Local Headlines Archives for 2018-01

Civil Air Patrol conducts flyover of Housatonic ice

Ice is breaking up on the Housatonic River near Lovers Leap State Park in New Milford.  The Connecticut Wing Civil Air Patrol flew over the river during a daily ice patrol.  Official downriver from the ice jam in Kent are reviewing plans for if flooding occurs once the ice jam breaks free.

 

 

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Local lawmaker named chair of legislative committee

Danbury state Representative David Arconti has been named Vice-Chair of the General Law Committee.  He's been a member of the committee since taking office in 2013.  The Committee takes up bills related to fair trade and sales practices, consumer protection, mobile homes, some occupational licensing and all matters concerning alcoholic beverages.  Arconti says he plans to continue to address consumer protection issues and work to broaden Connecticut's craft beer industry.  He notes that local brewers are offering consumers quality products while adding jobs to the economy and boosting local grand lists.

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Former New Fairfield official to run for Secretary of the State

Former New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman has filed paperwork to run for Secretary of the State.  The Republican formed an exploratory committee for statewide office in November.  Chapman says the position would be a good fit, based on initiatives she spearheaded while First Selectman to better organize town government.  Democratic Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is seeking another term.

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Grants awarded to Bethel teachers

The Bethel Education Foundation has awarded nearly $12,000 in grants.  Superintendent Christine Carver says the funding will provide opportunities to enhance students’ 21st century learning skills as part of their educational experience within the Bethel Public Schools.  She added that the money will also allow the teachers to provide creative and innovative projects and programs. 

 

Approximately $4,700 was awarded to a Bethel Middle School teacher for cameras so students can produce videos and improve critical thinking.

 

$3,775 was awarded to teachers at Johnson Elementary School for a makerspace in the media center and learning lab. 

 

A Rockwell Elementary School teacher received nearly $1,200 for “Osmo” devices to improve science, technology, engineering and math education for kindergarteners. 

 

Berry School's Principal received $1,200 for Google Translate and Google Pixel earbuds that will help non-English speaking students and parents.  Berry was also awarded $400 for document cameras. 

 

$600 will be used to purchase a button-making machine for Bethel High school's kindness campaign.

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Off-Track Betting moves closer to approval in Danbury

The Danbury City Council is making a recommendation that an off track betting facility be approved, under certain conditions.  Sportech Venues wants to locate a paramutual betting facility in Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street.  Sportech officials say less than 20-percent of the building would be dedicated to wagering. 

 

After a public hearing Monday night, the group decided to have the City's attorney take another look at the proposal.  They discussed the proposal for about two hours.  There would be a limit on the square footage.  Types of gaming not specified in the contract is not allowed.  Relocation of the business requires a new approval.  Sportech would have to apply for and hold a City-issued entertainment license.  There was discussion about whether or not to require the City Council to approve a transfer of either OTB facility or the restaurant. 

 

Sportech has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and Danbury would be their  17th location in the state.  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. 

 

The Danbury Zoning Commission signed off on the proposal last year, amending City ordinances to allow an off track betting facility as an accessory use in a restaurant. 

 

Three people spoke during the public comment portion of the night.  Two Steps owner Tom Devine spoke on his own behalf.  He noted that Two Steps staff would be providing the food and beverage service at the OTB facility on the second floor of the building.  Devine asked the Council to make a decision, in part, based on his operating history.

 

CityCenter Director PJ Prunty spoke in favor of the idea, citing a City ordinance which described the downtown entertainment district.

 

Resident Ken Gucker opposed the proposal.  He raised concerns that another company could come in and petition the state, saying that Sportech has a monopoly.

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Temporary deportation stay denied for New Fairfield man

An emergency temporary stay of deportation for a New Fairfield man has been rejected.  33-year old Joel Colindres will be deported today to his native Guatemala.  The father of two young children is married to a U.S. citizen. In 2015, Immigration Services approved his wife's application to sponsor Joel for legal status, but the process is not finalized yet.  His attorney argues that Colindres's life would be in danger if he returns to Guatemala, citing 3 family members being murdered last year.  When he came to America in 2004, Colindres says there was a mix-up with paperwork and he missed a court date. 

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Redding officials start to work on budget for coming fiscal year

The Redding Board of Selectmen is digging into the budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton noted that they have control over about 30-percent of the annual budget, which this year is $14.75 million.  That figure includes $1.75 million in debt service for all Town capital projects include those at Redding Elementary and John Read Middle School. The remaining 70-percent of the budget is spent on education in the Redding schools and on the  town's share for Joel Barlow High School.  Over the last few years, Pemberton says they have consolidated departments, improved services, improved communication, made government more transparent, but they are sharpening their pencils once again.

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Public hearings being held on Eversource rate increase request

A series of public hearings is being held on Eversource Energy’s request for an average 9-point-82 percent rate hike on electric bills starting in May.  Bethel state Representative Will Duff says the proposed rate increase would add little more than $13 per month to electric bills for the typical residential customer.  The closest public hearing to the Greater Danbury area is tonight at the Stamford Government Center at 6pm.  The state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is also accepting written comments sent to Pura.ExecutiveSecretary@ct.gov via email.  Residents are asked to put 'Docket No. 17-10-46' in the subject line.

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Connecticut lawmakers pitch introducing highway tolls

State lawmakers are pitching the idea of introducing electronic tolls on Connecticut's highways.  Neighboring states all have tolls and lawmakers who spoke at a news conference Monday said they are needed locally to help pay for transportation projects.

Governor Malloy has stepped up warnings about the looming insolvency of the state's main transportation fund.

House chair of the Transportation Committee Antonio Guerrera says tolls would help to address the poor state of many roads and bridges.

Tolls were eliminated in Connecticut following a crash in Stratford that killed seven people in 1983.

 

After what Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says was lawmakers misappropriating transportation funds for years to cover-up self-inflicted budget deficits, they now want to draw blood from a stone and impose yet another tax on Connecticut residents.

 

He called it a revenue grab to paper-over  fiscal mismanagement.

 

Boughton says culture of just throwing money at problems that has permeated the Malloy administration is what has been ailing the state, but didn't stop there.  He also brought up arguments that the income tax was going to solve budget woes in 1991.  

 

Transportation Committee Co-Chair Senator Toni Boucher opposes tolling, saying it's time for her colleagues to look at how transportation projects are prioritized, budgeted, and monitored.  She added that asking taxpayers for more money without a thorough accounting of how it is spent is irresponsible.  Boucher claims transportation projects in Connecticut have some of the highest administrative costs in the nation.

 

When it comes to answers given during yesterday's announcement about legislators no longer siphoning money out of the fund, Boucher was critical.  She says taxpayers believe it will be more of the same when Guerrera noted that diverting funds is the problem, but the solution is generating money from other sources.

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Ordinance proposed in Bethel on assessment increase deferral

A public hearing is being held in Bethel Tuesday night about a proposed ordinance.  It would be deferral of assessment increases for construction or improvements.  The proposal was recommended by the Economic Development Commission.  The public hearing in Bethel is at 7pm in the municipal center.  The snow date is Wednesday night.  In order to be eligible for the benefits, a completed application form--available from the Bethel Economic Development Commission--must be submitted to the EDC or other designated office.  Full details of the proposed ordinance can be found on the Town of Bethel website.

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Ridgefield residents reminded of sidewalk clearing ordinance

Ridgefield officials are reminding residents about town ordinances requiring them to clear snow and treat ice on sidewalks in front of homes and businesses.  Officials say this will help keep Ridgefield safe for all walkers and runners.  Anyone who fails to comply with the ordinance could be required to pay a penalty of up to $100 each hour after the required removal time that snow, ice or sleet is not removed.  The amount of the penalty will be added to the amount of the cost of removal and will be a part of a lien.

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Sand available for New Fairfield residents

Sand is available for New Fairfield residents at the Drop-Off Center located on Bigelow Road.  The sand/salt mix is available on Saturdays and Mondays from 8am-3:30pm. Residents should bring their own buckets and shovels and will be directed to the sand bin upon arrival.

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Congress members outline expectations for State of the Union address

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says there are several ideas he is hoping to hear about in the President's State of The Union Address tonight.  Among the topics is how to fight the opioid crisis and ensuring adequate disaster-relief funding for ravaged communities.  Himes also called for the President to display leadership on charting a solution for DREAMers facing deportation. 

 

Himes says there should be a national conversation about investment in infrastructure, education, science, technology and job training that will build a cleaner and more prosperous future for the country.

 

Former president of the Connecticut State Council of Machinists John Harrity will be the guest of 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty at tonight's State of the Union address.  Harrity and Esty have worked together on economic development and job creation issues while she's been in office.  She says one of their accomplishments was fighting layoffs of nearly 1,000 workers at Pratt & Whitney’s Cheshire facility. 

 

Esty expects to hear details tonight from the President about his infrastructure plan, economic development and job creation.

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Town seeks to slow rehabilitation center expansion

BETHLEHEM, Conn. (AP) - Bethlehem town officials say they want to slow the expansion of a rehabilitation center for troubled teens because some students have been leaving campus and causing trouble.

The Republican-American reports the Newport Academy is planning a boys' campus with 50 new beds and two main buildings. The center houses teens with depression, anxiety and those who misuse drugs and alcohol.

Town officials told the state Department of Children and Families last week that the town's ambulance association cannot keep up with emergency calls related to the academy. Residents have also complained of students stealing.

First Selectman Leonard Assard says the DCF agreed the academy shouldn't expand until they address the town's concerns.

Assard says DCF officials plan to meet with Newport representatives to discuss the issue.

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Initial 'Point in Time' count numbers released

Preliminary data has been released for the annual "Point in Time Count" of sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals and families.  For the 4th year, data shows the number of homeless people in the Danbury area is on the decline.  Only four people were found staying outdoors last Tuesday night in Danbury, but the shelters were nearly at capacity.  State officials evaluate the scope of homelessness using the data to ensure Connecticut is targeting its resources as effectively as possible.

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Sherman firefighters seek funding for new dock

A still to be scheduled town meeting in Sherman will be held to ask residents to approve funding to replace the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department’s dock.  They worked part of last season at the Candlewood Lake Authority's dock.  The floor boards have rotted out and the structure is sinking.  The maximum replacement cost is $12,000, but the current estimate is about half that figure.

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New Milford Mayor to designate veteran parking space

New Milford's Mayor recognized veterans this weekend.  Pete Bass says the parking spot behind Town Hall reserved for the Mayor will soon be a designated parking spot for veterans.   Public Works will install a new sign.  Also on Saturday, Bass thanked state Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi and others for a remembrance event.

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New Milford officials approve surplus funds to be used to cover state cut

The New Milford Town Council has approved using $1.5 million in surplus funding to offset a reduction in state aid.  New Milford is getting $2.21 million less from the state this school year.  New Milford and school officials are meeting to figure out where the rest of the money will come from to make up for the state cut.  of the surplus money being used, $193,000 comes from the schools and the rest from the town. 

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Public hearing in Danbury on OTB facility proposed for downtown

A Public Hearing is being held tonight in Danbury about an application by Sportech Venues to locate a paramutual betting facility in the City.  The public hearing is at 7pm in City Council chambers on the 3rd flood of City Hall.  A meeting of the whole Council will follow the hearing. 

 

Sportech Venues, which has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut, wants to located in Two Steps Downtown Bar and Grille on Ives Street. 

 

The Zoning Commission signed off on the proposal last year, amending City ordinances to allow an off track betting facility as an accessory use in a restaurant.  Danbury would be Sportech's 17th location in the state. 

 

Sportech would renovate Two Steps into a sports bar and restaurant on the first floor, with OTB gaming on the second floor. 

 

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.

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Danbury lawmaker named AARP 2017 Capitol Caregiver

A Danbury man is one of six state legislators named a “2017 Capitol Caregiver” by AARP. The award is given to legislators who champion the needs of family caregivers. 

 

State Representative Bob Godfrey was selected for his advocacy on legislation passed last session updating state conservatorship laws to better protect vulnerable adults and provide family caregivers with additional training and support. 

 

The new law will support family caregivers who are appointed by the probate courts in managing the health and finances of their loved ones and deter potential misconduct through the use of random audits.  According to AARP, 459,000 Connecticut residents care for an aging parent or loved one.

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Local lawmaker to introduce bill requiring schools to teach about Holocaust, WWII

Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher plans to introduce legislation to require all Connecticut high schools to teach about the Holocaust and World War II.  She says she was motivated by the recent instances of swastika graffiti and damage found in Ridgefield and Redding. 

 

Boucher says young people, in particular, don’t have an understanding of what the Holocaust was and what the Nazis were trying to accomplish.  She believes that lack of knowledge makes it easier for children to fall prey to racist ideologies.  Boucher noted that children are still developing who they will become during middle and high school, and what they learn during that time shapes their perspective. 

 

She said if the promise of “never again” is to be kept, steps must be taken to make sure these events are never forgotten.

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Bipartisan group releases infrastructure report

A report has been released by a bipartisan group of Congress called Rebuilding America's Infrastructure.  It's about what's needed to fix public works related issues in the country. 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says it's a comprehensive report that goes further than roads, rail and bridges.  It also covers airports, inland waterways and ports.  Info-structure is also addressed including broadband and internet and a reliable, cyber-secure electric grid.  She says it's every element that ought to be the envy of the world.

 

Esty notes that part of the reason Connecticut doesn't have enough money for infrastructure projects is because of the funding at the federal level not keeping up with needs.  She says Connecticut sends a lot of money to DC and gets back less than most states.  Congress has underfunded Connecticut for decades, with the Highway Trust Fund only bringing in 60 percent of what it used to, according to Esty.

