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Local Headlines Archives for 2018-12

Woodbury First Selectman dies at age 75

Woodbury First Selectman William "Bill" Butterly has passed away.  He suffered a heart attack early Saturday morning and died at the age of 75.  He had just finished the first year of his third term as First Selectman. 

Acting First Selectperson Barbara Perkinson says Butterly's legacy was to always put Woodbury first.  She called him an advocate for the town and always wanted to solve problems, and if he couldn't, he'd pass them along to someone who could.  He was remembered for his decades-long career of public service in Watertown and Woodbury. 

Before winning the town’s top seat as a petitioning candidate in the 2013 election, Butterly was chairman of the Woodbury Board of Finance; a state representative for the 76th district; chairman of the Watertown Town Council; a Woodbury fire commissioner; a Watertown police commissioner; Woodbury deputy fire marshal and a member of Woodbury and Watertown fire departments.  He was proud of the town acquiring the coveted former Aquarion reservoir property, renamed the Trolley Bed Preserve, with one of the state’s largest open space grants of $1.1 million. 

A special meeting is being held today for the Board of Selectmen to seek legal advice for filling the position.  State statute does not clearly outline what to do when an unaffiliated official passes away so the remaining board members, a Democrat and a Republican, are trying to figure out what party will fill the role--whether there will be two Democrats, two Republicans or an Independent. 

Acting First Selectperson Barbara Perkinson, a Republican, is able to serve for 30 days.

Bethel looks to buy space on emergency communications radio tower

The Bethel Board of Selectmen has approved spending $230,000 to purchase space it now leases on a radio tower to broadcast public safety communications.  The Board of Finance must approve the spending and residents need to vote at a special town meeting, which has not yet been scheduled.  Bethel currently leases space on a tower off Spring Hill Lane for 88-hundred dollars a year.  The lease is set to nearly double due to new microwave link antenna needed by emergency responders.  A half dozen or so antenna are already on the tower, including two cell phone companies.  Bethel could collect about $10,000 in revenue a year if the purchase goes through.

Former Ridgefield Fire Chief passes away

Ridgefield Professional Firefighters is mourning the passing of former Ridgefield Fire Department Chief Richard Nagle who led the Department for 11 years. Nagle was most recently the deputy chief of the Croton-on-Hudson Fire Department, and also served in Tarrytown, White Plains and FDNY.

New Boy Scout Troop in Ridgefield made up of girls

A new Boy Scouts of America organization Troop in Ridgefield is made up of girls.  Troop 19 BSA honors the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.  The Ridgefield Press reports that they meet weekly and have had campouts monthly since forming in October.  Many of the troop's 14 members continue to be Girl Scouts as well.   Under the new ‘Scouts BSA’ program, single-gender troops of boys or girls ages 11 through 17 will work toward the rank of Eagle Scout.

Animal sanctuary named for slain Newtown girl to start site work March 1st

The Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation's 2nd annual gala earlier this month raised more than $438,000.  The foundation is named for a girl killed on 12/14 and was formed by her parents.  The fundraiser was held at a private horse farm in Newtown and celebrated Catherine's love for animals and kindness for all beings.  The animal sanctuary will feature educational programs and environmental initiatives for animals and people alike.   

When the land was conveyed to the sanctuary it was riddled with invasive plants.  They've cleared an acre of invasive vines.  20 sugar maple trees at the event were transported and planted at the sanctuary property.  The trees will restore the original grandeur to the property and be home to overwintering birds. 

The property was rezoned and all of the approvals for phase one work are in place.  The initial site work will begin on March 1st.  The work includes creating a huge retaining wall, which will be transformed into a butterfly garden.  Hubbard says they'll transform the infrastructure into a habitat for the monarch migration, helping a declining species.

A Wilton-based pet food company donated $250,000 for the creation of the “Blue Buffalo Reception Area” in the sanctuary’s future veterinary intake center.  Williams Architectural Millwork of Newtown promised to donate all millwork fabrication labor for Catherine’s Library, in the new building.  The the main building will host educational classes.  On site programming right now is held in tents and is weather-dependent.  The veterinary intake facility will be shared with local rescue groups.

The inaugural Catherine Violet Hubbard Kindness Award was also presented at the gala.  Dr. Jane Goodall, world-renowned primatologist, said during a video acceptance speech, that she supports the sanctuary’s mission and the common goal of compassion for all living creatures.

Two month closure at New Milford Historical Society and Museum for winter reorganization

New Milford Historical Society and Museum will be closed January and February for winter reorganization.  There will not be tours during the first two months of the year.  A team of volunteers will be working with the curator on housecleaning duties of the storage areas.  The project will include the inventory of the hat and shoe collection.  Properly cleaning, cataloging and re-housing the collection is aimed at creating better access and to promote preservation of the collection according to professional curatorial standards .  Researchers can still make an appointment for access to the archives by calling the museum during regular business hours.  The museum will reopen to the public with normal hours beginning March 5th.

Swearing in ceremony to be held tonight for Putnam County officials

A swearing in ceremony is being held at 5 o'clock tonight for Putnam County officials.  Those taking the oath of office include two members of the New York state Senate and two from the state assembly.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and the County clerk will also be sworn in.  Three county legislators and two county coroners will also take the oath of office in the Putnam County Historic Courthouse.  The ceremony is at 5pm and will be followed by a reception in the lobby of the county office building.

Approvals in place for Phase 1 of Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown

The Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation's 2nd annual gala earlier this month raised more than $438,000.  It was held at a private horse farm in Newtown and celebrated Catherine's love for animals and kindness for all beings.  The animal sanctuary will feature educational programs and environmental initiatives for animals and people alike.

A Wilton-based pet food company donated $250,000 for the creation of the “Blue Buffalo Reception Area” in the sanctuary’s future veterinary intake center.  Williams Architectural Millwork of Newtown promised to donate all millwork fabrication labor for Catherine’s Library, in the new building.

The inaugural Catherine Violet Hubbard Kindness Award was also presented at the gala.  Dr. Jane Goodall, world-renowned primatologist, said during a video acceptance speech, that she supports the sanctuary’s mission and the common goal of compassion for all living creatures.

20 sugar maple trees at the event were transported and planted at the sanctuary property, their new forever home.

The the main building will host educational classes.  On site programming right now is held in tents and is weather-dependent.  The veterinary intake facility will be shared with local rescue groups.

All of the approvals in place for phase one.

Newtown shooting, juror race cases before state high court

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Supreme Court is poised to have a busy 2019 dealing with cases involving the Sandy Hook school shooting, the race of jurors and homes with crumbling foundations.

Justices have yet to reach a decision in the school shooting case after hearing arguments in November 2017 on whether a wrongful death lawsuit against gun-maker Remington should be reinstated. A lower court judge dismissed the lawsuit. Remington made the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used by 20-year-old Adam Lanza to kill 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012.

The plaintiffs include a survivor and relatives of nine people killed in the massacre. They argue that such rifles were designed as military killing machines and are too dangerous for the public, but Remington glorified them in marketing them to young people.

A lower court judge dismissed the lawsuit, agreeing with Remington’s argument that the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act exempts gun-makers from liability when their products are used in crimes. The plaintiffs say their case falls under exemptions to that law.

Other cases pending before the state’s highest court:



Three cases set to be argued in early 2019 question whether enough African-Americans are selected for jury duty in Connecticut and decisions by prosecutors to exclude black people during the jury selection process.

Darnell Moore, who is black, was convicted of murder in 2012 in the shooting death of a man in Norwich and is serving a 53-year prison sentence. He argues the jury pool for his trial had few African-American men and was not a fair representation of the community’s racial demographics, in violation of his constitutional rights.

The state Appellate Court rejected Moore’s appeal, saying he failed to present evidence that the jury pool wasn’t fair. The judges found that census data relied on by Moore in his appeal to show the percentage of African-Americans in the population was not proper evidence to prove there weren’t enough blacks summoned to jury duty.

The state Supreme Court will decide whether the Appellate Court’s ruling was correct.

“As a general proposition, racial discrimination in the criminal justice system is a problem,” said Moore’s lawyer, Kenneth Rosenthal.

The two other cases involve African-Americans — one in each case — who were excluded from serving on juries for trials involving black defendants who were later convicted. At issue are “peremptory” challenges used by prosecutors during jury selection that excluded the black potential jurors from serving on the juries.

The defendants allege the prosecutors’ use of those challenges violated their constitutional rights as well as a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Prosecutors deny those allegations.



The state justices recently heard arguments on whether homeowners’ insurance policies should cover repairs to thousands of homes with crumbling foundations caused by defective concrete.

An estimated 35,000 homes in Connecticut and Massachusetts are affected by disintegrating concrete containing pyrrhotite, an iron sulfide that reacts naturally with oxygen and water. Replacing a foundation can cost $100,000 to $200,000.

In one of many lawsuits against insurers for failing to cover the damage, a federal judge earlier this year asked the state high court to better define the word “collapse.”

Insurers argue that policies only cover repairing foundations if homes collapse. Homeowners argue that under a 1987 state Supreme Court ruling, “collapse” also can mean impairment in structural integrity.



More than a decade after a Cheshire woman and her two daughters were killed in a home invasion, the appeal of one of the killers remains pending before the state Supreme Court.

Lawyers for Joshua Komisarjevsky say he should get a new trial because Cheshire police did not give defense lawyers the recordings of police phone calls that could have been used to challenge the credibility of officers who testified at the trial.

Prosecutors say the recordings would not have affected the verdict.

Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes are serving life prison sentences for the killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her daughters, 11-year-old Michaela and 17-year-old Hayley, in 2007.

Brookfield Lion's Club to host New Year's Day race

The Brookfield Lions Club will host its 32nd annual race on New Year’s Day.  The Run for Sight benefits the Connecticut Lions Eye Research Foundation and other local charities the club supports.  The four-mile race begins and ends at Brookfield High School.  Registration is $25 online. Race day check-in starts at 9:45am.

Southbury area gets grant to battle opioid crisis

The Pomperaug District Department of Health in Southbury is one of 20 across the country to receive grant money to launch a program next year to combat the opioid crisis. The Barclay-Giel Seed Grant of up to $5,000 is from the U.S. Public Health Commission Officers Foundation.  The Regional Opioid Awareness & Response, or “ROAR,” program will cover  prevention strategies, how to recognize symptoms of substance use disorder and other topics.  Local prevention councils from Southbury, Middlebury and Oxford will be part of the initiative.  A community presentation will be held March 20th at Southbury’s Playhouse Corner from 5:30pm to 8pm.  Pre-registration is required.

Brookfield officials to host community forum

Brookfield officials are hosting a community gathering this morning.  Residents are invited to attend with any questions, comments or concerns for the Selectmen.  The town’s Economic Development Specialist and Brookfield Town Center Project Manager will join the Selectmen to answer any questions on topic or issue that residents may have.  The gathering is being held at Chick-fil-A Brookfield on Federal Road from 9am to 10:30am.

Danbury City Council to hold hearing on updated Code of Ordinances

The Danbury City Council is holding a public hearing next week about the City's Code of Ordinances.  The hearing is to approve the repeal and replacement of the current Code with a reworked document.  The entire ordinance book has been split into 3 sections, with links available through the City's website.  Copies are also available in the Legislative Assistant, Town Clerk, and Corporation Counsel offices.  The hearing on January 2nd is at 7:30pm in Council Chambers of Danbury City Hall.

BHS Booster Club to recognize hometown Red Sox pitcher

The Bethel High School All sports Booster Club is hosting a night to celebrate Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes and his first MLB Championship.  The 2008 Bethel High graduate went on to play for UConn.  The gathering is on January 21st at The Amber Room in Danbury from 5pm to 9pm.  His past coaches will speak and First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker will deliver a proclamation of the town of Bethel in Matt’s name.  Barnes will also share of few words with the crowd.  The Booster Club fundraiser will also include a raffle of items with Matt’s autograph.  They are also offering a limited number of meet and greet tickets for people to have a picture taken with Barnes.  Tickets range in price from 25 to 100 dollars.  The event includes food and a cash bar. 

Danbury attorney files paperwork to run for Mayor

Attorney Chris Setaro has filed registration paperwork to run as a Democratic Mayoral candidate in Danbury.  The former City Councilman is looking for a 2001 rematch, challenging longtime Republican Mayor Mark Boughton, who beat Setaro by only 138 votes.  The election is still about 11 months away, but the Town Clerk's office was in receipt of the registration on Wednesday.  Boughton says he will be filing candidate paperwork, but after the budget process.  Setaro formed his own law practice in 2016 after working as an attorney for the Ventura Law firm for nearly 25 years. He served on the City Council from 1991 to 1998 and again from 2002 to 2003.

Danbury to begin live Christmas tree collections

The City of Danbury will begin picking up live Christmas trees on January 2nd.  Residents must place their live trees curbside for pick-up.  Everything must be removed from the tree in order for it to be picked up.  Trees with decorations, tinsel, lights, stands or other items still on them will not be collected.  No artificial trees will be picked up. Pick up will continue through January 31st, weather permitting.  There is no set schedule for the free program.  Live Christmas trees can also be dropped-off free of charge for Danbury residents, as “wood waste” at Ferris Mulch Products on Plumtrees Road.

New Milford officials schedule meeting about blight ordinance updates

New Milford officials will host a Blight Ordinance forum January 23rd.  A panel of various town department heads were charged in November with reviewing and updating New Milford’s blight ordinance in an attempt to address mostly abandoned and neglected private property. 

Mayor Pete Bass says the public forum is a chance for residents and business owners to add their voice to the discussion before the formal draft ordinance is created.  The forum is at 7PM on the 23rd in Town Hall.  The panel will then continue to meet and ultimately present the Mayor’s Office and Town Council with a draft of a new or revised ordinance. The Town Council will then hold a formal public hearing. 

The panel includes Town Attorney Matt Grimes, Zoning Enforcement Officer Laura Regan, Health Director Mike Crespan, Building Official Tom Hackett, Fire Marshal Brian Ohmen, Assistant Fire Marshal Kevin Reynolds, and Lt. Jeffrey Covello and Sgt. Katherine Massicotte of the New Milford Police Department.

