New Milford has worked to set up warming centers to fill in the holes in shelter and church schedules. The CERT team will be manning 25 Church Street as a Warming Shelter today from 8am to 3:30pm and on Sunday from 8am to 1pm. Breakfast will be provided both days by St. John's church. The remainder of the weekend and holiday will be covered by Loaves and Fishes, the churches, and Library.
New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department officials are discussing the unique set of risks and challenges for members in severe cold. They say serious fires are more likely to occur during periods of severe cold often resulting from temporary and innovative heat sources. The risk of hypothermia is a concern, because personal protective equipment provide only limited insulation from severe cold. The bulk of more layers restricts mobility and can also lead to fatigue. There is also the danger of slipping on icy surfaces and having to dig through snow banks to reach buried hydrants.
A bill co-sponsored by several Greater Danbury area lawmakers takes effect with the start of the new year. The measure requires opioid painkiller prescriptions be transcribed electronically to safeguard against over prescribing. It also reduces the maximum number of days for a prescription from seven to five for minors and allows patients to request drugs other than opioids be prescribed. It was co-sponsored by Danbury Representatives David Arconti, Michael Ferguson and Bob Godfrey, John Frey of Ridgefield, Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding, Mitch Bolinsky of Newtown, Easton Representative Adam Dunsby and Bill Buckbee of New Milford. Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown also co-sponsored the bill.
Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky cosponsored a bill which goes into law on Monday. The measure is about withholding workers' compensation income for child support. It requires an employer notify the spouse, former spouse or child owed the support if an employee whose income is withheld to enforce a child support order makes a workers' compensation claim.
Bethel Representative Will Duff is touting a law taking effect effect on January 1st. It broadens the eligibility criteria for certain veterans' benefits, allows additional people to receive a service ribbon and medal, be buried in a Connecticut veterans' cemetery, or have veteran status indicated on their driver's license or identity card.
A bill about bots takes effect in Connecticut with the start of the new year. The measure prohibits anyone from using automated ticket purchasing software to buy tickets on the Internet. The computer program or software can bypass or turn off security measures on a website and will now be considered a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. The 2016 federal Better Online Ticket Sales Act prohibits the use of software that circumvents a venue's attempt to limit the number of tickets a consumer may purchase.
A bill placing conditions on the sale of tickets to certain entertainment events goes into effect with the start of the near year. It requires ticket sellers employing using certain nontransferable or paperless ticketing systems to provide written resale or trade disclosure information to potential ticket purchasers. The act also prohibits anyone from denying a ticketholder admission to an entertainment event solely because the ticket was resold.
Some occupational licenses, registrations, and certificates will be eliminated as of 2018. The Department of Consumer Protection is getting rid of the swimming pool assembler's license because it's similar to registration requirements for pool builder licensees under existing law, including registering as a home improvement contractor. It generally required anyone who professionally assembled above-ground swimming pools more than 24 inches deep to be licensed.
Longtime Greater Danbury regional planner Jon Chew is retiring today after 40 years of service. He has been employed by various regional planning councils in Connecticut since 1973, and is a former member of the Beacon Falls Economic Development Commission, and the Central Naugatuck Regional Planning Commission. Chew has provided consultant management and other planning services in recent years within the Western Connecticut Council of Government's transportation program. He also helped launch several new initiatives including the Drug Task Force and the Economic Development Advisory Group.
A recent inspection of the Sugar Hollow Road Bridge in Wilton has found that the infrastructure is in need of repair. The state Department of Transportation ordered that the bridge be reduced to one-lane alternating traffic in order to ensure safe passage until repairs are completed.
The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission has received 188 design submissions to be considered and evaluated over the next several weeks. The group thanked everyone who, whether they ended up submitting a design or not, took time to comply by the guidelines, went on site visits and was part of the process. Current times and locations of the Commission's evaluation discussions are posted on their website. Their goal from the discussion is to cull down the list of 188 designs to a more digestible number for further evaluation with those most impacted by 12-14.
Danbury will begin picking up live Christmas trees on Tuesday. Residents must place their live trees curbside for pick-up, with all decorations, tinsel, lights, tree stands and other items removed in order for it to be picked up. No artificial trees will be collected. Live trees will be collected by the City's Highway Department through January 31st, weather permitting, but residents are encouraged to place the trees curbside as close to January 2nd as possible to assure they are collected. Live Christmas trees can also be dropped-off free of charge by Danbury residents, as “wood waste” at Ferris Mulch Products on Plumtrees Road.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton called on Governor Malloy to follow the lead of governors of New York and New Jersey in signing an executive order allowing people to pay their property taxes early, before Monday, when new tax reform laws take effect. Because Connecticut has such a high tax burden, Boughton says residents are not benefiting from the tax relief that the rest of the country is going to receive.
Malloy's budget chief said it isn’t practical for Connecticut to allow the prepayments like its neighbors because of differences in state law.
Meanwhile Danbury City Hall is closed on Fridays so if people want to pay their local January and April quarterly bills, they have to pay the online fee or have them postmarked by December 31st.
Redding Public Works Director Jeff Hanson reviewed the results of the Road Reconstruction Phase III plan with the Board of Selectmen. He also provided a status update of the current 4-year plan. There is a surplus of funds so the plan is being changed to a 5-year plan.
The reason there is a surplus is because the weekly price of asphalt was down for several years and Redding actually got money back. The town now is paying a bit more because the price has gone back up. It's about $300,000 per mile at $90 per ton of asphalt.
Sometimes the highway department diverts from the plan, for example Hanson says Pine Tree Road is holding up well and doesn't need work at this time. The next group of roads equals the available dollar amount, and were in the queue.
Hanson works with the schools to minimize disruption to bus routes, but said it's not possible for all road work to be done in July and August. He notes that there were a number of rainouts affecting the work schedule. Hanson added that the availability of pavers is also a challenge because a lot of towns pave at the same time due to the short paving season in New England. The Board will review the plans during the upcoming budget season.
Governor Malloy does not plan to sign an executive order requiring pre-payments of local property taxes, a move that would let residents deduct the payment from federal taxes. His office says it's impractical to mandate that municipalities accept pre-payments because communities have not yet set tax rates for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2018. Property tax collection is also a local, not a state, matter.
New York's and New Jersey's governors signed orders requiring municipalities to accept pre-paid local taxes before a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions goes into effect next year.
The Redding Tax Collector's office has received a number of calls from residents about pre-payment of 2018 taxes. Taxes that are due in January can be paid now. Redding officials say Connecticut State Statute only gives them the authority to accept the January 2018, installment due, as a pre-payment, not taxes that become due in July 2018. Taxes can also be paid online, with the necessary fee. Redding Town Hall is closed on Fridays.
Newtown officials have also been fielding questions about pre-paying 2018 taxes. Real estate and personal property tax payment for the period starting January 1st can be collected during these remaining few days of 2017. The Tax Collector’s office is closing at noon on Friday for the New Year's holiday. For those that escrow their taxes any payment would need to be coordinated via the respective bank. Newtown is reminding residents that the town is not able to accept advance payments for the period July 2018. The officials advised that the information is not intended to be treated as tax advice.
Some towns have quarterly installments for property taxes. In Ridgefield and in Danbury, tax bills due in January and April can be pre-paid by the end of the year because they are installments of a bill from July 2017. Payments due in July, 2018 will not be accepted, in part because the rates have not yet been set locally.
If your taxes are mailed and postmarked by December 31, 2017, with a U. S. postmark, they are considered to be paid in 2017, and will be posted as such.
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell advises taxpayers who have their property taxes escrowed as a part of their mortgage payment, to contact their lender regarding whether or not pre-payment of property taxes is permitted. Odell says Putnam County takes no position on the deductibility of pre-paid property taxes and advises each taxpayer to consult their tax professional.
Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order directing collecting officers to accept partial payments of those payments, since there may be cases where the exact amount due is not yet known.
A $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions goes into effect next year. The IRS has issued guidance saying that some homeowners who pay real estate taxes due in 2018 will be able to claim the deduction by paying early, but only if the taxes were assessed in 2017.
Monroe state Representative JP Sredzinski, whose district also includes Newtown, has given a presentation to a legislatively-mandated working group on how 911 centers can be impacted by or have an impact on the concept of Mobile Integrated Health Systems. Also known as community para-medicine, MIH is the concept of sending a reduced emergency response to evaluate patients in a stable condition. The General Assembly approved a measure to form a working group to make recommendations based on the benefits of MIH systems.
Sredzinski is Ranking Member on the General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. He highlighted two central points in his presentation to the MIH working group. One is that 911 Dispatch Centers can play a role in MIH delivery, as long as the appropriate protocols are implemented, the right training is provided, and communities aren't burdened with a responsibility they are not prepared to handle.
He also said that 911 Dispatch Centers should be utilized as "triage determination centers" and not "call processing centers." He doesn't want people calling them if they need an evaluation, but noted that callers can be re-routed to the right place if determined to not need emergency care.
Sredzinski says adoption of MIH systems would require a paradigm shift in Connecticut and it would take some time to get accustomed to. If Connecticut can improve the public health system at the same time as reducing costs, He says that would be a true win-win.
Sredzinski has worked in the 911 Communications field for 18 years.
The working group must present its findings to the Public Health Committee by January 1, 2019.
The Ridgefield school district business manager will be retiring in a few days. Officials say after 9 years in Ridgefield, Paul Hendrickson will be leaving the position. Hendrickson was praised by Ridgefield school officials for improving the system, include securing school security grant funding, transitioning bargaining units to high-deductible health savings account insurance platform, and developing and managing fiscally responsible operating budgets. His last day in the district will be Sunday, with a search for his replacement starting in February.
The extreme cold could last into next week. Newtown’s First Selectman and the Emergency Management Office urge residents to make appropriate preparations to ensure personal safety and readiness. They are also asking that residents check on any elderly or frail neighbors to be certain they are doing OK in this weather. Designated warming centers in Newtown include the Library, but the facility will be closed Sunday and Monday for New Years. Edmond Town Hall has several movies and activities this weekend. The Municipal Center and the Newtown Senior Center are typically open Monday through Friday.
The state's severe cold weather protocol has been activated. New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says he's instructed the town's Homeland Security Head, Fire Marshall Brian Ohmen, to have warming centers for New Milford residents. The New Milford Soup Kitchen has also agreed to stay open until the shelter opens up at St. Francis for overnight accommodations. Bass says he wants to make sure that all citizens are warm throughout this extended round of extreme cold temperatures.
Ridgefield is almost done with a state-mandated revaluation of property assessments. Residents with questions or concerns can schedule informal hearings with eQuality Valuation through Friday. The appointments are held at the Recreation Center. The revaluations are based on improvements and the sales prices of similar properties.
The Flutie Foundation has awarded $450,000 in grant money to 40 organizations helping children and families, including to Newtown Youth and Family Services. The goal of the Flutie Foundation Grants program is to ensure that individuals with autism are getting access to care, leading active lifestyles and growing toward adult independence. Newtown Youth and Family Services says the grant will enable them to continue offering social recreational groups at low cost. This past year, N-Y-F-S served over 50 individuals, expanding the groups into New Milford.
A local lawmaker recently visited a Newtown business working with Ability Beyond, an organization that helps those with developmental and physical disabilities participate in meaningful, fulfilling employment opportunities. State Representative Mitch Bolinsky visited Tier ONE Machining & Assembly as part of Ability Beyond's 1st annual Take Your Legislator to Work Day. Amy Giordano works with her Ability Beyond support coach, Brianne Shepard, helping to produce highly-engineered, precision instrument parts, assemblies and accessories for customers in the medical and aerospace industries. Bolinsky called Tier ONE is a true Connecticut manufacturing success story.
