Local Headlines Archives for 2019-02

Firefighter injured, two dogs die in Monroe house fire

Monroe volunteer firefighters responded to a house fire on lower Pepper Street yesterday morning. There was heavy flames spotted as they arrived and there were reports of a possible person trapped, which turned out not to be the case.  Fire officials say two dogs unfortunately perished in the house. Firefighters had the blaze quickly contained, but the home is uninhabitable. One firefighter suffered minor injuries during a fall on the ice. The Fire Marshal is continuing to investigate the cause. Surrounding towns provided assistance and station coverage.

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Ridgefield Transfer Station remains closed due to storm damage

The Ridgefield Transfer Station remains temporarily closed due to weather-related damage. An alternative location is available for Ridgefield residents at OakRidge on White Street in Danbury.  Residents must still pay any disposal fees per item/unit/volume of the material taken to Danbury. The daily access permit fee that is normally $10 has been waived.  Any Ridgefield resident experiencing trouble with the service is asked to call HRRA at 203-775-4539.

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Praxair to Build New World Scale Hydrogen Plant in Louisiana

DANBURY, Conn.--Praxair, Inc. has authorized the construction of a world scale hydrogen plant in Louisiana to supply product under a long-term contract with a major refinery in the area. The new plant will be integrated with Praxair's already extensive Louisiana production network via its Mississippi River Corridor hydrogen pipeline system.

Praxair will build, own and operate the steam methane reformer (SMR), which will have a capacity in excess of 170 million standard cubic feet per day of high-purity hydrogen. The new plant, which is planned to start up in 2021, will be one of the largest hydrogen production units in the U.S., along with the SMR recently announced by Praxair in Texas.

Linde Engineering has been selected to provide a state-of-the-art process design and to fabricate the core components and modules of the plant. Once complete, this project will increase Praxair's U.S. Gulf Coast hydrogen capacity to more than 1.7 billion standard cubic feet per day.

"Praxair is committed to be the preferred hydrogen supplier in the U.S. Gulf Coast and this investment further reinforces our strategy to support industrial growth in this vibrant region," said Dan Yankowski, president, Global Hydrogen. "We understand that hydrogen is a critical requirement for our customers and are committed to providing long-term reliability."

Hydrogen is used by petroleum refiners to produce ultra-low-sulfur diesel and other transportation fuels and by chemical companies to manufacture some critical intermediates and specialty chemicals. Demand for clean fuels continues to grow in order to comply with increasingly stringent environmental regulations.

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New Fairfield firefighters offer tips on house number sightlines

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department is offering some tips to help emergency response teams so they can find you.  They say a majority of house numbers are not clearly displayed or visible from the street, especially at night.  Numbers should be placed near the front door within a radius of the porch light and above eye level.  A mailbox should not be the only means of identification of the house number.  Fire officials say homeowners should also use caution with brass or bronze numbers they are difficult to see on many backgrounds.

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Danbury officials look to crack down on litter, circulars

The Danbury City Council is looking to crack down on litter.  One of the problems they're hoping to tackle is flyers, circulars and other paper that's left near people's driveways. 

An ad hoc committee met on the issue last week.  They were looking into whether the City's current litter ordinance is strong enough or if a new law is needed.  The group wants an ordinance worded in a way that the penalty for disobeying it will act as a preventative measure to offenders. 

Some Council members are concerned that unsolicited materials are a blight issue, others see it as an environmental concern.  Council President Joe Cavo says there should be a new ordinance that addresses the willful throwing out of paper items from cars on to the streets.

Corporation Counsel Robin Edwards says the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team has the authority to notify offenders, and then if it doesn't stop after a period of time, issue a citation.  The litter law includes a $1,000 maximum penalty for each offense.

There is a similar proposal being considered this session in the General Assembly.

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Uncle Sam statue transported upstate for restoration work

Uncle Sam is on the move again.  The Danbury Public Works Department was able to track down the person who did restoration work on a smaller Uncle Sam statue made of similar materials. 

Uncle Sam was loaded at Danbury Airport yesterday and made his way to Harwinton, Connecticut where the repairs will be done.  Mariano Brothers Specialty Moving of Bethel again volunteered their equipment and manpower to help move the 38-foot tall Danbury Fair memorabilia. 

The restoration vendor got to work right away and sent photos of what he found. Under the face, is a whole other face.  It was built over newspaper from 1974.

(Photo: DPW Instagram)

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New Milford lawmaker introduces bill to authorize bear hunt license lottery

New Milford state Representative Bill Buckbee is reintroducing his bill from previous years which would create a lottery for black bear hunting licenses until the black bear population in Litchfield County is reduced by 5 percent. He says support for such a measure has increased with the increase in bear sightings.  According to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection there were 311 reported sightings in New Milford last year.  The figure is the number of sightings, not necessarily the number of bears.  Statewide, there were nearly 9-thousand sightings reported to DEEP.  The measure was rejected last year by opponents who said state wildlife officials should be able to control the population without a hunt.

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House approves bill to expand gun-sale background checks

WASHINGTON (AP) The House has approved a measure requiring federal background checks for all firearms sales and transfers, the first major gun control legislation considered by Congress in nearly 25 years.

The bill was approved Wednesday, 240-190. Democrats call the vote a major step to end the gun lobby's grip on Washington and begin to address an epidemic of gun violence, including 17 people killed at a Florida high school last year.

The bill is the first of two Democrats are bringing to the House floor this week as part of an effort to tighten gun laws. The other bill would extend the FBI’s current three-day deadline to conduct a background check to as many as 20 business days.  The goal is to close the so-called “Charleston Loophole” which allowed a white supremacist to buy a gun despite pending felony drug charges against him.


Both bills face dim prospects in the Republican-controlled Senate and veto threats from President Trump.

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says background checks are not a panacea, but coupled with providing better mental-health support for Americans, can go a long way. Himes says the people’s House has sent a message that they will not stand silently by as generations of Americans are menaced by guns.  He added that the Senate should pass this legislation because it's not an issue of Republican versus Democrat, instead calling it an issue of life versus death. 

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Bethel committee looking into issues with police station construction

Bethel officials are discussing how to proceed with the police station construction company to fix some problems and finish a few remaining tasks.  The Public Site and Building Committee on Tuesday discussed a leak in the firing range, likely caused by water trapped in the panels of a wall, cracked trim boards and a drainage problem near the radio tower.  Hearst Connecticut Media reports that Downes Construction hasn't been paid in three months, which committee members hoped would have spurred corrective action.  A critical railing for a retaining wall has not been installed yet, but is needed before a full certificate of occupancy can be issued.  The $14.4 million building opened in October.  The project came in about $890,000 over budget.

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Fairfield County Giving Day today

Today is Fairfield County Giving Day.  Some 430 nonprofits have signed up to receive donations, with various fundraising goals throughout the day unlocking additional cash prizes.  Since its creation in 2014 by the Norwalk-based Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, Giving Day has helped about 750 organizations raise nearly $6 million dollars.  About $1.4 million was raised last year alone.  Several Greater Danbury area non-profits are among the organizations signed up to participate in the philanthropic event.

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8-year-old boy dies after Connecticut skiing accident

SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (AP) - Police say an 8-year-old boy has died following a skiing accident in Connecticut.

Southington police announced Wednesday that the accident occurred at Mount Southington on Feb. 19.

Sgt. Jeffrey Dobratz says the child was treated at the scene by staff members and taken to a hospital, where he died the next day.

The medical examiner said Logan Murphy Mengold of Southbury died of blunt impact injury to the head with a skull fracture and ruled the death an accident.

Mount Southington has 14 trails and a 425-foot vertical drop. 

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Juvenile arrested for January shooting in Danbury

Danbury Police have arrested a juvenile they say is responsible for a shooting that took place last month, which prompted a lockdown of several city schools and West Conn's midtown campus.  The male was identified after an extensive investigation and taken into custody on Monday for the shooting January 17th in the area of Hospital and Ellsworth avenues. 

At the time, police said that it wasn't a random shooting, that the victim was the intended target.  The person sustained a gunshot wound to the arm. 

The suspect was remanded Monday to the Bridgeport Juvenile Detention on charges of assault, carrying a pistol without a permit, unlawful discharge or a firearm, breach of peace, and reckless endangerment.

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Redding firefighters extinguish two brush fires

There were simultaneous brush fires in two different locations in Redding yesterday. West Redding Volunteer Fire Department and Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department provided support and equipment to Redding Fire & EMS Company 1.  Fire officials asked residents to be extra careful disposing ashes from a fireplace or wood stove. Even if the fire has been out for days, strong wind could re-ignite small embers, resulting in potentially dangerous fire.

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New Milford Police expand 'Operation Good Citizen'

The New Milford Police Department is expanding their new community policing program, known as Operation Good Citizen.  It encourages officers to make positive contacts and to acknowledge the many good things that youth do on a daily basis.  Bank Street Theater has donated movie passes to be distributed by officers for good behavior, for example, wearing a helmet while biking or skateboarding, using the crosswalks, speaking respectfully, helping others in need, doing well in school and community service.

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Lattins Cove boat launch closed for repairs

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is closing the boat launch at Lattins Cove on Candlewood Lake for repairs.  The facility, on Forty Acres Mountain Road in Danbury, will be closed through March 8th.  An alternate ramp is set up at Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield and boaters are asked to plan accordingly.

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Lamont pitching his voluntary school consolidation bill

Governor Ned Lamont is pitching his proposal to share or consolidate more local school services and school districts to local town officials.  He met Tuesday in Weston with a group of Fairfield County leaders to discuss the legislation, which would create a new state commission charged with developing a plan for redistricting or consolidating services and districts.

The gathering was arranged by freshman Senator Will Haskell following a large rally over the weekend in Ridgefield against forced regionalization.

Lamont says his plan doesn't force any partnerships, but rather encourages and incentivizes municipalities to collaborate.  Lamont says he believes it's important to "lead with the carrot and not force peoples' hands" on such a sensitive issue as public schools.

The legislature's Education Committee will hear testimony Friday on Lamont's bill and other similar proposals, including one requiring districts with fewer than 2,000 students to join a new or existing regional district.  He tried to make a distinction between his proposal and ones from Senate President Martin Looney.  The other requires towns with less than 40,000 residents to combine school districts.

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Chimney fire prompts safety reminder from New Fairfield firefighters

A chimney fire has prompted a safety reminder from the New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department.  Firefighters responded to a Possum Drive home on Monday night and found embers and smoke coming from the chimney. 

Firefighters noticed a blockage about 8 feet from the top of the chimney and that the flue had partially closed.  The fire had not spread from the chimney and crews were able to extinguish the flames and remove the blockage.

No injuries were reported. 

Fire officials stressed the importance of completing fireplace and woodstove maintenance at the start of heating season to ensure everything is in safe, working order.  Firefighters also recommend burning only dry, well-seasoned, hardwood to reduce creosote accumulation, and be sure to check the combustion chamber for damage or corrosion to the vent before using.

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Newtown Police administer Narcan to unresponsive driver

Newtown Police were able to save a man's life with Narcan.  Police responded to the intersection of Huntingtown and Meadowbrook roads late Monday night on a report of a car accident.  The vehicle went onto the front lawn of a home, but the driver fled before officers arrived.  They were able to locate the suspect vehicle stopped in the middle of a nearby street, with the car in gear.  The man in his early 20s was slumped and unresponsive in the driver's seat. Suspecting a possible drug overdose, officers administered Narcan and the man was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.  The incident remains under investigation and criminal charges are pending.

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Danbury Museum & Historical Society to celebrate Marian Anderson's birthday

The Danbury Museum & Historical Society is celebrating Marian Anderson’s birthday today.  They will be playing the Danbury native's music in their Marian Anderson Studio all day.  At noon, there will be birthday cake.  The celebration is free and open to the public.  A concert was held at West Conn over the weekend celebrating the 122nd anniversary of Anderson’s birth.  The University recently announced that it will name the School of Visual and Performing Arts and the Visual and Performing Arts Center in honor of Anderson, recognizing her accomplishments in music and civil rights, as well as the memory of her years in Danbury.

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Congresswoman seeks to close so-called charter school lease reimbursement loophole

An amendment aimed at what is known as the charter school lease reimbursement loophole has been introduced by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.  She says the regulatory loophole has been exploited by unregulated nonprofit charters as a way to make money off of students and taxpayers. 

Public funding for charter schools has reached over $40 billion a year and Hayes says there's been no guardrails created to prevent waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.  A 2016 nationwide audit by the Department of Education a serious risk in those contracts. 

The Rebuild America’s Schools Act was voted out of the House Education and Labor Committee on Tuesday. It will next proceed to the full House floor for a vote.

Hayes says many nonprofit charters have entered into contracts with separate for-profit companies that they also own, often paying unreasonably high rates for land or school buildings, and they are then reimbursed for the costs at taxpayers’ expense.  Her amendment would close the facility lease loophole, and curbs financial waste and abuse.

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Danbury Police offer reminders on surveillance system maintenance

Danbury Police say that during recent investigations, officers have seen faulty or poorly maintained Closed Circuit Television and surveillance systems.  In many cases, police say the quality and functionality of the system can be the difference between solving or not solving a crime.  They've put together some maintenance tips to help keep surveillance systems up an running.  They include making sure there are no loose wires, no wear, tear or exposed wires and that there's a correct time stamp on monitors.  The camera lens should also be clean, focused and positioned properly.

