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Local Headlines Archives for 2019-06

Gov. reacts to news Hubbell Inc. closing two Greater Danbury area plants

A Shelton-based electrical and electronic product manufacturer announced this week it's closing it's Newtown plant, resulting in a loss of about 140 jobs.  Governor Ned Lamont was asked about Hubbell also shutting down a plant in Bethel by the end of the year.  He spoke with company officials and say they doubled down in Connecticut by upping their lease.  Hubbell will retain more than 650 jobs in the state and continue to house their corporate headquarters in Connecticut.  Work at the Newtown facility will move to Puerto Rico.  Work at the Bethel plant is being transferred to Alabama.  Lamont also highlighted other manufacturing plants opening in the state, saying it's a more tech-oriented workforce.

Concert this weekend to celebrate birthday of boy killed at Sandy Hook School

The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, a foundation started by the mother of a child killed at Sandy Hook School, is hosting an event this weekend for Jesse's birthday.  Sunday's concert is at 3pm at Ives Concert Park in Danbury. Jesse, who was a first grader when he was killed, would have turned 13 this year.  Scarlett Lewis started the foundation shortly after 12-14 to implement social and emotional learning in classrooms.    

Redding Police caution drivers to foot race in Redding Center

Redding Police are cautioning drivers to some upcoming events which may cause delays.  On Sunday, the Redding Historical Society Fundraiser Rock’n Roots Road Race takes place.  Redding Center will be affected by the foot race.  Redding Police ask that drivers use caution and plan accordingly.

Household hazardous waste day in Easton, Monroe

Monroe, Trumbull, and Easton are sponsoring a regional household hazardous waste collection day today. Drop off is at 307 Indian Ledge Park Drive in Trumbull from 9am to 2pm.  Certain items will not be collected including latex paint, propane tanks, antifreeze and motor oil.

I-84 exit 2 rest area to reopen round the clock starting Monday

All seven of the state-operated highway rest area buildings, including indoor restroom facilities, will be open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week beginning Monday. 

This includes the rest area by exit 2 off I-84 eastbound in Danbury. 

Funding to return the rest areas to round-the-clock operations was included in the budget the governor signed into law earlier this week.   Staffing levels at 7 state operated highway rest areas had been reduced in October 2016 in response to budget cuts.  The indoor facilities had been limited to a one-shift, daytime operation.  That meant only outdoor portable restroom facilities during hours during un-staffed hours.

While well intentioned, Governor Lamont says the closures were penny wise and pound foolish.  He says Connecticut must make the necessary investments to attract people to visit and return to the state.  Lamont called this is a small but meaningful step toward making Connecticut more attractive to visitors and residents. 

Calling the rest areas an important safety amenities for travelers and truckers, DOT Commissioner Joe Giulietti says residents and visitors deserve better than portable bathrooms.

New Fairfield officials take ride along with CLA Marine Patrol

The Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol has 18 officers this year and has a visible presence on the Lake.  New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco and Selectman Khris Hall recently accompanied Chief Ron Barnard, Assistance Chief Nick Mellas and CLA Executive Director Mark Howarth.  Del Monaco says they came  alongside a group of kids who had been bounced off their tube to make sure they were okay.

Plea hearing continued for Sherman man accused of killing husband

A plea hearing for a Sherman man accused of killing his husband has been continued.  65-year old James Maharg was scheduled to be in court for a probable cause hearing yesterday, with the plea hearing set for July 30th.  He was charged with murder and evidence tampering in connection to the March death of his 63-year-old husband, Thomas Conley.  Police say the murder came after months of mounting trouble for the couple, whose business was failing and home was going into foreclosure.  At the time, police say the couple had been drinking tequila all day, habitually since December.  Conley was found with chop wounds to his head. 

Putnam County Sheriff's Office launches evening community conversation series

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office has launched a series of listening events in the evenings, to give residents an opportunity to meet with law enforcement, who otherwise are not available for the morning Coffee with a Cop events.  During Real Talk with Sheriff Langley last night, a number of topics were covered.  They included fireworks, traffic issues, noise complaints, opioids and trespassers among others. Real Talk will be taking the summer off but will be returning in the Fall.

Transportation emerging as battleground for Danbury Mayoral race

The Danbury Democratic Mayoral candidate is making transportation infrastructure one of his key platforms and is linking it to downtown development.  If elected, Chris Setaro plans to order a traffic study in his first 100 days that will examine existing road, bus, and rail conditions to reduce congestion and ease travel around the city.  Republican incumbent Mayor Mark Boughton says he's doing that now.

Setaro says Danbury hasn’t seen a major traffic improvement plan since the 1980s, and since then there has been no real action to address the increasing problems faced by commuters every day.  He plans to rely on his experience as former City Council President to align bonding with retiring debt, holding the mill rate level, and repave the roads. 

Setaro says unmanaged growth during the past 18 years without a plan has led to crumbling roads, gridlocked streets, and a public transit system that is stuck in the past.  He wants to create incentives to encourage private investment centered around an improved Danbury train and bus hub to spur growth and help the environment.  

Republican incumbent Mark Boughton is touting plans to get a train connection from Danbury to the Southeast station and notes there are tax deferrals for businesses to locate around the train station, as well as an expedited permit review.  Boughton added there's already a proposal to move the bus hub to the train station.

Setaro says the failure to address these issues has hampered the city’s economic development and quality of life.  Setaro does not support tolls and has heard from some residents as he's gone door to door that they're not in favor of the idea other.

Speed restrictions, no-go zones to be set up on Candlewood for fireworks

There will be boating restrictions on Candlewood Lake in Danbury on Saturday.  No vessels will be allowed to moor or anchor south of the safety zone or in the safety lane approximately 5 hours prior to and during the fireworks event.  

Beginning at 4pm, all boats in the vicinity of City Island must maintain a “slow-no-wake” speed to allow for the fireworks company to safely set up the fireworks behind the Island. Approximately 2 hours prior to and during the event no boats will be allowed to travel south of the safety zone into the display area. 

After the fireworks, boaters are asked to proceed out of the viewing area at “slow-no-wake” speed.

Police ask drivers to be prepared for traffic delays and road closures in the direct and surrounding areas at Danbury Town Park from approximately 5pm until 11pm.

Candlewood Lake Marine Patrol to set up inspections for fireworks show

The Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol is advising all boaters that normal traffic in the area of Danbury Bay will be disrupted on Saturday due to the Annual Danbury Volunteer Fireman’s Fireworks Display. 

The Marine Patrol will be setting up a safety zone just north of City Island in Danbury Bay.  A safety lane will also be created along the eastern shore of Danbury Bay. 

The Marine Patrol and  DEEP EnCon Police will be stopping all boats entering Danbury Bay for a safety inspection.  These inspections will take a few minutes and Marine Patrol officials say it will just be a minor inconvenience to boaters. 

All boats must have one wearable Personal Floatation Device for each person on board.  Children under the age of 13 must wear their life jacket at all times while the boat is under way.  All boats must have their required lights, in working order. Any boat found not having the required safety equipment will be turned away from the area and ordered back to shore to make the necessary repairs.  

They will not be allowed to enter the area until these safety requirements are met. 

As boaters pass within 200 feet of a stationary law enforcement vessel using its lights and audible signal or a fire rescue vessel using its lights, the operator is required to go to “slow-no-wake” speed until it is more than 200 feet away from the law enforcement or fire rescue vessel.

Redding Police receive reports of Eversource phone scam

A Scam Warning is being issued by a local police department.  Redding Police received several complaints yesterday from residents who were called by someone claiming to be from Eversource. The caller warns of a past due bill and that Eversource would come and shut off the power if the bill isn't paid immediately.  Police are reminding people not to give out any information and hang up the phone. Anyone receiving such a call is urged to use the Eversource phone number on their bill and call directly to check payment status.

Gov. signs air quality monitoring bill into law

Governor Ned Lamont has signed a bill into law designed to help towns in the Northwest corner which could be impacted by the future operations of the Cricket Valley Energy Center in Dover Plains, New York.  The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will have to provide technical assistance and support to any municipality that purchases, leases or uses air monitoring equipment in order to establish an air quality baseline.  DEEP could provide information on best practices for creating the baseline, guidance on placement of the monitors, and information on best practices to assure the accuracy of the monitors.

DOT delays Route 133 bridge closure

The state Department of Transportation now says there will not be a closure of the Route 133 Bridge between Bridgewater and Brookfield this weekend.  Bridgewater officials say the next possible closure is tentatively scheduled for the August 9th through 12th weekend.  Detours will use Routes 67, 7/202 and 25.  Construction crews have been authorized to use 10 minute full closures, during the daytime hours leading up to what would have been this weekends closure.  The planned closure date was previously changed due to issues encountered during the construction phase.

Topstone Park reopens after bears visit

Topstone Park in Redding was closed for several hours yesterday because of some visitors found there in the morning.  Redding Police limited access to the park because a mother bear and two cubs were spotted sleeping in a tree.  This was shortly before 9am.  Parks and Rec decided to open Topstone to the public around 12:30pm after checking and finding no further sign of the bears.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection had also been advised.  Redding Police warned people to be cautious yesterday in the area around the park.

Bears temporarily close Topstone Park in Redding

Redding police say there are a few visitors in Topstone Park today that may limit accessibility into the park. A mother bear and two cubs were spotted sleeping in a tree.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Redding Park and Rec have been advised.  Police suspended access into the park this morning, waiting for the bears to move along.  Redding Police warned people to be cautious today in the area.

Bethel, Southbury Police Departments add new members from training academy

The Bethel Police Department's newest member is on the job.  Danilo DeOliveira completed over six months of training, graduating from the Connecticut Municipal Police Academy yesterday. DeOliveira will start a Field Training Program taught by senior officers before going out on his own. 

DeOliveira's father, who is a retired police sergeant from Brazil, pinned his shield yesterday.

The Southbury Police Department has welcomed 3 new members. Officer William Jacques, Officer Whitney Carter and Officer Steven Vichiola graduated yesterday from the Police Academy as part of the 364th Basic Training Session.

Off. Vichiola received an Award for the best overall recruit, out of 48 that graduated.  He also received a Firearms Award for the best marksman in the class.

State Police investigating shoplifting incident in New Fairfield

State Police in New Fairfield and investigating a shoplifting incident at the Stop & Shop on Route 39.  Police say a woman walked out of the grocery store with a cart full of groceries without paying around 9:30pm Sunday.  The white woman is believed to be in her 30s and driving a tan Toyota Camry or Corolla.

12-year old boy named Honorary Conn. State Police Trooper

A 12-year-old Michigan resident has made it his mission to visit every State Police or Patrol Agency in the country.  Brett Holbrook met with members of Troop A in Southbury yesterday.  Two years ago, Holbrook was traveling with his family through Ohio when their vehicle was pulled.  He was impressed by the trooper’s uniform and professionalism.  His mom made him a uniform and they began a cross country trip to various state police agencies.  Honorary Trooper Holbrook received the oath of office yesterday in Southbury and then conducted roll call for the evening shift troopers.  The 12-year old also received training with a narcotics K-9.  So far Brett has visited 20 State Police agencies.

Bethel Religious Display Committee continues work on regulations for future exhibits

The Bethel Religious Display Committee is set to meet tonight. 

During their meeting last week, members briefly discussed if displays should be allowed on public land.  They're then trying to decide if applications for a certain space should be granted on a first come first serve basis, if there should be a lottery, or some other policy to be applied consistently.  They must consider if multiple displays will be allowed. 

Members acknowledged that there's a limited amount of spots for religious displays on town owned land. 

A few committee members say PT Barnum Square is the only public property that the creche can be located because of it's weight and size.  It appeared that some believe only the creche should be displayed at that location, in part because there is also a winter festival and people need room to gather.  Others believe there could be more than one display on the property. 

Special Town Meeting in New Fairfield on school security funding

A special town meeting is being held in New Fairfield tonight.  Residents are being called on to move $220,000 from one fund to the School Security Operations Center project.  The Board of Education has agreed to fund part of Phase I of the project to improve safety and security for all four schools. The School Safety and Security Committee decided that it was necessary to go forward with Phase I and noted that it's possible some of the money could be put back into the fund if there is a surplus to the Board of Ed budget.  New Fairfield Director of Business and Operations Dr. Richard Sanzo noted that some of the equipment for this project could possibly be repurposed if the school projects are approved at referendum.  The Special Town Meeting is at 7:15pm.


Water quality monitoring resumes on Candlewood Lake

Water Quality Monitoring for 2019 has begun on Candlewood Lake.  The Lake Authority has added a new water quality summary page to their website.  CLA conducts testing and monitoring from May through October each year.  Water clarity was somewhat low in May, which CLA says indicates possible algae growth, solids, a lack of sunlight on sampling days, or a combination of all three. Nutrient measurements were low, including measurements at the bottom of the lake, likely due to high dissolved oxygen and low nutrient loading at the bottom of the lake. 

Monitoring started in 1983 and there have historically been 4 sites tested, along with one on Squantz Pond.  Among other things, they also test water temperature, pH levels, relative Blue Green Algae concentrations, and Chlorophyll-a. 

During monitoring so far they have not found any zebra mussel larvae. 

This was the first month using a new sensor on the water probe.  It returned slightly lower readings than measurements from the lab. CLA officials say comparisons of these to methods will continue to ensure new data can be accurately compared to historical measurements.

Conn. Dept. Veteran Affairs bike ride raises money to help homeless vets

A team from the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Commissioner Tom Saadi, joined with cyclists from across the state to raise funds for the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center.  Saadi says it was an honor to support the great partnership the agency has with the Center in achieving their collective mission of Serving Those Who Served. The Center helps veterans recovering from homelessness and mental illness.  The goal is to raise $255,000.  Team DVA raised over $4,000 toward that goal.  Saadi says 5 of the top 10 unmet needs of homeless veterans are legal in nature. 

New Milford Board of Ed makes budget cuts for next year

The New Milford Board of Education has made $400,000 in cuts for the coming year, to meet the budget amount approved by voters.  New administrators will have lower salaries, a custodian position was eliminated and a plan to replace copiers was put off.  Consulting fees and projected savings in other areas also made up some of the difference.  Chromebook purchases will be made from the capital reserve instead of the operating budget.  The music program, which was previously cut was cited by some members as what should be saved--instead of hiring another assistant principal at Sarah Noble.  Those in favor of the position say it's a big school and needed for safety reasons.  The Board voted to keep band, athletic buses, the gifted program and practical arts.

New Fairfield veteran dies at 100

A 100-year-old World War II veteran who lived in New Fairfield has passed away.  Lou Russo fought for independence after being confined in a nursing home against his will.  He died Tuesday of heart failure at Danbury Hospital.  A social worker conducted a well-being check five years ago and found problems with the house and signs he was not taking good care of himself.  His conservator placed Russo in a nursing home, instead of getting treatment at a VA facility.  The conservator sold Russo’s contracting equipment and rented out his home.  After 17 months of fighting, dozens of volunteers fixed up his house and Russo was able to move back in.  The Newstimes reports that a celebration of life is being planned at his Hammond Road home on August 1st, when they planned to mark Russo's 101st birthday.

Report: Minority drivers stopped at disproportionate rates

A new report says black and Hispanic drivers in Connecticut continue to be stopped by police at disproportionately high rates and are treated more harshly than whites in many cases after being pulled over.