The Danbury City Council has decided to send a decision for now about whether to adopt an ordinance regulating inspections of child day care centers and group day care homes back to an ad hoc committee. 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.
Bethel is about halfway through the building process for the new police station.
If everything stays on schedule, the building will be closed up soon and work can be done on the interiors during the normal winter construction shut down period. Windows are slated to arrive in the first week of January. While the foundation for the shooting range is done, the walls and ceiling will have to be completed in the Spring.
The 26,000-square-foot building is twice the size of the existing station on Plumtrees Road.
First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker told the Newstimes that since a $170,000 surprise, there haven't been any more unexpected costs. Concrete slabs were found buried at the site , dumped there when the middle school was built about 25 years ago. Debris from a burned Whittlesey farm barn was also found underground.
Western Connecticut State University has earned recognition from the Applied Behavior Analysis Programs Guide for offering the nation’s best master’s degree program in applied behavior analysis. The growing field is projected to have employment increase by one-third nationwide by 2020 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ABA Programs Guide noted that West Conn's fully online instructional program prepares students “to effectively quantify and measure behavior in order to make effective changes that will improve overall behavior of an individual, group or organization.”
A Bridgewater resident recently wrote a check for $10,000 to support the Bridgewater Scholarship Fund. The family did want recognition for the meaningful donation, preferring to remain anonymous. Bridgewater officials say it was enough from them that their gift would help current students and would also help attract young families to town.
Amaresco has gained approval from the Connecticut Siting Council for their proposed 60,000-panel solar farm on Candlewood Mountain. The company plans to donate 100 acres to a land conservancy. New Milford has 45 days to decide whether to file an appeal.
Earlier this year, the Town Council approved a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement for $2.7 million to be paid to the town over 20 years if Amaresco was approved to build a solar farm on Candlewood Mountain.
When he was a town councilman Pete Bass supported the PILOT agreement, but then opposed the project. Bass is worried about the project and how it will impact the environment.
5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has introduced bipartisan legislation to allow the Federal Aviation Administration to establish a Women in Aviation Advisory Board. The board would promote organizations and programs providing education, training, mentorship, outreach, and recruitment of women into the aviation industry. Less than ten percent of airline mechanics, flight engineers, repair personnel, and airline pilots are women, and women comprise just over a quarter of air traffic controllers. Aviation industry groups and business leaders are concerned that this shortfall could lead to trouble filling spots as more workers retire. Esty says women bring new perspectives, skills, backgrounds, and problem solving skills to the table.
A consulting firm founded by Ridgefield Library's former Director has been hired in Newtown to help with the search for a new leader of CH Booth Library. The Board of Trustees in Newtown hired Chris Nolan Associates, which specializes in the library talent market. Officials told the Newtown Bee that the firm will be able to bring in a larger pool of talent and can help with the screening process. Booth Library Director Karen Tatarka left in July to return to her role as director of the Weston Public Library. Assistant Director Beryl Harrison has been serving as interim director. The Bee reports that the consulting firm is paid ten percent of the annual director’s condensation, plus expenses.
Newtown residents looking to become more involved with the town can fill a number of open positions are local appointed boards and commissions. Some appointments are required to be filled by Democrats or Republicans, while some can be unaffiliated residents. There are openings on the Animal Control Advisory Board, Conservation, Lake Lillinonah Authority, Fairfield Hills Authority, Parks & Recreation and Public Building & Site Commission among others. Interested Newtown residents are asked to contact the First Selectman's Office.
Ridgefield Police are offering some winter weather reminders for pet owners. Although dogs likely have a good time outdoors, they should take frequent indoor breaks for water and warming. If you’re walking or playing in unfamiliar areas, Police asked that you keep dogs close. It’s easy for them to venture onto unsafe surfaces such as frozen ponds or lakes, which may be covered in snow and not easily visible.
If you're already thinking ahead, New Milford has announced that Christmas trees and wreaths can be discarded, starting Tuesday, at the entrance to Clatter Valley Park. The collection continues through February 1st.
The Bethel Police Department has sworn in two new Officers. Daniel Tlasky and Bryce Brown will spend the next six months attending the Police Academy before returning to Bethel to complete their field training.
A Danbury resident will be one of the judges at the 142nd Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City. Janina Laurin will officiate over several breeds during the daytime competition held in mid-February. All Best of Breed winners she selects will go on to compete in the Herding Group finals. This is her second judging assignment at Westminster. Laurin has been exhibiting as a breeder/owner/handler at The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show since the 1970s. In 2002, she accepted the AKC Breeder of the Year Award for the Herding Group on behalf of her family.
The Danbury Volunteer Fire Companies will arrive in a caravan of fire trucks at Family & Children's Aid tomorrow morning. They will be led by Santa and Sparky The Fire Dog, loaded with gifts for the children. Starting on Black Friday, the firefighters collected donations outside of Toys"R"Us every Friday night, sometimes in the rain and snow. They will unload toys from the fire trucks in Bucket Brigade Style, filling the non-profit's gymnasium with toys. This is the fourth toy collection for Family & Children's Aid.
There were a total of 37 calls for the Bethel Fire Department for the month of November, most were automatic alarms. Firefighters responded to one chimney fire, two car fires and five reports of outdoor or brush fires. There was also one investigation last month into Carbon Monoxide/Gas leak and two investigations on reports of the smell of smoke. Bethel EMS responded to 109 calls last month. Bethel Fire Captain Brendan Ryan is reminding people not to drink and drive, cautioning that getting a DUI will effect you for some time after the holidays, especially if it results in a crash or loss of life. He says accidents around the holidays are in particular hard, as they are then forever linked to a holiday for both the person causing it, and even more so with the victims family.
13 State Parks will sponsor free, guided hikes on New Year’s Day as part of America's State Parks First Day Hikes initiative, taking place in all 50 states. First Day Hikes are billed as a way to start off the new year in a healthy and rejuvenating way, while connecting with the outdoors. Kettletown State Park in Southbury will be open for a 2 mile moderate group hike at 1pm on New Year's Day. Participants should meet at the trail head for Miller Trail, which wanders through a mixed woodland in the northern part of the park. The hike will display a charcoal hearth site, views of Lake Zoar, erosion control devices, stone walls and a log bridge. Dogs on leash allowed. Rain or 1” or more snow cancels.
The Knights of Columbus in the Town of Washington hold a fundraiser every year to help food banks in Washington, Roxbury and Bridgewater. They provide cases of much needed items based on wish lists from each town. The food and supplies were distributed last weekend in Bridgewater. The Food Pantry, housed at the Bridgewater Congregational Church, is offered by Bridgewater to any resident in need of assistance.
A Connecticut State Police bloodhound missing after being involved in the search for a man in Danbury has been found safe. K9 Texas was part of a search party Wednesday evening in the Wooster Mountain-Sugar Hollow Road area. A handler lost his footing on the steep terrain and dropped the 15-foot leash connecting the trooper to Texas. The dog continued tracking up the ledge, but when the trooper reached the top of the hill, Texas was nowhere in sight.
(Photo: Mayor Boughton)
Mayor Mark Boughton says the dog was found shortly before 10:30 this morning, tangled on a fence. He did not have information on the location of where K9 Texas was found. Boughton noted that K9 Texas looked unharmed, just cold.
A Monroe man who works for Homeland Security, a former K9 handler, was one of the volunteers. He used his ATV and located K9 Texas.
Over 100 volunteers combed the woods along side public safety personnel from the Connecticut and New York. A helicopter from the Department of Homeland Security was searching from above, using heat-seeking technology.
Another bloodhound, Zeus, located the missing man, who was brought safely out of the woods Wednesday night.
The search was suspended last night for a Connecticut State Police bloodhound missing after being involved in the search for a man in Danbury. The search will pick back up at 7am for K9 Texas, who was part of a search party Wednesday evening in the Wooster Mountain-Sugar Hollow Road area.
Another bloodhound, Zeus, located the missing man, who was brought safely out of the woods.
A handler lost his footing on the steep terrain and dropped the 15-foot leash connecting the trooper to Texas. The dog continued tracking up the ledge, but when the trooper reached the top of the hill, Texas was nowhere in sight.
The non-aggressive, brown bloodhound was wearing a green tracking vest.
Anyone with any information should contact Troop A at 203-267-2200.
K9 Texas has been assigned to Trooper First Class Edward Anuszewski at Troop A in Southbury since August 2016. In May, they became a nationally certified Bloodhound K9 team.
The Ridgefield Playhouse is looking to expand with a bigger foyer and additional dressing rooms and showers for visiting artists. Expanding the Playhouse means the Board of Education offices will have to move. Marconi says they would move to where the current Community Development offices are. Community Development would move into the south end of the Richard E. Venus building, which is vacant. Chef’s Warehouse will be expanding and taking the balance of the second floor. Marconi says the two expansions will bring in more revenue, which will hopefully cover any money spent in terms of debt service Ridgefield has to incur.
The search for a missing Police K9 has been suspended for the night. Officials say the search will resume at 7am Friday. While out searching for a missing man in Danbury last night, a State Police K9 went missing. State Police were assisting Danbury to look for the missing adult male in the area of Wooster Mountain. The man was subsequently located by K9 Zeus and was walked out of the woods.
A State Police handler lost his footing while negotiating steep terrain during the search and lost hold of a 15 foot leash. K9 “Texas”, a Bloodhound, was pulling strongly up the slope and continued tracking up the ledge. When the Trooper reached the top of the hill, "Texas" was not in sight.
As of 10am Thursday, "Texas" has not been located. The non-aggressive, brown bloodhound was wearing a green tracking vest. State Police K9 Teams with the assistance of the Danbury Police and Fire Departments, are continuing their search for Texas this morning.
Anyone with any information should contact Troop A at 203-267-2200.
K9 Texas has been assigned to Trooper First Class Edward Anuszewski at Troop A in Southbury since August 2016. In May, they became a nationally certified Bloodhound K9 team.
More than 70 residents attended a meeting this week of Ridgefield's Committee on Aging. State Representative John Frey discussed his hopes for restoring funding for approximately 113,000 elderly and disabled people who would lose all or part of their health coverage as a result of cuts to the Medicare Savings Program. The two-year budget adopted by the General Assembly reduces the income eligibility limits for all categories of participants in the program, in many cases by as much as 50%. To explain why cuts to the program were included, Frey pointed to what he called the devastating impact on the budget of the union contract approved in July that locked in expensive state union benefits for ten years.
While out searching for a missing man in Danbury last night, a State Police K9 went missing. State Police were assisting Danbury to look for the missing adult male in the area of Wooster Mountain. The man was subsequently located by K9 Zeus and was walked out of the woods.
A State Police handler lost his footing while negotiating steep terrain during the search and lost hold of a 15 foot leash. K9 “Texas”, a Bloodhound, was pulling strongly up the slope and continued tracking up the ledge. When the Trooper reached the top of the hill, "Texas" was not in sight.
As of 10am Thursday, "Texas" has not been located. The non-aggressive, brown bloodhound was wearing a green tracking vest. State Police K9 Teams with the assistance of the Danbury Police and Fire Departments, are continuing their search for Texas this morning.
Anyone with any information should contact Troop A at 203-267-2200.
K9 Texas has been assigned to Trooper First Class Edward Anuszewski at Troop A in Southbury since August 2016. In May, they became a nationally certified Bloodhound K9 team.
Boehringer Ingelheim has agreed to pay a $13.5 million settlement with the attorneys general of all 50 states and Washington DC. The settlement is to resolve allegations that the Ridgefield-based pharmaceutical company was deceptive and misleading in the promotion of four of its prescription drugs.
