Local Headlines Archives for 2018-03

Pre-ticketing pilot program for Squantz Pond parking suggested

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is exploring the idea of a pre-ticketing opportunity at Squantz Pond. Parks Director Tom Tyler says the pilot program is still in the idea phase, but it would signal to people not to visit the park because it's already sold out and at capacity.

Tyler was asked about the idea of shuttle bus service since walk-ins are not banned when the parking lot is full. He says they haven't explored it in the past, because of the capacity inside the park.  When the parking lot is full, he notes that the rest of the park is at capacity--beaches are crowded, bathrooms are fully utilized and the lifeguards ability to keep an eye on all visitors is at its limit. Some have questioned why the state still allows walk-ins.

 

A proposed regulation to ban walk-ins was previously rejected by the legislature's Regulation Review Committee.


When there's a closure, and it's communicated, Tyler says they've been successful in diverting traffic to other parks, or at the very least off Route 39.

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New Milford Mayor to deliver State of the Town address tonight

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass will deliver his State of the Town Address tonight. The speech is scheduled for 7pm in the E. Paul Martin Room of New Milford Town Hall. Bass says New Milford began a great but challenging year in 2018. He is looking ahead to some significant economic development. Bass will discuss his first 100 days in office, the newly formed Community Center ad hoc committee, goals for 2019 and the town's overall financial picture among other topics. The State of the Town address is open to the public, but due to capacity constraints, will also be filmed for the town's YouTube channel.

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Public hearing on proposed rehab facility in Kent

A public hearing will be held today by the state Department of Public Health Office of Health Care Access to hear comments on the proposal by Birch Hill Recovery Center, LLC to reopen the former property known as The Kent as a drug and alcohol rehab facility.

 

Public comments will be accepted from 10am to 6pm at 19 Main Street in New Milford.

 

Plans call for an 85-bed inpatient detoxification and intensive treatment facility offering Medication Assisted Treatment, but not IVs. It could transition to a Level 4 facility, with IV treatment, in a year. The Certificate of Need filing with the state says this would be a more affordable alternative to acute care hospitalization.

 

The property includes a 60,000-square-foot former skilled nursing facility on 11.5 acres off Maple Street.

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Forum in Brookfield on school building needs

A forum is being held by the Brookfield School District to present a study of what renovations are needed on the school buildings. The study about facilities, enrollment and grade configuration will help officials craft a 10-year capital improvement plan.

 

Tecton Architectural Services has already met with teachers, custodians, administrators and other employees.  An elementary school design forum by the Strategic Steering Committee Schools Ad Hoc Committee will be joined by its architects at the meeting.  Officials say this will be the first of several public forums to be held.

 

Brookfield residents will hear from the committee about initial observations and have the chance to give their input. The meeting is at 7pm in the Brookfield High School Auditorium.

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WCSU names 2018 Macricostas Entrepreneur of the Year

West Conn has announced the 2018 Macricostas Entrepreneur of the Year. Jordan Young, president of Danbury-based Fairfield Processing Corp., will be honored during a ceremony and luncheon on Thursday. Young, who has served as president of Fairfield Processing since 2009, has carried on a family tradition of entrepreneurship, product innovation and market development as the third generation of his family to lead the company since its founding in 1940. The company has committed to the U.S. manufacture of products and strategic location of manufacturing sites to limit its carbon footprint in shipping.

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DMV still searching for AAA replacement for licensing services

The head of the state Department of Motor Vehicles has testified before the legislature's Transportation Committee about steps the agency has taken to reduce wait times.  Commissioner Michael Bzdyra says a huge and important project on the horizon is replacing AAA Northeast locations which are no longer offering DMV services in Fairfield and New Haven counties.  The office in Danbury and elsewhere ended services in January 2017 after they couldn't reach an operating agreement with the DMV.  The franchise wanted to only serve its members and not the general public.  The DMV will provide workstations, telecommunications and supplies for a new vendor. Under state law, the contractor can charge no more than $5 per transaction.

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Services restored at state parks due to fee increase on car registration renewals

As more people go to renew their two-year motor vehicle registrations, or get a new registration, they are finding a new $10 fee on their DMV bill called Passport to the Parks.  The fee was added by the General Assembly last year as a way to fund state parks and forest maintenance and staffing. 

 

Connecticut residents no longer have to pay a parking fee when visiting the sites. 

 

Lifeguard staffing had been reduced at Squantz Pond in New Fairfield and elsewhere last season when money became tight.  All 8 parks with water bodies will be fully staffed this summer.  Some state parks with museums and visitor centers also had those facilities closed due to budget cuts.  They will now have hours restored from Memorial Day through Labor Day. 

 

The visitors center at Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding was only open weekends.  Campgrounds at Macedonia Brook in Kent will reopen April 14, the first day of fishing season. 

 

Fall camping will be restored at Housatonic Meadows in Sharon through Columbus Day.

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Holocaust education bill advances out of committee

The legislature's Education Committee voted in favor of a bill to include Holocaust And Genocide Education And Awareness in social studies curriculum.   Co-Chair Senator Toni Boucher proposed the bill in response to anti-Semitic graffiti found in her district recently, in Ridgefield.  She notes that the Holocaust survivors and children of survivors are aging and the eye witnesses to the atrocities that took place nearly 80 years ago are being lost.  Boucher says she doesn't want the knowledge of this sad chapter in world history to disappear with them.

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'One Book One Community' author talk today in Easton

The author of the non-fiction work selected by Easton Public Library for this year's One Book/One Town Community Reads program will be in Connecticut for an author talk today.  "The Yellow Envelope: One Gift, Three Rules, and A Life-Changing Journey Around the World"  was selected for the program.  Kim Dinan will lead the talk at 2pm.

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Tax relief available for elderly New Fairfield homeowners

Tax relief is available in New Fairfield for both elderly homeowners and those homeowners who are totally disabled.  Applications are accepted in the Assessor's Office through May 15th every year. The benefits are strictly income based.

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Planetarium show tonight at WCSU

A planetarium show, followed by telescope viewing of the sky is taking place tonight at Western Connecticut State University.  The event is from 8pm to 10pm at the Westside Observatory and Planetarium. The event is free and open to the public. 

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Town meeting tonight in Bridgewater

A Special Town Meeting is being held tonight in Bridgewater.  Residents are voting on whether to transfer $120,000 from the General Fund Reserve Account into the Capital Expenditures for future years equipment purchases.  Residents will also see a presentation on options for the future of Bridgewater Grange Hall and have a chance to provide feedback and preferences on alternative designs and cost estimates.  The meeting is at 7pm at the Burnham School.

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Danbury Library receives grant for English Language Learner courses

Danbury Library has been selected as one of 20 public libraries nationwide to receive a $10,000 American Dream Literacy Initiative grant from the American Library Association.  Danbury Library plans to offer free, beginner-level English courses for Speakers of Other Languages. 

 

Library Director Katie Pearson says 45% of Danbury residents report speaking a language other than English at home and these classes are one of the most common requests the Information Desk gets.  Each course, facilitated by WERACE adult ed, will run for ten weeks with five hours of instruction per week; totaling 50 hours of instruction per course. 

 

85 libraries applied for the 20 available grants, also funded by Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

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Construction starts Monday on Route 25 in Monroe

Construction is slated to start soon in Monroe to replace two bridges on Route 25 between Judd Road and Brook Road.  The state Department of Transportation says work will begin Monday to replace two box culverts, install new drainage and a water main, and associated paving.  Various lane closures can be expected Mondays through Fridays 8pm to 6am and on weekends 6pm to 10am.  There will be 5 weekend closures, to be announced at a later date, for major operations to be determined as the project progress.  The project is scheduled for completion in August of 2019.

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Danbury Library to host viewing of 'Hidden Figures' film, discussion

A Women's History Month film and discussion is being hosted at Danbury Library this weekend.  The film, based on the book "Hidden Figures," tells the story of three, female, African-American mathematicians who were integral in the success of the USA space programs. 

 

A discussion will follow the movie centered around the barriers confronted by women of color then and now, with a focus on encouraging young women of color to pursue careers in science and math.  Registration is encouraged for the event on Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30pm at Danbury Library. 

 

The event is also being hosted by the Danbury NAACP and American Association of University Women.

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Transportation committee approves highway toll proposals

A committee has approved sending multiple bills to Connecticut's legislature that would install tolls on the state's highways.

The General Assembly Transportation Committee narrowly approved the plan Thursday in a 19 to 17 vote, with the majority of Democrats supporting and Republicans opposing the tolls.

One bill would require a study on the tolls by the state Department of Transportation. Another bill would allow the DOT to set rates.

 

When it comes to something that would have an impact on taxpayers, Co-chair, Wilton Senator Toni Boucher believes lawmakers should keep the decision making closest to those who are closest to, and answerable to the public.

 

Boucher said she could not vote for any measures that require Connecticut drivers to pay even more, without reducing or eliminating other costs.  She is also concerned by one bill, which could see a toll plan enacted without a legislative vote.  She says a Transportation Authority would be deemed approved if not acted upon by the legislature within a short period of time.

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Sandy Hook Promise launches national reporting system

Sandy Hook Promise has launched a national, anonymous reporting system to root out school violence.  It's the Say Something crisis hotline.  Co-founder Mark Barden says 80 percent of school shooters told someone about their plan before they carried it out.  The call center is staffed 24/7 with trained experts who can then vet and prioritize information and then report to authorities.  This builds off the organization's Say Something initiative.  The free school-based program teaches students the warning signs that a peer is about to commit violence.  Barden says he'd rather have 100 false alarms if means 1 tip leads to an intervention.  Students can submit an anonymous tip online or by phone.

