Local Headlines Archives for 2018-06

Local lawmakers to host Stuff a Humvee event in Bethel

Two local lawmakers are hosting a Stuff a Humvee collection to benefit veterans.  The event is next weekend at the Bethel Municipal Center.  Representatives Steve Harding and Will Duff says the non-perishable food items and toiletries will be donated to local Veterans in need through the Veteran Services of New England, a registered Connecticut not-for-profit, Veteran Service Organization.  The collection on July 7th is from 11am to 2pm.  The Veteran Services of New England assist those in the reserves, active duty, prior service members and their immediate families, includes providing employment, mental health, recreational rehab assistance and other services associated with the transition from military service to the next phase of life and beyond. 

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5k race in Bethel honors FDNY member killed on 9/11

The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is hosting an inaugural event in Bethel this weekend.  Sunday's 5k is in memory of a firefighter, who ran with 60 pounds of his gear through a closed Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center on September 11th. The event at Bethel High School is at 8:30am. Siller is a cousin of former New Fairfield First Selectman John Hodge. The foundation raises money to build smart homes for catastrophically injured service members, and aids families of fallen police and firefighters.

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NY authorities remind residents about 'house party' laws

This is graduation season and the Putnam County Sheriff is cautioning that it's also seen by some as a rite of passage to engage in underage drinking at celebrations.  Robert Langley says while some parent's don't see a problem in hosting parties where alcohol is served, but there is a Social Host Liability Law.  The local laws passed by every town in Putnam County make it a misdemeanor to organize or allow a party, gathering or event where three or more minors are present and alcohol is being consumed by a minor.  Those who violate the law face up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

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Fire in Danbury condo complex damages 4 units

Danbury firefighters responded to a fire reported at a condo complex early this morning.  Police blocked the area roads around Triangle Streets while firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze in the attic of a unit in Lions Condos. Smoke was visible from White Street.

 

(Photo: DFD)

 

The reported 3-alarm fire was called in shortly after 6:30am.  Four units sustained damage.  All residents were able to self-evacuate.  Two residents were avaluated at the scene by EMS.  One firefighter was taken to the hospital for observation. 

 

Ridgefield and Bethel provided mutual aid.

 

 

The American Red Cross was requested for the displaced occupants and the remaining units were able to be reoccupied.

 

Danbury branch trains of Metro North were briefly delayed due to the activity near the railroad tracks.  Train service has been restored to normal and roads have been reopened.

 

The Danbury Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the blaze.

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Wilton Police investigate reports of car thefts, make two arrests

Two people have been arrested in Wilton for stealing cars from an assisted living housing complex on River Road.  The area has been the target of multiple stolen vehicles and thefts from cars in recent months.  A patrol officer saw four cars leave the complex around 3am yesterday.  Officers stopped two of the drivers.  One was in a car reported stolen from North Haven last week and one was just taken from the complex. 
 
19-year old Michael Lockhart and a 17-year old, both of Bridgeport, were arrested.  A third vehicle was later found abandoned in a parking garage, while another has not been recovered. 
 
Lockhart was charged with driving with a suspended license, three counts of larceny and two counts each of burglary, conspiracy to commit larceny and conspiracy to commit burglary.  The juvenile was charged with two counts each of larceny, burglary, conspiracy to commit larceny and conspiracy to commit burglary. 
 
Two cars were reported stolen from the Wilton Center area during Wednesday into Thursday with several vehicle break-ins also reported. All vehicles entered were left unlocked.  All vehicles stolen had their keys or key fobs left in the car. 
 
Wilton Police say the greatest deterrent to this type of activity is to lock cars and remove the keys. Police are also asking anyone with video surveillance systems that may have captured the activity to contact them at (203) 834-6260.

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New Milford Board of Ed makes budget cuts

The New Milford Board of Education has revised the budget for the coming fiscal year now that residents have approved a spending plan.  $1.26 million was cut, which prompted members to adopt so-called Pay to Play for student athletes.  It will cost $125 for each sport, with a $500 per family cap.  Student parking fees were increased from $150 to $225.  10 positions are being eliminated across the district.  Spending for textbooks and other supplies is being delayed.

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Funeral arrangements announced for victim of Candlewood Lake boat accident

Funeral arrangements have been announced for the Waterbury woman who died of injuries sustained in a boating accident on Candlewood Lake in New Fairfield on Tuesday. 
 
Calling hours for friends and family of 38-year old Wanda Tirado are Sunday 4 to 8pm at Casey's Eastside Memorial Funeral Home.  Funeral services will be held at 11am Monday at the funeral home, followed by burial in New Pine Grove Cemetery.   
 
Tirado was a mother of two.  She was born in Puerto Rico and came to the U.S. in 2000, working as a physical therapist before becoming a teacher earlier this year.  

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United Way holds annual Day of Action

The United Way of Western Connecticut has hosted their annual Day of Action.  More than 210 corporate volunteers representing 18 companies completed service projects in the Greater Danbury and New Milford areas.  Service projects were also carried out at seven nonprofit agencies across the region. 

 

Volunteers gathered on the Danbury Green to pack more than 200 literacy kits for second graders at Hayestown Avenue Elementary School in Danbvury and hill and Plain School in New Milford.  Volunteers also assembled snack packs for food insecure households. 

 

End Hunger Connecticut participated in a Summer Meals Blitz in downtown Danbury to raise awareness of the free summer meal locations available to area children this summer. 

 

In the afternoon, there was a community block party, featuring resources to make for a healthy and safe summer. 

 

United Way CEO Kimberly Morgan says volunteers are making an active change in the community and praised the companies for sharing in the agency's values of volunteerism and community investment.  United Way's Day of Action launched in 2008 and participation has grown each year. This year's national focus was on summer learning and nutrition. 

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Danbury awarded state grant for TOD work

Five projects will receive approximately $8.5 million in state funding under the second phase of the 2017 Responsible Growth and Transit Oriented Development Grants.  The competitive grant program supports transit-oriented development and responsible growth in the state and is targeted at boosting economic activity and creating jobs.  
 
Danbury is receiving  $200,000 for the City's Downtown Streetscape Project.  The money will help prepare design drawings and construct sidewalk and other improvements near the Train Station.  The overhaul includes the new construction or replacement of sidewalks, intersection improvements, landscaping, removal and installation of street trees, ornamental lighting, and pedestrian access improvements detailed in the Downtown Transit Oriented Development Planning Study.
 
In April 2017, the state released a request for applications for the grant program, and the State Bond Commission approved a total of $15 million to be used – comprised of $5 million from the Responsible Growth Incentive Fund and $10 million from the Transit-Oriented Development and Pre-development Fund.  Following that, OPM – with input from other state agencies – reviewed, rated, and ranked each of the proposals.  The first round of grants were released in December 2017 and totaled $4.5 million.

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UPDATED: Fire reported at Danbury condo

Danbury firefighters responded to a fire reported at a condo complex early this morning.  Police blocked the area roads around Triangle Streets while firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze in the attic of a unit in Lions Condos. 

 

The reported 3-alarm fire was called in shortly after 6:30am.  Four units sustained damage.  All residents were able to self-evacuate.  Two residents were avaluated at the scene by EMS.  One firefighter was taken to the hospital for observation. 

 

Ridgefield and Bethel provided mutual aid.

 

Danbury branch trains of Metro North were briefly delayed due to the activity near the railroad tracks.  Train service has been restored to normal and roads have been reopened.

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Danbury coalition takes on opioid crisis

There are a lot of facets to tackling the opioid addiction and overdose crisis. A coalition has been formed in Danbury to address the  public health issue.  MCCA Director of Prevention Terry Budlong says this issue hasn't hit a plateau yet and is still on the rise, so it can't yet decline.  The coalition received a $5,000 community mini-grant opportunity as part of the state's response to the public health crisis.
 
More than a thousand people in Connecticut died from an accidental opioid overdose.  The typical victim in Connecticut is a whIte male between the ages of 30 and 59.
 
 
The partnership includes the Danbury Police Department.  Chief Patrick Ridenhour says they have a prescription drug drop box in their lobby, available 24-7, in order to help keep unwanted and unneeded medication out of reach of those who may be vulnerable.  He says this also ensures proper disposal and destruction.
 
On a legislative level,  Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey says they have passed laws allowing any licensed health care professional to administer the overdose reversal drug Narcan and allowed pharmacists to prescribe Narcan, including making sure first responders, teachers and school bus drivers have access.  Prescriptions of opioids are now capped.  Good Samaritan laws have been extended to those who help overdose victims.  
 
There is also a connection to the schools.  Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella says it really does take a village to keep a community safe.  They are having the athletic director and counselors reach out to parents. 
 
Danbury Public Schools, Police Department and Emergency Services have teamed up with Stand Together Make a Difference, Housatonic Valley Coalition Against Substance Abuse, and M-C-C-A to create an awareness video about the misuse of opioids.  

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New Milford gets state brownfield remediation grant

Six municipalities and organizations, including New Milford, are being awarded a total $1 million in state grants that will help the entities remediate and redevelop clusters of blighted properties – also known as “brownfields” – and put them back into productive use.  New Milford will use a $170,000 grant to develop a master plan to assess remediation needs along the Housatonic River Corridor.  The project will focus on reuse of town-owned and private properties to help restore public access to the river and serve as a catalyst for economic development within walking distance of downtown.

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NY Police investigate grand larceny at Khol's store

New York State Police are trying to identify two suspects wanted for questioning in a Grand Larceny investigation.  On Saturday, the pair allegedly stole four Canon cameras from the Kohl’s Department Store on Independent Way in Brewster.  The suspects are described to be two middle aged white men with brown hair. 
 
 
A gold Honda Accord was used during the incident. 
 
 
Any one with information about this investigation  is asked to contact Investigator James Sawner at (845) 677-7300. Refer to Case No. 8303020

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Community mourns teacher killed in boating crash

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) - The Waterbury community is mourning the loss of a local teacher who died in a boating accident.

A large crowd attended a vigil for Wanda Tirado on Wednesday at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The 38-year-old and mother of two died earlier in the day at Danbury Hospital after suffering serious injuries Tuesday in a boating accident on Candlewood Lake in New Fairfield. She was a middle school science and math teacher at St. Mary School.

Police responded to a call concerning a missing person at the lake. Authorities say a good Samaritan pulled Tirado from the water.

Police have charged the operator of the boat Tirado was on, 65-year-old Gary Morrone, of Oakville, with reckless operation and other charges.  

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New report ranks Conn. 9th for high rental housing costs

A report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition has ranked Connecticut as the 9th highest for how much money is needed in order to afford rent. The Out of Reach report about the average fair-market rent shows that a minimum wage employee would need work 79 hours a week in order to afford a one-bedroom.  In the Danbury area, the report pegs that number at 97 hours a week.
 
Without spending more than 30-percent of income on housing, a Connecticut resident would need to earn $41,600  a year to afford a one-bedroom rental.  But that is the statewide average, a worker would have to earn significantly more in the Danbury Labor Market Area.  In order to earn enough to pay for a one bedroom in the Danbury area, someone would have to be making $51,200, or $24.65 an hour.
 
According to the report, the fair market rent average for the state on a two-bedroom apartment is $1,295 dollars.  The average in the Danbury area is little more than $1,600.

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YMCA applies to be part of Neighborhood Assistance Act program

A public hearing was held recently in Brookfield about a proposal by the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut for their support campaign.  The YMCA applied to be part of the state-run Neighborhood Assistance Act Program.  Proposals are eligible to receive donations from various people and businesses.  Contributors will then receive a tax credit they normally wouldn't receive.  The YMCA will receive $150,000 in state funding for their proposal.  Brookfield Human Resource Development oversees the local program, which requires a public hearing.  The Board of Selectmen approved the proposal.  First Selectman Steve Dunn cleared up some confusion among residents saying there is no town funding being allocated.  The YMCA is the only Brookfield municipal or tax exempt organization to apply each year, and have done so for several years.

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State police identify fuel tanker driver killed in crash

WHATELY, Mass. (AP) - Massachusetts State Police have released the name of the driver of a fuel tanker who died in a crash on Interstate 91.

Officials say 47-year-old Jody Crosby, of Seymour, Connecticut, lost control of the tanker Wednesday afternoon while traveling through Whately.

Police say the tanker veered off the road and rolled over.

Crosby was pronounced dead at the scene.

A small amount of gasoline leaked from the truck's ventilation system but the tank wasn't breached.

Authorities rerouted traffic for several hours as crews cleaned up the site. 

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Man pulled from Watertown lake dies

WATERTOWN, Conn. (AP) Police say a man who was pulled from a lake in Connecticut has died.

Officials say they received a call of a missing swimmer at Sylvan Lake in Watertown around 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

Crews pulled the man out of the water and performed CPR before he was transported to Waterbury Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police have identified the man as 23-year-old Isaiah Anderson.

Authorities say Sylvan Lake Park has a designated swimming area, but it has not opened yet for the season. Police say the man was outside of that area, where it is posted ``no swimming.'' 

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Connecticut congressional delegation heading to US border

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation are traveling to Texas to meet with migrant families being held in detention facilities.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney, Rosa DeLauro, Jim Himes and Elizabeth Esty announced Thursday they will join more than 20 other members of Congress making the trip. The group plans to speak with children and parents affected by a White House policy that had separated more than 2,300 children from their parents over the past several weeks.

The practice set off an outcry. President Donald Trump signed an order Wednesday to stop the separations, but a host of unanswered questions remain.

Lawmakers on Saturday will tour the McAllen Border Patrol Station and the Centralized Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, before visiting the Port Isabel ICE Detention Center in Los Fresnos. 

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Squantz Pond swim area reopens

Squantz Pond State Park has reopened to swimming.  The beach area was closed Wednesday due to indicator bacteria, but was retested and the levels are now appropriate.  The weekly water quality tests are done by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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New Fairfield to extend storm debris pick up to private roads

At last week's New Fairfield Board of Selectmen meeting, members voted unanimously to extend curbside pick up to private roads.

 

New Fairfield has prepared a request for proposals for that brush removal, in accordance with FEMA guidelines.  The Board has selected a debris management company and recommended an expenditure to the Board of Finance for the removal of storm debris.  Residents will be asked to sign off on funding for the proposal.