The attorneys general alleged that Boehringer Ingelheim made misrepresentations about the drugs and claimed that they had approval, characteristics, ingredients, benefits, uses, or qualities that they did not have. Specifically, the states alleged that the company misrepresented that:
• Micardis, a hypertension medication, protected patients from "early morning risks" of strokes and heart attacks and treated metabolic syndrome when, in fact, the company had no evidence to substantiate those claims.
• Aggrenox, an antiplatelet drug, was effective for many conditions "below the neck" – such as heart attacks and congestive heart failure – and that it was superior to a better-known competitor, Plavix, without evidence to substantiate those claims.
• Combivent, a medication used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, could be used as a first-line treatment for bronchospasms associated with COPD, when Combivent is not indicated as a first-line treatment; and
• Atrovent, also used to treat COPD and asthma, and Combivent could be used at doses that exceeded the maximum dosage recommendation in the product labeling and that they were essential for treatment of COPD.
Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull says when companies misrepresent their products to consumers, not only are they acting irresponsibly, but they betray the public's trust.
The settlement requires court approval before it is final. If approved, Connecticut General Fund will get an infusion of $186,357.
A BI spokeswoman said the company does not admit to any wrongdoing, but settled to avoid legal costs. The alleged conduct ended in 2008.
With winter weather here, some Brookfield residents have been asking about parking in the new spaces on Federal Road in the Town Center. The Police Department recently posted “tow away, no parking when winter weather conditions exist” signs in these areas. The parking ordinance says that illegally parked vehicles can be towed and the owners subject to a $100 fine. Officials say following the ordinance will allow snow removal equipment to keep these areas cleared after winter storm events.
Danbury Police Department members were at the Head Start program yesterday. They presented the children with a donation of books and toys from the Department's Something for Someone” Initiative.
Officer Hilderbrand spearheaded the Departments effort. He said from his previous work in some of Florida’s most challenged school districts, he knows how critically important early childhood intervention is.
Connecticut Institute For Communities CEO Jim Maloney says this time of the year brings the community together and they are thankful to the Danbury Police Department for their support of the organization's efforts.
The CIFC Early Learning Programs are provided to children 6 weeks through Kindergarten from nearly 450 Greater Danbury area families annually.
18 young undocumented activists from Connecticut staged a sit-in at Senator Chris Murphy’s Washington DC office Tuesday. They wanted Murphy to guarantee he would vote against a budget bill this week is The Dream Act wasn't part of it.
Connecticut Students for a Dream Campaign Manager Camila Bortolleto of Danbury says 122 young people are losing their DACA protections everyday and over 11,000 have become vulnerable to deportation since the program was ended.
Murphy, while telling the youths he was a friend of the cause, didn't say he would vote against the budget. Murphy told them he wants to be part of the conversation.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program provided protections to youth brought to this country illegally when they were minors by their parents. DACA recipients whose two-year status expires in March would be subject to deportation. To qualify for protections under the DREAM Act, applicants must have been admitted to a college, university or other institution of higher learning, earned a high school diploma or GED certificate, or be enrolled in a secondary education program and seeking a diploma or GED certificate. Applicants also must be free of convictions for certain criminal offenses.
A Danbury man will oversee two projects expanding and improving the State Veterans Cemetery. Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs Acting Commissioner Tom Saadi led a ground breaking ceremony this week for two projects.
One will expand the State Veterans Cemetery by 2,000 plots. A new roadway will be added, the cemetery entrance will be updated and the existing irrigation system will be repaired. More than 7,000 existing headstones will be raised, realigned and cleaned. The turf throughout the cemetery grounds will also be improved.
$8.6 million in federal reimbursements will cover all expenses.
Saadi says th two projects are critical to the Department's mission of “Serving Those Who Served.” He added that by increasing capacity and longevity of the cemetery, more Connecticut Veterans will have the the opportunity to choose the State Veterans Cemetery as their place of rest.
A bill authored by Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has passed the House on a nearly unanimous vote.
The Women in Aerospace Education Act is meant to strengthen the American aerospace industry by enhancing K-12 education initiatives to encourage women and girls’ participation in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.
Under existing law, Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship grants are used by universities to cover the cost of STEM-degree students who go on to teach in rural or lower-income school districts. Esty’s bill would encourage universities applying for Noyce grants to incorporate aerospace engineering working and learning experiences at the National Laboratories and NASA Centers into their teacher training experience. These teachers, once certified, will then enter classrooms with first-hand knowledge of the impact aerospace projects have on our lives and share that inspiration with their students.
Kelley Johnson, Founder & President of Doors to Explore Inc. in Newtown, says this bill rolls out a ‘welcome mat’ to women in aerospace. The start up business provides an online resource for young people to explore STEM careers. She says it’s important that young women have early access to research opportunities early in their career to build the skills and confidence toward positions of greater responsibility.
Esty spoke on the House floor in support of the bill. She noted that aerospace companies such as Praxair and United Technologies have told her for years that they are concerned with the aging workforce. She added the shortages of skilled workers could force the companies to relocate.
Esty also talked about Johnson, a member of her STEM advisory board. Johnson worked at NASA, designing components for two satellites. Esty says an early exposure to computer science and work experience at NASA has led Johnson to share that insight with a new generation of students. Esty wants to make Johnson's experiences available to all students.
Region 12 Superintendent Pat Cosentino will resign at the end of the school year. She sent a letter to the Board of Education, but did not say why she was stepping down after 6 years in the position. Cosentino led the district’s plan to open a controversial Agriscience-STEM academy in an effort to bolster enrollment. The district is made up of Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington.
A Newtown man has been tapped by a petitioning candidate for Governor to become his Lt Governor candidate. Monte Frank will be the running mate of Oz Griebel, the recently retired as leader of the MetroHartford Alliance. Griebel is a former member of the Republican party. Frank is a former Democrat and immediate past president of the Connecticut Bar Association. Griebel finished a distant third in a three-way GOP gubernatorial primary in 2010. Frank founded Team 26, a cycling group that rides to Washington, D.C. from Newtown to advocate for gun control legislation. Griebel and Frank must get 7,500 signatures of registered voters to qualify for the November ballot.
Author James Patterson has awarded a grant to 300 independent booksellers, including one in Bethel. Stephen Hutchinson of Byrd's Books was named as part of the Patterson's Holiday Bookstore Bonus Program. He personally selected the winners, who submitted answers to the question “Why does this bookseller deserve a holiday bonus?” The grants total $350,000.
4th District Congressman Jim Himes is critical of the tax bill approved yesterday. He says restricting the state and local tax deduction to $10,000 will cause hardship for many Southwest Connecticut families. The average SALT deduction in Fairfield county now is $33,400. He says that means that an average family will be taxed twice on an additional $23,400 of income each year.
Himes also notes that Connecticut sends more to Washington than is received back. But he says as an American, it's a duty to help the hungry child in Mississippi or the sick in New Mexico. He was also critical of adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt, having the modest benefits to American mostly phased out in coming years while disproportionately benefiting large corporations. Himes called it a shortsighted and careless bill, saying he will fight for sensible, fair tax policy.
5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says Connecticut is the state most likely to be hurt by the tax bill. She says working families will see their taxes ultimately increase under this plan. While promises of tax return forms the size of a postcard, Esty says this will make the tax code more complex, with more giveaways to special interests.
Senator Richard Blumenthal voted against the tax bill last night saying it betrays basic American values. It funds burgeoning tax breaks for the wealthiest one percent by burdening future generations with trillions in debt. He called it an abomination.
Senator Chris Murphy voted against the tax bill saying it isn’t tax reform, but a giveaway to the rich and powerful. He says it throws crumbs at working people while adding more than $1 trillion of debt.
He believes the bill should have created a simpler tax code, restructured in a way that gets rid of unfair loopholes and levels the playing field for workers and small businesses. He is concerned that the debt created by the tax bill will be used as an excuse to gut Medicare and Social Security benefits.
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has signed a resolution allowing the government to join various states and counties across the country in filing lawsuits against both pharmaceutical companies and distributors. She says the companies have created a nationwide opioid epidemic through the fraudulent and negligent marketing and distribution of opioid pain medications.
The goal is to fully compensate Putnam County for unnecessary cost incurred because of prescription opioid abuse. Odell says individuals and families aren't the only ones impacted, noting that taxpayers are impacted by public health, law enforcement, court and social services resources used in response.
The founder of "Drug Crisis in Our Backyard" and other community leaders were on hand for the signing Monday. The resolution was passed by the Putnam County Legislature last month, 8-0, with one legislator absent.
Heroin and opiates are now the leading cause of accidental death in New York State, outnumbering homicides. In the past three years, over 40 fatal opioid overdoses were reported in Putnam County. The number of drug-related arrests have gone up also from 339 in 2016 to so far 456 in 2017, according to the Putnam County District Attorney’s Office.
Meetings about the Brookfield Library project have been postponed. The Board of Finance was slated to meet tonight about whether to recommend the $14.7 million building project be sent to a town meeting. The Board wants more information from the town's financial adviser. The Boards of Selectmen, Finance and Education met with the adviser Monday to discuss how a library, police station and school upgrades would affect the town’s debt. Brookfield residents would have been called on to decide tomorrow to send the proposal to a February referendum. A special town meeting is tentatively set for January 9th to decide on sending the 35-thousand square foot facility to referendum.
There will be a new look for Ridgefield Police Department members in the new year. As of January 1st, Police Officers will change to a blue uniform. The Board of Police Commissioners and the Chief of Police took input from department staff and made the decision to replace the gray uniform. The new uniform incorporates the current uniform patch, will have embroidered rank insignias and officer names. The current gray uniform will continue to be worn by the Department police officers for special occasions including the 9/11 Ceremony, Memorial Day events and similar special ceremonies.
The four-year state-approved affordable housing moratorium in Ridgefield is set to expire next year. The Assistant Town Planner has drafted language for a proposed regulation in an attempt to guide developers to business zones while protecting residential neighborhoods. The projects would require first floor commercial use. The state's aim is to have 10 percent of housing in each town qualify as affordable, but most towns do not meet the goal. If 30-percent of a development is considered affordable, they can bypass local zoning rules on density and other standards. A public hearing on the proposed ordinance in Ridgefield will be held tonight.
Some Connecticut youth are headed to Washington DC to lobby Congress to pass the Dream Act, which will continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. More than 65 youth from Connecticut will join over a thousand others from around the country. Connecticut for a Dream Campaign Manager Camila Bortolleto of Danbury says 122 young people are losing their DACA protections everyday and over 11,000 have become vulnerable to deportation since the program was ended.
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty opposes changes made to the proposed tax bill during the recently reconciliation session between the House and Senate. She says it still raises taxes on millions of working people. She also says it considerably limits Connecticut families' ability to deduct their state and local taxes. The tentative agreement would still eliminate the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act and eliminate the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax. State and local tax deductibility would be capped at $10,000 and home mortgage interest deductions would be limited.
The Brookfield Health Department is issuing a reminder that holiday decorating can mean a rise in fire risk or injury from dangerous toys. Residents are being reminded to make sure all electrical decorations are used in a safe manner. Fireplaces should be used with fire screens and all ashes should be removed only after they are completely out. Generators should never be used indoors or in a closed space such as a garage or breezeway. Some toys can pose a choking hazard to young children. A child's windpipe is only the diameter of his or her index finger. Other toys such as those that shoot missiles, no matter how soft the missile, may be dangerous in close quarters or to the unprotected eye.
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announced that the Danbury-Brewster sewer project has been awarded $1.2 million in New York State funding. The project, which extends the Danbury sewer line over the state border and through the Route 6 corridor of Brewster, was granted Empire State Development money. The sewer line will connect 3.5 miles of commercially zoned land to the City of Danbury’s sewer system, which has excess capacity.
