Local Headlines Archives for 2017-08

United Way donates 200 backpacks to Danbury Elementary students

More than 200 students at Hayestown Avenue School in Danbury have received backpacks donated by United Way of Western Connecticut.  The backpacks were filled with school supplies and a gift card.  Many of the backpacks had students’ names embroidered on them or had their favorite characters.  Principal Stephanie Furman says the donation made the students feel extra special because they were picked out especially for them.

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Newtown First Selectman stands with CCM to blast lawmakers over budget stalemate

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities held a news conference Wednesday to call on lawmakers to sit down and negotiate a budget that doesn't push the state's financial problems on to cities and towns.  They also talked about the impact that not having a budget has on local communities.

 

Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra says the landscape created by state government inaction is bleak for the town, adding that Newtown is caught in an ever-tightening vice, over which the town has no control and no ready response.  She says circumstances can only improved by reasonable, thoughtful, incremental and strategic action by the legislature, with the tax payer clearly in mind.

 

For the past 8 years, Llodra says Newtown has addressed structural changes in financial practices.  She notes that they have consolidated, collaborated, contained costs to manage debt and slash overhead.  In addition, they negotiated with unions and made short and long term plans.

 

Come the 4th quarter of this fiscal year, Newtown will be out of cash and will have to raid the fund balance or issue additional taxation in order to pay the bills.  She says either or both end up on the backs of property owners.  If the Fund Balance is raided, a decline in the bond rating will follow.  That will increase the cost for borrowing, adding more debt, and halting the town's ability to perform necessary capital improvements .  Llodra says the tax burden will have to be raised to an unsustainable level or severely reduce services and programs, compromising the very attributes residents pay taxes for.

 

Llodra says Newtown officials did what they had to do in the name of stability and financial prudence.  She added that Newtown today is financially stronger and more stable because of the years of committment.

 

There's an added challenge of confronting and responding to changing demographics.

 

Llodra cautioned Governor Malloy and state lawmakers that raiding the fund balance would erode the cushion needed to protect Newtown from ongoing budget pressures, possible disasters or emergencies.  She added that it's a one-time action that only positions towns for greater harm the next fiscal year.

 

Many CCM members called on lawmakers to not add to the financial stress of towns with more unfunded mandates.  Llodra says this is the time they should be lessening existing mandates and reconsider what is the right role of government.

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Bethel school officials to meet with state planners on renovation reimbursement

Bethel school officials are meeting this afternoon with the State office of School Construction.  They are meeting to get a better sense of where the town fits with the other applications that have been submitted for reimbursement for school construction projects. 

 

Superintendent Christine Carver told the Board of Finance at their meeting last week that they will talk about what the priorities are for the Rockwell and Johnson renovations projects.  The state officials will give the town a sense of whether any changes or adjustments are needed after their detailed review. 

 

They are aiming for an October referendum since one has to be held before November 15th in order to be eligible for the priority list.  The state typically looks for 9 different things to generate a priority funding list. 

 

About 45-percent of the $68 million renovations to Rockwell Elementary and Johnson School is eligible for state reimbursement.  The school construction money is different than the Education Cost Sharing Grant money, which Governor Malloy has cancelled for 85 municipalities, including Bethel. 

 

The Bethel Board of Finance will meet September 12th about whether to set a public hearing and town meeting for the renovation project. 

 

Rockwell was built in 1971 and Johnson in 1980.

 

The resolution for a referendum could be written in a way that says going forward with the project is contingent on the state funding.  There would be an "out clause" so the town wouldn't be responsible for the full $68 million if the state funding doesn't come through.

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Congressional delegation calls for DACA program to be upheld

The Trump Administration has until September 5th to decide the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program.  DACA allows certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.  10 attorneys general have called for the DACA program to be rescinded by that date or face a lawsuit. 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Senator Richard Blumenthal joined representatives from the Connecticut Immigrants Rights Alliance and ACLU to call for the program to continue. 

 

DACA has helped 8,000 immigrants in Connecticut obtain work permits, be protected from deportation and support their families.  Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen joined with 20 other Attorneys General calling for the support of DACA.

 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes issued a statement.  “Doing away with these programs goes against our fundamental American values, chiefly, the profound importance of strong, stable families. In order to achieve our shared goal of a strong, secure nation we need to concentrate our efforts on programs and policies that will actually make us safer, not on tearing families apart. For generations, the rest of the world has looked to America as an example of freedom and generosity of spirit. Ending programs like DACA, however, endangers that standing and represents a step in the wrong direction for our nation. We are better than this."

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State AG questions Justice Department over grant money and ICE cooperation

State Attorney General George Jepsen is asking U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for a clarification about grant money requirements. 

 

The Justice Department is withholding Byrne Justice Assistance Grants for places where officials are preventing communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  Connecticut wants to apply for a new grant, but Jepsen has questions about certifying, under penalty of perjury, that the jurisdictions receiving funding comply with the new regulations. 

 

Last year, Danbury received nearly $16,000 in grant money.

 

Jepsen has specific questions about the kind of access to correctional or detention facilities ICE would require in order to interview jail inmates, and about the 48 hours advance notice about scheduled release dates.

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Addiction awareness event planned in Bethel

A Bethel-based organization raising awareness for addiction has organized a candlelight vigil for tomorrow night.  The HERO Project, or Heroin Education to Resist Opiates, planned the event for International Overdose Awareness Day.  It's a worldwide effort to remember those who have died from an overdose and to reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.  The vigil follows a canned food drive to benefit the Bethel Community Food Pantry.  The collection is from 6:30 to 7:30pm on the front lawn of Bethel United Methodist Church on Greenwood Avenue.

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Road work delayed in Redding, completed in Bethel

Planned road work in Redding has been postponed to tomorrow.  Unexpected contractor delays means that the work on Simpaug Turnpike did not start yesterday.  The construction is taking place tomorrow between Station Road and Marchant Road.  Redding officials say efforts will be made to have one-way, alternating traffic, but drivers are urged to use alternated routes.

 

Construction in Bethel was competed on the Walnut Hill-Hoyt Road project.  Both roads are have reopened.  There will be a second phase to the project in about a month, to apply a high-friction surface to reduce slipping on the hill in icy weather. 

 

Finishing touches are also being applied this week on the new Plumtrees-Whittlesey bridge.  The retaining wall being installed will match the design of the bridge.

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Local Boards of Education members recognized by state association

The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education have recognized board members from Danbury and Bethel.  Bethel Board of Ed chairman Larry Craybas and Danbury Board member Kathleen Molinaro were honored for participating in numerous hours of board-related professional development activities.  They were named as Certificated Board of Education Members in the CABE Board Member Academy for the 2016-17 school year.  21 school board members were recognized Tuesday for earning at least 20 credits in studying skills intended to strengthen their leadership abilities and understanding of policy, school law, school finance and more.

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More students than projected in Easton/Redding, new administrators in New Fairfield

More students than anticipated are attending Easton, Redding, Region 9 schools this year.  The Redding Pilot reports that while the 2,700 students total a bit less than last year, it's more than was projected--by several dozen.  A kindergarten class has been added to both Easton and Redding schools in order to to keep class size in the high teens.  Redding has a new principal, Natalie Hammond, who was a team teacher leader Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

 

Most districts in the area opened today.  That includes Bethel, Brookfield, Easton/Redding/Region 9, New Fairfield, New Milford, and Region 14/Woodbury/Bethlehem.

 

In New Fairfield, Sarah McLain retired as principal of Meeting House Hill School after more than two decades in the community.  James Mandracchia, the former assistant principal, is the new principal.  Replacing him is Allyson Story.  She helped found and serves as chairperson for the Newtown Education Foundation.  As a classroom teacher, Story worked in Wilton.  She is a certified trainer for the Center of Responsive Schools, providing training for teachers across the nation in the practices of Responsive Classroom.

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New K9 on duty with New York State Police in Brewster

New York State Police held a graduation ceremony on Friday for the 2017 Canine Handler Basic School. The 15 new State Police canines are named after members of the New York State Police Department who have died in the line of duty.

 

Trooper Louis Godfroy, IV and his new canine partner, Graydon were among the graduates.   Trooper Godfroy and Graydon will be station at the Brewster barracks.

 

The Dutch Shepherd is two years old.  His specialty is in Narcotics Detection, Tracking and Handler Protection. 

 

 

Graydon is named after Trooper William Graydon, who died in 1938 at the age of 22 as a result of a motor vehicle accident en route to the Troop K Headquarters.  The car left the roadway and struck a tree head-on killing Trooper Graydon instantly.

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NY Police to step up DWI enforcement for Labor Day weekend

Police in New York are going to be stepping up enforcement for the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend.  Putnam County Sheriff's Office, Carmel Police and Kent Police are coordinating increased patrols for drunk drivers along area roadways. The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown effort is in effect from August 18th through September 4th.  Police say high-visibility enforcement and sobriety checkpoints can reduce fatalities caused by drunken driving by as much as 20 percent.  Historically, holiday festivities usually gives rise to increased incidents of impaired driving and drinking related crashes, resulting in injuries and deaths.

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Murphy introduces new bill to encourage federal government to 'Buy American'

The Department of Defense has spent almost $200 billion on manufactured goods made by foreign companies since 2007,  according to Senator Chris Murphy.  He has tweaked a bill he's introduced each session to encourage domestic purchasing by the largest buyer of manufactured goods in the world.  The BuyAmerican.gov Act would establish a centralized online hub to increase transparency and ensure that DoD prioritizes the purchase of American-made goods.

 

The thousands of waivers filed every year would be posted for every manufacturer to see.  Murphy called it an easy way for manufacturers to see when the government is looking to buy a good made domestically. 

 

While there are law on the books that require a certain percentage of goods made for the federal government to be bought from American manufacturers, Murphy says the exceptions and loopholes have become the rule.

 

Murphy has supported President Trump's recent executive orders requiring the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, and several other U.S. agencies to review and strengthen the capacity of U.S. manufacturers.  He is seeking the administration's formal support for his proposal.

 

Companies from Seymour, Waterbury and elsewhere participated in the roundtable discussion about the proposed bill.

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DOT looks into traffic flow improvements on Federal Rd in Brookfield

The state Department of Transportation is looking to make traffic improvements to Federal Road in Brookfield.  The Newstimes reports that part of Route 202 at Old New Milford Road is ranked 11th on the state’s list of locations with abnormally high accident rates over a three-year period.  The DOT is also looking into putting left turn lanes and arrows at the Chick-fil-A/Shop Rite plaza.  But these projects are just in the pre-planning phase and wouldn't begin until 2021.

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Hillary Clinton to hold book signings in Brookfield, Middlebury

Hillary Clinton will be holding two book signings in Connecticut this fall as she releases her new memoir, “What Happened.”  Clinton is scheduled to be at Costco in Brookfield, on September 16th at noon.  She will be at the Wesleyan bookstore in Middletown on October 21st at 2pm.

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New Milford continues road paving work

New Milford is doing some more road repair work, using a process known as chip sealing.  A coating is applied to existing pavement and a dump truck of gravel is pulled backwards, with a thin layer of liquid asphalt sprayed down in front of the chip spreader.  Officials say sealing the pavement surface-minimizing the effects of aging.

 

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Danbury Zoners put off decision about allowing OTB in restaurants

A decision about whether to allowing off track betting as an accessory use in a restaurant has been put off for now. 

 

The Danbury Zoning Commission met again Tuesday after approving the text amendment in May.  A downtown business owner filed a lawsuit alleging noncompliance with notification requirements.  Commission chairman Rob Melillo and Sportech Venues attorney Bill Sweeny talked about having only seven members present, even though a simple majority of five members was needed.

 

Sweeny said he wants things done correct procedurally, so he wanted a formal resolution drafted by counsel to be decided at the next meeting.

 

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.

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.

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Danbury Fire Department offers campus safety tips to WCSU students

As Western Connecticut State University students move back in, the Danbury Fire Department is offering some Campus Fire Safety tips.  One is to use a surge protector for a computer, and plug the protector directly into an outlet.  Students are also reminded to check West Conn rules before using electrical appliances in dorm rooms.  Students are also encouraged to have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.  For students living off campus, fire officials ask that students make sure there are smoke alarms in each bedroom, outside every sleeping area and on each level. For the best protection, all smoke alarms should be interconnected so that when one sounds they all sound.  Smoke alarms should be tested monthly. 

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Greater Danbury area students return to class this week, next week

Schools in the Greater Danbury area are opening for students beginning today, while some have pushed back the start date to after Labor Day.  Danbury and Wilton students will be headed back on September 5.  Danbury delayed the opening as a precaution because of the large scale renovations happening at the High School.  Most of the work is wrapping up.  The new Freshmen Academy is not slated to open until the 2018-2019 school year.

 

Newtown students along with those in Region 12, Washington, Roxbury and Bridgewater, went back to class today.

 

Newtown High Schoolers, who last year had to be in class by 7:20am, started their day at 8am this school year. The Newtown High School day will end at 2:30pm.  Elementary schools and Reed Intermediate will start at 9:05am and will dismiss at 3:37pm.  Elementary students will be dropped off first in the morning.  Reed students will be bused to the elementary school in their district in the afternoon and then take local school buses home.  Elementary times are not changing. 

 

Officials are hoping for improved physical and mental health and improved academic performance. They also cited safety improvements with students not waiting in the dark at bus stops.

 

Region 15's first day of school is Tuesday for Southbury/Middlebury students.

 

Most districts in the area are returning on Wednesday.  That includes Bethel, Brookfield, Easton/Redding/Region 9, New Fairfield, New Milford, and Region 14/Woodbury/Bethlehem.

