Local Headlines Archives for 2018-10

Local police, fire departments to welcome trick-or-treaters tonight

The Danbury Police Department is hosting a Trick or Treat event at the police station on Main Street.  Danbury PAL and the Police Explorers will also be on the plaza in front of the station tonight, starting at 4pm. 

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department will be once again hosting their traditional Halloween apple cider and donuts at the firehouse tonight from 5 to 9pm.  Firefighters say they look forward to seeing all the kids in their costumes. 

The Bethel Police Department, now located at 12 Judd Avenue, is welcoming Trick-or-Treaters for Halloween tonight. The Department will be giving out candy to visitors between 5 and 8PM.

Kent firefighters are reminding Trick or Treaters to stay safe this Halloween by crossing the street using traffic signals and crosswalks, and always make eye contact with drivers before crossing.  They also asked that pedestrians keep heads up and cell phones down.  The Kent Lions Club has once again purchased glow-in-the-dark necklaces to be distributed free of charge for trick or treating tonight.  Staff from the Parks and Rec Department and the Resident State Trooper will be handing them out to families from 5 to 7pm, while supplies last, on North Main Street, next to Kent Library

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Hearing in Brookfield on proposed assisted living facility

There's a public hearing in Brookfield tonight on a proposed 115-unit assisted living facility on Federal Road. Washington State-based Columbia Pacific Advisors is submitting an application for the three-story building with 89 assisted living units and 26 memory care units.  Tonight's meeting is at 7pm in Room 133 of Brookfield Town Hall.

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New Milford Mayor updates status of road projects

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass has provided two road project updates.  Milling work on Squire Hill will begin on the parts of the road with heavy potholes getting an overlay put on for winter safety.  Work on the Pickett District railroad crossing, with Housatonic Railroad, began this week. Tentative Completion is set for the end of this week, weather permitting.

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DHS Robotics team competes in first meet of the season

The Danbury High School Robotics Team competed in its first competition of the season over the weekend with six robots.  The team took home the Judge’s award based on comments from adult volunteers, judge and referees who noted positive behavior and special circumstances.  All six robots made it to the elimination rounds at the competition.  The Danbury team has 45 members.  They will host the fifth annual Connecticut Vex Robotics tournament at Danbury High School on November 10th.

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New Milford State Rep. race features two men with a focus on the environment

New Milford Republican state Representative Bill Buckbee, who is seeking a second term in office, is being challenged by Democrat Tom O’Brien.  O’Brien thinks Hartford is ignoring the needs of Western Connecticut, but sees tremendous potential for the ‘gateway to the Litchfield Hills’.  He’s been volunteering on quality of life, environment, historic preservation and transportation.  He’s also been working to revived a long a long-forgotten idea of creating a Greenway Trail along the Housatonic River called the New Milford River Trail.  O’Brien wants to stop the population departure because of the cost of living.

If elected to another term, Buckbee says he wants to protect children, seniors, veterans and those who can’t take care of themselves.  He says spending everywhere else needs to be on the table.  Buckbee says Connecticut doesn’t have a revenue problem, the state has a spending problem.

Buckbee notes that a priority remains bringing passenger rail service back to New Milford.  The last time there was trains coming in, was the year he was born.  He says it’s not an easy process, but progress is being made.  Buckbee wants to try to win federal funds to connect Danbury to New Milford and then eventually up through the Berkshires to Massachusetts.  Buckbee says bringing trains back would not only help employees of New Milford Hospital and other employers, but would also bring tourists to the region.  He says that could open up new talent pools.

O’Brien is in favor of restoring passenger rail service to New Milford.  But he says it’s a big cost to upgrade the tracks.  He was critical of the freight rail service in the area, which has seen a few derailments recently.  He favors multi-modal transportation.  O’Brien says there’s a wonderful quality of living, but a shortage of high paying jobs so many people travel long distances.  He’s been working locally on efforts to improve walking and biking, and is on the board of directors of Hart Transit.  He wants to connect people to rail service, by offering ways for people to reach the train station, without having to drive--one person one car and then parking.

Buckbee has talked with colleagues who either represent rural towns or those in the suburbs who don’t have to think about balancing farming, industry and historic issues.  He says New Milford is unique in that there are major employers, agriculture is a driving force and the look of downtown has been preserved.  O’Brien supports smart growth policy.  He doesn’t see agriculture as competing with industrial, but rather competing with housing developments.  He favors plans to encourage more dense downtown housing rather than sprawl.  O’Brien says having more people living downtown, would make downtowns more economically viable.

When it comes to tolling, Buckbee says he would only support tolls if everything else is reduced.  He says it’s tough for business to bring product across the state.  If toll legislation also including elimination of the gas tax and reduced other taxes he would consider it.  But Buckbee says they can’t hit people from all sides.  He was also critical of the legislation creating the transportation funding lockbox, saying it’s not something that can be controlled.  One toll plan publicized this Spring included 25 tolls between the New York line and New Haven, which he called ludicrous and a cash grab.

O’Brien says Connecticut needs to consider it.  Though he called it a regressive tax, he says tolling should be done in a way that gives a significant break to Connecticut residents.  Because the state raided the special transportation fund for so long, he believes some sort of change needs to be made. 

As for legalizing recreational marijuana, O'Brien favors it and says it could be a funding source.  Buckbee doesn’t want it to be a cash grab.  He’s not opposed to legalization as long as it’s done properly.  He’s talked with members of law enforcement, constituents and others to get their views on how to approach it responsibly.  Buckbee wants to look into the structures set up by Colorado, Massachusetts and elsewhere.

Candlewood Lake is a resource for the entire region and O’Brien says it's not appreciated as much as it should be.  He notes that the milfoil problem is improving, but the algae problem is getting worse.  He says that’s due in part to runoff.  O’Brien would like to see more stringent regulations on phosphates and fertilizer.  Buckbee has been working to get more funding for Candlewood Lake water quality protection.  He says more needs to be done for Lillinonah, which has the same invasives problems but can’t stock sterile grass carp.

The education cost sharing formula remains something he would like to reform.  Last year, there were last-minute cuts that tied the hands of local officials.  Buckbee says a formula needs to be fair and equitable for every town across the state.  O’Brien talked about school funding from the standpoint of local property taxes.  He called the income tax the only progressive tax in the state.  He favors keeping the income tax and trying to reduce property taxes by helping municipalities.  O’Brien says the idea that in 2018 Connecticut is still funding education based on local property taxes, the quality of education based on zip code, is wrong.

Buckbee proposed a bill for business growth last year, and plans to reintroduce it again if elected.  It would give an incentive for any new full-time hires.  Any business who has a full time employee who’s there for at least one year, would receive 10-percent of that employee’s salary back in a tax credit.  Buckbee says that would help businesses big and small.  The legislation would have gone up to 12.5 percent if that employee was off the unemployment list or a veteran.  It failed to make it out of committee last year, but wants to try again.

O’Brien has mixed feelings on sports betting.  Since many people already bet on sports, O’Brien is in favor of legalizing sports betting.  But he says another casino would be a mistake.  He doesn’t want state revenue to depend too much on gambling because it’s a regressive tax.  While not morally against it, he doesn’t want to subsidize the budget through gambling.

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Newtown Police clarify lack of political endorsements after misleading photo in candidate Facebook post

There was a dust up in Newtown over a political endorsement posted to Facebook.  Newtown Police say the photo used by a local candidate mistakenly represented a department officer in the referenced endorsement by the Police Association of CT.  Republican state House incumbent Mitch Bolinsky did receive the endorsement from POACT, a law enforcement legislative advocacy group. While Newtown Police say they appreciate those that work on behalf of law enforcement officers, the Newtown Police Department does not, and cannot, endorse any specific politician or political party.  The photo in the post about the POACT endorsement is now just of Bolinsky.  According to the Police Officers Association of CT's website, their membership includes unions from large cities as well as small towns including Newtown's police union.

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Stony Hill firefighters put out car fire on side of highway

There was a car fire yesterday in Bethel during the start of the evening commute.  Stony Hill Firefighters were dispatched at the request of State Police to I-84 East between exits 8 and 9.  The car was off the left shoulder and had a fully involved engine compartment.  The fire was quickly knocked down and all lanes were reopened once the vehicle was towed away, about 30 minutes after firefighters arrived.  There were no injuries.

(Video: SHVF Facebook)

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Official: No plans to fight release of shooter's writings

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut officials have no plans to appeal a court order to release disturbing writings and other belongings of the Newtown school shooter to the public.

The state attorney general's office released a statement Tuesday saying "no appeal is anticipated" of last week's ruling by the state Supreme Court. But it remains unclear when the documents will be released because the case must return briefly to a lower court.

The court case arose when state police rejected requests from The Hartford Courant and other media organizations for documents seized from Lanza's home including violent stories he wrote.


The gunman's motives remain a mystery. Experts say the documents may help shed light on his thinking.

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Newtown planners reject drive-thrus at eateries

The Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission has rejected a revised proposal to allow drive-through window service at eateries located in shopping centers. There were 4 public hearings on the idea, based on regulations approved in 2016 for Starbucks off Exit 10.  The proposal would have required the shopping centers be on lots at least 10 acres, and not be put in at stand alone structures. Only two drive-thrus would have been allowed per shopping center.

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New Milford Police seek help identifying shoplifting suspects

New Milford Police are asking for the public's help in identifying several shoplifting suspects.  Police say Big Y has been hit for energy drinks several times over the last few weeks. Four individuals were caught on surveillance video.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Lima at 860-355-3133.

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NY Police to step up patrols for Halloween

The New York State Police and local law enforcement will increase patrols to crack down on impaired driving and underage drinking through Halloween.  The enforcement campaign runs through November 1st and is funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.  Troopers will be using both marked and unmarked cars as part of this crackdown in order to more easily identify motorists who are violating the law.  During last year’s initiative, State Police say there were 1,593 accidents, more than 226 of which resulted in someone being injured. One person was killed.  Troopers also arrested 248 people for DWI and issued more than 9, 057 tickets for speeding, distracted driving and other traffic violations.

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Kiwanis Club to erect Field of Valor in New Milford

Veteran’s Day is coming up and the Kiwanis Club Foundation of Greater Danbury will create the Field of Valor at the New Milford Historical Society and the town Green. The display will include least 300 full size American flags and will be on display from November 3rd through December 8th.  The Kiwanis Club is looking for sponsors of flags to honor veterans or active duty service men and women.  The Honoree and sponsor name will be displayed on a yellow ribbon with each flag.  All proceeds support the efforts and the programs of the non-profit volunteer organization.

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Danbury misses out in grant competition to create more daycare slots

Danbury was not the big prize winner this week in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2018 Mayor’s Challenge. The City was previously named a Champion City and presented with $100,000 seed money to create 180 affordable childcare slots by establishing 60 family childcare centers.  

9 pilot program participants have or are submitting applications for state review for home day care licenses creating 84 new daycare slots, according to the Newstimes.

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

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Newtown officials take part in intergovernmental conference in DC

A couple of Newtown officials were invited to Washington DC last week to take part in an Intergovernmental Affairs informational conference.   The Newtown Bee reports that First Selectman Dan Rosenthal and Police Chief James Viadero took part in the event focused on improving the federal-local relationship and to advance shared priorities.  The event came near the end of a two-year initiative to host county commissioners and municipal officials from across the country.  Among the administration officials in attendance were Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, representatives from the Department of Housing, Education, Energy and Veteran Affairs.

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State launches Operation ELF to support National Guard families

110 Connecticut National Guardsmen are currently serving overseas and another 170 are preparing to deploy.  Officials have kicked off the 17th annual Operation ELF, Embracing Lonely Families to support Guard families during deployment. 

Donations of gift cards for grocery and department/home goods stores, pharmacies, and gas stations help support military families throughout the year.  Donations of fuel oil, snow removal, and home maintenance services are also needed, and new, unwrapped toys for young people of all ages are welcome.  In 2017, Operation ELF distributed nearly $10,000 in gift cards to military families in need. 

Donations may be dropped off through December 10th, between 8am and 4pm at the Armed Forces Reserve Center on Wooster Heights Road in Danbury. 

Within ELF is the Adopt-A-Family program, to help meet basic needs in order to have a fulfilling holiday season.  The name of the family is never revealed but a summary of the family’s demographics and wish list are provided. 

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Rematch of 2016 race in Danbury's 109th state House district race

Democratic State Representative David Arconti is seeking another term in office representing Danbury.  Republican Veasna Rouen is running against him in the 109th state House district, a rematch of the 2016 race. 

Arconti says there was a lot that got done in the short session.  He touted a bipartisan state budget, increasing the rainy day fund and restoring education funding for the City.  He co-wrote legislation with GOP members of the delegation in order to get higher reimbursement for school construction at the STEM Academy.  He says that will help save taxpayers money in the long term.  He wrote a section on the state energy bill to increase the RFP percentage from 4 to 6, allowing more bids.  Danbury-based FuelCell was awarded some of those projects, adding new employees.

Rouen was born in Cambodia and has lived in Danbury since 1982.  He served 10 years in the Army National Guard.  Rouen served in Bosnia after 9/11 and did combat operations in Afghanistan in 2006-07.  He then got a degree from WCSU in pre-law.  He has worked in labor and economic development at the state level.  Rouen wants the state to follows Danbury lead and implement some of the government streamlining that the City has implemented.  He says cutting regulations and taxes will make it a less expensive place to do business and more attractive to families.

Arconti supports the transportation funding lockbox.  As for tolls, he is opposed to bringing them back.  Arconti says it will be burdensome on residents.

Rouen opposes tolling.  He says the money for infrastructure is there, but it’s moved into the general fund for use on other projects.  Rouen says vehicle registrations, car property taxes and gas taxes should be sufficient to fund the needed work.   He disagrees with creating a Transportation Authority, noting that it would take the decision making power out of the legislature’s hands.  Rouen caution that that could lead to tolling without legislative approval.

Aid to municipalities is about a quarter of the budget and Arconti believes some more regionalization will need to happen.  Arconti says having regional health departments could help streamline inspections of day care centers, restaurants and the like.  He says some of the back office functions at the state level should be regionalized, especially when it comes to higher education.  Arconti says WCSU has been aggressive in marketing the school to new students, which should help stem the need for tuition hikes.

Rouen is concerned with the Board of Regants for Higher Education, calling it a bureaucracy that’s led to tuition hikes.  He’d like to eliminate the Board and concentrate that funding and resources back to the schools.  He says having the schools make their own decisions will lead to better services for students.

Rouen says he doesn’t have extensive knowledge about the challenges facing Candlewood Lake, but if there’s any way he could help solving issues, he would work toward that goal.

Arconti says Candlewood is facing a number of water quality challenges.  He and other members of the delegation determined that environmental preservation fit the mission of the Community Investment Act, which was created for open space preservation, farmaland preservation and affordable housing.  They defined that set of funds to battle invasive species across the lake.  It got out of committee, but time ran out for action on the measure.  He wants to reintroduce the measure, if reelected.

Rouen is not opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana.  He wants the federal government to change the classification so it’s not in the same class of drug as heroin.  He would like to see age restrictions so that teenagers aren’t allowed to use it.

Arconti wants to have further discussions about legalizing recreational marijuana.  He would be open to it, especially with more neighboring states approving similar measures.  Acronti says having no regulatory environment here could create more problems.  As for sports betting, he says it’s happening already so Connecticut should regulate it.  But he notes that the compact with the tribes makes it more difficult.  They argue that the compact, signed in the 90s, gives them jurisdiction of online betting.  But Arconti says that wasn’t in existence at the time.  He thinks the negotiations between the Governor and the tribes this summer was far too restrictive and didn’t make sense for people in Western Connecticut.  People would have had to go to a physical location like at OTB facility or the eastern Connecticut casinos.  Arconti says by regulating it, sports betting would be taken out of the shadows and be a revenue generator.

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Bethel gets approval from state to bid out school construction projects

Bethel Schools have made it through the approval process with the state Office of School Construction to go out to bid on the planned renovations for Rockwell and Johnson. The last session in the approval process was last week and this keeps the district on the proposed timelines.  On November 13th, school officials will be hosting a parent forum at 7pm  at Johnson School to provide updates on timelines, construction schedules, and environmental abatement.

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Annual boat count conducted by Candlewood Lake Authority

The Candlewood Lake Authority has finished their yearly boat count, which has been conducted since 1978.  This year, the total number of vessels increased to 6,240 from last year’s total of about 5,900.  This is still less than 2015 and 2016, whose totals were 6,251 and more than 6,500 respectively.  There's been a growth in popularity of personal watercrafts like Jetskis and Waverunners  since the 90’s, as well as those that don't require registration like canoes, kayaks, and standing paddleboards.

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Open houses held by Newtown Police in effort to convince residents of need for new space

Open houses have been held at the current Newtown police station and a vacant building eyed for the Newtown Police Department.  The 22,000 square foot building at 191 South Main Street would be converted and expanded under the proposal. An abutting property, with a vacant home, on Pecks Lane would also be purchased. 

The combined parcel would be a little under 12 acres. 

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says he'd  like to shrink the number of town-owned facilities that have to be maintained by selling the old building once police move into the new one.  He says that could help recoup some of the costs of acquiring the land and construction, which is estimated at $14.8 million.  The cost does not include a training facility or shooting range. 

The property owner agreed that if voters don't approve the sale, the town would not be obligated to buy the land.  The site is located in an Industrial  zone. The existing police station is located at 3 Main Street.

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Candlewood Lake Authority reminds residents not to rake leaves into lake

Now that it’s starting to get cold and trees are turning colors, they are also starting to see their leaves falling onto lawns.  The Candlewood Lake Authority is reminding shoreline residents to rake or blow leaves away from the lake and compost them or bag and dispose of them in the garbage.  When leaves get into the water, the CLA says they add unwanted nutrients to the lake that can lead to algae blooms and greater aquatic weed growth near property lines. It can also harm the fish community by pulling important dissolved oxygen that they use out of the water.

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Complaint filed with SEEC in 26th state Senate district race

An election complaint has been filed against Democrat Will Haskell who is running in the 26th state Senate District, which includes Redding, Ridgefield and part of Bethel.  In the complaint, state Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano claims the 22-year old is misusing campaign funds by paying his roommate the equivalent salary of the listed rent on their apartment.  Meanwhile Haskell told Hearst Connecticut Media that his roommate, Jack Lynch, is his campaign manager.   Citizen Election Program funding cannot be used for personal expenses.  The state Election Enforcement Commission is not meeting until after the election, their next meeting is scheduled for the 14th.  Haskell is challenging Republican incumbent Toni Boucher.

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Rally to be held in New Milford in support of library expansion, renovation

New Milford residents will be asked to fund library renovations when they go to the polls next week.  A rally in support of the project is being held on Saturday.  $1 million from the Library Board of Trustees and $6.5 million in bonding would be used to expand and renovate the library.  New Milford is applying for $1 million state grant as well.  The rally on Saturday is being held from 9am to 11am on the Green and will include remarks from the library director and Mayor Pete Bass. Renovations will make the library compliant with ADA laws, add 7,000 square feet and include relocating the children and young adult sections.

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Hartford man jumps out window in Danbury, arrested for drug offenses

A Hartford man has been arrested on drug related charges after fleeing a Danbury home while Detectives were conducting an unrelated investigation.  Danbury Police were at 26 Spring Street attempting to speak with people in the residence when a man broke a front window and jumped out.  

During a foot pursuit, detectives saw the suspect, later identified as 31-year old Jose Ramos, toss a plastic bag in the Auto Zone parking lot.  The plastic bag contained marijuana, cocaine, crack-cocaine, and heroin.  Police found additional bags of cocaine in Ramos’ sweatshirt pocket. 

Ramos was charged with six drug related offenses, including possession with intent to sell, and with interfering with the duties of a police officer.  Danbury Police seized 6 bags of crack-cocaine weighing approximately 12.2g, 8 bags of powder cocaine weighing approximately 36g, 8 bundles of heroin (69 individual glassine folds), 1 bag of marijuana weighing approximately 2.4g and $300 cash.

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League of Women Voters host information session at Danbury Library

The League of Women Voters of Northern Fairfield County will present a program called "Be Ready! Know what to expect when you go to the polls to vote on November 6th" at Danbury Library this weekend.  Whether it's someone's first time voting or someone wanting to learn more about the voting process or the jobs candidates will be doing if elected, members of the League will be on hand to cover those topics and more.  League members will also help people to register to vote. The program at Danbury Library on Monday from 5:45pm to 6:45pm is free of charge.  Registration is requested.  The League will conduct a voter registration drive before the program, from 4pm to 5:30pm.  

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Person of interest identified by State Police in fatal hit & run accident

A person of interest has been identified by State Police as the possible driver of a dump truck involved in a fatal hit and run accident involving a pedestrian last week.  State Police responded to Route 8 in Bridgeport on Thursday night on a report of a 54-year old woman being struck by a truck that left the area.  The truck is registered to Newtown Electric.  The accident remains under investigation.  Anyone with information or who may have seen the pedestrian, vehicle or the accident itself is asked to contact State Police Troop G at 203-696-2500.  The pedestrian was identified as Maria Mendoza-robles.

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3 Bethel Police Department members approved for promotions

Three Bethel Police Department members are being promoted.  Sergeant Heather Burnes is being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and has been named as the Field Operations Commander for the department, placing her in command of patrol operations as well as the Detective Bureau.  Officer Vincent Lajoie is being promoted to the rank of Sergeant, a position he previously held in the Danbury Police Department until his retirement there. Youth Detective Courtney Whaley is also being promoted to the rank of Sergeant and will be returning to patrol operations after some time spent as a School Resource Officer.   All three will be sworn in to their new positions at 6pm on November 1st at the new Police Department Headquarters located at 12 Judd Avenue.

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Candlewood Lake Clean Up touted as a success

The Candlewood Lake Authority is touting the annual Clean Up as a success.  It had been postponed from May because of the macroburst, to earlier this month.  With the assistance of all volunteers and boat captains, the CLA filled an entire 30-yard dumpster with trash and debris pulled out of the lake and shoreline.  The CLA plans to resume doing spring Clean Ups next year.  Whether fishing, boating, or swimming, CLA officials say it’s important to remember to “Leave No Trace” whenever out in nature. 

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Bethel Board of Ed earns statewide recognition

The Bethel Board of Education has earned a leadership distinction from the Connecticut Association of Boards of Ed.  Bethel once again won the CABE Board of Distinction Award – Level II. They are one of only eight Boards in the State to receive the recognition.  Superintendent of Schools Dr Christine Carver thanked the Board for their hard work and dedication to the families and children of Bethel Public Schools.

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Sherman Police investigate money seeking phone scam

A Sherman resident received a phone call from their son's cell phone number early Friday morning and a person on the line said that they kidnapped the son and would harm him if not paid.  The resident was told not to contact police, and disconnected after hearing the resident say they were going to call police.  The Sherman Resident Trooper investigated the incident and found the son at his home, unharmed.  The phone call had been a money seeking scam.  Police are reminding residents not to give out bank account information, credit card numbers or other forms of payment or personal information. 

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New Milford Board of Ed member looks to unseat state Senator in 30th District

Republican state Senator Craig Miner is seeking another term in the 30th District, which includes New Milford and Brookfield.  Democrat David Lawson, a retired teacher who serves on the New Milford Board of Education, is looking to unseat him.  Lawson believes priorities are skewed in Connecticut right now and wants to focus on education.  He says that’s not only the key to today, but to the future.  Lawson would also focus on health and environmental issues if elected.

Miner says the most important thing that got done last session was the budget compromise, signed by the governor.  There were three budgets, all bipartisan, which tried to balance spending while not increasing taxes and preserving municipal aid and social safety nets.  Miner believed two moves by the Governor in the budget process would be punitive.  One was significant cuts in municipal aid.  The other was moving teacher pension costs onto towns.

As a member of the Environment Committee, Miner got a bill passed to remove derelict fishing gear, like lobster traps and nets, from Long Island Sound.  He also touted a bill dealing with residential automatic pesticide misters.  He next wants to address the amount of glass being collected and put in landfills.  Miner says the Save Our Lakes bill that passed should be helpful in monitoring water quality and dealing with invasive species.  He wants to unburden people who live directly around the lake from total responsibility for weed maintenance or other issues like blue green algae.

Lawson says virtually every town in the district has a vital waterway.  He says protecting the quality of those resources is not only important for recreational purposes, but for quality of life.  He backs a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November about public land sales, which would require public notice and a public hearing.  Lawson says there should be better communication among neighboring states when it comes to air quality.  He wants an air quality station in Kent or somewhere nearby to monitor the effects of a soon to be completed natural gas plant in neighboring New York.

Extending rail service to New Milford has been discussed over the years and Lawson says that would alleviate some congestion issues.   But he says a comprehensive plan for the state needs to be examined.  Lawson says quality rail service would be a welcome solution.

Miner says there are members of the New Milford community interested in expanding rail service to northward and beyond.  He says the least amount of controversy exists on expanding from Danbury to New Milford.  Aside from the cost associated with upgrading the rail and how it would be shared by riders, he doesn’t see any property rights or noise issue.  He doesn’t see how fares alone could pay for the upgrades and wants to look into private investment.  Connecting service into Massachusetts, he says some communities are concerned about the speed of trains through their towns.

Tolling is a complicated issue according to Miner.  He says the technology now is better than having a booth, but everything he’s read shows a reduction in federal dollars.  He says to go from Danbury to a community college in Winsted would be in excess of $2,300 a year based on previous proposals.  Miner doesn’t want another toll study and opposes installation.

Lawson called tolls a regressive tax.  He opposes bringing electronic tolling to Connecticut. 

As for sports betting, Lawson says it’s already going on.  He would support regulations and taxing sports betting.  Lawson wants to continue studying legalizing recreational marijuana.  He says public health concerns and the funding raised from taxes are two areas he wants more information about before making a decision.

Miner says sports betting is likely something that will come to Connecticut.  He says there is a camp that doesn’t like gambling at all, and they don’t want an expansion.  But he wants to figure out how to implement regulations.  Miner suggested the Lottery Corporation or the Native American Tribes.  As for recreational marijuana, Miner says more adjacent states have passed legislation for that opportunity.  He says that makes it more difficult to keep it from happening here.  But he is concerned about testing in the case of motor vehicle and employee accidents.  Miner says there is also a concern for people applying for jobs when there is a drug test involved.  He doesn’t want to rush approval and called for changes at the federal level first.