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Two Bethel Police Officers to participate in Police Unity Tour Ride

Two Bethel Police Officers are participating in the Police Unity Tour Ride.  The ride in May, to Washington DC, is to raise awareness about fallen officers.  Officers Jessinia Beamonte and William Holland are participating.  The group's motto, “We Ride for Those Who Died,” is a recognition that, on average, 146 officers are killed in the line of duty each year  Some 900,000 law enforcement officers put their lives on the line for the safety and protection of others.  They are also raising money for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and its programs like the Officer of the Month Award, Recently Fallen Alert notifications and other special projects.

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New Fairfield firefighters caution people doing outdoor winter activities on icy surfaces

The New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department is issuing some warnings and reminders to people taking part in outdoor winter activities like fishing and skating.  Members say venturing out onto ice-covered water calls for caution because conditions can vary from area to area.  The cautioned never to drive a vehicle, snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle onto ice.  In addition to the risk of drowning, an individual falling through ice may become victim to hypothermia, so it's recommended that a life jacket is worn.  In addition to reducing reaction times, alcohol lowers the body's internal temperature and increases the chances of suffering hypothermia so it's alcohol avoidance is recommended.

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STEM fair in Redding today

A STEM fair is being held in Redding.  Elementary School students are presenting projects in science, technology, engineering and math subjects.  There will also be nearly a dozen interactive stations that focus on the senses. The “Imagine a World” event sponsored by the Redding Elementary School Parent Teacher Association is at Redding Elementary School from 1 to 4 pm.

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Danbury firefighters free swan stuck in ice on Candlewood Lake

A water rescue was made in Danbury this morning, but it was a bit unusual.  A caller reported that a swan was stuck in the ice at Poets Landing.  Firefighters responded to the area of Candlewood Lake near Hayestown Avenue.  Units made their way out onto the dock and found the ice was only a quarter inch thick, making it a more difficult situation. They moved the dock up and down in the water to break the ice, which freed the swan.

 

(Photo: DFD)

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Danbury lawmakers hear feedback on priorities for upcoming General Assembly session

A pre-session legislative update was held this week by members of Danbury's state delegation in the House and Senate.  Representative Will Duff says the discussion will allow them to to push for an end to more and more taxation while fighting for policies which improve the quality of life in Danbury.

 

The upcoming General Assembly session begins on February 7th. 

 

Representative Michael Ferguson says he heard about the need to hold the line on taxes and spending.  He says there has to be a delicate balance of government's role in providing a safety net for the most vulnerable, against the obligation to reduce the financial burden on taxpayers and businesses.

 

Representative Steve Harding says it was good to hear from people about their needs.  He noted that many called for a fiscally responsible Connecticut.

 

State Senator Michael McLachlan says they will look into issues like government inefficiency at the DOT, high energy costs, and state employee pensions and compensation.  He says government must become more nimble, more efficient, and less expensive.

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Bethel Transfer Station to close Saturday for work on nearby solar farm

The transfer station in Bethel will be closed Saturday so that work can be done on the nearby solar farm. Power has to be shut off to complete the electrical connections on the installation. The 2,900-panel, 948-kilowatt array is expected to generate nearly 1 million kilowatts of energy a year for Bethel.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says Bethel taxpayers have no financial liability whatsoever for this installation, which is owned and operated by a third party company.  That company shares the savings with Bethel taxpayers.

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Bethel schools propose slight budget increase for 2018-2019 year

A slight increase is being sought by Bethel school officials for the coming fiscal year's budget.  Superintendent Christine Carver proposed a 1.9 percent increase last night.  Most of the hike is due to salary obligations.  The proposed budget is $45.2 million. 

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Greater Danbury area residents make 40 under 40 list

Several Greater Danbury area residents have made Connecticut Magazine's list of 40 under 40.  The high-achievers were selected from the fields of sports, science, entrepreneurship, social change and more. The up-and-comers were all nominated for the recognition.

 

        

(Pucci, Kozlowski, Miranda, Morton, Idrovo)

 

17-year old Hannah Pucci of Danbury is taking a school assignment from 6 years ago and turning the idea into business.  She invented Egghead Ice Cream, an ice cream-packing method in which egg-shaped, pre-packaged scoops are offered in an egg carton-like package.  The hassle free, portion control method earned her a $10, 000 grant from the CTNext Entrepreneur Innovation Awards and meetings with executives at Baskin-Robbins and Dippin’ Dots. Last summer, UConn Dairy Bar offered rough prototypes to test the marketing for the product, which was a success. Now Hannah is working on developing a prototype that can be shipped nationwide.

 

27-year old Emma Kozlowski of Bethel opened an e-commerce company in her off-time from being a teacher, to benefit the charity her family started 20 years ago in memory of her brother.  She offers custom and hand-made accessories, with a portion of the proceeds on certain items going to the Scotty Fund, which helps children facing life-threatening illnesses.  Last year. the new mother was one of two Connecticut winners of the 2017 American Small Business Championship, which provides financial and mentoring support to new small businesses.

 

30-year old Abigail Miranda of Litchfield is an attorney at Cramer & Anderson.  She often works with clients who are the victims of spousal abuse and dealing with divorce and custody concerns.  She is a board member for the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury, and co-chairs the nonprofit’s annual gala which serves as its largest fundraiser.  The WCSU and the Quinnipiac University School of Law graduate is on the Connecticut Legal Services list of attorneys dedicated to helping those in need.

 

34-year old Charlie Morton of Redding won Game 7 of the World Series for the Houston Astros after pitching four innings and allowing just one run in relief.  He was the inning pitcher in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series against the Yankees, making him the first pitcher in MLB history to win two Game 7s in the same postseason.

 

21-year old Angelica Idrovo of Danbury is being recognized as an immigration activist.  Her status as an undocumented immigrant led to a question of how to pay for college after being a high-honors student and active in school clubs and the community.  Her family came to the U.S. from Ecuador in 2009.  She is holding down two jobs to pay for tuition at UConn’s Stamford campus and is a regional organizer for Connecticut Students for a Dream.

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Free home test kits for Radon available at Brookfield Health Department

January is National Radon Awareness Month. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The odorless, invisible and tasteless gas may be a natural breakdown product of soil and water.  The Brookfield Health Department has a limited quantity of free radon test kits, available to Brookfield residents. The kits come with a postage-paid, mail-in envelope to be sent to the Connecticut State Lab for testing. Reports are returned to the Health Department and in turn, to the homeowner.  Radon typically enters closed-up homes through openings and cracks in foundations and walls. Or, it can be aerosolized when one takes a shower.

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Brookfield approves funding for Fire Department vehicles

Brookfield officials recently approved funding for repairs to Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company's vehicles.  The repairs total $33,700.  The work includes $18,200 for a new engine for one ambulance and nearly $15,500 for electrical repairs to another vehicle.

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says these are repairs that need to be made so that town can try to get the vehicles to last as long as possible. 

 

The possibility of repairs was discussed during last budget season.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company President Louis Menendez and Assistant Fire Chief Andy Ellis pointed out that they might have a problem with the ambulance, and the engine eventually stopped working.  He added that there can't be a good response if the equipment is not working.

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Import tariff on solar panels won't impact Bethel program yet

Given the recent announcement on import tariffs for solar panels, the Bethel Energy Committee is letting residents know that the SolarizeCT program confirmed that they will not be raising prices immediately on their panels.  The participating solar supplier is holding a workshop tonight at Bethel Library about solar power.  Residents can choose any provider and are not locked in to Solarize CT.  The workshop is at 6:30pm.

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Danbury seeking grant to open new, affordable childcare slots

As part of a grant application to Bloomberg Philanthropies, Danbury is looking to gauge interest in improving an urgent need in the City.  Danbury would partner with the United Way of Western Connecticut to create 180 affordable childcare slots by establishing 60 family childcare centers. 

 

Part of the Mayors Challenge is to communicate about the issue.  35 Champion Cities will be awarded up to $100,000.  A grant award decision is expected by March. 

 

The United Way has committed a $900,000 matching award over several years. 

 

Danbury officials say with a poverty rate of 11-percent and another 24-percent who fall below a household survival budget, the issue affects 900 children between the ages of 0-3 living in households that struggle to make ends meet.  There are currently 87 Care 4 Kids state-subsidized slots for infants and toddlers in Danbury.  Due to the state's financial woes, there's been a 50-percent decrease in subsidies over the past year. 

 

Head Start in Danbury had a waiting list of 300 children last year.

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Brazilian Olympian to lead skate class for kids in Danbury

The Danbury Ice Arena will host the "2018 Olympic Dreams Skating Show," featuring Brazilian Olympian Isadora Williams, at 10:45am Sunday.  The show will be followed by a learn-to-skate class taught by Williams, who will represent Brazil at the 2018 Winter Olympic games next month.  Also performing will be Amanda Kalluf, a member of the junior-level Brazilian skating team, and skaters who participate in Danbury Arena’s ice skating programs.

 

Williams, who represented Brazil in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, trains at Danbury Ice Arena’s sister facility, Floyd Hall Arena in Little Falls, N.J. She is a student at Montclair State University.

 

Williams' class will be available to the first 50 skaters 7-years-old and younger who preregister and she will host a meet-and-greet and autograph session after the class for ticket holders.  A Meet-and-Greet and autograph session will be available to all ticket holders.

 

For more information or to purchase tickets, call the arena at 203-794-1704.

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New Fairfield Board of Finance approves surplus fund use by schools, town

The New Fairfield Board of Finance has voted to allow the schools to spend $159,000 from last year's surplus, and the town to spend $124,000.  The $426,000 balance will be added to the general fund.  The Newstimes reports that the schools will use the money to finish renovations at the consumer science classroom of the high school.  The town will use the money for items cut from this year's budget.  A generator for New Fairfield Town Hall,  a new phone system, a car for the zoning officer, air conditioning for the police station and expanding emergency medical services contracts will all be funded.  The $124,000 requires approval in a town meeting.

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Job Skills Forum at Edmond Town Hall tonight

A Job Skills Forum is being held tonight at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown.  This is the 8th year that State Senator Tony Hwang is hosting the event.  He says the free forum will bring together job skills and career services experts who will offer advice to area residents on how to find success in their job search efforts. 

 

He says the event is about helping people who are out of work, who want to pursue new careers or are looking to find out what resources are available to them. 

 

The forum will feature presentations by four panelists.  They are Connecticut Department of Labor Regional Job Center Director Stephen Romano, The WorkPlace Communications and Development Vice President Tom Long, Behavioral Health Consultants director of organizational services James Rascati and Career Resources President and CEO Scott Wilderman.  Hwang says Career Resources is one of the nation's leading non-profit workforce development organizations. 

 

He notes that the psychiatrist will help with emotional rollercoaster of job loss and job search efforts.

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Some Danbury High School students excel in college level course

Five of 21 students in the second group of the Danbury Early College Opportunity program at Danbury High School earned a grade of 98 or better in their first college-level computer course last semester.  Program participants earn an Associate Degree from Naugatuck Valley Community College simultaneously with their high school diploma. 

 

Students begin accelerating their high school requirements so that by sophomore or junior year they can begin incorporating college-level courses.   Some courses take place at Naugatuck Valley's Danbury campus.  DHS is the second high school in Connecticut to offer the program. 

 

The students, Aliyah Seng, Johanna Piedra, Aaron Melendez, Kelisha Marquez and Tania Alvarez, each received a certificate for achievement and a gift card.   The course was taught in 45-minute class periods at DHS four days a week. 

 

77 students are in the first DECO group, there are 61 in the second and 65 freshmen students started the third year of the program in September. 

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Broken HVAC unit at Bethel High School to be replaced this weekend

An HVAC unit at Bethel High School is broken, but will be replaced this weekend.  The unit on the roof above the gym during the freezing temperatures earlier this month.  It affected other systems across campus.  Officials had to move some classes and install temporary heating systems in the interim.  A crane is needed to remove the unit and install the new one. Some delays on Whittlesey Drive are expected Saturday while the crane is being staged, and then on Sunday when the work is done. 

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Blumenthal to join New Fairfield man at ICE check-in

Senator Richard Blumenthal plans to join a New Fairfield man to his final ICE check-in, ahead of Joel Colindres' scheduled deportation on the 31st. 

 

Blumenthal and supporters will lead a rally outside immigration offices this morning to protest what they say is unnecessary and unjust action.  He says details of new efforts to keep the Colindres family together will also be outlined. 

 

The 33-year old father of two young children is married to a U.S. citizen.  In 2015, Immigration Services approved his wife's application to sponsor Joel for legal status, but the process is not finalized yet. 

 

He fled Guatemala in 2004 while facing death threats.

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Community Report Card on Young Children in Danbury released

Danbury’s Promise for Children Partnership and the United Way of Western Connecticut held a Community Report Out event Tuesday at the Danbury Police station.  They discussed the successes and challenges Danbury youth are facing and how to best support them. 

 

A Community Report Card on Young Children, a yearly baseline data report, was released. 

 

Partnership coordinator Megan Chrysler says despite low unemployment in Danbury, families are still struggling to meet basic needs.  She also cited data showing that students who face disadvantages early on often struggle to overcome them.  But she says there is a wealth of support programs and initiatives in Danbury to support families. 

 

Officials from both organizations hope their collaborative effort can be extended.  WestConn educational psychology professor Dr. Gabriel Lomas gave a keynote speech about the effects of toxic stress on young children, which could result in negative health outcomes in adulthood.

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Newtown Public Works determines cause of sewage backup

Newtown Public Works crews have gotten to the bottom of what caused a sewage backup to come through two manhole covers on Church Hill Road earlier this month.  Director Fred Hurley told the Newtown Bee that grease covered bricks, stones, and some wood clogged a 12-inch-diameter municipal sanitary sewer line January 15th.  He says the foreign matter was carried through the sewer system by gravity until the blockage and leak occurred.  Hurley told the Bee that a specialized truck was used to inject highly pressurized water into the sewer system, which was then vacuumed out.  The blockage may have come from multiple locations.  He says the grease may have been petroleum jelly incorrectly disposed of down toilets.

