Local Headlines Archives for 2018-04

Local lawmaker opposes increase in prison meal funds

Last week Govenror Malloy proposed adding funding to the budget for inmate's meals to make them more nutritious.  Kent Representative Brian Ohler opposed the move, saying it comes at the same time as cuts to the Meals on Wheels program for seniors. 

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Local land trusts team up to protect land in Wilton, Weston

The Aspetuck Land Trust and the Wilton Land Conservation Trust are teaming up to try to protect more than 350 acres of forest land spanning Wilton and Weston.  The Weston-Wilton Forest Block is adjacent to more than 21-hundred acres of land that is already protected.  Land Trust officials say the property is considered rare and resilient habitat, critical to the long-term survival of native Connecticut species threatened by the effects of climate change and fragmentation from residential and commercial development.  The groups have started a fundraising and education effort to protect the land.

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Area towns named to safe communities list

5 Connecticut towns have made a list of  America’s 100 safest municipalities, according to home security company Safewise.  Ridgefield was ranked 61 and Newtown was 67th on the list.  Data from the FBI determined the rankings, which featured crime rates.  The report noted that violent crime has dropped nearly by a third in the past 20 years, with the rate in northeastern states about 30% less than the national average.

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Danbury officials look for money to fix DHS track

During this month's City Council meeting, a member asked for an update on if there are plans to fix the Danbury High School track.  Councilman Bob Taborsak, a former longtime Board of Education member, says he was on it and the condition was horrendous. Mayor Mark Boughton says ideally, city officials will identify unspent bond funds from other projects which can be reprogrammed for this purpose.  When and if that funding is identified, the Council will be asked to approve the change of use.  He says it's a fairly expensive project, close to half a million dollars.  But Boughton agreed that the track is not in good shape and needs to be replaced. 

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Parents of school shooting victims not running for Congress

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Two parents whose children were killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut have announced they're not running for Congress.

Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley were urged by Democrats to consider running for the 5th District seat held by Democrat Elizabeth Esty, who is not seeking re-election amid criticism of how she handled harassment in her office.

Barden and Hockley said Friday they want to be with their surviving children and continue working for Sandy Hook Promise, a gun violence prevention group they founded.

Daniel Barden and Dylan Hockley were among 20 first-graders killed in the shooting, along with six educators.

Dr. William Petit Jr., a Republican state representative whose wife and two daughters were killed in a 2007 home invasion, also declined to seek Esty's seat.  

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Downtown Transit Oriented Development District meeting in Danbury tonight

The final forum on the Downtown Transit Oriented Development District will be held tonight.  The results of the study will be detailed at the event.  The meeting held by the Planning and Zoning Department is set for 6pm in Danbury City Hall.  Several input meetings were held to gather recommendations from the public about how to grow and strengthen Downtown Danbury.  City officials are looking to turn the area into a more welcoming, vibrant place to live, work, and learn.   

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Danbury area towns named to 'Tree City USA' list

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has designated 18 Tree City USAs this year in celebration of Arbor Day.  Danbury has once again made the list, the 28th year.  Brookfield is on the list for the 12th year.  Monroe was named a Tree City fort the 14th year, Ridgefield has made the list for 17 years and Southbury is marking the two decade list.  Wilton has received the designation for 9 years.  To qualify as a Tree City USA, a community must meet four standards.  They are: having a municipal tree program, a tree ordinance, funding for trees, and a celebration of Arbor Day.  Each qualifying community must also be nominated by the State Forester.

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Still River Drive roundabout construction started

Construction has started on the Still River Drive roundabout in New Milford.  Test pits for utilities, silt fencing installation and clearing is being performed.  Mayor Pete Bass says work on drainage began in earnest this week.

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Local Police participate in DEA Drug Take Back Day

The Northwest Corner Prevention Network, working with the Town of Kent and State Police at Troop L, will host a Community Prescription Drug Take-Back from 10am to 2pm at Kent Town Hall.  The Prevention Network will hand out Lockbags designed to safeguard prescription medications.  The event, held twice yearly, provides families and community members with a free, safe and confidential way to dispose of unused and unwanted prescription drugs and medications.

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Update given on road construction projects in New Milford

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is giving an update to drivers on work on the Mill Street Bridge.  The last east side piles are being finished this week, with the concrete crew on site today for wingwall work on the west side.  Town Farm Road rehabilitation work had drivers detoured to Grove Street.  The work started last Monday and involves tree removal, drainage, shoulder reconstruction, slope stabilization and paving.  Some work does require temporary road closures, though only local traffic is allowed on Town Farm Road during the work.  Bass says paving will be completed by the end of May.

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Update given on road construction projects in New Milford

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is giving an update to drivers on work on the Mill Street Bridge.  The last east side piles are being finished this week, with the concrete crew on site today for wingwall work on the west side.  Town Farm Road rehabilitation work had drivers detoured to Grove Street.  The work started last Monday and involves tree removal, drainage, shoulder reconstruction, slope stabilization and paving.  Some work does require temporary road closures, though only local traffic is allowed on Town Farm Road during the work.  Bass says paving will be completed by the end of May.

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Putnam County officials looking into helping residents with property tax credits

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell is asking the County legislature consider whether charitable trusts should be formed to help residents affected by federal tax law changes reducing State and Local property Tax deduction caps to 10-thousand dollars.  New York's governor signed legislation offering the alternative since charitable contributions can still be written off.  Putnam’s Commissioner of Finance notes that counties throughout New York are waiting for IRS guidance on the issue.  Committee Chairman Neal Sullivan, who is a certified public accountant, is not optimistic about the legislation.  He says it seems like a scam put through by the State to try to help people avoid paying Federal taxes.  The discussion on charitable trusts will be on the agenda for the Rules Committee meeting on May 17th in the Putnam County Office Building in Carmel.

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Bethel students participate in Community Service Day

Bethel High School freshmen took part in the 2nd annual Community Service Day.  Among the projects the students took on yesterday was to join volunteers from the Bethel Garden Club to clean and mulch the gardens at town hall.  Others helped Stony Hill Volunteer firefighters with spring cleaning at the firehouse.

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WCSU advises students to run tap in dorm rooms following water main break

Despite the City lifting the order in the afternoon, West Conn posted an alert for students around 6pm saying that with the exception of residence hall apartments, tap water on both campuses is now safe for drinking and all other uses. Apartment residents in Centennial, Grasso and Pinney still must flush pipes by allowing water to run for 10 minutes in sinks and showers. After that, the water will be fine for drinking and washing. 
 
The university flushed all laundry facilities, drinking fountains and other sources of water in common areas in every building on both campuses.
 
The campus community was advised to continue taking precautions to prevent the spread of Norovirus. Reported cases have declined but everyone on campus should wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching hands to face.

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Retired professor announces candidacy for Connecticut's 5th

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A retired college professor and Republican campaign veteran has announced she plans to be the candidate now. 
 
 Ruby Corby O'Neill said Thursday she will seek the party's endorsement for the state's 5th Congressional District, the seat held by Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty, who came under fire for her handling of harassment complaints in her office. Esty is not seeking re-election. 
 
 O'Neill made her announcement on the steps of the state Capitol, with her husband, long-time Southbury state Rep. Arthur O'Neill, by her side. 
 
 Ruby Corby O'Neill, a trained developmental psychologist, says she hopes to counteract the political divisiveness in Washington and use her voice to advocate for people in the western Connecticut district. 
 
 Born in Honduras, she immigrated to the U.S. as a toddler. She serves in various Latino organizations. 

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Eversource to do tree trimming, removal in Danbury

Eversource is investing $80 million this year in tree trimming and hazardous tree removal.  The utility says the goal is to enhance reliability.  Trees along more than 4,000 miles of overhead lines around the state will be trimmed including 110 miles in Danbury.

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Region 12 schools appoint new Superintendent

Region 12 school officials have selected a new Superintendent.  Southington Principal Megan Bennett will fill the role for Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington schools starting on July 1st.  Bennett replaces Pat Cosentino, who announced her resignation in December, after serving as superintendent for six years. Cosentino will become superintendent in New Fairfield.  Bennett was selected from 20 candidates and has almost a decade of experience as an elementary school principal.

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Boil water advisory lifted in Danbury

The Boil Water Advisory has been lifted in Danbury. 

 

Residents and businesses are advised to flush their systems by taking filters off taps and allowing cold water to flow for 5 minutes.  City water can be consumed and used as normal, after taking appropriate measures.  Water sampling has been completed and results shared with the Connecticut Department of Public Health Drinking Water Section.

 

The Advisory followed the severe water main break that occurred Monday evening at the Tamarack and Hayestown Avenue location, leaving one third of the City without water.

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Redding budget referendum to be held May 8th

Redding residents will be voting on a budget on May 8th.  The proposed municipal budget for the coming fiscal year is $49.8 million, and includes Redding's share of the Region 9 school budget. 
 
Residents will also be asked to approve the Region 9 budget of $24.4 million.  Redding's share is $13.5 million while Easton residents are being asked to pay $10.9 million.  The break down is based on enrollment percentages from each municipality. 
 
Absentee ballots for the Redding and Region 9 budget referendum are now available at the Town Clerk's Office.  An application must be delivered to the Redding Town Clerk, and the ballot will then be given to the applicant.  A family member can be designated to pick up and return the ballot.  Since this referendum is being held with less than 3 weeks notice, absentee ballots cannot be mailed by the town clerk. 
 
The absentee application can be downloaded from the town of Redding's website.  Completed absentee ballots may be either hand-delivered or mailed to the Town Clerk’s Office, but must be received no later than May 8th.  Special hours will be held on Saturday May 5th from 9am to 11am.
 
Voting will be held at the Redding Community Center on May 8th.

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State Senate approves Holocaust education bill

The state Senate has unanimously approved legislation to require Holocaust and genocide education in Connecticut high schools.  State Senator Toni Boucher said the fact that incidents of racism and anti-Semitism still happen, including in her district, are why the bill is important.  Boucher referring to several swastikas found spray painted throughout Ridgefield.  Boucher Co-Chairs the legislature’s Education Committee.  The organization "Voices of Hope" testified that anti-Semitic incidents increased by 57 percent during 2017, and that incidents in kindergarten through 12th grade nearly doubled for the second year in a row.  Boucher believes one of the reasons incidents are on the rise is because of a lack of knowledge about the Holocaust and the terror and racism the Swastika symbolizes. The bill now moves to the House for a vote.

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Civil Air Patrol assists with bottled water distribution in Danbury

Several businesses in the Danbury area donated bottles of water to the City for distribution to residents impacted by a water main break.  More than 85,000 bottles were donated.  They were distributed at Danbury Fire Headquarters, with the help of 11 senior officers and 25 cadets from the Civil Air Patrol's 399th Composite Squadron.  Colonel James Ridley, Civil Air Patrol Connecticut Wing Commander, issued the mobilization order to the Danbury squadron at their weekly meeting.  Deputy Fire Chief Joe Halas said he was surprised by the large turnout of cadets and was grateful for the squadron's assistance.

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House passes immigrant tuition bill after daylong debate

Final legislative approval has been given by the Connecticut General Assembly for a bill that would allow undocumented students to access institutional financial aid at state run colleges.  They pay into the fund with tuition dollars, but currently are barred from accessing it.  Kent Representative Brian Ohler says he understands the good intentions, but can't support a measure that would provide illegal immigrants with a greater opportunity for financial assistance over a student who has resided here legally for his or her entire life.  Ohler acknowledged that the Dreams came to Connecticut when they were children, but says he is pained to know that they are now adults and remain undocumented.  Ohler says the pool of available institutional financial aid is shallow enough when considering the number of legal students who are competing for the funds.

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Bethel Board of Finance recommends town meeting on police station funding

The Bethel Board of Finance has voted to send a funding request to residents at a Special Town Meeting to cover cost overruns on the police station construction project.  The Board voted unanimously to ask residents to approve $889,000 to cover higher than estimated HVAC and electrical costs.