 

Details on a pick up schedule and what, if any, restrictions may apply will be released after the Town Meeting on June 28th.

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Candlewood Lake Marine Patrol urges caution on the water this summer

The Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol is offering some safety reminders in light of the fatal accident this week in New Fairfield.  The daytime speed limit on the lake is 45-miles an hour and the nighttime speed limit is 25 miles an hour.  All boaters must comply with state regulations, and may be subject to safety inspections.  This includes having enough life jackets for all people on board and working lights and navigation systems. 

 

Caution should be taken for underwater hazards, most of which are located more than 100 feet from shore.  While they are marked by buoys, some may have been damaged or moved by last month's macroburst. 

 

The Patrol is authorized to ticket boaters who have equipment violations, are boating under the influence or are operating recklessly.  

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Actors from 'Jesus Christ Superstar' to discuss film at Palace Danbury screening

Some of the stars of the 1973 film Jesus Christ Superstar will be at the Palace Danbury Friday night.  Ted Neeley, who starred in the title role, will participate in the sing-along screening of the musical.  The digitally restored and remastered film was shot on location in Israel so the cast could walk in the footsteps of the biblical figures they portrayed. 

 

Neeley was the original Broadway understudy for the role in the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber project. 

 

He will be discussing the making of the film before the screening and will be on hand for a post-film meet and greet. Bob Bingham, the actor who played Caiaphas and Kurt Yaghjian, the actor who played Annas, will also be in attendance. 

 

The screening starts at 7pm.  General Admission $20 advance/ $25 Day of show tickets or VIP  Experience tickets are available. Tickets may be purchased by phone at 203-794-9944, online, or at the box office starting one hour before showtime.  The Palace Danbury is located at 165 Main Street, in Danbury.

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Man fell asleep behind the wheel, crashed into highway median

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire officials are shedding more light on a highway accident that happened earlier this month.  Emergency responders were deployed to I-84 between exits 10 and 11 for a report of a one car rollover in the median around 2:30pm on June 5th.  The driver told firefighters he fell asleep at the wheel.  43-year old Xian Yao Li of New Rochelle hit a guardrail and rolled over into the median.  He sustained minor injuries, but was able to get out of the car on his own, and did not need to be transported to the hospital.  Li was cited for failure to drive in the established lanes.

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Danbury official touts improvements to Rogers Park

The Rogers Park pond area in Danbury was recently cleaned and had other improvements to the area made.  Councilman Duane Perkins says while there are plenty of playgrounds and playscapes where children can play, there aren't a lot of other outdoor recreation opportunities in the City.  An outdoor fitness area was just added to Roger Park.  Perkins noted that the area will help people who can't physically play softball, tennis or other outdoor games, but can stretch, do sit-ups and the like.  Last year's $300,000 renovation included a new walking path and a fountain for the pond.  Trees in the area were trimmed, bridges refinished and new park furniture installed.  

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Special Town Meeting in Brookfield on Capital Budget

A Special Town Meeting is being held in Brookfield tonight about setting a referendum date about funding capital items next fiscal year.  Brookfield officials are looking at August 7th as a referendum date on the $2.1 million. 

 

The plan includes money for road paving, generators for the high school and Center fire Company, improvements to the Parks and Rec maintenance building and vehicle replacements for various departments. Some of the money will be used for truck replacements, a street sweeper, mower, aerator, police cruisers and other vehicles for the Public Works, Police, Land Use, Health and Parks and Rec departments. 

 

The improvements to the Parks and Rec maintenance building include roof, window and door replacements and a sewer connection.  A canopy for the Public Works fueling station, command vehicles for Center and Candlewood Fire companies and renovation of a locker room at BHS would also be paid for.  Funding for a new time and attendance system for the school district, window design and engineering costs and ADA compliance improvement at the library and architectural designs for improvements to various schools is also planned. 

 

Tonight's Special Town Meeting is at 7pm at Brookfield Town Hall.

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Squantz Pond swim area closed due to indicator bacteria

Squantz Pond State Park is closed for swimming due to indicator bacteria.  The beach areas have been retested, and results are due back to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection this afternoon.  Samples are collected weekly in the summer.  Last year was the first year that the state conducted testing in the middle of the week rather than  the beginning so results are more current when decisions are made about weekend beach closures.  It’s not uncommon to close Squantz Pond’s swimming area for high bacteria.

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Man ordered held on $1 million bail for daughter's death

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) - A former Brewster man who was convicted of killing his wife in Massachusetts has been ordered held on $1 million bail on charges that he also killed his daughter in Connecticut.

Robert Honsch appeared in court Wednesday on murder charges in the death of 17-year-old Elizabeth Honsch.

Police say her body was found wrapped in sleeping and garbage bags in New Britain in the fall of 1995. Her mother Marcia Honsch's body was found eight days later in Tolland State Forest.

Robert Honsch was arrested in Ohio in 2014, where authorities say he lived with a new wife and three children.

He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the death of Marcia Honsch last week.

The defense said he had nothing to do with the deaths.  

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Freshman state lawmaker makes '40 under 40' list

Danbury State Representative Michael Ferguson has been recognized by Fairfield County Business Journal's annual 40-Under-Forty list.  Ferguson currently teaches history and political science at Post University and works at the Danbury Hospital Information Desk.  He just completed his first term in the state legislature representing Danbury, New Fairfield and Ridgefield.  Ferguson touted his work to promote better recruitment of minority educators in Connecticut and fighting against bringing back tolls to Connecticut roadways.

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Swimmer succumbs to injuries sustained in Candlewood Lake acciddent

A woman who was seriously injured in a boating accident yesterday on Candlewood Lake has succumbed to her injuries.  State EnCon Police say 38-year old Wanda Tirado of Waterbury was pulled from the water in New Fairfield by a Good Samaritan vessel. 

 

As Police investigated, a boat that left the scene was identified.  65-year old Gary Morrone of Oakville was charged with reckless operation, failure to help a collision victim and failure to notify law enforcement of injury. 

 

Tirado was a swimmer from the involved vessel.  Morrone was released on $10,000 bond for a court appearance on July 3rd.

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New Fairfield starts to chip storm debris at Drop Off Center

FEMA inspectors spent five hours in New Fairfield last week assessing damage from the May 15th macroburst.  One team looked at destruction of private property while another looked at town property. 
 
As part of the assessment, FEMA measured and photographed the brush piles at the New Fairfield Drop Off Center.  The material can now be chipped and disposed of.  As soon as the current piles are removed, the Drop Center will resume accepting brush, at no charge, until curbside pick up begins.  
 
New Fairfield has prepared a request for proposals for that brush removal, in accordance with FEMA guidelines.  The Board of Selectmen held a special meeting yesterday afternoon to select a debris management company and recommended an expenditure to the Board of Finance for the removal of storm debris.  A Town Meeting will be held on the 28th to approve funds. 
 
The regional FEMA office will compile damage assessment information and forward it to Washington for consideration as part of the Federal Disaster Declaration anticipated for the area.  Such a Declaration would include both the type and amount of aid available. 

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New Milford using Century Brass site for storm debris collection

New Milford continues debris pickup from the May 15th storm, but Mayor Pete Bass is asking that residents not dump brush at the Century Brass property.  Century Brass is the staging area for the Public Works Department to bring debris from department work on storm clean up.  The site is being monitored by FEMA.  Bass says in order for reimbursement, records must be kept tracking the source of brush so it can be certified as actual storm debris.

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Intoxicated woman trying to pick up her child from school gets arrested

A New York woman is due in a Connecticut court room next week on charges that include driving under the influence and interfering with an officer.  The Goddard School in Wilton believed that 41-year old Jolene Matthews was intoxicated when she came to pick up her 4-year old on June 13th. 
 
Matthews reportedly drove off when school officials called police and led officers in a brief pursuit.  When she was stopped, Matthews allegedly refused to get out of the car, forcing officers to break the window in order to turn off the vehicle.  Police say a coffee cup filled with wine and a plastic bag that previously held wine was located in the car. 
 
The Monroe, New York woman refused to do field sobriety tests and then later to take a breath test.  Matthews was also charged with operating an unregistered vehicle and failure to wear a seat belt. She was released on a promise to appear in court June 25th. 
 
The girl was picked up by her father.

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Man fled after woman seriously injured in Candlewood Lake accident

A woman was seriously injured in a boating accident yesterday on Candlewood Lake.  State EnCon Police responded to New Fairfield to help search for a missing person.  A woman was rescued from the water by a Good Samaritan vessel and transported to Danbury Hospital.  As Police investigated, a boat that left the scene was identified.  65-year old Gary Morrone of Oakville was charged with reckless operation, failure to help a collision victim and failure to notify law enforcement of injury.  Morrone was released on $10,000 bond for a court appearance on July 3rd.

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Man found living in Danbury after sexual contact charges pleads guilty to illegal reentry

A former Danbury man has pleaded guilty to illegally reentering the United States.  40-year old Enrique Fajardo Marin is a native of Ecuador.  He was convicted in 2011 of illegal sexual contact with a minor and sentenced to a decade in prison.  He was released from state custody in February 2016 and deported.  Fajardo was arrested last year in Massachusetts for illegally reentering the U-S after it was determined that he had been living in Danbury since December 2016.  He also failed to register as a sex offender, as required.  Fajardo has been detained for about a year and is scheduled to be sentenced in September.  He faces up to 10 years in prison for the illegal reentry charge.

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Two Danbury man arrested on drug related charges

Two Danbury men are facing drug related charges after a several week long investigation into suspected drug sales.  Neighbor complaints led to the investigation into 37-year old Mean Samrith's activity, which police say was consistent with drug trafficking.   
 
Police carried out a search warrant last night after Samrith reportedly sold crack cocaine to Savuth Luch at his Woodside Avenue home.  Samrith was found in possession of crack, powder cocaine and drug paraphernalia. 
 
  
(Samrith, Luch)
 
Samrith was charged with two counts each of possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell, possession with 1,500 feet of a protected place, possession with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a protected place, sale of crack cocaine, sale of controlled substance within 1500’ protected place, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of drug paraphernalia within 1500’ protected place.
 
He was also charged with three counts of risk of injury to a child and held on $50,000 bond. 
 
Luch was charged with two possession counts and released on a written promise to appear in court.  

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New Milford residents approve budget for coming fiscal year

It took three votes, but New Milford residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year.  There was about 18-percent turn out yesterday.  Some 1,700 residents voted in favor of the spending plan compared to about 1,200 votes cast in opposition.  The $39-million for New Milford and $63-million for the schools will result in a 3.3 percent tax rate increase.  The Town Council originally kept school funding level in the second plan, but finally cut $300,000 from the proposal.

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Phase 1 of Route 6 repaving in Carmel complete

The repaving of Route 6 in Carmel from Reed Memorial Library to Route 312 is complete. The $1.8 million project, which took less than three weeks to complete, was done mostly in the overnights to keep the Carmel business corridor open.  The five-mile project area is one of the most heavily traveled in Putnam County by commuters, school buses, and local businesses.  The repairing and resurfacing of Route 6, from the Putnam Trailway hub to the intersection of Route 301 in Carmel, is expected to begin in the late summer or early fall.  A majority of the work on the $1.7 million project will be done during the overnight hours as well.

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Danbury Planners consider application by Cumberland Farms for Federal Road gas station

The Danbury Planning Commission is considering a gas station and convenience store for a long vacant building.  Representatives from Cumberland Farms made a presentation to the Commission last week for the 106 Federal Road property.  A special exception is needed.  The facility is expected to generate over 500 vehicle trips per day.
 
The space previously house Bennigan's Grill and Tavern, but that was more than a decade ago.  The building would be demolished to clear the way for a 5,300-square-foot convenience store, two 20,000-gallon underground gas storage tanks and six double-sided gas pumps.  Planning Department officials clarified that it's technically a grocery store because of its size, but is being referred to as a convenience store.
 
The current structure at the site is connected to a Quality Inn hotel.  That connector would be removed and replaced with landscaping.  The proposal calls for extending the sidewalk from the hotel across the gas station property to the wetlands.
 
The intersection with International Drive would be turned into a four-way traffic signal, with the driveway realigned.  The commission will take up the application June 20th.  

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Meeting tonight in Brookfield about Town Center streetscaping

An informational meeting is being held in Brookfield tonight about the next phase of the Town Center/Four Corners revitalization project.  The streetscaping project will connect the Still River Greenway to the southern end of the first phase.  Sidewalks, a bike path, lighting and other features will be added.  Two thirds of the cost is being paid for with a federal grant and the town is required to pay 450-thousand dollars.  The informational meeting is at 7pm in Brookfield Town Hall.

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Danbury City Council advances tax abatement proposal

The Danbury City Council has advanced a new ordinance that would give an abatement on personal property taxes on information technology.  The ordinance would abate 50-percent of the taxes for a qualified data center.  
 
City Councilman Paul Rotello wanted the ordinance modified to clarify that the legislative body would have final approval on incentives.  The City's Tax Assessor said they would have that approval. 
 
The City Council will vote on the proposal at their meeting in July.

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Brush fire reported near Redding school Monday

There was a brush fire in Redding yesterday afternoon.  The West Redding Volunteer Fire Department responded to the area of John Read Middle School around 2:30pm. Arriving firefighters saw smoke in the wooded area. Mutual aid was requested from Redding Fire & EMS, Georgetown, Bethel and Stony Hill firefighters.  An area approximately 50-square feet was burning. Yesterday's forest fire danger level was high, which means even people with burn permits were not allowed to burn brush on their properties.  Today's danger level is moderate.

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Newtown VFW collects flags for proper disposal

In recognition of Flag Day, Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky coordinated a worn Flag drop-off event.  The flags were collected at VFW Post 308 and will be disposed of in an appropriate military ceremony.  Bolinsky says the VFW makes a flag drop-off box accessible year round at their facility on Tinkerfield Road in Newtown.

 

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Danbury Police continue fundraising effort to help kids with cancer

Danbury Police are continuing to raise money for kids battling cancer and other serious illnesses to be able to attend The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.  During an event earlier this month, team members completed over 10,000 push ups in one hour, raising a pledged $2,500.  Danbury Police say there's still time for people to donate, to help then reach their $5,000 fundraising goal.  In total, this year's Push Against Cancer event raised nearly $150,000.

