Local Headlines Archives for 2017-06

Ribbon cut for new Park Avenue School Community Garden

The United Way of Western Connecticut held a ribbon cutting ceremony last night in Danbury for the Park Avenue School Community Garden.  The agency was joined by parents, volunteers and school staff.  The garden was created as part of United Way's Strong Start Neighborhood Initiative.  The program is aimed at preparing children for success in kindergarten and the early grades. The project was spearheaded by Maria Vargas, a bilingual parent outreach worker at Park Avenue School whose work is also funded through Strong Start.  Vargas encouraged parent involvement in the garden as a way to break down barriers between parents, school administrators and staff.

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Ridgefield submits plans for Schlumberger improvements

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission has received an application for improvements at the former Schlumberger site. 

 

The town is planning for an upgrade of parking, roads and drainage.  This comes after town residents approved two new uses for the site, for a theater group and a luxury furniture and design firm.  The leases for the Philip Johnson Building and for the auditorium call for the tenants to pay for building repairs. 

 

The Newstimes reports that Ridgefield plans 50 new parking spaces and a redesign of the existing parking lot, with work taking about four months to complete. 

 

ACT, A Contemporary Theater of Connecticut, will begin renovations this month.  BassamFellows has already begun their work.

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More details released about emergency response training exercised held in Danbury

The Danbury Fire Department is shedding more light on the full scale emergency training session that was held earlier this week.  It was a two-part, active shooter training exercise involving police and fire, Western Connecticut Health Network Emergency Medical Services, Mutual Aid partners, and Danbury Hospital.  

 

Part one was a large scale tabletop evolution, was held at the Danbury Police Department.  Part two was an exercise at Saint Gregory’s School. 

 

It started with a call to the Dispatch Center reporting an incident were a teacher’s husband arrived, made it past security and started shooting.  As emergency vehicles approached the scene, the training exercise escalated to having multiple victims and a hostage situation.

 

As the Danbury Police Department made entry with training weapons, they worked towards the hostage location, clearing areas for members of the Fire Department and the Emergency Medical Services.  A triage area and command post were set up.  

 

Danbury Hospital clinical trauma teams were at the ready to receive, evaluate and treat incoming patients as well as reunite family with their injured loved ones.

Area volunteers participated in the training exercise roll-playing as parents, staff, students and the shooter with realistic-looking mock wounds and injuries. 

 

A post incident analysis will be scheduled to ensure that participating organizations are the best prepared they can be for future emergencies.

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Brookfield breaks ground on Four Corners streetscape project

Brookfield has marked the start of construction of a streetscape project with a ground breaking ceremony.  When completed, the town center will feature sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, benches, bike racks and parking.  Telephone poles on the west side of the street are being moved back, the poles on the east side of the streets are being removed.

 

The first phase of work in the Four Corners area runs from the Federal and Station roads intersection south to Brookfield Funeral Home.  It also includes some work up to the Brookfield Craft Center site. 

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says the project has been in the making for years and is a major step toward revitalizing the area. 

 

Phase 2 of the streetscape project will extend from from Brookfield Funeral Home to the Still River Greenway trail.  That part of the project is fully funded, with $475,000 of town money and $875,00 in federal grant money.

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United Way announce grants for early childhood programs

The United Way of Western Connecticut is making $635,000 in grant money available for early childhood, afterschool and educational enrichment programs in greater Danbury and New Milford areas.  The money is for program support for families living within the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed income threshold. 

 

A total of $316,160 is supporting scholarships for children to attend 10 early childhood programs across the region. Funding for these programs supports United Way’s goal that all children enter kindergarten with the skills needed to succeed in school. 

 

A total of $168,840 is invested in nine afterschool programs across the region. The purpose of this funding is to provide children with safe after-school care in an environment that provides enrichment including programs focused on health, nutrition and exercise. Funding for these programs supports United Way’s goal that children receive a foundation for successful, healthy lives. 

 

A total of $150,000 is invested in The ALICE Enrichment Fund to help qualifying families offset the cost of out-of-school enrichment programs for their children. The Fund will provide families who fall within the ALICE income threshold with scholarships for their children to participate in skill-building, extracurricular activities. Nine partners that fall within UWWC’s region will administer individual Funds on a local level for 15 towns.

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Bethel looking to improve pump station, extend water main

Bethel officials are requesting bid proposals for the Briar Cliff Water Booster Pump Station and Water Main Extension.  Bids are due 18th.  The work involves construction and installation of a new water booster pump station, including electrical, mechanical, connection to existing water distribution system, and installation of a water main extension. This project includes American Iron and Steel Requirements.

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Newtown school start times to change this fall

The Newtown Board of Education has signed off on school start time changes.  High Schoolers, who this year had to be in class by 7:20am, will start their day at 8am in the fall.  The Newtown High School day will end at 2:30pm.  Changes are also being made to the middle and intermediate schools.  Elementary times are not changing.  The Board of Ed says the move is budget neutral.  Officials are hoping for improved physical and mental health and improved academic performance.  They also cited safety improvements with students not waiting in the dark at bus stops.

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New Fairfield Superintendent to not seek contract extension

New Fairfield School Superintendent Alicia Roy will not seek a contract extension when her current term ends next year, according to Hearst Connecticut Media.  A performance review was set for today. 

 

Roy has been superintendent since 2010, but has been criticized in the last couple of years by some board members, teachers and parents for a lack of communication.  The union representing New Fairfield teachers cast a vote last year, with 70 percent of members taking part, expressing no confidence in Roy. 

 

The published report included comments from Board Vice Chairwoman Amy Tozzo, saying the sudden announcement is another example of them receiving “pertinent information” from the public instead of from Roy.

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New Milford Zoning Board ends hearings on Pettibone permit

The New Milford Zoning Board held another public hearing on plan to turn the former Pettibone School into a community center.  A decision must be made by August since the application was submitted in early May.  Mayor David Gronbach is seeking a special-use permit for the project, where about 95 percent of the interior renovations have already been completed.  Some Republican Town Council members accused Gronbach has tried to circumvent the zoning process.  Money from the Waste Management Fund has been used to pay for renovations and improvements.

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State Insurance Department hears comment on double-digit rate increase requests

The state Insurance Department held a hearing earlier this month on two rate increase requests. Anthem is requesting an average increase of 33.8 percent for policies marketed both on and off the state exchange. ConnectiCare has requested an average increase of 17.5 percent for policies sold exclusively on the exchange.

 

State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, attended the public hearing earlier this month and says people were not given an opportunity to voice their opinion.  Hwang called it a David versus Goliath fight with people not having a say.

 

He noted that the hearing was not statutorily required, and the Department had to be pressured into holding one. 

 

Hwang was also critical that the hearing wasn't held at the legislative office building.  He wanted multiple hearings to be held around the state, and not in the middle of the day.  Comments will be accepted through Friday.

 

Commissioner Katherine Wade says the two companies were chosen for the hearing because, collectively, their requests would affect the largest number of consumers. About 86,000 consumers could be impacted.

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Lifeguards on duty at some state parks this long holiday weekend

There may be some changes coming to state parks as Connecticut moves into a new fiscal year without a General Assembly-approved budget plan in place.  State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection spokesman Dennis Schain says they are working to cover the gaps, find new ways to operate and run the season the way things were last year.

 

Some changes were made last year, given the budget situation then, with a reduction in guards,  DEEP was not able staff some parks seven days a week.  Places that traditionally have lifeguards, have signs when there are no guards on duty that say visitors would be swimming at their own risk

 

Schain says they plan to operate similarly through the rest of the season.  There are people staffing the booths, collecting parking fees. 

 

Lifeguards are at Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield on weekends and the busiest days of the week.  Schain says they are constantly looking to see how much more coverage can be provided.  But he notes that DEEP did send out layoff notices as a result of ongoing budget issues this current fiscal year.

 

Squantz staff and and state police working with New Fairfield officials to look at ways to better manage traffic, parking outside Squantz and other issues.

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New Milford Town Council approves funding for Pettibone parking lot lights

The New Milford Town Council has authorized $155,000 to be used from the Waste Management Fund to add outdoor lighting at the former Pettibone School.  The Zoning Commission has required the Town to install additional lighting in the parking lots as the town looks to turn the facility into a community center.  The Council also approved taking $450,000 from the Waste Management Fund to complete the Senior Center Recreation Room expansion. $430,000 in State grant funds are currently available.  Mayor David Gronbach expects work to start on the expansion in the coming weeks.

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New Milford Town Council signs off on Sewer Commission member changes

The New Milford Town Council has voted to replace Sewer Commission member Mike Bensema.  He will be replaced by John Wittmann.  The request came from Mayor David Gronbach, who said Bensema served longer than the town ordinance-set four years.  He said the town knew for months that he served more years than outlined in the ordinance, but didn't act until he wrote a letter to the editor of the New Milford Spectrum critical of Gronbach.  Wittman's term will end in November 2019.

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Route 133 road closure in Bridgewater gets end date

Route 133 in Bridgewater will reopen next month.  The state Department of Transportation construction project will be completed, with an official opening, July 14th at 11am.  The pre-cast concrete wall is being tinted grey and brown to look like native rock in the area, and the final drainage improvements are also in progress.  Even though Route 133 is reopening, the work won't be completely finished.  Over the next few months the extensive open slopes will be planted with native trees and shrubs.  Bridgewater officials say even though the character of the town's southern approach has radically changed, the DOT project was considered a necessary improvement.

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Road paving project starts today in Bethel

A road closure in Bethel starts today.  The Walnut Hill - Hoyt Road construction project is anticipated to last through the end of September.  The Bethel Highway Department says the exact road closures will depend on what phase of the project they are in.  Advisory signs have gone up around the project to use for detours.  Even when the road is open, the highway department is cautioning that there will be delays through the project site.  They are recommending drivers use alternate routes to avoid travel delays. 

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Eversource plans natural gas project in Danbury

Eversource Energy is planning a $3.5 million  natural gas project in Danbury.  The utility says the goal is to protect and strengthen the delivery system in an effort to ensure reliable service.  The multi-year project involves more than 4.5 miles of gas pipeline being installed.  The firs phase, 1.5 miles, will be installed along Mill Plain Road from the west side to the Western Connecticut State University campus. 

 

Crews are working Monday through Friday between 8:30am and 4pm The first phase is expected to be complete by the end of November.  Phase two will begin in April 2018.

 

Eversource plans to update community leaders and customers where work is being done to minimize the impact to traffic and coordinate with other roadwork happening in the area. Drivers may experience delays due to alternating, one-way traffic.

 

Work will continue through 2019 from the university to an Eversource gas facility near Danbury’s downtown area.  Eversource officials say the project will provide the school a stronger gas delivery system and offer clean and efficient fuel to areas were it has not been an option.

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Walled garden in the works for Hearthstone Castle

Work could start soon to stabilize Hearthstone Castle.  After years of neglect, the outer walls are all that remain. The roof and internal structure have collapse into the basement.  There are no utilities at the site, making new uses limited. 

 

 

Danbury residents approved $1.6 million in November for design and construction plans for a walled garden.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the money comes available July 1st.  The City is looking to engage various companies that do this kind of specialized work, but he cautioned that there won't be a lot of companies that can do the project. 

 

Boughton has called the site an attractive nuisance.  Trespassers have spray painted the structure and cut through the fence many times over the years. 

 

Hearthstone Castle was built in 1897 and occupied until 1983. The City purchased it as part of the acquisition of the Tarrywile property in 1985.

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Ridgefield Little League ballpark off Route 7 gains new approvals

During a joint working session of the Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission and the Inlands Wetland Commission, approval was given for the proposed Ridgefield Little League ballfield.  Plans for the 2-and-a-half acre town and state-owned land at Route 7 and Simpaug Turnpike call for lighting, bleachers, a parking lot and concession stand. 

 

Traffic studies found there would not be a significant impact.  Speakers would not be used after a certain hour, and the lights would be turned off overnight. 

 

During three public hearings, neighbors expressed concerns about noise, traffic and the lights. 

 

The Inlands and Wetlands Board voted 8-1 and the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 7-2.

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Brookfield Police warn parents of privacy changes to Snapchat

Brookfield Police are cautioning parents to talk with their children about internet safety.  With the latest Snapchat update, a feature was added called Snap Map which allowed users to share their location with other users.  Brookfield Police shared an article on social media from Massachusetts State police about the dangers of kids sharing their location, especially in real time, with strangers.  Snapchat users can enter so-called Ghost mode, which allows them to turn off the location sharing service, or select who can see the location.

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Danbury launches emergency training exercise, drivers alerted to expect delays

A joint, full scale training session involving local emergency responders is under way in Danbury.  The emergency response training is from 1pm to 6pm Tuesday.  People in the area of Great Plain Elementary, Broadview Middle and St Gregory the Great schools are alerted that there will be a lot of emergency response vehicles around for the exercise.  Exercise activity is confined to areas marked and closed to the public.  None of the activity is taking place along City streets, though drivers are cautioned to expect some traffic in the area of the training.

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Easton Police K9 reports for duty

The Easton Police Department has restarted their K9 Unit.  The town's newest police dog, TJ, reported for duty yesterday.  The 16-month-old German shepherd will be partnered with Officer Tamra French.  The Easton Courier reports that T.J. was named for Staff Sgt. Todd “T.J.” Lobraico Jr.

 

(Frank Reda and Jimmy Loomer of Superior K-9 Services dropped off K9 T.J. to Officer French)

 

The New Fairfield man was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan in 2013.  The Courier reports that when a military dog signaled the approaching enemy, Lobraico pushed the dog and its handler out of harm's way. 

 

Lobraico’s father worked with Easton Police Chief Tim Shaw in the Stamford Police Department. 

 

K9 Chase, who served 10 years with Officer French, retired in 2013. 

 

A $40,000 grant from the estate of a Kenneth and Ann Gleszer, of Danbury, enabled the department to restart the K9 program.   Grants were made to 10 police departments and the Connecticut Police Work Dog Association.

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Ridgefield officials discuss proposed Little League ballfield

The Ridgefield Inland Wetland Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission are holding a work session tonight about a proposed ballfield.  Ridgefield Little League is looking to create the field and related amenities on town-and-state-owned land at Route 7 and Simpaug Turnpike.  Three public hearings were held on the application.  Plans for the 2.5 acre lot include lighting, bleachers, a parking lot and concession stand.