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DHS students prepare to lead pre-school classes

Danbury High School child development students are preparing to lead ‘Little Hatters’ preschool classes that begin in March.  The 84 students enrolled in either Child Development or Early Childhood Workshop are planning lesson as they assume the role of preschooler teacher and welcome a group of three- and four-year-old into their classroom. Since September, under direction of their family consumer science teacher, students have learned about physical, nutritional, intellectual, emotional and social development of preschool-age children in order to take on the task of planning lessons and activities that will take them through a four-hour session. Little Hatters preschool has been a part of DHS for more than 30 years. There is a minimal cost to parents that covers supplies.

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Redding Transfer Station updates rules on glass collection

Glass brought to the Redding transfer station should be separated from your other recyclables starting this week. Due to current recycling markets, the cost to accept and process recyclables has increased significantly. In addition, contamination has also increased and has reduced the value of the commodities. In order to address the quality of the recyclables and to manage the increased cost, the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority is implementing a program to recycle glass separate from the mixed recycling stream and make the separated glass more marketable to be sold and recycled into new bottles and jars.

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Anti-toll rally planned in Danbury

An anti-toll rally will be held in Danbury this weekend.  The No Tolls CT grassroots organization is planning the protest for 1pm on Saturday at the corner of White and Wildman streets.  Most of the Greater Danbury coalition in the legislature opposes tolls.  Senator Will Haskell, whose district includes part of Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton, says he would be open to the idea.  Governor Lamont has made two proposals for tolling--one that would be for trucks only.  The other for trucks and cars.  That plan would include 53 gantries across the three major interstates and the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways.

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Wilton man nominated to head Conn. Insurance Department

Governor Ned Lamont has nominated Andrew Mais of Wilton to serve as commissioner of the Connecticut Insurance Department.  He has extensive insurance, regulatory, government, and community relations experience.  Lamont says he has a broad understanding of industry and regulatory issues that will help achieve the crucial balance to ensure that consumers are protected and have access to affordable and reliable insurance coverage, while at the same time supporting the continued growth of this sector of the state's economy. 

Mais currently specializes in insurance regulation at the Deloitte Center for Financial Services in Stamford, where he has worked since 2011. Prior to that, he served in the senior leadership team of the New York State Insurance Department. 

Mais is active with a number of community organizations in Connecticut, including as a member of the board of directors for the Maritime Aquarium, and as chair of the Council on Ethics for the Town of Wilton. Previously, he served on the Board of Finance for the Town of Wilton, the board of directors for the Wilton Chamber of Commerce, and as vice chair of the board of directors for the Wilton Education Foundation, among others. 

Mais will begin serving as the commissioner-designate on March 4. His nomination will be sent to the General Assembly for its advice and consent.

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Newtown Police investigating reports of stolen vehicle

Newtown Police are investigating the theft of a vehicle, which was recovered yesterday in Danbury.  Police say the Mercedes was stolen from the Danbury Mall area, and a Danbury officer spotted the vehicle leaving the parking garage.  Newtown Police asked that Danbury and  State Police follow the driver, but the pursuit was eventually called off due to heavy traffic.  The car was last seen on the highway, but it was equipped with electronic monitoring so officers were able to track it to Thorpe Street.  The vehicle was found abandoned, with minor damage.

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Newtown lawmaker looks to crack down on passenger drinking in cars

Connecticut is one of 10 states where it's not against the law for passengers in a car to drink.  Drinking and driving is illegal, but there can be open containers in the vehicle.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky has proposed a bill aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related crashes, fatalities and damages resulting from drivers operating under the influence.  He previously proposed a similar measure, but opponents questioned how passengers drinking would endanger the driver.  Proponents of the bill say allowing passengers to drink are a distraction and temptation for a driver.      

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Local lawmaker supports bills to crack down on teen vaping

Several bills have been proposed in Connecticut this legislative session dealing with vaping.  One bill calls for raising the age someone could buy vaping products from 18 to 21. 

A public hearing was held earlier this month on a bill to impose a tax on liquid vaping products at the same percentage rate as other tobacco products.  That measure was introduced by Bob Godfrey of Danbury, Kent Representative Maria Horn and Redding Senator Will Haskell, among others. 

A public hearing was held Friday on a proposal to include the dangers of vaping in the public school curriculum.  The measure also calls for other revisions to the comprehensive school health education curriculum to include the role of consent in sexual relationships.  The Healthy and Balanced Living Curriculum Framework was originally developed by the Department of Education.

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New Fairfield, Ridgefield state Senators host community conversations Saturday

State Senator Julie Kushner will host a “Community Conversation” in New Fairfield this afternoon from 1 to 3pm.  It will take place at the Library.  This is part of her ongoing series of meetings with the public.  The New Fairfield Democratic Town Committee encouraged all residents to attend. 

State Senator Will Haskell will hold a community conversation today at Ridgefield Town Hall, meeting with constituents from 12:30pm to 2pm.  He says these community settings give him an opportunity to hear from constituents about legislation he's working on and about what issues are most important to them.

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Knights of Columbus raise funds for family of Coast Guard member killed last month

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell thanked the Our Lady of the Lakes Knights of Columbus Council 6318 for their efforts on behalf of fallen Mahopac native and Coast Guard member Michael Kozloski.  He was stationed in Alaska when he was killed in a crane accident on January 31st. He is survived by a wife and four children. The Knights of Columbus collected more than $3,000 in donations for his family.

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Brookfield firefighters complete ice rescue training on Candlewood Lake

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company spent some time on Candlewood Lake this week training on cold water rescue operations. With the many areas of thin ice currently on the lake, officials say the conditions were realistic and mimicked those of an actual cold water rescue type incident.  They recommend that people do not go out on the ice for any reason, as it is incredibly dangerous and the chance of falling through the ice is high.

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Concert honoring singer, longtime Danbury resident, Marian Anderson at WCSU Saturday

A concert honoring singer and longtime Danbury resident Marian Anderson is being held at West Conn tomorrow.  The event celebrates the 122nd anniversary of Anderson’s birth on February 27th, 1897.  It's being held at 7pm in the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the university’s Westside campus. 

West Conn recently announced its intention to name the School of Visual and Performing Arts and the Visual and Performing Arts Center in honor of Marian Anderson. The naming project will recognize Anderson’s accomplishments in music and civil rights, as well as the memory of her years in Danbury. 

Tickets to tomorrow's concert are 10-dollars and can be purchased online.

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Rally in Ridgefield Saturday against school consolidation

A Ridgefield resident is organizing a rally against a proposal at the state capitol to consolidate school districts in towns with fewer than 40,000 residents.  The informal group is calling the movement the “hands off our schools” initiative, and the oppose forced regionalization and other bills that reduce local education control across Connecticut.  A public hearing on regionalization is scheduled for March 1st.  The rally starts at 10am in front of Ridgefield Town Hall.

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Sky's the Limit hiking challenge back in Connecticut

The Sky's the Limit is back in Connecticut.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection hiking challenge is an opportunity for residents to explore 14 state parks and forests. 

Among the 14 designated parks are Kettletown in  Southbury, Macedonia in Kent, Mount Tom in Litchfield and Mohawk State Forest in Sharon.  They were selected by supervisors and staff. 

Participants who visit 10 of the designated locations will receive a hiking staff medallion or pin while people who go to all 14 will be entered to win one of 50 hand-carved hiking staffs.  The initiative was started in 2015.

Through the Passport to Parks program, those with Connecticut registered vehicles can park without paying a fee.  The program is funded through a fee on car registrations and renewals.

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Brookfield officials to host Coffee with the Community event Saturday

A Coffee with the Community event is scheduled in Brookfield tomorrow, from 9 to 10:30am at Brookfield Deli & Catering on Federal Road.  Joining the Selectmen this month is the town’s Director of Public Works.  Residents are encourage to stop by with any questions about town roads. The event is scheduled on the last Saturday of each month, with a rotating department leader joining the Selectmen.

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5 displaced by condo fire in Bethel

5 people were displaced by a condo fire in Bethel on Wednesday night.  Bethel and Stony Hill firefighters were dispatched to the Plumtrees Heights complex shortly before 9:30pm and found flames coming from the garage of a middle unit, extending into the unit.  The situation was brought under control in approximately 30 minutes, however crews remained on scene for an extended period of time to overhaul hot spots.  The fire was held to the garage, which was being used as a bedroom. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians and the cause is under investigation by the Bethel Fire Marshals office.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company and Candlewood Company provided station coverage while firefighters were on the scene.

(Photo: Stony Hill Vol. Fire Dept.)

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New Fairfield to add officer for School Resource Office program

The New Fairfield School Safety and Security Committee appointed last year has made several recommendations, which are included in both the Town and School proposed budgets for the coming fiscal year.  The Board of Finance will review the proposals March 3rd. The plan includes a School Resource Officer in all four schools.  Prior to the Parkland shooting, New Fairfield had one SRO covering all 4 schools, and currently overtime pay is being used for officers, who have been in place since school started in August.  An additional full time officer will be hired to take pressure off the overtime hours worked by current officers.  The Committee has also recommended upgrading the camera systems currently in use in the schools to improve coverage and quality.

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Mediation scheduled in City of Danbury, Dorothy Day permit dispute

A Judicial "alternative dispute resolution" has been scheduled for next month in the case of the City of Danbury versus Dorothy Day Hospitality House.  Danbury officials discovered in 2016 that Dorothy Day never renewed their permit and has been operating without one for about 30 years.  The session to help the sides resolve their disputes before a trial will take place March 12th in Torrington.  The Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals denied exceptions to zoning rules on driveway width, parking lot size and setbacks for the more-than century old building.  The homeless shelter operator needed the variances in order to apply for a special exception before the Planning Commission, in order to secure a new permit.

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Brookfield students, police, firefighters to shave heads to childhood cancer research awareness

The Brookfield Police Department, Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company and the High School are partnering with St. Baldrick's Foundation once again.  The school's Peer Counseling Group and officers are raising money and awareness for childhood cancer research. 

Less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute's budget is solely dedicated to childhood cancer research.  There are over a dozen types of childhood cancer and countless subtypes, each requiring specific research to develop the best treatment for every child.  According to the St. Baldrick's Foundation, more children die of childhood cancer in the U.S. than any other disease—more than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies and diabetes combined. 

Participants receive online pledges to shave their heads at a March 7th event, which will be held at 7 pm at the high school.

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Informational hearing in Kent tonight about sidewalk project

A second informational hearing  will be held in Kent tonight about the proposed plan to refurbish Kent's sidewalks.  The focus of this meeting will be to address the unanswered questions from the January meeting.  Issues raised during that time included the cost and length of a loan, options for financing, the construction impact and if it will be done in phases so whole town isn’t torn up at once.  There were also questions about whether the work will be done in asphalt or concrete, what the lights will look like, and about Handicapped parking.  Questions about light pollution and drainage issues were also raised.  Michael Doherty, from the design firm of Milone & MacBroom will attend the February meeting to answer some of the questions.  The meeting is at 7pm at Kent Town Hall. 

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Details about three bridge replacement projects detailed in Danbury

An informational meeting was held last night in Danbury about repair projects to three bridges over the Still River.  The Triangle Street work will require about a month-long closure over the summer.  The concrete around the piers of the bridge has been damaged over the years and is also in need of a new drainage system.  A detour for Lee Mac Avenue and Taylor Street will send drivers down Sheridan and Casper streets.  The Crosby Street connector bridge will not require a road closure, but traffic in and out of the White Street shopping center will be limited.  Federal funding is being used for both projects.  The Kennedy Avenue bridge work is still in the early design phase.

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Saadi confirmed by State House to continue as DVA Commissioner

Tom Saadi of Danbury has been unanimously confirmed as Commissioner of Veterans Affairs by the state House of Representatives.  The nomination was introduced on the floor by Deputy House Speaker Bob Godfrey of Danbury. 

Saadi said he was truly humbled by the kind words from the legislators who spoke in favor of his confirmation.  He also thanked Majority Leader Matt Ritter and Representative Matt Blumenthal, the sons of two mentors. Former House Speaker Tom Ritter hired Saadi as a Legislative Assistant in the early 1990s and then-Attorney General Richard Blumenthal hired him as an Assistant Attorney General in 2000.  

Saadi says he looks forward to continuing to serve Connecticut veterans.

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Kent Food Bank in need of volunteers

Kent Food Bank is in need of volunteers. Help is specifically needed during food bank distribution Fridays, 9am to noon. Volunteers are also needed to pick-up donated bakery items at Big Y in New Milford, Fridays at 9am and deliver them to the Kent Food Bank.  Interested residents should contact Kent Social Services.     

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Monroe Police searching for man who stole carton of cigarettes

Monroe Police are looking for the public's help identifying a man who stole a carton of cigarettes from the Henny Penny on Route 34.  The suspect distracted the clerk last Monday and ran out of the store towards a gray SUV. The male appears to be in his early 30’s and has a distinct patch of white hair just above his forehead. He appears to be the same person who committed a similar crime in North Branford and North Haven.

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Public hearing scheduled on FirstLight proposed Shoreline Management Plan changes

FirstLight Power Resources has scheduled a public hearing for next week on proposed changes to the Shoreline Management Plan.  The hearing is a requirement of its license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the Housatonic River Project, which includes Candlewood Lake.  FirstLight is asking speakers at the hearing to to sign in, appear in that order, and that comments be limited to 2 minutes.  The hearing will take place at Heritage Hotel in Southbury Wednesday, February 27th, from 7pm to 9pm.

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Town leaders critical of proposed teacher pension shift to municipalities

Governor Ned Lamont delivered a wide ranging budget address.  In his speech, Lamont talked about tolls, changes to sales tax exemptions, an overhaul of the teacher pension system and cost saving moves being made in state government. 