 

In New Fairfield, Sarah McLain retired as principal of Meeting House Hill School after more than two decades in the community.  James Mandracchia, the former assistant principal, is the new principal.  Replacing him is Allyson Story.  She helped found and serves as chairperson for the Newtown Education Foundation.  As a classroom teacher, Story worked in Wilton.  She is a certified trainer for the Center of Responsive Schools, providing training for teachers across the nation in the practices of Responsive Classroom.

 

Ridgefield, Monroe and Weston begin classes on Thursday.

 

The Ridgefield School District Steering Committee for the School Start Times Project met twice over the summer and again on August 24th.  The Board of Education is expected to make a decision by late October.  The Committee reviewed a report by School Bus Consultants at their meeting last week.  Several change scenarios were presented to deliver an 8:30am start time at Ridgefield High School, which aligns with the research on sleep and adolescent health.

 

Here's the quick breakdown on start dates:

 

Monday 8/28: Newtown, Region 12 Washington/Roxbury/Bridgewater

 

Tuesday 8/29: Region 15 Southbury/Middlebury

 

Wednesday 8/30: Bethel, Brookfield, Easton/Redding/Region 9, New Fairfield, New Milford, and Region 14 Woodbury/Bethlehem

 

Thursday 8/31: Monroe, Ridgefield and Weston

 

Tuesday 9/5: Danbury, Wilton

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Conn. Congressman delivers Weekly Democratic Address

4th District Congressman Jim Himes, Chair of the New Democrat Coalition, has delivered the Weekly Democratic Address, highlighting the fight to expand economic opportunities. 

 

He started off by saying that in his district of southwestern Connecticut, the sharp economic challenge can't be missed. But he noted that companies like Pitney Bowes, Datto, and Indeed.com, which didn't even exist fifteen years ago, are thriving there.

 

Himes acknowledged that change happens today faster than ever, but without planning and support, too many people get left behind.  He called on businesses to offer apprenticeship programs to teach valuable skills.  He believes investment in lifelong learning, training and education will mean every worker, young or old, can be vital and relevant to the industries of tomorrow.

 

In his address, Himes said this country knows from experience that investments in education and training, in transportation, communication and power will pay for themselves many times over.  He called for bipartisan improvements in these areas.

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Murphy pushes for bill to help veterans with PTSD

Some 50 veterans and veterans’ advocates gathered at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Danbury on Friday to share their stories with Senator Chris Murphy.  He also talked about renewed efforts to pass his "Honor Our Commitment Act".  His bill would make combat veterans with PTSD who have been dismissed from the military for misconduct eligible for mental health treatment from the VA. 

 

 

Murphy noted that the suicide rate among veterans is extremely high. 

 

The veterans shared their stories of service, injury and struggle to cut through the red tape at the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

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Danbury considers changes to child, group day care center inspections

An ordinance is proposed in Danbury about child day care centers and group day care homes.  State law requires local health agencies to make unannounced inspections of licensed facilities.  There are over 40 such facilities in Danbury. 

 

Revisions were needed to Danbury's overall code of law in order to comply with the state regulation. 

 

A child care center is defined as any place receiving 12 or more children for care.  A group day care home is for places receiving between 7 and 12 children.  The facilities both need certificates of inspection and must apply to the Danbury Health Department for the certificate, which must be renewed annually. 

 

Fees will be established if and when the City Council approves the new ordinance. 

 

Any violations found during the inspections must be corrected within 5 calendar days, and if the problem isn't fixed the certificate could be suspended.  A certificate could be revoked following suspension, or if the annual inspection fee isn't paid.  An appeals process will be set up.  

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Ridgefield officer participates in CT SWAT Challenge

Ridgefield Police Officer VanWattum participated in the Connecticut SWAT Challenge Top Cop Competition last week in Simsbury. Competitors from across the country, as well as military personnel, competed in firearms skills and a physical agility test. Officer VanWattum finished 14th out of 39.

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Beagles train at Danbury fire station for sniffing bed bugs

The Danbury Fire Department joked that it might have been K9 week this week.  They trained with K9 search and rescue teams in Tarrywile Park, rescued a dog who got his paw stuck in a bathtub drain and on Thursday a pack of Beagles used Fire Headquarters to train for sniffing out bed bugs. They didn't find any.

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Part of Route 25 in Newtown closed due to crash involving downed wires

Route 25 in Newtown will be closed for an undetermined amount of time following a two vehicle crash near the intersection of Cold Spring Road.  A Tri-Axle dump truck was in the left lane os South Main Street, headed southbound.  A driver in the right lane tried to pass on the right, but hit the curb and lost control. 

 

The utility pole broke in half.  Wires fell across the roadway, coming down on the car.  The vehicle skidded to a stop in the middle of the street and caught fire. 

 

The driver, 49-year old James Patrick of Bridgeport, was able to get out of the car on his own.  He was checked out by EMS and released. 

 

The truck driver, 59-year old Michael Benway of Waterbury, was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of injuries to his head. 

 

Botsford Fire Department, Eversource Energy, Frontier Communications, the state Department of Transportation and Newtown Public Works all responded to the scene.  The State Police Truck Squad also responded.

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WCSU students move into newly renovated dorm

There will likely be more traffic than usual on White Street in Danbury today.  It's move in day for Western Connecticut State University first year and transfer students.  Welcome Week events also kick off today for West Conn students. 

 

The newly renovated Litchfield Hall has reopened, following a $15 million renovation.  230 students will have new rooms, furniture, bathrooms, common areas, windows and study rooms.  The 1960s freshman dormitory now includes new air-conditioned lounges on each floor as well as a  handicapped-accessible courtyard. 

 

There is a new exterior entranceway, new courtyard landscaping, and a gazebo.

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Redding First Selectman calls out Gov. over state budget process

Redding officials are criticizing Governor Malloy and his Budget Chief for plans to zero out municipal aid to Redding.  The state asked for financial information from all municipalities including projected fund balance and how they would plan for a lack of state budget. 

 

First Selectman Julia Pemberton says it amounts to punishment for Redding's responsible and fiscally sound approach to funding local government, schools and other services.  She added that the state would raid the town's piggy bank to help close their budget gap, and shift Redding's relatively small amount of municipal aid to more distressed communities. 

 

Pemberton called it shameful. 

 

Redding's Total fund balance for Fiscal Year 2016 was $9,306,152 and the unassigned portion of that balance was $7,139,238. The audit for Fiscal Year 2017 is just beginning so the town cannot project what it will be at the end. 

 

Pemberton says a healthy fund balance is an indicator of the fiscal health of a municipality and it's essential if they are to maintain a AAA bond rating.  A better rating means Redding pays lower interest rates for capital items when the town has to borrow.

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Danbury buys new propane-fueled school buses

Danbury's school buses will run greener and cleaner this year because they are fueled by propane.  80 new school buses will roll out September 5th.  The buses replace the ones the district has used for the past 10 years. 

 

The new fleet has a slightly different look, heat up faster, start with no issue in subzero temperatures and will each be equipped with four cameras. 

 

The buses are leased at $60,000 per bus from Student Transportation of America, which represents the entire cost of operating the bus including the driver.  Projected fuel savings are $50,000 to 75,000 in the first year. 

 

The buses will fuel up from a storage cell at the new bus depot on Triangle Street.

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Judge extends deadline for response in wrongful death lawsuit against Newtown

A judge has extended the deadline for plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Town of Newtown to respond to a defense motion to dismiss the suit.  The Newtown Bee reports that the 101-page memo supporting their motion said that the estates of two children killed at Sandy Hook School don't have the necessary evidence.  The Estates of Noah Pozner and Jesse Lewis allege there was insufficient security on 12-14.  The town's lawyers deny the allegations.

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Ridgefield Selectmen reject selling more Schlumberger land to developer

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has voted against selling off another part of the former Schlumberger property, which the town purchased in 2012.  The Newstimes reports that the Board voted Wednesday 4 to 1 not to sell an acre of land to Charter Group Partners,  which previously bought 9.8 acres. 

 

The developer wanted to add 6 more townhouse units to the age-restricted project now underway because the completed units have all been sold.  Charter Group is building 9 townhouse units and 45 apartment-style “coach homes”. 

 

Ridgefield bought to 45 acre site for $7 million and recovered $5.55 million through the sale of the Charter group plot and another 5 acre parcel.  An assisted-living facility and mixed-use apartment building will be in development soon there. 

 

Luxury furniture and design firm BassamFellows is leasing the Philip Johnson building.  The auditorium was leased by local theater group, ACT.

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State official reminds people to check for ticks as rate of illnesses rise

State officials are reminding people to check for ticks after spending time outdoors.  This follows an increase in the number of ticks found carrying Lyme Disease, and a report of a New Milford man dying after contracting a different tick-borne illness.  55-year-old Michael Yoder died of liver and kidney failure after contracting Babesiosis  from a tick bite. 

 

The state Agricultural Experiment Station is also concerned about Pawassan Virus.  There's no treatment for Pawassan Virus and can be transmitted by ticks within matter of minutes.  There is no cure and it can be fatal in some cases.

 

Two to three percent of ticks tested in Connecticut have been found carrying the Pawassan Virus.

 

The Centers for Disease Control has reported an increase in Babesiosis cases in the state, from 74 in 2011 to 205 in 2014. Still, fatal cases remain low with one death reported in 2015 and in 2016.

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Esty bill to improve VA signed into law by President

A bill co-authored by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has been signed into law by the President. 

 

Esty is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.  The measure aims to modernize the appeals process at the Department of Veterans Affairs to cut down on the claims backlog and reduce delays. 

 

Under the current system, Esty says veterans must often wait five years or longer for their appeals to be resolved.  There are 470,000 pending appeals nationwide.  She hopes this bill will provide all veterans with the timely compensation they deserve for the injuries they sustained in service to this country. 

 

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act creates three avenues for veterans' appeals to move through the system more efficiently.  One path involves an adjudicator to review the same evidence considered by the original claims processor; another is for the veteran to submit new evidence for review and have a hearing; and the last moves jurisdiction for the appeal immediately to the Board of Veterans' Appeals.

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Portions of Lake Zoar chemically treated to control invasive weeds

Selected areas of Lake Zoar were chemically treated with Diquat herbicide and copper sulfate algaecide yesterday.  This was done as a targeted way to control invasive Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed.  A map showing the specific treatment areas was posted at the State Boat Ramp and at other public access sites.  There was no swimming in treated areas on the day of treatment.  Treated lake water can not be used for irrigating turf or ornamentals for 3 days or for irrigating food crops or production ornamentals for 5 days.

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Poodle gets tumor that's a third of its body weight removed

NAUGATUCK, Conn. (AP) - A poodle named Oreo is on the mend after having a 6.4-pound tumor removed - nearly a third of its body weight.

 

 

Daryl Masone says her group, Poodle Rescue Connecticut, got custody of the 6-year-old, 26-pound poodle mix earlier this month after a neighbor noticed it was struggling with the large tumor. She says it was hard for the dog to walk or do anything else, and it was also struggling with fleas and Lyme disease.

 


The Watertown Animal Hospital performed a 2.5-hour surgery to remove the growth last week.

Masone said Wednesday that Oreo is doing great and now weighs 19 pounds. She says it will eventually need a second surgery to remove extra skin.

 

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Bethel temporarily puts off vote on school renovations

Bethel officials have decided to delay scheduling a referendum on two school renovation projects until the state's financial picture is a little more clear.   About 45-percent of the $68 million renovations to Rockwell Elementary and Johnson School is eligible for state reimbursement.  The school construction money is different than the Education Cost Sharing Grant money, which Governor Malloy has cancelled for 85 municipalities, including Bethel. 

 

The Bethel Board of Finance will meet September 12th about whether to set a public hearing and town meeting for the renovation project. 

 

Superintendent Christine Carver told the Board on Tuesday that the resolution for a referendum could be written in a way that says going forward with the project is contingent on the state funding.  There would be an "out clause" so the town wouldn't be responsible for the full $68 million if the state funding doesn't come through, even though the referendum was successful.

 

They are aiming for an October referendum because one has to be held before November 15th in order to be eligible for the priority list.

 

Rockwell was built in 1971 and Johnson in 1980.

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UPDATED: Racial slur, swastika spray painted on newly opened New Milford business

A racial slur and a swastika were found spray painted across a New Milford business this morning.  David and Senka Thompson recently opened Thompson's restaurant on Kent Road in New Milford.  One of their daughter's teacher called early this morning to alert them to the vandalism. 

 

 

The couple opened the restaurant nine weeks ago.

 

The couple recently moved to Sherman from New York City and opened in the former Bridges Tavern & Restaurant to offer southern comfort food. 

 

David Thompson is a Connecticut native, who has extended family in the south, and 15 years restaurant experience.  He is a volunteer firefighter in Sherman.  Senka Thompson came to America from the war-torn part of Yugoslavia that’s now Bosnia.  They have three daughters, ages 16, 11 and 4.

 

Senka Thompson says it's been uplifting to see the amount of support they are receiving from the community.

 

Mayor David Gronbach issued a statement saying that he is disgusted the hatred seen elsewhere in the country has appeared in New Milford. In the wake of Charlottesville, he posted “Hate Has No Home Here”, but today he found out that there are people in the community who hate based on skin color or ethnicity or religion.

 

He said that while hate may live in the hearts of some in the community, New Milford gives it no shelter and no safe harbor.  He noted that the full weight of police resources will be used to find and punish any person associated with the hate crime.

 

Gronbach called on New Milford to come together to not only denounce this expression of hate, but to beat it back into the furthest recesses of the twisted heart that harbors it.  He then addressed the community at large, specifically African-Americans, Hispanics, Jewish, Muslim, LGBTQ, and anyone else against whom the expression was meant to intimidate, saying that "Hate Has No Home Here".