Lawson says educational funding is paramount to local districts.  He says a one-size fits all formula doesn’t work for the state’s 169 towns and would like to come up with a more equitable solution.

Part of the budget package looked at a new education cost sharing formula.  Miner says it also increased the state’s payment rate for students attending vocational agricultural schools by $1,000 per pupil.  A receiving town with 200 students from outside the district saw an increase in payment.  It’s not yet at the level of vo-tech schools or charter schools, but he says it moves the state in that direction.  The ECS formula changes look at wealth, student population and English-as-a-Second Language.  Over the last 125 years, student population hadn’t been considered as important as the previous ECS formula would have required.  There are now some phased-in adjustments. 

Wait times at the DMV are a concern for Lawson.  He says having to take a day off to get business done is counterproductive.  He suggested having mobile DMVs going around the state on weekends to help residents get their transactions done quicker.

On the Public Safety Committee, Miner has continued to work on mental health matters.  He says public safety personnel come under the same requirements of a bill passed years ago saying that if an individual seeks treatment, they are prohibited from owning, possessing or controlling a firearm for up to 6 months.   Miner notes that state police and others have told them that they occasionally must seek treatment, for something going on in their personal life or an alcohol issue, and they have been forced to leave the state for that treatment because there is no such notification requirement.  Miner wants to modify the law to be both helpful for members of the public safety community, while not putting the public at risk.

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Danbury Police investigating purse snatching

Danbury Police are investigating a purse snatching.  An elderly woman was on Center Street, near St. Peter’s Church, last Monday around 7pm when the robbery occurred.  Video surveillance shows that the suspect was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, dark pants, and light colored shoes. The video also shows that there were several people in the area around the time of this robbery.  Any witness is asked to call the Danbury Police Detective Bureau at 203-797-4662.

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DOT meeting in Brookfield on proposed Federal Road improvements

Plans have been proposed by the state DOT for safety improvements in Brookfield along lower Federal Road. 

There will be a Public Information meeting about this project tonight at 7pm in room 133 at Town Hall.  The work would be done from the driveway of BJ's/Kohl’s shopping plaza to the intersection with Route 133/Junction Road.  Four intersection safety improvements will be made, the road will be widened to provide 4-foot shoulders to improve safety for bicyclists and 5-foot sidewalks will be added to accommodate pedestrian traffic along the corridor.   

The state has proposed adding dedicated left-turn lanes into Chick-Fil-A and Shop Rite plaza.  Traffic lights will be added at the intersection of Beverly Drive/Hardscrabble Road and the southern intersection with Old New Milford Road, along with the removal of one of two traffic signals at the northern intersection. 

Designs should be completed in January 2021 with construction expected to begin that summer.  The cost is estimated at $6 million, with 80-percent being paid for with federal funding.  Some right-of-way acquisitions are required with project.

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Ridgefield Police Captain to become Chief

Ridgefield Police Captain Jeff Kreitz will take over for late Chief John Roche, who died after retiring in August.  Major Steve Brown has been leading the department since Roche’s medical leave two months earlier.  Kreitz, the public information officer, leads the Division of Professional Standards and supervises the School Resource Officer Program, DARE, the accreditation process, and crime prevention.

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Redding to offer free LED bulb on Election Day

Redding officials are using a Bright Idea Grant to give residents a free energy efficient LED light bulb on Election Day.  Any residents showing an ID at the Redding Community Center either on the way in or out of the parking lot will receive a bulb between 9am and 5pm.  Residents can also swap up to 4 incandescent bulbs for 4 LEDs.

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Bethel man leaves Youth Commission, RTC over former alt-right ties

A Bethel man has resigned from the Youth Commission and Republican Town Committee after concerns of his one time involvement with an “alt-right” group known for white supremacy and shunning the establishment.  The Newstimes reports that 28-year old J.P. Sheehan left the  alt-right group because of its “abrasive” tactics.  Sheehan said he was just under the wrong impression and then learned from his mistake.  The Republican Town Committee said in a statement that alt-right views do not come close to matching their core values and beliefs.  Republicans plan to recommend a new alternate for the commission and interested residents can contact the committee.

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Newtown Police host open houses at current, proposed headquarters

The Newtown Police Department will hold an open house at both their current facility at 3 Main Street, and at the site of the proposed new Police station, 191 South Main Street.  The open houses will be held at both locations, concurrently, today from 10am to 12pm. 

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DEA prescription drug take back day events hosted by local police

The Southbury Resident Trooper's office and the Drug Enforcement Administration will give the public opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous, expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.  Medications can be brought for disposal to the Southbury Police Department, Resident Trooper's office, on Main Street South SAturday from 9am to 2pm.  It's part of National Drug Take Back Day. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. 

The Northwest Corner Prevention Network in partnership with the Town of Kent and State Police at Troop L and Troop B will host a Community Prescription Drug Take-Back today from 10am to 2pm.  Unwanted, unused or expired prescription drugs can be turned in at Troop B Barracks in Canaan, and Kent Town Hall. The Prevention Network will hand out free Lockmed Lockbags designed to safeguard prescription medications.  The event is held twice yearly.

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Buffer garden added to dog park in Bethel

Still River Watershed is touting a new buffer added at the Bethel Bark Park.  The group says these plantings will help prevent dog waste and sediment runoff from going into Limekiln Brook.  Students from the Alternative Center for Excellence in Danbury planted the buffer.  Housatonic Valley Association assisted.  Fairfield County Community Foundation and River's Alliance helped make the project possible to protect the Still River Watershed at Meckauer Park.

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MA man arrested for allegedly grooming child to get pornographic photos

A Massachusetts man has been arrested by Wilton Police for allegedly grooming a child in an attempt to obtain pornographic images.  Wilton Police received a complaint last month about 56-year old Mark Crowley contacting an 11-year old girl via the internet.  An investigation revealed that he lived in Beverly, Massachusetts.  The two police departments worked together and electronic evidence was seized from his home.  Crowley was arrested as a fugitive of justice and extradited on Thursday.  He was charged by Wilton Police with risk of injury to a minor and enticement of a minor.  Crowley was held on on $200,000 bond for arraignment this morning.

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First Light response to CLA concerns over FERC approvals

First Light Power Resources, owner of Candlewood Lake, has responded to concerns of the Lake Authority sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  The issue stemmed from FirstLight hiring a new consultant to monitor invasive species without FERC approval. 

First Light Director of Connecticut Operations acknowledged erring in hiring Northeast Aquatic Research without approval and will unsure FERC is properly consulted in the future.  But John Howard said there is no reason to question the validity of the moniroting conducted by NEAR.  He added that the contract specifications are identical to the previous scope of work. 

Howard also noted that FERC was notified in March that a bid was pending for future monitoring.  He added that FERC will be able to compare NEAR's 2018 report with any previous reports.

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Ridgefield considers ban on door-to-door soliciting

Ridgefield officials are considering a ban on door-to-door solicitations. Comcast has been seeking a permit, but has had no response from the town.  The Ridgefield Press reports that an attorney for the company wrote to Ridgefield officials that commercial speech is a protected activity under the First Amendment and that a municipal ordinance targeting such speech must directly advance a legitimate governmental interest and be narrowly tailored.  The town attorney is drafting a revision to the town's vending and peddling ordinance to ban door-to-door sales, but would exempt people acting “on behalf of any charitable, civic or religious organization.”

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Newtown officer presented with Community Service Award

Newtown Police Officer Maryhelen McCarthy has received a community service award from the Southern Connecticut Agency on Aging. She was nominated for extensive investigative work and the successful prosecution in a case of an abused senior received from her caretakers.  Police Chief James Viadero says this was well deserved recognition.  He noted that the service and dedication to Newtown  seniors and senior related programs has been a testament to McCarthy's compassion for that segment of the community.

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More details released by NTSB on fatal Oct. 13 small plane crash

According to the preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board, the small plane crash that killed the flight instructor, a private pilot receiving instruction, and a passenger, broke apart before hitting the water off of Long Island earlier this month.  No flight plan was filed for the instructional flight that left Danbury airport and was headed to South Carolina. 

A witness near the accident site reported seeing the airplane "nosedive" from out of the clouds and into the ocean. A second witness stated that the airplane sounded "as if it were a stunt plane doing spins" and then heard a "pop" and saw two large pieces of the airplane fall from the sky.

The pilot had 4,000 total hours of flight experience as of July.

Air traffic controllers advised the pilot that other aircraft in the area were reporting Instrument meteorological conditions and the pilot responded that the attitude indicator was "unreliable."  The controller declared an emergency on behalf of the airplane, then suggested heading toward Westchester County Airport.  The pilot replied that he would not be able to descend below the clouds. About 2 minutes later, the airplane entered a figure-eight turn and began to descend rapidly. Radio and radar contact was lost shortly thereafter.

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Non-profit worker looks to unseat Brookfield state Representative in 107th District

Brookfield Republican state Representative Stephen Harding is seeking another term in office.  Democrat Daniel Pearson is looking to unseat Harding in the district that also includes the Stony Hill section of Bethel.  Pearson was raised by a single mom, in a low-income area and says he saw the effects of public policy first hand.  He works for a non-profit that provides free after-school and summer program for impoverished kids.  Pearson wants to put Connecticut on a fiscally stable path, while making a bright future for the state.

Harding says the same issues that prompted him to run in a special election in 2015, still need work.   Harding says the state has become more unaffordable and needs to move in a fiscally responsible way.  He wants it to be a place that’s affordable for both young families like his and for his retiring parents. 

Harding touted a stop to cuts proposed in the last budget, which would have impacted Brookfield and Bethel.  He says that funding was restored in the approved budget.  Harding also touted a constitutional spending cap and having union contracts coming up for a legislative vote before being enacted.

Pearson says politicians need to think long-term, not 18 month increments.  He wants to see smart investments, not just spending cuts for the sake of cutting.  Pearson says that every dollar invested in education, job training, infrastructure and health care will result in a 10-fold return.  He says there are some vital services provided by government that should not be cut.

When it comes to 8-30g housing laws, Pearson thinks there are aspects that need to be tweaked, He doesn’t think a 7-story development should be placed in towns like Bethel or Brookfield, but does think towns need to take initiatives to address shortages of affordable units.  He notes that affordable isn’t just housing vouchers, but units that are income-restricted for people like a single mother or nurses and teachers.  Pearson says several professions where people are above the poverty threshold, but well below what it takes to actually live in the towns where they work.  He’d like to see that shortage addressed.

Harding believes there’s movement in changes to the 8-30g affordable housing laws.  He proposed legislation to modify the law and wants to continue to make more headway.  He says the housing law doesn’t make sense and contrary to what affordable housing principles are supposed to be.

Harding opposes electronic tolling as a financial burden on residents who commute, and a detriment to the economy in the Danbury area because of out-of-state visitors to the mall.  He supports measures to lock transportation funding into transportation needs.

Pearson agrees that there should be a lockbox for transportation funds.  But he says it has to be defined so the money in there actually goes to infrastructure improvements.  Pearson wants to see funding set aside for high-speed rail, bridge replacements and to bring the state into the 21st century.  Pearson called tolls a regressive tax.  But he added that the money Connecticut will get from tolls will grow the economy more than the burden of those tolls.  He wants to find other options, but would support tolling.  He says that puts the state’s future ahead of a political win in the present.

Harding championed a bill to fund area lakes to combat invasive species.  He and other colleagues looked at what funding was available and wasn’t being used.  Harding says the Community Investment Act fund was tapped to address the issue.  Harding wants to continue work to preserve the water quality of Lakes Candlewood and Lillinonah.

Pearson wants to work to strengthen environmental laws to prevent sewage from getting into the waterways.  He also wants to help lake authorities have the resources to do research to find out best solutions to protect water quality.  He notes that Candlewood Lake is the reason he lives in Brookfield.

Harding says the Board of Regants for Higher Education are expanding the bureaucracy of the state colleges, forcing tuition hikes.  He wants to cut the redundancy, questioning why the university presidents have to report to another layer of administrators when there is already oversight.

In the Stony Hill area, Pearson says residents have expressed concerns about property taxes, and education.  He says quality of life will be improved with strong k-12 education.  He proposed universal pre-k as a way to attract businesses and to increase property values. 

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Owner of CT, NY pizza restaurants pleads guilt to federal tax offense

A Ridgfield man who ows several pizza restaurants in Connecticut and New York has pleaded guilty to a federal tax offense, which cost the IRS nearly $817,000.  49-year old Bruno DiFabio was in court yesterday. 

DiFabio and others in the businesses allegedly removed cash from the register and did not deposit it into the restaurant’s operating bank account.   The U.S. Attorney's Office says DiFabio also knew that certain employees had their wages paid in cash, and others were paid entirely “off the books.” 

The loss to the IRS in income taxes and employment taxes for the 2013 through 2015 tax years was $816,954.  He owns Pinocchio Pizza locations in Wilton, New Canaan and Pound Ridge, Amore Pizza in Scarsdale, Amore Cucina and Bar in Stamford, and ReNapoli Pizza in Old Greenwich.

DiFabio was released on bond pending sentencing, which is not yet scheduled.  His business partner, Steven Cioffi, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return.  He awaits sentencing.

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Brewster man new Commissioner of Bureau of Emergency Services Putnam County

A Brewster man has been sworn in as  the Commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services for Putnam County.  Kenneth Clair has been serving as the acting Commissioner of the Bureau since last September and was the deputy commissioner prior to that. He is a former Brewster Fire Chief and currently serves as a Fire Commissioner in the Brewster-Southeast Joint Fire District.

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Stefanowski kicking off statewide tour in final days

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski is hitting the road in the final days of the campaign, speaking directly to voters.  He will kick off his 52-stop, nine-day ``Rebuild Connecticut Road Tour'' on Saturday, including some stops in the Greater Danbury area. 

He'll attend the Wilton Annual Trick or Treat Parade on Saturday at 2:30pm, will be making diner stops in Ridgefield on Sunday at Steve's Bagels and Early Bird Cafe at 9 and 9:30am, which will be followed by a get out the vote event at Newtown Country Club at 4pm. 

Next Friday, Stefanowski will make an appearance at a Kent Get Out The Vote event at 2pm.  He'll stop at Leo's Diner in Southbury on November 4th at 8:30am and then a rally at Danbury City Hall at 1pm.

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Kent registrars caution residents to voter registration phone scam

The Kent Registrars of Voters is cautioning people to two valid voter registration drives and one scam.  The Secretary of State’s office is sending out postcards with information on how to register online or by mail.  An independent organization has mailed out information about how to register by mail or in-person.  The scam voter registration drive consists of calling people on the phone.  The last day to register is October 30th, and the Kent registrars will be in their office from 9am to 8pm.  There will be a special registration session Monday, November 5th from 9am to 5pm for anyone who moves into town, turns 18, becomes a citizen or gets discharged from the armed forces after October 30th.  Election Day registration takes place in the Kent Registrars’ office on the second floor of Town Hall.

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Affordable housing proposal gains initial approval in Ridgefield

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission has given preliminary approval for a 30-unit, age-restricted affordable housing project.   Charter Group Partners is looking to build on three acres off Danbury Road, near the Senior Center, but also near wetlands.  A formal resolution on approval will be presented to the Commission for a final vote at their meeting on November 7th. Some of the 55-and-older units will be set aside as affordable under the state's 8-30g housing law, though the plans do conform to regulations for building height and setback distances.  The only exception is to density zoning regulations.

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Ridgefield Police participate in Rx Drug Take Back Day

A nationwide prescription drug take-back initiative to promote the proper disposal of medications is being held Saturday.  The Ridgefield Police Department is partnering with the Ridgefield Prevention Council and Rite Aid Pharmacy for the take-back event.  Potentially dangerous, unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications will be collected at Rite Aid of Ridgefield on Danbury Road from 10am to 2pm. The free drive-up service is completely anonymous. All medications that are collected as part of this initiative are taken to an incineration facility by Officers of the Ridgefield Police Department for destruction.  There is a prescription drug take-back box located in the front lobby of police headquarters, available to the public 24 hours a day/365 days of the year and is also completely anonymous.

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Danbury Hospital offering minimally invasive procedure to treat carotid artery disease

Danbury Hospital is the first in western Connecticut to offer a minimally invasive procedure to treat carotid artery disease.  Dr. Alan Dietzek says TransCarotid Artery Revascularization is a clinically proven, safe option for those at high risk of complications from traditional open surgery.

He says Carotid artery disease can be difficult to detect and the first symptom is often a stroke.  The buildup of plaque in the two main arteries in the neck that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain is estimated to cause up to one-third of strokes, with 400,000 new diagnoses of the disease made in the United States each year.

The surgery is performed through a small incision in the neck, for direct access to place a stent.  Dietzek says TCAR is unique because blood flow is temporarily reversed during the procedure, meaning that any pieces of plaque detaching from the wall of the artery are diverted away from the brain, preventing a stroke from happening.

TCAR has been approved as an inpatient procedure for select patient populations, based on age, risk factors, and anatomic conditions.

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Precision Computer Services Sues Newtown Savings Bank for Negligence, Breach of Contract

NEWTOWN, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct 25, 2018-- Technology firm Precision Computer Services, Inc. recently filed a multi-count lawsuit against Newtown Savings Bank after the bank failed to identify a fraudulent wire transfer order, and bank employees sent $67,560 from Precision's account to a bank in Hungary. According to the lawsuit, the bank missed numerous red flags which signal suspicious behavior and now refuses to reimburse Precision for the unauthorized withdrawal.

According to the complaint filed in Superior Court, last June the bank received an email from an individual pretending to be an employee of Precision. The email was sent from an email account with a similar but fraudulent domain name, a tactic known throughout the banking industry as "spoofing." The email requested that funds be sent urgently to a bank in Hungary. Precision had never previously wired funds to Hungary nor did it have any payment history or business relationship with the recipient of the funds.

According to the lawsuit, Newtown Savings Bank improperly caused money to be transferred pursuant to a payment order which was not sent or authorized by Precision. The bank also failed to set forth commercially reasonable methods of providing security against unauthorized payment orders. In addition, the lawsuit contends that the bank did not follow guidance concerning fraudulent spoofing schemes that was distributed in 2016 by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the United States Department of Treasury.

The lawsuit also states that Newtown Savings Bank was negligent because it failed to safeguard Precision's funds, and the bank had a duty to train its employees to detect and prevent foreseeable fraud.

"As residents raising a family in Newtown, we chose to use Newtown Savings Bank because we wanted to promote local commerce," said Irene FitzSimons, president of Precision. "After doing business with the bank for almost 20 years, I am so disappointed because they did not protect our deposits and then turned their backs on us."

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Officials: Plane broke apart before Long Island fatal crash

NEW YORK (AP) Federal transportation officials say a plane that crashed off Long Island earlier this month, killing all three people aboard, had broken up before hitting the water.

Newsday reports the National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report says the twin-engine Piper PA-34 ``was substantially damaged when it experienced an in-flight breakup'' and crashed in about 20 feet (6 meters) of water south of Quogue (kwahg), New York, in the Hamptons on Oct. 13.

Authorities say 41-year-old Munidat ``Raj'' Persaud, of Waterbury, Connecticut, was flying the plane from Connecticut to Charleston, South Carolina, when it crashed.

New York State Police identified the passengers as 45-year-old Jennifer Landrum, of Augusta, Georgia, and 53-year-old Richard Terbrusch, of Ridgefield, Connecticut. Persaud's body was found shortly after the crash. The bodies of Landrum and Terbrusch were found the next day.


 

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State Police, civilians presented with awards during ceremony this week

State Police Troopers and others have received awards for exceptional service. 

 

Among those receiving the Medal for Lifesaving was Woodbury Police Officer Mark Defeo.  He responded to a local grocery store last December on a report of an unresponsive man.  Two civilians, Lisa Bennett and Molly Baldrige, had started CPR while civilian Kyle Wright protected the victim’s head from further injury.  Officer Defeo prepared his assigned AED which provided a shock to the man. 

 

The victim was shocked four times before he regained a pulse.  The civilians earned the Commissioner’s Recognition Award. 

 

A Nonnewaug High School student was also recognized during the ceremony this week.   Zachary Guerrette told the School Resource Officer of a concern for the health, safety and welfare of two fellow students involved in a suspected drug transaction.  After an investigation, interventions were put in place to protect and support the health and welfare of all involved students.  State Police say Zachary displayed great concern for his peers and served as a role model for other students.  He was presented with the Trooper James W. Lambert Award.

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Danbury School District to study enrollment trends

The Danbury School District has contracted with Friar Associates to update a “space utilization study” on the speed of student population growth.  The study was completed more than a decade ago.  There are currently more than 11,500 students in Danbury.  Enrollment trends shows Danbury topping 12,000 students within the next four years.  Several school buildings have portable classrooms outside, with 8 being constructed at Westside Middle School Academy.  Some board of ed members are making the case for a new school, while others are looking into renovation and addition possibilities.

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Two men arrested for alleged drug sales in Danbury

A Danbury man, who was the focus of a several week long investigation at Kennedy Flats, based off neighbor complaints, has been arrested on drug related charges.  Danubry Police also arrested at Naugatuck man. 

 

On Tuesday, police set up surveillance and saw 30-year old Abdulwali Peterson drive up to 33-year old Orlando Cruz's apartment and engage in a suspected drug transaction.  Detectives approached the pair and seized three clear, knotted plastic bags from Cruz, which tested positive for cocaine. 

 

  

(Peterson, Cruz)

 

Peterson ran through the complex onto Kennedy Avenue and was arrested after a brief foot chase. During the pursuit, Detectives saw Peterson toss away a digital scale, whcih had a white powder residue on the surface.  

 

Among the cocaine, Detectives seized drug paraphernalia, cell phones and an undisclosed amount of cash.

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Freshman Danbury state lawmaker challenged by longtime City advocate

Danbury Republican state Representative Michael Ferguson is seeking a second term in office.  Democrat Ken Gucker is challenging the freshman lawmaker.  Gucker is a small business owner who has a water restoration company.  He has been a community activist on social issues, land use issues and historic issues.

Ferguson touted the bipartisan budget, which didn’t include major taxes or implementation of tolling.  Ferguson wants to see more measures approved on a bipartisan basis.  He was involved in a number of bills in the last two years, including one reforming Connecticut high school graduation credits.  The requirement was extended to 25 several years ago, but implementation was never put in place.  His bill brought more flexibility to schools like Danbury High School, which offers unique courses not offered elsewhere.  Those courses can soon count toward the 25-credit requirement.  It starts with next year’s freshman class.

Ferguson also touted changes to the education cost sharing formula, but says more work is needed.  The formula now takes into account enrollment growth, ESL population, special ed, poverty levels and free-and-reduced price lunch.  He says school districts that have these challenges like Danbury, are being covered by these changes. 

When it comes to education funding, Gucker notes that Danbury is at the bottom with per pupil spending.  He was critical of $50,000 in local spending for a lobbyist to try to get more education funding.  He says it’s the job of legislators to bring money back to the district.  He says elected officials are meant to do the services that this taxpayer funded lobbyist is trying to do.

On tolling, Gucker is not in favor.  If electronic tolling is for some reason implemented, he would want to see a W2 or some other form sent to Connecticut residents.  At the end of the year, it would include the amount paid in tolls and residents can deduct that money.

He opposes toll implementation in Connecticut.  Ferguson calls them another tax on an already overtaxed population.  He notes that congestion price tolling would have to be implemented because of certain federal regulations.  As for the transportation funding lockbox, Ferguson says the current proposal has a hole in the bottom of the box. 

Ferguson is open to having conversations about legalizing recreational marijuana.  He supports medicinal marijuana, but has concerns with expanding regulations to recreational pot.  Ferguson says those concerns stem from the opioid health crisis in the state.  On sports betting, Ferguson wants to have more discussion on what regulations would look like.  He thinks the big picture of gaming and gambling needs to be looked at, saying the state lacks a vision on where it’s going.  Ferguson would prefer to have a comprehensive plan.

Gucker is opposed to sports betting.  He fought a proposal in Danbury to have an OTB parlor added to downtown.  The company was purchased by another entity and all proposals were put on hold.  Gucker is not opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana, but wants to see more information and studies on it.  He noted though that if it is legalized, maybe that would help with incarceration issues which would bring down prison population and the number of people going through the legal system.

In order to reduce wait times at the DMV, Ferguson says he would be open to another public-private partnership with AAA or another entity.  He would be open to privatizing the DMV, but leans toward a partnership.

Gucker says there needs to be more support staff.  He says that’s a prime example of where the state is making poor decisions on spending cuts.  While having fewer state employees can be good, this is not where to make layoffs.  He says there’s now one person doing the job of five.  Gucker added that it's a shame that AAA isn't doing the licensing anymore because that really helped with some of the burden. Gucker says the state needs to be smarter about where to reduce waste and spending, but at the same time not cutting services that people need on a daily basis.

In order to better protect water quality of Candlewood Lake, Gucker wants more accountability from the owner of the lake, First Light Power.  He says the accountability is crucial for the winter drawdowns, which are done in part to kill off invasive milfoil.  Gucker opposed the use of Diquat, calling it nothing more than a contact herbicide that won’t kill the plant.  He was concerned that the dead material would fall to the ground as fertilizer for the milfoil.

Ferguson thinks it makes sense and would support efforts to have local governments to monitor inspections of day cares, restaurants and the like.  Ferguson would still like to see those agencies report to the state, which should retain some oversight.  He says there is some duplication of services, which is a waste of resources.  Ferguson says any time the state can work with local governments on mandate relief should be looked into.

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Danbury FCI inmate charged for alleged weapon possession

An inmate at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution has been charged with possessing weapons.  The U.S. Attorney's Office says 34-year old Julian De Jesus Castillo was indicted for possession of contraband.  He allegedly possessed weapons or objects designed to be used as weapons in February.  If convicted he faces up to 5 years in prison.  According to prison records, De Jesus Castillo was scheduled to be released from Danbury FCI next October.  Authorities did not disclose the original crime that landed him in Danbury.

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Santos cancels debate appearances in 5th Congressional District race

Republican Manny Santos has pulled out of today's debate in Waterbury with with Democrat Jahana Hayes with less than two weeks until the 5th Congressional District election. In a Facebook post, Santos said he did not want to give his opponent’s "radical views and those of her extremist financial backers a platform" with the debate.  A spokesman for Hayes said it's disappointing but not surprising and called Santos out of  step with Connecticut voters. Santos also pulled out of a scheduled debate two days ago and said he’s instead taking his campaign directly to the voters.