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Bottled water distributed in Danbury, rain replenishes reservoir

The boil water order for all Danbury residents on city water is epxected to be lifted today.  It was put in place when about a third of the City lost water or water pressure due to a valve break on a water main under Tamarack Avenue.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the order remains in effect make sure water output is reading at the appropriate make up and is safe to drink.
 
Each impacted Danbury Public School was given 2,400 bottles of water for consumption and hand washing. More water will be made available if needed. The school lunch service continued after precautions were taken to ensure food safety. Western Connecticut State University has been given 6,000 bottles of water for students, in addition to what they have already purchased.
 
Bottled water was available for pickup at Danbury Fire Headquarters on New Street for residents who have been impacted by the water main break.  As of 10pm, the City was running low on the donated bottled water. Once this supply runs out, no more will be available for free.
 
Boughton hopes to have more rain in the coming days to replenish the reservoir, though it was near 100-percent prior to the break.  Boughton believes it's early enough in Spring that the City will be ok on capacity through the summer, when prolonged dry weather could lead to drought conditions.
 
The repair came at a significant cost, which has not yet been calculated.  Boughton notes that the flight to pick up the part was an unanticipated cost.  There is enough money in the water budget to cover the expensive endeavor, according to Boughton.

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Bethel to vote on revised budget May 10

Bethel residents have approved sending a revised budget to a May 10th referendum.  The capital budget was reduced by more than $1 million, eliminating the purchase of a truck and creation of a turf field.  The municipal budget was only reduced by $325,000.  The second referendum will be held May 10th on the two budgets.  The school spending was approved on the first vote.

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NY authorities hold hearing on utility response to nor'easters

The New York State Public Service Commission is holding a series of public hearings about two March winter storms, which resulted in widespread power outages. The Commission has launched an investigation of storm preparation and response by New York's major electric utilities.  Comments received at the public hearings will be transcribed and included in the record.  A short presentation will lead off the hearing, with Department Staff explaining the investigatory process.  There are two hearings in Carmel today (April 26), at 2pm and 6pm in the Putnam County Training and Operations Center auditorium on Old Route 6.
 

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Petit decides not to run for Connecticut's 5th District

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The sole survivor of a deadly 2007 home invasion says he will not run for a congressional seat held by a Democrat who came under fire for her handling of harassment complaints in her office. 
 
 Dr. William Petit Jr. announced Wednesday he plans to seek re-election to his state House of Representatives seat. The Republican will be seeking his second term. 
 
 Petit says he ``thought long and hard about running for Congress'' but ``family considerations'' and his commitment to his constituents in Plainville and New Britain ultimately persuaded him to forgo a congressional run. 
 
 There's been much speculation about potential candidates for the 5th District seat U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty announced she would not seek re-election. 

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Women's Center marks 'Denim Day'

The Women's Center of Greater Danbury participated in Denim Day today.  The social statement was originally triggered when the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the justices felt since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove them, implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament arrived at work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault.

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Blumenthal calls for investigation into 9/11 victim fund scam

Senator Richard Blumenthal and his colleagues in the tri-state area are calling on the Federal Trade Commission and the FCC to investigate an imposter scam targeting claimants of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.  In Connecticut, 97 survivors and responders have received compensation through the fund.  Blumenthal says the scam adds to the already significant emotional and financial toll on 9/11 survivors and responders.  The scammer is demanding a range of personal information, including Social Security and bank account numbers, promising to use such information to file claims.  It's not known whether the scam is aimed at bilking money from the compensation fund or to be used for identity theft.

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Water pressure restored in Danbury following massive main break

Water pressure has been restored to all of Danbury. Residents are still asked to boil water before using if on City water. Showering is fine, but bottled water should be used for brushing teeth.  The requirement on boiling water should be lifted by tomorrow.

About a third of the City lost water Tuesday.

A part had to be manufactured in upstate New York and flown to Danbury in order to fix the massive water main leak.

 

(Photos: @MayorMark)

 

A valve broke off a main in the area of Tamarak and Hayestown late Monday.  The work to fix the problem included digging up the area around the break, shut off water ahead of the broken valve, replace the valve and then replace any broken pipe.

 

 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the water couldn't initially be shut off and the city lost millions of gallons.  The Danbury Health Department asked residents yesterday afternoon to voluntarily limit water usage over the next 48 hours.

Boughton acknowledged that the infrastructure on that side of the city is pretty old.  There was no construction in the area at the time.  He speculated that the warming temperatures moved the earth just a bit and cause the valve to snap.  While he was surprised by the severity, Boughton says they do see a number of water main breaks in that general vicinity.

 


Tanker trucks were filled and on standby in case of emergency.  The leak affected Danbury Hospital, which was operating yeterday with a limited water supply.

The Danbury War Memorial has been made available for residents to take a shower.  Bottled water will be available for pickup at Danbury Fire headquarters on New Street for residents who have been impacted by this water main break.

 

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WCSU midtown campus water deemed unsafe due to water main break

West Conn was told by the city that tap water on the Midtown campus is unsafe for any use following a massive water main break.  Students were advised not drink, wash hands or brush teeth with water from any faucet on the Midtown campus.  While the water main break is unrelated to the recent Norovirus outbreak, students were encouraged to maintain healthy practices to prevent the spread of Norovirus. That means frequent handwashing with soap and water – bottled on Midtown and tap water on Westside.  Classes and other operations will continue, with bottled water distributed.  There are additional shuttles between Midtown and Westside campuses for dining services.

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Newtown residents approve budget for coming fiscal year

Newtown residents have approved a budget and two capital items.  Turn out for yesterday's referendum was about 17-percent.  The spending plan is a 1-percent tax rate increase.  The budget for the coming fiscal year is $41-million for the town and $76-million for the schools.  Residents also approved $1.685 million to replace the roof on Middle Gate School, and about  $1.5 million in additional funding for road repairs and improvements.  Newtown residents will likely be asked about funding for a new police station on the August 14th primary ballot or the November general election ballot.

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Newtown Rabbi to make congressional run

A religious leader in Newtown is running for congress.  Rabbi Shaul Praver has announced that he will be a Democratic candidate in the 5th District.  He led Congregation Adath Israel was part of the Newtown Interfaith Council.  Incumbent Elizabeth Esty opted not to seek reelection amid a controversy over her handling of a sexual harassment complaint involving her former Chief of Staff.  Praver described himself to the Newtown Bee as, “a bold progressive candidate” who will advocate for comprehensive gun laws, medicare expansion and campaign finance reform.  He is also interested in prison reform, immigration reform and expanding public education to include pre-K through college.

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Bethel Board of Finance to meet on police station construction cost overruns

The Bethel Board of Finance will be meeting tonight about the cost overruns on the Police Station construction project.  The Selectmen have asked the group to consider using $889,000 from the fund balance to pay for the overage.  The additional money is needed because plumbing and HVAC work has been more expensive than estimates.  Additional money is needed to finish the firing range and to buy new furniture.  Tonight's meeting is at 7pm in the Bethel Municipal Center.

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Ridgefield Board of Ed makes cuts to proposed budget

The Ridgefield Board of Education has made requested changes to their budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.  The Board of Finance asked the school district to scale back the plan by about $1 million.  Acting Superintendent Robert Miller says about half of the reduction was met through negotiations with their healthcare provider.  The other $532,000 in cuts came from two psychologist positions, technology, and eliminating new expenses.  Residents will be asked to approve a 95 million dollar budget, a 2.55 percent increase.

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UPDATE: A third of Danbury without water following large water main break

A 16-inch water main break at Tamarack and Hayestown Avenues has affected about one third of Danbury from the location of the break east to the Bethel border.  Residents and businesses may experience little or no water pressure in the affected area.   The hospital is functioning with limited water supply. 
 
Crews are pumping the area to get the water level down so they can assess the damage, but the valve cracked and the water can't be shut off.  Mayor Mark Boughton says a part is being machined in Buffalo, New York and he's looking into getting a plane to fly the part to Danbury.  Boughton didn't give an estimate of what that would cost.  He initially estimated that water would be restored by tonight, but has since pushed it back.
 
Danbury officials are coordinating with schools and businesses concerning this water supply emergency and will provide on-going updates. Danbury is issuing a “Boil Alert Advisory” and affected residents are advised not to drink the water without boiling first.
 
Danbury is working with the Hospital to support patient and community needs. Patients are asked to call ahead to verify appointments before leaving for the hospital.

With closures to Tamarack and Locust Avenues, access to the main hospital campus is disrupted.  Employees and patients can access the campus via Osborne Street to the Medical Arts Center Gold/Red Garages and/or via Osborne Street to Hospital Avenue to the Rizzo Garage.

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Newtown budget referendum scheduled for today

Newtown residents will be voting on a budget today.  The proposal calls for $41-million for the town and $76-million for the schools.  It's a 2.35-percent increase.  Two bond questions will also be on the ballot.  Newtown residents will be asked to approve $1.685 million to replace the roof on Middle Gate School.  The other question is about $1.5 million to supplement operating budget expenditures dedicated to road repairs and improvements.  During the budget referendum this month, residents will not be asked about funding for a new police station.  That vote will likely come as a separate question on the August 14th primary ballot or the November ballot. 

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New Milford goes to bid on Still River roundabout

The town of New Milford has received authorization to open bids for the Still River Drive and Pickett District Road Roundabout project.  The state Department of Transportation authorized the award of the contract to replace an all-way, stop sign controlled intersection, with a roundabout.  The project also involves repaving the Still River Drive approaches to the intersection.  New Milford will receive a construction grant of $1.1 million under the state LOTCIP program. Construction is expected to begin this month and be completed this Fall.

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Bethel Town Meeting on revised budget to be held tonight

The reconvened Annual Town Budget Meeting in Bethel will be held tonight.  Residents will be asked to send a revised budget to a referendum.  The Board of Finance scaled back the municipal portion of the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year to $29.53 million.  The revised capital budget is proposed a $1.14 million.  The capital items to be funded are a streetsweeper, a fire engine and an HVAC system for the High School.  Tonight's meeting will be held at the Bethel High School Auditorium at 7pm.

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Reservoir Street closed at Bethel-Danbury line for repairs

A road repair project in Danbury will affect traffic in Bethel, starting today.  The City is replacing the Reservoir Street bridge that crosses over the creek near the town line.  Reservoir Street will be closed completely in both directions for 13 days, now that the project is about midway completed.  During construction, which is expected to last three months total, traffic will be limited to one lane.  Detour signs are in place.  Electronic traffic message boards have also been set up to notify drivers of the closure.

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Danbury Library closes parking lot for expansion project

Danbury Library is making improvements to the parking lot.  Construction began today, closing the parking lot. The Danbury Parking Authority has offered library users a reduced rate for parking at the Patriot Garage on Delay Street.  Parking passes can be validated at the library’s information desk in order to receive the special rate.

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Danbury purchases 65 acres for open space preservation

Danbury has closed a deal to buy 65 acres of land off Long Ridge Road, near Tarrywile Park, with a conservation easement.  The City Council signed off on starting negotiations earlier this year and an agreement was reached for the City to pay $700,000 from the conservation fund.  The property is valued at $1.2 million.  The land will be preserved for hiking and as natural open space, featuring an old orchard, meadows and woods.  City officials hope to eventually connect the parcel to the Ives Trail, a 20-mile path spanning Ridgefield, Redding, Bethel and Danbury.  The property was owned by 99-year old Monique Wiedel, who reaches the century milestone birthday in June.

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Intersection reconfiguration project underway in Newtown

An intersection reconfiguration project is starting today in Newtown.  Church Hill Road, Edmond Road and Commerce Road will be turned into a four-way, traffic light controlled intersection, with turning lanes.  The goal is to improve traffic flow and reduce accidents.  The southern end of Edmond Road is being realigned to the west while Church Hill Road will be widened slightly.  Sidewalks on both sides of Church Hill Road will also be installed.  Some trees will be removed and utility poles repositioned, along with some business driveways relocated.  During the project, which is expected to be completed by November 30th, there will be some alternating one way traffic on Church Hill Road.  Cromwell-based Arborio Construction Company was awarded the $2.85 million bid.