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Dog freed from tub drain by Danbury firefighters

Danbury firefighters have rescued a dog whose foot was stuck in a tub drain.  Firefighters responded to the apartment at Danbury Commons on Main Street yesterday afternoon.  They worked to remove the dog from the tub.  Members used a Dremel tool to remove the plumbing parts from the dog's foot while the owner comforted the dog, who was successfully rescued without injury.

 

(Photo: DFD)

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Farm Mark Twain bought for his daughter on market for $1.8M

REDDING, Conn. (AP) A farm once owned by Mark Twain is up for sale in Connecticut for $1.8 million.

The Connecticut Post reports the 18.7-acre property in Redding is next to Twain's country home, known as ``Stormfield.''

He bought it for his daughter, Jean Clemens, in 1909 and named it ``Jean's Farm.'' But Jean died soon after. Twain died five months later, in April 1910.

The real estate agency, William Raveis, says the house includes five bedrooms and four bathrooms. The property also includes a movie theater, saltwater swimming pool, fish pond and a barn built in the 1860s that includes an extra apartment.

It calls it a perfect Connecticut gentleman's farm.

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Waramaug swim area reopens, Kettletown remains closed

The swim area at Lake Waramaug in Kent has reopened.  It was closed over the weekend due to elevated bacteria levels.  The swim area at Kettletown State Park in Southbury remains closed due to the presence of blue green algae.  The access has been closed since the beginning of the month.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection conducts weekly testing of all 23 state park beaches on Thursdays with results out on Fridays.

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Danbury City Council looks at proposed updates for food safety laws

A Committee of the City Council is recommending updates to Danbury's food safety laws.  A new food code on the state level means an overhaul is needed to the City's food protection program.  The changes will effect the re-training of food inspectors, re-classification of restaurants, additional food handler training session and updating the fee schedule. 

 

The state regulation, which is an FDA-model food code, go into effect in October and next July. 

 

What was once termed "qualified food operator" is now known as a "certified food manager".

 

Health Director Lisa Michelle Morrissey says they will be holding town halls with interested parties if the City Council approves the recommended changes.  Three print mailings will also be sent to food service business owners about the changes directly impacting them.

 

Morrissey says a restaurant can have a 96 but still fail.  They are talking about making the information more streamlined, with a letter grade system or a much clearer number system.  The Department could also highlight the risk factor debit on the inspection sheet rather than a linear list of problems.  She says that would prioritize things like cross contamination temperature, and put something like washing the walls lower on the list.

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Umpawaug Schoolhouse restoration work completed

Restoration work on the exterior of the historic Umpawaug Schoolhouse in Redding is complete.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton announced this week that the scaffolding was removed.  She says the project went smoothly and historically accurate shutters replaced the ones that rotted.  The Redding Historical Society supported the restoration work.  Events will be planned at the Schoolhouse to coordinate with Redding's ongoing sestercentennial celebrations.

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Bear sightings in New Fairfield tick up

A bear was recently spotted in New Fairfield in the Woods Way area.  A picture was snapped of the bear eating bird seed in a feeder.  Bears are attracted to garbage, pet food, compost piles, fruit trees, and birdfeeders.  Residents are called on to remove birdfeeders from late March through November in order to not attract unwanted visitors.  Officials also cautioned people not to approach or try to get closer to a bear to get a photo or video.

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Four orthopedic and pain care practices in Greater Danbury merge

Danbury Orthopedics, New Milford Orthopedics, Coastal Orthopedics and Connecticut Pain Care have merged their practices.  The new OrthoConnecticut aims to provide improved patient-centered care for the full range of musculoskeletal issues. 

 

OrthoConnecticut is also expanding its pain management services to include four fellowship trained, Board-certified pain management specialists, who provide the latest treatments to alleviate and control chronic pain. 

 

The new group has 31 Board-certified orthopedic and pain management specialists in nine office locations in Connecticut.  The nine offices are located in Danbury, Darien, New Canaan, New Milford, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Sharon, Southbury and Westport.

 

The four newly merged practices that have collectively provided patient care in the Greater Danbury region for more than 90 years.  

 

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Fire truck overhauled, returned to service in Danbury

A fire truck that was sent out of state for repairs has returned to Danbury. 

 

The vehicle was brought up to new standards and overhauled to extend the truck's life.  The 2000 Pierce ladder received new electronics for the ladder system, emergency lighting, new intercom system, generator updating and air conditioning. 

 

Officials defended the air conditioning upgrade saying it's not a luxury for the firefighters who have to wear more than 40 pounds of turnout gear.  The department says air conditioning is necessary for the health and safety of firefighters to help avoid heat related disorders.

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Bethel Board of Finance to meet about school renovation proposal

The Bethel Board of Finance is scheduled to meet tonight about proposed renovations to Rockwell Elementary and Johnson School.  The $68-million project is eligible for state grant reimbursement of about 45-percent.  But the state's financial situation has some people concerned.  A town meeting and referendum on the proposal still needs to be held and could be written in a way that accounts for the town not receiving grant money. Tonight's meeting is at 7 pm in Meeting Room A of Town Hall.

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Bulletproof glass being installed at Danbury High School entryway

Renovations to Danbury High School are progressing.  School officials weren't sure if they'd be completely ready for a traditional August start to school, so this year Danbury students will be starting the year after Labor Day.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says that's giving them time to dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s.  The entrance way and egress for the buses have been changed.  There's separate entrances for parents and buses dropping off or picking up. 

 

The main entrance of Danbury High School was moved because by law, the glass has to be bulletproof.  Pascarella says the entrance in the morning is now just past the auditorium, by the art wing.  Officials are hoping to have the bulletproof glass installed in the main entrance within the next three or four weeks.

 

The cafeteria was the other expansion.  A temporary wall is coming down and the permanent wall is going up.  It will have glass, but does not have the same criteria as the front entrance way.

 

At the other schools in the district, workers have been replacing ceiling titles, redoing floors and painting.  Pascarella says things have been chaotic, but in the last week they've really come together.

 

Besides moving the start date back, the other modification to the school year in Danbury is that administrators and staff did not have convocation at the high school because of the construction.

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Bethel searches for new Social Services Director after disagreement over salary

Bethel is looking for a new Director of Social Services following the resignation of Director Jenn Lawlor.  The reasoning behind the resignation played out on a Facebook forum post.  Lawlor and others lobbied the town to make the part-time position full time because the town's needs grew.  

 

About $58,000 was approved for the department and Lawlor believed that to be the salary.  But town official say the position would pay $51,000 plus benefits.  The balance would be used for part time staff during the busy holiday season. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker called the situation “a misunderstanding” about the salary, saying it's similar to other towns.  Lawlor reportedly wanted to work fewer hours during slow times and longer hours when work picks up, but personnel regulations prevent that.

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Brookfield committee meets about potential loss of playing fields

A facilities committee has met in Brookfield to examine the potential loss of athletic fields.  The ad hoc committee was established because of municipal expansion that could impact playing fields.  A proposed new library and possible police station expansion could impact two fields.  The Schmidt Corn Field could be sold to a developer.  Representatives from the library, the land use and parks departments, and local soccer and lacrosse leagues are part of the 9-member committee.  If a field is affected, the committee will recommend how to replace it, and where it fits in a cohesive, overall model.

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New Milford state lawmaker calls for structural government changes

State legislative leaders are aiming for a special session the second week in September to vote on a budget, which has yet to be drafted and released to rank-and-file members.  Some lawmakers have been talking about structural changes that are needed for how Connecticut government does business.  One of those lawmakers is New Milford Senator Craig Miner.

 

Miner says his colleagues only have to look at tax revenue to see that changes are needed.  He also pointed to automobile sales, which were off 10-percent from 2015 to 2016 and continued on that trend in 2017.  The sales tax implications in that one issue was over $70 million last year.

 

He was also critical of a recently approved union concession agreement, which lasts for a decade.  Miner says the General Assembly needs the ability to completely reorganize state government.

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Regional planning agency seeks input on economic development plan

Input is being sought by The Western Connecticut Council of Governments on a draft five-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.  Plans to enhance the economy of the region are outlined in the document. 

 

The mandatory 30-day review period opened today and will end September 20th.  The report will then be submitted to the United States Economic Development Administration. 

 

The CEDS can be viewed on the WestCOG website, westcog.org, or at the WestCOG office located at 1 Riverside Road in Sandy Hook.  The Western Region encompassing the municipalities of Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Sherman, Stamford, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

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Danbury firefighters testing hydrants

Danbury firefighters have been out in recent weeks opening and closing hydrants around the city.  The resting program was started in 2001 in an effort to reduce the number of damaged and malfunctioning hydrants.  There are more than 2,100 hydrants in Danbury.  After the test is complete, the findings are input in an electronics records system.  The City's water department can see the data base and determine if any repairs are needed.  About 850 hydrants have been replaced since the testing program started, with about 200 hydrant repairs made annually.

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Bethel schools tout success of summer enrichment, credit recover programs

Over 500 students attended enrichment, remedial, pre-kindergarten and high school credit recovery summer programs in Bethel.  Students received targeted instruction in reading, writing, and math.  Enrichment programs included hands-on science, PE, art, cooking, history, and technology classes. Many of Bethel's incoming kindergarteners attended free programs to acclimate them to school.

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Newtown agrees to allow families to see evidence in wrongful death lawsuit

The Town of Newtown and the school district have agreed to allow two Sandy Hook families who filed a wrongful death lawsuit to see evidence that two slain teachers had access to keys that could have been used to lock their classroom doors.

 

Two emergency folders are in state police custody.  Newtown's lawyers say the folders were in the classrooms and contained keys on the day of the shooting.  The families may not reproduce or distribute what they find in the folders, and may only inspect the folders while defense attorneys are present.

 

The request comes in a wrongful death lawsuit by the parents of Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner against Newtown for alleged inadequate security measures.  The town's lawyers deny the allegations.

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Drainage improvement project ahead of schedule

The Candlewood Corners drainage improvement project in New Fairfield is ahead of schedule and under budget.  Work started at the end of June to mitigate flooding that has damaged properties and caused hazardous driving conditions.  First Selectman Susan Chapman says the undersized drainage was also poorly aligned.  Two culverts, large enough to handle rain events without flooding properties and roadways, were installed.  The 30 inch pipes were put in across Sawmill Road.  The project was expected to take three to four months to complete.  The project cost was estimated at $500,000.

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Danbury has new fire engines in service

Two new fire engines are now in service in Danbury.  Fire Department officials say the new trucks have modern upgrades that will better protect the life, property and environment of Danbury residents in the most efficient and safe manner possible. 

 

The wo new fire engines cost about $600,000 each. 

 

Life saving equipment such as thermal imaging cameras, Hurst eDraulic tools (Jaws of Life), hazardous materials meters, iPads, and fire hose were installed.  Some new features added to these apparatus are ergonomic drop down ladder racks which prevent back injuries, 750 gallons of water compared to previous models that carry 500 gallons. 

 

Other safety features such as additional scene lighting, a larger cab with custom roll up firefighter and driver compartments, noise cancelling head sets for in-cab and radio communications, and additional compartment space for equipment storage including defibrillators, medical equipment, meters and smoke detectors that assist with life saving rescues and hazard mitigation. 

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New Milford streets to be scanned to determine needed repairs

A scientific, data driven analysis of New Milford roads will get underway soon.  The town has awarded a Pavement Inspection Services project to Street Scan.  The data will help prioritize repair operations based on available budgets and schedule long term maintenance schemes. 

 

Street Scan uses technology to provide geophysical subsurface imaging and sensing services.  Tire-induced vibrations and sound waves will determine surface texture, roughness and overall condition. A video camera is used to capture surface defects. 

 

Mayor David Gronbach says they expect the results by December.

 

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Danbury Library to host viewing of NASA solar eclipse programming

The Danbury Library plans to livestream NASA's four-hour "Eclipse Across America" program on Monday.  The show will be broadcast through NASA Television from noon to 4pm. The images are being captured by 11 spacecraft, 50 high-altitude balloons, NASA aircraft, and astronauts aboard the International Space Station.  The program in the library's Farioly Program Room is free and no registration is required.

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Absentee ballots available soon for primaries in Redding, Newtown

Absentee ballots in Redding will be available starting Tuesday for the primaries being held September 12th.  There is a Republican primary for Board of Education candidates and a Democratic primary to fill a Board of Finance vacancy.

 

Absentee ballots in Newtown will be available starting Tuesday for the Republican Municipal Primary on September 12th.  The primary is for First Selectman, Selectman and Town Clerk.  Special hours for absentee voting will also be held on Saturday, September 9 from 9am to noon.

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Ridgefield Police to host car seat installation, inspection clinic

The Ridgefield Police Department is holding a car seat clinic on Monday in the Prospector Theater parking lot.  Child Passenger Safety Technicians from the Ridgefield Police Department will inspect and assist with the installation of child passenger restraint systems. No appointment is necessary.  Inspections and installations will be done on a first come first serve basis, free of charge between 9am and 1pm Monday.

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Sales Tax Free Week in CT starts Sunday

“Sales Tax Free Week” runs from Sunday through the 26th.  Since sales tax is calculated after the use of any coupons or discounts, if the final price is less than $100, the sale is exempt from taxes. 

 

Clothing or footwear under $100 put on layaway is also tax-free. 

 

New and used college textbooks are exempt from the state 6.35 percent sales tax for students who present a valid college ID at the time of purchase.  

 

Goods not covered under the program include, but are not limited to clothing or footwear specifically designed for athletic activities: football cleats, specialty boots for fishing, hiking, skiing and other activities, as well as wet suits, helmets and headbands, etc. Accessories including jewelry, handbags, luggage, umbrellas, wallets, watches, etc. are not included.  