DMV Commissioner encourages people to use online services

Outgoing Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Michael Bzdyra is discussing the reduction in wait times at some DMV branches, and where work is still needed.  They do allow for adjustment at the different branches if front line employees see a way to readjust the layout or make other changes to better serve customers.  He says as long as the executive team sees data and evidence that the adjustments make sense, they will be made. 

Bzdyra continues to encourage DMV customers to use online service and says part of the long wait times is a behavioral component with people still going in person to a branch rather than getting done what they need to online. 

He gave an example of a relatively new service available online.  For a person whose license is suspended due to an unpaid ticket, they can go online, pay the ticket and get their license restored. 

Various forms are available online which can be printed and filled out saving time at the branch location.  People can also go online to schedule a road test or learner's permit testing.  Customers can also renew registrations, pay emission test late fees, order special license plates, replace damage plates and cancel plates and registrations.  Online services also include the ability to reprint registration certificates and checking Property Tax, Insurance, Emissions and Other Compliance Issues.

Still River watershed plan being worked on

The Still River runs through Danbury, Newtown, Brookfield and New Milford.  The Housatonic Valley Association is working with the municipalities on an EPA approved watershed plan and a draft existing conditions report on the health of the watershed.  The organization works to restore and protect the 2,000 square miles of the Housatonic watershed.  Conservation Projects Manager Courtney Moorehouse says the Still River is buried in a few places in Danbury and is channelized in other places.  She says it's not natural, but is reducing flooding in the downtown area.  Moorehouse says it's a good thing, from a public safety standpoint, to have that infrastructure in place.  She notes that there's not much that can be done in areas of that so-called grey infrastructure.  Moorehouse says they will work with the City, land trusts and others to improve water quality where they can. 

Route 7 closure overnight for transformer transportation

Route 7 in New Milford will be temporarily closed beginning at approximately 8:30pm, until 5am.  The closure between Pickett District Road and Route 55 is needed so  a transformer can be moved.  The transportation is being escorted and coordinated by Connecticut State Police. 

The transformer is headed to Dover Plains, New York, where Cricket Valley Energy Center is under construction.  The equipment is coming by rail from Alabama, and will enter Connecticut at the Massachusetts border. 

The natural gas-fired power plant, slated to open in 2020, has drawn air quality and pollution concerns from Kent area residents. 

Route 55 in New Milford and Sherman may be closed for a short duration on Friday as part of the scheduled transformer move.  Modifications or extensions may be necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions.

Late Newtown legislator honored at Bearedsley Zoo for her work there

The late Julia Wasserman has been remembered during an event at the Bearedsley Zoo in recognition of her long-term service to on the Board of Directors, and in gratitude for a bequest.  The former Newtown state legislator, who died in 2015, was recognized this afternoon with The Julia Wasserman Maned Wolf Experience.  The event celebrated the first birthday of three rare Maned wolf pups.  A $20,000 bequest in her will was supplemented by an additional $50,000, a discretionary distribution from the estate.  The event today featured special educational talks in front of the Maned wolf habitat, birthday treats and enrichment for the Maned wolves.   The development of a Species Survival Plan enabled the breeding of Maned wolves in human care.

New Milford residents raise money for food, fuel banks

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass hosted an open house at Town Hall before Christmas as a way to collect donations for residents in need.  He says everyone who attended was able to raise $675 for the local fuel bank and $325 for the food bank. 

Newtown Senior Services Director to retire

Long-time Newtown Senior Services Director Marilyn Place will be resigning to spend more time with her family.  The Newtown Bee reports that Place said in a note to the Human Resources Department last week that she's taking an early retirement.  This comes as Newtown gets set to open a new senior center on the Fairfield Hills campus, next to a soon-to-be opened Community Center.

Local lawmaker to chair bipartisan state committee

The state Senator for the Brookfield and New Milford area has received his committee assignments. 30th District Senator Craig Miner will continue to be a ranking member of the Environment Committee.  He will also hold that role on the Labor and Public Employees Committee, as well as be part of Appropriations.  Miner will also be co-chair of the Regulation Review Committee.  This joint bipartisan committee is made up of 6 senators and 8 representatives, divided equally by party.  In keeping with the bipartisan nature of the committee the chairmanship changes every two years and pairs either a Senate Democrat and a House Republican or a Senate Republican and a House Democrat in the leadership role.

Danbury seeks to add emergency communications equipment to west side

As part of Danbury's continuing effort to improve emergency services response, the City is looking to enhance communications capabilities.  The Danbury Fire Department is working on a project that will result in the placement of antennas and related equipment on a water tank located off Woodland Road in the The Reserve on the city's West Side.  But Danbury must acquire easements from property owners first.  In early discussions, Fire Chief TJ Wiedl says the owners have indicated they would be in favor of helping the City.  Councilman Ben Chianese asked if the easement would have to be purchased.  Assistant Corporation Counsel Robin Edwards responded that this is a friendly transaction. Mayor Mark Boughton suggested holding off after further questions from Councilman Paul Rotello.  The group agreed to a ceiling of $2,500 for the potential cost of the easement.  If the request is over that amount, he will return to Council.

Ridgefield residents seek new regulations on alternative energy installations

A group of Ridgefield residents are seeking changes to town ordinances when it comes to alternative energy installations.  Concerns over the look of a solar array led to a proposal that the visual impact of the installations be drawn up in a new ordinance.  The Ridgefield Zoners previously approved a ground-mount solar array in the residential Canterbury Lane area and neighbors say it looks to industrial.  The proposal will be discussed at the Board of Selectmen's meeting next month.  Any new ordinance would have to be approved at a town meeting. 

New Fairfield Drop Off Center open today for special hours

New Fairfield town offices were closed yesterday for Christmas, so the Drop Off Center added hours today.  The center, typically open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, is open today until 3:45pm.  The Drop Off Center at 33 Bigelow Road accepts household garbage, single stream recycling, some household bulky waste and automotive waste items, textiles, electronics, scrap metal and mattresses for recycling and yard waste from residents.  You must have a permit to use the Drop Off Center unless you are dropping off only electronics or mattresses.  There are no free permits.  Permits are $10 and good for a calendar year. 

Brookfield brush yard to accept Christmas trees on two January Saturdays

Christmas may only just barely be in the books for 2018, but Brookfield is putting out information on when residents can dispose of their trees.  The brush yard will be open to accept Christmas trees on Saturdays January 5th and 12 from 8:30am to 4pm.

Newtown seeks volunteers to serve on boards, commissions

There are a number of vacancies on boards and commissions in Newtown.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal is seeking candidate recommendations by January 4th for any registered voter to serve on the Hattertown Historic District and one to be an alternate on the Commission on Aging.  He is also taking recommendations by the 11th for any registered voter to join the Cultural Arts Commission and the Inland Wetlands Commission.  A Republican is needed for the Sustainable Energy Commission.  Rosenthal is also taking recommendations by January 18th for any Republican or unaffiliated voter to fill a vacant position on the Library Board of Trustees.  Candidates with facilities management experience preferred.

Women's Center seeks volunteers for crisis hotline

The Women's Center is now screening candidates for the winter 2019 dual Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Certification program. This 48-hour training class certifies volunteers to perform crisis intervention at the Center during business hours or from home when the Center is closed. 

It is a prerequisite for court advocate, counselor advocate, group facilitator, and other advanced direct service volunteer positions. Evening and weekend training classes begin Monday, January 28th, meeting for two weeks.  Candidates must be at least 18 years of age; male and bilingual volunteers are encouraged to apply. 

There is a $50 per person materials fee to help defray the cost of the manual.  Waivers are available for qualified candidates, and a background check will be done.  Space is limited and all prospective volunteers must apply by December 30th.

During the last fiscal year, the Women's Center responded to more than 3,000 sexual assault and domestic violence hotline calls, in addition to providing emergency shelter, counseling services, advocacy services, community education and prevention programs, and information and referral services.

Connecticut arts, cultural groups share $3 million in grants

A dozen Connecticut nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are set to receive more than $3 million through a state grant program.

The Department of Economic and Community Development's Good to Great initiative funds projects that tell stories of cultural and historic sites in engaging, meaningful and relevant ways.

The funding can be used for a variety of needs, including construction, exhibit design and installation, planning and marketing. Recipients must provide a 25 percent cash match.

This list of grants includes nearly $97,000 for the Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center in Ridgefield for facility improvements for its most fragile objects that relate directly to major moments in U.S. history.  The grant will pay for climate controlled, fire-protected, well-designed storage.

Senate Democrats divvying up control of legislative panels

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Democrats in the Connecticut Senate are divvying up control of the General Assembly's committees after two years of sharing power with Republicans.

Democrats and Republicans have held an equal number of seats, 18 apiece. That's meant two Senate chairs - a Democrat and Republican - for every legislative committee. But when the new legislative session begins on Jan. 9, Democrats will hold 23 of the chamber's 36 seats. Republicans will control 13.

One of the new Democratic senators, former United Auto Workers Union leader and organizer, Julie Kushner of Danbury, will be the Senate chairwoman of the Labor and Public Employees Committee. Fellow freshman Christine Cohen, a Guilford business owner will chair the Environment Committee.

Returning Sen. Gary Winfield of New Haven will chair the Judiciary Committee for the first time.

Newtown Road improvements to continue

Construction is finishing up along Newtown Road by the Danbury Public Works facility and the state Department of Transportation is working on other improvements further along toward exit 8.  The City has applied for funding to do work along White Street, aimed at easing traffic congestion in the area of West Conn's parking garage.  There were some questions from City Council members about improvements at other areas between the projects.  Councilwoman Colleen Stanley asked if there's anything under consideration for the area where White Street becomes Newtown Road, near the intersection with Federal Road.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the state is interested in continuing work there because of the traffic tie ups.  The traffic lights there currently can't handle the volume of cars travelling through the area.

Painting stolen in WWII is heading from US to Ukraine

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. (AP) - A painting that was stolen in World War II and found in a Connecticut home is being returned to an art museum in Ukraine.

Court records filed Thursday by U.S. officials say the painting of Ivan the Terrible was scheduled to be auctioned by a couple in Ridgefield, Conn., last year when a Ukrainian museum intervened.

The museum said the work was a 1911 oil painting that had been stolen during the Nazi occupation. It measures nearly 64 square feet (6 square meters) and depicts the Russian ruler departing Moscow on horseback.

U.S. officials say the painting was in the Ridgefield house when the couple bought it in 1987. It was traced to an earlier owner of the home who served in the Swiss Army.

Officials say the couple agreed the painting should be returned.

Still River Greenway Committee gets to work in Brookfield

Still River Greenway Committee Chairman Jay Annis gave an update to the Board of Selectmen on their work since the group was formed in September.  They're collaborating with the New Milford Trail Committee to create a shared vision of a route from the present Still River Greenway up to New Milford.   

East of the Still River along the Housatonic Railroad tracks included areas too narrow and close to the tracks to be feasible.  Annis noted that there was some challenging topography which would have required cut and fill work.  A route along the west side of the river was determined to be the better option.  A quarter mile or half mile north of the Four Corners currently has grass walking paths, which could become the route northward. 

Newbury Condominiums has easements granted for the greenway, if needed.  Riverview Condominiums, opposite the river and closer to the Four Corners, does not have easements needed for the trail to move forward.  They have language in their contract protecting the land from further development, even from a greenway.  They are working with the Town Attorney on what their options are, if any. 

The group applied for a $25,000 unrestricted grant for trailway work.  The Western Connecticut Council of Governments was taking grant requests in October, but that wasn't enough time to submit an application.  They are looking to apply during the next round of funding.  They've also talked with the Housatonic Valley Association, an organization whose work coincides with goals of the Still River Greenway Committee. 

Downed utility lines closed New Milford Road over weekend

Utility lines and a pole came down in New Milford blocking Jerusalem Hill Road late Saturday night.  Frontier and the New Milford Department of Public Works responded to clear the road.  Mayor Pete Bass says the pole and wires were repaired shortly after noon on Sunday, but Charter wires were too low for trucks to safely travel through the area so the road remained closed.  One lane was opened by 8pm yesterday.  Bass says Charter had to bring in a larger truck for a higher reach.  Drivers were asked to use caution when travelling on Jerusalem Hill Road.

90-year old NY woman collects hundreds of donations for Toys for Tots

A Putnam County woman is being praised by Sheriff Robert Langley for helping out with the “Toys For Tots” collection drive.  90-year old Marie Brady has been a resident of Tilly Foster, Southeast, for her entire life and donates her time and money to helping children. Each year Marie goes around town and, through word of mouth, gets many people to donate toys for the program. She purchases many toys herself and this year, with the items she bought and those donated by others, she collected over 200 toys and 21 bicycles.  Brady was helped this year by close friend Wendy Koehler and Sheriff’s Cadet Vincent Ricci.  The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department picked up the toys at her residence and dropped them off at the local drop off site.

New Fairfield Representative gets promotion within GOP caucus

New Fairfield State Representative Richard Smith has been appointed to serve as Co-Chairman of the House Republican Policy initiative when the new session starts on January 9th.  Smith was also appointed to the legislature’s Labor Committee, Housing Committee and Judiciary Committee.  An attorney, Smith previously was a member of the Judiciary Committee and says he looks forward to continuing his work on judicial procedures, criminal law, probate courts, civil law, and other matters relating to the Judicial Department.  On the Labor Committee, Smith says he will help oversee all matters relating to conditions of employment of state and municipal employees.

State lawmaker concerned with potential cuts in aid for fire training schools

During a recent meeting of the state legislature's Fire and EMS caucus, member JP Sredzinski was critical of potential cuts in aid to fire training schools.  The Monroe and Newtown Representative says firefighters need constant training and the responsibility would then fall to the student or on municipalities.  He believes that would disuade a lot of firefighters from joining career departments, and certainly from volunteering.  If it becomes a municipal responsibility, that trickles down to property tax payers.  Sredzinski says everything is linked to stability in municipal aid.  He notes that if his towns had lost Education Cost Sharing funding of $7 million, as initially proposed, that would have impacted the entire town.  Sredzinski says that would have become a shared sacrifice by everyone through difficult cutting decisions elsewhere.  He added that it would be criminal for officials to say to volunteers that they have to pay to train, and then to also donate hours upon hours of their time to protect the community.