The report prepared by analysts at Central Connecticut State University was released Tuesday. It examined about 542,000 traffic stops made by state and local police officers in 2017.  About 16% of drivers stopped were black, while 9% of the state's driving age population is black. Hispanics comprised about 14% of motorists stopped and about 12% of the driving age population.

43% of drivers stopped in Connecticut received an infraction ticket, while 50% received either a written or verbal warning.  Danbury issued infraction tickets in 64% of all traffic stops, which is the highest in the state.  Weston only issued infraction tickets in 3.3% of all traffic stops, which is the lowest rate in the state.

The level of and reason for traffic stop enforcement varies greatly.  Law enforcement agencies with active traffic units produce a higher volume of traffic stops.  The five municipal police agencies with the highest stop rate per 1,000 residents are Wilton, New Canaan, Westport, Ridgefield, and Windsor. Conversely, Middlebury, Wolcott, Shelton, Bridgeport and Meriden have the lowest rate of stops per 1,000 residents.

In Ledyard, Ridgefield, Weston, Simsbury, Thomaston, Enfield, Guilford, Easton, Suffield, Newtown, Windsor Locks, Wolcott, New Milford, Redding, Bethel, and Southington, more than 50% of the traffic stops were for speeding violations. On the other hand, Eastern Connecticut State University, Orange, Yale University, the State Capitol Police and Western Connecticut State University stopped drivers for speeding less than 5% of the time. The four special police agencies (Yale, WCSU, ECSU, and State Capitol Police) have limited jurisdiction and it is reasonable that they are not stopping a high percentage of drivers for speeding violations.

Danbury man Tasered during scuffled with police after knife falls from pocket

A Danbury man has been arrested on a number of charges after a steak knife fell out of his pocket while he struggled with a State Police Trooper.  Police were called by The 440 Line in New Fairfield Friday night on a report of an intoxicated man who caused a disturbance and then walked out of the restaurant. 

Troopers located 33-year old Gerad Michael Hitchcock on Route 39.  He got into a scuffle with the Trooper, who said Hitchcock reached for his pocket.  A black-handled, 6-inch blade fell out during the incident, in which Hitchcock had to be tasered. 

He was transported to Danbury Hospital. 

Hitchcock was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to carrying a dangerous weapon and two counts of breach of peace.  He was held on 25-hundred dollars bond and is due back in Court on July 17th. 

Hitchcock was arrested by Danbury Police on May 19th and 27th on breach of peace and threatening charges.

New Milford schools will have to move forward with budget cuts

The New Milford Town Council has decided that the addition $433,000 in state funding headed to New Milford will not prevent planned school budget cuts.  The Board of Ed will have to trim $600,000 to make up a shortfall between their requested funds and the budget approved by voters.  The local budget is higher than the current year's funding.  The additional Education Cost Sharing money could be put into the school capital reserve fund, for capital projects.  The Fund is not for operating expenses.  The Board of Ed is expecting a surplus, so some of the cuts could be reinstated.

Lamont signs family medical leave legislation into law

Connecticut is on track to have a paid family medical leave system in place by 2022.

Advocates and state lawmakers cheered as Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont signed legislation Tuesday that provides most workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a family member, a new child or their own serious health condition.

The program, which begins January 1, 2022, will also cover medical leave needed for organ or bone marrow donations or a qualifying event arising from a family member on active duty.

The weekly benefit will be capped at 60 times the minimum wage or $780 on a $13 minimum wage. It will be $900 when Connecticut's $15-an-hour minimum wage takes effect in 2023.

The program will be funded with a 0.5% payroll tax.

Senator Julie Kushner, co-chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, said, “I’ve represented working families for more than forty years – I truly understand what a difference this program will make in so many lives. Working families will be able to pay their rent while on bonding leave with a newborn child.  A worker won’t have to fear losing her job, just because she suffered a serious injury. If your is parent ill and needs your help, you can be there without worrying about how to pay your bills. We have done a great thing in passing one of the very best paid family and medical leave programs in the country. It will be good for working families. It will provide peace of mind to those caring for sick loved ones. And, it will strengthen our state’s economy, providing income at a time when people need it most. I couldn’t be prouder to have worked to pass this vital piece of legislation.”

Connecticut employees will be able to use paid family and medical leave for five reasons:
1.      Care for a new child (birth, adoption, foster)
2.      Care for family member with serious health condition
3.      Care for own serious health condition
4.      Qualifying exigency arising out of family member being on active duty
5.      To serve as an organ or bone marrow donor

New York, Washington state, and Massachusetts allow reasons one through four. Connecticut will be the only state in the country to allow for paid leave due to donating bone marrow or an organ.

Definition of Family Member:
·         Child
·         Parent
·         Spouse
·         Domestic partner
·         Grandparent
·         Grandchild
·         Individual related to the employee by blood or affinity whose close association the employee shows to be the equivalent of those family relationships

In Connecticut, paid leave will apply to private sector employers with one or more employees. Self-employed employees and sole-proprietors have the ability to opt-in to the program. In addition, non-union state and local government employees are covered. Unionized public workers will have the ability to collectively bargain and become covered.

Affordable housing item on state Bond Commission agenda

The state Bond Commission will be meeting today.  One of the items on their agenda is to allocate money for various housing projects.  A grant-in-aid request will be considered for Kent Affordable Housing  to assist with construction of three affordable housing units on Maple Street Extension in Kent.  The total estimated cost is about $.37 million, with $779,000 being bonded.  The Recipient is setting aside $594,000 for the work.  The Bond Commission meeting is 10:30am.

Board of Regents signs off on degree option suspension at WCSU

The Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education has reviewed spending plans for the four Connecticut State Universities, the community colleges and Charter Oak.  The plans for WestConn, Eastern, Central and Southern would have resulted in deficits of $7.5 million.  For the community colleges, that figure was $19.6 million. 

The  shortfalls were the result of increases in salary costs because of the union agreement and increases in fringe benefits.  The increases were not fully offset by the increase in state budget funding for the coming year.  The spending plans were accepted by the board, on the condition that reserve funds at the community colleges be limited to $8 million.

The Board has signed off on a program change at Western Connecticut State University.  The Board approved the suspension of the Earth and Planetary degree option within the Secondary Education program leading to a Bachelor of Science degree at West Conn. 

The suspension will be in place until the Spring Semester of 2021.

Gov. signs bill about maple syrup and honey production

The state Department of Agriculture will retain the regulation of maple syrup and honey production.  The bill signed by the Governor this week was cosponsored by New Milford Senator Craig Miner.  The bill removes maple syrup and honey products from cottage foods industry and results in a General Fund revenue loss of $200 per year.  Currently, there are four maple syrup and honey producers that pay a licensing fee of $50 per year.  This bill also transfers enforcement of maple syrup and honey labeling from the Department of Consumer Protection to the Department of Agriculture.  The agency will continue to levy fines similar to current practice in DCP, resulting in no change in revenue from these fines.

Funeral services announced for pair killed in Newtown crash

Funeral services have been set for the two young Newtown men killed in a car accident on Sunday.  A combined memorial service will be held Friday for 20-year old Elliot Gregory and 19-year old Philip Zuvanich at Gallagher & Son Community Funeral Home in Monroe. Visiting hours are 3pm to 7pm.  The service is at 6:30pm.  The pair were the only occupants of a vehicle that left the roadway in Newtown around 2am Sunday and went down a heavily wooded ravine. 

Bridgewater man charged for April Roxbury motorcycle crash

State Police have charged a Bridgewater man for a Roxbury accident that happened in April.  Police charged 21-year old Cole Patrick with DUI, failure to drive in the proper lane, assault with a motor vehicle and two counts of misuse of limited motorcycle endorsements.  The motorcycle crash on Good Hill Road on the evening of April 19th  happened when Patrick reportedly lost control of his motorcycle on a sharp curve near Bacon Road.  He sustained non-life threatening injuries.  His passenger, a 19-year old Watertown resident was ejected from the bike and sustained serious injuries.  Neither were wearing helmets.  He is due in court on July 2nd.

Hubbell to close Newtown manufacturing plant

An electrical components factory in Newtown is closing this year.  The Hubbell plant, which employs 140 people, is the largest of the Shelton-based company's facilities in Connecticut.  The closure will happen over the next six months and most of the work will move to Puerto Rico. 

Hubbell earlier announced the Bethel closure as part of an ongoing operational efficiency initiative.  The plant in Bethel employs 54.  That work is moving to Alabama.   Hubbell will continue to employ more than 650 employees in Connecticut. 

Harvey Hubbell, a pioneer in electrical components including the light socket, founded the company in 1888.  It's not related to the Hubble Telescope, which was built in Connecticut by Perkin-Elmer at a plant now owned by Collins Aerospace, part of UTC.

Schaghticoke faction applies for federal recognition

Another faction of the Kent-based Schaghticokes is trying to gain federal recognition.  Chief Alan Russell is filing an updated federal petition next month on behalf of the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe.  The group has a 400 acre reservation. 

He told the Connecticut Post that they have land claims to more than 2,000 acres in Kent, including where the Kent School and Bulls Bridge Hydroelectric Plant are currently located. 

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation faction won federal recognition, but it was revoked shortly afterward, in 2005.  Tribal Nation Chief Richard Velky said in the published report that all Russell's group did was copy their petition. 

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs released new rules in 2015 meaning if a tribe fails to gain federal recognition, it cannot try again.   Russell said the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe withheld boxes of historical and genealogical documents from the Velky faction.

Himes calls for Trump impeachment inquiry, delegation's 1st

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Himes has become Connecticut's first member of Congress to call for an impeachment inquiry into Republican President Trump.

Himes, serving his sixth term, said Monday the president has "shown contempt for the truth, has attacked our institutions, and has ignored the Constitution he swore to defend."  He added that Trump has refused the oversight which is Congress’ long-established right and duty.

Himes acknowledges the politics of impeachment "are messy and uncertain" and might benefit Trump politically in the short run. But the lawmaker, whose district includes Greenwich, where Trump once owned a home, says this is the moment for "clarity and conviction" rather than political expediency.

Himes says he's not pressuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who told Connecticut Democrats on Friday the House Democrats' plan was to "legislate, investigate, litigate."  Pelosi has been under increasing pressure to move forward with impeachment.

Himes, whose district also includes Ridgefield, says most Americans sense the danger and have reacted, most recently by electing a House of Representatives with the power and desire to check this President.  

He notes that opening an impeachment inquiry is not removal of the President.  Himes says impeachment, along with the right to declare war, is the most awesome power of Congress.

Police: Man wanted in stabbings fatally shot in Texas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Police say a Connecticut man accused in the fatal stabbing of a Nashville man and the wounding of his wife has been fatally shot in Texas after stabbing a deputy there.

Texas Highway Patrol Sgt. Oscar Villarreal says 34-year-old Peter Alexander Bohning of Kent, Connecticut, was shot Monday morning during an altercation with authorities in Gaines County, Texas. A deputy there was stabbed and taken to a Lubbock hospital.

A Tennessee arrest warrant accuses Bohning, of murder and attempted murder in an attack Friday on Donald and Leigh Ann Zirkle in Nashville.

Brookfield Water Pollution Control Authority moves out of Town Hall

The Brookfield Water Pollution Control Authority has been awarded two state study grants, totalling $330,000.  One is for a comprehensive, forward-looking Facilities Plan, required by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  The other is to study creative approaches to intercepting septic flow from Brookfield properties into Candlewood Lake. Brookfield’s system has 33 miles of sewer infrastructure servicing commerce along Federal Road, all the schools, and many condo complexes. Fourteen pump stations collect wastewater and pump it to Danbury for treatment.  The Authority's office has moved from Brookfield Town Hall to a new Operations Center at 53A Commerce Road.

Danbury man arrested on drug charges following routine traffic stop in Wilton

A Danbury man has been arrested on drug related charges following a routine traffic stop.  Wilton Police say a car crossed the white painted line on Danbury Road shortly before 1:30am last Wednesday.  Police could smell marijuana in Andre Ward's vehicle and a search turned up less than an ounce of pot packaged in 14 smaller bags.  Police also found 19 empty individual bags, an electronic cigarette containing THC, 3 previously smoked “joints”, a stone smoking bowl, rolling papers and a fraudulent Connecticut handicap placard.  Ward had a suspended license and no insurance.  He is due in court on July 1st.

Cause of death determined for two men killed in Newtown crash

Sunday's early morning accident in Newtown remains under investigation.  The Chief Medical Examiner's Office say the 19 and 20 year old died from blunt impact injuries.  Newtown Police say the victims' SUV went off the westbound shoulder of Route 34 into a 100-foot-deep, heavily wooded ravine.  Police did not say who was the driver and who was the passenger.  Funeral arrangements for Philip Zuvanich and Elliot Gregory have not yet been announced.

State Senator to host constituent meeting in Ridgefield

Freshman State Senator Will Haskell is hosting an end of session town hall in Ridgefield tonight.  He plans to discuss accomplishments of this past legislative session and the work that still needs to be done.  Haskell also wants to hear perspectives and opinions of constituents on these issues.  The town hall meeting will be held at Ridgefield Library from 6pm to 7:30pm.

Bill banning pets from puppy mills fails this legislative session

A bill that would prohibit Connecticut pet shops from selling dogs, cats, and rabbits originating from puppy mills and other cruel commercial breeding facilities stalled in the State House this legislative session.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says he'll continue the fight to end the puppy-mill-to-pet-store pipeline next session.  Meanwhile Rhode Island's House of  Representatives has approved a bill to ban the sale of dogs and cats not from animal shelters.  Allie-Brennan says Connecticut lags behind as other states make moves to ban the sale of inhumanely bred animals.

Kent man accused of murder shot by Texas authorities

The man accused in the fatal stabbing of a Nashville man and the wounding of his wife has been shot by law enforcement in Texas. Arrest warrants issued Saturday charged 34-year-old Peter Alexander Bohning in Friday's attack. 

He fled in their vehicle, leaving his parked on the street.  Gaines County Police say a deputy encountered Bohning while answering a suspicious vehicle call.  That vehicle was the victims' car.  A Gaines County deputy was stabbed during the altercation and the injuries are reportedly not life-threatening.

Metropolitan Nashville Police said in a news release that Donald Zirkle died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and his wife was seriously wounded. Police say the couple was sitting on their back porch and did not know the attacker.

Bills sponsored by Greater Danbury area lawmakers signed into law

Connecticut's governor has signed legislation banning use of the so-called "gay or trans panic" defense in criminal cases.  The controversial legal strategy seeks to use a victim's sexual orientation or identity as justification for a violent crime. 

Lamont made note of the 1998 death of Matthew Shepard, the college student who was beaten to death by two men in Wyoming. Defense attorneys unsuccessfully attempted to use the gay panic defense and those men were convicted.  Rhode Island banned the defense last year. Massachusetts congressmen are trying to ban it in federal court.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan called the defense a mockery of the judicial system and says it's based on hatred, discrimination, and homophobia.  He advocated for the bill's passage during the legislative session.

Governor Lamont has signed a bill into law co-sponsored by New Milford Representative Bill Buckbee. Under the measure. the Board of Regents for Higher Education must look into creating computer programming courses related to the controlled environment agricultural industry and the construction of highly technical greenhouses at the regional community-technical colleges.

A bill has been signed into law which was co-sponsored by Danbury state Senator Julie Kushner.  It allows continuing medical education in risk management to include screening for inflammatory breast cancer and gastrointestinal cancers, including colon, gastric, and pancreatic cancers and other rare gastrointestinal tumors.