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Himes introduces smart gun technology legislation

A bill providing incentives for firearm manufacturers and consumers to develop and purchase so-called smart gun technology has been introduced by 4th District Congressman Jim Himes.  He says the technology includes biometric or fingerprint locks and radio-frequency identification.  The Start Advancing Firearms Enhancements and Technology Act or SAFETY Act, provides incentives in the form of research and development tax credits.  

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Danbury starts emergency stabilization work on the Octagon House

A community improvement and neighborhood restoration project is moving forward in Danbury.  Emergency stabilization work on the Octagon House started this month.  Planning Director Sharon Calitro says the exterior work involves replacing some of the balconies.  It's being done so they don't lose the building.
 
The vacant Spring Street house was abandoned by its previous owner and in foreclosure.  The blighted property attracted vandalism and squatting.  It was also dilapidated, creating public safety concerns.  The City purchased it a few years ago.
 
The building is one of only a handful of eight-sided houses left in the country and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was built in 1852.  
 
Mayor Mark Boughton wants to house the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team and a police substation on the property. He says the bike patrol and other related officers would likely operate out of the substation. He wants to convert the upstairs into a community room for residents to use. The backyard would become community garden monitored by a non-profit.

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NY man charged with forcible touching

A New York man has been arrested for allegedly touching a child in a Southeast store.  State Police received a complaint on May 26th of an unidentified man pinching a child's buttock and asking the victim to follow him while in Marshalls.  An investigation led to 43-year old Jaroslav Kiskas of Southeast.  He was charged Friday with forcible touching and released for an appearance in Southeast Town Court next week.

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Putnam County Sheriff urges people not to leave pets in cars

With the first extremely hot day in the books this summer, the Putnam County Sheriff's office is offering a seasonal reminder.  It’s estimated that hundreds of cats and dogs die each year from being left in hot cars, while even more become seriously ill.  Sheriff Robert Langley says some of the common responses they've heard when grieving pet owners return to find their cat or dog has died of heat stroke include that 'they cracked a window', 'it was just a few minutes' and 'it wasn't that hot' among others.  

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Bethel Police believe suspected car thieves also targeted shoreline town

Bethel Police believe suspects who stole a car on Fathers Day, have been committing similar crimes in other towns.  Bethel Police say the same suspects may have been involved in the theft of motor vehicles from Clinton, Connecticut.  They were caught on surveillance video by police in the shoreline town.  The suspects led officers in a pursuit Monday that was ultimately called off.  Bethel Police say the same group may have also been responsible for thefts from cars in town over the weekend.

 

  

 

  

(Photos: Clinton Police)

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New Milford residents voting on a budget today

The third budget vote in New Milford is being held today.  Residents are being asked to approve the $39-million municipal budget and a $63-million Board of Education budget.  The 3.3 percent tax increase is higher than the last rejected proposal because less money would be used from the undesignated fund.  New state revenue is also now covering capital items instead of operating expenses.  Some $300,000 was cut from the education budget in this revision after being kept the same in the first two proposals.  

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Ridgefield Planners take up proposed contractor's yard again

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing tonight about a proposal for a contractor's yard on Ethan Allen Highway.  The three acre site would house infrastructure for excavation, grading, filling and earth processing activities.  Larry Leary Development told the Commission that proposal was identical to one previously approved by the group in 2015. 

 

The earlier approval was overturned by the courts last year because the decision violated yard setback regulations.  The setbacks were then amended in January.

 

The Ridgefield Press reports that Commission Vice Chairman Joe Fossi will again recuse himself because he had done business with Leary as a builder. New Commission member Charles Robbins will also recuse himself because he lives in The Regency complex, which filed suit over the 2015 ruling. 

 

Tonight's meeting is at 7:30 at Town Hall Annex.

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Uproar comes back over former New Milford Town Councilman's personal life

A former New Milford Town Council member, who resigned after an uproar over details of his personal life, is back on the hot seat. Scott Chamberlain represented New Milford as a delegate at the congressional and statewide Democratic nominating conventions.

 

Screenshots of Chamberlain’s profile from a private website catering to so-called furries, a subculture of adults who dress in mascot-like animal costumes, forced his resignation. They were circulated again this weekend on Facebook.

 

Part of the profile said Chamberlain tolerates rape, but he said it was in the context of sorting topics into categories: loves, likes, tolerates and hates.  Chamberlain said at the time that his interest in the furry community was a harmless hobby about cartoon animals, not sex. 

 

Chamberlain voted as an alternate at the congressional convention.  Delegates do not need to be members or former members of the town committee.

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New Fairfield officials put up signs in attempt to stop safety hazard by Squantz Pond

In an effort to discourage Squantz Pond visitors from parking along Shortwoods Road in New Fairfield, signs were put up for the weekend saying that the road is closed to through traffic.  There is still storm debris along Shortwoods Road, so parking along the street could have created a safety hazard.  The road remained open to local traffic.  Signs were placed at the intersection with Beaver Bog Road.

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Fatal ATV accident under invesetigation

New York State Police are investigating a fatal all-terrain vehicle crash.  The accident happened Friday morning on Blackberry Hill Road in Somers.  The ATV was operated by 15-year old Reece Ferrara.  He struck a concrete mailbox pillar, was ejected from the vehicle, and later pronounced dead at the hospital.

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Education workshop about teen dating violence to be held in Ridgefield

A parent workshop on teen dating violence is being held tomorrow night by the Women's Center of Greater Danbury.  The workshop at Ridgefield Library will include a panel discussion with local teens, parents and experts, and a presentation on the dynamics of abuse.  Parents will learn how to support children and start conversations with them about healthy relationships. The goal is to create a safe space to have an open discussion about this issue.  Tomorrow's workshop is from 6:30 to 8pm.

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Danbury early college degree program receives grant funding

The Danbury Early College Opportunity program has received a $30,000 grant.  Funding from the Fairfield County Community Foundation will pay for course programming to help the Danbury High School students as they pursue an Associate Degree in Computer Information Sciences.  The degree is offered by Naugatuck Valley Community College, earned simultaneously with a high school diploma.

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Anonymous donor offers to build track and feild training center for Bethel schools

An anonymous donor is offering to pay for a track and field training center at Bethel High School.  The Newstimes reports that the facility would be for practices only and not to hold competitions.  It would included a 200-meter track, storage space and practice space for hurdling, long jump and shot put.  Plans call for leasing the lot by the old tennis courts for a dollar a year for 5 years, and then it be given to the Board of Education.  If all approvals go through, construction could be done at the same time as renovations to Rockwell and Johnson schools are done, beginning this fall.

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Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals meet about Dorothy Day application

A judge has encouraged Danbury and the Dorothy Day Hospitality House to come to an agreement so he doesn't have to issue a ruling in a cease and desist case.  The Zoning Board of Appeals took up a request for variances at their meeting last week.  The ZBA continued the hearing to July 12th so Dorothy Day can get more information to the board. Variances are being sought so a site plan, with special exceptions, can be filed with the Planning Commission.  
 
In order to bring the application to the Planning Commission, Dorothy Day has to show to that the site conforms to regulations for proposed use, or has obtained variances if the property doesn't conform.
 
There are three buildings on the property.  The largest is a brick building with a market and the Dorothy Day Hospitality House and four 1-bedroom apartments on the second floor.  Another building housed the former office of catholic charities office and has two  apartments.  The third building is the shelter.
 
Setback exceptions were requested because the buildings, constructed in the 19th century, and are not in compliance today.  The zone also requires a 20,000 square foot lot to apply for a special exception for a homeless shelter, but the lot is only total 13,118 square feet.  
 
There are two driveways on the property, and there isn't room for a 24-foot wide driveway at either current location.  The ZBA wants input from the fire department on driveway exceptions.  One ZBA member said the lot should be regraded so a variance isn't needed on the parking lot size.

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Bethel Police investigate reports of stolen car, vehicle break-ins

Bethel Police are investigating numerous reported thefts from vehicles that happened Saturday into Sunday.  At least one vehicle was stolen from Wolfpits Road.  The attempted break ins happened around Andrews Street and Governors Lane.  One vehicle reported stolen recently has been recovered.  Bethel Police say the targeted vehicles were left unlocked and the stolen vehicles had the keys inside.  Several other Police Departments in the region are investigating incidents in their jurisdictions as well.

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Death of prison inmate during struggle was homicide

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's medical examiner has ruled the death of a prison inmate who struggled with guards a homicide.

J'Allen Jones died in March at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown. Authorities said the 31-year-old Atlanta man was being transferred to a mental health unit when he became combative with staff, and then become non-responsive.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Gill told the Hartford Courant that Jones' death resulted from "restraint with chest compression" and an adverse reaction to pepper spray.

Gill says the homicide finding does not necessarily mean a crime was committed.

A correction department spokeswoman says state police are continuing to investigate the incident, but added the agency stands by its initial assessment that officers did not appear to use excessive force.

Jones was serving a 10-year sentence for armed robbery. 

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PA man driving stolen car stopped in Southbury, used brother's name

A Pennsylvania man has been arrested in Southbury after Connecticut Police were alerted by authorities in that state about the stolen vehicle.  Troopers located 36-year old Alex Ocasio near exit 13 on Friday and pulled him over.  He allegedly broke into several cars before finding the one he was driving in Connecticut.  Ocasio gave Troopers his brother's name, but his real identity was discovered when he was fingerprinted.  Ocasio was charged with larceny, criminal impersonation and driving with a suspended license.  He is due in Danbury Superior Court today.  Ocasio is also wanted in Waterbury, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.  

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Danbury officials to consider IT property tax abatement tonight

A public hearing is being held by the Danbury City Council tonight about an abatement on personal property taxes for information technology.  The Danbury Tax Assessor's Office asked the Danbury City Council in October 2016 to approve an ordinance.  It would give the City an option to abate personal property taxes on information technology.  State law allows for municipalities to abate up to 100-percent of IT personal property taxes, with no other guidelines.  The Danbury ordinance would abate 50-percent of the personal property taxes attributable to information technology personal property for use in a qualified data center.  
 
The proposal outlines certain deadlines and criteria.  It establishes that there be a $15 million minimum value for the qualifying property.  The abatement would be for three years.  New property added during that three year period would be eligible for another abatement.
 
Praxair asked for this kind of abatement, but the ordinance can't be tailored to Praxair, it's has to be available to anyone that wants to make an investment in Danbury.  Councilman Paul  Rotello was concerned because there's a limited amount of industrial property in the City and he doesn't want a company put up an empty building in order to get this abatement with no employees.  He referred to it as a turn-key server farm, doing nothing else.
 
The public hearing is at 7pm and will be followed by a  meeting of the Council.
 
A Praxair representative noted that after a nationwide search in 2015, the company decided to remain in Danbury and purchased a property on Riverview Drive.  At that time, they also purchased a property in upstate New York specifically zoned for data centers.  The company says data centers are attractive investments, not because of the amount of jobs they bring to an area, but because they bring tangible property with little to no drain on local resources like water and electric.  There's also little impact on traffic.

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Newtown-owned excavator destroyed by accidental fire

An accidental fire last Saturday at the New town landfill destroyed a town-owned excavator.  It was being used to move wood debris from last month's extreme storm. The Newtown Bee reports that the machine was driven off the flammable pile and extinguished by Botsford volunteer firefighters with water and foam. There were no injuries.  Newtown is temporarily renting an excavator for storm debris cleanup work.

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Area students get civics lesson from state lawmakers

Danbury State Representative Michael Ferguson went back to school recently, to explain the role of local representatives in state government.  The former Board of Ed member spoke to a Danbury High School civics class and answered questions on topics including current and proposed state law, the passing of a bi-partisan compromise state budget, education policies, and tolls.
 
Some Newtown students recently spent time at the state capitol.  St. Rose’s fourth-grade students were welcomed by Representative Mitch Bolinsky.  The students also met with Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, learned about the Capitol's history, and visited the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park. 
 
As New Milford High Schoolers head into their last few days of classes, State Representative Bill Buckbee spoke with two groups of students enrolled in civics courses.  Buckbee answered questions about the job of representing New Milford in Hartford, how state business is conducted, and was specific pieces of legislation he crafted.

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Danbury firefighters help couple fix flat tire

Danbury firefighters helped a couple with a flat tire earlier this week.  A crew was returning to the station when they came across a couple who got off the highway with a blown tire.  The couple tried to jack the car up, but the jack failed and broke and the car dropped.  A firefighter used their lift stabilizer, changed the tire and sent the couple on their way.

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Rollover accident sends one to hospital, closes road

A rollover accident in Danbury last night sent one person to the hospital.  Firefighters responded to Town Hill Avenue near Clark Street shortly after 11pm and found the vehicle had struck a pole and rolled onto its side.  The  pole was broken into three pieces, and contained a transformer, a street light, and multiple power and telecommunication lines.  The car was close to the wires and Eversource was called in.  Bethel firefighters helped stabilize the car, and helped to keep bystanders away from downed lines.  The driver had to be extricated from the vehicle.  Town Hill Avenue was closed for about 8 hours while Eversource restored service.
 
(Photo: DFD)

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Danbury officials adjust next year's school calendar to make up missed days

Changes have been made to the Danbury school calendar for next year to comply with a waiver from the State Board of Education. The first day of the upcoming school year in Danbury will be August 31st.  The Danbury Board of Ed approved the new calendar at its meeting this week. 
 
August 31st is an addition to the calendar to make up for the one day the schools fell short this year, and will be shortened as a weather/emergency dismissal.  The remainder of the day will be pre-opening for faculty and staff. 
 
Broadview Middle School and Pembroke and Hayestown Avenue elementary schools will go 182 days next year due to other closures due to a city water main break and an October power outage. The extra day for these three schools is October 8th, when schools are closed to students for staff professional development, and is scheduled as a weather/emergency dismissal.  The remainder of the day, faculty and staff will join planned professional development activities.

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Redding implements hiring freeze to cover unanticipated legal expenses

The town of Redding is facing higher legal bills than budget for.  The Board of Finance discussed the situation Wednesday.  Appeals for recent appraisals, along with attorney bills for an investigation into the Police Chief exceeded the $200,000 legal budget.  The Newstimes reports that the investigation has cost $150,000.  Chief Douglas Fuchs has been on administrative leave since last fall when the town was sued over the department's handling of a suicide case.  In order to make up the $116,000 difference, Redding will implement a hiring freeze through the end of the fiscal year.  Roadwork that isn't bonded, highway department overtime and purchases will not go through until after June 30.

