Officers found a loaded 32-caliber gun in his back pocket.  In addition to the DUI and gun possession charge, Corsi was cited for failure to drive in the established lane and following too close.  He was released on bond for a court appearance May 25th.

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Danbury man arrested twice in one week on DUI charges

Westport Police have arrested a Danbury man twice in one week on drunk driving charges.  Police stopped a car last Tuesday evening after the driver was seen swerving.  50-year old Bradford Brown failed field sobriety tests.  Last Friday, Brown was stopped for driving a car he took from a Westport resident without permission.  He refused to take field sobriety tests.  Brown is due in court today on the first DUI and next week on the second DUI.

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Southbury police searching for Stop & Shop shoplifter

Southbury Police are looking for the public's help in solving a shop lifting incident that happened earlier this month at Stop & Shop.  Several cases of Red Bull were reported stolen by a woman May 11th from the Stop & Shop located on Main St. North in Southbury. 

 

The white female with blonde hair left the store without paying and entered a silver Jeep Cherokee that had a plaid blanket hanging in what appeared to be a broken rear window. The Jeep was driven by a white male.  

 

Anyone with any information is asked to call Southbury Police Department at 203-264-5912. All calls/texts will be kept confidential.

 

 

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Brookfield residents approve budget

The Brookfield budget passed on the first vote yesterday.  The town and school plans passed by about a 2 to 1 margin. 

 

A number of capital projects are planned at the schools.  At the High School, the old gym floor will be refinished, a wireless clock system will be maintained and two bathrooms will be renovated.  At the middle school, the stage floor will be refinished, cafeteria tables and chairs will be replaced and some flooring will also be replaced.  Corridor ceiling tiles will be replaced at Huckleberry, while Center School will see clapboard siding replaced. 

 

Unofficial numbers show the school budget passed on a vote of 1,221 to 645, with the town budget approved in a 1,263 to 589 vote.

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New Milford residents approve a budget for next fiscal year

By slim margins, New Milford residents approved a budget.  The $38.2 million municipal plan was approved on a vote of 1,469 to 1,279.  The $62.8 million school budget was approved 1,403 to 1,342, just 61 votes.

 

Voter turnout was nearly 17-percent.

 

The budget is about 1.2 percent more in spending over the current year.

 

The New Milford Superintendent of Schools has outlined where certain cuts would have to be made because the Board of Finance approved a budget smaller than they requested. There are also some unknowns when it comes to state education aid. The proposed school budget is still $1.1 million more than the current fiscal year.

 

The first place cuts will be made are to insurance and workmen's comp. The next year would be to put off new initiatives, including the purchase of a digital fingerprint scanner. Cuts will then be made to sports gear, field trips and personnel.

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Changes coming to Route 37 at Barnum and Stacey roads in Danbury

A public information meeting was held in Danbury last night by the state Department of Transportation.  It was about the upcoming construction of Route 37 intersection improvements at Stacey Road and Barnum Road.  The design of these projects is nearly complete and the public information meeting is being held to talk go over the construction and schedule.

 

The existing Stacey Road intersection is a “Y” type, controlled by two stop signs at both Stacey Road approaches to Route 37.  This project will realign Stacey Road to form a signalized “T” type intersection with Route 37.  Stacey Road will have a two-lane approach to Route 37.  Route 37 will be realigned to have a gentler curve through the intersection and an exclusive southbound left-turn lane.  Left-turn lanes will also be added. The estimated total cost of this project is approximately $5,100,000.

 

The existing Barnum Road intersection has a stop sign control at the approach to Route 37.  Route 37's northbound shoulder will be widened to allow vehicles to pass those waiting to make a left turn onto Barnum Road.  The Barnum Road southbound shoulder will be widened at its Route 37 intersection to allow right-turning traffic to pass vehicles waiting to make a left turn onto Route 37.  No additional signalization is proposed. The estimated total cost of this project is approximately $1,500,000.

 

The sidewalk fronting the Stetson Place property will be extended north to the intersection at Barnum Road.

 

Construction is anticipated to begin in April and last 20 months.  Route 37 will be temporarily widened to accommodate two lanes of through traffic during construction.  Access to all driveways will be maintained at all times.

 

There are right-of-way impacts associated with these improvements including partial acquisition, permanent easements, temporary construction easements, and rights.

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Redding officials lay out options for future of wire mill site

A presentation was made last night by Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton about options to resolve financial problems with the former Gilbert and Bennett wire mill site.  The property is owned by Georgetown Land Development Company. 

 

Redding is owed $3.5 million in back taxes and $2.2 million sewer costs, with the fire district being owed $180,000. 

 

The Newstimes reports that two options start with having the town and fire district assume control of the 55-acres through foreclosure and then either sell it to a private developer or maintain the land for public use.  The last option discussed is reportedly to have the town assume ownership and all of the junior holders could write off their debts in exchange for part of the sale and future tax revenues.

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Alleged leader of human trafficking ring due in court tomorrow

One of two men accused of being part of a Danbury-based sex trafficking ring was in court Friday.  The Newstimes reports that William Trefzger's attorney was given nearly a dozen disks of evidence by prosecutors as part of the discovery process. 

 

Trefzger and Bruce Bemer were charged in March with patronizing a trafficked person.  Bemer is due in court May 30th.  The alleged mastermind of the ring is Robert King. 

 

Police say they 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. 

 

Police have identified at least 15 victims. 

 

King is due in court Wednesday.

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Two DHS seniors accepted into West Point

Two Danbury High School students have accepted official appointments to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Joseph Waldron and Michael Halas were presented with their appointments at last week's Board of Education meeting by Major Nancy Bates. 

 

West Point has an eight percent acceptance rate.  Major Bates said it's extremely unusual for any school in the nation to have two students appointed in the same year.  She called it a testament to the quality of the education and leadership that Danbury High School provides its students. 

 

Waldron said he knew as a freshman that he wanted to go to West Point. Halas was scouted for attendance.  Both men had grandparents in the service. 

 

Each cadet receives a fully funded four-year scholarship that includes uniforms, health coverage, monthly salary, tuition, development opportunities, and room and board.  Each cadet commits to five years’ service as a second lieutenant upon graduation followed by three years in the reserves.

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Danbury middle schooler wins statewide MLK essay contest

A Danbury student has won first place in a statewide Martin Luther King, Jr. essay contest sponsored by Senator Chris Murphy.  Broadview Middle School sixth-grader Caroline D’Angelo wrote essay her as an assignment for her social studies class. 

 

D'Angelo wrote about the changes she believes would make a better world for everyone. 

 

Murphy launched the essay contest this year to encourage young people to commit to making Dr. King’s dream and the dreams of their own a reality.  Murphy’s office said it received thousands of entries for the statewide contest. 

 

D'Angelo says justice and equality come to my mind whenever she sees people not being treated respectfully.

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New Milford fire officials urge residents to check CO monitors

Over the last few weeks Water Witch Hose Company in New Milford says they have seen a spike in Carbon Monoxide Alarms. CO Detectors have a fuel cell or life span of five to seven years.  Fire officials are calling on residents to check batteries regularly and if the system is hard wired--give the company a call to see if it's time for a swap. If the CO defector goes off, evacuate the house, but keep all windows and doors closed so firefighters can monitor and see if there are carbon monoxide levels in the home.

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UPDATED: Newtown Police locate woman missing since Thursday

Newtown Police have heard from a missing female named Jessica Guay.  The 36 year old lives on Alpine Drive in Sandy Hook and had last been seen on Thursday.  Spokesman Lt Bahamonde said in a statement that they were very concerned for her well being and officers worked diligently attempting to locate Jessica before reaching out for the publics help.

 

Jessica made contact with her family and the case is no longer being investicated as a missing persons case.

 

  

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Malloy's revised budget cuts funding to cities and towns

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has released a revised two-year state budget that reduces aid by another $362 million in the first year to many Connecticut cities and towns while boosting funds for poorer communities, including Hartford.

The new proposal unveiled Monday also eliminates the state sales tax exemption on nonprescription drugs and increases the real estate conveyance tax rate on properties valued at more than $800,000.

Malloy revisited the two-year $40.6 billion budget he released in February after anticipated income tax revenues dropped sharply. It will be the basis for budget negotiations with legislators.

It comes after the projected deficit for the fiscal year starting July 1 jumped from $1.7 billion to $2.3 billion.

Malloy's plan still relies on $700 million in state employee concessions, which remain unsettled.

 

All funding is pulled for state-owned real property in Bethel, Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Easton, Kent, Monroe, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, Southbury, Washington, Weston and Wilton. 

 

Danbury is unchanged, but for colleges and hospitals Danbury received 1.25 million this year.  Over the next two years, there is no funding allocated.  In this category, New Milford received $89,000 but would be zeroed out over the next two years.

 

 

Town aid road grants remain the same under the Governor's original proposed budget for the next two years and his revised plan.  Cities and towns will not be paid the state's share of slot machine revenues at the two tribal casinos under the revised plan.

 

Local Capital Improvement funding and adult education money proposals have not been changed in the latest budget revision.

 

Municipal Revenue Sharing Grants have been pulled.

 

The Education Cost Share program was overhauled.  Special education is a separate allocation.

 

Bethel received $8,087,732 this year.  The town was proposed to receive $4,209,487 in each of the next two fiscal years, but will now get $2,598,334.  Special education funding each year under the revised plan is $1,447,507.

 

Brookfield received $1,417,583 this year.  The town is proposed to receive no funding in each of the next two fiscal years.

 

Danbury received $31,290,480 this year.  The town was proposed to receive $33,594,209 in each of the next two fiscal years, but will now get $31,442,996.  Special education funding each year under the revised plan is $11,122,110.

 

New Fairfield received $4,338,569 this year.  The town was proposed to receive $543,196 in each of the next two fiscal years, but will now not receive funding.  Special education funding was also cancelled out.

 

New Milford received $11,832,806 this year.  The town was proposed to receive $4,557,577 in each of the next two fiscal years, but will now get $2,126,347.  Special education funding each year under the revised plan is $891,544.

 

Newtown received $4,893,944 this year.  The town was proposed to receive $969,688 in each of the next two fiscal years, but will now not receive funding.  Special education funding was also cancelled out.

 

Redding received $180,135 this year.  The town was proposed to receive $16,000 in each of the next two fiscal years, and that is still the proposal under the revised plan.  There is no special education funding being allocated.

 

Ridgefield received $571,648 this year.  The town is proposed to receive no funding in each of the next two fiscal years.

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Redding resident dies after being attacked by her own dog

Redding Police are investigating the death of a woman who was attacked by her own dog.  The woman was transported to Danbury Hospital late Friday night, where she later succumbed to her injuries. 

 

The Deacon Abbott Road woman's identity is being held pending family notification.  Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs says they are waiting for autopsy results to determine the official cause of death, but notes that the attack itself might not have been the exact cause. 

 

The mixed breed dog is in the custody of Animal Control during the investigation.

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Joel Barlow reopens following plumbing issue

Joel Barlow High School reopened today following a plumbing issue yesterday.  The regional high school in Redding was closed yesterday because of a lack of water pressure when a pipe broke.  That led to flooding in the water treatment system.  The water supply issue has since been resolved. 