Danbury Representative Bob Gofrey co-sponsored a bill which has now been signed into law by the Governor.  The measure requires the Labor Department and the Board of Regents for Higher Education to jointly establish nontraditional pathways to earning a bachelor's degree through apprenticeships.

Firefighters in New Milford prepare for delivery of new ladder truck

Water Witch Hose Company #2 firefighters in New Milford spent the morning yesterday completing a Ladder Tactics and Operations class in preparation for the delivery of their new Pierce Tower Ladder.  The $1.3 million vehicle was acquired through a FEMA grant and contribution from the taxpayers of New Milford.  Brookfield and Kent Fire Departments shared their trucks as part of the training.  Later this week, members of the Water Witch design committee will be traveling out to the Pierce plant in Wisconsin to go over some final details and inspect the truck before it gets delivered to a dealer in New York to have tools and equipment mounted.

Fire reported Thursday at Days Inn in Ridgefield

There was a fire late Thursday night at the Days Inn on Ethan Allen Highway in Ridgefield.  The West Redding Fire Department along with Redding Fire & EMS responded to the automatic alarm shortly before 11pm.  While en route, dispatch notified firefighters that the sprinkler system at the property was activated.  The fire was contained to a single hotel room.  Georgetown and Ridgefield fire departments provided mutual aid.  There were no injuries reported.  The West Redding fire marshals office is conducting the investigation and the cause is still undetermined at this time.

Medical issue suspected as cause of Newtown crash into home

A car crashed into a Newtown home on Friday.  Firefighters responded to Cherry Street in the Sandy Hook section of town.  Police say the 17-year old male driver is believed to have suffered some type of medical issue, causing him to lose control of his vehicle and crash into the raised ranch.  The residents of the single family dwelling were home at the time of the accident, but not injured.  The driver was taken to Danbury Hospital for an evaluation.  This accident remains under investigation.

Electrical hazard reported in New Milford yesterday morning

There was an electrical hazard reported in New Milford yesterday morning.  Water Witch Hose Company #2 members were training when they deployed to Grove Street. Before they could close the road and secure the scene, several onlookers had stopped. Firefighters remind residents that broken power lines have the ability to jump up to 2 pole lengths as they contact the ground and ask that people stay clear of all downed, arcing, or burning lines.

Man killed, wife hurt in Tennessee stabbings; suspect sought

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Police in Tennessee are searching for a Connecticut man accused in the fatal stabbing of a Nashville man and the wounding of his wife.

Metropolitan Nashville Police said in a news release that arrest warrants issued Saturday charge 34-year-old Peter Alexander Bohning of Kent, Connecticut, in Friday's attack at the home of Donald and Leigh Ann Zirkle.

The statement says Donald Zirkle died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and his wife was seriously wounded.

Police say the couple was sitting on their back porch and did not know the attacker, who is believed to have fled in their gray Toyota Camry. A car with Connecticut license plates registered to Bohning was parked in the street with its rear doors open.

The statement says Bohning's whereabouts are unknown.

Two Newtown residents killed in early morning accident

Two Newtown residents were killed in a car accident early yesterday morning.  Newtown Police say a Jeep had driven off Berkshire Road, into a heavily wooded ravine around 2am near Jordan Hill Road.  Both the driver and the passenger were pronounced dead on the scene.  The victims were identified as 20-year old Elliot Gregory and 19-year old Philip Zuvanich.  The Accident Reconstruction team is investigating.  Police have spoken to witnesses of the accident.

Commercial structure fire reported in Brewster

There was a commercial structure fire in Brewster Friday night.  Brewster firefighters responded to Dunmore Corporation on Danbury Road around 9:30pm and found employees evacuating.  A production line that used hazardous materials was involved in a fire in a machine room.  The Putnam County Hazardous Material Response Team was called in and set up a decontamination station.  Firefighters remained on the scene for hours venting the smoke from the building.  Mutual aid was provided by Danbury, Putnam Lake, Carmel and Lake Carmel fire departments. 

Patterson man allegedly showed imitation weapon during domestic dispute

A Patterson man who allegedly displayed an imitation revolver during a dispute has been arrested.  Putnam County Sheriff Deputies were dispatched to Fox Run Condos last weekend and saw a group of people, including two alleged victims.  The Deputy was told that the suspect was inside an apartment.  Police found 57-year old James Waring, who was taken into custody.  The imitation revolver was subsequently recovered.  Waring was charged with two counts of Menacing.  He was arraigned and released for a future court appearance.

Ridgefield Deer Management Implementation Committee holds hearing on future hunts

The Ridgefield Deer Management Implementation Committee has held a public hearing about the future of controlled hunts.  When the hunt was started in 2007, the goal was to cull the herd from near 70 deer per square mile, down to 20.  Ridgefield officials say a count done last year found the deer population down to about 40 per square mile.  Members of the Conservation Committee asked if it's possible for the hunt to be paused, while others suggested alternating years.  Deer Committee members are concerned that the animal's population would quickly go back up to pre-hunt numbers.

New warden for Garner Correctional Institution

A new warden for Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown is now on the job.  The Newtown Bee reports that Amonda Hannah is the 9th warden of the Level 4 High Security facility, and the second woman to hold the position.  She was the warden at Bridgeport Correctional Center. 

Garner's former warden, who served for a year, now leads Corrigan Correctional in Uncasville.  The change was reportedly made as part of a realignment by the state Department of Correction among management staff.  

Hannah started with the Corrections Department in 1994 as an inmate counselor at Garner.  She served there as deputy warden under former Garner warden Scott Semple, who then became Governor Malloy's DOC Commissioner.

The Public Safety Committee for Garner Correctional Institution held their quarterly meeting.  The group is made up of police, fire, school and town officials. 

As of June 4th, there were 588 inmates housed at the Level 4 high security facility.  441 men have been convicted, 147 inmates’ criminal cases are still pending in court.  10 inmates categorized as “Level 5” maximum-security prisoners will be housed at Garner, joining the 4 mental health inmates already there with that classification.  Garner specializes in housing and treating mental health inmates.

Noise control amendment proposed by local lawmaker for Candlewood Lake

An amendment has been added to the invasive species stamp bill passed by the General Assembly. The amendment, offered by New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith is meant to improve quality of life for residents living around Candlewood Lake. 

Any environmental conservation police officer of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was given the authority to enforce noise ordinances on the waters of any municipality that abuts Candlewood Lake.  If there are different noise ordinances in the towns, En Con officers can enforce the one that establishes the most restrictive standard for noise. 

Municipalities are not required to adopt a noise ordinance under this bill.  DEEP is not required to hire additional personnel to enforce the local ordinances. 

Smith says this was prompted by a group of boaters who tend to group together and blast music, not far from the shoreline.  He says that not only has become a nuisance for other lake users around them, but also residents who have to close their windows during the summer.

The overall bill adds a fee to boat registrations for vessels operating on Connecticut waters, with the money directed to combating invasives.

Newtown Community Center approved for alcohol consumption

The Newtown Community Center is expected to open in early July.  The center's director and community center committee put together a proposed list of rooms available for event rentals, and the various prices to be charged. 

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says they've added the community center to the list of buildings approved for the consumption of alcohol.  There have been a few inquiries already of people looking to rent the multipurpose space for parties, with alcohol.  Edmond Town Hall is on the list of approved locations.

If it's a town sponsored event, the town would take on the permit.

If someone rents the facility, they would obtain a temporary liquor permit, with the application available through the Community Center.  The renter would have to provide an insurance certificate and pay the state fee.  A permit is only needed if alcohol is being sold.  Insurance is required in either case.

The Center's Director is working with the insurance company making sure pool doors are locked and the facility is secured when there's alcohol present.  Renters would also be charged a $100 extra staff fee.

Redding Police caution drivers to upcoming charity bicycle, foot races

Redding Police are cautioning drivers to some upcoming events which may cause delays.  On Sunday, there's a Tri State Trek ALS Fundraiser.  Some 200 Bicyclist are expected to travel through Redding along Routes 107 and 58 on their way to Boston.  On June 30th, the Redding Historical Society Fundraiser Rock’n Roots Road Race takes place.  Redding Center will be affected by the foot race.  Redding Police ask that drivers use caution and plan accordingly.

Brookfield changing zoning regulations to accommodate streetscape design

The town of Brookfield is changing zoning regulations so that Phase III Streetscape construction will be identical to the first two phases, with the same granite curbing, upgraded street lights and concrete driveway aprons.  Town officials believe these changes will ensure the town meets grant requirements, which makes them eligible for state reimbursement. This phase, which will run up Laurel Hill and Old Route 7, is scheduled to start in spring 2020.

Bethel Teen Centers' Tobacco Free Leadership Program recognized

The Bethel Teen Centers’ Tobacco Free Leadership Program is campaigning against the use of tobacco, vape pens, and e-cigarette products.  Members were among those who campaigned for Tobacco twenty-one, a bill which will raise the legal age of smoking from 18 to 21.  The measure was approved and signed into law. 

The team says effects of long-term smoking are well documented and include lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, COPD, tongue cancer, and other types of cancer.  Since vaping is relatively new, the scientific community only knows the short-term effects. Some of them include acid reflux, insulin resistance, attention problems, and slower brain development.

The Program won an award for best public service announcement.  At an event earlier this week, at the Oakdale theatre, several members were recognized.  Bethel went up against four other tobacco-free leadership teams.

Road closures, train service suspension planned in Redding for track work

As part of the railroad crossing improvement project in West Redding, Long Ridge Road will be closed to through traffic for several weeks, starting next month.  The closure will be from July 19th through August 5th.  Railroad service will be suspended from July 19th through 22nd and again from July 26th through August 5th as part of this project. The track work will go 24 hours a day during the train service suspension period. Simpaug Turnpike will remain open during this phase of construction.  Redding Police ask that drivers be patient and plan travel accordingly. Detour signs will be posted.

Brookfield to unveil 'Little Free Library' Sunday

A Little Free Library is opening in Brookfield.  The official unveiling of the first take-a-book, leave-a-book facility in the Town Center District will be Sunday.  The Little Free Library is the result of a partnership of The Brookfield Library and The Friends of the Brookfield Library. 

The unveiling at 786 Federal Road coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Little Free Library and the kick off to the Brookfield Library 2019 Summer Reading Program. 

Library Director Yvonne Cech says the concept encourages people to leave a book when they are able to, but if things get sparse, the library could provide books donated to the library.  To celebrate the unveiling, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, Nan Rossiter, will be reading one of her books and will be available for signing. 

The event is from 1 to 3pm.

2019 Annual Point in Time Count report on homelessness released

Results of the 2019 Annual Point-in-Time Count has been released.  The number of people experiencing homelessness continues to decrease in Connecticut. Overall, the one-night count is estimated at 3,033 people, representing a 10 percent decrease in homelessness since 2018 and a 32 percent decrease since 2007, the first year that these annual counts took place. 

The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness and volunteers spread out across the state January 22nd and says the coordinated response system that Connecticut has built is working to both prevent people from falling into homelessness or quickly resolve it when it cannot be avoided. 

During the one night canvas, volunteers counted 27 unsheltered persons in Danbury.  That included 21 unaccompanied youths under age 18.  They determined there were 6 single adults living unsheltered.  There was also 1 family, an adult and a child, living unsheltered on the January evening.  

Volunteers found there were no unsheltered Veterans in Danbury.  That's been the case for the past few years.

There were 85 people in emergency shelters and transitional housing in Danbury.  That includes 22 children in families, 15 parents and 48 single adults.  The report shows there were 11 chronically homeless adults in shelters in Danbury, about 9-percent of all sheltered single adults in the state.  There were also 15 families in emergency shelters and transitional housing in Danbury.

While there were decreases in chronic, family and veteran homelessness statewide, the count found more unaccompanied homeless youth age 24 and younger.  A week-long Youth Outreach and Count identified 337 youth in shelters, outside, or in places not meant for human habitation—83 more youth than counted in the previous year.  There were also 674 youth who were unstably housed, living “doubled up” or “couch surfing.”

Monthly Coffee & Conversations event with New Milford's Mayor this weekend

The monthly Coffee and Conversation with New Milford's Mayor is tomorrow.  The gathering Saturday is from 9:30am to 11am.  Any resident with questions or concerns are encouraged to attend.  Camella's Cupboard will there at the same time and will be accepting any donations from the public for their summer lunch program.  The non-profit runs several other programs throughout the year.  On school days, 30% of New Milford students receive lunch through the federal free/reduced lunch program. When school isn’t in session, these meals come out of families’ budgets.

Newtown's Office of Social Services relocates

Newtown’s Office of Social Services is relocating on the Fairfield Hills Campus.  The office today joined Newtown’s Center for Support and Wellness at 28 Trades Lane. The telephone number for Social Services remains the same.  The Food Pantry will continue to be open on Mondays and Thursdays, between 2 and 4 pm, in its current location in Town Hall South, but all donations for the Food Pantry can now be made at 28 Trades Lane.

Brookfield Town Beach now opened weekdays, weekends

The Brookfield Town Beach is now open on weekdays, in addition to weekends. 

A Family pass is $95.  Individual passes are $70, free for seniors.  A senior family pass, for someone over age 65 and up to 4 grandchildren, is $82.  A residential daily pass is $7 per person, free for children under 2 and seniors over 65.

Swimming, basketball, sand volleyball, restrooms and changing facilities, including a family restroom, along with picnic seating, and BBQ grills are available on site.  The beach is staffed with lifeguards. The concession stand is open daily throughout the season featuring lunch options, cold drinks and ice cream. 

A number of family friendly events are planned for this season including a sandcastle building contest, luau and pirate theme days. There will also be board games in the Lakeside Community Room, designated time for adult lap swim, and private swim lessons.

Bill allowing preventative HIV treatment for youths without their parents' consent sent to Gov.

A Public Act has been issued in Connecticut that would allow young people receive preventative medication for HIV infections without their parents' consent.  The declaration Thursday sends it to the Secretary of the State for certification and then the Governor's desk to be signed into law.

Advocates say such legislation could help those seeking the drug but don't feel comfortable discussing their sexual activities with their parents. Some parents expressed concern that they were being cut out.

Current state law allows minors to be tested for HIV, and receive treatment if they test positive without parental consent. This bill would allow the preventative drug, referred to as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, to be prescribed.  With the brand name Truvada, the medicine consists of a single daily pill. The Centers for Disease Control said PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in high-risk individuals by up to 92 percent, when taken consistently. Patients are urged to follow up with a health care provider every three months.

According to the federal agency, minors can access PrEP independently in 16 states, based on explicit language in state law and regulations. The age for access varies by jurisdiction.

Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey is on the Board of Directors for APEX, formerly AIDS Project Greater Danbury.  He says more children are presenting with symptoms or the need for testing and education.  Godfrey says more help and services should be provided so intervention and help can then be provided.

The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House and had just one vote against it in the Senate.

Sandy Hook firefighters respond to two serious car accidents

Two serious car accident book ended a busy day for Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue.  Around 7:45am firefighters responded to Mount Pleasant Road and had to extricate a driver from one vehicle.  The woman was transported to the hospital for treatment of injuries. 

(Photos: Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue)

The accident caused major delays during the morning commute. 

Firefighters responded to a rollover accident with entrapment on the highway last night.  The accident on I-84 eastbound happened in Southbury, just over the town line around 7:45pm.  While enroute, firefighters received an update that the occupants were out of the vehicle. 