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Danbury Early College Opportunity program participants recognized

Students in the Danbury Early College Opportunity program at Danbury High School have participated in an Internship Exposition.  Students shared their internship projects while others received awards for their academic performance in the program, which gives students an opportunity to earn an Associate Degree simultaneously with their high school diploma. The degree program is offered by Naugatuck Valley Community College.   Students begin accelerating their high school requirements so that by sophomore or junior year they can begin incorporating college-level courses. They can expect to complete the Associate Degree in four, five or six years. Some courses may take place at NVCC’s Danbury campus.

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Putnam County gets grant for drainage work at Airport Park

Putnam County has received a $100,000 state grant for drainage improvements to Airport Park in Mahopac.  The county-owned property was leased to the Town of Carmel in 2005 for 99-years. The drainage improvements will improve water quality to downstream wetlands and surrounding water bodies, address a water runoff issue and phosphorous reduction at Lake McGregor that abuts Airport Park.

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Potable water issue at Redding school discussed by town officials

There's a potable water issue at John Read Middle School in Redding. During Tuesday's Board of Selectmen meeting, it was mentioned that comments on social media have linked the lack of potable water to inadequate funding, but that's been rebuked.  According to meeting minutes, funding has not been sought as solutions are explored.  Three wells have been dug over the years due to longstanding issues with the water.  The current well in use at John Read has sodium levels that are too high for drinking water. 

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Redding budget referendum to be held June 26

The Redding Boards of Finance and Education have approved revised budgets for the coming fiscal year.  The Board of Selectmen set the date of the referendum as Tuesday, June 26th at the Redding Community Center. 
 
Residents are being asked to sign off on a $49.2 million budget, which includes Redding's share of the Region 9 budget.  Redding's share is $13.4 million.  The amount was unchanged because voters in Redding and Easton approved the plan on the second ballot. 
 
The overall budget includes $14.7 for the town, $21.1 million for the schools.  Absentee Balloting is currently available.

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Newtown officials sign off on money transfers for storm clean up costs

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has signed off on using $300,000 from various line items in the current year budget to pay for immediate storm-related clean up bills.  The municipal damage assessment is about $1 million, and residential is about $1.7 million.  Some money is coming from the fund balance, other dollars taken from various accounts.  The Legislative Council approved $425,000.
 
Extensive clean up is currently going on.  Rosenthal says 80-percent of the damage was sustained by 20-percent of the town.  Newtown had to bring in specialized equipment for the clean up, which officials are hoping to have completed by the end of the month.  
 
In response to concern from Council members about Eversource being slow to respond and about the ration of linesman to tree crews being askew, Rosenthal said Eversource may not have known the gravity of the situation.  He agreed that the utility could have sent more line crews sooner.

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Brookfield Board of Finance revises capital budget proposal

When Brookfield residents approved a municipal and school budget for the coming fiscal year, they did not vote on capital items.  The Board of Finance on Wednesday decided to send a $2.2 million plan to a special town meeting next week. 
 
Residents will be asked to set a referendum date on the 21st.  That meeting is at 7pm in Town Hall.  
 
Brookfield residents last week decided not to send a larger plan to a vote because of confusion over a school project.  The $300,000, which some thought was for school upgrade designs and others believed to be for emergency improvements to schools, was removed. 
 
$110,000 for incident command vehicles for the volunteer fire companies was also eliminated.

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Woman denied early release in kidnapping, death of teen

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) One of eight people sent to prison in the 1997 rape and murder of a 13-year-old Connecticut girl has been denied early release.

The Republican-American reports that the state parole board denied Maggie Mae Bennett's request Wednesday.

Prosecutors said the group attacked Maryann Measles, of New Milford, in a revenge killing and dumped her body in the Housatonic River.

Bennett was sentenced to 19 years in prison for her role in the killing. She is scheduled for release in December 2019.

Bennett said she was sorry for her actions and she wants to continue her education.

The board, in its decision, cited a recommendation by Litchfield County prosecutor who said Bennett had already benefited from a reduced term.

Measles' mother and sisters objected to Bennett's bid for an early release. 

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Two injured when bus rear ended on I-84

There was a car versus bus accident on I-84 in Bethel yesterday evening.  State Police say the crash happened eastbound by exit 9, around 5:30pm when a car rear ended the bus, carrying 26 people.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says two patients from the bus were transported to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries sustained in the accident.

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One injured in head-on collision in New Milford

One person was injured in a head on crash in New Milford yesterday morning that closed Route 7 for more than an hour.  New Milford Police received 911 calls shortly before 10am about the collision in the area of Cedar Hill Road.  A Jetta crossed the center line and collided with a tow truck, owned by a Massachusetts-based company.  Both vehicles sustained heavy damage.  The Jetta driver was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of injuries sustain in the crash.  The driver's name was not released by police.

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Newtown Police investigating reports of stolen vehicles

Two cars were stolen Tuesday night in Newtown.  They were parked in the Horseshoe Ridge Road/Old Farm Hill Road area.  Police Chief James Viadero says vehicles previously reported stolen have been taken by juveniles, driven around then abandoned in Waterbury.  Newtown Police have made several arrests in past incidents and are working to forensically process the recovered vehicle from yesterday morning. 

 

Newtown Police are ramping up patrols in the areas being targeted, but urged residents to also help out by locking unoccupied cars and not leaving keys or fobs inside.  Viadero says garage door openers left in open vehicles are another way to access garages with vehicles parked inside. 

 

Anyone with video surveillance of cars being stolen or being gone through is asked to contact Newtown Police. Viadero says thefts from motor vehicles and stolen cars is a situation plaguing Fairfield County for several months now; local agencies have been working together to make arrests.

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New Milford Community Center Committee to gather feedback next week

A meeting of the New Milford Community Center Committee is being held next week for residents to give their feedback.  The committee has been researching the history of community centers in New Milford, as well as the feasibility, precedent and outreach to determine if the current programs and spaces are meeting the community's needs.  The meeting is next Thursday June 21st at 7pm at the John Pettibone Community Center.  Feedback will be included in a report to the New Milford Town Council in July.

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Two votes in Dem nominating convention for congress nullified

Two votes cast at last month's Democratic 5th Congressional District nominating convention have been nullified.  Officials say the votes were cast by members of the New Britain delegation, but did not change the outcome.  Mary Glassman remains the endorsed candidate.  Jahana Hayes only lost by two votes and will be on the primary ballot.  The panel of Democratic State Central Committee members recommends that the party work to design a better process for recording votes at conventions and reconsider whether to offer a vote change option.  Democrat Shannon Kula is seeking to petition her way onto the ballot.

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Power cut to street lighting in part of Bethel for repairs

A streetscape lighting repair project in Bethel is underway.  The lighting on Durant Avenue near the municipal center has not been working since Friday due to repairs on light poles in the area. Power to those poles will be out until further notice. 

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Traffic stop turns up bogus bills, knife, Oxycodone

A routine traffic stop has led to drug and weapon possession charges being filed against a New York man.  State Police Troopers stopped 26-year old Anthony Smith on I-84 in Southeast on Tuesday. 
 
An investigation determined that the Bronx man had three or more suspensions on his license. 
 
He was found in possession of three Oxycodone pills, $5,100 worth of counterfeit cash and an illegal knife.  Smith was arraigned and held on $15,000 bond for a court appearance this afternoon.  He was charged with felony possession of a forged instrument, felony possession of a weapon, possession of a controlled substance and aggravated unlicensed operation.
 
(Photos: NYSP)

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Redding officials to review draft report on Police Chief conduct

A draft report by an attorney hired to investigate the Redding Police response to a suicide case will be reviewed by the Board of Selectmen on Monday. 

 

Police Chief Douglas Fuchs has been on administrative leave since Redding was served with a lawsuit by the family of Peter Valenti.  His relatives claim Peter's life could have been saved in April 2016 if officers checked his vital signs and allege that Fuchs kept a medical technician from inspecting the body because it was a crime scene.  Medics did find signs of cardiac activity, but Valenti could not be revived at the hospital. 

 

First Selectman Julia Pemberton told the Newstimes that the draft report will be reviewed with the town's attorney in executive session during Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting.  She does not expect action to be taken on the report, which won't be released to the public until it's final.

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DEEP approves fuel cells for use in renewable energy projects

Over 250 megawatts of clean and renewable energy projects have been announced by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  Some of the projects were awarded to Danbury-based FuelCell Energy.  The projects were included in the state's first procurement of offshore wind and fuel cells. 
 
FuelCell Energy will be installing projects in Hartford and Derby while Bloom and Doosan will install projects in New Britain and Colchester.  The Hartford, Derby and Colchester projects will be located in urban areas near load centers or brownfield and other commercial property.  They will create or retain more than 200 jobs. 
 
200 megawatts of offshore wind from the Revolution Wind Project will be incremental to the 400 megawatts from the same project selected by Rhode Island.  This summer and fall, DEEP will be soliciting another round of clean energy projects.
 
FuelCell President and CEO Chip Bottone says their technology is one of the most space-efficient, resilient clean energy technologies qualified under Connecticut Class 1 Renewable Portfolio Standard.  He added that the projects will provide local tax revenue, high tech manufacturing jobs, economic development benefits, and clean energy resources consistent with the goals of Connecticut’s renewable portfolio.
 
Selected projects will now enter negotiations with the electric distribution utilities, Eversource and United Illuminating, to reach agreement on 20 year contracts. If successful, the contracts will be brought to PURA for final approval.

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FEMA continues preliminary damage assessment tour

Federal Emergency Management Agency teams continue to do a preliminary assessment of damage from the May 15th storms.  Danbury officials brought FEMA representatives to the Candlewood Lake area yesterday to see the affect of a macroburst that blew winds of more than 100 miles an hour through the region. 
 
Danbury's Civil Preparedness Director took FEMA officials on a 5 hour tour of storm damage yesterday.  Paul Estefan says the preliminary assessment teams took longer than planned because of the extent of the damage.
 
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has spent several days observing damage and reporting the information to FEMA.  It could take several months for the assessments to lead to a presidential disaster declaration, which could then open up federal aid.  Teams from FEMA spent three hours in Brookfield looking at the aftermath of the May 15th macroburst, and delayed going to see damage in Ridgefield.  Esty says the damage was more than FEMA anticipated.  

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School shooting video game websites back online

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The creator of a school shooting video game that was protested by parents of slain children says it's up and running again after being removed by a website host.

Acid Software says two websites for the "Active Shooter" game were shut down Tuesday night by Bluehost, a Burlington, Massachusetts, company. An Acid representative says the websites were running again Wednesday using Russian servers.

Bluehost was urged to remove the sites by Sandy Hook Promise, an anti-gun violence group formed by parents whose children were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

The game lets players participate in simulated school shootings. It was removed from the webpages of two online platforms after complaints by parents of children killed in the Newtown and Parkland, Florida, school shootings. 

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Area towns mark Flag Day

Two Blue Star Memorial Marker signs are being dedicated in Bridgewater and Roxbury on this Flag Day.  Two Cherokee Princess White Dogwood trees to honor the individuals who have served, are serving, and will serve are also being dedicated today by the Roxbury Bridgewater Garden Club.  The dedications are at 11am in front of the Capt. Burnham home on Route 133 in the center of Bridgewater and at noon at Roxbury Town Hall.  An honor color guard and an Armed Services Veteran who will play taps are among the featured participants.  The Blue Star Memorial program was started in 1944 by a garden club in New Jersey.
 
Ridgefield is hosting a Flag Day ceremony this evening at Ballard Park Gazebo.  The event, led by members of the American Legion and the Marine Corps Detachment of Ridgefield, will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  The Marine Corps will demonstrate the proper and legal way of retiring worn, faded and unserviceable flags through an actual flag retirement ceremony.  Tonight's ceremony in Ridgefield is at 7pm.

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Ridgefield Police remind pet owners it's illegal to leave pet on shelter doorstep

Some pets have been left at the doors of animal shelters in  the Greater Danbury area, according to Ridgefield Police.  When an animal is left at the door of a shelter, there is no confirmation of valid rabies inoculations or other diseases and defects the animal may have.  The unknown animals can cause risk to employees and other animals.  

 

Police are reminding people that leaving a pet at the shelter is considered abandonment and is not legal. 

 

If you can no longer care for a pet, contact Ridgefield Animal Control at 203-431-2711 and they will put you in touch with someone that will be able to assist in the surrendering of your pet.

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Man dies of gunshot wound sustained at Stevenson Dam

A man was shot and killed yesterday at the Stevenson Dam. Monroe Police are investigating the death of the 24-year old Oxford man, whose name has not yet been released.  Police told the Monroe Courier that there is no indication of foul play.  A person observing wildlife below the dam called 911 Tuesday evening about hearing a gunshot.  The wounded man was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries and was later pronounced dead.  The state medical examiner’s office will determine the cause and manner of death.

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Primary hopefuls turn in petition signatures to local officials for counting

Local registrars of voters will be busy this week verifying whether petition signatures for candidates seeking to be on the August primary ballot are legitimate.  The certified signatures have to be sent to the Secretary of the State's Office by the 19th for tabulating. 
 
Primaries are needed to determine the November line up in the 5th congressional district, governor, lt. governor, treasurer, attorney general and comptroller races. 
 
Democrats Joe Ganim and Guy Smith sent in signatures for verification as gubernatorial candidates.  Republican businessmen David Stemerman and Bob Stefanowski have submitted petition signatures to be on the gubernatorial August primary ballot.  Shelton Republican Mayor Mark Lauretti fell short of collecting the needed signatures.
 
Several candidates automatically qualified at the party conventions last month to be on the primary ballots.  

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New Milford seeks to become a 'Purple Heart Town'

New Milford is looking to honor the men and women who have received a Purple Heart and make New Milford a “Purple Heart Town”. The Military Order of the Purple Heart is seeking Purple Heart recipients, Gold Star Families and relatives of any resident who has received a Purple Heart to get the process started.  There will be an informal meet and greet next Thursday at 6pm at New Milford Town Hall.  Officials will be gathering stories to incorporate into the New Milford's Purple Heart Town Designation celebration, which will be held at a later date.