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Brookfield Board of Ed looks into drafting Narcan policies

The Brookfield Board of Education is crafting policies on how naloxone could be administered in schools.  The Newstimes reports that Brookfield is reviewing guidelines adopted by the Fairfield school district last month.  The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education also has policies about use of the opioid overdose reversal treatment.  The plan would include who is allowed to administer Narcan, where it will be stored and who to contact about usage.  The published report says that district’s legal team compared the potential policy to guidelines on automated external defibrillators, which are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest.

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No BUI arrests made on Candlewood after Danbury fireworks display

State EnCon Police patrolling Candlewood Lake in Danbury for the fireworks show Saturday night had contact with several hundred boaters entering the area of Danbury Bay, conducting safety checks and enforcing a safety transit lane.  There were no boating under the influence arrests.  Several warnings were issued for failure to display proper and/or necessary navigation lights.

 

There were several minor incidents. 

 

A boat was stopped for not having its navigation lights on.  EnCon officers found that it was occupied by a number of young adults who were in possession of alcohol.  EnCon Police escorted the vessel to the dock and several of the individuals were issued infractions for possession of alcohol by a minor.  The operator was cited for the navigation light violation.

 

A boat struck a rock while leaving Danbury Bay.  The vessel was escorted back to the boat launch.  The Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol inspected it, finding only damage to a propeller.  The boat had been on its way to Squantz Cove.

 

EnCon Police helped a stranded boater after the vessel experienced disabling electrical issues.  Officers kept in contact with the anchored vessel and arranged for a good samaritan to tow it to the nearest safe mooring.

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Brookfield looks for property to add municipal parking in Four Corners area

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen recently forwarded a request to the Board of Finance for appraisals of potential properties at the Brookfield Town Center for municipal purposes.  The town is looking to spend no more than $12,000 for appraisals, in conjunction with the possibility of buying property, for parking and possible buildings. 

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says as the streetscaping in the Four Corners area is getting done, it's become apparent that there will not be enough parking in the new town center. When the work is completed, there will be 27 parking spaces on Federal Road.  Dunn noted that if they want the new town center to thrive, it has to be easy for people to have accessible parking. 

 

The Still River Greenway has been very popular, but there is no permanent parking in the town center for people who want to use the Greenway.

 

Dunn says the land could also be used for a library or police station, though the studies on the needs of both buildings are still in the very early phases.

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State lawmaker reflects on tough term as special session nears

While state lawmakers had a big task ahead of them with a projected $5 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years, there were not a lot of bills that made it through both chambers.  Danbury state Representative David Arconti says that could have been because of the slim majority of Democrats in the House and the tie in the Senate.  Arconti says that took everyone a while to figure out the new lay of the land.

 

A Special Session is on the calendar for Thursday, but it's unclear if there will be a budget to be voted on at that time.

 

Some bills were called, so debate could be held even if there were no votes.  Some bills that might not ordinarily have been called because the votes weren't there for passage were also brought forward.  Arconti says he was pleased the toll bills ended up being defeated.

 

Those bills also included having Connecticut delegates cast ballots for the national popular vote and marijuana legalization.

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New Milford residents buy former New Milford Sports Club

Three New Milford couples have bought the former New Milford Sports Club, and the Grove Street property.  The renovated New Milford Fitness & Aquatics Club will open July 1st.  It had been operated by Dominick Donofrio III, but closed in May amid eviction proceedings and his arrest for not paying employees.  The new owners are Mike and Michelle Nahom, Lou and Sue Pereira, and Belinda and Ed Bourjeili.

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Fran Collins honored during CIFC annual gala

Former Governor Jodi Rell honored attorney Fran Collins during the 14th annual Connecticut Institute For Communities Gala.  The event was held Thursday night in Danbury.  Collins recently retired from his longtime law practice.  He was recently recognized for more than 50 years of legal service by the Greater Danbury Bar Association.  Collins also once served as Speaker of the state House of Representatives.

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Two ordinances pass, one fails at New Fairfield Special Town Meeting

The New Fairfield tax collector will soon be able to waive any property tax bills less than $5.  That was one of two ordinances approved in a special town meeting Thursday.  Officials say collections sometimes cost more than the revenue being collected. 

 

An ordinance allowing the selectmen to set fees for building permits has been updated to clarify and streamline the process. 

 

The other item on the agenda, an ordinance about water discharged onto the road, was not approved.  It was aimed at preventing hazardous and icy road conditions, but it was rejected during the special town meeting.  Some said it was too vague and broadly written.  There were 20 people at the meeting, and by a hand vote, the resolution garnered 11 votes in opposition.

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State distributes $15.1 million in grants to help nonprofits

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The state of Connecticut is doling out $15.1 million in grants to help 50 nonprofit agencies across the state pay for one-time infrastructure improvements.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy created the Nonprofit Grant Program in 2013, which has helped hundreds of groups. This marks the fifth round of grants.

The capital purchases being funded by the grant program are varied. They range from vehicles for the ARC of Litchfield County Inc. in Torrington to a case management system at the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging in Bridgeport.

Malloy says the capital purchases will help to improve the nonprofits' service delivery, efficiency and effectiveness, as well as address health, safety and accessibility issues. He says that allows the groups to focus on "getting services to those who need them the most."

 

Bethel-based Ability Beyond Disability, Inc. will receive $774,451 for Bethel renovation, Beckerle Street improvements, Tammany Trail improvements, and information technology.

 

Danbury-based CT Institute for Communities, Inc. has been awarded $130,681 for Information technology.

 

Parking lot improvements will be funded for Danbury-based MWCCA with a $78,671 grant.

 

Newtown Youth & Family Services, Inc. will receive $136,633 for energy efficiency projects.

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Danbury officials send proposed land sale to public hearing

The Danbury City Council has voted to send a proposal to a public hearing that would transfer ownership of the Mallory Hat site to the Women's Center for a new transitional housing center.  The city owned property at 89 Rose Hill Avenue would be sold to the Women's Center for $1 if approved.

 

The public hearing date was not immediately scheduled.

 

The land does need an environmental remediation because of chemicals that seeped into the soil over the years.  The clean up is estimated at between $700,000 and $800,000. 

 

City Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi says this is a win for the City, a win for the environment, and addresses a critical need in the community in protecting women and children.  He called it a model, both physically in the structure and program support that's been developed over the years as a best practice.

 

Saadi noted that concerns with a short term flip of the property or conversion to another use are addressed in the ordinance.

 

Mayor Mark Boughton called it a big deal for every entity involved.  He noted that the Women's Center worked tirelessly on their capital plan.  Boughton told the Council they will be doing something for those people that are in a difficult position, and that's what government is supposed to do.

 

The plan would bring stability to the neighborhood while also cleaning up a blighted and contaminated property.

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FEMA grant awarded to Water Witch Hose Co. #2

FEMA funding from the Assistance to Firefighter Grant program is being allocated to to support a fire department in New Milford.  Water Witch Hose Company # 2 will received 45,455 for an Air Refill – Compressor System. 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says day in and day out, firefighters put their lives on the line in order to save others--and noted that they must have access to the equipment and training necessary to do their jobs safely and effectively. 

 

Since 2001, FEMA's Assistance to Firefighter grant program has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.

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New Milford Town Council asked to allocate funds for work on proposed community center

On Monday night, the New Milford Town Council will consider an additional expenditure to turn the former Pettibone School into a Community Center.  The Zoning Commission has required the Town to install additional lighting in the parking lots, and the estimated cost is $155,000. 

 

Mayor David Gronbach has proposed tapping the Waste Management Fund for the allocation.  He says the fund has over 11 million dollars in it and cannot be used on roads or bridges and can only be used to buy land or construct municipal public recreation, educational or library facilities.  

 

The community center would house the Parks and Rec and the Youth Agency. 

 

Gronbach says the interior work is 95% done. High speed fiber has been installed and electrical upgrades were made.  Parks and Rec has painted their offices, which he says will save New Milford thousands of dollars in the process. The Youth Agency has also prepped their space, painted and cleaned. 

 

Consultants, at no cost to the Town, are studying a plan to replace the roof, install solar and other sources to generate its own electricity.

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Route 7 road closure this weekend for bridge replacement project

Part of Route 7 in Ridgefield will be closed this weekend for a bridge replacement project.  The state Department of Transportation is replacing the bridge just north of Route 102.  This is the second of five scheduled weekend closures that will take place over the next several months. The next closure will take place in July.  Local traffic and those needing access to businesses on Route 7 between 35 and 102 will still be allowed access except to the area where the bridge construction is taking place. 

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Danbury detective, two good samaritans rescue teen from submerged jeep

An off duty Danbury Police Detective and two passing motorists rescued a 17-year old girl from a partially submerged vehicle in Ball Pond Tuesday morning.  Detective Sergeant Adam Marcus was driving on Ball Pond Road and saw that an accident happened. 

 

 

 

He and two Danbury residents, 32-year old Chris Dimauro and 28-year old Danielle Lo Medico, saw the Jeep Liberty on its side in the pond.  The vehicle was about 50 feet from the shoreline.

 

 

 

The three entered the pond to help the injured 17 year old.  They were able to free her from the vehicle and bring her to shore where medical emergency personnel later arrived. 

 

The investigation determined that the teen was headed south, lost control and struck a telephone pole and several guard posts. The teen was transported to Danbury Hospital and issued a verbal warning for traveling too fast for conditions. 

 

 

 

The state Department of Environmental Protection also responded to the scene.

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Congress members introduce legislation aimed at combating climate change, growing jobs

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Senator Chris Murphy are each introducing legislation to combat climate change and create jobs in the clean-energy sector.  The measure calls for a $50 billion capitalization of the national Green Bank.  But they have left it open to discussion how to pay for that investment since there are different rules in the House and Senate.

 

They say this will help bolster the Connecticut Green Bank, which was the first of its kind in the country.  The entity just marked 5 years in existence. 

 

Esty says the climate change debate is not a choice between protecting the environment or protecting jobs, it can be both.  The legislation establishes a national green bank to fund clean energy and energy efficient projects. 

 

Esty says she wants to reclaim America's leadership in the clean energy market.  She says the wind industry employes 102,000 people, the natural gas industry employs 262,000 people and the solar industry employs 374,000 people.

 

The biggest obstacle Green Banks face is a lack of access to large scale financing.

 

Esty says climate change will be the defining economic and social challenge of the century.  She called this bill a pragmatic, market-driven plan to create jobs, help businesses reduce energy costs and ensure this country does its part to protect the environment.

 

Senator Chris Murphy says because of the withdrawl from the Paris Climate Agreement, some country will be the beneficiary of millions of new jobs in green energy, and right now it's not going to be America.  He says this country is ceding global leadership on renewable energy jobs.  If sensible, pro-growth, pro-environment policies soon, Murphy says America will be left out in the cold.

 

Murphy called the Connecticut Green Bank a huge success.  He says the entity has helped create 13,000 direct or indirect jobs.

 

Curtis Packaging has operated in Newtown since 1845 and is a small to mid-sized manufacturer.  Vice President of Operations Kerry Brown says the new owner bought the company in 2003 and has focused on environmental responsibility.  They use wind, solar and natural gas power, the company is 100 percent carbon neutral, recycles 98 percent and is 100 percent landfill-free.

 

Other businesses that have benefitted from Connecticut Green Bank investment include Tier ONE Machining and Assembly in Newtown and Defeo Manufacturing in Brookfield.

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Boating restrictions will be in place on Candlewood Lake for Saturday's fireworks

Normal boating traffic on Candlewood Lake in the area of Danbury Bay will be disrupted Saturday due to the Annual Danbury Volunteer Fireman’s Fireworks Display.  Beginning at 4pm, all boats in the vicinity of City Island must maintain a “slow-no- wake” speed to allow for the fireworks company to safety set up the fireworks behind the Island.

 

The Marine Patrol will be setting up a safety zone just north of City Island in Danbury Bay.  No vessels will be allowed to anchor south of the safety zone starting around 5 hours prior to and during the event.

 

The Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol is working with DEEP EnCON Police on a safety operation tomorrow.  They will be stopping all boats entering Danbury Bay for a safety inspection.  One Life Jacket for each person on board and lights in working order must be on board.  Any boat without the required safety equipment will be turned away and not be allowed to enter the area until the requirements are met.

 

Marine Patrol Chief Doug Vane says a safety lane will also be created along the eastern shore of Danbury Bay.

 

Boaters are also reminded that as they pass within 200 feet of a stationary law enforcement vessel using its lights and audible signal, they are required to slow to “slow-no- wake” speed until it is more than 200 feet away.

 

After the fireworks, boaters must proceed out of the viewing area at “slow-no- wake” speed.

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Immaculate High School names new principal

Immaculate High School in Danbury has named a new principal.  Dr Patrick Higgins of Bethel will take on the role as of July 1st at the private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory school.  Joe Carmen resigned from the position last summer to become Director of Leadership Development at Quinnipiac University.  School President Mary Maloney has been serving as Interim Principal for the past year.  Higgins taught AP Social Studies at Ridgefield High School for two decades before serving as the Dean of Students and Director of Student Activities at Joel Barlow High School from 2011 to 2013.

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Wilton Police search for person who vandalised town property with graffiti

The Wilton Police Department is asking for the community's assistance in identifying the person or people responsible for the graffiti found at various locations in the Town Center.  Much of the spray painted images were found in the area of Schneck's Island.  Anyone that has information is asked to call the Wilton Police Tips Line at 203-563-0256.

 

 

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Wilton student named finalist in invention competition

A Wilton student has been named as a finalist for the 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.  Anika Bhagavatula, from Middlebrook Middle School is among the top 10. 

 

The competition is for students in grades 5-8, who use scientific thinking to create an innovation that will improve lives in their local communities or globally. 

 

Anika developed a solution to clean up oil spills using a combination of natural materials including orange peels and pomegranate husks. Her research proved this mixture can absorb solvents two-to-three times its weight.  She will partner with a 3M scientist through a summer mentorship program, where they will meet virtually to turn her concept into a reality. 

 

Anika and the other finalists will compete on October 16-17 during a live event at the 3M Innovation Center in Minnesota.

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Brookfield Zoning hears application for apartments above Federal Rd retail location

The Brookfield Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing tonight about a proposal to allow apartments on the second floor of a commercial building on Federal Road.  The building near Candlewood Lake Road has a Sprint Store, salon and massage parlor on the first floor. 

 

The proposal calls for 9 one-bedroom units on the second floor, which has been vacant for more than a decade. 

 

Applicant Bob Hussain says three of the units would be considered affordable housing so he could apply to be part of the state's 8-30g program, which means the project could only be denied by the Zoning Commission for health or safety reasons. 