Sandy Hook helped to care for two of the three injured patients. 

Accreditation assessment team to take public comment on Bethel Police Tuesday

A team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies will be in Bethel next week to verify that the Bethel Police Department meets the Commission's standards.  It's part of the voluntary process to gain accreditation. 

The assessors will look at the Department's policy and procedures, management, operations and support services.  Part of the on-site assessment includes a public information session Tuesday night.  The session at 5pm will be held in the training classroom at their new facility on Judd Avenue.  Written and phone comments will be accepted. 

Accreditation is for four years, during which the police department must submit annual reports about continued compliance with the agency's standards. 

The Bethel Police Department attained initial accreditation in 2015.



Bethel residents approve water main upgrades

Bethel residents have approved water main upgrades.  Residents signed off on the $998,000 plan at a Special Town Meeting on Tuesday.  Upgrades would be made to water mains on Mansfield Street, Pleasant Street, Grassy Plain Terrace, Highview Terrace and Oakland Heights. If there's room in the budget, water mains on Maple Lane will be replaced as well.  Bethel water customers will repay the state Department of Health loan.  Bethel officials will apply for a $247,000 grant from the state to offset the cost.

Changes made to law about who can administer EpiPens

A bill making various changes to the administration of epinephrine auto-injectors, like Epi Pens, has been signed into law by Governor Lamont.  

Among other things, it allows a trained individual to administer an epinephrine auto-injector to someone experiencing an allergic reaction, if he or she acts with reasonable care.  It grants such individuals immunity from civil and criminal liability if they are not licensed health care providers and administer an epinephrine auto-injector in the ordinary course of their employment. 

The bill was co-sponsored by Danbury Representative David Arconti, Bill Buckbee of New Milford, Kent Representative Maria Horn, Mitch Bolinsky of Newtown and Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown. It passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

Arbitrator says assistant principal with DUI should keep job

SEYMOUR, Conn. (AP) - An independent arbitrator has recommended a Connecticut assistant principal arrested for driving under the influence keep his job.

District officials have cited insubordination and failure to be a good role model as reasons to consider firing 44-year-old Paul Lucke from Seymour High School.

Lucke, who's been employed by the district for 14 years, was arrested in December and placed on paid administrative leave.

The Republican American reports the arbitrator determined Lucke's arrest did not significantly impact school operations and there's little evidence the Southbury man was purposely insubordinate.

Parents, teachers and others testified on Lucke's behalf.

Lucke's attorney says his client accepts responsibility and that a person isn't defined by one mistake.

The district superintendent couldn't be reached.

The Board of Education will make the final decision.

Danbury could soon need a dozen new elementary classrooms

Danbury is seeing a population increase, including families with kids. That means higher enrollment in schools. Mayor Mark Boughton plans to propose this summer a plan to expand the lower grade buildings to accommodate that increase. He noted that with the DHS expansion, with the worst case enrollment scenario, there's room in the middle and high schools.  He wants to make Mill Ridge Primary School and kindergarten through 5th grade facility.  King Street Intermediate could become a K-5 STEAM academy for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.  Boughton says at Mill Ridge Primary there's room on the campus to expand the building with traditional brick and mortar.  He says there's a need for 13 classrooms.  For the two schools, he estimated the cost at about $30 million.

Leader of sex-trafficking rings gets 4.5 years in prison

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) The leader of a Connecticut human trafficking ring that preyed on mentally ill and intellectually disabled young men has been sentenced to 4.5 years in prison.

The Hartford Courant reports that 53-year-old Robert King was sentenced Wednesday.

The Danbury man pleaded guilty last August to conspiracy to commit human trafficking.

Prosecutors say King recruited the men at group homes and addiction centers, offering to help them. Then he would ply them with drugs and force them into prostitution for wealthy clients when they incurred heavy debts. He would then take a cut of their earnings to cover their debts and the cost of transporting them to meet customers.

New Milford Police Lt. Larry Ash promoted to Captain

New Milford Police Lt. Larry Ash has been promoted to the position of Captain.  This comes months after he was reinstated to the job having been placed on leave last summer.  An independent investigation by an external agency was done into a still undisclosed allegation.  When he was reinstated earlier this year, Mayor Pete Bass said the case has been cleared and closed by that agency.  Ash served as the Commander of Field Services and has been with the department since 1987.

Accessible Voting System units tested in Bethel

Bethel’s Accessible Voting System units have gone through routine service and testing. The Registrars say these systems allow a voter to make voting selections by a combination of audio and keypad or by a touch screen.

A dedicated printer marks the voters’ standard ballots with their selected choices. The voter then places their marked ballot in the tabulator/scanner, just as all other voters do.

While anyone can cast a ballot using the Accessible Voting System, it is designed for those who are disabled by blindness or do not have a steady hand for filling in the ovals on a ballot.

State budget includes increase for Bethel schools

The state budget includes a net increase in funding for Bethel’s education system. There's more than $89,000 additional funding for Bethel’s schools and a $126,000 expenditure increase for Bethel’s Teacher Retirement Fund, an expense that was previously stated to be absorbed by the town. 

Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says the budget also includes a $33,000 line item for the Bethel Youth Booster Club, an organization created to support after school programs for Bethel youth. 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it's essential to find ways to minimize the impact of increased property taxes on local homeowners, and this budget helps achieve that goal.

Newtown Police investigating property damage hit & run

Newtown Police are investigating a hit and run accident.  Police say a car left the scene of a crash on June 11th after hitting a wooden fence on Hattertown Road between 1 and 2pm.  The gray Hyundai Sonata is believed to have front headlight and bumper damage. Anyone with information is asked to contact Newtown Police at 203-426-5841.

Brewster man arrested for alleged rape

A Brewster man has been arrested on a rape charge. New York State police were alerted by parents that 19-year old Dulvin Andres Ovalle raped a victim known to him, who was under the age of 15. Andres Ovalle also allegedly sent indecent material to the victim's cell phone. He was also charged Monday with endangering the welfare of a child, arraigned and ordered held on 20-thousand dollars bond.  Andres Ovalle is due in Court tomorrow morning.

Danbury woman arrested for alleged drug sales

A Danbury woman has been arrested on drug related charges as a result of an investigation into drug trafficking in the City.  Citizen complaints led to weeks of investigation into 29-year old Jessica Hernandez on allegation of selling illegal drugs from her Ashe Place home, and throughout Danbury. 

Search warrants were issued by the courts and carried out yesterday.  Hernandez was pulled over in a traffic stop on Coalpit Hill Road for driving with a suspended license. 

Searches of her car and home turned up a small quantity of marijuana, several grams of crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia and suspected drug proceeds. 

She was charged with Possession of a controlled substance, Possession of less than 1/2 ounce of crack cocaine, Possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell within 1500’ prohibited place, Possession of a controlled substance within 1500’ prohibited place, Possession less than ½ oz marijuana, Possession of Drug paraphernalia, Possession of drug paraphernalia within 1500’ of a school, and Operating with a suspended license. 

Hernandez was held on $50,000 bond.



Patterson man charged for forcible touching

A domestic dispute has led to forcible touching charges being brought against a Patterson man.  New York State Police responded to a home on Friday and determined that 30-year old Gilberto Acosta Ramos forcibly touched the victim and endangered the welfare of two children during the incident.  He was arraigned and released on an order to appear in court at a later date.  An order of protection requested on behalf of the victims, was granted by the Court.

Bill signed to provide Medicaid coverage for donor breast milk

Governor Ned Lamont has signed a bill into law introduced by Ridgefield Representative John Frey.  The bill requires the Department of Social Services to provide Medicaid coverage for donor breast milk deemed medically necessary.  The department could incur a cost. The actual impact will depend on the number of infants in need of donor breast milk and the coverage limits established by DSS.  Former Ridgefield Selectwoman Di Masters testified in support of the bill.  While finishing her Masters in Public Health, she discovered the gap in coverage, health equity and maternal and infant wellness.  Masters says this bill will help improve quality of life and reduce morbidity and mortality among the preterm population.

Preliminary cause determined of fatal Route 7 crash

New Milford Police have made a preliminary conclusion of what led to a fatal accident on Route 7 between a car and a dump truck.  The accident investigation team is still looking into the crash, but says it appears the driver of the car was headed south, and crossed into the northbound lane.  24-year old Christina Walters of Kent collided with the dump truck, which went down an embankment and became partially submerged in the Housatonic River.  The truck driver was able to extricate himself from the vehicle and wade to shore.  He sustained minor injuries.  Walters was pronounced dead at the scene.  Her death was ruled accidental.  Toxicology reports have not yet been returned from the state medical examiner’s office.

$1 million gift to Western Connecticut Health Network to set up Primary Care chair

A $1 million gift has been given to Western Connecticut Health Network.  Dr. Eric Moskow, a primary care physician and health care entrepreneur, says the money is meant to establish the first chair in primary care at the health network.  Network CEO Dr John Muprhy says primary care providers serve as the gateway to healthy lives for people while improving outcomes and reducing hospitalizations.  He added that the hospital will be better prepared to recruit, train, and retain the best providers to deliver cutting-edge care to patients.  This is the 13th endowment Western Connecticut Health Network has received.  Moskow is the former president of Family Medical Associates in Ridgefield and the current CEO of Accuity Delivery Systems. The chairperson will focus on establishing innovative approaches to patient care, engaging in research and attracting high-quality providers and medical students.

New technology items coming to Danbury High School

New technology items are coming to Danbury High School.  As part of the district's Education Cost Sharing grant budget, they are funding a technology lease to replace teacher laptops, provide laptop carts for students and projectors for classroom instruction.  The lease is a direct replacement for the current technology lease, which will be ending this summer.  School District Finance Director Joe Martino says they have been purchasing chromebooks to allow more equipment to be placed in the hands of students and provide a platform that is easier for staff to support.  The total financing is $75,000 over five years, with an estimated payment of $163,000 per year.  The cost includes 13 Macbook Air computers, 769 Chromebooks, 260 desktop computers, 160 classroom projectors and 5 charging carts.

Candlewood Lake Authority signs off on Water Quality Monitoring Program

The Candlewood Lake Authority has gotten an update from the Watershed Management Committee about the Water Quality Monitoring Program.  The committee met to select a vendor.  Pieces have been brought in house and only the final report will be outsourced.  AER's bid came in at $8,000.  The plan is for the whole program to be brought back in-house next year for the 2020 season.

Area lawmakers back bill to find ways to increase employment among persons with disabilities

Governor Ned Lamont has signed a bill into law co-sponsored by two local lawmakers to set up a task force.  The measure requires the group to study and develop recommendations to increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.  It's backed by New Milford Representative Bill Buckbee and Mitch Bolinsky of Newtown.

Gov. signs bill backed by local lawmaker on workers comp and emergency responders

Governor Lamont has signed a bill into law which passed both chambers of the General Assembly unanimously.  The act about workers' compensation benefits for certain mental or emotional impairments, mental health care for police officers and wellness training for police, parole officers and firefighters was co-sponsored by many local lawmakers. 

It expands workers' compensation coverage in certain situations that result in mental or emotional impairment. 

The bill was backed by Bill Buckbee of New Milford, David Arconti of Danbury, Kent Representative Maria Horn, John Frey of Ridgefield, Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan, Bob Godfrey of Danbury, Wilton Representative Tom O'Dea, Danbury Senator Julie Kushner, Southbury Senator Eric Berthel and Newtown Senator Tony Hwang.

New Fairfield Library launches adult summer reading program

The Town of New Fairfield is launching an Adult Summer Reading Program.  Residents who check out a book from the library between June 24th an August 2nd will get a raffle ticket toward a gift card when the book is returned.  The tickets will be available at the Adult Circulation Desk. Two names will be drawn each week.  New Fairfield residents who want to send a short review of the book for the library's Facebook page can do so.

Bethel Town Attorney to review contracts for Bethel Police Station amid continuing problems

Ongoing problems at the new Bethel police station will be discussed by the town attorney and the Public Site and Building Committee.  The group is looking for advice on how to negotiate how to proceed.  The Newstimes reports that tests show proper materials were used when building the firing range walls, but water keeps leaking in. 

There's no resolution on how to prevent the leak.  The firing range specialized equipment, which was not part of the original budget, still has to be purchased before the facility is useable. 

Another problem is that the flagpole lights keep failing. 

Money owed to contractor Downes Construction Company is being held while the issues remain outstanding.  The town attorney will review the contracts with the architect and construction company, and then meet with representatives from the manufacturers and subcontractors.  

Police moved into the $14.4 million headquarters in October.  The project was nearly $889,000 over budget.

Cause of death undetermined for homeless man found along I-84 in Danbury

The Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Connecticut has ruled the cause of death as "undetermined" for a homeless man found off Interstate 84 last month.  The ruling was made after the results of a toxicology screen came back.  DOT workers discovered the body of 63-year-old Herbert Ruehle by the Exit 4 ramp on May 2nd as they prepared for mowing.   State Police said at the time that there was no indication of foul play. The case remains under investigation.

CEO who embezzled from pain nonprofit pleads guilty

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A New York man who ran a Connecticut-based nonprofit designed to find support and resources for people with chronic pain issues has pleaded guilty to embezzling about $1.5 million from the organization.

Federal prosecutors in Connecticut say 46-year-old Paul Gileno, of Brewster, New York, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty Monday to fraud and tax evasion.

Authorities say Gileno, the founder and chief executive of the Middletown-based U.S. Pain Foundation, embezzled from the foundation from 2015 until 2017 and failed to pay more than $500,000 in federal taxes on the embezzled money and other income.

Gileno is free while awaiting sentencing at a date to be determined when he faces up to 25 years in prison.

Alex Jones sanctioned in Sandy Hook lawsuit

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut judge has imposed sanctions on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for an outburst on his web show against a lawyer for relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting.

Judge Barbara Bellis on Tuesday ordered the Infowars host to pay some of the relatives' legal fees and prohibited him from filing motions to dismiss their defamation lawsuit against him. It wasn't immediately clear how much those legal fees will be.

The families of several of the 20 children and six educators killed in the 2012 shooting are suing Jones, Infowars and others for promoting a theory that the massacre was a hoax.

Jones made angry comments on his show Friday about a lawyer for the families, accusing him of trying to frame him by planting child pornography in documents Jones' attorneys submitted to the families' lawyers.

Public hearing held in Danbury on proposed water rate decrease

A public hearing was held Monday night in Danbury.  The City Council met as a committee of the whole to discuss water rates.  There was no resident comment during the 15 minutes meeting, which was also slated to take input on the proposed illicit discharge and connection ordinance.  The discharge ordinance will be discussed further at the Council's July meeting. 

In order to mitigate the impact of the 3.5 percent sewer rate increase in the budget for the coming fiscal year, officials proposed the water rate be decreased.  This applies to both metered and non-metered water rates.  The rates are being reduced by 1.5 percent. 

Councilman Paul Rotello asked how this would impact the money needed to pay for wastewater treatment plant improvements.  Attorney Les Pinter says there's other money available for that project, and for phosphorus removal equipment.  A bond was approved by voters and state funds are available.  He acknowledged sewer rates do go toward the work as well because there is still going to be a net increase.

The City's Finance Director was not in attendance to answer questions about the rates. 