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Budget referendum in Brookfield today

Brookfield residents are voting on a budget today.  The $40.8 million proposed school spending plan is coupled with an $18.6 million municipal budget proposal.  Taxes will increase 1.8 percent under the plan. 

 

The contingency fund includes about $700,000 for the schools, in case the legislature passes the governor's proposed cuts to aid.  If Brookfield gets more state aid than anticipated, the contingency fund money will be placed into the general fund. 

 

A number of capital projects are funded in the budget.  They include vehicle replacement for the police department, road paving and improvements to Candlewood Fire and Center Fire stations.

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New Milford budget referendum Tuesday

New Milford residents are voting on a budget today.  The municipal proposed budget is $38.2 million.  The schools are asking for $62.8 million. 

 

The New Milford Board of Finance rejected a plan approved by the Town Council which included $1.2 million in revenue from the sale of town properties and increasing the Sewer Commission's payments to the town.  The Board of Finance also cut $1.5 million from the municipal budget because of a miscalculation, which double counted some revenue. 

 

The New Milford Superintendent of Schools has outlined where certain cuts would have to be made because the Board of Finance approved a budget smaller than they requested.  There are also some unknowns when it comes to state education aid.  The proposed school budget is still $1.1 million more than the current fiscal year. 

 

The first place cuts will be made are to insurance and workmen's comp.  The next year would be to put off new initiatives , including the purchase of a digital fingerprint scanner.  Cuts will then be made to sports gear, field trips and personnel.

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Bethel seeks volunteers for upcoming household hazardous waste drop-off day

Bethel is looking for some volunteers to work at the upcoming household hazardous waste drop-off day.  Each participating town is required to send a few volunteers to help provide information, check IDs and direct cars to the drop off points.  The collection day is May 20th, and will be held at the Newtown transfer station.  Volunteers do not handle or touch any hazardous materials; only the employees of the waste disposal contractor perform that task.  Bethel volunteers are asked to contact Kathy Galbis in the Department of Public Works office by calling 203-794-8549.

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Utility fire near 'Graffiti Bridge' closed road Saturday night

Brookfield firefighters responded to two back-to-back incidents late Saturday into the early morning hours yesterday.  There was a utility pole fire near the "Graffiti Bridge" at the intersection of Junction Road and Stony Hill Road.  The power was shut off by Eversource and the fire was extinguished quickly.  Firefighters then were called to North Mountain Road on a report of a rollover accident.  The single-car crash was called in around 1am.

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Simulated Mass Casualty Drill held this weekend in New Milford

A simulated Mass Casualty Drill was held this weekend in New Milford.  Members of Water Witch Hose company, Gaylordsville fire department, and New Milford Ambulance participated.  Officials say the simulated explosion, with multiple victims, allowed the departments to train and prepare.  Members of New Milford's CERT team acted as the victims.  Fire and EMS thanked Kimberly Clark for their hospitality during the event.

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Man charged for making sexual advances toward teen girl

 A Danbury man has been arrested for giving a 15-year old girl alcohol and making sexual advances toward her.  Danbury Police say 50-year old Richard Sherwood has been charged with risk of injury and permitting a minor to illegal possess liquor. 

 

An investigation was started in March by the Special Victims Unit on a reported complaint.  A warrant for Sherwood's arrested was granted earlier this month. 

 

He turned himself in to Danbury Police last week and posted $5,000 bond.  He is due in court on Thursday.

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Danbury man charged for alleged drug sales

A Danbury man is being held on $100,000 bond following his arrest last week on drug related charges.  Neighbor complaints of illegal drug sales in Danbury led police to investigate 41-year old Michael Wright and his Prince Street home. 

 

Search warrants were carried out last Wednesday when officers spotted Wright in the parking lot of a local fast food restaurant.  He was in possession of narcotics and placed under arrest.  A search of the man's car and his home turned up two pounds of marijuana, additional narcotics and drug paraphernalia. 

 

Wright was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, possession of a controlled substance within 1500 feet of a school, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell within 1500 feet of a school, possession of drug paraphernalia within 1500 feet of a school, possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of narcotics within 1500 feet of a school, and possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1500 feet of a school.

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Joel Barlow closed Monday due to plumbing issue

Joel Barlow High School in Redding is closed today because of a plumbing issue.  All other schools in the district are open as usual.  According to a post on the school's website, there is a broken pipe in the water treatment system.  There is no water pressure in the Joel Barlow building.

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Aquarion to conduct water main cleaning in Brookfield

Aquarion Water Company is starting a water main cleaning program today in Brookfield. The work will continue through Friday.  The water main cleaning is scheduled between 8am and 5pm. 

 

During that time, Aquarion customers may notice some discoloration in their water.  This discoloration results from the temporary disturbance of the water flow, which stirs up naturally-occurring minerals that settle in water mains.  Customers are encouraged to store tap water in the refrigerator ahead of time for drinking and cooking. If the water is discolored, customers should delay washing clothes until the water is clear.

Monday, May 15
Candlewood Lake Rd., Clover Ct., Dean Rd., Del Mar Dr., Federal Rd., Laurel Hill Rd., Meadow Brook Rd., N Mountain Rd., Oak Meadows Dr., Orchard St., Pocono Rd., Sandy Ln., Silvermine Rd., Station Rd.

 

Tuesday, May 16
Blackwood Rd., Deer Run Rd., Flax Hill Rd., Gereg Glenn Rd., Huckleberry Hill, Marilyn Rd., N Mountain Rd., Nature Ln., Oak Crest Dr., Old Hemlock Rd., Tommys Ln., Valley View Rd., Woodcreek Rd.

 

Wednesday, May 17
Boxwood Dr., Douglas Dr., Eastview Dr., Federal Rd., Knollcrest Dr., Ledgewood Dr., Pocono Rd., Pond View Dr., Production Dr., Silvermine Manor, Silvermine Rd., Stillwater Cir., Westview Ln., Whisconier Rd.

 

Thursday, May 18
Allen Rd., Bayberry Dr., Beech Tree Rd., Carriage Dr., Coach Dr., Deer Run Rd., Drover Rd., Els Hollow Rd., Greenridge Dr., Jackson Dr., Main Dr., Meadow Dr., Mist Hill Dr., Patricia Dr., Shirley Ct., Sulky Dr., Surrey Dr., Vista Dr.

 

Friday, May 19
Apache Dr., Arapaho Rd., Cherokee Dr., Greenridge Dr., Navaho Dr., Stage Rd.

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Bond money approved for Henry Abbott Tech improvements

State bond money has been approved for improvements at Henry Abbot Technical High School in Danbury.  Nearly $243,000 will be used for the construction of a six-bay garage and the installation of a panic button.  Transportation is one of the seven career clusters offered by the school, with instruction in automotive repair and collision repair and refinishing. 

 

State Representative David Arconti says the new garage will be an asset to the school, instructors and students as young people are trained for skilled, good paying jobs. 

 

Representative Bob Godfrey says technical high schools play an important role in preparing students for skilled careers in high demand industries.  He added that expanding the facilities at Henry Abbott will allow the school to provide high quality instruction to more students. 

 

Abbott Tech serves over 600 students from 18 different towns.

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New Fairfield residents approve a budget

New Fairfield residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year.  The $10.9 million town budget passed by a vote of 648 to 244, and the $40.9 million school budget passed by a vote of 640 to 254.

 

While there is no increase in spending, First Selectman Susan Chapman says taxes will be going up slightly because of projected cuts in state aid.  She says it's not even a status quo budget, because they had to take out a lot of money for road repair.  Chapman says New Fairfield has a good road repair program, and she would hate to see it fall behind.

 

Chapman says they will get through this year, but won't be able to maintain this kind of budget going forward

 

Town officials did not take into account Governor Malloy's proposal to move a third of teacher pension costs off onto municipalities.  They did plan for covering 100-percent of the resident state trooper costs among other changes proposed by the state.

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Eversource to pay for telephone pole relocation in Brookfield's Four Corners

Virtually all of the money Brookfield paid Eversource Energy to analyze the possibility of relocating utility lines underground in the Four Corners area, will be put to another use now that Brookfield has dropped the idea of burying the lines. 

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says Eversource officials have informed him that the approximately $220,000 will be applied by Eversource toward moving telephone poles.  Dunn says Brookfield would have had to move the poles anyway, so money wasn't wasted in studying the underground utility line idea. 

 

Brookfield dropped the plan because it would have been upwards of $15 million. 

 

Dunn says moving nine poles will be a lot work, because Eversource has to secure aerial easements from every property owner, noting that they just got sidewalks easements.

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Memorial service set for wife of ESPN broadcaster

CHESHIRE, Conn. (AP) - A memorial service has been set in Connecticut for the wife of longtime ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman.

Sixty-seven-year-old Katherine Ann Berman, of Cheshire, was killed in a two-vehicle traffic crash Tuesday afternoon in Woodbury.

The Hartford Courant reports that Berman's family is holding a memorial service for family and friends Wednesday at the Seymour St. John Chapel at Choate Rosemary Hall School in Wallingford. Berman's children attended the school.

The burial will be at the convenience of the family in Cheshire Hillside Cemetery.

Police say Katherine Ann Berman's car struck the rear of a driver's SUV and both veered off the road. Her car went down an embankment and overturned in a body of water. The other driver was also killed.

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Putnam County launches program to preserve military memories

Vet-Scan has been launched by Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell to bring military service memories and photos from veterans into the digital age.  It's a co-operative project with the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency, Historian’s Office, Southeast Museum and other volunteers. 

 

Veterans Service Agency Director Karl Rohde says securing military memories of the past for future generations is part and parcel to the work of the Putnam County Veterans Museum and the Putnam County Joint Veterans Council.  Local families with a military story are being invited to take advantage of a free offer to have old letters, photos and assorted military memories scanned so families do not lose their loved one’s story of service. 

 

Veterans and qualifying participants in Vet-Scan will be able to make appointments through the County Historian's Office and with other volunteers throughout the community to have their photos and items scanned and recorded which will then be stored on a memory device such as a USB or burned to a disk, free of charge. 

 

For more information on Vet-Scan, contact the Putnam County Historian’s office at 845-808-1420 or email historian@putnamcountyny.gov.

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New Fairfield budget referendum today

New Fairfield residents are voting on a budget today.

 

The municipal budget proposal is $10.9 million with the Board of Ed asking that voters approve a $40.9 million spending plan. 

 

There are no big projects being funded by the proposed plan.  The town will be doing some road repair work.  The Board of Ed is moving forward with some initiatives as well.  But First Selectman Susan Chapman says it's not the budget they would like to put forward. 

 

The spending plans were cut in order to work with anticipated reductions in state aide for the municipality and the school.  Among other things, Governor Malloy has proposed that municipalities cover 100-percent of the costs for the Resident State Trooper Program.

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Easton Police participating in K.I.D.S program

The Easton Police Department is now offering the Kids Identification Data System and is an official SafeKids Child Safety Seat inspection station.  The K.I.D.S program is sponsored by Yale New Haven Health, and provides emergency information of a child passenger.  Stickers are placed in the back window of a vehicle.  Easton Police say this gives emergency personnel vital information in the event the driver of the vehicle is unable to communicate.