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Brookfield Chamber to host state House candidate debate tonight

The Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce is hosting a debate tonight between the candidates for the state House seat in the 107th District.  Republican incumbent Stephen Harding and Democratic challenger Daniel Pearson will discuss a variety of state issues at 7pm in the Seminar Room at Whisconier Middle School.  The district includes Brookfield, the Stony Hill section of Bethel and a slice of northern Danbury.  The debate will be moderated by Scott Benjamin of Brookfield Patch.  The chamber has sponsored several debates over the recent years, including forums in each of the last five municipal elections between the candidates for Brookfield first selectman.

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Conn. officials tout cost of living increase for veteran benefits

A piece of bipartisan federal legislation to raise veterans’ disability benefits is being touted by Senator Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  He was in Connecticut yesterday to talk about the average veteran receiving benefits seeing a $500 annual increase beginning in January.  Blumenthal says the increase is the largest seen in seven years. 

 

The bill reflects the rising cost of living. Unlike Social Security benefits, which are automatically adjusted each year to keep pace with inflation, Congress must pass legislation every year to increase the rates of veteran disability compensation. 

 

If veteran benefits stay static, Connecticut Veteran Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi says it's effectively a cut.  He says that's something that should be prevented because veterans are dealing with the increased cost of food, energy and health care.  Saadi says for a small state, Connecticut has a large number of veterans. 

 

While this increase is automatic, Saadi says veterans and eligible dependents should examine whether or not they are receiving the programs and services they're eligible for on an ongoing basis.

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Informational meeting in New Milford on proposed Charter revisions

New Milford residents will be voting on some charter revisions when they go to the polls in November.  An informational session about the proposed changes will be held tonight by New Milford Town Attorney Matt Grimes.  It takes place at Town Hall at 7pm. 

 

There will be time for questions after a presentation. 

 

The New Milford charter was last revised in 2006. Several changes have been proposed this year, including to unify terms for appointed boards and commissions, with members serving four years. New Milford residents currently vote on school and municipal spending separately, one proposed change is that only the budget that fails would be revised.  More budget advisory questions and sending a failed budget to the Board of Finance instead of Town Council are also questions on the ballot. 

 

The Board of Finance is also proposed to add members.

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Police refocus investigation into discovery of baby's body

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - Authorities investigating the discovery of a dead infant at a Connecticut trash and recycling facility have updated the areas where the child may have originated.

Police are looking into material delivered to the Stamford facility from Westchester County, New York, as well as Danbury and Ridgefield, and lower Fairfield County, including Stamford, Westport and Norwalk. Areas on Long Island, New York and Massachusetts have been ruled out.

The full-term newborn boy was found dead by workers at City Carting & Recycling on Oct. 16.

The state medical examiner was unable to determine how the baby died, but is conducting more tests to determine if the baby was stillborn or died after birth.

 

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SBA relocates disaster loan help center from Southbury

The Small Business Administration has relocated the Disaster Loan Outreach Center from Southbury to Hamden, where representative continue to provide information about Disaster Loans, answer questions and assist businesses and homeowners in completing the SBA application.  Homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits in Fairfield and Litchfield counties will be eligible to receive loans from the SBA to help with the costs of both physical and economic damages from the May 15th storms.  The Southbury help center was opened on the 11th and was slated to close on the 18th.  When residents kept coming in, it was decided to stay open longer, but in a new location.  The deadline to return applications for physical property damage is December 10th.  The deadline to return economic injury applications is July 9th.

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Putnam County Sheriff touts grant aimed at combating drug problems

New York Senator Chuck Schumer met with Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley yesterday to launch an initiative tied to an upcoming anti-opioids package. The new P.O.W.E.R. (Providing Officers with Electronic Resources) Act grant program will help local police pay for high tech chemical detection tools that will sniff out illegal drugs such as fentanyl.  Langley says drug enforcement experts believe it only takes a grain of fentanyl to cause a deadly reaction.  Langley has advocated for financial assistance from the federal government to fund law enforcement response to the Opioid crisis.

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Congress members hold meeting in Newtown on gun violence prevention

Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Vice Chair Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty was in Newtown last night for a roundtable discussion.  Task Force Chairman, California Congressman Mike Thompson, joined her and others for a discussion on federal gun violence prevention initiatives.  Esty backed the Fix NICS Act and the STOP School Violence Act, both of which were signed into law by President Trump.

 

The Fix NICS Act closes gaps in the national background check system.

 

The STOP School Violence Act gives educators and students tools to spot the potential for violent incidents and prevent them before they happen.  Connecticut has received $500,000 through the measure to implement programs from Sandy Hook Promise to help train students, educators, and school administrators how to identify, assess, intervene, and get help for those exhibiting at-risk behaviors.  The Task Force was formed in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook School. 

 

Esty has introduced measures modeled after Connecticut law, including a limit on high-capacity magazines and the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act, which allows authorities to temporarily take guns from those judged by a court to be a threat to themselves or others.  She also backs the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, which would ensure people who have abused dating partners are prohibited from buying or owning firearms and close the loophole that lets some convicted stalkers access to guns. 

 

The Gun Violence Research Act, would repeal the Dickey Amendment, which states, “None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or part, to advocate or promote gun control.”

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Newtown Board of Ed member looks to unseat incumbent 106th District Representative

Republican Mitch Bolinsky is seeking his 4th term representing Newtown in the state house.  Democrat Rebeckah Harriman-Stites is looking to unseat him.  She was raised by a single mom, who taught her the value of hard work and community service.  Harriman-Stites served as President of the PTA, and helped to raise $1.5 million for the families most impacted by the shooting at Sandy Hook School.  She has served on the Board of Education for the past three years.  Harriman-Stites owns a fundraising consulting firm, serving non-profit and municipal clients in surrounding states.

Bolinsky says there were a lot of items that got accomplished in the short session earlier this year.  But he says the big outstanding issues is getting the economy back on track.  It was a no tax-increase budget and he was proud to help defeat a toll bill.  He also touted a state road project getting underway next year, which Bolinsky says will alleviate 60% of the traffic at Wasserman Way/Berkshire Road.

Harriman-Stites called for fundamental changes to the education cost sharing formula and more help for small businesses.  She feels the partisan rhetoric has gone too far and wants to collaborate with others to move Connecticut forward.  Harriman-Stites says the ECS grant being withheld during the state budget process and later restored, showed that long-term changes weren’t addressed.  She wants something that’s fair, equitable and reliable.  She says local budgets are put together before state funding is determined.

Bolinsky says there’s a new school funding formula that began to come together in 2017 when the minority party’s budget became the foundation of a bipartisan budget.  He was concerned with the inconsistencies in school funding because it was being done in a political way as opposed to a needs-based way.  He is still concerned about the achievement gap and would like to continue to even out the education system.

In the aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook School, a number of reforms were put in place.  Bolinsky is a member of the school security committee and one of the founding members of the school security caucus.  There were robust funding streams for the 2013-14 budget cycle for mental health and community action, but that money has fallen off.  He called for more investment in safe school environments.  He introduced a bill to create a safe school environment for teachers who were in fear of classroom violence, but it was vetoed by the governor.  It was compliant with federal regulations.  Bolinsky advocated for social-emotional learning introduced by Scarlett Lewis and the Choose Love Foundation.  Her son, Jesse, was one of the children killed on 12-14.  The Social Emotional Learning Task Force bill was signed into law and Bolinsky says that will go a long way in helping to create a better school environment, bringing inclusiveness.  He is concerned about special needs learners being mainstreamed and falling behind.

Harriman-Stites wants to build on the measures passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.  She has a background on social work and joined the Board of Ed to make sure students get access to mental health support services and social-emotional programming they need.  She believes that investing in mental health and well-being of children helps to build strong and safe communities.  Harriman-Stites supports a ban on ghost guns.

Bolinsky wants to continue working on senior issues, as it’s the fastest growing population in Connecticut.  He was pleased that they were able to stop cuts to the special qualification for the Medicaid Savings Program so 130,000 people were not stuck without their Part B coverage.

Harriman-Stites wants to look at ways for seniors to age in place.  She says the higher tax rate isn’t giving them enough bang for their buck and suggested an income tax credit, adjusted for inflation, is important.  She also supports Paid Family and Medical Leave. Harriman-Stites also wants to improve ways for seniors to get around communities and suggested investing in education for home-health aides.

Harriman-Stites supports legalizing recreational marijuana, but wants to see more studies on the correlation between pot and opiate abuse.  She says the revenue impact and criminal justice impact could both be positive.  She is concerned about the idea of expanding gambling, but wants to further study regulating sports betting.

Bolinsky says he is not opposed to the legalization of sports betting as it would be a legitimate revenue stream, especially since Connecticut has casinos, keno and other gaming.  But he is opposed to online sports betting because there’s no guarantee minors are gambling.  As for the legalization of recreational marijuana, Bolinsky says there’s no way for police to test if a driver is under the influence, and that’s a big concern for him about saying yes.

The Environment Committee has had several bills to address water quality, but Bolinsky says they haven’t made it out of committee because of the fiscal note attached.  He’d like to partner with the U.S. EPA to address some issues.  Bolinsky says there’s a lot of communication from local health districts and lake authorities about how to prevent the spread of certain invasive species. 

Harriman-Stites believes making communities more walkable by investing in sidewalks will help with community health, take cars off the road and help the environment.  Harriman-Stites does not want tolls, but doesn’t believe Connecticut is in a position to close the door on any revenue stream.  She wants to look at how Connecticut residents could pay less like a tax credit, while bringing in revenue to fix infrastructure.  She also wants to look at investing in transportation infrastructure in the towns impacted by having tolls in their municipality might be something to look at.

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Sandy Hook shooter's belongings ordered released to public

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Some of the personal belongings of the 20-year old who killed 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook School, including personal journals containing stories about hurting children and a spreadsheet ranking mass murders, must be released to the public because they are not exempt from open record laws, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Thousands of documents already have been released from the investigation that ended without determining a motive for the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting, but the writings could provide insights into the thinking of the shooter.

The Hartford Courant and other media organizations requested to view the belongings, which were seized by authorities during a search of his home and described in a state police report released about a year after the shooting. State police rejected the requests, citing privacy rights in the state’s search and seizure law.

The Courant appealed to the state Freedom of Information Commission, which in 2015 ordered state police to release the documents. But Superior Court Judge Carl Schuman overruled the commission in 2016 — a decision overturned Tuesday in the 5-0 Supreme Court ruling.

“We feel these documents are necessary to tell a complete story in our reporting,” said Andrew Julien, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Courant. “Understanding what a mass killer was thinking not only paints a clearer picture of the individual, it helps us identify and understand red flags that could be part of a prevention formula for future mass shootings.”

It’s not immediately clear when the 35 requested items will be released. The state attorney general’s office, which represents state police and declined to comment Tuesday, could ask the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling or possibly appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. State police officials did not return messages seeking comment.

Among the disputed documents are a spreadsheet ranking mass murders by name and number killed and a notebook titled “The Big Book of Granny.” The notebook contains a story that the man wrote in the fifth grade about a woman who uses her “rifle cane” to kill people.

Police also so far have not released an eight-page document titled simply, “me,” which was described in a police inventory as “detailing relationships, ideal companion, culture, voting, personal beliefs, describes doctors touching children as rape.” Another, named “tomorrow,” apparently contains details about the author’s “desires, list of the benefits of being thin and negative connotations associated with being overweight, list of goals ...”.

Some of the other requested items include a folder containing hand-drawn, comic-style pictures and stories about Pokemon-type characters; a packet of educational materials from the Sandy Hook school to the gunman's mother including report cards and an educational plan addressing his mental health issues; a list of problems and requests from the shooter to his mother; and a story about a relationship between a 10-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man.

A report by the Connecticut child advocate said the man's severe and deteriorating mental health problems, his preoccupation with violence and access to his mother’s weapons “proved a recipe for mass murder.”

His medical and school records included references to diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, the child advocate’s office said. The 2014 report said Nancy Lanza backed her son’s resistance to medication and from the 10th grade on kept him at home, where he was surrounded by an arsenal of firearms and spent long hours playing violent video games.

In Tuesday’s court decision, Justice Raheem Mullins wrote that the court must “narrowly construe” language in state law that allows exceptions to public disclosure, and that “otherwise any statute governing an agency’s general treatment of records becomes a possible restriction on disclosure.”

“The trial court pointed to nothing in the express terms of the search and seizure statutes that creates confidentiality in the documents or otherwise limits the disclosure, copying, or distribution of the documents,” wrote Mullins. “Indeed, the search and seizure statutes are silent on the issues of confidentiality, copying, or disclosure to the public.”

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3 men charged with illegal deer hunting

Connecticut environmental police have arrested three Southbury men they say were illegally hunting deer in the dark in Roxbury. Authorities have received several complaints recently about hunting after sunset near Roxbury Airport. 

 

A Woodbury police officer after midnight Monday spotted a vehicle shining a light in the open grass fields by the side of Route 317, an area known to be frequented by deer.  The officer pulled over the vehicle and found numerous flashlights, spotlights, ammunition, and multiple firearms, including a loaded high powered rifle, as well as evidence of a recent deer processing in the bed of the pickup.  

 

Police charged 22-year old Eftihios Marnelakis, 20-year old Mihali Marnelakis, and 21-year old Jacob Parcell. They are scheduled to appear in court November 8th.

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New Milford residents vote to keep road public

New Milford residents have voted to keep a portion of Great Brook Road public.  A partial discontinuance was voted down during a Town Meeting on Monday.  The lower section of the road would have been turned private, split between two bordering property owners. The proposal was made by Public Works and planning because the roadway is impassable and hasn’t been maintained by the town.  They called it a liability. Those opposed to the discontinuance were concerned that it would open the area to development. 

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Pedestrian fatally struck by car in Danbury identified

The name of the pedestrian killed by a car in Danbury on Sunday has been released by police.  The Newstimes reports that Jose Yupangui was crossing White Street shortly before 2am when he was struck by a car near the Ives Street intersection.  The 43-year old was transported to Danbury Hospital where he died for the injuries he sustained in the crash.  The car was driven by 18-year-old Jhon Penaherrera.  Police say it's unclear if the accident happened in the crosswalk. 

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New Fairfield Finance officials to discuss last year's surplus

New Fairfield ended the year with a $2.6 million surplus.  The town and schools had budgeted for large cuts from the state, which never materialized. About $2.2 million will automatically be returned to the town’s general fund. The Board of Selectmen is proposing to use the surplus to replace a deteriorating dock on Candlewood Lake, rather than constant parts that have fallen into disrepair. The Board of Education wants to use the surplus funding for security and ADA compliance upgrades.  The two groups will present plans to the Board of Finance at their meeting tonight.

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Teen accused of stealing car in Greenwich caught in Newtown

Newtown Police have arrested a Bridgeport man accused of stealing a car in Greenwich and leading Bridgeport Police in pursuit. Newtown was alerted early this morning that a stolen car was headed north on Route 25. While checking the area around 3am, officers spotted the suspect vehicle.

 

The driver, later determined to be 18-year old Cameron David King, sped off when officers activated their lights and siren. King drove off the roadway, hit a guardrail and fled on foot along Wasserman Way.

 

He was taken into custody after a brief foot chase. 

 

King was charged with Larceny, Engaging Police in Pursuit, Reckless Endangerment, Traveling too Fast for Conditions, Reckless Driving, Restricted Turn, Failure to Maintain Lane and Interfering/Resisting police.  He was held on a $50,000 bond for arraignment this morning.

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Storm damage assessments continue in Brookfield

Brookfield is currently making inspections throughout the town for storm damage and permits. This will continue over the next several weeks due to the high volume of inspections.  The scope of the work includes a physical inspection and photographs to record the possible impact on the assessment for the upcoming grand list.  These inspections are not for structural integrity. 

 

Brookfield officials are reminding residents to ask for and check identification as the town has contracted Elizabeth Stabile, from Vision Government Solutions to help with the inspections.  She and the Assessor's staff will have identification on them. 

 

Officials say anyone who does not have proper identification should be reported to the Brookfield Police Department.  Any questions about the inspections should be directed to the Assessor's Office.

 

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Redding Police kick off 'No Shave November' fundraiser

The Redding Police Department is hoping to entice people to donate to their No Shave November initiative benefiting the Connecticut Cancer Foundation through a unique fundraiser.  Redding Police are offering custom pint glasses for $10 each, and then patrons may present the glass to participating restaurants/brewery on Saturday, November 17th to receive discounts on draft beer at several participating restaurants and breweries. 

 

The establishments may limit the number of drinks provided at this reduced rate.  While The Redding Police Department encourages participation, they are reminding patrons to do so responsibly and bring a designated driver. 

 

The Connecticut Cancer Foundation helps Connecticut cancer patients pay for their basic living expenses while receiving treatment.  More details about the fundraiser can be found on the Redding Connecticut Police Department Facebook page.

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Sherman firefighters participate in emergency preparedness conference

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department hosted a course over the weekend on Emergency Operations Center preparedness.  It was led by the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.  The goal of the course was to ensure emergency personnel and town officials are prepared to respond to large scale incidents. Besides volunteer firefighters, attendees included the Sherman Resident State Trooper, Social Services, the First Selectman and representatives from town hall, along with emergency management directors from some surrounding towns.

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Eversource to conduct inspections in New Fairfield via drone

Eversource Energy will be using drones to inspect equipment in New Fairfield over the next few weeks.  The inspection is being done to evaluate the condition of the electric structures and wires. 

 

Crews will be using aerial devices, about 2 feet across, equipped with a camera, and manned by the drone operator. The operator and an inspector will be on the ground or in streets near the power lines.  All drone operators have received FAA license approvals.  All contractors and field representatives carry proper identification. 

 

Two or more inspectors, traveling with a vehicle, will have flaggers to help with traffic control.  Crews will be taking high-resolution images of lines, hardware and vegetation with a drone, which will be used only at or near poles and other structures. The drone will not fly beneath the wires. 

 

Work hours are 7am to 7pm, Monday through Sunday, weather permitting.

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Political newcomer seeks to unseat 30-year incumbent in Danbury

Danbury state Representative Bob Godfrey has been in office for 30 years and is seeking another term in office.  He is being challenged in the 110th district by Republican Erin Domenech.  She volunteers with the Elks Lodge, an organization helping children and veterans. 

Domenech does not support tolling.  She compared it to the idea of opening liquor stores on Sundays, which was thought to bring in millions of dollars.  But she says no one took into account overhead and the fact that people would just spread out their shopping and not shop more.  On tolls, she says Connecticut may be liable, retroactively, for extra federal funding that the state receives.  She doesn’t think the state will take in as much as Connecticut would have to lay out.

Godfrey opposes tolling.  But he acknowledged that the state will need significant funding over the next 30 years to make infrastructure improvements.  He wants to look into moving the car tax from municipalities to the Special Transportation Fund, though he wants to do more research on the proposal.  Godfrey was critical of electric car owners not paying as much into the fund because the revenue in it mostly comes from the gas tax.  He wants to try as much as possible to stay on the principle that users of transportation provided the revenue. 

As for train service, Godfrey says there have been some expensive upgrades in recent years on the Danbury branch while has increased ridership nearly two-fold.  He says unfortunately it’s up to the federal government to restore electricity to the line and to make safety improvements like positive train control technology mandates.  He notes that there is new equipment on the connecting New Haven line, which hasn’t filtered down yet to the branch lines.  He wants to continue to work on punctuality and safety issues.

Domenech hasn’t spoken in detail with people about improving Metro North services, but believes having more reliable and faster service would take more cars off the road.  She supports adding sidewalks to make getting to the train station easier, but questioned whether the state could fund that.

As for improving the DMV, Godfrey says the new computer system was a huge waste of money.  He says it forces customers and employees to waste time, noting that the employees are spending too much time not servicing a people and too much time waiting.  Godfrey wants to look into cleaning up that mess and go back to a better days.  He noted that technology isn't necessarily the answer to everything, trained people are.  Domenech says moving services like getting a handicap permit or a license to a kiosk off-site, that would help.  When she registered a vehicle from out of state, she didn’t have all of the proper documents and suggested having more call centers.

Domenech says there is Off Track Betting in Brewster and doesn’t see why the state shouldn’t move forward with regulating sports betting.  As for taxing it, she says residents already pay so many other taxes Domenech questioned taxing the winnings as it is done at the casinos.  Godfrey noted that Connecticut is going to be surrounded by states that do it so the legislature should put in place some of the basic legal requirements.  He says the challenge is the compact with the Mashantucket Pequots and with the Mohegans leaves an open question on who can actually provide for sports betting. 

Domenech agrees with legalizing recreational marijuana.  She compared it to selling alcohol in the state.  She also supports the medical marijuana program, saying it has helped people transition from opioid medicines to medical marijuana.  On ways to address the opioid epidemic, Godfrey says the state has made some moves in constraining doctors from over-prescribing by only allowing them to prescribe a relatively small amount like a week's worth at a time.  He wants to see more research on alternatives, which Godfrey says his colleagues pushing for legalized recreational marijuana would be interested in.  He notes that Connecticut has decriminalized small amounts of pot and with neighboring states moving toward legalization, it’s something to address.  But Godfrey says they have to wrestle with the cultural, the criminal and the societal views on marijuana.

Domenech wants to focus on tax relief, especially for young people coming out of college and for seniors trying to retire here.  She wants to work on getting more jobs into Connecticut, giving people a reason to stay. 

One of the biggest concerns he has heard consistently over the last 30 years was the lack of affordable housing.  With median prices, Godfrey says people have to make at least $25 an hour to be able to afford a regular two-bedroom rental in Danbury.  He called it concerning that there are 4 to 6 last names listed on two family homes.  He wants to eliminate the conveyance tax on buying and selling a home and create more opportunity for denser housing developments.  Godfrey suggested creating incentives for both developers and for municipalities to build housing that people who work in their towns can afford.

On how to get more education aid from the state to Danbury, Domenech wants to further study the growth rate of Danbury school population and get ahead of the funding situation.  She wants to find ways to fill in the gaps. 

Domenech is not opposed to ghost guns, as long as someone has a federal manufacturing license to do so and the receiver is stamped with a traceable number.

Godfrey says his approach to legislating has changed over the years and is now focused on long-term reforms.  One of his biggest concerns in the last session was helping ALICE households.  Those are Asset Limited, Income Constrained Employed households.  Godfrey wants to implement changes to benefit the middle class and help working families, in line with work that the United Way is doing.  The United Way found that in Connecticut, 10% of the people live in poverty and 30% are struggling.  In Danbury, that total was found to be 50%.  According to the report, a family of four needs to earn $77,832 a year to meet regular expenses.  Godfrey called for raising the minimum wage, incorporating technology training into basic public education and removing barriers to employment.  He also called for making benefits portable, reduce risks for small businesses and making Connecticut more friendly to working families.

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Walk through tomorrow of Newtown Community Center site

The last walk through this month of the Newtown Community Center construction site will take place tomorrow.  Center Director Matt Ariniello will lead the walk and talk event to go over construction, programming, and membership.  Registration is requested and can be done through e-mail at matt.ariniello@newtown-ct.gov.  The community center will include  an arts and crafts room; six multipurpose activity rooms; a commercial kitchen; a banquet room; a six-lane, 25-yard pool; a zero-entry activity pool; and outdoor connections to the Fairfield Hills campus. A separate senior center is also under construction at the site.

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Prescription drug takeback day set for this weekend

A Prescription Drug Take Back Day is being held this weekend.  Danbury Police will be accepting unused, unwanted and expired medications from 10am to 2pm Saturday at police headquarters on Main Street.  Police warn that these medicines left in the house are a leading cause of accidental poisoning and contribute to drug abuse.  Medications flushed or thrown away can pollute waterways. During the national take back day, police will not be collecting needles and syringes, chemotherapeutic drugs, or radiopharmaceuticals and tracers.

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Ridgefield officials sign off on lease for part of Venus Municipal Building

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has signed off on a lease for the second floor of the Venus Municipal Building.  Chef's Warehouse will pay, on average, $500,000 a year for five years.  The lease includes three, five-year renewal options for the company.  Rent increases would be based on the consumer price index.  The 29,000 square foot space does not include the wing with the Town Hall Annex.  Chef's Warehouse plans to renovate the building and the lease calls for some rental reduction to compensate for construction costs.  Ridgefield added some high netting to the nearby baseball field to prevent cars parked at the Venus Building from getting hit by foul balls.

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Kids in Crisis TeenTalk pilot program coming to NHS

The Newtown Board of Education has approved a pilot program for the high school.  A Kids in Crisis TeenTalk program costs $85,000, but will be prorated since the school year is already underway.  Funding for the pilot program was secured through the Newtown Parent Connection.  Kids in Crisis will hire a counselor, with input from the school district, to direct students to specialists and support systems outside of the school.  Its TeenTalk program features specially-trained counselors to identify and help students navigate difficult personal, family, and school-related issues. They would bolster school staff by providing individual, group, and family counseling.

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Ability Beyond marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.  Bethel-based Ability Beyond has been awarded a $50,000 grant to help break employment barriers for people with disabilities.  PriceWaterCooperhouse Foundation funding will help Ability Beyond bridge the gap between jobseekers with disabilities and companies that are looking to hire. 

 

The organization will use the grant money to produce free webinars for each group to give them the skills and knowledge to meet each other’s needs. The webinars will be designed by Disability Solutions, a national disability employment initiative developed by Ability Beyond five years ago. 

 

The webinars for jobseekers with disabilities, including veterans, will prepare them for the workplace. Topics include resume and interview preparation, communication, and developing post-hiring skills and experience. The trainees will learn how to connect with participating employers through Disability Solutions’ Career Center that offers free jobseeker profiles and participation in an anonymous talent database. 

 

Webinars aimed at prospective employers and talent recruiters will improve their understanding of disability talent, hiring,

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Danbury teachers go to Hawaii to study volcanoes, Pearl Harbor and bring lessons back to students

Two Rogers Park Middle School teachers traveled this summer to Hawaii to be able to add more depth to classroom discussions.  The 8th grade teachers viewed an active volcano in Hawaii and toured the solemn site where the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. 

 

Science teacher Patricia Tracey's $10,000 grant was a joint grant with husband, a Danbury High School physics and chemistry teacher.  They were joined by 13 other teachers from the U-S and Australia.  The travel grant was from The Fund for Teachers.  They worked with a geologist to study volcano activity. 