Danbury Police make toy delivery

A Danbury Police cruiser caravan made its way to Rose Street making toy deliveries recently.  Danbury Police Sgt. John Krupinsky worked with Reverend Wes and the state Fraternal Order of Police to make Christmas brighter for community members in need.  This is the third year of the donations.  Krupinsky says the toys will help single moms or grandparents filling the parental role to provide toys to kids for Christmas.

Ridgefield Police investigating spray painted graffiti

Ridgefield police are investigating spray painted graffiti found on buildings and lean-to structures at Sturges Park.  Police told the Ridgefield Press that the graffiti included obscenities and racial slurs.  The criminal mischief is believed to have happened early last Friday morning.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Ridgefield Police Department at 203-438-6531.

Homecoming in Danbury for world's tallest Uncle Sam statue

After two weeks of coordinating efforts between Danbury Public Works and the owner of a 38-foot tall Uncle Sam statue, crews went up to Magic Forest Amusement Park yesterday to transport the Danbury Fair memorabilia back to the City. 

A wide load permit was secured from the Connecticut and New York Departments of Transportation to allow his travel on the back of a very long trailer.  The crew stopped at the exit one commuter lot to allow people to be part of the convoy.  Danbury Police agreed to provide an escort into the City.

Mayor Mark Boughton says it wasn't an easy task to get him loaded up and make the more than three hour trek, but the move went well.   He's in talks with two individuals to do restoration work, one who has experience working on these figures from the fair and the other did the restoration of the smaller Uncle Sam inside City Hall.  This one will have to be gel coated so it can withstand winter weather. 

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says they didn't anticipate all of the reinforcement in his feet, but then everything went smoothly.  He says it was a bit of a nerve-wracking trip because of all of the potholes on I-84, and the statue was moving quite a bit on the trailer. 

They did have to cut off the statue's left hand in order to fit under highway overpasses.  Iadarola says the first thought was that they'd have to go for the arm, but after measuring found that the hand would be enough.  The statue was about 18 inches too high, even flat on its back.

The Department posted on Instagram that he's been vacationing in Lake George for years, but is now retiring in Danbury. 


(Photo: DPW)

Temporary Route 7 closure planned in New Milford

Route 7 in New Milford will be temporarily closed beginning at approximately 8:30pm on Thursday, December 27th, until 5am Friday the 28th.  The closure is between Pickett District Road and Route 55. 

The state Department of Transportation says the temporary closure is needed so a permitted oversize/overweight vehicle carrying a transformer can be moved.  The item weighs more than 476-thousand pounds and will be on a specialized, 12-axle trailer.  The transportation will use jumper bridges at several smaller bridge crossings, requiring the temporary shutdown of Route 7 until the load passes and the jumpers can be removed. 

The move is being escorted and coordinated by the Connecticut State Police. 

Route 55 in New Milford and Sherman may be closed for a short duration on Friday as part of the scheduled transformer move. Modifications or extensions may be necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions.

Musical instruments donated to Danbury elementary school

Musical instruments have been donated to Ellsworth Avenue School in Danbury.  Following band performances on Tuesday, Redding-based SpreadMusicNow presented a check for $40,000 to VH1 Save The Music Foundation to support the group’s donation. 

Ellsworth officials say the number of instruments at the school has doubled with the donations this year. VH1 Save The Music Foundation has made  six Core Band Grants to date as part of an effort to ensuring all Danbury students have access to a high quality musical instrument in school and can reach their full potential. 

Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella says as they face budget restrictions, it is nothing short of a miracle that these nonprofit groups step in and work very hard to make sure that children are offered musical education that can be the start of a lifelong passion. This fall, VH1Save the Music donated $120,000 worth of musical instruments and supplies to support the elementary band programs at Ellsworth, Hayestown Avenue and Stadley Rough elementary schools.

The National Association of Music Merchants donated $20,000 to the foundation, as well.

Panel: No ethics violation by Rep. Esty in harassment case

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House Committee on Ethics says a Democratic representative accused of tolerating sexual harassment in her office could have better protected her staff but didn't break congressional rules.

Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut announced she wouldn't run for re-election in April, days after revelations that she kept a high-ranking aide on staff for three months after learning of allegations that he sexually harassed and physically abused a female staffer.

The ethics committee concluded that Esty "could have acted more promptly and enlisted more appropriate resources to investigate." But "falling short of ideal practices, however, is not the same as violating House Rules."

The committee recommended no further action against Esty. She is leaving office at the end of this Congress.

Bethel NJROTC cadets overwhelmed by interest in refurbished computer sale

Bethel Public Schools held a computer sale on Tuesday evening, as part of a capstone project run by students in the NJROTC program.  The devices would have otherwise been recycled.  The students didn't realize how popular this event would be.  The High School Principal and Superintendent said in a letter to parents and the community that it was an imperfect process.

Going forward, cadets will set up and adhere to more explicit purchasing guidelines.  They will include following advertised times, implementing purchasing limits and developing a wait list for future purchases.  School officials say they did not anticipate the level of interest and were trying to accommodate the residents who arrived early. 

The Bethel Board of Selectmen approved the release of old computer equipment.  The 90 old IMACS and 150 Samsung Chromebooks were refurbished.   The IMACS are from the 90s and the Chromebooks are from 2013.  The proceeds from the sale of the equipment will be put back into the Town's budget, per the Charter.  The money would be distributed to the NJROTC during the 2019-2020 budget.

WCSU now taking applications for summer fellowship grants

West Conn is now accepting applications for undergraduate students at all higher education institutions in the United States to compete for one of two $4,000 fellowship grants to conduct a research project in the field of biology in collaboration with a West Conn faculty member.  The 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program will include a minimum of 30 hours per week of field and laboratory work on a research project, during an eight- to 10-week period.  There are certain academic requirements for participation and applications must contact listed mentor faculty members to discuss specific research interests.  The West Conn mentors can help in developing and writing a project proposal.  The deadline for submission of applications is March 10th. 

Ridgefield School District names new Superintendent

The Ridgefield School District has hired a new Superintendent.  Dr. William Collins was named to the position this week during a special Ridgefield Board of Education meeting.  He will take over from Interim Superintendent Dr. JeanAnn Paddyfote on February 19th.  He served as superintendent of Newington Public Schools for about a decade and retired in June.  In addition to formerly serving two schools as principal over a span of 10 years, Collins was an assistant professor in the Central Connecticut State University graduate business program and a teacher for a decade before that.

New Fairfield schedules Town Meeting on proposed blight ordinance

New Fairfield officials have scheduled a Town Meeting to set a referendum on a proposed Blight Ordinance.  The meeting will be held January 2nd at 7pm the Senior Center Community Room.  The proposed ordinance is different from the one presented previously for a vote in New Fairfield. The new proposal includes a definition of blighted premises, creates a Blight Prevention Board to evaluate blight complaints and establishes procedures to remediate blighted premises.  The Town Meeting on the 2nd will set the date for a machine vote.

Putnam County collecting donations to send care packages to the troops

Today is the last day of a collection hosted by the Putnam County Executive's Office to supply comfort packages to those serving overseas in the U.S. Armed Forces.  The 2nd annual initiative is being run in conjunction with United for the Troops. 

Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell says for a $15 donation, a care package will be sent to a soldier overseas on behalf of the donor or in the name of someone else.  Donors will be given a card acknowledging the gift. 

United for the Troops was founded by a Mahopac couple, Jim and Patty Rathschmidt, with the help of friends and families whose sons and daughters are serving overseas.  Some of the items include cookies, DVDs, CDs, snacks, t-shirts, and other food items. Soldiers typically are supplied with the essentials for day- to-day life and many of them said they miss the extra amenities enjoyed at home. 

Care packages can be reserved by submitting a form found on the County's website, but must be paid through Odell's Confidential Secretary, Terry Oliver, at 40 Gleneida Avenue Carmel, NY  10512.

Bethel Town Clerk moves back into office after asbestos abatement

The Bethel Town Clerk's office is moving back to their old location, after operating for two weeks out of Meeting Room A in the municipal center because of asbestos abatement.  The remediation required removal of the office floor.  The Town Clerk's Office will be closed from 8am to 2pm for the move, but officials hope to reopen for the remained of the day, with Bethel Town Hall open until 6pm.  The Town Clerk's Office will be open for normal operating hours tomorrow, 8am to noon.

Sandy Hook woman's initiative included in federal school safety report

A report released this week by a federal School Safety Committee included an imitative launched by a woman whose son was killed at Sandy Hook School. Scarlett Lewis presented the same information recently to the Connecticut legislature's School Safety Working Group.  The Jesse Lewis Chose Love Movement talks about the impact of social, emotional learning.   The organization was founded to keep kids healthy and safe.  She says anxiety is at an all-time high and wants to teach students, educators and parents how to take action to combat that.  Among the recommendations in a report to the legislature after the shooting, was to have schools foster healthy child development.  Lewis says social, emotional learning can help accomplish that through several lessons.  She says the lessons have positively impacted over 1.3 million kids and is filling a need.

Parking lot expansion plans revised in Ridgefield

During their meeting earlier this month, the Ridgefield Parking Authority heard from First Selectman Rudy Marconi about the expansion of the Governor Street parking lot. He said that the project went through a redesign to eliminate a large retaining wall, as well as other  changes.  That delayed the approval/construction schedule and the anticipated timeline will be submitted to the Planning and Zoning and Inland Wetlands Commission in January for approvals.  The project would go out to bid mid March with bids received sometime in April with construction starting in possibly May or June.

Daily parking fees at West Redding train station to rise in new year

Beginning January 1st, the daily parking fee for the West Redding train station will increase to $6 per day.  A new updated application for annual permits has been posted to the Town of Redding's website.  Redding officials are reminding residents that purchase of a permit does not guarantee a place to park on any specific day.  Annual permits purchased before July 1st cost $250, while annual permits purchased after July 1st are $ 125.  There's a $10 charge for replacing lost permits.

Applications due soon for new regional Agriscience high school program

Applications to Shepaug Valley High School's new Agriscience program are due January 4th.  The program will open its doors in August at the start of the next school year.  Students will have access to agriscience electives and experiences with animals, plants, and technology. 

The school will be accepting applications from Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, and Sherman. Students apply from the sending districts in the fall of their 8th grade year.  In addition to an application, prospective students must also send in a transcript, personal essay and three letters of recommendation. 

Students who are enrolled in the agriscience program will be given first priority to the agriscience electives.  Any openings in the agriscience elective courses can be filled with non-program students. 

Construction is underway at the school in the Town of Washington to create room for the new program.  Current students are asked not to enter any of the fenced off construction areas, regardless of whether the gate is open or not.  An area of particular concern is the area behind the school by the pond.  Students may not cross the fenced-off area to get to the parking lot.  While it is a little bit more time consuming, the Principal says all students, especially those participating in after sports practices and competitions, must exit the school through the front entrances/exits. 

Eversource continues equipment inspections via helicopter

Eversource began conducting a new round of low flying inspections of transmission lines last week, in Redding and elsewhere in the region.  Redding officials say if it seems the utility is inspecting more often, it's because they are. New regulations require more frequent inspections. The helicopters are blue, equipped with an infrared camera that detects heat.

Some Redding residents upset with utility maintenance work

Eversource transmission maintenance work in Redding began in August on the line running from Peaceable to Diamond Hill Road and the Archer Street Substation.  Eversource plans to replace 26 existing structures in the areas of Diamond Hill Road, Umpawaug Road, Windy Hill Road, Quarry Rock Road, Seventy Acres Road, Indian Hill Road, and Peaceable Street.  Additional trees may be removed and access ways improved so that large machinery can access the right of way.

Some Redding residents are upset with the project and the common feeling is that it's not maintenance, but a large-scale construction project.  Overall, the roads and paths that were created are a concern.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton said during a recent Board of Selectmen meeting that the gravel paths look more like parking lots and are elevated.  Eversource said in response to resident complaints that they would put down grass seed.  

Umpawaug is scenic road, and the view can't be changed from the road.  She says the work that was done is detrimental.  She noted that someone can't even build a stone wall if they wanted to.  Pemberton notes that crews walked some properties to discuss restoration of trees that were cut down along the roadways, because that's the town's purview.  Eversource says they can't plant trees because they need access, but she believes it is possible.

Discussions between Redding officials and the utility are ongoing.

Tri-Board meeting held in Redding to start budget discussions

The Redding Boards of Selectmen, Finance and Education have met to start the budget process.  During the tri-board meeting on Monday, they discussed the big drivers of the plan for the coming year.  On the school side, it will once again be personnel costs with contracts requiring pay raises, special education and transportation.  Municipal spending will be focused on capital items, tree removal and maintenance.  Some of the big items will be pay raises for the police and highway unions, a new emergency communications system, and a Station Road bridge.  A listening session has been scheduled for January 3rd at Mark Twain Library.  Department heads will make presentations to the Selectmen during their all day budget workshop on January 11th.

Recommendations from Sandy Hook mom included in federal School Safety Report

The mother of one boy killed at Sandy Hook School was at the White House yesterday as the Trump administration released a school safety report.  Scarlett Lewis created a foundation after her son Jesse was killed, which advocates for social and emotional learning. 

Family members who lost children on 12-14 and at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida were on hand for the meeting. 

The 180-page report from the Federal Commission on School Safety, headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, included information from the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement.  The no-cost enrichment program helps students become connected, resilient and empowered by incorporating emotional mental health awareness into the school curriculum.  Lewis called the meeting a great first step, but that the next step of implementation is equally important. 

Other recommendations included banning so-called bumpstock devices and arming teachers.

Commercial uses of Fairfield Hills campus being studied

The Fairfield Hills Master Plan Review Committee in Newtown plans to move their focus to commercial use of the campus in the new year.  Two local developers and a commercial real estate expert will meet with the group for a discussion on January 9th.  There will be time for public input during the meeting.  On January 22nd, the Committee will hear more public input on commercial uses as well as other uses not currently available on the campus.  Both meetings will be held at the Senior Center at 7pm.  The group was created this summer, as required by the Fairfield Hills Master Plan.  They've been meeting since then to understand current and potential future uses for the property, to help guide the upcoming public engagement efforts.