 

The Zoning Commission is meeting at 7 o'clock tonight in Room 133 of Brookfield Town Hall.

 

The Newstimes reports that Hussain and the town recently ended a legal fight over back taxes.  Brookfield acquired the land a parking lot sits on from the state.  Deed restrictions said the parcel could only be used for recreational purposes.  When the town and Hussain found that out, he reportedly stopped paying rent. 

 

The matter went to court and the published report says Hussain agreed to pay Brookfield $146,000 in back rent and legal fees.  The town will pay the state $244,500 to lift the deed restrictions.

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Ridgefield considers cameras for Ballard Park

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has started discussion about the possibility of adding security cameras to Ballard Park.  This follows two incidents in the last 8 months where racist and anti-semitic graffiti was discovered at the park.  The Ridgefield Parks and Rec Commission will be asked to take the idea of cameras under consideration.

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New Milford officials meet about Skate Park closure

New Milford officials have met with Skate Park users that altered the park with concrete ramps, as well as a designer/builder.  The users apologized before Parks and Rec Commission for the changes they made, saying they had good intentions.  A design plan and a budget to fix and improve the park will be presented.  Private donations over $5,000 have been been raised and are expected to supplement the Town funds previously budgeted for routine maintenance.  New Milford Mayor David Gronbach says depending on when the designs get submitted and approved, he expects an improved Skate Park to open soon.

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Putnam County officials meet about Shared Services Initiative

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has held the second in a series of information sessions about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s County-wide Shared Services Initiative.  The proposal requires county officials to develop localized plans that find property tax savings by coordinating and eliminating duplicative services and propose coordinated services to enhance purchasing power. 

 

The first session was held last month.  There will be another session next month.  Odell is seeking feedback and suggestions from Putnam County residents on shared services.

 

Some of the suggestions include joint purchasing of energy and insurance, sharing highway and plowing services and reducing back office administrative overhead.  She notes that school districts account for 71-percent of tax dollars, towns are 18-percent and the county is 9-percent.  Odell says Putnam County still has the lowest county tax portion on bills in New York State

 

Odell says she has tried to manage county government through socially and fiscally responsible measures.

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Bridgewater house destroyed by fire

A house in Bridgewater was destroyed by a fire overnight. 

 

Emergency responders initially reported a resident was trapped in the Christian Street home.  One person was rescued from the second story of the home.  The fire broke out shortly before 10:30pm. 

 

Three occupants and one firefighter were evaluated at the hospital.  The extent of their injuries was not immediately released.

 

(Photo: County Car 9)

 

Mutual aid was provided by Bethel, Brookfield, New Milford, Newtown, Northville and Roxbury fire companies.  The fire marshal's office is investigating the cause.

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Ridgefield resident wins $100,000 scholarship

A Ridgefield resident who is attending Ithaca College has been presented with a $100,000 scholarship.  Sammie Watts received the funding live on the Today Show, from actor Will Ferrell.  The tuition contest was created by the Today Show and Ferrell's new film, The House.  2,000 submissions were sent in, and Watts, who wants to become a speech pathologist, was selected yesterday.  Her father is recovering from esophageal cancer and most of the family's money has gone toward treatments.  The tuition contest was to write about why someone you love deserves money for a college education.

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Fuel spilled, driver uninjured in rollover truck accident

A truck driver was uninjured yesterday morning when his tractor trailer overturned on I-84 in the town of Southeast.  The accident happened around 1:30 Tuesday morning.  The driver, 34-year-old Aabdirizak Muse of Ohio, told New York State Police that his front tire failed.  The truck went off the road and struck a guide rail before overturning by exit 20.  The Department of Environmental Conservation responded to clean up a fuel spill.  Part of the highway was closed through the morning commute and caused traffic to back up into Connecticut.

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WCSU finds 300-percent increase in ticks in 2017 compared to 2016

The Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Laboratory at West Conn has reported that its weekly sampling for deer ticks has reached the highest population level recorded since the lab initiated field monitoring in 2011.

 

The ticks are a common carrier of Lyme disease and other illnesses.  During the last week of May, field samples collected on average 303 percent more deer ticks than in the same week in 2016.  Over a longer timeframe, the record deer tick numbers in the final week of May showed a dramatic surge of 1,021 percent from the comparable week in 2014.

 

The West Conn lab has monitored deer tick populations on a weekly basis at sites in Danbury, Ridgefield and Newtown from May through August every year since 2011.

 

Lab Director Dr Neeta Connally says in this region, every year is a risky year for Lyme disease and other tick-associated infections.

 

The associate professor of biological and environmental studies at WCSU says residents should always be vigilant in protecting themselves from tick bites. Some ways for people to prevent encounters with ticks are to wear long pants and light-colored clothing, check all exposed skin thoroughly after spending time outdoors where ticks are present, bathe shortly after outdoor activity, and dry clothes on high heat after outdoor wear.

 

Connally last year received a $1.6 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control to conduct a four-year integrated tick management project that aims to combine findings from tick control research with study of human behaviors to produce more effective strategies to combat the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

 

The study is a collaborative effort between WCSU, the CDC and co-principal investigator Dr. Thomas Mather, professor and director of the Tick Encounter Resource Center at the University of Rhode Island. Field research has involved the collection of tick samples from the yards of homes in western Connecticut as well as in southern Rhode Island

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Danbury seeks to make downtown more pedestrian friendly

Danbury received a $225,000 grant for the Downtown Danbury Transit Oriented Development Study.

 

Consultants will draw up designs for new streetscape improvements to enhance pedestrian conditions between different modes of transit.  Input from a listening session last night will be taken into consideration.

 

Planning Director Sharon Calitro says the end goal is to have a more walkable, inviting area while also incentivizing private investment.  One area being studied is how to link bus riders to the train station.  Calitro says that could include co-location of the bus station, Pulse Point pickup, closer to the Metro North station.

 

Another area that officials will study is whether it makes sense to invest in additional public parking.  There is a possibility of making share-a-lanes to make downtown more bike-friendly.  Those are shared bike and vehicle lanes.  Calitro says they're looking at that option rather than a dedicated lane because of the physical layout of downtown streets.

 

Another follow up meeting will be held as they get closer to finalizing the plan.  The proposal will also have to go to the City Council.

 

Danbury is applying for another state grant related to streetscape improvements.  If awarded, the money would be used for construction to improve pedestrian access on Main Street to the Metro North station.  That would could include sidewalk improvements, planting trees and installing benches or other pedestrian amenities.

 

Danbury is seeking $2 million.  While it's not a matching grant, the City has decided to allocate $200,000 or 10-percent, if awarded.  City officials say this will give Danbury a better chance of being selected for grant funding.

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New Milford to start testing water quality at Addis Park

There is a sign at Addis Park in New Milford, north of Lovers Leap warning about the water quality.  The sign notes that bacteriological results in that area of Lake Lillinonah often exceed the results considered ok for bathing, therefore swimming is prohibited. 

 

The sign has been up for a while. 

 

Water skiers are also advised that there is an increased risk of acquiring illness as a result of accidental ingestion or prolonged contact with the water. 

 

New Milford Mayor David Gronbach says they will now be testing the water and working with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to identify issues and create a plan to address them.

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Public hearing tonight in Easton on proposed cell tower

A public hearing is being held in Easton tonight by the Connecticut Siting Council.  Homeland Towers LLC and Verizon Wireless are seeking to build a cell tower at 515 Morehouse Road.  The 157-foot faux branch top tower has a stealth monopine design. 

 

The public hearing is at 7pm at the Easton Library community room. 

 

Easton requested a telecommunications coverage assessment by the Siting Council in 2012, and it found that parts of Routes 58, 59 and 136 didn't have coverage.  Emergency officials identified that as a safety concern since the area included schools and the senior center. 

 

A tethered, helium balloon will be floated at 1 pm at the proposed height at the Morehouse Road site so the siting council can look at it during a field meeting review at 2 pm.  An evidentiary hearing at 3 pm in the library community room for the applicants to answer questions from the Siting council. 

 

The public hearing will close July 20th, with a decision deadline of October 9.

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Drainage project to close Sawmill Rd in New Fairfield next week

Sawmill Road in New Fairfield will be closed next week at Woodcreek Road.  The closure is expected to last about a week.  Traffic delays are expected as the Candlewood Corners project moves north on Route 39. The work is being done to address undersized drainage, which officials also say is poorly aligned.  Flooding occurs because of that, damaging properties and causing hazardous driving conditions.  Two culverts, large enough to handle rain events without flooding of properties or roadways, are being installed. The project will take three to four months to complete.

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Summer Youth Employment program funding cut by state

There's another casualty of the state's financial problems.  The Youth Employment Program, which Danbury was taking part in, will not be funded this summer.  More than 3 dozen youths in Danbury were enrolled in the program, which helps kids from needy families learn job skills and by working for minimum-wage for 20 hours a week.  The 6 week program was funded by 60-thousand dollars from the state, which has now been cut.

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Danbury seeking input on transit-oriented development

The City of Danbury has started a transit-oriented development study in an effort to revitalize the Downtown area.  Residents are being asked for their input in creating recommendations on how to grow and strengthen Downtown Danbury.  City officials are looking to turn the area into a more welcoming, vibrant place to live, work, and learn. 

 

The study started in February.  It's estimated to take a year to complete.

 

Planning Director Sharon Calitro says they want to hear from people what they like about downtown, how they get downtown and what's missing downtown. 

 

The presentation and input session tonight is at the Palace Theater on Main Street from 5:30pm to 8pm.

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Sen. Murphy helps cut red tape for Danbury National Guard member

Senator Chris Murphy has helped a Danbury man, who is a member of the National Guard and a Syrian asylee, to receive his U.S. citizenship.  Mohammed Wardeh has lived in Danbury for the past three years and currently works as a web developer for the United Nations. 

 

He officially became a U.S. citizen on June 7th.  Murphy’s office worked with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to cut through red tape for Wardeh. 

 

The Danbury resident grew up in Syria, but took a job with the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in 2005.   He came to the U.S. in 2007 on a visa for employees of international organizations.  He was granted asylum in the United States in 2012. 

 

Wardeh and his wife have three children, all under the age 10, all of whom are U.S. citizens.

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Bethel surveys Stony Hill residents about continuing sewer system project

Some 85 Bethel residents in the Stony Hill section of town received a letter asking for participation in a survey about continuing the sewer system installation project.  Town officials say only about a third of the surveys have been returned.  The response period is being held open until the 30th. 

 

The original project was designed to bring sanitary sewage coverage to 1,132 homes and businesses in the Stony Hill area in four phases.  The project ended in 2013 without being fully implemented because of unanticipated cost increases. 

 

85 homes in the final phase design plans were left without sewers. 

 

A townwide referendum would have to be held in order to secure funding to continue the project.  Construction costs would be paid for by property owners in the project area through an annual assessment, based on home value.  The project would be bonded over 20 years.  Homeowners in the project area will be assessed whether or not they hook up to the sewer system.

 

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New Fairfield Board of Ed vote on Superintendent's annual evaluation

New Fairfield School Superintendent Alicia Roy's contract expires in June 2018.  The Newstimes reports that at least two Board of Ed members have said they won't support renewal.  A closed executive session was held Thursday and members voted 8 to 1 to accept part of Roy's annual evaluation.  An online petition was circulated last year calling on Roy to resign.  The teacher union, the New Fairfield Education Association, cast a vote of no confidence in Roy last year.  She has bee superintendent since 2010.

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DHS graduation ceremony postponed, Abbott Tech's on for tonight

Danbury High School has postponed graduation from tonight to tomorrow at 5pm.  It will take place tomorrow at the high school stadium.  Tomorrow is also the last day of school for the Danbury district, except for Mill Ridge Primary.  Their last day is Wednesday.

 

Henry Abbott Technical High School's graduation is taking place tonight at the O'Neill Center on West Conn's west side campus.  That ceremony is slated for 6pm to 7pm and drivers are cautioned to expect traffic in the Mill Plain Road/Lake Avenue area because of that.

 

30 graduates of the Alternative Center for Excellence in Danbury have received their diplomas.  A graduation ceremony was held Thursday.  This was one of the school's largest graduating class.  The school focuses on addressing individual needs where students can explore their options and develop the skills and interests that best suit them. The school has about 100 students in grades nine through 12, who fulfill  the same graduation requirements as Danbury High School students. 

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Young's Field Riverfront Trail opened in New Milford

A ribbon was cut this weekend in New Milford for the Young's Field Riverfront Trail. 

 

Work for the quarter mile walkway along the Housatonic included removing dead trees, stabilizing the riverbank, native plantings to replace invasive species, paving a 10-foot wide path and installing a fishing dock and kayak launch. 

 

The Young's Field Riverfront Trail will be part of the New Milford River Trail.  That 13 mile trail, 5 of which have already been completed, will link to the Still River Greenway in Brookfield. 

 

Grant funding and private donations paid for the Young's Field Riverfront Trail work.

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Putnam County Sheriff Sgt. graduates FBI Academy

Putnam County Sheriff Sergeant Timothy Keith has graduated from the FBI National Academy.  Keith, who is a supervisor in the Patrol Division and a K-9 handler, was among 228 law enforcement officials who attended the 268th Session of the Academy.  The ten-week program covers advanced communication, leadership and fitness training.  10 other active members of the Putnam County Sheriff's Office are alumni of the Academy.  Less than one percent of law enforcement officials are selected to attend the program.  Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe was the principal speaker at the graduation ceremony, held last weekend at the Quantico, Virginia campus.

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Danbury lawmaker touts passage of fuel cell bill

Danbury State Representative David Arconti is touting passage of a bill he co-sponsored this session to boost the fuel cell industry.  The measure allows electric distribution companies to add power from fuel cells to their sources of renewable energy.

 

Arconti says this will continue Connecticut's effort to achieve energy self-sufficiency, while reducing costs to the consumer.  He noted that a third benefit of the bill is for companies such as Danbury-based FuelCell Energy, which will be able to grow their business and add jobs to the local economy.  The bill was approved unanimously in the Senate, it passed with overwhelming support in the House.  Governor Malloy is expected to sign the measure into law.

 

The passed the House 130-14.  Among the no votes were Bethel Representative Will Duff and Bill Buckbee of New Milford.

 

At a public hearing before the Energy & Technology Committee in February, representatives from the state departments of Energy and Environmental Protection, Office of Consumer Council and Economic and Community Development all spoke in favor of the bill.  Other support came from the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, Renewable Energy and Efficiency Business Association, and the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology.