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Several local school districts to receive little or no state education funding

Education funding from the state to municipalities has been updated by Governor Malloy as he continues to run government by executive order due to a lack of a legislatively approved budget.  He is prioritizing allocations for Alliance Districts and students with the highest needs.  54 districts will see reduced funding, while the 85 that rely on state support the least for overall district funding will be zeroed out.

 

Malloy says municipal aid funding as part of the executive order reflects the nearly impossible decisions Connecticut is forced to make in the absence of a budget.  He acknowledged that this will force some municipalities, large and small, to make difficult decisions.  

 

The Chairman of the Bethel Board of Education wrote an open letter on Facebook to state lawmakers about his frustrations with the budget stalemate and proposed education funding cuts.  Larry Craybas said that schools will open in less than two weeks in total confusion with larger class sizes at every grade level.  He notes that DRG D Districts like Bethel and neighboring New Milford face monumental cuts. 

 

Craybas added that the problem Governor Malloy has created in his Executive Order on August 2nd affects all districts, including the Alliance Districts he anticipates helping.  Alliance Districts are the 30 lowest performing.  If the cuts do go through, Bethel anticipates needing to lay off upwards of a quarter of teaching and support staffs.  Craybas says the damage from cutting 119 people will last for generations of students.  He believes Bethel could possibly become an Alliance District.

 

He called the executive order an indefensible manipulation of ECS funds that will dramatically damage what Bethel has been able to achieve over many years.

 

In addition to larger class sizes, Craybas cautioned that intervention support for children that need this additional help to learn, grow in achievement, and eventually become productive members of society will be seriously reduced or eliminated entirely.

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United Illuminating cautioning of planned power outage in Easton

United Illuminating will be conducting system testing at an electrical substation in Fairfield tomorrow.  Between 3am and 5am, customers of Easton, Fairfield and Bridgeport may experience a brief power outage.  The utility says the outage is expected to last less than 5 minutes.  If anyone is dependent on life-saving medical equipment and not registered with United Illuminating as a life-support customer, they are urged to contact the utility. 

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Danbury schools prepare for return of students

Danbury Public School staff are getting ready for the return of students.  School information including bus routes and policies will be available on the district website after August 29th.  The first day of school is Tuesday, September 5th.  The delay is to give some buffer time for renovations to finish at the High School.  Schools are preparing to send home packets to kindergarten families. For those receiving free or reduced lunch, a new form needs to be filled out each year.

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Road closures announced in Ridgefield, Bridgewater

A portion of Lake Lillinonah Road South in Bridgewater will be temporarily closed through September 1st.  Emergency repairs are needed to the culvert under the road near the Bridgewater Town Park.  The closure is from the area of 9 Lake Lillinonah Road South to the intersection with Tappan Road.  Residents will still be able to access their properties from Henry Sanford Road.  The length of the closures is weather dependent.

 

The second in a series of weekend road closures for Route 7 in Ridgefield starts tonight.  The intersection of Route 102 to 35 will be closed and traffic detoured between 8 o'clock this evening to Monday at 6am.  Drivers are called on to take alternate routes.

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UPDATED: Temporary stay of deportation granted for New Fairfield man

A temporary stay of deportation has been granted for a New Fairfield man who was about to board a plane for his native Guatemala.  Joel Colindres was less than an hour away from self-deporting Thursday afternoon, when word came of the stay issued by the U.S. Second District Circuit Court of Appeals.  The 33-year old had been told 28 days ago that he had to leave the country by August 17.

 

(Colindres family Facebook,)

 

Colindres married Connecticut 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.  The couple has two young children.

 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty called Colindres a hardworking father who pays his taxes, contributes to his community, and has no criminal record.  He will now have the opportunity to make his case in court, and can remain with his wife and children while he does so.

 

Esty says while this reprieve is a step toward justice for the Colindres family, their experience is a perfect illustration of how broken the immigration system is.

 

Senator Chris Murphy says he is relieved for the Colindres family and that his office will continue to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement so that Joel can stay in Connecticut with his family.  He added that targeting families like this one is an abomination.

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal says reason and justice have prevailed, at least temporarily so that Colindres can pursue a fair hearing.

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Boughton, surgeon talk about brain tumor

Mayor Mark Boughton has returned to Danbury following brain surgery to remove a lemon sized benign cyst.  The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center published a video featuring Boughton and his surgeon, Dr. Robert Friedlander talking about the operation.

 

When he started suffering from exhaustion in the afternoons, Boughton sought answers.  He was given variety of diagnoses ranging from needing exercise to have Lyme Disease.  After he lost his vision one day for about 25 minutes, Boughton went to the Danbury Hospital Emergency Room and got an MRI, which revealed the tumor.  He got four opinions and three of the four recommended Dr. Friedlander.

 

Friedlander says image guidance and high definition fiber tractography to target the general area.  He says that demonstrated the relationship between the tumor and the important structures and the function of the brain. 

 

 

Within 48 hours of surgery, Boughton was out and walking around Pittsburgh.

 

Boughton thanked people for their well wishes as he recovers and says he is excited to return stronger than ever.  He also noted that he's still moving full steam ahead in his bid for higher office.  Boughton is already planning fundraising events around the state, as early as this coming Tuesday.  He plans to work a few hours a day next week before being in city hall full time after Labor Day.  Boughton has two fundraisers planned during each of the next two weeks as he explores a run for statewide office.

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Parents of Newtown victims want to know if teachers had keys

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Lawyers for the parents of two children killed in the Newtown school shooting are demanding to see evidence that two teachers fatally shot in the massacre had access to keys that could have been used to lock the doors of their classrooms.

 

The attorneys filed motions in Danbury Superior Court this week asking a judge to allow them to examine two red emergency folders, now in state police custody, that were kept in the two classrooms to see if they contain door keys, as lawyers for Newtown say they do.

 

The request comes as part of a wrongful death lawsuit by the parents of victims Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner against Newtown on allegations that security measures at Sandy Hook Elementary School were not adequate.

 

Among the numerous allegations in the lawsuit is that school officials failed to provide keys to either teacher Victoria Soto or substitute teacher Lauren Rousseau so they could follow school lockdown procedures and lock their doors. A lockdown, however, wasn't ordered at any time during the shooting, Newtown's lawyers say in court documents.

 

The lawsuit also says Newtown should be held liable for the fact that the classroom doors could only be locked from the outside in the hallway, which would have made it impossible for Soto and Rousseau to safely lock their doors as Lanza approached their rooms after shooting his way through the locked front glass entryway.

Fifteen students and Rousseau were killed in Room 8, and five students and Soto were slain in Room 10.

 

The motions to review the emergency folders were filed Tuesday, nearly two months after Newtown lawyers disclosed in court documents that the folders in every classroom contained keys. Newtown lawyers previously have said the teachers had keys, but they were not more specific.

 

"They're saying the keys were kept in the red folders," said Donald Papcsy, a lawyer for the parents suing the town. "We're saying, OK, let's go look."

 

Papcsy added that even if Soto and Rousseau did not have time to lock their doors before Lanza entered their classrooms, school officials set them up to fail to be able to follow lockdown procedures. He said the aim of the lawsuit is to make sure schools have adequate emergency plans.

 

John Cannavino Jr., an attorney representing the town, said he does not comment on pending litigation.

 

In court documents, lawyers for Newtown said there is no evidence security was inadequate, Lanza's actions caused the deaths and municipalities are immune from the liability of others. School officials had put new security measures in place at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, including locking doors during school hours.

 

Even if Rousseau and Soto had keys and the doors could be locked from the inside, it's not clear whether the teachers could have locked the doors in time or prevented any deaths, said Phil Santore, senior principal of the Hamden, Connecticut-based security consulting firm DVS.

 

"Anyone can argue if I had a key I could have locked the door. Maybe you could, maybe you couldn't," said Santore, whose firm consulted on the new World Trade Center buildings in New York and the new Sandy Hook Elementary School that was built after the old one was torn down. "I don't know that there's anything definitive you could say about it."

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Swim area at state park remains closed due to algae

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Brookfield officials warn residents of telemarketing scam

Brookfield officials are warning residents about a telemaketing scam with a caller ID displayed as "Town of Brookfield".  Several residents alerted town hall to the calls, which ended up being someone trying to sell credit cards.  Residents were encouraged to not give out personal information to suspicious callers and to verify the authenticity of such a request directly with the company or government agency seeking the data.

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Murphy makes Newtown stop during 'Walk Across Connecticut'

A standing ovation from a standing room only crowd when Senator Chris Murphy walked into his town hall meeting in Newtown Wednesday night after a 25 mile leg of his Walk Across Connecticut.  Murphy called it an enormous crowd.

 

 

Murphy said he's making this now second annual trek because people are maxed out in life and don't always have time to call or write. He noted that this gives him an organic sense of what's important to his constituents. What surprised him this year was that people were waiting on the side of the road for him for hours to tell him their stories.

 

Murphy turned into a bit of a senatorial Forrest Gump. People spontaneously joined him from the Housatonic all the way into Newtown.

 

When asked about Trump, and generally what is going on in D.C., Murphy called him "a president who makes an exceptional amount of news".

 

Murphy is hearing most about worry over having good schools, lack of state budget and small business owners being squeezed.  People talked most though about health care.  Murphy stated that he frequently asks himself 'what if we came together in health care?' and then told himself there would be plenty else to fight over.

 

Questions were raised about the violence and protests in Charlottesville.  Murphy told the crowd that it's easy to fester hate when you don't live among diversity.  He condemned the actions.

 

 

When it comes to DACA and protecting the so-called Dreamers, the children brought to this country and are undocumented, Murphy said sending them back to a country they don't know may be following the letter of law, but not conscious of the nation.

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Emergency stay denied, New Fairfield man to be deported to Guatemala

The Board of Immigration Appeal has denied an emergency stay on a deportation order for a New Fairfield man.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also denied a stay for Joel Colindres and he must leave the country for Guatemala today. 

 

His wife Samantha, a Connecticut native, said in a written statement that she is devastated, broken, and angry.  The couple has two young children. 

 

Colindres still has a pending motion, that if approved it could bring him back.  At the minimum he will be away from his family for 8 months.  That is why the family says they are not seeking sanctuary in a church. Disobeying this order could make him a criminal fugitive and impair his path to citizenship down the road.

 

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.

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Newtown updates town law on alarm system registration

Newtown officials have updated town ordinances about alarm systems in an effort to reduce the number of false alarms.   Home and commercial users are encouraged to keep their contact information up to date with police. 

 

Starting July 1st, all alarm systems in Newtown must be registered and renewed annually.  The Newtown Police Department, with the help of the Town IT Department, has created an online registration/renewal application.  Fees can also now be paid online. 

 

Having an unregistered alarm system could result in a $99 fine. 

 

A 2nd false alarm will cost $25.  The fee doubles for the 3rd and 4th false alarm.  It will cost $100 for a 5th, 6th, or 7th false alarm, doubling for the 8th and 9th.  If a home or business alarm system falsely goes off 10 times or more, it's a $250 fee.

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New York State Police beef up enforcement on I-684

New York State Police carried out an enhanced enforcement effort yesterday, looking for distracted drivers on Interstate 684.  During a six hour time frame, Troopers issued a total of 55 tickets.  10 were for speeding, 3 for seatbelt violations, 11 for cell phone violations and 23 tickets for "move-over" law violations.  The balance of the tickers were issued for other vehicle and traffic offenses.

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Following brain surgery, Danbury Mayor to return to work Monday

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton anticipates being back in the City this weekend and back in the office on Monday.  Boughton plans to work a few hours a day next week and return full time after labor day.  For now, the 53-year old is in Pittsburgh waiting to have stitches taken out after a surgery to remove a benign, lemon-sized cyst from his brain. 

 

A pathologist confirmed that it was a benign epidermoid cyst. 

 

Boughton told Hearst Connecticut Media that the night before the surgery he spent hours praying, crying and thinking about what sort of person he had been.  The published report also said that Boughton suffered severe exhaustion in the afternoons, starting almost four years ago.  Recently his headaches became bad and one day last month, his vision went blurry for 25 minutes.

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As classes get set to resume, officials urge pedestrian safety

Schools in the Greater Danbury area will be starting up again soon and that means children will be walking to school and waiting along the street at bus stops.  Kevin Borrup of the Injury Prevention Center says it's important for parents to have a heightened awareness around safety issues. 

 

The Center formed a partnership with the state Department of Transportation to improve safety for pedestrians.  They launched the "Watch For Me Connecticut" campaign to raise awareness among drivers. 

 

The number of pedestrians killed last year increased 11-percent nationwide.  In Connecticut 1,100 pedestrians are hit by cars each year. 

 

Borrup offered tips to pedestrians.  They including using sidewalks, crossing at intersections controlled by signals and walking facing traffic.  For drivers, he is reminding motorists to keep speeds under the limit in residential areas.

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Redding students propose 'Little Free Library' for Community Center

The Redding Board of Selectmen is backing an initiative proposed by second graders to install a ‘Little Free Library’ at the Redding Community Center. 

 

This project was part of the persuasive argument and writing curriculum.  The students drew  life-sized version and planned an opinion-based presentation to convince their classmates to vote for a particular presentation.

 

A Little Free Library, a worldwide organization, supports the construction of small, personally stocked neighborhood book exchanges.  Anyone cane take out a book, and replace it with one of their own. 

 

The small bookcase would be installed on a pedestal in the community center.  The students with the winning design raised money to help go toward materials.  Parents will help with construction.

 

The proposal was forwarded to the Redding Park and Recreation Commission and the Planning Commission.  The castle-shaped bookshelf would be stocked with books for siblings to read while waiting for sporting activities to conclude.  Parks and Rec officials say they want some more details from the class about the size of the proposed structure and the upkeep.