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Women's Center looking for crisis intervention volunteers

The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury is looking for volunteers to perform crisis intervention at the center during business hours or from home when the center is closed.  The spring 2017 dual domestic violence and sexual assault certification program is a 48-hour class. 

 

The Women's Center is now accepting applications for the day and evening classes, which begin May 30th.  They are held through mid-June.  Applications are due by May 18. 

 

The Women's Center says they responded to more than 2,000 sexual assault and domestic violence hotline calls last fiscal year. 

 

Applicants must be at least 18 years old.  Male and bilingual volunteers are encouraged to apply.  There is a $50 fee to help defray the cost of the manual, with waivers available for qualified candidates.  A background check will be conducted.

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Bridge replacement projects in New Milford planned

The Westville Avenue Bridge over the East Aspetuck River in New Milford will be rehabilitated soon.  Mayor David Gronbach says a $1.1 million contract has been awarded to NJR Construction and is being for paid for with a LOCIP state grant.  A road closure will begin in June.  It's anticipated that the construction will be completed by the end of winter.  Abutments and the super structure have to be replaced.  The work is part of ongoing efforts to repair aging infrastructure in New Milford.  

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Petition filed about New Fairfield proposal to put herbicides in Candlewood Lake

A second petition has been filed in opposition to herbicides being used in Candlewood Lake in New Fairfield.  The Newstimes reports that a group calling itself “Candlewood Voices” wants a townwide vote whenever officials want to use chemicals in the lake. 

 

According to New Fairfield's ordinances, a petition garnering more than 20 signatures from registered voters must be discussed in a special meeting of the Board of Selectmen.  But that only happens if it's for a lawful purpose. 

 

The published report says that the Selectmen got a legal opinion stating that having votes on using chemicals in the lake could frustrate existing state regulations and infringe on the health director's authority.

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Two New Fairfield residents announce First Selectman, Selectman candidacies

The proposal in New Fairfield to use herbicides in Candlewood Lake to control invasive species has prompted two members of the Inlands and Wetlands Conservation Commission to run for higher office. 

 

The Newstimes reports that Commission chairman Pat Del Monaco plans to run for First Selectman, with Commission member Khris Hall running as Selectman.  The New Fairfield Democratic Town Committee has endorsed the candidacies. 

 

Del Monaco said in the published report that she is concerned over small businesses leaving town.  They are looking to improve the downtown shopping area.  She is a chemical engineer who previously worked at Unilever US. Hall is an environmental lawyer who worked at IBM for three decades.

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Health Club Guaranty Fund available to New Milford Sports Club members

Members of New Milford Sports Club who paid dues in advance could take advantage of a state fund to recover their money.  The state Department of Consumer Protection administers the Health Club Guaranty Fund in case a club closes down or moves. 

 

State Police arrested business owner Dominick Donofrio Jr at his Roxbury home earlier this week on behalf of the Department of Labor, which received more than 50 complaints from New Milford Sports Club employees about not being paid. 

 

When filing for reimbursement the consumer must include several pieces of information.

A completed Health Club Guaranty Fund application form, copy of the contract, copy of proof of payment for the membership and a receipt of payment.

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Danbury Police ID driver killed in rollover crash following police pursuit

Police have identified the driver killed in a crash in Danbury early Saturday morning that started as a police pursuit in Bethel. Danbury Police say 19-year old Joseph Edward Rothenbucher of Danbury was identified as the driver. 

 

His passenger, 18-year old Akeem Morris of Danbury, was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in the roll over crash. 

 

A Bethel officer tried to pull over the vehicle near Mansfield Street and Fleetwood Avenue, but the driver didn't stop.  Police say Rothenbucher accelerated at the Danbury city line and continued erratically.  The road was wet and the driver lost control on CoalPit Hill Road, rolling over and striking a tree. 

 

The Danbury Police Department is investigating the accident.

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Remington seeks to have Sandy Hook families appeal denied

A new filing has been sent to the Connecticut Supreme Court in the lawsuit brought by 10 families of Sandy Hook victims against Remington.  The gun maker is seeking to have the court deny an appeal by the families. 

 

A trial court judge dismissed the wrongful death suit in October. 

 

Federal law shields the gun industry from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products.  Remington disagrees with negligent entrustment arguments.

 

Remington argues that the Sandy Hook families are trying to hold the gun maker liable for actions of a criminal, but note that the manufacturing, distribution and sale of the AR-15-style rifle used on 12-14 were all lawful.

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New rules for ride-hailing companies clear Connecticut House

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Legislation creating rules for ride-hailing services for the first time in Connecticut has cleared the House of Representatives.

The bill passed Thursday on a 103-99 vote. It now moves to the Senate.

Both Uber and Lyft, which now operate unregulated in Connecticut, praised the bill which requires criminal background checks for drivers and $1 million in liability insurance coverage once a passenger gets in the vehicle.

If the bill clears the Senate and ultimately becomes law, Lyft says Connecticut will be the 43rd state to enact ride-sharing legislation.

Guilford Rep. Sean Scanlon, a Democrat, says the bill puts in place "some consumer protections I believe will keep Connecticut residents safe."

New Fairfield Rep. Richard Smith, a Republican, opposed the bill because of a $50,000 state registration fee for ride-hailing companies.

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Marjorie Reservoir walking trail in New Fairfield, Danbury studied

There's been a lot of interest in a walking trail along Marjorie Reservoir in Danbury and New Fairfield, and now the project is taking shape.  A walking trail along the reservoir side of Route 37 from Bear Mountain in Danbury to Saw Mill in New Fairfield is being studied. 

 

First Selectman Susan Chapman says this will promote a healthy lifestyle and be a win for both communities.

 

The path would not be on reservoir property, but on state property along Route 37.

 

The state Department of Transportation's Community Connectivity Program seeks to improve accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians in urban, suburban and rural community centers.  New Fairfield and Danbury were recently accepted into the Road Safety Audit program.  The process will identify safety issues and counter-measures to help improve safety. 

 

A field audit was conducted recently. 

 

 

The next step is a post-audit meeting.  Once that is completed, the municipalities will be provided with a report detailing the results and recommendations.

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Stamp Out Hunger food drive to be held Saturday by USPS

The 25th annual Letter Carrier Food Drive is being held Saturday.

 

The Stamp Out Hunger food drive takes place each year on the second Saturday of May because food banks are usually low headed into the summer season.  Most food drives are held around Thanksgiving so supplies are depleted.  Schools will also be out for the year soon and students won't have access to free or reduce priced meals.

 

Food drive coordinator Dennis Sideropoulous says 121,000 pounds of food was collected locally last year.

 

Non-perishable food items left in or near mailboxes Saturday will be picked up when mail is dropped off.  Bags were delivered to homes during the week for the collection. 

 

Danbury, Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, New Milford, Ridgefield, Redding and Wilton are among the area towns participating in the food drive.

 

Even though this is a national effort, all of the food collected locally gets distributed to local food banks.

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Mayor announces time for New Milford Sports Club members to get belongings

New Milford officials have worked out an agreement with the landlord of the now-closed New Milford Sports Club to allow members time to reclaim property left in lockers.  People must bring their membership cards to enter the building on Saturday between 10am and 2pm.  State Police arrested business owner Dominick Donofrio Jr at his Roxbury home earlier this week on behalf of the Department of Labor, which received more than 50 complaints from New Milford Sports Club employees about not being paid. 

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New Milford Police seek help identifying hit and run driver

New Milford Police are looking for the public's help in identifying a driver involved in a hit and run accident.  Police released photos yesterday of the suspect vehicle that crashed into another car Saturday May 6th in the parking lot of Thai Charm Restaurant on Kent Road.  The accident happened around 7pm and involved a dark colored Dodge Grand Caravan.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Deitz at 860-355-3133 or the anonymous TIPS Line at 860-355-2000.

 

 

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Ridgefield Police investigate suspected drug overdose death

Ridgefield Police are investigating a suspected drug overdose death.  A man was discovered in the driver's seat of a car in the parking lot of 15 Danbury Road around Tuesday night.  Police say the 22-year old's death is being investigated as a suspected overdose, but stressed that the cause of death is not yet known.  Police are waiting for a report from the Medical Examiner's Office.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the man was identified by the medical examiner's office as Chase Lasswell.

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State lawmakers consider changes to graduation requirements

The state Senate has approved a bill to overhaul graduation requirements, including to increase credits from 20 to 25, and the bill is now headed to the House.  Danbury state Representative Michael Ferguson, an adjunct professor at Naugatuck Valley Community College, says a lack of funding makes implementation of the requirements unrealistic. 

 

He says the educational advancements behind the Race to the Top program were well-intended, but without proper state funding it would further stress school districts finances. 

 

The changes to graduation requirements were ordered as part of a broad ruling by a judge in a funding fairness lawsuit.  That suit is being appealed to the state Supreme Court.  

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Police save drowning disabled man

A drowning disabled man has been rescued by New York State Police.  Troopers were flagged down by a surveyor working on Route 22 in Southeast yesterday afternoon, who reported that someone was swimming in the pond near Doansburg Road. 

 

Troopers went to conduct a welfare check and could only see ripples on the water.  Sgt John Hennigan, a 23-year veteran of the State Police, and Trooper Jason Kim, whose been on the job for 2 years, entered the frigid water and saw the victim submerged, face down. 

 

The pair were able to bring the 40-year old victim to shore and administered first aid until an ambulance arrived.  The man was conscious and semi-alert, and transported to Danbury Hospital. 

 

The victim had been reported missing moments earlier from Hudson Valley Cerebral Palsy Association, and their staff was actively attempting to locate him. 

 

State Police are crediting the surveyor's alertness for helping to save the disabled man.

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Danbury Zoners approve OTB as acceptable use in restaurants

The Danbury Zoning Commission has approved a zone change to allow for an off track betting facility on the 2nd floor of Two Steps.  The panel decided on a vote of 6-3 that OTB can be an accessory use in a restaurant.  Commissioners Haddad, James Kelly, and Angela Hylenski voted in opposition.

 

Only 18 OTB licenses are allowed statewide.  Sportech Venues has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and would provide 1.6 percent of gross revenue to City Center. 

 

The Danbury Planning Commission previously issued a positive recommendation.  The specific site proposal now moves to the City Council.  The state Department of Consumer Protection Gaming Division must also inspect and approve the facility before operations can begin.

 

Zoning Commission Chairman Rob Melillo says there were only two determining factors that they needed to consider before voting.  One was whether or not this would be consistent with land use policies in the Plan of Conservation and Development.  The other was whether or not this use would detrimentally impact the health, safety, and welfare of the public.

 

Commissioner Ted Haddad Junior was concerned that the state government would be too involved and could dictate any changes to OTB.  He says Sportech has a monopoly and therefore an unfair advantage over every other restaurant in Danbury.  Haddad noted that he would have the same issue with a monopoly on something besides gambling.

 

If the state were to decide in the future to allow Sportech or other venues to introduce slot machines, Melillo says applicants would have to apply for another text change.

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Bethel breaks ground for new police station

Ground has been broken on a new police station in Bethel. 