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Putnam County Shared Services Panel meets about improving service delivery

A Putnam County-wide Shared Services Panel, tasked with finding ways to increase government efficiency and reducing spending, met this week.  The panel is looking into improving service delivery across Putnam County. 

 

This week's meeting included roundtable discussions focusing on Public Works, Personnel Services, Dog Control and Shelters, Information Technology, and Tax Assessment. These discussions included the school district and local public works administrators, and focused on ways to increase inter-governmental cooperation throughout the County.   

 

A municipal planning and consulting firm has been hired to draft the County-wide Shared Services Plan by August.  It will then be reviewed by the County Legislature and be put up for a public hearing.

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Brookfield residents approve budget on third try

The third time was the charm in Brookfield for getting a budget passed.  Overall spending was increased about 2.8 percent and will result in a 3.85 percent property tax rate increase.  The $23.9 million municipal budget was approved by about 500 votes while the $42.7 million school plan passed with a margin of about 300 votes. 

 

Part of the spending increase was due to $485,000 for elderly tax relief accidentally removed from the budget last year.  Much of the increase was due to a rise in special education costs and a cut in state aide. 

 

Overall the budget proposal was reduced about $600,000 since it was first rejected last month.  On the municipal side, $102,000 in capital projects were removed and the town is ending a recycling event that had strong participation.  The Board of Ed will leave a secretary position vacant, rely on tutors in place of a second ESL teacher and put off upgrades to a computer lab.

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Lawsuit filed on behalf of Danbury against opioid manufacturers, distributors

Ventura Law has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Danbury, Ansonia, Derby and Norwalk against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and a former executive.
 
The lawsuit alleges that for decades, the manufacturers aggressively marketed to health care providers and reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioids like OxyContin, despite knowing the drugs were not safe or effective for long-term use.  The lawsuit also includes claims that the drug companies violated Connecticut’s consumer protection statutes. Some of the false marketing tactics included branded and unbranded advertising. 
 
The lawsuit also alleges that the manufacturers made misrepresentations about the risks and benefits of prescription opioids.  The suit alleges that these practices fueled Connecticut’s opioid epidemic, particularly in the four communities.
 
The marketing of OxyContin has led to criminal charges for Purdue, as well as citation by the Food and Drug Administration for false or misleading advertisements.

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Brookfield starts to clear storm debris from roads

Brookfield has started cleaning up debris from town right-of-ways.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says crews will be working for about four weeks, Sundays through Fridays, from 7am to 7pm on Brookfield streets.  The brush yard will only be open to residents only on Saturdays from 8:30am to 4pm.  The brush yard must be closed while the crews clear roads because it's considered a "work zone," and therefore unsafe.

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Ridgefield names interim Superintendent of Schools

The Ridgefield Board of Ed has named an interim Superintendent.  Former New Milford Superintendent JeanAnn Paddyfote will lead the school district until a permanent Superintendent has been named.  Ridgefield Director of Technology Robert Miller has been acting Superintendent since Karen Baldwin resigned earlier this year.  Paddyfote, who most recently has been serving as acting Superintendent in Avon, will start on July 1st and serve in the position until March 1st.  She led the New Milford school district for more than a decade.

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Kent officials warn of thefts from cars in surrounding towns

Kent officials are cautioning residents to lock cars at night and not to leave keys inside vehicles.  First Selectman Bruce Adams says there have been a rash of auto thefts as well as items stolen out of vehicles in neighboring towns so the advice is just a precaution.  But he also urged residents to lock sheds and boat houses when not in use and if there's no one home.

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New Assistant Principal named for Rogers Park Middle School

Danbury has named a new assistant principal for Rogers Park Middle School.  Dana Perez started in Danbury as a school counselor at Rogers Park before serving as a counselor at Westside Middle School Academy.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says choosing Perez to be assistant principal reflects a commitment to the social and emotional development of students.  Perez is fluent in Spanish and  an active participant in a variety of community activities in the Danbury area. 

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Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals meeting about Dorothy Day application

The Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals will be holding a hearing this week about Dorothy Day Hospitality House and their Spring Street facility.  There are several variances that will be discussed for grocery market, office space, emergency homeless shelter, and soup kitchen.  They include reducing the front, side and rear yard setbacks, reducing the driveway width, cutting down parking to 16 spaces, and reducing minimum square footage.  Waivers from certain zoning laws will be discussed.  The meeting Thursday is set for 7pm at Danbury City Hall in Council chambers. 

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Esty introduces initiatives to curb opioid epidemic

Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is introducing initiatives today aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic.  One bill would open up funding for police forensic labs and medical examiner offices to pay for staff, equipment and overtime. Connecticut's Chief Medical Examiner says there were more than a thousand overdose deaths in the state last year.  Police Departments could also use the funding for additional field testing equipment.  Another measure Esty introduced last week would bolster current drug prevention programs to allow schools, communities, and youth athletic associations to provide evidence-based prevention programming to reduce the risk of opioid addiction and overdose among students and student athletes. 

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Brookfield budget vote today

Brookfield residents are voting for the third time on a proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  Residents are being asked to sign off on a $42.7 million Board of Education plan and a $23.9 million  municipal budget.  Capital items were rejected during the first budget vote last month, and residents earlier this month rejected a plan to send the $2.6 million in projects to a vote.  Polls are open until 8pm for the budget vote.

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FEMA preliminary damage assessment teams in Greater Danbury

Throughout most of this week, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be touring different parts of Connecticut to see the destruction from a macroburst and 4 tornadoes that touched down on May 15th.  Preliminary damage assessment teams were in Brookfield and Hamden yesterday.  Senator Richard Blumenthal encouraged home and business owners affected by the storm to keep photos and receipts for follow up.
 
FEMA teams will be in Danbury today.  There are plans for FEMA to also see storm damage in New Fairfield and elsewhere.
 
40-percent of all single family homes in Brookfield sustained damaged.  That's 340 with minor damage, 29 sustained major damage and 10 destroyed.  Between $33 million and $48 million of property damage is estimated.
 
If a disaster declaration is made by the President, it's possible that individual assessment teams will be deployed.  The process is expected to take months.  

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New Milford launches Summer Lunch program

The New Milford Board of Education, Mayor's office, Loaves and Fishes and others have partnered for a Summer Lunch program.  Board of Ed members say 22-percent of New Milford students are on free and reduced lunch, while another 22-percent are slightly over the threshold, but still in need.  The partnership came up out of a concern that children would not get the one meal a day they can count on during the school year.  New Milford Social Services, New Milford Youth Agency, New Milford Hospital, The Community Culinary School, The New Milford Clergy Association, The United Way of Greater New Milford and MVP-SOS are helping to set up the program, which will start July 2nd. 

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GOP gubernatorial hopefuls participate in pre-primary debate

Four Republicans hoping to be the next governor of Connecticut have participated in a debate hosted by The Connecticut Association of Realtors and WTNH-TV.  There weren't many differences between the candidates.  Those appearing on the debate stage were endorsed candidate Mark Boughton and two who automatically qualified for the primary: Tim Herbst  and Steve Obsitnik.  Petitioning candidate David Stemerman was able to prove his signature collection would get him on the ballot and was invited to participate. 

 

All four opposed tolls and sanctuary cities.  They also agreed that pension reform should be a priority.  One area of difference was about a private company opening a casino in Bridgeport.  Boughton and Herbst appeared tepid on the idea while Obsitnik and Stemerman said they would support the idea.

 

Petitioning candidates businessman Bob Stefanowski and Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti received invitations, but declined in order to focus on petition drives.  Signatures are due to the Secretary of the State's Office by today. 

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United Way to invest $498,000 in education, food insecurity, financial stability programs

The United Way of Western Connecticut plans to invest $498,000 in education, financial stability, and food insecurity programs in the Greater Danbury, Greater New Milford, and Stamford areas. The funding supports households that fall within the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed income threshold and below. ALICE families earn income above the federal poverty level, but not enough to make ends meet. 
 
United Way CEO Kimberly Morgan says helping these households support children's success in school and access free financial services to help families stay on budget and save.
 
The following is a list of programs funded in Northern Fairfield County / Greater Danbury:
 
Early Childhood Education Funding
Organization, program name/description:
Northern Fairfield County / Greater Danbury $72,000
Regional Y, Regional Y Early Education Program
Little People Learning Center, Little People Learning Center
Salvation Army, The Right Place
 
After School Funding
Organization (areas served) program name/description:
Northern Fairfield County / Greater Danbury $50,000
Danbury Family Learning Center, Extended Learning Program
Danbury Grassroots Academy
Danbury Youth Services, Target
Family and Children’s Aid, EXTEND
Regional Y, School Age Program
 
ALICE Enrichment Funding 
City/Town - Partner Organization:
Danbury - Danbury Youth Services, Inc
Newtown - Newtown Dept. of Social Services
Bethel - Bethel Dept. of Social Services
Brookfield - Brookfield Dept. of Social Services
New Fairfield - New Fairfield Dept. of Social Services
Ridgefield - Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield
Redding - Redding Dept. of Social Services
 
Financial Stability Funding
Organization (area served):
Catholic Charities (Greater Danbury)
TBICO (Greater Danbury/Southern Litchfield)
 
Food Programs Funding
Organization (areas served) program name/description:
CT Food Bank (Mobile Pantries in Danbury, Stamford, and New Milford) Mobile pantries
CT Food Bank (Danbury) Weekend food packs

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Tract of land in Danbury named an 'opportunity zone'

A tract of land in Danbury is among 72 receiving approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury to become an opportunity zone.  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.   In exchange for their investments, opportunity fund investors are able to decrease their federal tax burden through the preferential treatment of capital gains. 
 
 
Qualifying investments may include a broad range of commercial and residential investments, such as transit-oriented development, affordable housing and mixed-use development, and energy efficiency and renewable energy projects on public and private assets. 

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Brookfield Police K9 gets donation of body armor

Brookfield Police K9 Major has received a bullet and stab protective vest from non-profit Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. The vest was sponsored by Reimer and Bevis Families of Middletown.  It's embroidered with the sentiment “Born to Love - Trained to Serve - Loyal Always”. 

 

Major's handler, Officer Kyek thanked the families for providing his partner with the vital piece of equipment.  He said it's reassuring to know that Major is further protected by this body armor. 

 

The non-profit was established in 2009 and has provided over 2,900 protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $5.7 million dollars.

 

(Photo: Brookfield Police)

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Southbury Police investigating thefts from cars

Over the last two weeks Southbury Police received a large number of complaints of larcenies from motor vehicles.  Police say the thieves are looking for purses, wallets, laptops, cash, jewelry, firearms, and vehicles with keys left in them.  People can protect property by removing items from vehicles and locking car doors.  Anyone who sees a suspicious vehicle, especially during early morning hours, is asked to contact Southbury Police at 203-264-5912.

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Cumberland Farms seeks approval to locate in Danbury

The Danbury Planning Commission is considering a gas station and convenience store for a long vacant building.  Representatives from Cumberland Farms made a presentation to the Commission last week for the 106 Federal Road property. 

 

The space previously housed Bennigan's Grill and Tavern, but that was more than a decade ago.  The building would be demolished to clear the way for a 5,300-square-foot convenience store, two 20,000-gallon underground gas storage tanks and six double-sided gas pumps. 

 

The intersection with International Drive would be turned into a four-way traffic signal, with the driveway realigned.  A special exception is needed.  The facility is expected to generate over 500 vehicle trips per day.

 

The commission will take up the application June 20th.  

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Medals presented to Korean War veterans in New Milford

Medals have been presented to several New Milford veterans.  Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty presented the Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal to nine veterans who served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps.
 
The recipients are:
Henry A. Chatin- US Army
Lowell Hendrix- US Army
James W. McLaughlin- US Army
Edward Easton- US Marine Corps
Charles Elesser ( Posthumously) Us Marine Corps
Lawrence Tripp- US Marine Corps
Martin Jajer- US Navy
Frank P. Morris- US Navy
Edward Easton- US Marine Corps

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Off-duty Carmel Police Officer struck and killed by mail truck

A Carmel Police officer died Thursday after his motorcycle was struck by a mail truck on Route 301 in Carmel.  29-year Gary Pietropaolo was due to be married this weekend.  He was off-duty at the time of the crash, and died at the hospital.  Carmel Police issued a statement saying that the officer was well liked and respected by all of his colleagues and will be sorely missed.  Visting hours are tonight 4 to 8pm at Cargain Funeral Home on Route 6 in Mahopac.  A Mass of Christian burial will be held on tomorrow at 11am at St. James the Apostle R.C. Church in Carmel.

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Fire at former Tuxedo Junction building being investigated

A fire in the former Tuxedo Junction building in Danbury has been extinguished.  Firefighters responded to an automatic alarm at 2 Ives Street last night and found smoke coming from the building.  A fire was located in a first floor bathroom.  Firefighters searched the building for any occupants and then vented the structure to clear the smoke.  The Fire Marshals Office and Danbury Police are investigating the cause and origin of the fire.  

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FEMA to tour Brookfield today to view storm damage

FEMA will be in Brookfield today to look at damage from the May 15th macroburst. 5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty will join officials from FEMA and Brookfield on their tour. 

 

During the immediate aftermath of the storm, 91% of Brookfield residents were left without power.  Some were without power for up to ten days. Esty and Senator Richard Blumenthal previously surveyed the storm damage last month. 

 

Brookfield officials have expanded the storm damage submission form to now allow residents to send up to 10 pictures.  Residents can now also give best estimates of insured and uninsured property loss.  Anyone who has already submitted a report can resend the forms to include the additional information.  Brookfield officials are asking that residents only send information about personal property as the town has all of the information needed for town-owned property, including rights-of-way, parks and open spaces.  

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Bethel seeks to repair historic train station canopy

The canopy at the old train station building in downtown Bethel has been deemed unsafe and needs to be replaced.  The state deeded the Old Train Station building to Bethel years ago, but still owned the canopy.  Bethel asked the state to deed the canopy to the town so it can be historically restored, rather than replaced.  The state agreed, and will provide $36,800 toward the replacement cost. 
 