Newtown Police Commission hears speeding concerns in Toddy Hill area

The Newtown Police Commission has heard concerns from Toddy Hill Road residents about speeding through their neighborhood.  During a meeting earlier this month, residents asked for signs to be posted about No Passing and alerting drivers to intersecting side streets.  There were also concerns about lane striping.  Police Chief James Viadero talked with Public Works about painting now that a paving project is complete.  An electronic speed sign, taken down during the November 15 snow storm, is being repaired and will be put back up until more winter weather comes along.  Newtown is looking into two permanent solar-powered digital speed signs for Toddy Hill Road.

'Rescue Mission' taking place Thursday to bring Uncle Sam back to Danbury

Crews from the Danbury Public Works Department will be headed to Lake George on Thursday for what Mayor Mark Boughton called a rescue mission to bring Uncle Sam back home.  He is also asking the Police Chief for a police escort when the fiberglass structure gets to the state line. 

The 38-foot tall Uncle Sam statue, which once greeted visitors of the Danbury Fair, will be transported to a hangar at Danbury Airport so a fiberglass restoration team can make it weatherproof. 

Boughton has yet to determine the location of where the largest Uncle Sam statue in the world will be displayed.  Ultimately, he wants it to be some place people entering Danbury can see, but as this is a digital age, nowhere dangerous for people who want to take selfies with the statue.  He is looking at places similar to where the Cross in Waterbury is located, which can be seen from I-84. 

All of the engineering is done for a pad it will stand on, and the current owner is donating wrought iron fencing.  Since it is so tall, the statue will likely require wires anchoring it to the ground.  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. 

Boughton's goal is to  have an unveiling at a big event celebrating the fair around 4th of July.

Funding approved for replacement fire boat, engine repairs in Brookfield

The Brookfield Boards of Selectmen and Finance have approved funding for a new fire boat.  Candlewood Fire Company Assistant Chief Jeff Dunkerton gave a presentation and answered questions on their apparatus needs - Estimated Life, Replacement Costs and Required Funding, for the purchase of a replacement fire boat.  The request is outside the normal budget cycle, as they need 5 to 6 months lead time to be equipped by Labor Day. 

The replacement fire boat will cost nearly $319,000.  $100,000 would be absorbed by Candlewood Fire Company, $190,000 would come from the fire apparatus reserve fund the town maintains and the balance will be transferred from another town account.  Candlewood Company received a $5,000 grant from FirstLight Power and is getting $15,480 from the sale of the old boat to offset their part of the contribution.

One of the issues they've been having, and came to a head in the spring, was cracks in the hull.  A welder tried to fix some of the cracks, but more kept appearing. 

The radio compartment gives the boat captain the capability to speak with the other surrounding towns and doctors in the ER.  With the size of the vessel, firefighters can work on two patients on backboards and can transport three on backboards.  The drop down bow gate comes to a 90-degree angle, allowing easy access to the water line to remove victims or for divers to go in and out of the water. 

An old problem with the jet drive system was that as the milfoil mats over, it's impossible to move the boat or to spray water.  The bottom of that system acts like a vacuum.

An ATV could be loaded onto the boat, if needed.

Dunkerton also discussed and answered questions on the repairs needed for Engine 21 noting the back end of the fire truck is rusted and rotting. If taken out of service, it would be of no value to the town when it came time to sell the apparatus to offset the cost of a new truck.  Dunkerton says Engine 21 could last another few years if repaired, and give them the retail value when it is sold in another few years. 

It will only take a couple of weeks to repair, but it can be done locally in Connecticut.   The $31,800 for emergency repairs to keep the truck in service would be paid for through a transfer of funding.

Oxford receives state grant to preserve open space

The Town of Oxford is among the 14 recipients of state grant money to preserve open space.  The $4.8 million will go toward 1,100 acres of land for 15 projects.  The grant program requires a local match and that the open space land be protected by a conservation and public recreation easement, ensuring that the property is forever protected for public use and enjoyment. 

Oxford will use $1.1 million  to purchase the Schreiber Farm Open Space, totalling 132 acres. 

The property is located along Quaker Farms Road and is made up of extensive wetlands and gravel soils that has been used for agriculture purposes.  The Eight Mile Brook that is buffered by early successional habitats and supports listed species runs the length of this parcel feeding and draining two ponds. 

This property is also the location of an aquifer for the Town of Oxford.

DEEP to provide free training to recruit lifeguards for Squantz Pond

It may be December, but the state is already thinking about next Summer.  The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is recruiting lifeguards for the 8 State Park guarded beaches, including Squantz Pond. 

American Red Cross Lifeguarding classes are being offered at no cost to those interested in becoming a lifeguard December 27th through 30th.  The certification can only be used for employment as a lifeguard at Connecticut State Parks.  

DEEP Commissioner Susan Whalen says they hope the new approach will help recruit  full lifeguard squads at each park.  She says the classes are designed to train people interested in working as a lifeguard, but can't pay for the certification themselves.  Training will be held in Middletown. 

Hours of work are 10 am to 6 pm, five days per week, for a total of 40 hours. Weekends and holidays are mandatory. Minimum age by May 25th is 16 years for Lifeguards, 18 years for Lifeguard Supervisors.

New Fairfield to replace boat docks at Town Marina

New Fairfield First Selectmen Pat Del Monaco says Public Works is still working with the engineers on the boat docks and hope to have the report this week.  The Board of Selectmen also recently took up a proposal to use an existing budget surplus to replace the docks at the Town Marina.  A Memorandum of Understanding would be signed by the First Selectman, the Finance Board chairman, the head of Parks and Rec and the Finance Director.  Meanwhile, the Board previously approved boat dock slip fee and jet ski slip fee increases.  The Parks and Rec Commission recommended an increase of $250 and $125 respectively.  Any revenue over $150,000 will automatically be put into the replacement fund, a restricted lock box account. 

Danbury Library introduces 'Hush Pod'

If you've been to Danbury Library recently, you've seen an enclosed booth on the main floor.  It's a self-contained meeting pod, the only one in a Library in the United States.  The Hush Pod was designed by a Polish-based company for collaborative and individual focused work.  Danbury Library says the pod is available for small business meetings, interviews, and study sessions.  It can be reserved in advance or used on a walk-in basis.  Library Director Katie Pearson says they have become more of a community center and during focus groups, residents asked for more quiet study space, also conducive to small meetings. The study pod was sponsored by the Friends of the Danbury Library. 

School start time changes delayed in Bethel

During their retreat last week, the Bethel Board of Education decided to delay any change in school start times until the 2020-2021 school year.  According to the weekly school newsletter, there was a change in phasing and the 3rd grade at Rockwell School will not move to Johnson School next year.  School officials were in consensus that it did not make sense to make the adjustment until all 3rd grade students from Rockwell and Berry moved to Johnson.

Bethel to apply for DEEP grant for water main replacement

Bethel officials are looking for help from the state on a water main replacement project.  The Board of Selectmen voted at their last meeting, on the recommendation of the Public Utilities Commission, to file an application for a Clean Water Fund grant.  Bethel is applying for $ 143,800.  The grant Fund is run through the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Carol signing, parade of lights tonight in New Milford

The New Milford Commission on the Arts is hosting a carol sing tonight with horse and wagon rides around the town green from 5 to 7pm.  Members of the high school music department will be among the performers from 7 to 8pm.  A Parade of Lights will also be held.  Vehicles, including fire trucks, will be festively decorated. Water Witch Hose firefighters this weekend wrapped up Santa Express visits with 180 stops.

Wilton Police donate to Domestic Violence Crisis Center

The Wilton Police Benevolent Association has donated gift cards totaling $950 to the Domestic Violence Crisis Center to support the Holiday Bazaar for their clients. The money was raised by Wilton police officers who donated money for the opportunity to grow facial hair in the month of December.  The DVCC is a domestic violence agency serving the cities and towns of Weston, Wilton, Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, New Canaan, and Darien.

Residents raise money for statue of Sandy Hook victim's dog

BETHLEHEM, Conn. (AP) - A group of residents in the Connecticut town where the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School once worked is raising money for a statue to honor the victim of the massacre.

But the Bethlehem residents don't want a statue of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung - they want to erect a statue of her dog, Bella, who played an important role in lives of the town's children.

Hochsprung was one of 26 students and educators killed in the Dec. 14, 2012 attack in Newtown.

She was previously a teacher and principal in Bethlehem. Bella was a certified therapy dog who would visit schools to sit with children and be their reading buddy.

Thomas Brayton tells the Republican American the goal is to raise $35,000 for a statue of Bella to be placed in the courtyard of Bethlehem Elementary.

Brookfield Fire Marshal offers Christmas fire safety reminders

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is offering some winter fire safety reminders.  One of every 3 home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems.  Fire officials say a heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four Christmas tree fires.  The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Christmas Eve and candles start two out of five home decoration structure fires.  Firefighters suggest using flame retardant decorations.

Candlewood Lake Authority names new Chief for Marine Patrol

The Candlewood Lake Authority has named a new chief of the Marine Patrol.  Ron Barnard, who was acting chief, was named to the role last week.  Barnard was the assistant chief.  He replaced Doug Vane, who retired for health reasons.  Members of the Patrol say Barnard's many years of law enforcement and his leadership skills have brought them together as a team and created an environment that has prepared them for the responsibility to protect the users of Candlewood Lake. 

New Milford firefighters ask for funding for repairs, replacement apparatus

At their next meeting, the New Milford Town Council will consider restoring $25,000 to the fire department's budget.  The chiefs were asked to bring the request back in the next budget cycle so that a precedent isn't set.  But Fire Officials say funding needs to be decided before the new year or the capital replacement plan will have to be revised.  The fire apparatus capital account was established in 1983 in response to a 1979 fire to make sure firefighters could respond to any blaze.  Water Witch Hose Company's Chief told the Town Council that without the $25,000, the departments will hit a deficit in two years, but with the funding, the deficit doesn’t hit for a decade.

Security features to be built into Sandy Hook memorial design

There will be some security features built into the planned Sandy Hook memorial.  SWA Group designer Ben Waldo presented information to Newtown officials earlier this fall about the selected plan.  He suggests an anti-climb and anti-cut fence surrounding most of the perimeter.  It can disappear into the woods or covered with vines where necessary.  He says this will help to prevent vandalism at the site. 

Closer to the main site gate, they are looking at an aesthetically pleasing vertical steel picket fence, which would still be secure.  While the site will not be open after dusk, they have proposed path lights, with fixtures selected for their simplicity that will blend into the landscape. 

The property abuts Treadwell Park and is not far from the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department, just past Dickenson Drive. The 5-acre site includes some natural elements, including two ponds. 

The main feature of the design includes a pool of water, with a sycamore tree at its center.  The stone edge of the pool will include the names of the 26 children and educators killed on 12-14.  The firm incorporated the sacred soil from the demolished school and tributes left at the site into the design feature.  There are accessible ramps throughout the design, including one that crosses over a bridge to a divergence of paths which is characterized by a broad stone bench with a wooden top.  

Danbury negotiating to buy First Congregational Church

During his State of the City address recently, Mayor Mark Boughton announced a plan for the City to buy the First Congregational Church of Danbury in exchange for maintenance and preservation.  The church approached the City and Boughton called it one of the most recognizable buildings in Danbury. 

The church could rent it back for $1 per year, similar to other leases the city has with nonprofits and other organizations.  Boughton says the City could then use the facility as a performing arts hall 6 days a week.  He says they haven't settled completely on a price, but it will be minimal, likely for the legal fees and other things to get the transfer of the property and deed filed.  Later on, Boughton says all other uses can be determined. 

The parish has gotten smaller and wanted to save the more than 90-year-old building from being torn down as part of possible future development.  

A City Council committee is expected to be formed in the new year and parishioners also must vote on the proposal.

Ridgefield firefighter gets a promotion

A Ridgefield Firefighter has been promoted to  the position of Lieutenant. Patrick Holland started with Ridgefield in 1994 and is also a medic.  Ridgefield Professional Firefighters say his experience and knowledge will serve both the department and the citizens of Ridgefield well.

Danbury Railway Museum offers vintage train rides to visit with Santa

The Danbury Railway Museum is once again offering rides in a vintage train through the historic railyard to visit with Santa.  Trains will depart every half-hour from 12:30 to 3pm today and due to  its popularity last year, special night-time rides at 4:30 and 5 PM.  Trains will depart every half hour from 12:30 to 3:30 tomorrow.  Admission is $12 for ages 2 and up, under 2 is free.  Each child will receive a small gift from Santa.  Reservations are suggested. 

Suspect in Bethel woman's murder located in Ohio

A man has been arrested in Ohio for the murder of a 25-year-old Bethel woman in Bridgeport on Sunday.  Police say 26-year-old Brandon Roberts is being charged with murder, robbery, carrying a pistol without a permit and using a firearm to commit a felony.  Emily Todd was found fatally shot at Bridgeport Harbor earlier this week.  Police determined that Roberts fled to his father's house in Ohio and detectives traveled there this week to charge him.  He will be extradited back to Connecticut in the near future. 

Sandy Hook school receives threat on shooting anniversary

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) Sandy Hook Elementary School students have been sent home for the day after a bomb threat forced an evacuation on the sixth anniversary of the shooting that killed 20 first-graders and six educators.

Newtown police say the threat was made at about 9 a.m. Friday and the school was evacuated. Lt. Aaron Bahamonde says there's a heightened level of anxiety in town on the anniversary and the school superintendent decided to cancel remaining classes.

It's unclear whether the threat was related to the bomb threats made nationwide Thursday.

The school where the shooting happened on Dec. 14, 2012, was knocked down and a new building was constructed at the same site.

Moments of silence were observed in Newtown and other places Friday morning in memory of the victims.

Firefighters issue reminders about fireplace ashes after disaster averted

Discarded fireplace ashes are being blamed for setting a large shrub on fire right next to a  Monroe home yesterday.  A passing highway department worker spotted the blaze right next to a Wheeler Road home. The owner doused the flames with a garden hose before the fire could spread.  Monroe Volunteer Fire Department is reminding people that ashes can stay hot for several days.  They should not be disposed of in a bag, cardboard box, plastic container or plastic trash can.  Ashes should be disposed of in a metal container, douse with water, covered with a metal lid, and placed at least 10 ft away from the house, deck, wood pile, and other combustibles. 

