HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The state of Connecticut's Department of Housing is awarding 20 municipalities a total of $11.5 million to upgrade and improving affordable housing stock.
The grants are being awarded to small towns with populations of less than 50,000 residents, under the Community Development Block Grant Small Cities program. The initiative is administered by the state housing agency using federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Grant recipients include the towns of Brookfield, New Fairfield and Monroe. Each will receive $400,000 to help low- and moderate-income homeowners fix up their homes. A total of 10 homes in each municipality are expected to be rehabilitated.
Senator Richard Blumenthal plans to call on the new Acting Secretary of Homeland Security to restore reason to what he says is a badly broken immigration system.
He is referring to several cases in Connecticut, including a New Fairfield man, who have no criminal record and U.S.-born children who are being deported because they entered the country illegally.
He is also urging Acting Secretary Elaine Duke to protect Dreamers—young people who have come forward to establish and legitimize their status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
The Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission has approved construction of a community center and senior center at the Fairfield Hills campus. After initially saying designs did not comply with the master plan, the Fairfield Hills Authority signed off on the plan.
General Electric made a $15 million donation to Newtown after the shootings at Sandy Hook School for creation of the community center. $10 million was earmarked for construction, with the balance to be used to run the center for the first few years. Residents approved $5 million in bonding to help with construction costs. The $3 million senior center portion was also approved by residents for bonding.
The combined facility will be built at the site of the former Canaan House, which has been demolished.
The state Department of Transportation has announced the next weekend closures of Route 7 in Ridgefield for a bridge replacement project. The Ridgefield Press reports that part of Route 7 will be closed August 11th through 13th and August 18th through 20th. Bridge abutments will be installed during the first August road closure and then precast deck units will be installed. All traffic will be detoured to Main Street during the closure. The bridge was determined to be functionally obsolete and rated in poor condition.
A bill which would allow automated alcohol dispensing machines stalled in the state Senate despite overwhelming passage in the House. Danbury Representative David Arconti says the measure would have a positive financial impact, so he's hopeful it could be raised this summer in a special session.
Proponents say the machines are novelty items. Opponents worry automation might lead to fewer jobs.
Arconti argues that people would still have to get ID'd. A person verified to be at least 21 years old would then purchase a payment card and pour themselves up to 32 ounces of beer or 10 ounces of wine. The alcoholic beverage would be dispensed in single-serve, 12-ounce glasses.
43 other states allow these tap machines in restaurants.
Arconti says with the rise in brew pubs, this type of machine could help expand the craft beer industry, which is currently booming in Connecticut.
Part of Main Street in Danbury was blocked by a downed tree and utility wires over the weekend. A tree took down electric lines around 2:30pm Saturday. Eversource was still in the area of North Street around 7:30pm. The tree managed not to hit any cars when it fell. Traffic was redirected around Tooley Lane. The highway ramps were not affected. Most power was restored after a couple of hours, but clearing the scene took longer. Officials believe wind was the cause of the fall.
Connecticut's U.S. Senators have been in touch with a New Fairfield family who is fighting a deportation order for their husband and father.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement had approved an application by Samantha Colindres, to sponsor her husband Joel's visa. But before they can proceed through the process for obtaining legal status, Joel was ordered to be deported.
Joel Colindres came to the U.S. illegally from Guatemala 13 years ago. He married New Fairfield native Samantha a decade ago and they've been fighting with paperwork errors since then. Joel missed a court date in 2004 in Texas because he never received the notice. ICE had his address wrong and both his first and last names were spelled wrong.
Last Thursday, the family learned that his latest stay was denied. ICE gave Colindres 28-days notice, leaving next to no time to pursue legal remedies.
The couple has a 6-year old son and 2 year old daughter. Colindres pays taxes, owns his own home, has been with the same company for 12 years and has no criminal record.
ICE has allowed for a GPS monitoring program and has not taken him into custody.
The Senators say seeking to separate a father from his U.S. citizen children—a man who has reported to ICE each year while pursuing a path to citizenship--is callous. The Senators are calling on ICE to allow Colindres to follow through on their approved sponsorship path rather than permanently upending this family’s life.
A rally in support of the Colindres family was held in Hartford Thursday.
A New Milford business has donated Automated External Defibrillators to the Candlewood Lake Authority and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection EnCon Police.
The owners of heartsmart.com recently met two of the CLA officers while boating on Candlewood Lake. They asked if patrol vessels were equipped with AEDs, and found out that they are not.
The portable device checks heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. AEDs are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest.
Brian and Amanda Marshall donated four AED units, two for DEEP operating on Candlewood Lake and two for the Candlewood Lake Authority.
The New Milford Land Use Inspector discovered last year that a time capsule was placed at the Century Brass building, then known as the Scovill building, in 1957. It will be opened this weekend at the Village Fair Days. The Public Works Department was given a description of where the time capsule was buried, and able to dig it out before the building was demolished. The time capsule will be opened after the Saturday Road Race, around 11:15am. New Milford has spent years doing environmental clean up at the Century Brass site, and is garnering some interest from light industrial companies to move there. The time capsule will be on display at the Bandstand throughout the Village Fair Days, with a permanent location to be determined later.
New Milford residents can sign up for Home Energy Solutions this weekend at Village Fair Days. It's a program run by Energize Connecticut, provided by Eversource. The energy-and-money-saving benefits are detailed for participants. For every resident that completes the service, contractors Wesson Energy and The Energy Store plan to donate $25 to the New Milford River Trail.
There is a fee for the service, which is waived for income-eligible residents.
In 2013, New Milford joined Clean Energy Communities, the nationally-recognized Energize Connecticut program that helps Connecticut cities and town reach their energy goals and reduce municipal building energy consumption by 20 percent by 2018. Participating residents also help the town earn points toward a grant.
These “Bright Idea Grants” fund community-selected energy saving projects such as an LED light bulb swap, or the installation of new LED lighting at town hall or a school.
Before school ended for the year, the 200 Danbury students who make up the eighth-grade class at Westside Middle School Academy officially unveiled their outdoor classroom, complete with hand-built benches and a "global peace" mosaic. A grant from the Audubon Society helped with planning for the project, which began in November. An “outdoor habitat” for migrating birds can also be used as a classroom for up to 25 students to solve problems, identify needs and provide services.
The Danbury Zoning Commission closed the new public hearing into allowing off track betting as an accessory use in a restaurant. The group did not take further action on the issue at their meeting. In May, the Zoning Commission voted 6-3 allowing OTB as an accessory use in a restaurant.
Downtown business owner Andrea Gartner filed a lawsuit seeking to appeal the decision, alleging noncompliance with notification requirements. Sportech Venues doesn't agree with the allegation, but went back to the Commission to eliminate the issue.
Sportech has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and would provide 1.6 percent of gross revenue to City Center.
Sportech plans to renovate Two Steps into a sports bar and restaurant on the first floor, with OTB gaming on the 2nd floor. The Zoning Commission is not deciding on a site specific proposal, but a city wide change. The specific location would be subject to City Council approval.
Two Steps owner Tom Devine submitted letters of support. About half a dozen supporters spoke in favor of the zone change while an equal number of opponents raised concerns about the proposal.
Some of the opposition was about the legislature this year expanding the number of allowed OTB facilities. The state General Assembly approved a bill allowing Sportech to have 8 more off-track betting licenses. The Danbury location, if approved would be their 17th. When initial approval was given by Zoning in in May, Sportech was only authorized to have 18 licenses.
City Councilman John Esposito voiced opposition after hearing feedback from constituents.
Some roadwork in Newtown will be continuing a little longer than expected. A culvert is being replaced on Hundred Acres Road. The street will remain closed between Hattertown Road and Phyllis Lane through August 11th. The culvert replacement work was supposed to wrap up earlier this week. The detour will be Aunt Park Lane and Mt. Nebo Road.
Some local lawmakers recently took a tour of Candlewood Lake to learn more about what the legislature could do to protect local lakes and natural resources.
Brookfield Representative Steve Harding, a ranking member of the Environment Committee, and Danbury Representative David Arconti were guided by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Sergeant Gregory Ulkus.
EnCon police are responsible for patrolling the lake.
They talked about the types of issues faced while on patrol. Most of the work is centered on public safety and ensuring visitors are aware of the laws and regulations while on the water. Harding says it was very informative to hear about concerns regarding the lake and how the state can help on those matters.
A fire burning in a mulch pile in Newtown has been smoldering for three days. Crews from Botsford Fire and Rescue Department have been at the site on Button Shop Road for three days in a road. Assistance from Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue and their tanker is being provided. Fire officials say the mulch pile continues to burn on the inside and occasionally reaches the surface and ignites, causing a heavy smoke condition in the area.
Informational sessions have been held in Putnam County about a Shared Services Initiative. The New York state-wide initiative requires county officials to develop localized plans that find property tax savings by coordinating and eliminating duplicative services.