 

English teacher Dana Ketterl, whose students are studying “Unbroken,” a World War II hero and prisoner of war, and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which deals with ignorance and racism, said that she was able to find reprints of local newspapers in Hawaii the day after Pearl Harbor.

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Bethel Registrars to hold extended hours on registration deadline day

The Bethel Registrar of Voters Office will be open for in-person Registration on October 30th from 9am to 8pm.  All Voter Registration must be completed by this date in order to cast ballots on November 6th.  Those turning 18 between October 31 and November 5th, in the military or discharged in the past year may register in-person by 5pm on November 5th.  Voter Registration applications can be obtained from the Registrar of Voters during the during regular Municipal Center hours on Monday through Friday. Applications can be filled out and accepted by the Registrars or the Town Clerk. There is a self-service Voter Registration desk in Veterans Hall of the Municipal Center, opposite the Registrars of Voters Office.

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Truck crashed into highway sign pole, closed I-684 for hours Sunday

Interstate 684 southbound was closed for most of the day yesterday due to a crash early Sunday morning.  A pickup truck hit a support for an overhead highway sign. The closure was in the area of Croton Falls and Katonah, but traffic backed up to the Interstate 84 interchange in Brewster throughout the afternoon.  The truck was not moved in order to prevent a collapse.  A crane had to be brought in for the repair.

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Danbury Police Explorer Cadets place 2nd for SWAT Challenge Team overall

Danbury Police are touting the accomplishments of Police Explorer Cadets during a recent SWAT Challenge.  11 cadets of the Danbury Police Explorer program participated in the event consisting of tactical challenge stations.  The Danbury contingent placed in all but two events and won many medals, with the team placing as the 2nd Place Cadet SWAT Challenge Team overall. The cadets were trained by their advisors, Sergeant John Krupinsky, former SWAT member of the Danbury Police Emergency Services Unit, and Special Agent Brianna McNally of the US Diplomatic Security Services, New York Field Office.  They were assisted by Associate Civilian Advisor Henry Peralta and Post Advisor, Danbury Lieutenant Matt McNally.

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UPDATED: Man dies in boat accident on Candlewood Lake

State Environmental Conservation Police have released the identities of the two men involved in a fatal boating accident on Candlewood Lake yesterday.  DEEP officials say 48-year old Gary Hayes of East Hartford was located in the water, and transported to Danbury Hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.  DEEP officials say 29-year old Joseph Miranda of Manchester swam to shore and refused medical treatment.EnCon Police Officers responded to Candlewood Lake in Brookfield for a report of a capsized motorboat yesterday.  The accident remains under investigation.

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22-year old challenging state Senator in office as many years

The race for a state Senate district which includes Ridgefield and part of Bethel features a woman who has served in the legislature for 22-years being challenged by a 22-year old.  Republican incumbent Senator Toni Boucher is seeking another term in office.  Democrat Will Haskell is looking to unseat her.


Haskell was an intern in Connecticut and Washington, D.C. for 4th District Congressman Jim Himes and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy.  Haskell grew up in Westport and started knocking on doors to hear from residents about their concerns.  He heard from people frustrated that their train commute to Manhattan takes longer now than it did in the 1950s because Connecticut isn't making long term investments in infrastructure.  He also heard from young people had to choose between advancing their career and starting a family because Connecticut doesn't have Paid Family Leave.  He also heard from students who were worried about school shootings.


Boucher says there was a lot accomplished last session, specifically the bipartisan budget.  Boucher says it made structural changes to help address the budget deficit.  It also included a constitutional spending cap and a bonding cap.  It took out taxes on cell phones, tires and second homes, while returning money to local schools.  Boucher praised maintaining the Medicare Savings Program for 130,000 seniors.  She also touted her bill requiring high schools teach about the Holocaust and other genocides.  Boucher introduced the bill in response to swastika graffiti and other anti-Semitic incidents in the district.


Boucher says the conversation was changed in the Senate because of the 18-18 tie, something that hasn't happened in 100 years.  She says this was critical when it comes to the education cost sharing formula.  Reforms were put in place last session and she wants to continue to improve the system, if reelected.  Boucher says a good educational system attracts businesses and produces an excellent workforce, allowing people to climb the economic ladder.


Education funding reforms are also a priority for Haskell.  His parents are divorced and he was able to go to school in Westport, which had various technology and extra-curricular activities.  But he says it could have been different if he lived with his father in Bridgeport, where students walk through metal detectors every day.  He called it a moral failing of the state that students receive less funding just 15 minutes from their peers.  Haskell says there's so much wasted potential and an economic catastrophe by not investing in the next generation.  He wants a funding formula that's transparent and predictable.  Haskell says schools don't count on a lot of state aid, but they do count on Connecticut delivering what it promises.


Boucher also wants to continue to reform tax policy.  Haskell says the next generation of taxpayers is being burdened by yesterday's mistakes, with $36 billion in unfunded pension obligations.  Promises made in the 90s and money wasn't put into the pension fund, holding the state back today.  He says irresponsible behavior needs to be balanced through creative revenue options.


Transportation is a top priority for Boucher.  She called for more improvements along Metro North rail lines.  When it comes to tolls, she fought against proposals in the last two years.  Boucher says tolls are commonly used, but it's a bad thing for Connecticut because of the high gas tax.  Until that is reduced or eliminated, she doesn't want to entertain the idea.   Boucher says Connecticut has many more taxes than other states, and the income tax has a high bracket.  She says states that have an income tax and tolls allow residents to deduct for various things like medical care.  She says Connecticut's effective rate is higher.  She is also skeptical of a transportation funding lockbox.  Boucher says the language is not perfect, but a move in the right direction. 


Haskell says making sure bridges are safe, rebuilding roads and improving service on rail lines is crucial for Connecticut's economic vitality.  Transportation is the number one thing he heard from residents in the district.  He supports a transportation funding lockbox.  Every dollar taxed for transportation should go toward transportation improvements, according to Haskell.  He says it doesn't seem like a controversial idea, but politics is getting in the way of common sense and decried money being taken out of the fund for other purposes.  Haskell believes more revenue is needed, however because the improvements that have to be made are so great.  He would support toll implementation, if it's done in a way that won't overburden Connecticut commuters.  Right now, he notes that state residents are footing the entire bill for improvements.


Boucher wants to use bonding capacity to pay for infrastructure improvements.  She says bonding should be for priorities, not as a slush fund for special interest projects like tennis tournaments and parking garages.  Boucher called for rail modernization, bridge replacements and school construction projects.


Boucher opposes gambling and illicit drugs as a way to raise revenue.  She would rather renegotiate state labor contracts to make them more in line with municipal employee contracts.  Boucher says balancing the budget through vices, is not something Connecticut should get into, opposing legalization of recreational marijuana and regulation of sports betting.  She would prefer to solve the state's fiscal woes through better state agency management and streamlining services.


Haskell supports medicinal marijuana and doesn't think it's the job of legislators to stand in between doctors and their patients when deciding on cancer treatments or ways to ease PTSD.  As for recreational marijuana, Haskell says Connecticut can't afford to leave money on the table.  He would tax it at the same level as cigarettes and require a minimum age of 21 into any regulation that gets proposed.  Regulating sports betting is a more complex matter for Haskell.  He says the compact with the tribes makes it more difficult, but would like to find a way to bring in revenue from something that people are already doing.


Haskell's mother went back to work two weeks after he was born and doesn't think that's right.  He called for Paid Family and Medical Leave act financed by employee contributions, so that it doesn't unduly impact businesses.

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Two teens sentenced on manslaughter charges in Danbury

Two teenagers who pleaded guilty to manslaughter have been sentenced for killing a Danbury teen last year.  Ronald Massagli and Lorenzo Santana were each sentenced Friday for the death of Gabriel Bardo.  The 18-year old was reportedly delivering a small amount of marijuana to a friend when he was jumped.  The two 17-year olds were accused of fatally punching Bardo, stealing his sneakers and rifling through his car.  Santana was sentenced to 15 years in prison, suspended after serving 12. Massagli was also sentenced to 15 years in prison, suspended after 10 years served.

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Ridgefield Police caution people against 'booing' neighbors

The Ridgefield Police Department has received a number of calls from people about what Police are calling “booing.” To “boo” someone, involves sneaking onto their doorstep during the night and leave tricks and treats.  While Ridgefield Police say this is often done in the spirit of Halloween, some residents have called 911 believing that someone was trying to break into their vehicle.  Residents have been vigilant for suspicious activity due to the increase of motor vehicle larcenies that Ridgefield and the surrounding area has been experiencing.

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Danbury man struck, killed by car in Brookfield

Brookfield Police have released more details about the pedestrian struck and killed by a car Friday morning.  Police say 58-year old Harold Trafton died at Danbury Hospital.  He was on the roadway helping a paving company off-load a piece of equipment from a trailer when the accident happened. A Brookfield woman, Linda Pendergast, moved into the northbound lane to go around the trailer.  But She struck the Danbury man in the attempt.  The crash remains under investigation. Anyone who witnessed the crash is asked to call Brookfield Police at 203-775-2575.

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More than $100,000 expected left over in contingency funds from Bethel Police station project

When Bethel officials close out the Police Station project, likely by the end of the month, there will be between $115,000 to $120,000 in contingency funding left over.  Public Site and Building Committee chairman Jon Menti says some of the budgeted money wasn't used for special testing of materials.  The $50,000 budgeted item was completed with $2,000 or $3,000 which will go back into the account.  Some of the IT and telephone work came in under budget.  Menti hopes by November there will be a final accounting of actual expenditures and what actually remains.  Eversource did a site walk through, because the town applied for a rebate grant.  Menti believes the project meets all of the requirements for the heating and cooling system, energy conservation and insulation.  Bethel could get about $50,000 back from Eversource.

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New Milford residents to weigh in on making road private

The New Milford Town Council will hold a meeting for residents to vote on whether or not a section of Great Brook Road should be made private.  Residents spoke out this week against the proposal claiming it could be used as an emergency exit from the cul-de-sac and if the change is made, could open the land up to development.  The section of roadway remains on maps, but is no longer used.  Two applicants would take control of the road if a discontinuance is granted.  The paved portion of Great Brook would remain a town road and continue to be maintained by New Milford.  The meeting is at 6:15pm.
 

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Blight ordinance hearing in New Fairfield tonight

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen will hold a Public Hearing Monday to hear comments on the Draft Blight Ordinance currently under consideration. The draft ordinance addresses concerns that residents expressed about previous drafts presented at Town Meeting.  New Fairfield officials are looking for input and encourage all concerned about the issue of blight to attend. The hearing will be held in the community Room at the Senior Center at 7:15pm.

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New Milford Mayor hosts coffee & chat event today

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is hosting his monthly Coffee with the Mayor program today.  The open session for residents to bring up concerns, comments and input on any topic is held in the meeting room on the second floor of town hall.  The Coffee chat event is from 9:30am to 11am.

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4th Congressional District debate this weekend

The first debate between 4th Congressional District candidates this election season takes place tomorrow.  Democratic incumbent Congressman Jim Himes is being challenged by Republican Harry Arora.  The debate sponsored by the Connecticut League of Women Voters is being hosted by the Wilton chapter, with support from Wilton High School Model Congress. The debate tomorrow starts at 4pm at Wilton High School.

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New Fairfield water testing today

The New Fairfield Water Pollution Control Authority will provide water testing today from 8am to noon.  Residents who picked up a test kit at the Land Use Office at Town Hall, collected a sample based on written instructions, can return the sample to the table at Stop and Shop.  Test results will be mailed to home addresses. There is a $40 fee, and testing is provided by AQUA environmental Labs.

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Teal Pumpkin Project returns this Halloween

Kent State Representative Brian Ohler says Halloween can be a tricky time for families managing food allergies.  He touted the Teal Pumpkin Project, which promotes safety and inclusion of individuals managing food allergies. The worldwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option, and is signaled by a teal pumpkin in front of participating homes. Ohler says across the country, one in 13 children has a food allergy – that’s roughly two in every classroom.

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26th annual Ghosts of Ridgefield hike tonight

The 26th annual Ghosts of Ridgefield hike is being held this weekend with the Discovery Center at Ridgefield.  The event tonight at Hemlock Hills Open Space starts at 6pm, with tours going out in assigned groups of up to 15 people every 15 minutes.  Reservations are suggested, with a 15-dollar participation fee.  The tours feature characters from Ridgefield’s past, including Colonel Phillip Burr Bradley, Chief Catoonah, Geraldine Farrar and The Leatherman.

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Candlewood Lake Authority says FirstLight skirted FERC requirements

The Candlewood Lake Authority is concerned with what the group says is unilateral action taken by FirstLight Power Resources on the Nuisance Plant Monitoring Plan. 

 

The CLA wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission expressing disappointment that FirstLight hired a new consulting firm to conduct the FERC-mandated monitoring, without the consultant being approved by a FERC committee.  Approval is required by FERC.  Committee members also were not consulted and did not have a chance to review the modified scope and survey methodology. 

 

The former consultant provided the monitoring for about 10 years.  The CLA relies on the consistent data, program scope and methodology to our nuisance plant management practices, including the successful Sterile Grass Carp Program. 

 

CLA officials say they met with FirstLight to come to a resolution, but none was reached.

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Proposed drive-through regulations get hearing in Newtown

The Newtown Planning Director has revised a proposal to allow drive-through window service at eateries located in shopping centers.  The Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing on the proposal last night.  It's based on regulations approved in 2016 for Starbuck off Exit 10.  The proposal requires the shopping centers be on lots at least 10 acres large, and not for stand alone structures.  They would have to be on the side of rear of buildings not surrounded by parking spaces.   Only two drive-throughs would be allowed per shopping center.

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Annual Ballot Tabulator maintenance performed in Bethel

The Bethel Registrar have overseen annual Ballot Tabulator Maintenance.  There are 2 machines for each of 5 voting districts, plus two for Absentee Ballots and Election Day Registration. The optical scan ballot tabulators are not, and have never been, connected to the internet nor any computer.  Bethel's Registrars and the Town Clerk do not transmit election results from the tabulator via the internet or a wireless network.

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Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue gets FEMA grant for equipment replacement

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved a competitive grant application for Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue to cover most of the cost of new equipment.  The Newtown Bee reports that the more than $155,000 of FEMA funding will cover 95 percent of the costs, with Sandy Hook Fire picking up the balance.  The money will be used to replace 16 portable two-way fire radios, 12 firefighter air packs and a thermal imaging camera.  The volunteer fire company will also buy a new “fit tester” which is used to determine how well the face mask for an air pack fits, to ensure a good seal.

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New Fairfield reminding residents about authorized storm damage assessors

New Fairfield officials are reminding residents about approved property inspectors looking at damage from the May 15th macroburst.  The town has contracted the services of Michael Cilfone to aid in the inspection process and is the only contractor evaluating storm damage.  The town's assessor is also in the job. 

 

If anyone asks to set up an appointment to revalue properties, New Fairfield residents are reminded to ask for identification.  The scope of work includes physically inspecting each damaged property and reporting the findings to the assessor. Most of the inspections will not require interior viewings.  

 

If property owners feel the need for an interior inspection, they are asked contact the assessor's office to schedule an appointment. The assessor is not performing structural/safety assessments and cannot offer advice on repairs. The purpose of the inspections is to determine if storm related damage has significantly impacted the property assessment.

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2nd state House District race a match up for close 2016 race

The 2nd District state Representative race is a rematch of the 2016 contest.  Democrat Raghib Allie-Brennan is challenging Republican Will Duff for the seat, which Allie-Brennan lost by 280 votes.  The district includes parts of Bethel, Redding and Newtown. 

 

Duff says there were a number of successes in the last year.  He touted the elimination of the tax on social security and pensions.  It will be phased out over the next 4 years.  He also touted modifications to the 8-30g affordable housing statutes to combat the problem of affordable housing regulations and predatory developers putting up big developments.  He also touted stopping cuts in school and municipal aid.

 

Since 2016, Allie-Brennan has become more involved in community, as vice president of a board that focuses on of the opioid epidemic in the Danbury area, serving on the League of Conservation Voters and on the Triangle Community Center which helps with the LGBT community in Fairfield County.  Allie-Brennan works for a company that helps small businesses get grants loans from the state.  He says that has put him in a position to see how the state isn’t working for small business and where improvements can be made.  He says DECD had a good program to allow businesses access to capital, but there is some red tape.  He believes the state should be giving more tax breaks to small businesses than to big corporations.

 

Duff opposes tolling.  As for the Transportation Funding Lockbox on the November ballot, he encouraged people to vote for it.  But he says there was no definition for the lockbox so he’s not sure how effective it will be.  Duff compared this to the 20 year battle to get a constitutional spending cap defined and put in place.  Duff called the lockbox a marketing scheme and nothing but flashy words.  He called the bill meaningless.

 

Allie-Brennan is opposed to tolls.  He hasn’t seen a plan for implementation and wouldn’t want to burden people who commute from the district to elsewhere.  Metro North improvements are something that Allie-Brennan would like to see accomplished.  He questioned why the trains are often replaced by buses, why the trip takes so long and why there’s limited weekend service.   He would like to see more transit-oriented development, but trains have to run in order for it to be effective.  He doesn’t want to see rail or bus fare hikes to pay for improvements, focusing instead on fixing inefficiencies.  One part of the budget he’d like reexamined is the $1.3 billion spent on corrections and prisons.  Allie-Brennan says that’s more than what Connecticut spends on education and with crime and prison population down, the spending should be realigned.

 

As for improving rail service, Duff says the legislature only treats Fairfield County as an ATM and puts no money into the region.  He notes that the Danbury area generates a tremendous amount of revenue for Hartford and gets very little back. 

 

Duff says every child has an equal right to education.  He notes that when there are cuts, they go to the lunch programs, ESL, special needs transportation and other services.  Duff says the students who need programs the most are deemed as low-hanging fruit.  He wants the funding formula simplified.  If distressed districts need more help, that should be a separate pool of money.  He notes that Hartford doesn’t have a lot of taxable property because it’s state owned, and does need more money.  But he says the formula has become a political poker chip.

 

Allie-Brennan says the Education Cost Sharing formula is broken and needs fixing.  He says the state cherry-picking funds from a town because they seem wealthy and giving them to another one that needs them punishes towns that are good stewards of local budgets.  He acknowledged that Danbury, which is a small part of the district, doesn’t get full funding and needs more assistance.

 

When it comes to legalizing recreational marijuana, Duff says that’s just giving the go ahead to say that drug use is ok.  He is concerned that waxes and oils have synthesized the narcotic out of the organic material.  He wants the FDA to take charge on the marijuana issue and says it’s a federal issue.  Duff is not inclined to look at new revenue sources and would be apprehensive about bringing sports betting to Connecticut.  He wants to see a bill about where it’s being run; if it will be done in bodegas or OTB-style terminals.  Duff says Connecticut took in more money last year than ever before, but is still in deficit.  He says there’s a spending problem and not a revenue problem.  Duff was critical of state bonding priorities, questioning millions of dollars for Aer Lingus, and money to pay for a splashpad.

 

As for whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana, Allie-Brennan wants to have the conversation.  While Connecticut, needs the revenue, he doesn’t believe this will be the silver bullet.  He can see the positives of taxing it and regulating it.  On the other hand, Allie-Brennan wants any regulations to also take police into consideration.  He wants them to feel comfortable when they pull people over that they are covered.   Allie-Brennan suggests looking at Colorado and Massachusetts as Connecticut moves forward.  Allie-Brennan would also support Sports Betting, noting again that it's not the silver bullet to the budget crisis, but a way to stop taking money from Social Services programs.

 

As a way to improve wait times at the DMV, Duff proposed having a renewal of a license for every five years instead of every four years and then 20% of the line will shrink.  He doesn’t think the impasse with AAA is insurmountable and could renegotiate to have the outside source provide licensing services again.  Allie-Brennan wants to put more DMV services online to help cut down wait times at the DMV.  

 

If reelected, Duff wants to help towns lower property taxes by funding state mandates.  He says that would free up money from local budgets. 

 

Duff also wants to look into making higher education more affordable.  He wants to look at changing or altering some programs to better align teaching with the open jobs.  Duff says investing in the teaching staff and not growing the bureaucracy the administrative class saying they tend to get in the way of professors and teaching staff.  Duff says having autonomy will keep the uniqueness of each state school.  By getting rid of the Board of Regents for higher Education, the four regional colleges and the community colleges would still have to follow the laws and policies dictated by the state.  But he says the Board is more cumbersome than anything else.  Duff says it’s spent millions of dollars and created more obstacles.  He wants to divert funding back to the schools.

 

On the opioid epidemic, Allie-Brennan says insurance should cover people who want to get help.  He also wants to look at criminal justice reform to make sure people that are addicted and incarcerated can get treatment, so they are not put back on the street and into the same vicious cycle.

 

 If elected, Allie-Brennan wants to be part of the energy committee.  He took a course on natural disasters in his senior year and focused on Hurricane Katrina and how to improve response.  Allie-Brennan also worked on energy policy in Washington, D.C. and would like to find ways to lower energy rates and invest more in green energy.

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New Milford Police investigating untimely death

New Milford Police are investigating an untimely death.  29-year old James Broderick was found dead Tuesday morning, though police say it's not a murder investigation.  Police received a call shortly before 8am about an unconscious man in a driveway.  Broderick was reportedly found partially in the car and partially outside of it.  The Chief Medical Examiner's Office is investigating the cause and manner of death.  Police are trying to determine the man's whereabouts and contacts in the 24 hours leading up to his death.

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Bethel school officials caution against unauthorized fundraiser targeting businesses

The Bethel Superintendent of Schools has sent out a letter to local business owners cautioning them to a soliciting scam.  The Bethel Chamber of Commerce then passed the message along to members.  Bethel school district leaders learned that a group called Sports Media Advertising has been soliciting local businesses in attempt to collect money for a fundraiser they claim is to benefit Bethel High School.  That is not a fundraiser that is authorized by the Bethel School District and Dr Christine Carver says should not be supported. All fundraisers that are conducted by Bethel Public Schools must get pre-approval by administration.

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DOT postpones Redding paving project again, moves it to daytime hours

The state Department of Transportation has changed an overnight road paving project in Redding to being done in the daytime.  Route 58 will be repaved between the Easton town line and South Lane.  There will be lane closures starting Wednesday at 7am.  The project has now been rescheduled twice.  The DOT advised motorists to maintain a safe speed when driving in this vicinity and to be aware that modifications or extensions may come up due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions.

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Sandy Hook man allegedly causes in-flight disturbance

A Sandy Hook man has been charged for allegedly causing a disturbance on an inbound flight to Bradley Airport Tuesday night.  State Police Troopers met the plane when it arrived after  air traffic control was notified of a disturbance on board.  Police say 31-year-old Jeffrey Levasseur was intoxicated and disrupting the flight attendants and other passengers.  In the terminal, he allegedly was loud and used profanities.  He was held on bond.

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Wilton settles harassment complaint with female detective

WILTON, Conn. (AP) The town of Wilton has settled a harassment and discrimination complaint filed against the police department by its only female detective.

The Hour reports that the Board of Selectmen approved the settlement worth more than $17,500 with Detective Eva Zimnoch in April. The town's insurer paid the sum.

Zimnoch said in her claim that colleagues complained when she started wearing V-neck shirts and capris to work in 2015, even though then-police Chief Robert Crosby approved the attire.

She says colleagues also wore sneakers with no consequence, despite a department ban.

Zimnoch says the department became a ``hostile working environment'' when she took a stand.

The details of the settlement were recently disclosed through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Current police Chief John Lynch declined comment.

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Ex-Newtown officials defend handling of shooter's education

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Former educators in the Connecticut town where 20 children and six adults were shot to death in an elementary school are pushing back against a state report that was critical of how the shooter's education was handled.

The former Newtown officials gave state senators Thursday a 22-page rebuttal to the 2014 report by the state child advocate's office on the upbringing and education of Adam Lanza.

The 20-year-old Lanza, who grew up in Newtown, killed 26 people and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

The former Newtown officials cited the school system's efforts to help Lanza with his mental problems when he was in school and called his mother a "tremendous obstacle" to those efforts.

The child advocate's office is defending its report.

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Animal shelter involved in legal case with City of Danbury is looking to move

An animal shelter involved in a legal case with the City of Danbury is looking to move to a new location.  Tails of Courage Animal Rescue officials deny allegations in a lawsuit that claims inspectors found animals kept in deplorable conditions.  The adoption organization says they're looking to move because they need a larger kennel.  The Newstimes reports that the group has not yet selected a new location, but must wait until after the Smith Street home sells.  Danbury sued Tails of Courage in July, alleging the shelter violated a cease and desist order.  An agreement was filed in court yesterday allowing city health inspectors to conduct unannounced inspections.  Danbury is seeking a permanent injunction against the shelter, forcing operators to comply with health codes.  An employee facing animal cruelty charges is due in court next week.

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State Police Detective brings 4-legged friend to work in Southbury

A dog named Alabama who belongs to a Western District Major Crimes detective in State Police was in the office yesterday and served as a mascot for the Southbury Barracks.  A State Police spokesperson says even though Alabama isn’t a sworn Police K9, he plays a vital role in helping individuals who come to the barracks dealing with extremely difficult situations to feel at ease, especially kids accompanies by their parents. Many of the troopers and detectives working at Troop A were involved in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy, so at the discretion of Supervisors, their 4 legged friends can accompany them to help out around the office.

(Photo: CSP Facebook)

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Redding League of Women Voters is hosting debates tonight

The Redding League of Women Voters is hosting debates tonight for three local election races.  Candidates in the 2nd state House race, Republican incumbent Will Duff and Democratic challenger Raghib Allie-Brennan, will face off in a rematch of 2016.  District 135 Republican incumbent Adam Dunsby is being challenged by Democrat Anne Hughes.  The 26th state Senate District race features Republican incumbent Toni Boucher and Democratic challenger Will Haskell.  The forum is from 7 to 9pm at the Redding Community Center.

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Putnam County Sheriff Deputies promote Project Lifesave

Putnam County Sheriff Deputies were at the Senior Health Fair held yesterday and discussed project lifesaver.  The initiative provides timely response to save lives and reduce potential injury for adults and children due to Alzheimer’s, autism and other related conditions or disorders.  Putnam County residents can fill out enrollment applications with the Sheriff's Department, and once reviewed, an appointment will be made for a home visit by a Project Lifesaver specialist.  A transmitter and related equipment for the program costs $300, if none are available from the Sheriff's Department. The battery and wristband has to be changed every other month.  Maintenance appointments are held by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department.