The idea was discussed last November when Danbury and Putnam County officials met about regionalizing resources and services. Mayor Mark Boughton noted that the sewer project was a more complicated process than sharing parks or other infrastructure. The City wanted to get start on plans, given the rehab work planned for the facility. Boughton says adding more users to the waste water treatment plant could spread out the estimated $90 million cost of upgrades and phosphorous removal improvements.
There is no prohibition from Connecticut on the City extending the line into New York.
Danbury also recently beefed up the westside sewer intercept, a project from the 70s, which Boughton says makes this new project proposal easier.
Odell says the sewer project has a potential long-term impact on Putnam County’s economic vitality because a proper infrastructure will ensure a growing business community. She says the Danbury-Brewster sewer line will also strengthen the Brewster revitalization effort by maximizing the potential of the under-utilized area. The project will also bring construction jobs to Putnam County.
Putnam County Legislature chairwoman Ginny Nacerino says the project will enhance quality of life by providing convenience and ultimately will help to offset taxes.
Danbury Finance Director David St. Hilaire says although the number of uses have gone up, there's been a decline in the amount of gallons because of efficiencies and conservation measures. That means rates have increased.
The International Association of Firefighters, Danbury Firefighter’s Union Local 801 is conducting a canned food drive on behalf of the Salvation Army's holiday basket effort. Lt Chip Daly says they will be accepting items through Friday.
All non-perishable food items will be accepted. They can be dropped at the Fire Marshal's Office during normal City hall operating hours. Daly is reminding people that firehouses are open 24-7, so items are being collected at all hours.
They have been hosting the food drive for about 30 years.
Food drive collection sites are at the following Danbury career fire stations:
A new Mayor means a new position on the proposed Candlewood Mountain solar farm in New Milford. The Newstimes reports that the town's official stance now is to oppose the project. The Connecticut Siting Council is currently considering the application to generate 20 megawatts of energy. Briefs were filed by Mayor Pete Bass, who said a majority of Town Council members oppose the plan, and Ameresco--the company planning to install the 60-thousand solar panels. Environmental concerns are among the biggest, but the state Department of Agriculture has also weighed in on the project. The site is currently zoned for multifamily residence.
The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury is conducting a free program this winter break for middle and high school students called Not A #Number from Love146. The prevention program is designed to inspire youth to make safe choices when they encounter potentially exploitative situations and use healthy support systems to decrease their vulnerability.
Women's Center officials say Danbury Mall is the top place where children are trafficked in this area.
Not A #Number is an interactive, five-module child trafficking and exploitation prevention curriculum designed to teach youth how to protect themselves through information, critical thinking and skill development--focusing on respect, empathy, individual strengths, and the relationship between personal and societal pressures that create or increase vulnerabilities.
An organization formed by a parent of a slain Sandy Hook first grader has been awarded a $600,000 grant to expand its Choose Love Enrichment Program. The Newtown Bee reports that the funding was awarded to the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement from the NoVo Foundation, which was created in 2006 to promote social and emotional learning. The free, pre-K through 12th grade Choose Love Enrichment Program teaches educators and their students how to become empowered individuals. The program is aligned with Common Core Standards. To date, the Choose Love Enrichment Program has been downloaded by more than 2,100 educators in 48 states and 30 different countries who collectively reach close to 200,000 students daily.
The Drewville Road Bridge in Carmel has reopened. The Putnam County Highways and Facilities Department completed necessary repairs to the infrastructure in just two weeks time, even with some snow. A temporary shoring was constructed for the bridge that will support the safe travel. A full replacement of the Drewville Road Bridge is scheduled for 2019.
Members of Ridgefield's state legislative delegation are holding a constituent meeting this afternoon. Representative John Frey and Senator Toni Boucher will be giving an update on changes made in the state budget to the Medicare Savings Program. The meeting is at 2:30pm at Ridgefield Town Hall.
Legislative leaders are petitioning their way into a special session to address problems with the changes. Some 113,000 seniors are facing a drastic change in benefits as of January 1st because of lower income guidelines. The General Assembly is not in regular session until February.
The state Department of Social Services is undertaking a review of the income guideline change and it's expected to take two months to complete.
Brookfield is seeking an exemption to the standard state road shoulder width on the next phase of the streetscape project in the Town Center. Project Manager Greg Dembowski and Police Chief Jay Purcell are going to meet with representatives of the state Department of Transportation later this morning.
Parallel parking on both sides of the road means there will be less of a shoulder.
Phase 2 goes from the end of Phase 1 on the southern boundary to the Hearth restaurant.
A second crosswalk there will allow people coming from Laurel Hill to get to the other side of the road.
The plan calls for sidewalks on both sides of Federal Road and a bike path on the east side, connecting to the Still River Greenway. That path will lead to a pedestrian crossing connecting to the bike bath on the west side, at the funeral home.
The courage and sacrifice of military veterans was honored on Saturday, National Wreaths Across America Day. The Civil Air Patrol’s 399th Composite Squadron gathered at Old Kenosia Cemetery to lay wreaths on the headstones of service members.
The names of the service members were read aloud. This year’s theme was "I’m an American. Yes I Am!"
Officials say it's also a time to teach younger generations the value of freedom.
The TJ Lobraico Foundation has joined up with the nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America. The goal is to provide a wreath to each hero laid to rest at The Sherman North Cemetery. The foundation is named for a New Fairfield native who was killed in action while serving active duty in Afghanistan with the United States Air Force.
The Easton Police Department is hoping people will want to welcome K9 TJ into their home. A K9 TJ plush toy is being offered for $20 at the Easton Police Department, with proceeds going to support the police K9 program. Handler Officer Tamra French is TJ's partner and they work together around the clock, both on and off duty. TJ gets groomed regularly and is always exercised to keep him in top physical condition. While on Patrol, TJ rides with Officer French in a specially designed Police vehicle.
The TJ Lobraico Foundation has joined up with the nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America. The goal is to provide a wreath to each hero laid to rest at The Sherman North Cemetery. Excess wreaths will go to other cemeteries in need. National Wreaths Across America Day is today. The foundation is named for a New Fairfield native who was killed in action while serving active duty in Afghanistan with the United States Air Force.
IMMOKALEE, Fla. (AP) A Florida teacher is marking the fifth year of a pen-pal exchange she began with a teacher who survived the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The Naples Daily News reports the teachers' students began exchanging friendship letters shortly after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six adults on Dec. 14, 2012.
Five years later, Immokalee Community School teacher Ann Marie Morgiewicz still runs it. Her fourth-grade students write to pupils in former Sandy Hook teacher Abbey Clements' class. Clements now teaches fourth grade at a different school in Newtown.
Morgiewicz says the exchange ``takes you away from the sadness of the world, and puts the kindness back in.''
Clements says she finds comfort knowing another teacher is using the Connecticut shootings to teach students about gun violence.
Iroquois Gas has made a donation to the town of New Milford to make repairs at Hidden Treasures Park. The $8,500 dollar grant will be used to repair the kayak and canoe portage. New Milford has owned the 16 acre property since 1977, and turned it into a park this year. The Town Council approved using $45,000 from the Waste Management Fund in October for work to clean up the property and get it ready to open to the public.
Phase 1 of the Brookfield Town Center streetscape project met the majority completion date of November 17th, as required by the contract. The total completion date is today. The last bit of work was to install the three flashing beacons at the Craft Center turn. It was delayed a bit when the contractor had to change electrical subcontractors. A final inspection must be done by the state.
An audit of the work will then be done by the state DOT, the town's auditor and the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.
Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program funding has been received, the town applied for the Local Capital Improvement Project grants and Brookfield is awaiting three Small Town Economic Assistance Program grants.
Ridgefield residents have approved a livestock ordinance during Wednesday's town meeting. The regulations apply to the keeping horses, poultry and other animals on properties of 1.5 acres or less. Most existing horse owners on smaller lots are “grandfathered in”. Sanitation requirements are included, in addition to fencing, set back regulations and an enclosed area to give animals protection from the elements.
The Brookfield Social Services Department is continuing to take applications for the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program. Residents who heat their homes with oil or other deliverable fuels and new applicants who use any source of heat can apply. The income limit is about 34,000 for an individual or a couple making little less than $45,000. Asset limits are $12,000 for renters and $15,000 for homeowners.
The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department has a new pickup truck in service, equipped with emergency warning lights, a cap and slide-out bed unit. During storms, severe car accidents, and down utility wire calls, officials say the truck will be instrumental in closing roads and setting up detour signage. It can also tow the department's boat, gator, and light tower, as well as transporting members to training courses throughout the region.
The Western Connecticut Council of Governments is holding their first meeting since new First Selectmen and Mayors were elected last month. There are six new Chief Elected Officials joining the Board today for the regional planning agency which spans from Sherman down to Stamford. The new members are Dan Rosenthal from Newtown, Pat Del Monaco from New Fairfield, Pete Bass from New Milford, Don Lowe from Sherman, Chris Spaulding from Weston and Kevin Moynihan from New Canaan. All other Board members were reelected.
Former Newtown First Selectman Pat Llodra became the national face of the tragedy at Sandy Hook School. She called it one of the most impactful events in the history of the more than 300-year old community.
Llodra struggled for a long time after 12-14 in figuring out how to be an effective leader, while feeling so hurt for the families and the community. She says understanding the hurt that families experience is something that she will carry with her for the rest of her life.
She is still trying to develop a full understanding of how the town has had to integrate that experience into everything going forward. For her, it was a lens through which she views government. It reminded her of the humanity that leaders need. She says a community is the people and that the service of leaders is to those people, not the artificial bricks and mortar.
Llodra says most people from outside of Newtown that she meets just want to express how deeply they were touched, and she gladly accepts what she calls their grace. But, she said, there is a delicate balance between honoring the past and being defined by it. She notes that the town has always been a safe place for families, with good schools. Llodra has said in the past that the shooting was a defining moment for the town, but what happened doesn't define the town; noting that it has always been a safe and good place to live.
Llodra says she has been honored by the confidence of residents during her service, running without opposition after 2012 for two terms. She called it restorative, and helped her through difficult times.
Former Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig is working to raise awareness on the importance of active shooter drills. She teamed up with Armoured One to discuss how teachers and staff can train to slow down an attacker and save lives. Roig is working to make primary schools, colleges and universities safer.
She is credited with saving the lives of 15 first-grade students by hiding in a small bathroom and building a barrier between the students and the gunman.
Armoured One was founded shortly after 12-14. The company teaches techniques beyond lockdown drills, instructing staff how to take defensive action.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -Out of a senseless tragedy, they have sought ways to find meaning in advocacy.
Many relatives of the 26 children and educators killed five years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School have dedicated themselves to charity, activism and other efforts to channel their grief and, in many cases, to help prevent violence.
"You have two choices," said Rebecca Kowalski, whose 7-year-old son, Chase, died in Newtown. "I could be in the bottom of a bottle; I could not get out of my bed. Or, I could do what's making us heal a little bit every day."
Some organizations, like the Kowalski's youth triathlon program, honor the passions of the children who were lost on Dec. 14, 2012.
Others have jumped into the policy fray to lobby for gun control or improved mental health care. In some cases, they have traveled the country, and even the world, as recognized experts in their fields, such as Jeremy Richman, a scientist whose Avielle Foundation for the study of brain health is named for his slain daughter.
The Sandy Hook families have created a website to share each of their stories and information about the various projects they have started in memory of their family members.
A look at some of them:
SEEKING SAFER SCHOOLS
Alissa Parker had Michele Gay's phone number on her refrigerator because Parker's daughter, Emilie, had been invited to a birthday party for Gay's daughter, Josephine.
The day before the party was to be held, both children were killed.