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says video conference court appearances is a concept that the county has embraced. She says no one is being denied the right to go before a judge through the concept. Odell says a defendant can get every right available, without any violation while saving taxpayers the cost of wear and tear on vehicles and personnel cost.
Odell says not every defendant wants to take the ride or be paraded in front of the public. Sometimes they prefer to sit and wait and allow the judicial process to take place behind closed doors.
Odell noted that sometimes they are transporting up to 14 defendants to different municipalities, which requires man power and the back filling through overtime. She says it can be anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 depending on how many and where the transports are going.
An informational session is being held in Bethel tonight about the proposed renovations to Rockwell and Johnson schools. There are several items that need to be addressed at each school including that they are not ADA accessible, have roofs at the end of their serviceable lives and lack space for educational programs. District officials say there are some hazardous materials that need to be remediated, security measures to address and site traffic to reroute. The meeting will be held in the general purpose room in the Municipal Center at 7pm.
A local lawmaker introduced an amendment to allow the House Republican budget proposal be brought up for a hearing and a vote. Southbury Representative Arthur O'Neill, whose district also includes Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington, called it an unprecedented amendment. But he said the state finds itself in an unprecedented situation as well. Connecticut is more than three weeks into the fiscal year, with no approved budget plan in place.
There is a projected $5 billion deficit over the next two years.
O'Neill said the fiscal picture is worse than he's ever seen it. He means that it is not time for business as usual. O'Neill said the current budget process has broken down and is not working.
The Appropriations Committee failed to vote out a plan before the General Assembly session ended in June. A planned special session to vote on a proposal at the end of last month was called off. Legislative leaders also declined to vote on a mini-budget, a three month spending plan, offered by Governor Malloy.
A joint Bethel Board of Selectman/Board of Finance Meeting will be held tomorrow night about the proposed renovations to Rockwell Elementary and Johnson Middle schools. The meeting will be held in the general purpose room in the Municipal Center at 7pm tomorrow.
While the state is having financial issues, the school construction grant program is not a program that has been proposed to be cut. Under the current guidelines, Bethel would recieve 45% reimbursement for eligible costs on a "renovate as new project". Not all costs are eligible for reimbursement. Approximately 40% of the project is reimbursable.
Both schools have problems in heating and cooling, and after renovations the buildings will be climate controlled. Neither building has central AC currently. The bus loop and parent drop off currently presents a safety concern. The project design separates the bus and parent drop off. The fill removed from the back of Rockwell will be used to expand the playground area.
Visitors to state parks this summer may have noticed some changes because of Connecticut's financial woes. A new campground was closed this summer. Macedonia Brook State Park campground in Kent joined three others on the closure list from last year.
The Putnam Memorial State Park visitor center in Redding is only open on weekends for the second year in a row.
Lifeguards at Squantz Pond in New Fairfield and other state swim areas are only on duty Thursdays through Sundays, one less day than last year.
There are also reports of more garbage piling up in some facilities. Unlike New Jersey, Governor Dannel Malloy opted to keep the parks open during the budget shutdown because the parks bring in their own revenue.
The Russell Neary Memorial Fund, named for an Easton firefighter killed in the line of duty, supported the Connecticut Burn Camp by paying for a camper to attend the week long Camp. 70 campers attending, all children with burn injuries, participated in events supported by over 100 volunteers. The memorial fund says this was a favorite charity for Russ, who died in October 2012‚ while assisting residents during the height of Hurricane Sandy.
The Danbury Zoning Commission is considering an amendment clarifying drive-in and drive-thru facilities in a zone along Mill Plain Road. The amendment would prohibit drive-thrus for facilities that dispense food, beverages, and similar products. There is an exception for licensed pharmacies dispensing prescriptions. The amendment does not apply to other uses, like a bank or dry cleaner, providing a service rather than a product.
Planning Director Sharon Calitro says food and beverage drive-thrus generate a significant number of traffic trips. She says increased traffic generation can result in safety and congestion issues. Public policy has been to prohibit uses with these characteristics in this zone.
This particular zone was created in 1984 to restrict development in the Mill Plain area in order to curb traffic congestion and preserve the character of an arterial roadway. The zone starts just past the Shell station on Lake Avenue, so the McDonald's is not in the zone. The other end of the zone is at the corner of Mill Ridge Road. Dutchess is a pre-existing, non-conforming use.
In 2013, the Zoning Commission denied a petition allowing a Starbucks with a drive thru. Calitro says conditions haven't improved since then to the point where changes would be deemed acceptable. As for economic impact, she says this clarification will not negatively impact it. She notes that there are many other opportunities for fast food restaurants with drive thru windows.
Attorney Neil Marcus was hired by a convenience store which has a petition before the Planning Commission. The applicant is seeking to have a drive thru window. Since the application was submitted before the Zoning clarification was proposed, it would be grandfathered in.
Much of the public hearing was about debating what is considered fast food. An argument was made that it's not what an establishment sells, it's how the items are sold.
The New Milford Zoning Commission is meeting tonight. One of their agenda items is a proposal to install solar panels on Candlewood Mountain. A subsidiary of Ameresco wants to put up an array of solar panels next to the Candlelight Farms Inn and the airport. The panels could generate 20 megawatts of power for the New England grid, fed through the Rocky River power station. Tonight's Zoning Commission meeting is at 7pm in New Milford Town Hall. The Connecticut Siting Council must also sign off on the proposal. Some concerns have been voiced by neighbors already, including about tree clearing and glare interfering with air traffic.
The state House and Senate overturned Governor Dannel Malloy's veto of changes to affordable housing statutes. Brookfield officials previously said that their zoning board's hands are tied by the regulations.
In his veto message, Malloy said some portion of police, firefighters and teachers should be able to live in every community they work for. Malloy says Brookfield found a way to meet the requirement, Darien and New Canaan have found ways to make progress.
The resurrected legislation essentially revamps the nearly 30-year-old law to make it easier for municipalities to reach a threshold of having at least 10 percent of their housing considered affordable, by expanding the unit types that count toward the threshold.
During the regular legislative session, the bill garnered wide, bipartisan support. Proponents argued that "predatory developers" are misusing the law to skirt local zoning authorities in certain communities. They also maintain the vetoed bill would ultimately lead to more affordable housing opportunities once cities and towns have more control over affordable housing projects.
NEW YORK (AP) - Metro-North Railroad officials say they'll review safety recommendations made by federal investigators after a commuter rail crash that killed six people, including a Danbury man, in a New York City suburb in 2015.
A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Monday that National Transportation Safety Board investigators have concluded an unusual rail design contributed to the death toll. The official says about 340 feet of electrified rail pierced a Metro-North train after it struck an SUV at a crossing in Valhalla, New York.
The official wasn't authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke to the AP on Monday on the condition of anonymity.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates Metro-North. Spokesman Aaron Donovan says the agency looks forward to the NTSB's findings being presented at the board's meeting Tuesday in Washington.
Eversource was slated to continue conducting aerial inspections today of high-voltage electrical equipment on rights of way throughout Connecticut, but the rain has changed that plan. The aerial inspections started Wednesday and were scheduled to last one week. Weather permitting, flights will take place tomorrow and Wednesday from 7am to 5pm. The semiannual inspection involves the use of a helicopter equipped with heat-sensing, infrared scanning technology which can detect potential equipment issues before they occur.
5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is praising the advancement of legislation to provide Amtrak with over a billion dollars in funding next fiscal year. The Vice Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee says a 21st-century economy can not be run on a crumbling 20th-century infrastructure. She called on Amtrak to make long-overdue upgrades and repairs, expand passenger rail service to underserved communities, and lay the groundwork for future high-speed rail. The Amtrak funds were included in a government spending bill covering the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban development.
Ground was broken on Friday in New Milford for the senior center expansion. Members of the Commission on Aging were on hand. Mayor David Gronbach credited the Senior Center staff for helping get to New Milford to this point and for helping Seniors navigate the construction and transition.
The Richmond Center was built as New Milford High School around 1910. In 1931, a new high school was built on East Street and this building became the Main Street School for elementary students. It was repurposed as a senior center in 1984.
The expansion is being paid for by a grant from the State and from the Town's Waste Management Settlement fund.
Gronbach thanked Mike Zarba, Dan Stanton, Al Russo, Michael Boucher, and Bob Rzasa and the Public Works crew who helped prep the site, saving the Town significant dollars. Gronbach added that Silver Petrucelli developed a design that will mesh well with the existing building.
The Stepney Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call yesterday about a tree that had fallen onto a Monroe house. The homeowner was not there at the time it fell, and nobody was injured. Firefighters were on scene for a little under a hour and assessed for any hazards while Eversource shut off power to to the home.
Area residents have been taking advantage of the summer weather and getting outdoors, but that also comes with some risks. The Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Laboratory at West Conn reported last month that sampling for deer ticks reached the highest population level recorded since field monitoring was initiated in 2011.
Danbury City Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi recently praised the City Health Department tick testing program. His family took advantage of the program.