Bill advocated for by Redding resident headed to President's desk

The U.S. Senate has given final legislative approval to the bipartisan Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act.  Senator Richard Blumenthal says this will ensure that thousands of Navy veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War are able to receive the health care and benefits. The bill got unanimous support last week and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Blumenthal says because these service members had boots aboard ships instead of boots on the ground, they’ve been denied this coverage.

Army veteran Eugene Clarke of Redding has spent years fighting on behalf of veterans who served in Korea in the 1960s and were exposed to Agent Orange.  Clarke provided evidence that defoliants were sprayed during testing prior to 1968.  Currently, only veterans who served on the Korean DMZ from April 1968 through August 1971 are eligible for presumptive coverage. 

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed approximately 20 million gallons of Agent Orange in Vietnam to remove jungle foliage. This toxic chemical had devastating health effects on millions serving in Vietnam.

The law passed in 1991 included coverage for service members stationed on ships off the Vietnamese coast, also known as Blue Water Navy veterans.  But in 2002 the VA decided that it would only cover Veterans who could prove that they had orders for “boots on the ground” during the Vietnam War. This exclusion has prevented thousands of sailors from receiving benefits even though they had significant Agent Orange exposure from drinking and bathing in contaminated water just offshore.

Ridgefield Board of Ed names interim Superintendent

The Ridgefield Board of Education has appointed an interim Superintendent of Schools for the summer.  Dr. JeanAnn Paddyfote, who served in the interim role from July 2018 through February 2019, was named to the position last night.  Superintendent Dr. William Collins was put on medical leave in May, but his recovery is taking longer than the expected four to six weeks.  In an email to parents, Collins said he learned he needed “to undergo a medical procedure that couldn’t wait until summer break.”

Wilton Police investigating home burglaries

The Wilton Police Department is investigating 2 residential burglaries that occurred Sunday between 11am and 6pm. The burglaries occurred on Horseshoe Road and Huckleberry Hill Road.  Police are asking residents in those neighborhoods to check home surveillance systems for activity that may be helpful to their investigations. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Department at (203) 834-6260.

Graduation ceremonies held in Danbury, more tomorrow

Graduation ceremonies were held in Danbury last night.  The WERACE, Western Connecticut Regional Adult and Continuing Education, Graduation recognized the successful completion of high school by 60 adult students. The ACE - Alternative Center For Excellence 2019 Graduation was also held last night. 

Danbury High School's graduation is set for tomorrow from 5pm to 6:30pm.  City officials caution that there will be heavier than normal volume in the area of Clapboard Ridge Road leading up to and immediately following those times. 

Henry Abbott Technical High School commencement ceremonies are also being held tomorrow night.  Graduation will take place at the O'Neill Center on West Conn's Westside campus from 6pm to 7pm.  Drivers are again cautioned to expect more traffic tie ups on Mill Plain Road, Lake Avenue because of that ceremony.

Dr. Henry Lee defends testimony in overturned 1985 New Milford murder case

The state Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for two men jailed for a fatal 1985 New Milford stabbing.  The Connecticut Innocence Project began looking at the case in 2006 and now famed forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee is fighting claims that testimony he gave decades ago wrongfully led to the men's convictions.

Sean Henning and Ralph Birch were convicted of stabbing 65 year-old Everett Carr 27 times, with key evidence from Lee that a stain on a towel could have been blood.  The towel was not tested in a state crime lab until 2006, and the substance on it isn’t blood.  Lee says it was up to the state to do follow up testing.  

Additional tests of the crime scene revealed DNA of an unknown female on four key pieces of evidence. 

Henning has been released from prison while Birch remains behind bars.  The Litchfield State’s Attorney will determine whether the men will be brought to trial again.

“My testimony, I say I conduct presumptive tests. Presumptive test is a chemical test. Only given preliminary identification it could be blood. Maybe not blood. That’s why police have to collect the items to send to library to do confirmation tests,” said Lee.  At the time, Lee was the director of the State Police Forensic Lab.

In a statement, Henning’s attorney Craig Raabe said:

“Shawn Henning was wrongly imprisoned from the time he was a teenager based on the false and misleading testimony of Henry Lee. It has taken 30 years to correct this injustice and we are very pleased with the court’s thoughtful decision.”

Two cars rummaged through in Ridgefield overnight

During the early morning hours yesterday, two vehicles in Ridgefield were reported to have been rummaged through by an individual.  The suspect was described as tall, thin, and wearing a hooded sweatshirt. These incidents occurred on Clayton Place and Bridle Trail. While nothing was reported to be missing in either incident, Ridgefield Police asked residents to remember to lock vehicles and remove all valuables.  Any suspicious activity should be reported to the Ridgefield Police Department at 203-438-6531 or, in the event of an emergency, 911.

Route 133 bridge closure date changed in Bridgewater, Brookfield

The Route 133 bridge closure date has changed.  The bridge connecting Brookfield and Bridgewater will be closed and traffic will detoured beginning June 28th at 10pm. This will remain in effect through the weekend, until 5am Monday, July 1st. Detours will use Routes 67, 7/202 and 25.  Between now and June 28th the construction crews have been authorized to use 10 minute full closures, during the daytime hours of 9am to 3pm.  The planned closure date was changed due to issues encountered during the construction phase.

Special Town Meeting in Bethel on water main upgrades

A Special Town Meeting is being held in Bethel tonight on water main upgrades.  Residents are being called onto vote on the 998-thousand dollar plan.  Upgrades would be made to water mains on Mansfield Street, Pleasant Street, Grassy Plain Terrace. Highview Terrace and Oakland Heights. If there's room in the budget, water mains on Maple Lane will be replaced as well.  Bethel water customers will repay the loans.  Tonight's meeting is at 6:30pm.

Lawyers: Files sent by Alex Jones contained child porn

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Lawyers for relatives of some victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting allege conspiracy theorist Alex Jones sent them electronic files containing child pornography.

The lawyers say the porn was among documents they had requested from Jones as part of the discovery process of a defamation lawsuit that accuses him and others of promoting a theory that the shooting was a hoax.

The Infowars host denied the allegations during his web show Friday and accused one of the lawyers of framing him. Jones' lawyer Norman Pattis says the porn files were in emails sent to Jones that were never opened.

The families of eight victims of the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and an FBI agent who responded to the massacre are suing Jones, Infowars and others.

Jones, of Austin, Texas, has since said he believes the shooting occurred.

Sandy Hook families switch tactics, put hoaxers on defensive

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The father of a 6-year-old killed in the 2012 shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School has won a defamation suit against the authors of a book that claimed the shooting never happened.

A Wisconsin judge on Monday ruled that Lenny Pozner had been defamed by James Fetzer and Mike Palacek, the authors of the book "Nobody Died at Sandy Hook." Damages will be decided in October.

The decision is the latest victory for victims' relatives who have been taking a more aggressive stance against conspiracy theorists.

The publisher, Moon Rock Books, also has agreed to stop selling the book in a settlement with Pozner.

Noah was among 20 first graders and six educators killed at the school.

Businessman gets decade in prison in human trafficking case

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut businessman was sentenced to 10 years in prison Monday in connection with what prosecutors said was a human trafficking ring that preyed on young men who were mentally ill and intellectually disabled.

State Judge Robin Pavia in Danbury imposed the prison time on Bruce Bemer and said he would have to serve five years of probation and register as a sex offender after his time behind bars. A jury found the 65-year-old Glastonbury resident guilty in April of several counts of patronizing victims of human trafficking.

Bemer, who owns the New London-Waterford Speedbowl racetrack and other companies, was expected to post a newly imposed $750,000 bond that would allow him to remain free while he appeals his convictions. He had been free on $500,000 bail since his arrest in March 2017.

Prosecutor Sharmese Hodge sought a 25-year sentence for Bemer, whose lawyer, Anthony Spinella, said he should only get probation.

Bemer admitted he patronized prostitutes but denied any role in human trafficking.

In his appeal, his lawyers plan to argue that the judge gave flawed instructions to the jury about the legal definition of coercion when explaining the charges of patronizing victims of human trafficking.

Police said they identified at least 15 victims of the trafficking ring but believe there could be dozens more dating back to the 1990s.

Two other men were convicted in the case. One, Robert King, of Danbury, found some of the victims at drug rehab centers, police said. According to arrest warrants, he would give them drugs, including heroin and cocaine, and take them to Bemer and other men for sex acts so they could earn money to pay him back for the drugs.

King, 53, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit human trafficking and is expected to be sentenced to 4½ years in prison. Another defendant, William Trefzger, 74, of Westport, pleaded guilty to patronizing a trafficked person and was sentenced to a year in prison.

Bemer also is being sued by several men who say they were victims of the trafficking. The lawsuits say the men suffer a variety of psychological ailments including post-traumatic stress disorder and repeated flashbacks.

NY State Police investigating death of 6-week old in North Salem

An investigation is underway into the death of a 6-week-old infant in the town of North Salem.   New York State Police were called to the Raymond Road home on Friday on a report of an unresponsive boy.  Troopers responded with North Salem Ambulance and Westchester County EMS.  State Police say the victim, Mason Cowan, was transported to Danbury Hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.  The investigation is on-going.

Conn. Association of Boards of Ed update Superintendents on General Assembly session

Members of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education have given an update to Superintendents from across the state on legislation approved during the recently completed General Assembly session.   Patrice McCarthy says a task force was set up to study ways to encourage regionalization.  The report is due by February 2020.  Language in the bill talks about proposals being an option for communities, not a mandate.

An effort was started in Ridgefield and other Fairfield County towns to fight forced consolidation, with a grassroots group forming called Hands Off Our Schools.

McCarthy says the budget bill extends the minimum budget requirement and makes some modifications to allowable reductions.  That's specifically if there's an enrollment decline over a five year period.  It's a 50-percent reduction of per pupil expenditure.

The budget bill also delays for two years the transition of the technical high school system as an independent agency separate from the state Department of Education.  She says there was a significant fiscal note attached.

Former reality show cast member arrested for alleged shoplifting in Danbury

A former reality TV show cast member has been arrested in Danbury.  35-year old Caroline Bedol, who was part of the 6th season of the show called Below Deck was arrested earlier this month on a larceny charge for allegedly shoplifting clothing from Walmart.  Police say the value was below 80 dollars.  She will be arraigned Thursday.  “Below Deck” profiles young people who work aboard yachts. Bedol was a stewardess, but left the show after getting into a fight with two cast members.

Brookfield woman charged in fatal accident involving pedestrian

A Brookfield woman has been arrested for hitting and killing a pedestrian in October.  75-year old Linda Pendergast was charged Thursday with negligent homicide and failure to exercise due care to avoid a pedestrian for the accident on Route 25.  58-year old Harold Trafton was killed as he was removing equipment from a trailer parked in the southbound lane.  Police say Pendergast moved into the northbound lane to go around the trailer when she hit the Danbury man.

Legislators approve bill closing loophole in upskirting law

A bill designed to close a loophole in Connecticut’s anti-voyeurism statue has been signed into law.  People were already banned from knowingly filming, photographing or recording a person’s underwear, genitals or buttocks in an area “where such other person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.”  The bill makes it clear the law applies even in a public place.  The measure was cosponsored by New Milford Representative Bill Buckbee and approved unanimously in both chambers.

Danbury School Safety Advocate arrested for allegedly providing pot to students

A Safety Advocate at Danbury High School has been arrested for providing marijuana to several juveniles, which included DHS students, while off campus.  A complaint against Glenn Davis was made to police May 8th.  Following an investigation by the Special Victims Unit of the Danbury Police Department, a warrant for the 41-year old's arrest was granted by the Court.  When he learned of the warrant on Friday, Davis surrendered himself to the Danbury Police Department, where he was released on bond.  Davis is scheduled to appear in Danbury Superior Court on June 25th on two counts of distributing marijuana and four counts of risk of injury to a minor.

Bethel Religious Display Committee continues work on regulations for future exhibits

The Bethel Religious Display Committee meeting earlier this month got off to a tense start when members questioned if they had to start their work over again after it was determined they had not been formally sworn in.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said he wanted the group to be less formal, but the town attorney said they'd have to operate as any other committee.

The group covered a lot of ground in their nearly two hour meeting.  Among the big disagreements was whether a Nativity scene is considered a Christian symbol or if it's considered cultural.  Concerns were raised about precedent and people not knowing year to year where to find the nativity.

Locations could be limited to PT Barnum Square because the traffic island on Main Street is such small area and may not be able to accommodate displays.  Members also noted that there's a difference in visibility between PT Barnum Square, considered a premier location, and placing something in a location like Bennett Park.  Other members note that the law doesn't take fairness into account, only if a decision is constitutional. 

As long as there's a precedent or good reason for a decision, a committee member said it doesn't legally matter the decision is unfair to other displays.  The town would have to prove sound reasons for why the creche works where it does.  There were also questions on whether certain displays could be grandfathered in for particular locations.  They also questioned how long displays could be set up.

Zoning regulations and safety concerns must be taken into account.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says if the original matter of a creche had gone to Planning and Zoning, it likely would have been rejected.  One committee member questioned why the group isn't titled Proper Use of Public Property, and asked who authorized the municipal center lawn for art displays.  Knickerbocker replied that the Board of Selectmen signed off, because it did not involve a constitutional question over religious displays.

The committee was set up to specifically address the time period between Thanksgiving, past New Year's Day.

The Town Attorney will attend the group's next meeting to answer all of their questions.

Judge has fatal heart attack in upstate New York courtroom

Visitation and funeral services have been announced for the 57-year-old Putnam County judge who died after suffering a heart attack in his courtroom.  Judge James Reitz was stricken on the bench Friday morning.

Court officers performed CPR and used an automatic electronic defibrillator to try to resuscitate him before he was taken to a hospital by ambulance.  Reitz died shortly after arriving at the hospital. 

A visitation will be held at the Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services building in Carmel from 2pm to 8pm.  A Mass of Christian Burial will take place tomorrow at St. James the Apostle Church in Carmel at 10:30am.  In lieu of flowers the Reitz family has asked that donations be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

The Mahopac resident had been a county judge since 2007 and was also an acting justice with the state Supreme Court. He previously worked as a lawyer in private practice.  He pioneered a Drug Treatment Court program for Putnam County, which gives an innovative way for participants to get a second chance with alternative paths through the judicial system. This was such a success it has been adapted into several other courts across the country and was featured in an Emmy award winning documentary.

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says it's hard to put into words the emotions with the passing of her lifelong friend.  She says his advice was honest and from the heart, calling him a pillar of the community.  She added that his everlasting impact cannot be measured.  Judge Reitz was active in community service and volunteering, giving of himself to many organizations, most notably a long time Carmel Rotarian who epitomized Service Above Oneself. 

Businessman faces sentencing in human trafficking case

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) - A 65-year-old Connecticut businessman is facing sentencing in connection with a human trafficking ring that authorities say preyed on boys and men who were mentally ill and intellectually disabled.

Bruce Bemer, of Glastonbury, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday in Danbury Superior Court. Before sentencing, however, a judge is expected to rule on a defense motion for acquittal.

A jury found Bemer guilty in April of several counts of patronizing underage victims of human trafficking and prostitution.

Bemer, the owner of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl racetrack, has admitted he patronized prostitutes, but denies any role in human trafficking.

A prosecutor says one of two other men convicted in the case found the victims at drug rehabs, group homes and other places and brought them to Bemer for sex acts.