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Himes attends forum in Ridgefield on Russia, the U.S. and Trump

A public forum titled “Russia, the U.S., and Trump,” was held at Ridgefield Library last weekend by the Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee.  One of the keynote speakers was 4th District Congressman Jim Himes.  He was joined by Connecticut Deputy Secretary of the State Scott Bates in taking questions from the audience about Russia's political climate, possible interference in elections in the US and Europe, and the status of investigations in Congress.

 

Himes is the ranking member of the NSA and Cybersecurity Subcommittee of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

 

Bates was a policy advisor to the House Homeland Security Committee and principal author of “Winning the War on Terror” which informed the 911 Commission hearings.

 

When it comes to interference, Himes says Vladimir Putin was trying to keep the West unbalanced, keep NATO away from Russian borders, and keep other countries internally focused so he can operate outside of Russia.

 

Himes said Russia isn't as strong as Putin wants people to believe so he used tactics that don't cost much and are deniable.  He also noted that Russia has been doing this for a long time, citing the shut down of the Georgian internet, getting into networks in the Baltics and targeting the election in France.  Himes also predicted Russia will try to meddle in Germany's upcoming election.

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Pet rescue event to be held in New Fairfield today

Six animal rescue groups are coming together today at New Fairfield Dog Park for a Rescues for Life event.  The day includes dog training and canine CPR.  BeCause 4 Paws, Bully Breed Rescue, Pawsafe, NFSAW, Missy’s Mission, Wags n Wiggles and A Second Chance for Ziva will bring foster dogs available for adoption.  New Fairfield Dog Park rules require dogs to be licensed, and be spayed or neutered. Proceeds from the event will go toward the nonprofit community New Fairfield Dog Park Fund.  The event is between 9am and 1pm.

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Great Park Pursuit event to be held at Kettletown State Park

The final event of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Great Park Pursuit takes place today in Southbury.  The finale of the 12th annual event is at Kettletown State Park between 9am and 3pm. 

 

It features family friendly activities and games, the awarding of certificates and prizes, and a bonfire. 

 

The Great Park Pursuit is a six week summer event where families follow clues and travel from one state park to another.  This year, families learned to fish, canoe and kayak, visited interpretive centers, hiked along trails and paths in the woods, and learned about forestry.

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United Way 'Day of Action' sees 60 projects completed for local non-profits

The United Way of Western Connecticut 's Annual Day of Action was postponed from earlier this month because of rainy weather.  420 volunteers from 20 local businesses instead completed 60 projects for 24 regional nonprofit agencies throughout greater Danbury and New Milford are over a 10 day span. 

 

The projects ranged from reading to children to beautification projects. 

 

For a second year, the United Way led a community-wide project in support of early grade literacy called Camp Wannaread at the Danbury Police Athletic League Center.  30 volunteers put together summer literacy kits filled with donated books and reading supplies. 

 

Enough books were collected to provide two books to 300 local second grade students at Morris Street and South Street Schools in Danbury and Northville Elementary School in New Milford.  Additional books were donated to the schools’ libraries and media centers.

 
Ridgefield Supply provided materials and supplies for many of the projects.  Chik-fil-A in Brookfield, Starbucks on North Street in Danbury, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Caraluzzi’s and Stew Leonard’s donated items to feed the volunteers.

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Connecticut NBC affiliate won't air Jones story

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut's NBC affiliate is not going to air Megyn Kelly's report on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, the radio host who has alleged the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax, because "the wounds are understandably still so raw" in the state.

 

In an internal memo obtained Friday by The Association Press, NBC Connecticut staff members were told that station executives made the decision after listening to concerns from Sandy Hook families, viewers and the station's employees.

 

The memo says the executives "considered the deep emotions from the wounds of that day that have yet to heal."

 

NBC News vowed on Friday to go ahead with Sunday's program.

 

Kelly has called Jones' claims "personally revolting" but says she believes there's value in exposing what he says to the American people.

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New Milford Town Council gets update on library renovation plans

The New Milford Town Council saw schematic design work for Library Modernization this week.  The Phase 1 artist rendering was presented at their meeting.   Mayor David Gronbach says the Council voted to authorize $217,000 in funds from the Waste Management Settlement Account for design development.  Gronbach says New Milford Library ranks 127 out 156 libraries statewide per capita.  He says the original expansion, without building up, was estimated at $21 million in 2004.  The current proposal is $7.5 million.

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Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission moves forward with design process

A special meeting of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission was held this week to talk about the start of the design phase.  A subcommittee recommended that they not use a Request for Proposal process.  The Newtown Bee reports that they decided RFPs make sense for projects like buildings and bridges, but that the memorial is more open ended. 

 

The Commission must come up with a document that potential designers could use as guidelines.  The commission will next meet on the 27th, before their previously scheduled July 13th meeting.  This will give the Commission another chance to edit the revised draft presented this week. 

 

The Bee reports that the guidelines include some built-in safeguards if the Commission accepts designs from nonprofessionals and emerging professionals.  The subcommittee gave the example of Maya Ying Lin, who was studying architecture at Yale when her design was selected for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

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Candlewood Lake Authority bylaw amendment about delegate participation fails

It was a close vote, but an amendment was not approved by Candlewood Lake Authority delegates at their meeting this week that would have prohibited delegates from taking part in future meetings if municipal dues weren't paid.  The Newstimes reports that, with three absences, the eight yes votes fell short of the 10 needed for passage.  There are 15 delegates in total.

 

The amendment was proposed by the CLA because there is not a deadline for towns to pay their dues.  The issue came to a head last year when New Fairfield withheld a majority of their payment to the CLA over what the town said was mismanagement of CLA funds.  The CLA disputed the charge. 

 

New Fairfield paid after the CLA hired a municipal auditor to outline new accounting procedures.

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Sen. Murphy participates in charity Congressional Baseball Game

Senator Chris Murphy was among the members of Congress who suited up for a charity baseball game last night, which honored GOP House Whip Steve Scalise--who was shot the day before.  Murphy has played catcher for the Democratic team for about ten years, and called the game one of the few things that is truly good about Washington D.C.

 

Murphy, wearing a Yard Goats uniform, with Rep. Ruiz

(Photo: Chris Murphy, Twitter)

 

Murphy called it a soul crushing shooting, but said moving forward with the charity game sends an important signal that the tradition of bipartisanship cannot be ruined by what he called "one unhinged individual".  But Murphy questioned how they can move forward so easily from what he sees as a cataclysmic event. 

 

He hopes the violence doesn't become normalized.  Murphy believes the country is becoming desensitized to the carnage of mass shootings, defined as incidents where four or more people are killed or injured by gunshots.  By that definition, there have been 154 mass shootings so far this year. 

 

Murphy says America doesn't spend less on law enforcement or have more mental illness than other countries, but does have more guns. 

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New Milford Mayor critical of unauthorized additions at Skate Park

Unauthorized construction at New Milford Skate Park has kept the facility closed for about two weeks now.  The facility was shuttered at the beginning of the month after unknown individuals constructed concrete ramps there. 

 

The Parks and Rec Director was concerned that someone could be injured because there was no oversight or approval for the ramps.  Mayor David Gronbach says he supports the decision.  He says the town is working with a contractor to determine how the additions can be removed without damaging the underlying structure, noting that this process is what has delayed re-opening the park.

 

Gronbach says New Milford could be held liable if injuries resulted after the town did nothing about the additions, adding that private individuals cannot alter Town property simply because they want to.

 

He was also critical of a campaign to raise money to improve the park and keep it open.  Gronbach says $3,235 is budgeted next year to make repairs.  

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ARC honors WCSU professor at 'Keep the Faith' event in Danbury

The Association of Religious Communities has held their annual Keep the Faith event, and they honored Dr. Christopher Kukk, the Director of the Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation.  He is also a Professor of Political Science at Western Connecticut State University.

 

Kukk presented key findings from his recent book, “The Compassionate Achiever.”

 

Kukk organized the Dalai Lama's visit to the University in 2012.  Following that visit, he worked with students to set up a lasting tribute to the event, and formed the Center.  ARC Executive Director Rev. Phyllis Leopold says Dr. Kukk was recognized for his work in making the community and a more peaceful place.

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Danbury law firm donates bicycle safety signs to the City

A Danbury law firm has donated 10 bicycle safety signs to the City in memory of a partner, who was killed last year in a bicycling accident.  Cramer & Anderson made the donation as a tribute to David Burke, who was killed near Bantam Lake on his 63rd birthday, March 15, 2016.  The City Council accepted the donation at their meeting earlier this month.

 

The signs caution motorists that by law, they have to stay 3-feet away from bicyclists on the road. 

 

Law firm partner Dan Casagrande called it a small gesture, but said if it can help avoid another tragic bicycling accident it will be invaluable.  They have made similar donations to other towns in Western Connecticut.

 

Casagrande says the signs are yellow and black, which is a warning, and people can't get a ticket fro disobeying the signs.

 

They will be placed at locations around Danbury that the Public Works Department and others deem appropriate

 

The value of the donation is about $275.

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New Milford Board of Ed outline teaching cuts during meeting

The New Milford Board of Education has approved more than $750,000 in reductions because of the budget approved by voters, presented with cuts from the Board of Finance and Town Council. 

 

The cuts include more teaching positions.  

 

Seven of the eight staff cuts at Sarah Noble Intermediate School are of teachers who are retiring, with the 8th position being a physical education teacher.  The Newstimes reports that an art teacher, a music teacher, a second-grade teacher, a third-grade teacher, two fourth-grade teachers and one fifth-grade teacher will not be replaced. 

 

School officials say Sarah Noble will continue to see a decline while elementary school enrollment has just leveled off.

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Brewster Chamber of Commerce to commemorate 60th anniversary

The Brewster Chamber of Commerce will commemorate its 60th anniversary on August 6th at Wells Park with a 1957-themed event, featuring a vintage car show and music of that era.  A group of former and current residents met with the event's History Committee recently to discussed what Brewster was like in 1957 including schools, businesses and people.  The Chamber meeting this afternoon was aimed at uncovering historical facts about business life in Brewster 60 years ago.

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Members of Congress react to shooting of colleague

The charity Congressional baseball game will go on as planned tonight, the day after a gunman opened fire at the Republican practice session. 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says she hopes there will be a large turnout as a show of solidarity and support. When she first heard about the shooting, Esty says she was shocked, saddened and then relieved to hear none of the staffers, police or colleagues sustained fatal injuries.

 

Esty says she is fortunate to represent the 5th District in Congress, and today there was a real coming together of members. Speeches on the floor today noted that an attack on any member of Congress is an attack on every member of Congress. Esty went further and said it’s an attack on American democracy. She noted that people have a right to disagree, but that it has to be done civilly and without guns.

 

Esty says this is an opportunity for Congress, and the public generally, to remember patriotism and a commitment to reduce the questioning other people’s morals. She says the political debate needs to be political and not personal, and to be done with respect.

 

Esty had only been elected to Congress a month before the shootings at Sandy Hook School. After 12-14, Esty says she received a stern warning from Capitol Police to have an armed presence at public events, and called it a sad reality of life for some members of Congress.

 

Esty says nobody should have to be worried about their safety, whether it’s a Congressman preparing for a charity baseball game or someone in a classroom or movie theater.

 

Sandy Hook Promise, a gun safety group formed in response to 12-14, held their annual gala Wednesday night in Washington, D.C. despite most of the town coming to a standstill.

 

One year ago today, Senator Chris Murphy led a 15-hour Senate filibuster protesting the lack of congressional action on gun control.

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State Insurance Department hears comment on double-digit rate increase requests

The state Insurance Department has held hearings on two rate increase requests.  Commissioner Katherine Wade says the two companies were chosen for the hearing because, collectively , their requests would affect the largest number of consumers.  About 86,000 consumers could be impacted.

 

Anthem is requesting an average increase of 33.8 percent for policies marketed both on and off the state exchange.  ConnectiCare has requested an average increase of 17.5 percent for policies sold exclusively on the exchange.

 

Comments will be accepted by the state Insurance Department through July 1st. 

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Ridgefield Police investigating swastika found at Ballard Park

Ridgefield Police are investigating racist and anti-Semitic graffiti, along with a swastika, found at Ballard Park.  Police said in a statement yesterday that the graffiti was found late Tuesday spray painted and drawn with permanent marker near the stage.  The messages were immediately painted over.  A swastika was found near the playground at Ballard Park in November.

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Flag Day Ceremony held to dedicate new 100 foot flag pole in Danbury

Danbury has dedicated it's new flag pole. 

 

 

 

Held on Flag Day, the ceremony included a performance by the Danbury High School marching band, a tribute from the Veteran's Council and Police Honor Guard, along with reenactors from the greater Danbury community. 

 

 

The 100-foot flag pole is at the corner of West and Main Streets.  The flag is 30 feet by 60 feet.  A smaller flag will be used regularly, with the larger flag for holidays and special events. 

 

 

The original flag pole was donated by Union Veterans in the Grand Army of the Republic in 1937.  The Civil War monument on that green was recently refurbished.  The new iron fencing is a replica of the fencing there in the 1930s.  Mayor Mark Boughton thanked Jim's Welding Service for taking an interest in the project.

 

 

The City paid $75,000 for the new flagpole and restoration work.  Savings Bank of Danbury donated $25,000.

 

Bank President Martin Morgado says the flag pole comes with an important history, as it celebrates 80 years.  He noted that the Savings Bank has operated on Main Street for its entire 168 history, since being founded by the grandfather of Charles Ives.  Morgado noted that they've also agreed to buy a new flag for the City every year for the next five years. 

 

Boughton noted that the flag costs about $2,500.

 

F&M Electric, Rizzo Companies and the Danbury Garden Club also donated services and time.

 

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Conn. Congressional delegation reacts to shooting of House Majority Whip

The congressional charity baseball game will take place as scheduled Thursday night.  The announcement was made just hours after a gunman opened fire early Wednesday on members of Congress who were practicing outside Washington D.C. for the charity baseball game.

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty said in a statement that everyone on her staff is accounted for and were not at the field.  Esty also said they are are praying for GOP friends and colleagues. 

 

Senator Chris Murphy's office says he is the catcher for the Democrats in the upcoming charity baseball game, and noted that the GOP practices on a different field.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says he is horrified by the attack on his congressional family this morning.  He added that he was grateful to the first responders.  Himes added that on the eve of one of the most popular bipartisan traditions in Washington, these attacks have shaken the tight-knit community on the Hill.