First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says more funding is needed and he's recommending that it borrowed from the general fund.  The money would be paid back by rent received from the tenant. 
 
The Board of Selectmen has voted to waive the bidding process since there is only one company in the area that has the certification to do work so close to an active rail lien.  The approval of a contract with Rizzo Corporation would need approval from the Board of Finance and from residents at a Special Town Meeting. 
 
Demolition and removal of the old canopy and construction of a new structure is estimated to cost $142,600, with another $10,000 for flagging and track protection by Metro North.  The cost includes a 15% contingency, and is 16% lower than originally proposed after successful negotiations with the company.  

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Gun control could play role in Connecticut governor race

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut may have passed wide-ranging gun control legislation after the Sandy Hook mass shooting, but that doesn't mean the battle over gun control in this state is over.

It's expected the issue could influence the state's hotly contested race for governor.

Greenwich businessman and endorsed Democratic candidate Ned Lamont calls the debate "very passionate" on both sides of the issue. He's proposed banning so-called ghost guns, which are firearms parts that can be assembled to make untraceable weapons.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, the endorsed Republican candidate, is struggling to win the support the gun rights enthusiasts who question his level of support.

Boughton says his positions have been misunderstood and he doesn't believe new gun laws are needed.

The president of pro-gun rights group The Connecticut Citizens Defense League is skeptical. 

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Republican to pursue unaffiliated run for Congress

A Brookfield Republican is seeking an unaffiliated run for Congress.  John Pistone has decided not to pursue a primary run for the 5th District seat, but rather petition his way on to the November ballot as an unaffiliated candidate.  Pistone says the Connecticut Republican Party believes he is too conservative and that the party is moving further left.  He calls himself an outsider, not part of the political establishment and not content with the status quo.  

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Danbury school dedicates 'schoolyard habitat' garden

Broadview Middle School in Danbury has officially dedicated its “Schoolyard Habitat” garden, with the help of a 3-thousand dollar grant.  Broadview was chosen last fall as one of two schools in Connecticut for the Audubon Society Schoolyard Habitat Program.  Students involved in the school’s Roots & Shoots afterschool program care for the gardens.  The entire sixth grade has used the gardens to learn ecology, starting with a nature walk as a unit introduction. 

 

For the past three years, students and teachers dedicated two areas around the school to gardens that grow native plants and vegetables and encourage good environmental practice for the community.

 

The gardens were established as a grassroots effort without any resources, which led to the grant funding.  A Peace Garden in the front of the school is home to native species.  13 raised beds on the side of the school are used to grow herbs and vegetables, such as cucumbers and peppers. 

 

The raised beds were built by students from the Alternative Center for Excellence and teacher John Webber.  Science teacher Dallas Moore and reading teacher Sue Mills led the project with help from school social worker Christine Miller and ESL teacher Val Anderson. 

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Danbury, Bethel Police participate in 'Push Against Cancer'

The 9th annual “Push Against Cancer” is happening tomorrow.  
 
The Bethel Police Department will be participating in Push Against Cancer.  Their team is called Cops Against Cancer.  The team will be doing as many push ups as they can for an hour on Sunday in an effort to raise money for kids that have serious illnesses.  Donations raised by the Bethel officers will send those kids to camp for a week.  
 
Several members of the Danbury Police Department are also raising money to send kids coping with serious illness to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, founded by Paul Newman.  Over the past 8 years, Push Against Cancer has raised over $330,000. 

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Welcome home ceremony planned this morning in Danbury for army reserve members

A welcome home ceremony is being held today for Bravo company of the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.  The ceremony at 11am at the Danbury Armed Forces Reserve Center.  Councilman Tom Saadi says the 35 members returned home a few months ago from a nearly year deployment to Africa, and are back training with their battalion.  Awards and recognitions will be presented.  Saadi says the community has been very supportive of the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.  The group has a new commander coming in this summer.  The public is invited to attend the ceremony.  There is some security precautions at the training center.  People will have to check in when they arrive.  People wishing to attend the ceremony should contact tomsaadi@aol.com or call 203-797-1797.  

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New Milford Police get donation of GPS K9 tracking devices

New Milford has received a donation of two high performance GPS K9 tracking devices for their two canine officers.  They were obtained, in part, through a grant from the Hometown Foundation, which matches needs of municipal organizations with local donors. 

 

With town budgets tight over the last few years, and the equipment fairly expensive, Police Lieutenant Jeffrey Covello thanked the Town Council for accepting the donation. 

 

The collars have a unit that stays with the handler.  Covello says the K9s were sent out recently looking for a missing child, and noted that New Milford is the largest town geographically in Connecticut.  Once police exhausted the day's work, he had to print off map and go through with handler exactly which areas were already searched so they didn't cover the same area when the search picked up the next day. 

 

The GPS unit archives exactly where the dog has roamed.

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Local sites to participate in Connecticut Open House Day

The 14th annual Connecticut Open House Day is today.  

 

The Bethel Historical Society will be taking part.  Town Historian Patrick Wild will be hosting a game to test people's knowledge of Bethel's history. Contestants are going to answer multiple choice questions using the touch screen of their cell phones.  Results for each round of the game will be immediately scored, tabulated, and projected on a large screen to provide up-to-the-minute player standings. Prizes will be awarded for the game's top three contestants. There is no fee for the event, but donations to the Bethel Historical Society are encouraged.

 

People who registered for the event will face off in the lower room of Bethel Congregational Church at 1pm.  A number of tourist destinations are offering special discounts and promotions. 

 

Brookfield Museum & Historical Society is holding free admission from noon to 4pm.  In Danbury, the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut and Workspace Collective will have open gallery hours from 11am to 6pm.  The Connecticut Antique Machinery Association Museum in Kent is open 10am to 4pm and will give a free Connecticut mineral specimen from the Mining Museum.

 
Among the cultural sites participating is also the Village Center for the Arts in New Milford.  The Center will hold demonstrations on the pottery wheel, cartooning, drawing, and painting from 10am to 6pm.  The EverWonder Children’s Museum in Newtown is among those participating, offering half price admission.  The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield is offering free admission. 

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Redding to host paper shredding day today

Redding's sdditional Paper Shredding Day for residents will take place today.  Businesses and in-home offices will not be able to participate in the shredding day at the Redding Recycling Center on Hopewell Woods Road from 9am to noon.  A mobile shredder will cross-shred documents including receipts, bank statements, tax returns, checks and medical records.  Staples and paper clips can be attached, but binder clips and file hangers can not.  The service is free to all Redding residents, with proof of residency required.  There is a limit of 5 file boxes per person. 

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Newtown Police investigating attempted car break-in

Newtown Police are investigating an attempted car break in.  A Taunton Lane resident reported finding people going through their unlocked car parked in their driveway, around 1:30 yesterday morning.  The resident confronted the suspects, who ran away and got into a large SUV-type vehicle with a loud exhaust.  No other description of the suspects or vehicle was given.  Newtown Police are reminding residents to lock cars when parked so you don't become an easy target.  

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Vessel inspections to be held this weekend in Putnam County

Putnam County Sheriff’s and Carmel Police Marine Units are holding a voluntary vessel inspection Saturday and Sunday.  The inspection will be performed by police officers and deputy sheriffs assigned to the Marine Unit on Lake Mahopac.  It's an attempt to educate the community on safe boating.  Officers will tell boaters about required safety equipment and boating regulations in New York State.  The inspections will be done Saturday at Mahopac Marina from 10am to 2pm and on Sunday at MacDonald Marina and Oscawana Lake Marina in Putnam Valley from 10am to 2pm.

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WCSU monitoring blacklegged tick population

The West Conn Tickborne Disease Prevention Laboratory monitors blacklegged tick populations by dragging a flannel cloth through the leaf litter.  21 nymphs were collected by a research staffer this week in just a few seconds.  The Lab says tick numbers are picking up in the northeast and people spending time outdoors are urged to be vigilant and check for ticks.

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Ridgefield Animal Control offers reminder about interacting with wildlife

Ridgefield Police have received some calls about a fawn possibly being abandoned.  The Animal Control Officer says young deer are often left hidden and alone for hours while their mothers forage for food.  It's advised to leave the fawn alone for at least 48 hours to determine if the mother is returning for feedings.  A truly orphaned fawn may show signs of distress by walking around aimlessly and calling out for several hours.   

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Family of NY man killed in hit & run doubles reward for info

The family of a Brewster man killed in a hit and run crash in I-84 in Danbury is doubling the reward for information that leads to an arrest.  32-year old Daniel Crawford was found dead next to his car in the shoulder of the highway, westbound by exit 2, in the early morning hours of April 7th.  Crawford's father is now offering a $10,000 reward.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Connecticut State Police at 203-267-2200 or text TIP711 ti the confidential line 274637. 

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Bethel to test changes in hours of town hall operations this summer

Bethel is going to do a four month test of different hours for Town Hall.  Officials say the change in operating hours is being tested to provide greater access to the public. 
 
Beginning July 9th, Bethel Town Hall will open half an hour earlier each week day and remain open 90 minutes later on Thursday evenings.  Friday will have shortened hours to maintain a 40-hour week. 
 
Bethel Town Hall will be open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays 8am to 4:30pm, Thursdays 8am to 6pm and Fridays 8am to noon. 
 
An evaluation will be done during the first week of October to determine the effectiveness of giving residents more of an opportunity to condcut business before and after normal business hours.  

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Danbury man arrested for alleged marijuana trafficking

A Danbury man has been arrested on drug trafficking related charges.  Police launched an investigation into 37-year old Alberto Lantigua months ago, after neighbor complaints of alleged illegal activity at his Purchase Street home.  

 
Investigators, with the help of Bethel Police, stopped Lantigua yesterday.  He was found in possession of a substantial amount of marijuana.  Police found more than two pounds of pot, packaging material, a scale and several hundred dollars cash. 
 
Lantigua was held on bond.  He was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell, intent to sell within 1500 feet of a school, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of paraphernalia near a school and risk of injury to a child.

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Danbury teacher remains on leave pending investigation into allegations

A Danbury teacher is being investigated for the second time this school year.  The Newstimes obtained the personnel file of Broadview Middle School teacher Bill Herzog, which shows he remains on administrative leave pending an investigation by the state Department of Children and Families. 
 
He is accused of using harsh and abusive language toward special education students. 
 
Herzog denies the allegation that he placed a rag in a student's mouth to discourage humming.  He allegedly forced a student to clean up mucus she spread on the floor, but argued that's a “sensory integration model” to teach the severely disabled student not to spread mucus on other students or adults.  

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Redding recount shows budget failed by 3 votes

A recount in Redding shows that Tuesday budget vote still failed.  There were just 3 votes more in opposition to the plan, compared to the 4 votes tabulated on the day of the referendum.  The additional YES vote was found on an improperly marked ballot which was read by the optical scan machine as blank.  The Redding Board of Selectmen will meet on Monday.  The Redding Board of Ed will meet Tuesday and the Board of Finance will make revisions on Wednesday.

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Eversource to string utility lines across Route 6, I-84 in Bethel

Part of Route 6 in Bethel will be closed overnight into Saturday for utility work.  Eversource Energy will be stringing new high-voltage transmission lines along a utility right of way crossing Route 6 and Interstate 84.  Eversource has been staging equipment for the work at the corner of Benedict Road.  The utility says the work is needed to help strengthen the power grid and increase reliability.  State Police traffic control vehicles and signs will be put up on I-84 to help manage the flow of traffic as the lines are pulled across highway.  The work is slated, weather permitting, for midnight to 3am Saturday.

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Project status updates Saturday, Tuesday on Newtown Community Center

Two project status sessions are planned in Newtown so residents could see the most up to date information for the Community Center and Senior Center.  A scale model can also be viewed at the events Saturday from 10am to 11:30am and Tuesday from 7pm to 8:30.  Both sessions will be held at the Newtown Municipal Center, in Council Chambers. 
 
First Selectman Dan Rosenthal, Community Center Director Matt Ariniello and other town officials and the Community Center Advisory Committee will be available to answer questions.  A continuously-looping slideshow of some areas of the building's plans will be playing during the open house events. 
 
Residents can see construction progress at the site on Simpson Street across the from the Municipal Building.

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New Milford Town Council trims budget proposal

The New Milford Town Council has trimmed $300,000 from the proposed school budget for the coming fiscal year.  The plan is now $63-million.  The $39-million municipal budget was not changed because it was approved during the second referendum.  If approved, the budget represents a 3.3 percent tax increase.  They also opted to include a million dollars for capital nonrecurring items not on the first two budget ballots.  The money would go to the 2020 revaluation and roof and oil tank replacements. 

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Brookfield Police investigating thefts from parked cars

Brookfield Police are warning residents of a new round of thefts form cars.  Police say there have been multiple thefts from unlocked cars throughout town over the last few nights.  Residents are urged to take valuables out of cars at night to make sure vehicles are locked.  

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Two cars reported stolen in Newtown

Newtown Police are investigating the report of two stolen cars.  The vehicles were taken from the garage of a residence on Butternut Ridge. The vehicles were unlocked and keys were in the cars.  The theft occurred during the very early morning hours yesterday. No other details are being released as police continue to investigate.  Residents are being reminded to remove valuables from vehicles and to lock the doors. 

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Farmer, pickup truck collide in Woodbury accident

State Police say a man sustained serious injuries when his tractor and a pickup truck collided in Woodbury last night.  64-year  old Daniel Logue was pulling a corn planter across Quassapaug Road at Route 6.  He was thrown from the tractor during the crash. The other driver was uninjured.  State Police are continuing their investigation.

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Greater Danbury area police departments take part in Special Olympics Torch Run

Several Greater Danbury Police Departments are participating in the Special Olympics Torch Run tomorrow.  Brookfield officers will be taking the torch from New Milford at Faith Church and heading south on Federal Road to Harley-Davidson, approximately 6.5 miles.  There are runners will be on the road beginning at approximately 8:30am.

 

Danbury Police will be jogging toward Bethel, starting at 9:50am. 

 

Before starting their portion of the Torch Run, Bethel Police will host a Tip-A-Cop event at the Dunkin Donuts on Grassy Plain St from 7am-10am.  Bethel Police will then take over around 10:50am from Timber Oak condos along Routes 53 and 302 to Newtown.