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Water main cleaning in Bethel

Water mains in the Chimney Heights neighborhood of Bethel will be cleaned by Aquarion this week.  The water quality improvement work is set for today through next Monday, 8am to 5pm.  Anyone who experiences discolored water, should run the cold water tap until it clears. During periods of discoloration, postpone washing clothes and limit your use of hot water until the cold water clears.

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Training drill held in Putnam County on a school bus

A simulated hostage situation drill was conducted Friday by the Putnam County Sheriff Department Emergency Response Team.  The scenario was tested on a school bus at the Carmel Volunteer Fire Department.  Sheriff Robert Langley Jr says the Department is dedicated to keeping the community safe and protecting schools and children.

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Bethel requests proposals from firms for work at two schools

Bethel has sent out a request for proposals for a firm to provide professional services for two school renovation projects.  A site walk will be held at Johnson School at 3pm for interested commissioning agents and other firms.  Bids are due to Bethel by May 8th.  Residents approved 65-point-8 million dollars to renovate Johnson and Rockwell Elementary Schools.  A state grant is expected to pay for part of the project. 

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Malloy nominates 72 low-income zones for federal program

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration is nominating 72 low-income zones in 27 Connecticut municipalities for a federal community development program. One of the zones is in Danbury.

The Democrat had created an application process for municipalities interested in participating in the Opportunity Zone Program. Each governor must submit a plan to the federal government designating tracts as Opportunity Zones.

Qualified tracts must have a poverty rate of at least 20 percent of the median income that does not exceed 80 percent of the area median income.

The program provides a federal tax incentive for investors to re-invest unrealized capital gains into these special zones by pooling money with other investors through Opportunity Funds.

Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith says the 72 zones are "ripe for redevelopment." She hopes the designation spurs economic growth. 

 

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Volunteers needed for Clean City Danbury Day

The annual Clean City Danbury Day is coming up and the Mayor's office is looking for volunteers to sign up to help with the beautification effort.  Volunteers will be tasked with picking up litter in a neighborhood, park or waterway.  Supplies of rash bags, safety vests, and gloves are provided.  Volunteers are also needed at each dumpster location to assist residents in the drop-off process. 

 

Free disposal of unwanted items is being provided to Danbury residents and property owners with the support of Winters Brothers.  But there is one less drop off location this year, the West Conn westside drop off will not be in service this year. 

 

No commercial vehicles or box trucks are allowed. Construction debris, grass clippings, yard debris, hazardous wastes, and electronics are not allowed.  Scrap metal, tires and white appliances containing Freon must be kept separate from other garbage. 

 

Dumpster locations are at Danbury City Hall, Rogers Park, the P.A.L. Building, & the Public Works Facility. Paper shredding will once again be offered during Clean City Danbury Day at the Winters Bros. Waste Systems Recycling Center at 307 White Street.

 

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Public hearing planned on future of public affairs network

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut lawmakers want to learn more about the future plans for the state's cable TV and online public affairs network.

Danbury Rep. Robert Godfrey and West Hartford Sen. Beth Bye, both Democrats, plan to hold an informational hearing Monday, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., on the status of the Connecticut Television Network. The meeting will be held in the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

Godfrey has voiced concern about the editorial independence of the network, known as CT-n, following deep budget cuts made last year by lawmakers.

The network's future appeared in doubt last year after its independent, nonprofit operator announced it was terminating its contract, citing the budget cuts and "encroachments on our editorial independence." CT-n is now being operated by the General Assembly's Office of Legislative Management.  

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Ridgefield lawmaker introduces bill to get around federal SALT deduction limits

Ridgefield Representative John Frey says he's heard from a number of constituents who are concerned about the reduction of State and Local Tax  exemption at $10,000.  He co-sponsored a bill in response to that concern, which essentially allows taxpayers to reclassify their property tax payments as charitable donations. This would allow municipalities like Ridgefield to set up charitable organizations so taxpayers can continue to write off the full amount of their local property taxes.

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Redding to build Mt. Trashmore to mark Earth Day cleanup

The town of Redding has scheduled a number of events in celebration of Earth Day today.  The town will once again by building Mt. Trashmore on the town green.  It's a place where volunteers will display all of the roadside trash collected during the one-day event.  A light bulb exchange will also be held.  Vest, gloves, and garbage bags will be distributed from 9am to noon at the Redding Town Green.  Garbage drop off will be open until 3pm.  The light bulb exchange, with a 4 bulb limit, is from 9am to noon. 

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HRRA hosts e-waste recycling event today in Brookfield

The Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority is hosting an electronic waste recycling event today in Brookfield from 9am-1pm.  The collection will take place in the Center School parking Lot off Obtuse Hill Road.  The collection is open to residents of the HRRA towns of Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Sherman.  Items accepted include televisions, monitors, computers/laptops, printers, copiers, scanners, power cords, rechargeable batteries, stereo equipment, DVR/VCR/Blue Ray and tape players, radios, telephones, video game equipment, remote controls and microwaves.

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Local lawmaker backs bill requiring GPS monitoring of sex assault convicts awaiting sentencing

A local lawmaker has co-sponsored legislation that would require anyone convicted of aggravated sexual assault to wear a GPS device until sentencing.  Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding says those convicted of aggravated sexual assault would be required to pay for their monitoring while they await sentencing.  The bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee in a unanimous vote.  A similar bill seeking the same protections was approved unanimously in the state Senate, but the House ran out of time for a vote on the measure.

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Goat gets introduced on floor of state House for New Milford Day

The inaugural New Milford Day was held at the State Capitol yesterday.  The event showed off New Milford's local businesses and services to the legislature.  Representatives Bill Buckbee and Richard Smith were joined by Senator Craig Miner and Mayor Pete Bass.  Buckbee says New Milford has a lot to offer locally, from major manufacturing to farming to youth services.

 

Goatboy Soaps brought in two baby goats that were born recently, and one named Billy Mo was introduced on the House Floor. 

 

(Billy Mo, Rep. Buckbee, Rep. Smith)

 

The event was planned to fall on Roger Sherman's birthday.  He was one of New Milford’s most influential residents on American Politics, and also former State Representative.

 

Participants of the event included:

Kimberly Farms
Goatboy Soaps
Kimberly Clark
Full Circle Promotions
The Makery
New Milford Girl Scouts – Troop 40232
New Milford Hospital
Pratt Nature Conservancy
New Milford Youth Agency
Community Credit Union of New Milford

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Ridgefield Rid Litter Days this weekend

Ridgefield's annual Rid Litter Days take place this weekend in celebration of Earth Day.  Trash bags and safety vests are available at the Parks and Rec building and at the Chamber of Commerce for volunteers.  There are several drop off locations for litter picked up in neighborhoods and parks in Ridgefield.  They are: Farmingville School, East Ridge Middle School, Ridgefield High School and Fox Hill Lake Beach area.

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Prescription drug takeback day set for next weekend

A prescription drug take back event is taking place next weekend.  Residents can bring unwanted, unused prescription meds to local drop off points on the 28th, from 10am to 2pm. 
 
One location is the Easton Library Lot, where pills will be collected by the Easton Police and destroyed by the DEA. Easton Police Cadets will be assisting citizens as they simply drive up and hand safely packaged medication to them for disposal.
 
Ridgefield Police says prescription drugs that languish in medicine cabinets create a public health and safety concern because they are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.  Potentially dangerous, unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications will be collected at Bissell Pharmacy on Governor Street. 
 
There is a prescription drug take-back box located in the front lobby of Ridgefield Police Headquarters available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year and is also completely anonymous.

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Absentee ballot session in Newtown for budget vote

The Newtown Town Clerk will hold special absentee voting hours Saturday from 9 am to noon on the budget.  The proposal calls for $41-million for the town and $ 76-million for the schools.  It's a 2.35-percent increase.  Two bond questions will also be on the ballot.  The referendum in Newtown will be held Tuesday.

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United Way launches program to expand childcare facilities in Danbury

The United Way of Western Connecticut is launching a $1 million program over the next several years to support new family childcare centers in Danbury.  The Cora's Kids program was announced yesterday as one way for Danbury to address childcare challenges facing the city.  Other solutions are being advanced as part of a larger grant initiative where Danbury was awarded $450,000 from the Boston Federal Reserve's Working Cities Challenge.  Cora's Kids will offer incentives for up to 15 new licensees per year to keep childcare costs down and increase availability of home-based childcare centers.  United Way officials say childcare accounts for more than 25-percent of a household budget on average.

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Hundreds of school walkouts planned on Columbine anniversary

Ridgefield High School students are participating in a protest today against gun violence.  Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.  Sophomore Lane Murdock launched the National School Walkout after the February shooting at a Florida high school.  Participating students will walk out of class at 10am to a rally on campus, opening with a moment of silence. 
 
There will also be an open mic portion of the event, and Murdock says second amendment supporters will be able to voice their opinions. 
 
Ridgefield High School Principal Stacey Gross told the Ridgefield Press that the police department agreed to cover the cost of providing security for the protest.
 
Plans for Friday's walkout began only hours after the Parkland shooting, when Murdock teen started an online petition calling for protests on the anniversary of Columbine. She then gathered a few other students at Ridgefield High School to orchestrate the national protest.

"We're walking out to remember every single young person who has been killed by American gun violence," Murdock said in a statement Thursday. "We're walking out to talk about the real problems our country is facing, and the solutions that our leaders are too scared to dream up."

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2014 GOP congressional candidate to stay out of 2018 race

There's one less person seeking their party's nomination to run for Congress in the 5th District.  Republican Mark Greenberg, who won the GOP nomination in 2014, says he will continue to run for state Comptroller.  Greenberg says that office is where he can most directly help the state and its families and businesses.  Greenberg says his skill set can help him best contribute to the economic health of Connecticut by working in state government, rather than in Washington.

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Ridgefield schools close projected deficit

The Ridgefield Board of Education will not vote on a special appropriation because a projected deficit has been mitigated.  During their meeting earlier this week, it was announced that the spending freeze enacted in September has resulted in savings.  Health benefit claims have also come in lower than previous years.  Ridgefield school officials had been looking at a deficit after 8 new students with special education plan had to be placed out of district, along with 3 other students already enrolled when the budget was crafted.  About a dozen special education related settlements were also a factor. 
 

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WCSU participates in Day of Silence

Western Connecticut State University is participating in the Day of Silence today.  It's  a student-led national event where participants take a vow of silence  to highlight the silencing of LGBTQ+ persons at school.  West Conn's event is hosted by the Gender and Sexuality Alliance and supported by the Office of InterCultural Affairs. Day of Silence, last held at WestConn in 2015, is aimed at having participants think about issues still to be tackled and to make West Conn a more inclusive place.

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Area lawmaker critical of efforts to derail cost-effective regionalization efforts

A local lawmaker is speaking out about some attempts to undercut regionalization efforts that are working, while proposing ideas that won't.  Redding Representative Adam Dunsby, who also serves as Easton First Selectman, was critical of plans to defund the regional fire school in Fairfield. He also says a failed bill proposed taking money from regional Councils of Government to create a new state department to study regional efficiency.

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Newtown legislator marks Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day at capitol

Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day was held at the state capitol yesterday.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky says education is a primary factor in reversing the stigma associated with those who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Bolinsky says inclusiveness and understanding are key to building strength within communities,  He says opportunities for employment, volunteering and socializing are great ways to build great lives.The event was sponsored by the Connecticut Autism Advocacy Coalition. 

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Immigrants optimistic financial aid bill will pass this year

Immigrant students without legal status say they're optimistic legislation making them eligible for institutional financial aid will pass the Connecticut General Assembly. The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday by a 30-5 vote. It now moves to the House of Representatives, where it has not been called for a vote in previous years. This year's version includes some new requirements for applicants.
 