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal said his heart goes out to Congressman Scalise, his staff, and the security officials involved in the shooting.  Blumenthal also said he was grateful for swift action of the Capital Police, who unhesitatingly disregarded danger to themselves in protecting others.  Blumenthal also called for everyone to put aside politics and support all affected.

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DHS students meet with mentors on final projects

More than 100 students in the Danbury Early College Opportunity program at Danbury High School met with corporate mentors for the final time this school year on Friday.  During the two-hour event, students and their mentors from Pitney Bowes and NewOak worked in groups sharing their final products while focusing on presentations skills. 

 

Students have worked with mentors since February to find solutions to environmental problems that can be addressed using technology. 

 

The DECO degree program is offered by Naugatuck Valley Community College at the high school as part of the program’s curriculum. Students will begin accelerating their high school requirements so that by sophomore or junior year they can begin incorporating college-level courses. They can expect to complete the Associate Degree in four, five or six years.

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DOT to form Public Advisory Committee for I-84 improvements

A day long community forum about proposed improvements to an 8 mile stretch of Interstate 84 in Danbury was held yesterday.  The state Department of Transportation is looking to make improvements because the layout, combined with the extremely high traffic volumes, can cause excessive delays on both the highway and connected city streets.  Current daily traffic volumes vary from 83,000 to 110,000 vehicles per day.

 

The number of crashes on this stretch of I-84 is approximately 350 per year.

 

The preliminary design stage likely won't start until 2020.  The design process usually takes three to five years.  The duration of construction depends on the preferred alternative and could vary greatly. 

 

On similar highway projects, the federal government has covered about 80 percent of construction costs, with the State funding the remaining 20 percent.  DOT Principal Engineer Rich Armstrong says the total amount of federal aid necessary for all of Connecticut’s transportation needs is insufficient.

 

Between 2009 and 2011, the DOT was preparing a draft Environmental Impact Statement & Environmental Evaluation for capacity improvements on I-84 between New York and Waterbury.  Due to a lack of funding, no further action was taken.  A Deficiencies/Needs Study, focused on Exits 1 to 11, was released during that time.  Recommendations included safety improvements for acceleration and deceleration lanes, local road improvements, widening and improving lane continuity at Exits 3-4 and 7-8, and increased capacity between Exits 3 and 8.

 

A Public Advisory Committee will be formed to inform and advise the Project Team and aid in steering the Project throughout the planning, design and construction processes.  The Committee will be tasked with helping share information about the project with the local stakeholders and communicating opinions and information to the Project Team from the broader community.  The Committee will include neighborhood groups, local and regional authorities, major employers, and advocacy groups.

 

Several alternatives will be considered.  Each concept will be developed and screened to determine whether it meets the project’s purpose and need.  Eventually, lower performing, less desirable and unreasonably priced alternatives will be removed from consideration. 

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Danbury to dedicate new 100-foot flag pole today

Danbury is set to dedicate it's new flag pole today.  On this Flag Day, the ceremony will include a performance by the Danbury High School marching band, a tribute from the Veteran's Council and Police Honor Guard along with reenactors from the greater Danbury community. 

 

The 100-foot flag pole is at the corner of West and Main Streets.  The ceremony is set for 4 pm. 

 

The original flag pole was donated by Union Veterans in the Grand Army of the Republic in 1937.  The Civil War monument on that green was recently refurbished. 

 

The City paid $75,000 for the new flagpole and restoration work.

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FuelCell Energy could furlough some workers this summer

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy is planning to furlough some workers at its Torrington plant this summer.  The shortened work weeks will affect 110 employees.  FuelCell is taking part in the state's “Shared Work Program” which is for companies thinking about laying off a minimum of 10-percent of their workforce.  Employees will be able to collect half unemployment benefits during the furlough and can seek employment elsewhere, while remaining on FuelCel's health plans.  Company officials said in an investor conference call that this could change if state legislation is singed authorizing the purchase of up to 100 megawatts of new generation capacity from renewable sources, including fuel cells. 

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WestCOG submits designs to DOT for projects in Newtown, New Milford

A final design package for Newtown's replacement of the Toddy Hill Road Bridge over Curtis Pond Brook has been submitted to the state Department of Transportation.  Regional planning agency WestCOG says the $3.1 million project replaces a deficient bridge with a wider, longer span to improve hydraulic capacity as well as traffic operations at the adjacent signalized intersection.

 

WestCOG also submitted the final design package for New Milford's Still River Drive Roundabout project to the state Department of Transportation.  The $1.1 million project replaces an all-way stop sign controlled intersection with a roundabout.

 

Construction on each project is expected to begin this year.

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Newtown Police Officer assists in rescuing Waterbury family from house fire

A Newtown Police Officer was among church members who rescued a Waterbury family from a fire in their home Sunday.  The Waterbury Observer reports that a member of Walnut Hill Community Church could feel heat through the walls of the building, and saw fire in the house next door. 

 

The church was evacuated and Newtown Police Officer Will Chapman and others went to work on the rescue plan.  Church elder Tim McCandless, Chapman and congregants, including a 21-year old, ran towards the fire.  The fire forced the family onto the roof, and the two adults handed their four children down to the rescuers. 

 

The family's pets were also rescued.  A kitten was also rescued off the roof. One dog darted back into the kitchen, and 21-year old Luke Amory told the Observer he went inside and pulled the dog back out. 

 

Newtown Police Chief James Viadero says Officer Chapman is an officer who exemplifies professionalism and courage.  He said they are very fortunate to have him as an officer with the agency.  Viadero continued by saying it's officers like Chapman that truly represent all that is good in law enforcement.

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Sandy Hook group drops Megyn Kelly as event host

NEW YORK (AP) An anti-gun violence organization founded by parents of children killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School has dumped Megyn Kelly as host of an event in Washington this week because of her planned interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Kelly said Tuesday that she understands and respects the decision but is disappointed she won't be there.

NBC is taking heat on social media for its Father's Day broadcast of Kelly's interview with the "InfoWars'' host, who has questioned whether the killing of 26 people in 2012 at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, was a hoax.

Nicole Hockley, co-founder of the group Sandy Hook Promise, said she hopes Kelly and NBC reconsider the interview.

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People urged to seek medical help after rabid kitten dies

SOUTHBURY, Conn. (AP) Public health officials in Connecticut are urging anyone who may have handled an injured kitten at a recent Southbury tag sale to seek medical advice.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Pomperaug Health District on Monday said that the black-and-white kitten with a damaged nose died on June 8 and tested positive for rabies on June 9.

Officials believe the four-to-five-week-old kitten was located near the Whiskers Pet Rescue Booth for much of the Southbury Town Wide Tag Sale on June 3 at the Southbury Green.

The animal was first found near the Walmart store off Route 69 in Waterbury.

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BBB issues warning in response to Chipotle data breach

The Connecticut Better Business Bureau has issued a warning in response to Chipotle releasing locations affected by a credit card data breach.  The two restaurants in Danbury were among those where malware could access payment card data between late March and mid-April. 

 

The BBB says as in this case, it may take days, weeks or months for large companies to discover and disclose the theft of private or financial customer information.  Even though credit card numbers and three-digit verification codes were captured, Chipotle says no personal information was stolen. 

 

The BBB is reminding people that you can obtain a free, no strings attached credit report at Annual-credit-report-dot-com, which is run by the three credit reporting companies. You are entitled to a report from each of the companies every 12 months. 

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UPDATED: Newtown families upset by interview with conspiracy theorist

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- The families of some Sandy Hook shooting victims are angered by a TV interview with a conspiracy theorist who has claimed the massacre was a hoax.

The family of slain first-grade teacher Vicki Soto posted a letter to NBC and interviewer Megyn Kelly on Facebook, saying they are disgusted and disappointed in the decision to air an interview with "Infowars" host Alex Jones next Sunday. 

 

A year ago, a New York City man who was a follower of Jones was sentenced to probation after approaching one of Soto's sisters during a charity road race and angrily claiming the shootings never took place.

 

 

They say Jones and his supporters "have done nothing but make our lives a living hell for the last 4 1/2 years."

 

 

Soto was one of six educators killed along with 20 first-grade students in the December 2012 shooting at the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school.

 


The mother of one slain first-grader wrote on Twitter that harassment from people like Jones has been "too much."

 

 

Nelba Marquez Greene wrote on Twitter that she should not "shine a light" on someone with these ideas and instead should shine a light on the parents, siblings and their journeys.  She also tagged Kelly in tweets from so-called truthers calling her a crisis actor, asking for coroner reports and suggesting she sold Ana into a child trafficking ring.

 

On Feb. 20, the Newtown Board of Education wrote a letter asking Trump to denounce those who believe the shooting was a hoax, specifically targeting Jones.  Infowars was given a White House press credential.

 

The Hartford Courant reports that Jones called on Kelly to pull the interview, saying she misrepresented his views on Sandy Hook.  Jones said in a Youtube video that he believes children died at Sandy Hook School and that he has been playing "devil's advocate" during conversations with his listeners who questioned it, saying maybe none of it happened and it was all fake.

 

Sandy Hook Promise announced last night that it agreed with Kelly that she will not host the organization's annual Promise Champions Gala on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

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DOT forum today in Danbury about plans to improve I-84

The state Department of Transportation will host a public information meeting at Western Connecticut State University today about improvement plans for Interstate 84 in Danbury.  The daylong open house at the Student Center is meant to be an introduction to proposals to improve safety, increase capacity, and improve access between Exits 3 and 8. 

 

Engineers and planners will be on hand between noon and 8pm to take questions and suggestions. 

 

The eight-mile stretch is one of the top priorities of the I-84 corridor. 

 

The improvement project is in the early stage of the planning process with the project team reaching out to local residents, commuters, business owners, and other interested parties.  Subsequent phases will include environmental studies. Freight interests, bicycle, and pedestrian advocates are also being sought by planners to ensure the project meets public expectations.

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State Supreme Court considers Sandy Hook families suit against Remington

Final arguments have been made to the state Supreme Court by some Sandy Hook families as they seek to have a trial court reconsider their lawsuit against gun manufacturer Remington.  The state Supreme Court must now decide whether to uphold the ruling on the wrongful death lawsuit or recommit it to Superior Court.  The families claim the AR-15 style rifle should never have been marketed to civilians.  Remington claims they should not be held liable for negligent entrustment.  The Superior Court judge ruled in 2016 that Remington was protected by a federal law that shields the gun industry from most liability when its firearms are misused.

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Danbury kindergartener takes 2nd in national invention convention

A Danbury kindergartener finished in 2nd place for his age at the 2017 National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo in Washington, D.C. last weekend.  King Street student Nico LaRosa invented the  “The No-Pecker Egg Collector" because his family chickens peck aggressively.

 

The sleeve leaves just the hand free to pick up eggs and was developed for the district's invention convention, which is part of the science curriculum. 

 

Nico was one of 10 students in an after school program designed to help students with their inventions. He was the only student from the school to go to the regionals.  More than 300 students from 16 states competed at the invitation-only event held at the headquarters of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Connecticut was the largest delegation with 91 students. 

 

UCONN is providing funding to patent Nico's invention.

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New Milford Town Council gets update on library renovation plans

The New Milford Town Council will get an update tonight from the Library Modernization Committee.  Architects will be presenting the Phase 1 results, the artist's rendering.  Authorization to proceed with Phase 2 of Design Development will be discussed. The revised plans for the teen and children's spaces as well as creating more study rooms, an ADA compliant front entrance and other improvements are among the proposals.  Tonight's New Milford Town Council meeting is 7pm at Town Hall.

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New Milford Police raise $5k for Special Olympics

Greater Danbury area police departments participated in the Special Olympics of Connecticut Torch Run on Friday.  New Milford Police ran a 6 mile route to pass the torch to Brookfield officers.  New Milford Police were able to raise $5,200 for Special Olympics.  The entire New Milford High School student body supported the effort by cheering on officers and Special Olympians.  Chief Shawn Boyne said Officer Novak's commitment to support Special Olympics with the Torch Run is commendable.  Boyne called it a great cause and said his job to see it is successful is not an easy one.

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New Milford award grant to transform property near Housatonic

New Milford has been awarded a $10,000 grant from First Light Power Resources to help transform a piece of town-owned land.  Mayor David Gronbach says the property  at the end of West Street on the Housatonic River will become Hidden Treasures Park.  Logistics and a budget still have to be worked out, but he hopes to have a plan in place in a few months.  This project was first proposed in 1999.

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Candlewood Lake Authority Executive Director retiring

The Executive Director of the Candlewood Lake Authority is stepping down at the end of the month to pursue a new business venture.  Larry Marsicano has led the organization since 2003.  He is going to be a business partner with Aquatic Ecosystem Research.

 

CLA Chairman Phyllis Schaer says that is a great opportunity for him to have more flexibility and focused on lake ecology issues and research.

 

A Human Resources Committee of CLA delegates will start the search for the next Executive Director.  The CLA Chairman, Board members and staff will continue to oversee daily operations, including the Marine Patrol, water quality testing, public education and outreach, and aquatic invasive monitoring and control. 

 

Schaer says Marsicano has created ground breaking programs with a focus on responsible stewardship of Candlewood Lake that will benefit the lake for years to come. 

 

Marsicano helped to create the state's first demonstration Buffer Garden, the annual Candlewood Lake Clean-Up and Project CLEAR.  He also led the lake community’s efforts in the FERC relicensing process and initiated the State’s largest triploid grass carp program. 

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Library book delivery service to be temporarily suspended

The Connecticut State Library is temporarily suspending it's book delivery service.  Bethel Library recently told patrons about the service stop, which will take place from June 19 to July 17.  During that time, residents won't be able to borrow books from other libraries, unless they go to that library.  The temporary suspension is so that new procedures can be implemented.  If patrons have items checked out from a library other than their home facility, those items should be returned directly to that other library.  During the suspension, holds can not be placed on other libraries' material.

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Bridge inspection to impact traffic on Stony Hill Rd

A bridge inspection will affect Stony Hill Road in Brookfield today.  There will be alternating one-way traffic between West Whisconier Road and Stony Farm Lane.  The new traffic pattern is for today only between 9am and 3pm.  The state Department of Transportation is conducting the bridge inspection.

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Redding to offer new incentives to volunteer firefighters, EMTs

Redding plans to offer new new incentives to retain and recruit volunteer firefighters.