Septic system to be installed to bring bathrooms to Parsonage and Hubbell House

A septic system is being installed on New Fairfield town-owned property to allow for bathrooms and a sink at Parsonage and Hubbell House.  The facilities are leased by Preserve New Fairfield and proposed the improvements for the Town owned buildings located behind the Senior Center.  There is currently no water available in either location.  Preserve New Fairfield has been given a private grant to install a septic system and needed approval to tap into the water system near the Senior Center.  The work will be done in accordance with all applicable state, federal and local statutes and regulations. The Board of Selectmen approved the proposal at their most recent meeting.

Danbury developer gets OK for 150-unit apartment complex on Main Street

Danbury land use boards have approved plans for a 150-unit apartment building on Main Street.  Dan Bertram applied to convert for the former Newstimes site at 333 Main street into Brookview Commons II.  The $13 million dollar proposal includes a six-story apartment complex and a second story outdoor pool.  There will be an entrance to the three acre site from Main Street.  A car bridge and skywalk will connect the new apartment building with Bertram's Crosby Street complex over the Padanaram Brook.  Plans call for one and 2 bedroom market rate apartments renting at $1,400 to $2,600 respectively.  The Newstimes editorial office moved into 345 Main Street when Hearst Connecticut Media Group consolidated most of its business offices at Merritt 7 in Norwalk.

Danbury PAL receives state grant for youth programs

The Danbury Police Activities League will receive a $140,000 state grant to help maintain the youth programs they offer for the next two years. 

The Danbury delegation says the funding is managed by the state’s Judicial Branch Support Services and their Youth Violence Prevention program to assist not-for-profit community serving organizations with effective services directed at local youth residing in the area.  Youth violence prevention programs focus on middle and high school age youths and provide guidance on addressing and changing behaviors that contribute to anger and conflict. 

Programs focus on peer-to-peer relationships to develop the interpersonal skills necessary to decrease and deescalate disagreements before they lead to violence.

“I am pleased to have helped secure this grant for Danbury’s PAL so they may continue providing the vital programs they offer for our youth”, said Rep. David Arconti. “Their commitment to keeping them safe, off the streets and motivated to pursue their dreams is a laudable goal and I truly appreciate their dedication.”

"Kids and cops working together make Danbury stronger and safer. Police officers inspire kids personal growth, train leaders, and teach perseverance and teamwork.  I'm delighted to join in Rep. Arconti's efforts," said Rep. Bob Godfrey.

“I am grateful for all the work PAL does in keeping our youth safe and am pleased to have played a role in securing this grant, so they can continue to offer youth programs for the next two years. Danbury is fortunate to have an organization like PAL that is committed to our youth’s well-being,” said Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan.

Rep. Ken Gucker said, “The investments we make supporting our children and youth are instrumental to their success and to the stability of our communities.  I am glad to lend my support to PAL and thank them for the work they do for our local kids.”

Eversource: Mylar balloons can cause power outages

Many celebrations including birthdays, graduations, and Father’s Day, are happening and Mylar balloons are common decorations.  But Eversource cautioned that Mylar balloons can cause power outages and even pose a significant safety risk. 

The silver metallic coating is a conductor of electricity.  If the balloon makes contact with power lines, it can damage electric wires and equipment, and cause power outages.  In some cases, Eversource says they could cause an electrical surge impacting nearby homes if the silver coating comes in contact with utility lines. 

They suggest making sure the balloons are secured, not released outside and that metallic ribbons aren't used.  People should never attempt to retrieve a balloon that is tangled in electric lines; instead, call Eversource.

Redding Pollinator Pathway event next weekend

A Redding Pollinator Pathway event is being held next weekend. A local entomologist will lead the Pollinators in My Backyard event, discussing the variety of pollinating insects and flowers in the area.  A hike through a wild meadow will follow.  It's being held June 22nd on Cross Highway at the Old Farmhouse from 2 to 3pm.  It's a family event, but organizers request no dogs.  Reservations are requested.

Sandy Hook Promise launches petition calling for safe storage laws

A petition has been started by Sandy Hook Promise calling for safe storage legislation in states across the country.  The Policy Team says in 80-percent of school-related gun deaths, the firearms used came from the shooter’s home, or from a friend's or relative’s.  Connecticut's governor just signed a safe storage bill into law, applying to both loaded and unloaded firearms in homes where there are minors.  A federal version of the bill has been introduced by the Connecticut delegation.

Memorial service scheduled for Kent woman killed in New Milford crash

A memorial service has been scheduled for the 24-year-old woman who died in a crash on Route 7 in New Milford.  The service for Christina Walters of Kent will be held Tuesday from noon to 3p.m. at the Munson-Lovetere Funeral Home in Woodbury.  The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Gov signs bill cosponsored by New Fairfield Representative on municipal reimbursement

Governor Lamont has signed a bill into law to ensure that the Connecticut Department of Correction provides adequate payment to a municipality for ambulance services that are provided by the city or town on behalf of a correctional facility. The measure was co-sponsored by New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith. It passed unanimously in the Senate and with just one no vote in the House.

CT Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry in Ridgefield canceled today

The Connecticut Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry in Ridgefield is canceled for today.  Nearby upcoming Connecticut Food Bank Mobile pantry distributions include June 21st in Southbury and on the 22nd in Norwalk. The next Ridgefield distribution is scheduled for July 12th at St. Andrew's Church, 11am to noon.  Any Ridgefield resident needing access to food can access St. Stephen's Little Pantry, available 24 hours in their parking lot or First Congregational Church food pantry, by appointment.  Ridgefield Social Services says the Town Hall Food Pantry is open  8:30am to 4:30 Mondays through Fridays.

Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act introduced by Congresswoman Hayes

The Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act has been introduced by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. The legislation would create a federal grant program to incentivize state and local governments to enact laws requiring a license before a handgun can be purchased. 

Hayes says Connecticut’s permit-to-purchase law has saved lives and should be replicated on the federal level.  She called it a commonsense approach to firearm sales. 

Connecticut is among the 10 states that currently have permit-to-purchase laws on the books. 

Earlier this week, the John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research released a new white paper detailing the effectiveness of handgun licensing – including fingerprinting and in-person applications – in reducing gun violence.  Using mortality data from the Center for Disease Control, a 2015 study by Johns Hopkins University determined that when comparing to similar states with no PTP laws, Connecticut’s PTP law reduced firearm homicides by 40 percent. In 2007, Missouri repealed its requirement that handgun purchasers obtain a PTP and statistics show their state’s gun homicide rate rose by 25 percent.

Head Start employees asked to resign over alleged fraud

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the federal Office of Inspector General are investigating cases of Head Start staff members in Danbury admitting 5 unqualified children into the federally funded program.  According to the Newstimes, an internal investigation of operations was launched after the arrest of Director Monica Bevilacqua for alleged embezzlement from a Brookfield PTO.  The audit didn't turn up wrongdoing on her part at Head Start, but the fraud by 4 others.  One staff member has resigned and three others are being asked to resign.  If they don't CEO Jim Maloney says they'll be fired.  He told the Newstimes it was done as favor to the families, and there was no evidence of bribery.  He declined to name the employees.

Ex-day laborer gets 22 years to life in socialite slaying

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) A former day laborer accused of bludgeoning a socialite to death at her family's suburban New York estate has been sentenced to 22 years to life in prison.

Esdras Marroquin Gomez was sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty in May to killing 83-year-old Lois Colley at her 300-acre North Salem estate in November 2015.

Authorities said Gomez hit Colley with a fire extinguisher during a confrontation. They said he said he had been injured at the family's property, Windswept Farm, and had been pursuing a worker's compensation claim.

He fled to his native Guatemala and then Mexico before he was apprehended. Before he was sentenced, Gomez said he made a mistake and asked for forgiveness from God.

Colley's husband amassed a fortune by owning dozens of McDonald's restaurants.

DOT schedules Newtown highway ramp closures

The state Department of Transportation has scheduled Exit 9 and 10 ramp closures on I-84 West and Eastbound in Newtown, for five separate nights.  All of the work will be conducted 10pm to 5am.  The Exit 9 westbound closure will be June 18th and 19th.  The eastbound closure will be June 20th. The Exit 10 westbound closure will be June 17th.  The eastbound closure is scheduled for June 21st. 

Putnam County Sheriff drone operators help in missing hiker rescue

A drone helped in a rescue operation over the weekend.  The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office has provided assistance in the Hudson Highlands State Park. Two hikers had called for help after becoming stranded on a steep precipice, half mile south of Breakneck Ridge in the Town of Philipstown. 

The hikers were located around 5pm on Sunday, but the extreme terrain prevented immediate rescue. Emergency responders with expertise in dangerous “high-angle” rescue operations couldn't adequately evaluate the terrain.  In order to reduce the risk to rescuers, who would have to descended from above on ropes, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office drone operator was called in. 

Two drones provided a live-feed to inspect the terrain and help finalized their plan.  5 hours later, firefighters descended the cliff and recovered two male hikers. Neither was injured.

(Photo: PCSD)

Four  members of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to pilot unmanned aircraft during public safety emergencies. They operate three specialized Unmanned Aerial Systems, purpose-built for lifesaving missions. The aircraft are equipped with advanced GPS systems, cameras, thermal imaging sensors, powerful search lights and public address speakers.

Danbury man charged for April crash involving utility pole

A Danbury man has been arrested for causing a serious crash on Franklin Street Extension two months ago.  Police arrested Edgar Patricio Farfan-Lazso last week on charges of driving without insurance, having a suspended license, traveling unreasonably fast and failure to drive right.  The single car crash on April 22nd involved a utility pole near the intersection with Raymond Place.  The road was shut down for hours and the 38-year old and his passenger were hospitalized.  The pole snapped at the base and downed a transformer.  Farfan-Lazso told police a rubber floor mat got stuck under the pedals, but witness statements to police suggested speed was a factor. He was released on bond for arraignment on June 17 at Danbury Superior Court.

Siting Council approves plan for Candlewood Mountain solar project

The development and management plan for the Candlewood Mountain solar project has been approved by the Connecticut Siting Council.  The Newstimes reports that the group also clarified its ruling from December 2017, stating the project would have little visual impact on the neighboring properties and the town park. 

The clarification was requested by the courts as part of a lawsuit appealing project approval. 

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection rejected the stormwater management plan in March even though the Siting Council said the project would not have a negative impact on the environment.  The development and management plan approval is conditioned on DEEP’s approval of the stormwater permit.  The company plans to refile its stormwater permit application with DEEP. 

Ameresco plans to install and operate 60,000 solar panels on the mountain to generate 20 megawatts of power that will feed into the New England ISO through the nearby Rocky River substation.  About 70 acres of trees could be clear cut.

Boat fee approved by lawmakers to combat invasive aquatic species

A bill requiring boaters to pay a new fee to help cover the cost of combating invasive aquatic plants is moving to the governor's desk.

The Senate voted 34-2 in favor of a bill that imposes a $5 fee for Connecticut residents and a $20 fee for out-of-state individuals who register vessels intended to operate on state waters.  Danbury state Representative Ken Gucker says some of the funding could be used for education to alert boaters about the law.

He says Candlewood Lake is the number 4 bass tournament destination in the country.  Participants support the bill because they know how important the environment is to keeping their hobby alive.  Gucker says they don't mind putting a little more in to make sure the resources they use every weekend is safe, clean and preserved.

Gucker says this is not a measure specific to western Connecticut, though it would protect water quality in Lakes Zoar, Lillinonah and Candlewood.

The General Assembly's Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates the fee will generate approximately $400,000, to be used by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for various invasive species programs, including grants for research on managing state lakes, rivers and ponds.

A one-time $50,000 cost would establish the program. 

Proponents of the bill say various lakes around the state are experiencing pervasive and invasive aquatic species and toxic cyanobacteria blooms, a problem that can be expensive to address. 

State Police continue search for driver who sideswiped car on highway

State Police are searching for one of the drivers involved in a highway crash in Danbury.  The accident closed two lanes of I-84 westbound between exits 5 and 4 for all of the morning commute.  State Police say two cars were headed westbound just before exit 4 around 3:45am when one sideswiped the other. 

Both cars left the road and a driver fled the scene on foot.  All occupants sustained minor injuries.  No enforcement action has been taken at this point.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Trooper Lopez at 203-267-2200. 

One man, a 41-year old Brookfield resident, was ejected from the vehicle and transported to Danbury Hospital. 

Two occupants in the other car, 33 and 34 year olds from Ridgefield, refused medical attention.  The second car was located in a wooded area near Scuppo Road with no occupants. Firefighters and police searched the area, but were unable to locate the driver.

At one point during the commute, the DOT was estimating it would take drivers two hours to get from Waterbury through Danbury, 

Bethel officials get update on renovations at Rockwell, Johnson schools

An update has been given to the Bethel Public Site and Building Commission about progress on renovations at Rockwell Elementary School.  At their meeting Tuesday, the group got a report from Rizzo Corporation that 12 portables were arriving Wednesday.  Installation is set to begin next week.   Demolition of the boiler room at Rockwell Elementary School in Bethel started this week.  This is part of overall renovation work.  Two weekends of abatement were successfully completed and testing reports to the state have been completed.  Work continues on renovations at Johnson School in Bethel.  Gymnasium demolition will start once furniture has been removed.  The abatement of floor tile and stair replacement can then start.

Bethel School staff trained by EMT students on Stop the Bleed

Bethel School District staff members are being trained today by EMT students on Stop the Bleed.  It's a national awareness campaign that encourages bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.  The initiative is part of training in response to active shooter situations.  Bethel Superintendent of Schools Dr Christine Carver thanked local EMT’s, firefighters and staff from Danbury Hospital for the training.

Ridgefield officials extend Meadows PILOT program

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen at their June 5th meeting voted to extend the Meadows PILOT program for 2 additional years.  The Ridgefield’s Housing Authority asked for an abatement of the pilot program and Fairfield County Bank worked with them on this.  There was a $2.1 million mortgage on their 20-unit affordable housing property in 2014. They owed pay-backs to the State, even if there were empty apartments.  At that time, they brought on a new management company and the Housing Authority came to the Board of Selectmen for an abatement for a pilot program at The Meadows for two years. The property’s financial situation is now stabilized.

Crash blocks two lanes of I-84 in Danbury

Emergency responders are searching the wooded area along Interstate 84 in Danbury for a person involved in a highway crash early this morning. Two lanes of the highway were blocked for more than 3 hours after the 4am accident. Police say one of the two vehicles involved rolled onto its side and the occupant was ejected.  Numerous fire trucks and police cruisers are on the scene.  Police were searching the area of Scuppo Road, which abuts the wood line off the highway by exit 4.  One driver reportedly fled the scene of the crash.

Bethel officials sign off on bid waiver for high school track resurfacing

Bethel officials have signed off on a bid waiver for Bethel High School track resurfacing.  The $135,000 will come from the Capital Non-Recurring Account.  The Board of Selectmen approved the move earlier this month and forwarded it to the Board of Finance.  That group gave the OK at their meeting on Tuesday.

Park and Recreation Director Eileen Earle says the company will try to squeeze Bethel in this August to get the work done before school opens.  There is a longer summer work season in Bethel because of renovations at Rockwell and Johnson schools.  If the town selected another company, they may have had to wait until October.  The selected New York-based company is the same one that installed the original track.  Earle says they probably got 2 to 3 extra years because of the quality of the company's work.