Some students from Danbury High School used part of their spring break this week to lobby state lawmakers for a bill which would equalize access to higher education institutional college aid for undocumented students in Connecticut.   Institutional aid is funded by tuition revenue, and despite paying into the system, undocumented students are currently barred from accessing that aid. 

More than 250 people submitted testimony in support of the bill during a public hearing last month.

Evelin Garcia tried to obtain legalization through her U-S citizen grandfather, but she encountered issues and became undocumented.  Garcia graduated from WCSU in 2017, a recipient of the CSU Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award.  The recognition is presented to the top 12 students in the state.  But she says it wasn't easy, because she didn't have access to institutional financial aid.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis concluded that the proposal would have no fiscal impact on the state or on the higher education system.

The bill is supported by WestConn President John Clark.  Connecticut allows the students to pay in-state tuition as long as they have spent at least two years at a Connecticut high school. But they can’t apply for any government money, including the institutional aid.

Opponents have argued that allowing the students to access financial aid would mean less money for those in the country legally.

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Meeting in Ridgefield tonight on Norwalk River Great Swamp Dam

A meeting is being held in Ridgefield tonight about proposed rehabilitation of the Norwalk River Great Swamp Dam.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is looking to craft a plan to rehabilitate the dam so it meets current safety, performance, and design criteria.  The dam provides flood protection to residents of the Towns of Redding and Ridgefield and enhances habitat for wetland wildlife. 

 

Tonight's meeting is at 7pm in the Charter Oak Room in the Ridgefield Recreation Center on Danbury Road. 

 

DEEP will evaluate several options for the dam including taking no action, removing it, rehabilitate the structure or taking non-structural measures.  Federal funding is helping to pay for the planning phase, but none has been secured at this point for the design or construction.  Public input and time to answer questions or concerns will be part of the meeting.  

 

Staff from DEEP, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and their consultants, along with the Connecticut Dam Safety Program, will provide an update on planning activities to date, the reasons dam rehabilitation is needed, and the alternatives being considered.  

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Funding for turf field removed from proposed capital budget in Bethel

Funding for a turf field has been removed from the revised proposed Bethel capital budget.  The Board of Finance made the change after residents rejected the municipal spending plan and the capital budget during a referendum last week.  A truck was also removed from the capital plan.  The new budget for the town is proposed at $29.5 million, down $325,000.  That portion of the budget was rejected by just 66 votes.  The tax rate would decrease .03 percent.  The cuts came from funding for items the town might have otherwise borrowed for and some road construction money.  A Town Meeting on the revisions will be held Tuesday at the Bethel High School auditorium.

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Sandy Hook firefighters warn of phone scammer soliciting donations

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company does not solicit donations over the phone.  There are scam calls circulating Fairfield County by people claiming to be from local volunteer fire companies.  Anyone receiving such a call should not give out personal financial information.  Sandy Hook Fire and Rescue will begin its annual fund drive soon. Those who live within the district will receive a letter in the next few weeks.  In late July or early August, firefighters will be doing an annual door-to-door appeal.  The firefighters will be wearing shirts with the company logo as well as photo ID tags at that time.

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Esty takes part in gun violence prevention forum

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty took part in a forum this afternoon to discuss how to improve school safety.  She and others focused on three major areas including gun violence prevention, intervention, and school security measures.   Esty and Florida Senator Marco Rubio are cosponsors of the STOP School Violence Act, which was recently signed into law as part of the federal government’s omnibus funding bill. The law calls for investing 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.  Nicole Hockley, whose son was killed on 12-14,  and Lauren Alfred of Sandy Hook Promise attended the forum.

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Candlewood Watershed soil testing kits available Saturday

The Candlewood Watershed Initiative's Annual Soil Testing Day takes place on Saturday.  Lawn and garden soils are being accepted for lab analysis of nutrient content to determine if fertilization is necessary and, if so, in what quantities and with which nutrient supplements.  Residents from throughout the Candlewood Lake Watershed can drop by one of two sites to receive a free Soil Testing Kit and directions on its use. 

 

The distribution will take place in New Fairfield at Stop & Shop and at the Sherman IGA, 9am to 3pm. 

 

The Candlewood Lake Authority says two-thirds of those participating in the past found that no additional phosphorus was needed.  The CLA says it's a significant finding in light of the potential harm that can result if storm water transports excess nutrients and pollutes lakes and streams.  The nutrients can contribute to the growth of algae, milfoil and other invasive aquatic plants and do similar damage to the ecosystem.

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Danbury Library parking lot expansion started

The City of Danbury has started work to expand the Library parking lot.  Preliminary work began this week, closing the drive-up drop box area.  Library patrons are asked to park in the upper lot. Normal parking is expected to resume tomorrow.

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Brookfield firefighters caution residents about solicitation phone scam

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is alerting residents to a phone scam circulating Fairfield County.  People claiming to represent local volunteer fire companies are solicitating donations over the phone.  Brookfield fire officials say it's a phishing scheme for personal financial information, and not to give out those details.  Make note of the phone number the person is calling from, and any other Caller ID informaiton, and then hang up.  Any Brookfield resident receiving such a call should Contact Brookfield Police or Connecticut Better Business Bureau and report what happened.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company and Candlewood Company begin annual fund drive June 10th and 11th door to door, mailings have already gone out.

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Danbury begins hydrant flushing

Danbury has begun annual hydrant flushing.  Work is being done this week in the North Street, Hayestown, Ives Street areas and Great Plain/Stadley Rough/Nabby roads region.  Anyone who experiences discolored water, should run the cold water tap until it clears. During periods of discoloration,  postpone washing clothes and limit your use of hot water until the cold water clears. 

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Sandy Hook families file suit against conspiracy theorist

The families of two children slain in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre have filed lawsuits against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for claiming the shooting did not happen.

The defamation lawsuits were filed in Texas. That's the home state of Jones' media company, Infowars.

Neil Heslin, the father of Jesse Lewis, and Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, the parents of Noah Pozner, filed separate lawsuits seeking more than $1 million in damages.

Jesse and Noah were among the 20 first-grade students gunned down inside the school in Connecticut on Dec. 14, 2012. Six educators were also killed.

The lawsuits allege that Jones' insistence that the shooting was staged led others to make death threats against the victims' families.  

 

Jones said Tuesday in a YouTube video that the families are being used by the Democratic Party and the news media, and that he believes Sandy Hook ``really happened.''  In the video, Jones invited parents who lost their children to his show to have a ``real discussion'' about guns. He also says he believes the lawsuits will be thrown out.  

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Danbury-based company submits bids to DEEP for fuel cell installations

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has opened up a request for proposal process for renewable energy projects.  Danbury-based FuelCell Energy has submitted plans for seven generation units that would produce a combined 85.1 megawatts.  The generation facilities are proposed for Ansonia, Bristol, Derby, Hartford, New Milford, Willimantic and Torrington.  DEEP officials received a total of 27 bids, a majority of which are fuel cells.  Jennifer Arasimowicz of Fuel Cell Energy says previous submissions on similar RFPs were not selected, with the state giving preference to wind and solar power instead.  She says the RFP process has since been modified.  Arasimowicz says their 7 proposals would mean over $70 million in new state revenue and over 700 new direct and indirect jobs for Connecticut.

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Local lawmaker member of task force to protect elections from cyber attack

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill led a first of its kind meeting of state, local, and federal officials in an effort to protect Connecticut's 2018 elections from cyber attack. 

 

Danbury state Senator Mike McLachlan is a member of the panel, representing Senate Republicans. 

 

Merrill says the state's cybersecurity defenses held, and the Russians were turned away in 2016.  But she says threat of foreign interference is real and the Task Force is key to coordinating a response. 

 

The Task Force will advise Secretary Merrill on how to invest the more than $5 million of federal funds recently appropriated for election security in Connecticut to best strengthen cyberdefenses on the state and local level, and plan ongoing coordination and training.  As immediate past president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, and co-chair of the organization's Cybersecurity Task Force, Merrill led efforts to successfully secure funding for all 50 states to strengthen their cyberdefenses under the Help America Vote Act. 

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DOT starts guard rail replacements along Route 59 in Easton

The state Department Of Transportation has started replacing the guard rail system and cutting trees on Route 59 in Easton.  The work will continue for about a month and a half, and take place between 9am and 3pm, Monday through Friday.  Easton Police caution drivers to expect delays during these times along Route 59.  Work is starting in the Church Road area.  Drivers were urged to find an alternate route around Route 59 during the next 6 weeks.

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Newtown school roof to be restored

Hawley Elementary School roof will be restored with some portions being replaced.  The Newtown Board of Education has voted to award the work to Elite Roofing and Restoration.  The winning bid was little more than 703-thousand dollars.  The funding was included in the Capital Improvement Plan for the current fiscal year.  The section the roof that's 14 years old will be restored, with school officials hoping the work will be done this summer.

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Train noise meeting in Redding tonight

Redding officials have rescheduled a forum for tonight with Metro North and the state Department of Transportation about train noise.  An overview of Train Operations and Horn Protocol will be discussed.  Information about audits and noise complaint investigations will be detailed.  Safety improvements at railroad crossings are also slated to be summarized.  The DOT will take questions from the pubic at the forum being held at Redding Town Hall at 7pm.  

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Bethel Finance Board to take up budget revisions, police station funding

The Bethel Board of Finance is set to meet tonight about where to make changes to the municipal and capital budgets for the coming fiscal year, which were rejected by residents in last week's referendum.  The Bethel school budget was approved, and will be left as is.  One of the controversial items in the capital budget was $979,000 for a turf field. 

 

The Board of Finance meeting is set for 7:30 tonight in the Bethel Municipal Center.  A town meeting and referendum date will then be set.

 

The Bethel Board of Selectmen is recommending more money be approved to cover police station cost overruns. Residents approved $13.5 million for the project, but costs for HVAC, electrical, and plumbing came in higher because of market changes.  The Board of Finance will take up the $88,000 recommendation and possibly send the matter to residents at a town meeting. 

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School safety assessment unit of State Police essentially defunct

After the shooting at Sandy Hook School, State Police formed a Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit, which was supposed to be a model for risk assessments.  Any superintendent or principal could call that unit, and troopers would be sent out to conduct a safety assessment.  Ohler says the unit was essentially defunct as of December 2016 when troopers were reassigned because of staffing shortages.  He called it a disservice to the schools, which are trying to be proactive.  But Ohler says a sergeant was assigned to the unit recently.  That trooper is not trained however and was sent to Georgia to conduct a two week training class in order to be able to train other troopers to effectively do a school safety assessment.

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Amphitheater proposed for former Schlumberger property

Members of the Schlumberger Citizen's Committee have suggested to the Ridgefield Board of Selectmen that $25,000 in contingency funding be spent on preliminary designs for an amphitheater.  The funding was approved for a traffic study and site plan of the town-owned 30 acre property.  The outdoor stage was one of the top uses residents backed in previous surveys of what to do with the land.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi told the Newstimes that the project, if approved, would be privately funded after designs have been drawn up.

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Gun industry group releases report on firearm-related job growth

Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation has released a new report showing that the state's firearms industry continued to grow last year.  The gun industry saw 57-hundred jobs in Connecticut last year, compared to 49-hundred in 2016.  While total wages were up, the average wage for firearm industry workers remained flat.

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Bethel to hold meeting on police station construction cost overruns

The Bethel Board of Selectmen is holding a special meeting tonight on police station construction cost overruns.  The Public Site and Building Committee is asking for nearly $889,000 more to finish the project.  Residents had only approved $13.5 million for the work, but HVAC and plumbing costs came in well over estimates.  The cost overrun does not include money to finish the firing range.  If that money is included, residents could be asked to approve $1.5 million.  Tonight's special Bethel Board of Selectmen meeting is set for 7pm.