 

Active volunteer firefighters and EMTs in Redding earn $1,000 property tax abatements.  The Board of Selectmen recently approved the pilot program.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton says the departments are having difficulty recruiting new members and retaining existing members.  The property tax abatements counts as taxable income so she says it doesn't go as far as it used to.

 

Last year there were 68 eligible residents. 

 

The incentives include 10% discount of all Park and Recreation programs, a free pass to the Transfer and Recycling Station and a free annual pass for individuals to Topstone Park, or 50%-off for families.  Pemberton says town employees already receive this benefit.

 

The potential loss in revenue to the town would be just under $6,000.  Only one member had a pass to Topstone last year.  The Transfer and Recycling Station pass is a $25 value.  The Topstone Park pass is a $60 value.

 

Pemberton pointed out that they would have to pay for the waste that they bring to the Transfer Station.  She also said this would not be a complete loss because the town gets revenue for recyclables they dispose of.

 

Each volunteer fire district is also a special taxing district, which offer some benefits on their own such as life insurance.

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Members of Congress react to fired FBI Director's testimony

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has issued a statement in response to former FBI Director James Comey's testimony this week. 

 

She says Congress and the Department of Justice must continue their dogged pursuit of the facts, wherever they may lead.  She says the testimony confirmed many things that have already been reported, and called it troubling.  Esty interpreted Comey's testimony as President Trump seeking ‘loyalty’ and preferential treatment in exchange for keeping Comey in his post. 

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says the testimony provided more transparency and answers about the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn.  Himes added that he will continue to work with the House Intelligence Committee in a bipartisan fashion to gather documents, interview witnesses and conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation. 

 

Whether the President's behavior rises to the level of obstruction of justice, Himes says is a question for federal law enforcement under the direction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. 

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Local lawmakers tout passage of reforms to Conn. affordable housing laws

A bill reforming the state's affordable housing system was approved by the General Assembly and awaits Governor Malloy's signature. 

 

Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says the statutory reform will bring greater access and inventory of workforce and affordable housing.  But he says it will also allow more local zoning and planning input so projects are compatible with community character and zoning statutes. 

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says municipalities need to be able to control their own destiny and shape how developments impact communities.  She notes that these sometimes controversial development projects often change the town’s character and disrupts neighborhoods because zoners can only reject them if they represent a threat to public health and safety.

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NYFS members honored by Conn. organization

Three members of Newtown Youth and Family Services were honored with Family Champion awards this week by the Connecticut Council of Family Services Agencies.  Individuals from each member agency who have gone above and beyond the call of duty were honored.  Empowering People for Success clinician Beverly Simone and Newtown Public Schools Community Assistance Counselors Christine Stowe and Jennifer Bulluss were presented wit the awards. 

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Danbury Westerners host fundraising breakfast

The Ultimate Pinch Hitter delivers the ultimate pinch hit in Danbury today.  Former New York Met second baseman, and member of the 1986 World Championship NY Mets, Tim Teufel was a last minute stand in for Doc Gooden at Friday morning's annual Danbury Westerners Fundraising Breakfast at The Amber Room.

 

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Sandy Hook Fire official named Firefighter of the Year

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Co Second Assistant Chief Ryan Clark has been selected as their Firefighter of the Year.  During their annual meeting this week, the Outstanding Member Committee cited Clark for being "a tremendous aid" to others in the company for a number of years.  Clark joined Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue in 2005.  Clark is chair of the fire company's Membership Committee. In that capacity, he and others meet with those interested in joining the company, and then guide those who are accepted for probationary periods.  The Firefighter of the Year has been named annually since 1998 to recognize the significant contributions, achievements and long term dedication of an individual.

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New principals, 'Buddy Bench', community garden at Danbury schools

The Danbury School District has hired two new principals for elementary schools.  Carmen Vargas-Guevara will start at South Street in July while Christopher Roche will lead the Academy of International Studies magnet school. 

 

Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella says with her experience working with diverse groups of students, including English Language Learners, Vargas-Guevara brings a blend of building leadership and experience to the South Street School community.  Pascarella says Roche impressed them with both his strategic vision for cultivating continued success at AIS and his willingness to work alongside teachers for the benefit of all students.

 

A patch of grass behind Park Avenue School in Danbury has been turned into a community garden.  United Way parent liaison Maria Vargas helped organized the garden, which was planted in April.  It was funded by United Way and the Graustein Memorial Fund with plant donations by Agway of New Milford and the Ridgefield Garden Club.  Parents helped construct the sidewalk, install fencing, build boxes and plant vegetables.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned before the end of the school year.

 

Four students from Westside Middle School in Danbury, who are members of Girl Scout Troop 50011, have presented a “Buddy Bench” to Shelter Rock School.  Julia Wiblishauser, Ani Krolian, Kaya Faysbender, and Kaitlyn Klampert earned a Girl Scout Silver Award, the organization's second highest award, for building the bench. 

 

The bench was designed, built and painted by the four girls and is a place where children can find friendship as part of the district’s “Start with Hello” anti-bullying campaign sponsored by Sandy Hook Promise.  Principal Dawn Bartz noted that the girls are graduating eighth grade this year and were her students at Westside in 6th grade.

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Putnam County Sheriff to serve on Hospice board

Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith has been named as a member of the  Regional Hospice and Palliative Care volunteer Board of Directors.  Smith's wife, Jane, spent two weeks at the Center for Comfort Care & Healing during the final stages of her battle with breast cancer in 2015. 

 

Smith then publicly advocated on behalf of the center’s mission as a member of the agency’s stewardship committee. 

 

Regional Hospice President & CEO Cynthia Emiry Roy said Smith and his family used the center as they envisioned.  Smith was able to be by his wife's side while having his work set up in the family kitchen and other quiet spaces. 

 

Regional Hospice and Palliative Care has served Fairfield, New Haven, Hartford & Litchfield counties with nonprofit home hospice care for over 30 years.  In 2015, the organization opened the state-of-the-art Center for Comfort Care & Healing in Danbury. This family-centered hospice residence is Connecticut's first and only private-suite facility.

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Local police departments to take part in Special Olympics Torch Run on Friday

New Milford Police are participating in the in the Special Olympics torch run.  They will be making their way from the Town Green then south on Route 7.  Drivers are alerted to expect minor delays around 7:30am.

 

New Milford will pass the torch to Brookfield at the Faith Churcharound 8:45am.  Brookfield officers will run south on Route 202 and take a left onto Federal Road before continuing south all the way through town.

 

Drivers are cautioned to expect some delays. 

 

At approximately 9:45am, the Brookfield Police Department will hand the torch over to the Danbury Police Department on Federal Road.  Danbury Officers will then head to White Street and Crosby Street before heading down Main and South Streets.  

 

They will hand the torch over to the Bethel Police Department.

 

The Garner Correctional, Newtown Police, and Redding Police Departments will be running the Newtown portion of the 2017 Special Olympics Torch Run.  The run is slated from approximately 11:30am until 1pm.

 

They will take the Torch from the Bethel Police Department in the area of Dodgingtown Market and from there they will run the torch down Route 302, onto Glover Avenue, make a left onto Queen Street, take a right onto Church Hill Road, and end at the Blue Colony Diner.

 

The torch will then be passed onto State Police Troop A. 

 

The Special Olympics torch run is a way to raise awareness for Special Olympics of Connecticut as well as a way for local law enforcement agencies to raise money for Special Olympics of Connecticut.

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Rule changes implemented at Dike Point Recreational Park in New Milford

FirstLight Power Resources, the owner of the Dike Point Recreational Park in New Milford, has started a reservation system to address public safety and public health concerns.  The park has become a popular beach destination and has experienced overcapacity issues in recent years.  Walk-ins and unauthorized users will not be admitted.  

 

The park officially opened Monday at noon.  New park hours for the summer recreation period will be Monday-Friday, noon to 8pm and on weekends from 8am to 8pm. 

 

The reservation is for one vehicle, holding a maximum of four passengers. 

 

First Light says they acted because of damage to park facilities, increased littering, and regular calls to the local police for issues such as domestic disturbances and noise complaints.  On-site security will continue to enforce a “carry in, carry out” policy on trash, new hours will be enforced and alcoholic beverages will no longer be permitted. 

 

Reservations, which are based on parking limitations, can be made online.

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Route 7 road closure this weekend for bridge replacement project

Part of Route 7 in Ridgefield will be closed for the weekend.  Route 7 between Routes 35 and 102 will be closed from 8pm tomorrow through Monday at 6am.  This is the first of five scheduled weekend closures due to a bridge replacement project.  The next closure will take place towards the end of the month.  Local traffic and those needing to access businesses on Route 7 will still be allowed access, except to the area where the bridge construction is taking place.

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Public hearing continued on Little League field proposal

A third public hearing has been scheduled in Ridgefield about a proposed Little League field.  The Planning and Zoning held a meeting Tuesday and opted to leave the hearing open until their June 20th meeting.  The field is planned for state land at the intersection of Route 7 and Simpaug Turnpike.  The Board of Selectmen has signed off on the plan.  

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Bill targeting out-of-state car registrations stalled in House

A bill that would have targeted people who register their vehicles out of state was approved by the Senate, but stalled in the House during the final hours of the session.  Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan authored the bill in an effort to help municipal tax assessors find tax dodgers.  He noted that property taxes are the primary source of funding for local governments.

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Connecticut lawmakers end challenging session

Connecticut lawmakers have wrapped up what's been a challenging legislative session.  They still have to pass a new, two-year state budget that covers a projected $5 billion deficit.  Danbury state Representative Bob Godfrey says they didn't really know what having a tied senate would mean for a number of bills.  Godfrey says this was one of the most frustrating sessions.

 

Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan says Republicans were eventually allowed to call up their budget proposal as an amendment.  He says there's no excuse for not having a budget.

 

Senate Democrats claimed debate was "political theater" and a waste of time on the final day.  It's unclear when budget talks between Governor Malloy and legislative leaders will resume now that the session has adjourned.  Many outstanding issues are tied up in the budget process, ranging from public education funding reform to the possible privatization of more state-run social service programs.

 

Bucking with tradition, Malloy did not deliver a midnight address to lawmakers. 

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Schaghticoke Chief weighs in on casino bill passage

The Chief of the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation is weighing in on final passage of a bill that would allow the two federally recognized tribes to jointly operate a 3rd casino.  The tribe is urging the Governor to veto this bill, if not the tribe would look into a court challenge. 

 

In a statement, Governor Malloy said he will not sign a bill that puts jobs at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun at risk.

 

Chief Richard Velky was advocating for an open competitive bidding process.  The Schaghticokes favor a casino in southwestern Connecticut, which they say would be five times more profitable than the plans for East Windsor.

 

If the tribe does take legal action, Velky says it would show how the bill violates the U.S. and State Constitutions.

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Lawmakers vote for transportation funding lockbox

Connecticut lawmakers have passed legislation that could eventually prevent state transportation funds from being spent on other projects.

The Senate on Wednesday voted for a resolution that would create an amendment to the state's constitution, guaranteeing that transportation funds are spent only on transportation projects. The proposal previously passed the House of Representatives.

Voters will be asked to approve the amendment during the next statewide election in November 2018.

 

Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky called it another bite at a bad apple because it was based on a failed 2015 proposal, which also happened to sweep $35 million from the Special Transportation Fund for unrelated expenses.

 

Bolinsky says it's more like a colander because it does not effectively lock-in the funds.  He called it a false lockbox because the guarantees are weak that funding streams won't be raided before they get to the lockbox.

 

Senators Mike McLachlan and Craig Miner voted against the bill.  Senators Toni Boucher and Tony Hwang voted for it.

 

Bethel Representative Will Duff, Steve Harding of Brookfield, New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith, Bill Buckbee of New Milford, Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski and John Frey of Ridgefield opposed the measure. 

 

Danbury Representatives David Arconti, Robert Godfrey and Michael Ferguson along with Adam Dunsby of Easton voted in favor of the bill.

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Rules for ride-hailing services heads to governor's desk

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Legislation creating rules for ride-hailing services for the first time in Connecticut is heading to the governor.

After three years of the debate, the bill finally passed the Senate on a 28-8 vote late Tuesday. It previously cleared the House of Representatives.

Both Uber and Lyft, which now operate unregulated in Connecticut, supported the legislation, which requires criminal background checks for drivers and $1 million in liability insurance coverage once a passenger gets in the vehicle. It also sets limits on surge pricing.

Uber General Manager Matthew Powers says the legislation marks a ``monumental step forward to maintaining safe, affordable and reliable transportation for riders and flexible economic opportunities for drivers.''

Danbury Republican Sen. Michael McLachlan complained the background checks and insurance requirements are less strict than those affecting taxis.

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State House approves bill expanding licenses for off-track betting

It's unclear if the Danbury Zoning Commission will be swayed by recent action taken at the state level to open up more off-track betting licenses when they reconsider a proposal by Sportech Venues.  The company holds exclusive licensing rights in the state and is looking to put an OTB facility on the 2nd floor of Two Steps. 

 

The Danbury Zoning Commission approved a text amendment allowing off-track betting as an accessory use in a restaurant.  The approval was not site specific. 

 

Another downtown business owner filed a lawsuit seeking to appeal the decision alleging noncompliance with notification requirements.  The Zoning Commission will likely hear the application again.  Sportech Venues doesn't agree with the allegation in the complaint, but intends to go back to the Zoning Commission to put the issue to rest.

 

Concerns were raised during the public hearing about the possibility that the state could change regulations about off-track betting at any given time, or expand it.  Currently, Sportech is allowed 18 licenses, Danbury would be the 17th location.  But the House approved a bill Tuesday allowing Sportech to have eight more off-track betting licenses, for a total of 24 possible locations throughout the state.

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Brookfield applying for moratorium on 8-30g requirements

Brookfield has submitted an application to the State for a four year moratorium on the requirements to accept 8-30-G housing. The 8-30-G law allows developers to build any size housing development, as long as the a certain percent is set aside as affordable housing. 

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says Brookfield welcomes development, including some affordable housing, but called losing control over what gets built as wrong.  8-30-G developments don't have to follow zoning laws, except for health and safety. 

 

If the town's application for the moratorium is approved, Dunn says Brookfield will have the ability to control development, particularly in the new town center.

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Aspetuck Land Trust honored by Aquarion Water Company

Aquarion Water Company has held their 7th annual Aquarion Environmental Champion Awards.  Nominations in the categories of Business, Non-Profit Organization, Adult and Student recognize volunteer projects that have significantly contributed to the improvement of environmental quality through the protection, conservation, restoration and stewardship of Connecticut’s water, air, soils, and plant and wildlife habitats. 