Residents can submit ticks, for a $5 fee, to the Department for Lyme Disease testing, with results returned in writing from the state Agricultural Experiment Station.
Saadi says there was some anxiety until the negative results came in.
After being outdoors, people should check all exposed skin, bathe shortly after outdoor activity, and dry clothes on high heat after outdoor wear.
The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has approved some proposed charter revisions be sent to the voters. Brookfield residents will have a chance to weigh in on the recommended changes on the November ballot. The Board rejected a proposed amendment to increase the their group from three members to five. Three charter revision recommendations were forwarded by the Board. They include requiring town boards to wait at least 10 days before appointing replacement members, increasing the amount of money the Boards of Selectmen and Finance can reallocation without going to a town meeting and clarifying the authority of the Board of Ethics.
Senior tax credits and deferrals will be examined in Brookfield. The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has approved an Ad-Hoc Committee to study the current tax credits and deferrals available to senior citizens. The group was also tasked with recommending changes. The Commission on Aging requested the Ad-hoc committee. The Commission has received input that the tax credit program is not adequate and wants the policy compared to other towns in the area. They suggest that a small group of people, with some experience in finance review the tax credit programs.
A meeting is being held tonight about the proposed off track betting facility in Danbury. CityCenter property owners, stakeholders and others are being called on to attend the informational session about the proposed OTB parlor at Two Steps.
The meeting is aimed at clearing up what advocates say are misconceptions about the project. The plan was approved by the Zoning Commission in May, but there was a technicality and the group has to revisit the approval.
Sportech Venues has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and proposed the facility.
Tonight's informational gathering is at Two Steps at 6pm.
Danbury officials are considering setting up an E-Commerce Exchange Areas. The spaces are meant to provide a known, well-lit and secure location at which to conduct their private business. This is not in response to any particular incident, but rather as a proactive measure to provide citizens with a location where they can feel safe to conduct their private and legal business, as e-bay and Craigslist style transactions become more common.
The Brookfield and Ridgefield Police Stations are considered E-Commerce Safe Zones.
When conducting sales or purchases on Craigslist and other similar online sites, people can can request the buyer or seller to meet at the designated areas. If the other person declines, Police say it may be a sign the transaction is questionable.
Tonight's City Council ad hoc meeting is at 8:30pm on the 3rd floor of Danbury City Hall.
A meeting is being held about a proposal to locate a new business in the cafe at the Danbury Library. A committee of the City Council is considering a lease with Kervin Francois, who worked for Sodexo for many years. He is proposing $500 a month rent. The cafe has been vacant for about a year and a half, when the previous operator left to pursue other opportunities. The Council approved a lease for Bagelman, but the company opted not to go forward with the project. The next proposal came from the owner's of Benny's, who also own Nardellis on Newtown Road, but that also fell through. Tonight's ad hoc meeting is at 7pm on the 3rd floor of City Hall.
An ad-hoc committee of the Danbury City Council is meeting tonight about Dan Bertram seeking a tax deferral for his $13 million, 150-unit apartment complex proposal. The high-end studios and apartments would replace the News-Times building on Main Street. Bertram previously received a seven-year tax deferral for a Crosby Street development called Brookview Commons. That approval though was fraught with controversy as the intent of that project changed. Tonight's ad hoc meeting is at 6pm on the 3rd floor of City Hall.
New Milford is holding a dedication ceremony this weekend for the new Vietnam War memorial. The project was started after the positive impact of the "Wall that Heals" came to town in October 2016. Mayor David Gronbach says it highlighted that New Milford did not have its own Vietnam Memorial and that it was long overdue. Veteran Ray Crawford led the effort along with the New Milford Veterans Committee and other volunteers. The dedication ceremony is Saturday at 10am. Gronbach thanked Tony Haddad of Marble & Granite Creations for the donation of the Black Granite, the New Milford Garden Club for the flowers, and Jim Delancy and Jeff McBreairty of the New Milford Veterans Committee.
The Putnam County Sheriff is warning area businesses of a telephone scam making it's way around the County. Some local businesses, many of them restaurants, have received calls from someone claiming to be a representative from New York State Electric and Gas who is calling about billing matters.
Some have been warned that their service would be shut off unless payment is made immediately. The caller asks for payment via “Green Dot Money Pak”.
The Sheriff's Office says the phone calls may come in during the busy hours, making it more urgent to comply with the caller's demands.
NYSEG officials are aware of this scam. The utility will never ask a customer to purchase a debit card to make a payment.
Anyone believing that they have been victimized by this scam is asked to report it immediately to the the Sheriff’s Office at (845) 225-4300.
New Milford has launched a kayak and canoe rental program. The vessels are now available to rent for recreational use on the Housatonic River, Fridays through Mondays, through Labor Day weekend. Rentals will launch shore side from Young’s Field Road. The rental operation is run by Clarke Outdoors. The Cornwall-based company also runs rentals at the state park on Lake Waramaug.
Hours of operation:
Fridays & Mondays 10-4pm (last boat in by 5:00)
Saturday & Sunday 10-5pm (last boat in by 6:00)
$10 per hour for single kayaks. $15 per hour for double kayaks and canoes.
SUP's are $10 1/2 hour or $15 per hour. Cash only (initially)
A local lawmaker is touting the the Federal Railroad Administration's decision to no longer consider a new high-speed rail route along Connecticut's coastline. 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, the Vice Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, wants the proposed route moved inland.
She says a 21st-century economy can't be powered on 20th-century infrastructure. Esty called for a bold, bipartisan infrastructure plan to create jobs and a world-class transportation system.
During a committee hearing last month, Esty pressed the Associate Administrator of the FRA to listen to abandon the coastal proposal. She says an inland route would not have the same level of opposition and could get much higher rates of speed than possible along the coast.
The Bethel Social Services Department will be supporting local church leaders as they gather and disseminate information as to how people can help Thursday's fire victims. Heather Knight McMillan at the 1st Congregational Church of Bethel is working with others to ensure people get what they need. Social Services Director Jenn Lawlor says if anyone wants to make a monetary donation or supply a gift card for the families, that can be done do that by stopping by the Social Services Department or the Selectman’s office at the Municipal Center.
Heather Knight McMillan can be reached at 203-743-1877 or by email at email@example.com
Contributions can also be mailed to:
The Community Council of Bethel
PO BOX 667
Bethel CT 06801
The state Department of Transportation has cut the ribbon and reopened Route 133 in Bridgewater. The safety improvement project was completed two weeks ahead of schedule.
5,200 feet of roadway was resurfaced. 3,300 feet of roadway was realigned. A new 750 foot retaining wall was built on the west side of Route 133. The wall was tinted grey and brown to look like native rock in the area. 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.
DOT Commissioner James Redecker says they had to excavate more than they thought. 20,000 cubic yards of rock and 10,000 cubic yards of earth were removed. Drainage and culverts had to be put in. 3,000 feet of conduit and various utility vaults along with the installation of 25,000 feet of new fiber optic cable was also completed.
The start date for the overall project was September 23, 2016. Advance utility relocations were completed within the five weeks preceding the beginning of construction. Project staff worked through the winter shutdown period to clear trees and excavate rock.
The project's construction cost was approximately $6.7 million of which 80 percent was funded by the Federal Highway Administration as part of an 80/20 cost share with the state.
The average daily traffic on this section of Route 133 is about 3,000 vehicles per day.
The project is subject to an “incentive contract”. If they finish all work before August 1st, the contractor get a hefty bonus of $20,000 a day. If they were late, they would lose that amount each day.
This is Aquatic Invasive Species Awareness Weekend.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is holding events to educate boaters about clean and safe boating practices and conducting vessel inspections. Because of their ability to grow quickly and outcompete other species, many aquatic invasive plants form dense mats just under the water surface, which can be hazardous to recreational boaters and swimmers.
Zebra mussels have also colonized in several lakes and ponds in Western Connecticut.
DEEP staff will be at several boat launches Saturday and Sunday 7am to 3pm. They include Lake Zoar at Scout Road in Southbury and Lake Lillinonah at Hanover Road in Bridgewater. Staff will also be at Lattins Cove off Forty Acre Mountain Road in Danbury and Squantz Pond Cove off Old Bogus Road in New Fairfield on Candlewood Lake.
The Summer Bands concert presented by the Danbury Music Centre is being held tonight. The concert will begin 7:30 pm, in the Ballroom at the Portuguese Cultural Center. The ensembles performing are under the direction of Albert Montecalvo and Anthony Nunes, with performances by student musicians of all ages and levels of experience. The concert will feature performances by the Preparatory, Concert, Symphonic, and Jazz Bands. Outside the ballroom there will be a display of handmade digeridoos, made by the students throughout the duration of the program as part of the STEAM-Class project.
Many in Bethel are hoping an historic building partially destroyed by fire yesterday can be rebuilt. The apartment building on Greenwood Avenue was built more than 170 years ago.
Police and fire fighters are being hailed as heroes.