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Sherman firefighters learn about hazards from DEA

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department hosted a lecture yesterday by Drug Enforcement Agency members. Neighboring departments were also invited to learn about the dangers of illegal narcotics, the hazards that arise during the production of narcotics, and methods firefighters can use to detect and recognize potential hazards on EMS and fire scenes. Officials say workshops like these will ensure member safety, along with the safety of the community.

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Art exhibit opens at WCSU Visual and Performing Arts Center tomorrow

An exhibition featuring the works in different mediums of 11 artists who have shown their works widely in the United States and internationally opens at West Conn tomorrow. The exhibition in the Art Gallery at the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the Westside campus runs through March 4th.  "Parallel Practices" will present the participating artists' works in mediums that include painting, sculpture, collage, drawing, ceramics, animation, installation and photography. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8pm tomorrow, with curators presenting a talk in the gallery at 6:30pm on  January 31st.  Featured artists include Harriet Bellows, Matt Bollinger, Guy C. Corriero, Deborah Dancy, Fukuko Harris, Carol McMahon, Patricia Miranda, Elisa Soliven, Martha Tuttle, Alan Wiener and Mie Yim.

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Route 7 closed again in Kent due to flooding

Nearly two weeks into the local state of emergency in Kent because of an ice jam on the Housatonic River, and officials say the phenomenon could finally start to thaw.  While the river water has receded by nearly five feet since January 13th, part of Route 7 between 341 and Bulls Bridge Road is again flooded and closed. 

 

State Representative Brian Ohler says there are no imminent flash flood concerns.  The state of emergency, however, will remain in place until local officials deem otherwise.  

 

Ohler says they did see some activity on the riverbanks at the northern tip.  As a result of the melting snowpack and the inch of rainfall, that portion eroded by about 1,300 feet.  Observation teams reported that any areas previously flooded due to the ice jam have receded by nearly 85%.

 

He stressed the danger of the ice jam as it becomes increasing unstable.  As this situation continues to evolve, Ohler says response plans are being solidified.  But he noted that Mother Nature will ultimately determine just how long this ice jam takes up residency in Kent.  Emergency management personnel, meteorologists, hydrologists, and civil preparedness directors have analyzed the situation and helped with plans to deal with every scenario that may arise over the next couple of weeks.

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Putnam County adds new license for certain tradesmen

The Putnam County Plumbing and Mechanical Trades Board local law was amended by the New York State Assembly.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says as part of the updated law, a new license was created in the area of Refrigeration.   All tradesmen offering Refrigeration services, who are not already licensed Master HVAC technicians, are required to obtain a Putnam County License.  This license requires Putnam County testing and all refrigeration and tradesmen have until June of 2018 to become licensed.  A copy of the law is posted on the Consumer Affairs website for review.  The license is reciprocal with Rockland County.

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Park Avenue School students significantly increase reading scores

Park Avenue Elementary School in Danbury has seen a more than 10% increase in early reading scores, with a more than 30% increase among students involved in interventions by United Way of Western Connecticut.  For the past four years, United Way has spearheaded an effort to prepare Park Avenue students for early school success. 

 

Park Avenue is a Title I School, which means a high percentage of its children come from low-income families.  In the spring of 2016, 42% of Park Avenue Kindergarteners met the school district benchmark on the Early Literacy STAR assessment. By the spring of 2017, that number was up to 48%. For students whose families were involved in early learning programs, that number was 57%. 

 

The Pitney Bowes Foundation provides $7,500 to fund playgroups at Park Avenue for parents and children who are unable to attend a formal preschool. The playgroups help children with social skills, teach parents how to promote learning in the home, and screen children for developmental delays. 

 

The Park Avenue Initiative has also been supported by The Grossman Family Foundation, which helps to fund a bilingual school liaison, a community garden, and a Walking School Bus initiative. It also funds a summer skills program for children who have been identified as needing substantial help with skills before they enter kindergarten, as well as a nationally recognized program for Latino parents called Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors. 

 

More than 70% of the students receive free or reduced-price lunch, and almost 50% are English Language Learners. Because many students at Park Avenue come from economically challenged families and immigrant families, they are more likely to be affected by the achievement gap: the difference in academic performance between low-income and minority children and their more affluent peers.

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Brookfield man, former State Trooper, laid to rest

A former Connecticut State Trooper was laid to rest yesterday.  55-year old Thomas Corres of Brookfield died January 16th.  He served 22 years with Troop A in Southbury, where he received a Life Savings Award in 2008.  He was the Redding Resident State Trooper and ended his career in 2011 as the evening shift desk Trooper.  In 1980 Corres competed and placed in the National Men's Gymnastics, and later he became a coach for various gymnastic clubs.  He was coaching and teaching gymnastics locally in Brookfield prior to his death.  The avid cyclist was a member of St Rose of Lima Church in Newtown.

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Day 11 of Ice Jam localized State of Emergency in Kent

Kent is entering Day 11 of the Ice Jam localized State of Emergency.  According to the National Weather Service Hydrologic Prediction Center an average high temperature of 42 degrees, over the course of seven days, would allow the ice jam on the Housatonic River to begin its gradual thawing process.  The river water needs to rise slightly so that it can make contact with the ice itself. Once contact happens, officials are optimistic that the water will then lift the ice jam from its current footing and begin moving the pieces further downstream.

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Former Danbury Fire Chief dies in Florida at age 91

A former Danbury Fire Chief died in Florida earlier this month.  Charles Monzillo lost a battle with Parkinson’s Disease January 15th, at the age of 91.  Monzillo served in the Army Air Corp during WWII,  Transit Police of New York City and 25 years with the FDNY.  He was chief of the Willimantic and Danbury Fire Departments.  He was a longtime member of the Lions Club.  He was selected for an Honor Flight in 2015.  The non-profit organization honors America's veterans for their sacrifices by transporting veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials.  He headed the Danbury Fire Department about 35 years ago.

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Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals form alliance with Conn. Children's Medical Center

Western Connecticut Health Network and Connecticut Children's Medical Center have launched a pediatric alliance.  Connecticut Children's staff members are now providing inpatient care for children at Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals. 

 

Neonatologists will start caring for babies at each NICU this summer. 

 

Through the alliance, officials say children will have 24/7 access to readily available specialized and subspecialized pediatric services. More pediatric consultations will be also available at Danbury Hospital and Norwalk Hospital emergency departments. 

 

A Connecticut Children's board-certified pediatric emergency medicine physician will provide consultation to Danbury, New Milford, and Norwalk Hospitals Emergency Departments.  Western Connecticut Health Network will adopt Connecticut Children's standardized best practices to advance continuity of care.

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Swastika found carved into tree in Redding

A swastika was found carved into a tree in Redding.  Police are investigating the incident, reported by a resident, on a tree at a local popular trail.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton did not specify on which trail the symbol was found.  She said there is no place for hate in Redding and that the vandalism is an act of hate.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Redding police at 203-938-3400.

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Sherman residents approve funding for emergency communications equipment

Sherman residents have approved $147,000 in funding for emergency communications equipment, a Simulcast system.  Fire Department officials say the current system only covers about 30-percent of the town, a two mile radius around the fire station.  Originally, the proposal was much higher, but existing infrastructure will be used, dropping the costs.  Public works will also use the new system. 

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Vigil held in support of New Fairfield father facing deportation

A prayer vigil was held in Danbury yesterday in support of a New Fairfield father of two young children, who is facing deportation to his native Guatemala on January 31st.  Joel Colindres is married to a U.S. citizen.  His wife, Samantha, and a coalition of 10 human rights groups held the vigil for the 33-year old, who fled religious persecution and death threats in 2004.  Colindres entered the country through Texas on a provisional waiver and has spent 14 years filing requests for ICE to hear his asylum case.  He says three family members were murdered in the last year alone.  He had 2 attorneys who missed deadlines or filed improperly.

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Congresswoman Esty donates salary during shutdown

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty plans to donate her federal pay to local Connecticut charities for the duration of the government shutdown.  She did the same thing during the 16-day shut down in 2013. 

 

Esty is a cosponsor of the federal ‘No Budget, No Pay’ Act, which would prevent lawmakers from receiving pay for failing to pass a budget.  According to an estimate of Standard & Poor’s, the 2013 shutdown cost the U.S. economy close to $24 billion and reduced fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3 percent to 2.4 percent.

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal says serious talks and compromise by the Republican leadership and the President could have avoided the federal shut down.  He says governing month to month through short term extensions has the effect of a slow motion shutdown, short-changing and damaging the military, opioid addiction programs and disaster relief.  Blumenthal says the President must lead, or get out of the way.

 

Governor Malloy says Connecticut has made preparations to mitigate the impacts of the federal government shutdown, as much as possible. But Malloy says unless Congress does their job, Connecticut residents who work for the federal government will not be paid, contractors will be laid off, and loans to Connecticut small businesses won’t be made.

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Ice jam on Housatonic River in Kent doubles in size

Kent declared a local state of emergency more than a week ago when waters from the Housatonic River rose and then froze in place, flooding many roads.  Officials are hoping the ice dams thaw this week with high temperatures expected to be above freezing.

 

A flyover by the Civil Air Patrol on Saturday showed the stretch ice had doubled in size, making it two miles long.

 

State Police are ticketing drivers who stop or park on Route 7 along the Housatonic River in Kent to view the ice jam.  Officials say the ice is becoming increasingly unstable as it begins to thaw and melt.  Officials say there have only been a few instances where people were told to leave flood prone areas. 

 

Students are expected to return this week to a private boarding school evacuated because of flooding.  Dorms at the Kent School are expected to open on Wednesday with classes resuming Thursday. The school originally was hoping to reopen sooner but pushed the date back amid efforts to clean and prepare the campus and a forecast calling for more rain early next week.

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Bethel officials remind residents of mailbox replacement policy

Bethel officials are reminding residents about the town's mailbox replacement policy.  If a mailbox or post is damaged during snow removal operations, it's not the responsibility of the Public Works Department ot make repairs.  The responsibility falls to the property owner, unless the damage is from direct contact with snow removal equipment. 

 

An inspector will determine if the plow operator is at fault. 

 

But Bethel officials cautioned that the majority of mailbox and post damage is the result of improper installation or maintenance.  They says the average number of mailboxes hit by equipment is less than one percent. Non-contact mailbox knockdowns may average more then one hundred or more per snow storm

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New Fairfield Selectman to hold listening hours twice weekly

New Fairfield Selectman Khris Hall will hold “listening hours” twice a week beginning on Thursday.  She will be at the New Fairfield Library from 5:30 to 6:30pm. every Monday and 10 to 11 am every Thursday, except when the library is closed.  Hall and  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco promised to hold the listening hours during the campaign.

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Presentation made to Brookfield officials on police department needs

An architect presented plans to Brookfield Boards and Commission about what a new police station could entail.  The current department is 12,950-square feet, but a 22,550-square foot police building is proposed.  Brookfield officials haven't decided whether to renovate the existing structure or build a new one.  Initial proposals call for a bigger dispatch center, a firing range and a training classroom.  The current Brookfield Police station was built in 1986 and since then the staff, town population and calls for service have grown.  A separate covered storage bay for cars was also proposed.

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Kent in 'wait and see' mode for ice jam thaw out

Kent First Selectman Bruce Adams says water level and ice level observers have reported that the Housatonic River has receded by about 50 inches since Saturday.  Adams says the water is still estimated to be approximately 8 feet above seasonal levels. 

 

He cautioned that no one can accurately predict when the ice will move. Kent is in the "wait and see" mode.  The ice jam fell by about 3 feet.  But Adams says the reduction in the overall height of the ice is the result of the ice caving in on itself, not shifting or jarring. 

 

Classes at the Kent School will resume on Thursday.  Boarding students will return Wednesday with dorms opening at 8am.  Local shelters are available in Kent, but none are being used at this time. The Kent Nutritional Center is currently closed. There have been no requests for assistance and/or shelter at this time.

 

Schaghticoke Road in Kent is closed due to water.  There's ice on Johnson Road, forcing it's closure and River Road is closed due to seasonal winter conditions.  Local private schools have offered up to 400 persons to assist in labor activities if needed.  These schools include: South Kent School, Marvelwood School, Highwatch.  Adams says t this time, volunteer assets are not needed.

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Proposed school renovation projects in Bethel move forward

Bethel is seeking requests for proposals for construction management and risk services for the Rockwell and Johnson Elementary School projects.  There is a mandatory site visit next Wednesday, with applications due February 5th. 

 

Perkins Eastman is the architectural firm for the projects, which technically are separate works, but will be done concurrently.  They are categorized that way because of the State Office of School Construction and Department of Administrative Services. 

 

Both projects are dependent upon approved state funding and will not go forward to the Construction Phase without approved state funding. 

 

The town will interview short list firms on February 20th and 21st. The Public Sites and Building Commission plans to make a final decision by February 27th and recommend a firm to the Town.

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Bethel Police host carseat installation clinic Saturday

The Bethel Police Department is hosting a Car Seat Clinic tomorrow.  The Clinic will be held, by appointment only, at the Stony Hill Fire Department, Stony Hill Rd., Bethel. For further information or an appointment time contact the Car Seat Unit at 203-744-7900 Ext. 121 or online, Bethel-ct.gov/police, and select the Services tab to book an appointment online.

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Newtown Police accepting applications for Citizen Police Academy

The Newtown Police Department will be hosting its 24th Citizen Police Academy beginning March 25th. The free 10-week academy is open to adults 18 years of age or older and designed to teach people about the various aspects of law enforcement.  Classes will be held on Sundays from 3pm to 6pm.  To sign up for the Citizen Police Academy, by March 15th, visit the Newtown Police Department web page.