 

Newtown Police will take the torch from Bethel officers in the area of Dodgintown Market.  They, along with officers from Garner Correctional will travel along Route 302 toward Queen Street and Church Hill Road.  The torch will be passed to State Police Troop A at the Blue Colony Diner. 

 

The event is a way to raise awareness and funds for Special Olympics of Connecticut.  The Newtown Police Department has raised over $4,500 for Special Olympics through an adopt a mile program.   

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Pembroke school looks to build playground to accommodate students with special needs

Administrators and teachers at Pembroke Elementary School in Danbury are campaigning for a new playground with equipment to accomodate students with special needs or disabilities. Pembroke has one classroom at each grade level devoted to children with special needs.  The school has set up a go fund me page for donations.   

 

Teacher Leigh Viviano has spearheaded the project to rebuild the playground at a cost of $150,000.  That figure includes the cost of new equipment and its installation, removing the old equipment, grading and drainage.  The play area fills with water sometimes, to the point where teachers set out cones and yellow caution tape to keep students away. 

 

A playground with Childscapes in Massachusetts will include a sensory garden, similar to an existing model at Rogers Park playground.  It would also include a safety rock-climbing wall and spinners, in addition to newer playscapes.  The new playground design includes platforms that are wheelchair-accessible.  T

 

he closest accessible playgrounds are at Ballard Park in Ridgefield and one in Brookfield, so this playground would be open to anyone after school and on the weekends. The school has set up a website, www.pembrokeplayground.com, for tax-deductible donations, and a GoFundMe page.

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Boughton wants Danbury to buy 40-foot tall Uncle Sam statue

There is a giant Uncle Sam statue in Lake George, which once was featured at the Danbury Fair.  Mayor Mark Boughton plans to ask the City Council next month to authorize bringing Uncle Sam back to Danbury and setting him up in a prominent location.  The statue is 40 feet tall and considered the largest in the world. Boughton says he's been negotiating with a seller for several months, but did not disclose the estimated price.  He plans to set up a Go Fund Me page and a related 501(c)(3) nonprofit to accept contributions toward the cost.

 

(Photo: Mayor Boughton)

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Danbury, Ridgefield get waivers from state Board of Ed to 180 day rule

The State Board of Education has authorized waivers for Ridgefield and Danbury to the mandate of having 180 days of schools, but that approval comes with a caveat.  Danbury will be granted two different waivers. 

 

Hayestown and Pembroke Elementary and Broadview Middle schools will fall two days short of the requirement, so next school year will have to be 182 days long.  The other schools in the Danubry District will go 181 days next year. 

 

Ridgefield will only have 179 this school years and therefore the High School must hold 181 days of classes next school year. The Superintendent considered holding classes on Memorial Day for 10th through 12th graders, who are the only ones not meeting the 180 rule, but there were concerns about buses transporting students on a parade day so it was not a viable option as a makeup day.  There also was not likely enough staff available to safely supervise students on Memorial Day.  

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FEMA agrees to assess damage in Conn. from May 15 storms

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to perform a preliminary damage assessment in Connecticut.  State officials requested FEMA to come in an look at damage from multiple tornadoes and other severe weather last month.  Completion of the assessment is the next step in submitting a formal request for a disaster declaration. Senator Richard Blumenthal says after seeing firsthand the extreme destruction in Brookfield and New Fairfield last month, he can say with certainty that Connecticut has a strong case for federal aid.  Blumenthal remains in touch with local, state and federal leaders about the state’s request.

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Brewster man pleads guilty to stabbing cab driver

A Brewster man accused of stabbing a cab driver in February has pleaded guilty to attempted assault.  Manuel Estabon entered a taxi early on February 11th and asked to be taken to a Brewster restaurant.  As they were travelling along Route 22, Estabon allegedly leaned over from the back seat and began to slash at the cab driver’s neck with a knife.   The victim sustained non-life threatening injuries.  Estabon will be sentenced on August 1st and faces 5 years in prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release.  There is an ICE detainer for Estabon, who will be deported following his prison sentence.

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Newtown man sentenced for sexually abusing children

A Newtown man has been sentenced for sexually abusing  children.  73-year old Richard Saunders was ordered to serve 6 years in prison.  He pleaded guilty to 7 charges of risk of injury and sexual assault of 4 children over three years.  The Newstimes reports that Saunders was helping to care for the children while a family member was undergoing life-threatening medical procedures.  The judge reportedly said that Saunders should not get credit for coming forward immediately after being caught, because he only admitted what happened after being caught.

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Additional funding granted to NY for paving of Route 6

Additional funding has been awarded to Putnam County for road repairs along Route 6.  An extra $1.7 million from the New York Department of Transportation will be used to repair and resurface the area of Route 6 from the Putnam Trailway hub, to the intersection of Route 301 in Carmel.  The previous section funded was from Reed Memorial Library to Route 312 in Southeast.  The additional money was announced after Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell met with the regional director of the New York DOT.  The monies are part of more than 100 million dollars in state funding to repave and enhance roadways impacted by the harsh weather this past winter.

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Unlicensed driver gets DWI in Southeast

A Danbury man has been arrested for driving while intoxicated.  35-year old Carlos Agosto-Mendez was pulled over for a traffic violation Saturday night on Route 6 in Southeast. Agosto-Mendez failed field sobriety tests.  A Putnam County Sheriff Deputy found several empty beer bottles in the vehicle.  An investigation revealed that Agosto-Mendez was driving with a suspended license.  He was charged with DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation and several traffic infractions. He was held for arraignment in Southeast Town Court.

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Danbury willed 25 acres near Bear Mountain Reserve

Danbury has been willed a property near the Bear Mountain Reserve.  Mayor Mark Boughton says he met quarterly with the land owner over the last 15 years.  The 25 acres includes a house and a barn. Boughton says the City is still vetting through the details, but touted the future bequest.

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Public hearing tonight in Ridgefield on open space land donation

Donation of half an acre of open space land in Ridgefield is up for a public hearing tonight. 

 

The wetlands parcel off Lakeside Drive borders nearly 6 acres of town-owned open space.  The Planning and Zoning Commission and the Conservation Commission both have recommended  accepting the land. 

 

It's assessed at about $140,000, but there's about $40,000 in outstanding taxes and interest owed.  If the land is accepted, it will become tax exempt.  According to the Ridgefield Press, the owner's daughter said Orlando Romero stopped paying taxes in 2009 after offering the land as a donation and believed that he no longer owned it.

 

Tonight's hearing is at 7:30pm at Ridgefield Town Hall.  A town meeting will then be scheduled for June 20th at 7:30pm.  

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New Fairfield brush drop off center nearing capacity

While the New Fairfield Drop Off Center will continue to accept brush from storm damage at no charge through Saturday, the facility is nearing capacity for storage.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says they have to keep the brush piles in tact until they have been inspected by FEMA.  The Drop Off Center will no longer be accepting large volume of brush.  Town officials are reaching out to contractors about doing roadside pick up, but the process has to be done within federal procurement guidelines in order to be eligible for FEMA reimbursement, if aid becomes available.  

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Milling and paving started on Route 6 in Putnam County

The milling and repaving of Route 6 in Carmel have begun.  The first phase will repair Route 6 from Reed Library to Route 312.  The second phase will repair Route 6 at Willow Road to Route 52 at Route 301. The work will be done in sections, with the first phase expected to take two to three weeks to complete.  The second phase of the repaving project is expected to begin in the late summer or early fall.  Brewster officials are cautioning drivers to be prepared for some traffic inconveniences, loud noises, dust and dirt.

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UNIT levies daily fine against owner of blighted Danbury property

A Danbury property owner is facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines for having a blighted property. The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team provided an update to the City Council last night about the neglected and vacant home on Park Avenue. 

 

UNIT says the foreclosure process on number 96 has not yet started, but the homeowner has moved out of state.  UNIT discussed several blight issues with the property owner, but there have been minimal improvements.  Daily fines of $100 per day are now accruing, and a fine of $25,200 has been assessed. 

 

UNIT is looking to get that amount placed on the property as a lien.  Any unpaid lien can lead to the City taking possession of the property.

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Clean Start Program participants clean up bulky debris from around Danbury

Members of the Danbury Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team have cleaned up several areas of the City which were overrun with litter and illegally dumped bulky debris.  Volunteers who needed community service hours along with participants in the Clean Start Program cleaned up construction debris on a hill side on Mill Plain Road, and dozens of bags of litter on Newtown Road, Lake Avenue and the Broad Street cul de sac.

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Redding budget rejected by 4 votes

There were just 4 more votes in opposition to the Redding budget than supported the plan.  The $14.7 million dollar municipal portion and  $21.2 million for the Redding Board of Education was already revised down once, but still represented a 2.31 percent tax increase.  Health insurance cost savings of $50,000 covered most of the previous cuts.  The Region 9 school budget passed on the second try in Redding and Easton.

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Two arrested after muti-town police pursuit

A multi-town police pursuit has ended with a teen and a Waterbury man under arrest.  State Police and the Gang Task Force learned Monday that there was a car in Bridgeport with members of the violent North End group in it.  The vehicle was located and pursued to Trumbull, Monroe, and Newtown.  Newtown and Bridgeport Police lost sight of the driver. 
 
State Police later located the vehicle on I-84 near exit 14 in Southbury and pursued the car onto Route 8.  The occupants then fled on foot.  A loaded firearm was found in the vehicle. 
 
 
22-year old Kenneth Jones kicked in the door of an occupied home and tried to hide from police.  
 
The 17 year old Bridgeport teen had recently been arrested on a firearm related charge and released to his mother Monday. 
 
Jones was held on $250,000 bond.  Jones was charged with home invasion, criminal mischief, burglary, breach of peace, interfering, criminal trespass, engaging police in a pursuit, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, weapons in a motor vehicle, possession of a pistol without a permit, possession of high-capacity magazines, evading responsibility, operating without a license, operating under suspension and risk of injury to a minor.

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NY man arrested for allegedly reporting items stolen, then selling the merchandise

A New York man has been arrested for allegedly stealing lawn equipment.  New York State Police say 28-year old Ryan Sanabria of Southeast reported the theft in October and the delivery company paid him for a total loss.  Months later, the stolen items were found listed for sale online.  An investigation determined that Sanabria was selling the $2,400 worth of items he had reported as stolen.  He was charged June 1st with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and falsely reporting an incident.  Sanabria was ordered to appear in court tomorrow.

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New Milford budget rejected again

The New Milford tax and spending plan will go back to the Town Council for further revisions.  During yesterday's referendum, residents narrowly voted for the municipal funding, but rejected the school plan.  That sent the $101.5 million package back to the drawing board.  Mayor Pete Bass will be calling a special Town Council meeting tomorrow at 6:30pm.  When the budget failed the first time, the Town Council decided to leave school spending in tact, in part because the state budget ended up including more funding than anticipated.  Some Council members were concerned that the state aid could still be revoked.

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Region 12 school budget approved

The Region 12 school budget was approved.  While Roxbury residents rejected the $21.8 million plan, more residents in Washington and Bridgewater voted in favor of the proposal.  The plan includes a nearly 2-percent increase in spending, but was lowered from the original failed proposal.  An administrative position will be eliminated and the salary of the next superintendent will be about $15,000 less.  Megan Bennett replaces Pat Cosentino next month.  

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Brookfield meetings on capital items, school projects, storm recovery

A Special Board of Selectmen meeting is being held in Brookfield tonight about funding for storm clean up.  Residents are asked to sign off on $1.2 million for the effort.  Brookfield is applying for FEMA aid, but a federal disaster declaration has not yet been made.  Town officials have estimated that there was $3.8 million in damage to roads and public spaces.  
 
Another item on the agenda is the capital budget, which failed on the day of the storm and was not voted on during the second referendum.  The proposal was narrowly rejected last month. 
 
Tonight's meeting is at 7pm.
 
The Brookfield schools Strategic Facilities Committee is looking for community feedback about renovation or building a new school.  The group says changing town demographics and aging facilities has district officials examining the cost and benefits. The Committee is looking for feedback about priorities, design, and renovation or rebuilding.  The  public forum is Thursday at 7pm in the Brookfield High School auditorium.  Various school project options will be detailed.  
 
Several repair and renovation projects were completed during the district's April vacation, including the demolition and removal of the vacant portables at Huckleberry Hill Elementary, replacement of the gymnasium windows at Center Elementary School, and relining of water tanks at Huckleberry Hill and Whisconier Middle School. 

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Danbury ordered to rehire police officer

Danbury has been ordered to rehire another police officer.  Daniel Sellner was fire three years ago on accusations of using excessive force on a teen during an arrest.  The state's arbitration board issued the ruling this week. 

 

The board previously ruled that Danbury should have only suspended Officer Chris Belair and not fired him for berating a motorist during a traffic stop. 

 

In Sellner's case, there was a video of a youth, in handcuffs, falling on the sidewalk--but the city said Sellner pushed him--motivated by the youth trespassing at the skate park and spitting on a police car years earlier. 

 

Danbury will likely appeal the decision, claiming Sellner has a history of excessive behavior, citing the rough handling of a man in a holding cell, threatening a motorist at a gas station and misusing a taser on a motorist.

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Danbury continues to tackle pothole filling

Spring driving is often difficult in New England because of potholes.  The annual nuisance hit the Greater Danbury area hard this year.  Danbury Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola was asked by the City Council what's being done to  tackle the problem.  He says the department tried out the material the state DOT uses for pothole patching, and eventually settled on the company with a machine called the Pothole Killer.  Iadarola says the polymer they use seems to be the best at dealing with freezing and thawing, which causes potholes. 
 
He added that the City has allocated more money each year for patching, but it's hard to keep up with a winter like the one that just happened. 
 
Danbury officials investigated purchasing a Pothole Killer-type vehicle last year, but it was too expensive.  He also challenged Council members to drive through other major cities like Waterbury, which he says is far worse than Danbury. 
 
Some 8.8 miles of Danbury roadway was paved last year, with more being done in-house.  The City bought paving equipment two years ago and continues to train employees.  The Department also bought trucks to haul asphalt, making for a more efficient program.

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Putnam County K9 receives body armor

Putnam County Sheriff Department K9 Lex has received a bullet and stab protective vest.  A charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s is providing the potentially lifesaving body armor.  It was sponsored by a Girl Scout Troop in New Hampshire.  Lex is the Police dog of handler Deputy Vincent Dalo.  Vested Interest has provided over 2,700 protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of over $2.3 million.
 