A triage center was set up by Danbury Hospital across the street at Bethel Library, for both residents and firefighters. About 100 firefighters responded and took 20 minutes breaks because the fire was so intense and it was a humid morning.
Dozens of fire trucks responded from the Greater Danbury area.
Police were the first on the scene and ran into the building to alert residents. Cpl. Lynn Morris and officers Matthew DiRago and William Holland entered the building to help get people out. The officers encountered the man, who was reportedly disabled, and crawled on the floor in clear air to rescue him.
Ten adults and five children have been displaced. Some businesses on the ground floor also sustained smoke and water damage.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says it’s possible some surplus money from this year could be used to pay for another year of lobbying services. The City of Danbury and the Board of Ed spilt the approximate $50,000 for a full-time lobbyist. Boughton called it a successful endeavor, including having the lobbyist arrange meetings with legislators that the City has had a hard time getting before.
But the lobbyist was not able to overcome the internet lobby. Danbury officials sought to have state law changed to allow the City to offer $15 per month high-speed internet service.
Boughton thinks this has been a worthwhile exercise and the Board has been happy with this process.
Part of the reason for the decision was to try to boost education dollars coming back to the City through the Education Cost Sharing formula. Danbury officials say the City has the 5th lowest per student spending in the state, with City taxpayers footing 70-cents on every dollar. The City has claimed that Connecticut is underfunding education in Danbury by some $30 million.
The New Milford Town Council is applying for a state grant to add sidewalks along Route 7, to make the corridor more walkable. The $400,000 Community Connectivity Grant could extend a sidewalk north and south from the area of the former John Pettibone School. The Zoning Commission wants sidewalks there as part of a requirements of a special-use permit to turn the structure into a community center.
New Milford Town Councilman Pete Bass is seeking the Republican nomination for Mayor. The 55-year old has been on the Town Council since 2002. State Rep Bill Buckbee, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Sherman First Selectman Clay Cope were on hand for the announcement. The Republican and Democratic Town Committees plan to make nominations next week.
A proposal to alter the Giles Hill Road traffic pattern at Newtown Turnpike in Redding has been approved by the Board of Selectmen. Police Chief Douglas Fuchs said all residents at a meeting in May were in support of the proposed change. Giles Hill will be made one way off Newtown Turnpike headed toward Joel Barlow High School, while traffic headed south on Newtown Turnpike will have to take the T-intersection.
Of the current two forks, the one southbound is not wide enough. When drivers get to Newtown Turnpike, they can't see southbound traffic. First Selectman Julia Pemberton says the town has been lucky that there haven't been more accidents.
She noted that some business owners were concerned with changing the Route 58 side. Pemberton says the only concept people seemed to be supportive of was widening the branch that heads toward Barlow, other than creating a T-intersection with Route 58. She says that would have been a massive undertaking involving the state Department of Transportation.
It does take a while for drivers to get used to a new traffic pattern so Redding will over-sign the area. Some of the signs will be removed after a while.
A public hearing which was scheduled for last night in Ridgefield was cancelled. The hearing was about a proposal for the town to buy a parcel of land, but someone beat Ridgefield to the sale. The Katz family was selling nine acres, and was considering a sale of three acres to the town. But the other buyer decided to take the whole property. The land off Ridgebury Road is next to the Ridgefield Golf Course.
The Town of Ridgefield is looking to apply for a Substance Abuse Awareness Grant. A report has been drafted about vaping which found that the practice has taken the place of marijuana in terms of popularity in Ridgefield
Alcohol is the most frequently used substance.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the town has been denied this grant before, but nearby Darien was recently approved. Ridgefield could piggy back off of Darien's application for the grant.
Selectman Barbara Manners noted that parental involvement is key in keeping youth drug-free.
Marconi recently talked with his fellow Selectmen about new trends in drug use. One is called “dripping” and causes blistering in the mouth, esophagus, and lungs. Another is the use of an electronic cigarette known as “Jewels” and are being used for illicit substances.
The Monroe Police Department has received several complaints about phone calls from someone claiming to be from Eversource. The recipient is told they are delinquent on paying their electricity bill and if they don't pay immediately their power will be shut off. Monroe Police are reminding residents that Eversource representatives don't call for payment and don't require the use of pre-paid debit cards, such as Green Dot MoneyPak, Vanilla or Reloadit.
A concept plan has been drafted by a committee in Brookfield about what to do with the 18-acre Gurski Homestead. The Board of Selectmen heard a presentation at their meeting this week. The farm was built in 1890. The town was required to create a master plan for the property in 2015 after razing some dilapidated structures without permission. The State Historic Preservation Office required preservation of some buildings. The Newstimes reports that the two phase master plan includes rehabilitating buildings, walking paths, farmhouse renovations, creating a community garden and renting one of the houses. Parking and athletic fields could also be added.
Danbury-based FuelCell Energy has completed a megawatt-class fuel cell micro-grid at the University of Bridgeport, after proving its grid-independent operation. The 1.4 megawatt fuel cell power plant supplies predictable, ultra-clean power to the electric grid under normal operation and then automatically switches to a grid-independent mode in the event of a disturbance. The company says this equipment supplies critical University facilities with continuous power. Funding was provided by a grant from the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
A public hearing is being held in Ridgefield tonight about a land purchase. The town is looking to buy 3 acres off Ridgebury Road. The $250,000 proposal is to add the acreage next to the Ridgefield Golf Course clubhouse. Officials say the land could be used for parking, a well and septic system, or a new clubhouse. If a positive recommendation is made, a town meeting will be held about the sale. Tonight's public hearing is at 7:30.
The Danbury Public Works Department is overseeing about $60 million worth of work done in 45 days for the High School expansion project. Councilman Warren Levy touted the progress being made, noting that the contractors have been on site, making visible progress.
Director Antonio Iadarola says the deadline is the opening of the new school year. He compared it to the extremely slow state project on North Street, saying everyone should have a deadline like that.
An addition to Danbury High School, essentially giving the 9th grade their own building, includes a two story gym, an academic floor and a level for science and computer labs. The DHS 2020 project includes construction of a theater, two music classrooms, a new entrance way and an expansion of the existing cafeteria.
Due to construction, all Danbury Public Schools will start after Labor Day for the upcoming school year. Tuesday September 5th will be a full school day. The work is on schedule, but officials want an extra week to assure that the building is ready to accommodate students.
A Dog Waste Initiative has been created in Ridgefield to address the issue of people leaving their dog's waste on the ground. A seven-member committee, two girl scouts and middle school students are part of the effort.
The youth volunteers are acquiring permits to install pooper scoopers around Ridgefield. Girl Scouts are applying to the town engineer to put up about half a dozen dog waste receptacles along the rail trail as part of their Silver Award. There are currently plastic bag dispensers with biodegradable bags available for use.
An incoming High School freshman wants to install pooper scoopers along Main Street. The historic district will need to give approval on some locations, so the receptacles may be placed on side streets.
Officials have suggested a clean-up campaign like Keep Ridgefield Beautiful to get pet owners to be accountable for properly disposing of pet waste. An existing town ordinance makes leaving the waste behind comparable to littering.
The contract for newly appointed Ridgefield Fire Chief has been reviewed by the Board of Selectmen. The issue was raised regarding medical control, which is required to operate as a Paramedic, but not a requirement of the Fire Chief position. In order for Chief Jerry Meyers to continue instructing classes he must continue to carry his paramedic licensure. The town will begin working to establish goals and objectives for Chief Meyers’ performance evaluation. The evaluation will take place about six months from the date of his appointment.
Governor Malloy has signed a bill into law that allows electric distribution companies to add power from fuel cells to their sources of renewable energy.
The measure was raised after the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection didn't award any bids for long term clean energy contracts to fuel cell companies. New long-term utility contracts will be put out to bid under the new law, with different selection criteria. It excludes solar projects, opening the door to fuel cell and other alternate energy projects.
Danbury-based FuelCell Energy officials say the new bidding process could revive a 63-megawatt fuel cell park proposed in Beacon Falls. The company announced at the end of last year that it was laying off 17-percent of their workers because of lower demand for fuel cells.
The Hartford Business Journal reports that greater weight will be given to projects that improve distribution system reliability; fuel cells are considered a steadier source of power than many other renewables like wind, which depends on weather conditions to produce energy.
A petition on Change.org is seeking to convince the Monroe Police Department to take back an officer who beat brain cancer. Monroe Officer Andrew Wall was diagnosed with terminal stage four Glioblastoma brain cancer in September of 2015, but through a clinical trial, is on the mend.
He has medical clearance notes from the Clinical Director at Center for Neuro-Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Wall has been an officer for over 20 years.
The petition has been signed by nearly 6,000 people.
Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski told organizers that he's been following the situation and reached out to Chief John Salvatore. As a State Representative, Sredzinski does not have direct authority over the operation of the Town of Monroe or its police department, but told the family that he will do his best to find out what the status is on this situation.