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Danbury zoners approve application for new animal control facility

The Danbury Zoning Commission has approved an application to add the use of "municipal animal control facility" to a certain area of the City.

 

$950,000 in bond money was approved by residents in November for construction of a new dog pound, which will help Danbury be in compliance with state standards.

 

Animal Control officials say a new facility is desperately needed. Several improvements were made to the City's current building to bring it up to date with state regulations, but the facility is still sub-standard to pounds of today. The building was constructed in the early 70's, is antiquated and in need of many major updates. 

 

The current facility doesn't have heat or air conditioning, and there's no room to quarantine animals if they're sick. A new building will give the City a humane area to hold dogs before they're adopted.

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Sandy Hook School project comes in under budget, surplus returns to the state

Newtown is sending $1.5 million back to the state as the Sandy Hook School rebuilding project officially closes out.  The Public Building and Site Commission recently determined that all expenditures for the newly opened school have been tallied.  Connecticut gifted $50 million to Newtown when the town determined that the best option to move forward was to tear down the site of the shooting and build a new facility on the same property.  Newtown officials say they were mindful of the generosity and were determined to be respectful with the resources.  They credit some of the savings to having very few change orders, deviations and additions because of the vast amount of planning that went into the design process.

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Danbury School District names 'Teacher of the Year'

The Danbury Public School District has named the 2017-18 Teacher of the Year.  Beth Manning is a science teacher at Westside Middle School Academy.  Manning started out as a pharmaceutical representative, tasked with training co-workers in technological changes. 

 

She earned her masters at Western Connecticut State University.  Manning was a student teacher at Danbury High School in 2001 and then started teaching at Rogers Park Middle School. 

 

Last year she was chosen by the Connecticut Science Teachers Association to receive the “Excellence in Middle School Science Teaching Award.” 

 

Manning says it's great that the district has embraced creativity in teaching the required curriculum.  New state science standards were adopted last year.  Manning said she accomplishes this by helping students – rather than telling them – find the answers through science-based questions.

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DOT signs off on Newtown bridge replacement design

The state Department of Transportation has approved the final design submission for Newtown’s proposed replacement of the Toddy Hill Road Bridge over Curtis Pond Brook.  the DOT also authorized Newtown to send the project out for bid. The $3.1 million project replaces a deficient bridge with a wider, longer span to improve hydraulic capacity as well as traffic operations. Construction is expected to begin this year.

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Bethel, Redding paving work to close roads

Bethel officials are cautioning drivers of a week long road closure.  Maple Avenue will be closed daily from 7am until 5pm from the intersection of Maple Avenue Extension and Plumtrees Road to Main Street.  The milling and paving project is starting this afternoon and will continue until Monday the 21st. 

 

Detours will be posted.  Officials are asking drivers, if possible, to plan a alternate route to avoid delays.  Bethel residents who live within the project area will continue to have access to their driveways.

 

The Redding Highway Department will start milling and paving Sanfordtown Road and Lonetown Road beginning tomorrow. This work will take about four weeks.

 

Redding residents should expect delays and road closures. Residents who live within the work zone will be able to access their property while the reconstruction is in progress, all others are urged to take alternate routes. 

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WWII Remembrance Ceremony in Danbury this morning

The Danbury Council of Veterans' World War II 72nd Anniversary & Remembrance Ceremony will be held this morning.

 

As part of the ceremony the names of the Danbury area Servicemen who died in WWII will be read aloud, as will the names of the approximately 75 Danbury area World War II veterans who died over the past year.  Also recognized at the ceremony will be any WWII veterans in attendance.

 

For the first time, the Catholic War Veterans will have a display of 60 large WWII photos.  Each will be accompanied by a description covering land battles, bombing raids, naval combat and beach invasions events in Europe, Sicily, north Africa, and the Pacific covering.  This display is more than 20 feet long with 100 square feet of photos.

 

The ceremony will take place at 10am at the Rose Garden on Memorial Drive.

 

The ceremony is organized by the Catholic War Veterans Post 1042. The Host Committee Members includes Commander Richard Raymond, and members Al Mead, Al Cutler, Tom Saadi and Mindo Rebeiro.

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Sen. Murphy walking across Conn., plans stops in Newtown, Danbury

Senator Chris Murphy is holding his second “Walk Across Connecticut”.  He began in  Killingly on Sunday morning and plans to walk 103 miles through 21 towns over five days.  He's holding a series of pop-up town halls along his route, including Wednesday in Newtown.  The event is planned for the Edmond Town Hall Gym at 6:30pm.  His last stop will be at noon in Danbury at Rogers Park.

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Ball Pond Advisory Committee considers weed removal tools

The Ball Pond Advisory Committee in New Fairfield is considering new methods to remove weeds from the water body.  At their most recent meeting, the group reviewed a purchase order that would allow for a quote to be obtained from New Milford-based C&D Underwater Maintenance. 

 

The company uses a tool called an Eco Harvester, which is similar to a drum roller that can tackle rooted weeds in shallow areas as well as deeper free-floating weeds. 

 

C&D Underwater Maintenance was set up as a vendor in the event the Ball Pond Advisory Committee decides to move forward in trying the Eco Harvester.

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Newtown High School auditorium renovation moving along

Almost all of the new seats for the Newtown High School auditorium have been put in place.  The Newtown Bee reports that the first phase of the project is expected to be completed by early next week.  The next phase, which includes lighting and work on the stage, should be completed around Thanksgiving.  The renovation project will also feature new carpeting and wheelchair accessibility.

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Bethel posts job ad for Public Utilities Director

Bethel is looking to hire a Public Utilities Director.  The job description was just posted to the town's website and says that the director will manage all aspects of the operations of municipal water and sewer utilities department, as well as plan and direct operations and maintenance of a system of water supply and the maintenance of sewers and repair of sewer facilities. 

 

The salary for a 40-hour work week will be between $90,000 to $100,000. 

 

MPA or MBA in engineering, environmental engineering or closely related field; four years’ experience in water and sewer systems; familiarity with related State DPH and DEEP regulations; three years of operational or plant maintenance supervisory experience; or, an equivalent combination of training and experience that provides ability to perform the job. 

 

Licenses required: Connecticut Motor Vehicle Operator’s License; Professional Engineer license strongly desired.

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Water main break reported in Danbury

There is a Water main break in Danbury.  The issue on Merrimac Street near Peace Street was reported shortly after 8am.  The Public Utilities Department says the repair is expected to take 4 to 6 hours.  Residents in the area are cautioned that they may experience discolored water, low water pressure, or no water during that time.  Once the break has been repaired and water service is restored, the city will flush hydrants in the area to alleviate any brown water.

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Brookfield anticipates state aid cuts, puts hiring freeze in place

Brookfield has instituted a hiring freeze of new municipal employees, with the exception of those positions that are for health and welfare, such as police officers.  The town is also going to have to look at across the board spending cuts as well.

 

The new education funding numbers released by Governor Dannel Malloy this month showed that the ECS grant to the town is zeroed out.  That's a loss of $1.5 million.

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says the town does have some contingency fund money, but not enough to cover the amount the town may get cut.

 

Dunn says they have to prepare for that from now, in case funding doesn't change once a budget is approved by the General Assembly.  He added that it will be too late in December to do anything about the cuts.

 

He says Brookfield lost almost $600,000 in state funding last year.

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Esty asks for constituent input on health care reforms

The Problem Solvers Caucus has been meeting since January.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is part of the bipartisan group.  As various proposals came up and fell apart, the caucus started to look at what part of the health care challenge they could take on. 

 

She says more chaos is bad for Americans, bad for the insurance industry and leads to unpredictability for providers.

 

One is how to fix the individual market.  A bunch of ideas were put on the table just before lawmakers went on August recess.  While at home in the District, Esty wants to hear from constituents about what should be done about health care.  

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Bethel Police host 'Coffee with a Cop' event at Reynolds Ridge

Members of the Bethel Police Department spent Tuesday morning with residents of Reynolds Ridge during a Coffee with a Cop event.  The complex provides housing for the low income elderly and self-sufficient persons of disability.  Officers met members of the community and answered questions they had about various law enforcement topics.

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Boughton released from hospital following brain surgery

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut mayor and likely Republican candidate for governor has been released from the hospital after having surgery to remove a benign cyst in his brain.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton tweeted Thursday that he was leaving the Pittsburgh hospital where he underwent a seven-hour surgery on Tuesday.

 

 

He told the News-Times he plans to stay in Pittsburgh until next week, when he will have his stitches removed.

The epidermoid cyst was discovered during recent tests after Boughton suffered dizzy spells and headaches. He says the cyst was about the size of a lemon.

The 53-year-old Boughton is one of several people who have formed exploratory committees for a potential run for governor in 2018. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is not seeking a third term.

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Benefit being held tonight in Bethel for victims of Greenwood Ave fire

A benefit is being held in Bethel tonight for the victims of the fire that happened last month on Greenwood Avenue.  The benefit at the municipal center is from 7pm-11pm. It's sponsored in part by the Bethel Fire Department and Bethel Cares. 

 

A $20 donation is requested, with all of the money going to the displaced families.  Concessions will be available for sale, with that money also being donated.

 

Volunteer firefighter Ira Pollack says three bands will be playing.  Fire trucks and equipment will be on site, there will be activities for kids and bands preforming.

 

The apartment building on Greenwood Avenue was built more than 170 years ago.  Ten adults and five children have been displaced. Some businesses on the ground floor also sustained smoke and water damage.  At least one resident and two firefighters were transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

 

Police were the first on the scene and ran into the building to alert residents.  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. 

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Redding First Selectman cross endorsed by GOP fore reelection

Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton, a Democrat, has been cross endorsed by the Redding Republican Town Committee.  In announcing the endorsement, RTC Chair Michael Thompson said Pemberton has done a good job and that the endorsement reflects the group's confidence that she will continue to work for all of Redding's citizens.  Thompson noted that the town is headed into a difficult fiscal year made more challenging by the lack of a state budget.

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Number of ticks submitted to state facility for Lyme Disease testing surges

With a mild winter and a large population of mice, officials at the state Agricultural Experiment Station were expecting large numbers of Lyme Disease-infected ticks this summer.  Director Theodore Andreadis says they were right.

 

They are seeing a 7 to 8 percent increase than in the past of higher levels of pathogens.  Andreadis says an astronomical number of ticks are coming into their lab for testing.  Since February, over 5,000 ticks have been submitted for testing. 

 

Danbury residents have submitted 33 ticks to the City Health Department for Lyme Disease testing since the service began in April.  Results from the state Agricultural Experiment Station are communicated, in writing, to the submitter.  There is a $5 fee to defray the administrative cost of the program. 

 

Usually during a course of a year, they test 3,000 ticks.  Andreadis says the increase was seen throughout the Northeast.  He's calling it a regional phenomenon.  Andreadis says the primary focus has been controlling ticks and preventing infections.  The program started 20 years ago.  It's been enhanced over the past two years.

 

The Agricultural Experiment Station doesn't currently charge a fee, but Danbury officials cautioned that that may change because of the state's fiscal problems. 

 

The facility receives funding from the CDC and USDA, but Andreadis says they need more funding to prevent more people from becoming infected.

 

City Health Director Lisa Michelle Morrissey says this is mostly for peace of mind for the resident, not necessarily to track where the tick was found to put up warnings.

 

The Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Laboratory at West Conn reported in May that its weekly sampling for deer ticks reached the highest population level recorded since the lab initiated field monitoring in 2011.  During the last week of May, field samples collected on average 303 percent more deer ticks than in the same week in 2016.  Over a longer timeframe, the record deer tick numbers in the final week of May showed a dramatic surge of 1,021 percent from the comparable week in 2014.

 

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

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Brookfield adopts new law about signs

A new law about signage in part of Brookfield has been approved.  The ordinance was prompted by the revitalization of the Four Corners area.  Brookfield officials say it will control the size and construction of signs that businesses can place in order to maintain a New England-style feel.  Smaller and lower signs, not to be placed on sidewalks will also have restricted lighting options.

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Artist and designer Alan Peckolick dead at age 76

NEW YORK (AP) -- Alan Peckolick, an innovative painter and graphic designer whose creations included the bold, underlined logo for General Motors and typefaces for Pfizer and Revlon, has died.

 

Peckolick's widow, Jessica Weber, told The Associated Press that he died Aug. 3 at a hospital in Danbury, Connecticut. He was 76 and died from complications from head trauma suffered in a fall.

 

After struggling through art school at Pratt Institute, Peckolick became a protege of graphic designer Herb Lubalin and absorbed the styles of such artists as George Lois and Saul Bass. Besides his work for GM and other corporate clients, he also designed a widely admired poster announcing free, late-night museum openings in New York and covers for several books. His own book, "Teaching Type to Talk," was published in 2013.

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State park swim area closed due to blue green algae

The swim area at Kettletown State Park in Southbury is closed due to blue-green algae blooms. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection alerted swimmers last week to stay away from the greenish patches on the surface of the water.

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Weather delays road construction projects in Ridgefield, Newtown

A planned road closure in Ridgefield this weekend has been postponed.  The state Department of Transportation is replacing a bridge along route 7.  The company making the new bridge abutments was delayed due to weather.  Route 7 will be closed August 18 through 20th, and then August 25th through 27th.  During the closures, traffic will be detoured onto Routes 102 and 35.

 

The Hundred Acres Road project in Newtown has been expanded.  The road will be closed until at least the 18th for the culvert replacement project.  Hundred Acres Road is closed between Hatterown Road and Phyllis Lane. Weather has delayed the work.

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Danbury Democrats extend well wishes to Boughton after surgery

The Danbury Democratic Town Committee is reaching across the aisle offering their best wishes to 8-term Republican Mayor Mark Boughton as he recovers from a surgery to remove a cyst from his brain.  DTC Chairman Gene Eriquez says Danbury remains a place where people have grown up together and have made friendships.  He added that life is too precious to allow political differences to interfere with relationships, kindness and compassion.  Eriquez, a former Mayor, says their thoughts are with Boughton and they look forward to his speedy and successful recovery.