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Brush fire extinguished in Redding

Redding firefighters extinguished a brush fire over the weekend.  Firefighters responded to Peaceable Street Saturday afternoon.  The brush fire burned about half an acre.  It took more than 2 hours to bring it under control and extinguish the flames.  Mutual aid from Weston, Ridgefield and Bethel was called in.

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Milos Forman, Oscar-winning director, dies at 86

Milos Forman, a refuge from Czechoslovakia whose American movies "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Amadeus" won a deluge of Academy Awards, including best director Oscars, has died. He was 86.

Dennis Aspland, Forman's agent, says in a statement that Forman's wife, Martina, told him her husband died about 2 a.m. Saturday at Danbury Hospital, near his home in Warren, Conn.

"Cuckoo's Nest," based on Ken Kesey's novel about a misfit who leads the inmates of a mental institution in a revolt against authority, captured every major Oscar at the 1976 Academy Awards. "Amadeus," the Mozart biopic, captured seven Academy Awards, including best picture, best director and best actor.

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Fire Service Day, Emergency Telecommunicator week celebrated

Newtown State Representative Mitch Bolinsky celebrated full-time and volunteer fire personnel during Fire Service Day at the state capitol this week.  He notes that there are over 21,000 volunteer fire men and women throughout the state. All of Newtown is protected by volunteer fire organizations including. 

 

Bolinsky is a founding member of the legislature's Fire and EMS caucus.  The nonpartisan group will produce legislative recommendations concerning policy initiatives for first-responders to the entire legislature. 

 

Today wraps up National Emergency Telecommunicator week.  Easton Police celebrated the full and part time 911 dispatchers who also answer calls for Fire, EMS, Animal Control, and after hours for other town departments.  The Easton dispatchers are the first point of contact for over 8,000 calls a year.

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Passport Fair set for Danbury Library

The United States Postal Service plans to host a Passport Fair at Danbury Library.  Representatives from the Postal Service will process applications for new or renewal passports from 10am to 2pm in the Library's Farioly Program Room.  Documents needed for the Passport Fair are a first-time or renewal application, evidence of citizenship, two forms of ID, passport-compliant photo, and two checks or money orders for payment of the applicable passport application and execution fee.  Passport photos will also be taken on-site for an additional fee.  Application forms must be completed in black ink. The typical processing time for passports is 4-6 weeks.

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Murphy calls for PURA investigation of Eversource shut offs

Senator Chris Murphy is calling on the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to examine the rate at which Eversource has disconnected customers for nonpayment.  The rate nearly doubled in the last two years.  Murphy is concerned that Eversource may not being doing enough outreach to low-income customers. Last year, Eversource filed documents with PURA to request a rate increase starting in May 2018.

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Brookfield firefighters tout work of chief to get station ready for repairs

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is touting work done by some senior members, which is saving the town money.  Chief Gravius and Past Chief Frengs spent the last couple of weeks painting the apparatus floor area of Fire headquarters, in preparation of the bay floor refinishing project.  Fire Company officials say members often pitch in helping out with different projects around the firehouse in an effort to keep the cost of operation down. They say the community and taxpayers benefit from the volunteers.

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Danbury City Council President has unplanned heart bypass surgery

Danbury City Council President Joe Cavo underwent unplanned heart bypass surgery yesterday.  He is recovering at Bridgeport Hospital.  Mayor Mark Boughton says Cavo planned to have the procedure at some point, but it was moved up after he fell ill this week.  Council Majority Leader Vinny DiGilio will be interim council president and lead Monday's proposed budget public hearing.  Boughton told the Newstimes that Cavo could return as soon as the May meeting, when the Council will vote on the budget.  Monday's hearing is at 7pm.  Cavo was first elected to the City Council in 2003 and has served as president since 2006.

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Route 6 in Brewster to be repaved this summer

Route 6 in Brewster will be repaved this summer.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says safety is a priority and called for the repairs during a recent meeting with the New York State Department of Transportation.  Odell notes that Route 6-Brewster Avenue past Reed Memorial Library is a State road and the responsibility of repairing that road lies with the state.  New York State has allocated $1.7 for the repaving from the Library to Route 312.

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Brookfield Police K9 to receive bullet protective vest

Brookfield Police K9 Major will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s.  Major's vest was sponsored by Reimer and Bevis Families of Middletown.  The vest will be embroidered with the sentiment “Born to Love - Trained to Serve - Loyal Always”.  Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks.  Brookfield Police announced earlier this week that their other K9, Argo, will also receive body armor from Vested Interest in K9s. 

 

(Photo: Brookfield Police)

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Brookfield Police K9 receives body armor

Brookfield Police K9 Argo has received a bullet and stab protective vest through a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s.  The body armor was paid for by a fundraiser hosted by Protectors of Animals of East Hartford. 

 

Argo's handler, Sgt Jeff Osuch, thanked Protectors of Animals and Vested Interest for keeping his partner safe, while Argo is keeping him and the public safe. 

 

(Photo: Brookfield Police)

 

Since being founded in 2009, Vested Interest charity has provided over 2,800 protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of over $2.4 million.  The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age.  New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate. 

 

There is an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.

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Danbury lawmakers to hear from students on pending college tuition bill

Some Danbury state lawmakers will be at Danbury High School this afternoon for a roundtable discussion about issues impacting students and educators.  One of the proposals up for discussion is a bill which would equalize access to higher education and institutional college aid to undocumented students in Connecticut.  The bill is supported by WestConn President John Clark.  Institutional aid is funded by tuition revenue, and despite paying into the system, undocumented students are currently barred from accessing that aid.

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New Milford Board of Finance approves budget recommendation

The New Milford Board of Finance has approved a budget proposal to present to residents.  It's a $38.3 million municipal budget proposal, with a $63.3 million request for the schools.  It includes $500,000 more for the schools than the current year.  The proposal includes the fire departments'  $250,000 shared capital contribution, which originally was dropped from the plan.  A special meeting will be scheduled to set the referendum because the Board of Finance did not pick a date at their meeting this week.

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Bethel Police to host car seat clinic

The Bethel Police Department is hosting Car Seat Clinic on Sunday.  Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will work with parents and caregivers to ensure that their car seat is installed and used properly in their car.  The Clinic will be held, by appointment only, at the Stony Hill Fire Department.  For more information or an appointment time, contact the Officers at 203-744-7900 Ext. 121 or online at Bethel-ct.gov/police, and select the Services tab to book an appointment online.

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Phone scam impersonating local volunteer fire departments

There's a scam phone solicitation going around the area.  The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department is reminding residents that they do not solicit donations by phone.  If someone has received a phone call soliciting donations, the money won't be contributed to the local non-profit fire department.  Residents are reminded to never give credit card, debit card or bank account information to anyone requesting donations, especially over the phone. The Easton Volunteer Fire Department doesn't call residents either asking for donations, and urged anyone receiving such a call to ignore it.  Fire officials says they were alerted to the bogus call with a caller ID reading "VOLUNTEER FIRE" in all caps with the number 475-219-2354. The caller said he was from the Easton Volunteer Fire Department and asked if they could count on the recipient for a donation.

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Connecticut residents advised to expect more bear sightings

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) As warmer weather arrives Connecticut environmental officials are advising residents not to be surprised if they see bears up and about.

Last year there were 6,500 black bear sightings around the state. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says sightings were reported in 131 of Connecticut's 169 towns.

State officials say residents of western Connecticut in particular should expect black bears to have a regular presence because they are well established in that part of the state. With the arrival of spring weather officials say the bears are leaving their winter dens and becoming more active.

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New Fairfield Board of Finance approves budget recommendation

The New Fairfield Board of Finance has approved a budget to send to residents .  There is a proposed $12.1 million for the town and $42.8 million sought for the schools.  Taxes would increase by 2.55 percent.  The municipal budget is a more than 11-percent increase in spending, mostly to restore funding for road paving eliminated this year to make up for state funding cuts.  The education budget request was reduced slightly.  There is a decline in enrollment and school officials note that about 30 positions have been eliminated since 2010.  Funding for two new safety advocate positions were eliminated, replaced by police officers.  A school safety committee is studying security protocols and long-term personnel changes.  A date has not yet been set for the budget vote.

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WCSU professor appointed to federal health committee studying Lyme Disease

A WestConn professor has been appointed to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services subcommittee.  Biologist Neeta Connally will serve on the group, which was formed to provide expertise to inform the agency and Congress about effective means to monitor and prevent tick transmission of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.  The Working Group was established as part of the 21st Century Cures Act to also identify research needs and priorities in this area.  Connally heads a federally funded research study at WCSU of tick-borne disease prevention.  Connally's laboratory at WCSU is investigating strategies through tick and rodent control to prevent tick transmission of diseases at residential sites in western Connecticut.

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Bethel residents approve school budget, reject municipal and capital plans

Bethel residents voted down the municipal budget and capital budget, but approved the school funding request during yesterday's referendum.  There was just 66 votes difference on the town spending plan.  About 250 more people rejected the capital budget, which included a controversial turf field line item.  Voter turnout was about 25-percent. 

 

The Bethel Board of Finance will now meet to see how to revise the failed budgets.  Another town meeting will be held to determine when the next referendum will be scheduled.  The school budget will remain the same.

 

The Bethel Boards of Selectmen and Finance, along with the construction team and Public Buildings Committee are holding a joint meeting tonight about police station cost overruns.  Residents approved $13.5 million for the project, but costs for HVAC, electrical, and plumbing came in higher than budgeted because of market changes.

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Some used Danbury dog park despite signs about winter closing

It's technically Spring, but the temperatures have still felt like winter.  That has meant that the Danbury Dog Park remained closed.  It was shuttered for the off-season, with signs up alerting residents.  There were some reports of people ignoring the signs, and using the facility any way.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says that's something they struggled with just before the park was opened.  There was an extreme drought, which postponed the opening because the grass wouldn't grow.  He notes that it should be reseeded soon.  The materials recently came in, the crews are just waiting for 50 to 60 degree days to do the fertilization.

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Conn. past peak of flu season

A $40 million increase in federal funding for development of a universal flu vaccine was included in the recently approved omnibus spending bill.  Total funding for universal flu vaccine development for this fiscal year will now be $100 million. 

 

Connecticut Public Health Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino urged expedited development of a universal flu vaccine following this past year’s deadly flu season.

 

Flu remains widespread in Connecticut, although for the first time since December, no new flu-associated deaths were reported during the week ending March 31st.

 

Connecticut lost 131 people, including three children to flu this season alone.  Of the remaining deaths, 110 were among patients over the age of 65, 12 were 50-64 years of age, 5 were 25-49 years of age, and 1 was between 19-24 years of age.

 

Influenza activity is past peak, although an elevated percentage of patients presenting to hospital emergency departments and outpatient providers continues.  A total of 2,839 patients were hospitalized with confirmed cases of flu between August 27th and March 31st. A total of 9,495 influenza positive laboratory tests have been reported during this season, including little more than 3,000 in Fairfield County and 335 in Litchfield County.

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Brookfield firefighters put new boat into service

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company has put their newest apparatus into service.  Marine 24 is an inflatable boat rated to carry 1,500 pounds of people and equipment.  It's the smaller of the department's two boats and is used in the smaller bodies of water and rivers around Brookfield for for everything from search and rescues to brush fires.  In the off-season, fire officials say Marine 24 becomes their primary boat because it is stored at the firehouse.  The engine can be taken off and then reconnected once firefighters carry the boat to previously inaccessible areas.  The boat can also be operated by oars. This boat replaces the 14-foot aluminum Game Fisher which was put into service in 1980.

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Relocation drill held for some Newtown students

A relocation drill took place this morning in Newtown.  The Police Department and Newtown Emergency Communications Center held the practice event with students from Newtown Middle School.  The Newtown Bee reports that the students, who volunteered with their parents, were moved to the N-Y-A Sports & Fitness Center on the Fairfield Hills campus.  The district practiced scan procedures for a controlled evacuation.  Police vehicles with flashing lights were at the school for the event between 8am and noon.  The surrounding community was notified in advance by a Code Red call.