Water main replacements are continuing in the Beach Street area of Bethel. First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the project is a more complicated and time consuming process than usual because the mains that run under the street also run under a creek. There are environmental rules that have to be followed and inspections performed along the way. The project is on schedule. The road will be repaved and the sidewalks replaced.
Someone dressed up a fire hydrant in Seymour in a jacket and ball cap. Fire Chief Michael Lombardi said in a Facebook post that it's not a laughing matter, rather one of safety--and noted that it's illegal. He said by messing around with a fire hydrant, it delays firefighters from putting water on the fire, puts firefighters at risks and also residents of the community. Lombardi also suggested that whoever put the clothes on the Meadow Street hydrant, that they shouldn't have left clothes with their name on it. "Brian F" was written inside the ball cap.
The Brookfield Board of Selectmen took up a motion last night to make a special appropriation to cover legal bills of the former Republican Registrar of Voters. The Board sent the $65,000 request to the Board of Finance for approval.
The money is to settle and pay indemnification obligation, per the judgment of the Superior Court, to Tom Dunkerton. The funds will come from cash surplus or contingency. The legal bills stem from a lawsuit filed against Dunkerton and others over the removal of a town woman from the GOP voter rolls. The move was done under a little used-state statute about "good faith party affiliation".
Dunkerton argued, and the court agreed, that he was acting in his town employee role and not as a party official. First Selectman Steve Dunn previously opposed having to make the payment for several reasons. He believed it to be a party matter. Dunn also said that town employees should get approval before hiring attorneys when it comes to town matters.
Brookfield recently went through a fight to prevent a developer from putting up 6-story apartment buildings in town, citing a stress on the town's all-volunteer fire department. An effort was then launched to reform the state's 8-30g affordable housing law.
An area legislator is disappointed that Governor Dannel Malloy vetoed that bipartisan bill. Housing Committee co-chair Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says the measure was aimed at allowing more local zoning and planning input in developing affordable and workforce housing projects that are compatible with community character.
Hwang said the reform fight will continue. Hwang says projects rejected by local planning and zoning boards often are approved on appeal to the Land Use Litigation Docket, a branch of the state Superior Court.
Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says the bill aimed to restore local zoning and planning decisions. She says the 8-30g law has become an emotional issue for many communities because of the broad latitude it gives developers to build under the auspices of increasing affordable housing inventory. These sometimes-controversial development projects often change the town's character.
Malloy says the number of affordable housing units across the state has grown larger during the past several years than it has over the last several decades. He says state laws should encourage this continued growth, not move in the opposite direction.
The bill would have made it easier for municipalities to qualify for moratoriums on appeals of local zoning denials under a statute that encourages cities and towns to make sure that a certain amount of their housing stock is considered affordable.
It had passed the Senate 30-6 and the House of Representatives 116-33.
Lawmakers are returning this week from their July Fourth recess with another vacation break just three weeks away. Many spent time listening to constituents vent about health care, including 4th District Congressman Jim Himes. He says the Affordable Care Act did some good things including expanding coverage, and not turning people away if they have pre-existing conditions.
But Himes says it has issues. He notes that any significant piece of legislation must be amended and changed to deal with problems that come up.
Himes says improvements that can and should be made, especially when it comes to private exchanges and individual markets. He says the ACA became so hated by the opposition that the answer became repeal rather than repair.
Himes says the measure under consideration in the Senate is really a tax bill, not a health care bill. Meanwhile, Senator John McCain said now may be the time for Republicans to come up with a new proposal with support from Democrats.
Five years after his death, a new publication is coming from Maurice Sendak. Publishers Weekly reports that the president of the Maurice Sendak Foundation was going through the late artist’s files at his Ridgefield home, and found a typewritten manuscript.
"Presto and Zesto in Limboland" was co-authored by Sendak's frequent collaborator, Arthur Yorinks. According to Publishers Weekly, the story will be available in the fall of 2018.
Foundation President Lynn Caponera, who managed Sendak's household for decades, didn't remember the two friends working on a text with that title, so she scanned the manuscript and e-mailed it to Sendak's longtime editor and publisher. The illustrations were created by Sendak in 1990 for a symphony about Czech nursery rhymes.
The first part of the title, Presto and Zesto, is an homage to their friendship. Yorinks told the publication that when he later moved to Connecticut, they thought he lived about a half hour drive away, but made it to Sendak's Ridgefield house in three minutes. When he opened the door Sendak said, "Presto!" and that became Yorinks' nickname. Sendak was then dubbed “Zesto.”
Governor Malloy has signed a bill creating a “Farm Brewery” license. Permit holders are allowed to make, store, bottle, distribute, and sell up to 75-thousand gallons of beer a year. The product can be labeled as “Connecticut Craft Beer." The Kent Falls Brewing Company in Kent is considered the state’s first “Farm Brewery."
The permit also allows permittees to offer tastings and free samples, and retail sales for both on- and off-premises consumption, though a municipality may prohibit the activity by local ordinance or regulation.
General Law Ranking Member Representative Richard Smith of New Fairfield helped move the bill through the legislature.
According to the Brewer’s Association, the craft brewery industry in the state has a $569 million economic impact every year. Permits were first licensed in nearby New York in 2013, and since then more than 160 businesses have obtained farm brewery licenses.
The annual fee for a farm brewery manufacturer permit in Connecticut is $300. The amount a farmers' market beer sales permittee may sell to a person per day at a farmers' market was also increased from five to seven liters.
Starting today in Bethel, Walnut Hill Road and Hoyt Road are closed to all through traffic. Road work is being done throughout the summer months as part of an intersection realignment project. The construction is expected to end during the week of August 28th. Access will be granted only to local residents and emergency vehicles, if needed. Residents are advised to seek alternate routes during this phase of construction.
New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith is sounding off about the lack of a state budget. One of the hold ups is that state employee unions haven't voted on a concession deal. Smith says the state can no longer afford the onerous benefits to public employee unions. He wants their contracts, negotiated by the governor, to be voted on by the legislature. The Office of Fiscal Analysis reported income tax revenue is down $1.1 billion and sales and corporate taxes are projected to fall by $450 million. Smith says this comes at the same time pension contributions to state employees have doubled since 2010.
There is a special town meeting in Brookfield tonight about the next phase of the streetscape project. Residents will be asked to approve or reject appropriating $1.34 million to the sidewalks, lighting, and parking in the Town Center. Brookfield is paying $475,000 for phase two, with a grant covering $865,000. Tonight's special town meeting is at 6:30 in Room 133 of Brookfield Town Hall.
A bill has been signed into law by Governor Malloy, aimed at improving conditions at brick and mortar private nonprofit animal shelters. They would be required to register with the Department of Agriculture and to comply with local zoning requirements. The bill was introduced by Monroe Representative J.P. Sredzinski, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides and Representatives Brenda Kupchick and Nicole Klarides-Ditria.
Kupchick brought this legislation forward in 2012 after a number of animals died at a private animal facility, which was run by Fred Acker. Last year, the Klarides sisters went to adopt a cat from a Monroe-based animal shelter run by Acker. They found the animals sick due to deplorable conditions.
Under the bill, the Department of Agriculture must issue a registration to an applicant upon application and payment of a $50 fee if the applicant complies with applicable state regulations and, for an initial registration, municipal zoning requirements. A registration is effective until the second December 31 following issuance, may be renewed biennially by December 31, and may be transferred to another premise with the commissioner’s approval.
The bill authorizes the commissioner, or his agent, to inspect an animal shelter at any time. If, in his judgement, the shelter is not being maintained in a sanitary and humane manner that protects public safety, or if he finds that contagious, infectious, or communicable disease or other unsatisfactory conditions exist, he may fine the shelter up to $500 for each affected animal, issue orders necessary to correct the conditions, and quarantine the premises and animals.
In addition, if a shelter fails to comply with the commissioner’s regulations or orders or any state law relating to animals, the commissioner may revoke or suspend its registration. The order may appeal to Superior Court.
Anyone operating a shelter without a valid registration is subject to a fine of up to $200.
The state Department of Transportation is drawing heat from some Danbury officials over the pace of the North Street expansion project.
City Councilman Warren Levy was frustrated with the state's performance. He contacted the traffic control engineer and questioned whether the public is willing to go along with the inconvenience of construction for the result of an expanded corridor. Levy noted that the contractor is only on site intermittently, with a skeleton crew. He says the public is unnecessarily inconvenienced by the performance.
Danbury Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says his department gets a lot of calls from drivers complaining about the project, thinking it's a City street, and is eager for the work to wrap up.
But the project is not schedule for completion until next summer.
Iadarola met recently with DOT leaders and asked if they could expedite paving to open the bottlenecks. He was critical of work on the retaining wall coming to a stop. The steel work is standing, but they haven't poured the concrete.
Levy raised the problem with the DOT, and two days later some work was done. But they soon went back to skeleton crews and non-performing days.
Iadarola was critical of crews working on sidewalks and ignoring road work.