On the tax side. Lamont is proposing an increase in the hotel tax from 13-percent to 17-percent.  He also have proposed a tax on vaping products equal to cigarettes, a 1-and-a-half cent tax per ounce on sugar-sweetened beverages, a 19 cent tax on plastic bags and expanding the bottle bill with a 25-cent deposit to include wine and 50 milliliter liquor bottles.

On the operating side of the budget, Lamont pledged to cut back on middle management.  Commissioners have also raised ideas to cut costs and to find efficiencies, including a suggestion to replace the State Trooper auto fleet every five years instead of four and putting civilians on desk jobs to allow more State Troopers to be on patrol.  With over 2,000 forms, less than 5-percent of which can be completed online, Lamont proposed digitizing more transactions.

Lamont plans to honor the Education Cost Sharing formula adopted last year, bringing underfunded districts closer to full funding, while accelerating phase-down.  He also called for an incentive for strategic decisions where larger schools and districts which pool resources, sharing superintendents and back-office functions, would receive priority for new bonding.

Lamont did not proposed raising the income tax rate, which has been raised 5 times over the last 15 years.  He is also leaving the sales tax rate flat.  The Governor also called on Connecticut businesses to step up and partner with him to help the next generation of talent repay their student loans and save for their futures. To kick-start this effort, Travelers and Stanley Black & Decker have agreed to offer their own loan forgiveness programs, to train, attract and retain top talent in the state.

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker applauded Lamont for tackling hard issues head on, but opposed a move to transfer a quarter of teacher pension costs onto municipalities. A larger percentage would be placed on districts paying over the state average.  Knickerbocker says that doesn't take into account the vast differences in cost of living from county to county.  He understands that this would be on future pension costs, not legacy costs, but it will lead to an increase in property taxes.

Knickerbocker says the towns did not have a seat at the table when these pension benefits are negotiated.  He'd prefer covering all of the pension cost, if the town could negotiate it locally.

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Bethel Board of Ed to present budget proposal tonight

The Bethel Board of Education has approved a budget for the coming year. The proposed 3.43-percent increase focuses on maintaining curricular and extracurricular programs, while continuing to make progress towards the goals of the district's Strategic Plan. Superintendent Dr Christine Carver says they are challenged this year with increased enrollment and some shifting demographics.  The budget will be presented to the Boards of Selectman and Finance tonight at 6:30 PM in the Municipal Center.  The presentation will highlight the priorities towards accomplishing goals as a system and continued growth in the district’s primary purpose, to improve student achievement. The $46.7 million proposal accounts for reductions in state funding and a new state graduation requirement that all students take a foreign language.

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Public Information meeting in Danbury on bridge work

A Public Information Meeting is being held in Danbury tonight about improvements to the Triangle Street bridge over the Still River, the Crosby Street connector bridge and the Kennedy Avenue bridge.  A design presentation will start the event at 6pm.  A question and answer period will immediately follow the presentation.  The meeting is at the Danbury City Hall Council Chambers.  Residents, business owners and other interested individuals are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to discuss the proposed projects.  Plans are available for review at the Danbury Engineering Department.

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New Milford to apply for housing rehabilitation loan program

The Town of New Milford is applying to the Connecticut Department of Housing to reactivate the Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program, which financially assists home owners with repairs such as the correction of health and safety violations, energy conservation, lead paint mitigation and code compliance measures. 

Funding for this Program is contingent upon award of grant money from the Department of Housing.  To show the Department of Housing that there is a need for this Program in New Milford, Mayor Pete Bass is asking potentially eligible home owners and property investors to complete a pre-application and submit it to the town's Grants & Compliance Specialist. 

If awarded, qualified New Milford home owners may receive a 0-percent interest deferred payment loan to complete the approved work.  Eligibility is based on the gross annual income, though other factors such as equity and property tax status will impact loan eligibility.  More details can be found on the town's website.

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Redding officials to study community center HVAC system

During budget discussions in Redding at the latest Board of Selectmen meeting, the HVAC system at the community center was brought up.  First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton says it's been so cold this month that program participants had to wear coats, while in the summer they had to bring in air conditioners because it was too hot.  The Selectmen agreed to study the building’s heating, ventilation and cooling system.  Redding will make a formal request for proposals for an engineering study and then voters can then decide if it should be fixed.  Pemberton noted that there have been HVAC problems since she took office in 2013, but that it goes back well before then.

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Opioid crisis roundtable discussion in Bethel Friday

A roundtable discussion is being held in Bethel on Friday about the impact of the opioid epidemic.  The discussion will be led by state Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan and Lt Governor Susan Bysiewicz.  Among the panelists will be first responders, law enforcement officials, health care professionals, and members of local advocacy groups.  More than a thousand peopled died in Connecticut last year from unintentional drug and opioid overdoses.  The roundtable discussion Friday is at 9:30am at the Bethel police station.

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Domestic violence survivor shares story during Women's Center event

At it’s recent annual “Hearts of Hope” Breakfast fundraiser, the Women’s Center honored John Royce with the organization’s “Service Above Self” Award.  Royce, the owner of several banquet halls in the Greater Danbury area, was praised for his ongoing commitment to the Women’s Center and his role in creating the organization’s “Men Against Domestic & Sexual Violence” group. The group is comprised of prominent male community leaders whose mission is to raise awareness of the critical domestic and sexual violence services provided by the Women’s Center.  Guest speaker, Lisa Whelan, a Ridgefield kindergarten teacher, shared her personal story of domestic violence, the subsequent outpouring of support she received from friends and family, and her message of hope.

 

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Redding teen seeks to raise funds to create skate park

A Redding teenage has gotten approval from the Board of Selectmen to do private fundraising for a Skate Park to be located next to the Community Garden.  Joel Barlow High School Senior Aidan Sheehan told the Board that Parks & Rec has set aside a location and will be responsible for insurance and maintenance.

The goal is to raise $200,000 by the end of 2020 for a 5,000 square foot park, and for construction to be complete by 2022.  Sheehan has collected 300 signatures from residents in support of the proposal. 

First Selectman Julia Pemberton asked what Sheehan’s response would be if questioned why a skate park is needed in Redding since there are others in surrounding towns.  Sheehan noted that some towns have moveable skate parks which require more maintenance than the concrete type park they are planning.  He also said that the tight-knit, young, skateboarding community is required to travel far out of Redding to use such a park currently. 

A Special Use Permit would be required for large events such as competitions.

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New Fairfield officials weigh in on proposed Shoreline Management Plan changes

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen is looking into becoming an intervener in the drafting of a new Shoreline Management Plan.  First Light's permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requires review of the plan every 6 years, which is now underway.  New Fairfield officials are concerned about the proposed changes to buffer gardens and health issues.  The Board is supporting the Candlewood Lake Authority comments, with the exception of proposed changes to a section pertaining to Vegetated Riparian Buffer Areas.

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New Milford officials propose budget for coming fiscal year

A slight increase in spending is being proposed in the New Milford budget for the coming fiscal year.  Mayor Pete Bass has introduced a plan calling for $103.4 million, about $1.4 million more than the current year.  Municipal spending would be down to about $39 million.  Health costs will be lower, but New Milford will add a police officer and a civil engineer.   

The Board of Ed reduced the Superintendents proposed spending plan, which was then reduced further to $64.4 million. 

The overall budget represents a 1.35 percent increase over the current year.  The tax rate would increase by about 2 percent. 

Bass is restoring the town's contribution to the fire department’s capital fund, which was cut in half this year.  New Milford will also allocate more for tree removal, chip sealing, and stormwater and drainage projects to address icing. 

Natural gas usage at John Pettibone Community Center prompted additional money set aside for utilities.

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3 arrested for October home invasion in Danbury

Danbury Police have arrested three people for a home invasion that took place several months ago.  The incident happened October 22nd when a person reported hearing a knock on their door around 5am.  When they answered, two men and a woman allegedly forced their way in, armed with a large kitchen knife.  About 12-hundred dollars was reported stolen.  Police arrested 27-year old Alexis Brown of Niantic last  month.  34-year old Rowan Kolamneo of Danbury was charged earlier this month and 34-year old Orlando Cruz was arrested last week.  They were all charged with home invasion, conspiracy to commit home invasion, larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny.

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Police file new charge in boating crash that killed teacher

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut man is facing a new charge in connection with a boating accident last summer that killed a middle school teacher.

Authorities say 66-year-old Gary Morrone was charged last week with criminally negligent homicide after investigators found `glaring inconsistencies' in his statements regarding Wanda Tirado's death.

The 38-year-old mother of two from Waterbury died at a hospital after suffering serious injuries June 19 while boating with Morrone on Candlewood Lake in New Fairfield.

Police say Tirado's injuries were consistent with being struck by a moving boat propeller.

Morrone is free on bond after previously pleading not guilty to charges including reckless boating and failure to report an accident.

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Dad sues, says college didn't keep his daughter safe

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut father has sued his daughter's former college, saying the school failed to keep her safe.

The Connecticut Post reports that Paul Lisi, of Monroe, says in the suit that his daughter was assaulted twice while attending Albertus Magnus College in New Haven.

He alleges she was repeatedly bullied during her freshman year, but nothing was done. He also says a male student pushed his daughter into a dresser in her dorm room.

The lawsuit says the woman lost confidence in the administration's ability to make her feel safe. She has since withdrawn from the school.

Lisi says in the suit he was refunded a fraction of room and board charges, but is seeking another $11,000.

College spokeswoman Andrea Kovacs says she cannot comment on student conduct matters.

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Bethel students raise $7K for Scotty Fund

Bethel students were able to raise $7,000 for the Scotty Fund during Kindness Week last week.  The Bethel-based organization provides financial and family support to children with life threatening illnesses.  The students also helped to fill the Brotherhood in Action Food Pantry, supplies for the shelter of the Women’s Center, and collected over 80 gift cards for Scotty Fund families in need.  At the an assembly Friday, Superintendent Dr Christine Carver spoke to the students about how individuals and groups can demonstrate kindness in grand gestures, as the week demonstrated, and small gestures like sitting with a peer who is having lunch alone, make the world a better place.

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New Milford lawmaker wants to make it easier for responders to fight forest fires

New Milford State Representative Bill Buckbee has testified before the Public Safety Committee in support of a bill adding a layer of public safety and preserving the environment.

Ultimately, the new law will allow all qualified forest firefighters within Connecticut to fight forest fires in the most effective way possible.  Currently, some firefighters may not legally be allowed to help fight the flames. 

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection administers training for forest firefighters and state statute requires them to be employed by DEEP.  If this law were to pass, Buckbee says qualified forest firefighters, regardless of employer, would be able to help fight in the event of an emergency.

The National Forest Service is able to request Connecticut to assemble a team of these qualified firefighters to assist with fires in other states.  According to Buckbee, having a sufficiently trained team of mobilized forest firefighters would provide the state protection from the potential outbreak of a devastating forest fire.

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Area legislator calls for more progress on Positive Train Control implementation

A local lawmaker is calling for fully operational Positive Train Control.  State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says it's a necessary component a proposed bill about all commuter rail infrastructure projects. 

Hwang says Metro-North should be efficient and, most importantly, safe. 

Ten years ago, Congress passed legislation that all railroads in the United States must install Positive Train Control technology that helps avoid deadly rail accidents.  A computerized network of GPS, sensors, transmitters and other equipment reduces the potential for human error.  The federal government gave the MTA $1 billion to complete the task, but a decade later, Hwang says it’s still not finished. 

While it's fully installed, the system is not yet fully operational.

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Budget presentation in New Milford tonight

A budget presentation is being held tonight in New Milford.  It's the first in a series of joint meetings between the Town Council and Board of Finance about a tax and spending plan for the coming year.  The meeting tonight does not include a public comment portion, but the ones next week will have input time.  There will be an overall presentation tonight on the budgets for the finance department, mayor’s office, town council, finance board and legal.  There will also be meetings next Wednesday and Thursday, and then March 4th, 5th and 6th.  They all take place at 7pm in New Milford Town Hall.

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Bethel officials lock in prices for two school renovations

All of the contracts have been signed in Bethel for two school renovation projects, locking in the maximum price.  Rockwell renovations total $25.9 million while Johnson is pegged at $39.5 million.  The Public Site and Building Committee says Rizzo Corporation’s proposed total falls just under the voter approved budget of $65.8 million.  A state grant will cover 45 percent of eligible costs, but also required the town to sign the price contract before construction begins.  The reimbursement agreement also called for an owner’s representative to be hired to advise the town.  Construction is expected to start in the spring and expected to be completed by December 2020.

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Jury selection set to begin in human trafficking trial

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) - Jury selection is set to begin in the trial of a Connecticut man accused of being part of a human trafficking ring that preyed on intellectually disabled and mentally ill boys and young men for more than 20 years.

The prosecution and defense in the case of Bruce Bemer are scheduled to begin picking jurors in Danbury Superior Court on Wednesday. The wealthy Glastonbury businessman has pleaded not guilty to patronizing a human trafficking victim and conspiracy to commit human trafficking.

Authorities identified 15 victims of the trafficking ring, but say there could be hundreds more.

Two other men were arrested in the case. Robert King, of Danbury, has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing. William Trefzger, of Westport, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison.

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New Milford firefighters battle barn blaze

A few chickens were killed in a New Milford barn fire Friday, but most other animals were safely evacuated.  Firefighters responded to Town Farm Road around 9am after someone passing by Clatter Valley Farm called in a report of flames from the structure.  Goats, pigs, sheep, and horses were rescued from the barn. 