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STEM Advisory Board meeting held in Danbury

A science, technology, engineering, and math Advisory Board meeting was held in Danbury Monday, led by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty.  The STEM Advisory Board meeting was held at Belimo.  Esty first convened the panel in 2015 to bring together leaders in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields from across Connecticut to address the challenges facing STEM industries.  The Board is tasked with developing strategies to prepare students for STEM careers.

 

At Monday’s meeting, Esty presented a legislative update on her work on STEM education and opportunities. Board members updated Esty on the progress made in their working groups, and outlined goals for their next meeting.

 

Esty says there's a lot of commonality among companies worried about having educated workers in the future.  Educators say more needs to be invested in technical high schools and community colleges to prepare the future workforce.

 

Among other students, educators, and business leaders, members of the advisory board include Dantaya Williams, Vice President of Human Resources at United Technologies; Tracy Ariel, Director of Advanced Manufacturing and Early Colleague Opportunities for Connecticut State Colleges and Universities; Jason Teal, Chairman of CT NAACP Economic Development; Melanie Sinche, Director of Education at Jackson Laboratory; Patrice Gans, Founder and Executive Director of Random Hacks of Kindness Junior, Inc.; and Catherine Lasser, former Vice President at IBM.

 

Belimo opened its North American headquarters in Danbury in 1998.  The company moved to its current space in 2014, and specializes in heating, insulation, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems.  Following the meeting, Esty toured the new facility and viewed their latest sustainability efforts.

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Danbury field to be renamed to honor Thomas 'Moose' Lynch

A softball field in Danbury will be renamed for a former firefighter who died unexpectedly in April.  Last week, the City Council approved changing the name of a Rogers Park field in memory of Thomas "Moose" Lynch.  Field #2 will be dedicated to Lynch. 

 

He served with the Danbury Fire Department for 30 years before retiring in 2008.  Lynch was an avid softball player and involved with local and national leagues.  He is a member of the Connecticut softball Hall of Fame.  Lynch served as an umpire until his unexpected passing. 

 

Parks and Rec Director Nick Kaplanis was approached by the local league about renaming the field in Lynch's memory.  He says this is a wonderful tribute to a lifelong Danbury resident who gave so much back to the City. 

 

The field will be dedicated next month.

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Brookfield official gives update on streetscape work

The Brookfield Town Center Streetscape project is progressing.  Officials say all but four of the 28 new catch basins and associated storm drain piping have been set.  A new Frontier Communication pole has been set at the Superior Service corner, and one pole was taken down.  Five new Eversource poles have been delivered and will be set in a couple weeks.  That work will likely take place during the evening hours.  Brookfield officials are touting the work done by Police in managing traffic flow and providing safe access to vehicles wanting to park.

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Hoyts Hill Storage Tank project now slated for November completion

An update has been provided by Bethel officials about progress of addressing water system deficiencies.  The town will be evaluating bids at the August Public Utilities meeting for a new booster pump station and water main extension to improve water pressure.  Plans call for having that project completed by the end of the year. 

 

The town will be applying to the state Department of Public Health for a new sampling point in the Chestnut Ridge Zone. 

 

A project is now slated for completion in November at the Hoyts Hill Storage Tank.  The work was originally supposed to wrap up last week, but the contractor had weather delays because of a rainy Spring season.  The station is currently on a by-pass and the tank is out of service.  The existing overflow pipe, which was determined to not be suitably protected with a screen or flap valve, is not being used.  Bethel requested an extension of time of the completion to November 1st. 

 

Bethel received Well Use Approval for some water wells in June.  Inspections of clearwells were done in May.  The Town entered into an agreement with the state Department of Public Health to correct deficiencies related to the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies. 

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Brookfield streetscaping project advances

The Brookfield Town Center Streetscape project is progressing.  Officials say all but four of the 28 new catch basins and associated storm drain piping have been set.  A new Frontier Communication pole has been set at the Superior Service corner, and one pole was taken down.  Five new Eversource poles have been delivered and will be set in a couple weeks.  That work will likely take place during the evening hours.  Brookfield officials are touting the work done by Police in managing traffic flow and providing safe access to vehicles wanting to park.

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Boughton recovering from brain surgery

Surgery was completed sooner than expected for Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.  He is at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he had a benign cyst removed from his brain yesterday.  City officials said that he is recovering well and that his medical team is pleased with the results.  Boughton is expected to make a full recovery. 

 

The 53-year old announced the growth Monday and said that his doctor recommended surgery sooner rather than later.  Boughton suffered dizzy spells and severe headaches recently.  About a week ago he called his doctor, who sent him to the Danbury Hospital emergency room. The cyst was diagnosed after tests, including CT and MRI scans. 

 

Boughton thanked residents for the encouragement, prayers, and well wishes that he received over the last 48 hours.  He is running for re-election as mayor in November.  He is also running an exploratory committee for a statewide office in 2018. 

 

Boughton will be taking a few weeks to recover before returning to work.  In the interim, City Council President Joe Cavo has moved into the role of acting Mayor.

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Public hearing to be held in Newtown about proposed assisted living complex

The Borough Zoning Commission in Newtown is holding a public hearing Wednesday night about a proposed 72-bed assisted living complex.  The development would be located at 37 Church Hill Road.  Teton Capital Company, LLC is proposing 10 buildings and interconnecting passageways.  The property is a little under 4 acres.  The public hearing is set for 6:30pm at Edmond Town Hall. 

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Grand reopening held in New Milford for Lynn Demming Park renovations

A grand re-opening ceremony was held Monday at Lynn Demming Park in New Milford.  The $1 million renovation was mostly completed in time for Memorial Day.  The traffic flow was changed to make the expanded parking lot safer, handicap accessibility to the beach was improved and a playground was added.  Kayak racks, a maintenance storage building and fishing docks were all added.  The swimming dock was replaced.  When the old one was pulled out of water, it was rotten.  Officials say several local residents and businesses donated engineering work, picnic tables and benches.

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Dog waste receptacles placed around Ridgefield

The Ridgefield Historic District has given permission for two dog waste clean up stations as the town looks to address the issue of people leaving their bags on the ground.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the committee was planning more locations along Main Street, but the Historic District did not give permission. 

 

The two receptacles will be reviewed after one year. 

 

The units are being paid for through fundraising efforts.  The Dog Waste Initiative, a 7-member committee, involves youth volunteers who are acquiring permits to install the units around Ridgefield. 

 

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.

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Newtown man seeks to be petitioning candidate for First Selectman

Newtown resident Andy Clure has told The Newtown Bee that he is pulling out of a three-way GOP primary race for First Selectman.  He will instead gather petition signatures to be placed on the November municipal election ballot.  Selectman Will Rodgers and Legislative Council Chair Mary Ann Jacob are seeking the Republican nomination.

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11 thefts from cars reported in Monroe in 1 week

Monroe Police are investigating an uptick in thefts from cars.  The Monroe Courier reprots that about a dozen incidents were reported last week of someone entering unlocked cars.  Police are reminding residents to lock vehicles at night and not to leave valuables or keys inside.

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D.A.R.E. instructors graduate from training classes

As the school year approaches, Drug Abuse Resistance Education officers prepare to join students in the classroom.  19 troopers and police officers from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Vermont graduated from the 46th D.A.R.E. Instructor Training Class. 

 

The original program began in 1983 and was aimed at fifth and sixth graders with the classes designed to help students learn how to resist peer pressure and the temptation to use illegal drugs.  D.A.R.E. has since expanded its focus to include seventh to ninth graders and such topics as alcohol and cigarettes, prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse, online safety, and gangs. 

 

The Graduates include a State Police Trooper from Troop A-Southbury, Monroe Police Officers Michael Panza  and John Yaworowski, along with Southbury Officer Anthony Armeno.

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Danbury VA Outpatient Clinic looks to expand

Senator Richard Blumenthal was in Danbury yesterday to visit the Danbury Outpatient Clinic of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. He is calling for major federal investments to modernize VA facilities.

 

Director of Nursing Kimberly Roy says they serve 2,000 veterans.  Operators of Danbury facility are looking to expand and could be in a new location, within a 5 mile radius, at some point next year.  Roy notes that they are able to provide telehealth services with staff at Connecticut’s main VA facility in West Haven.

 

Blumenthal and others are proposing a $1 trillion blueprint for infrastructure investment over the next ten years, including $10 billion for VA upgrades.  The VA estimates their facilities need as much as $50 billion in capital investment over the next decade.  60-percent of VA buildings are 50 years or older.

 

The Danbury facility provides general internal medical care, including care for immediate and chronic health concerns, preventative medical care, physical exams, diagnostic laboratory testing, general x-rays and limited immediate pharmacy services.

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Danbury City Council President takes over as Acting Mayor

Danbury City Council President Joe Cavo is the acting Mayor of Danbury.  He stepped into the role yesterday morning as Mayor Mark Boughton announced that he would be undergoing brain surgery.  Boughton is having a lemon-sized cyst removed from the left side of his brain today at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

 

The cyst is believed to be benign, but his doctor recommended surgery sooner rather than later.  The 8-term Republican Mayor expects to make a full recovery. 

 

Cavo said he is keeping the Mayor and his family in his thoughts and prayers.

 

Cavo will be leading the City for a few weeks.  He says there are some talent people leading City departments and will be able to do their jobs with minimal supervision.  Cavo and Boughton previously discussed the possibility of having an acting Mayor, during both times that Boughton ran for governor. 

 

Cavo says he will be taking care of things as required in the office, but will be continuing his duties as a Fire Department mechanic.

 

He says the exact length of time as Acting Mayor depends on the outcome of the surgery.  He says he is hoping for a shorter term than longer because that will mean everything with the surgery and recovery went smoothly.

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Congressional delegation meets with New Fairfield man facing deportation

Joel Colindres could have only a few days left with his wife and children. The New Fairfield man is facing an August 17th deadline to leave the country and return to his native Guatemala. He fled that country in 2004 to escape violence, entering America under a provisional waiver. He missed a court date shortly after because immigration officials spelled his name wrong and had the wrong address, so he never received the court order.

Colindres eventually made his way to the Northeast, where he married Samantha in 2010. The couple obtained an I-130, proving their marriage, and has continued to report routinely to immigration officials since then. They have two children, ages 6 and 2. He was worked in the same job for the past 13 years, pays taxes and owns his home. With no criminal record, an American-born wife and two U.S. –born children, Colindres is hoping for a last minute reprieve to keep his family together.

 

 

If Colindres leaves the U.S. on the 17th, he will be barred from entering the United States for 10 years.

 


Attorney Erin O’Neil-Baker says he has two strong claims—the request for asylum and the fact that he’s married to a U.S. citizen. She added that right now they’re just asking for their day in court. A motion to reopen is pending, the couple has an approved marriage petition so he is eligible for a waiver. O’Neil-Baker says they are asking for a couple of months reprieve to rectify an old removal order. The hurdle is to become a legal permanent resident. After having that status for five years, he’d be able to apply for citizenship.

Senator Richard Blumenthal says the Trump administration’s immigration policy is irrational and cruel. He called it a heartbreaking situation to see a family on the verge of being ripped apart.

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says they got word Monday that Joel Colindres may have the opportunity to get a hearing on his claim of fear and retribution if he were to return to Guatemala. She says they’re just asking for that opportunity and a stay of deportation so he can make his case before the courts. Esty says a compassionate immigration policy keeps families together. 

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Danbury Mayor expresses thanks for support as he prepares for brain surgery

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton will undergo brain surgery tomorrow to have a cyst removed.  Boughton has expressed his gratitude to the medical professionals at Danbury Hospital as well as Dr. Robert Friedlander of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who will be performing the surgery.

 

Boughton says he is confident that the removal of the cyst will be a one-time procedure without the need for additional surgery or medical intervention. He expects to be back serving the people of Danbury within a few weeks.

 

As Mayor, Boughton says he has the responsibility to be a steward of the public trust, which is why he wanted to share this turn of events.  He says he's fortunate that his health will be improved after this procedure.  He was also reminded of all of the people that must endure much more rigorous treatments.

 

Boughton thanked people for the outpouring of support and encouragement. 

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Remembrance parade held to honor New Milford volunteer firefighter

A remembrance parade was eld for a New Milford volunteer firefighter who passed away suddenly last month.  Tim Day died July 22nd at the age of 46.  The parade yesterday moved from the town center down Grove Street, 67 and 133 to Bridgewater fair grounds.  Water Witch Hose Co. #2 officials said that Day was a guy that never asked for anything, but gave of himself for others. 

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Boughton to undergo surgery to remove benign brain cyst

Mayor Mark Boughton will undergo surgery tomorrow to remove a benign cyst from his brain.  The 8-term Republican expects to make a full recovery.  The growth, behind the left ear, is believed to be benign.  But the 53-year old Boughton says his doctor recommended surgery sooner rather than later. 

 

Boughton suffered dizzy spells and severe headaches recently.  About a week ago he called his doctor, who sent him to the Danbury Hospital emergency room. The cyst was diagnosed after tests, including CT and MRI scans.

 

Boughton will undergo surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center tomorrow.  The cyst is about the size of a lemon and likely had been growing slowly for many years.

 

Boughton is running for re-election as mayor in November.  He is also running an exploratory committee for a statewide office in 2018. 

 

City Council President Joe Cavo is the acting Mayor.