Progress is being made on the drainage project happing in New Fairfield. The Candlewood Corners project work is being done along Saw Mill Road and aimed at preventing flooding during heavy rain events. Officials say pipes are being laid and work is moving along at a good pace.
(Photo: New Fairfield First Selectman, Facebook)
Easton's new K9 TJ is getting the grand tour of his new patrol car and the town. Officer French is partnered with the 16-month-old German shepherd. A $40,000 grant from the estate of a Kenneth and Ann Gleszer, of Danbury, enabled the department to restart the K9 program.
The Danbury Public Works Department is doing road construction on Heritage Drive, Centennial Drive, Richter Drive, Linda Drive, and Jarrod Drive. While construction is taking place, there will be NO on-street parking. While the roads will not be close, there may be some travel restrictions during the work. Construction started yesterday and will last about 5 to 6 weeks.
The Bethel Public Schools will be holding an informational session on the renovations of Johnson and Rockwell schools. The gathering will take place next Monday, July 17. It will be at 7pm in the Bethel Middle School Library. Presentation topics will include an overview of options considered and final option, along with cost estimates. Presentations will be made by the Superintendent, architects, and independent construction manager.
The swim area at Squantz Pond State Park is closed effective immediately due to elevated bacteria levels in the water. It exceeds the limit that has been established for safe swimming and the area will be closed through the weekend. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection tests designated state park swim areas weekly. The swim area will remain closed until DEEP tests again and they get results that show it is safe. The next test is scheduled for Thursday, with results coming on Friday the 14th.
Governor Malloy signed a bill into law that supports small business growth in Connecticut by allowing investments in additional types of businesses to qualify for the state’s angel investor tax credit program. The new law opens up the program beyond specified technology industries, making it easier for small businesses to attract investments.
Danbury state Representative David Arconti says it basically incentivizes accredited investors to consult and mentor prospective small business owners. The investors contribute to a fund meant to establish support toward the growth of small businesses.
Arconti says getting the capital to start a small business is often difficult, because banks are still not lending at levels they did before the recession. He says the angel investment tax credit program bolsters other initiatives, like the Small Business Express Program.
In Connecticut, angel investors who invest at least $25,000 in approved businesses are eligible for a personal income tax credit equal to 25 percent of their investment, up to $250,000. A business must apply to Connecticut Innovations for approval to receive credit-eligible investments.
The new law does not have a fiscal impact because it does not increase the cap on the total amount of credits available under the current program.
Startups funded by angel investors are nearly 25 percent more likely to survive, and on average grow employment by 40 percent over non-angel funded startups, according to a study from Josh Lerner of Harvard Business School and Antoinette Schoar of the MIT Sloan School of Management.
State Senator Michael McLachlan and Representative Richard Smith met recently with New Fairfield residents to discuss the newly adjourned General Assembly session. Most of the conversation centered on the lack of a state budget.
McLachlan says Connecticut needs to get its fiscal house in order and it needs to start by controlling spending and making some necessary cuts.
Smith was critical of Republican budget proposals being ignored. He called them sensible, viable solutions to the state’s budget crisis.
The Town of Kent will cut the ribbon tonight on a new Welcome Center. The facility is located behind the Kent Station Pharmacy.
(Photos: Kent Chamber of Commerce)
It features public restrooms, an open porch with kiosk area and parking. The Welcome Center includes a directory and map highlighting Chamber members and visitor attractions. Trash and recycling bins are also on site.
The Welcome Center will be open 8am to 8pm.
The Welcome Center also includes a water bottle filler, electrical outlets for charging devices and an area with a coin-operated shower behind the building. Kent is along the Appalachian Trail and officials see a need for this for hikers making a stop in the town. The shower costs $2 for four minutes.
The grand opening is set for 5:30pm.
Long Ridge Road will be closed at the West Redding Center railroad crossing this weekend. The rail work on the Danbury line of Metro North includes replacing the existing crossing surface of the "at-grade" crossing. Long Ridge Road will be closed from 10am Friday through 4pm Wednesday. The work will be done during both day and night time hours. Detour signs will be put in place. There will be substitute bussing on the Danbury Line this weekend.
The newest member of the Monroe Police Department is K9 Riggs. Riggs just finished two months of training and finished top of his class. Riggs is partnered with Officer Jeff Loomis.
The teams conduct a minimum of 16 hours of in service training per month with their training region and an additional hour per day with their handlers.
K9 Gunner, an 8-year old German Shepard, retired in February. Gunner was diagnosed with Bloat, a disease in which the stomach of an animal becomes enlarged and begins to twist. He underwent a successful surgery, but it took a toll on his body. That led to his retirement.
(Photo: Monroe PD)
Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith has been presented with the FBI National Academy Associates 2018 John Fahy Humanitarian Award. Nominees must demonstrate exemplary performance in law enforcement and make significant contributions to their community through their time, actions, talents and dedication. Smith’s nomination was submitted by members of the Department who have graduated from the FBI National Academy.
Organizers of the Women’s March are organizing a protest against the NRA July 14th in response to an ad saying that “law-abiding” citizens to arm themselves with truth against violent anti-Trump protestors. The organizers wrote an open letter calling on the NRA take down the dangerous ad and apologize. But the NRA responded with another ad calling out the Women's March organizers by name, and others.
One was Senator Chris Murphy, over his tweet saying "I think the NRA is telling people to shoot us." The announcer called Murphy a Senator that Michael Bloomberg bought for himself three years ago. The Youtube video goes on to say "how dare you? When it was your Bernie Sanders supporter who opened fire on Republicans in Virginia."
The new clip is titled “We Don’t Apologize For Telling The Truth”.
A new 150-unit apartment complex could be coming to downtown Danbury. A developer has submitted plans to turn the News-Times building on Main Street into high-end studios and apartments. Dan Bertram is asking the City Council tonight to consider a tax deferral for his $13-million plan.
Bertram previously received a 7-year tax deferral for a Crosby Street development called Brookview Commons. That approval though was fraught with controversy as the scope and intent of that project changed. The break was offered in an effort to bring people downtown who had disposable income. The projected mostly housed West Conn students.
The 333 Main Street property is across Main Street from the new Kennedy Flats project. Virginia-based developer Greystar also received a tax deferral from the City Council.
Hearst Connecticut Media Group is selling the property as it consolidates into their Norwalk office.
Newtown Superintendent of Schools Dr Joseph Erardi has announced his retirement. The Board of Education is holding a special meeting tonight to discuss the announcement. Citing a time-sensitive health concern in his family, Erardi said he would stay as long as the Board needs in order to ensure a smooth transition. Erardi joined the Newtown School District in 2014, and was named Connecticut's 2017 Superintendent of the Year. The 61-year old says he could not be more proud of the place where he is ending his career. Erardi most recently oversaw the opening of the new Sandy Hook School, making sure staff, parents and students were comfortable and emotionally ready to move in.
During the Fairfield Hills Authority's most recent meeting, the group voted that the proposed community/senior center design does not meet the Fairfield Hills Master Plan design guidelines. According to meeting minutes, the back of the proposed community center has large windows, while the front of the building could have columns and smaller windows to blend with the historical buildings on the campus.
The Authority is asking that the number of parking spaces be re-evaluated, considering
shared parking for the Municipal Center, community center, sports and other events – especially in regard to the timing of each activity.
The Fairfield Hills Authority is tasked with ensuring the Master Plan is adhered to.
The first new structure erected on campus was the Newtown Youth Academy. The owner was required to add $2 million to his budget to comply with the structural requirements of the campus. The second building, erected, the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance building, had to add a 2nd story to come into compliance.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing tonight on the proposed community center/senior center complex on the Fairfield Hills campus. The hearing as part of the site development plan review is set for 7:30pm at Newtown Municipal Center.
The Canaan House, which was a patient housing/treatment building, formerly stood on the site. all that is left are the subterranean remnants of the foundation.
With Tuesday's drowning in the Housatonic River in New Milford, American Red Cross officials are reminding people to not swim beyond their ability to do so. Aquatics Specialist Jack Harder says the people who often get in trouble in the water are males, aged 18-24, who are in areas they shouldn't be swimming to begin with.
According to his family, 34-year old Xavier Puin of Brooklyn couldn't swim well. The Independence Day incident happened near Bleachery Dam.
Harder says common sense and thinking before jumping in the water can go a long way in preventing these kinds of tragic accidents.
This is the Red Cross's 102nd year being involved in water safety campaigns. The effort started because of a high rate of water-related accidents and drownings in the Northeast. Their programs are aimed at making every American a swimmer, and every swimmer a life saver.
Harder says the other category of people who get into trouble in the water are very small children. He says drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death for kids, birth to 5 years old. Harder says the solution for that is supervision. That doesn't just mean at the beach or pool. Harder says kids must be supervised around bathtubs, buckets and anything else that contains water.
The other method of protection is wearing a well-fitting life jacket. He says that can help safe a life. Harder notes that many people who drown in boating accidents, including adults, is because they were not wearing a life jacket.