Northville, Gaylordsville, Brookfield, Sherman, Bridgewater, Roxbury, and Washington helped fight the fire.  Mutual aid to cover the firehouse was provided by Hawleyville and Stony Hill.  Fire officials say the blaze was accidental and started in the utility room. 

(Photo: Water Witch Hose Co. #2)

The family-owned and community-supported farm is assessing the damage and making plans on where to house their goats, pigs, sheep, chickens and horses.

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Immaculate students donate 725 books to United Way early literacy program

This year, for the fifth year in a row, Immaculate High School students have donated children’s books to United Way of Western Connecticut’s Ready, Set, Let’s Read! program.  United Way volunteers distributed 725 books to preschoolers in greater Danbury over the past month. 

The program was launched in 2014, with volunteers reading to students in preschool classrooms serving children who are at risk of not being ready for kindergarten.  Volunteer readers do group reading, one-on-one reading, and help with literacy-related activities. 

Currently, United Way has 21 community volunteers in five preschools in greater Danbury, serving approximately 620 children between the ages of 3 and 5.  Ready, Set, Let’s Read! volunteers are active at Danbury Public Schools’ Cottage Street Early Childhood Center, Head Start, Interfaith Early Learning Center, Little People Learning Center, and the YMCA Children’s Center.

United Way is seeking additional volunteers to help support this program. 

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Sherman firefighters practice rescues of lost, injured colleagues

This past week, members of the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department trained on rescuing a fellow firefighter in the event that he or she becomes lost, injured, or runs out of air while fighting a fire. The skills that were practiced included locating the down firefighter, removing the firefighter out of the hazardous environment, and then EMS practiced performing CPR using an automatic CPR device.

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Moody's updates credit analysis following upgrade of general obligation in Woodbury

Moody's has provided an update to credit analysis following an upgrade of general obligation in Woodbury to a Aa1 rating.  The credit rating agency found that Woodbury benefits from a sound financial position, supported by conservative budgeting and formal policies, as well as stable property tax revenue and significant budgetary flexibility given low fixed costs. The town's tax base is stable, although below medians of similarly rated cities, and wealth and income indicators are strong. Woodbury was cited for having limited reliance on state revenues and very low fixed costs. Factors that could lead to a downgrade include a tax base deterioration, trend of structural imbalance leading to fund balance declines and significant increase in debt or pension burdens.

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FirstLight proposed changes to Shoreline Management Plan

FirstLight has made proposed changes to their Shoreline Management Plan for Candlewood Lake as part of the required 6-year review.  One is to increase the review to 10 years. 

The report calls for adding administrative fees when residents apply for shoreline uses within the project boundary.  Another is eliminate the requirement for new homeowners to install a vegetated buffer garden following a property sale and annual buffer progress reporting.  There would also no longer be a requirement for homeowners to install shoreline stabilizing and erosion controlling rip/rap instead of new seawalls and eliminates reporting on seawall and rip/rap installation.

The Candlewood Lake Authority is highlighting other proposed changes.  One would eliminate the commitment to share data, particularly of GIS mapping data valuable when evaluating lake health, with municipalities and lake authorities.  The draft moves many requirements to appendices where they can be freely updated by FirstLight without public notice, comment, or approval.  It would also make many requirements that were mandatory, discretionary through the use of the word “may” instead of “will”. 

The draft must be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by March 27th.

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Gov. to propose eliminating Business Entity Tax

Governor Ned Lamont will include a proposal in his budget to eliminate a $250 biannual fee businesses are required to pay every other year, along with certain filing requirements.  Bethel state Representative Raghib-Allie Brennan also proposed a bill this session to eliminate the business entity tax.  Lamont hopes these proposals send a powerful message to entrepreneurs, small business owners and CEOs alike: that Connecticut state government wants to be a partner, not a roadblock.

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New Milford Mayor hosts Coffee & Conversation this weekend

New Milford residents are encouraged to drop by a Conversations & Coffee with the Mayor on February 16th.  The gathering is from  9:30am to 11am in the E. Paul Martin Room on the second floor of Town Hall.  Residents can share ideas, ask questions or express concerns in a casual setting.

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Sherman residents reports receiving phone solicitations purportedly for volunteer firefighters

Several residents have reported to the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department that they received calls from someone soliciting donations in support of Volunteer Firefighters. The Department is not affiliated with the organization and does not receive any funds from them.  Sherman firefighters do rely on donations from the community to provide services and have details about making donations on their website.

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Shoreline Management Plan for Candlewood Lake up for review

When the Shoreline Management Plan for Candlewood Lake was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2013, they established a six-year review period, triggering the current review process. The final draft of the document must be submitted by FirstLight on March 27th. 

There are several proposed changes.  The Candlewood Lake Authority says given the many challenges that the lake faces, the CLA hopes to strengthen the existing plan. 

FirstLight has scheduled a Stakeholder meeting on February 19th where members of the Lake Advisory Committee, including municipal representatives, lake authority representatives, and representatives from other organizations like DEEP, the Fish and Wildlife Service, can submit comments. This will also be followed by a yet to be scheduled public meeting when members of the public can express their thoughts and concerns. 

The CLA has submitted their concerns to FERC and directly to FirstLight.  The company is looking at their suggestions and may make some changes. Since it is a draft document, it's subject to change by FirstLight until the final due date on March 27th.

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Attorney: Van Dyke's injuries not serious

CHICAGO (AP) - An attorney for the white Chicago police officer convicted in the fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald says the officer told her that another inmate at a Connecticut prison "jumped" him and punched him a few times but that he wasn't seriously injured.

Jennifer Blagg said Thursday that Jason Van Dyke told her and another appellate attorney during a phone call that he had been assaulted shortly after he was transferred from a state prison in Illinois to a federal prison in Danbury.

She said Van Dyke told her that he's since been moved away from other inmates for his protection. The federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed that an assault happened on Feb. 7 resulting in "minor injuries." It provided no other details.

Earlier Thursday, Van Dyke's wife spoke at an emotional news conference where she demanded to know why precautions weren't taken to keep her husband safe.

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Local lawmaker calls for creation of a state Cybersecurity Czar

A local lawmaker has introduced a bill to create a state Cybersecurity Czar position.  A public hearing was held yesterday on the proposal from Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown. 

Just last month, Apple users were alerted to a glitch in the FaceTime app allowing anyone calling to gain access to the recipient’s microphone and even a live feed of the recipient’s front-facing camera, even if they decline the call.  Hwang says the breach of privacy highlights the need for government and private sector to coordinate on individual user privacy.

The Cybersecurity Czar would be part of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and broaden the scope of the current Chief Cybersecurity Risk Officer beyond the Department of Administrative Services.  The new position would also focus on National and State Homeland Security including security of utilities and infrastructure.

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Southbury Police report phone solicitation scam

Several Southbury residents have reported to police that they have received solicitations from people that appear to be someone in their contacts list requesting Google Play gift cards be purchased for a fundraiser or charity. The scammer requests that the person then email a picture of the PIN number.  No legitimate charity will request Google Play gift cards. 

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Himes introduces The Reclamation of War Powers Act

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has introduced The Reclamation of War Powers Act.  The bill would explicitly return the power to declare and wage war back to Congress, as the Constitution requires.  He says sending young men and women into harm’s way is a decision that should be made by the direct representatives of the people and families making the sacrifice.  With open conflict in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and the potential for conflict in North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, Himes says they must establish both who has the authority to commit the military and establish objectives in any military endeavor. 

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Infowars host ordered to sworn deposition in Sandy Hook case

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut judge has ruled that Infowars host Alex Jones must undergo a sworn deposition in the defamation case brought against him by family members of Sandy Hook school shooting victims.

Discussions on Jones' web show have called the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax, and lawsuits by families of eight victims and a first responder say they've been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones' followers.

The superior court judge also ruled Wednesday that the families can depose several other defendants in the case, including those critical to Infowars' business operations.

Jones has defended the discussions on his show. He has cited First Amendment rights and says he believes the shooting happened.

 

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Wife says Chicago officer assaulted in Connecticut prison

CHICAGO (AP) - The wife of a white Chicago police officer who fatally shot black teenager Laquan McDonald says her husband has been assaulted by inmates in his cell at a Connecticut prison.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Tiffany Van Dyke says Jason Van Dyke had been placed in the prison's general population before being assaulting. She told the newspaper that she and others "are all petrified and in fear for Jason's life."

She says her husband "was never supposed to be in general population" and that she wants the situation "rectified immediately."

The newspaper says Van Dyke was transferred Feb. 5 from Rock Island County Jail in Rock Island, Illinois, to the low-security Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut.

A spokesperson for the Connecticut prison wasn't available for comment Wednesday night.

Van Dyke had been kept out of the Illinois jail's general population.

Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm in October for McDonald's 2014 shooting.

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WCSU professor names plant in honor of wife

It's an uncommon Valentine from a veteran West Conn biological and environmental sciences professor.  Tom Philbrick has been researching and studying aquatic flowering plants, and discovered a number of newly identified species during his field studies in Central and South America.

The Newtown resident recently discovered a riverweed species from Brazil, and named it in honor of his wife Paula, a biologist and faculty member at UConn-Waterbury.  Philbrick says only another biologist would be so touched by a new species being named for them.  He says Paula continues to be one of his most trusted scientific advisers. 

(Photos: WCSU)

Rhyncholacis paulana was found last year while Philbrick explored a small stream about the size of the Still River in Danbury.  The stream in Amapá, Brazil, just north of the mouth of the Amazon River, flows under a bridge next to a small farm.  The plant is common, covering outcrops throughout the stream.  There are 20 or so genera of this family in South America, but distinguished itself by its simple pinnately lobed leaf, which is fleshy and undulate. 

Philbrick has named 10 to 15 new plant species during his career.

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Brookfield officials caution residents to phone number spoofing calls

Brookfield officials have received reports again recently of telemarketing solicitation calls with a “caller ID” of the Town of Brookfield.  Officials are cautioning residents to be aware and careful about any calls received. 

This is a relatively new form of robocall called spoofing where scammers and telemarketers can make it seem like they're calling from a local phone number. 

Town officials urged residents to take care of their personal information, and use resources like the FCC's information guides to stop unwanted calls, or the National Do Not Call Registry when applicable. 

There were also reports of door-to-door solicitation about companies that had no prior authorization from the town of Brookfield.  Businesses are required to first visit town hall and submit their identification to apply for a solicitation permit. If someone cannot or will not show a permit, residents are being asked to report them to Brookfield Police using their non-emergency line.

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Home improvement loan program launched in Brookfield, New Fairfield

A home improvement loan program is being launched in Brookfield and in New Fairfield.  The towns were awarded $400,000 each from the state Department of Housing for zero-interest indefinitely deferred loans to eligible low and moderate income residents.  The loans can be used for health and safety improvements including roof or window replacements, new furnaces, septic repairs, insulation, lead remediation and ADA modifications.  The money could also be used for siding, and plumbing and electrical upgrades. Low- and moderate-income homeowners must have an annual income that does not exceed $52,550 for a single household or $75,000 for a household of four;  have 10% equity in the home; and, be up to date on municipal taxes.  The application and more information can be found on the website of each town.  Applications will be accepted through August 1st.

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Special Town Meeting in New Fairfield on transferring funds

There is a special Town Meeting in New Fairfield tonight.  Residents are being called on to vote on transferring funds for three different uses.  Nearly $25,000 of the current year's budget is being requested to be moved to the Fire Company Reserve.  $55,475 is needed for a Boat Dock Replacement Lock Box.  $60,000 would be put toward Public Works Trucks and Equipment.  Tonight's meeting is at 7:15pm in the New Fairfield Community Room.

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Local lawmaker wants to eliminate gasoline zone pricing

A Public Hearing is being held today by the Connecticut legislature's Transportation Committee about a bill to eliminate gasoline zone pricing.  Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says gasoline distributors have long operated under proprietary zone pricing maps, that arbitrarily designate relative prices of gasoline based on where people live.  He says the zones lead to increased prices in high-cost areas of the state, and can vary as much as 60-cents per gallon.  Hwang says the practice stifles competition and prevents new potential retailers from entering the market.

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Ridgefield First Selectman, Gov. discuss issues in morning meeting

Before the snow arrived yesterday, Governor Ned Lamont and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi met to discuss a number of topics. 

One was teachers Pension.  Marconi says the unfunded teacher pension concerns municipalities, in particular about the possible allocation of some of the debt to cities and towns.  The pair also talked about Health Insurance, which Marconi says is the most significant uncontrollable costs for municipalities. 

Another topic was the restoration of the Small Town Economic Assistance Program or STEAP grants. 

Marconi talked about the need for greater implementation of the medically assisted treatment model when it comes to addressing the opioid epidemic.  Marconi says all rehabilitation facilities should be required to follow this protocol.  Many facilities have had the time to implement it, but have not. 

Marconi also called for creation of an office of drug policy with a director who will coordinate all state efforts.

The pair discussed school regionalization.  Marconi voiced major concern and opposition about the bill proposed by Senate President Martin Looney. Lamont said that he is not in support of this bill.  But discussions have taken place about the possibility of consolidating back office functions such as accounting and payroll.  Marconi also talked with Lamont about the roles that Council of Governments can play in creating efficiencies on regional basis.

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Bill introduced to exempt houses of worship from gas fees

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut legislator has introduced a bill to waive demand fees that churches and other houses of worship pay for natural gas.

The Republican-American reports that the bill would make facilities with rooms that occupy 25 percent of the total square footage and are used one day a week or not more than 200 hours a year exempt from the fee, applied for spikes in usage.