 

(Photo: Bethel PD)

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says even though it's near the school complex, construction won't impact the end of the year.  The site is adjacent to the upper parking lot of Bethel High School.  Knickerbocker says just one adjustment had to be made.  The cross country course was rerouted around the site.

 

The driveway for the new facility would be on Judd Avenue with an emergency entrance on Route 302. 

 

The project will more than double the size of the current police station, built in 1974.  The building will feature a bigger lobby, a shooting range, and a training room. 

 

It's expected to take 14 to 18 months to complete construction.

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Republicans question whether tolls will generate any revenue

Democratic and Republican legislative leaders are voicing opposing views on the issue of bringing back tolls to Connecticut highways.  Democratic leaders say tolls are inevitable and not as unpopular with the public as critics claim. 

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says there's no evidence they'll generate revenue for the state's transportation needs.  She called them just another tax on the already overburdened taxpayer.  Boucher says the toll tax would impact 70-percent more of the Connecticut public than those coming through the state.

 

All 18 Republican Senators oppose a return to tolls, exactly half the Senate.

 

Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz says he believes tolls ``are inevitable at some point'' and will come up during budget negotiations.

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Police: Suspect had 1,200 bags of heroin in his car

WATERTOWN, Conn. (AP) Connecticut police arrested a man, and armed with a warrant, seized 1,200 bags of heroin from his car. Watertown police say they had been searching for the suspect since December 2016 for the sale of narcotics, eventually locating him in nearby Waterbury.

The Hartford Courant reports the suspect was found with four cellphones, marijuana and about $6,000 in cash. Alongside the 1,200 bags of heroin found in the car, police also found pills, 41 grams of an unidentified powder and a personal naloxone kit. Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, is used to treat opioid overdoses.

Police estimate the drugs found were worth up to $8,000.

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Local members of Congress react to FBI Director's firing

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says he's deeply troubled by President Trump's firing of FBI Director Comey in the middle of a investigation into possible links and connections between Trump, his campaign and associates and Russia. 

 

Himes says the investigated has just fired the investigator.  Himes is calling for an independent prosecutor.  He added that in this situation, the interference appears political.  Himes says this adds to a narrative of deception, denial and obfuscation.

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says the firing sets the nation on course for a constitutional crisis.  She says the American people cannot have confidence in an FBI investigation that bears on President Trump after the President himself handpicks the FBI’s new director.  She also called for a special prosecutor.

 

Esty questioned the timing, noting that the FBI just began issuing subpoenas, and it came two days before the FBI Director was due to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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Horse care ordinance considered in Ridgefield

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen will consider an ordinance tonight about the proper care of horses.  A public hearing on the proposal is set for tonight.  It calls for a minimum land requirement of 1.5 acres for one horse, and a half an acre more for each additional horse.  Enclosures, fencing and distance from neighboring properties are also outlined in the draft ordinance.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the ordinance stemmed from neighbor complaints on Lewis Drive and Manor Road about three horses in a residential area on Manor Road.

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Danbury murder trial continues after 3 week delay

The murder trial against a Bridgeport man accused of shooting an alleged rival gang member in Danbury in 2014 continued this week.  The trial of Garfield Sanderson was on break for 3 weeks because his public defender was hospitalized.  The Newstimes reports that Michael Courtney tried to introduce a video showing someone rifling through the victim's pockets after he was shot.  The Judge reportedly couldn't make out what was on the tape and did not admit it as evidence.  Sanderson testified that he fired in self defense, but no witness said the victim, Jeiel Kingston, had a gun.  Sanderson's attorney argued that the video fit with a gun not being found on Kingston.

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New Milford gets rebate on RX insurance coverage

New Milford Mayor David Gronbach says the Town has been issued a check for $58,492.  It's a rebate from prescription drug insurance coverage.  He expects this rebate to increase next year because New Milford officials negotiated more favorable terms for prescription coverage going forward.

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Two people, including Wife of ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman, killed in Woodbury crash

A car accident in Woodbury has claimed two lives.  State Police say 87-year old Edward Bertulis of Waterbury was rear ended on Sherman Hill Road in Woodbury by 67-year old Katherine Ann Berman of Cheshire.  His car crashed into a utility pole and landed in the center of the road on its roof. 

 

Berman's car continued off the roadway, down an embankment and overturned into a small body of water.  She was pronounced dead at the scene. 

 

Bertulis was initially transported to the hospital with serious life-threatening injuries.  He later succumbed to those injuries. 

 

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

 

Berman was the wife of longtime ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman.  ESPN President John Skipper issued the followin statement: 

 

"We know how much his family means to him and all we can do at a moment like this is give him the love and support he will surely need at this hour. Our thoughts and prayers are with Chris, Meredith, Doug and the entire family."

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Ridgefield residents approve budget, capital items

The Ridgefield municipal and school budgets along with all of the capital items on the ballot were approved yesterday.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says he anticipates a state grant will cover all expenditures for the Branchville transit infrastructure improvement appropriation. 

 

There was a 13-percent voter turnout yesterday.  Marconi says when it comes to the local budget vote, where it directly impacts the level of taxes, there's poor voter turnout.  During state and municipal elections it's about 45-to-55 percent participation and jumps to 80-percent for federal elections.

 

Money for fuel tank replacement was approved.  The state ordered the tanks replaced in March, bumping up the town's plans from next year to this year.  The price tag includes about 77,000 for a temporary fueling system.  During a monthly check, as the depot reached its life expectancy, it was that there was no spillage from underground fuel tanks.  

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New Milford Sports Club owner taken into custody by State Police

The owner of the New Milford Sports Club has been arrested by state police on behalf of the Department of Labor.  Troopers found Dominick Donofrio Jr at his Roxbury home. 

 

The Department of Labor received more than 50 complaints from New Milford Sports Club employees about not being paid, or having the checks bounce. 

 

The Newstimes reports that the facility has been closed since last week, after an inspection by the New Milford Health Department found a lack of hot water.  The Department of Consumer Protection is looking into the matter on behalf of club members. 

 

There is also an ongoing court case by the property owner to evict the club owners.   

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SEEC ruling issued on Bethel Water Department mailing

A decision has been made on the complaint against several Bethel officials to the State Elections Enforcement Commission.  The agency found that the First Selectmen, two selectmen and two Public Utilities Commissioners violated state law when they sent out a letter encouraging residents to approve funding for water system upgrades.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker told the Newstimes that money from the Public Utilities Commission--supported by water system customers--was used for the mailer about the recent water system upgrade referendum.

 

The SEEC did not fine the officials. 

 

Bethel Action Committee members Cynthia McCorkindale and Billy Michael filed the complaint last fall.  McCorkindale told the publication that she requested in her complaint that the commission not fine the officials in order to protect taxpayers.

 

Knickerbocker responded to resident questions on Facebook about the ruling.  He gave background about the water system upgrades saying that toxic chemicals had been found in some parts of the Bethel water system and a temporary fix was put in place to ensure clean water. 

 

Without the upgrades, Knickerbocker says Bethel water would not always meet state health standards.  He also cited the Flint, Michigan debacle as prompting enormous concern.  The utility department obtained a state low-interest loan for the upgrades, at no cost to taxpayers.  Due to the way Bethel's Charter is written, a full referendum was required to accept the loan.

 

The letter which was the subject of the SEEC filing said that "...voters will be asked to approve..." borrowing the funds. The SEEC  ruling said that the funds used to pay for the mailing are still considered public funds because the water department is owned by the town.

 

Knickerbocker believes the expanded definition ill make it harder in the future for the utilities commission to communicate to Bethel voters in cases like this. 

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Danbury company makes Forbes list of best companies to work for

Danbury-based Praxair has been named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 500 best companies to work for in the United States. Praxair has been recognized by Forbes since the list's inception in 2015.

Praxair was ranked seventh in its category – Construction, Oil & Gas Operations, Mining and Chemicals – and 203rd overall.  17 companies from Connecticut made the list. 

 

Praxair officials say the recognition is even more rewarding as it comes, in large part, from the opinions of employees, as well as those in the industry.

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Walking School Bus event to be held in Danbury

A coalition of community partners is taking part in a “Walking School Bus” today for students at two Danbury schools, to highlight the benefits of walking to school.

Children, parents, and volunteers will gather at 7:30 am at Danbury City Hall to make the approximately one-mile walk to their schools, picking up other children at stops along the way and carrying a banner that promotes school pride at the event.

The event has expanded to include South Street Elementary School, whose students will join the event with their peers from Park Avenue School.

The United Way's Strong Start Neighborhood Initiative at Park Avenue School provides support and funding for playgroups, workshops, an outreach worker, and other activities that promote school readiness and success in the early elementary grades. The regular walking school bus routes are part of this initiative. 

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New Milford man charged after showing gun during road rage incident

A New Milford man has been arrested for a road rage incident.  New York State Police received a report of a driver pointing what appeared to be a gun at another motorist Monday night. 

 

Troopers responded to Interstate 684 in the North Salem area and located the suspect vehicle near exit 8.  An investigation determined that 28-year old Alison Fritsche displayed a black BB gun that closely resembled an actual 9mm handgun. 

 

He was ordered to appear in court on May 22nd.  Fritsche was charged with menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.

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Psychic's prediction comes true for CT Lottery's newest millionaire

The state's newest millionaire is a New Milford woman, and the event was predicted by her psychic.  Carolyn O’Brien won the $3,000,000 Royale from the Connecticut Lottery and opted to take the lump sum. 

 

O'Brien says she didn't know what to think of the fortune telling years ago, and as she was almost out the door the psychic suddenly grabbed her arm.  The psychic saw her with a check in her hand cheering ‘I did it!’

 

When she picked up the check, O'Brien told the Connecticut Lottery that the pressure is off to pay her kids' college tuitions and the mortgage.  As she left, she smiled and shouted, “BEST DAY EVER—I DID IT!”

 


For selling the winning ticket, AARI Foods Inc. on New Milford Turnpike in New Preston will receive a $30,000 check from the Connecticut Lottery.

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Ridgefield officials receive applications for Fire Chief position

Nearly a dozen people have applied to be the next Ridgefield Fire Chief.  A joint meeting of the Selectmen and FIre Commission is being held tomorrow night to look at the applications.  The Ridgefield Press reports that 10 were received.  Chief Kevin Tappe retired this year after a document, released by the town in response to Freedom of Information requests, suggested that he showed up to a fire scene intoxicated.  

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State lawmakers continue to consider bills allowing expanded casino gaming

A key legislative committee advanced a bill yesterday that would allow the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to build a third casino.  The bill now moves to the Senate for further action.  An alternative proposal being considered would create a competitive bidding process, and is supported by the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. 

 

Chief Richard Velky says a fair and open process is needed. 

 

The Schaghticokes are not federally recognized and want to open a commercial casino on non-tribal land.  If they were federally recognized, like the Mashantuckets and the Mohegans, the Schaghticokes would be able to have a federally regulated tribal casino on their Kent reservation.

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Library will auction off vintage Porsche in fundraiser

KENT, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut library is bringing back its car auction fundraiser with some flair.

The Republican-American reports that Kent Memorial Library is auctioning a 1998 Porsche Boxster convertible. Co-President of the Kent Library Association Jim Blackketter says the auctions are popular.