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New Milford preparing in case of flooding along Housatonic

New Milford's Mayor has told the Kent First Selectman that the town is available to provide whatever assistance they may need as the ice jam on the Housatonic River persists. If the ice jams proceed down river and cause flooding in New Milford, Kent officials said they would provide assistance as well. 
 
New Milford has a traffic plan in place for areas that may flood once the ice jam breaks up. The car dealers on Route 7 by Veterans Bridge were notified that their inventory should be moved in case of flooding.  The Maxx on one side of the bridge and Sarah Noble School on the other side of the bridge will act as shelters if needed. 

 

Mayor Pete Bass attended the emergency management meeting in Kent Wednesday night, along with State Representative Bill Buckbee, Police Chief Shawn Boyne, and the leaders of the volunteer fire departments.  Bass also met with the New Milford Emergency Management Team yesterday.

 

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Ice jam persists, Route 7 reopens in Kent

The ice jam along the Housatonic River in Kent remains largely intact and firmly in place.  But Route 7 was able to reopen yesterday afternoon.  Schaghticoke, Johnson and River Roads remain closed due to water on the roadway.

 

Worse case scenario in Kent with the persistent ice jam on the Housatonic River is that it doesn't thaw until the end of March or early April.  That from State Representative Brian Ohler who says cautioned that there are some ice blocks in very close proximity to the roadway along Route 7.  An Eversource field crew has inspected in-place power poles and overhead lines and reported that there is no visible damage within passable areas of Route 7.

 

Emergency Management officials say Kent needs a minimum of three days with an average high of 42 degrees and a little precipitation to break the ice jam.  Right now, there's still an air gap between the river and the ice jam.  The water needs to rise to a level that the ice can break up in smaller pieces.  The conditions could be right over the next few days.

 

Officials at the Kent School say they will take things day by day, but they've been able to do some education online while students are evacuated.

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Danbury woman seeks Democratic nomination for state Senate

A Danbury woman is seeking the Democratic nomination for state Senate in the 24th District.  Julie Kushner says the district, which also includes Bethel, New Fairfield and Sherman, deserves someone devoted to fighting for fairness and progress for hard working families. 

 

The seat is currently held by Republican Mike McLachlan. 

 

Kushner is co-chair of the Connecticut Working Families Party, a member of the Danbury Democratic Town Committee and director of the UAW union Region 9.  She helped 2,200 UConn teachers and research assistants to organize for adequate and accessible healthcare in a program that's been so successful, it's now offered to all graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.

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Public comment period open on Long Ridge Rd proposal

Comments on the Long Ridge Road Realignment Project can be submitted until February 16th.  Redding officials say after the comment period has closed, the state Department of Transportation and engineers from consulting firm Milone and MacBroom will appear before Redding's boards and commissions for local permits and approvals. 

 

The work will reconstruct and realign Side Cut Road, Long Ridge Road, and Simpaug Turnpike in the area of the grade crossing.  It's meant to better accommodate low clearance vehicles, improve sight distances and address localized flooding. 

 

Construction is slated to begin in the Spring of 2019, based on the availability of funding. The estimated construction cost for this project is $2 million, with 90-percent paid for with Federal Funds. 

 

Eversource and Frontier are reviewing design plans for moving utility poles.  The work will impact the railroad tracks so Metro North is being consulted.

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Conn. Senator to contact Homeland Security on behalf of New Fairfield man

Senator Richard Blumenthal plans to contact the Secretary of Homeland Security on behalf of a New Fairfield father of two facing deportation to his native Guatemala. 

 

A rally was held yesterday in support of Joel Colindres, who is married to a U-S citizen.  His wife Samantha received approval in 2015 to sponsor her husband, but additional steps must be taken before he is able to adjust his status. 

 

Blumenthal says his heart breaks as Colindres fights another cold and callous attempt to break apart his family.  He says deporting Colindres would violate the spirit of Secretary Nielsen’s assurances to him in this week’s hearing that the Department's focus would be on criminals, not people like Joel who have paid taxes, contributed to communities, and lived here for decades, without any criminal record. 

 

Colindres got a last minute stay in August, but was told during a weekly meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on December 27th, that he must leave the country by the end of the month.  The 33-year old came to America in 2004, but a paperwork error prompted today's legal situation. 

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Danbury not selected by Amazon as finalist for HQ2

A seven-year local property tax abatement, a one-year sewer and water fee abatement and a land lease for an airport hangar were not enough to sway Amazon to locate its second headquarters in Danbury.  Amazon is narrowing the list of cities under consideration to 20, with the largest concentration in the Northeast. 

 

Amazon, based in Seattle, plans to invest $5 billion in the new headquarters and could employ as many as 50,000 people in and around the city it chooses.

 

Danbury paid a local printer $426 to print 13 copies of the application and for graphic design work. Another Danbury company was paid $750 for a video shoot and edit. A Vernon web development company was paid $1,500 for online advertising.  The City's application included a map of the region highlighting the Matrix Center - and its proximity to sites such as Candlewood Lake, the Danbury Municipal Airport, Interstate 84, Western Connecticut State University campuses, the New York state line and the Brewster train station.

 

The list released on Thursday by Amazon of the finalists includes Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County in Maryland, Nashville, Newark, New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Toronto and Washington D.C.

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Lawmaker urges caution when donating in response to Kent ice jam

There are potential fundraising scams cropping up as a result of the ice jam on the Housatonic River in Kent, which has closed part of Route 7 for almost a week.  State Representative Brian Ohler is reminding residents to be vigilant when asked to donate to recently created fundraisers on sites like GoFundMe. While many are legitimate, there are many instances where it's not the case.  Ohler says unfortunately there are people out there who are eager to exploit these types of situations for their own financial gain.  The Kent Chamber of Commerce noted yesterday that Kent is open for business. While it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings, they say the ice jam shouldn’t scare people away from the center of town.

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Kent officials continue to monitor ice jam on Housatonic

DOT crews have been attempting to dislodged massive ice blocks that have been covering Route 7 in Kent for the past five days.  State Representative Brian Ohler says the clean up process will continue for the coming days. Once the thawing process is complete and the clean up is over, DOT officials must then inspect the roadway for its strength and integrity. 

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty connected with Kent officials yesterday for an update on the damage from floods and ice jams on the Housatonic River. She put them in touch with a federal ice expert from the National Weather Service, who delivered a brief presentation to local officials at a meeting in Kent last night.  Esty commended the elected officials and schools leaders for their efforts in the face of an unprecedented situation.

 

52 individuals, representing local and statewide emergency management personnel, law enforcement officers, fire/ems officers, state and federal elected officials, school administrators, and a National Weather Service analyst attended the briefing last night.  Freezing temperatures over the past four days have held this ice jam in the same position that it has been since Saturday. 

 

The Kent Volunteer Fire Department has been receiving numerous phone calls about volunteer opportunities.  While they say the offers are appreciated, at this time they are not in need of volunteers.

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Conn. gun violence death rate among lowest in nation

Senator Richard Blumenthal says a report by the Violence Policy Center that ranked Connecticut as one of the lowest states in the nation for gun deaths in 2016 proves strong gun laws save lives.  But he says guns continue to cross state lines seamlessly, and gun violence knows no state boundaries. Connecticut was among a handful of states that are seeing a decline in the rate of gun deaths.  Legislation was adopted after the shootings at Sandy Hook School banning some types of guns and limiting magazine capacity.

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Rt 341 bridge structural integrity inspected amid continued ice jam

Ice jam observers were deployed yesterday to Kent to evaluate depth markers that have been placed in various positions along the Housatonic River. It was been determined that since Saturday afternoon, peak-flooding time, the water has receded approximately 30 inches.  DOT crews have been removing ice from Route 7. 

 

Kent First Selectman Bruce Adams says there's been speculation and concern about the strength and integrity of the Route 341 Bridge.  While there is a large amount of ice surrounding the pillars, he says a DOT Inspector concluded that it was not compromised.  Kent received 7 inches of snow yesterday, but there is a warm up coming, with rain possible Monday, and Adams hopes this will increase the volume of water in the river to a level that is necessary to break up the ice jam.

 

Kent Center School reopened today.  The Kent School remains evacuated. Their campus is still encompassed by a large amount of water and ice.  The Incident Command team has been in constant contact with administrators from Kent Center, which sits at a much higher elevation than their Kent School neighbor.  There are contingency plans in place if and when Kent Center School ever needs to evacuate.

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High court says state's education funding is constitutional

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut's Supreme Court has rejected a claim by a coalition of municipalities, parents and students that the state's educational funding formula is unconstitutional.

A divided court overturned a lower-court judge who had ordered state officials to develop plans for an overhaul of the state's public education system, citing a huge gap in test scores between students in rich and poor towns.

The high court, in a ruling released Wednesday, found that while there is an educational achievement gap between poorer students and "their more fortunate peers," that gap alone does not violate the equal protection provisions of the Connecticut Constitution.

"The plaintiffs have not shown that this gap is the result of the state's unlawful discrimination against poor and needy students in its provision of educational resources as opposed to the complex web of disadvantaging societal conditions over which the schools have no control," Chief Justice Chase Rogers wrote for the court.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed in 2005 against the state by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, a nonprofit group that includes cities, towns, local boards of education, parent groups and public school students. More than 50 parents and students also were named as plaintiffs.

 

Danbury is a lead plaintiff in the case.

The coalition argued during a months-long trial that the state isn't providing adequate education funding to cities and towns and isn't meeting its constitutional obligation to provide all students with adequate educations. It cited the vast differences in test results, graduation rates and other factors between rich and poor towns as proof that the funding system isn't fair.

The ruling overturns Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher, who had ordered the state to submit proposed reforms to the court to revamp its formula for providing education aid to cities and towns, develop a statewide high school graduation standard such as a test, make eighth-graders show they have acquired the skills to move on to high school, and replace what he called a weak statewide system of teacher evaluation and compensation.

"Courts simply are not in a position to determine whether schools in poorer districts would be better off expending scarce additional resources on more teachers, more computers, more books, more technical staff, more meals, more guidance counselors, more health care, more English instruction, greater preschool availability, or some other resource," Rogers wrote.

In a statement Wednesday night, the coalition said it was disappointed with the ruling and that it would "pursue all legal remedies" to have the decision in the case "reconsidered and overturned."

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the decision ends the landmark case regarding education funding, but not the need to distribute more educational dollars where there is the greatest need.

"We continue to believe that the state is obligated to ensure that funding is distributed in a rational manner based on student need, reflecting student poverty and demographic shifts in our communities," he said, adding how not enough progress has been made to improve the state's major education funding distribution formula.

Three of the seven justices involved issued a partial dissent, saying they would have ordered a new trial in the case, rather than simply ruling in the state's favor.

 

CCJEF is expressing "deep disappointment" with the decision.  The Coalition says it will "pursue all legal remedies" to have the decision overturned.

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Ex-Connecticut governor in halfway house after prison stint

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Federal prison officials say former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland has been transferred from a Pennsylvania prison to a halfway house to finish his sentence for campaign fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

The 60-year-old Republican was expected to be released May 27, nearly a year early from his 30-month sentence.

The Bureau of Prisons announced Wednesday that Rowland was released from the minimum-security federal prison camp in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Officials declined to release the location of the halfway house, citing privacy reasons.

Rowland was previously convicted in a public corruption scandal that forced him to resign from the governorship in 2004 and sent him to prison for 10 months.

Rowland was convicted in 2014 of plotting to hide political consulting roles through sham contracts in two failed 5th congressional district campaigns.

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Netflix email scam circulating Putnam County

A Netflix email scam is circulating in Putnam County.  Sheriff Robert Langley says several residents have reported receiving well-designed emails that attempt to fool Netflix customers into turning over their credit card details. 

 

 

The message claims that there is a billing issue that needs to be resolved and contains an “Update Payment” button.  It links to a malicious site that looks like a legitimate Netflix page. 

 

 

If you receive such an email, Langley says not to click on the link and go to the source, straight from your browser.  If there is a billing issue, it can be found there.  If you think you have been a victim if this scam or any other internet phishing attempt, contact the Sheriff's Office at 845 225-4300.

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Redding ice rink damaged

Some people have ignored the No Trespassing signs and caution tape at the Redding Ice Rink.  People went on the ice Sunday, causing surface damage.  The rink remained closed during the Martin Luther King holiday Monday.  A coat of water was put on the rink, which is now open under limited conditions.  Parks and Rec officials are cautioning that there are some issues with the side boards inside plastic panels.  Due to extreme warm conditions and then freezing, they popped out and are frozen in place and can't be returned to their proper position.

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Cold temperatures helping in Housatonic ice jam response planning

The situation in Kent overall is calm and coordinated, according to emergency response officials as the town center remains flooded due to an ice jam on the Housatonic River. There is no immediate threat to life or property. 

 

Warmer temperatures are expected this weekend and Kent officials are hoping that the ice jam on the Housatonic River will thaw gradually, over many days.  They say, ideally, a slow thaw combined with a small amount of precipitation should be enough to nudge the jam south.  State Representative Brian Ohler says time and cold temperatures are helping them to gauge the overall severity and predictability of this ice jam.  

 

The Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security are providing assistance to the town.  An incident command system is now in place for Planning and Logistics.  

 

Bringing in a Coast Guard icebreaker is not an option on the Housatonic River in Kent as a massive ice jam persists.  There had been speculation over mechanical intervention, but the river is narrow and there are other obstacles that don't make it likely. 

 

Ohler says logistical support and equipment allocations are ongoing.

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Danbury accepting kindergarten, magnet school applications

Registration for kindergarten in Danbury has started for the coming school year.  Any Danbury child who will be five years old by January 1st 2019, is eligible to attend kindergarten.  More information can be found no the school district's website. 

 

The Western Connecticut Academy for International Studies, Danbury's magnet elementary school, is now accepting applications from students in Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, and Redding. 