Parker, who had lived in Newtown less than a year and didn't know many other parents, called Gay. The two bonded over their shared loss and eventually teamed to form Safe and Sound Schools, a foundation that provides information and resources about school safety.
They travel, usually separately, to schools around the country, giving talks that detail their personal experiences on the day of the shooting and discussing in detail how their children died. They then talk about what can be done to make schools safer, everything from making sure that classrooms can be locked from the inside to involving first responders in school emergency drills.
"I feel very solid that this is what Josephine wants me to be doing, and Alissa feels the same way about Emilie," Gay said. "We made a deliberate choice to be guided by our children and their spirits. We wanted to be positive. We wanted to avoid the political and some of the hot button issues and be focused on the practical things that everybody can do to make the community safer."
RUNNING FOR HEALING
Kowalski said her healing has come by organizing a children's triathlon program, Race4Chase , in memory of their son, who loved to race and had competed in a similar event the summer before the shooting.
The free day camps, run in conjunction with the YMCA, teach children the fundamentals of swimming, biking, running, nutrition, strength and flexibility. At the end of six weeks, campers come together for a sanctioned triathlon.
The program has grown to 20 locations in three states.
"We originally wanted a brick-and-mortar place where families could come and work out and be together," Kowalski said. "We knew we were going somewhere, but we didn't know where. Chase provided us with the direction. Now, we have 20 places, and people have really embraced what the program is all about."
While some in Newtown avoid speaking the name of the shooter, Nelba Marquez-Greene freely discusses the social and emotional problems of the man who killed her 6-year-old daughter, Ana Grace.
"I want people to remember that Adam, the person who did this, was also once 6 and in a first-grade classroom and that if we had reached out earlier, then maybe this could have changed," Marquez-Greene said.
Marquez-Greene's Ana Grace Project works with schools in New Britain, a city just west of Hartford, to teach empathy, combat bullying and help socially isolated children.
The foundation's Love Wins campaign, created with a local teacher, builds on the existing curriculum and also brings therapists and interns into the schools to help identify children who need extra help with social skills.
Scarlett Lewis, whose son, Jesse, was killed at Sandy Hook, also has been pushing for more emotional learning in schools. Her Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement has developed its own social-emotional learning curriculum which began on a pilot basis in four schools in Connecticut, Hawaii, Arkansas and New Mexico and has been downloaded by many other schools and organizations.
"I believe this is an urgent matter," Lewis said. "I believe it would have saved my son's life, as well as the lives of other victims across the United States and reduce bullying."
The family of slain first-grade teacher Vicki Soto decided to hold a 5K race in her hometown of Stratford, Connecticut, annually around her November birthday to celebrate her life.
In 2013, about 500 runners took part, many wearing outfits adorned with Soto's favorite animal, the pink flamingo. Last month's race had more than 4,000 runners and walkers.
With the proceeds, the Sotos have given out more than $90,000 in scholarships to students pursuing careers in education.
Emily Mackay, of Stratford, received one of the first scholarships in 2014. She expects to graduate this spring from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in communications disorders and plans to get a master's degree so she can pursue a career in an elementary school as a speech pathologist.
"Being a part of Vicki's legacy has really motivated me throughout school. I will forever be grateful and honored that the Soto family believed in me to carry on Vicki's legacy and will always teach my students with her in mind," Mackay said.
The Sotos also have established a literacy campaign at the local library that involves such things as after-school tutoring, and the creation of mentor-text learning programs.
SANDY HOOK PROMISE
Sandy Hook Promise, one of the best-known organizations to form in the shooting's aftermath, was co-founded by several Newtown families, including the parents of first-grade victims Dylan Hockley and Daniel Barden.
The group lobbied for mental health care changes and gun control legislation in the months after the shooting, successfully advocating for state laws limiting sales of some guns in states such as Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois and New Jersey.
The group also was heavily involved in a failed effort in 2013 to get a federal law banning some semi-automatic weapons and expanding criminal and mental background checks for gun purchases.
The group says it had 17 families from Sandy Hook who lobbied 49 senators over 7 days.
Sandy Hook Promise then switched its focus from legislation to community-based prevention programs, education and public service campaigns designed to change "gun violence acceptance attitudes and behaviors," said Nicole Hockley.
Among other things, the organization teaches people to recognize those who exhibit warning signs such as a bullying victim who has a fascination with firearms, has threatened to hurt themselves or others, has access to guns and has become disinterested in school.
They point to events such as one in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2015 where a counselor trained by the organization was able to identify a threat to a middle school that resulted in the arrest of a student who had told others he was planning to bomb the school and had recruited others to help shoot children.
"We absolutely know it's making a difference because we've trained over 2 million children and adults in the last 2 1/2 years," Hockley said.
The group this week launched its latest public service announcement, depicting a newscast covering a school shooting the day before it actually takes place to illustrate how knowing warning signs can prevent such tragedies.
The Brookfield Superintendent is proposing a nearly $43.5 million budget for the next school year. It's a 6.4 percent increase over the current year, and mostly due to an increase in special education costs. A mobile world language lab and a consultant to look at school start times have also been proposed. Costs of hiring another English Language Learner teacher and high school science teacher would be offset by eliminating two teaching positions at Center Elementary School and a custodian job. A public hearing will be held by the Brookfield Board of Education on the budget on January 3rd.
Plans have been announced by Newtown officials about how the the town will honor and remember the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook School on the anniversary of the tragedy on Thursday.
In a coordinated effort with the families of loss, the gallery in the Municipal Center will be the site of a photographic Wall of Remembrance. A welcome message advises community and staff who pass through the halls this week to take a moment to be reflective, to recollect and remember in kindness the children and educators who died five years ago.
All municipal offices, departments and agencies will be closed Thursday from 9:30am to 9:45am for a brief period of silence and reflection in honor and remembrance. First Selectman Dan Rosenthal asked that people join in the brief respite top honor those who were lost that day.
There will be an interfaith service at Trinity Church beginning at 7pm. St. Rose Church will hold a mass at 7:30pm.
The Brookfield Board of Finance is slated to discuss proposals for a new library at their meeting tonight. The $14.77 million project is proposed for the Municipal Center horse statue athletic field.
The library faces a March deadline because a million dollar state grant will expire at that time. If the Board of Finance advances the project, a special town meeting will be held at Brookfield High School on the 21st.
The current Library on Whisconier Road opened in 1975. Among the issues are limited parking and meeting room space.
Brookfield Patch reports that state Representative Steve Harding wants the town to consider building a new library in the Town Center. He acknowledged that land acquisition would be costly, but that he could help secure state funds. A referendum would likely be held February 27.
On Monday, a Kia Sedona MPV full of toys and gifts will be delivered by Danbury Kia staff to the patients of the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital to fulfill the Christmas wish of Zoey Seferi.
A Newtown mother whose daughter has an autoimmune disorder came to the Kia showroom to purchase an all-wheel drive vehicle recently. Amanda Seferi explained that her 5-year-old is susceptible to frequent lung infections and they need to travel frequently to a Valhalla hospital for treatment. Sales consultant Jake Green asked Zoey what she wanted for Christmas. All she wanted was for her friends in the hospital to get presents.
Maria Fareri hospital serves children from birth to 21-years with compromised immune systems.
Dealership owner Bill Sabatini and General Sales Manager Sal Sinardi Sr. are coordinating with Amanda to have the staff deliver the gifts. A list of needed items can be found below, for anyone wishing to drop off unwrapped items for the patients.
The Candlewood Lake Authority is meeting today and will take up a recommendation not to rehire 6 Marine Patrol officers. Senior staff of the patrol filed a vote of no confidence in CLA chairwoman Phyllis Schaer at an earlier meeting over alleged meddling in the hiring process and the vote on recommendations taking too long. Schaer chairs the committee making the recommendation not to rehire the officers. The Marine Patrol said the officers, whose contracts recently expired, were taking minimal shifts and showed a lack of interest in progressing through the ranks.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Five years after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, mental health care providers are waiting for promised boosts in funding and many families are still battling with insurance companies to cover their children's services.
While advocates say the quality of mental health care varies widely by state, they also see reason for optimism in a push for more early intervention programs and changing public attitudes.
The 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law by then-President Barack Obama in December 2016, was inspired in part by the tragedy and included what proponents touted as the first major mental health reform package in nearly a decade. The measures that were included in the law but still await funding include grants for intensive early intervention for infants and young children showing signs of mental illness.
"There were a lot of things people took credit for passing," said U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, a Democrat whose district includes Newtown. "If they're not funded, it's a nice piece of paper and something hanging on somebody's wall, but it's not going to help save lives."
Sen. Chris Murphy said he expects it will be difficult to secure funding for the new programs in the Republican-controlled Congress. But, he said, there are other recent reforms that are also making a difference.
The creation of an assistant secretary position at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services dedicated to improving behavioral health care has put pressure on insurance companies to cover the cost of mental health conditions equally as physical health, he said.
The 21st Century Cures Act also created a committee to advise Congress and federal agencies on the needs of adults and young people with serious mental illness. It is scheduled to meet Thursday, the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, to discuss the group's first report to Congress.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- Suzanne Davenport still wears a memorial bracelet and has a green ribbon with a "Be Kind" magnet on her car to honor the 26 children and educators killed at the local elementary school. A resident of Newtown's Sandy Hook section, she knew some of the victims, and she knows survivors.
But like many of her neighbors, Davenport often avoids telling strangers she is from Newtown.
"I was recently at a wedding shower, and a woman saw my bracelet and said, 'Oh, you're from Sandy Hook?" Davenport said. "And she started in. I said, 'This is a shower, let's just let it be a happy occasion.' She started in again and I had to say, 'I really don't think this is the time or the place to be discussing this.'"
Five years into the town's recovery, residents have adopted various strategies to deal with being from a place whose name has become synonymous with horrifying tragedy. A young man gunned down 20 first-graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, 2012.
When they travel into the world beyond the otherwise bucolic bedroom community of 28,000 people, some Newtown residents keep their roots to themselves to avoid debates over gun control and mental health. Others have found themselves dealing with awkward silences, or accepting condolences on behalf of an entire town.
It can be just as difficult to get no reaction when telling people they are from Newtown, said Eileen Byrnes, a yoga instructor who has lived in town for 30 years.
"I want to say to them, 'Did you forget? Do you not remember what happened? How can you not know that this happened?" she said. "So, when you are outside of Newtown, it's a very interesting dance of how to react or how not to react."
It's a familiar burden to people from other communities that have become known to the world through mass shootings, including at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech, and more recently in San Bernardino, California, and Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Jane Hammond, who was superintendent of schools for Jefferson County, Colorado, at the time of the 1999 shooting at Columbine, said the connection to the massacre became inescapable for the entire district.
"We had 144 schools in our district, and people decided the name of the district was Columbine," she said.
"I don't think the pain goes away. You learn to live with it," Hammond said. "But anniversaries are hard. The only tears I shed at the time were at the children's funerals and a staff member's funeral. On the fifth anniversary, I sobbed."
At Virginia Tech, where a gunman killed 32 people in April 2007, the tragedy will always be identified with the university - but so will the way the school responded, spokesman Mark Owczarski said.
"I think people saw the true character of Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Orlando; more recently Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs," he said. "It's what people see in that time that defines you. People saw our community coming together and standing together."
Pat Llodra, who led Newtown through the tragedy as the head of its governing board, said most people she meets just want to express how deeply they were touched, and she gladly accepts the grace of the outside world.
But, she said, there is a delicate balance between honoring the past and being defined by it. The town has always been a safe place for families, with good schools, she said.
"This is something that happened to us; we didn't cause it," said Llodra, who recently retired. "It's part of our history, but it is not who we are."