Proceeds of the auction will benefit the library's budget. The library gets 70 percent of its income from fundraising, so auctions like these are important.

Residents can also enter the raffle to win theater tickets from the Sharon Playhouse.

Tickets for the Porsche go on sale this month. A drawing will be held during the Kent Pumpkin Run on Oct. 29.

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Budget referendum in Ridgefield today

Ridgefield residents are deciding on seven items in a referendum vote today.  The municipal budget is proposed at $47 million.  The proposed Education budget is $92.6 million.  Capital improvement projects are also being decided.  The budget represents a 1.92 mill rate increase.

 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi is encouraging people to vote today.  If residents don't have a ride to the polls, he asked that they call town hall so one can be arranged.

 

Residents are being asked to approve $1.84 million for road and infrastructure improvement. 

 

$900,000 for Branchville transit infrastructure improvements will be decided.  It's anticipated that state grants will cover all expenditures under the appropriation.  Marconi says this money will not be spent if the grant is not received.

 

Funding for public works items are on the ballot.  That resolution includes $182,882 for a highway Mack Truck, $170,805 for a John Deere loader, $235,000 for an Ambulance and $400,000 for the replacement fuel tanks. 

 

Ridgefield officials are also seeking approval for $950,000 to repair water and structural damage to the Recreation Center.

 

The last item on the ballot deals with items for the schools.  $378,770 for school energy conservation measures, which is expected to result in $78,857 of incentive savings.  Marconi says this is the third phase of the project with Eversource.  Once this part of the work is done, the town will receive a check for $250,000.  The question also deals with $550,000 for a school phone system upgrade and $106,000 for school sidewalk and curbing repairs are being considered.  

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New Fairfield suspicious death ruled a homicide

The State Medical Examiner's Office says a woman who was found dead in a New Fairfield home last week was killed by blunt impact to the head.  The 55-year old woman's manner of death has been ruled a homicide.  State Police have not officially identified the woman.  A 32-year old man, Steven Flood, was arrested on a larceny charge last week for being in possession of her car.  The Newstimes reports that a prosecutor noted during Flood's arraignment that he was the main suspect in the death of Susan Guido.  He was reportedly living with the woman in the Candlewood Road home.  Flood is due in court June 2nd.  

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Maine priest removed after sex abuse accusation

WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) - A Roman Catholic priest in Waterville, Maine, has been removed following allegations of sexual abuse against a minor more than a decade ago in Connecticut.

The Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn, New York, said Monday the Rev. Larry Jensen was permanently removed from the ministry because of the claim. The vicar general, Michael Thomas, told the Morning Sentinel that the action followed after he became aware of the allegation last week.

 

The vicar general said the alleged abuse victim, a male, “was close to 18 but not 18” when the 62-year old Jensen was a priest at St. Anthony Maronite Catholic Church in Danbury.  The vicar general said he does not know who the accuser is and he does not think any legal action has been taken so far on the accuser’s behalf.

The 62-year-old Jensen had served at St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church in Waterville for a decade

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Danbury school officials warn of so-called social media Blue Whale Challenge

The Danbury School District is warning parents about the so-called Blue Whale Challenge on social media.  Daily tasks are assigned over 50 days, gradually getting more extreme.  The challenges range from watching horror movies to self-harming.  On the 50th day, students are reportedly instructed to commit suicide. 

 

Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella sent a letter home warning about the meme or game that students in other countries have been exposed to since last year, saying when it comes to the well-being of children they can never be too careful.  The Blue Whale Challenge is now showing up on computers at schools in the region. 

 

Danbury school officials haven't been informed of any students who have taken their life because of this challenge.  Faculty and staff are checking school computers and speaking with students to make sure they are not involved or influenced. 

 

Pascarella asked parents that if they have additional information about the game or know of any students who may be involved, to contact the school counselors so that they can offer help.

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Danbury-based company to install fuel cell plant at U.S. sub base

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy has received a letter of intent from the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative, on behalf of its municipal owners, for a long-term supply of 7.4 megawatts of power. 

 

FuelCell officials say this will provide market-based on-site power for a strategic U.S. military facility served by Groton Utilities, a CMEEC owner.  FuelCell says this project structure enables CMEEC to serve the U.S. Submarine Base with clean and predictable on-site power that enhances resiliency, while avoiding a capital investment in the power plant through the use of a power purchase agreement.

 

Contract execution is expected by summer 2017. 

 

CMEEC is owned by six municipal utilities: Groton Utilities, Norwich Public Utilities, Jewett City Department of Public Utilities, Bozrah Light and Power, South Norwalk Electric and Water and Norwalk Third Taxing District.

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Fatal roll over crash in Danbury started as police pursuit in Bethel

A fatal roll over crash in Danbury early Saturday morning started as a police pursuit in Bethel.  An officer tried to pull over the vehicle near Mansfield Street and Fleetwood Avenue, but the driver didn't stop.  Police say the driver, who has not yet been identified, accelerated at the Danbury city line and continued erratically. 

 

The road was wet and the driver lost control on CoalPit Hill Road, rolling over and striking a tree.  Both Bethel and Danbury firefighters responded to the scene and needed multiple Jaws of Life tools to extricate the occupants. 

 

(Photo: Bethel Fire & EMS, Facebook)

 

The driver was later pronounced dead at the hospital.  The passenger, who also has not yet been identified, was also transported to Danbury Hospital. 

 

The Danbury Police Department is investigating the accident.

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Congresswoman Esty holds town hall forum in Bethel

As Team 26 arrived in Newtown from their bike ride up from Washington DC, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty was in Bethel for a Town Hall forum.  The annual ride honors the 26 killed at Sandy Hook School and all other gun violence victims. 

 

She was asked about gun violence prevention legislation.  She said it's not about whether there's overwhelming public support for measures like universal background checks, it's about the party in control.  Esty notes that the majority party gets to decide what bills are called for a vote. 

 

A number of other topics were covered.  Esty said this country can't build a 21st century economy on mid-20th century infrastructure, and she's hoping to make progress on getting funding to make improvements. 

 

Esty also said it's looking favorable for getting brownfields legislation approved this session.

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Danbury Detective to be added to Law Enforcement Memorial

The Connecticut Police Chief's Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation will be adding Danbury Police Detective William Hull Sr. to their Memorial for his line-of-duty related death.  Hull joined the Danbury Police Department in December 1969 and was made Detective in June 1979.  He retired from the Danbury Police Department in 1986.  Hull passed away on September 8, 2015 as a direct result of an injury sustained while on duty. 

 

Officer Hull was on motor patrol duty one day in August 1978 when he was flagged down by a man, who was bleeding heavily, on Beaver Brook Road.  The man was outside a house that had flames shooting out from it.  Hull called the fire department and an ambulance. He then administered first aid to the injured 18-year old.  They tried to retrieve a dog from the house, but were hit with heavy black smoke. 

 

Neighbors helped move the man's car away from the house.  Officer Hull ran through the smoke again so he could meet responding fire and ambulance units.  When Officer Hull began coughing heavily and felt pressure in his chest, he was given first aid on the scene.  He then drove himself to Danbury Hospital where he received additional treatment for smoke inhalation. 

 

He was out of work for several days before returning to his regular duties. Detective Hull eventually retired due to ongoing health injuries related to this incident. 

 

Detective William Hull will be honored as a Connecticut Line of Duty Death at the Foundation's Dinner at the Aqua Turf tonight. 

 

On May 23rd,  Detective Hull will be remembered for the first time since he passed away in 2015 at the Danbury Police Department Memorial and Awards Day.  Detective Hull will be memorialized for the first time and his name added to the Connecticut Law Enforcement Memorial during Connecticut Law Enforcement Memorial Day at the CT Police Academy May 24th.

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Ridgefield Police Department designated 'e-commerce safe zone'

The Ridgefield Police Department is now an e-commerce safe zone.  Police officials are inviting anyone looking for a neutral location to conduct e-commerce transactions to use the front parking lot of police headquarters or the front lobby.  Law enforcement agencies across the country are establishing safe trading zones as a way to allow for safer transactions for local residents.

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Bethel Registrars teach high schoolers about registering, election cycles

Members of the Bethel Registrar's office met with Bethel High School Seniors Friday to talk about registering to vote and how to obtain an absentee ballot when they are away at college or in the service.  They also outlined the voting cycles for federal, state and municipal elections along with the budget referendum, party affiliation deadlines and primaries.  In the past three weeks the Registrar's Office has approved 36 new voter registrations and updated about a dozen voter registration data for residents who moved to Bethel, changed their name and or made other changes.

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New professional group holds kick off event in downtown Danbury

A group for Danbury-area professionals looking to create a positive impact in the community has been formed by CityCenter Danbury.  Their mission is to promote the economic, cultural, and social vitality of Downtown Danbury. 

 

As their kick-off event, Get Downtown volunteered during Clean City Danbury Day over the weekend. The group volunteered to pick up litter throughout the Still River area. 

 

 

(Photo: CityCenter Director PJ Prunty)

 

Get Downtown aims to bring a broad cross-section of collaboration from the many agencies and organizations throughout the greater Danbury area to benefit Downtown Danbury. It is led by members of CityCenter Danbury, downtown business owners, residents of Downtown Danbury and various members of the community ranging from lawyers, real estate agents, insurance agents, State representatives, marketing professionals, and small business owners.

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Man doing yard work struck by car in Danbury

A man doing yard work off Osborne Street in Danbury yesterday was struck by a car.  Danbury Fire official say a minivan left the roadway, hit the man and then struck a utility pole.  The minivan had run up on an embankment when it struck the pole and was leaning precariously with the driver inside of it.  The car was stabilized and the driver extricated.  The man and the driver were transported to Danbury Hospital.  Osborne Street was closed for about an hour.

 

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Danbury launches tick-testing program

The Danbury Health and Human Services Department has started a program that allows residents to submit ticks to the Health Department for identification and testing for Lyme Disease. 

 

City Health Director Lisa Michelle Morrissey says an alarming number of residents in the state suffer from the effects of tick-borne Lyme Disease each year. 

 

Ticks will only be accepted from Danbury residents.  The state Agricultural Experiment Station is authorized to test ticks submitted by local health departments.  All results will be communicated in writing to the submitter.  Morrissey says this is mostly for peace of mind for the resident, not necessarily to track where the tick is found and put up warnings.

 

Morrissey says they've considered collecting location data of what part of the City they are found.  But she noted that it would be part of a much larger program, implemented at a later date.

 

There will be a small fee to defray the administrative cost of the program.  That fee is $5, which will also cover the repackaging of the tick to send to the state.

 

The Agricultural Experiment Station doesn't currently charge a fee, but Morrissey cautioned that they may change the policy because of the state's fiscal problems.  If the Agricultural Experiment Station does start charging for the program, Morrissey would not have to come back to the Council for approval of a higher fee charged by Danbury to cove that cost because of the way approval was written.

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Blumenthal hosts town hall meeting in Danbury

Senator Richard Blumenthal held a town hall meeting in Danbury over the weekend.  Wide ranging topics were covered, but most prominent were health care and immigration.  Blumenthal says federal immigration officials are no longer focusing on deporting just undocumented immigrants with criminal records.  He gave the example of two Connecticut residents with paperwork issues.