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Some Candlewood Lake border towns balk at contribution increase to Authority

Two of the five towns surrounding Candlewood Lake are opposed to a budget increase for the Candlewood Lake Authority.  The Newstimes reports that Sherman and New Milford believe the budget might need to be reevaluated.  If three of the five towns approve their contributions, all five are required to pay. 

 

Brookfield and New Fairfield officials have each proposed the $79,900 in their local budgets.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is expected to present his budget to the City Council next month. 

 

The contribution is $2,100 more than this year.  The published report says the Authority is facing a $6,400 hike in rent for their New Milford office.  

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Proposal to raise cap on purchases from breweries considered in larger regulation bill

A proposal to raise the cap on how much consumers can buy directly from breweries for off-premises consumption will not be voted on by the legislature's General Law Committee.  The group plans to include language in a larger alcohol regulation bill. 

 

Many people in the state's craft beer industry testified during a public hearing that the 9-liter limit doesn't allow them to sell a case of 16-ounce bottles, which is more popular than the current 12-ounce bottles.  Barry Labendz of Kent Falls Brewing Company, the state's first farm brewery testified in support.

 

The Connecticut Beer Wholesalers Association, which represents six major distributors around the state, opposes the proposal. 

 

New York, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont do not limit how much breweries can sell in their taprooms.  

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Local lawmaker pushes for AP course credit bill

Danbury state Representative Michael Ferguson pushed for a bill about acceptance of AP course credits at public colleges, if the student scored a 4 or greater.  But the bill did not get advanced by the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee this week. 

 

Ferguson said the proposal would have addressed some of the challenges around Advanced Placement courses, but bringing consistency among public state schools. 

 

At Danbury High School, 45% of juniors and seniors take at least one AP course, and 30% of those students qualify for free or reduced lunch. CollegeBoard currently has 38 AP courses, 24 of which are offered at Danbury High School.  Students could complete nearly a full year of credits prior to entering college, which Ferguson says would make college more affordable for students.

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Bridge inspection scheduled on Route 34 over Stevenson Dam

The State Department of Transportation will be conducting a routine bridge inspection on Route 34 over the Stevenson Dam next week.  The inspection activity will take place from Monday through Friday, 9am to 3pm and on Saturday the 31st from 6am to noon.  During this time, there will be one-way, alternating traffic over the bridge.  Monroe and Oxford Police Departments will be directing traffic.

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Newtown bond rating reaffirmed

Standard & Poor's has reaffirmed Newtown's AAA bond rating, with a stable outlook.  The latest municipal audit also revealed positive results.  The Newtown Bee reports that while any cuts in state aid will put increased pressure on local municipal budgets, auditors determined that property taxes have provided a reliable revenue source.  Property taxes account for approximately 90 percent of the general fund revenue.  The Government Finance Officers Association has awarded Newtown its Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the 17th consecutive year.

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Danbury Head Start to host early learning science fair

Danbury Head Start and School Readiness students are showing off their science, engineering and math skills in an early childhood development Science Fair.  During the second annual event hosted by the Connecticut Institute For Communities Early Learning Programs, demonstrations and classroom projects will be shown to families.  The event Friday is from 5:30 to 7pm at the Head Start Center on Foster Street.

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Career fair held at Danbury middle school

A Career Fair has been held at Rogers Park Middle School in Danbury.  Nearly 1,000 students in grades six through eight went to classes Wednesday given by area professionals on their careers.  Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella spoke to the students about the importance of considering careers before the event began. The presenters’ occupations ranged from crime scene investigator to horse trainer to pilot.  Prison guard Jimmy Durkin, RN Rachel Wright, Danbury police officer Manny Martinez, Army Colonel Michael Port, school counselors and staff, chef Morgan Vondle, podiatrist Dr. Richard Gosnay and others participated.

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Danbury hosts Puerto Rican families 6 months after Hurricane Maria struck

It's been six months since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico.

 

The Red Cross is reporting there are 89 families residing in Danbury who have evacuated from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. There are 15 new students in the Danbury School system. The Danbury Public Health Emergency Preparedness Division is working with FEMA, through their Transitional Shelter Assistance program, and the Danbury Housing Authority to obtain housing for some families. 

 

Thousands of Puerto Rican families fled to Connecticut in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. 

 

Local Health Departments are providing updates on the numbers and status of evacuees to the state.  Members of the Danbury Public Health Emergency Preparedness Division participated in the Puerto Rico Relief Center Leadership Conference in January, hosted by the Red Cross.  Members of volunteer organizations, FEMA, and various city officials discussed the challenges and possible solutions for aiding with evacuees in Connecticut. 

 

In his budget adjustments, Governor Malloy proposed $400,000 to continue providing temporary housing assistance to about 40 Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria.

 

Senator Chris Murphy, a member of the Appropriations Committee, is urging Congress to appropriate additional funding to help the island rebuild and recover from the $100 billion in damage, and to help communities, like those in Connecticut, that have taken in families who fled from the island.

 

Hurricane Maria destroyed roughly 75,000 homes and caused damage to an additional 300,000 homes.

More than 275,000 Puerto Ricans live in Connecticut, making up about 8 percent of the state’s population. Murphy and Senator Richard Blumenthal traveled to Puerto Rico earlier this year to see firsthand the ongoing devastation on the island to secure comprehensive aid for Puerto Ricans. 

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Acting Ridgefield School Superintendent approved by state DOE

The state Department of Education has approved the appointment of an acting superintendent of Schools in Ridgefield.  Robert Miller was appointed by the local board of Ed last week.  The Board and Superintendent Karen Baldwin entered an agreement earlier this month for her resignation.  Baldwin was placed on administrative leave following claims she plagiarized documents and letters sent to parents.  Miller, the director of operations development and technology, will serve through June 30th.

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Bethel officials pushed to approve funding for turf field

A public hearing on the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year was held in Bethel Tuesday night, and dozens of parents and students called for a turf field at the high school.  Turning DeSantis Field into turf is estimated to cost is $964,000, and would cover the price of resurfacing the track.  The project has been postponed amid state education funding cuts.  Bethel is the only town in the South West Conference without a turf field.  The proposed $75.2 million budget is a 3.2 percent increase over the current year, representing a 5-percent hike in taxes.  A $1.4 million capital budget is also proposed.

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Anti-bullying forum to be held in New Milford

An anti-bullying forum is being held in New Milford on Monday by state Representative Bill Buckbee.  Superintendent Josh Smith will talk about social and emotional health and well being in the context of what the schools are doing to build strong youth.  New Milford Youth Agency youth advocate Jason O'Connor says they want to bring together the whole community, to come up with systemwide solutions to deal with bullying.  The event at the The Maxx from 6 to 7:30pm is free and open to the public. It will include an expert panel to discuss what parents can do if you suspect or know that your child is being bullied.

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Region 12 Superintendent search meeting postponed

The community meeting at Burnham School on the Region 12 Superintendent search has been postponed to March 28th.  The meeting has been rescheduled for 7pm next Wednesday at the Burnham School gym.  Region 12 school board officials are seeking input and opinions on what residents believe are the needed characteristics and attributes of a successful district leader.  Dr. Joseph Erardi is the Region’s superintendent search consultant, and will lead the community meeting for Bridgewater residents.

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Bethel Board of Ed make snow-related calendar changes

Due to the number of snow days, the Bethel Board of Education decided that if one more snow day cancellation is made, it will be made up on March 30th, Good Friday, with a half day.  The calendar was also changed to 180 days for students.  The last day for students will be a half day on Friday, June 22.  Teachers will return on Monday, June 25th for a full day of Professional Learning.  The Bethel Board of Ed decided to keep June 19th as the date for graduation for the Class of 2018.

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Danbury students take home prizes in science fair

Eight students from the Westside Middle School Academy STEM program took home prizes at the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair held earlier this month at Quinnipiac University. 

 

Principal Dr Frank LaBanca the students are being prepared well for the responsibilities of college, career and civic life, calling them true innovators.  More than 600 students from 120 middle and high schools from Connecticut, Fishers Island and New York competed in the 70th annual fair for more than $200,000 in prizes. 

 

For the past three years, WSMSA, led by science teacher and theme coach Jon Neuhausel, has been one of the top three middle school in the state in terms of winning entries. 

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Water Witch Hose Company receives firefighter training grant

Water Witch Hose Company has received a $5,000 training grant from the National Volunteer Fire Council.  The company has 47 volunteers who serve 22,500 residents over 40 square miles. All members are required to certify at Firefighter I, and most advance their training to Firefighter II. 

 

The New Milford company is one of 10 across the country to receive the funding from Josh Cellars Vineyards, which was created by Joseph Carr as a tribute to his father, a volunteer firefighter and U.S. Army veteran. 

 

The grant money will be used in New Milford for training on modern day forcible entry and firefighter survival and rescue.  The classroom and practical skills sessions will teach firefighter to enter a structure with the least amount of property damage and advanced techniques to protect their crews and mutual aid partners.

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Eversource, Metro North take precautions ahead of snow storm

Eversource Energy says it's prepared for whatever this fourth nor'easter in three weeks brings to the region.  The utility has line and tree crews in place as wind gusts of up to 45 miles an hour are expected in some areas. 

 

A utility official says this storm has the potential to bring trees and tree limbs down onto power lines, causing damage to the energy system.  Trees are already weakened from previous storms, leaving them susceptible to coming down in high winds and damaging equipment.

 

Metro-North is operating a reduced weekday schedule with some combined/cancelled trains during the peak periods.  Conditions are expected to deteriorate rapidly during the day, making travel extremely difficult or even impossible.  In the evening, Metro-North plans to further reduce its service to hourly to ensure customer safety during the storm.  Passengers should anticipate delays due to the effects of the winter storm.

Should storm conditions worsen and impact the ability to safely operate trains, Metro-North cautioned they may be forced to suspend service with little advance notice. 