 

Applications will be accepted through Friday, with selection made through a lottery process.  The lottery will be held January 25th and families must confirm acceptance by February 15th. 

 

The kindergarten through fifth-grade school of global studies is located on Danbury's Westside.  AIS engages students in a curriculum and a structure that encourage them to develop and use a global perspective early in their education.

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Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission to hold more meetings

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission will hold an extra meeting a month this year.  The last Tuesday of every month will be used to discuss planning issues.  Newly submitted zoning applications will not be discussed at these additional meetings and hearings will not be held.

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Caraluzzi's looks to expand, add a new building in Bethel

Caraluzzi's has submitted an application to the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission for an expansion, and to construct a mixed use building nearby.  The Newstimes reports that the existing Food Mart would be expanded by 1,630 square feet.  The 18,000-square-foot new building on the corner of Greenwood Avenue, Chestnut Street and Nashville Road would have retail on the first floor and office and apartment space on the second floor.  The plans would require a special permit and zoning changes.  A public hearing will be held February 27th.  The plan would include parking, streetscape, and egress improvements.  3 homes on South Street would be demolished and rebuilt as part of the plan.

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Malloy taps acting veterans affairs commissioner for top job

A Danbury man has been nominated to serve as Commissioner of the state Department of Veterans Affairs.  Tom Saadi has been filling the role of Acting Commissioner since October.  He says it's been an honor to fulfill the mission of "Serving Those Who Served" and looks forward to continuing that work.

 

Saadi says there is a great team at the department, and it's been an honor to work with statewide veteran organizations, the DVA Board of Trustees, state and federal partners, and volunteers.  He wants to serve with compassion and professionalism.

 

Saadi is a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve serving with the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.  He joined the DVA in May 2015, first as its General Counsel and then as Chief of Staff.  Immediately prior to that, he served as an Assistant Attorney General and Special Prosecutor, during which he was responsible for litigating numerous cases and supervising investigations to stop false and deceptive practices and recover funds for the State of Connecticut.

 

The 48-year old says he is humbled to serve, not because of the title, but because of the work he gets to do at the DVA.

The mission of DVA is to provide care for the approximately 200,000 veterans living in Connecticut and their dependents.

 

Prior to his current assignment as Chief Legal Officer of the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, Saadi served in the 4th Legal Operations Detachment, providing legal support at active duty installations domestically and abroad.

 

Saadi's appointment still requires legislative confirmation.  He took over for former Commissioner Sean Connolly, who is seeking the Democratic Party's endorsement for governor.

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Gov. discusses ice jam on Housatonic River causing flooding in Kent

Governor Dannel Malloy says he is very familiar with the stretch of Route 7 in Kent currently shut down because of flooding and an ice jam on the Housatonic River.  He says the flooding is not unusual, the duration and extent of the issue is what's unusual.

 

Malloy says this portion of the river is more difficult to handle because it's more narrow at that point.  It's more adversely impacted because of the rapid drop in temperature.  The flood water froze in place, which makes the situation unusual.

 

Malloy says the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is on the scene and standing by.  He notes that they are keeping a closer eye on the issue today because of the snow storm.

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New Fairfield man granted deportation stay, now ordered out of the country

A New Fairfield man who got a last minute stay of deportation to his native Guatemala in August, has been told that he must now leave the country by the end of the month.  During a weekly meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on December 27th, Joel Colindres was told of the deportation order.  The 33-year old father of two is married to a U-S citizen.  He came to America in 2004 and a paperwork error prompted today's legal situation.  A rally is being held tomorrow for the Colindres family by CT Shoreline Indivisible and Action Together CT.  The rally in Hartford at the Abraham A. Ribicoff Federal Building will begin at 11am.

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Danbury Fire official attends drone training course

Danbury Fire Department spokesman Jamie Gagliardo recently attended a ground and flight school drone operations course.  It was hosted by Fisch Internet Solutions and SkyFire Consulting. This 16 hour course trained participants on best practices of Public Safety Aircraft Operators and the use of drones in Public Safety. There was classroom training followed by a hands on flight training, which included advanced maneuvers such as dropping a life jacket to a stranded victim.

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Bethel train station parking lot expansion nearly complete

The Bethel Metro North train station parking lot expansion project is nearly complete.  The $2.3 million project added 130 parking spaces.  Signs and a parking kiosk need to be installed.  Daily parking is free in the numbered spaces until the kiosk is set up.  Once the technology is installed, parking will be 25-cents an hour, the same as before the expansion project. 

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Ridgefield Superintendent updates Board of Ed on deficit issue

As the Ridgefield School District tackles a projected budget deficit, money they hoped to save on energy costs likely won't be realized.  Superintendent Dr Karen Baldwin told the Board of Ed that the cold snap prevented them from turning down the thermostats at night.  There were also water main breaks affecting Barlow Mountain Elementary and Ridgefield High school.  One Barlow Mountain classroom, was damaged and the break at the High School happened on New Year’s Day.  The deficit is projected at just over a million dollars, but Baldwin believes most will be offset by the freeze put in place in September.

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Ridgefield Police caution people from inadvertently revealing password recovery answers

Ridgefield Police are offering some internet safety advice for people on social media sites.  Police say users should be aware of commenting on posts that ask questions such as "Who was your 1st grade teacher?", "What was your first car?" "Who was your childhood best friend?" and the like.  Ridgefield Police say they may be fishing for password recovery answers because those questions are asked when setting up account security information. Hackers can use the information to get into current accounts or open up new ones in your name.  Not all of these types of posts are scams, but Police say it's good practice to remain vigilant.

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Kent declares local state of emergency due to flooding, ice jam

Kent has declared a state of emergency due to flooding caused by a mile-long ice jam.  Waters from the Housatonic River rose and then froze, covering many of the town's roads.

 

Due to public safety concerns, state and local officials are restricting access to select roads and recreation areas.  Enforcement action will be taken for illegal entry into restricted areas.  While this is a rare phenomenon, officials say this is not a time for sight-seeing.

 

Four homes have been evacuated. The emergency shelter is open, but all evacuees have found other housing.  The Kent Volunteer Fire Department is responding to numerous basement flooding calls.

 

(Photo: KVFD)

 

The Kent School, a private boarding school with 580 students,will be closed through at least Sunday.  Kent Center School is closed today, Tuesday.  There will be no HVRHS/OWTS bus runs in or out of Kent today.

 

This declaration opens an uninterrupted line of communication with regional, state, and federal partners.  This will also allow the Town of Kent to – if necessary - request public safety & public health resources, from a large selection pool.

 

There is no imminent threat to public safety. However, the movement of this ice jam and its lifespan is unknown. 

 

Public roads/recreation areas that are closed or have limited access include:
- Route 7 between Route 341 and Bulls Bridge
- Schaghticoke Road
- River Road
- Bulls Bridge Recreation Area
- First Light Recreation Area
-The Housatonic River in these restricted areas

 

If you do reside near the river or in a low-lying area, you should always be monitoring water levels and ice buildup. If you do have an emergency, dial 911.  If you have any non-emergency questions contact Susie Rundall, Kent Emergency Management Director, at (860) 706-3833.

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Meeting in Redding about road realignment, railroad grade crossing

A Public Informational Meeting is being held tonight in Redding about the proposed realignment of the Long Ridge Road railroad-highway grade crossing.  The meeting at Redding Town Hall is at 7pm, with a snow date of the 23rd. 

 

The work will reconstruct and realign Side Cut Road, Long Ridge Road, and Simpaug Turnpike in the area of the grade crossing to better accommodate low clearance vehicles.  The project will also improve sight distances. 

 

A utility coordinator meeting was held at Redding Town Hall December 7th about the traffic congestion easement project near the post office.  Eversource and Frontier are reviewing design plans for moving utility poles.  The work will impact the railroad tracks so Metro North is being consulted. 

 

The design will address localized flooding as well. Construction is slated to begin in the spring of 2019, based on the availability of funding. The estimated construction cost for this project is $2 million, with 90-percent paid for with Federal Funds. 

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Brookfield state Rep. to seek 3rd term

Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding will seek a 3rd term in office.  He plans to officially announce his candidacy next week.  Harding won a special election in February 2015 and was reelected in 2016.  He represents the 107th District, which also includes parts of Bethel and Danbury.  He is on the Environment Committee, Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee, and Judiciary Committee.  Harding runs a law practice in the Danbury area. He also served on the Brookfield Board of Education from 2013 to 2017.

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Local students win MLK essay challenge

Students from each of Connecticut's 5 congressional districts have been selected as the winners of an essay contest sponsored by Senator Chris Murphy, honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.  In the 5th District, Kenneth Miller, a student at Sandy Hook School, Karl Miller, a student at Newtown High School, and Kyler Kumi, a student at Rochanmbeau Middle School in Southbury won.  This was the 2nd annual essay challenge.  Some 700 students submitted essays.  The winning ones will be displayed in Murphy’s office.

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Danbury Police looking to hire officers

The Danbury Police Department is looking to fill more vacancies and is specifically looking for applicants who are already police officers in Connecticut.  Applications will be accepted from January 22nd through February 12th.  People will have to take physical and written exams.  The written test will be held February 17th.  CT P.O.S.T. Certified Police Officers must have a high school diploma or its equivalent, have a valid driver’s license, and be a U.S. citizen.

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Local state of emergency declared in Kent due to flooding, ice jams

A local state of emergency has been declared in Kent.  Some roads that lead to the Housatonic River and recreational areas will be closing. 

 

Flooding is reported on several swollen Connecticut rivers, causing problems around the state.

In Kent, officials said ice jams on the Housatonic River caused the waters to rise onto a private boarding school campus and froze in place. The school's ice rink was surrounded by frozen water.  Kent School Safety Director says they are sending all boarding school students home because of uncertainty with the flooding and ice jams.  They have approximately 520 boarding students and 60 other students.  The school won't reopen until at least Sunday. 

 

The Kent Senior Center is open as a shelter for residents who might be displaced by the flooding. 

 

 

(Photos: KVFD Assistant Chief Gary Hock, Facebook)

 

The weather service says there's also flooding on the Shepaug River in Roxbury due to ice jams.  The high waters are making some roads impassable, and officials are warning people not to drive on flooded roadways.

 

The weather service says the Connecticut River is also flooding, and communities including Hartford, Glastonbury and Portland are either experiencing flooding or being told to expect it.

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Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission moves forward with design process

The first designs have been reviewed by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission.  Evaluation of the 188 submissions will continue this week.  Of the first 30, only one was unanimously approved to move forward. 

 

The Newtown Bee reports that the proposal includes a “Sacred Sycamore Tree,” with the sacred soil beneath it,  and a manufactured pool with names of the victims carved in stone surrounding it.  There are concerns with the cost of the project. 

 

According to minutes of the review session, Commission members were looking for designs that were accessible for navigating the property; had some sort of kiosk or shelter and the inclusion of the sacred soil in a meaningful way, but not as the central focus of the memorial.  They also agrees that there should be a distinct place for the victims’ names, instead of scattered around the property.

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Town meeting scheduled in Sherman on emergency communications equipment

A Town Meeting will be held in Sherman on Saturday about funding for emergency communications equipment.  Residents will be deciding on no more than $147,000 from the Capital Non-Recurring Fund to bring the Simulcast system to Sherman.  Originally, the proposal was much higher, but existing infrastructure will be used, dropping the costs.  The town meeting on the 20th is at 10am.

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Mark Twain Library to reopen today

Mark Twain Library in Redding will reopen today. 

 

The library was forced to close on January 2nd when the boiler exploded.  A new furnace has been installed and heat is returning to the building.  Library board and staff say they escaped the further damage because no pipes froze and leaked. 

 

They took precautions and rented large propane heat blowers, covered the collections and electronic equipment with 600 feet of plastic sheeting and added hundreds of gallons of glycol to domestic plumbing and HVAC pipes to keep them from freezing. 

 

All fines for overdue items will be forgiven.  Mark Twain Library will remain open until 8 pm Monday through Thursday for students who want to study there.  Staff is celebrating the reopening with hot beverages and treats.

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Housatonic flooding in Kent closes Route 7 until further notice

The Housatonic River has frozen over part of Route 7 in Kent. There is an ice jam, with the river frozen over for half a mile.  Large pieces of the ice jam are now frozen together because of the overnight temperatures dipping down into the single digits. 

 

Route 7 from Route 341 to Bulls Bridge will remain closed until further notice. 

 

State Representative Brian Ohler says the floodwaters are starting to recede.  Once the waters fully recede, the state Department of Transportation must inspect the entire roadway to determine its strength and integrity.  Drivers are being directed to South Kent Road, to Bulls Bridge, and then back onto Route 7.  

 

The Kent Resident State Trooper cautioned people from getting to close to the ice jam.  The Housatonic River is flowing from Cornwall back northward and that large volume of water is creating some intense pressure on the jam point in Kent. 

 

Several people have been displaced from their homes due to flooding.  There was also significant flooding reported at Kent School.

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Drone footage, graphics part of Connecticut pitch to Amazon

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Communities across Connecticut are hoping drone footage, video greetings and promises of tax incentives and land can lure Amazon's planned second headquarters.

The state submitted an application in October that includes sites in the Hartford and Stamford areas. At the same time, several cities submitted separate applications.

The Associated Press sought details of those proposals from cities and states around the U.S., including the money spent to develop them, through public records requests. The state, along with Danbury and New Britain, are among only a small group of places around the country to release their proposals to the AP.

New Haven has not yet responded to AP's request for documents concerning their application and Bridgeport has asked for additional time to comply with the request.

A look at some details from the Connecticut submissions:

--

STATE OF CONNECTICUT

Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith said the state's submission, which includes a video greeting from Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, was a multi-faceted effort.

"Throughout this process, people came out of the woodwork to provide creative ideas, sign letters of support, and roll up their sleeves to help out," she said in October.