 

This year's nonprofit winner was the Aspetuck Land Trust. 

 

In 2016, Aspetuck marked 50 years of conservation success, had 1,000 members supporting its work, and recognized 1,700 acres of green space it has helped to protect throughout Westport, Weston, Fairfield, Easton, Wilton, Redding, and Bridgeport.  This land protected by the group provides a safe home for over 500 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, and plants and is accessible to the public for outdoor recreation and scientific education.

 

Other notable accomplishments include a three-year project with Connecticut DEEP to restore salt marshes with native plants along the Saugatuck River and the maintenance of 40 miles of hiking trails along its 45 nature preserves.

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Awards to be presented to two New Milford residents for dedication to Community Service, Arts

The Leonardo DaVinci Award, created by a New Milford businessman, will be presented to two residents for  exemplifying the ideals of Community Service and Arts.  New Milford Mayor David Gronbach says recipient Lisa Martin has volunteered for Loaves & Fishes Hospitality House, the local soup kitchen, since 2006. She has presided over fundraising and purchase of new property.  The other recipient is Jeremy Haase Ruman, who has been involved in the Merwinsville Hotel restoration.  They will be honored at a ceremony on Saturday at the New Milford Historical Society.

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Energize CT hosts Student Contest Award Ceremony

Energize Connecticut has honored 43 finalists during its 13th annual Student Contest Award Ceremony at the State Capitol.  Over 1,200 Connecticut students in grades K-12 and college competed in this year’s contest.  It encourages students to utilize their science, engineering, technology, art and mathematics skills to showcase their knowledge of energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainability. 

 

Among the 43 winners were three New Fairfield High School seniors.  

 

Aileen Leon, Sydney Gouveia and Thomas Ciardi took first, second and third place.  Students in grade 12 created a persuasive image that advocated for energy conservation, alternate energy source or addressed an environmental concern.

 

Students in grades K-8 answered grade-level specific prompts in the form of a poster (Grades K-2), narrative (Grade 3), news article (Grade 4), book review (Grade 5), essay (Grade 6), speech (Grade 7), or public service announcement (Grade 8). Students in grades 9-11 competed in the community service-learning project award category, which asked students to propose a community-based project to address an energy-related issue. 

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House Oks bill to expand off-track betting

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Connecticut House has approved a bill that was crafted to garner more support for another bill authorizing a tribal casino in East Windsor.


Lawmakers voted 77-72 early this morning in favor of the proposal, which expands the number of off-track betting locations across the state and requires the Department of Consumer Protection to set up a framework for possible sports betting. The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate.

The General Assembly will adjourn its regular session at midnight.

The bill, reached at the eleventh-hour Tuesday, also creates an entertainment sharing agreement between the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes and entertainment venues across the state.

Sportech, which runs OTB facilities in Connecticut, says it's worried about how the MGM casino will impact its venues without any remedies to protect employees.  Sportech is looking to open a new OTB facility in Danbury.

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Brookfield Selectmen approve some ordinance changes

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has approved a request from the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut to receive Neighborhood Assistance Act funding.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says the Y asks for funding each year for their annual support campaign.  The program is run through the state Department of Revenue Services, and is no cost to the town.  The YMCA is seeking $150,000.  They can get donations and the donors can get tax credits. 

 

The Brookfield ordinance about Food Service Establishments was also updated.  The change brings the town measure in line with state statute, which says a municipality can withhold or revoke permits for those with delinquent taxes. 

 

The Selectmen also requested Monday that the Board of Finance approve $475,000 in bonding for matching funds  for the Brookfield Streetscape Project, Phase 2.  They previously approved an application for the money, but not to bond it so the Selectmen want to make sure everything is filed properly.  If the Board of Finance approve the request, a Special Town Meeting would be scheduled for July 10 at 6:30pm in Meeting Room 133.

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Connecticut House debate on tolls comes up short on votes

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Proponents of legislation that could lead to tolls on Connecticut's highways say they don't have enough votes to pass the bill.

Democratic House Speaker Matt Ritter abruptly ended debate Tuesday after 90 minutes, admitting "we're going to fall short today ... by the narrowest of margins."

Lawmakers have said they needed one more vote to pass the bill allowing the Department of Transportation to study where to locate electronic toll gantries. The plan required legislative approval.

Democratic Rep. Tony Guerrera says Connecticut desperately needs revenue to fix its aging transportation infrastructure, adding how it "cannot afford to have another bridge collapse, to have a piece of concrete fall on a vehicle."

But opponents say the congestion mitigation tolls being considered would be too widespread and a financial burden for taxpayers.

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Bill to add recycling bins to restaurants sent back to committee

A bill requiring certain retail food establishments to have recycling bins on the premises has been referred by the state House back to the Environment Committee.  Today is the final day of the General Assembly session, so it's unlikely this bill will become a law. 

 

Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding was skeptical that this would be a savings for businesses.  He says savings aren't generally found for businesses through government mandates.  He notes that if it's a savings, businesses are going to do it themselves.

 

Bill sponsor Representative James Albis says the cost to recycle is cheaper than the cost to throw away.

 

The goal was to increase recycling of bottled and canned beverages, increase the overall waste diversion in the state and decrease the cost of waste management for towns. 

 

There is a cost to municipalities that experience increased tipping fees as a result of the expanded recycling program under the amendment's provisions. The cost will vary based on the volume of new items municipalities must recycle. But it was anticipated that the cost to municipalities will be at least partially offset by revenue deposited into the newly established tipping fee subaccount and used to reimburse municipalities for these costs.

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Chipotle identifies locations affected by nationwide data breach

Fast food chain Chipotle announced in April that its customer payment system had been breached, and now the company has released affected locations.  The "unauthorized activity" on the system for credit card transactions occurred from March 24th to April 18th, including at the Danbury locations at the mall and on Mill Plain Road.  The State Department of Consumer Protection is reminding people to check credit card statements regularly.  The Department notes that hackers and skimmers will test you and your credit card company with small charges to see if they get noticed.  Chipotle says the investigation is ongoing, though additional security measures have been added.

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Another downtown Danbury business owner expresses concern over OTB approval

Another Main Street business owner has joined in concern expressed over Off Track Betting possibly coming to Danbury.  As previously reported, downtown business owner Andrea Gartner filed a lawsuit seeking to appeal the Zoning Commission's approval on several grounds.  Now Mothership Bakery co-owner Andrea White has expressed apprehension about the idea.  She says Mothership on Main has a wholesome and family-friendly customer base, which they would like to maintain and add to.  White says they have already invested so much to help revitalize Main Street, and this will impact them.

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White House says Trump won't block Comey testimony

The White House says President Trump will not assert executive privilege to try to block testimony by fired FBI Director James Comey. 

 

House Intelligence Committee Member Jim Himes says he's not surprised.  The 4th District Congressman says it would have been strange for any President to exert executive privilege over someone who is now a private citizen whose been asked to testify before Congress.  Himes added that it also would have looked bad.

 

One of the reasons Himes is looking forward to Comey's testimony Thursday is because of the multiple explanations President Trump has given for firing Comey, including pressure of the Russia investigation.

 

Himes notes that this is the first time in his opinion that the White House is taking the right approach.  He says if there's nothing to hide, there's no harm in getting all of the information out. 

 

Himes says the Committee needs to get the specifics of what President Trump said to Comey because there are questions that need to get answered.  But he also wants to know what Comey said to the President, because Trump alleged he was told three times he wasn't under investigation.

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Bill changing Conn. Technical High School System leadership approved by House

A bill to make the Connecticut Technical High School System into an independent executive-branch agency has been approved by the House and awaits Senate action.  The 17-school system, which includes Henry Abbott in Danbury, would be lead by someone appointed by the governor and approved by the General Assembly.  That person would oversee the superintendent.   The system's former superintendent, Nivea Torres, quit in April amid an  investigation into  $4.5 million in taxpayer-funded contracts with a marketing firm.  They were for promotional services, including writing her tweets.

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State budget problems force Danbury to seek federal grant to rehab Octagon house

The Danbury City Council last month signed off on applying to the state for grant money to prepare architectural plans for the rehabilitation of the Octagon House.  The state  Historic Preservation Office has advised the City that, because of state budgetary constraints, that pool of money is no longer available. 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton wrote to the Council for their meeting tonight that they can look at federal funding.

 

Danbury received Certified Local Government designation years ago and is therefore eligible for the federal Grant Program.  The city is seeking the same amount, $20,000.  Danbury will put up matching funds.  The City's share has been allocated in the capital budget, and that money remains available.

 

The City Council must change the resolution to apply for federal funding.

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Physical therapist sentenced for obstruction, tax fraud

A physical therapist has been sentenced for obstruction and tax fraud offenses.  49-year old Danielle Faux of Weston was ordered to two years of probation, the first six months in home confinement.  Faux was also ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and to pay a $3,000 fine. 

 

An audit of Faux's Norwalk physical therapy practice requested records of 40 Medicare claims, including appropriate documentation to support the services billed and progress notes.  Authorities say no patient progress notes or similar records existed so Faux instructed a physical therapist working for her to create the records. 

 

Faux skimmed checks and cash proceeds from her physical therapy practice for four years and did not declare the proceeds on her federal income tax returns.  She avoided paying $77,640 in taxes during that time and was ordered to pay restitution. 

 

In a related civil matter, Faux agreed to pay $50,000 to settle allegations that she and her practice submitted false records to the Medicare program in violation of the False Claims Act.

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Hearst acquires New Haven Register, other newspapers

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Hearst has announced it has acquired the New Haven Register and other newspapers from Digital First Media.

The Register Citizen, of Torrington, and The Middletown Press were also acquired in the deal announced Monday. The newspapers will be added to the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

The group now includes eight daily and 11 weekly newspapers and a number of digital outlets.

Hearst says the acquisitions reach more than 470,000 households combined and 1.4 million online visitors.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Hearst bought The Hour newspaper in Norwalk and the Wilton Villager last year.

Other Hearst Connecticut properties include the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport, The News-Times in Danbury, The Advocate in Stamford, and the Greenwich Time.

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State Police determine bomb threat at Henry Abbott to be unfounded

A bomb threat was found written on a men's bathroom wall at Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury this morning.  The school was evacuated around 9:30am and students were dismissed for the day.  Parents were told to pick up their children from the nearby Shoprite plaza.  State and local police helped with the dismissal. 

 

The State Police Emergency Services Unit responded.  The unit includes the Bomb Squad, K-9s, and SWAT.  The threat was determined to be unfounded after a search of the building. 

 

Troopers cleared the scene around noon. 

 

Danbury school officials say Hayestown Elementary was placed in a soft lockdown as a precaution because of the police activity.

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Bill approved by Conn. House to expand health benefits for women

A bill expanding health benefits for women, children and adolescents has been unanimously approved by the state Senate.  The measure awaits House action.  Monroe Senator Kevin Kelly introduced an amendment allowing for a brief special enrollment period for uninsured pregnant women.  The measure maintains Affordable Care Act for women's preventive services with no cost sharing.  The bill includes coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptive and sterilization methods.  Officials say the legislation will ensure that no matter what happens at the federal level, access to contraceptives and other medical care will be available through insurance plans to Connecticut women, regardless of income level.

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Newtown Rep. introduces bill to open opportunities for nonprofits to raise money

A bill authored by Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky has been approved by the House and awaits Senate action.  The bill creates a means for local nonprofit organizations to collect charitable dollars online for local use.  The Newtown Lions Club approached Bolinsky about this issue because of less funding available to charitable organizations.  The bill allows registered 501c3 charities to sell fundraising raffle tickets on their websites, which they currently can't do.

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Bill strengthening domestic violence laws clears General Assembly

Brookfield state Representative Stephen Harding is touting passage of a bill strengthening Connecticut's domestic violence laws.  Several changes to current law are made under the bill headed to Governor Malloy. 

 

The bill updates stalking laws to say that electronic or social media are among the ways to stalk someone.  It also broadens the strangulation statutes to include suffocation when a person obstructs another person's nose or mouth.  The bill increases the penalty for violations of release conditions when the violation involves certain conduct. 

 

Lastly, it requires a pre-sentence investigation for anyone convicted of a family violence crime for which a prison sentence may be imposed and prohibits them from waiving the investigation.

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New Fairfield holds organic recycling program event

New Fairfield kicked off their organic recycling program with an event this weekend. Kits are available for at the Town's Recycling Center, which is the drop off site for the program.  The Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority is collaborating with New Fairfield on the program to keep food waste out of landfills. 

 

According to the EPA food waste is wet and heavy, which doesn't make burning it at a Waste-to-Energy facility efficient for energy content and creates methane in landfills. The  Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is 23 times more efficient at trapping heat than CO2. 

 

The cost to tip the 6 gallon container is $1, which is less than the cost to dispose of household trash. This program is designed to save money on household trash expenses.

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Kimberly Farm owners welcomed to Hartford by New Milford State Rep.

New Milford state Representative Bill Buckbee welcomed Kimberly Farm to the Capitol last week.   He addressed the chamber and said that Kimberly Farm has been providing the community fresh produce and dairy products as a family-owned farm since 1955.  Kimberly Farm is located on Route 109 between New Milford and Washington and spans over 300 acres.

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Public hearing to be held in Brookfield on three items

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen is holding a public hearing tonight on three items.  One is a request from the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut to receive Neighborhood Assistance Act funding.  The YMCA is asking for $150,000 for their annual support campaign.  The program is run through the state Department of Revenue Services. 

 

The pubic hearing will also be about updates to the Brookfield ordinance about Food Service Establishments.  The change would bring the town measure in line with state statute which says a municipality can withhold or revoke permits for those with delinquent taxes. 

 

The last item up for a public hearing is about changes to applications for building permits because of new software being used.  The change will only apply to delinquent properties.  Brookfield currently requires taxes be paid up in order to get a permit. 

 

The public hearing is at 7:15pm in Brookfield Town Hall and will be followed by the Board of Selectmen meeting.

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Newtown Kennel Club to donate $15k toward new K9 officer

During Tuesday night's Newtown Police Commission meeting, the Newtown Kennel Club will donate $15,000 for a new K9 officer for the Newtown Police Department.  The donation will cover the purchase and training of a new police dog after the sudden loss of K9 Officer Saint Michael, who passed away in April.

 

The Newtown Kennel Club donated to the purchase of Saint Michael and gave annual donations for his care, training, and well-being.  The organization says the K9 unit plays an important role in the community and they wanted to ensure that funding for another dog was not an obstacle to move forward. 