The tragedy is still present for residents in different ways, said Mary Ann Jacob, who was a library clerk in the school the day of the shooting and hid students in a supply closet.
"Some days it sits quietly by your side, and you acknowledge it and know it's there and move on with your day," she said. "Other days it's a really hard, difficult burden to bear."
Robin Fitzgerald once took a group of older Newtown kids to Michigan to compete in an international problem-solving competition. The reaction to her team - with coaches and parents constantly trying to acknowledge the Sandy Hook shooting - became a problem.
"Our kids just wanted to go and be just who they were," she said. "We felt like we had to get between our kids and people who were legitimately just trying to give them love. They would burst into tears, and our kids had no idea what to do, what to say."
Some improvements have come from the town's trauma, Jacob said. Neighbors have gotten to know one another, and many have become involved in charities or community projects.
It's a lesson, she said, the outside world can learn from Newtown.
"Stop telling me how bad you feel, and do something," said Jacob, who became the chair of the town's legislative council in 2013. "Make a difference."
Several teachers at Rogers Park Middle School in Danbury have received requested items through a nonprofit called “Donors Choose.” The teachers wanted to enhance students’ experiences in their classrooms, but rather than compete for limited school budget dollars, they put their names on a “wishlist.”
School officials say the website has been a tremendous boon for learning.
To date “Donors Choose” has mobilized more than two million citizen donors and dozens of corporate and foundation partners to donate more than $600,000 in classroom project funding impacting more than 25 million students. Rogers Park has 930, more than 70 percent of whom receive reduced or free lunch.
Fifty-one Rogers Park teachers have posted 40 projects on Donors Choose and have been funded by 400 supporters, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for a total of $147,100 raised to date.
School counselor Sonia Rivera and Cindy Abbott requested technology and warm clothing through the non-profit site that collects donations for public schools across the country. Sixth-grade social studies teacher Brian Betesh recently received the four beanbags chairs, four stools, four chairs and a large screen television he needed for classroom projects and activities. Chris Purdy, an eighth-grade science teachers, has used the website since 2014. He has a 50-inch television monitor and 25 chrome books through the site, and recently added a dozen chairs, lamps and six bean bag chairs to facilitate science talks and student collaboration. Eighth-grade teacher Patty Tracey has been requesting items on the website since 2015. She now has 21 chrome books and a cart to store and charge them.
A special book sale has been planned by The Mark Twain Library in Redding to honor former First Selectman and Redding Land Trust founder Mary Anne Guitar. The Library trustee died in July. The sale will be from noon to 4pm on Sunday. Dozens of books from Guitar’s personal collection will be offered for $5 each. She wrote that it would be a relief to know one's books are going to end up in the stacks or at the Book Fair, noting that Mark Twain helped stock the first modest library by giving away his own books.
Danbury's Emergency Homeless Shelter is underfunded for the current fiscal year, according to the City's Health and Human Services Department Director. Lisa Michelle Morrissey says that's because state funding to support shelter operations did not come through.
The shelter's funding will run out at the end of the month.
During the winter, up to 40 adults seek shelter from the cold each day and every night of the year all 20 beds are full. In order to continue to serve the city's most vulnerable community, the City Council approved $75,000 for operations expenses.
The Department has applied for grant funding to make updates to the City's Emergency Shelter. Danbury is applying for $5,000 from the Home Depot Foundation's Community Impact Grant, so in order to meet award guidelines, work will be completed by community volunteers through the United Way.
Sandy Hook Promise has launched a 90-second PSA showing some warning signs and signals that someone might hurt themselves or someone else. The goal is to stop tomorrow's shooting by recognizing the signs today. Sandy Hook Promise has trained 2-and-a-half million students and adults in a no-cost "Know the Signs" programs, which the organization says has been credited with helping to avert a couple of school shootings.
Sandy Hook Promise released a PSA last year, which has been viewed more than 150-million times.
ATLANTA (AP) -- It can sometimes seem as though mass shootings are occurring more frequently. Researchers who have been studying such crimes for decades say they aren't, but they have been getting deadlier.
In the five years since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school, the nation has seen a number of massacres topping the death toll from Newtown and previous mass shootings, many of them involving rifles similar to the one used in Sandy Hook.
But Americans wanting to know why deadlier mass shootings are happening will get few answers. Is it is the wide availability of firearms? Is it the much-maligned "assault weapon" with its military style? Is it a failing mental health system?
"We're kind of grabbing at straws at this point in terms of trying to understand why the severity of these incidents has increased," said Grant Duwe, a criminologist who has been studying mass killings since the 1990s.
The federal government does little research on the matter, because a measure dating to the 1990s had the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention retreat from firearms research. Instead, a handful of academics, like Duwe, have toiled sometimes for decades with limited funding trying to better understand why these shootings happen and how to prevent them.
While mass shootings happen with regularity, they still remain so rare that there isn't enough information to draw conclusions with any certainty.
The profile of mass shooters - loners, depressed individuals, people who rarely smile or those who take to the internet to rant about a perceived insult or gripe - is so broad and common that it's impossible to pinpoint who might turn that anger into violence.
"There are lots of people who are isolated, don't have lots of friends, who don't smile and write ugly things on the internet and blame others for their misfortunes and don't want to live anymore and talk about mass killers and maybe even admire them," said Northeastern University professor James Alan Fox, who began studying mass shootings in the 1980s and has written six books on the topic.
Five years ago this week, Adam Lanza, a troubled young man in Newtown, Connecticut, shot and killed his mother in their home and then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School with an AR-style long gun and a handgun. He fatally shot 20 children and six educators, then himself.
In the years since, the nation has witnessed even deadlier attacks: the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016 in which a gunman killed 49 people and this year's shooting in Las Vegas, where a man in a casino hotel fired on concertgoers on the ground below, killing more than 55. This year's shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, by an Air Force veteran who shot up a church sanctuary, killing more than two dozen, also is now among the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history.
Mass shootings are widely defined as one in which four or more people are killed in a public place, excluding both domestic violence and gang-related violence. The rate has remained steady at about 20 per year for the past three decades, Fox said. Still, five of the 10 deadliest have occurred since Sandy Hook, he said.
"Some years are worse than others, and bad years tend to be followed by not-so-bad years," Fox said. While two of the deadliest took place this year, "you can't take the actions of one or two people and call it a new phenomenon. That's abberational. You can't make any pattern or trend based on that."
It's also unclear whether the higher death tolls are the result of more firearms being available or firearms being more effective. Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, used bump stocks to allow a number of his guns to mimic fully automatic weapons, but his perch high above the outdoor concert also made the shooting more effective and deadly. That's the tactic the gunman in the 1966 University of Texas at Austin shooting used when he took to a tower overlooking the campus, shooting down for more than 90 minutes.
In half of the deadliest mass shootings, the perpetrator used at least one AR-style firearm. In one, the massacre at a McDonald's in San Ysidro, California, in 1984, the shooter used an Uzi submachine gun. The others were carried out with handguns, the weapon used in the majority of mass shootings.
"Contrary to what some folks may think, the incidence of mass public shootings has not increased since Sandy Hook or even the five years before that," Duwe said. "What has changed - and this is certainly true around the time of Sandy Hook and even since then - the severity of mass public shootings has certainly increased. That is one genuine change we've seen."
Jillian Peterson, an assistant professor at Hamline University and a forensic psychologist who previously worked in New York crafting psychological profiles of convicted murderers facing the death penalty, recently helped launch a project designed to catalog and analyze mass shootings dating back to the 1960s. The project is being done jointly with James Densley, an associate professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University.
They have no financing and are relying on about a dozen students to gather research based on public documents and media reports.
The reason why someone carries out a mass shooting has been elusive, and it's a question she hopes the research will help answer. Are mass shooters of today and future bent on outdoing previous slayings by inflicting higher death tolls? That, too, is unclear. She cautions that such questions and answers continually evolve.
"This is ever-changing," Peterson said. "Just because we understand it today, we might not understand it tomorrow. That part gets hard. This is changing as society changes."
The state Department of Transportation Highway Design Unit will be holding a public informational meeting tonight about safety and operational improvements on Route 7 at Grumman Hill Rd. in Wilton. A design presentation will start at 7 pm and will be followed by a question and answer period. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2020. The estimated construction cost for the state designed project is $2.6 million, with 80-percent funded by the federal government and 20-percent from the state. The meeting is being held at Trackside Teen Center of Wilton.
Now that the state budget has been adopted, area legislators are holding constituent meetings to go over some of the changes included in the plan that might affect residents. There's a budget forum in Redding tonight being held by Representatives Adam Dunsby and Will Duff along with Senator Toni Boucher. The forum is at Redding Town Hall from 7:30pm to 9pm. The projected $207.8 million deficit is more than 1 percent of net appropriations in the main spending account, the threshold requiring the governor to issue a mid-year deficit-cutting plan to the General Assembly.
The New Fairfield School District has closed out its superintendent search survey for the community. About 400 responses have been recorded. A consulting firm has been hired to help the district find a replacement for Superintendent Alicia Roy, whose contract expires in June.
Danbury is looking for state and federal funds to study traffic conditions from Downs Street onto Route 37 all the way to the intersection with Pembroke Road and Brush Hill Road in New Fairfield. The goal is to figure out how to alleviate traffic congestion and improve public safety along the unimproved section of the corridors.
Some examples where improvements could be made are at the intersections with Main Street, Balmforth Avenue, Golden Hill Road and Jeanette Street. The study would also evaluate the possibility of adding pedestrian and bike areas along the corridor. Danbury and New Fairfield officials are looking into a walking trail along Margerie Lake Reservoir.
The study is estimated to cost $150,000. 80-percent would be funded by the Federal Highway Administration, 10-percent by the state Department of Transportation and the rest from the City of Danbury.
Danbury beat out Brookfield and New Milford on the 11-mile corridor study. Only Danbury and Stamford were selected by the state to move forward.
NEW CANAAN, Conn. (AP) -- The setting could not be more different, but David Wannagot says he applies some of the same skills from his 30-year police career to his new role as a school sentry.
As he greeted children getting off the bus at West Elementary School one recent morning, he scanned their faces, ready to guide any who seem upset directly to the vice principal. And from his station at the entrance he sizes up all visitors asking to enter the building.
"We would do anything we can to protect a child or a teacher," said Wannagot, a former detective in Norwalk. "We're not armed, but we do have experience dealing with violent people in the past, reading people's mannerisms, that kind of thing."
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting five years ago, districts have moved to bolster security, especially at elementary schools, which traditionally have not had police assigned to them like many high schools and middle schools. Many have hired retired officers, firefighters and other responsible adults - an approach that's less expensive and potentially less intrusive than assigning sworn police, but one that also has raised questions about the consistency of training and standards.
Nationally, there is a patchwork of state laws addressing requirements for school safety officers, and many leave it entirely up to local school boards. Some states, including Connecticut, have weighed legislation to impose standards for non-police security inside schools.
In Danbury, Connecticut, which began posting security guards inside elementary schools after the Sandy Hook shooting, Mayor Mark Boughton pushed for state legislation that would have established standards and training for non-police security personnel. The bill ultimately did not pass. In the event of a crisis involving a response by multiple agencies, he said, it would be helpful to have common agreement on the role of private guards.
"I still think it's a good idea," Boughton said.
Even before the shooting, security officers who were once almost exclusively at high schools before becoming common at middle schools also had been turning up increasingly at elementary schools, according to Ronald Stephens, director of the National School Safety Center.
The "responsible adult" model has been in use for years, he said, but anecdotal evidence suggests it has been growing in popularity. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of primary U.S. public schools with one or more security staffer present at least once a week rose slightly from 26.2 percent in the 2005-2006 school year to 28.6 percent in 2013-2014.