Republican Rep. Arthur O'Neill, of Southbury, says churches operate on thin margins, and most hold services once a week during nonpeak hours for gas usage.

Rabbi Eric Polokoff says synagogue B'nai Israel in Southbury paid nearly $6,000 in demand fees last year.

An Eversource spokesman says while the utility is still reviewing the bill, it is aware of proposals that may shift costs to other customers.

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Danbury tows parking ban violator vehicles

Any Danbury resident who left their car parked on a City street after 6am Tuesday, could have a tough time getting out this morning.  Cars were towed yesterday in an effort to have a clear path for snow plows.  Danbury officials called for a Level 1 snow emergency Monday night, alerting residents that as of 6am, there was a ban on street parking.  In order to stem off another surprise for people who are fined for not clearing sidewalks, Mayor Mark Boughton said in a 311 Alert call to residents that it's not the City's responsibility.

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FirstLight creates new entity to oversee Housatonic projects

FirstLight is transferring the  Housatonic Project license to FirstLight Connecticut Housatonic, a new entity created within the same corporate family.  It's part of a corporate reorganization and refinancing. 

FirstLight submitted details to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about the project on the Housatonic River in Fairfield, New Haven, and Litchfield Counties.  There are 5 developments: Falls Village, Bulls Bridge, Rocky River, Shepaug, and Stevenson.  FirstLight Connecticut Housatonic was formed to develop, transmit and distribute power, and any other business necessary to hold the license for the Project. 

FERC has extended the comment period on the transfer of license application for the Housatonic River Hydroelectric Project.  Due to the December and January federal government shutdown, the Commission is extending the comment period until February 25th.

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Danbury Police looking into social media influence on DHS student's death

Danbury Police say they are investigating all aspects of a 16-year old girl's death over the weekend.  Police said as reflected in the multiple responses to their Facebook post about the death of Hailey Nailor, the Special Victims Unit is looking into a possible social media influence. Should the investigation reveal a criminal aspect, Police say they will inform the public at an appropriate time.  Nailor recorded a Snapchat video from the roof of the Danbury Mall parking garage on Saturday before jumping to her death.  School officials are also looking into what they described as disturbing social media comments posted immediately after the suicide.

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Redding officials say roads treated, cleared to cut down on icing

Redding officials are explaining why the roads might still have snow and ice on them after yesterday's storm.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton says in a storm like this, “the best practice” is to treat with salt and then not to plow again because, in doing so, the highway department  will plow all the salt off the roads, causing them to ice over.   Pemberton says leaving a bit of snow on the road helps to absorb sleet and reduce icing.  Each highway plow has GPS tracking so Redding officials know where each has been and at what time.  Pemberton thanked residents for their patience.

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New Milford Police launch 'Operation Good Citizen' to reward kids for good behavior

The New Milford Police Department is partnering the Hobby Hangout to catch kids doing something right and rewarding them for their positive actions. The new community policing program, Operation Good Citizen, encourages officers to make positive contacts and to acknowledge the many good things that young citizens do on a daily basis.

The owner of the Hobby Hangout, John Gallagher, has pledged to support the program by donating “Good Citizen” passes, to be handed out by officers. These passes allow kids to use a specially designed New Milford Police radio controlled truck on their racetrack. 

Chief Spencer Cerruto wants to continue to expand the program to include other organizations and businesses in the community. Good behavior examples include wearing a helmet while biking or skateboarding, using the crosswalks, speaking respectfully, helping others in need, doing well in school and community service. 

Cerruto says the passes are a gateway to building trust, respect and relationships.

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Area fire departments conduct ice rescue training

A number of local fire departments have been practicing their ice rescue skills over the past few weeks.  New Fairfield Volunteer Firefighters warned people last night not to be alarmed if they saw a number of people out on Candlewood Lake. 

The ice rescue training used spotlights and several emergency vehicles had their lights flashing near the lake. 

Sandy Hook volunteer firefighters spent nearly four hours on the ice of Lake Lillinonah Sunday morning for ice water training.  Four members of Newtown Underwater Search And Rescue also met at the town’s boat launch for the exercise.  With below freezing temperatures and  four inches of clean ice, officials say it was an ideal training setting.  Participants paired off, donned ice rescue suits and learned the limitations of movement.  They then got into teams of three and headed for the ice.  Firefighters also incorporated the use of a sled for rescue operations. 

10 firefighters received certification for Ice Water Rescue.

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Redding impacted by changes in state pension system

Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton says the town is already being impacted by the state’s pension woes, with a recent notification of a change to the Connecticut Municipal Employees Retirement System expected return on assets assumption. The State Retirement Commission is lowering the long-term expected return on assets assumption from 8-percent to 7-percent, which will lead to an immediate increase of 15-to-20 percent in municipal employer contributions.  The change will cost Redding an additional $100,000 in pension contributions in the next fiscal year.   Without changes, the system was considered unsustainable for participating entities.

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School regionalization proposals sent by committee to public hearing

The state Legislature's education committee voted yesterday to send two bills regarding school regionalization to public hearings.  Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton says the best way to tell your elected representatives opinions on forced school regionalization is in person testimony, but the next best thing is written testimony submitted in advance of the public hearing.  A date for the public hearing has not been set.  The Proposed Bill numbers are 738 and 457.

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Details emerge in death of Danbury girl

The family of a girl who committed suicide in Danbury over the weekend is speaking out.  Hailey Nailor's family says she had more friends and support than she knew. 

The 16-year old recorded a Snapchat video from the roof of the Danbury Mall parking garage on Saturday before jumping to her death. 

Nailor was the subject of three silver alerts, which were issued when she ran away from home and cancelled when she returned.  The Connecticut Post reports that the teen was hospitalized on Friday after threatening to harm herself, but she was release the same day.  She previously was hospitalized two dozen times over mental health issues and attended long-term residential programs, and was on probation for stealing her parents' car and debit card. 

Nailor's father, Kevin, said in the published report that he does not believe bullying played a role in his daughter’s death.  School officials are investigating what they described as disturbing social media comments posted immediately after the suicide.

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Voluntary mediation session set in Dorothy Day Hospitality House v. Danbury

A voluntary mediation session has been scheduled in the case of Dorothy Day Hospitality House versus Danbury.  The hearing is March 12th with Judge Pickard in Torrington. 

A Hartford Judge earlier asked that the City and Dorothy Day come to an agreement so he wouldn't have to issue a ruling, but the Zoning Board of Appeals voted in September to deny exceptions to zoning rules.  That action moved the matter back to the court.

Dorothy Day was looking for variances to driveway width, parking lot size and setbacks because their more-than century old building does not comply with regulations, which were updated over the decades.  The homeless shelter operator needed the variances in order to apply for a special exception before the Planning Commission. 

Danbury officials discovered in 2016 that Dorothy Day never renewed their permit and has been operating without one for about 30 years.

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Conn. looks to tax short term rentals

As New Fairfield and other Connecticut municipalities look into cracking down on short term rentals like Air BnB, the state is also taking action.  A measure has been introduced to level the playing field with hotels.  There was a public hearing on Friday about a proposal to create parity in sales and use taxes on hospitality services and hotel or lodging house occupancy when property rentals are provided on a peer-to-peer basis.

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Bethel Schools cut 1 day from President's Day break

Bethel School officials are reminding parents and students about changes to the academic calendar this year due to the renovations of Johnson and Rockwell schools.  In order to compensate for weather related closures while still allowing a summer of close to 12 weeks to maximize construction for the projects, the Superintendent has been given latitude to reduce vacations.  With 3 weather related closures so far, classes will be held February 19th, which was an additional day off for President's Day recess. 

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Danbury continues collection drives to aid federal workers as 2nd shutdown appears unlikely

The possibility of another government shutdown appears to be stopped, but Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the City will continue its food donation drive at least through Saturday.  The effort was started during the last shut down when federal employees, including more than 200 at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution, missed two paychecks.   He says there were basic needs that weren't being met for workers who live paycheck to paycheck, especially when it took back-pay a while to get into their accounts.  Gas station gift cards are being collected for distribution through the Danbury Health Department.  A food drive is also under way.  There were an estimated 1,500 state residents impacted by the shutdown. 

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New Milford to add gates, cameras to Lynn Deming Park

The New Milford Town Council has narrowly agreed to spend about $70,000 to beef up security at Lynn Deming Park on Candlewood Lake.  Councilman Peter Mullen switched his vote, from abstaining to yes, in order for the proposal to pass.  The money would come from the Landfill Settlement Fund and be used for gates and cameras.  Concerns were raised last summer with overcrowding and people sneaking in from the woods in an attempted to bypass rules requiring a pass.  New park passes will have technology to open gates and track visits.  The cameras will be placed at the entrance gates and possibly pointed at the woods.  A round the clock security guard will be at the park from Memorial Day through Labor Day and a park ranger will continue to patrol the wood line.

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Danbury suicide victim identified

Danbury High School had counselors and support staff on hand for any student in need following the suicide of a student.  Danbury Police are investigating the death of 16-year-old Haily Nailor, who was identified by her parents to the Newstimes, in a jump from the Danbury Mall parking garage Saturday afternoon. 

The teen reportedly recorded a Snapchat video before the incident contemplating whether or not to go through with it.  A concerned teen reportedly alerted school administrators to the situation.

Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella says an individual posted inappropriate information regarding the deceased online.  The principal is working with authorities to have it removed. 

Comments alleging that one person 'encouraged someone to commit suicide' were posted on Snapchat.  

Danbury Police The Special Victims Unit is investigating what led to the incident.  Spokesman Lt. Mark Williams said there’s no evidence to suggest that “she was prodded to jump” by anyone prior to her death.

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Danbury Police Explorers raise $29,000 to buy to passenger vans

The Danbury City Council has approved accepting two passenger vans for the Police Explorers program.  After fundraising over the last two years, the Explorers purchased a 2011 and 2012 van, each of which can hold 12 people.  Both vehicles were inspected and are roadworthy. 

The addition to the fleet this month will greatly reduce issues they've had in the last few years.  The Explorer's 2000 Chevy Express van died in 2017. 

The group says they still have transportation needs, as there are over 130 registered youth on the roster.  During the Memorial Day Parade for example, 115 Explorers helped out and they had to make multiple trips to place and pick them up before and after the event.  They also some times help at multiple events simultaneously.  Over the last few years, the Explorers had to hire a school bus for trips to the annual Cadet Police Academy at the University of Hartford. 

The donation of two vans is valued at $29,000.

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New Milford firefighters extinguish house blaze

There was a fire in New Milford yesterday afternoon.  Water Witch Hose Company responded to Birch Road to extinguish the flames around 2pm.  Firefighters were on scene for about two hours.  All occupants had evacuated safely.  Mutual aid was provided by other New Milford volunteer companies, Sherman, Brookfield and Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Departments.

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Bethel Education Foundation awards $43,000 in grants to teachers

The Bethel Education Foundation has presented more than $43,000 in grants to teachers and administrators for various projects.  Among the funding were grants for virtual reality tools for the elementary and middle schools.  Students at the high school will launch an Anti-Defamation League program called “The Truth About Hate” funded through a $4,200 grant.  $5,200 will be used to increase student interest in reading through Audible book subscriptions.  Grant money will also be used to teach elementary students coding, to offer an engineering course through Boston Museum of Science and a  problem-solving “Escape the Classroom” program. Grants are funded by donations from Bethel residents and businesses, as well as the annual Barnum Ball. 

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Danbury student, inspired by kindness program, raises money to help peers

A 10-year old Danbury student was inspired by kindness programs promoted at King Street Intermediate School by Sandy Hook Promise and raised money to help out some classmates.  Najiah Tallman learned that some of her peers would not be able to attend their end-of-year field trip to New York City to see “Wicked” on Broadway in June because they didn’t have the money.  The 5th grader then sold candy in the neighborhood and gave school administrators the $267 collected to help defray the costs.  Tallman said she's learned through the kindness programs that helping others is a way of life, and she hopes to continue doing good deeds when she can.

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Danbury Police investigating untimely death of high schooler

Danbury Police are investigating the death of a 16-year-old girl, in a jump from the Danbury Mall parking garage Saturday afternoon.  The girl's name is not being released at this time and the Special Victims Unit is investigating. 

The Danbury School District is mourning the untimely passing of the High School student, and looking into inappropriate comments made about the death.  Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella says an individual posted inappropriate information regarding the deceased online.  The principal is working with authorities to have it removed. 

Pascarella says this is a difficult time and their thoughts and prayers are with the family.  Danbury High School will have counselors and support staff on hand for any student in need. 

He recommended to parents that if a child viewed the postings, to have a discussion with them.  Any parent who feels their child may be having difficulties is asked to contact their school principal, counselor or social worker for support.

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Flashing light at DOT intersection improvement project removed for non-compliance

New Milford officials have met with the Department of Transportation about removal of the flashing light at the intersection of Bridge and West streets where an improvement project is underway.  The goal of the project is to provide better traffic flow at the intersection for Railroad Street, due to the railroad crossing and updated state regulations. 

The DOT told Mayor Pete Bass that the flashing light is now non-compliant and had to be removed. 

He told the DOT though that the sight lines at West Street coming on to Bridge Street was dangerous, especially crossing lanes to make a left hand turn from West to Bridge.  He also showed them how difficult it would be for vehicles leaving the Patriots Way Parking Lot to make a left turn on to Bridge Street. 

A permanent solution is being worked on.  Meanwhile. a temporary sign has been put up alerting drivers that it is illegal to block a intersection when waiting for a light to change. This should help the motorists exiting West Street.