 

Blumenthal says it's unacceptable to move forward in a partisan way on health care.  He says the House bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, based on reaction of his Republican colleagues.

 

Some senators cite concerns about potential higher costs for older people and those with pre-existing conditions, along with cuts to Medicaid.

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Bethel First Selectman announces reelection bid

Bethel First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker and Selectman Richard Straiton have announced their intention to run for reelection in November.  Both were elected to their current positions in 2009 and are completing their fourth term of office.  In making the announcement, the pair pointed to several recent accomplishments including replacing the police station, securing approval to install the area's first municipal solar farm and renovations to the town's aging water system. 

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UPDATED: Car accident snaps utility pole, Padanaram reopend day later

Padanaram Road in Danbury remained closed near Elmer's Diner early Sunday morning after a single car crash closed the road Saturday afternoon.  The vehicle hit a utility pole, snapping it in half.  Eversource Energy remains on the scene making repairs through at least 2pm.  The driver involved in the accident was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in the crash.

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Sherman residents approve budget, septic ordinance

Sherman residents have approved a budget.  The town budget was approved 416 to 96. 

 

The school portion is flat, while municipal spending is up.  That's to anticipate costs from having to pay 100-percent of the Resident State Trooper program. 

 

First Selectman Clay Cope says that cost-shift alone added $45,140 or an increase of 25.6% to that line in the budget.

 

First Selectman Clay Cope says even though there is a spending increase, property taxes won't go up because of grand list growth and renegotiated bonds resulting in a debt-costs savings. 

 

The Board of Education budget was approved on a vote of 389 to 123.  Voters also narrowly approved the Septic Ordinance, 298 to 208.

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Budget referendum in Sherman today

Sherman residents are voting on a budget today.  The proposed $14.7 million budget is a less than 1-percent increase over the current year.  The school portion is flat, while municipal spending is up.  That's to anticipate costs from having to pay 100-percent of the Resident State Trooper program. 

 

First Selectman Clay Cope says that cost-shift alone added $45,140 or an increase of 25.6% to that line in the budget.

 

Cope says even though there is a spending increase, property taxes won't go up because of grand list growth and renegotiated bonds resulting in a debt-costs savings. 

 

The Board of Selectmen agreed to fund the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department’s entire request for additional funds for equipment, supplies, education, and radios.  An increase of 5% or $7,500 was made to the Sherman Library. The Candlewood Lake Authority was funded at their full request of $77,800, or an increase of 1.3%.

 

Today's vote is at Charter Hall on Route 39.

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Bridgewater girl headed to national Invention Convention

A Bridgewater girl is headed to the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo next month.  Burnham School 3rd grader Giselle Bazos won the regional invention competition at Western Connecticut State University and went on to be named a state finalist for her idea.  It's a wristband to carry a retainer, when not in use.  The national event June 1st through 3rd is being held at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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Danbury City Councilman critical of budget for next fiscal year

The Danbury City Council approved a budget this week for the coming fiscal year.  While he called it a balanced budget with only incremental tax and spending increases, Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi voted against it.  He said budgeting is not done year by year, but something that must be looked at with long term goals in mind.  Saadi raised concerns over the years with new positions, department restructuring, new offices and certain policies.  He also questioned mid-year raises and some savings that were stated would occur over time.  He did express appreciation to his fellow Council members, who are all volunteers, for the many hours put into reviewing the budget plan.

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Law Enforcement Memory Garden unveiled at WCSU

A Law Enforcement Memory Garden has been unveiled at Western Connecticut State University.  Justice and Law Society students voted to create a law enforcement memory garden for the area they adopted as part of the university’s adopt-a-spot program.

 

The garden will have a small law enforcement memorial flag in place for each law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.  The garden also features a marble stone with an inscription, and landscaping with flowers. 

 

The memorial garden is at the Alumni Clock outside the Classroom Building on the university’s Westside campus in Danbury.  Police departments from the university, Ridgefield and Danbury attended the unveiling ceremony this week.

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Man accused of killing dog during domestic incident while children were home

A Danbury man who killed a small dog while his two children were home has been arrested.  Danbury Police responded to an Osborne Street home shortly before 8:30 Thursday night on a report of a domestic disturbance. 

 

Police say 39-year old Texeira DeSouza had gotten into a physical altercation with his spouse.  Before leaving the house, he assaulted and killed the dog.  DeSouza was found at a fiend’s home, and was taken into custody without incident. 

 

He was charged with strangulation, disorderly conduct, assault, threatening, cruelty to animals and two counts of risk of injury to a minor.  He was held on $25,000 bond.

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Paramedic charged for allegedly stealing EMS tool

A Trumbull EMS employee, who also worked for the Danbury-Newtown EMS, has been arrested for stealing a piece of equipment.  Trumbull Patch reports that 32-year old George Previs was only on the job a short time and accused of the theft in February.  Trumbull Police say Previs used the equipment with the EMS service which doesn't carry that tool.  It was found in his home and Patch reports that he told police he accidentally brought it home.  Previs was charged last week and due in court Monday on a larceny charge.

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Ridgefield Police collect 30lbs unwanted medications during Rx Take Back Day

The Ridgefield Police Department collected more than 30 pounds of unused, unwanted medications during Saturday's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.  Ridgefield Police have a collection box at the police station, accessible 24 hours a day, and the Ridgefield Press reports that 221 pounds have been collected this year.  After weighing and reporting to the DEA, Ridgefield Police send the medications to a facility for incineration.

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Danbury school nurse to be honored May 10

A Danbury school nurse has been recognized by the Association of School Nurses of Connecticut.  Ellen Calle, nurse at Great Plain Elementary School, was named a Peer Leader and will be honored at the group's spring meeting next week.  The meeting is May 10th, which is also National School Nurses Day.  Prior to becoming a school nurse, Calle worked in medical surgery, and labor and delivery before staying home to raise her three children.  She's been a school nurse for 20 years.  She serves as president of the nurse’s union.

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Firefighters pull car from Lake Zoar in Monroe

A car ended up in Lake Zoar in Monroe Wednesday night.  Stevenson Volunteer firefighters responded to the boat ramp and determined that there were no injuries and no entrapment.  Crews secured the vehicle and assisted the towing company with removing it from the water.

 

 

(Stevenson Fire Company, Facebook)

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Person of interest in New Fairfield suspicious death found with victim's car

A 32-year old man has been identified as a person of interest in the suspicious death of a woman in New Fairfield Tuesday.  State Police say a Trooper and his K9 partner located Steven Flood camping in the woods in the Town of Union yesterday afternoon.  

 

Flood was charged with larceny for being in possession of the victim's car.  He has no known current address and cooperated with police.  

 

He was transported to Troop L in Litchfield where he was held on $100,000 bond.  Flood will be arraigned in Danbury Superior Court today. 

 

New Fairfield Resident Trooper constables had responded to a Candlewood Road home Tuesday morning to conduct a well-being check.  Officers forced entry into the home and found a woman dead.  During the investigation, a person of interest was developed. 

 

Detectives from the Eastern District Major Crime Squad checked several addresses in their jurisdiction for that person, later identified as Flood.

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Lawmakers react to federal health care bill

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman says she's organizing a bipartisan working group to examine how the Republican health care bill that cleared the U.S. House of Representatives could affect Connecticut. Wyman says 800,000 residents on Medicaid and 100,000 using the exchange could be affected by the federal legislation, which now moves to the U.S. Senate. She says Connecticut, which is grappling with budget deficits, could lose $1 billion a year in federal funds under the bill.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has voted against the American Health Care Act.  He was critical of the tax cut for the wealthiest Americans included in the bill.  Himes believes the measure also makes getting insurance harder, or even impossible, for poor or sick individuals or families.  He plans to put forward policy suggestions that will benefit the health of families--saying he will take his sadness and turn it into action.

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty reacted to House passage of a new health care bill.  She says  people who are struggling with addiction or mental illness will likely not get the vital care they need under this bill.  Esty acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act had problems, but had been urging Congress to work together to fix it.  She called the new health care bill a moral and economic disgrace. 

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Ground breaking set for new Bethel police station

Ground will be broken in Bethel next Wednesday for the new police station.  Construction will begin May 15th.  The project is expected to wrap up by next summer.

 

The current police station was constructed in 1974.  The driveway for the new facility would be on Judd Avenue with an emergency entrance on Route 302.

 

The project will more than double the size of the current police station on Plumtrees Road and include a bigger lobby, a shooting range, a community room, and a training room.  The two story building also will house locker rooms, a physical therapy room, six holding cells and rooms for processing arrestees. The main floor could include the dispatch center, records department, a classroom and offices.

 

Residents approved $13.5 million for the project. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the Building Committee and Police personnel who were in charge of the planning process did a very thorough job.  He noted that they visited other police stations designed by the architect to ask if there was anything they would have done differently and if the layout worked like they thought it would.

 

Knickerbocker says adjustments were made during the planning process, which should save costs because there aren't any change orders anticipated.

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Kenosia Avenue bridge replacement project will close road Monday

Part of Kenosia Avenue will be closed Monday as the City gets ready for a bridge replacement project.  Alternating one-way traffic will start Tuesday.  The alternate traffic flow will be controlled by a signal system.  Officials hope to allow alternating one way traffic on weekends.

 

One side of the bridge will be repaired at a time in order to avoid a project-long closure.  But Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola cautioned that, during certain times, the bridge will be completely closed to traffic to safely perform the replacement work.

 

The repair project will take about four months.

 

Delays should be expected during the construction period.   City officials are urging people to avoid Kenosia Avenue during the work.

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Esty introduces bill to overhaul VA benefit appeals process

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has introduced legislation to overhaul the current appeals process at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  She says nearly half a million veterans are in limbo because of the VA's existing backlog.  The legislation creates three separate paths for veterans to choose when seeking redress from a decision by the Veterans Benefits Administration on their claims for VA benefits.  Esty is calling for dramatically shortening the average wait time for an appeal from five years to 125 days.

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Danbury one of the country's most diverse cities

Danbury is the 4th most diverse small city in the country.  Wallethub has once again ranked cities based on socioeconomic, cultural, economic, household and religious diversity.  Danbury was 13th overall among the 500 cities studied. 

 

Diversity in Danbury (1=Most Diverse; 250=Avg.)

  • 68th – Income Diversity
  • 118th – Educational-Attainment Diversity
  • 117th – Racial & Ethnic Diversity
  • 15th – Linguistic Diversity
  • 128th – Birthplace Diversity
  • 139th – Industry Diversity
  • 116th – Occupational Diversity
  • 254th – Worker-Class Diversity
  • 110th – Age Diversity
  • 222nd – Household-Type Diversity
  • 90th – Household-Size Diversity

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Two WCSU students named winners of Barnard Award

Western Connecticut State University seniors Evelin Garcia and Madiha Khan were chosen as winners of this year's Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.  Twelve Barnard Awards are given annually to students from Western, Central, Eastern and Southern Connecticut state universities.  Both students are Danbury residents and the children of immigrant parents.