In New Canaan, the school district contracted with a private company to set up the campus monitors soon after the Newtown school shooting on Dec. 14, 2012.
"Our lenses changed a bit on that day," Superintendent Bryan Luizzi said.
The plan for the monitors initially ran into skepticism from some, including Steve Karl, a town councilor who questioned the cost and the intrusiveness, but he has come around to support the program. The monitors now report to the Board of Education, which also provides training. The monitors earn an average salary of $30,700, compared with $90,472 for police assigned as school resource officers.
"The first choice would be to have a U.S. Marine at the door. 'This is the guy you're going to have to check through to get access to our kids.' But it's just not realistic,'" Karl said. "Where do you go from there? You want somebody who has a very keen sense of knowing when something doesn't quite feel right."
The rise in the number of districts turning to private security has led to calls elsewhere to impose standards for school guards, particularly in cases where school boards allow for them to be armed.
In New Jersey, a law passed last year establishes a special class of law enforcement officers providing school security. The measure was sought by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police to encourage minimum training standards, according to the association's president, North Plainfield Police Chief William Parenti. Chiefs, he said, noticed fewer police officers were being assigned to schools because of budget cuts and districts were replacing them with private security, including armed guards.
"You could get a school superintendent's brother who didn't have a job and give them a permit to carry," he said.
In Arkansas, a law passed in 2015 sets minimum training requirements on topics including active-shooter training and limitations on the authority of school security officers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Michele Gay, whose own daughter was killed at Sandy Hook and who now works with school districts as a security advocate, said the ideal scenario would be to have an officer in every school, playing an all-purpose role similar to a school nurse. Where that's not possible, she said the guards should at least be former police.
"We want everybody to be on the same page and have the same level of experience," she said.
At New Canaan's West Elementary, the guard greets students at the bus before making rounds to make sure doors and windows are locked. He monitors video feeds to watch people approaching the school and checks visitors' identification. On occasion, the principal asks him to keep an eye out for parents who may be upset about something. A New Canaan police officer also comes by the school periodically and talks with student as part of a new program to build relationships with school staff.
"We try to be as friendly as possible for the kids to be comfortable around us," said Hector Garcia, a monitor assigned to West Elementary. The former prison guard, known as "Mr. Hector" to students, keeps a collection of matchbox cars at this station to help put children at ease.
Annie Drapkin, a West Elementary parent, said the guards helped to put everyone at ease after the Newtown shooting and, over time, they have become part of the school community.
"They're lovely people, and underneath it, they are strong," she said.
Connecticut State Police say troopers responded to about 345 motor vehicle accidents as snow fell on the region this weekend. The National Weather Service reported that some parts of Connecticut were hit with at least six inches of snow, including Danbury. Police said Sunday the crashes occurred between 8 am Saturday and 6:30am Sunday. 31 of the crashes resulted in minor injuries. Troopers responded to about 228 motorist assists, including spinouts and disabled vehicles.
SOUTHBURY, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut State Police say a tractor-trailer carrying more than 5,000 live chickens and ducks overturned on Interstate 84.
Crews were at the scene Saturday morning removing chickens, crates and fuel from the highway in Southbury. Animal control, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and other agencies were on hand to assist with the cleanup and inspect the load of animals.
The Hartford Courant reports that some ducks and chickens were killed. It wasn't immediately known how many.
Police say the vehicle had hit a cement barrier, causing it to rollover onto its passenger side. No injuries were reported.
The vehicle was damaged and towed from the scene.
Police say the driver was found at fault and issued an infraction for failing to maintain lane.
Danbury State Representative Michael Ferguson recently visited with Westside Middle School Academy students to hear about their National History Day project. This year’s theme is ‘Conflict and Compromise.’ The projects will be presented in February. National History Day began in 1974 and schools all over the country participate. The History Day project has been a focus at Westside Middle School Academy as it combines research, reading, writing, and technology skills with historical inquiry.
State Senator Tony Hwang moderated an event yesterday at the Newtown Senior Center to update area residents on the impact of recently passed legislation on taxes, Medicare health insurance, aging, and home care. Panelists from the Western Connecticut Agency on Aging and the Connecticut Department of Social Services helped answer residents’ questions. Hwang is Vice-Chair of the state legislature’s Aging Committee.
The Brookfield Historical Society is hosting its 7th annual traditional Christmas Open House Weekend Saturday and Sunday at the Brookfield Museum. Classic dolls, toys and other items including operating Model trains in a winter display and antique music boxes will be on display from Noon to 4pm. A holiday scavenger hunt for the children is among the planned activities. The open house is free and there will be homemade cookies and hot chocolate and cider for attendees. Hand crafted items will be on sale from the gift shop.
The “Love Wins! Benefit Concert,” a Celebration of Music to Benefit the Ana Márquez-Greene Scholarship Fund at West Conn, will be held Saturday night.
The event is hosted by the Department of Music to benefit an endowed memorial music scholarship for incoming freshmen, created in memory of ANa Grace Marquez Green, who was killed on 12-14. Her father, Grammy-nominated saxophonist Jimmy Greene, is West Conn co-coordinator of Jazz Studies and associate professor of Music.
The concert will feature Matt Wilson’s Christmas Tree-O with DownBeat and JazzTimes poll winning drummer Matt Wilson, Paul Sikivie on bass and Jeff Lederer on saxophone, as well as an all-star group featuring Grammy-nominated vocalist René Marie, Grammy Award winner Bill Charlap on piano, Grammy-nominated bassist Rufus Reid , and and Grammy-nominated saxophonist Jimmy Greene, who is WCSU co-coordinator of Jazz Studies and associate professor of Music.
Tickets are $35 for general admission and $50 for a VIP reception with the musicians before Saturday's 8pm concert in the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the Western Connecticut State University Westside campus.
The Northern Fairfield County Probate Court is looking to hire an Assistant Clerk. The job includes reviewing and processing court documents, as well as other administrative duties. The Probate Court deals with estates, trusts, conservatorships, guardianship matters and adoptions among other similar services. The Assistant clerk would be required to coordinate attorney appointments, schedule hearings and prepare file notes for the Judge. The Northern Fairfield County Probate Court is located in Bethel and also covers the towns of Ridgefield and Newtown.
Danbury officials are coordinating with the surrounding Health Departments and providing updates on the numbers and status of evacuees to the State. There are nine families with 12 new students in the Danbury School system who are Puerto Rico evacuees.
Five families who fled the island territory after their homes were destroyed by hurricanes have reached out to the City's Health Department for assistance in obtaining housing. The Department has been working with FEMA and the Danbury Housing Authority to obtain housing for these families.
Currently, two families are staying in La Quinta, funded by FEMA, and one family is being placed in a Danbury Housing Authority apartment. The remaining two families have been given information on how to obtain housing.
The Leir Foundation is making funding available to the Danbury Police Department for the K9 program. Police have submitted a proposal for $15,000 to help offset costs of the program. The funding would be used for vet visits, food, grooming and the like. Danbury has one daily K9 on patrol. Another K9 officer is used for drug investigations and to make appearances at community events. 3 patrol K9s are going through training and will be on the job by the end of the year. This will allow the Department to have round the clock K9 coverage.
Since the Danbury Health Department began a Tick Analysis program, 44 ticks were submitted for testing to Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. 20-percent tested positive for an agent that causes illness in humans. The Department is reminding people that the average deer tick can live for two years and can survive in very cold climates. Although infection rates drop in the winter, mostly because people spend less time outdoors, officials say it's still possible to contract Lyme Disease. Blacklegged ticks, which carry Lyme disease, will remain active as long as the temperature is above freezing.
16 firehoses and 15 wrenches by W.F. Anderson have been donated to the Danbury Fire Department. The donation's estimated value is about $4,500. The Public Utilities Department also received a donation of 700 feet of firehose, valued at $5,800. Algonquin Gas Transmission made the donation to the Public Utilities Department.
There are still tickets available for the Danbury Music Centre's 50th Anniversary Nutcracker Ballet this weekend. Performances take place tomorrow at 7:30pm, Saturday at 2:30 and 7pm, and on Sunday at 3pm. All performances take place at Danbury High School. Mayor Boughton will once again reprise his cameo role of Mother Ginger at some of the performances. The Danbury Symphony Orchestra will accompany the performance, which features over 200 dancers and musicians from the greater Danbury area.
The Republican-controlled House is taking up a bill to make it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines. It is the first gun legislation in Congress since mass shootings in Nevada and Texas killed more than 80 people.
Republicans said the bill would allow gun owners to travel freely without worrying about conflicting state laws.
Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty says Republicans are catering to gun industry lobbyists by combining a bill on background checks with one making it easier to carry concealed guns across state lines.
Esty, who represents Newtown, calls the GOP maneuver ``an insult to the folks in Sandy Hook,'' a Newtown village where 20 school children and six adults were killed in 2012.
Esty says the background check measure would help ensure mental health and criminal records are loaded into a federal database. She says ``that will be a good thing to do.'' But she blasted Republicans for including the measure in a ``horrible bill'' that she said will overturn tough gun laws in states such as Connecticut and ensure that ``the lowest common denominator would reign for the entire country.''
The acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says his agency anticipates being able to exercise regulatory control over devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire faster.
Thomas Brandon told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that the ATF and the Justice Department wouldn't have initiated a review of whether bump stocks should be banned ``if that wasn't a possibility at the end.''
The Justice Department announced Tuesday a review of bump stocks to determine whether weapons using them should be considered illegal machine guns under federal law. They are currently legal and widely available.
The review comes after a Las Vegas gunman used the device during an October rampage that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more.
The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission has signed off on a couple's plan to turn part of their home into a bed and breakfast, despite opposition from Circle Drive neighbors. Catherine and Thomas Savoca submitted plans over the summer to turn two rooms in a four-bedroom home into a bed and breakfast. Their immediate neighbor supported the proposal saying it will be a nice addition when relatives come for a visit. Others in support say the couple will likely vet guests because their teenage daughter will be in the home. The opposition included concern over traffic problems, lower property values and safety issues.
Two Danbury Police officers have been promoted to the rank of Detective. Ralph Anderson and John Basile were sworn in to the roles this morning. Mayor Mark Boughton told the City Council last night that he was very impressed by their interviews.
John Basile is a member of the SWAT team and member of the honor guard. He joined the Department in 2006. Basile has received numerous letters of appreciation and commendation as well as several awards for his service including a Meritorious Citation in 2009 and in 2015. He also received the Exceptional Police Service Award in 2011 and 2012.
Ralph Anderson joined the Department in 2004. He is a Field Training Officer and a member of the Honor Guard and the Community Conditions Unit. Anderson has received numerous letters of appreciation and commendation. He received a Meritorious Citation in 2013 and 2014.
(Detective John Basile, Chief Patrick Ridenhour, Deputy Chief Shaun McColgan and Detective Ralph Anderson)
The Danbury City Council took up a proposal last night about an off track betting facility coming to Downtown Danbury. The proposal was referred to a committee of the whole Council for further consideration. A public hearing will also be set up.
The Zoning Commission signed off on a text change a couple of months ago amending City ordinances to allow an OTB facility as an accessory use in a restaurant. Sportech Venues, which has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut, wants to located in Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street. Sportech would renovate Two Steps into a sports bar and restaurant on the first floor, with OTB gaming on the second floor.
Danbury would be their 17th location. The state legislature approved a bill this past session allowing Sportech to have eight more off-track betting licenses, for a total of 24 possible locations throughout Connecticut.