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Danbury Library hosts naturalization ceremony

Danbury Library has hosted a special naturalization ceremony.  The library has been part of the Peer Library Citizenship Coalition.  The initiative was paid for through a grant aimed at developing resources for immigrants and new citizens in the library.  Danbury Library offers English classes, language learning databases, internet access, and citizenship classes.  Six naturalization ceremonies are being held at public libraries in Connecticut during National Library Week. 20 candidates from Danbury and the surrounding area will take the Oath of Allegiance and become U.S. citizens during the noon time ceremony.  Voter registration and U.S. Passport applications will also be accepted.

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Bethel budget up for referendum vote today

Some big money decisions in Bethel today and tomorrow.  The budget referendum is today, with residents deciding on a $29.8 million municipal budget and $45.1 million for the schools. It's a 2.8 percent spending increase, bumping up the mill rate by .48 percent. The $2.3 million capital budget includes funding for a turf field, funding for a street sweeper, HVAC equipment for the high school and a fire engine. 

 

Polls close at 8pm.

 

There is a meeting tomorrow night in Bethel about police station construction being $889,000 over budget. Plans call for the firing range to be left incomplete and new furniture purchases halted if more money isn't allocated. 

 

The meeting tomorrow is at 7pm.

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Alcoholic beverage machines bill clears Connecticut House

A bill allowing consumers to purchase glasses of wine, beer and hard cider from a machine has again cleared the Connecticut House of Representatives Tuesday, 110-to-34. It moves to the Senate, where it failed last year.

Danbury bar owners are among those pushing for the legislation, saying the novelty and convenience of the machines will help lure customers. They can also taste different flavors without having to purchase a full glass.

Opponents fear it could lead to excessive drinking and fewer bartender jobs.

Under the bill, a customer purchases a payment card at a bar after proving they're at least 21. They can obtain up to 32 ounces of beer or cider, or 10 ounces of wine before needing a bar employee to reauthorize the card.

 

Danbury Representative David Arconti introduced the bill.  He notes that 43 other states allow these types of machines.  He says there's a niche market for this type of produce.  Arconti also touted the bill as a way to help the craft beer industry, which is booming in Connecticut.

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Potential candidates make decision on whether to run for 5th Congressional District seat

While the field of candidates in both parties for the gubernatorial race are much more set with people having declared months ago, the 5th Congressional District is still forming.  Several people have now ruled out a run for the open seat, after being approached by the two major parties. 

 

GOP Canton state Senator Kevin Witkos announced Monday that he will seek re-election in the General Assembly.  He is Deputy Senate Republican President Pro Tempore and says his commitment to Connecticut remains steadfast.  Witkos said he appreciated the encouragement and offers of assistance by many people asking him to run for the 5th Congressional District seat , but that he wants to continue serving his constituents closer to home. 

 

GOP state Senator Eric Berthel who represents the Southbury area, also announced that he will instead seek reelection.  The state Senate is currently tied. 

 

On the Democratic side, Sandy Hook Promise co-founders Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden are considering a run.  Hockley says they already live public lives, but to be a public official is different.  

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Eversource repairs damaged transmission line in Bethel

A power outage affecting a large portion of Bethel on Friday night was due to a transmission line issue. Eversource patrolled along transmission lines with a helicopter Saturday as part of their investigation into the outage.  Eversource repaired electric equipment this morning, with a planned outage of up to 60 minutes.

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New Milford residents approve road repair bonding

New Milford residents have approved 6 million dollars in road bonds.  During the town meeting, Mayor Pete Bass said the next step is to package the bonds for sale to investors.  He plans to work with the Department of Public Works to complete the plans and specs for the Long Mountain and Squire Hill Road projects.  They will then plan which other roads in the system should be listed for milling and maintenance.

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Ridgefield Police caution of bobcat sightings in Conn.

Ridgefield Police are cautioning residents that bobcat sightings are on the rise in Connecticut.  To help determine the animal's population, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is relying on reports from residents, with the specific location, any visible ear tags and the number of bobcats observed.  Some have GPS collars.

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Democratic gubernatorial candidates participate in Brookfield forum

Seven invited Democratic gubernatorial candidates addressed a wide range of issues once the forum at Brookfield High School got under way last night.  They shared their opinions on everything from how to get the state's fiscal situation back on track, how to improve transportation and where they stand on gun control laws. 

 

There was a lot of agreement on the idea of expanding alternative energy, improving rail lines and having universal pre-k education in Connecticut.  They mostly agreed on the need for tolls to fund transportation improvements.  The candidates differed on immigration policy, but did concur that the Dreamers and DACA should be protected.  Several backed the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana. 

 

When it comes to the achievement gap in Connecticut, many suggested that the education cost sharing formula needs to be overhauled.  Several also backed the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana.  Many were also in agreement on the need to work with employers to match curriculum to open jobs, and to better promote vo-tech schools.

 

(Bronin, Bysiewicz, Connolly, Ganim, Harris, Lamont, Smith)

 

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin advocated for tolls in his opening remarks, saying that in order to attract jobs, there needs to be better transit.  He added that the state's fiscal problems are felt first at the local level and property taxes.  He suggested letting municipalities implement new revenue streams like a hotel tax ot a food and beverage tax. Bronin called the pension fund the state's biggest liability.  Bronin said lawmakers need to overhaul the ECS formula to make budget-guessing easier for mayors and first selectmen.  He wants to formula based on ESL, changes in population, special ed needs and other factor.  Bronin wants to build relationships between colleges and employers, not just manufacturers but also coding and computer science.  When it comes to immigration, Bronin said he is proud to be mayor of a sanctuary city.

 

Former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz opened her remarks by saying that she wants to make Connecticut a place where seniors and young people can stay.  She touted her work to create what she called a hack-proof election system.  Bysiewicz said the way to attract jobs is through better education and better transit.  She touted the Connecticut Green Bank as way to promote renewable energy.  In order to make state government more efficient, Bysiewicz cited her work as Secretary of the State.  She noted that the officer had 110 employees when she was first elected, and was able to do more with less and had 79 employees when she decided not to seek reelection.  Bysiewicz supports the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana, a transportation funding lockbox and universal pre-k.  Free community college for financially needy students, she said could be paid for by closing a $520 million hedge fund loophole.

 

Former state Veteran Affairs Commissioner Sean Connolly suggested that the state not go after the Amazons, but help small business scale up.  He says that would gain Connecticut more jobs than are proposed from Amazon HQ2. He also called fore more investment in the Connecticut Green Bank.  Connolly also suggested creating a similar public-private collaboration for funding called the Connecticut Infrastructure Bank.  He says that would grow skilled, union worker jobs.  He is a proponent of tolls, universal pre-K and grants for renewable energy.  When it comes to reducing student loan debt, Connolly suggested targeted investments in associate degrees, loan forgiveness for going into jobs in Connecticut and other initiatives. 

 

Former Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim started by tackling his conviction head on, calling himself the second chance candidate.  He wants to attract jobs through better transportation.  Ganim noted that Bridgeport is closing the City's last coal burning plant on the waterfront, which will be replaced with clean energy.  A thermal loop is being installed.  In order to solve the state's fiscal problems, he said alternate sources of revenue are needed, including tolls and legalized recreational marijuana.  He also said the pension system needs to be addressed.  When it comes to closing the achievement gap, Ganim called for universal pre-K. He also wants to see an investment in afterschool programs for mentoring, which he says will also keep kids engaged in a safe environment. Bridgeport sanctuary city.

 

Former Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris calls himself a progressive problem solver.  He wants to attract business by cutting regulations, clean up blighted properties to make the state more attractive, and change the tax structure.  He is an electronic toll advocate, but only if the gas tax is cut.  Harris wants to better connect curriculum to students and jobs, and publicize financial aid availability.  He suggested having UConn or CSUS students manage forest lands, pumping the board fees back into education.   Harris touted the state's medical marijuana program, which he oversaw creation of as Commissioner.  As for immigration, as a state lawmaker he backed in-state tuition for undocumented students.

 

Businessman Ned Lamont called for fundamental changes in Connecticut, starting with fixing the state's education system.  He noted that Connecticut doesn't need more taxes, the state need more taxpayers. On the other hand, he wants to look at the digital economy to raise new revenue, lowering the property tax.  Lamont is a toll advocate and a backer of legalized recreational marijuana.  Since running against Dannel Malloy eight years ago, he has been a professor at Central Connecticut State University.  Lamont called for universal pre-k, higher pay for teachers, and forgiving student debt for those who go on to teach in Connecticut's urban centers.  Lamont said Governor Malloy takes a lot of hits, but should get credit for being a leader on criminal justice reforms.  He backs DACA, saying that ICE can enforce ICE laws.

 

Political newcomer Guy Smith held some different positions from the other candidates.  He believes in what he called sensible gun control, equal pay, and protections of reproductive rights.  Smith said there should be no new taxes, and that means no tolls.  He railed against Eversource Energy as having received a tax cut through the recently enacted federal tax overhaul, saying the utility is beholden to Wall Street not ratepayers. Smith was also critical of the state Department of Transportation for spending too much on Walk Bridge, and paying more for infrastructure work than neighboring states.  He noted that there are the same weather conditions and the same traffic passing through, but Connecticut pays more.  Smith backs universal pre-K and expanding vo-tech schools.

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Disc golf proposal stalls in Danbury

There was a small argument at the Danbury City Council meeting last week over the proposal to bring a disc golf course to Danbury west side.  Councilman Duane Perkins pushed for the ad hoc committee to meet about the proposal for a course at Farrington Woods park on the New York state line, first brought up three years ago. 

 

The game involves Frisbee-like discs tossed at netted baskets, mounted on poles. 

 

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola was critical of the proposal over tree clearing and environmental impacts.  He's asked the group proposing the course to get an insurance certificate to cover any liability during the construction.

 

Perkins was told to bring it up with Council leadership, and replied there was no leadership.  Iadarola countered that the organizing group hasn't come through with the last requested items.

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Boughton files pre-application for state campaign funding review

On the Republican side of the governor's race, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton's campaign  filed for a pre-application review with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.  That paves the way for a review of campaigns participating in the Citizens' Election Program, prior to the formal application process, which takes place after the May nominating convention.  Boughton has raised $283,555.  A minimum of $262,500 in qualifying contributions is required to participate in the pre-application review process.

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Danbury sends 7 recruits to Police Training Academy

Danbury is sending seven recruits to the Connecticut Police Training Academy today for training in order to join the Department.

 

Police officials have said they are understaffed due to a spate of retirements. Danbury was only supposed to have six seats at the academy, but the Chief was able to secure an additional spot. The seven new members were confirmed by the City Council at their meeting Tuesday night.

 

Danbury received 526 applications for the position of entry level officer, about 200 more than the last recruitment period. They put together a recruitment video, which went viral. Last summer, city officials put out a call for a dozen new officers.

-Daniel Martins is an inspector for a manufacturing company

 

-Brian Wakean is a Construction Project Manager for various companies

 

-Emilio Masella is working toward a degree in criminal justice. He is an airman in the Connecticut Air -National Guard where he serves as a base security patrolman

 

-Daniel Benzing is working toward a degree in Justice and Law Administration

 

-Sean Ladrigan is a daycare teacher who is certified in first aid/CPR/AED

 

-Stephen Gruse has been a high school sports team coach, an electrician's helper and farm worker

 

-Darren Lavale is an automotive technician

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New Milford residents to vote on road repair bond package

There is a special town meeting in New Milford tonight.  Residents will be voting on $6 million in bond money for road repairs.  If approved, New Milford officials say the first roads to be repaired would be Long Mountain and Squire Hill, as recommended by the road advisory committee and the Department of Public Works.  The Special Town Meeting is at 6pm in the Paul Martin room of Town Hall, prior to the 7pm Town Council meeting.  