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Ridgefield agencies approve revised Schlumberger development application

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission and Inland and Wetlands Board have given the go ahead for development of a five acre parcel of the former Schlumberger land.  After a second public hearing Tuesday night, developer Steve Zemo's application was approved. 

 

Zemo, who is also a Selectman, plans to use one acre for a self-storage business, with eight two-bedroom apartments on the second floor.  The other four acres will be for an 85-room assisted-living facility.  Solana Ridgefield will be developed by Formation Development Group.  About 30 percent of the facility will be for people with memory disorders.

 

Charter Group Partners is developing age-restricted townhouses and condos, for people 55 years and older, on another 10 acres of the town-owned land. 

 

BassamFellows, a luxury furniture and design firm, plans to move into the Philip Johnson building on the former Schlumberger site.  ACT, a local theater group, will occupy the neighboring auditorium.

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Brookfield receives grant to pay for next phase of streetscape project

Brookfield has received more grant money than anticipated for Phase 2 of the Four Corners Streetscape project.  The town put up $475,000 and asked for matching grant funding.  First Selectman Steve Dunn told his fellow Selectmen at their meeting Monday that $875,000 has actually been granted.  Phase 2 is now completely paid for.  The town does not have to match the higher than expected grant amount. 

 

The state Department of Transportation has hired outside engineers to provide additional help.  The town has started to put together the Request for Proposals.  Phase 2 is from the end of Phase 1, the corner of the funeral home, south to The Hearth restaurant.  The project includes lights, benches, parking spaces, curbing, and garbage cans.

 

Brookfield officials are working with the DOT, which is requiring a cross walk from the Still River Greenway to the west side of the road.

 

Dunn says a developer is looking to build a grocery store and a Starbucks next to the Greenway, across from the Hearth.  The developer has already gotten approval from the DOT for a cut on Federal Road.  The DOT is recommending that it's directly across from Laurel Hill.  They suggest putting a stop light there, with the cross walk.

 

Dunn says the plan right now is to put in a cross walk at the north end of the Greenway, but that may change.

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Annual Town Meeting held in New Fairfield

The Annual Town Meeting in New Fairfield was held Wednesday night.  Residents set a budget referendum date of May 13th.  The municipal budget proposal is $10.9 million with the Board of Ed asking that voters approve a $40.9 million spending plan. 

 

There are no big projects being funded by the proposed plan.  The town will be doing some road repair work.  The Board of Ed is moving forward with some initiatives as well.  But First Selectman Susan Chapman says it's not the budget they would like to put forward. 

 

The spending plans were cut in order to work with anticipated reductions in state aide for the municipality and the school. 

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Bethel Police release distracted driving enforcement stats

During the month of April, the Bethel Police Department participated in the Statewide Distracted Driving High Visibility Campaign.  Throughout the month, Bethel Officers actively enforced laws restricting the use of handheld electronic devices, texting while driving, and distracted driving. 

 

65 people were fined for using their cell phones while behind the wheel.  34 drivers were caught texting.  Three tickets were issued for distracted driving. 

 

Other enforcement was made when drivers were pulled over, including citing one motorist for not wearing a seatbelt, three people for having suspended licenses, and finding one driver in possession of drugs.  One person wanted on an outstanding warrant was also stopped during the enforcement effort.

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Danbury, Ridgefield to host National Day of Prayer events

This is The National Day of Prayer.  Danbury is holding a ceremony at 11am at City Hall.  Mayor Mark Boughton says it's a time to bring together faith communities and he's inviting everyone to join in prayer honoring the unity of the community. 

 

Ridgefield is marking the occasion at Keeler Tavern Garden House on Main Street tonight.  That event is from 7 to 8pm.

 

The National Day of Prayer is meant to foster harmony for America. Days of prayer have been called for since 1775. Officially, the National Day of Prayer was established as an annual event by an act of Congress in 1952.

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Brookfield Selectmen send police funding request to Board of Finance

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has voted to send a $91,000 request from the Police Department to the Board of Finance.  The money would be used for radio antenna system components, 40 dress uniforms and 30 Tasers.  The money is in a police account for capital projects paid for by outside services. 

 

Brookfield is the only department in the area without a Class A uniform.  Chief Jay Purcell says they are looking to form an honor guard.  That unit could march in parades, attend police memorial services, graduations and various other ceremonies and formal occassions. 

 

The radio antenna system components would be installed on a new cell tower being built off Pocono Road, and installed for free by the cell tower company.  Most systems can handle both analog and digital, but Purcell says they expect to upgrade emergency radio equipment in the next few years.  By installing the components now, the town could save $20,000. 

 

Switching from analog to digital is estimated to cost about $3 million.  The equipment can be used by the Police Department, Fire Department, Public Works and the Board of Education.  Purcell said the Board of Ed would use emergency radio equipment to tie in all schools and central office to a command post for any incident that might arise involving the schools.

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Danbury teacher recognized for science education

The Connecticut Science Teachers Association is recognizing a Danbury educator.  Harry Rosvally has been named the winner of this year's Connecticut Science Educator Fellow Award.  He is in charge of the Danbury school district's science and math curriculum.  According to the organization, this is the highest award given to a veteran science educator who has previously been recognized for science teaching excellence and service.

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Blumenthal, Esty to hold town halls in Greater Danbury area this weekend

Senator Richard Blumenthal is hosting a Town Hall meeting in Danbury on Saturday. 

 

He plans to discuss immigration, healthcare and other issues.  The town hall meeting Saturday is on West Conn's midtown campus at Ives Concert Hall in White Hall.  The event is from 11:30am to 1pm.

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is hosting a town hall meeting in Bethel on Sunday. 

 

She is calling on constituents to attend and questions concerning the community, current legislative issues, and her work in Congress.  The gathering is being held in the Bethel Municipal Center general purpose room, Sunday from 3 to 4:30pm.

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Region 12 school budget approved

The Region 12 school budget passed overall, with Roxbury and Washington voting yes.  Bridgewater voted no.  The $21.4 million budget calls for merging some grades at the Burnham School due to declining enrollment.  Grades k through 2 would be in one class with grades 3 to 5 in the other.  Burnham is the only elementary school in Bridgewater.

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Suspicious death of woman in New Fairfield under investigation

A suspicious untimely death in New Fairfield is being investigated.  State Police responded to a Candlewood Road home yesterday morning and found a 55-year old woman dead.  Detectives from the Western District Major Crime unit have assumed the investigation.  The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct a post-mortem exam to determine cause and manner of death. State Police say there is no threat to the public or community, but note that this is an active investigation.

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Danbury City Council signs off on budget, capital spending

A status quo budget has been approved by the Danbury City Council. The party line vote was 15-6, with all Democrats on the Council opposing the overall budget.  The Council votes on each of the five sections of the budget, and then on the overall plan.  Members voted unanimously for the public works portion of the budget.

 

The school budget is $2.6 million more than this 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 included funding to create two new basketball courts and to expand 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.

 

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.  

 

$1.3 million will be used for continued clean up of the Still River in order to mitigate flooding in the downtown area cause by trees, debris, and brush.  $450,000 for storm sewer system improvements, $750,000 for the school roof replacement program and $200,000 for the school HVAC replacement program will be set aside.  The balance of the funding will be used to replace highway department and HVAC replacement at city buildings.

 

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Redding residents approve budget, Region 9 budget also approved

Redding residents have approved a $48.2 million budget on a vote of 659 to 237.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton says town officials faced a daunting task of putting together a budget based on unknown state funding.

 

Pemberton says it's still not known if municipalities would be forced to pay a third of teacher pension costs, currently covered entirely by the state.

 

The Region 9 school budget passed in both Easton (473-202) and Redding (654-242).

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Esty grills United CEO during committee hearing

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty made some suggestions for the CEO of United Airlines when he appeared before House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Tuesday.  Esty is the Vice Ranking Member. 

 

She suggested that paying customers not be bumped off a flight in order to move a crew, telling Oscar Munoz instead to charter a plane for that crew.  Esty said bumping paying customers for employees is the ultimate indication that United hasn’t managed its system well, and is asking customers to pay for that management failure. 

 

She shared stories from her constituents, recalling cases in which Connecticut residents were stranded on a tarmac or at a gate for hours. 

 

Esty also admonished Munoz for his slow response to the violent incident, saying that it needed to be more than just a belated press release, it has to be a change in policies, practices and priorities. 

 

She noted that four airlines control 85 percent of air traffic, not leaving customers a lot of choices.  Esty asked that Munoz come to the table to figure out what standards need to be put in place in order to hold airlines accountable.

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Retired Marine discussed new book in Brookfield

A retired Marine discussed his new book in Brookfield last night.  Michael Zacchea recently published the book "The Ragged Edge: A US Marine’s Account of Leading the Iraqi Army Fifth Battalion".  

 

Zacchea is the Director and founder of UConn’s Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities.  He is also the founder of the Connecticut Veterans Chamber of Commerce.  Last night at the Brookfield Museum, he provided insight into the current challenges that face the US Military in the war against ISIS. 

 

He was seriously wounded in the second battle to overtake the rebel stronghold of Fallujah and received a Purple Heart and two Bronze Star for Valor.  Zacchea is the only American soldier to receive the Order of the Lion of Babylon valor award from the President of Iraq. 

 

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No spillage found at underground fuel tanks in Ridgefield

There was no spillage from underground fuel tanks in Ridgefield.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the Ridgefield Press that the fuel depot was checked monthly as they reached their life expectancy.  The state ordered the tanks replaced in March, bumping up the town's plans from next year to this year.  When residents vote in a referendum next week, one of the capital items on the ballot will be $400,000 to do the job.  The Press reports that the price tag includes about $77,000 for a temporary fueling system.

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Newtown leader recognized by Connecticut Bar Association

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra has been recognized by the Connecticut Bar Association.  She was presented with the 2017 Distinguished Public Service Award.  The honor was presented to Llodra by Sandy Hook residents and CBA President Monte Frank at the organization's annual Celebrate with the Stars event last month. 

 

The Newtown Bee reports that Llodra was selected for the award because of her meaningful relationship to Connecticut, how she has distinguished herself in her profession, and the significant contribution she has made to society in addition to or outside of her area of endeavor. 

 

The event recognizes judges, lawyers, and professionals who make a difference through their work.

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UNIT removes mattresses, TVs, pool equipment from side of road

Members of the Danbury Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team participated in a massive cleanup along the embankment on Mill Plain Road between the exits 1 and 2 commuter parking lots.  UNIT officials say vandals have dumped large items down the hillside, including construction debris, couches, mattresses, house siding, pool equipment, and televisions. 

 

 

A work crew from the City's Clean Start program worked for two days to remove the garbage. 

 

The program is a joint effort with Jericho Partnership to offer help to the city's homeless population.  It puts people on a pathway to employment through beautification projects in exchange for gift cards and community services.

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Neighbor helps put out car fire in Bethel

A neighbor with a fire extinguisher put out a car fire in Bethel yesterday afternoon.  The Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to Westview Drive shortly before 4:30pm.  Firefighters found smoke inside the garage, but the fire was already out.  The car was pushed out of the garage and the structure was ventilated.