Selectman Straiton expressed concern about waiving the bid.  When the town put out a request for bids a few years ago for a comprehensive track and field proposal, the track resurfacing bids came in around the same price.  The selected company has held the price over the last couple of years since the RFP was issued.

Safety and other contingencies are in place to protect the track.  The district has two tarps to protect the surface, no cleats are allowed on the field and a netting system stops balls from getting into the track area. 

3 men arrested for using counterfeit currency at gas station

3 people have been charged for using counterfeit currency at a gas station in North Salem.  New York State Police say the three used bogus $100 and $50 bills Tuesday to buy small items at Coco Farms Shell Gas Station on Route 22.  They received legitimate money in change for the fraudulent transaction. 21-year olds Exondus Barnes and Dalton Daley of Queens and 22-year old Isaiah Styles of Brooklyn were each charged with possession of a forged instrument and petit larceny.  All three were arraigned and ordered held on bond.  They are due back in North Salem Court on June 24th.

68 people arrested at NY music festival, including Conn. residents

68 people have been arrested over 5 days at Disc Jam Music Festival in Stephentown, New York, near Albany June 6th through 10th.  3 Greater Danbury area residents were among those charged for offenses ranging from violation to felony drug charges, and driving under the influence. 

New York State Police Troopers along with the Violent Gang Narcotics Enforcement Team focused on the illegal distribution of controlled substances.  State Police seized cocaine, doses of LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms, ketamine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, MDMA, and concentrated cannabis. In addition to the arrests, the State Police also seized cash and drug paraphernalia. 

47-year old Francis Feli of Newtown was charged with DWAI, 22-year old Olivia Sproviero of Danbury was charged with possession of a controlled substance and 22-year old Samuel Nast of Sherman was charged for unlawful possession of marijuana.

Changes coming to Conn. DMV offices

There are some changes at the DMV and more coming down the road.  Commissioner Sibongile “Bongi” Magubane says they've identified some of the issues leading to long wait times or people needing to have return visits. 

Over the years more services have been put online, but there wasn't much notice about it some customers don't know they can accomplish some tasks from the comfort of home.  Magubane says another issue is that there have been changes to what forms or documents people need to accomplish some services at branch offices. 

On that front, she says there are now people at the door double checking that residents have the right information to complete their transaction. 

She also wants to improve safety for employees, acknowledging that it can be a tense working environment.  After the 90 days goals, Magubane wants to look at technology.  5 years from now, she wants to be able to email people notifying them of an expiring license or registration--and have the customer take a picture of license, insurance and registration. 

She wants to find technology to have real verification so people don't have to go to a branch office.  Magubane says the technology exists, but there are some security issues to address.

Architect selected for new Brookfield school project

An architect has been selected for the new school project in Brookfield.  The Municipal Building Committee interviewed three companies and made a recommendation to the Board of Selectmen.  Town officials signed off on the choice of Tecton Architects to design the new school. Design will begin immediately.  The town of Brookfield has submitted a grant application to the state, and expect final commitment early next year.  Brookfield plans to demolish Huckleberry Hill School and construct a new building on the same campus.  Center School students will also move into the facility, and their old building would be turned over to the town for municipal use.

Kent woman's death in Route 7 crash ruled accidental

New Milford Police hope to have a preliminary cause determined by next week of a fatal Route 7 crash involving a passenger car and a dump truck.  Monday's accident by Ceder Hill remains under investigation and Police say they're not releasing details on certain aspects of the incident at this time.  The state Medical Examiner's Office says 24-year old Christina Walters died of blunt impact of head, torso and upper extremities with fractures and visceral injuries.  Her death was ruled accidental.  The dump truck driver, 56-year old Jeff Griener, was released from the hospital.  He was able to wade to shore after his truck went down an embankment and became partially submerged in the Housatonic River.

Congresswoman introduces bill to increase benefit to Gold Star Families

Legislation to better support spouses and children who have lost a loved one in service to this country has been introduced by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.  The families of service members who died in the line of duty, and of disabled veterans who died from a service-connected condition, receive a monthly Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Benefit from the VA.

Hayes’ bipartisan bill will give these families an additional $300 per month. This allowance would bring the benefit more in line with federal employees and the Department of Defense's Survivor Benefits Plan.  Hayes says the death of a service member should never lead a family to financial hardship, and the country owes it to these men and women to give these Gold Star families the full benefits they have earned. 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes cosponsors the bill.

New Milford Democrat announces intention to run for Mayor in November

A New Milford Democrat has announced his intention to run for Mayor in November.  Tom O'Brien, who ran for the 67th state House seat last year, is a carpenter and writer.  The 59 year old chairs the bike and trails committee and the New Milford River Trail Association.  He previously served on the Zoning Commission and called for sidewalks to be installed along Route 7.  He kicked off his campaign on Sunday.  O’Brien said he wants more funding designated for the schools, better recreational opportunities for the town and affordable housing in the downtown area.  Republican Pete Bass won his first term in 2017, replacing Democrat David Gronbach. Bass has not yet announced his intention to run for re-election.

Library to offer fine forgiveness in exchange for food pantry donations

C.H. Booth Library is Newtown is offering an amnesty of sorts to patrons who have fines from overdue materials.  From June 14th through 21st, people can pay their library late fees with donations of certain items for Faith Food Pantry.  The accepted items are complete pancake mix and syrup, apple or cranberry juice, canned hash, coffee, and small bottles of laundry detergent.  No expired or opened packages will be accepted.  Library material must be returned and item dropped off at the circulation desk before any fines can be forgiven.

Danbury Police raise $4k to help send sick kids to summer camp

Members of the Danbury Police Department have raised close to $4,000 to help send sick children, some battling cancer or other terminal illnesses, to a week long camp experience at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.  Officers participated in the 10th annual Push Against Cancer event over the weekend, started by Andrew Berman of Danbury.  The DPD team completed $9,395 push ups in one hour.

Sandy Hook firefighters look to help people have homes, businesses prominently numbered

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue is on a mission to make sure residents have their houses and businesses properly numbered, which officials say can save precious time when they're responding to an emergency.  If firefighters can't see the house number from the seat of a fire truck, that's a problem.  Reflective signs, which can be hung vertically or horizontally, are available from from the fire company at a cost of $15 each.  Residents and business owners can visit the Sandy Hook Fire Station or call on any Monday night to place an order.

Tails of Courage to move to Wolcott

The town of Wolcott's Zoning Board has signed off an animal rescue group's move to Woodtick Road.  This comes on the heels of Tails of Courage settling a lawsuit brought by the city of Danbury, promising to leave Danbury.  The Danbury zoning enforcement officer and other city officials filed a suit alleging zoning and health code violations.  According to the lawsuit, dozens of dogs were found living in cramped, feces-covered cages.  A flooded and rat-infested basement was also found.  In one case, a dog was sold without proper immunizations and then diagnosed with the highly contagious canine parvovirus, which can be transmitted to humans.

New Milford to conduct utilities audit to find cost savings

The New Milford Town Council has signed off on the Mayor conducting a full audit of telephone, gas, electrical and other utilities bills to find savings.  Mayor Pete Bass will work with TRI Utility Cost Reductions to go through paperwork to find billing errors and recoup money for the town.  Bass told the Town Council that the company did an audit for Bethel several years ago and savings for that town are now more than $100,000. Celtic Energy is working for the town to find energy savings, which could lead to improvements to buildings to make them more energy efficient.

Teen homeless on the rise in Danbury according to City officials

Teen homelessness has been expanding rapidly, according to Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.  The Department of Health and Human Services will be partnering with the Association of Religious Communities, ARC, to provide a summer youth program for young adults who are homeless or at the risk of becoming homeless.  The Department is providing $15,000 for the program.  Boughton says it's part of a new program by the Danbury Housing Authority for homeless teens.  It will work concurrently with the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board's Youth Employment Program.  20 units will be made available to address the housing problem and ARC will provide support services.

Drivers involved in fatal Route 7 crash in New Milford identified

A Kent woman was killed in a collision on Route 7 with a dump truck.  New Milford Police say 24-year old Christina Walters was driving a sedan in the area of Cedar Hill.  Police say it's unclear what happened to cause the two vehicles to collide and the investigation is ongoing.  The dump truck ended up down an embankment and in the Housatonic River.  That driver, 56-year old Jeff Griener of Poughquag, New York, sustained non-life threatening injuries.  He was able to reach shore on his own.  Walters was pronounced dead at the scene.  Route 7 was closed for several hours as police investigated.

Man killed in weekend crash in Brookfield identified

The identity of the driver killed in a weekend crash in Brookfield has been released.  Police say 27-year old Nelson Zuniga was the only person in the vehicle during the single-car crash on Candlewood Lake Road.  He lived in Waterbury, but was a New Milford High School graduate. 

His car went off the roadway Saturday night and hit a utility pole and parked car.  It took nearly 20 minutes to extricate the man from the heavily damaged vehicle and he was later pronounced dead at the hospital. 

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay funeral expenses for Zuniga. 

The accident remains under investigation.  Results of a toxicology report, which is always conducted by the medical examiner’s office, will take 6 to 8 week.  It was determined that Zuniga died from blunt impact to his head and torso.

New Fairfield Fire Marshals could be authorized to tow cars parked in fire zones

The New Fairfield Fire Marshal could soon be authorized to remove a vehicle parked in a fire zone.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says there is a fine associated with the illegal parking.  Selectman Kim Hanson expressed concern of having the fire marshal be responsible.  He'd rather see law enforcement handle the situation and noted this could potentially cause a dangerous situation.  The Board voted 2 to 1 in favor of adding the Fire Marshal to the list of authorized personnel that can remove a car.  The change would have to be passed by a Town Meeting.

Brookfield Police dive team conducts training in PA

As the summer boating recreation season ramps up, Brookfield Police Department Dive Team headed to Pennsylvania for advance training classes.  Trained by public safety dive instructors from Scuba Shack, the divers practiced last weekend at depths between 45 feet and 95 feet.  Candlewood Lake is 40 feet deep on average, but there are areas approximately 90 feet deep, and Lake Lillinonah is even deeper at around 115 feet.  The Brookfield Police dive team also responds to other bodies of water so it's important for members to be comfortable below the surface at operational limits.

Danbury volunteer fire companies continue efforts to find efficiencies

There are fewer Danbury volunteer firefighters and the City continues to look into consolidation of some of the fire companies.  Meanwhile Germantown volunteer firefighters have been working with Beaver Brook, Padanaram Hose and Water Witch Hose.  As part of that effort, the companies are looking into how to most effectively use their equipment during emergency responses.  Germantown recently sold an engine/tanker and a rescue truck.  They still have a 2008 engine/tanker.  Danbury has a combination fire department, with five career and a dozen volunteer stations.

Winners of statewide 2019 CHET Dream Big! Competition recognized

The Connecticut Higher Education Trust Competition has awarded six schools a $500 prize for having the highest percentage of student submissions for the 2019 CHET Dream Big! competition. 

The winners included Sarah Noble Intermediate School in New Milford and Gainfield Elementary School in Southbury. 

The State of Connecticut offers CHET to help families save for future college costs. Funds deposited into a CHET account have tax advantages and can be used at accredited colleges and universities across the country, including vocational and technical schools, and some colleges abroad. 

Connecticut residents are allowed to deduct 529 contributions from their state income taxes - up to $5,000 for an individual or up to $10,000 for a married couple filing jointly. Investment earnings are exempt from state and federal taxes if used for qualified educational expenses.

Conn. Senate Democrats tout work done during General Assembly session

Senate Democrats have held an end of legislative session press conference.  11 of 22 members in the caucus were freshmen legislators. 

Among the accomplishments listed by Danbury Senator Julie Kushner was passing Paid Family Medical Leave Act, increasing the state's minium wage and safe storage gun regulations. 

The caucus also touted a vote moving Connecticut closer to allow early voting and raising the smoking and vaping age to 21.

In 2018, a Workforce Pipeline & Apprenticeship initiative was created to provide rapid work skills training for people seeking employment, then place up to 10,000 participants directly into good paying jobs with a bright future.  Work continued this session to establish a workforce pipeline and job creation task force to continue the positive progress of the initiative.

There was also work done this session to build on a movement from last year to bring Connecticut in line with other states on the statute of limitation for rape.  Connecticut's current standard is 5 years, one of the shortest in the country.  45 state shave no limit, or longer limit than Connecticut.  The “Time’s Up” Act extends the statute of limitations for sexual assault crimes to 20 years.

A lesser discussed bill is one to hold utilities accountable for outages.  Connecticut faces the highest rates for electricity in the continental United States, in both price and expenditure.  Lawmaker say response times after power outages are growing, not shrinking. The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority will study industry standards for emergency response and staffing levels, with the intention of finding new mandates that will improve utility companies’ response to future emergencies, bringing power back to homes and businesses faster.

Driver involved in crash with dump truck killed in New Milford

A dump truck has rolled down an embankment off Route 7 and into the Housatonic River in New Milford.  The accident happened at the intersection of Kent Road and Cedar Hill Road shortly after 9am.  Police say the driver of the car involved was killed.  Police have been diverting traffic near Squash Hollow and Cedar Hill roads.  The truck was about 100 feet into the river and the driver waded to shore.  The dump truck driver was transported to the hospital for treatment of injuries.  Some fuel from the truck spilled into the river and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was called to the scene. 

Still River Greenway Ad-Hoc Committee launches online survey

The Still River Greenway Ad-Hoc Committee in Brookfield is asking residents to take a brief online survey.  The group is looking to gather feedback on experiences and thoughts on the Brookfield Town Center businesses, Still River Greenway, and possible extension of the Still River Greenway to the New Milford Town line. 

Fire Marshal fees changing in New Fairfield

Fees are changing for Fire Marshal services in New Fairfield.  The Board of Selectmen recently agreed to revisions of the fee schedule for inspections.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says site plans are required to be approved and that mechanical equipment, including emergency generators need to be inspected. The fees are $150 per site plan approval, $100 per mechanical equipment review and $45 per hour for Fire watch/crowd managers. 

Woman receives Connecticut Greenways Council Volunteer Award

A Connecticut woman is being honored by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  Friends of the Norwalk River Valley Trail founding member Patricia Sesto has received the Connecticut Greenways Council Volunteer Award.  Sesto serves as President of the Board of Directors for the trails group, which has a goal of building, beautifying and maintaining a 30-mile, 10-foot wide multi use trail.  It stretches from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, passing through Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding, and terminating at Rogers Park in Danbury. Greenways in Connecticut cover thousands of acres throughout every county and often recognize the importance of river corridors for natural resource protection, recreational opportunities, and scenic values.

Ridgefield hosting several events this weekend

Ridgefield will be holding its first annual Pride in the Park celebration on Saturday.  It's from noon to 3pm in Ballard Park, with a march around the park at 12:30. The free, family event celebrates the LGBTQ+ community, allies and families.

Ridgefield Library is celebrating five years in their new, LEED Silver Certified building.  They're also marking other important milestones including the recent launch of a re-designed, mobile-friendly, accessible website; and the ongoing implementation of a community-focused Strategic Plan.  The celebration Saturday is 11am to 1pm.

Easton Police alert drivers to several months of road closures

Easton Police are alerting drivers that the bridge on South Park Avenue between Buck Hill Road and Marich Drive is being replaced. South Park Avenue will be closed to all traffic starting Monday June 17th through November.  It's a heavily traveled commuter road near the Exit 47 Interchange on the Merritt Parkway.  A clearly marked detour around the construction will be in place. The Easton Police Department will be monitoring the area for traffic safety concerns.  This is not the one lane bridge on South Park Avenue South of Riverside Lane.