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Danbury Fire Department installs nearly 200 smoke detectors during 1-day event

The Danbury Fire Department is touting a community outreach event held over the weekend with the American Red Cross.  198 smoke alarms were installed during the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign, aimed at reducing and eliminating fire-related deaths and injuries.  Teams of volunteers made visits to homes, shared fire safety and preparedness information and installed smoke alarms. Volunteers also helped families develop personalized escape plans to use in the event of a fire.  Fire Department officials say several more appointment requests being processed.

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DOT to discuss Main Street improvements in Ridgefield Thursday

An informational meeting is being held in Ridgefield Thursday night by the state Department of Transportation on proposals to ease traffic congestion on Main Street.  The $3.15 million project would revamp Main Street between Governor and Prospect streets.  

 

Pedestrian crossing improvements, dedicated left-turn lanes, realigning the CVS shopping plaza entrance and replacing some trees are all part of the proposal.  80-percent of the project would be funded with federal dollars, with the balance coming from the state.  Construction could begin next year, if funding is available.  

 

A design presentation will start at 7pm with a chance to meet with representatives at 6:30 Thursday  in the school board room of the town hall annex.  If postponement is required due to inclement weather, the public hearing will be held on April 12, at the original hour and location.

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Informational meeting in Redding on train operation, horn protocol

An informational meeting is being held in Redding tonight to give an overview of train operations and horn protocol.  A summary of noise audits and noise complaint investigations will be discussed by representatives from Metro North and the state Department of Transportation.  Safety improvements planned at railroad crossings in Redding will also be discussed.  The informational event is from 7:30 to 10:30pm at the Redding Community Center.  A forum called Train Horn Abuse Danbury Line was held in August.

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Boughton discusses seizure, collapse at GOP candidate event

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is discussing his seizure brought on from dehydration last week during a GOP gubernatorial candidate event in Avon.  He told reporters that he doesn't remember if he took his anti-seizure medication that day and hadn't eaten enough leading up to the forum.  He also didn't drink enough, leading to severe dehydration.  

 

Boughton says the episode wasn't related to last year's brain surgery to remove a noncancerous tumor.  He was on the anti-seizure medication as a precaution.  When he announced his gubernatorial bid, Boughton said he would make his medical records public and repeated that offer now. 

 

Boughton plans to exercise more and has hired a nutritionist.

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Public hearing tonight in Bethel on proposed budget

A public hearing is being held in Bethel tonight about the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  The Board of Finance recommended a 2.3 percent increase over the current year to pay for more projects through the operating budget, not bonding them.  The capital budget was also reduced from the $2.1 million selectmen request to $1.4 million.  The municipal plan is proposed at $30.2 million, while the schools are asking for $45.1 million.  The public hearing is at 7pm at the Bethel High School auditorium.  The annual town meeting will be held April 4th.

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Danbury hires 'Pothole Killers' to tackle annual problem

The perennial problem of potholes has been made worse in the Danbury area by the rain and snow this winter, washing out temporary fill.  Three crews are out daily, when weather permits, with the cold patch material.  Danbury Superintendent of Public Services Tim Nolan says a company is being brought in this week to tackle some larger problem spots.

 

The truck has a mounted spray injection patcher.  It uses a hydraulic boom to clear the pothole of debris, and then to apply liquid asphalt to fill and seal it.  The company says the process is quick, doing the job within minutes.

 

(Photo: City of Danbury)

 

Most asphalt plants open in the beginning of April. 

 

Danbury residents can report potholes to the city's information line 311, or 203-744-4311.

 

If you can't avoid a pothole, AAA recommends slowing down before you hit it, and not to brake directly over a pothole, which can cause more damage to your vehicle.  Drivers are also cautioned to be on the lookout for puddles, because it might be a particularly deep pothole in hiding.

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DOT schedules hearing in Newtown on exit 11/Wasserman Way improvements

The state Department of Transportation is holding a public hearing next month on proposed intersection improvements in Newtown.  The planned improvement project for the I-84 Exit 11 interchange at Wasserman Way also includes work on Route 34 at Toddy Hill Road.

 

The hearing is set for April 4th at 6:30pm at Newtown High School.  The goal of the work is to reduce congestion in the area of Newtown High School. 

 

Newtown started the improvements around Toddy Hill, but questions have come up over the highway access portions of the project after the Governor suspended transportation projects, due to the state's budget problems.  The state's portion of the Exit 11 improvements has been engineered and the work is pending the allocation of funding, much of which is federal dollars.

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Danbury lawmaker tour Henry Abbott Tech

Two local lawmakers took a tour of Henry Abbott Technical High School last week to learn more about the programing offered to the more than 600 students from 18 different towns. Danbury State Representatives Michael Ferguson and Will Duff saw the major renovations done recently to create new, state-of-the-art shop facilities, computer labs and classrooms.  They also talked about proposed bills to promote manufacturing jobs, including establishing public-private partnerships for apprenticeship programs.  School officials told the lawmakers that one of their big issues is how difficult it is to hire teachers and staff in a timely manner due to bureaucratic red tape.

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DHS Peer Leaders turn STEM into STEAM learning

Three Danbury High School peer leaders spent an hour a day recently teaching more than dozen middle schoolers about science, technology, engineering and math – but added the element of art to heighten creative interest.  They turned STEM into STEAM.  Before bringing their program to Broadview, the students did a pilot program with the English language learners at DHS. 

 

Seniors Kevin Lapaix, Yacodou Johnson and Naomi Thomas devised a weeklong plan to engage students every day of the after-school program.

 

The science portion involved making “elephant” toothpaste that taught exothermic reaction through combining hydrogen peroxide, soap, yeast, water and food color. To learn technology, students created an animation program that involved coding and art elements.  For engineering, the students built hurricane-safe buildings using pipe cleaners and straws that were to withstand the winds of a blow dryer.

 

The math portion taught students about fractions; by filling glasses with different levels of water, they were then able to use the cups to make music as each glass had a different tone. 

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Candlewood Lake Authority names new executive director

A new executive director has been named for the Candlewood Lake Authority.  Mark Howarth, longtime director of education and outreach, had been serving as interim executive director since Larry Marsicano stepped down June 30th.  Marsicano became a partner with consulting firm Aquatic Ecosystem Research.  The Newstimes reports that Howarth was selected from a pool of about 110 applicants from across the country, Brazil and the United Kingdom.  8 people, including Howarth were interviewed by the search committee.  Howarth, who has a business management background, will be joined in the future by someone with a scientific background.  The Authority wants someone separate from the Director to focus on water quality and invasive species research.

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No visible work done yet to turn Hearthstone Castle into walled garden

Plans are slowly coming together for what needs to be done to stabilize the remaining walls of Hearthstone Castle in Danbury.  Residents approved $1.6 million in 2016 for design and construction plans for a walled garden.  An environmental consultant has to be hired.  A scope of work has been outlined for contractors to clear the structure of debris and contaminants.  Engineers have said in the past that the basement would have to be filled, in order to stabilize the outer walls, which are all that remain of the castle after years of neglect. The roof and internal structure have collapse into the basement.

 

There are no utilities at the site, making new uses limited.

 

When plans were announced for a walled garden, there were questions remaining about how high the walls might be.  Officials say they don't want to create a rock-climbing wall.  Whether it's 15, 10, 5 or 3 foot walls has yet to be decided.  Mayor Mark Boughton has called the site an attractive nuisance. Trespassers have spray painted the structure and cut through the fence many times over the years.

 

As often as the perimeter fence is repaired, Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says it gets damaged again.  He notes that vandals got into the structure this fall, and into the chimney some 30 feet up.  He says the quicker the project is done, the better it's going to be, liability wise.

 

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

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Mayor makes first public appearance since collapse

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) - A Republican candidate for Connecticut governor has made his first public appearance since collapsing at a meet-and-greet event.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton attended an Irish flag raising at Danbury City Hall Saturday afternoon for St. Patrick's Day. Boughton gave a short speech, saying he planned to rest Sunday and return to his campaign Monday.

Boughton collapsed Thursday night at a GOP candidates' event in Avon. He was treated and given CPR by people at the scene, including state Rep. Prasad Srinivasan who is a doctor and rival gubernatorial candidate.

Boughton was hospitalized and released Friday after receiving treatment for dehydration.

The 54-year-old says his collapse was not connected to his brain surgery last year to remove a noncancerous tumor.

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Danbury students celebrate Pi Day

Hayestown Avenue School in Danbury celebrated Pi Day on March 14th.  Students celebrated participated in a pie-eating contest and a poetry contest.  Students also took part in a challenge to recite the most digits of Pi.  Poetry contest winners were Abhijay Singh, Viviana Rodriguez and Alina Adorno.


The following students were winners in reciting the most digits of Pi:
1. Jeremy Palma 432 digits
2. Diana Saad 162 digits
3. Nathan Palma 81 digits
3. Addison Caba 81 digits
5. Hardav Pandya 57 digits 

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Danbury Library seeks input on community needs

Danbury Library is seeking input from residents on their strategic planning process, creating a roadmap for the future of the library as an institution for the next five years.  Library Director Katie Pearson says a core of their mission is to be responsive to the varied needs of the city's diverse community. 

 

Several focus groups will be held, the first on Tuesday, April 10th at 3pm.  The others will take place on Tuesday, April 17th at 5:30pm, and Thursday, April 26th at 11am in the Farioly Program Room of the Danbury Library. 

 

A focus group at WCSU’s Westside Campus Center will also be held on Thursday, April 19th at 6pm.

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Transportation Committee co-chair opposes tolls

Wilton State Senator Toni Boucher is critical of a toll proposal up for a public hearing this week.  She notes that DOT Commissioner James Redeker is already on record saying that congestion tolling would make Connecticut the most heavily tolled state in the nation. She noted that the Yankee Institute estimated that the average cost of tolls to Connecticut drivers would be about $240 a month, on top of Connecticut having the sixth highest gas taxes in the country.