Sixth anniversary of shooting at Sandy Hook School marked with Acts of Kindness

Members of the Danbury Fire and Police Departments this week had lunch with students at Shelter Rock School.  It was part of the "Start With Hello, No One Eats Alone" program.  It's an initiative of Sandy Hook Promise.  The goal is to help students and schools make social inclusion the new reality.

Senator Richard Blumenthal is performing acts of kindness or mark the sixth anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook School,  volunteering with children.  He he will participate in arts and crafts activities with pediatric patients and serve food to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center staff.  They are marking PJ Day for the Kids.  Since 2011, children across Connecticut have gone to school in their pajamas to support pediatric patients at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, raising more than $375,000 for the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

On the sixth anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook School, Senator Chris Murphy visited clients of FISH of Greater New Haven, a non-profit organization that provides free nutritious food to homebound residents. He helped with grocery deliveries as part of his acts of kindness to honor the lives lost.  Murphy urged others to also do acts of kindness in their community.

Central Connecticut State University has teamed up with the foundation created in memory of a girl who was killed at Sandy Hook School 6 years ago.  The university and the Ana Grace Project hosted the Love Wins Community Drive this morning to collect toys, baby items, non-perishable food and winter clothing to help families in need.  The foundation was created by Jimmy Greene, a West Conn professor, and Nelba Marquez-Greene in honor of their daughter Ana Grace.

State, Newtown mark anniversary of shooting at Sandy Hook School

Governor Malloy is directing flags to remain flying at half-staff today, in remembrance of the 20 children and 6 adults who were killed six years ago at Sandy Hook School.  Flags are also currently flying at half-staff for a 30-day period in honor of President George H.W. Bush, who passed away on November 30th. 

Newtown is once again marking the anniversary of the shooting with a period of silence.  All municipal offices, departments, and agencies will be closed from 9:30 until 9:45 am for reflection in honor and remembrance.  Notes are posted on Newtown buildings inviting the public to join in the period of silence.  Local houses of worship and The Resiliency Center of Newtown have open hours for reflection today. An interfaith service is planned for this evening at Congregation Adath Israel at 7pm.

Malloy says the unthinkable tragedy that occurred on this day will forever have an impact.  As the man who told the families that their loved ones would not be coming home, Malloy says he thinks about the children and educators every single day. He added that too often people focus on divisions, instead of the ties that bind--but that Connecticut witnessed first-hand an infinite flood of compassion from all around the world in the aftermath the shooting.

Update given on animal sanctuary to honor victim of Sandy Hook shooting

The parents of a girl killed at Sandy Hook School are continuing work on an animal sanctuary to honor her legacy.  The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary will be built on 34 acres in the center of Newtown. 

Jenny Hubbard spoke yesterday about raising the money for the first phase of construction.  She says it's numbing that Catherine has now been gone for as long as she was alive.  Hubbard says her daughter had a gentle and innate kindness, as well as a love of all creatures. 

After her death, the Hubbards asked for donations to animal rescue groups, who then said a sanctuary is a place of healing for animals, but also for people to see their own beauty through the eyes of the animals they are caring for.  Jenny says that was the crux of honoring Catherine's legacy with an animal sanctuary. 

The Foundation needs to raise $6 million to construct the main educational building and the veterinary intake center.  They so far have raised $2 million.  Jenny Hubbard says they are truly humbled by the outpouring of support and generosity of people, corporations and the state for granting the land to their Foundation.

Sandy Hook Promise founders reflect on 12/14 anniversary

It's been six years since the shooting at Sandy Hook School and two parents who formed the advocacy organization Sandy Hook Promise are speaking out about preventing people from getting to the point of committing an act of violence.  The group was founded by the parents of Daniel Barden and Dylan Hockley.  They says they have spent 6 years wondering what their sons might look like now, what new hobbies they might have and writing down all of their memories of the tiniest details about them.  They say after today, they'll piece together their hearts and keep moving forward with their goals.  Sandy Hook Promise this month released a new PSA about recognizing the warning signs of violence.

Bethel maintains AAA bond rating

Bethel has again earned a AAA rating from Standard and Poor’s, the highest possible bond rating.  A review was conducted last month and Bethel maintained the rank the town has held since 2014.  Standard and Poors said that the town's strong management policies and practices, as well as good budgetary performance with operating surpluses in the general fund, sound fiscal policies and low overall debt load led to the rating.  The review was conducted in conjunction with Bethel's recent $20 million bond sale, the proceeds of which will be used to finance the police station project and upcoming renovations at Rockwell and Johnson schools.  The rating will allow the town to obtain lower interest rates.

Superintendent updates State School Safety Group

Monroe School Superintendent Jack Zamary provided feedback to the legislature's School Safety Working Group on November 27th.  He noted that there are common all-calls in the district schools.  Teachers know the code for their building and would be authorized to call a lockdown, without having to alert and wait for the principal to secure the building.  Zamary says that's one of the things they learned from Sandy Hook.  When it comes to lockdown drills, they found it was overly scary for the younger students.  What Monroe has done is announce at the beginning of a school year that the drill will be held on a specific date.  As the year goes on, they just announce that a drill will be held at some point during the week. 

Monroe added School Resource Officers, but noticed that Newtown added armed School Security Officers.  Zamary says the SROs are funded by Monroe while the SSOs, retired officers, are funded by the schools.  He notes that if they weren't neighboring Newtown, he's not sure if there would have been the momentum to have armed security guards.  When Sandy Hook students moved into the former Chalk Hill School, their bus routes weren't much longer than getting to SHES.

Zamary says they are looking to add a program from Sandy Hook Promise.  Right now, anonymous reporting leads to a number of false reports, or potentially delays in action to reach students who may be involved in risky behavior after hours.  Speak Up has a live operator.  That person can help reduce false reports, can advise the caller of what to do and is available 24-7. 

Monroe Representative JP Sredzinski, whose district also includes part of Newtown, says security features that work for Newtown, won't necessarily work for other towns.  Zamary says some number of mental health, psychologist, guidance counselors or social workers are one area that should be required statewide.

Zamary says professional development time is hard to find but is critical.  He noted that as more trainings are mandated by the state, sometimes other things have to come out.  He suggested looking at all of the training programs to see what might be outdated and could be removed.  The Working Group asked for a list of those programs from Superintendents.

One member of the group asked about some districts requiring phones be put away during class time or kept in lockers, but concerned parents not being on board.  An argument for not having the cell phones out from the Working Group was that students need to be focused on teacher instruction, who need phones silenced.  Zamary says cell towers were overwhelmed on 12-14, portable cell towers were even brought in. 

Bethel Fire Marshal, Building official inspect solar array

The Bethel Fire Marshal and the town's Building Official have inspected a commercial solar panel install.  The inspection was done yesterday at 165 Grassy Plain Street. 

Fire Marshal Tom Galliford says these arrays have become very common and they work to ensure they are installed to Fire Safety Code.

The solar panels also create hazards and issues for firefighters for access to the roof and ventilation access for a fire below inside the building.  Bethel emergency responders use Active911 for pre incident planning and the Fire Marshal's office is the administrator for the data in that system. The location of these installs are included on the app for firefighters to access while responding to calls.

Calling hours, funeral scheduled for Bethel woman found slain in Bridgeport

Calling hours and funeral services have been set for the Bethel woman found shot to death in Bridgeport on Sunday.  Police say there may have been a struggle before the death of 25-year-old Emily Todd.  Calling hours are at Bethel Funeral Home tomorrow from 4 to 7pm.  Celebration of Emily's life will be held on Saturday at 11am at Bethel United Methodist Church. Todd's family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.  Police are now searching for the man she met the Bridgeport Harbor.

Putnam County reporting most flu cases in any New York county

There are 12 confirmed cases of the flu in Putnam County.  The County is at the top of the list in the state.  New York officials are urging residents to get an annual flu vaccine.  The illness can be especially harmful for babies who are too young for the vaccine, older adults, pregnant woman and people with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

Boehringer Ingelheim and Lilly Partner To Improve Care For People with Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. and INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The Duke Clinical Research Institute is leading a new clinical study to optimize care for people with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease through evaluation of a multidisciplinary approach at cardiology clinics across the U.S. The research program, COORDINATE-Diabetes (COOrdinating CaRDIology CliNics RAndomized Trial of Interventions to Improve OutcomEs), will be funded by Ridgefield-based Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly and Company.

"The public health impact of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the U.S. is immense," said Christopher Granger, M.D., professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Duke University and lead researcher for COORDINATE-Diabetes. "While highly effective evidence-based treatments have been developed, these treatments are not consistently used, and thus preventable death and disability are occurring. Our goal with COORDINATE-Diabetes is to better understand the effectiveness of specific interventions at cardiology clinics to achieve best practices for improving patient health."

People with diabetes are up to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those without diabetes, and cardiovascular disease ranks as their leading cause of death and disability despite available treatments. To help improve these striking statistics, COORDINATE-Diabetes will examine the impact of multifaceted interventions involving guideline-based therapies among cardiologists, endocrinologists, primary care providers and patients, including the recommendations outlined in the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 2018 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Expert Consensus Decision Pathway on novel therapies for cardiovascular risk reduction in adults with type 2 diabetes and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

The trial will include 46 cardiology clinics in the U.S. and aims to enroll 30 patients at each site. The clinics will be randomized to a basic education arm (in which patients will be treated by clinicians who receive only basic information about guideline-based therapy) or an intensive intervention arm (that focuses on coordinating care between cardiologists and endocrinologists to develop and implement an integrated, multidisciplinary care pathway). The care teams at the intervention sites will be encouraged to communicate with patients' primary care physicians to facilitate a well-rounded, multidisciplinary approach to patient care. The trial will measure the impact of the intervention on the sites' use of guideline-recommended therapies after 12 months.

"We are pleased to support evidence-based research to understand how to best manage risks and optimize care for patients with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in a real-world, clinical setting," said Thomas Seck, M.D., senior vice president, Medicine and Regulatory Affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. "Although there are treatments with proven cardiovascular benefits recommended by the ADA and other organizations, many healthcare providers are not prescribing them to all their patients who may benefit. We look forward to learning more about how healthcare providers can work together to improve adherence to these treatment guidelines in the quest to reduce patients' cardiovascular risk."

The trial will also leverage the power of electronic health record data from a consortium of health systems across the U.S. that have curated their data to support research and improve outcomes. Researchers will begin enrolling clinics and patients for the study in 2019 with the goal of sharing the main results by 2021.

"Few rigorous studies have tested the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary approach to improving care among this vulnerable patient population," noted Sherry Martin, M.D., vice president, Medical Affairs, Lilly. "Given the serious cardiovascular complications associated with type 2 diabetes, it is important for cardiologists and endocrinologists to work collaboratively to help improve care for people with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease."

Kent state Rep. chairs his final meeting of Fire-EMS Legislative Caucus

Outgoing Kent State Representative Brian Ohler has chaired his final meeting of the General Assembly's Fire-EMS Legislative Caucus.  He called it a bittersweet moment and said the issues that First Responders currently face are vast and complex.  Ohler added that he has faith that the caucus will continue to speak out and advocate for these emergency responders on a unified and collective front.  During the meeting Ohler was presented with a statue of a firefighter kneeling in prayer.

Danbury applies for state funding for White Street improvements

Danbury is seeking $2.65 million from the state Department of Transportation to improve traffic flow and safety along White Street.  The funding would come from the Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program.  The project would be centered in the Wildman Street/Locust Avenue intersection area.  Work would include adding a westbound left turn lane in to the West Conn parking garage, improving visibility of the crosswalks by the university and Danbury Superior Court and fixing a drainage issue which has led to flooding.  The width and configuration of White Street, west of Eighth Avenue will not be changed. 

Congress approves bill authored by Himes to help veterans

The U.S. House has passed a bill authored by 4th District Congressman Jim Himes.  The SERVE Act, Securing Electronic Records for Veteran’s Ease, will be taken up by the Senate in the coming days. 

The measure  would make it easier for veterans to secure housing by requiring the Department of Veteran Affairs to make documentation of Post 9/11 GI Bill monthly housing stipend accessible and available online. Student veterans will use this documentation to provide needed verification to housing agents, leasing companies, apartment managers, and landlords.  The difficulty student veterans face with housing stipends was brought up through conversations with student veterans throughout Southwest Connecticut. Nicholas Quinzi, a Marine and founder of the Student Veterans Club at Sacred Heart University, expressed that his top priority would be fixing the lack of verification for the monthly housing stipend.

The SERVE Act had previously passed the House of Representatives in 2017, but no action was taken in the Senate.  

Congresswoman-elect names top staff for DC, district offices

5th District Congresswoman-elect Jahana Hayes has hired three top-level staff members – all with significant Connecticut ties. Two will be based out of the Washington DC office, and one in the District office. 

Joe Dunn will serve as Chief of Staff. He worked for then-Representative Chris Murphy in 2010, was part of his Senate transition team and was his Senior Policy Advisor. 

Jason Newton was named Communications Director.  The Southern Connecticut State University graduate was a DC correspondent, before transitioning to become a press secretary for a congressman from Pennsylvania. 

New Britain resident Veronica DeLandro will be District Director for Hayes. After leading nonprofits over the past 15 years, she then served as Director of Community Engagement for the Governor's Prevention Partnership. Hayes says she is a local leader with statewide experience in providing leadership, training, technical assistance and support to diverse schools, organizations, businesses, people and populations including communities like those in the district.

Brookfield Police deliver nearly 1,000 toys to children's hospital

Brookfield Police hosted a successful Stuff-A-Cruiser event, collecting more than 900 toys, which were delivered to Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital yesterday.  Brookfield Police say the community was very generous this year, with businesses donating money and residents dropping off items.  Hospital officials say Brookfield Police brought over so many toys, their giving will continue to help children throughout the year.

Ridgefield Board of Ed rescinds school start time change decision

The Ridgefield Board of Education has overturned their school start time decision from last year.  The Board voted to implement later start times for the next school year, but voted earlier this week 6 to 1 to rescind the decision after receiving more than 100 emails against the later start times.  The Board of Ed only received a handful of letters in support of the change.  There were concerns about pushing sports practices and after-school activities later, interfering with teens who work and the cost for busing.  The proposed scenario would have cost about 2-point-7 million dollars.