The department said it did not provide any details about the financial assistance offered in its proposal to "preserve the ability to enter into direct negotiations." But DECD said the package will include "direct incentives for Amazon" as well as "funding to support needed investments in communities benefiting from Amazon's growth."

The state was billed $35,000 by a Glastonbury company to provide renderings and drone imagery, and to coordinate and produce diagrams and supply video. The state was also billed $5,250 by a Connecticut-based web developer to design CTisPrime.com .

--

DANBURY

Danbury is offering a seven-year, 100 percent abatement of local property taxes on real estate and personal property. It's also providing a one-year, 100 percent sewer and water fee abatement, and a land lease for an airport hangar.

A local printer was paid $426 to print 13 copies of the application and for graphic design work. Another Danbury company was paid $750 for a video shoot and edit. A Vernon web development company was paid $1,500 for online advertising.

Emails show there was a lot enthusiasm among Danbury officials about the cover of the city's application to Amazon. It features the familiar Amazon cardboard box and company logo.

There's a map of the region highlighting the suggested location - a former conference and banquet center - and its proximity to sites such as Candlewood Lake, the Danbury Municipal Airport, Interstate 84, Western Connecticut State University campuses, the New York state line and the Brewster, New York, train station.

"The box was a phenomenal idea!" wrote one official.

--

NEW BRITAIN

Documents show New Britain is offering a 30-year tax deferral on parcels Amazon uses and the city also proposes giving Amazon 25 acres of land it owns.

The site is zoned for a "technology park" and is adjacent to I-84. The application also promises the city will be "completely transparent, aggressive with incentives and considerations to make your business our number one priority."

Records show New Britain paid a local printer, Sir Speedy, $389 to print five binders for the Amazon application. There were also expenses for drone footage of the community but the amount wasn't listed.

An email containing a draft letter from New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart to Amazon indicates the Republican hopes her relative youth sways the company.

"Dear Amazon, Erin Stewart here from the great city of New Britain, CT. I'm 30 years old and I'm the youngest female mayor in the United States of America," the letter read. "New Britain is a pretty cool community - 75,000 people sitting in only 13 square miles but chock-full of things to do." 

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Affordable housing development approved in Bethel

An 18-unit affordable housing complex proposed for a one-acre lot on Taylor Avenue in Bethel has been approved.  Since it's an 8-30g application, it doesn't matter that the residential zone usually only permits single-family and two-family homes.  Developer Tim Draper proposed a 3-story building, and addressed engineering concerns over emergency access, gaining approval this week. 

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Aquarion warns people not to trespass on reservoir ice

Over the last few weeks, Aquarion Water Company employees have seen an increase in unlawful winter recreational activities on reservoir properties, including walking on reservoir ice.  The company is reminding people that not only is trespassing illegal, but it is also extremely dangerous. 

 

At this time of year, ice may appear thick enough to walk on, but Aquarion officials say this thickness is unreliable, and can be deceptive due to shifting water levels and thermal undercurrents.

 

In addition to the physical danger, trespassers also face the possibility of fines or arrest if caught on Aquarion reservoir property. 

 

Aquarion does allow the public on Centennial Watershed State Forest's Saugatuck and Aspetuck Valley trails, which are open for hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing year-round, for those who hold a valid permit.

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5 swastikas found on buildings in Ridgefield

Five swastikas have been found painted on buildings in Ridgefield this week.  Police confirmed to the Ridgefield Press that two were found on doorways, and three on entry and exit signs at the Aldrich Museum and at the Masonic Lodge, next to Town Hall.  Police believe one person used a green marker to draw all of the anti-Semitic symbols, which were 4 to 8 inches in size. 

 

Police removed the three found Sunday at the Aldrich while they don't know who removed the two at the Masonic Lodge found Tuesday.

 

There were two incidents this school year at Ridgefield High School, which at that time had been the 5th finding in one year.

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Bethel postpones transfer station Saturday closure for solar farm work

Bethel is postponing tomorrow's weekend closure of the transfer station.  Eversource needs the Bethel transfer station to close in order to finish the electrical connections to the nearby solar farm, but the forecast of  rain and freezing rain is delaying the work.  The transfer station will close on January 27th for the work.  The 2,900-panel, 948-kilowatt array is expected to generate nearly 1 million kilowatts of energy a year for the town.

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Police to issue report on response to Newtown shooting

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut State Police are planning to release a report assessing the agency's response to the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The after-action report is expected Friday. Police have not explained why it's taken five years since the shooting to complete the review.

Officers from the Newtown Police Department were the first to respond to the scene. A prosecutor's report in 2013 said that nearly six minutes passed between the arrival of the first Newtown police officer and the time officers entered the school. Officers were not able to intervene before the gunman turned the gun on himself.

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Brookfield Police K9 to receive bullet protective vest

Brookfield Police K9 Argo will receive a bullet and stab protective vest through a charitable donation from Vested Interest in K9s, Incorporate.  K9 Argo’s vest is sponsored by a fundraiser hosted by Protectors of Animals of East Hartford and will be embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by Protectors of Animals”. 

 

Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks. 

 

(Photo: Brookfield Police, Facebook)

 

The non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s has provided bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States since in 2009.  Over 2,800 protective vests, in 50 states, have been donated through private and corporate donations.  The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $950. 

 

Brookfield Police Sgt. Jeff Osuch is Argo’s handler. Argo is a Belgian Malinois that was born in the USA. Argo joined the Brookfield Police Department in June of 2016. 

 

Argo is trained and certified in the following areas: searching for illegal drugs, searching for evidence connected with a crime, tracking criminals and missing/lost persons, and handler protection alone with the ability to chase and apprehend criminals. Argo is also trained to act as a deterrent and back up police officers in dangerous situations. This is Sgt. Osuch’s second time as a K-9 handler for the Brookfield Police Department.

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Robotics team in Redding qualifies for state championship competition

A robotics team of Redding fourth and sixth graders has qualified for the FIRST Lego League Connecticut State Championship.  28 teams took part in a regional qualifying event in November.  The team received the highest score in the robot game and earned first-place for Robot Design.  Students from nearly 90 countries take part in FIRST Lego League. 

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Danbury Library, YMCA partnering for Aging Mastery Program

Danbury Library is collaborating with the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut on a ten-week health and wellness program for residents 55 and over. The Aging Mastery Program is a national program aimed at empowering participants to develop sustainable behaviors in areas like health, economic security and societal participation.  10 organizations in Connecticut were selected to offer the Aging Mastery Program.  The weekly classes will be conducted on Thursdays from 11am - 12:30pm starting on February 15th.  Registration is required.

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Brookfield tout donations to food pantry, emergency fund

The Brookfield Social Services Department says the community was generous during the holiday season when it comes to donations to the Brookfield Emergency Fund and the Brookfield Food Pantry.  The holiday program helped more than 65 households and more than 100 children.  The Pantry serves over 140 families on a regular basis.

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Rail fare increase, service schedule cuts proposed for Metro North in CT

A series of public hearings will be held by the state Department of Transportation on a plan to hike rail fares by 10 percent and to boost bus fares by 25 cents.  The increases would take effect in July.  The dates, times, locations and number of hearings have not yet been released. 

 

Governor Malloy and DOT Commissioner James Redeker warned last month that the Special Transportation Fund is facing bankruptcy, in part because gas tax revenue has been dropping as a result of lower fuel prices and more efficient cars. 

 

The DOT proposal also calls for weekday off-peak service reductions on the Danbury branch, along with elimination of weekend service on the Danbury branch. 

 

Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says she will push for the hearings to be held across the state, and in the evenings.  She says the DOT needs to make itself available at times convenient for train commuters.  Boucher opposes the fare increases saying state officials have yet to prove that they're using the money they have wisely.

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Connecticut governor postpones transportation projects

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Wednesday he is putting off $4.3 billion in transportation projects until state lawmakers approve more money for them.


The Democratic governor said the projects have been postponed indefinitely. He called on the General Assembly to immediately appropriate money to the state's Special Transportation Fund, which finances transportation projects. He said the fund would be in deficit by July.

The projects on hold include the widening of Interstate 95 from Bridgeport to Stamford, improvements to the Interstate 91-Route 15 interchange on the Charter Oak Bridge in Hartford and the replacement of the Interstate 84-Route 8 interchange in Waterbury.

"If we want to compete in the 21st-century economy, we need a transportation system that works for people and businesses, and we need to invest in transit-oriented development to build the communities where people and businesses want to be," Malloy said.

Republican state Senate President Pro Tem Len Fasano blamed Malloy and Democratic lawmakers for the transportation fund deficit, saying they took $164 million from it to balance state budgets.

"Now, Gov. Malloy and Democrats are trying to use the problem they created to force the Legislature to approve new taxes and more burdens on commuters. That has been their game plan all along," Fasano said.

Malloy said the transportation fund has run low because the gas tax is not generating expected revenue and debt payments have increased. Deficits for the fund could soon climb into hundreds of millions of dollars without legislative action, he said. Malloy said he would offer his proposal for new transportation funding before the next legislative session begins next month.

Projects that are essential to public safety or have major federal funding will continue as planned, the governor said.

 

The projects being postponed include:

 

Route 202 intersection improvements in Brookfield at various suggested List of Surveillance Study Sites costing $5,840,000

 

I-84 reconstruction in Danbury between exits 3 and 8 (funded over years 2019, 2020, 2021) costing $57,500,000

 

Construction of Danbury Repair Facility in 2018 $11,500,000

 

Route 53 Int. Improvements at Coal Pit Hill and Triangle Street in 2019 costing $9,700,000

 

Replace salt shed roofs in Bethlehem, Cornwall, Danbury in 2019

 

Constrution of a new Mainatenance Facility in 2019 and 2020 in New Milford costing $8,580,000 and $643,500

 

Work on Mud Pond Road over Bull Mountain Brook in New Milford next year costing $235,750

 

Work on Gaylord Road over Morrissey Brook in New Milford next year costing $381,443

 

Work on Merryall Road over West Aspetuck River in New Milford next year costing $889,958

 

I-84 culvert replacement over Pole Bridge Brook in Sandy Hook costing $1,250,000

 

I-84 Exit 11 intersection improvements at Route 34/SR 490 nex year costing $13,315,000

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Ridgefield schools still facing potential deficit

The Ridgefield Board of Education could be asking for an allocation to cover a budget shortfall.  Officials estimate they'll be $1.3 million short.  There are a couple of things adding to costs this year, including winter-weather related repairs.  The biggest drivers were a summer enrollment increase and the cost of special education.  Out-of-district placements for special ed is costing about half a million dollars.  In September, the Superintendent put a freeze on controllable accounts.  4 students with Individualized Education Programs already in place at private institutions moved into Ridgefield and since then, three more students with IEPs have moved to the district.

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Brookfield to study parking ordinance revision proposal

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen decided at their meeting this week to schedule a public hearing about the town's parking ordinance.  Current ordinances limit parking between 2am and 6am to just an hour.  Revisions could include an exception to the overnight parking ban in certain parts of the Town Center District.  Brookfield Village came to an agreement with the town for 7 spaces.  The public hearing will be at 7:15 pm February 5th.

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Newtown Forest Association looks to buy Cherry Grove Farm

The Newtown Forest Association is working to raise money to buy 30 acres of farmland in an effort to protect it from development.  The Cherry Grove Farm property is on the market for $600,000.  The nonprofit has collected $275,000 in donations, but faces a January 15th deadline.  A developer bought the 45-acre property last year and plans to build a dozen homes.  If the  private land trust can pay for 30 acres along Palestine Road near Beaver Dam Road, the developer would sell the existing farmhouse and barns, and built two new homes on the remaining land.  The Newtown Forest Association plans to use the property for passive recreation. 

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Area state lawmakers tout vote on Medicare Savings Program

State lawmakers likely won't come back in special session to deal with the deficit, as the next session of the General Assembly opens in a couple of weeks.  They did restore the Medicare Savings Program this week.  Danbury Representative Michael Ferguson says many seniors in his district rely on the program for essential services they could not otherwise afford.  

 

Bethel Representative Will Duff says this program helps seniors on fixed incomes stay in Connecticut, and he backed the measure. 

 

New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith touted the vote this week to restore the Medicare Savings Program.  He says providing for the most vulnerable is a critical function of government, which they have to remember as the General Assembly gets set for a new session next month.  He says they will be tacking a restructure of state policies to address a persistent budget deficit. 

 

Almost 86,000 low-income seniors would be disqualified and another 27,000 would have their coverage reduced under changes in the Medicare Savings Program, which were overturned by the General Assembly this week.  Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding says restoring funds for the program was among the many areas of the state budget which take priority over others.

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Danbury mayor announces new bid for Connecticut governor

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has added his name to the list of candidates for Connecticut governor.

The nine-term mayor previously ran for governor in 2014 and for lieutenant governor in 2010 and is among the better-known names in the Republican field. He said that he has raised more than the $250,000 in donations needed to qualify for public funding for this campaign.

"I am running for Governor to turn our state around," said Boughton, who added that he wants to phase out the state income tax and reduce regulations. "Connecticut needs to be a place where people want to live, play, and work, rather than leave as was the case not so long ago."

 

 

Boughton had been exploring a run for statewide office for the last year.  More than 3,000 donors across 160 of Connecticut’s communities, donated more than the $250,000 in donations needed to qualify for the state’s Citizens Election Program.


Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, is not seeking a third term in the November election.

Boughton was one of three candidates to announce runs for governor on Tuesday.

Sean Connolly, a Democrat from Hebron, served until recently as commissioner of the state Department of Veterans Affairs. The lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve announced his run at an American Legion post in Hebron.

Guy Smith, a Greenwich Democrat, was an executive at the beverage company Diageo and served as an adviser to President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings. He announced his run at a school in New Haven.