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Blue Star By-Way Marker has been dedicated in Carmel

A Blue Star By-Way Marker has been dedicated in front of the Putnam County Office Building in Carmel as a tribute to the U.S. Armed Services. The Blue Star Memorial Marker Project was started by National Garden Club members following World War II.  The Brewster-Carmel Garden Club sponsored the marker unveiled over the weekend.  District Attorney Robert Tendy donated $500 for the cost of the marker.  County officials located a suitable rock to which the plaque has been attached. Tendy described his donation as the “right thing to do because the markers are wonderful gestures for veterans.

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Political newcomer takes on 20-year incumbent in Ridgefield state House race

Democrat Aimee Berger-Girvalo is challenging longtime Republican state Representative John Frey in the 111th District of Ridgefield.  She decided to run to provide a better path forward, and couldn't wait for someone else to provide that path.  She has a business background and is a volunteer and advocate in Ridgefield.  Berger-Girvalo has gone door-to-door and talked with residents about their concerns over the state's financial future, women's rights and health care costs.  She also wants to take on education funding and costs.

 

Frey was raised by a single mother after his father died unexpectedly.  He is in real estate and has represented Ridgefield since 1998.  He wants to continue working to improve the state's economy.  Frey cautioned about more big businesses moving out of Connecticut. 

 

The pair was asked about Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski's proposal to eliminate the income tax.  Frey has been on the Finance Committee since he was first elected.  Half of Connecticut's revenue comes from the income tax.  He says it can only be eliminated after adding 300,000 state residents.  Frey says it's a laudable goal, though.  Berger-Girvalo says that will create a huge hole in the budget.  She called for smart spending, but says the state is so far into the hole that the sales and property tax would have to double to fill that in. 

 

As for long-term solutions to solve Connecticut's fiscal woes, Berger-Girvalo says the devastating financial situation has been 20 years in the making.  She called for smarter spending, rather than random cuts.  Berger-Girvalo says vacant property and assets in Hartford can be sold off.  Berger-Girvalo noted that pensions are only 38-percent funded.  Frey says there's some low-hanging items that can be addressed first like higher paid employees, who have larger pensions.  He wants wage freezes and wants to remove health care benefits, pensions from collective bargaining.  Frey used the local example of police officers having pensions based a salary, unlike state trooper pensions being based on earned income, including overtime.  Frey says there are too many managers in state government and wants to eliminate some duplicate deputy commissioners.

 

Frey is a ranking member of the Transportation Bonding subcommittee.  He was critical of the busway from New Britain to Hartford and rail service from Hartford to Massachusetts.  Frey says the state should have focused instead on fixing dangerous bridges.  He opposes bringing electronic tolling to Connecticut.  Ridgefield's First Selectman has supported the idea of tolling the past, but Frey says not the proposals seen recently.  He adds that trucks already pay a fee based on miles traveled in Connecticut.  Frey added that transportation is the only area that Connecticut gets more back from the federal government, than sends.  He says the state gets $1.76 back for every dollar sent to D.C. on transportation.  Berger-Girvalo says there's no decision about how much to charge and how many gantries would be put in place.  She says commuters, students and seniors could pay less.  She also proposed lower weekend rates.  Frey called the transportation funding lockbox proposal ineffective. He says an amendment was defeated that would have put the money into the lockbox without having to go through the legislature, which would have prevented diversions.

 

The candidates were also asked about various gun-related issues.  Berger-Girvalo says ghost guns, 3D printed guns, should be banned.  She says right now laws are chasing technology, and legislators should anticipating technology.  Berger-Girvalo doesn't want to imagine the future, but that waiting years to regulate certain technologies is too long.  Frey's nieces and nephew attended Sandy Hook School on the day of the shooting and he says they have been diagnosed with PTSD.  He voted in favor of the gun restrictions signed into law after 12-14.  Frey cosponsored the ban on bump stock devices, which became law on October 1st.  He also introduced the bill to ban ghost guns, which was placed on the House calendar but never came up for a vote.

 

Frey voted for a bill supporting same-sex adoption.  Initially Connecticut had a bill for same-sex unions, not marriage.  Frey says he wishes he wouldn't have voted against that measure.  He added that he does regret voting for civil unions and did vote for the bill eventually codifying same-sex marriage.  Frey has officiated 20 same-sex marriages as a justice of the peace.  Berger-Girvalo says more should be done to combat hate crimes.  She says that applies to LGBTQ discrimination, but also anti-semitism.  She wants to education communities about marginalized groups and to embrace rights protecting LGBTQ groups.

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Police K9 Ale tracks down Danbury car thief suspect

A State Police K9 helped find a car thief suspect this week.  Danbury Police issued a "be on the look out" call Tuesday night about a car stolen in the City.  Troop-A Southbury Troopers located the vehicle as it  traveled on I-84 eastbound, passing exit 15.  The suspect, later determined to be Manuel Ortiz, refused to stop and engaged police in pursuit. 

 

Troopers deployed stop sticks, but the Waterbury man exited the highway a short while later, parked and tried to flee on foot. 

 

K9 Ale was able to track the 18-year old.  But the man kept trying to break free from Ale.  Troopers then deploy a Taser. 

(Photo: CSP)

Ortiz was charged with Engaging Police in a Pursuit, Interfering with an Officer, Reckless Endangerment and two counts of Larceny.  He was released on bond for a court appearance on November 1st.

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Brookfield, Danbury Police wear purple ribbons on this 'Purple Thursday'

Some members of the Brookfield and Danbury Police Departments will be wearing purple ribbons today on this “Purple Thursday”.  The day is aimed at highlighting Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Brookfield Police say they are proud to partner with the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury, and others in Law Enforcement, in helping to keep victims of domestic violence safe.  The Women's Center says today is about giving hope to people experiencing domestic violence, to celebrate those who have survived and to remember those who lost their lives to domestic violence.

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Conn. Supreme Court hears case involving New Milford Board of Ed, teacher union

The Connecticut Supreme Court will hear arguments today in the case of New Milford Board of Education versus New Milford Education Association.  The case centers on whether grievances of the teachers’ union under a collective bargaining agreement was arbitrable or subject to resolution under the Teacher Negotiation Act. 

 

In the fall of 2014, while the parties were negotiating a new agreement, the Board of Ed gave notice to the union that, starting in the 2015-2016 school year, it would eliminate abbreviated school days during which teachers did non-teaching work and that such non-teaching work would be done outside of school hours.  An arbitration panel did not accept change, but the school board implemented them any way. 

 

The grievance arbitrator found in favor of the union and more litigation was filed. 

 

The Supreme Court will decide whether the trial court properly determined that the union's grievance was arbitrable where the Board of Ed argues that, under the agreement, it had the unilateral authority to alter the teacher work day and that any resulting disputes would be resolved through impact negotiation.

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Brookfield First Selectman in court over mortgage payments

Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn was in court this week after mediation last year with his bank over mortgage payments.  He was accused of falling behind on his payments.  The Newstimes reports that the situation was due to a mix-up between his bank and loan company because he's been paying his mortgage since signing a new loan agreement last year. An attorney for the bank asked the judge to allow Dunn, the loan company and the bank to resolve the issue.  When he initially defaulted, Dunn said that he had several bills coming in when he fell behind on the payments.

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NY man files suit against Costco over injuries sustained in 2016

A New York man claims in a new lawsuit that he  suffered “irreversible brain damage” at Costco in Brookfield two years ago.  The suit was filed Tuesday on behalf of 62-year old Peter Aurigemma of North Salem.  The suit claims that he was shopping at the Federal Road warehouse and when he was taking a package off the top of a display pallet, a steel rod hit him in the face above his left eye.  The rod was approximately 40 inches long and 3 inches in diameter.  He is seeking damages over $75,000 on claims that Costco should have known about any unsafe, dangerous or defective conditions.  The lawsuit says Aurigemma suffered a concussion, lapses of short-term memory and irreversible brain damage.

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Metro North installing PTC equipment on Harlem line

Metro North is working on installation of Positive Train Control Equipment on the northbound Harlem Line between Southeast and Wassaic.  Bus service only, with up to 30 minutes of additional travel time, will be in place today through Friday between 9:30am and 5pm and then from 10:30pm through 2am.

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New Fairfield Police to participate in Rx Drug Take Back Day

The New Fairfield Police Department will be participating in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on October 27th.  Police tout National Take-Back Day as a safe, convenient, and responsible way to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs.  Unwanted prescription medication can be dropped off at the New Fairfield Police station from 10am to 2pm.

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Meetings today on long-range transportation proposals

Planning for long-range transportation proposals in the Greater Danbury area will be discussed during three sessions today.  The meetings are being held by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments, the regional planning agency for towns from Sherman to Stamford.  WestCOG is looking for input on drivers experience traveling in the region.  The meetings are from 1 to 2pm at Booth Library in Newtown, 3:30 to 4:30 at Mark Twain Library in Redding and from 5 to 6pm at Bethel Library.

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Monroe Police participate in 'No Shave November'

The Monroe Police Department has teamed up with the Connecticut Cancer Foundation for “No Shave November”. All proceeds from the fundraiser go directly to the Connecticut Cancer Foundation to Connecticut cancer patients. Monroe is 1 of 27 police departments across the state participating in the program. During this time, officers are collecting online donations to sponsor the department. The Connecticut Cancer Foundation has provided over $5 million in financial aid to cancer patients and their families over the last three decades and has funded over $1.9 million in lymphoma research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

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UPDATED: Car crashes into overturned tractor trailer on I-84

A tractor trailer accident on I-84 eastbound in Brewster has been cleared from the scene and the roadway reopened.  New York State Police say a trucker lost control shortly before 10:30pm Tuesday and overturned in the area of exit 20S, initially blocking the left lane. 

(Photo: NYSP)

A passenger vehicle, unable to avoid the wreckage, then struck the overturned truck.  Police say injuries sustained by both drivers appeared to be minor.  

 

The left lane of traffic remained closed for emergency crew cleanup of the tractor trailer through 9:15am.  

 

Police had asked drivers to use caution, and be mindful of emergency personnel in low light conditions. 

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5th Congressional District debate held in Danbury

The candidates seeking to be the next U.S. Representative in the 5th Congressional district met for a debate last night in Danbury.  They were asked a range of questions including on gun control, immigration reform and the Affordable Care Act.

 

Democrat Jahana Hayes supports universal background checks.  She believes Connecticut laws, approved in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook School, should be duplicated across the country.  Hayes acknowledged that individual rights should be protected, but that collectively the community needs protecting.  Her husband is a police officer, and expects others to go through background checks as he had to.  She wants to close the gun show loophole.  Republican Manny Santos said there’s few things more important in the constitution than individual liberties.  He says there’s no doubt there’s a gun violence problem, but that the majority of shootings were done by people who have criminal backgrounds or mental health issues.  He says aggressive gun control legislation will turn law-abiding citizens into criminals.  Santos says responsible gun owners are not the problem.

 

Hayes says waiting for people to commit a crime before they get on law enforcement radar is outrageous.  She called for comprehensive mental health reform to go along with gun control.  If the second amendment isn’t upheld, Santos questioned what else government would infringe upon.  He asked if the right to assemble would be infringed upon because of disorderly conduct.

 

The candidates were also asked if they would support arming teachers.  Santos says he doesn’t support the idea.  But he added that he does support the federal Department of Education to send money to states that want to implement the idea.  Hayes, who was the 2016 national Teacher of the Year, does not support arming teachers.  She says she wouldn’t want to have to explain how a student gets their hand on a gun that might not be secured, or that was taken off a teacher’s person.  She added that police shouldn’t be put in the position of having to decide who is a teacher and who is an active shooter.  Hayes added that funding set aside for academics should not go to buying guns.  She also questioned how the funding for training would be kept up.

 

In order to rein in college costs and control student debt, Santos says individuals incurred the debt by their own choosing.  He says people have to have the expectation that the debt has to be paid back through a meaningful career.  But he wants to incentivize graduates who go into certain fields by forgiving some of their debt.  Hayes says people should have access federal funds like PEL grants.  She notes that the amount spent on that program is the same amount proposed for the border wall.  Hayes called for different priorities in Washington.  She would look at incentives for people who return to Connecticut for work after graduation.  Hayes also wants to look into overhead and administrative costs.  Santos says federal loan access should continue. 

 

As for making rail travel safer, both candidates support reinstating a mandate that conductors be tested for sleep apnea in an effort to prevent derailments.  Hayes says infrastructure improvements are also needed.  Santos called for more funding for rail service.

 

Immigration was a heated topic.  Santos believes so-called DREAMERS, young people brought to this country as minors by their parents, should have a path to legalization, but not citizenship.  Santos added that the lax enforcement has led to a strained system.  When it comes to separating children from their parents, Santos says more judges have been added to address the situation.  He says the problem is because of past administrations not enforcing the laws.  Hayes says there is an immigration problem, but that there is not enough being done to help people seeking asylum.  She says DREAMERS have been brought here through no fault of their own and should be given a pathway to citizenship.  Santos says there are clear paths to refugee status, which should be followed.  Hayes says the current path could take decades for someone to legally become a citizen.  Santos says the pathways are clear.

 

Trade disputes and the recently renegotiated NAFTA plan were also discussed.  Hayes said she would support trade agreements if they protect jobs, rates, standards and the environment.  She says policies shouldn’t be driven solely on the economy and not forget about what they do to people, the environment and allies.  Santos says trade agreements that protect jobs should be a priority.  He said that he lost his job because of NAFTA and was pleased it was renegotiated.  Santos says pushing back to make sure Americans get a better deal is needed.

 

Medicare for All and a single payer system were some of the health care topics brought up.  Santos says government health care is not the utopia that many believe it will be.  He cautioned against more government involvement, saying that it’s unaffordable for taxpayers.  Santos also said there would be too many inefficiencies if government controls health care.  He wants to look at the Affordable Care Act and other legislation that can address some problems with the current system.  Hayes supports the idea of Medicare for All.  She says the Connecticut marketplace under the Affordable Care Act is one that actually works.  She called for more competition and reduced costs, saying the administrative cost is lower than private insurance.  Santos says government health care will be a rationing scheme. 

 

Hayes says remarks have been made recently by Republican leaders about eliminating Medicare and Social Security to reduce the deficit, created by the tax plan.  Santos said he hasn’t heard that, called that idea preposterous and questioned where she heard those remarks. 

 

On climate change, Santos says he believes there are changes but questioned how much was due to human contributions.  He says environmental concerns have to be balanced with supporting families.  Santos says no one wants dirty water or polluted air, but there is room to remove burns on businesses and individuals.  He added that no one is advocated for getting rid of all regulations.  Hayes says believes humankind is a contributor to climate change.  She added that she is not willing to trade a vibrant economy for clean air and water and the future.  Hayes says a factory or a community shouldn’t be profiting as children struggle to breathe.  She called for full funding of the EPA and continued regulations to protect against pollution.  Santos says farmers are having a hard time staying in business because of costly environmental regulations. 

 

The candidates were also asked about women’s rights.  Hayes is pro-choice.  She says priorities are determined by who is in the room and women should have the right to make their own health care decisions.  Santos says he is in favor of having equal rights so the question comes down to abortion.  Santos said he has a mother and a daughter and would not pass legislation that would put them at risk.  He is pro-life, but noted that it’s the law of the land. 

 

Ways to combat the opioid crisis were also addressed.  Santos says alternate pain management options should be explored.  He also wants to look into the DEA and examine why they are no longer cracking down on distribution facilities.  Hayes says there is no singular preventative approach.  She called for more education, reforms to overprescribing and expanding rehab or transitional services.

 

This is an open seat because Democratic incumbent Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty opted not to seek reelection amid a controversy over her handling of a sexual harassment case in her office.  Hayes called for more transparency and wants more procedures so staffers or other workers are protected.  Hayes says there should be a set of policies for reporting and there should be follow-through.  She wants thorough and quick investigations when there is an incident.  Santos was critical of Esty for not doing anything about the situation until it came out in the media.  He says elected officials should be held accountable for their actions and noted that he would have removed his chief of staff.

 

On how to achieve bipartisanship, Santos said partisanship is a problem, but that it exists because of ideological differences.  He added that resistance is a problem because that closes off discussion.  Hayes says people can disagree without being disagreeable.  She noted that thinking about constituent needs would be her priority.

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Brewster man charged for breaking into home

A Brewster man has been arrested for breaking into a North Salem home.  New York State Police Troopers responded to Route 22 on the evening of October 8th on a report of  an intruder in a house.  Troopers found and arrested 24-year old Carlos Lopez who broke into the residence.  Lopez also damaged the kitchen stove and a window while breaking in.  He was arraigned and ordered held at Westchester County Jail without bail.  Lopez appeared before the Court again on Monday.

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Meeting tonight on Ridgefield wastewater treatment plant upgrades

Ridgefield's wastewater treatment plant needs improvements.  Planning for the upgrades and capital needs has been underway for several years.  Ridgefield residents will get a chance to officially weigh in on the upgrades during a referendum vote scheduled for November. 

 

The project is estimated to cost $48-million, but grant funding could lower that figure to $37.5 million.  The grant deadline requires the project designed, bidded out and contract awarded by July. 

 

The two wastewater treatment facilities would be combined, closing the Route 7 facility.  Sewage would be routed to the South Street facility through a three-mile pipe, and that facility would be upgraded to meet new state and federal phosphorous removal guidelines. 

 

An informational meeting is being held tonight at 7pm in Ridgefield Town Hall.

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Police ID final passenger killed in plane crash off Long Island

Authorities have released the identity of the final passenger killed in the plane crash off of Long Island on Saturday.  New York State police identified the passenger as 53-year-old Richard Terbrusch, of Ridgefield. 

 

Friends say he had gotten his pilot license years ago, but let it lapse when he was going to law school.  Terbrusch worked for the judicial system before starting his own law firm in Danbury about 15 years ago. He also served in the past as a member of Ridgefield’s Police Commission and Board of Education. 

 

The small plane was headed from Danbury Airport to South Carolina, when it crashed, killing all three aboard.  Also killed was a Georgia special education teacher and the plane's owner.  

 

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

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Flu vaccine clinic in Kent today

A seasonal flu vaccination clinic will be offered today for Kent seniors from 10am to 11am, and then for age resident from 11am to noon at Kent Town Hall, in the first floor large meeting room. Accepted insurance plans are Aetna/Medicare Advantage, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Cross, Connecticare/Medicare VP, Medicare Part B.  Registration forms and related information packet are available at the Kent Senior Center and in the Kent Town Hall lobby. Participants should bring their insurance card or a copy of the card. The clinic is sponsored by the New Milford Visiting Nurse Association and Kent Community Fund in conjunction with the Town of Kent.

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Ridgefield house destroyed by fire

A Ridgefield home was destroyed by fire early yesterday morning.  Firefighters were called to a Lake Road home shortly after 1:30am.  There were no injuries reported.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the only part of the home remaining standings is the brick chimney.  The walls of the two-and-a-half story home all collapsed.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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Sen. Blumenthal visits Brookfield to talk storm damage relief

Senator Richard Blumenthal was in Brookfield this morning to urge support for legislation the Connecticut congressional delegation introduced to end the prohibition on FEMA disaster aid to homeowners to clear fallen trees.  Blumenthal also discussed the newly-approved SBA loans to help property owners recover from the May 15th macroburst.  Brookfield First Selectman Steven Dunn was on hand for the event this morning.

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Newtown Parent Connection gets grant to fight opioid epidemic

A $10,000 donation is being made to the Newtown Parent Connection.  The grant from AT&T will help to fight the opiate epidemic in Connecticut.  The Newtown Parent Connection works to combat substance abuse through education. The organization was founded by Dorrie Carolan, a parent who lost her child to addiction. The organization works in conjunction with town agencies, the police department, the schools, and religious communities to prevent the use of drugs and alcohol among youth.

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Heroin and Opioid Awareness Conference at WCSU tonight

The Heroin and Opioid Awareness Conference is being held tonight at West Conn.  The University's Justice and Law Society, in conjunction with the Heroin Education Action Team, will host a screening of the documentary “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict.”  HEAT is a partner program with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut. The event will take place at 6pm at Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the Midtown campus.  The documentary was created by the FBI and DEA to educate students and parents about the dangers of addiction. The movie will be followed by a panel discussion with a federal prosecutor, DEA agent, and two local parents who lost children to an opioid overdose.

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Putnam County marks 4th annual Organ Donor Enrollment Day

Putnam County officials marked the 4th annual Organ Donor Enrollment Day.  The goal was to enroll as many New Yorkers as possible to be organ donors. County Executive MaryEllen Odell says every 18 hours a New Yorker dies waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. A contributing factor to this statistic is that there are not enough people registered as organ donors. While 92 percent of New Yorkers support organ donation, and despite having the fourth fastest growing registry in the country, just 30 percent are registered.

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Danbury man in stolen car dragged Newtown Officer during traffic stop

A Danbury man fleeing Newtown Police injured an officer, almost crushing him between the patrol vehicle and the suspect vehicle.  The incident started last Sunday when Newtown officers conducting traffic enforcement on Route 34 saw a car without a front license plate and a rear plate that belonged to a different car. 

 

The driver, later identified as John Paul Suero, engaged police in pursuit, before the chase was called off due to community safety concerns.  The car was located by Officer James, who approached on foot and was dragged as Suero sped off. 

 

Newtown's K9 tracked the suspect, who was picked up by a different vehicle. 

 

This weekend, Newtown and Danbury Police conducted a manhunt for Suero, who had four outstanding warrants.  One charged him with 11 crimes, including assault on an officer and larceny, for the stolen vehicle.  The other warrants were out of Bethel and Torrington on Failure to Appear in Court on other charges.

Suero was held over the weekend on a combined $104,500 bond and transported to Danbury Superior Court for arraignment yesterday.

 

Newtown Police LT. Aaron Bahamonde says this was an extremely dangerous individual that was taken off the street. 

 

He added that this is just one of multiple criminal suspects that have been causing havoc across the state in the breaking into vehicles and stealing them.  The police implore residents to remove valuable items from vehicles, including the keys to the vehicle.  Bahamonde says this is not just a Newtown problem but a statewide problem that has reached an epidemic proportion

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Father, son plead guilty to $27M health care scam

A father and son from California have pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud Affordable Care Act programs in Connecticut and 11 other states.  60-year old Jeffrey White and 33-year old Nicholas White are accused of fraudulently enrolling people in ACA plans in states where the individuals didn't live, defrauding the system of more than $27 million. 

 

According to court documents, the Whites created phony residential leases using fictitious landlords in various locations in Danbury, Farmington, Hartford and Norwalk.  They reportedly used an online application to obtain false cell phone numbers for the individuals with area codes that made it appear they lived at the fictitious addresses.  The calls would ring through to a phone controlled by the Whites. In order to enroll the individuals in an ACA plan, the Whites paid the insurance premiums for the individuals. 

 

They also paid to have the individuals transported to California where they were placed in expensive residential substance abuse treatment programs.  The treatment programs then billed the ACA plans for thousands of dollars of treatment each week, including claims for expensive laboratory tests such as blood or urine toxicology screenings. The treatment programs paid the Whites thousands of dollars for each referral, and some programs arranged for the Whites to receive a percentage of the money the treatment programs received from the ACA health insurance plans.  

 

FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Turner says the Whites exploited both the opioid epidemic and the ACA by enrolling people with serious drug addictions into insurance programs for the sole purpose of enriching themselves and so-called rehabilitation centers. 

 

Sentencing has been set for January.

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Watertown Police Lt. proposed as New Milford's next Chief

Police Lt Spencer Cerruto has been nominated to be the next New Milford Police Chief.  Mayor Pete Bass will put his name forward to the Town Council.  Cerruto is currently with the Watertown Police Department and has over 30 years of police and command experience.  Bass says he has a strong commitment to community policing.  The Mayor pulled together a group of volunteers with experience to assist in the nominating process, including retired members of the New Milford Police Department, a retired NYPD member, Farmington's Police Chief and the town's Human Resources Director. 

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Officials ID second victim of weekend plane crash

A Georgia school official says a teacher there was one of the three victims of a Saturday plane crash off of Long Island.  Jennifer Landrum had been a high school special education teacher in Thomson.  The twin-engine Piper PA-34 was headed from Danbury Municipal Airport to South Carolina, when it crashed in about 20 feet of water south of the Hamptons.  Another victim has been identified as 41-year-old plane owner and flight instructor Munidat “Raj” Persaud, of Waterbury.  Divers on Sunday also recovered a third man’s body. He hasn’t been officially identified.

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Hearing in Bethel on proposed fracking ordinance

The Bethel Board of Selectmen is hosting a public hearing tonight on fracking. The previous fracking ordinance proposal was tabled for a number of months for research.  At the same time, the state was considering a stronger bill than what the towns would be capable of doing but it never got out of committee. 

 

There's still a moratorium on the use of fracking waste in Connecticut.  The ordinance considered in Bethel was rewritten, with the help of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. 

 

The ordinance would prohibit the use or storage of waste from hydraulic fracking in Bethel.  The waste would not be permitted in wastewater treatment or solid waste management facilities and could not be sold or disposed of in Bethel.  Selectman Paul  Szatkowski was concerned about who would enforce the ordnance and that the fine  of $250 was too low. 

 

The hearing is at 6:30pm in Meeting Room A of the  Municipal Center.

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Presentation tonight in Brookfield about school construction plans

A presentation is scheduled in Brookfield for tonight about the proposed Huckleberry Hill Elementary School Project.  A presentation will be made to the Boards of Selectmen and Finance about the benefits, scope and costs. The public will have an opportunity to provide input and ask questions following the presentation, which will be held at the high school auditorium at 7pm.  The $78.1 million plan is to build a new school for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade on the back field of the existing Huckleberry facility.  A driveway, parking and ball fields would also be added.  Center Elementary School, which houses pre-kindergarten through first grade, would be turned over to the municipality.  Brookfield officials hope to hold a referendum in March.

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Bethel School Start Time Committee discusses survey results

The Bethel School Start Times Committee continues to examine putting all elementary schools on the same time schedule to address the third grade moving to Johnson School as part of the renovations at Rockwell and Johnson.  The committee has decided that in the upcoming school year, all Bethel elementary schools will be on the same time schedule. No other decisions or recommendations have been made at this point.  

 

The committee felt that there was not enough support among stakeholder groups surveyed to flip secondary and elementary times, and that option was eliminated.  Opposition was because of increased cost of aftercare and getting kids up before 7:30 was too early. 