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Burned in the past, Danbury adds clause to tax assessment deferral agreements

A 7-year tax assessment deferral for a developer in Danbury didn't come without debate last week at the City Council meeting.  BRT's past dealings with the city were dredged up, when Dan Bertram received a similar deferral for a Crosby Street apartment development.  After approval was granted, he said it would be used as housing for Western Connecticut University students.  Eventually the apartments were sold as market rate housing.  But that left bad feelings with some City officials.

 

Question were raise at the time of whether he could do that.  It was determined that there wasn't anything in the agreement that could stop him from changing the represented use because the agreement just said "residential housing".  

 

That isn't the case now.  A clause has been added to contracts now that binds developers to representations made in the application and to the City Council.

 

Any change of use now would be considered a change in use, and the developer would have to go back to the City Council for approval.  If a market-rate apartment proposal is changed to condos and student rate housing, the developer would have to reapply.

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Esty praises passage of bill improving veterans' GI Bill benefits

Bipartisan legislation cosponsored by 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty to expand and improve veterans’ GI Bill benefits has passed the House unanimously.

The legislation eliminates the 15-year limit for veterans to use their education benefits after leaving military service.  It also ensures that all Purple Heart recipients, regardless of their length of service, are able to access GI Bill benefits.  It also eases eligibility requirements for National Guard members and Reservists, who often don’t qualify for benefits under existing law.

 

She says the military is changing and the GI Bill needs to change with it.

Esty is a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and says the legislation represents the biggest expansion of veterans’ educational benefits in a decade.

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Meeting to be held in Redding about Metro North train horns

Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton is holding a Community Meeting Wednesday with state Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker and representatives from Metro North Railroad.  Concerns about train horn noise levels at and approaching the Long Ridge and Topstone railroad crossings will be discussed.  The Federal Railroad Administration Train Horn Rule, rail crossing safety, and Quiet Zones are will come up.  The discussion is planned for Wednesday at 7:30pm at the Redding Community Center.

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Kid athletes train in triathlon named for Sandy Hook victim

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (AP) - Nearly 500 children showed up in a driving rain to swim, bicycle and run in a youth triathlon, the finale of a summer fitness program founded by the family of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook shootings.

Seven-year-old Chase Kowalski had competed in his first youth triathlon just months before the 2012 elementary school shooting.

Chase's parents, Rebecca and Steve Kowalski, began the Race4Chase program to honor their son's memory with something that focused on families, health and wellness.

Race4Chase is a camp that teaches children the fundamentals of swimming, biking, running, nutrition, strength and flexibility.

At the end the six weeks, campers come together for a sanctioned triathlon.

The program has grown to 20 locations in Connecticut, Rhode Island and South Carolina. The Kowalskis hope it goes nationwide.

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Meetings planned across Connecticut to support DACA students

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Community meetings are being planned around Connecticut to generate support for a program that gives temporary resident status to young immigrants living in the country illegally.

The push comes as a group of attorneys general from across last month asked Republican President Donald Trump to rescind the Obama-era Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrival Program or DACA.

A larger and separate group of attorneys general, including Democratic Connecticut Attorney George Jepsen, have urged Trump to save the program, which affects an estimated 10,000 young people in Connecticut.

DACA recipient Camila Bortolleto says the program has allowed her and others to "live without fear of deportation," and obtain a work permit and a driver's license.

Events are planned on Monday in Hartford, Wednesday in New Haven and Thursday in Danbury.

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Music fest, food truck rally comes to CityCenter Danbury

CityCenter Danbury is hosting the 2nd annual Country Music 'n Food Truck Rally today.  In between the live music, there will be line dancing.The event on the CityCenter Green is from 3pm to 10pm.  Food trucks that will be at the rally will be Rice & Beans, Firehouse Grill, Fork in the Road, The Halal Guys, Baskin Robbins Ice Cream truck, Weenie Lynns, and Wandering Dave’s Fork in the Road.

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Brookfield takes inventory of playing fields

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has created a committee to review the town's facilities and playing fields.  Brookfield is looking at possible new or upgraded schools, police station changes, a new library and other civic improvements over the next few years.  The projects may impact current playing fields, so Brookfield officials want to ensure none are lost.  If a field is affected, the committee will recommend how to replace it, and where it fits in a cohesive, overall model.

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New Milford launches new senior services website

New Milford has launched a new Senior Services website. AgeWellCT worked with the Town and Senior Center to design a site that provides easy to find information about Senior Resources, Events, Programs and Classes. The site also links to information from surrounding towns like Brookfield, New Fairfield, and Bridgewater.  

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Blue green algae warnings posted at Candlewood, Kettletown

A warning has been posted for blue-green algae at the beach at Kettletown State Park. The swim area is open but the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is alerting swimmers to stay away from areas where the algae blooms have created greenish patches on the surface of the water.  Similar warnings have been posted at the state boat launch on Candlewood Lake.

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Bethel schools could be forced to cut 119 positions due to state budget stalemate

Bethel schools stand to take a 14-percent hit to their budget because the General Assembly has failed to approve a tax and spending plan for the next two years, and the town has already put a budget in place.  The Governor's latest proposal is to make a $6.3 million cut to Bethel's Education Cost Sharing grant.  Bethel School officials say that would mean up to 119 positions lost ranging from administrators, custodians, and secretaries to teachers, paraeducators and nurses. Non-mandated curricular and extracurricular programs could be on the chopping block.

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New Milford plans road rehabilitation projects

New Milford has sold $3.36 million in Bond Anticipation Notes by competitive bidding. Mayor David Gronbach says the low interest rate New Milford was able to obtain is a reflection of the town's strong financial position and effective fiscal management policies. 

 

The Public Works Department has proposed $2.1 million in shovel ready road projects.  The balance of the Bond Anticipation Notes is being financed for New Milford's share of the Aspetuck Ridge Road Bridge rehabilitation and Mill Street Bridge reconstruction. The Town will receive $3,300,000 from the State to fund these Bridge Projects. 

 

Some bridge reconstruction and rehabilitation work is being planned and designed in New Milford.  Gronbach says work on many of the projects has already begun and will continue throughout this construction season.  They include the Wellsville Avenue, Mud Pond Road, Gaylordsville Road and Merryall Road bridges.

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Seniors volunteer 7,000 hours service to City of Danbury

Volunteers in the Seniors Add Valuable Experience Program completed over 7,00 hours in the last year to Danbury.  The United Way of Western Connecticut says the service is valued at more than $205,000 to Danbury. 

 

47 seniors volunteered at 23 City departments and nonprofit agencies. 

 

SAVE is administered by the United Way and is responsible for interviewing participants and matching them to local volunteer opportunities.  SAVE has provided financially-qualified Danbury homeowners age 65 and older an opportunity to receive real estate tax relief through volunteer service since 2008.

 

Each volunteer must complete 100 hours of service over the course of the fiscal year, although many serve more than that amount.

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Local lawmaker tours National Guard facility in Danbury

Danbury state Senator Michael McLachlan recently toured Connecticut National Guard facilities.  The tour highlighted the Guard’s ability to respond to a variety of in-state emergencies.  The Connecticut National Guard maintains more than 30 facilities throughout the state, and has the ability to respond to a number of different scenarios that support both the Guard’s state and federal missions. 

 

Stops on the tour included the Danbury Veterans Memorial Armed Forces Reserve Center, Camp Niantic, the 1109th Theatre Aviation Sustainment Group facility in Groton, the Army Aviation Support Facility and Windsor Locks Readiness Center and Bradley Air National Guard Base. 

 

McLachlan says he was impressed by the facilities and equipment at the Guard’s disposal.  He also touted the diverse programs and capabilities that reach beyond Connecticut's borders.

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Viral recruitment video results in hundreds of applications for Danbury Police

An eye catching video helped Danbury Police significantly increase the number of applications the department received from prospective officers.  Danbury Police had 526 applicants send in paperwork.  That's about 200 more than the last recruitment period.  They are looking to hire nearly a dozen entry level officers.

 

The video had nearly 112,000 views on the Danbury Police Department Facebook page alone.  There were another 4,600 views on Youtube.

 

 

The Danbury Police Department is authorized for 154 members, but the staffing level is down to about 138. 

 

Chief Patrick Ridenhour says it was thanks to a great job by the recruitment team.  He noted that the Department transferred the responsibility to the Community Services Division this year.  They touted the different jobs an officer could hold--such as in the K9 Unit, SWAT team and detective bureau.  Their goal was to show the fun side of an often stressful job through the recruitment video.

 

The written exam will be administered in September.  Based on those scores, applicants will move to the civil service eligibility list and then to interviews.  Those people selected will likely be sent to the training academy in the fall.

 

There are a limited number of training academy seats each period, and for each municipality.  Ridenhour says they have to find some academy seats, but they do have some options to do that. 

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Tax break approved for developer seeking to build 150 market-rate apartments in Danbury

A tax break has been approved for a developer looking to add more market-rate housing in Danbury.  The City Council approved the tax assessment deferral for BRT's $13 million, 150-unit apartment complex proposal.  The apartments would replace the News-Times building on Main Street. 

 

The property was valued on the 2016 grand list at $1.75 million.  Hearst Connecticut Media Group is selling the property as it consolidates into their Norwalk office.

 

BRT previously received a 7-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.  The Brookview Commons tax break was offered in an effort to bring people downtown who had disposable income.  The projected mostly housed West Conn students for a time and then reverted to the intended use.

 

Council President Joe Cavo says he voted for the old tax break because of a concern that they'd still be looking at abandoned lumber yard today if an incentive wasn't offered.  He notes that the property came off the deferral in 2013 and is now bringing in $240,000 in property taxes a year.

 

Some Council members said they should be incentivizing affordable housing and not offering a break for market-rate housing.

 

Councilman Andrew Wetmore said he doesn't understand how his colleagues could say they support building downtown, but not doing something to support the developer.  He called it disingenuous.

 

Council Minority Leader Tom Saadi took exception to that characterization. He said if they have to be married all the time, then every single development downtown would have to get a deferral.  Saadi says there are many incentives that the Council has supported, such as sewer and water deferrals.  But he doesn't believe this project, at this time, doesn't need a deferral.

 

Councilman Irv Fox agreed that you can separate the deferral and the idea of developing downtown.  But he added that in today's economic reality, the likelihood of a development of this magnitude without a deferral is very unlikely.

 

Adjustments are made to the property value as the land and what's on it changes because the Grand List is constantly updated.  The tax assessment deferral doesn't kick in until the certificate of occupancy has been issued.  With BRT's Crosby Street development, Mayor Mark Boughton says the value went pretty high because some of the development was built before the project was completed.  

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Burger King to locate in long-vacant former bank building in Brookfield

A shopping plaza in Brookfield is rearranging some stores and filling a long-vacant building.  The Newstimes reports that a Burger King will go into the round standalone building in the Candlewood Plaza Shopping Center, just off Federal and Candlewood Lake Roads. 

 

At the plaza next door, the owner plans to move arts and crafts retailer Michaels over one storefront to the vacant, former OfficeMax space.  CVS will move from the middle into the corner location and add a drive-thru pharmacy. 

 

The publication says the Burger King is under renovation and should be open by the end of the year.  The plaza owner is doing some renovations to the OfficeMax space with the expectation that Michaels will move in by next summer. 

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Bridge replacement project in Bethel on schedule

The Plumtrees Road bridge replacement project in Bethel is on schedule.  Officials anticipate the intersection will be open in time for the first day of school later this month. 

 

The busy and narrow intersection is being turned into an “x” shape where it meets Walnut Hill Road and Whittlesey Drive.  Plans call for adding sidewalks to Plumtrees Road for students who walk to the Educational Park.  Crosswalk signals will also be added. 

 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the realigned intersection will be less congested, safer for pedestrian crossings and wide enough for trucks and school buses to make turns without taking up both lanes.  He says that's because dedicated right and left turn arrows will help move traffic along.

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Bridgewater police report car break ins

Several cars were broken into in Bridgewater last night.  Police say the incidents happened on Keeler Road and Blueberry Hill Road.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Bridgewater Police at 860-355-9375. Police are reminding residents to lock car doors and remove any valuables at night.

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Progress reported in Brookfield on streetscape project

Sidewalks are being built on Federal Road in Brookfield, in the area of the Four Corners.  Officials say the underground work has been completed, and the first telephone pole on the West side of the street has been moved.  Other poles to be moved shortly.  The town plans to install new granite curbing within the next two weeks.  The project is on schedule and under budget at this point.  Brookfield officials say the new town center is going to change dramatically over the next two months.

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Hazmat training session for National Guard, first responders held at WCSU

For two days this week, a joint Hazardous Materials training event was held at Western Connecticut State University. 

 

The scenario was about a dorm room converted into a drug lab where a simulated chemical reaction occurred, causing a hazardous materials incident requiring a victim rescue.  No live victims or hazardous materials were used during the scenario. 

 

All agencies listening in on a briefing of the scenario

(Photo: DFD)

 

The Danbury Fire Department, Connecticut and Vermont Army and Air Force National Guard Civil Support Team, Western Connecticut Hospital Network EMS and WestConn Police participated at the West Side Campus Tuesday and yesterday. 

 

The National Guard simulated the deployment of their HAZMAT and Chemical Weapon incident response team and equipment.  Teams entered the building to practice with their hazardous materials meters and protective suits. A full decontamination system was set up to simulate scrubbing responders of any harmful products they may have come into contact with.

 

LT Ted Mourges assisting with equipment checks prior to the drill. FF Kent Bonsignore and LT Shea Hanson in the background preparing to suit up for the scenario

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Wilton, WCSU police awaiting reimbursement from state for body cams

As more time goes by without a state budget in place, the more effects are coming to light.  The state recently launched a grant program to reimburse police departments up to 100 percent of the costs for upgrades and new body cameras. 

 

Departments were told reimbursement could take up to six months.  Western Connecticut State University and Wilton were among the police departments to take part. 