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Evening parking rules charged for New Milford lot

There were some concerns in New Milford during the last winter storm, about the Patriot Way parking lot snow removal.  Most of the concern was about cars parked there for a extended period of time making it difficult to remove the snow between cars.   In response, the Department of Public Works and the Mayor's Office have established new overnight rules.  There is Even Day and Odd Day night parking in Patriot Way Parking Lot. Signs have been installed to show where to park if leaving a car overnight.  This should allow plow crews to remove the snow in a more efficient manner.  If New Milford declares a Snow Emergency, the Railroad Street Parking Lot attached to the Railroad Station will close at Midnight during the snow event to allow for proper plowing.

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Brewster firefighters practice cold water rescues

With many area lakes, ponds and reservoirs frozen over right now, Brewster firefighters are reminding people that the thickness of the ice can be unknown.  If you do fall in, firefighters suggest using your elbows to lift yourself up onto the ice and then kick with your legs to try and get your body out of the water.  Brewster firefighters went to Haines Pond on Route 6 yesterday morning to practice their cold water rescue skills. Some firefighters wore bright red and yellow suits made out of a special insulated rubber, which not only protects firefighters from the elements, but also act as a flotation device.  Assistant Fire Chief Michael Bizzaro says there's not a lot of time to save someone before hypothermia sets in and their body shuts down, so it’s important that firefighters learn to act fast.

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Chimney fire extinguished in New Fairfield

There was a fire in New Fairfield yesterday evening.  The Volunteer Fire Department responded to Sunnyside Lane on multiple reports of a chimney fire.  Arriving units did not see fire showing.  The homeowner was able to empty out the fire box before firefighters arrived to help cool down chimney. Firefighters checked for any fire extension to the attic and took roof operations to clear soot inside chimney.

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Danbury looks to buy or take by eminent domain blighted parcel

A blighted property near Danbury Airport could be purchased by the City, or taken by eminent domain.  89 Wooster Heights Road is near Danbury Airport, just down the hill from Lee Farm Corporate Park.  The site has been and continues to be the subject of enforcement actions by the City, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and others.  The property is within the flight path of the airport and funds from the FAA may be available to purchase and improve the site.  City officials say this would ensure aircraft safety, and that personnel and property is fully protected and maintained.  Danbury could also use open space money to acquire and restore the property. 

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Bethel Police to host car seat clinic

The Bethel Police Department is hosting a car seat clinic Sunday at the Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department.  The clinic will be held by appointment only.  Certified child passenger safety technicians will make sure car seats are properly installed and used in caregivers vehicles.  Appointments can also be made online at calendly.com/bethelpdcarseat or by phone at 203-744-7900, ext. 693.

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Local lawmaker introduces bills on aging, caregiving

Four bill concepts have been submitted to the Aging Committee by State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown.  One includes increased funding for aging-in-place initiatives, another expands eligibility for Alzheimer’s respite care, and one creates an income tax deduction for long-term care insurance premiums.  The fourth bill would increase financial assistance for grandparents and non-parent relatives raising children. 

Hwang says Connecticut’s seniors need to have all the resources and support to live their life with the dignity and respect they deserve. 

He added that caring for loved ones can be incredibly difficult, and the state should incentivize and reward those caregivers, reducing the financial burden many of them face.  Hwang says many caregivers are not professionals, and are not being paid for the thousands of hours of personal care they provide every year.

The bills are scheduled for a public hearing on the 14th.

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Bethel Police host Coffee with a Cop event today

The Bethel Police Department is hosting a Coffee with a Cop event today.  The gathering  usually involves meeting at a neutral venue, but officials say they wanted to give the community a second chance at seeing the new building.  Coffee with a Cop will take place from 9:30am to noon at their new headquarters on Judd Avenue.

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Bethel students sell 1,400 t-shirts in Scotty Fund fundraiser

Next week, Bethel Public Schools will be celebrating another week to emphasize kindness. All schools will have daily activities, including an assembly on Friday to present donations to four Scotty Fund families.  The students sold close to 1,400 t-shirts, with proceeds going to the non-profit which provides support to families with children facing life-threatening diseases.  It was a big increase over last year when the students sold approximately 500 shirts to benefit a charity.  Anyone in the community who ordered a shirt is asked to to wear it on Friday, February 15th.

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Southbury Police alert residents to Social Security phone scam

The Southbury Police Department is alerting residents to a phone scam that's been reported recently.  It's a recurring scam where someone purportedly is calling from the Department of Social Security Administration about a suspended Social Security number because of suspicious activity.  The automated message asks the caller to press one to learn more about the case.  Southbury Police are reminding people to never give out personal information over the phone and noting that no legitimate government agency will ask for a Western Union money transfer to avoid some penalty. 

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Danbury residents asked to record oral history at Library in celebration of 150th anniversary

Danbury Library is looking for residents who want to record their personal stories about Danbury for an Oral History Project.  The stories could be about their family, their love of Danbury, or their history in the city. 

Library Director Katie Pearson says the voices and experiences of Danbury residents weave a rich tapestry and they're hoping to capture that within this project.  Stories will be recorded in Studio 170, located on the second floor of the Library, and archived as part of the Library’s permanent digital collection to be available to future generations.

A short portion of the project will be presented and made public on the Library's website in June as one of the Library's 150th Anniversary events. 

Appointments are available Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 6:30pm, Wednesdays from 1 to 6:30pm and Fridays from 10am to 4:30pm by calling 203-797-4505, ext. 7739.

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Danbury to hire consultant to help set up a unified homeless shelter

As Danbury officials look into the idea of merging the City-run homeless shelter on New Street with another, they're looking for new solutions.

Mayor Mark Boughton said during the most recent City Council meeting that Danbury continues to be challenged by a dozen or so chronically homeless individuals downtown. 

He noted that The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation is making money available to hire a consultant to break down barriers to setting up a unified shelter in a new location.  Boughton says the consultant will provide plan for CityCenter team and City Council so that, as soon as funding is available, they can hit the ground running.

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Bethel lawmakers back bill to require local representation on Siting Council

Some Greater Danbury area municipal officials have raised concerns in the past about not being able to have a say in the decision on cell tower placements.  Now the state legislature is considering a measure requiring local representation via nonvoting members of the Siting Council for certain projects.  Bethel Representatives Raghib Allie-Brennan and Stephen Harding have signed on as cosponsors.  In Danbury several years ago, there was a proposal for a rooftop cell tower on an existing apartment building and the company petitioned for a ruling that no Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need was required.  New Milford officials have filed an appeal with the Connecticut Siting Council over their ruling to allow Ameresco's 20-megawatt solar farm on Candlewood Mountain to go forward. 

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Plow truck fire in Brookfield extinguished

There was a plow truck fire in Brookfield Wednesday night.  Firefighters responded to Federal Road for a reported Building Fire, which turned out to be the plow truck, on fire, in close proximity to a building.  The flames were quickly extinguished and there were no reported injuries.  The Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating, though it appears to have no criminal aspect.

(Photo: BVFD)

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New Milford Police K-9 team praised for saving unresponsive man

New Milford Police have released details about an officer saving the life of an unresponsive man in Danbury last month. 

On January 26th, New Milford Police Officer Mike Lafond and K-9 Kira provided mutual aid to Danbury as they searched for a man who had threatened suicide and fled a home on foot.  K-9 Kira tracked for more than an hour and was able to located the unresponsive man in a wooded area in the 15-degree weather. 

Lafond administered two doses of Narcan and the man was hospitalized for treatment and able to recover. 

New Milford Police Chief Cerruto called it an example of the excellent police work the K-9 teams perform and commended Officer Lafond and his K9 partner for their quick and determined action to locate and provide the necessary medical assistance. If the person was not located, Chief Cerruto says the outcome could have been tragic.

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Ridgefield officials approve new lease with Ridgefield Playhouse

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has approved a 20-year lease with the Ridgefield Playhouse, with additional space in the town-owned Venus Building.  The Venus lease calls for $68,000 a year in rent.  The auditorium lease will continue to be $1 per year, and also covers a planned backstage area and concession space.  The Playhouse will pay about $35,000 for utility charges.  The Ridgefield Playhouse can move into the Venus building once the first floor of the south wing is renovated and the Board of Education moves there.  An elevator and new entrance are planned.

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Bethel businessman appeals court ruling on proposed crematorium

An appeal has been filed by a business owner in Bethel who wanted to open a crematorium in Clarke Business Park.  A  Superior Court judge sided with the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission that the panel could reject the proposal because it would have driven down property values, among other reasons.  The Newstimes reports that an attorney for business owner Shawn McLoughlin filed the appeal on Wednesday.  McLoughlin initially sued in 2015 after his application was rejected for two buildings, one of which would have been a crematorium, on his nearly 6-and-a-half acre property.  He owns a concrete business in the industrial park.  Some other tenants threatened to leave and residents vocally opposed the application.

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Himes to chair committee on emerging and advanced technologies

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has been appointed Chair of the Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research Subcommittee.  The group will oversee the development and implementation of emerging and advanced technologies essential to intelligence collection and national security.  Himes says the country faces emerging cyber and technological threats every day from geopolitical rivals, and if Congress isn't looking ten years down the road, the game is over.  Himes says there are also one wolves and other asymmetrical actors putting America on its toes.  He added that maintaining superiority requires constant vigilance. Himes says this includes ensuring the United States remains at the cutting edge in cyber security, overhead systems, artificial intelligence/machine learning and computing, as well as data and systems integrity.

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New Milford trails committee to meet about extension to town line

A presentation is being held in New Milford tonight about an extension of the river walk.  The bike and trails informational session is also aimed at getting feedback form residents.  The state awarded a grant to New Milford to design a 2.5 mile extension from Sega Meadows Park to the Brookfield town line.  A preliminary engineering report for the trail will be presented at 6:30pm at the John Pettibone Community Center cafeteria. A question and answer session will follow.

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Conn. Bioscience Caucus to create strategic plan to encourage growth in the sector

The Legislature’s Bioscience Caucus has met about a strategic plan to create smart policies that encourage growth in one of Connecticut’s strongest business sectors.  With some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical, medical device, healthcare, insurance and genomics companies in Connecticut, the Caucus says the state is poised to be a leader in one of the most forward-thinking industries. 

Newtown state Senator Tony Hwang says businesses in this field enhance the quality of health and lifestyle, while playing a critical role in economic growth. 

Brookfield Representative Stephen Harding says his goal is to champion important initiatives at the state level to assist bioscience companies, like Boehringer Ingelheim in Ridgebury.  He says investing in bioscience is investing not only in the economy, but in the protection of constituents, environment and animals.

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Ohio man awaiting trail for murder of Bethel woman charged for shooting another woman

An Ohio man awaiting trial in the death of a 25-year old Bethel woman in Bridgeport has pleaded not guilty to an earlier shooting in that City.  The judge continued the case against Brandon Roberts to February 27th.  The 26-year old is awaiting trial for the December killing of Emily Todd.  While being questioned in that case, Roberts reportedly admitted to police that he shot a woman in June 2017 in Bridgeport.  The 43-year-old sustained a bullet wound in her shoulder.  The Newstimes reports that Roberts offered the woman a ride and after saying he wanted to have sex with her, she refused.  As she got out of his car, Roberts allegedly came up behind her and shot her.  A handgun found near by was registered to Roberts, but he was only charged last month.

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Danbury man arrested again for alleged drug trafficking

A man arrested by Danbury Police in August on charges of selling drugs, has been arrested again for the same crimes.  Police launched another investigation into 23-year old Christopher Marcos for alleged drug trafficking from his Osborne Street home after receiving neighbor complaints. 

Police were able to stop Marcos while he was stuck in traffic yesterday, but he refused to get out of his vehicle and was forcibly extracted.  He was found in possession of several hundred dollars and a substantial quantity of illicit drugs. 

Marcos was charged yesterday with possession of a controlled substance, possession with the intent to sell, possession with intent to sell within 1500’ of a prohibited place, possession within 1500’ of a prohibited place, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession  of drug paraphernalia with intent to sell within 1500’ of a prohibited place and interfering with a search. 

Marcos was arrested in August as he was depositing drug proceeds in local banks.  At that time, drugs, money and a firearm were seized.

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Danbury to enact more pollution controls, concerns raised over grass clippings and driveway car washing

Danbury officials are working on a plan to reduce water pollution, in order to comply with new state and federal regulations.  There was some heated debate about the wording of an ordinance. 

Councilman Paul Rotello says it was intentionally vague so code enforcement officers could use their discretion on violations, but it could mean everyone in Danbury with a driveway has an illicit connection to the stormwater system.  He added that the ordinance could be interpreted as anyone with grass clippings that blow into the street or soap from a driveway car wash could be counted as an illicit discharge. 

The regulations are connected to Danbury's municipal separate storm sewer system general permit from the state.  The ordinance will allow the City to track pollution found in local waterways back to their source, and notify a polluter to work with them to fix the issue. 

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the intent of the ordinance is not to have people with a few grass clippings to be written up.  He's advocating that people who wash their cars in their driveway to be conscientious.

When Rotello asked city officials to bring it back to committee for another look, he was told there was no need because the ordinance won’t be strictly enforced and that enforcement officers could use their discretion on violations.  

Iadarola accused Rotello of putting a lot of undue fear and potential stress on homeowners. 

If Danbury violates the general permit, a specific permit would be written.  Iadarola says that would lead to chaos.  He also warned of possible concent decrees, court orders, mandatory oversight and mandatory staffing. 