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New boiler installed at Mark Twain Library in Redding

A new gas boiler was installed at Mark Twain Library in Redding yesterday.  The library has been closed since New Year's weekend, but is expected to reopen this weekend.  The library lost heat when the furnace burst and it needed replacing. The book drop has been sealed to prevent further cold air from entering the building. Redding residents are asked to hold onto borrowed items until the library reopens. All fines for overdue items will be forgiven.  There is an apartment above the library and officials were concerned that the collection donated by Twain would be damaged if a pipe bursts.  The books were put in plastic containers and wrapped in tarp.

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Low-flying helicopters to inspect utility lines

On the heels of last week’s blizzard, Eversource is surveying high-voltage power lines throughout Connecticut, checking for any damage done to the lines during the storm that may threaten electric reliability. A low flying helicopter is being used to also check for tree limbs or branches that may have broken in the high winds and be in a position to potentially damage a line and cause a power outage. 

 

Weather permitting, flights are scheduled to take place between 8am and 4pm throughout the week.  Utility rights of way in Bethel, Bethlehem, Brookfield, Danbury, New Milford, Newtown, Oxford, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Salisbury, Sharon, Weston, Wilton, and Woodbury will be inspected. 

 

A blue and gray helicopter, Tail # N1431W along with a blue and white helicopter, Tail #N411DD will be used.

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Bethel Democrat announces run for state Representative

Bethel Democrat Raghib Allie-Brennan plans a second run for state representative in the 2nd District.  He is the vice chairman of the Bethel Democratic Town Committee. After working as a congressional aid, the Bethel High School graduate returned to Bethel in 2015.  He said in announcement yesterday that he is the son of an immigrant and a Connecticut small business owner, and volunteers with the HERO Project, a local organization that raises awareness for the opioid crisis.  Allie-Brennan lost in 2016 to Will Duff, a Republican who represents portions of Bethel, Danbury, Newtown and Redding.

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20-percent of ticks tested in Danbury positive for Lyme agent

44 ticks have been submitted to the Danbury Health Department for testing since the program began this fall.  The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station reported back that 20% tested positive for an agent that causes illness in humans.  City health officials reminded residents that the average deer tick can live for two years and can survive in very cold climates. Snow and leaves help insulate ticks during the winter.  Although Lyme Disease infection rates drop in the winter, primarily because people spend less time outdoors, it’s still possible to contract Lyme.  It won't be known until spring whether the recent severe cold helped to mitigate the influx of ticks in Connecticut.

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Approvals given for next phase of Still River channel maintenance

The Danbury Public Works Department has secured all necessary approvals from the ArmyCorp of Engineers and others to start Phase II of the maintenance to the Still River Channel.  The plans and specifications are mostly complete for the work between from Patriot Drive and Jansen Street.  Approximately 12,800 tons of sediment, accumulated in the river channel over the years, will be removed.  Public Works Department officials say the project was bid last month and work is expected to be done when flow in the river is low.  The City Council approved a mutual easement agreement with an adjacent property owner in September.  The City Environmental Impact Commission and the State DEEP have also signed off.

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Informational meeting about state drainage project in Sandy Hook

The state Department of Transportation has scheduled a public information session in Newtown on a planned drainage improvement project. The work is planned for state property along a section of Interstate-84 in Sandy Hook, near Bungalow Terrace in Riverside.

 

The informational session will be held at the senior center at 6:30pm.

 

The $850,000 construction project is intended to repair and improve a deteriorated large underground culvert that carries Pole Bridge Brook underground. The water flow eventually discharges into the Lake Zoar section of the Housatonic River.

 

The repair work will involve installing a corrugated metal plate pipe liner within the existing pipe. Access to the site for construction workers will be from westbound I-84’s shoulder, and not expected to interfere with traffic flow. The project is not scheduled to start until the spring of 2020.

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Local officials offer winter safety reminders about pets

Danbury Animal Control is reminding residents that it's against state law to leave your dog outside longer than 15 minutes during a local, state or federal weather advisory or warning. State statute also addresses outdoor environmental conditions that include extreme heat, cold, wind, rain, snow or hail, which pose an adverse risk to the health or safety of dogs.

 

With winter weather in full swing, the New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department recommends following some health and safety tips. If animals can’t come inside, make sure they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.

 

If you use supplemental or alternative heating sources, follow the three feet rule: keep anything flammable at least three feet away. Your kitchen is for cooking and appliances should not be used as a heater. Lastly, protect pipes by running water frequently, even at a trickle, to prevent freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.

 

 

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Bridgewater Tax Collector hosts food drive

The Bridgewater Tax Collector’s Office is hosting a Food Drive throughout the month. Non-perishable food items, personal items such as toothpaste, shampoo and soap, and household goods like paper towels, toilet tissue and laundry detergent, will be collected and delivered to the Bridgewater Food Pantry. Grocery store gift cards will also be accepted. Town officials say this is a good month to hold the collection because people are coming in to make tax payments.

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Newtown High School addition project closed out

Even though the Newtown High School addition project was cleared for occupancy in 2011, the project was just closed out. The Public Building and Site Commission made the certification, after a leak in the area of the rear cafetorium was finally addressed. Commission chairman Robert Mitchell told the Newtown Bee that $350,000 was used to rebuild part of the exterior wall and the roof. The Commission has sent the information to the First Selectman's office and the town attorney to consider why the town, not the contractor, paid the money for the fix.

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Bethel Transfer Station to close Saturday for work on nearby solar farm

The transfer station in Bethel will be closed Saturday so that work can be done on the nearby solar farm.  Power has to be shut off to complete the electrical connections on the solar installation.  The 2,900-panel, 948-kilowatt array is expected to generate nearly 1 million kilowatts of energy a year for Bethel. The Bethel transfer station will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, as well as 7 a.m. to noon on Friday.  It was previously announced that the facility would be open until 3pm, but Bethel officials say there's a conflict with the trucking schedule for hauling materials out of the facility.  

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Judge to decide whether to toss Sandy Hook parents' lawsuit

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A judge is weighing whether to dismiss a negligence lawsuit filed by the parents of two children killed in the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting massacre against the town and its school district.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Devin Janosov, argued Monday at court in New Haven that school officials failed to order a lockdown, which might have saved lives.

A town attorney, Charles DeLuca, says administrators were forced to make split-second decisions in a harrowing situation. He called it "insulting" to suggest that they were to blame for the deaths.

Janosov says the efforts of administrators and teachers were "heroic" but not in keeping with the school's procedures.

The plaintiffs in the suit are the parents of Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner, who were among 20 first-graders killed alongside six educators.

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Brookfield Library project sent to Feb. referendum

Brookfield residents have agreed to send the Brookfield Library proposal to a referendum.  During last night's special town meeting, February 27th was set as the voting day on the 35,000 square foot, $14.7 million proposal.  Brookfield received approval for a $1 million state grant to offset the costs of the new library, but the grant approval expires in March. 

 

Library officials say the existing facility is too small to accommodate new services, and no longer meets the needs of the community.  They want to provide dedicated space for children and teens, quiet study space, expanded meeting space, improved accessibility for handicapped patrons, enhanced technology access, and ample parking.

 

More than half of all Brookfield residents have a library card.  Approximately 100,000 visits are made to the library each year.

 

$300,000 could be used to replace the Horse Field athletic field, if the library is built there.  Brookfield Soccer Club raised money to build the field two decades ago. Soccer club members have said it is the best field in town.  Locations for a replacement field could be the municipal center campus, Happy Landings or Eriksen Farm.  The town could also opt to purchase a private property. 

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Furnace at Mark Twain Library needs replacing

The Mark Twain library in Redding will remain closed for the foreseeable future while the furnace is replaced.  The library lost heat on Monday and it was determined Wednesday that the furnace needed replacing.  The book drop has been sealed to prevent further cold air from entering the building.  Redding residents are asked to hold onto borrowed items until the library reopens.  All fines for overdue items will be forgiven. 

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Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission act on two items

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission made changes to the town's accessory apartment regulations.  They removed a minimum half-acre requirement for properties served by the town sewer line. 

 

Detached accessory apartments do not need to mimic the exterior style of the main house, according to other updates to the regulation. 

 

The Commission also rejected a request from the Boys and Girls Club for a zoning change extending the central business district into a residential neighborhood.  The organization wants to expand on its Governor Street property, but has not yet submitted plans to do so, and say there are more approvals needed in a residential zone.

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Special Town Meeting tonight in Redding

A Special Town Meeting is being held in Redding tonight on two items.  One is to consider and vote on a Fracking Waste Ban.  The ordinance would prohibit the storage, disposal or use of waste from oil and gas exploration or extraction activities in the Town of Redding. 

 

The other item on the agenda is to vote on funding for plant upgrades at the Redding Wastewater Treatment Plant.  The $796,000 would be financed  through a combination of a municipal lease and the unassigned fund balance.  Membrane replacement and software upgrades are needed. 

 

The meeting at Redding Town Hall is set for 7pm.

 

Members of the Redding Water Pollution Control Commission previously reported to the Board of Selectmen that the independent power monitoring has been completed and the result of 21 power interruptions in a 30-day period suggests a transformer issue with Eversource. Eversource was contacted for further investigation.

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Candlewood Lake drawdown gets deeper, Authority warns of ice dangers

The Candlewood Lake Authority is issuing some ice safety reminders.  CLA says no ice is 100-percent safe.  Conditions can significantly change the strength of ice from one spot to another, and can present a life threatening situation. 

 

Candlewood does not freeze in uniform thickness and can vary drastically in as little as a few feet of distance.   Lake levels rise and fall throughout the winter, which can impact ice strength, especially along the shoreline.

 

FirstLight Power Resources is temporarily drawing the water of Candlewood Lake down further than originally planned to provide additional clean electricity generation to the power grid. New England’s power grid operator, ISO-New England, issued an alert to all electric generators that an "abnormal condition was affecting the reliability of the power system"--the extreme cold. 

 

First Light owns and operates Rocky River Pumped Hydro Storage plant in New Milford.  By drawing Candlewood Lake down further, First Light can generate enough clean energy to power 25,000 homes throughout the duration of the cold snap.  

 

FirstLight will draw the lake down from its original planned operating limit of the 422 line to a new operating limit of the 420 line.

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Blizzard conditions met in Danbury on Thursday

Danbury and two other Connecticut municipalities experienced a blizzard on Thursday.  The National Weather Service confirmed that the conditions met the definition of a blizzard in Danbury, Bridgeport and Groton.  There were sustained winds of 35 miles per hour or faster, considerable falling or blowing snow and visibility reduced to less than a quarter of a mile.  The conditions must be met for at least 3 hours.  In Danbury, there was a blizzard from 10:53am to 3:53pm.

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Extreme cold weather protocol extended through Monday

The extreme bitterly cold temperatures aren't the only trouble facing residents today, it's the high winds and wind chill.  That could lead to power problems.   Governor Dannel Malloy says the severe cold weather protocol creates a clearinghouse to match shelters and warming centers with people who need them.  The protocol has been extended through Monday. 

 

State agencies work with United Way 2-1-1 and the state's network of homeless shelters to make sure people are protected from the frigid temperatures. 

 

Driving wasn't the only problem people encountered the day after the big snow storm.  Metro-North had to run a reduced schedule yesterday with some combined and cancelled trains.  The extremely low temperatures also caused some issues for train service and other Metro North infrastructure. 

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Blumenthal visits Danbury health center to talk CHIP funding impacts

Senator Richard Blumenthal was in Danbury yesterday afternoon to hear firsthand how Danbury children would be harmed should Congress fail to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  He visited the Greater Danbury Community Health Center and urged Congressional action to protect healthcare for 17,000 Connecticut children and 9 million nationwide.  In late December, Congress approved a continuing resolution that provided a short, temporary extension of funding for CHIP. Without additional funding, Blumenthal says Connecticut will be forced to close the program at the end of next month—kicking thousands of low-income children off health insurance.

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Easton firefighters remind residents to clear vents to prevent CO poisoning

The Easton Volunteer Fire Department is reminding people to keep vents from dryers and the like on the outside of your home clear of snow and debris.  Firefighters say this could prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. 

 

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to the flu.  Depending on the amount of carbon monoxide in the air and length of exposure, symptoms may include headaches, weakness, confusion, chest tightness, skin redness, dizziness, nausea, sleepiness, fluttering of the heart or loss of muscle control. If you suspect carbon monoxide is present in your home, go outside immediately and breathe deeply; then call 911.

 

Kent Volunteer Fire Department is offering some safety tips as the frigid temperatures continue to linger.  They asked that residents pay attention when using portable heaters, always use the manufacturer's recommendations for placement and use and keep curtains at least 3 feet from heaters.

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Wilton Police credit residents for staying home during storm, lowering accident calls

Wilton Police only had one reported accident related to yesterday's weather.   Police responded to 4 reports of hazardous situations due to trees or wires down.  They say Eversource was quick to respond.  Police expect to get more reports throughout the day today, as people begin to venture out, of trees down due to the high winds during the overnight.

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Brookfield Board of Finance meeting about library building project

The Brookfield Board of Finance is holding a special meeting tonight about the proposed library project.  They will decide whether to send the idea to a special town meeting.  Also on the agenda is whether to approve a $300,000 to replace the Horse Field athletic field, where the library could be built.  Tonight's meeting is at 7pm.  A special town meeting could be held at 7:30pm Monday about scheduling a February 27th referendum.  The $300,000 would only be allocated if the library is built on the Horse Field.

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Redding officials holding daylong budget workshop

Redding officials are holding a daylong a budget workshop today.  During a joint meeting with the Boards of Finance and Education, First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton reviewed the current status of the budget. She has asked for a reduction of 5% for non-contractual expenditures, with a separate column delineating what services would be affected. 

 

Pemberton intends to get to a flat budget next fiscal year. 