There was a forum last night in Ridgefield for town and school officials in response to swastikas found at the High School and at Ballard Park. Representatives of the Anti-Defamation League made a presentation to the officials focusing on tolerance and anti-defamation. The swastika found drawn on a Ridgefield High School classroom door last month was the second incident this school year and the 5th finding since last November. First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the Ridgefield Press that there's undertone in the community that school and town leaders must begin to address in an effort to foster understanding and compassion.
The Danbury Veterans Council will be holding its annual Pearl Harbor Day service tomorrow. It will take place at 10am inside the War Memorial Building. This year marks the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Marine Corps League Hat City Detachment is hosting the ceremony commemorating the day and honoring the men and women who served during that time. The ceremony will be led by State Department of Veterans Affairs Acting Commissioner Tom Saadi. St Joseph's Elementary School choir will preform. Mayor Boughton and state Representative Bob Godfrey, who is a Navy veteran, will participate in the service with the placing of the wreath.
The U.S. House recently passed a bill introduced by 4th District Congressman Jim Himes meant to make it easier for veterans to secure housing. The SERVE Act requires the Department of Veteran Affairs make documentation of Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly housing stipend accessible and available online. Student veterans will use this documentation to provide needed verification to housing agents, leasing companies, apartment managers, and landlords.
Himes noted that veterans and their families face real challenges when they transition to civilian life, and Congress has a responsibility to help them.
The issue was brought up to Himes during conversations with student veterans throughout Southwest Connecticut. Nicholas Quinzi, a Marine and founder of the Student Veterans Club at Sacred Heart University, expressed that his top priority would be fixing the lack of verification for the monthly housing stipend.
Bethel has completed the 2017 Revaluation of all real property. New assessment notices were mailed out last week. Revaluation firm Tyler Technologies will have appraisal personnel available by appointment to review property values. The informal hearings will be held through the 15th, but anyone wanting an appointment is asked to contact the firm by Friday. Any resident who has not received the new assessment notice should contact the Assessor's Office to have one sent out.
Danbury and United Way of Western Connecticut have named the winners of the 2017-18 Danbury Collaborative Awards. The winners were recommended to the mayor by a review team of Danbury citizens, convened by United Way of Western Connecticut. Funding is provided by the City, through the Department of Social Services, and United Way.
The Danbury Collaborative Awards recognize Danbury-based collaboratives or collective impact efforts that bring together non-profits, businesses, faith communities and/or public entities to improve the lives of the city’s residents. Criteria included that at least three different organizations must be participating in the collaborative, been in existence for at least one year prior to applying for the award and must have common progress measures, with identified outcomes reported annually. Award winners can use the funds to further their impact.
Danbury’s Promise for Children Partnership received the first-place award of $20,000 for its work to increase the Kindergarten readiness of all children entering Danbury Public Schools. In 2016-2017, DPCP’s collective effort resulted in over 1,400 hours of parenting programs and over 65 hours of Preschool Professional Development. It has sponsored a yearly Early Childhood Fair, Community Cafes for parents, and Equity Learning Workshops.
Dream Homes Community Center received the second-place award of $10,000 for its efforts to make systemic changes to end and prevent homelessness by providing direct services to families in need. Since 2007, Dream Homes has housed over 900 people using direct services and continues to be a key player in helping people at imminent risk of becoming homeless. In 2016-2017, 100% of homeless veterans were housed or matched with a housing voucher.
Western Connecticut Community Health Needs Assessment Subcommittee for Chronic Disease Prevention received the third-place award of $7,500 for its mission to tackle rising diabetes rates across greater Danbury. The Chronic Disease Prevention group works to generate public awareness about diabetes, prediabetes and prevention strategies. Since 2014, it has conducted 12 public information sessions with 780 Danbury residents, screened 453 individuals, identified 90 residents to have prediabetes and provided 56 of them with YMCA Diabetes Prevention Programs to learn effective eating, fitness and weight loss strategies.
A Southbury man is among the veterans inducted into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame yesterday for continued service through significant contributions to the community. John Turk served in the U.S. Army and then went on to become a four-term Commander of the American Legion Post 147 in Southbury and a life member and supporter of the VFW.
Turk also participated on a ceremonial honor guard and helped establish the Veterans Wall of Honor. He has served in each municipality in which he’s lived, holding positions on the City Council in Danbury, on the Board of Selectman in Southbury, and on the Charter Revision Commission in both.
State Department of Veterans Affairs Acting Commissioner Tom Saadi says many fine men and women have been honored for their contributions and accomplishments that have enriched Connecticut.
Currently, 137 names appear on the Hall of Fame commemorative plaque that is displayed in the concourse of the Connecticut State Capitol complex.
65 appointments made by former New Milford Mayor David Gronbach just before he left office last week have been rescinded by newly elected Mayor Pete Bass. There was a special Town Council meeting held last night on the matter.
The group also voted to table 58 appointments to boards and commissions being made by Bass, most of whom had their appointment rescinded.
The appointment of a Town Attorney was approved last night. Matt Grimes will fill the role, but the Newstimes reports there was some concern with his appointment. When Grimes was chairman of Brookfield’s Republican Town Committee, he and the Republican registrar used a little known state law to kick a member of the party out for lack of good faith standing.
Grimes has also served as personal attorney for Bass in the past.
Connecticut State Police Troopers from Troop A-Southbury, the Oxford Resident Trooper’s Office and the Southbury Resident Trooper’s Office joined forces with the Candlewood Valley Corvette Club for their annual car cruise toy drive. Corvettes, classic cars, Mustangs and more caravanned from the Mall in Danbury to the Wyndham Hotel in Southbury where the owners held a car show and donated hundreds of toys to Troop A stuff-a-cruiser.
There was a fire in Bethel on Saturday afternoon. The blaze was reported at a construction building on Paul Street around 12:45 pm. The Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department says crews initially knocked down the flames, but they then spread to the roof. Firefighters had to cut open the roof to fully extinguish the fire. Firefighters were on the scene for nearly 2 hours. There were no reported injuries. Danbury, Redding and Brookfield responded with mutual aid. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection also responded.
There is a special Town Council meeting scheduled for tonight in New Milford. On the agenda is discussion and action following a contentious special meeting held last week by then-Mayor David Gronbach. Pete Bass, who started in the role December 1st, will be looking into the appointments and reappointments of 65 people to Boards and Commissions. Acting Town Attorney Matt Grimes was hired Friday. He wrote in an agenda item for tonight that there were no “exigent circumstances” that allowed Gronbach to call the meeting November 28th with less notice than required in the New Milford charter. The majority of the appointees are being renominated.
Main Street in Kent will once again be lit up for the holiday season tomorrow by visiting fire departments and Kent Volunteer Fire Department with the Parade of Lights. Trucks will line up on the Kent Green at 5:30pm Sunday, and begin moving at 6pm. The parade ends at the Kent Volunteer Fire Department firehouse. A Stuff-A-Truck event is being held from noon to 4pm tomorrow with toys and non-perishable food collected for the Kent Santa Fund and the Kent Food Bank.
Redding's annual tree lighting event is this afternoon. The winter season will be celebrated on the Town Green starting at 3:30pm. The Georgetown Lions Club will be on hand serving hot cocoa.
The annual Light the Lights ceremony is being held in Danbury tonight. The celebration on the Library Plaza is from 5pm to 7pm. Many downtown businesses will once again be participating in CityCenter’s second annual Holiday Decorating Contest.
Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue will welcome Santa, with his Christmas fire truck at their main station tomorrow from noon to 9pm. Firefighters says there will be free rides on the sleigh around the area of the firehouse, and their annual Christmas Trees sale — which also includes wreaths — will also be happening from 9am to 9pm. The sale continues through Christmas Eve, with firefighters at the main station weeknights from 6 to 9 pm.
Members of the Ridgefield Police Department will be holding a Stuff a Cruiser event today. They will be at the Toy Chest between 10am and 2pm for the toy drive. Ridgefield Police are collecting new unwrapped toys for the Toys for Tots program, in partnership with the Marine Corps League Ridgefield Detachment.
New Milford Police are holding a Stuff a Cruiser event today. They will be at Kohls on Route 7 between 9am and 2pm for the toy drive. New Milford Police are collecting new unwrapped toys for the New Milford Social Service Department Santa Fund.
A Stuff-A-Truck event is being held by Kent Volunteer Fire Department from noon to 4pm tomorrow with toys and non-perishable food collected for the Kent Santa Fund and the Kent Food Bank.
Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn will be sworn in to a second term on Sunday.
The ceremony at Center Elementary School will be led by Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty. She also administered the oath of office to Newtown and New Fairfield's newly elected Democratic First Selectmen.
There are several large infrastructure projects on the table in Brookfield, including continued streetscaping in the Four Corners area. Dunn says new projects being built by developers in the Town Center will generate more than a million dollars annually in tax revenue. He notes that the bigger commercial grand list contributions could help pay for renovations to Huckleberry Hill Elementary School, an expansion of the police station and a new library.
The annual Light the Lights ceremony is being held in Danbury tomorrow night. The celebration on the Library Plaza features Mayor Mark Boughton turning on the lights downtown, a lighted fire truck parade from Rose Street to West Street and Beckerle Hose fire Company escorting Santa down Main Street. The event tomorrow is from 5pm to 7pm. There will also be a free showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Palace Theatre on Sunday at 2 PM. Many downtown businesses will once again be participating in CityCenter’s second annual Holiday Decorating Contest.
The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary will host its inaugural gala event to raise funds to support the foundation which will start its construction on the facility in 2018. The animal sanctuary and the foundation creating it, is named after one of the children killed nearly 5 years ago at Sandy Hook School. Gretchen Carlson will be master of ceremonies at tomorrow night's gala at RCF Farm in Newtown. Catherine's parents say she dreamed of one-day caring for and protecting the creatures of the earth, even designing her own business cards for “Catherine’s Animal Shelter.” 34 acres of state land was conveyed to the Foundation for the Animal Sanctuary, which is set to break ground next year.
For the 32nd year, the Annual Holiday Festival in Newtown will be held Sunday afternoon. The event benefits Newtown Youth and Family Services. The festival on is from 11AM to 4PM.
Narrated historical trolley rides through the Newtown Borough, the Historic House Tours on Main Street, the Festival of Trees, and the Nutcracker Suite Ballet performed by Newtown Centre of Classical Ballet are all being featured. Newtown Youth and Family Services will be bringing back the Polar Express to travel down Main Street, which is separate from the general admission.
Proceeds from the Holiday Festival will assist with financial assistance for programs and services. Festival tickets are $12 for adults and $25 for families (2 Adults, 2 Children). Each additional child is $5.
Newly elected officials in New Milford have taken the oath of office. Mayor Pete Bass was sworn in for his first term leading the town. The Republican says he looks forward to serving residents in a transparent and visible manner. Members of the Town Council and Board of Finance were among those also sworn in last night.
Bass plans to hold open door meetings to hear from residents on a regular basis. He wants to keep in touch with their concerns and hear what's important to them to have done.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and other elected officials in the City took the oath of office last night as well. He thanked the voters for electing him to a record 9th term. Boughton said there's a lot of work to do every term, noting there are challenges with infrastructure and 11,000 children to educate each day.
Members of the City Council, Board of Education, Zoning Commission and Constables were also sworn in during the ceremony at City Hall. Boughton addressed the public servants who give of themselves because of a belief in building a better community and a better tomorrow.
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has approved a bill aiming to have federal and state authorities comply with current Background Check System reporting requirements. 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty notes that the bill now heads to the full House for consideration. The Fix NICS Act passed alongside the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, legislation to make concealed-carry permits valid across state lines. That bill would require states to allow their own residents to carry guns with permits received elsewhere in the country. Esty says the gun violence protection measure progress came at the cost of a step backward. She added that these reforms are being considered because schools, parks, movie theaters, and places of worship have turned into killing fields by the weapons of war.