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Veterans yoga sessions to be held at WCSU

Veterans yoga sessions are being held at Western Connecticut State University.  Adjunct Instructor of Health Promotion and Exercise Sciences and Lotus Gardens Yoga Director Lara Ward will host the classes, conducted by Tim Raftery, based on resilience and mindfulness.  The classes are March 21, April 11 and May 2 at 6pm in Berkshire Hall, Studio A, on the university’s Midtown campus.  Raftery is a certified yoga teacher, Veterans Yoga Project Mindful Resilience Yoga practitioner, WCSU alumnus and military veteran.

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Boughton released from hospital following collapse

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has been released from the hospital after suddenly collapsing, suffering an apparent seizure while attending a GOP candidates' event in Avon last night.  City Council President Joe Cavo says the Mayor’s illness was due to dehydration.  Cavo visited with Boughton in the hospital.  Unlike when Boughton underwent life-saving brain surgery last year, he did not temporarily hand over duties to Cavo.  Democrat Al Almeida says despite being Boughton's adversary in last year’s municipal election, he is offering prayers and hopes for a speedy recovery. 

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Easton Fire Chief concerned with people going near downed utility wires

After the most recent storm, Easton Fire Department Chief Steven Waugh received numerous reports of residents being unsafe around downed utility lines.  The incidents ranged from people removing tree limbs from the lines to walking under downed trees and close to downed utility lines.  In one instance, he says a United Illuminating employee had to warn a person who was about to move a downed live primary power line from the roadway.  All these instances were incredibly dangerous and could result in serious injury or death to the people involved.  Waugh asked that drivers heed barricades and road closure tape directing motorists away from hazards, including downed utility wires.

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New Milford Community Center committee holds first meeting

The New Milford Community Center Committee had their organizational meeting last night at the former Pettibone school.  Mayor Pete Bass thanked the volunteers on the committee, which elected a board. An email address will be set up so residents can communicate directly with the committee and provide input. The group will also be holding public meetings.  Michelle Ligouri is Chairman, Jeff Winter is Vice Chairman, and Leigh Gill is Secretary.

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Lawmakers consider bill to increase property tax credit for volunteer first responders

Kent State Representative Brian Ohler is touting a bill up for a public hearing today, that would allow municipalities to increase their tax relief program for first responders.  The proposal is for people who volunteer in Connecticut as a firefighter, EMT and other similar services.  Tax relief can be an abatement of up to $1,500 in property taxes a year. 

 

Agreements can be made to provide property tax relief to volunteers who live in one municipality, but volunteer in another. 

 

The proposal specifically covers firefighters, fire police officer, emergency medical technician, paramedic, civil preparedness staff, active member of a volunteer canine search and rescue team, active member of a volunteer underwater search and rescue team, or ambulance driver in the municipality, or any individual who is a retired volunteer firefighter, fire police officer or emergency medical technician and has completed at least twenty-five years of service as a volunteer.

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Local lawmaker to shave head for childhood cancer research fundraiser

State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, will be shaving his head today in an effort to raise money for pediatric cancer research at the annual St. Baldrick’s “Team Teddy” event in Fairfield. 

 

The event was started in honor of third grader Teddy Gerber, who was diagnosed with sarcoma in November 2009.  He passed away in August 2010. Since then, the annual Team Teddy event has raised more than $940,000. 

 

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is the world’s largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, raising over $230 million since 2000.  In Connecticut, St. Baldrick’s has funded research grants at both Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Yale New Haven Hospital, as well as provided stipends for Fellows and funding for Infrastructure at both locations. 

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Boughton collapses at GOP event

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton was rushed to the hospital after collapsing during a GOP gubernatorial candidates' meet-and-greet event in Avon last night.  Boughton's campaign issued a statement saying the 54-year-old is ``resting comfortably'' at UConn Health Center in Farmington. 

 

Rival gubernatorial candidate state Representative Prasad Srinivasan, who is an allergist, and other medical personnel rushed to his side and performed CPR until first responders arrived. Srinivasan says Boughton was having a seizure, and he had a ``very, very feeble pulse.''  Boughton was reportedly conscious and his color returned as he was transported by EMS personnel to an ambulance for UConn Health Center in Farmington. 

 

Boughton underwent a 12-hour surgery last year to remove a non-cancerous, lemon-sized tumor from behind his left ear.   He rejoined the political scene a month afterward.

 

About 200 people were attending the event to hear from nearly two dozen gubernatorial, attorney general and treasurer candidates. 

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Grants presented to Danbury teachers

Grants have been awarded to local educators from the Danbury Education Foundation.  Classroom Excellence Grants were presented to 5 Danbury teachers for interactive whiteboards, a listening center, interactive foreign language and other programs. 

 

The grants were presented by Foundation member State Senator Mike McLachlan.  He says each application showed a tremendous commitment that Danbury teachers have to their students.  He added that the quality of proposals submitted made choosing the winners difficult.

Jessica Archambault - $1,487.22 for Interactive Whiteboards at Morris Street School


Ana Wight - $1,500 for Avoiding The Summer Slide at Hayestown Avenue School


Alexandra Hoyt, Michele Masi & Diana Gomez - $1,500 for Learning About Our Community at Ellsworth Avenue School


Amy Kotach & Jackie Ziegelmeier - $1,500 for A Listening Center at Park Avenue School


Wilson E. Cardenas - $4,695.99 for Interactive Foreign Language at Rogers Park Middle School

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NY Police step up DWI patrols for St. Patrick's Day

The Putnam County Sheriff and Carmel Police are participating in a special enforcement effort to crackdown on impaired driving this St. Patrick's Day weekend.  Sheriff deputies and Carmel Police will be out in force through Sunday.  This weekend's crackdown is one of many statewide enforcement initiatives promoted by the New York State STOP-DWI Association with additional funding from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. The Campaign also targets Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day Weekend, Halloween, the Holiday Season throughout December and the Super Bowl weekend.

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Local lawmakers form new school security, safety working group

Kent State Representative Brian Ohler has been working over the last 5 years to help create and assess school safety and security policies and procedures. He and three other lawmakers have now formed a work group that will focus on school security and safety. 

 

The group will evaluate the implementation of measures mandated by the state following the shooting at Sandy Hook School, and create new recommendations going forward.  He is concerned that when money becomes tight, safety-related initiatives take a back seat. 

 

Ohler, a school safety consultant, is a U.S. Army Military Police Veteran.  The school district represented by Carol Hall, Education Committee member from Enfield, was a blue-ribbon recipient for its approach to school safety.  The district represented by Wilton Rep. Gail Lavielle, Ranking Member of the Education Committee, includes Westport which was the site of a recent school security threat.  Rep. JP Sredzinski of Monroe, is a ranking member of the Public Safety and Security Committee. 

 

The work group will also measure school districts’ knowledge of legislation, the availability of school-based mental health professionals, parents’ knowledge and understanding of their district’s security measures, and local educators’ view of the effectiveness of legislation and related programs. 

 

An initial meeting date will be announced in the coming days.

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Lawmakers hold public hearing on recreational marijuana legalization proposal

The legislature's General Law Committee has held a public hearing on a new bill legalizing the retail sale of recreational marijuana.  The bill would allow people 21 and older to purchase marijuana from a retailer or for use at a marijuana lounge.  It would also allow those 21 and older to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use.  The proposal would also create a marijuana control commission, similar to the liquor control commission.  Towns and municipalities could bar marijuana establishments through an ordinance or with a town meeting. 

 

Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull says the agency is not taking a position on whether the state should adopt the bill.

 

Seagull says they would be tasked with collecting licensing fees for and regulating lounges, manufacturers, retailers, cultivators, and laboratories.

 

Seagull is concerned about the cost and complexity of regulating the program.  She says DCP would have to create a whole separate division because of the significant investigation, background check and enforcement components.

 

Seagull says the medical marijuana program is the best in the country, which produces highly regulated medicine.  She says there's a cost to that because it's pharmaceutical grade product.  

 

Since insurance doesn't cover medical marijuana, Seagull is concerned that a recreational program would cause some patients to leave the established program.  That could have unintended consequences like patients having less precise medication, raising the cost for people who remain in the medical marijuana program and disincentivizing research.  Seagull notes that there are over 24-thousand patients, with well over 100 physicians and APRNs, participating in the program.

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Wendy's, microbrewery applications approved by New Milford zoners

The New Milford Zoning Commission has approved two applications for food and beverage facilities.  One application approved was for a Wendy's fast food restaurant on Danbury Road.  The other is an application by Housatonic River Brewery for a Microbrewery on Kent Road.

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Brookfield Police to shave heads to support childhood cancer research

Brookfield Police Officers are raising money for childhood cancer research.  Several members are joining Peer Counselor students at Brookfield High School, with a goal of raising a thousand dollars.  The fundraising event ends on March 27th, when the participating officers will be shaving their heads in an effort to continue raising awareness.  All donations go directly to the St. Baldrick's Foundation for childhood cancer research.

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Danbury students advance to regional invention convention

Ten students from the Westside Middle School Academy STEM program will move on to the regional level of the Connecticut Invention Convention.  100 6th graders created inventions for the Danbury competition on Friday.  The regional convention is on Sunday, and winners will then move on to the 35th annual Connecticut Invention Convention in April at UConn.  More than 130 Connecticut schools participate every year.  The ten students are: Jacob Lamp, Jeffrey Trigueros, Maria Eduara Sousa Lopez, Alliyah Frank, Christian Fournier, Emily Samaniego, Joshua Maruffi, Ella Brown, Chase Tomanio, and Haley Jones.