 

The Board of Education noted that 55% of Joel Barlow High School students next year will be from Redding.  In the current school year, there is an unspent amount of $833,000.  Future changes at the schools include to Pre-K classes, world language in the Middle School and the Middle School music program.  Insurance will be changed from PPO to HSA. 

 

16 departments, boards or organizations are making budget requests.

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Greater Danbury towns receive 8 to 13 inches of snow

The hurricane-force storm that roared up the East Coast, dumping as much as 18 inches of snow from the Carolinas to Maine, also unleashed record flooding in the Boston area. 

 

"Historic high tide'' led to the deployment of a number of National Guard high-water rescue vehicles to help stranded residents and motorists.  East Coast residents are now bracing for a deep freeze.  The blast of record-breaking cold air and bitter winds could make it feel as low as minus 15 degrees throughout much of the Northeast this weekend.

 

The Greater Danbury area received 8 to 13 inches of snow.  The top of the range was Monroe, the bottom was Brookfield.  In between, Newtown received 12.6 inches of snow, Bethel got 11, New Fairfield 9.5 and Ridgefield received 9 inches of snow.  Both Weston and Wilton got about a foot and a half. 

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Dozens of drivers disregard Danbury parking ban during storm

Danbury Police had dozens of cars towed yesterday, more than 50 by noon, in an effort to have a clear path for snow plows.  Danbury upped the snow emergency to a Level 2 with travel not recommended during the height of the storm yesterday afternoon. 

 

Extra Connecticut State Troopers were on the roads yesterday during the storm.  From 6am yesterday through 6 this morning, Troopers responded to 1492 calls for service.  They assisted 441 motorists and responded to 89 accidents.  11 of the crashes resulted in injuries and there were no fatalities.  Troopers also made 1 DUI arrest.

 

Danbury firefighters are asking residents to help them after the storm.  If there is a hydrant on your property, or you know of one nearby, the Fire Department is calling on people to shovel a 3-foot radius around it.  If they can't see or get to a hydrant, it takes precious time away from fighting fires.

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Area firefighters issue winter safety tips, make request

Danbury firefighters are asking residents to help them after the storm.  If there is a hydrant on your property, or you know of one nearby, the Fire Department is calling on people to shovel a 3-foot radius around it.  If they can't see or get to a hydrant, it takes precious time away from fighting fires.

 

The continued bitter cold temperatures will return after the snow storm ends.  New Milford Town Hall will be open as a warning shelter tomorrow from 6am to 10am.  The Warming Shelter at 25 Church Street will be open Saturday from 8 am-3:30 pm.  On Sunday, the East Street School gymnasium will be open from 8 am to 1pm.  The rest of the time will be covered by Loaves & Fishes, St. John's Church, and other public buildings during the day.

 

The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company members were at both firehouses last night to put chains on the apparatus, check fuel levels and run generators. The Fire Department will be manned throughout the storm and additional EMS crews have been placed in service to handle anticipated longer response and transport times. 

 

The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is offering a few winter weather reminders.  If you lose power, keep all generators at least 25 feet from your house.  Do not leave space heaters, kerosene heaters or candles unattended.  Treat any downed wire as potentially live.

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HART board approves fare increases, service cuts

The Housatonic Area Regional Transit Board of Directors has approved fare increases and reduced services to Brewster.  The base fare for a fixed route goes up a quarter to $1.75. The fare for ADA Paratransit increases 50-cents to $3.  The rides between Trader Joe’s in Danbury and Brewster between noon and 2 pm will be eliminated, but does not affect the Brewster shuttle to the train station.  Norwalk Transit will no longer offer two inbound and outbound buses to Danbury, and the 9:05 a.m. bus will only run to Wilton Center.  The state is considering increasing bus fares by 15 percent, and cutting its contract with HARTransit by 15 percent.

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Avielle Foundation event at Edmond Town Hall still scheduled for tonight

The Avielle Foundation is working on a video project called the Brainstorm Experience. The year-long series is dedicated to improving brain health through community engagement and education. These experiences are meant to enhance the understanding of the strengths and vulnerabilities of the brain. 

 

Steve Gross from The Avielle Foundation will be first to present tonight, at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown.  Gross is a leader in the field of psychological trauma response and a pioneer in utilizing meaningful relationships to overcome the devastating impact of early childhood trauma. 

 

The Avielle Foundation is named for a child who was killed at Sandy Hook School.  Avielle's father, Jeremy Richman, is a scientist who set up the Foundation to the study brain health. 

 

The event is slated to go on as planned despite the weather.  

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Bethel Town Clerk earns designation from international group

Bethel Town Clerk Lisa Bergh has earned the designation of Certified Municipal Clerk.  The designation is given by the International Institute of Municipal Clerks to those who have completed demanding education requirements and have contributed significantly to their local government, community and state.  The institute has 14,000 members across the globe.

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Connecticut plans to add new medical marijuana dispensaries

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut plans to award at least three new licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries, adding to the nine already in operation, including in Bethel.

The state Department of Consumer Protection announced a request for applications for new facilities on Wednesday.

Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull says the medical marijuana program is growing rapidly and the dispensaries will help meet rising demand.

Applicants have until April 9 to respond to the application request.

The state first legalized medical marijuana in 2012. More than 20,000 people are currently in the program.

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Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company responded to more than 1,200 calls in 2017

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company responded to more than 1,200 calls for service in 2017.   They ranged from EMS medicals at Assisted Living Facilities, falls, Traumas, overdoses, Car Extrications, building fires, severe storms, ring removals, fire alarms and CO incidents, among others.  About 75-percent of the response was to EMS calls, with about 300 being for fire and rescue.  There were 17 calls to a building fire including providing mutual aid.  28 other fire calls involving dumpsters, cars or furnaces and the like.  Volunteers responded to 70 automatic alarms  and 34 service calls or smoke scares.  There were 39 accidents, including extrications, needing attention.  13 calls about a gas leak or carbon monoxide and 31 to assist EMS.  The remaining calls were cancelled en route.

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Danbury schools having heating issues in extreme cold

While the heat is on in all Danbury school buildings, there have been some issues due to the extreme cold coupled with aging equipment.  Superintendent Sal Pascarella told the Newstimes that a boiler at South Street School went offline Sunday.  He says some old steam pipes at Park Avenue School have burst under the higher pressure of the new boiler.  Broadview Middle School and Danbury High School have also experienced some heating issues.

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Danbury seeks grant money to make traffic improvements at busy intersections

The City of Danbury is applying for state grant money to make improvements to three busy intersections. 

 

Improvements to alleviate traffic congestion and address public safety issues are proposed for the intersection of Lake Avenue, Westville Avenue and Oil Mill Road.  Preliminary construction estimates are $2.5 million.  A proposal for improvements to the intersection of White Street, Triangle Street, Cross Street and Newtown Road would cost $4 million.  Improvements are also being proposed for the intersection of Main Street, Franklin Street, Garamella Boulevard and Rose Street.  Preliminary estimates for construction is $2.5 million. 

 

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments was tasked with applying on Danbury's behalf for State Department of Transportation Capital Improvement Funds.  No municipal matching funds would be needed. 

 

 

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Bethel officials remind residents about winter street parking bans

With snow in the forecast tomorrow, Bethel officials are reminding residents about the town's winter parking restrictions being in effect. On-street parking is prohibited from November 15th through April 15th, between the hours of 2am to 6am.  The parking ban is meant to facilitate snow plowing operations. 

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Republican announces intention to challenge Congressman Himes

A Republican has announced his intention to challenge Democratic Congressman Jim Himes for the seat in the 4th District this November.  Investment firm founder Harry Arora has filed paperwork with the state to seek the GOP nomination.  Himes was first elected to the seat serving Ridgefield and southern Fairfield County in 2008 and is seeking a 6th term.  Arora, a 48-year old Greenwich resident, criticized the Affordable Health Care Act and said on his website that there have been too many attacks on industries like financial services and insurance.

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Brookfield Board of Ed to discuss budget proposal

The Brookfield Superintendent is proposing a nearly $43.5 million dollar 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 tonight.

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Danbury opts-out of state 'granny pod' regulations

Danbury has decided to opt out of a new state regulation put in place this past October.  The law prohibits municipal zoning regulations from barring temporary health care structures, unless the city or town opts out.  The structures, no larger than 500 square feet, must be on property owned by the relative, legal guardian or health agent responsible for the unpaid care of a physically or mentally impaired person.

 

Danbury Planning Director Sharon Calitro says some people have called the temporary structures "granny pods," but the separate tiny houses aren't just for elderly people.  The person has to be certified by a physician as needing help by two or more activities of daily living, specified in the act.

 

Calitro says 24 other municipalities have also opted out of provision including an An Act Concerning Temporary Health Care Structures. 

 

The opt-out provision requires both the Zoning Commission and the City Council to agree to bar such structures.  The Zoning Commission took action the month the state measure became law.  Zoners found that over 13,000 parcels would be affected by the provisions and that enforcement would be problematic.  The Commission determined that by opting-out, it would not be detrimental to the health, safety or welfare of residents.

 

The City Council voted unanimously at their December meeting to opt-out of the state law's requirements.

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Ridgefield Zoners approve mixed-use overlay zone

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a new mixed-use overlay zone.  A 3rd public hearing was held on the proposal last night.  The regulation offers incentives to affordable housing developers if they comply with local zoning rules as Ridgefield’s four-year moratorium on 8-30g applications is set to expire in October.  Under the state's affordable housing laws, a developer can bypass local zoning restrictions for height, housing density, or lot coverage if 30% of available units are designated as affordable housing.  The regulation takes affect January 12th.

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Brookfield firefighters put out dishwasher fire

Brookfield firefighters responded to a report of a dishwasher fire this morning.  Units were dispatched to an Allen Road home shortly after 5am.  Flames were creeping up the counter top .  All occupants evacuated the house safely.  A fire extinguisher was used to put out the blaze.  Smoke was ventilated from the house.  The dishwasher was disconnected and removed from the house by firefighters.  The Brookfield Fire Marshal's Office is investigating.  Three residents were evaluated for smoke inhalation, but all refused transport to the hospital.  The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is reminding all residents to check smoke alarms.

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Danbury Mayor to make announcement about governor race Thursday

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton plans to discuss his intentions for the 2018 election cycle Thursday at the state capital.  He also plans an event at the Palace Theater in Danbury.  Boughton has an exploratory committee for statewide office and it's expected he'll announce his intention to seek the Republican nomination for Governor.

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Bethel High School Navy JROTC cadets to conduct Christmas tree pick up

On Saturday, January 6th the Bethel High School Navy JROTC program will pick up live Christmas trees to be recycled and mulched.  The students are asking that registered residents have trees out by 9am and note that trucks will be out through Noon. A $10 donation is suggested and goes toward Educational Programs for the cadets. To participate, residents can email address and phone number to  BETHELNJROTCBOOSTERS@GMAIL.COM or call 203-794-8600 Ext. 1101, after 6pm, and leave a message with the information.

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Danbury firefighters extinguish elevator shaft blaze

Danbury firefighters responded to La Quinta Inn & Suites on Newtown Road for a report of a fire in an elevator shaft.  The blaze was put out without incident.  There were no reported injuries.  The incident happened around noon yesterday.  The building was evacuated as crews found smoke in the hallway.  Guests were able to re-enter the building after about an hour.  The damage was contained to the elevator area.

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Ridgefield planners to hold another hearing on mixed use overlay zone

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a 3rd public hearing on a “mixed use overlay zone” proposal.  Affordable housing priced according to 60% of the state median income will not be part of the proposal.  The idea was initially included to incentivize developers away from an 8-30g application.  Under the state's affordable housing laws, a developer can bypass local zoning restrictions for height, housing density, or lot coverage if 30% of available units are designated as affordable housing.  The public hearing is set for 7:30 tonight. 

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Danbury area lawmakers part of new fire/EMS Legislative Caucus

Several Greater Danbury area lawmakers are members of the new fire/EMS Legislative Caucus.  Their inaugural meeting was held last month.  Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky says the caucus was founded to help generate awareness about legislative initiatives that will ultimately help create better policies addressing public safety matters. 

 

He says bills sometimes get held up in the legislative process because there's a lack of understanding on why they've been proposed. 

 

Last session, Bolinsky supported a law co-sponsored by New Milford Representative Bill Buckbee requiring an increased standard of maintaining fire apparatus.  The measure is intended to provide first responders the best equipment and resources possible to effectively remedy an emergency situation.  New Milford Senator Craig Miner was among four no votes on the bill.  There were five votes in opposition in the House, including from Easton Representative Adam Dunsby.

 

Primarily, the discussion on Tuesday focused on financial matters.  Bolinsky says the state's fire training schools for example are not adequately funded.

 

The next caucus meeting will be held on January 9th.

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Putnam County Sheriff's Office changes leadership

There's a new Sheriff in charge in Putnam County.  The Office is now being led by Robert Langley, Jr.  He is the 54th Putnam County Sheriff.  Langley was raised in Carmel and graduated from the Mahopac Central School District. He is the founder and president of a private security company serving commercial and residential clients.  Langley was with the department from 1984 until his retirement in 2007.

 

He served as a Criminal Investigator assigned to forensics and identification, as a member of the K-9 unit, and as a training officer in emergency communications.  He served in the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department for 14 years, seven years in the Garrison Volunteer Fire Company, and two years in the Continental Village Fire Department in Philipstown. 

 

In 1995, Langley was selected as member of the elite unit that served as security detail to Pope John Paul II on his visit to Yonkers. 

 

Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith has ended his time leading the agency.  He says the members of law enforcement, fire departments and ambulance corps are dedicated professionals and he thanked them for their hard work.  Smith has served 19 years as Deputy County Executive and as Sheriff.  Smith was born ion Danbury and grew up in Patterson.  

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