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Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company postponrd Annual Fund Drive Campaign

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is postponing their Annual Fund Drive Campaign from this coming Sunday and Monday, to the fall.  It will be held September 16th and 17th.  Department leaders says after a grueling few weeks of storm cleanup, emergency responses, and assisting members and neighbors with disaster needs, they need time to rest and recover. 

 

The clean up effort is continuing in Brookfield. 

 

The firefighters have thanked residents for their support and generosity during the macroburst. 

 

Chief Wayne Gravius and President Paul Corsak say the storm initiated the largest single-event emergency response in Connecticut’s history.  68 Brookfield fire and EMS volunteers and 74  Connecticut Fire Departments responded to an unprecedented number calls for emergency assistance.  Brookfield volunteers logged 2,934 hours in response.

 

 

Brookfield strong shirts have been created as a fundraiser to help members who suffered losses to their homes and properties.  The shirts are $20 and all proceeds go to benefit the Department.  Requests can be sent to Brookfieldstrong@gmail.com.

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Two Brookfield finance department members quit over 'hostile work environment'

Two Brookfield finance department employees have quit amid claims of a hostile work environment created by Controller Kimberly Siegrist.  The Newstimes obtained details through a Freedom of Information request about the situation involving Senior Accountant Dayna Weiss and accounting clerk Savanah Gallipoli.  Weiss was reportedly disciplined for failing to reconcile bank accounts properly and then resigned. 
 
In her letter to town officials, Weiss said Siegrist tried to prevent her from going to doctor’s appointments when she was pregnant, released her personal medical information and sent contradictory instructions by email and then disciplined her for not completing tasks.
 
First Selectman Steve Dunn said in the published report that the Board of Ethics could investigate Weiss’ claims, but that he had not been contacted by the board. 
 
Gallipoli quit a week before Weiss, saying the stress level was affecting her health.

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Roundabout proposed in Wilton

The Department of Transportation is hosting a public information meeting tonight in Wilton about a proposal to improve safety and on Route 106 at Belden Hill Road.  The concept calls for replacing the existing all-way stop with a roundabout, and widening of the roadway at the four approaches.  A design presentation followed by a question and answer session will be held at 7pm at the Trackside Teen Center.  Plans of the proposed project will be on display for public review, and are also available at Wilton Town Hall in the Town Clerk’s Office.

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Bethel Police to hold car seat clinic

The Bethel Police Department will be holding a Car Seat Clinic on Sunday.  The department has 4 Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians.  They will work with parents and caregivers to ensure car seats are installed and used properly.  The Clinic will be held, by appointment only, at the Stony Hill Fire Department.

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Bethel Board of Ed to vote on school calendar changes

The Bethel School District has revised their calendar to include two make up days for those lost during the severe weather last month.  The Bethel Board of Education will review the calendar at their meeting Wednesday, but the plan calls for early dismissal on June 25th and  26th.  The half days were proposed due to the concern of heat in the schools.

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Man with mic stand causes false alarm of gunman on campus

A man with a microphone stand was mistaken for a gunman yesterday at West Conn.  A woman called 911 and a "shelter in place" alert was sent out.  Danbury Public Schools were placed on lock down as a precaution while police searched the midtown campus.  
 
A man was taken into custody and questioned, leading to the university alert being lifted.  When it was discovered that the man didn't have a weapon, a second alert was issued.  University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says they do practice for various scenarios, but when they happen in real life there are circumstances that aren't planned for.  He says they try to put out the best message at the time.
 
Danbury Police, State Troopers and university Police searched floor by floor but did not locate another suspect or a weapon.  Police also conducted a rooftop search with a drone.
 
Officials say it's plausible that the mic stand could have looked like a long gun, depending on how it was carried.
 
Steinmetz noted that not only was summer session underway, but there were also Henry Abbott Tech High School students in White Hall.

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Conn. requests FEMA assessment of storm damaged counties

A formal request has been sent to FEMA, asking that the agency conduct a joint Preliminary Damage Assessment in counties impacted by the May 15th storms.  
 
Connecticut wants FEMA to start that work in Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven counties the week of June 11.
 
Hard-hit towns including Brookfield, New Fairfield, Newtown, Danbury, Oxford, and Southbury are still trying to clear up.  
 
Eversource crews cleared more than 425 roads blocked by trees tangled with power lines, replaced more than 1,800 broken poles and installed nearly 300 miles of downed lines.  In some places like Candlewood Isle, the utility had to do a complete rebuild of their system, not just a big repair job.

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Kent School thanks community for efforts during January ice jam emergency

The Kent School invited state Representative Brian Ohler to their Prize Day graduation ceremony this weekend.  He was invited to accept thanks from the Kent School Community on behalf of the town’s and state’s collective efforts during the Ice Jam State of Emergency back in January.  Ohler served as part of the Incident Command Team.  Kent School was evacuated for 10 days due to flooding.  The waters from the Housatonic River later froze and encapsulated campus buildings and vehicles in ice.

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Ribbon cut on solar farm in Bethel

A ribbon was cut Friday for the Sympaug Solar Farm in Bethel. The 2,900-panel, 948-kilowatt array is expected to generate about a  million kilowatts of energy a year for Bethel.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says Bethel taxpayers have no financial liability for this installation, which is owned and operated by Ameresco.  The company will maintain the facility and all of the energy generated will be used to power town buildings and operation.

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New Milford residents voting on a budget today

New Milford residents are voting for the second time on a budget proposal for the coming fiscal year.  The Town Council reduced the municipal portion of the tax and spending plan, keeping the education funding in tact.  $492,000 from the unassigned fund will be used for tax relief.  The new proposed budget will raise taxes 2.6 percent, down from a proposed 3.87 percent tax rate hike. 

 

New Milford was awarded $1.5 million more than anticipated in state aid for the schools. 

 

The Fire Department Capital budget was reduced by $ 25,000, the Sullivan Farm expense for the Youth Agency was dropped by $20,000 and $40,000 was cut from the New Milford VNA.  Youth Agency materials and supply line item was cut by $2,500 while the Maxx self sustaining line was reduced $10,000.

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Region 12 school budget up for a vote

The Region 12 school budget goes back to voters in Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington today.  The budget was revised downward by about $165,000 to $21.8 million.  The proposed plan is nearly 2-percent higher than current spending.  Residents in Bridgewater and Washington approved the first budget, but more Roxbury residents voted in opposition causing the plan to fail by about 30 ballots.  The main drivers of school budgets across the region are health insurance premiums, special education funding and personnel,  coupled with a decline in state aid.

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Redding residents to vote on budget today

Redding residents will be voting on a revised budget today.  The proposal calls for $49.36 million for the municipality and schools.  Residents will also be asked to sign off on the $24.2 million Region 9 school budget.  Redding's share is about $ 13-million.  Easton's share of the budget is $10.8  million.  Even though Easton residents approved their local budget on the first vote, there were more votes in opposition when combined with Redding.

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No weapon found after caller spotted what looked like a man with a rifle at WCSU

The shelter in place order at Western Connecticut State University's midtown campus has been lifted.  The all clear was given about two hours after a woman called 911 reporting that she saw a man with a rifle enter White Hall.  No weapon was found.  

 

A man was taken into custody, but he did not have a rifle.  The man was carrying a microphone stand. The person who called 911 told police that the man was not the suspect spotted. 

 

Danbury public schools were placed on lock down as a precaution while Police investigated. Danbury Police, State Troopers and WCSU Police searched floor by floor.  

 
Mayor Mark Boughton says Police also conducted a rooftop search with a drone.

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UPDATE: Danbury schools on lockdown as Police search for possible man with gun at WCSU

Danbury schools are in lockdown as a safety precaution as police search Western Connecticut State University's midtown campus.  A woman called 911 shortly before noon reporting that she saw a man with a rifle enter White Hall.  There is a shelter in place order for WCSU students.  Police are investigating and searching floor by floor.  

 
A man was taken into custody, but not found with a weapon. The person who called 911 told police that the man in custody was not the suspect they had seen. 
 
Mayor Mark Boughton says Police are conducting a rooftop search with a drone.  State Police Troopers are also on scene.

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Two men charged in sex trafficking ring due in court this week

Two men charged in a Danbury-based sex trafficking ring will be in court this week, and a third man charged in the case is expected to testify against them.  73-year old William Trefzger was sentenced Friday to one year in prison for patronizing a trafficked person.  He's been detained since his arrest and will only serve about two more months in prison.  The plea deal called for a 10-year prison sentence suspended after one year served, followed by probation.  He must register as a sex offender and cannot have unsupervised contact with minors, including his grandchildren. Robert King was allegedly the ring leader.  Bruce Bemer rejected an offered plea deal.

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Two people injured in bear-motorcycle run in

A motorcyclist crashed in the Town of Washington because of a bear.  62-year old Paul Padua of Norfolk was travelling along Route 202 when the bear ran in front of him.  He and a passenger, 53-year old Theresa Kochiss-Padua sustained minor injuries and were transported to Danbury Hospital.  State Police did not say if the bear was injured.  The motorcycle had to be towed from the scene.

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New Milford Mayor addresses tall grass concern at Pettibone

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is addressing concerns with the grass at the former Pettibone School not being mowed.  The Fields are to be mowed weekly, but Memorial Day put the schedule behind by a day. Then, he says the big mower broke down, requiring a new part.  The mower was fixed by Friday morning.  Parks and Rec officials say the grass at Pettibone will be mowed today and they will be back on their regular schedule.

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ACE gets a new principal

The Alternative Center for Excellence in Danbury is getting a new principal.  John Webber will begin in the role starting July 1st. Webber began his 14-year teaching career as a biology teacher at ACE, and was the District’s Teacher of the Year for the 2016-17 school year. Webber is a Danbury High School graduate who earned his bachelor degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a master’s degree from the University of Bridgeport, and a sixth-year degree in Education Administration from Sacred Heart University.

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Police investigating report of man with rifle on WCSU's midtown campus

A building on Western Connecticut State University's midtown campus in Danbury is on lockdown.  There was an unconfirmed report of a man with a rifle entering White Hall shortly before noon today.  Police are investigating and searching floor by floor.  A man was taken into custody, but not found with a weapon. The person who called 911 told police that the man in custody was not the suspect they had seen. 

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Danbury Library opens renovated parking lot

An overhaul of the Danbury Library parking lot is complete. There are now more spaces and an improved traffic flow.  Library Director Katie Pearson says the work will not only allow more patrons to park at the facility, but to get around in a safer way. 

 

There is now only a single entrance from Bank Street into the parking lot.  The old parking configuration featured three entrances; one for the Book Drop and staff parking, one for main parking, and a third for overflow patron parking with the second half of that lot reserved for staff.

 

There are still some finishing touches left to do like planting trees and putting up signs, but the lot is open and available for use.  The outside book drops have not been moved back to the parking lot and remain on the front plaza.  

 

(Photo: Danbury Library)

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Danbury man killed by pickup truck in NY

A Danbury man was killed in New York Friday night.  New York State Police Troopers responded to a report of a man pinned under a vehicle on Route 22 in Pawling.  58-year old James Roberts of Danbury was found trapped under a pickup truck.  Pawling Fire Department removed the vehicle, but Roberts was pronounced dead at the scene.  The incident remains under investigation, but Police say there are no signs of criminal or foul play.

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New Fairfield town marina sustained more damage than anticipated

Divers were at the town marina in New Fairfield last week to assess the impact of the macroburst and found that the storm caused more damage than anticipated.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says they have to replace the concrete block anchors and some chains, as well as weld broken docks and catwalks.  Due to the widespread storm damage on Candlewood Lake, she says they have been unable to contract with local marinas to make the extensive repairs.  A qualified company, equipped with a crane, will begin work this week.

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Man who tried to kill wife pleads guilty to killing daughter

A Brazilian citizen who used to live in Danbury has pleaded guilty to killing his daughter and has been sentenced to life in prison.  Walter DaSilva admitted Friday to killing Sabrina DaSilva in July 2016.  The slaying came more than a decade after he served time for trying to kill her mother in Massachusetts. DaSilva was deported in 1999 and again in 2012. Prosecutors say the 47-year old was upset his daughter was dating an older man and she didn’t visit him where he lived in Danbury on Father’s Day. DaSilva will be eligible for parole after 25 years. 

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Veteran Walkway of Honor in Danbury to only accept additions once more

A walkway created in 2013 to honor local veterans will only be accepting new additions one more time.  The Veteran Walkway of Honor in made up of more than 500 bricks engraved with the names and military branches of local veterans or of residents’ family members who have served. 
 
Organizer Lee Teicholz says sales have declined over the years and it's no longer  a cost-effective fundraiser for the Danbury War Memorial.  The deadline to order bricks will be October 8th and orders can be placed online at veteranswalkwayofhonor.org.
 
Bricks can be purchased for $75 by anyone interested in honoring a veteran, whether they live in the city or not. A larger 8-inch-square brick is available for $150 and logos can be added for an additional $25.

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New Milford Officer injured during altercation with juvenile suspect

A New Milford Police Officer was injured this weekend during an altercation with a suspect.  Police say a juvenile involved in an incident Saturday night was being chased by the officer near the railroad station Sunday morning when the struggle ensued.  The officer suffered moderate injuries, but was released from the hospital in the afternoon.  The 17-year old was caught and is in custody.  The investigation is ongoing and no other details have been released.

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New Fairfield schools to make second request for state waiver

New Fairfield officials are making their case again to state education officials about getting a waiver from the 180-day school rule.  The schools were closed for five days last month because of the macroburst, but the state Board of Education rejected the request.  The district could technically get to the 180 day of classes minimum mandate by holding classes through June 29th. 
 
The local Board of Ed voted to go back to the state saying that by ending on June 22nd, they wouldn't ad undue stress on families still recovering from the storm.  New Fairfield Board of Education Chair Peggy Katkocin will make the case in person on Wednesday. 
 
Danbury and Ridgefield will be one day short despite holding classes until June 29th.  Three Danbury schools will be two days short due to missed classes following a water main break.  The state Board of Ed will consider their waiver requests at the Wednesday meeting.

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