 

On November 6th, the committee will be reconvening to discuss a final recommendation. On November 12th, there will be an informational meeting for parents on the final option. The meeting will be at 6PM in the BHS Auditorium. According to survey results, a majority of elementary parents felt their children learn the best in the morning. 

 

Parents of middle and high school students felt that their children get adequate sleep. They also felt that their children learn best in late morning, and generally supported a later start time. There was not overwhelming support for high schoolers riding the same bus as middle school students. There was some concern expressed regarding start time and its impact on athletes.   Contrary to parent reports, 80-percent of students felt they did not get enough sleep and in general supported a later start time.  There was some concern among students that a later start time would impact after school activities.

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K9 Texas tracks man suspected in Oxford burglary

State Police K9 Texas helped detectives save the day for a woman and her child in Oxford on Friday.  A woman called police from the 2nd floor of her home, saying that an unknown white man entered the residence.   When confronted, the man fled on foot.  Troop A bloodhound “Texas” and his partner responded to the scene and was able to track the suspect’s scent to a possible suspect home.  The man was identified as 41-year old  Daniel Tichy. He was located in Waterbury and charged with Burglary. Tichy was also arrested for Larceny and Credit Card fraud via a warrant on a separate incident. He was in possession of narcotics when Troopers arrested him.

 

(Photo collage: CSP)

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Leaf pick to start in Bethel

Bethel will begin curbside pick up of leaf bags today, continuing through December 7th.  Each road in Bethel is listed on the schedule for when leaves will be picked up. Residents are asked not to rake leaves into the streets, to avoid clogging storm drains which could lead to localized flooding. 

 

Residents are encouraged to bring their bagged leaves to the transfer station at no extra cost while this program is in effect.  Household garbage will not be accepted with the leaves.  All leaves must be neatly bagged in paper bags. No plastic bags will be picked up.  Tape should not be used to close and seal the leaf bags.

 

All leaf bags should be placed on the curbside the night before, unless inclement weather is expected. Leaves placed after the scheduled pickup date will be collected on the next rotation.

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Candlewood Lake Authority donates bench to New Milford park

The Candlewood Lake Authority has donated a park bench in New Milford.  It's in memory of Purple Heart Recipient Harold Meyer, a 30 year member of the authority and an acclaimed filmmaker. The bench is located at Lynn Deming Beach.

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SafeWalk raises $70,000 for Women's Center services

The Women's Center of Greater Danbury's 12th Annual SafeWalk event raised nearly $70,000 to help fund the Center's free services.  More than a thousand people participated in the Safe Walk, which kicked off the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For the fourth consecutive year, Ridgefield High School Football team members, together with their mothers, walked in solidarity supporting the mission to end domestic violence.  This year's event Co-Chairs were Kathy Graham, MaryBeth Prunty and Chip Salvestrini.

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DOT to continue emergency roadwork on Route 37 into next week

The state Department of Transportation says the emergency roadwork on Route 37 at the New Fairfield-Sherman border turned out to be a bigger job than anticipated.  Crews are expected to finish the job Friday, though only one lane of traffic will get by next Monday and Tuesday because of guardrail replacement.  Part of the delay was because of moving a utility pole, which was near a steep slope.  There were also rain delays.

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Two arrested in separate road rage incidents on I-684

Two people have been arrested in unrelated road rage incidents on Interstate 684.  New York State police say 42-year old Luca Racanelli of Carmel threw a quarter inch socket wrench at another driver on Thursday afternoon.  The victim was struck in the face and sustained minor injuries.  He was charged with reckless endangerment and harassment.  Shortly after, Troopers say 57-year old Monica Parker of Lewisboro threw an object at a vehicle, damaging the windshield.  She was charged with criminal mischief.  Racanelli is due in court on the 23rd, Parker is due in court on Thursday.

 

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Danbury man charged for alleged drug sales

A police investigation into neighbor complaints of drug sales in Danbury has landed a City man under arrest.  On Thursday, Police saw Ronald Kenneth Scott engage in a suspected drug transaction with a driver who pulled into his Irving Place driveway. 

 

Investigators were able to stop the operator when it left the immediate area, who was found to be in possession marijuana.  An infraction was issued. 

 

Search warrants were then carried out and police found several ounces of cocaine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia and suspected drug proceed.  Scott was placed under arrest and held on bond.  

 

Scott was charged with two counts each of possession of a controlled substance and sale of a controlled substance.  He was also charged for possession of drug paraphernalia.

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Two men arrested for alleged drug sales in Danbury

Two men have been arrested by Danbury Police for drug offenses.  An investigation was launched weeks ago into neighbor complains of drug sales from a Bank Street apartment, where Christopher Kevin Maloney lives. 

 

On Thursday night, search warrants were carried out and Chevalier Terrell Purvis disobeyed orders not to move and immediately began to run to the rear of the apartment.  Investigators chased Purvis into a bathroom where he became combative and actively resisted attempts to restrain him. He also tried to swallow a substantial quantity of cocaine.  In addition to seizing the drugs, investigators seized a substantial quantity of cash and drug paraphernalia. 

 

  

 

Each was placed under arrest and held on bond.

Purvis, of Waterbury, was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, possession of a controlled substance within 1500’ of school, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell within 1500’ school, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of drug paraphernalia within 1500’school, and interfering with a search warrant.

 

Maloney was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, possession of a controlled substance within 1500’ of school, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell within 1500’ school, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of drug paraphernalia within 1500’school.

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Brookfield Police get new External Ballistic Vest Carriers

Brookfield residents will soon begin to see a new look to the uniform worn by some Brookfield Police Officers. A new External Ballistic Vest Carrier has been authorized for officers, in an effort to reduce back injuries from carrying all of their equipment on their waist belts. The external vest carrier will also allow officers to more easily remove the vest and gear when they are working inside the police station or in an emergency situation.  Not all officers will choose to wear the new external vest but for those who do, it will feature the officer's name and badge on the front, just as the uniform shirt does now.  The back panel will display the words "BROOKFIELD POLICE" for easy identification.

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New Milford swears in interim Police Chief

New Milford officials have sworn in an interim Police Chief.  As Chief Shawn Boyne's contract ended this weekend, Mayor Pete Bass thanked him for his service.  Lt Jeff Covello will be Interim Chief and Sgt. Katherine Massicotte will serve as interim Lt.  Bass says he will have an update this week on the future of the Department.  He expects the interim positions to be needed for about a month.  The 46-year old Covello joined the New Milford department in 2016 after serving 22 years with state police.

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Remaining bodies recovered in plane crash off Hamptons

Authorities have recovered the remaining two bodies from a small plane that crashed into the ocean waters off of Long Island, after taking off from Danbury Municipal Airport.  The Coast Guard said divers located the bodies of a woman and a man on Sunday after finding the aircraft wreckage in about 20 feet of water about a mile south of shore. Their identities have not yet been released.  The first body, identified as 41-year-old Munidat Raj Persaud, of Waterbury was found on Saturday.  The three were in a twin-engine Piper PA-34 that left Danbury Airport Saturday morning and was heading to South Carolina when it crashed.  The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.  New York State Police said as of last night, the search has ended.  But investigators are still on scene and have not cleared yet.

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Congressional debate in Danbury tomorrow

A 5th Congressional District Debate is being held Tuesday night at the Portuguese Cultural Center from 7 to 8:30pm.  Doors will open at 6:30pm.  The candidates for the open seat are Democrat Jahana Hayes and Republican Manny Santos.  This will be their second debate in the district.  After answering questions posed by a panel, the candidates will take questions submitted by the audience.  The League of Women Voters will be screening the questions from the audience to avoid duplication.  The Leagues of Women Voters of Northern Fairfield County and of Litchfield County, the Newstimes and the Newtown Bee are sponsoring the forum.  WLAD will be participating as well.

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Annual Danbury College Fair tonight

The annual Danbury College and Vocational Fair takes place Monday at the Danbury Mall.  Over 235 two-year and four-year schools will be represented.  The Armed Services, trade schools, business schools and the job service will also be at the fair.

5,000 students and their parents are expected to visit the college and vocational fair.  Adults interested in further training are also being urged to attend.  Chairwoman Valerie DeRubertis says this is one of the largest and most successful college fairs in the country.

Students and adults can talk with school representatives about majors, costs, entrance requirements, student life, sports and scholarship information among other topics.  Students are urged to write up a short list of questions to ask admission representatives, including what the two or three most popular majors are. That can give a good idea of the main interests of the majority of the students. Students who are undecided should ask about what services and support are available to help them explore various majors.

Freshmen and sophomores are urged to ask admission representatives what they should do to strengthen their transcripts and activities. Juniors who attend are urged to start making a list of colleges they are interested in to learn more about heading into senior year. Seniors can make another contact with a school they're interested in or find a school they weren't aware of before the fair.

DeRubertis says college fairs can be very informative but they can also be overwhelming.  Danbury High School counselors, including Spanish speaking counselors, will be on hand to help fair attendees.  She says it's easy to get caught up in the crowds and confusion, criss-crossing the room, stopping at any booth that seems popular.

The Danbury School District website shows the list of institutions attending. There are also tips on what to ask college representatives and financial aid information on the Danbury site.


Students with access to a computer can print a few sheets of self-stick address labels with contact information, high school, year of graduation, intended major(s), and any extracurricular activities of interest. The label can then be put on information cards to save time in filling out the same information at each college’s table.

The College Fair will be held on both levels of the mall from 5pm to 8:30pm.

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WCSU west side buildings experiencing water discoloration

Western Connecticut State University is experiencing water discoloration and water pressure issues in the Westside campus buildings.  The issue was first reported yesterday afternoon. Facilities Operations officials say they are working with the City of Danbury Water Department on a resolution and believe the condition will be resolved within 48 hours. Anyone encountering discolored water is asked to run the tap until it comes out clear.

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Vacancy on Danbury Board of Education

There is a vacancy on the Danbury Board of Education.  Republican member Richard Hawley recently resigned, creating an open seat for a member of the same party.  Danbury residents interested in applying for this vacancy should send a letter of application to the Board of Ed's office.  This term will be until the next regular election in November 2019. Residents must be at least 18 years old and a United States Citizen.  Applications will be accepted until October 25th.

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State DOT pushes back completion estimate for Route 37 work

The state Department of Transportation has pushed back their competition date of emergency roadwork in the New Fairfield and Sherman area.  The DOT's latest estimate on the reopening of Route 37 is next Friday at 5pm, a week later than originally anticipated.  road repairs were needed as the result of washout conditions threatening the road’s structure and strength.  The repairs started were slated to only take two weeks, but there were rain and other delays because of the type of ledge and bedrock found by excavators.  The closure starts slightly north of the turn for Big Trail, near the Sherman town line. 

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Esty works with AmeriCorp members at Macricostas Preserve

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty met with AmeriCorp members at Macricostas Preserve in the Washington/New Preston area as the team concludes it service projects.  She and the team installed garden bed frames and transplant vegetable seedlings.  They worked with the Steep Rock Association to support a range of projects, including building and installing board walks along local hiking trails and building garden bed frames, and preparing the new garden for bed installation. 

 

As part of their service, the AmeriCorps volunteers built and expanded trails, repaired and maintained structures and infrastructure, restored habitats, and engaged in community outreach in order to improve public access.  The service project is sponsored by the Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative, an organization dedicated to increasing the pace and quality of land conservation across northwestern Connecticut.

 

More than 460 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members have served in over 90 locations throughout central and northwestern Connecticut over the last year.

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Downed trees, utility lines close Route 7 in Ridgefield

Route 7 in Ridgefield is closed due to downed trees and electric lines.  A utility pole is also involved.  The road is closed between Florida Hill Road and Route 102.  High winds are reportedly responsible for the incident, which was reported at the end of the morning commute.  Traffic is being detoured around the impacted area.  More than 350 outages were reported by Eversource, but that's down to about 50 around noon.

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Newtown Police to host open house of current, proposed stations

The Newtown Police Department will hold open houses tomorrow at both their current facility at 3 Main Street, and at the site of the proposed new Police station, 191 South Main Street. 

 

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says the current building is cramped, but they're not looking to add a lot of space.  He noted that Danbury built a large space and no one has regionalized dispatching.

 

Rosenthal says there are still decisions to be made about a firing range.  In order for the town to do a range, the economics have to work.  He wants to look at the cost of overtime and using another facility now compared to debt service.  Or he wants a commitment from another community that they'll pay to use a Newtown firing range. 

 

Without a range, the estimate is $14.8 million.  That figure includes the cost of buying the land.

 

The open houses at both locations tomorrow and on October 27th are from 10am to 12pm. 

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Region 12 to hold info session on AgriScience academy

The Region 12 School Superintendent will host a community conversation later this month about the new Agriscience building that will open next year on the Shepaug campus.  Megan Bennett will discuss the history, status and future of Shepaug Valley School, focusing on how Agriscience will be integrated into the school's educational program and culture to enhance learning.  Community members are encouraged to ask questions and share ideas that will help school leaders, faculty and families shape the new program and form a comprehensive profile of the Shepaug graduate.  The discussion is being held on October 25th at Roxbury Town Hall at 6:30pm.

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New Milford to hold Charter revision information sessions

New Milford residents will be voting on some charter revisions when they go to the polls in November.  There will be two informational session about the proposed changes.  New Milford Town Attorney Matt Grimes will host the sessions on October 17th at the John Pettibone cafeteria and 24th at Town Hall, each at 7pm. 

 

There will be time for questions after a presentation.  The New Milford charter was last revised in 2006. 

 

Several changes have been proposed this year, including to unify terms for appointed boards and commissions, with members serving four years. 

 

New Milford residents currently vote on school and municipal spending separately, one proposed change is that only the budget that fails would be revised.  More budget advisory questions and sending a failed budget to the Board of Finance instead of Town Council are also questions on the ballot.  The Board of Finance is also proposed to add members.

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Inaugural New Milford RiverFest celebration this weekend

The inaugural New Milford RiverFest celebration will be held Saturday.  The Revitalization Committee hopes the event will attract more residents and visitors to the area and better tie the Housatonic River to downtown.  The festival will feature live music, local food trucks, arts and crafts vendors, environmental education and a beer and wine garden.  There will be a tour of the riverfront's new walking loop.  It takes place Saturday from noon until 9:30pm.  Committee chair Liba Furhman says admission to RiverFest is free, but they're asking for $5 donations to help offset costs.  Kimberly-Clark, Savings Bank of Danbury and Western Connecticut Health Network are sponsoring the event.

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Brewster Fire Department to host open house

The Brewster Fire Department is hosting their annual Open House on Sunday October 14th from 12 to 4pm.  Residents are being invited to meet Sparky the Fire Dog, go for a fire truck ride, look at the Fire Safety (Smoke) House and learn about school bus safety.  Members of New York State Police & Putnam County Sheriff's Office will be on hand for a Safe Child ID & Car Seat safety clinic.  A vehicle rescue demonstration is scheduled for 1pm and there will be a live burn at 3:30pm.  Fire Safety Supplies will also be handed out.

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Brookfield signs FEMA documents as aid request moves forward

Brookfield officials recently went to a meeting with FEMA about reimbursement for clean up and recovery from the May macroburst.  They signed all of the documents for aid and are in the process of filing claims through their new system. 

 

First Selectman Steve Dunn hopes to get that in as quickly as possible with the recent and current hurricane activity along the eastern seaboard.  Brookfield was originally told that only the top two categories of work would be reimbursed, but after the recent meeting was notified that A-G categories would be eligible.  Brookfield is submitting claims to be authenticated by FEMA at $2.8 million. 

 

Dunn cautioned that there's no guarantee of reimbursement. 

 

Meanwhile members of the Connecticut congressional delegation are looking to change the law to encourage federal disaster relief aid to homeowners for fallen trees and debris.  The lawmakers say current federal law bars Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance, and that the cost of debris removal cannot currently be included in damage assessments provided by FEMA to the president.  That makes it harder for states to qualify for needed disaster declarations and federal relief.

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Suspects in car stolen from Brookfield lead Newtown Police in pursuit

Newtown Police are asking for the public's help in identifying people who led officers in a pursuit over the weekend in a car stolen from Brookfield.  Officers spotted a vehicle around 5:30pm Sunday on Route 34 near Toddy Hill Road, with a license plate that didn't match the vehicle.  The Newtown Bee reports that police tried to stop the driver, but they engaged police in a chase.  The white 2018 Nissan Altima had 3 or 4 occupants and was later located abandoned on Sugarloaf Road.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Newtown Police at 203-426-5841.

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Part of Ives Trail rerouted

Part of the Ives Trail in Danbury has been rerouted so hikers spend less time walking along a scenic road.  The Ridgefield Press reports that previously, the trail met Long Ridge Road and it took a half mile hike to regain access to the trail.  Now, it's about 200 yards and the Ives Trail Board says this should lead to fewer people getting lost.  Danbury recently purchased a tract of land owned by a 100-year old woman, who wanted to preserve her property.  The 18-mile Ives Trail connects Redding, Danbury, Bethel and Ridgefield.  The Press reports that members of the Ives Trail Group recently carved a path through the purchased property, cutting away downed trees.

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Ridgefield Police investigating thefts from cars

Ridgefield Police are investigating thefts from motor vehicles.  Police say 6 cars were entered or broken into while parked in driveways during the overnight hours Sunday into Monday.  Only loose change was reported stolen from cars on Old Trolley Road, Aarons Court, and Stonewall Lane.  Police are reminding residents to lock car doors, remove keys and valuables, and to call police immediately if they see something suspicious.

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Ridgefield zoners to decide later on age-restricted housing proposal

A public hearing continued this week in Ridgefield on a proposed age-restricted housing complex on Danbury Road.  The proposal was submitted before a moratorium on 8-30g affordable housing applications.  The statute allows developers to bypass certain zoning regulations as long as a portion of units are set aside as affordable.  Connecticut has mandated 10-percent of housing in towns be designated as affordable.  Charter Group Partners agreed to put in a sidewalk during the meeting, where opponents expressed concerns about traffic and septic.  The proposal complies with height and setback restrictions.  The Planning and Zoning Commission will issue a ruling October 23rd.

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Newtown officials seek to fill vacancies on Boards

Newtown residents are being called on to volunteer fill a vacancy on the Economic Development Commission.  The position is open to a Democrat or unaffiliated voter and party recommendations are due by November 4th.  There is also a vacancy on the Conservation Commission open to a Democrat or unaffiliated voter.  Party recommendations are due by November 16th.

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SBA approves disaster loan assistance tied to May storms

The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved Governor Malloy's request for disaster assistance resulting from the May 15th tornadoes and severe storms.   Homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits in Fairfield and Litchfield counties will be eligible to receive loans from the SBA to help with the costs of both physical and economic damages.

Loans up to $200,000 will be available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, which may include debris removal.  Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA will offer Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster.  The assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

Applications can be filled out and submitted online through the SBA website at disasterloan.sba.gov.  The deadline to return applications for physical property damage is December 10th.  The deadline to return economic injury applications is July 9th.  The SBA will also open a Disaster Loan Outreach Center at the Southbury Training School to help people process applications and answer questions in person.  The office will be open from October 11 through the 18th. 

Hours are:
Thursday, October 11: 11AM to 6PM
Friday, October 12: 9AM to 6PM
Saturday, October 13: 10AM to 2PM
Sunday: October 14: Closed
Monday, October 15: 9AM to 6PM
Tuesday, October 16: 9AM to 6PM
Wednesday, October 17: 9AM to 6PM
Thursday, October 18: 9AM to 4PM

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Meeting planned about Federal Road Safety Improvement Project

A Public Information Meeting is being held in Brookfield later this month about the Conceptual Design for the Lower Federal Road Safety Improvement Project.  The state Department of Transportation's Route 202 design team will be in Brookfield on October 29th.  The five design drawings, posted by Brookfield Police, show the scope of the plan and the major improvements proposed for this project.  The informational meeting on the 29th is at 7pm in Room 133 at Brookfield Town Hall.

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Candidate forum tonight in Danbury for state legislative offices

Greater Danbury area state lawmakers and their challengers will be participating in a forum tonight in Danbury.  The Northern Fairfield County Association of REALTORS is hosting the candidate discussion at the Portuguese Cultural Center from 6:30 to 8:30pm.  There will be a meet and greet opportunity after candidates answer a series of questions.  Democratic and Republican state House and Senate candidates from Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, and Redding are attending.

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Communities certified as Sustainable communities

Ridgefield and Roxbury are among the inaugural list of communities certified under the Sustainable Connecticut program. The statewide initiative is aimed at promoting efficient, resilient, and inclusive communities.  The designation lets businesses and potential residents know that these communities have a vested interest in promoting the health and well-being of its residents and economy.  The recognized municipalities worked to demonstrate significant achievements in nine sustainability impact areas ranging from thriving local economies and vibrant arts-and-culture to clean transportation and diverse housing.  It was previously announced that New Milford was certified.

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Man sentenced for distributing heroin to Monroe overdose victim

A Connecticut man has been sentenced for distributing heroin to an overdose victim.  35-year old Careem Bentley, also known as C-Lows" was ordered to 3 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.  The Bridgeport man's arrest followed a November 2016 overdose in Monroe.  Emergency responders were called to a Monroe home on a report of an unresponsive 37-year old man, who was later pronounced dead.  Investigators seized the victim’s cellphone, multiple folds of suspected heroin, and other items, and determined that the victim purchased heroin from Bentley.

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Medicare reimbursement reduced for Danbury Hospital due to readmission rate

Two hospitals in Connecticut will receive full reimbursement for Medicare-covered patients, with the other 27 facing some penalties after the program for the elderly found high rates of patient readmission last year.  Hospitals have been penalized since the 2013 fiscal year for having high rates of patients who are readmitted within a month of being discharged.  Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that some hospitals in the state will have their Medicare reimbursements reduced by less than 1 percent, including Danbury Hospital by .63 percent.  Hospitals were placed into “peer groups” and their readmission rates were compared against facilities that serve similar proportions of low-income patients for the first time.

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Sidewalk project in Bethel hits minor snag

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker updated the board on the Beach Street sidewalks.  They are 80-percent complete.  There is a snag, though.  There's a culvert where the creek goes underneath, discovered when the Public Utilities Commission put a water line there. During the sidewalk replacement, crews found that the steel I-beam holding up the cement has two inches missing.  Knickerbocker says it's rotted completely through in the center of the beam.  There was a week delay, costing another $4,000-$5,000 for a replacement.  Knickerbocker says there should be enough grant money to cover the work.  He also informed the board that there was enough money in the budget to overlay all of Wolfpits Road.  It was going to be just the the top part with patching on the bottom part. 

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Candlewood Lake buoy removal underway

With the weather turning cooler, the Candlewood Lake Authority expects fewer boaters to be on the water.  The annual winter draw down is also slated to begin soon.  The Lake Authority has started the process of removing hazard, speed and navigation buoys from the lake.  Officials cautioned boaters who still go out on Candlewood Lake to take any necessary precautions on the water.

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Brookfield to discuss grants for Phase III of streetscape project

A special meeting is being held in Brookfield tomorrow about Phase III of the streetscape project. The Board of Selectmen will meet at 7pm in Meeting Room 209 to gain approval to apply for the LoTCIP Grant funding.  There will also be a brief presentation of Phase III by project manager Greg Dembowski. Phase III will extend the streetscape design from Phase II down Old Route 7 to Laurel Hill Road. This phase will include another crosswalk, providing safer access to the Still River Greenway Trail and other amenities.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says the next phase won't be done next year, but the year after.  He notes that it takes a long time to get the grants, so the town wants to get the ball rolling. 

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Danbury refers illegal dumping matter to State's Attorney

A Danbury City Council member has asked for an update on where the City is on recouping costs for a response to illegal dumping.  Three people are facing charges over allegations that they dumped 2,000 gallons of raw sewage into a storm drain on Lake Avenue in July. 

 

City officials have tracked all of the costs for cleaning the catch basins and washing the pipes. They are working with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on the next steps.  Some of the issue has been referred to the State's Attorney and Danbury is awaiting a response. 

 

Danbury is looking into going after the insurance policy of the home owner, not the tenant, to repay local and state for costs associated with the clean up.  

 

Danbury resident Francisco Tomas Vidal, Pablo Pintado Penaloza of Manhattan and Oscar Anselmo Hernandez-Jimenez of Spring Valley, New York were charged with breach of peace, criminal mischief and illegally dumping hazardous waste.  All three have pleaded not guilty.  Two are due back in court on October 31st while the Hernandez-Jimenez is scheduled to appear on November 14th.

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Bethel schools renovation plans advance to state

Environmental testing has wrapped up at Rockwell and Johnson schools for the planned renovation projects in Bethel.  Superintendent Christine Carver says they are meeting with an abatement contractor to discuss the process and budgetary impact because it's a highly regulated process. 

 

Portable classrooms will not be used a Johnson School.  At a meeting yesterday, Superintendent Christine Carver said Rockwell abatement will be done over the summer so students will not need to go into portable classrooms this spring. 

 

The Public Sites and Building Committee has approved final plans.  A state grant will cover 45-percent of eligible costs of the $65.8 million proposal.  School officials will present construction drawing to the State Office of School Construction today.  That will allow the construction manager to go out to bid. 

 

Work at the schools are planned through the summer of 2020.  

 

 

 

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New Milford Police seek public's help to identify suspects

New Milford Police are asking for the public's help in identifying three suspects wanted for questioning in connection to separate incidents.  Police say one man is suspected of being involved in a recent theft involving a motor vehicle.  A woman was caught on store surveillance photos and police are attempting to identify her.  She was pushing a baby carriage at the time.  Police also posted a third photo to their Facebook page asking visitors to help identify a man in a close up high resolution image.  Police did not release further details.

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Bethel hires special counsel in property assessment suit by Duracell

Berkshire Hathaway-owned Duracell has filed a lawsuit against Bethel in a dispute over the fair market and assessed values of their Berkshire Corporate Park property.  Bethel denied their appeal.  Now the town has hired Kari Olson as special counsel.  The suit claims the value “was grossly excessive, disproportionate and unlawful.”  A pretrial conference is scheduled for November 28th.  The Newstimes reports that the two sides are about 20-million dollars apart on property value.  According to the latest grand list, 14 Research Drive is valued at $60.9 million. The assessed value, a standard 70 percent of the fair market value, is $42.6 million.