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Public hearing in Redding on budget proposals

A public hearing is being held in Redding tonight on the budget.  The municipal spending plan is less than a 1-percent increase over the current year, at $14.9 million.  The Redding Board of Ed is seeking a more than 4-percent increase with a budget of $21.6 million.  The proposed Region 9 budget is $24.5 million, a 3 percent increase.  The Region 9 budget, which this year includes funding for a school resource officer, is split by Redding and Easton based on enrollment at Joel Barlow High School.  Tonight's public hearing is at 7:30.

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Greater Danbury area students participate in school walkouts

Administrators in several Greater Danbury area schools worked with students to plan protests as a school walkout took place across the country to honor the 17 students and educators killed at Stoneman Douglas in Florida. 

 

Danbury schools scheduled a short “free period” for the walkout where some students delivered speeches. 

 

After the walkout in Newtown, some students later rallied in front of the National Shooting Sports Foundation headquarters on Mile Hill Road.  The rally was organized by the Junior Newtown Action Alliance. 

 

After the Bethel-sanctioned event, the Newstimes reports about 100 students marched around the building and half continued to the municipal center to meet with First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker.  They were reportedly escorted by police.

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STOP School Violence Act passes U.S. House

The STOP School Violence Act passed the U.S. House yesterday by a vote of 407-10.  The bill would give students and educators tools to recognize and prevent violence in their schools.  It follows a model advocated for several years by Sandy Hook Promise, formed in response to the shooting on 12/14.

 

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty cosponsored the legislation.

 

The bill would invest in programs to train school personnel, students, and law enforcement to identify signs of potential violence and prevent it before it happens. It also makes key investments in reporting and threat assessment systems for schools, as well as security equipment.

Esty says the passage is a testament to the hard work that Mark Barden, Nicole Hockley, and all of the parents of Sandy Hook Promise have put in to collaborate with school officials and law enforcement to come up with real solutions and save lives.  Esty acknowledged that the STOP School Violence Act will not save every life threatened by gun violence, but it will save some.

Barden, whose son Daniel was killed at Sandy Hook School, says the bill will teach multiple generations of students and adults to be upstanders in making their communities safe from gun violence.

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Reservoir St road work to affect traffic in Bethel, Danbury

A road repair project in Danbury will affect traffic in Bethel.  The City is replacing the Reservoir Street bridge that crosses over the creek near the town line, starting around April 1st.  During construction, which is expected to last three months, traffic will be limited to one lane.  Reservoir Street will be closed completely in both directions for about two weeks, about midway through the project.  Notices will be posted in advance of the street's shutdown.

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Danbury lawmaker backs bill to promote mental health training for police

Danbury State Representative David Arconti has co-sponsored a bill to promote mental health and wellness training and suicide prevention for police officers.  He says Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn't limited to military servicemen and women, and noted that first responders are often affected.  The proposal would prevent a municipality from discharging, discriminating or disciplining a first responder that seeks mental health services and require police departments to report to a database and police officer that has committed suicide.  

 

Danbury firefighter Lt. Joe Kovalsky testified before the Public Safety and Security Committee on PTSD.  

 

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities supports the intent of the proposal, but says there are several programs that currently exist that can be a model to assist in recovery. 

 

The Connecticut Citizens Defense League raised concerns about a section of the bill, they'd like to see expanded to any permit holder.  The language of the bill would allow police officers who meet the permitting requirements to be issued a certificate, regardless of having been voluntarily admitted to a hospital for persons with psychiatric disabilities within the preceding six months for care and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder or to receive other mental health services.

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Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission to accept public input on designs

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission is now accepting public feedback on the 13 designs selected from more than 180.  Members will be at the Newtown High School Lecture Hall on Thursday from 7pm to 9pm, or at Newtown Municipal Center on Saturday from 9am to 11am.  Feedback will also be accepted online until Aril 8th.  The Commission has communicated with the 26 families about the semi-finalists.  The Commission will vote on three to 5 designs to move into Phase 2 of the evaluation process.  

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Danbury Board of Ed to hold hearing on proposed charter school

A public hearing is being held tonight in Danbury about the proposed Danbury Prospect Charter School.  The Board of Education will be listening to answers from the organization proposing the facility over concerns they previously raised.  The State Board of Education will also be taking public comment on the proposal during a hearing Thursday night at Henry Abbott Technical High School.  Prospect Schools operates four charter schools in Brooklyn.  The Danbury Board of Ed meeting is at 6:30pm tonight, with the state hearing from 6 to 8pm Thursday.

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Danbury Democrats name new town committee chairman

The Danbury Democratic Town Committee has a new leader.  Longtime chairman, former 6-term mayor, Gene Eriquez  stepped down and will be replaced by Andrea Gartner. The former City Center executive director was selected by the committee unanimously at their meeting Monday night.  Eriquez stepped aside as chairman in 2016 after he was charged with domestic assault, but moved back into the role after the charges were dismissed last year.  Gartner owns a Cafe on Main Street and was recently elected to the City's Zoning Commission.

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New Milford Town Council sends budget proposal to Board of Finance

The New Milford Town Council has approved a $100.9 million budget.  School funding is unchanged from the current year, and there are about $120,000 in cuts on the municipal side.  Due to state funding cuts, the tax rate will increase about 3.8 percent.  The Board of Finance will now consider the tax and spending plan.  Part of the budget includes reducing the town's share of the Candlewood Lake Authority contribution by $7,800.

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Danbury company awarded $3m federal contract

Danbury-based Fuel Cell Energy has been awarded a $3.1 million Department of Energy contract for research as part of a program to develop energy-efficient, natural gas-powered electric generation systems.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty visited their Torrington manufacturing facility yesterday to talk about restoring the investment tax credit for fuel cells.   

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Ridgefield, Newtown state properties part of hiking challenge

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's annual “Sky’s the Limit” hiking challenge is back for another year.  The program began in 2015 to promote hiking in Connecticut’s state parks and forests.  14 locations are highlighted each year, with three in the Greater Danbury area this year.  They include Paugussett State Forest in Newtown, Seth Low Pierrepont State Park Reserve in Ridgefield and Housatonic Meadows State Park in Sharon.  Participants can receive a medallion or pin, along with a certificate, for hiking to 10 designated locations. For hiking all 14 parks, 50 people will receive a hand-carved hiking staff. 

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Ridgefield First Selectman delivers State of the Town address

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi delivered a State of the Town address on Friday.  He says changes to the federal tax code has already had an impact on local tax revenue.  He pointed to an additional $10 million in taxes from people looking to get ahead on payments before a $10,000 state and local tax deduction cap took effect.  The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has proposed a $38.3 million budget for the coming fiscal year, a 2.49 percent spending increase.  The Board of Finance has scheduled a public hearing on the budget on March 26.

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Local legislator touts Conn. Risk Warrant Law

In an effort to curb gun violence, Southbury state Representative Arthur O’Neill is sending a letter to each state legislature outlining Connecticut's Risk Warrant law.  He wants other state to consider the measure as a way to make a difference, without impeding the rights of legal gun owners.

 

The Risk Warrant Act was drafted in response to the workplace shooting at the Lottery headquarters in 1998.  It allows police, with a judge-signed warrant, to remove firearms from any person posing risk of imminent personal injury to self or others.  The law was updated in 2013 to also include the seizure of ammunition.

O’Neill was one of the principal authors of the legislation.  He says risk warrants allow police to be involved in the process much quicker than a temporary restraining order, and can be requested by anyone who feels there’s a credible risk.  He adds that the law has been litigated and judged constitutional.

 

California, Oregon, Washington and Indiana have adopted similar laws.

 

When legislation has come up in recent years about removing guns from people who have restraining orders against them, O'Neill asked advocates why they weren't using this Risk Warrant law.  He notes that the counselors and others didn't know the law existed.

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DHS students hold 'Be Kind to Every Kind' events

Three Danbury High School seniors have started a project geared toward bringing back positivity, encouragement and togetherness.  The DHS peer leaders held a week-long campaign this week titled “Be Kind to Every Kind” to increase inclusion and connections within the community.  The three seniors--Felipe Alves, Kiely Drake and Nikki Ho--were helped by Susan Schullery, who heads the DHS Peer Leadership program, which requires that students create a community change project.

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Area firefighters remind residents to change batteries this weekend

Sunday at 2am is time to “spring ahead” an hour, a time change that the AAA says may cause driving challenges for motorists who will lose an hour’s sleep.  AAA Connecticut Spokeswoman Fran Mayko says commuters may suddenly find themselves driving into the rising or setting sun, depending on their direction.  Greater Danbury area fire departments are reminding residents that when they change their clocks, to also change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

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Firefighter ask for help clearing around fire hydrants

Now that the snow has ended, for now, Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company is asking that if you have a hydrant near your home, to take the time to clear the snow away from it, at least 3-feet on all sides.  In the event of a fire, they say buried hydrants will hinder efforts to protect life and property.

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Clean up continues in Greater Danbury after Wednesday snow storm

Ridgefield opened the Parks and Recreation Center early this morning for warming, showers and WiFi. Eversource crews continue to work to clear roads of downed wires and restore electricity.  Trees may continue to fall, so Ridgefield officials caution residents to remain vigilant.

 

Redding fire officials are cautioning residents against driving over or walking near downed power lines.  They says there were some dangerous close calls Wednesday night, and downed power lines are still all over Redding.  Power lines’ protective coatings are not insulators.  Car tires are not either, and contain carbon, which is a conductor of electricity.  This warning comes as a New Jersey driver was killed after driving over a downed, live wire and his car caught fire.

 

It was a busy night for all of Newtown's Fire Companies during the snow storm and continued into yesterday. There are many trees and wires down all throughout Newtown.  Botsford Fire Rescue officials remind residents to stay away from any downed wires including cable or data lines as they could be in contact with downed power lines and carrying a charge.  Tree branches are still falling from the heavy snow so residents are also cautioned to be careful outside.