Senior living, memory care facility proposed in Brookfield

The Brookfield Zoning Commission is slated to take up an application tonight for a 115 unit senior living facility.   Washington State-based Columbia Pacific Advisors is proposing a 3-story facility on Federal Road, which would also serve memory care patients.  The application is for 291 Federal Road, near The Village at Brookfield Common, a different assisted living community.  The Commission will also look at an application from the Greenknoll YMCA for upgrades to its camp.  The meeting is at 7pm in Brookfield Town Hall.

Brookfield officials consider funding for fire engine repairs, replacement fire boat

Funding for a new fire boat in Brookfield and emergency repairs to Engine 21 are being discussed by the Board of Finance tonight.  The Board of Selectmen is recommending the two items to help Candlewood Fire Company. 

The $31,800 for emergency repairs to keep the truck in service would be paid for through a transfer of funding. 

A replacement fire boat will cost nearly $319,000.  It's being paid for with $100,000 absorbed by Candlewood Fire Company, $190,000 from the fire apparatus reserve fund the town maintains and the balance transferred from a town account. 

Tonight's Board of Finance meeting is at 8pm in the Brookfield High School Media Center.

Asbestos abatement continues in Bethel Town Hall

The Bethel Town Clerk is hoping that on December 18, barring any issues or delays, her staff will be moving back into their office. There's currently an asbestos abatement operation underway.  Due to the magnitude of moving all operations back they will need to be closed to the public during the morning hours of  8am until noon or later on the day of the move.  The Town Clerk says she will have a better idea as to the date as they get closer to completion. Meanwhile the Bethel Municipal Center will be closed tomorrow from noon to 2pm.

Danbury Music Centre's 62nd annual performance of Handel's Messiah is Saturday

Danbury Music Centre will present its 62nd annual performance of Handel's Messiah, a long-time musical tradition in the greater Danbury area. This year's performance takes place at First Congregational Church in Danbury and features the Danbury Concert Chorus and members of the Danbury Symphony Orchestra. This will be the first performance of Messiah with the Chorus by newly appointed Danbury Concert Chorus Music Director Jason Thoms, and only his second overall since being appointed this past June.  The performance on Saturday is at 3pm.

Kent Volunteer Firefighters to launch annual Ice Watch fundraiser

The cable for the Kent Volunteer Fire Department's annual Ice Watch fundraiser has been put up over the Housatonic River.  Several volunteers put the wire up on Sunday as the department gets ready for another year of guessing when the ice will go out on the river.  The tradition started more than 40 years ago.  A piece of equipment is set up to see when the ice has melted enough to send it traveling down stream.

Regional Hospice receives state funding to expand

A $500,000 state grant has been approved for Regional Hospice and Palliative Care in Danbury to help with renovations to its facility to create four additional patient suites.  Representative David Arconti says investing in health care infrastructure is important to improve accessibility and strengthens the community’s well-being.  The agency has provided specialized care to the Danbury area for 35 years and Arconti says there's been an increase of demand for expert end-of-life services.  Representative Bob Godfrey says Regional Hospice makes quality care more accessible, compassionate, and ensures patients can focus on spending time with their families.

State Bond Commission approves funding for Greater Danbury area

The state Bond Commission has approved funding for a number of projects in the Greater Danbury area.  $7 million will be used for improvements at Western, Central, Eastern and Southern Connecticut State Universities.  The work will include restoration of academic facilities, upgrading safety systems and other ground improvements. 

The Commission also approved $300,000 for a boiler to be replaced at the Danbury Superior Courthouse.  Easton Police Department will receive nearly $49,000 to purchase body cameras and video storage devices.  Henry Abbot Technical High School in Danbury will receive about $17,000 for improvements and technology equipment. 

Pending project selections, $825,000 was approved for remediation, marketing and planning activities Fairfield Hills in Newtown and four other state-owned surplus facilities and formerly state-owned facilities.

New medical marijuana dispensary licenses approved in Conn.

9 new dispensary facilities will be licensed by the state’s Medical Marijuana Program.  There are already 9 other dispensaries, including one in the Stony Hill section of Bethel.  Only 4 producer licenses are part of the program. 

The state Department of Consumer Protection says the Medical Marijuana Program has grown significantly since the last time new facility licenses were awarded in January of 2016. At that time, there were 8,200 patients enrolled, while today there are more than 30,000.

Originally, there were only 11 conditions that would qualify adults for medication. Today, there are 31 conditions for adults, eight for patients under 18, and over 1,000 certifying practitioners.

The 9 new dispensary facilities were chosen from 73 applications received by the agency and will be located in Torrington, Stamford, Westport,  Newington, Groton, Meriden, Mansfield, Windham, and New Haven

Esty delivers farewell speech on U.S. House floor

5th District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty has delivered her final address on the floor of the U.S. House.  The 3-term Representative did not seek reelection last month amid a controversy over her handling of an abusive chief of staff.  Esty was elected shortly before the shooting at Sandy Hook School and said yesterday that representing those families was an immediate priority.  She became a co-chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.  More than a dozen bills authored by Esty have been signed into law during her tenure, including ones to expand STEM education for women and to help veterans.  She has not publicly announced her plans for what she will do when she leaves office.

Brookfield residents approve grant application for Steetscape Phase 3 work

Brookfield residents have approved applying for a grant for Phase 3 of streetscape work in the Town Center area.  The next phase is estimated to cost $1.3 million and the grant would cover 80-percent.  Brookfield would pay the balance.  Phase 3 is from the beginning of Federal Road and running down Old Route 7, including a portion of Laurel Hill Road.  A pocket park with benches and trees is planned.  The work includes sidewalks, lighting, signage and relocation of utility lines.  Brookfield is only expected to need to borrow $260,000.  Phase one started at Federal and Station Roads, with the second phase starting this summer and running down to the Still River Greenway.  Phase 4 would continue the improvements along Federal Road to Newbury Village.

Canterbury School proposes new building for New Milford campus

A proposal has been made by the Canterbury School in New Milford for a Student Commons building.  The proposal to the Zoning Commission calls for a 22,000 square foot building in the center of campus and will include academic space, a center for spirituality, and a student center and cafe.  Plans call for adding 2,800 square feet to the science and math building as well.  Some old, dangerous trees would be removed as sidewalks and other improvements are made.  The co-ed boarding school opened in 1915. 

Danbury, Ridgefield fire departments promote members

Danbury Firefighter Jeff Tomchik has been promoted to the position of Fire Lieutenant and Firefighter Paul Rozzi has been sworn in as Deputy Fire Marshal.  During the ceremony yesterday, 5 new Firefighters were also sworn in for the City.  Meanwhile in Ridgefield, a 19-year veteran firefighter was promoted to be a captain.  Tony Cerulli was a volunteer firefighter until joining the Ridgefield Fire Department in 1999.

Actor Richard Gere drops in on WCSU class

Some West Conn students had a surprise guest sitting in on a class yesterday.  Professor Chris Kukk says actor Richard Gere stopped by to talk about compassion.  Kukk teaches a class in the Kathwari Honors Program and is Director of the Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation.  This is finals week for West Conn students.  Gere visited West Conn in 2012 and introduced talks by the Dalai Lama.


(Photo: Chris Kukk)

Danbury officials discuss care of City's homeless population

The death this month of a man in the Still River in Danbury has raised some questions about what is being done to help the homeless population.  Councilman Bob Taborsak asked the Police Chief if his Department forwards information to the Danbury Community Cares Team, which he says seems to have the best outreach.  Chief Patrick Ridenhour says they do work with the group so if officers do see or get word of someone on the streets, they can forward that information.  Taborsak also asked if downtown beat officers go to that meeting with representatives from the hospital, social services, nonprofit and religious groups.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the point of those team meetings is to have these conversations, but he notes that some people don't avail themselves of the services offered.  The group works to identify homeless individuals in Danbury and connect them with services.  They track cases and intervene with those most in need.

Putnam County law enforcement investigating phone scams

Law Enforcement officials in Putnam County are investigating a variety of telephone scams, most involving people  impersonating Internal Revenue Service employees demanding cash payments for unpaid taxes via prepaid debit cards, money orders, or wire transfers from their banks. 

Another prevalent scam is where the caller alleges to be phoning on behalf of a grandchild or other relative, who is allegedly in danger or trouble; this scam involves an immediate request for cash, to pay bail, medical bills or a fine. 

Anyone who suspects such a fraud can contact the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department or the local Police Department.

The Sheriff's Office says the IRS will generally contact you by mail, not over the telephone, and the IRS will not ask for payment using a prepaid debit card, a money order or wire a transfer. The IRS suggests if you believe that you owe Federal taxes you can reach the IRS at 800-829-1040. 

If you get a call from someone claiming to be calling on behalf of a relative in distress, tell the caller you must consult another family member first, and hang up. Police say you shouldn't do anything without checking directly with that relative, or a relative close to them that might know where they are to see if they really are in trouble. If the emergency turns out to be real, you or another family member can still respond.

New Fairfield officials start Economic Development Commission

New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says she has heard concerns from residents about empty storefronts in the center of Town. The Board of Selectmen opened a discussion recently on the creation of an Economic Development Commission.  The Commission is charged with conducting research into the economic conditions and trends in the municipality, and makes recommendations to the Board on possible actions.  The Commission would include residents with expertise in areas such as business, marketing, planning, real estate and finance.  The group could conduct public opinion surveys, study and investigate the conditions affecting current businesses and commerce in New Fairfield and take active steps to encourage businesses to locate in town. 

Researchers: Sandy Hook gunman's documents may boost study of mass killers

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The disclosure of writings and other documents from the gunman who carried out the shooting at Sandy Hook School offer little toward understanding why, but researchers say the detail on the gunman’s mental decline could offer insights into the mind of a mass killer.

Some relatives of the 20 children and six educators gunned down on Dec. 14, 2012, said they welcomed the release of the long-withheld records, although they wish it had not come the week of the tragedy’s sixth anniversary.

“I understand why it needs to be released. But I think the timing of it sucks,” said Lenny Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah was among the children who died. “I’m not going to even look at it. The shooter doesn’t get any space in my head.”

Under a court order, Connecticut State Police released to The Hartford Courant hundreds of pages of documents that shed light on the gunman anger and fascination with mass shootings. The criminal investigation concluded a year after the shooting without determining a motive and the new documents flesh out the portrait from earlier reports of a young man who was increasingly disturbed and socially isolated in the years leading up to the shooting.

State police refused to release the documents for years until the state Supreme Court ruled in October that his personal belongings and writings including journals were not exempt from open record laws. The ruling came in a lawsuit by The Hartford Courant and state Freedom of Information Commission. State police officials declined to release the records to the public Monday, saying private information of people other than the gunman needs to be redacted.

There is a split within the criminologist community about the benefits of publicly releasing such details of mass shootings, with some saying it glorifies the killers and could spur copycats and other saying it could help prevent future massacres.

Dr. Harold Schwartz, a psychiatrist and member of the Connecticut commission, made public safety and mental health recommendations in the wake of the shooting and reviewed some of the newly released documents, which were provided to him by the newspaper.

“There’s no single, startling new revelation in these papers, but there’s more building of the general impression of the kind of disturbed life he was living that I think is mostly helpful to psychiatrists, psychologists ... certainly researchers,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said writings near the end of the gunman's life suggest he didn’t decide to commit the shooting until shortly before the massacre, when he may have been suffering from the effects of anorexia including possible brain damage. Schwartz and other experts note millions of people cope with the same mental illnesses the shooter had and aren’t violent.

The records are important for mental health experts because they offer more detail about his isolation, social awkwardness and odd behaviors, according to Peter Langman, a psychologist in Allentown, Pennsylvania, who has written books about school shooters.

“That oddness doesn’t explain mass murder,” he said. “We can speculate. I think he was someone who felt extremely disempowered, very much a misfit in society and maybe that resulted in a great deal of rage toward society. ... This may have been his way of lashing out against the culture he felt was imposed upon him.”

Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse was killed at the school, said it was for the best to get a full accounting on the record.

“Timing isn’t great but I appreciate the media and think there should be full disclosure,” she said.

Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose daughter Ana Grace died at the Sandy Hook school, said on Twitter Monday that while details of the shooting and other crimes “can help inform response and possibly even help to prevent tragedy in the future — the timing of this makes it nothing but click bait. Remember the families.”

Most Violent Year on Record for America's Schools Comes to a Close

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- This year has been the worst on record for violence in schools with the highest incidents of K-12 school shootings since 1970, when records on school shootings begin, according to research published by the Center for Homeland Defense and Security in partnership with and sponsored by FEMA. As 2018 comes to a close, there have been 94 school shooting incidents across America, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland FL and Santa Fe High School in TX. Gun violence at schools has been steadily increasing since 2011, with 2018 seeing more than twice the number of incidents in any given year.

View the PSA here.

In response to this alarming data and in honor of the 6th remembrance of the Sandy Hook School shooting where 20 children and six educators lost their lives to gun violence, Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) debuts its latest PSA, "Point of View," a powerful video that reveals the many warning signs and signals exhibited by an at-risk individual that can lead to gun violence - signs that SHP wants to train individuals to recognize and intervene upon before a tragedy can occur.

"Point of View" portrays the world through the eyes of a high school student in the days leading up to the election of the student body president. While the scene is set with excited students in the hallways, there is a parallel story unfolding of shooter who is planning an attack and exhibiting warning signs of impending violence. These signs happen amongst peers and educators who could have identified these signs and intervened before it was too late, underscoring the importance of knowing and identifying the warning signs and signals of someone at-risk for committing gun violence, which are often ignored or dismissed by others.

SHP believes gun violence is preventable when one knows the signs and teaches people how to intervene before situations, like the one dramatized in this clever PSA, end in tragedies. An astonishing 80 percent of school shooters told someone of their plans prior to taking action - yet no interventions were made.

"More than 3,200 kids and teens have been killed or injured by guns and there have been over 300 mass shootings in just this one year. This is beyond unacceptable. It is inexcusable. Everyone has the power to stop violence before it starts, and we want to arm as many people as possible with the knowledge of how to keep their schools and communities safe," said Nicole Hockley, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan who was killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting.