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Winter weather plans made by Bethel school officials

The Bethel School district made adjustments to this school year to accommodate renovations of Johnson and Rockwell schools, creating a summer of nearly 12 weeks to maximize construction for the projects.  Superintendent Christine Carver says in two winter previews, data showed it could be a tough few months.  Last year there were 12 missed days due to inclement weather.  If there are 3 weather related closures by February 15th, Bethel students will go to class on February 19th.  If there are 4 closures, February 18th and 19th will be in-school days.  Carver says she will try to avoid taking time from April vacation.  She was asked why teachers can't prepare work for students to do at home so they don't lose a day, but explained that the state defines seat time in order to meet the 180 day minimum.

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Veterans Walkway of Honor raise funds for vet organizations

The final phase of the brick sales from the Veterans Walkway of Honor will allow the Danbury War Memorial to donate $1,000 to each of two veteran organizations. The organizations selected are the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs in Rocky Hill and the Friends of Fisher House in West Haven. 

 

The Veterans Walkway of Honor at the Danbury War Memorial was dedicated in 2013.  Since then it has raised more than $83,000, of which more than $47,000 went to support programs at the Danbury War Memorial and nearly $16,000 more for area organizations serving veterans. 

 

Organizer Lee Teicholz says the checks will be presented after the annual Veteran's Day Ceremony at the Danbury War Memorial on November 11th.

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Bethel looking to go to bid on school renovation projects

The Bethel Board of Education has approved the final plans and professional cost estimates for the Rockwell and Johnson schools renovations. Pending approval from the Public Site and Building Committee today, school officials will go to the State Office of School Construction tomorrow for approval of construction documents and the ability to go out to bid on both projects.  They also recently completed environmental testing and are developing abatement plans for environmental hazards.

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Sandy Hook firefighters mark Fire Prevention Week

This is Fire Prevention Week.  Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue is offering tips to residents.  Yesterday's suggestion was to test smoke alarms monthly to make sure they are in working order, because the alarm will give you time to escape a fire.  Today's tip is to make situational awareness a habit.  Firefighters are asking residents to always look for two exits from the location or building you’re in, and identify the quickest path to the outside in the event of an emergency.

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Emergency road closure in New Fairfield to end this week

The proposed completion date for the Route 37 construction project between New Fairfield and Sherman is October 12th.  Emergency road repairs were needed as the result of washout conditions threatening the road’s structure and strength.  The state Department of Transportation says the project is critical for drivers’ safety.  The repairs started on September 6th and were slated to only take two weeks, but there were rain and other delays.  The DOT said crews wouldn't know specifics until they started excavating and discovered what type of ledge and bedrock are there.  The closure starts slightly north of the turn for Big Trail, near the Sherman town line. 

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Bethel school officials to give update on school renovation proposals

The Bethel School Superintendent will meet with the Rockwell School Parent Teacher Organization tonight to give an update on the proposed renovation project.  Christine Carver will present a revised plan for how the project at Rockwell will be phased.  An environmental expert will also answer questions about abatement testing.  The meeting is at 6:30pm.  A separate meeting will be held next month, November 13th, about the Johnson School renovation project.  Meanwhile, the Public Site and Building Committee will meet at 7pm to consider approval of the final plans and cost estimates for the project.

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Boiler needs replacing at Bethel Middle School

The boiler at Bethel Middle School needs to be replaced.  The Boards of Selectmen and Finance are meeting tonight to consider approximately $200,000 for two boilers.  The funding is left over from previous fiscal years.  Superintendent of Schools Christine Carver says the school needs both boilers in order to heat the entire building and one could fail this winter.  She called it an emergency situation.  One boiler was purchased in 2012 and will work in conjunction with the other two, if funding is approved.  The leaky boiler was discovered during study of the schools’ equipment by an outside consultant.

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Congress members seek to change FEMA aid laws

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is teaming up with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro on new legislation to encourage federal disaster relief aid to homeowners for fallen trees and debris. 

 

While Connecticut is receiving federal disaster aid to cover public expenses in Fairfield and New Haven Counties from the May storms, individual property owners were denied aid.  Litchfield County towns were also denied aid.

 

The lawmakers say the cost of debris removal cannot currently be included in damage assessments provided by FEMA to the president, making it harder for states to qualify for needed disaster declarations and federal relief.  The state delegation says clearing fallen trees from a tornado, hurricane, or other major disaster can cost homeowners tens of thousands of dollars, but current federal law bars Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance.

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Ridgefield controlled deer hunt meeting tonight

The Ridgefield Deer Management Implementation Committee will hold a Public Hearing tonight to take comment on the upcoming controlled hunt.  The hearing is set for 7:30pm in the Ridgefield Town Hall Lower Level large conference room. 

 

The meeting is also a chance to provide more information about the times and dates of this controlled hunt and other basic information.  The hunt is from the 15th through January 31st.  

 

There will be no hunting on weekends, no hunting on days when schools are not in session, and no hunting on holidays. The town-owned open space land will be closed to the public during the hunting times. 

 

The proposed parcels are:

Ridgebury Farms, Turtle Ridge Court, Shadow Lake, Between Old Trolley & Shadow Lake, Keeler Court, Ridgefield Municipal Golf Course, Sarah Bishop, Old Stagecoach/Ledges Laurel Lane, Bobby’s Court, Levy Park, Linden Road, Stonecrest, Colonial Heights, Peaceable Refuge, and Silvermine Ridge.

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State DOT grants funding to Danbury for bridge replacements

The Danbury City Council gave approval back in August to apply for state grants to do bridge work on three crossings over the Still River, but the measure cited the wrong pool of money.  Approval was given to apply for money from the LOCIP.  The Council this month gave new approval to apply for funding from the correct source, DOT Local Bridge Program.  The DOT has confirmed that Danbury will be getting the three grants.

 

Crosby Street connector bridge over the Still River project cost is about $1.57 million. Danbury officials are seeking a state grant of $758,102.  Kennedy Avenue bridge work will cost $2.9 million.  The state grant request is $1.4 million.  Work on the Triangle Street bridge over the Still River is estimated to cost is $517,333.  The state grant request is $258,666.

 

Councilman Paul Rotello says the Kennedy Avenue bridge crosses several lanes of traffic near the channel originally built by the Army Corps of Engineers when they buried the Still River.  He questioned why the Army Corps isn't paying for the work.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the Army Corps doesn't fund maintenance or replacement of bridges.  They only fund the initial construction, design and engineering.  The go-to funding source for maintenance is the state.

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Ridgefield zoners hold hearing on age-restricted housing proposal

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission has scheduled a second public hearing on a proposed age-restricted affordable housing development off Danbury Road.  Charter Group Partners has proposed apartment-style one-and-two bedroom condominiums for people 55 and older.  9 of the 30 units would be considered affordable under the state's 8-30g law, allowing some zoning rules to be bypassed.  The proposed site is next to Ridgefield's senior center, but also near wetlands.  The second hearing will be held at 7:30pm.

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Redding man claims $1M Powerball prize

The clock was ticking for the unclaimed $1 million Powerball prize winning ticket for the May 2nd drawing and a Redding man has come forward to claim the prize. Only 23 days remained before the ticket was due to expire. 

 

Charles Dudley came upon the winning ticket when he was cleaning out his wallet, stuck between a number of old receipts.  He stopped in for ice cream at the Georgetown Shell station in Wilton that day, got a Powerball Quick Pick, put it in his wallet, and then forgot about it.  Dudley says he checked the numbers over and over because he didn't believe they were a match. 

 

For selling the winning ticket, Georgetown Shell, will receive a $2,500 bonus from the CT Lottery.

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New Fairfield schools to do facilities review

The New Fairfield Board of Education has approved a facilities study for the High School and Consolidated School.  It will examine the facility concerns that need to be addressed at both schools. At the high school, the study will include ADA compliance issues, HVAC, auditorium, locker rooms, parking lots, lighting, and other infrastructure needs.  The Consolidated study will focus primarily on the 1940’s portion of the building including windows, roofs, and water systems. The study will also help to address security needs.

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Western Connecticut Police K9 Challenge awards police, military teams

The 4th annual Western Connecticut Police K9 Challenge was held this weekend on the grounds of the Second Company Governor's Horse Guard in Newtown.  Police and Military Teams from around the region participated in the event also hosted by The Newtown Kennel Club and the Hometown Foundation. 

 

Awards were given for suspect apprehension, obstacle course, tactical obedience and the fastest dog among other areas.  All proceeds from event go to the Friends of the Second Company Governor's Horse Guard to continue the service and tradition of the unit. Activities for spectators also included tractor pulled Hay Rides, Pumpkin Decorating, a Bag Pipes Demonstration, and a Cavalry Horses meet and greet. 

 

Monroe Police K9s Riggs and Murphy and handlers took home 2nd place for best K9, 1st place for criminal apprehension and 1st overall for best team.

 

  

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New Milford secures grant for senior wellness programs

New Milford has been awarded a $6,000 grant to help keep seniors health.  Grant Writer Tammy Reardon secured funding from the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging.  The money will be used to run an Evidence Based Enhanced Exercise Program to help residents 60 years and older with Senior Specific Exercise classes and well being.

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Judge sides with Bethel over crematorium rejection

A Judge has sided with the town of Bethel in a case over the Planning and Zoning Commission's rejection of a crematorium application.  Shawn McLoughlin applied to build a crematorium on a more than 6 acre property he owns next to his concrete business in Clarke Business Park.  The Newstimes reports that the judge ruled last week the Commission had the authority to reject the proposal out of concern that property value would be driven down in nearby residential neighborhoods and that development in the business park would have been stymied.  A zoning regulation was adopted that would have allowed crematoriums, but later repealed the amendment and rejected McLoughlin's proposal. 

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Bethel Police to switch over 911 system to new building next week

The goal is to switch over 911 capability from the current Bethel Police station to the new building on October 16th.  Public Site & Building Commission Chairman Jon Menti updated the Board of Selectmen last week. 

 

He says that switchover is complicated because of the number of people involved.  It will take state 911 people, 911 provider AT&T, IT people for the building, Comcast and Frontier all working together.  Bethel has phone lines from both companies incase one system goes down.  Menti says it's a detailed process, but essentially involves shutting the system off in the old building, removing the equipment and bringing it up the hill to the new station and wiring everything up. 

 

Menti says the process could take four to six hours.  All 911 calls will be routed to Danbury during that time.  The system is automatically routed there if the system was to ever go down. 

 

One certified police officer dispatcher and another dispatcher from Bethel will be in Danbury during that time in case any calls come in.  They'll be able to call patrol cars via radio.  Another dispatcher will be standing by at one firehouse in case of fire or EMS call.  A fourth dispatcher will be at new station so when the system comes online, someone will be there right away in case a call comes in.

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No injuries reported in weekend hang glider accident

There was a hang glider accident in New Milford over the weekend.  No serious injuries were reported.  New Milford Police were called Saturday afternoon to the area of Ridge Road for a reported plane crash. Police are investigating what caused the hang glider to crash.  The glider was about 50 feet off the ground with the pilot still restrained and uninjured.  Water Witch Hose Company Firefighters determined that the ground would be too soft for tower 25 to make the rescue so Emmons Tree & Landscaping Service was called in.  Shawn Emmons is an arborist, climber, rigger, and rescuer who brought the pilot to the ground unharmed.

 

(Photo: Water Witch Hose Co. #2)

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Danbury Mayor wants Uncle Sam statue visible to people entering City

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton's plan to buy a 38-foot tall Uncle Sam statue, which once stood at the Danbury Fair, has entered its next phase.  The statue was bought by the Magic Forest Amusement Park in Lake George in 1981, and Boughton has now started a GoFundMe page to buy it back. 

 

Donations raised through the crowd funding campaign will help with the purchase, transport, and restoration of the statue.  The goal is to raise $50,000. 

 

Several possible locations for the statue are being considered.  Since it is so tall, it will likely require wires anchoring it to the ground.

 

Boughton wants to find a location where people coming into Danbury can see the statue, similar to how drivers entering Waterbury can see the Cross.  He noted that this is the digital age and so it can't be located somewhere that would be dangerous for selfie-seekers.

 

Boughton has secured a donation from a local corporation and an in-kind donation from a local family-owned company to help with installation and lighting, because the statue will be lit up 24-7.  A company to help with hauling has also been lined up.  The Public Works Department is designing a pad for it to stand on and the current owner is donating wrought iron fencing.

 

Boughton is hoping to be able to go up to Lake George at the end of November to pay for and bring home the statue.  Then, around 4th of July, have an unveiling at a big event celebrating the fair.

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Connecticut high court takes another look at 1985 murder

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Three decades after two teenagers were convicted in the stabbing death of a 65-year-old New Milford man, the state Supreme Court is taking another look at the case.

Lawyers for Ralph "Ricky" Birch and Shawn Henning plan to argue this week that their clients had nothing to do with the murder of 65-year-old Everett Carr on Dec. 1, 1985.

They say forensic expert Henry Lee, who would later gain fame as a witness in the O.J. Simpson murder case, gave false testimony that blood had been found on a towel, a key piece of evidence in the case.

The lawyers also say that tests done years later turned up the DNA of another person at the bloody crime scene, but nothing linking either man to the murder.

The high court has scheduled arguments for Thursday and Friday.

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Walk a Mile for a Meal brings in donations for New Milford Food Bank

The Walk a Mile for a Meal event in New Milford raised 4,500 pounds of food last week.  Mayor Pete Bass says there were over 250 walkers representing local churches, schools, community groups, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and individuals.  The event host, Big Y, had employees help the Food Bank to sort and stock donations. 

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New Fairfield seeks volunteers for CERT

The Town of New Fairfield is looking for volunteers to form a Community Emergency Response Team.  The Office of Emergency Management says the May 15th storm reinforced the need for a team of trained volunteers to assist town officials and first responders in the event of an emergency.  CERT duties can range from supporting the emergency shelter, assisting the Emergency Management Director, directing traffic, assessing storm damage and community outreach. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and willing to participate in 20 hours of training, including classroom and hands on training, and emergency response exercises. No prior experience is needed.  The CERT application can be found on the New Fairfield Town website and must be submitted by October 27th.

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Effort started to make Oct. 8 National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day

A measure has been introduced in Washington to designate October 8, 2018 as National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day.  5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty introduced the bill, noting that Connecticut’s hydrogen and fuel cell supply chain employs more than 2,800 workers and contributes over $600 million in revenue and investment to the regional economy. 

 

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy President Chip Bottone says this  provides a platform to raise awareness of these technologies.  He says Fuel Cells provide reliable and resilient power, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve America’s energy security.  Bottone added that their technology is being used by several industries, including utility companies, municipalities, universities, government entities and commercial enterprises.

 

The date October 8 was chosen because it is symbolic of the atomic weight of hydrogen (1.008).

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Structural engineer to look at historic Grange property in Bridgewater

A structural engineer will be in Bridgewater in the next few weeks to look at the historic Grange property.  Town officials have proposed demolishing the building and constructing a new one.  But it's  in a historic district and on the National Register of Historic Places.  The state Attorney General's Office filed an injunction last month against demolition of the 1850s-era building so an assessment could be done by the Historic Preservation Office.   The structure is currently surrounded by a chain-link fence to keep people out, because its condition is a liability.  Bridgewater officials have argued that renovating the building would only leave a small percentage of the original building because of the scale of work needed to make it into a useable community space.

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Danbury Exchange Club honors Firefighter of the Year

The Danbury Exchange Club hosted their 19th annual Firefighter of the Year dinner Thursday night. The award is given to a firefighter that has done something exceptional for their community, above and beyond normal duty.

 

This year's recipient was Firefighter Patrick Heron, who's been a member of the Department since 2007.  Heron will also be recognized at the State of Connecticut Exchange Club Firefighter of the Year Dinner on October 18th. 

 

Heron was recognized for his life saving actions while off duty on June 6th 2018.  His neighbor came by to drop something off and realized that her 50 year old husband was lying in the grass across the street. Heron realized that he had no pulse and was not breathing. He directed the patient’s wife to dial 911 and request an ambulance while he started CPR.  By the time the patient was moved to the ambulance a pulse was detected and shortly after they arrived at Danbury Hospital the patient was conscious and breathing without assistance.

 

Captain Jaime Schiller says Heron's willingness to provide patient care, with no available tools or personal protective equipment, was a definitive factor in the successful resuscitation of the patient.

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Rehabilitation work beings at Octagon House

A stabilization project is underway at the Octagon House in Danbury so that City can turn the historic building into office space.  Mayor Mark Boughton says plans are being drafted by the architect.  Boughton expects those approvals, which are required to repurpose the building, will be done in the next 4 or 5 months. The vacant house on Spring Street was in foreclosure and the blighted property attracted vandalism and squatting in recent years.  Boughton wants to house the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team, a police substation and a community room on the property.

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16 paraeducators hired in Ridgefield

16 new paraeducators have been hied by the Ridgefield School district since the start of the year.  At the high school, three new staff members were also hired.  They are a business teacher, a school counselor, and a chemistry teacher.  Ridgefield schools had 4 special ed paraeducators retire or resign since the start of the year.

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Fallen Danbury Police Constable's name to be added to national memorial

A Danbury police officer who died in the line of duty will have his name added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. next Spring.  Constable Frederick Ellis suffered a fatal heart attack in May 1964 while conducting traffic control at the scene of a major structure fire at the intersection of Pahquioque Avenue and East Liberty Street.  The ceremony will be May 13th 2019.  Danbury Police say the Department is honored to know his name will be forever memorialized along side the 20,267 Police Officers who have given their lives in service to their communities across the United States.

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Bridgewater plants replacement Christmas tree on Green

Bridgewater has a new Christmas Tree standing on the town green.  The old, large tree was toppled by the May macroburst.  Some residents are commenting on the town's Facebook page at the new tree is small, but town officials had been searching for a Norway Spruce no taller than 30 feet to be transplanted.

 

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Local lawmaker touts extended benefits for veterans

Kent state Representative Brian Ohler helped craft a new law that expands the eligibility of veterans to receive the benefits, even if given an other than honorable discharge.  The first in the nation public policy allows veterans discharged because of post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or military sexual assault to receive full benefits.  He says this is important because many other than honorable discharges often stem from incidences occurring as a direct result of PTSD, TBI and MST.

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Bridgewater to host bulky household item drop off for residents

The Town of Bridgewater is hosting a bulky household item drop off week for residents.  Large dumpsters will be at the Town Garage on Hut Hill Road from October 22nd through Friday the 26th from 7:30am to 3:30pm. Hours on that Saturday will be 9am to 1pm.  One pickup truck load or two carloads per household will be free, with additional pickup loads costing $25 per household.  All articles that are too large to transport to the Town Garage in your own vehicle may be placed on the roadside for pickup by 7:30am on October 29th.  No household garbage hazardous waste or construction debris will be accepted.  The bulky waste collection week is for Bridgewater residents only.

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Danbury to start annual fall leaf pick-up program

Danbury's annual fall leaf pickup program begins on the 22nd and will run through November 30th.  Only leaves collected in paper leaf bags with no tape should be left curbside for the city’s highway department to pick up. Tape, plastic bags, large debris, grass, tree stumps, and garbage will not be collected.  Collections will take place on alternating weeks in zip code 06810, and in 06811.  Branches will be picked up separately, if they are no longer than four feet, smaller than four inches in diameter and tied in bundles no heavier than 35 pounds.

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Connecticut gets $500,000 from feds for Sandy Hook Promise program training

Connecticut is partnering with Sandy Hook Promise to help train students, educators, and school administrators how to identify, assess, intervene, and get help for those exhibiting at-risk behaviors.  Through the federal STOP School Violence Act, Connecticut is receiving $500,000 to operate its Start With Hello, Say Something, and SOS Signs of Suicide programs.  The state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security will train over 116,000 students across the state.
 

Start With Hello trains students to be more socially inclusive and connected to one another.  Say Something trains students how to recognize signs, especially in social media, of an individual who may be a threat to themselves or others and how to say something to a trusted adult.  The SOS Signs of Suicide program teaches students, educators, and school administrators how to spot the warning signs of youth suicide and how to intervene before self-harm occurs.

 

To date, Sandy Hook Promise has trained over 3-and-a-half million youth and adults in at least one of its Know the Signs programs in all 50 states.  Co-Founder, Managing Director and mother of Dylan, Nicole Hockley says that has helped avert multiple school shooting plots, numerous teen suicides, as well as other acts of violence and self-harm.

 

The STOP School Violence Act was introduced in Congress before the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to build-off of the research and lessons learned from 12-14, and scale proven, evidence-based early intervention programming to schools across the country to prevent future school shootings, suicides, and other forms of school violence.  It was passed and signed into law in March as part of the FY2018 omnibus funding bill. 

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Ridgefield man charged for alleged assault on firefighter

A Ridgefield man has turned himself in to police on a charge of assault on a public safety official.  Police say 39-year old Gregory Nelson turned himself in last week for allegedly grabbing a Ridgefield firefighter by the arm and shoving him to the ground at his home on September 5th.  The Ridgefield Press reports that Nelson spat at and threatened the firefighter.  He was also charged with threatening and released on bond for a court appearance next week.

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Hayes, Santos differ on many issues at 5th District debate

PROSPECT, Conn. (AP) - In their first debate, the two major party contenders for Connecticut's 5th Congressional District seat gave differing views on everything from President Donald Trump's tax plan to whether the federal minimum wage should be higher.

Former Meriden mayor and Republican Manny Santos on Thursday praised Trump's tax overhaul, saying "our economy is doing excellent." But his opponent, 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes, says Trump's plan benefits "the smallest percentage of people who need it the least."

On the $7.25 federal minimum wage, Hayes supports an increase. But Santos says a higher wage means "everything is going to be more expensive."

He's also calling the Affordable Health Care Act a failure. Hayes disagrees.

Both hope to the fill the seat now held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty.

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Former EverWonder business manager charged with embezzlement

A former business manager for EverWonder Children's Museum in Newtown has been charged for alleged embezzlement from the non-profit organization.  The Newtown Bee reports that 37-year old Stefani Reyes of Shelton turned herself in to police on Friday to face a larceny charge.  An investigation was launched after EverWonder realized a more than 18-thousand dollar discrepancy.  Reyes is no longer employed by the museum.  She was released on a written promise to appear in court for arraignment on the 12th.

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Unaffiliated candidates to participate in WCSU forum

The three unaffiliated candidates who will be on the November gubernatorial ballot are appearing together at West Conn on Friday morning for a town hall forum.  Libertarian Rod Hanscomb, Oz Griebel--running in a party named for him--and Mark Stewart for the Amigo Constitution Party will participate.  Assistant Professor Howell Williams says they previously hosted an event with Democrat Ned Lamont and have been working to have Republican Bob Stefanowski appear in Danbury.  The three candidates will take part in the forum scheduled for 11am at White Hall in Room 127 on the midtown campus.  Williams teaches a course on state and local government, and his students will attend.  He expects other West Conn students from classes on American government and the social sciences to be there.  The event is open to the public.

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Route 58 paving in Redding scheduled for next week

Road paving will be done in Redding on Route 58 starting on Sunday.  The state Department of Transportation will resurface a 2-mile stretch of road in the overnight hours, through next Thursday.  Motorists can expect lane closures on Route 58 between the Easton town line and South Lane. Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will help direct drivers through the work zone. The regular work schedule for this project is 7:30pm to 5am. Modifications or extensions to this schedule may be necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions.

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Flooding reported at recently reopened Still River Greenway

Brookfield officials cautioned users of the Still River Greenway yesterday to possible flooded conditions.  Walkers were urged to use caution last night as areas under the bridges just south of the municipal complex were flooded.  The full greenway only reopened September 18th after closing due to downed and dangerous trees left weakened by the May macroburst.

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Brookfield considers solar panels for three municipal buildings

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen got an update this week on the townwide solar installation campaign.  16 families will be installing solar panels at their homes, out of the 140 who expressed interest in the incentive program run by Solarize CT.  The town is now considering going solar at the municipal center, police station and Senior Center.  RGS Energy presented a plan to the selectmen with a cost of $301,500 for all three buildings, though incentive programs could lower the price.  Savings over 25 years were pegged at $394,500.  Brookfield officials could get other bids for the work, if the town decides to go solar.

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Brookfield Senior Tax Abatement program changes rejected

The Brookfield senior tax abatement program will continue as is.  The Board of Selectmen decided not to make changes to the policy.  A committee looking into whether the policy needed updating found that Brookfield provides a higher abatement than most towns in the region.  The committee recommended changes that included capping taxes for eligible seniors when they turn 75 and offering relief to those near the eligibility guideline for the existing program.

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Boehringer Ingelheim releases results from testing for adjunct to insulin in type 1 diabetes

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. and INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) announced today that empagliflozin met the primary efficacy endpoint, defined as a change from baseline in A1C versus placebo after 26 weeks of treatment, for all doses investigated (2.5, 10 and 25 mg) in the Empagliflozin as Adjunctive to inSulin thErapy (EASE) Phase III program in adults with type 1 diabetes. The EASE program results were published online in Diabetes Care ahead of print and presented at the 54th EASD Annual Congress in Berlin today. Empagliflozin is currently not approved for use in type 1 diabetes.

The EASE-2 study evaluated doses of 10 and 25 mg of empagliflozin as an adjunct to insulin over 52 weeks, while the EASE-3 study evaluated doses of 2.5, 10, and 25 mg of empagliflozin as an adjunct to insulin over 26 weeks. In EASE-2, placebo-corrected mean change from baseline in A1C at week 26 was -0.54 percent and -0.53 percent for empagliflozin 10 and 25 mg, respectively. In EASE-3, placebo-corrected mean change from baseline in A1C at week 26 was -0.28 percent, -0.45 percent and -0.52 percent for empagliflozin 2.5 mg, 10 mg and 25 mg, respectively. In addition to reduction in A1C, empagliflozin treatment was effective on secondary endpoints, showing reductions in weight, decreases in blood pressure, and decreases in total daily insulin dose.

In addition, data from continuous glucose monitoring in the EASE program indicates that patients treated with empagliflozin had improved glycemic variability and spent more time in range, although the data for the 2.5 mg dose are limited.

There was no increase in the risk of investigator-reported hypoglycemic events, including severe hypoglycemia, with empagliflozin treatment, which was a key secondary endpoint in the trials. Additionally, a reduction in patient-reported hypoglycemic events was observed. The number of adjudicated diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) events was comparable between empagliflozin 2.5 mg and placebo, and higher than placebo with empagliflozin 10 and 25 mg. Apart from incidence of DKA, the safety profile observed in the EASE program was generally consistent with the previously reported safety profile of empagliflozin in adults with type 2 diabetes.