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Senate to consider Newtown woman for U.S. District Court

The Senate is considering the nomination of Kari Dooley to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court of Connecticut.  The 54-year-old Newtown Republican has served as a Superior Court Judge since 2004, where she has presided over approximately 70 criminal and civil trials.  Dooley previously served as a federal criminal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Dooley graduated from Cornell University and the University of Connecticut School of Law.

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Bethel Board of Finance accepts budget proposals

The Bethel Board of Finance has signed off on a budget proposal higher than what the Selectmen proposed.  The proposal calls for $45.1 million for the schools with $30.2 million on the municipal side.  The plan includes paying for a $775,000 project through the operating budget, rather than the capital budget, which was reduced by the Board of Finance.  3.9 million for debt service and $500,000 for school maintenance is included.  The overall budget proposal in Bethel is a 3.16 percent increase over the current year.

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New Fairfield Board of Finance to meet on budget proposals

The New Fairfield Board of Finance will meet on Monday night for a budget question and answer session on the proposed tax and spending plan for the coming year.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco is seeking an $11.9 million budget while the Board of Ed has proposed a $42.9 million spending plan.  The schools are looking for a 4.9 percent increase to be able to hire two safety advocates, 3 new teachers, and 2 STEM coaches.  There is also a proposed increase in special education funding as a contingency.  The municipal budget is a 9.36 increase and includes half a million dollars for road paving.  Bridge repairs, EMS expansion and personnel costs are also driving the increase.  The New Fairfield Board of Finance has scheduled budget discussions every Wednesday throughout March, after Monday's 5:30pm meeting.

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Brookfield Board of Selectmen make budget proposal

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen is proposing an $18.7 million budget for the coming fiscal year, while recommending a $43 million plan for the schools.  It's a 4.1 percent increase over the current year and would send the mill rate up by nearly 5.4 percent.  Town and school officials say they are taking into account rising special education costs, likely cuts in state aid and contractual salary and insurance cost increases.  $4.1 million for debt service, $1.3 million for capital projects financing and a $400,000 contingency are proposed.

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Many Danbury residents comply with parking ban during storm

It seems that more people heeded the call to move cars off Danbury streets during the storm.  There were 28 vehicles towed during the storm, most for violating the parking ban that was implemented with the Level 1 snow emergency.  Danbury Police responded to 25 car accidents during Wednesday's storm.

 

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

 

During a storm last January, some 70 cars were towed.

 

When the City goes to a Level 2 snow emergency, Patriot Garage is opened for free parking.  But Mayor Mark Boughton says they can't do it for every storm because there's a cost for staffing. 

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Putnam County officials caution residents to possible utility company scams

The Putnam County Sheriff and the District Attorney are cautioning residents to be aware of thieves impersonating utility workers as the region continues to be gripped by power outages.  They says there is a concern about people becoming victims to a burglary or larceny by those posing as NYSEG employees.  Real utility workers will not knock on your door and ask you if they can check your inside wiring or any other safety issue inside your house.  Putnam County officials are also cautioning residents to beware of fake “home oil company” representatives or employees who want to enter your home to purportedly make sure you are safe. 

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Eversource expects power restoration estimate available later today

Redding officials say there is no accurate power restoration time available at this time, but they have set up the emergency operations center.  Two Eversource representatives are working with Redding officials to identify power line related issues and draft a restoration plan. 

 

First Selectman Julia Pemberton said residents without power should expect that to continue through the weekend.  Eversource crews are working with subcontractors on make safe operations so that restoration efforts can begin.  The Redding Community Center will reopen today for warming, charging, bathrooms and water.  Pemberton noted that the Wilton YMCA is available for anyone without power needs a shower. 

 

A decision to open the emergency shelter at Joel Barlow High School will be made later today based on restoration estimates.

 

There are still 38 roads blocked or partially blocked in Newtown. Eversource crews are working with the Public Works Department to clear roads through today to provide for emergency access.  The Newtown Municipal Center will be open today for use as a warming center and for charging phones or computers. The Senior Center and Booth Library will also be open from 11am to 5pm. 

 

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal reminded residents to keep generators away from homes to avoid carbon monoxide danger, and to not use outdoor cooking equipment indoors.

 

Eversource is continuing to work with New Milford officials are making roads safe so they can begin restoring power.  Mayor Pete Bass says there were about 5 roads still blocked and 8 roads that had only 1 lane passable as of late yesterday afternoon.   He says the Department of Public Works and Eversource are working diligently to clear the affected roads.

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Bethel, Newtown, Putnam County open comfort centers

Bethel town hall has opened its showers and locker rooms for residents who are without power.  Shower facilities will be open until 5pm.  Residents are reminded to bring their own towels and toiletries.  Based on prior experience with storms of this magnitude, Bethel officials say some homes could remain without power for several days. 

 

Newtown residents who need a warm place to charge phones or to use computers both the Municipal Center and the Senior Center in Sandy Hook are open today.

 

Putnam County Government Offices, with the exception of essential services, remain closed today.  COunty Executive MaryEllen Odell says it's in the best interest of public safety to keep all non-emergency traffic off the roads.  The monthly meeting of the Transportation Advisory Council in Putnam will be rescheduled. 

 

Comfort facilities are available at Southeast town Hall until 5pm, the Knight's of Columbus in Carmel until 4pm, Hudson Valley Cerebral Palsy Association in Brewster until 6pm, Patterson Recreation Center until 7pm.

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Emergency responders give advice on generator, snowblower safety

Kent State Representative Brian Ohler, who is also an emergency responder, says when there are fires, seconds count.  Several Greater Danbury area fire departments are calling on residents to take some time to clear away the snow that has built up around any fire hydrant on your property.  Ohler says this could save lives and property.  They're asking for at least 3’ on all sides. 

 

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is urging people to use caution while operating snowblowers and shoveling snow.  The snow is wet and heavy and is extremely heavy to shovel.  It will also clog the chute of snowblowers.  Emergency room officials say you should never place your hand in the snowblower to clear a blockage, because the blades will start again--with your hand in their path.

 

Sherman firefighters are reminding residents about portable generator safety.  It's recommend locating them approximately 25 feet from your house so there is no chance of poison gases entering your home. It is also recommended that you have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home at all times but especially if you run a portable generator.

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Area towns continue clean up efforts from big snow storm

Residents across New England woke up to cars caked in heavy wet snow, a messy commute and widespread power outages.  

 

Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton urged people to stay off the roads today.  The highway department has been out since the wind died down working to open roads that are not involved with downed wires.  She says the roads are in bad shape because crews have been focused on opening the blockages so emergency personnel can get through.

 

The town of Warren got 28 inches of snow, according to unofficial reports made to the weather service.  The western and central portions of Connecticut were hardest hit.  A National Weather Service meteorologist says one of "big snowfall winners'' was New Fairfield, with 26.8 inches.  Mahopac, in Putnam County, got 18.8 inches.

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Danbury Music Centre asks City to expand lease to vacant part of building

A committee of the Danbury City Council will study a proposal to have The Danbury Music Centre take over the rest of the old Danbury Library on Main Street.  The organization wants to expand its office and rehearsal space, beyond their Marian Anderson Recital Hall.  The Danbury social services department used to occupy part of the first floor of the building.  The Danbury Music Centre's long-term, $1-per-year lease, runs through the mid-2020s.

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Local lawmaker marks International Women's Day

On this International Women’s Day, Wilton state Senator Toni Boucher called for reflection on accomplishments, while acknowledging that progress still needs to be made.  She notes that women in 2014 earned 79 percent as much as men. Only one in three chief executives and one in six software developers are women.

 

In 2013, UNICEF estimated that as many as 63 million young girls worldwide did not attend school. Boucher says some of those girls are probably among the 39,000 who become child brides every day and face a higher risk of death from childhood pregnancies. 

 

Boucher says the United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world. The World Health Organization reports that one in three women experience physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence over their lifetime. 

 

She notes that the U.S. Department of Labor says women make up 47 percent of the workforce and that women’s unemployment is presently 4.8 percent, down from a high of 9 percent in 2010. Women also own 10 million businesses that account for $1.4 trillion in receipts.

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Several major roadways blocked by downed trees, wires

BRIDGEWATER - Route 133 CLOSED near Beach Hill Road because of a Tree down in wires. Reported Wednesday, March 7 at 7:51 pm.Mar 7 2018, 7:56 PM

 

EASTON - Route 59 @ North Park Ave CLOSED because of Tree Down with Wires (In Roadway). Reported Thursday, March 8 at 6:50 am.Mar 8 2018, 6:53 AM

 

EASTON - Route 59 @ Ridgeway Rd CLOSED because of Tree Down with Wires(In Roadway). Reported Thursday, March 8 at 6:48 am.Mar 8 2018, 6:51 AM

 

MONROE - Route 111 @ Cottage St CLOSED because of Tree Down with Wires (In Roadway). Reported Thursday, March 8 at 7:06 am.Mar 8 2018, 7:08 AM

 

NEW FAIRFIELD - Route 37 CLOSED between Overbrook Drive and High Winds Road because of downed wires. Reported Wednesday, March 7 at 9:03 pm.Mar 7 2018, 9:07 PM

 

REDDING - Route 107 CLOSED at Hill Road because of a tree in wires. Reported Wednesday, March 7 at 10:22 pm.Mar 7 2018, 10:26 PM

 

REDDING - Route 107 CLOSED at Redding Road because of a tree in wires. Reported Wednesday, March 7 at 10:27 pm.

 

REDDING - Route 53 is CLOSED at Umpawaug Rd and Route 107 is CLOSED at Umapawaug. All traffic is being sent down Umpawaug Rd.

 

RIDGEFIELD - Route 102 CLOSED at Old Branchville Road because of a tree down in wires. Reported Wednesday, March 7 at 10:49 pm.