To date, SHP has trained more than 5.5 million people from over 10,000 schools in all 50 states in its Know the Signs programs, which include Start with Hello, Say Something, Signs of Suicide, and Safety Assessment & Intervention. All are offered free-of-charge to schools and youth organizations across the country. Through these programs, SHP has helped avert multiple school shooting plots, firearm threats, and self-harm, as well as reduced incidences of bullying and helped many young people get the mental health services they need.

Newtown closes on property for new police station

Newtown has closed on the property where a new police station will be located.  A public signing was held in  Council Chambers at Newtown Municipal Center.  The town gave the owner of 191 South Main Street and nearby Peck Lane a check for $1.6 million.  The Newtown Bee reports that the seller than gave the town a symbolic key.  The Roman family sold an existing commercial building to the town for renovation and expansion into a new police station.  Newtown residents signed off on the police station project on Election Day by approving $14.8 million.  The town hopes to break ground in August on the projected year long build.


New Fairfield Drop Off Center permits now available to print online

The New Fairfield Drop Off Center is now offering permits for purchase online that can then be printed at home. Town officials says residents will no longer have to visit Town Hall to purchase a pass for immediate use or wait for a sticker to be mailed out. Passes will also be available at New Fairfield Town Hall for those who prefer to purchase a pass in person. The Drop Off Center is also open Thursday evenings from 4 to 7PM for household waste disposal.

Permit kiosks to be unveiled at Danbury City Hall in new year

Danbury has started installing new kiosks in the permit center, which will be open next year.  This will allow people who want a permit for a roof or siding, a shed or other small improvement, to not have to go through the front desk.  Mayor Mark Boughton says people will be able to just plug in their information, insert a credit card and a permit will print out.  That should allow people to go on their way quicker, with Boughton saying the process will take about 10 minutes.  He says the initiative will make City staff more efficient because they won't be tied up with having to vet through a small permit.

Newtown shooter described 'scorn for humanity'

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Documents from the investigation into the shooting at Sandy Hook School are shedding light on the gunman’s anger, scorn for other people, and deep social isolation in the years leading up to the shooting.

The documents that a court ordered Connecticut State Police to release include several writings by the gunman, including what appears to be an online communication with a fellow gamer.  According to the Hartford Courant it said: “I have been desperate to feel anything positive for someone for my entire life.”

The criminal investigation ended a year after the massacre without determining a motive.

Thousands of pages of documents were released at the time, but in a lawsuit brought by the Courant, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in October that personal belongings of the shooter that had been withheld, including journals, also had to be made public because they were not exempt from open record laws.

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

From the 10th grade, the gunman's mother kept him at home, where he was surrounded by an arsenal of firearms and spent long hours playing violent video games. His medical and school records included references to diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.

The newly released documents were seized by authorities during a search of their home. They include writings that had been described or summarized by previous investigative reports such as the “Big Book Of Granny,” a book describing violence against children that he wrote with another boy in the fifth grade, and a spreadsheet listing mass killings dating back to 1786.

On one handwritten list titled “Problems,” he details a range of grievances including lights that are too bright and his hair touching his brother’s towel.

“I am unable to distinguish between my problems because I have too many,” the shooter wrote.

In other writings, he rages against “fat people” doctors who touched him during physical examinations as a child and writes about pedophilia as a form of love.

In the document where he described his scorn for other people, he also indicated a desire for some form of companionship.

“Most of my social contact was through those players,” he wrote to the other gamer. “All of them are typical detestable human beings, and it bred an aura of innumerable negative emotions for me. You were a respite from that.”

Sandy Hook group's new PSA to highlight warning signs

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - An organization formed by the parents of children killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School is coming out with a public service announcement designed to help identify individuals planning mass shootings.

Officials with Sandy Hook Promise say many such shootings followed warning signs that were either ignored or misunderstood.

The PSA was shot by some big-name Hollywood filmmakers, including director Rupert Sanders.

The group says the short piece will "bring to life the mind of a school shooter as he plans an attack."

Its release is scheduled to coincide with the sixth anniversary of the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which took the lives of 20 children and six educators.

Newtown Police to host Toys For Tots collection

The Newtown Police Department is having their annual "Toys For Tots" toy drive on Saturday, from 10 am until 2pm.  Police will be at 3 locations this year, in front on TJ Maxx in Sand Hill Plaza, in front of the Toy Tree in the plaza at 14 Church Hill Road, and in front of Tractor Supply at 116 South Main Street.  People unable to donate on Saturday can drop items in a donation box in the lobby of the Newtown Police Department.

Danbury to buy old air compressor from Bethel VFD

The town of Bethel is selling a Bethel Volunteer Fire Department Breathing Air Compressor to the City of Danbury.  In the public interest and economy, the Board of Selectmen decided to waive the public bid requirement.  Danbury will pay $2,500 for the Compressor, which no longer meets the requirements of the Bethel Volunteer Fire Department with the updated equipment they now have. While the Compressor could continue to be used as a reserve for various fire apparatus' or for by a fire company with older equipment, there is not a great demand for it. 

Accident-prone intersection in Kent to be overhauled

Kent First Selectman Bruce Adams has given an update on proposed improvements to an accident prone intersection. After many near misses, he succeeded in getting the State to make the intersection of South Kent Road/Bulls Bridge Road and Camps Flat Road a 4 way stop. He says this should happen in a month.

Boughton announces Matrix owner to create Student Impact Fund

Danbury is in excellent financial and economic health, according to Mayor Mark Boughton.  He delivered his State of the City Address this afternoon at the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce annual leaders luncheon.  He says almost 1,000 small, medium and large businesses filed to open in Danbury.  Boughton noted that businesses relying on retail walk-in service will experience a boom over the next 10 years, running in contract with what the rest of the state has been experiencing over the last decade.

He added that City officials have had an extraordinary year managing the budget in a difficult time.  Boughton says they should be celebrating the fact that people are voting with their feet and moving to Danbury, but at the same time acknowledge that there is an impact from development on fire, police and schools. 

The City is conducting another study on student population.  He's hoping a Charter school proposed recently will get funded by the state to take about 300 students out of the system and relieve the pressure on the public schools.

This afternoon Boughton announced a handshake agreement with the owner of the Matrix property to develop it into The Ridge.  The owner will provide a Student Impact Fund for the next 20 years to offset any new children enrolling in the district because of the apartments being developed.  It's the first of its kind of agreement in the City and Boughton says could be a template for future development in Danbury.  The owners also agreed to cut the amount of apartments, creating a greater mixture of restaurants, stores and corporate space.  A 1,000 person conference center will be renovated there. 

Boughton says the property has been declining in value, with the City losing a tremendous amount of tax revenue.

Boughton also announced a plan for the City to buy the First Congregational Church of Danbury in exchange for maintenance and preservation. The parish would still use the building for services, but the city could also use the faciiity as a performing arts hall.

10 Danbury students advance to regional Connecticut Invention Convention

Ten students from the Westside Middle School Academy STEM program will move on to the regional level of the Connecticut Invention Convention.  100 sixth-grade students participated in the Danbury competition.  In March, the 10 regional competitors will have their projects judged at the district-wide Invention Convention held at Western Connecticut State University.

Winners will head to the 36th annual Connecticut Invention Convention held at UConn in May.  More than 130 Connecticut schools and thousands of young inventors participate every year. 

The ten students are: Arjan Parimi, Christopher Borges, Brianna Scribner, Nataly Vargas, Isabella Russo, Lucas Califano, Caio Florentino, Silvio D’Angelo, Juliet Dahlstrom and Pedro Canto.

Jon Neuhausel, WSMSA STEM theme coach and science teacher, has guided the students in the IC for the past six years and said that the students learn not just about science, but about the engineering process and also how to communicate with judges.

Girl Up Campaign coming to Bethel

The Girl Up Campaign is coming to Bethel Middle School.  Two students have begun to organize a local Girl Up Club.  The Campaign is a UN organization dedicated to promoting education for girls all over the world.  Through leadership development training, Girl Up gives girls the resources and platform to start a movement for social change wherever they are.  Middle School educators will be holding various workshops throughout the year and will also be fundraising and raising awareness regarding important issues.

School lunch accounts paid off in Bethel by local businessman

Ingersoll Auto and their Kindness Campaign has benefited Bethel students.  A Food Service Employee, Cindy Rizzo, asked for all students who had a negative balance in their lunch accounts to be cleared. Her request to the Campaign was granted. Todd Ingersoll presented the Bethel School Food Service Program a check to clear all of the balance.

Danbury Community Center opens at former YMCA facility

The Danbury Community Center is now open.  Connecticut Institute for Communities purchased the former Boughton Street YMCA four years ago when the Danbury Y closed.  Governor Dannel Malloy allocated $2.5 million in state funding for the renovation. 

The building on Boughton Street is now named Malloy Hall, which the Mayor and Governor joked about during remarks yesterday. 

The gym and the stage were overhauled, as was an upstairs community meeting space.  Work on the pool is still on going and should be completed by this winter. 


CIFC Executive Director Jim Maloney says there are already people signed up to rent out the usable spaces.  St. Peter's School held this homecoming basketball game there last night.  Once open, this will be the only public swimming pool in the City.  Recreational activities will include “senior swim”, swim-safety classes for Danbury school children, basketball and other sports opportunities for local teams and groups.  The stage was decommissioned and was put back in.  Maloney says there could be cultural activities and concerts of children through high school age.

The Buck Foundation has provided a grant for Swim Safety lessons.

Proposed school budget for coming school year unveiled

Brookfield's School Superintendent is proposing a budget for the coming year which is 4.4 percent more than the current spending plan.  The increase includes four new full-time teachers, including one to teach a new class in sign language.  The budget is proposed at $44.6 million.  Most of the hike is due to contractual salary and benefit obligations, which are 3-percent more than the current year.  Initiatives proposed but cut last year, are back in the plan.  They include a mobile world language lab at the middle school and a study of school start times.  The Board of Ed plans to send a proposal to the First Selectman by the end of next month so the Selectmen and Board of Finance can make recommendations. 

Danbury firefighters union hosts annual food drive

Danbury Fire Fighters, Local 801 is again collecting canned and non-perishable foods for the annual food drive to benefit the Salvation Army's holiday basket program and food pantry.  Donations will be accepted through December 22nd. 

The annual collection has been held for over 30 years. to help those in the area who are in need.  Food Drive Chairman Lt Chip Daly says the generous community donations are combined with contributions from Local 801's 115 members to help support the holiday basket program and food pantry. 

Donations may be dropped off at the following DFD career stations:
Headquarters - 19 New St.
Engine 23 - 208 Osborne St.
Engine 24 - 36 Eagle Rd. (Commerce Park)
Engine 25 - 171 South King St.
Engine 26 - 75 Kenosia Ave Ext.
Fire Marshal's Office - 1st floor, City Hall
Sikorsky Federal Credit Union on Main S.

Newtown officials hold hearing on proposed fracking waste ban

There's a public hearing in Newtown at 7 o'clock tonight on a proposed ordinance banning the storage, disposal, or use of fracking waste.  The Legislative Council is slated to take up the matter prior to their meeting.  The language of the proposal is based on information provided by the organization Food & Water Watch.  Their framework was also used in neighboring Bethel.  Officials there adopted an ordinance unanimously last month.

Monroe firefighters offer fireplace safety reminders

Monroe Volunteer Fire Department is offering some reminders about fireplace safety.  Firefighters say devastation can result from improperly disposing of fireplace or wood stove ashes.  Residents should allow ashes to cool before disposing, and note that ashes can stay hot for several days.  They should not be dispose of in a bag, cardboard box, plastic container or plastic trash can--only in a metal container, doused with water, and covered with a metal lid.  That metal container should be placed outside, at least 10 feet away from the house, deck, wood pile, and other combustibles.  High winds could blow the ashes out of the container when placed outside so it must remain covered.

Atheist banner approved for P.T. Barnum Square in Bethel

A holiday greetings banner has been approved to go up at P.T. Barnum Square in Bethel.  It will not be placed directly next to a creche, but will be at the other end of the green. 

It's four-foot by eight-foot and no longer includes the American Atheists logo, but is still signed "from your friendly atheist neighbors."  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says he understands the concerns with the banner, but they don't have a legal right to deny a completed application. Selectman Paul Szatkowski voted against the application, arguing inadequate space.

Guidelines adopted last month state that a holiday display cannot defame or attack another religion or person, cannot be excessively large so that it hinders public safety, must be sponsored by local residents or organizations, be positive in nature and can be religious or secular. 

A committee will be formed in the new year to create a long term policy.

Danbury Town Clerk shares story of visit with George H.W. Bush

A Danbury woman is fondly remembering former President George H.W. Bush.  Town Clerk Jan Giegler has a personal connection to the Bush family and says she was upset to hear of his passing last week.  She says George Bush was like a member of the family and called him outgoing, charismatic and a friend to all. 

Her brother, Ken Raynor, went to school in Maine and worked at a golf course in Kennebunkport.  He got to know Bush decades ago and developed a close friendship; going fishing, golfing and visiting the family compound.  Raynor wrote a book about their relationship titled "I Call Him Mr. President."  It also included stories about a fishing trip in the Arctic, a joint family vacation to Greece and how he was at the White House when the Persian Gulf War was declared.  Giegler says her brother was private about the friendship and she only found out about a lot of the stories after reading the book.

When book released last year, both Barbara and George Bush showed up to a signing event, despite being in poor health, because they had been over to each others homes often. 

When her mother turned 75, her brother arranged with the Bush family to have a surprise gathering at their home in Kennebunkport.  Giegler says her son mentioned to the former President that his Broadview Middle School teacher didn't believe he was missing school because he was going to the Bush home.  Mr. Bush walked her son into his bedroom and pulled out a tie clip from his jewelry box and gave it to Jeff to show to his teacher.

Giegler says it's going to be different in Maine now without Barbara and George Bush.  Her brother went to Houston for Barbara's funeral and will be at the funeral in Washington D.C. today.

Brookfield Town Hall closes as Gov. declares Day of Remembrance

Governor Malloy has issued an executive order declaring today a Day of Remembrance in honor of President George H-W Bush and asking Connecticut residents to observe one minute of silence beginning at 10am. 

Brookfield Town Hall is closed today.

In the declaration, Malloy noted that President Bush is a son of Connecticut, having been raised in Greenwich in a family that prized and provided public service to Connecticut and the United States.