Iadarola says the ordinance was well debated and well explained.  It's based off a model ordinance and he doesn't believe changes would meet state regulations.  Iadarola added that habitual things done as a matter of routine do create pollution and the Clean Water Laws aim to change people's culture and habits. 

Rotello says there's no language that separates ownership and tenancy and who pays the penalty.  He was also concerned that people on private roads would all be counted together.  If someone who is a violator is notified, they can't transfer their property.  He says there's no exemption for private roads so if one neighbor has a violation, another might not be able to sell their home.   

Rotello is concerned that there are no exceptions to previously approved curb cuts or permits, nor will there be any so-called grandfathering or pre-existing nonconforming use.  In addition to grass clippings, leaf debris and runoff from at-home car washes, Rotello also says City mandated winter storm treatment of private stairs, driveways and sidewalks will be a violation if any material escapes the property. 

Rotello has proposed language that will eliminate that risk while achieving the main objective of this clean water initiative which he believes also satisfies the State.

The proposal was sent by the City Council to a public hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.  

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General Assembly considering bill allowing municipalities to remove curve road signs

Several Greater Danbury area towns have complained that the number of signs alerting drivers to a curve in the roadway is excessive.  The state's Transportation Committee is considering a bill that would allow municipalities to remove road signs installed by the DOT under the Highway Safety Improvement Program's Horizontal Curve project.  The goal is to give towns greater flexibility in removing road signs that the municipalities determine are duplicative or unnecessary.

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Ridgefield Police taking applications for Citizen Police Academy

Ridgefield Police are again holding their Citizen Police Academy.  Participants learn about various aspects of police work and gain insight into how the department provides services to the community.  Topics covered include Crime Scene Investigation, Firearms, TASER, Speed Enforcement, and D.U.I. Enforcement.  The Academy will begin March 26th and meet every Tuesday night for 8 weeks. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and should live or work in Ridgefield.  Applications can be found on the Department's website. 

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Candlewood Lake Authority looks to educator homeowners about driveway salting

The Candlewood Lake Authority is hoping to work with municipalities, private contractors and residents across the Watershed to help improve road salt application. 

Once the salt put down on roads during winter storm events gets into fresh water, it can have adverse effects on the quality of the ecosystem. CLA says it can also hurt fish populations, and prevent growth of important native plants that provide food for all sorts of organisms in the water. 

They cited information from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that one coffee mug full of salt is enough to de-ice a 20 foot driveway, and say it can be easy to use too much salt. Too much salt can also hurt the sensitive pads on pets’ paws too, CLA called on owners to help protect their feet by minimizing salt use. 

To help conserve salt and protect Candlewood Lake, CLA also suggests sweeping up remaining salt crystals after the ice has melted and re-use them next time because their melting-ability remains.

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Redding officials highlight ALICE households

Redding officials are pointing out some rankings to highlight what they say is the full picture.  While Redding is among the more affluent towns in Connecticut, 4-percent of households live at or below the federal poverty level. 

20-percent of households are on the edge, or Asset Limited Income Constrained.  ALICE families spend over 30-percent of income on housing with little to no savings to cover basic needs in the event of illness or job loss.  They're technically above the Federal poverty level, but below the basic cost of living standard for Connecticut. 

The two categories account for a quarter of Redding households. 

First Selectman Julia Pemberton says local donation  to share the warmth, the food pantry and the Town’s assistance funds for students who can’t afford the cost of programs at Park and Rec or the Boys and Girls Club have a tremendous positive impact on these families. 

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Bethel committee gets update on school renovation projects

Some money will be moved around in Bethel on two school construction projects.  The Rockwell and Johnson school renovations are moving ahead at the same time, but are considered separate projects. 

The Public Site and Building Committee this week said Johnson's work is $1.6 million under budget while Rockwell is $1.2 million over budget.  The project needed unexpected PCB abatement. 

The overall combined budget approved by voters is $65.8 million.  45 percent of eligible costs for the renovations will be covered by state reimbursement. 

Construction is expected to start in the spring and be completed by December 2020.  The committee is slated to meet next week on a proposal locking in the maximum price for renovations. Various features the committee could add if money allows are also being considered.

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Danbury 5th grader takes top spot in local round of National Geographic Bee competition

A fifth-grade student at King Street Intermediate School in Danbury has again taken the top spot at his school in the National Geographic Bee competition.  A.J. Singh is vying for one of 100 spots at the state competition in March.  The state competition is open to students in grades four through eight; 10,000 schools across the country will compete in the 2019 National Geographic Bee for a chance to win a $50,000 scholarship.  Singh said he has learned a lot from participating in last year’s state competition where he rallied back from missing one question to get past the preliminary rounds. He failed to make the final round, but hopes this year will be different.  The final championship will be held May 19-22 at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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New Milford looks into lowering speed limit on curved roads

New Milford officials are looking into lowering the speed limit on some of the rural roads in an effort to require fewer or no signs alerting drivers to a curve.  A meeting with representatives of the Department of Transportation was held last night about the proliferation of signs under a safety program.  The New Milford traffic advisory committee will start working on the proposal at their next meeting.  The final speed limit decision though will be up to the state Office of Traffic Administration.

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Danbury City Council Minority Leader resigns after 20 years

After nearly 20 years representing Danbury's 4th Ward on the City Council, Tom Saadi resigned last night. 

The Council Minority leader delivered remarks about working with his colleagues on behalf of residents.  Saadi, a Major in the Army Reserves, is also Commissioner of the state Department of Veteran Affairs.  While calling it an honor to serve Danbury and its people over the years, Saadi said the time and energy necessary to properly serve the residents of the 4th Ward, while carrying out his duties to veterans, to this county and to his family, made it tough.  He added that he will miss serving on the Council.

Saadi spoke about his colleagues volunteering their time to serve on the Council, with family members asking if they were going out to yet another evening meeting. But he says, for him, over the years that questioning becomes further support with family members hitting the campaign trail and going door-knocking.  Saadi became emotional when thanking his mother, wife and children for standing by him over the years. 

The Danbury state legislative delegation presented a proclamation honoring Saadi.  Several members of the Council also expressed their gratitude and recalled their friendship over the years.

Mayor Mark Boughton presented Saadi with a key to the City.

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Two Danbury men arrested on drug related charges

Two Danbury men have been arrested on drug related charges following neighbor complaints in the Mill Ridge Road area. 

Police investigated for several weeks and were granted search warrants.  Yesterday afternoon, Police pulled over 30-year old Ronald Taveras-Castro while he was stopped in traffic.  A search of the car turned up marijuana and a substantial quantity of cocaine.  A search of his home turned up a substantial quantity of prescription opioids and several hundred dollars. 

Taveras-Castro was charged with a number of counts of possession and possession with intent to sell.  27-year old Luis Kiko Rodriguez was also charged with several counts of possession and possession with intent to sell. 

  

(Taveras-Castro, Rodriguez)

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Highway improvement project in Newtown to start Monday

A long-term road project is planned in Newtown.  The state Department of Transportation is putting in temporary traffic shifts for safety improvements and paving on Interstate 84 eastbound and westbound between exits 9 and 10.  Work will also take place on the ramps. 

Motorists should expect lane shifts and lane closures beginning Monday, weather permitting. 

Waters Construction was awarded the project with a bid of $23.73 million.  The work will be completed by November 2020. 

A majority of traffic impacts involving construction operations will be completed during night work operations.  The construction operations may detour one on or off ramp at a time for either Exit 9 and Exit 10 between the hours of 10pm until 5am Sunday through Saturday.

Westbound hours are: Monday through Thursday 8pm to 5am, Friday 9pm to 6am, Saturday 8pm to 7am and Sunday from 10pm to 5am westbound.  Eastbound night work hours are Monday through Wednesday 9pm to 6am, Thursday through Friday 10pm to 6am, Saturday 10pm to 8am and Sunday from 10pm to 6am.

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Local towns receive state grants for sidewalk, streetscape projects

Community Connectivity Grants have been announced by the state Department of Transportation.  The funding is meant for projects that support pedestrian and bicycle safety, as well as improved accessibility in community centers, which serve as places where people can meet for employment, educational, social and recreational activities. 

The Town of Bethel will receive $349,000 for the Wooster Street Sidewalk Project.  Brookfield plans to use little more than $207,000 for the Still River Greenway.  The money will go toward Town Hall Access. 

Bethlehem Main Street Sidewalks will benefit from $300,000.  Bridgewater will use $84,000 for Center Street Connectivity Improvements to make a one-way road, signage, pavement markings for pedestrians. 

Kent is getting $400,000 for Phase 1 of a streetscape project.  The money will be used for sidewalks and signage.

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Regional Hospice CEO to be honored by WCSU

Western Connecticut State University will recognize the president and CEO of Regional Hospice and Palliative Care in Danbury with the 2019 Macricostas Entrepreneur of the Year Award.  University officials say Cynthia Roy has applied her entrepreneurial career exclusively to nonprofits, armed with the same drive and skills exhibited by successful business owners.  Ancell School of Business dean Dr. David Martin says Roy's effort to do something never before achieved in Connecticut, will convince anyone that the skills and drive expressed by business entrepreneurs are the same needed to make nonprofits successful.  She presented the 2017 Macricostas Lecture on “Entrepreneurship in the Nonprofit World,” at WCSU.    The award will be presented on March 26th, at 11:30am at the Amber Room. 

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84-year-old Connecticut great-grandmother earns GED

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) An 84-year-old Connecticut great-grandmother has earned her GED 65 years after dropping out of high school to help support her family.

The News Times reports that Joan Butler Kayser recently received her GED certificate after passing English, reading comprehension, math and social studies tests.

The Danbury resident says she was especially worried about the social studies exam and ``couldn't think for beans.''

Kayser kept her plans from her family up until she received her certificate in the mail in December.

She says she always felt guilty she didn't keep a promise to her mother that she would graduate. Kayser's daughter, Katheryn Cumming, says the GED ``made her life complete.''

Kayser's home aide, Carol Thibodeau, says Kayser is an inspiration for others to never give up on their dream.

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Tri-board meeting in Brookfield tonight about budget proposals

Brookfield municipal and school officials are working on a budget.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says his goal is to hold departments to an increase of no more than 2-percent.  The Brookfield Board of Education is seeking a 3-point-9 percent hike.  The 44-point-4 million dollar spending plan was reduced from the Superintendent's original proposal.  A tri-board meeting of Selectmen, Finance and Education is tonight at 7pm.

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Informational meeting in New Milford tonight about curve road signs

There's a public information meeting in New Milford tonight about curve signs being installed along 13 roadways.  The signs are meant to make driving along curves on rural roads safer, but some people say the number of signs being installed is excessive.  Tonight's meeting is from 7 to 9pm in the E. Paul Martin room at Town Hall. 

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Congresswoman seeks to hire veteran for district office

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is looking to hire a wounded veteran or medically retired veteran for a two-year paid fellowship in the district office. Veterans who are in receipt of a 20-year or Temporary Early Retirement Authorization are not eligible for the program.  To qualify, veterans must be Honorably discharged, released from active duty within the last five years, have terminal pay grades at or below E-5 or O-3, and 20-percent or greater service connected disabilities, waived for Purple Heart recipients.  More information and how to apply for the position in Waterbury can be found online.

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Ridgefield Police investigate report of stolen vehicle

A vehicle was reported stolen in Ridgefield over the weekend.  Police say the vehicle was parked in a driveway in the Casagmo complex near Main Street during the overnight hours of Saturday into Sunday.  Ridgefield Police are reminding residents to lock vehicles and remove the keys.  They urged making that part of the nighttime routine.

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Danbury firefighters rescue lost hikers at Tarrywile Park

The Danbury Fire Department had to rescue some lost hikers at Tarrywile Park last night.  The hikers were rescued and brought to safety, but firefighters are urging people to take some steps to make things safer when enjoying the outdoors.  Most cellphones have a "Where am I?" type-button and hikers should know how to use it and how to send it to someone.  If you get lost or disoriented, fire officials say the most important part is to stay calm and call 911, stay in one place and conserve cellphone battery power.

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Flu concerns lead to visitation restrictions at Danbury Hospital

Flu Visitation Restriction have been put into effect at Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals.  Officials say the goal is to keep patients healthy and with the flu activity in the area, restriction have to be followed.  No one under the age of 14 years old will be allowed to visit the Family Birthing Center, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or Pediatrics.  This includes siblings and there are no exceptions to the policy.  Flu is considered widespread in Connecticut.  Since September, there have been 14 flu-related deaths, more than 2,400 positive tests for flu and 954 hospitalizations.

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Danbury UNIT wins legal ruling to clean blighted property

The Danbury Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team has given an update to the City Council about a legal case involving a blighted property.  The State Superior Court has authorized UNIT to go onto a Gregory Street property to clean up and dispose all of the garbage, junk and inoperable vehicles at the expense of the property owner.  UNIT says this has been a long time issue and are pleased that the legal process has supported the department.  The clean up had been scheduled for last month, but the storm forced a postponement.  A  rescheduled date has not yet been determined, but UNIT is looking to complete this clean up within the next few months.

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New Fairfield officials seek member for Economic Development Commission

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen is currently accepting “Letters of Intent” from residents interested in becoming members of the newly approved Economic Development Commission.  The Board is looking for candidates with backgrounds in commercial real estate or development, business ownership, finance, marketing or municipal planning. 

A Letter of Intent can be sent to the First Selectman detailing background and experience. Commissioners will be expected to attend one to two meetings per month, as decided by the Commission. 