 

RIDGEFIELD - Route 116 CLOSED near Wooster Street because of Wires down on road. Reported Wednesday, March 7 at 9:04 pm.Mar 7 2018, 9:07 PM

 

RIDGEFIELD - Route 116 CLOSED at Continental Drive because of a tree in wires. Reported Wednesday, March 7 at 10:18 pm.

 

ROXBURY - Route 67 CLOSED near Wellers Bridge Road because of Wires in road. Reported Wednesday, March 7 at 7:44 pm.

 

SEYMOUR - Rt 313 by Warren Road, tree and wires down, road CLOSED. Reported Thursday, March 8 at 7:20 am.Mar 8 2018, 7:24 AM

 

SHERMAN - Route 55 CLOSED by Anderson Road because of a tree down in wires. Reported Wednesday, March 7 at 9:33 pm.Mar 7 2018, 9:41 PM

 

WASHINGTON - Route 47 CLOSED between Moody Bridge Road and School St. because of a tree down in wires. Reported Thursday, March 8 at 5:15 am.

 

WASHINGTON - ROUTE 199 CLOSED ATNICHOLS HILL RD DUE TO TREE IN WIRES. Reported Thursday, March 8 at 7:06 am.Mar 8 2018, 7:09 AM

 

WESTON - Route 53 @ Old Hyde Rd CLOSED because of Tree Down with Wires(In Roadway). Reported Thursday, March 8 at 6:45 am.

 

WILTON - Route 106 @ Old Boston Rd CLOSED because of Tree Down(In Roadway). Reported Thursday, March 8 at 6:18 am.

 

WILTON - Route 7 @ Honey Hill Rd CLOSED because of Tree Down with wires(In Roadway). Reported Wednesday, March 7 at 11:06 pm.

 

WOODBURY - Route 6 CLOSED at Route 317 because of a Tree down in wires. Reported Wednesday, March 7 at 7:47 pm.Mar 7 2018, 7:52 PM

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Greater Danbury area towns hit hard by snow storm

There were more than three dozen downed trees reported in Ridgefield as of 8:30 last night.  One of the trees was near the Branchville Train Station at Depot Road, blocking in a few cars.  Ridgefield Police reported that at least two dozen cars have swerved off the road during the storm.  The Ridgefield Dispatch Center fielded a high volume of calls, with Police working in conjunction with State and Town crews, as well as Eversource. 

 

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company and Candlewood Company responded to calls all over Brookfield for trees and wires down.  Police and the Public Works department were also out in different areas and reminded residents that all downed wires should be considered live.  Brookfield Police reported a number of accidents during the afternoon and evening, including cars that went off the roadway and rolled into wooded areas.

 

Newtown wasn't spared from the storm.  Police report that multiple roads throughout Newtown are blocked by trees and wires down. That limited plow trucks ability to clear the streets. 

 

Metro North service is suspended on the Danbury branch due to several downed trees and weather-related infrastructure issues. 

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Non-emergency travel banned in Putnam County through 9am 3/8

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell’s ban on all non-emergency and non-essential travel has been extended through 9 am. 

 

New York's orders banning tractor trailers on the highway prompted Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy to also place a travel ban on tractor trailers and tandem trailers on I-84.  Malloy lifted the travel ban for tractor trailers and tandem trailers on I-84 at 11 o'clock last night, in coordination with New York State.  The Connecticut ban had already been lifted for the remainder of the state’s limited access highways. 

 

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department is reminding drivers that a blacked-out traffic signal works the same as a stop-sign intersection. State law requires all drivers to stop at the intersection and proceed only when other turning and approaching vehicles, bicycles, or pedestrians have stopped.

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Region 9 agrees to SRO for Joel Barlow

The Region 9 Board of Education has voted to hire a school resource officer for Joel Barlow High School next year.  The unanimous decision comes on the heels of a forum attended by more than 200 Easton and Redding parents.  Redding also agreed to station a police officer at the high school for the remainder of the school year.  Some board members call it a good short-term solution to safety while the figure out how to fund an SRO.

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Brookfield Police swear in new K9 officer

The newest member of the Brookfield Police Department was sworn in during a ceremony held yesterday at Huckleberry Hill Elementary School. 

 

K9 Major, a 3 year old German shepherd, took the Oath of Office at an All-School Assembly to recognize the student body for choosing Major’s name.  Major is partnered with Officer Joseph Kyek and is the second full-time K9 unit in the Department.  They recently completed a 14-week K9 Police Academy training.

 

 

The Brookfield Police Department received contributions towards the purchase, training and equipping of Major from:
• Bequest from the estate of Kenneth M. Gleszer – Purchase of K9 Major
• Sokol Lodge #30 of Brookfield and Al Curesky of Summit Stair, Inc. - Kennel, Mat and Monitoring Camera
• Connecticut Emergency Animal Response Service - EARS -Jon Norwinski – K9 First Aid Kits
• Albert Tarrab of Future Subnets. and Brianna Ruocco – Garmin GPS Enabler Collar

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Lawmaker highlights 2016 law making school threats a felony

Wilton state Senator Toni Boucher is reminding residents about a law adopted in 2016 which makes threatening schools a felony.  She says there's been an alarming increase in the number of school threats following the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas in Florida.  Boucher said it's disturbing that some students make these threats as a joke.  The jail time and hefty fines were strengthened in response to a large number hoax threats made in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook School.

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New Milford officials to meet on budget proposals

The New Milford Town Council and the Board of Finance are continuing their joint meetings about the proposed budget tonight.  The discussion tonight is about funding for the Senior Center, Ambulance, Inlands/Wetlands, Zoning, Planning, Aquifer protection, IT, Personnel, and Public Works.  The meeting is slated for 7pm in New Milford Town Hall, and members will be taking public comment.  The overall budget is proposed at $101.9 million. 

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Ridgefield Board of Selectmen meet on budget proposals

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen is meeting tonight to continue budget discussions.  The agenda calls for talks about the Planning & Zoning Budget.  There will possibly be a vote on the Capital/Operating budget and Non-binding Recommendation on the Board of Education budget to the Board of Finance.  School funding was discussed during a meeting last night.  Tonight's meeting is at 7pm.

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Redding official to request public hearing into Eversource storm response

About half of Redding was without power during last week's Nor'easter.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton is critical of the response by Eversource, calling it lackluster. 

 

She said it was frustrating to see a truck on the side of the road not working, but acknowledged that the linemen had to wait for orders from a foreman to start work.  Pemberton says the internal communication of Eversource is broken, giving the example of a tree truck sent to a scene before someone to make sure the downed wire isn't live.  She says the lack of coordination is unacceptable and has become an all too familiar experience. 

 

Pemberton plans to urge state regulators to hold public hearings on storm response, saying that this can't continue to be business as usual.  

 

Pemberton is touting the job by the town's Highway Department clearing trees after last week's nor'easter.  She says the employees worked tirelessly to clear debris during and after the storm.  Pemberton also praised Redding Police and Dispatch for helping residents with safety concerns, and passing on reports of blocked driveways, closed roads, split poles and downed wires to Eversource.  

 

Eversource crews across the state have replaced more than 550 utility poles and strung more than 100 miles of new overhead lines, but officials say the final outages are more complex and take additional time to complete.

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Danbury considering lawsuit in response to opioid epidemic

The Danbury City Council is being asked to sign off on hiring an attorney to sue the pharmaceutical industry over the opioid epidemic.  19 other municipalities are seeking damages from Stamford-based Purdue Pharma and other major makers of prescription drugs.  But Mayor Mark Boughton is looking to have Ventura Law calculate the specific impact on Danbury.  More than a thousand accidental deaths were reported in Connecticut last year from drug overdoses, many from OxyContin--made by Purdue.  Attorneys General from 40 states, including Connecticut, have ordered manufacturers to turn over sales information as part of an investigation in the industry’s marketing practices.

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Bills governing overnight of foot guard, horse guard considered

Conflicting bills are being considered by the state legislature's Veterans Affairs Committee.  They deal with the structuring and control over the four units of the Governor's Guards, including the Newtown-based 2nd Company Horse Guard.

 

One bill calls for the foot and horse guard units to govern themselves as a fraternal organization, until called into active duty.  The 4 units would be removed from the National Guard adjutant general's control, moving them to gubernatorial and state auditor oversight.  Connecticut National Guard adjutant general Thaddeus Martin says the move would undermine his ability to effectively lead the state's military forces.  He added that it would delegitimize the role of the four units as part of a military organization and delegate them to some kind of ceremonial function.

 

The Governor's Guard are part of the state militia.

 

The other bill would allow the adjutant general to author bylaws for each unit and possibly structuring them in a similar way to other Army National Guard units.  Martin says the horse guard provides a search and rescue capability, while the foot guard could be used to staff the armories if other National Guard members were overwhelmed with response elsewhere.  He says mobilizing the militia to backfill those positions, the armories would continue to have some additional level of command and control.

All of the units have nonprofit organizations to advance their interests.

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Basement flooding, garage fire, downed trees keep area firefighters bust during nor'easter

The Wilton Police Department responded to 140 calls for service as a result of the nor'easter.  82 of the calls for service were responses to road conditions such as trees and wires down in the road.  At the height of the storm, Wilton experienced about 50 full or partial road closures.

 

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department responded to 12 emergency calls.  They included one gas leak, four calls for electrical hazards or trees on wires, one call for a road closure, and three emergency medical calls.  The one structure fire lightly rekindled one time. 

 

A basement flood was reported in Brookfield on Saturday.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company helped the homeowner remove 3 feet of water from the basement after the nor'easter.

 

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to over 40 emergency calls during the nor'easter ranging from motor vehicle accidents and trees and wires down to basement water problems.  There was also a Haz-Mat investigation and a garage fire during the height of the storm. 