State agencies and institutions, public schools and higher education institutions and municipal governments shall observe one minute of silence.   Residents of and visitors to Connecticut are asked to also observe one minute of silence.

President Bush, the last World War II veteran to hold the presidency, enlisted in the Navy immediately after graduation from high school six months after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, flying 58 combat missions as a Naval Aviator, and earning the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism in aerial combat.

Plans for Margerie Reservoir walking trail in the works

Two men working on a walking trail around Margerie Reservoir and Route 37 made a presentation to New Fairfield officials recently.  The walking trail would go from Saw Mill Road to Bear Mountain Reserve in Danbury.  The men spoke about the benefits of increased activities for the health of residents.  Funding for an engineering study would come from a state Department of Transportation grant.  They've also applied for a grant from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  The proposal was included in the Plan of Conservation and Development by the Planning Commission and Zoning Commission. 

Sandy Hook father sues authors who promote conspiracy theory

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The father of a boy who was killed in the 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut has filed another defamation lawsuit against conspiracy theorists who accused him of being an actor.

Lenny Pozner’s 6-year-old son Noah was among 26 people shot to death in the school on Dec. 14, 2012.

Pozner filed the suit last week in Wisconsin against James Fetzer and Mike Palacek, who co-wrote a book, “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook.”

The lawsuit, which also names the book’s publisher, says Pozner has had to move several times because of harassment from people who believe the conspiracy theories.

“Conspiracy theorists, fueled by, among others, Defendants’ falsehoods, have threatened Plaintiff’s very life,” his attorneys wrote in the complaint.

A Florida woman, Lucy Richards, who was sentenced to five months in prison for sending Pozner death threats, was banned by a judge from visiting web sites run by conspiracy theorists, including Fetzer, the lawsuit notes.

Pozner and other victims’ families earlier this year filed similar defamation lawsuits in Texas and Connecticut against Alex Jones, host of the conspiracy-driven Infowars website.

Pozner also has helped set up a charity and a web site to fight such conspiracy theories.

Fetzer, reached at his Wisconsin home, said he and Palacek will put up a vigorous defense.

“Our evidence clearly shows this wasn’t a massacre, it was a FEMA drill,” Fetzer said. “If you believe otherwise, than you are being played.”

The book, among other things, alleges that Noah Pozner’s death certificate is a fake.

A redacted copy of the certificate is attached to Pozner’s lawsuit.

His lawyers blacked out the portion of the certificate that includes where Noah Pozner is buried, out of a concern that conspiracy theorists would desecrate the grave in a misguided effort to show he is not buried there.

Pozner’s lawsuits seeks unspecified monetary damages and “a judgment clearing his name.”

Stores pay Danbury UNIT to get errant shopping carts back

The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team in Danbury collects shopping carts, and UNIT officials say if need be, takes them away from people pushing them downtown.  This past month, their downtown enforcement officer collected a total of $345 from stores retrieving their carts back from city storage.  Danbury adopted a shopping cart ordinance several years ago.  Errants carts are brought to the Public Works Department and can be picked up after paying a storage and retrieval fee.  The storage fee is $2 per week, not exceeding $50.  There is a $10 retrieval fee per cart.  In 2013, the issue came to a head when one owner cut the chain off the carts in the middle of the night and took them back without paying the fee.  

Food for Fines returns to C.H. Booth Library

Food for Fines returns to C.H. Booth Library in Newtown next week.  Between December 10th and 16th, patrons with outstanding items can pay their library late fees with donations to the Newtown Food Pantry.  Overdue items must be returned before any fines can be forgiven.  The most needed items are rice, tuna, pasta, soup, canned fruit, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, jelly, cereal, paper towels and toilet paper.

Redding helps to fulfill holiday requests through Social Service Department

Frosty is back at Redding Town Hall.  The snowman decoration is covered with gift tags requesting holiday gifts for local children in need, and a gift card request that will go to Redding Social Services to recipients in need.   Each tag will also specify if the present should be wrapped.  Once a tag is selected, Redding officials ask that your name and phone number is recorded in “Frosty’s Log Book.  When turning in the gift, the tag should be attached so each package gets to the appropriate person.  All gift should be returned to Redding Town Hall by Friday, December 14th.

New Fairfield Library collecting toys, hats, mittens for needy children

New Fairfield Library has two boxes available, one on each floor, for Toys for Tots donations.  Unwrapped items should be dropped off by December 13th.    The Children’s Library has a Mitten Tree for anyone who would like to donate new or unused mittens, hats, gloves, and scarves.  All items will be sent to New Fairfield Social Services.  The last date to bring in a contribution to the cause is this Friday.

Police ask resident to take precaution against package thieves

As the holiday season approaches, Easton Police are reminding all residents that packages left at the front door by carriers, in plain view, can be easily taken.  Police suggest that contacting package carriers and arranging to have deliveries left in the back of your residence or other more secure, out of the way, areas. Anyone who sees suspicious persons or vehicles, especially around delivery trucks, is asked to report this to the Easton Police at 203-268-4111.

Vote expected in Bethel tonight on holiday greetings banner for P.T. Barnum Square

The Bethel Board of Selectmen is expected to vote tonight on a holiday greeting banner to be placed at P.T. Barnum Square.  A creche has been located on the green for decades.  Several residents spoke out last week about the new display policy for this season. 

A committee will be formed in the new year to create a long term policy. 

The guidelines state that a holiday display cannot defame or attack another religion or person, cannot be excessively large so that it hinders public safety, must be sponsored by local residents or organizations, be positive in nature and can be religious or secular.  The regulations also state that holiday displays can only be in P.T. Barnum Square, not other municipal property in an effort to prevent religious displays in front of Town hall, which is illegal. 

A vote on the banner was put off at that meeting as the selectmen wanted more information about the size of the sign and whether it could be set up elsewhere.  An image and an insurance form were submitted.  The Town Attorney says it doesn’t appear to be religious in nature, so it could go someplace else.


Tonight's meeting is at 7pm.  An agenda for tonight has not been posted on the town's website.

Public hearing in Ridgefield on mixed use development proposal

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing tonight about turning the former Tigers’ Den restaurant into apartments.  The Sturges Properties purchased the Catoonah Street retail and office parcel at the end of August.  The application calls for 5 apartments and one office in the rear building.  The upper level will have two one-bedroom units and the bottom floor will have two one-bedroom units, one studio and the office.  The meeting is at 7pm.

Hearing on health facility partnership to be held in Danbury today

As part of a multi-agency review, a public hearing is being held in Danbury this afternoon about the planned merger of Western Connecticut Health Network and Health Quest Systems. 

Government in Connecticut, New York and Washington, D.C. are looking into the agreement to create a medical system.  Network spokeswoman Andrea Rynn says this will allow them to add new services such as pediatric specialties and certain types of cancer treatments.  Officials say the individual hospital names will not change and expected layoffs will come from redundant positions at the department head level. 

The hearing on the yet-to-be-named network is at 3:30pm at Broadview Middle School.  The $2.4 billion medical system would serve 1.5 million people. 

The new network, would add Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie and Putnam Hospital Center in Carmel to hospitals in Danbury, Norwalk and New Milford.  The partnership comes after Western Connecticut Health Network teamed up with New York-based Northwell Health to leverage purchasing power. 

Drive-thru regulations approved in Brookfield

The Brookfield Zoning Commission has approved regulations on drive-thrus.  Developers would have to apply for a special permit if they want to locate in the Town Center area.  The issue was raised after the owner of a Dunkin Donuts franchise wanted to move down Federal Road to the former Hearth Restaurant property.  During the public hearings, there were some concerns that this would discourage people from walking around the area, which is currently undergoing a streetscape project to make the Four Corners area more pedestrian friendly.  The regulations require drive-thrus to be south of the intersection of Federal Road and Route 25.

Brookfield Craft Center receives grant funding

The Brookfield Craft Center has received several new grants recently.  

The state Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts is providing a matching $5,000 grant.  The Supporting Arts in Place program funding will go toward educational programming.  State representative Stephen Harding says the Center has done an incredible job of growing and spotlighting programs and that this grant will be helpful in expanding their critical efforts. 

Brookfield Craft Center was awarded a two-year $50,000 grant from the Windgate Charitable Foundation to support programs in the newly established Digital Arts Studio.  The Center for Modern Craftmanship is part of their strategic plan focusing on establishing a technology-driven studio and learning center.  Board President Monica McInerney says artists are increasingly combining traditional and modern techniques to create their art including 3D printing, digital photography, editing, design, and more.

Town meeting scheduled on anti-fracking ordinance in Ridgefield

A town meeting has been scheduled in Ridgefield about an anti-fracking ordinance.  A petition was circulated by concerned residents, who collected the necessary signature to call for a town meeting.  2-percent of the electorate must sign a petition on a matter for it to be taken up in a town meeting.  Organizers want an ordinance to prohibit oil and gas fracking in Ridgefield and restrict use of by-products from the process. The public hearing is set for Saturday, January 5th, at 10am in town hall.  The town meeting and vote on the issue will be January 9th, at 7:30pm.

End of Watch for Monroe Police K9

Monroe Police K9 Gunner has passed away.  Gunner served from June 2011 until January 2017.  His end of watch came on Thursday night.  K9 Gunner’s narcotics detection led to dozens of arrests for Monroe and surrounding departments and he successfully tracked missing loved ones to reunite families, as well as criminals to keep communities safe.  Monroe Police say Gunner was the loyal partner to Officer Jeffrey Loomis and that his unwavering devotion to his partner, the department and the town never wavered.

Newly elected state Rep. submits proposal to eliminate Business Entity Tax

A candidate elected earlier this month is ready to hit the ground running when the General Assembly session starts in the new year.  State Representative-elect Raghib Allie-Brennan, whose district will include parts of Danbury, Bethel and Redding, says he is looking forward to freshman orientation at the state capitol next month. 

Allie-Brennan is submitting language to the Legislative Commissioners' Office to repeal the business entity tax.  He campaigned on the issue and hopes to garner bipartisan support to make Connecticut a friendlier place for business.  He called the tax a prime example of red tape and bureaucracy. 

In order to make up the funding gap, he suggested regulating sports betting and legalizing recreational use of marijuana. Allie-Brennan says he supports the latter idea, but has heard concerns from law enforcement.  He plans to continue to have conversations with them before signing on to any legalization bill. 

The Connecticut General Assembly session starts on January 9th. 

Special Town Meeting in Brookfield on Streetscape Phase 3 funding

A Special Town Meeting has been scheduled in Brookfield for residents to authorize funding for Phase 3 of the Streetscape Project.  $1.3 million is needed to plan, design, acquire, construct and install improvements on the beginning of Federal Road and running down Old Roue 7, including a portion of Laurel Hill Road.  The work includes sidewalks, lighting, signage and relocation of utility lines.  State and Federal grants will pay for 80-percent of the cost with Brookfield only expected to need to borrow $260,000.  The Special Town Meeting will be held at 7pm in Brookfield Town Hall.

Area synagogues to celebrate Chanukah with community menorah lighting

Ridgefield and Georgetown synagogues are hosting a Community Chanukah Menorah Lighting on the 2nd Night of Chanukah, tonight.  Congregation Shir Shalom and Temple B'nai Chaim will host the Menorah Lighting on Main Street in Ridgefield from 5:30pm to 6:30pm.  Organizers say they hope to brighten the town with attendees bringing a canned good to help build the "Mitzvah Menorah." All items will be donated to area food pantries.  Local officials and clergy from many faiths will offer greetings, a large menorah will be lit and Chanukah songs will be performed.  Organizers added that the event is open to the entire community, including those who want to learn more about Judaism and the miracles of Chanukah.

Bethel Town Clerk's office to temporarily relocate

The Bethel Town Clerk is reminding residents that the Town Clerk's office will be temporarily relocated to Meeting Room "A" of the Municipal Center starting today, and won't be opening until noon today.  Environmental remediation crews plan to remove the floor in the office and conduct asbestos abatement.  For several weeks, certain records will not be available-- including land records prior to 1970 and Vital Records such as birth, marriage and death certificates. The vital records may be obtained through the State Department of Public Health Vital Records Division.

Ridgefield makes most door-to-door selling illegal

Ridgefield has made door to door selling illegal.  During a public hearing and town meeting, residents approved changes to a town ordinance.  The peddling law was changed to eliminate the permit process for door to door sales.  There are several exceptions including non-profits like Scouts, religious organizations, political canvassing and farmers and gardeners.  Only one person in attendance objected, questioning why newspapers, magazines and other periodical subscriptions were specifically mentioned as not being allowed, and called it a First Amendment issue.

New Milford Police collect items for Santa Fund

The New Milford Police Department will be doing a Stuff-A-Cruiser gift drive on Saturday December 1st.  Unwrapped toys, gifts and donations can be brought to the Kohl’s and Big Lots parking lot from 9am to 2pm.  The items benefit the New Milford Social Services Santa Fund.  School supplies for students in middle and high school are also needed.

Kent firefighters hold Stuff-a-Truck event

On Sunday, December 2nd the Kent Volunteer Fire Department Juniors present the Annual Stuff a Truck from Noon to 4 pm at the Firehouse. Unwrapped toys can be dropped off for Kent's Santa Fund and non perishable food items will be collected for the Kent Food Bank.

Redding, Newtown Police hold Stuff-a-Cruiser food drive

The Redding and Newtown Police Departments are looking for your help to fight hunger this holiday season. On Saturday December 1st, officers will be at the Newtown Big Y World Class Market from 10am to 2pm, looking for residents to help fill police cruisers with non-perishable food items.

Newtown Historical Society holds open house

The Matthew Curtiss House, home of the Newtown Historical Society, is one of the oldest buildings on Main Street. The Historical Society will hold an open house on Sunday December 2nd at the home, which was constructed in 1750.  Docents will lead tours between Noon and 4pm.  The annual holiday party for Historical Society members will follow the open house, from 5-7.  The Newtown Historical Society is a volunteer organization with no paid staff.  Collections and artifacts at the museum represent the House throughout its life, not just the period of Curtiss ownership. All the items reflect either a direct Newtown connection or are examples of things that might have been used in the town, whether for work, play, or to celebrate an occasion.


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