Senator Richard Blumenthal plans to introduce legislation aimed at preventing heatstroke deaths of children trapped inside hot vehicles. He spoke about the proposal at a Summer Safety Event at the Connecticut Children's Medical Center this week. His bill directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require cars to be equipped with technology that can alert drivers if a child is left in the back seat once the vehicle is turned off.
Blumenthal noted that sometimes parents or caregivers forget. He cited a Ridgefield case where 15-month old Benjamin Seitz was left in a hot car for several hours when his father went to work. Kyle Seitz reportedly forgot to drop his son at daycare on the morning of July 7, 2014.
Blumenthal says such technology is available in some vehicles and aftermarket products exist. However, he says it's not widely used.
On average, 37 children die each year after becoming trapped inside overheated cars in the United States. Blumenthal says it can take minutes on a hot day "for a car to turn into a deathtrap for a small child."
His announcement came just days after a Bridgeport man was arrested for intentionally leaving his 7-year-old son in a hot car with the windows rolled up while he went shopping. 38-year-old David Angeski told police on Sunday he wanted to teach his son a lesson after the boy refused to go with him inside the Stratford store. Police found the boy crying inside the car around 6pm. It's unclear whether he required any medical treatment. The temperature outside was in the 80s. Angeski was arrested when he returned to the car carrying grocery bags. He was released on a promise to appear in court.
A Danbury woman was cited last week for leaving her child unattended in a car. Someone who pulled in next to 39-year old Kristine Rakowsky's vehicle in the Danbury Square plaza on Backus Avenue noticed the child. The 3-year old was left alone for at least 10 minutes, though it's not known how long he was in the car before the witness called police. Firefighters were able to take the child out of the car through an open window, and said he appeared fine. Rakowsky is due in court July 7th.
The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing tonight on a special permit application by the town to make changes to the former Schlumberger property. Ridgefield officials are looking to make the Old Quarry Road land ready for new tenants.
The special permit is for the excavation, filling and/or grading of earth material and site modification for lighting and landscaping.
A site walk was held last week. The Planning and Zoning Commission will have 35 days to close the public hearing, which is by August 9th.
Ridgefield-based theater company ACT of Connecticut and New Canaan-based furniture design firm Bassamfellows are leasing the former Schlumberger auditorium and Philip Johnson building, respectively.
The public hearing is at 7:30pm.
The Western Connecticut State University Department of World Languages and Literature is now offering Introductory Arabic. The course is taught by a native Arabic speaker who studied in Morocco earned a doctorate from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. Hamid El Khalfi will teach one of the six official languages of the United Nations. The National Security Education Program has listed Arabic as one of the most-needed languages in America and as a language that is critical to national security.
One of Bethel's most famous residents will be celebrated today. The Bethel Historical Society's annual birthday celebration for P.T. Barnum is being held at 6pm. The celebration marking the 207th birthday of the showman takes place on the Bethel Public Library Lawn. There will be a Happy Birthday march up and down Greenwood Avenue and a craft project among other entertainment.
There is a water main break in Danbury on Oak Ridge Avenue, just off Lake Avenue. Mayor Mark Boughton says the repair is expected to take four to six hours. The break was reported around 8am.
Crews are evaluating the break and have begun shutting water off to the affected area so that a repair may be made.
Once the break has been repaired and water service is restored, the city will flush hydrants in the area to alleviate any discolored water.
Customers without water or with low water pressure will include Oak Ridge Avenue, Ridge Road, Concord Road, Green Avenue, Lexington Avenue and Claremont Avenue. Customers in surrounding areas such as along Lake Avenue and Lake Avenue Extension may experience discolored water during the repair work.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The town of Newtown, Connecticut, and its Board of Education are asking a judge to throw out an $11 million wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of two children killed in the Sandy Hook shootings in December 2012.
The lawsuit, filed in state Superior Court in January 2015, alleges security measures at the school weren't adequate when Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 first-graders and six educators. Among other things, it cites that classroom doors could not be locked from the inside.
The lawsuit was brought by the estates of 6-year-olds Noah Pozner and Jesse Lewis. The other victims' parents aren't part of the lawsuit.
In their June 30 motion for summary judgment, the town argues it has governmental immunity from such lawsuits and there is no basis to argue that school officials were negligent.
The town of Brookfield has received a grant to study contamination in the town center. Officials will be awarding a contract soon to do an analysis of 20 Station Road, which is a known site of contamination. The contract will give the town a full picture of what needs to be done to remediate the property. The building on the site is in a state of disrepair and a comprehensive plan to understand what the contamination is, how to remediate it, and how much it would cost is needed before any work can actually be done.
During the streetscape project in the Four Corners area of Brookfield, drivers may experience only one lane of traffic getting by on Federal Road. First Selectman Steve Dunn says work will continue through October. Brookfield Police are providing traffic control. Residents are asked to drive with caution through the Town Center. Work now includes resetting and adding storm drains, resetting utility valve gates and installing two underground utility crossings under Federal Road.
Dunn says the contractor has been onsite for about two weeks and is currently redoing the drainage and placing conduit under the road from the west side of Federal Road to the east side of Federal Road. This is part of the plan to eliminate all of the telephone poles on the east side of Federal Road south of the intersection.
In about two weeks, granite curbing will start to be installed. The project will begin at Webster Bank, and on average, about 150 feet per day of curbing will be added over the next seven weeks.
The state Insurance Department held a hearing in June on two rate increase requests. State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says the hearing was not statutorily required, and the Department had to be pressured into holding one. A bill was approved in the House and Senate four years ago requiring increases of more than 10-percent to go to a public hearing. But Governor Malloy vetoed the bill.
Hwang plans to reintroduce the measure next session.
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.
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. 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.
The Rotary Club of Patterson presented 19 charities, local organizations, and a scholarship recipient with cash donations totaling almost $15,000. It is one of two semi-annual Community Awards Giveaways held by the Rotary Club of Patterson. Different groups received donations in the Club’s recent “Valentine’s Giveaway” back in February. Between community projects and the two Giveaways, the Rotary Club of Patterson has donated over $35,000 in cash to deserving charities, organizations, and students.
The Matthew Patterson Elementary School and George Fisher Middle School in Patterson each received a donation to send four under privileged children from each school to Camp Herrlich this summer. Camp Herrlich also received funds to match the difference for the school children as well as foster kids. The College Scholarship recipient Amanda Rozell, will be using the funds to attend nursing school.
The Club also helps another June Giveaway recipient, Putnam CAP (Community Action Partnership) with their annual Thanksgiving baskets and adjoining food drive. Patterson Rotary makes and donates roughly 30+ baskets every year. Putnam CAP is a local non-profit that currently provides 400 families on a monthly basis with various forms of assistance. They are now working on collecting school supplies.
The Xeroderma Pigmentosum Society's Camp Sundown was also a major recipient Tuesday morning. Caren Mahar started the camp to help children and their families who are living with this life altering condition. Patterson Rotarians also help Camp Sundown every summer by providing a huge dinner at the camp and cooking additional food items to help feed the campers for a week.
Brewster Theater Company – providing performing arts to the community.
Child Advocacy Center of Putnam County - helping raise awareness and increase education in all aspects of abuse.
Putnam Communities That Care Coalition - to help with advertising their campaign to reduce the use of harmful substances by our adolescents in the community.
Putnam County's 4-H Fair - to support the 46th Annual 4-H Fair, this July 28-30th. 600 Putnam County volunteers are expected; we should take note that half of the volunteers are youth. Putnam County's 4-H Youth Development Programs create supportive, fun learning environments that help youth reach their fullest potential.
The Friends Network - provides people with disabilities the opportunity for community integration and friendships through a variety of structured social and educational activities.
Guinan’s Aurora - Jay Vitale honors his friend John Guinan by repairing old bikes for cancer patients.
Necessities Bags – Breast Cancer patient 'goody' bags of things needed and otherwise not provided while in the hospital for treatment.
NY Riders - for veterans’ and first responder projects.
Putnam ARC Litter Patrol (a.k.a. PARC) – providing advocacy and programming for children and adults with developmental disabilities.
Patterson Community Church Food Pantry - to purchase items not normally donated. The food pantry is currently assisting an average of 30 to 40 families each time.
Putnam County Humane Society - to help go towards the new trainer just hired to work with difficult dogs for behavioral training so they can become more adoptable.
Putnam Dental Missions, Inc. - to help pay for accommodations for the volunteers that would otherwise not be able to go on the November 5th mission. Staff and others will go once again to Palmarito, Dominican Republic in an effort to provide this very poor area with basic dental needs and children’s multi vitamins. Putnam Dental also has an annual Dentistry from the Heart; it’s a free day of dental care and a Red Cross Blood Drive held the first week of every May at their location in Brewster.
Semper Fi Odyssey - to help Vets acclimate back into society and the work force.