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Pastors hold aggressor training after nationwide shootings

NEW FAIRFIELD, Conn. (AP) - Religious leaders are seeking to prepare themselves in the case of outside aggressors threatening their congregations.

Instructors from the Connecticut State Police Training Academy held an active aggressor training for faith leaders and parishioners at the New Life United Methodist Church on Sunday.

New Life Pastor Chris Yount says he heard about trainings around the state and thought it seemed like a good idea to one at the church. Yount says the congregation just wants to "be able to protect ourselves," in the event of a shooter or aggressor situation. The training was attended by over 80 pastors, a rabbi and parishioners from 13 different churches in several towns to include New Fairfield, New Milford, Bethel, Avon, S. Meriden, Lakeville, Sharon, Naugatuck and Danbury.

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GOP hopes to win House seat in Connecticut with Esty out

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty's decision not to seek re-election has given hope to Republicans that they can finally retake her western Connecticut in November.

National political odds-makers predict the 5th Congressional District will likely remain in Democratic hands.

But JR Romano, the state's Republican Party chairman, contends Democrats and Washington, D.C. observers aren't accounting for the voter unhappiness over Connecticut's continued budget woes and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is not seeking re-election.

Also, he says the district is ``a pure toss-up'' given the partisan makeup.

Democratic Party Chairman Nick Balletto remains confident his party will continue to control the district, which borders Massachusetts and New York. He says Democratic activists are energized.

Esty made her announcement amid criticism of her handling of harassment complaints in her office

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Teachers acquire a new skill: how to stop the bleeding

PLEASANT HILL, Iowa (AP) With school shootings now a regular occurrence, educators across the country are learning techniques to help victims survive by stemming blood loss.

A Connecticut doctor who treated children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 helped launch the effort, dubbed Stop the Bleed. The nonprofit program has spread to all 50 states, with more than 125,000 teachers, counselors and school administrators learning skills such as applying direct pressure, packing wounds and applying tourniquets.

At a recent training at a Des Moines-area high school, teachers peppered trauma care specialist Brian Feist with questions such as how to help wounded children too small for a tourniquet or with multiple wounds.

Students now regularly have shooter drills. Now, teachers say, the battlefield training provides another way to help victims survive.

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Absentee voting session in Bethel today on budget

The Bethel town clerk's office will be open from 10am to noon today for absentee voting on the budget.  The referendum will be held on Wednesday.  The municipal plan is proposed at $30.2 million, while the schools are asking for $45.1 million.

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Libraries participate in Passport program

Libraries across Connecticut are participating a program this month to make people of all ages aware of the power of their library card.  Passports are available at participating libraries, including CH Booth Library in Newtown.  Anyone taking their library card and a library passport to at least five facilities on the list will be eligible to win a gift card.  

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Historic Preservation awards presented in Newtown

Connecticut Preservation Awards were presented this week by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation at an event in Newtown. 

 

Among those recognized was New Milford-based AMEICO.  The distributor of modern design items was looking for bigger space and, using historic rehabilitation tax credits, was able to renovate the former Southern New England Telephone Company building. 

 

Trust officials said the project proved that rehabilitation can be accomplished by clients with no preservation experience, but with vision, perseverance, and a skilled team. 

 

An award was also presented to Lachat Farm, with the Town of Weston, the Nature Conservancy and Salem Preservation.  The 40-acre former farm was deeded to Weston and the Nature Conservancy.  When it was suggested that a building be demolished for open space, a grassroots movement sprung up to commemorate Weston's agricultural past and create a legacy for its future.

 

Noted historic restoration architect Robert Hatch passed away in 2016.  He was honored posthumously.

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Absentee ballots available for Newtown budget referendum

Absentee ballots are now available in Newtown for the upcoming budget referendum.  The budget vote is scheduled for April 24th.  The Town Clerk's office will have Special Absentee Voting Hours on Saturday, April 21st from 9am to noon.  Newtown residents will be deciding on a $41-million municipal proposal, a $76-million school budget, $1.5 million for road repair and improvement and $1.685 million to replace or restore portions of the Middle Gate School roof.

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Danbury Library seeks input on community needs

Over the coming months, staff at the Danbury Library will be crafting a new 5-Year Strategic Plan and they are asking for the community's input on how to best serve the Danbury community.  Some discussion has already been held with frequent library users, but Director Katie Pearson says they're hoping to hear from residents who don't currently use the library or seldom use it.  There are 4 one-hour meetings scheduled this month to gather feedback.  The first one is set for 3pm Tuesday at the Library, April 17th at 5:30pm at the Library, April 19th at 6pm at the WCSU Westside Campus Center, and April 26th at 11am at the Library.

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Public hearing held in Brookfield on proposed budget

Brookfield residents spoke out at a public hearing this week on the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  Residents will be deciding on an $18.9 million  municipal budget, $43-million for the schools, $1.3 million in capital projects and $4.1 million for debt service. 

 

The municipal budget is a 2.4 percent increase over the current year.  The schools are seeking a 4.9 percent increase in spending after their proposal was cut back slightly by the Boards of Selectmen and Finance.  Much of the increase is due to a rise in special education costs, coupled with a decrease in state aid. 

 

A town meeting on the Brookfield budget will be held May 1st.   The referendum could then be set for May 15th.

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Conn. receives high marks or efforts to tackle opioid crisis

The National Safety Council has awarded Connecticut its highest mark for the state’s response to the opioid crisis in a new report released this week.  Governor Malloy says there's more work to do in combatting this tragic epidemic that has ravaged families and communities across the geographic and socioeconomic spectrum. 

 

Connecticut was one of only thirteen states to receive the highest mark of "improving," indicating that the state has implemented comprehensive, proven actions to eliminate opioid overdoses and help protect its residents. 

 

Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino says they recently completed enhancements to a syndromic surveillance program that will allow the agency to share real-time data on suspected overdoses in the state’s emergency departments. Pino says this data, along with information gathered by partner groups and shared collaboratively, will give everyone a more complete picture of this multi-faceted crisis that will allow resources to be directed properly. 

 

Over the past several years, Connecticut has taken significant strides in addressing the opioid crisis. 

 

The state has expanded access to naloxone, a life-saving drug used in the event of an opioid overdose, while also increasing access to medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.  Restrictions have been placed on the prescribing of prescription opioids and a program has been implemented to connect recovery coaches with lived experience to individuals who report to the emergency department as a result of drug or alcohol-related medical emergencies. Since the program began in 2017, over 700 individuals have been connected to addiction treatment or services through the program.

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Meeting scheduled to discuss Bethel police station construction cost overruns

A meeting will held in Bethel Thursday about the cost overruns on the police station construction.  Residents approved $13.5 million for the facility, but the project is about $889,000 over budget because of plumbing, HVAC, electrical and other work. 

 

Ground was broken in the spring. 

 

The joint meeting of the Boards of Selectmen and Finance along with the Public Site and Building Committee will also include representatives of the construction and architectural firms.  If the Boards decide to allocate more funding for the project, residents will have to vote on the money at a special town meeting. 

 

A letter was also sent from the Board of Selectmen to the Building Committee telling them to continue working to the point that the project remains within budget because they legally must adhere to the voter-approved budget until the matter is resolved.

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Toll bill advances out of legislative committee

A bill to install tolls on Connecticut highways has advanced out of the legislature's Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee.  Wilton Senator Toni Boucher says tolling would continue the Malloy Administration’s legacy of placing higher and higher taxes on state residents.  Boucher says 70 percent of toll money collected would come from Connecticut drivers.  She was concerned that the bill before the committee contains no provision to reduce other taxes.  The bill now moves to the House of Representatives. 

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Local lawmaker touts bill to beef up school security

A local lawmaker has voted in favor of a bill that would fund security equipment for schools.  Danbury Senator Mike McLachlan says $5-million a year would be bonded for the multimedia interoperable communication systems.  The bill now goes to the Senate for approval.  The measure was proposed to enhance school safety by providing direct communication between school personnel and first responders.  The program will start in urban schools and will eventually include every public school in the state.  McLachlan says the systems could also connect to medical personnel so if the incident is a medical issue, simple disturbance, or something more serious, responders would be prepared to address the situation.

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Brookfield Zoners to consider medical marijuana dispensary regulations

The Brookfield Zoning Commission plans to discuss regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries at an upcoming meeting.  The group will meet May 10th on rules to limit where the dispensaries could be located. 

 

There are no pending applications before Brookfield, but state agencies are considering issuing more licenses to dispensaries.  Brookfield implemented a moratorium on the facilities when medical marijuana was approved by the General Assembly, but it has since expired. 

 

The proposed regulation being considered next month by the Zoning Commission would only allow a dispensary in  the industrial or commercial districts, not within a thousand feet of a school or place of worship, and would limit its size.

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Ridgefield Board of Finance approves budget proposal

The Ridgefield Board of Finance has approved a $144-million budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.  The municipal budget of $38.3 million was unchanged.  It's a nearly 2.5 percent spending increase over the current year.  Money from the fund balance will help offset the spending, making for a 1.8 percent tax rate increase. 

 

The Board of Finance reduced the school request to $95-million.  It's still a 2.55 percent increase over this year.  6 teaching positions would be cut due to declining enrollment, but 8 other positions would be added, including two school psychologists and some special education positions.  The Board of Education will meet on the 16th to decide where to make the $1.1 million in reductions. 

 

The annual town meeting will be held on May 7th.  Residents will vote on capital projects under $100,000.  The larger projects in the $5.2 million capital budget will be voted on during the budget referendum on May 15th.  Some of the proposals include added parking near Governor Street and Venus Building renovations.

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Bethel Fire Department looks to recruit cadets

The Bethel Fire Department is looking to fill several cadet spaces, as many of members have moved up in the department to probationary members.  The cadet program si for 16 to 18 years olds living in Bethel, who are looking to become firefighters or EMTs.  All training is funded by the Bethel Fire Department and overseen by qualified firefighters and EMTs.  The cadet committee can be reached at BVFDcadets18@gmail.com or people can stop by the fire house to check out training drills on any Monday night.

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Historic Preservation awards presented in Newtown tonight

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation will presents its annual Connecticut Preservation Awards today at an event in Newtown.  The awards recognize outstanding preservation projects and people who have made significant contributions to the preservation of Connecticut's historic buildings and places. 

 

The presentation at Edmond Town Hall is set for 6pm. 

 

The Trustees' Award for Stewardship will be presented to George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis for their reclamation and reactivation of Arethusa Farm. They have preserved 300 acres of agricultural land with numerous historic houses and barns, rehabilitated historic commercial buildings in the village of Bantam. 

 

The organization says the project stimulated strong visitor traffic and created 250 jobs on the farm and in the production, wholesale, and retail chain.  They cited the farm as exemplary as compatible economic development in a place with a strong agricultural identity and as a stewardship engine to protect historic resources and character.

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Maccabeats return to Danbury to mark Israel's 70th anniversary

Returning to Danbury's United Jewish Center this Sunday is one of the world's premier a cappella groups: The Maccabeats. The all-male Jewish group that has performed in cities all over the world as well as The White House and Gracie Mansion will perform a spring community concert this Sunday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel. With a playful name that's a musical riff on the term, "Maccabees", an Old Testament group of fierce Jewish warriors, The Maccabeats will perform an upbeat program combining American, Jewish and Israeli songs with a bit of Jewish humor. The concert is made possible by the Lawrence M. Goldstein Youth Education Fund. The concert Sunday is at 3 p.m. VIP tickets include a 2 p.m. meet and greet with the Maccabeats, photo opportunity, food and wine and preferred seating.

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Two more consider run for 5th congressional district seat

The lone survivor of a deadly 2007 home invasion in Cheshire is considering running for Congress.  Republican state Representative Dr William Petit is among a growing list of potential candidates eyeing the seat now held by Democrat Elizabeth Esty, who is under fire for her handling of harassment complaints in her office. She's not seeking re-election.  Petit is among at least five declared or potential 5th District candidates.  GOP State Senator Eric Berthel, whose district includes the Southbury area, is also considering a run for Congress.