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New Milford Community Center committee first meeting rescheduled

The New Milford Community Center Ad Hoc meeting at Pettibone Friday night was called off amid the powerful nor'easter.  With budget meetings scheduled for this week, Mayor Pete Bass says the walk through and tour has been rescheduled for March 15th at 6:30pm at Pettibone.

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CityCenter appoints new executive director

CityCenter Danbury has a new leader.  The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Alicia Ghio to serve as chairwoman for the downtown organization.  She's been a vice-chair of the group and co-owns a video production company on Main Street.  Outgoing Executive Director P.J. Prunty applauded the selection, saying that Ghio has had her finger on the pulse of downtown Danbury for many years and is a City native who will bring fresh ideas to the organization as it continues revitalization efforts.  

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Brookfield Park and Rec Director to take over in Ridgefield as Roche retires

Ridgefield Parks and Recreation Department director Paul Roche is retiring at the end of the month.  He's been in the position since 1977.  He helped grow the department from a handful of programs to 120.   There are also 21 fields around Ridgefield he oversees. 

 

Roche helped implement a “pay as you go” financing model with membership and program fees covering most of the park and rec department's budget. 

 

Brookfield parks and recreation director Dennis DiPinto has been appointed by the Ridgefield Parks and Recreation Commission to lead the agency.  He became Brookfield's parks and recreation director in 1996.  His last day was Friday.  

 

DiPinto oversaw the recent renovations at Cadigan Park and the town beach, as well as the opening of the Still River Greenway.  It's a popular two-mile paved trail, which runs from the Brookfield Town Center south to Route 133.

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Forum set for tonight in Danbury on proposed rail fare hikes, service cuts

There's a Transportation Forum being held tonight in Danbury with the DOT Commissioner.  Area legislators want to hear about transportation needs for the region and state.  DOT Commissioner James Redeker will be at the forum.  The DOT proposed raising rail fares by about 22-percent and reducing service on the Danbury branch of Metro North.  Governor Malloy has also called for a hike in the gas tax by 7 cents over 4 years, implementing electronic tolling and a tire tax.  The gathering at Danbury City Hall from 7 to 8:30pm.  

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Power slowly coming back 3 days after nor'easter

Residents in the areas of New York hit hardest by a powerful nor'easter Friday could be without power into the early part of this week.  The storm brought flooding and heavy winds that brought down trees, with Putnam and Westchester counties particularly impacted by the loss of electricity.  Governor Andrew Cuomo deployed an additional 100 members of the New York National Guard to assist recovery efforts as he declared a state of emergency in Dutchess, Putnam, Sullivan and Westchester counties. 

 

An 11-year-old boy in Putnam County was killed when a tree crashed through a Putnam Valley house shortly after noon Friday.  The boy's mother was removed by firefighters and sheriff deputies to a nearby hospital.

 

Several thousand people remain without power in Connecticut as crews work to clean up trees and utility lines felled by the powerful nor'easter.  Authorities said a number of roads in the state remain closed because of debris from the storm. 

 

Police urge residents to stay away from any lines that are down as they may be live, and should be considered dangerous.  Motorists are reminded that if a traffic signal is not operational at an intersection, it is to be considered a "four way" stop.

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Greater Danbury non-profits raise money during Giving Day

13,000 donors raised $1.4 million during the Fairfield County Community Foundation Giving Day on Thursday.  Dozens of Greater Danbury area nonprofits were among more than 400 participating in the 24-hour fundraising challenge.  The Ridgefield Chorale made the top 10 in total money raised, receiving more than $22,000, with prize money for having the third-most unique donors, most money raised during one hour and the most raised by any small group before 9 am.  Danbury Animal Welfare Society raised more than $9,000 from 164 donations.

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Connecticut delegation supports net neutrality regulations

On Net Neutrality National Day of Action, held Tuesday, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy introduced a resolution to overturn the FCC repeal of net neutrality. The Senate resolution of disapproval has 50 supporters.  The U.S. House resolution disapproving the FCC repeal of net neutrality has 150 co-sponsors, including Elizabeth Esty and Jim Himes.

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Bethel legislator participates in hearing on care for developmentally disabled adults

Bethel state Representative Will Duff participated in 'Family Hearing Day' recently.  The event allowed legislators to hear the experiences, concerns and comments about the long-term care of their adult developmentally disabled children.  Duff serves on the first-in-the-nation state legislative Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities caucus, which was formed in 2015. 

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Danbury lawmaker opposes move to National Popular Vote system

Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan opposes renewed efforts to move from the electoral college to the National Popular Vote.  He says that will weaken the voices of Connecticut voters.  States participating in the popular vote compact must give their Electoral College votes to the candidate winning the national popular vote. 

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WCSU, Women's Center partner for 'Clothesline Project'

The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury, in partnership with Western Connecticut State University, will present the Clothesline Project.  The event is intended to raise awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence.  It's taking place from 11am to 3pm on March 19th, in the lobby of the Student Center on the Midtown campus, and the same hours on March 21, in the lobby of the Westside Campus Center.  Women can express their emotions by decorating a shirt that will be hung in both student centers, to be viewed by others, as testimony to the problem of violence against women.

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Wilton Police tout medication drop box initiative

The Wilton Police Department is a participant in the Medication Drop-Box Program.  They have a box located in the main lobby of the Wilton Police Department, accessible 24/7, to dispose of unused medications.  Police say the confidential, free service ensures safe disposal of unused medication, protecting our environment and youth.  According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, 6 out of 10 teens agree that prescription drugs are easy to get from parents’ medicine cabinets and 4 out of 10 teens think that prescription drugs are safer to use than illegal drugs.

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Kent suggests training program for emergency volunteers

During the recent ice jam event, Kent Emergency Management says an overwhelming number of people volunteered to assist.  Because of the outpouring, they are offering Kent residents a chance to participate in a classroom format training by the Red Cross.  The classes cover various types of disaster training for free. Sheltering is a course that the Kent Office of Emergency Management recommends because it covers all the basic needs in disasters in a 6 to 8 hour class.  In order to hold a class in Kent, John Grant says they need at least 10 people to sign up, via email at johnnieg1004@yahoo.com.

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Local lawmaker seeks input on Meals on Wheels legislation

A measure to protect funding for the Meals on Wheels program was up for a public hearing this week at the state capitol.  The non-profit, volunteer-based service delivers nutritious meals to people who are elderly or disabled, or homebound.  Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says the bill includes an increase in the fee schedule for Meals on Wheels.  He says it reflects reasonable costs of providers, and minimize any copayments incurred by participants in the program.

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Bethel state lawmakers tout food pantry drive collections

Bethel state Representatives are touting a successful food drive for the Bethel Community Food Pantry.  About 128 pounds of food was collected during the month of February.   Will Duff and Stephen Harding say they were proud to lend a helping hand to residents who are in-need.  They also praised donors for working together to make a difference in the community.  Bethel residents in-need can visit every other Tuesday and choose their own non-perishable food plus bread, fresh fruit and vegetables and, when available, meat and dairy products. The volunteer-run non=-profit also offers items not covered by food stamps, such as toilet paper, shampoo, deodorant and laundry detergent.

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Ridgefield school projected deficit lowered

The Ridgefield Board of Education says the projected deficit for the school year has gone down slightly, but red ink still exists.  The shortfall of $1.3 million is now estimated to be about $98,000, achieved through personnel and medical benefit account savings.  School officials are watching proceedings at the state capitol though, wary that more cuts in aid may be coming.  A local spending freeze on controllable accounts remains in place.  Unanticipated spending for new elementary teachers, special education and weather-related emergencies make up the bulk of the deficit.

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Red Cross, Danbury partner for fire alarm installation initiative

The American Red Cross in Connecticut and the City of Danbury are partnering on an initiative to provide free smoke alarms and installations to resident on March 17th.  It's part of the REd Cross Home Fire Campaign to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries.  Appointments are being accepted from  from 9am to 4pm.  Volunteers will also help families develop personalized family escape plans to use in the event of a fire.  Residents in Danbury can schedule a visit by visiting www.soundthealarm.org/Connecticut or by calling 877-287-3327 and choosing option 1 on the menu to request a smoke alarm installation.

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New Milford Community Center committee to hold first meeting

The New Milford Community Center Ad-Hoc Committee will be holding their first meeting on Friday night.  The meeting is set for 6:30pm at the John Pettibone Cafeteria. Members will be touring the building and the public is invited on the walk through.

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Founder of Green Chimneys passes away at 89

The founder of Green Chimneys nonprofit in Brewster has passed away.  Samuel Rollo Ross died at the age of 89.  He co-founded the Brewster-based organization in 1947 with his wife.  Green Chimneys helps young people through residential, educational, clinical and recreational services.  The farm and wildlife center in Brewster is recognized as a worldwide leader in animal-assisted therapy and educational activities for children with special needs.  Ross was a longtime member of Temple Beth Elohim in Brewster.  He died at his son's home in Nevada, where the funeral will take place.  A memorial service will be held in New York at a later date.

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Newtown Board of Ed names new Superintendent

The Newtown school district has named a new Superintendent.  Interim Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue, who started in Newtown as a teacher, was chosen by the Board of Education in a unanimous vote.  She most recently served as Newtown High School principal and was named Connecticut Principal of the Year in 2017.  Rodrigue follows Joseph Erardi in the role leading the school district.

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Fairfield County non-profits take part in 24-hour donation drive

Today is the Fairfield County Community Foundation's fifth annual Giving Day.   More than 70 Greater Danbury area nonprofits will be raising money during the competition.  The Foundation offers prizes for the most donors or money raised by certain times of the day.  Last year’s Giving Day raised almost $1.5 million from almost 14,000 donors for more than 400 organizations across Fairfield County.  Giving Day has raised more than $4.5 million over the past four years for various programs, services and projects.  A full list of groups participating and descriptions of their projects can be found online www.fcgives.org.

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