 

The Office of Policy and Management submitted requests to the Bond Commission in may, but that meeting was cancelled.  OPM told NBC Connecticut that without a budget, they can't authorize new state bonds and can't reimburse the applicants.  Wilton requested $153,731 while WCSU is seeking $26,732 in reimbursement.

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Titans owner cites high workers comp costs for ending hockey in Danbury

The Danbury Titans hockey team will cease operations after two seasons, effective immediately.  Owner Bruce Bennett said the decision was made with a heavy heart, but that after reassessing the cost of workers' compensation insurance in the State, it was no longer financially feasible to continue. 

 

Bennett said the worker's comp rate was 36-percent.  New York, where he once had a team, has a 15-percent rate.  In Michigan, it's 8-percent.

 

Bennett spent the last few months trying to renegotiate with a worker's comp insurer, but that didn't work and he didn't want to raise ticket prices.  Last season's injury list was long.  Bennett said he would never put Titans staff and players on the ice without proper medical coverage.

 

Tickets holders who put down deposits with the Titans will be contacted about refunds.

 

 

He went on to say that he thought this could be a long-term venture with a lot of success when it was launched.  Despite not winning a championship, he remains proud of the players and their commitment to the community.

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Malloy to reevaluate education funding amid budget stalemate

School is starting up for the year later this month, and Governor Dannel Malloy continues to use an executive order to run state government.  It does not allow him to raise revenue so he will be shifting state school aide to poorer districts. 

 

He is revising his executive order to reevaluate how aid is distributed to communities.  Malloy says some districts will have to receive less money so that other districts can receive an appropriate amount of money.  Malloy outlined plans to reduce state education spending by $506 million if there is no budget in place when Education Cost Sharing grants are sent out in October.

 

Malloy says he wants to shield Alliance Districts, the 30 lowest performing districts.  Danbury is an Alliance District, but was slated to lose $1 million under the original executive order.  City officials say they are already underfunded by 50-percent from the state. 

 

Education aid for 34 municipalities was zeroed out in Malloy's initial executive order, many in the Greater Danbury area.  Brookfield, New Fairfield, Newtown, Monroe and Ridgefield will get nothing.  New Milford would receive $10 million less, Bethel was reduced by $6 million and Redding cut by $164,000.

 

A Superior Court judge ruled last fall that the way Connecticut funds schools is unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the case, in which Danbury is a lead plaintiff, on September 29th.

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Tiger not likely wandering around Ridgefield

It wasn't a tiger, but likely a bobcat seen prowling around Ridgefield Monday.  Ridgefield Police received a call about a full-sized tiger seen in the area of Route 33 near the Wilton border.  Police told the Ridgefield Press that a search came back with negative results for any animal and the call was unfounded.  Wilton Police said there were no tiger prints in the area, and suspect what was seen was a bobcat.

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United Way seeks sponsors for back-to-school programs

The United Way of Western Connecticut is looking for sponsors for their  Back-To-School programs in Danbury and Greater New Milford.  The United Way wants to fill new backpacks with school supplies, toiletry items and a gift card for clothing purchases. Last year, they were able to meet the needs of nearly 800 students in Danbury, Greater New Milford and Stamford.  The United Way says there are still dozens of children on the back-to-school lists in need of sponsors.

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Area police departments crack down on distracted drivers

The state Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office has announced the continuation of the “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.” initiative.  Several Greater Danbury area police departments took part in the April crackdown on motorists who used a hand-held mobile phone while driving.  The first leg of the campaign found a 17% drop in mobile phone use by drivers at observation locations where police conducted enforcement.  Today is the first day of the next part of the initiative, which runs through the 16th.

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Stepney Fire Company warns of fundraising mailer fraud

The Stepney Volunteer Fire Company in Monroe has been made aware that an out-of-state organization has been making solicitations via phone and mail to raise money. 

 

The organization called the "Volunteer Firefighter Alliance" is not affiliated with any of the three volunteer fire departments in Monroe and they don't directly benefit from donations to the group. 

 

The Stepney, Monroe Volunteer Fire Department and Stevenson Volunteer Fire Company do hold an annual fund drive each year, via the mail.  Their official mailings ask for a donation addressed exactly to the respective fire station.

 

(Stepney Fire Co.)

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Danbury Titans cease operations after two seasons

The Danbury Titans hockey team will cease operations after two seasons, effective immediately, according to an email statement from owner Bruce Bennett.  

 

He said the decision was made with a heavy heart.  After reassessing the cost of workers' compensation insurance in the State, Bennett decided that it was not financially feasible to continue.  Last season's injury list was long and he didn't want Titans staff and players on the ice without proper medical coverage.

 

The team says tickets holders who put down deposits with the Titans will be contacted about refunds.

 

Bennett noted that he thought this could be a long-term venture with a lot of success when it was launched.  Despite not winning a championship, he said he remains proud of the players and their commitment to the community.

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Gunnery receives $10 million donation from alumni

A private boarding school in Connecticut has received a $10 million donation.  The Gunnery received their largest single donation from two brothers who are alumni of the school in the Town of Washington. 

 

Steven and Jonathan Tisch, whose family owns the Giants, graduated in 1967 and 1972 respectively.  In 2009, the family donated $7 million to The Gunnery. 

 

Steven is also a television and film executive producer, Jonathan is co-chair of the board of Loews Corporation.  The new donation will go to the school's endowment and also be put toward the proposed $22 million Arts and Community Center.  The 30,000 square-foot building would include theater space, which could be used by outside speakers and programs.

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New Milford Town Council discusses potential IRS liability over 2008 bond issue

The New Milford Town Council is discussing how to resolve a recently discovered mistake with how the Volunteer Ambulance Corp.'s new ambulance facility was bonded in 2008.  Mayor David Gronbach says the town had the opportunity to re-finance old bonds at a lower rate, but a mistake about how the Ambulance Bond was classified was discovered by the Bond Attorney. 

 

In 2008, $3 million of General Obligation Bond Anticipation Notes were rolled into general obligation bonds.  Municipal bonds cannot be issued to benefit a private group or organization, so the Town and Ambulance Corp entered into an agreement in 2011 to reimburse the Town for the finance costs of the new facility. 

 

But Gronbach says because it's a 501(c)(3), the payments contradict what was said in the bond offering, and prevented the Town from refinancing.  He says New Milford faces a potential $100,000 penalty. 

 

The town's Bond Attorney has recommended New Milford inform the IRS of the conflict, convert the bond to a type that allows a non-profit like the Ambulance Corp to benefit from it, and issue new bonds.  Gronbach noted that the estimated $20,000 legal cost to pursue this remedy is significantly less than the potential $100,000 in penalties the Town faces.

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New Milford joins statewide opioid litigation

New Milford has joined the Statewide Opioid Litigation.  The Town Council authorized the move at their meeting Monday night.

 

The litigation is being spearheaded in Connecticut by Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary.  New Milford Mayor David Gronbach says the town needs resources to address the opioid problem, and rather than wait for them to filter down from Washington and Hartford, he wanted to make a proactive move. 

 

The complaint was filed by Suffolk County, New York against four major opioid manufacturers and four physicians.  They allege misrepresentations, false advertising and nuisance under New York law about the addictive nature of opioids.  The complaint says the advertising was disguised as literature and testimonials about opioids being a viable option for treatment of chronic plain, and not addictive. 

 

It further alleges that the doctors and their front groups received vast sums of money from the opioid manufacturers.

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Danbury Hospital receives $3 million donation from Bridgewater resident

Danbury Hospital has received a $3 million donation from a Bridgewater resident to transform the cardiac operating room into a multi-functional cardiovascular surgical suite.  The new clinical space is scheduled for completion next year and will be named after the donor, Yoriko McClure. 

 

McClure underwent coronary bypass surgery at Danbury Hospital and said while making the multi-million dollar donation that she had been both impressed and grateful for the care she received during her stay.

Hospital officials say the new facility will combine the functionality of a traditional operating room with the advanced imaging capabilities of a catheterization laboratory.  They say surgeons will be able to perform minimally invasive cardiac and endovascular procedures in a single surgical encounter. 

Cardiovascular disease is the leading global cause of death, accounting for more than 17.3 million deaths each year, a number that is expected to grow over 23.6 million by 2030. In Connecticut, CVD accounts for more than 9,300 deaths each year, about one-third – with coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (stroke) and heart failure accounting for 48 percent, 15 percent, and 8 percent of all CVD deaths respectively.

 

CVD remains the number one cause of death in Connecticut despite the overall decline in the prevalence of smoking and improved control of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

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Wilton launches initiative to prevent hot car deaths

The Wilton Police Department has launched a program to raise awareness about the dangers of leaving children and pets in vehicles during the hot summer months.  Working with state Representative Gail Lavielle, signs have been placed throughout Wilton saying “Heat Kills, If you Love ‘em, Don’t Leave ‘em”.

 

The signs include the phone number of the Wilton Police Department so that if people observe a child or pet left in a hot vehicle, they can easily call police.

 

Wilton Animal Control Officer Chris Mui says a dog pants to cool themselves and if the air temperature in the vehicle rises, they can overheat rapidly.

 

Lavielle said recent incidents in Ridgefield and Westport have demonstrated that not everyone is mindful of how dangerous it is to leave children or dogs in a car during hot, or even warm weather.  She says seconds can save a life, and the signs should also make people comfortable about calling the police if they notice a child, a dog, or any animal alone in a hot car.

 

The initiative was introduced previously in Fairfield.

 

According the CDC, even when it feels cool outside, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly.  Leaving a window open is not enough.  The CDC says temperatures inside a car can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes, even with a window cracked open. 

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Local lawmakers disappointed in colleagues over union concession agreement vote

Despite debate about whether it solves the state's long-term fiscal problems, the General Assembly has narrowly approved a labor-savings deal.  The agreement resolves about 30-percent of the projected $5 billion deficit facing the state over the next two years.

 

Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan says the deal doesn't go far enough, noting that people watching bond ratings have indicated that another downgrade is on the near horizon.  He says it's time for Connecticut to move in a different direction.

 

He says his constituents are asking what is going on in Hartford, kicking the can down the road.  McLachlan says they have to stop what they're doing, because it's not working anymore.

 

Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says there's disconnect with what's done in Hartford versus representing the people that elected them.  He continued by saying that people are not being represented right now.

 

Hwang says perception of what's being done in Connecticut is not a good one, it's that the state is not doing the right things.

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Monroe firefighter caution residents to fundraising phone scam

The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department is cautioning residents to be aware of a fundraising scam.  An organization called the "Volunteer Firefighter Alliance" is soliciting donations in Monroe via phone call.  The organization has no connection to any of the town's volunteer fire departments.  The Monroe, Stepney Fire Department, and Stevenson Volunteer Fire Company do raise funds each year, but through boot drives and annual mailings. The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department annual mailer for their fund drive runs from late September through early January each year.

 

(Real Sample Mailer)

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Bethel Police Station bid components come in over budget

Some bids for the new Police Station in Bethel have come back over estimated costs.  The Newstimes reports that bids bids for plumbing and mechanical work were higher than expected, as was the air-handling unit required for the firing range.  Bethel budgeted $25,000 for that piece of equipment based off of earlier estimates, but the bid was $436,000.  Bids for steel, masonry and site work reportedly came in under the estimated cost.  Ground was broken in May, so the project is still in the early phase and officials say it could be brought back within budget through adjustments.  The $13.5 million, 26,000-square-foot project on Judd Avenue is slated to be finished in June.

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New Milford officials accept donation for skate park repairs

The New Milford Town Council has accepted money to reconstruct the skate park after residents took it upon themselves to add concrete ramps.  Tristan Cornelis and others raised $5,200.  Mayor David Gronbach says the structures were well-intentioned, but defective and rendered the park unsafe for use.  $3,325 was already budgeted for repairs. The Council approved $1,500 from the Waste Management Fund be used to pay the balance of the cost of reconstruction.

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Danbury City Council committee recommends tax deferral for developer

Some Danbury officials have recommended a tax break be approved for a developer.  The Danbury City Council will take up the proposal from an ad-hoc committee at their meeting tonight.  Dan Bertram is 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 is considering some retail for the ground level. 

 

The property was valued on the 2016 grand list at $1.75 million.  Hearst Connecticut Media Group is selling the property as it consolidates into their Norwalk office.

 

The 333 Main Street property is across from the new Kennedy Flats project. Virginia-based developer Greystar also received a tax deferral from the City Council.

 

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 intent of that project changed.  The Brookview Commons tax break was offered in an effort to bring people downtown who had disposable income. The projected mostly housed West Conn students for a time and then reverted to the intended use.

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Congresswoman advocates on behalf of New Fairfield man facing deportation

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and Citizenship and Immigration Services, urging them to reconsider a deportation order issued for a New Fairfield man. 

 

Joel Colindres has no criminal record, is married to an American citizen, has two American-born children, and pays taxes.  Esty says the family is dependent on Joel’s income and if he were forced to be separated from his 6 and 2 year old children, they would not only suffer emotionally, but could also face homelessness. 

 

The deportation order was issued July 20th, with a deadline of August 17th.  Esty asked for information about the regulations on selecting removal dates in cases such as these.

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Chemical treatment to be applied to Lake Mamanasco today

Activities on Lake Mamanasco in Ridgefield will be restricted for 24 hours because of a chemical treatment.  The Ridgefield Press reports that an algicide, SeClear, is being used in half of the lake today.  Swimming, drinking, fishing, irrigation, livestock watering is prohibited for a full day after treatment.  Boating is not restricted.  The Press reports that "The Pond and Lake Connection" has to wait 14 days in-between treatments, noting that this is the 7th treatment.  This is the second year that "The Pond and Lake Connection" is managing Mamanasco water quality.

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