Brookfield officials are about half way through the process of re-writing zoning laws. First Selectman Steve Dunn says this has been a long overdue project that will result in simpler and more easily understood zoning laws and allow for a faster, less expensive process that will keep Brookfield growing.
Brookfield is applying for a grant to extend the Still River Greenway through the Town Hall property and up to the parking lot built last year between Town Hall and the Center Fire House. First Selectman Steve Dunn says this will provide access to needed parking and provide a safe, paved walkway.
The Brookfield Police Department hosts car seat fittings on the first and third Wednesday of every month. The next date to schedule appointments is tomorrow. Residents are asked to call 203-740-4192 to make an appointment.
Brookfield Board of Education Member Harry Shaker has announced his intention to seek the Republican Nomination for First Selectman. Shaker will run with Incumbent Selectman Marty Flynn. They announced their candidacy at Cadigan Park over the weekend. Shaker says he looks forward to engaging in a conversation with Brookfield’s nearly 16-thousand residents and having the opportunity to tell them his vision for the town. Shaker is a 14-year school board member who owns Yankee Paint Contracting. Marty Flynn has been on the Board of Selectmen since 2013. Prior to that, he was the long time Chair of the Brookfield Republican Town Committee and Chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals for 10 years.
Democratic state House leaders continue to back a two-year budget proposal they unveiled Thursday, the day before the fiscal year ended. House Speaker Joe Aerosimowitz says the sales tax increase was brought forth by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and others to preserve municipal funding. He says that proposal keeps municipal funding status quo, for the most part. He notes that there are some structural changes. CCM asked for the power to have regional collective bargaining and the ability to do more regionally. Aerosimowitz says those items are included.
House Majority Leader Matt Ritter says Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin stood with CCM and asked for diversification in municipal revenue streams. Ritter says he agrees with the mayors on that point.
Lawmakers and the governor were unable to reach an agreement on a two-year budget that will cover a projected $5 billion deficit. The fiscal year ended at midnight Friday.
Nonprofit social service agencies that rely on state funds are preparing for deep cuts now that Governor Malloy has signed an executive order that maintains only essential state services.
Gian-Carl Casa, president and CEO of Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance, says agencies that help people struggling with mental illness to domestic violence are planning to lay-off staff and close programs. He said it was "beyond disappointing" the General Assembly will not meet on Thursday to even adopt a short-term budget, saying "the lives and health of tens of thousands of Connecticut residents" are at risk.
The Annual Independence Day Parade sponsored by the New Fairfield Lions Club will step off at 9:30am. The Lions say it's a chance to show support for those who have defended our freedom in the past as well as the present.
Sawmill Road is the detour route for the parade. The street was just reopened after a nearly week-long closure for drainage pipe installation as part of an infrastructure improvement project.
The theme of the parade is 100 Years of Lions international service to communities.
Averaging over 35 marching units and numerous area Fire trucks, this is the largest 4th of July parade in the area. The parade will follow its traditional route to Memorial Field where refreshments will follow a brief ceremony. A reviewing stand is set up in front of the Town Hall and marchers continue to Memorial Field where they disband after invocations and speeches by town officials and the awarding of trophies. Awards are for Best theme, Best float, Best marching unit, Largest group, and the Lion President's Award.
Route 37 will be closed around 9am.
A small group of New York City children will arrive in Ridgefield this week as part of an initiative from the Fresh Air Fund. The children will spend a couple of weeks with volunteer host families in Ridgefield, Newtown, and Wilton. The Southwest Coast Connecticut Committee will be welcoming the children Friday. Volunteer host families share part of their summers with Fresh Air children, ages seven to 18, who leave behind the city streets to run barefoot in the grass or see the stars at night.
Danbury State Rep. Bob Godfrey has been honored by the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information for his support of open and accountable government at the group’s annual meeting. Godfrey says the organization has, for over half a century, led the fight in Connecticut for open and transparent government.
He was presented with an Award, named for a man who helped draft the law that created Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Commission.
Godfrey says too often, public officials have treated the Freedom of Information Act as an inconvenience to be circumvented, rather than as an integral part of an open democracy. He was previously recognized for his work promoting open government in 2003, when the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission presented him with its Distinguished Service Award.
FuelCell Energy is applauding Governor Malloy and the State General Assembly for crafting and passing a law Promoting the use of Fuel Cells for Electric Distribution System Benefits and Reliability.
The Act values cost of power, reliability and resiliency, along with the multiple economic development benefits that are unique to fuel cell projects.
The Act has two parts, including enabling Connecticut electric utilities to purchase up to 30 megawatts of fuel cells. Separately, the Act includes a provision for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to issue a request for proposals for the procurement of clean energy with a focus on enhancing the reliability and resiliency of energy supply and in a manner that promotes in-state economic development.
The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department had a busy 8 hour stretch on Friday into Saturday. Firefighters responded to 7 calls including a basement fire, two homes struck by lightning, and a shed fire. The large basement was filled with smoke and emergency responders found fire in the ceiling joists. There were no nearby hydrants, so tanker trucks from several mutual aid partners were requested.
The weekly blue-green algae toxin testing program on Candlewood Lake is up and running for the season. The Candlewood Lake Authority works with Western Connecticut State University to test the water quality. All of Friday's tests came back below the state's threshhold. A sample was taken from Sherman Town Beach because they were experiencing a bloom, and those results also came back below acceptable levels.
Security cameras outside the New Milford Police Department caught some unusual activity. A bear wandered through the parking lot. They took their own advice and didn't approach the bear, allowing it to continue on its course.
New Milford Police joked that while it may seem that Yogi was just searching for a picnic basket, it's good to remember that bears are wild and unpredictable.
Police are also reminding people that it's best if you don't feed bears and take precautions to secure your garbage properly.
There's a new traffic pattern on North Street in Danbury. Over the past week, the number of lanes open between the exit 6 ramps and Hayestown Avenue have changed a few times. State Department of Transportation officials say the major construction will be ongoing for several more months.
Temporary concrete barriers along the exit 5 westbound off ramp should be removed soon. There will be various lane closures at the exit 6 off ramp during the rest of the work.
The exits 5 and 6 and North Street-Padanaram Road project started in April 2015, and is not slated for completion until next summer. Crews continue building a retaining wall along North Street to expand the road to two lanes in each direction.
Sawmill Road in New Fairfield reopened over the weekend. The closure was for the Candlewood Corners project. 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. The cost is estimated at $500,000.
State Troopers are preparing to patrol in increased numbers to keep roads safe this holiday weekend. Troopers will be conducting DUI roving patrols and spot checks. Drivers can expect to experience concentrated enforcement operations at locations where there have been a high number of alcohol-involved crashes and incidents.
Troopers will utilize laser units, and both marked and unmarked State Police patrol cars to enhance safety and to remove all drunk drivers from the road.
During the July 4, 2016 weekend, Connecticut State Police issued 1227 tickets for speeding and a total of 2,913 tickets for moving violations and made 39 arrests for driving under the influence. State Police investigated 315 motor vehicle crashes, 45 with injury, and 2 fatalities where three people sustained fatal injury.
Environmental Conservation Police are taking part in Operation Dry Water. It's a national effort to raise awareness about the dangers of Boating Under the Influence. The goal is to reduce the number of accidents and deaths associated with alcohol and drug use on waterways. The weekend features stepped up enforcement of BUI laws and recreational boater outreach.
State Police are urging caution with fireworks this 4th of July holiday weekend. Only sparklers and fountains, which are non-explosive and non-aerial, are legal in Connecticut. Novelty items such as party poppers, snakes, smoke devices and anything that emits a flame are not legal. State Police say a number of house fires and grass fires have been attributed to illegal fireworks. If a fire or explosion caused by legal or illegal fireworks causes injuries or damage, the person responsible could be charged with a criminal offense.
Kids at Camp Oakasha in Southbury were treated to a visit by state police from Troop A, Southbury Police Department, and a camp counselor dressed as a police officer this week. Campers learned about police work and inspected a state police cruiser.
Brookfield State Representative Stephen Harding called it a failure for the legislature not to have a budget enacted by July 1st. He says the alternative, the Governor's executive authority, would devastate funding for the local community.
Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky was at the state capital Thursday for a planned special session on a new budget, but one was never called for debate and votes. He says it as not productive for the majority to ignore the budget in favor of debate on dozens of bills that they knew would not actually be voted on, such as tolls.
New Milford state Representative Bill Buckbee is disappointed that the House wasn't called into session. He says a budget must take into consideration long-term pension obligations, minimize overall spending, enact structural change, and not further burden taxpayers.
Bethel State Representative Will Duff says leaving the state budget in the hands of a single individual, the Governor, without input or a check from the legislature, will cause pain and suffering to Connecticut’s most vulnerable residents.
Wilton Senator Toni Boucher is disappointed the state is starting the new fiscal year without a legislative-approved budget. She called it embarrassing and infuriating. She says they must now face constituents who will ask what they've been doing in Hartford since January.