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DEEP drilling exploratory holes along Route 67 in response to fuel leak

A bypass is set up in Bridgewater as the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection continues to clean up a fuel leak at the Mobil gas station on Route 67.  The state contractors are drilling exploratory holes into the roadbed to determine the extent and depth of the gasoline that may have leaked off site.  Bridgewater officials say there is a possibility that Route 67 will need to be excavated to prevent any contamination from spreading.  Local police will are monitoring speeds on the bypass.

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Weston woman nominated to be Conn. Superior Court judge

Governor Malloy has nominated 11 state residents to fill vacancies for judgeships on the Connecticut Superior Court.  There are currently 42 vacancies. 

 

One of the nominees is Tracy Lee Dayton of Weston.  She has served as a trial and appellate lawyer practicing in the areas of white collar and securities enforcement defense, investigations, and complex litigation. In this position, she represents individuals and businesses in connection with investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other regulatory agencies involving, among other things, securities and corporate fraud, and public corruption. 

 

Dayton served 10 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Connecticut.  She was the Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney and the Chief of Violent Crimes and Narcotics. She was also the Deputy Chief of Violent Crimes and Terrorism in the Eastern District of New York.  As an AUSA, Dayton handled matters involving racketeering, bank fraud, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and terrorism.

 

Her previous experience also includes working as Deputy District Attorney for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in California, as an Adjunct Professor with the Fordham University School of Law, and as a Business Leader in Forensic Audit with MasterCard International.

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End of Watch: Putnam County Sheriff K9 Duncan

A retired Putnam County Sheriff's K9 has passed away.  10-year old Duncan retired from Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in 2016 after 8 years of service.  K9 Duncan was a certified patrol, tracking and narcotics dog, credited with over 300 narcotics arrests and solving over two dozen property related crimes. Among her numerous tracks to locate missing persons, was finding a two-year old in the wooded Roaring Brook area of Putnam Valley.  She heard the faint cry of a child who was then found behind a tree-- safe but scared.  K9 Duncan's End of Watch was yesterday.

 

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Candidates start to declare for open 5th Congressional District race

The open 5th Congressional District field of candidates could become as crowded as the gubernatorial race.  Elizabeth Esty announced Monday that she would not seek a 4th term amid questions about her handling of a sexual harassment case in her office. 

 

Her 2014 GOP challenger, Mark Greenberg, reportedly is switching from the state Comptroller race while the Republican party already has one declared candidate, former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos.  

 

One potential Democratic candidate has expressed interest.  Mary Glassman is the former first selectman of Simsbury and two-time lieutenant governor candidate.  Torrington state Representative Michelle Cook is weighing a run.  The party nominating conventions are next month.

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Danbury Mayor presents budget proposal to City Council

The Danbury City Council has received a presentation from Mayor Mark Boughton about his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.  The $257-million plan includes a decrease in the property tax rate.  Of that total, $132-million is for education.  It's a $4-million increase for in school budget, but less than school officials requested to help deal with a continued growing enrollment. 

 

Boughton told the Council last night that the tax rate can be lowered because of an increase in the tax base after last year's revaluation.  The proposal does include a 2.75 percent increase in water rates and sewer rates by 2.95 percent.  There's a planned renovation of the wastewater treatment plant.  There are no other new initiatives included in the plan. 

 

While a hiring freeze will continue, there are no plans for new department layoffs. 

 

The budget proposal represents a 2.6 percent increase in spending.  Boughton, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, was critical of a $5.6 million state revenue cut.

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Afghanistan war veteran sworn in as Ridgefield Police Officer

The newest officer on the Ridgefield Police force has been sworn in.  Officer Carlos Olivares will be attending training at the Connecticut Police Academy for the next several months.  He served as a New York Corrections Officer for over 7 years and was assigned to the Downstate Correctional Facility.  Olivares is an active member of the Air National Guard and an Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran, serving one tour of duty in Afghanistan.

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Kent state lawmaker sponsors essay contest for 8th graders

A freshman state lawmaker is holding an essay contest for 8th graders in his district.  State House member Brian Ohler, who Represents Kent, Sharon, Torrington and other northwest corner towns, are asking the students to write about the public figure who best represents leadership and why.  The 300-word essay can be about a politician, athlete, actor, singer or others exemplifying leadership.  The winner for from each school will be presented with an official citation from the Connecticut General Assembly and the district-wide winner will be a State Representative for the Day.

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Connecticut Rep. Esty not seeking re-election, 'should have done better'

It will be an open race in November for what has historically been a swing congressional district in Connecticut.  Representative Elizabeth Esty announced yesterday that she will serve out the remainder of her third term, but not seek reelection in the 5th district amid questions about her handling of a sexual harassment case in her office. 

 

There had been growing calls for the Democrat to resign because of her handling of a case involving her former chief of staff. She has again apologized to a female former member of her staff who said she was punched in the back and received death threats in 2016.  Esty says that she "should have done better." 

 

Esty says she'll work to improve workplace protections during her final months in office.

 

The Democratic state Senate's majority leader, Bob Duff, was among those to urge Esty to step down. He said several points led him to call for Esty's resignation, including her reluctance to speak out publicly about the situation and using taxpayer money to pay her former chief of staff about $5,000 in severance.  Staffers said Esty repaid the federal government last week with her personal funds.

 

Senator Chris Murphy said in a statement that Esty is a friend and a colleague, who has fought hard on behalf of the people she represents for the past six years.  The pair have spoken at length over the past few days, and he supports her decision to not seek re-election.  Murphy said no one should ever be harassed, assaulted or intimidated at work, and that Esty knows she handled the dismissal of her former Chief of Staff badly.

 

Senator Richard Blumenthal called Esty's decision the right one. He added that Esty has done much good and fought relentlessly for highly significant causes like gun safety.  Blumenthal continued in his written statement by saying that Esty made profound mistakes, as she has acknowledged, and that harassment and assault in any workplace are unacceptable.

 

Governor Dannel Malloy said Esty’s decision not to run for another term is the right one.  He praised her work on behalf of her constituents on gun safety, economic development, and more.  Malloy said he encouraged full transparency with the press and public, and also urged her to do what is in best interest of her constituents and her family.  He continued by saying that too many facts about how this incident was handled fall short of appropriate standards for responsible and responsive leadership.

 

Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nick Balletto released the following statement:

“Over the last few days, I have been in touch with Congresswoman Esty, our party leaders, and the activists that are on the front line fighting for issues that we all care about. As a result of these discussions, I believe this was ultimately the best decision for her and for her constituents.  Make no mistake, this was not about politics for the Congresswoman or for the leaders of our party, this was about the real issues that women face in our workplace and across our communities. That is why all of our Democratic leaders believe in listening to our constituents, advocates, and those that have been affected. It is why we cannot lose focus and must continue the conversation about workplace harassment and the institutions that all too often fail to protect the victim. I have no doubt that as Congresswoman Esty completes her term, she will use these experiences to fight for workplace protections and continue her work on women’s issues, of which she has been a leading advocate for the entirely of her career."

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Bethel residents set budget referendum date

Bethel residents have set a budget referendum date of April 11th.  The proposal includes $29.8 million on the municipal side and $45.1 million for the schools.  It's a 2.8 percent spending increase, bumping up the mill rate by .48 percent.  The $2.3 million capital budget does still include $979,000 for a turf field, which some residents tried to have removed during a town meeting.  This comes as the police station construction is $889,000 over budget.  Plans call for the firing range to be left incomplete and new furniture purchases halted if more money isn't allocated.  

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Monroe budget referendum today

Monroe's Budget Referendum Vote is today. The proposed budget projects a 1.44-percent reduction in the mill rate for real estate.  First Selectman Ken Kellogg says his goal for the proposal is to control taxes while continuing to invest in infrastructure, education, and maintain the good financial health of the town.  The budget does restore some services, such as re-opening the Library for half days on Wednesdays, and makes investments to improving our land use permitting process.

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Putnam County Executive delivers 'State of the County' address

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell delivered her 7th State of the County address.  She highlighted dramatic reductions in county debt obligations, stable tax rates, and the renovation of the Carmel senior center.  She also mentioned the sewer and wastewater treatment projects in Lake Carmel, Brewster and Mahopac as ways to protect the environment and allow responsible commercial development.  After thanking county employees for recovery efforts following two major nor’easters, Odell declared 2018 the Year of the Volunteer in Putnam County.  Odell said during her address that the total debt summary of the county has decreased by $30.4 millionor 29%, since she took office in 2011. Putnam County also continues to have the lowest tax bill of any of the 62 counties in New York State.

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US Rep. seeks probe into her handling of accused harasser

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty is asking the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether she did anything wrong in how she handled the firing of a former chief of staff accused of harassment, threats and violence.

The formal request Monday from the Democrat from Connecticut comes amid calls for her resignation by state politicians, including fellow Democrats.

In her letter to committee members, Esty says she learned through a third party in 2016 about possible misconduct involving her then-chief of staff. Esty has said she fired him three months later, after an internal investigation revealed widespread harassment allegations from staff.

Esty says questions have been raised about her handling of the dismissal, and she wants the panel to decide whether she violated any law, rule or other standard of conduct.

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Danbury City Hall to light up blue for autism awareness

For the second consecutive year, Danbury will join the autism awareness movement.  Danbury City Hall will light up blue at 7pm to shine a light on autism in honor of World Autism Month. 

 

The Ceremony will be a sensory friendly event featuring a lower sound level, welcoming attendees in the spectrum to talk and walk around. The audience will be asked not to clap, and there will be a designated quiet area. 

 

The Light Up ceremony is organized by Board of Education member Emanuela Palmares, with the support of the Commission for Persons with DisAbilities.  Palmares says Autism affects 1 in 68 children, including her 5-year-old son, who was diagnosed at age 2.

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Sherman firefighters recognized female members

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department wrapped up March as Women's History Month by recognizing the department's female firefighters and emergency medical responders.  A quarter of the certified firefighters are female and more than a third of certified EMS personnel are also women.  Department officials says nationally, only about 7-percent of firefighters are women.

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Danbury High Schooler starts Down syndrome support hotline

A Danbury High School senior has created a peer network for Down syndrome support.  Olivia Alessandro has a 10-yea old brother who was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth.  While there is help available for parents from a variety of agencies, Alessandro says there is little support for siblings.  The “Siblings’ First Call,” program is a hotline that provides support and guidance for those who have a family member with Down syndrome. The hotline number is (888) 486-8573 and general questions can be emailed to siblingsfirstcall@mydsact.org.

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Esty seeks ethics probe into her handling of staffer firing

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Connecticut U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty is asking the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether she committed any wrongdoing in how she handled the firing of a former chief of staff accused of harassment, threats and violence.

The 5th District congresswoman's formal request on Monday comes amid calls for her resignation from state politicians, including fellow Democrats.

In her letter to committee members, Esty says she learned through a third party in 2016 about possible misconduct involving her then-chief of staff. Esty has said she fired him three months later, after an internal investigation revealed widespread harassment allegations from staff.

Esty says questions have been raised about her handling of the dismissal and she wants the panel to decide whether she violated any law, rule or other standard of conduct.

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Former Candlewood Lake Authority leader honored by environmental group

Larry Marsicano, formerly the Executive Director of the Candlewood Lake Authority was recently presented with an award by the Connecticut Outdoor and Environmental Education Association for Excellence in Environmental Stewardship.  During the ceremony, Marsicano's efforts were described as resulting in a highly successful Project CLEAR – Candlewood Lake Environmental Awareness and Responsibility. Project CLEAR received funding from the Connecticut State Department of Education and was a collaboration with EdAdvance and six local high schools. Other stewardship efforts highlighted during the awards ceremony included Marsicano's founding and coordinating of the annual Candlewood Lake Clean-up.

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