"The goal of the EASE program was to determine if treatment with empagliflozin could benefit people with type 1 diabetes as an adjunct to insulin," said Bernard Zinman, M.D., professor in the Department of Medicine, University of Toronto and senior scientist at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada. "Given the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis for people with type 1 diabetes, the 2.5 mg empagliflozin dose warrants consideration, as it balances glycemic and metabolic improvements that are relevant to patients without increasing their risk of DKA or other serious adverse events."

Based on the totality of the EASE data, Boehringer Ingelheim has initiated regulatory discussions for empagliflozin as adjunct to insulin for adults with type 1 diabetes.

"The EASE trials showed that empagliflozin - an oral treatment - in combination with insulin has potential to help manage blood sugar levels better than insulin alone in adults with type 1 diabetes," said Thomas Seck, M.D., senior vice president, Medicine and Regulatory Affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "Given that less than one third of adults with type 1 diabetes in the U.S. consistently meet target blood sugar levels solely with insulin, we look forward to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to explore whether this potential treatment can be made available to people with type 1 diabetes."

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State Police K9 team entered in SUV giveaway contest

Connecticut State Police are hoping residents who have taken a liking to one of their K9s will show their support in a new contest.  Trooper Edward Anuszewski and his K9 Texas have been entered into the K9 Law Enforcement SUV Giveaway from Vested Interest in K9s.  Eligible law enforcement agencies were entered and the team based in the Southbury-Danbury area was named as a finalists for public voting. 

(Photo: CSP)

The winner will be determined by the most votes on social media, through the end of the month.  There's one vote per person per day. 

 

K9 Texas was a big hit at the Big E and has been involved in some notable incidents in this region.  He found a New Fairfield boy who was reported missing in the Candlewood Lake area of New Fairfield, and made headlines when he went missing while searching for a missing man in Danbury.  

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GOP gubernatorial nominee asks Boughton for income tax phase-out plan

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has been asked by Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob Stefanowski for a copy of his plan to phase out the income tax.  The GOP primary winner has been short on details during debate of how he would implement his campaign promise to eliminate the tax. 

 

The Courant reports that Boughton, the GOP endorsed candidate, shared his two-year proposal for cutting spending in order to make up the gap.  Boughton initially told Stefanowski that the plan was kind of proprietary, but said he is a team player.

 

His plan calls for employee workforce reductions, state agency eliminations and other efficiencies.  Some require legislative approval, others a constitutional amendment and the balance could be done through executive order. 

 

Boughton told the Courant that the Stefanowski camp had their own ideas too, and they came up with a good couple of first years plan. Stefanowski’s campaign said David Stemerman and Dave Walker regularly participate in weekly conference calls on policy matters.

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State Board of Ed signs off on Danbury charter school proposal

The state Board of Education has voted to advance the opening of a new charter school in Danbury, the first in the City. The Danbury Prospect Charter School can only open though if funding is provided by the state General Assembly.   Plans call for having 110 sixth-graders, adding on each year until it is a 6th-through-12th grade college preparatory school.  The Brooklyn Prospect Charter School, which operates four charter schools in New York, is the model for the Danbury proposal.  There is no proposed location for the school, but operators say they are looking in the downtown area. The state currently funds 23 charter schools.  Danbury School Superintendent Sal Pascarella wrote to the state Board of Ed asking for assurances the new charter will result in no costs to the district. Bethel Superintendent Christine Carver questioned if a new charter school should considered given the state’s financial strains.

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New Milford achieves certification as a Sustainable CT community

New Milford is one of the first Connecticut municipalities to achieve certification as a Sustainable CT community.  Mayor Pete Bass says the Town has met high standards in a broad range of sustainability accomplishments to qualify for the prestigious Bronze certification.  The statewide initiative supports and recognizes sustainability action and announced its first group of certified towns this week. 

 

Bass says New Milford’s successfully completed actions included points for its highly successful Farmland Preservation efforts, the Electric Vehicle Charging Station on the Green, as well as the sustainable theme woven throughout its Zoning Regulations.  The Household Hazardous Waste Day sponsored by the New Milford Health Department, the wide range of materials that can be recycled at the New Milford Recycling Center, and the efforts of the Conservation Commission, HVA and Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust to preserve and protect open space were also recognized. 

 

New Milford will strive for Silver certification in 2019.

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Putnam County Sheriff marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley hopes to bring greater public awareness to prevention strategies and effective responses for victims.  In addition to assistance provided by the court and legal systems victim service programs, , Langley says domestic violence victims in Putnam County have access to potentially life-saving information through the website Sheriff-Assist.org.  On that site, people can track the custody status of their offenders and register to be notified by phone or email in the event of a release to the community or a transfer to a New York State correctional facility or county jail.  He says this access empowers domestic violence victims to gain a greater degree of control in their lives and to make informed decisions about their safety.

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FEMA to cover more than overtime for storm recovery in Danbury

There's still no word from the Federal Emergency Management Agency over how soon Greater Danbury area municipalities will get paid back for recovery efforts and clean up from the May macroburst.  Danbury Emergency Management coordinator Paul Estefan says this is the first time though that straight compensation is being funded for a disaster.  Danbury will also get money for overtime and to pay outside vendors.  Not including police and fire and other departments, Danbury spent about $500,000 on recovery efforts.  The vendors were brought in for tree removal and debris mulching.  There is some concern with timing for reimbursement  though, now that more tornadoes touched down in New York and Connecticut this week. FEMA is also busy in the Florence-ravaged Carolinas.

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Bethel officials looking into ground lease for HS track & field house

A Special Counsel has been appointed by the Bethel Board of Selectmen for the high school field house project. Peter Olson was unanimously selected. The ground lease is for $1 per year for five years.The track and field training center is being donated by the Grimes family.  The facility would be available for use by physical education classes, other teams and the community.  Plans call for a 200-meter track on the mezzanine level and space for the athletes to practice shot put, long jump, hurdling and other events on the lower level. Bathrooms and storage space are included.It would be built behind the high school by the old tennis courts.

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New Fairfield closes hearing on regulating Airbnb listings

The New Fairfield Zoning Commission has closed the public hearing process about concerns or benefits of short term vacation rentals like Air BnBs.  Several dozen residents attended the hearing and most spoke in opposition with concerns about noise, overcrowding and a strain on infrastructure like septic systems.  Officials have said while a homeowners’ association could set rules for the community, rental restrictions fall under zoning regulations.  If regulations are crafted, they will also be subject to a hearing.  The zoners will likely look at rentals shorter than 7 days, but not an outright ban because of a lack of enforcement staff.

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Paul Mitchell School to close this month, won't reopen in Danbury

Paul Mitchell School in Danbury is leaving and will not be opening a new location in Danbury.  The 2 National Place property is up for sale.  The cosmetology school posted a note on their website directing students to the North Haven campus saying they will be closed by the end of the month.  Plans to turn the Danbury building into a hotel had been submitted to City land use agencies, but it's back on the market. 

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Bethel continues to add new voters

Following the August Primary for State and Federal Offices, voter registration continued to be active throughout September. Bethel's Registrars added 134 new voters and approved changes to 83 voters registration including in-town moves, party affiliation changes and reactivating inactive voters. 84 individuals were removed from the voter rolls due to, for example, moving out of town or death. Bethel currently has 12,363 registered voters.

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Brookfield man charged for allegedly forging prescription

State Police have arrested a Brookfield man for allegedly stealing prescription forms at a Tolland medical office and then trying to purchase a narcotic cough suppressant containing codeine.  Troopers charged 20-year old Pete Manesis on Saturday for attempting to obtain a controlled substance by forging a prescription.  The incident happened in November.  Manesis is due in court a week from today. Patch reports that a doctor said he was one of three patients who requested that drug for upper respiratory issues, but were instead prescribed antibiotics with an over-the-counter cough suppressant suggestion.

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Redding residents help build elementary school playground

Redding residents volunteered this weekend to help build a new playground at Redding Elementary School.  More than 200 volunteers, including older Redding students, spent 4 hour shifts working under the supervision of specialists from Ultiplay Parks & Playground, who designed the playspace. 

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Code Red Alert leads to tentative ID of car thief suspect in Newtown

A crime alert in Newtown has led to a tentative identification for a suspect in a car theft.  Newtown Police are investigating an incident in which a car stolen out of Danbury was abandoned in the area of Pole Bridge Road yesterday morning.  A younger Hispanic male was spotted leaving the scene.  A Code Red was sent to residents out of an abundance of caution because of the large scale police activity in the area.  Based on the Code Red, Newtown Police , received information on the suspect.  Police continue to investigate and say they hope an arrest can soon be made.

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Greater Danbury state legislative candidates forum to be held

Some Greater Danbury area state lawmakers and their challengers will be participating in a debate next week in Danbury.  The Northern Fairfield County Association of REALTORS is hosting the candidate forum at the Portuguese Cultural Center on October 11th.  The forum begins at 6:30pm and will continue through 8:30, with a meet and greet opportunity after candidates are finished answering questions.  Democratic and Republican state House and Senate candidates from Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, and Redding were invited to attend.

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ICE arrests 40 people in 3-day New England sting

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested 40 people in New England during a 3-day operation targeting criminal aliens and immigration fugitives.  ICE officials said in a press release that some of the cities where Enforcement and Removal Operations deportation officers made arrests were Danbury, Waterbury and Bridgeport.  Arrests were also made in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.  Most of those arrested had prior criminal histories that included convictions for crimes such as assault, burglary, possession of narcotics and other charges. 8 of those arrested illegally re-entered the United States after having been previously deported, which is a felony.

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New Fairfield Zoners continue hearing on Air BnBs

The New Fairfield Zoning Commission is meeting tonight about short term vacation rentals and concerns with Air BnBs.  Tonight's meeting is at 7:30 in the New Fairfield Library Community Room.  The public hearing was left open through tonight's meeting and the Zoners could then take action on the matter.  Officials have said while a homeowners’ association could set rules for the community, rental restrictions fall under zoning regulations.  If regulations are crafted, they will also be subject to a hearing.

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Putnam County Executive to unveil proposed budget for coming year

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell will introduce the proposed budget for the coming year during a presentation tonight in Mahopac.  She says balancing the fiscal accountability to the taxpayers while meeting the social responsibilities to residents continues to be a priority. 

 

Odell called the proposal a roadmap to continue moving Putnam County in a positive direction, noting that Putnam County has the lowest portion of a tax bill of any county in New York State.  Moody’s has given the County a Aa2 bond rating.

 

She highlighed work over the past year to enhance the services available to Veterans and seniors, investments in the school resource officer program at the partnership law enforcement agencies and local nonprofits for the One Army in the War Against Addiction and Substance Abuse initiative to tackle addiction and the opioid epidemic.

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Tours to be given of Newtown Community Center construction site

Tours are being given every Wednesday this month of the Newtown Community Center construction site.  Center Director Matt Ariniello will lead the walk and talk events to go over construction, programming, and membership.  Registration is requested and can be done through e-mail at matt.ariniello@newtown-ct.gov.  The community center will include  an arts and crafts room; six multipurpose activity rooms; a commercial kitchen; a banquet room; a six-lane, 25-yard pool; a zero-entry activity pool; and outdoor connections to the Fairfield Hills campus. A separate senior center is also under construction at the site.

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DYS hosts annual trail run fundraiser at Tarrywile

Danbury Youth Services is hosting their 3rd annual Trail Run/Walk at Tarrywile Park this weekend.  The event on the 6th starts at 8am.  Sign up starts at 7am.  A kids fun run takes place at 9am.  The nonprofit offers programs and counseling for local youths and their families, and never turn anyone away for an inability to pay.  The fundraising event helps to pay for counseling services, a girls empowerment group, the earn-a-bike program, summer youth employment program.

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Brookfield moves to hybrid pension plan

Brookfield has moved to a hybrid pension plan and the Retirement Benefit Advisory Committee, after a review of possible providers, has made a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen to appoint Mass Mutual as pension and 401A provider, reappoint Hooker and Holcomb as actuary and as investment advisor for the OPEB plan, and appoint Charles Schwab as custodian for the OPEB plan. Employees who get 20 years defined benefit will then go into defined contribution plan.  This change won't initially save Brookfield money, but it is going to cut the risk in the future because it limits the size of the overall pension plan.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says this will also allow employees to have a pot of money when they retire, to do with what they want.

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Brookfield, retired controller work toward settlement

A jury trial has been postponed from next week in a lawsuit between the town of Brookfield and retired controller Ray Bolek.  A trial management conference is on the docket for December as the two sides work toward an agreement over a reduction in pension benefits.  The Newstimes reports that Brookfield asked Bolek to reimburse the town $111,000 in benefits overpaid since he retired in 2002.  Bolek paid the sum, but sued to get the money back and restore his benefits to about $3,200 a month.  Had he not paid, Brookfield was going to  reduce his benefits to about $500 each month for five years to make up the $111,000.  His monthly pension would then be about $2,650.

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Newtown Community Center Committee unveils logo, mission statement

The Newtown Community Center Committee has come up with a mission statement and logo.  The center will provide programs, activities, and events to serve all populations and generations.   Center Director Matthew Ariniello says the logo incorporates the silhouette of a flagpole and steeples, recognizable and represents a sense of community. The 45,860-square-foot building currently under construction on the Fairfield Hills campus will include separate community center and senior center areas.  The grand opening is slated for 2019.

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Local Democratic candidates secure endorsements from Obama

Former President Obama has made some endorsements in the upcoming election in Connecticut.  5th District Democratic candidate Jahana Hayes secured an endorsement.  As did Danbury state Senate candidate Julie Kushner, Wilton Senate candidate Will Haskell and others.  Haskell, a 21-year old Democrat, is looking to unseat long-tem Republican Toni Boucher.  Kushner is challenging Mike McLachlan.

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Danbury Mayor starts fundraising effort to buy back 38-foot tall Uncle Sam statue

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton's plan to buy a 38-foot tall Uncle Sam statue, which once stood at the Danbury Fair, has entered its next phase.  The statue was bought by the Magic Forest Amusement Park in Lake George in 1981, and Boughton has started a GoFundMe page to buy it back. 

 

Uncle Sam welcomed all fairgoers during the final decade of the Danbury State Fair. 

 

Donations raised through the crowd funding campaign will help with the purchase, transport, and restoration of the statue.  The GoFundMe page went live yesterday has has raised about $1,000.  The goal is $50,000.

 

Several possible locations for the statue are being considered.  Since it is so tall, it will likely require wires anchoring it to the ground.

 

Another Uncle Sam statue, about half as tall, stands in the lobby of City Hall.  It was sold to a private owner in 1982 and was found in a City backyard.  Danbury Fire Lt. Charlie Payne purchased the statue, restored it and loaned it to the city for display in 2012.  The shorter Uncle Sam stood at the south gate of the fair.

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NY man killed in crash that closed I-84 for hours

A New York man was killed when he crashed into a tractor trailer, closing I-84 in Holmes, New York for 11 hours and snarling the morning commute into Putnam County.  State Police say an initial investigation determined that 36-year old Sergio Khundiashvili of Brooklyn struck the center median guard rail shortly before 4am.  The trailer jumped the guard rail, causing the entire rig to overturn, and land on the driver side. 

52-year old Thomas Cipolla of Beacon was traveling behind the truck and hit the underside of the tractor trailer causing both to become engulfed in flames. 

 

Cipolla was extricated by other drivers, and the truck driver.  He was transported to Putnam Hospital where he was pronounced dead.  Khundiashvili and his passenger were to Danbury Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

 

I-84 was closed between exits 17 and 18 until about 2:30pm.

 

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Ex-chairman of gubernatorial campaign faces larceny charge

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) - The former chairman of independent Connecticut gubernatorial candidate Oz Griebel's campaign has appeared in court on a larceny charge.

The Hartford Courant reports that 31-year-old Kyle Lyddy, of Danbury, did not enter a plea Monday. Lyddy was charged with misappropriating $500,000 from the Norwalk marketing company where he worked.

Prosecutors say Lyddy used Match Marketing credit cards to pay for a cruise, hotel stays and other expenses.

He is free on bond. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Lyddy resigned as Griebel's campaign chairman before he was charged.

He had served until April as the head of the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission, which was responsible for creating a memorial for students and teachers who died in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown.  There is no accusation of wrongdoing there.

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Women's Center, WCSU host 'Silent Witness' exhibit

The Women's Center of Greater Danbury has teamed up with West Conn once again for the Silent Witness Initiative.  It  honors the lives of domestic violence homicide victims through family support, community connections, and advocacy for change.  The Women’s Center is sharing and honoring the stories of Connecticut residents who have lost their lives to acts of domestic and dating violence.  The Silent Witness exhibit is set up in the Student Center lobbies, today and tomorrow 10am to 2pm.

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Danbury officials to vote on union contract for police

The Danbury City Council is slated to take up a union contract tonight.  It includes a 2.75 percent raise for Danbury Police officers each year through 2021.  There are two retroactive pay raises because the old contract expired last summer.  City officials say the raises are in line with what other unions get.  The new agreement also has a stipulation that new hires must contribute to their own pension fund and health insurance plans.  Current officers have to pay 4.5 percent into pensions, but new hires will pay 8.  The new hires will also be part of the city’s health savings account insurance plan, which has not been required in the past.

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Budget needs to be decided for Sandy Hook memorial

Now that a design proposal has been presented by the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission to Newtown officials, it's going to come down to the numbers.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says they need to engage with design firm SWA to go through the drawings to get construction specs. 

 

If the cost is too significant, they might have to scale it down.  Rosenthal says while beautiful, it does lend itself to scaling back some of the other elements.  He does not envision having to adjust the central element, key to the whole design, of the reflection pool and sycamore tree. 

 

Rosenthal noted that there have been offers made over the years of donated services and materials.  When officials asked about building the project in phases, they were cautioned against having construction occurring while the memorial is open.

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New laws now in effect in Conn.

Among the new laws in effect in Connecticut as of Monday is one that adds to the factors that the Freedom of Information Commission must consider when determining whether to hear certain appeals brought under the Freedom of Information Act.  It also establishes a procedure under which public agencies may petition the Commission for relief from “vexatious requesters.” Relief may include an order that the agency need not comply with future requests from the requester for a period of up to one year.

 

The measure was introduced by Redding Representative Adam Dunsby, who also serves as Easton First Selectman.


The Commission must consider whether the request or appeal is repetitious or cumulative, any history of nonappearance at commission proceedings or delaying Commission proceedings and any refusals to participate in settlement conferences.  A vexatious history of requests would include the number of requests filed and pending, the scope of the requests, nature of requests and pattern of conduct that amounts to an abuse of the right to access information under FOIA.


Existing law allows the Commission to impose a civil penalty of up to $1,000 if it determines, after a hearing, that someone has taken an appeal frivolously, without reasonable grounds, and solely to harass the agency.

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DHS English department head gets teaching award

The head of the Danbury High School English department has received the Master Teacher of Honor Award from Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education.  Nicole Martone was recognized for experience, empathy, and attention to detail. 

 

Since the award’s establishment in 2011, KDP has named a select few from around the world as Master Teachers of Honor. To earn this designation, an educator must have more than 15 years of classroom teaching experience; submit evidence of professional development, leadership, community service, and exceptional contributions to the education profession; and demonstrate a commitment to integrity and high standards in the classroom.

 

The award recognizes teachers of all levels, from early childhood instructors to university faculty members. 

 

Martone has held active roles on several School Safety and Safe School Climate/Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports committees.  She is part of the School Leadership Team at DHS and has been active in curriculum work, both as a developer and a contributor. Most recently, she served as facilitator of and contributor to the Grades 9–12 English Curriculum Revision and has provided department members with ongoing feedback and guidance.

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New laws take effect in Connecticut today

Several new laws take effect in Connecticut today. One extends certain benefits to veterans who were were discharged under conditions other than honorable or for bad conduct and have a qualifying condition, which means a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or a military sexual trauma experience.  Under prior law, these benefits were only available to veterans who were honorably discharged or released under honorable conditions from active service.

 

E-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems or vapor products must now be kept behind the counter in Connecticut.  A new law took effect today that prohibits sales through self-service displays.  There is an exception for establishments that prohibit minors from entering.  Existing law, unchanged by the act, prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

 

A ban on bump stocks is among the new laws.  It is now punishable by up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine, for anyone to sell, purchase, possess or manufacture a device that enables a gun to fire like an automatic weapon. The new law includes some exceptions, such as for certain military personnel.

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Brookfield firefighters seek technology grant

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is hoping residents will back them in an effort to win a technology grant.  The Department asked the residents nominate the fire company for the Leary Firefighters Foundation 5-thousand dollar grant.  Votes can be cast at SpotaHero.com.

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Phoenix Hose Company Engine 8 celebrates their 125th anniversary

Phoenix Hose Company Engine 8 in Danbury celebrated their 125th anniversary this weekend.  Engine 8 was established in 1893 and has continued to serve Danbury residents to this day.  The Fire Chief said in a statement of conditions this summer that their current building was constructed in 1958 and is in good order generally.  The statement said engineering to correct heating and air conditioning issues will be needed to reduce operational costs at volunteer stations.  Department officials noted that restrictions on spending due to fiscal pressures have made it increasingly difficult to improve and modernize aging volunteer facilities, especially in light of the demands placed on the department for new and more versatile apparatus.

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Substitute bus service this week on Metro North Danbury branch

Substitute buses will operate in place of Metro North trains between Danbury and South Norwalk for select off-peak trains beginning today.  Buses will be running through Friday to allow for track replacement.  Buses will operate approximately up to 20 minutes earlier than scheduled trains.

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Monroe Police ID man wanted for summer robberies

A Bridgeport man recently arrested by Watertown Police faces charges in Monroe.  Watertown Police charged 55-year old Alvin Robertson last week for allegedly robbing a People's Bank  branch located inside Stop & Shop.  That department work with the FBI and 5 other police departments on the investigation.  Monroe Police say Robertson will be charged for robberies at the Route 111 Subway restaurant and the People's Bank  branch located inside Stop & Shop on Route 111 in July and August.  Watertown Police say Robertson is a convicted felon with a lengthy criminal history including numerous bank robberies in the 1990’s.

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Norwalk man arrested for stalking woman in Newtown

A Norwalk man has been arrested by Newtown Police for stalking a woman.  20-year old Francesco Gurnari turned himself in on Friday on charges which also included breach of peace. 

 

Police say he followed a woman in his vehicle and on foot to several businesses in Newtown and continued to follow her to her home.  The two did not know each other.  The woman called police when she feared for her safety and was able to provide a description. 

 

Gurnari admitted to police that he had been following the victim and had followed other woman in the past.  He was released on bond for a court appearance on the 10th. 

 

Gurnari was also arrested by Monroe Police last month, after exposing himself and masturbating in front of a female victim at a gas station. Those charges are still pending in Court. 

 

Newtown Police spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde said the man is of great concern and danger to the public, and that both victims did an outstanding job in helping police identify and locate the suspect.

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Ridgefield controlled deer hunt approved

Ridgefield officials have approved another controlled deer hunt between October 15th and January 31st.  There are 15 properties detailed by the Deer Management Implementation Committee to be hunted by those who have registered.  $1,700 was also approved for signage alerting residents that hunting will take place on the open space land between dawn and dusk during the week, except when school is not in session.  Controlled hunts have been held in Ridgefield on town-owned land since 2006 as a way to cull the herd, which was damaging forest understory, causing car accidents and carrying ticks that could spread Lyme Disease.  After this year's hunt, a public hearing and town meeting will be held about whether future controlled hunts will be scheduled.  The hearing will be on March 31st. 

 

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Committee set up to look into expanding Danbury sewer service to Brewster

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has set up a committee of City Council members to meet with their counterparts from Putnam County to see if it still makes sense to allow for the City's sewage treatment plant to accept waste from the Brewster area.  The ad hoc committee will be working with the city's attorney, Public Works officials and the Superintendent of Public Utilities. 

 

Putnam County officials have said that New York City watershed regulations make it a challenge to grow infrastructure in order to support any future development in the Southeast area.  Extending the Danbury sewer line through the Route 6 corridor of Brewster would connect 3.5 miles of commercially zoned land to the system, which has excess capacity. 

 

Boughton notes that the City recently beefed up the west side sewer intercept, a project from 1977.  He says that recently completed work makes this project a lot easier.  Boughton says adding more users to the waste water treatment plant could spread out the estimated $102 million cost of upgrades and phosphorous removal improvements.

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Danbury awarded a Youth Violence Prevention Services grant

Danbury has been awarded a Youth Violence Prevention Services grant from the state Judicial Branch.  The $140,000 requires a 25-percent match from the City, which will come from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Police Department.  The initiative is meant to take a public health approach, using prevention strategies that are based on best available research evidence.  The Health Department will partner with the Police and the Board of Education to develop a program to carry out the initiative.  City Councilman Paul Rotello says it's a laudable goal of reducing violence, but he questioned the direction of the coalition because there were no specifics outlined.  The details have not been worked out yet as the grant was just recently accepted, but could include outreach to the kids, classroom discussions and possibly a partnership with organizations like PAL.

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Timeline outlined for Women's Center transitional housing proposal

A rough timeline of getting a transitional housing facility constructed by the Women's Center of Greater Danbury is being worked out.  Attorney Peter Olsen says they would like the City to begin remediating in the spring, completed the fall and then construction could start on Rose Hill Avenue.  The project has to be designed in coordination with the licensed environmental professional overseeing the remediation so they don't have to move dirt twice.  That needs to happen during the fall so it can go out to bid for the Spring.  He called it a long train of dominoes.  The Women's Center has to go through the standard land use approval process now that the Zoning Commission has signed off on a text amendment allowing transitional housing as a special exception use in certain part of the City. 

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Esty touts House passage of Women Veterans Peer Counseling Enhancement Act

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty is touting House passage of her Women Veterans Peer Counseling Enhancement Act.  It directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to increase the number of peer-to-peer counselors providing counseling for women veterans. She says the bill will help to ensure that women in uniform, who often face higher risks for serious mental and behavioral health challenges, will receive the care and support they deserve.  Esty is a ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.  The VA Peer Support Program currently employs more than 1,000 peer counselors in VA health care facilities and Community Based Outpatient Clinics around the country who are trained to help veterans manage and overcome mental health conditions, substance use disorders, homelessness, and other challenges.

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