 

Newtown Chief of Police James Viadero says the partnership that's developed over the years with the Newtown Kennel Club has allowed the department to provide K9 services to the town.

 

The Newton Police Commission meeting is at 6:30pm tomorrow.

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Design concept for Community Center approved by Newtown Board of Selectmen

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has signed off on a schematic design concept for the new community and senior center.  During their meeting last week, the Board directed the design team to move forward based on proposed designs for the facility. 

 

The Public Building & Site Commission met about the project to start finalizing materials and design.  Architect Rusty Malik updated the Board of Selectmen on conceptual aspects of the project.  He noted that there will still be opportunity for input on some specific components. 

 

The multipurpose area includes two movable walls to allow for different configurations.  Seniors would enter into their own separate lobby. 

 

An expert will be brought in to consult on the aquatic portion of the facility.  The plan calls for a six-lane lap pool and a smaller adjacent, zero-entry activity pool. 

 

The community center, not including the aquatic space, is about 17,500 square feet.  The senior center would be about 9,500 square feet.  The aquatic space, with mechanicals, would be 16,875 square feet. The finished building is currently projected to be approximately 44,860 square feet.

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Students to 'keep fighting' for aid bill despite setback

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Immigrant students without legal status in the United States say they're not giving up on passing legislation that would make them eligible for institutional financial assistance at state-run colleges and universities in Connecticut.

Danbury High School graduate Camila Bortoleto, campaign manager for Connecticut Students for a Dream, said Saturday that advocates have gained support for the bill and "will keep fighting." Senate debate on the bill lasted for two hours Friday night before it was abruptly halted.

It appears unlikely the bill will come up for a vote again before the legislative session adjourns on Wednesday.

This year marked the fourth year that legislation has been proposed making the immigrant students eligible for different forms of financial aid funded by tuition payments from all students. Opponents say the bill sends the wrong message.

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Transit Oriented Development planning meeting to be held in Danbury

Danbury is studying ways to revitalize CityCenter.  A planning meeting for transit-oriented development is being held later this month.  City officials are looking for recommendations on how to make downtown Danbury into a more welcoming, vibrant place.  The planning session is set for June 20th from 5:30 to 8pm at the Palace Theater.

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Revaluation being done in Bethel

The revaluation process is underway in Bethel.  The state requires municipalities to assess property values every five years to ensure the tax burden is distributed equally.  Some properties have appreciated at different rates than others since the last revaluation in 2012.  The reassessment takes effect in June 2018 tax bills.

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June is 'License your Dog' month

June is "License your Dog" month.  The Bridgewater Town Clerk's Office is running a drive to support the Animal Welfare Society throughout June.  Officials are asking that people who are renewing or getting licenses to consider donating dog/cat food, toys or other items.

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New Milford River Trail designated as a state greenway

The Governor's Greenways Council designated two new State greenways at a ceremony this morning.  One is the New Milford River Trail Greenway.  The primary purpose of the greenway is to provide recreational opportunities in the form of a 13 mile long trail following the Housatonic and the Still Rivers. 

 

The Historic New Milford Village Center is located adjacent to the proposed Greenway.  It also offers educational opportunities related to the historic Boardman Bridge. 

 

It also connects to Town and State Parks such as Sega Meadows Park, the Young's Field Ballfields and the Young's Field River Walk Trail, Hidden Treasure Park, Lover's Leap State Park, Harrybrooke Park and the Boardman Road Ballfields as well as the regional Housatonic Riverbelt and Still River Greenways.

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Brookfield Police participate in 'Kids Day' Sunday

The Brookfield Police Department is participating in a Kids Day on Sunday.  K9 Argo and Sgt. Osuch will be conducting a demonstration, Dive Team and SWAT equipment will be on display, as well as their popular 6x6 off-road vehicle.  Department Car Seat technicians will be onsite to answer questions and schedule car seat installations. 

 

The Brookfield Police Department will also be having a hands-on event they hope will reinforce the need to wear a seatbelt.  People 16 and older can take a ride on "The Convincer" which simulates a 5 MPH crash. 

 

The event Sunday is from 11am to 3pm at Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company on Pocono Road.

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Uptick in calls to Ridgefield Police about possibly abandoned fawns

Ridgefield Police have received some calls from residents who are worried about young deer possibly being abandoned.  Wildlife officials say they are often left alone at this time of year and newborn fawns instinctively freeze and will lay motionless when approached.  People are being advised to leave fawns alone for at least 48 hours to determine whether the mother is returning for feedings. A truly orphaned fawn may show signs of distress by walking around aimlessly and calling out for several hours.

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Esty reacts to withdraw from Paris Climate Accord

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty was critical of the decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  She said American companies are creating jobs every day to meet the world's need for sustainable, affordable energy--but by turning his back on global commitments Esty said President Trump is reversing the growth in our economy.  She says the withdrawl endangers the wellbeing of the ever-larger number of Americans who live in areas that are bearing the costs of erratic weather patterns that are the hallmark of climate change.

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Eversource acquires Aquarion Water Co. in $1.675 billion deal

Eversource Energy is acquiring Aquarion Water Company.  It's a deal of $880 million cash and $795 million of assumed Aquarion debt.  The transaction is expected to close by December 31st.  

 

The acquisition requires approval from the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission.  It also requires U.S. Justice Department review.

 

Aquarion has more than 300 employees, while Eversource employs 8,000.  Eversource serves 3.7 million electric and natural gas customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  Aquarion serves nearly 230,000 customers in the same states.

 

Eversource chairman, president and CEO Jim Judge says this transaction combines two companies that are leaders in providing the critical infrastructure New England residents and businesses need to grow and thrive.  Judge says the transaction is part of Eversource's commitment to helping New England meet its environmental and sustainability goals.

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Praxair announces new agreement for merger with Linde AG

Danbury-based Praxair and Linde AG have entered into a definitive business combination agreement to merge.  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 regulatory approval. In a news release, Praxair said the merger will create the world’s largest industrial gas company with a combined market value of more than $70 billion.  The merger will retain the Munich company's name, though they would be equal partners.  Praxair recently moved it's headquarters to Berkshire Corporate Park and officials expect to keep a significant presence in Danbury.

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Renovated Lynn Demming Park reopens in New Milford

Lynn Demming in New Milford was reopened to the public this weekend following an overhaul to the Candlewood Lake park.  There is still some work left to do.

 

A safer and expanded parking lot, playground, trails into the woods, benches and grills and new swimming docks were among the improvements made.  When the old swim docks were pulled out of water, it was determined that they were rotting and not in good shape.  Now that they've been replaced, there's a safe place for people to swim and do laps.  Mayor David Gronbach says this also aids the "learn to swim" program run at the park.

 

Upgrades were made to the kayak/canoe/paddle board racks and the existing lifeguard buildings were also completed.  A new fishing dock will be added soon.

 

A grand reopening will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

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Boughton weighs in on potential Aetna move from Conn.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who has formed an exploratory committee for a statewide run for office in 2018, is weighing in on Aetna's potential move out of Connecticut.  The insurer is looking to move because of what he called the disastrous policies of the last seven years.  He discussed the topic on Facebook Live.  Aetna has called Connecticut home since the 1880s, and if they move, Boughton says the company could take $8 million in tax revenue with them.

 

If they leave, Boughton says the ripple effect will be innumerable.  Nearly 6,000 employees work out of the Hartford headquarters.

 

Boughton says the Malloy-Wyman administration's policies have created the death spiral that Connecticut is currently in.  He specifically cited the billions of dollars in deficits facing the state over the next two fiscal years.

 

He then moved into a discussion of his plans, if elected to higher office.  He plans to look at ways to reduce or remove the state income tax.  Boughton says Connecticut has seen declines since it was implemented, and his plan is one way to spur economic growth.

 

Boughton also wants to streamline the permit process.  He says it takes too long right now for businesses.  Danbury has implemented something called concurrent permitting where developers submit one set of plans, at one time, and get an answer quickly.

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Stones' Keith Richards auctions goods for autistic adults

WESTON, Conn. (AP) - Rolling Stones fans are sure to get some satisfaction from an upcoming auction to benefit a pair of Connecticut charities that help autistic adults.

The Stamford Advocate reports that Stones guitarist Keith Richards and his wife, Patti Hansen, are donating items from their Manhattan apartment to benefit the Prospector Theater and Sphere Inc ., both based in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Hansen's nephew has received services from the organizations.

The couple lives in nearby Weston.

The 73-year-old Richards' guitars and flamboyant stage costumes aren't on the auction block. Instead, items for sale include Italian, French and English furniture, Persian carpets, paintings, Waterford crystal, and even a skull-motif china tea set.

The auction is being handled by Stair Galleries in Hudson, New York, on June 24. The preview begins June 10.

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Burnham School could soon have just two classes of students

Burnham Elementary School in Bridgewater is preparing to merge six grades into two classrooms. 

 

Declining enrollment prompted the proposal in the Region 12 budget approved earlier this year.  The Newstimes reports that kindergarten through second-grade would be in one classroom while third through fifth-grade would be in another.  There would be two teachers in each room. 

 

The published report says school officials believe high achieving students would have more opportunity to work beyond their grade level. 

 

There was initial concern with the proposal that it would discourage young families from moving to Bridgewater and lead to a further decline in enrollment.

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Ceremony held at Joel Barlow to recognize good samaritans

A ceremony was held at Joel Barlow High School in Redding yesterday to recognize the good samaritans who pulled over and helped rescue six teenagers involved in a fiery single car crash in mid-April.  Chris Consiglio, Richard Nichio, Ann Brown and Kim Plourde were all driving along Route 107 at the time.  Consiglio reportedly saw the crash happen and helped one of the girls who was partially ejected from the vehicle.  Nichio patted the flames out over one of the boy's body. 

 

All six teenagers survived. 

 

The first responders included the Redding Police Department, Georgetown Fire Department, Redding Fire and EMS, Co. #1, West Redding Fire Department, Ridgefield and Wilton/Weston paramedics, and Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals.  They were all recognized, with specific mention of Georgetown assistant fire chief Greg Zapp, dispatcher Michael Boweres and Redding Police officers Colin O’Connor and Rachel Cardella, and Sgt. Tim Succi. 

 

The teens involved are Ryan Capozziello, 18, and Thomas Bull, 18, both of Fairfield and Allison Loder, 17, and Ryan Gombos, 16, of Easton; and Janelle Pompea, 16, and Grant Ciccarello, 16, of Redding.

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At least four candidates seek Newtown's top job

Another potential candidate in the race for Newtown First Selectman has announced that they are seeking the town's top spot. 

 

Dan Rosenthal announced on Facebook Live that he wants to be the Democratic candidate.  His father, Herb, and grandfather, Jack, have both held the position. 

 

Three Republicans are likely to compete for their party's nomination.  Legislative Council chair Mary Ann Jacob, Selectman Will Rodgers and Board of Ed member Andrew Clure have announced their intentions to follow Pat Llodra in the job. 

 

The four-term incumbent announced last month that she will be retiring at the end of the current term.

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DHS senior receives scholarship from EdAdvance

A Danbury High School senior has received a scholarship from EdAdvance, an educational organization.  Sonni Barrios was chosen from more than 50 applicants to receive the scholarship for her commitment to working with elementary school students.  Barrios will be attending Northeastern University in the fall to study biology.  She worked with students during this school year on a drama presentation project at Ellsworth Avenue School.  EdAdvance is one of Connecticut’s six Regional Educational Service Centers.

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Firefighters crawl through zero-visibility smoke to get to condo garage fire

Danbury firefighters had to use their thermal imaging cameras to get to the flames of a fire that caused a lot of smoke in a condo garage Wednesday afternoon.  A 911 call came in around 3pm about a fire alarm sounding at Eaton Court, off Old Brookfield Road. 

 

Danbury Firefighters found very heavy black smoke.  They crawled through zero visibility to find the fire in a garage and extinguished it. 

 

(Photo: DFD)

 

There was extensive smoke damage to one condo unit, as well as some fire damage to the garage.  There were no reported injuries. 

 

The Danbury Fire Marshals Office is investigating cause and origin.

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Wild weather blows through Greater New Milford area

There was a tornado warning issued for New Milford, Sherman and parts of neighboring New York last night.  While there were some strong winds and some very heavy downpours, not much damage was reported from the storm.  Reports of quarter-sized hail came in from the New Milford area.  The rest of Northwestern Connecticut and parts of upper Fairfield County experienced a loud thunderstorm overnight.

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Lawsuit filed over Zoning Commission ruling on OTB in Danbury

The Danbury Zoning Commission will likely have to take up a text amendment change again that would open the door to off track betting as an accessory use in a restaurant.  An lawsuit was filed by a downtown business owner last week appealing their May 9th decision, alleging noncompliance with notification requirements. 

 

Sportech Venues doesn't agree with the allegation in the complaint, but intends to go back to the Zoning Commission to eliminate the issue.  The company is taking a conservative approach to the approval. 

 

Sportech wants to locate an OTB facility on the second floor of Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street. 

 

The Zoning Commission's decision was not site specific.  That approval or denial would have to be given by the City Council.  The Danbury Planning Commission previously issued a positive recommendation.  

 

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 the City.  The state Department of Consumer Protection Gaming Division must also inspect and approve the facility before operations can begin.

 

Meanwhile, the two federally recognized tribes are reportedly offering the state incentives so lawmakers pass a bill giving them the ability to open a new casino, and not a bill opening up bidding.  The Courant reports that the tribes would place slot machines in off-track-betting parlors in Waterbury, New Haven and Bridgeport as part of the deal.  They are also promising the state $25 million up front.

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Vote on bringing back tolls stalls in state legislature

Without a consensus , a planned vote on tolls didn't happen yesterday in the state legislature.  The Democrats hold just a slim majority in the house, 79 to 72, and there is a tied Senate.  Wilton Senator Toni Boucher, co-chair of the Transportation Committee, said tolls are not the answer to Connecticut's fiscal woes.

 

Boucher said bringing tolls back would essentially be a geographic tax, hitting Fairfield County. 

 

A gradual reduction of the gas tax and discounts on transponders for Connecticut residents were not enough to sway her vote.  The Special Transportation Fund could become exhausted within just a couple of years and lawmakers are looking at other ways to pay for infrastructure improvements.

 

The state took down toll plazas in 1985.

 

Governor Dannel Malloy called for a constitutional “lock box” to ensure the money goes to transportation needs.

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