First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says Economic Development Commissions have proven successful in many of the 140 Connecticut towns where they are established.  The Commission has an advisory role and does not have the authority to expand the business/commercial zone nor to determine what type of businesses may choose to open in New Fairfield.

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Danbury Democrats nominate Mayoral candidate

The Danbury Democratic Town Committee has formally nominated a candidate for Mayor.  With the election still nearly a year away, the group endorsed Chris Setaro.  The former City Council president is looking for a rematch of his narrow defeat in 2001 by Mark Boughton during the Republican's first run for the office.  Setaro has already taken in more than $25,000 in contributions since announcing his intentions last month. The Democrats also nominated someone to replace Tom Saadi on the City Council.  Saadi, who was renominated as state Veteran Affairs Commissioner last month, plans to formally resign tonight. Board of Education member Farley Santos, a banker of Brazilian descent, was nominated to the 4th Ward position. 

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Danbury to vote on reworked Code of Ordinances

The Danbury City Council held a public hearing about the City's Code of Ordinances.  The repeal of the current Code and replacement with a reworked document drew some concerns.  The entire ordinance book has been digitized, with links available through the City's website. 

Some members supported the theory of updating the document, getting rid of duplicative or outdated language, but were concerned about adopting the new code without having fully read through the more than 500 pages.  One member suggested sending it back to committee to adopt in portions over time, until the entire code is approved. 

There were a lot of questions from Council members over the inclusion of dollar amounts for maximum state fines and fees being included.  The City's attorney explained that the figures are what the state will allow municipalities to charge, not necessarily what the City currently has on the books. 

The Committee of the Whole recommended on a vote of 12 to 5 to recommend that the City Council adopted the recodified Code of Ordinance at their meeting tonight.  Those voting in opposition were Council members Levy, Stanley, Taborsak, Perkins and Rotello.

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FirstLight must update Shoreline Management Plan for area lakes

It has been six years since the first Shoreline Management Plan for Candlewood, Lillinonah, Zoar and the Housatonic River was implemented, which means that FirstLight has created a new draft up for review. 

The Candlewood Lake Authority says this document affects all the residents with property around the lake, as well as those who care for the lake's health. The new SMP will be submitted by March 27th. FirstLight will then submit a draft for FERC review and approval.  

Anyone can review and compare the new draft document with the current plan to prepare for a public hearing that FirstLight will hold at a later date. 

Many aspects of the document are relevant to property owners, including fee and enforcement structure for all applications, permits, and shoreline uses.  The plan also details vegetation removal guidelines, mooring permit requirements and how deeded rights are registered and organized by FirstLight.  The document also outlines measurements and guidelines for new dock installations, pathway installations, retaining wall and rip/rap installations, and more shoreline uses, as well as the fees that will accompany applications for these uses.

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Bethel Police add another blood drive in honor of Det,'s daughter

The Bethel Police Department has added a second blood drive in honor of a Detective's daughter.  There was a huge response in appointments being made for their March event in honor of Maddie O'Farrell, who was recently been diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer.  The second Blood drive has been scheduled for Monday, May 6th from 11am-4pm at the Bethel Police Department at 12 Judd Avenue, in the Training Room. This blood drive will also be by Appointment only, which can be made online at redcrossblood.org or by phone at 1-800-RED CROSS, using Sponsor Code BethelPD.

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Firefighters rescue deer from partially frozen Lake Zoar

Stevenson Volunteer Fire Company members responded to Lake Zoar to rescue a deer that had fallen through the ice yesterday. The deer was approximately 500 feet out, halfway across the lake. One member hooked a tether and pulled his way out, once he was close the deer freed itself and ran out of the water.  Firefighters say it ended up being a good training exercise. 

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Boughton, DOT moving forward on plans for Uncle Sam to stand at rest area

A 38-foot tall Uncle Sam statue is being stored in a Danbury Airport hangar for restoration work.  Now that the City of Danbury has purchased the Danbury Fair memorabilia, the question becomes where will it be displayed. 

Mayor Mark Boughton wants the largest Uncle Sam statue in the world to be located at the I-84 exit 2 rest area.   He met with the state Department of Transportation recently and says it went well.  There is some more paperwork required, but Boughton says the new administration is not adverse to the idea. 

A GoFundMe page had been set up by Boughton to buy the memorabilia back from Magic Forest Amusement Park.   It took in $3,185 from 45 donors in three months.  Crews from the Danbury Public Works Department headed to Lake George in December to pick up the fiberglass structure, which once greeted visitors of the Danbury Fair.  

A pad for the statue to stand on has been engineered and the former owner donated wrought iron fencing.  The statue will likely require wires anchoring it to the ground since it is so tall. 

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. 

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Brookfield awarded grant for streetscape project

Brookfield has been awarded a $1 million grant to build Phase III of the Streetscape project.  That portion of work is planned for Laurel Hill Road and Old Route 7. The total estimated project cost is approximately $1.3 million, so the town has committed to paying the additional $240,000. Construction is planned for the spring of 2021.

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Changes announced for Kent Transfer Station

There are some changes at the Kent Transfer Station.  The facility is now accepting eyeglasses.  They will be picked up by the Kent Lions Club and reused worldwide. In the near future, the Transfer Station will be recycling glass separately.  Currently, no big items can be placed in the outdoor swap area until spring. The facility currently recycle textiles, mattresses, paint, corks, batteries of all types, electronics, including TV's, computers and printers.

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Congresswoman signs on to bill to help veterans

Freshman Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has signed on as a co-sponsor to a bill relating to veterans.  The 5th District Representative is backing legislation that would require the Secretary of Defense to include in periodic health assessments and other details of whether a member of the Armed Forces has been exposed to open burn pits or toxic airborne chemicals.  

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Women's Center seeks to hire full-time Residential Counselor

The Women's Center is currently hiring a full-time Residential Counselor to provide support and advocacy services to women and children at their residential facility for victims of domestic violence, and to ensure the security of residents and staff.  Officials say the position is to be carried out while empowering victims with respect to their safety and their right to self-determination. More details about the job can be found on the Women's Center website.

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Local libraries celebrate Take Your Child to the Library Day

Today is Take Your Child to the Library Day.  C.H. Booth Library officials in Newtown say it's a way for people in the community to learn about the early literacy programs, educational resources and events the Library provides for free all year long. 

One event, today at 2pm, is a Jack and the Beanstalk Musical Presentation.  It's for children ages 4 and up.  Ed Allman from the Waterbury Symphony will read the classic story complete with live music. Following the story, Allman will talk about the double bass and his life as a musician. 

In Ridgefield, children ages 4 and older who are readers are invited to read to Ridgefield Operation for Animal Rescue Therapy Dogs.  The ROAR dogs will be at the library from 11:30 until 12:30.  Registration required.

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Brookfield businessman to be honored by anti-domestic violence advocacy group

The Women's Center Annual Hearts of Hope Breakfast is taking place next week.  The organization will honor John Royce, who founded the event, with the "Service Above Self" Award.  The Guest Speaker is Lisa Whelan, a survivor & advocate against Domestic Abuse.  She will share her story and talk about what empowered her to become an advocate.  The event is Wednesday morning at the Fox Hill Inn in Brookfield.  The snow dates is Thursday.

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Man accused of killing daughter rejects plea deal

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) A former Brewster, New Yok man serving a life sentence in Massachusetts for the murder of his wife has rejected a plea deal in connection with the death of his daughter.

Robert Honsch is charged with the murder of 17-year-old Elizabeth Honsch in 1995. The New Britain Herald reports the 74-year-old Honsch on Thursday rejected a plea deal from Connecticut prosecutors that offered a 25-year prison sentence and said he wanted to go on trial instead. He could receive up to 60 years if found guilty.

Honsch was convicted of first-degree murder in 2017 and is serving a life sentence.

Honsch's wife, Marcia, was found dead in Tolland, Massachusetts about 10 days after police found Elizabeth Honsch's body wrapped in sleeping bags behind a New Britain shopping plaza. Both women had been shot.

He was arrested in 2014 in Dalton, Ohio, where authorities say he was living with a new wife and three children.

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Local lawmaker proposes bill to require back seat passengers to buckle up

Connecticut doesn't currently have a law requiring back seat passengers to be buckled up.  A proposal requiring seat belt usage has been introduced by Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky.  He says not using the safety device can turn back seat passengers into projectiles endangering others riding in the car.  A survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety last year found 28 percent of respondents did not always wear a seat belt in the back of a car. The organization says that makes them eight times as likely as buckled rear-seat passengers to be injured or killed in a crash.

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Car down an embankment, wires burning on road in Newtown accident

A car went down an embankment in Newtown yesterday morning.  Grays Plain Road was closed due to wires down and burning in the roadway.  Police, fire and ambulance crews responded to the scene.  The driver was checked for injuries but did not need to be transported to the hospital.

(Photo: Sandy Hook VFD)

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Aquarion warns people not to trespass, walk on reservoir ice

Aquarion Water Company is reporting an increase in unlawful winter recreational activities on reservoir properties.  The company is warning people not to trespass, including walking on reservoir ice because not only is it illegal, but it is also dangerous.  At this time of year, ice may appear thick enough to walk on, but Aquarion officials say this thickness is unreliable, and can be deceptive due to shifting water levels and thermal undercurrents.  Aquarion does allow the public on Centennial Watershed State Forest’s Saugatuck and Aspetuck Valley trails, which are open for hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing year-round for those who hold a valid permit.

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Freshman lawmaker to host listening session in Bethel

Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan is hosting his first 2nd District Sit-down tomorrow.  The listening event will be at the Sycamore, in Bethel from 10am to noon. The freshman lawmaker says this is an opportunity to meet and talk about issues that are important to Redding, Newtown, Danbury and Bethel. He’ll be doing similar events across the district to stay connected and accessible.

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Civil Rights Movement impact on pop culture, music to be discussed in Danbury

Danbury Library is hosting a performance by musician Marc Black tomorrow. 

He will provide a musical history of the 50s and 60s through popular song.  He will also talk and sing about the Civil Rights Movement and how it changed popular music and culture as well.  The event is 2 to 3pm.  Black is an experienced musician and storyteller. He was inducted into the New York Chapter of the Blues Hall of Fame. He has performed and recorded with the likes of Art Garfunkel, Richie Havens, Rick Danko, and Pete Seeger. 

The program is free.  Registration is required. In the event of a weather postponement, the program will be held on February 7 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. 

Funding for the program is provided by the local chapter of the NAACP and the FRIENDS of the Danbury Library.

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Warming Centers open in Greater Danbury area

Warming shelters continue to be available today in the Greater Danbury area for people to escape the brutal cold.  Danbury is making the City Shelter at New Street, and Jericho Partnership’s Good Samaritan Day Center on Maple Avenue available.  The City Shelter is open as a warming center from 8:30am to 2pm, after which people are encouraged to go to the library.  In Newtown, the Municipal Center is open as a warming center.  New Milford has Loaves N Fishes open on Main Street.  Governor Lamont activated Connecticut's Severe Cold Weather Protocol Wednesday and it will last through noon on Sunday.  The protocol directs staff from various state agencies to coordinate with United Way of Connecticut's 2-1-1 and the state's network of shelters to make sure the most vulnerable residents are protected from the severe cold.

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Congressman announces Ridgefield student as State of the Union guest

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has announced his guest for Tuesday's State of the Union Address.  He invited Ridgefield High School student Lane Murdock to join him in Washington D.C., as a way to make a point on legislation he intends to introduce.  The 16-year old organized a national school walkout last spring in response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.  The gun safety group she co-founded came from an online petition for a day of protest and solitary.  The announcement from Himes came the same day he brought forward a bill to incentivize companies to market biometric guns, firearms that can only be fired by their rightful owner.

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Congresswoman backs bill to stabilize Social Security

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has cosponsored a bill, along with Connecticut Congressman John Larson to expand Social Security.  The Secure 2100 is aimed at keeping Social Security solvent, and ensure that every dollar of promised benefits will be paid in full and on time through the rest of the 21st century.  Hayes says it' not an entitlement because American workers have paid into it for years and believes those funds should be available in retirement. 

Hayes added that if Social Security were to go away, the demand for other benefits would increase. 

Larson says the legislation would be the most significant update to Social Security since 1983,increasing benefits and strengthening the Trust Fund.  The proposal features a more generous benefit and cost-of-living adjustment formula.  The minimum benefit, which Larson says has eroded since its enactment in 1972, is increased so that Americans aren't forced to retire into poverty after a lifetime of work and contributing.

The measure was introduced Wednesday, on what would have been President Franklin D Roosevelt's 137th birthday.  FDR established Social Security as part of his New Deal in 1935.   

63 million Americans receive Social Security benefits today, including Gold Star families, seniors and others.

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New Milford Board of Ed approves a budget proposal

The New Milford Board of Education has approved a budget proposal  for the coming fiscal year.  A 2.5 percent increase, representing $64.6 million, was voted on unanimously by the Board this week.  The interim superintendent presented a plan with a slightly higher increase, but nearly half a million in cuts were made, including cameras at on field and new uniforms and sports equipment.  The biggest drivers of the budget are for contracted costs for personnel and transportation.  The plan includes less anticipated state funding and eliminated Pay to Play. 

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Accident closes Rt 116 in Ridgefield for hours

Route 116 in Ridgefield was close for more than 12 hours after a car accident yesterday morning involving a utility pole.  Police say the accident happened around 9am and detours were set up at Maple Shade Road and Barrack Hill Road.  No injuries were reported by the driver.  There were no other people involved.  The cause of the crash remains under investigation.  The closure was lengthy to allow Eversource to make repairs.

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