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Redding residents voting on budget plans today

There is a budget referendum in Redding today.  Residents are being asked to vote on a total $48.2 million.  That includes an approximately $14.8 million municipal proposal, $20.8 million for the Redding Board of Education and $12.7 million for Redding's share of the Region 9 school budget. 

 

The overall budget is about a 1-percent increase over the current fiscal year.  Redding's share of the Region 9 budget also includes an increase because of higher enrollment at Joel Barlow High School. 

 

Health insurance costs were one of the biggest increases in the municipal budget.

 

First Selectman Julia Pemberton says there is concern on the part of all area municipalities about the impact from a proposed reduction in state aide.  School funding from the state is also up in the air.

 

Polls are open until 8pm.

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Board of Regents approves transgender bathroom access policy

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Connecticut Board of Regents has approved a plan allowing students in the state university system, including Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, access to bathrooms and locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity.

The move is designed to comply with an executive order issued by Gov. Dannel Malloy in February that labeled those bathrooms and locker rooms places of public accommodation, making discrimination based on sex or gender identity expression there illegal under Connecticut law.

The board also approved a policy that allows students in the 17 universities and community colleges to use whatever first name they wish on all unofficial documents and records, including student identification cards.

Mark Ojakian, the president of the CSCU system, says the policy is designed to make sure transgender students feel "valued and empowered to pursue their education."

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Hundreds take to Connecticut streets for May Day protest

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Hundreds of workers, business owners and families have rallied in five Connecticut cities to support immigrants' rights.

Monday's "Day Without Immigrants" event in Stamford, Danbury, Bridgeport and New Haven was among similar demonstrations held across the country to mark May Day, a traditional day for workers' rights demonstrations.

Some immigrant-owned businesses shut down for the day as part of the protest.

Politicians and hundreds of Connecticut residents attended a "Here to Stay" immigrants' rights rally in Hartford on Saturday. Gov. Dannel Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. John Larson were among the attendees and speakers.

President Donald Trump has aggressively pursued immigration enforcement, and the government has threatened to withhold funding from so-called sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

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Connecticut gubernatorial candidates line up for 2018 race

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The list of people who want to be Connecticut's next governor appears to be growing by the day.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced last month that he will not seek a third term in 2018. Since then, several of his fellow Democrats have stepped forward in recent days to express interest in the state's top job. Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, former prosecutor Chris Mattei and former Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris all announced they've formed exploratory committees.

Seven Democrats and eight Republicans, including Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, have formed exploratory committees for unnamed statewide offices and some have said publicly they're interested in running for governor.


Three Democrats and five Republicans have declared their candidacies for governor.

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Danbury officials hoping new EPA leaders roll back phosphorus removal regulations

Danbury officials are waiting to see if the new leaders at the Environmental Protection Administration reduce phosphorus removal mandates. Mayor Mark Boughton says infrastructure improvements still need to be made at the waste water treatment plant because of the state permit Danbury holds.  The upgrades likely won't be as expensive if some of the federal regulations get rolled back. Funding for the rehab work will be put before voters in November.

 

The last renovation of the plant was done in the early nineties.

 

The project requires about $30 million in new spending. Boughton notes that the City is rolling off debt on the sewer fund, so they can handle it without impacting rates.  If the phosphorous mandates aren't changed, that price tag will double or possibly triple.

 

The big funding decision will have to be made in 2018.

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Redding country club worker charged with unemployment fraud

A Connecticut man has been arrested for fraudulently collecting almost $12,000 in Unemployment Compensation benefits while he was working at a country club in Redding.  48-year old Jose Flete of Waterbury was also charged with larceny in the First Degree by Defrauding a Public Community and Unemployment Compensation Fraud.  He allegedly fraudulently collected approximately $11,907 in unemployment benefits from March 2012 through June 2015 when, in fact, he was working and earning wages at a country club in Redding.  Flete was released on bond for a court appearance Thursday.

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Plumtrees Bridge project moves forward

Steady progress is being made on intersection improvements at Whittlesey Drive in Bethel.  The new section of the realigned intersection is taking shape as construction resumes at Plumtrees Bridge. Sidewalk and pedestrian signals are now in place.

 

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Lynn Deming Park in New Milford closed

Officials say Lynn Deming Park in New Milford is closed until further notice due to ongoing vandalism. Drivers have destroyed the hydro seeding work and New Milford Police are investigating.  It was previously announced that Lynn Deming Park would be closed to the public this week for Grading and Paving.

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Danbury man swallows packet of suspected drugs during police raid of home

A Danbury man who was being investigated for suspected drug sales swallowed a packet when police arrived to search his home.  An investigation was launched weeks ago into neighbor complaints of crack cocaine sales in Danbury. 

 

29-year old Lee Samuel Alexander was charged Thursday with possession of a controlled substance and interfering with a search warrant.  Danbury Police had to force their way into his Wooster Heights Road home.  Two other men in the house cooperated with police commands, but Alexander refused. 

 

He also swallowed an unidentified object, believed to be illicit drugs.  Danbury Police say officers feared for his medical wellbeing, so Alexander was transported to the hospital for preventive treatment. 

 

A small amount of marijuana was seized from the home.  

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2 boarding school officials resign amid sex abuse claims

WALLINGFORD, Conn. (AP) - A boarding school says two former headmasters have resigned as life trustees after a report that alleged teachers had sexually abused students.


A spokeswoman for Choate Rosemary Hall says Edward Shanahan resigned Friday. He was headmaster from 1991 to 2011.

 

The resignation comes after a report from outside investigators named a dozen educators accused of sexual misconduct.  One of the teachers identified in the report was Jaime Rivera-Murillo.  He was accused of misconduct by two students in October 1999.

 

Charles Dey resigned from the life trustees position Thursday. He led the private school from 1973 to 1991.  All former Choate headmasters receive the life trustee designation.

Choate officials didn't notify police, state child welfare officials or other schools of the allegations.  The report includes allegations from 24 former students of misconduct from 1963 to 2010.  After confirming allegations, school officials handled the cases internally.

 

Even though Choate did not provide a reference or recommendation letter, Rivera-Murillo went on to teach at Henry Abbott Tech, Newtown High School and, until this month, at a regional High School in Litchfield.  He resigned last month.

 

Police say former faculty and staff members accused of sexual misconduct can't be charged because too much time has passed since the alleged crimes occurred.  State officials say they're assessing the failure of Choate employees to report abuse in a timely manner as required under Connecticut law.  Police say they cannot pursue charges against the administrators. 

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Annual Town Meeting tonight in Ridgefield

The annual Town Meeting in Ridgefield will be held at the Ridgefield Playhouse at 7:30pm tonight.  Ridgefield residents will be asked to approve 7 items to send to a referendum vote on May 9th.  The municipal budget is proposed at $47 million.  The proposed Education budget is $92.6 million.

 

Capital Items to be Presented at the Annual Town Meeting:
            Highway Department – Peter Hill
                        Lowboy Dump Truck                                                          $64,697
                        Double Drum Vibratory Roller                                           $40,400
                        Guardrail Replacement                                                      $40,000
            Parks & Recreation Department – Paul Roche
                        1-1/2 Ton Truck w/Plow & Sander                                     $60,120
                        Scotts Ridge Field Replacement                                       $55,000
                        Playground Replacement/Repair                                      $30,000
                        Field Renovator/Combinator                                             $28,500
                        Turf Tractor                                                                      $24,000
                        Parks/Fields Safety Improvements                                   $23,600
                        ADA Compliance                                                              $21,300
                        Tennis/Basketball Court Repair                                       $20,500
                        Field Conditioner                                                             $20,116
                        Maintenance Bldg. Floor Repair                                      $12,075
            Golf Course – Tony Steger
                        Fairway Mower                                                                $43,600
                        Turf Truckster                                                                  $9,200
                        Towbehind Debris Blower                                                  $7,200
            Town Engineer – Charles Fisher
                        Lake Windwing Dam Repairs                                            $90,000
                        ERMS Roof Repairs                                                          $87,000
                        Tiger Hollow Stairway Reconstruction                               $64,000
                        Window Replacement – VNA Wing                                   $53,000
                        Storm Drainage Study                                                      $45,000
                        Dam Emergency Action Plans                                          $41,000
                        Highway Exterior Painting & Carpentry                             $40,000
                        Fire Station #1 Exterior Painting                                       $9,000
            Tree Warden – John Pinchbeck
                        Tree Replacement                                                          $55,000
            Fire Department – Acting Chief Jerry Myers
                        Headquarter Station Renovations                                    $85,000
                        Fire Protective Equipment                                                $44,000
                        PPE Washer & Dryer                                                        $18,000
            Information Technology – Andrew Neblett
                        Storage Area Network (SAN) Disks                                   $33,400
                        Datto Backup Solution                                                      $17,400
            Town of Ridgefield
                        Town Wide ADA                                                                $75,000
                        Public Safety Building Replacement Study                        $65,000

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NY man arrested for attempted murder in Patterson stabbing

A New York man has been arrested for an attempted murder in Patterson.  The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office reports that 27-year old Patrick Murphy of Beacon is accused of repeatedly stabbing another man with a knife Wednesday. 

 

Deputies responding to a report of a physical altercation at a Route 311 home found a 60-year old man outside, bleeding heavily from multiple stab wounds to his torso.  Murphy and the victim were known to each other. 

 

The man’s girlfriend, his daughter and his infant granddaughter were on the scene.  

 

The victim was transported to Danbury Hospital for emergency surgery. 

 

Murphy was charged with attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child.  He was arraigned and ordered held without bail for a May 2nd court appearance.

 

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Man sentenced for drefrauding distressed homeowners

A former Easton man has been sentenced for defrauding distressed homeowners.  65-year old Timothy Burke, also known as “Bill Burke,” “William Burke,” “Kerry Saunders,” “Pat Riley,” “Jim Caldwell,” “Jim Saunders,” “Tom Morrisey,” “Jimmy,” “Phil Burke,” “Phil,” “Burt,” “James Burke,” and “M. Soler,” was sentenced to 108 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. 

 

Between 2010 and 2015, Burke carried out a scheme to defraud individuals, mortgage lenders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  He falsely told homeowners who were in, or facing, foreclosure that he would purchase their homes and pay off their mortgages.  He also told homeowners that the process of negotiating with the lenders can take time and that, in the meantime, to ignore any notices regarding foreclosure.  

 

After he gained control of these houses, Burke rented out the properties to tenants by advertising the properties on Craigslist, and kept the rental income for himself.  Many of the properties Burke purportedly purchased were ultimately foreclosed upon. 

 

Burke has been associated with multiple entities, including Quality Asset Management Services, LLC; Birmingham Investments, LLC; the Birmingham Group of Companies; Saunders Associates; New Haven Investments; Realty Partners Group; Preston Associates II; Landlord Maintenance Services, LLC; Turnkey Construction Services LLC; The Complete Handyman, LLC; and Woodbridge Associates.

 

In addition, between 1994 and 2012, Burke evaded paying approximately $403,726 in federal taxes.  He now owes the Internal Revenue Service more than $1 million in back taxes, interest and penalties.

 

In 2002, Burke was indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and equity skimming.  He was released from federal custody in approximately August 2007 and began his federal supervised release at that time.  His supervised release was terminated early, in August 2009.

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