Brookfield Postmaster to investigate delay in town mailing

Brookfield officials are considering hiring a firm to do bulk mailings after a referendum reminder postcard arrived at homes after the May 21st referendum date.  The postcards were dropped off at the post office on May 15th.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says he got his postcard in the mail on the Saturday after the budget vote.  Dunn told the Board of Selectmen at their meeting last week that the town received a letter of apology from the Brookfield Postmaster.  While there was 7 days for the post cards to make it to various homes, Dunn says they don't want to mail the reminder out too far in advance.  Postal officials are going to do an investigation into what happened.

Three young people recognized by DEEP for attempting to save woman's life

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is recognizing three young people for trying to save a woman in Candlewood Lake nearly a year ago.  Josh Carone of Ridgefield, Alicia Nicoletti of Danbury and Bayley Storrier of Wilton have been presented with the Lifesaving Award by the Commissioner.  All are or were Wooster School students.  They spotted passengers on another boat yelling for help last June 19th and found an injured woman in the water.  Two of the teens jumped into the water to pull the woman onboard a boat.  Carone created a tourniquet while Nicoletti and Storrier performed CPR until emergency responders arrived.  The woman was 38-year old Waterbury teacher Wanda Tirado.  She had been struck by the propellor of a pontoon boat and the operator of that vessel has been charged.

Changes coming to when Boards of Ed can set graduation dates

A change is being made to state law allowing school districts to set the graduation date at any time during the year.

Under current law, a local or regional board of education must wait until at least April 1st to set a firm high school graduation date, making sure there are at least 180 days of class.  Prior to April 1st, the board may set a firm graduation date making sure there's 185 days scheduled in the school calendar the board adopted for that year.

The new law, approved in the final days of the legislative session, allows a board to establish, at any time in the school year, a firm graduation date.  The bill also specifies that school boards can set their calendars to begin school on any day before or after Labor Day.

Putnam County Narcotics Enforcement Unit make arrests

A Carmel man has been arrested for alleged drug sales in Putnam County.  The Sheriff's Office started an investigation in September into cocaine sales in the county.  On Wednesday, members of the Narcotics Enforcement Unit arrested 41-year old Andre Houston.  He was charged with Criminal Possession and Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance. Houston was arraigned in Southeast Justice Court and ordered held on bond.

While members of the Putnam County Sheriff's Narcotics Enforcement Unit were patrolling a Carmel parking lot on Thursday, deputies noticed a man sitting in a vehicle.  An investigation revealed that the man was in possession of Oxycodone, Amphetamine, and Concentrated Cannabis.  The 44-year old from Carmel was charged with 3 counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession of a weapon.  The man was released on a written promise to appear in court at a future date.  His name was not immediately available.

Patterson man in domestic dispute drove under the influence

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office is releasing more details about a domestic dispute that happened earlier this month and resulted in the arrest of a Patterson man.  Sheriff Deputies responded to a Patterson home on June 1st and learned that the man involved had left, causing a single car crash nearby.  30-year old Marcus Rohim was determined to the under the influence of cocaine and had violated a Temporary Order of Protection.  He was arrested for criminal contempt, reckless endangerment, driving without a license, driving while ability impaired and 2 counts each of criminal mischief and endangering the welfare of a child.  Rohim is due in Patterson Justice court at a future date and time.

Ridgefield has page on CTVisit state tourism website

Connecticut’s official tourism website is adding new pages, including information about the town of Ridgefield.  Members of the Economic and Community Development Commission say they are now authorized users for the CTvisit website and hope to drive tourism to Ridgefield.  The landing page will including information on local events, attractions and shopping and restaurants.  Governor Lamont has ben making a push to increase tourism in the state, including upping the budget for a dollar per year to levels previously included in budgets.  He also plans to sign legislation reopening the buildings at Connecticut rest areas, like the one off I-84's exit 2 in Danbury.

Brookfield Girl Scout named VFW Conn. award winner

During the awards breakfast at the annual VFW Connecticut State Convention this weekend, Ambassador Girl Scout Grace Collins of Brookfield was named Scout of the Year.  The Office of the VFW State Commander chose Collins as the first place winner in a competition open to all of Connecticut’s VFW Posts. 

She was one of six finalists, the other being Eagle Boy Scouts representing the other 5 Districts. 

Her major accomplishment that led to receiving the Gold Award, the most prestigious of all Girl Scout honors, cited her work initiating Mental Health wellness and awareness programs at Brookfield High School as well as Whisconier Middle School and Huckleberry Elementary School.  She arranged for Mental Health Professionals and Inspirational speakers who overcame addictions and depression to speak to students. 

One mother said Grace’s program saved her son’s life, as he was contemplating suicide. 

Collins received a $300 scholarship and her name has been forwarded to the National VFW Headquarters to compete with Scout of the Year recipients from other States. The National Winners will be announced before July 1st.

Bethel firefighters rescue two kids lost in woods

Two children lost in the woods in Bethel last night have been rescued by members of Bethel Fire & EMS.  The two children reportedly entered the area of the old quarry nature preserve via a known trail, quickly became disoriented and wandered off the trail.  They called 911 and the public safety dispatcher was able to track their phone, giving fire and police directions.  The children were found quickly after being heard shouting by a local resident.  Firefighters walked the children out and they were evaluated on scene by EMTs. 

Brookfield firefighters caution residents about phone solicitation scam

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is cautioning residents of a phone solicitation scam.  On Thursday, the department was notified that people received calls asking for donations on behalf of the fire company from the Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut.  Brookfield VFC is not affiliated with them, nor do they have authorization to solicit on the department's behalf.  Their legitimate fund drive consists of 4 mailings during the year and a door to door fund drive yesterday and tonight.  Firefighters cautioned people not to give any personal information over the phone.

Newtown-based foundation donates AED to Newtown Community Center

A Newtown-based organization has donated an AED and other supplies to the Newtown Community Center.  Director Matt Ariniello thanked Mike Papale, founder of the In a Heartbeat Foundation for his generosity.  In A Heartbeat was founded in 2015 to raise money and awareness for sudden cardiac arrest and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.  In 2006 at age 17, Mike experienced sudden cardiac arrest. There was no AED on site, but an EMT working nearby was able to perform CPR for eight minutes and save his life.  He now has a defibrillator implanted in his chest.  Without an AED on site, doctors said Mike’s chance of survival was one in a million.

Summit held in Danbury on food insecurity

A summit on food insecurity has been hosted by the Age Well Community Council of Danbury and the United Way of Western Connecticut.  More than 100 people from various organizations attended the forum on Thursday, which had a particular focus on seniors.  The federal government started monitoring food security in the 1990s, based on 18 survey questions. Participants noted that people are living longer and might be outliving their savings they put aside, and Social Security allocations don’t accurately reflect real cost of living increases.  They also said there's a need to break the stigma of food insecurity.

Driver killed in Brookfield crash

A person was killed in a single car crash in Brookfield over the weekend.  Emergency responders were dispatched to Candlewood Lake Road near the entrance to Candlewood Birches shortly before 11pm Saturday.  The driver was trapped in the car and unresponsive.  Police say the accident happened near Echo Bay Marina. 

The car left the roadway and struck a utility pole and parked car.  It took firefighters and EMS 19 minutes to extricate the driver of the heavily damaged vehicle. 

The victim was taken to the hospital, where they were pronounced dead.  The driver's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. 

(Photo: Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company)

The road remained closed into the following morning for utility pole repairs. 

The accident reconstruction team is investigating.

Waffle joins State Police, students in Danbury help in her hiring

The newest member of Connecticut State Police Troop A Southbury is named Waffle.  The Narcotics K9 Trainee is on the force with the help of fundraising by Henry Abbott Technical High School Students and faculty.  Their T-shirt program helped with the hiring of Waffle. 

She is currently in her five week initial imprint training and will follow that up with a six week training with her handler. 

Troop A says Waffle had so much fun with the student body during her introduction ceremonies and was said to be the star of the show.  But State Police say the Abbott Tech students were the stars, setting a goal, meeting the challenge and in the long run their efforts may save a life.

(Photos: State Police Troop A)

Sports center settles food allergy discrimination complaint

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) - A community sports center in Danbury has settled a federal discrimination complaint filed by the parents of a child with food allergies.

Federal prosecutors say the Danbury Sports Dome has agreed to change its policies to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act after it was accused of refusing to enroll the child in its summer camp program, because of the child's allergies.

The U.S. Attorney's office says the facility has agreed to better train its employees and revise its registration materials to inform parents of children with disabilities of their right to request reasonable modifications of the facility's programs.

It also has agreed to post the policy on its website.

Prosecutors say the facilities management was cooperative during the investigation.

Shelter Rock Road sinkhole difficult to repair

The Shelter Rock Road sinkhole in Danbury will need further repairs.  It was patched up and backfilled Friday for the weekend.  The sinkhole formed when a more than 50-year old storm sewer collapsed.  The catch basin is closed off near the intersection with Cross Street. 

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola called it a significant collapse and not an easy fix.  But the road was able to reopen after the temporary paving was done. 

In addition to the age of the pipe, there's an extensive grade so when the water comes through, it moves quickly.  Iadarola says any sediment will scour the bottom of the pipe.  He says it literally ate through the coating and the metal, creating a hollow bottom to the pipe.  He added that the truck traffic on that road is heavy and, over time, collapsed the road. 

Iadarola noted that the recent significant rainfall also took a lot of the road bedding away.

Brookfield gas station hit by car, 2 drivers in Newtown injured in separate crash

A driver hit a gas station in Brookfield this weekend.  The Mobile Gas Station Clerk was injured in the crash on Federal Road Saturday afternoon and taken to the hospital.  The driver was not injured. 

The building was deemed unsafe for occupancy by Brookfield Building officials and Fire Marshals Office and the station was closed until repairs are made. 

In Newtown, Police are investigating a two car crash resulting in serious injuries.  Police say two people were sent to the hospital shortly after noon on Saturday.  The accident happened in the area of Johnnie Cake Lane and Mount Pleasant Road. 

Anyone with information about the accident is asked to call Newtown Police.

Worker killed in New Milford industrial accident identified

Officials have identified the Danbury man who was killed in an industrial accident Friday at New Milford Block and Supply.  Police say 29-year old Daniel Kendrick died after becoming trapped in a conveyor belt system.  The accident remains under investigation by the New Milford Police Department, The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  The accident was reported about 6pm Friday.  Kendrick was a production operator at the masonry contractor, and started at the job last year.

Festival to benefit Sandy Hook family's animal sanctuary

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - A festival has been held in Newtown to raise money for an animal sanctuary that is being built to honor the memory of a 6-year-old Sandy Hook School shooting victim.

The 5th annual Catherine's Butterfly Party on Saturday at the Fairfield Hills Campus in Newtown included children's activities, wildlife demonstrations, food trucks, music, and pet adoptions. It was hosted by the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary.

The 34-acre sanctuary is being built to honor Hubbard, who was among 26 people killed inside the Sandy Hook School in December, 2012.

It is being designed to provide rescue and support services for companion animals, farm animal refuge, wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, and educational programming.

3 Conn. stops on Jane Green for book tour of new novel

A Connecticut resident who has authored 20 novels including 17 New York Times bestsellers, one cookbook, and various short stories, is out with a new novel.  Jane Green is hosting three events in Connecticut to kick off her book tour for The Friends We Keep, released June 4th. 

The novel follows three unlikely friends, who met in college, over the course of their 30 year friendship.  Despite disappointments or mistakes, the story shows it’s never too late to find a place to call home.  The novel touches on love, grief and forgiveness through various plot twists, including harboring secrets from the past that threatens to derail everything. 

Green says it's much different writing a book from the perspective of middle age.  She sometimes wishes to go back and rewrite books that she wrote in her 20s with the perspective and wisdom she has now.  At this age, Green says people are able to acknowledge that life is hard and that no matter what our social media profiles may look like, that's not real life.

Green also narrates the audio book of The Friends We Keep.  She's narrated the last few books she's written and says it's nice because nobody other than the author really understands the characters.  Green hopes makes up for some of her accents by really understanding what makes the characters tick.  She says sometimes there are stumbles over accents like an Irish nurse, but enjoys recording the stories.

For years people have asked Green about a sequel to Jemima J, her second novel, but she's not sure she would do it at this point.  Green notes there have been times she has thought about it.  She says she might have the characters make different choices if she were just to rewrite it now.

In a fundraiser for Pequot Library in Southport on June 13th, Green and Lisa Lampanelli will host a talk about the novel, followed by a reception and book signing on the Great Lawn.  The $100 VIP experience features a gathering overlooking Southport Harbor from 5-6pm. Limited to 40 guests, each receive a signed copy of The Friends We Keep.  $50 Launch Party tickets include entry to the book talk, 6:30 – 8:30pm, and a copy of The Friends We Keep.

Green will make a book tour stop at Found and Design in New Canaan on June 17th at 6:30pm.  Reservations are required.

On July 31st, Green will participate in an event with Lisa Steinke, Liz Fenton, and Emily Liebert at Bungalow in Westport at 6pm.

Living History Day in Bethel includes Revolutionary War reenactment

Living History Day in Bethel takes place today and there will be a Revolutionary War reenactment on the Bethel Municipal Center lawn.  The events are being hosted by The Bethel Historical Society, starting at 10am.  Activities include a morning scout and skirmish, a children's march and wooden musket drill, colonial music and dancing, and artillery and cavalry demonstrations. 

10:00 – 10:15 AM – Gazebo - Gretchen Tucker singing two verses of Chester – the unofficial
National Anthem during the Revolution

10:15 AM – Morning Scout & Skirmish

10:30 AM – 11:00 AM – Gretchen Tucker – is a classically trained soprano with 20 years of choral
experience and 18 years of solo experience will perform at the Bethel Public Library. She sings in
a number of styles such as vintage/historical, patriotic songs, and 18th century music to name a
few. Library registration through the online calendar (there is a REGISTER button), or call 203-
794-8756 x4)

10:30 AM – Children’s Marching and Wooden Musket Drill

11AM – Noon – Patrick Wild, Town Historian – will present a PowerPoint program entitled
"Revolutionary Bethel". The program will highlight events that took place in and around Bethel
during the years of the American Revolution. Library registration through the online calendar
(there is a REGISTER button), or call 203-794-8756 x4)

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM – Nooning (Lunch) in Camp

12:30 PM – Children’s Marching and Wooden Musket Drill

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM – Gazebo - Patricia Campbell – Colonial music and participatory dancing

2:00 PM – 2:30 PM – Clothing Program - What Should I Wear? A look at 18th Century Women’s Clothing From the Ground Up – VivianLea Solek – Butler’s Rangers

2:30 PM – 3:30 PM – Artillery and Cavalry Demonstrations

3:30 PM – 4:00 PM – Battle


Passport to Bethel – 10:AM – 4:00 PM
Stop at historic sites in downtown Bethel and talk with the Boy Scouts from Troop 71 to learn
about Bethel’s historic structures.

Conn. Open House Day today

Today is Connecticut Open House Day.  A number of locations across the state are offering free or reduce priced admission and hosting special events.  That includes free admission to the Danbury Museum & Historical Society, with tours and a special exhibition between 10am and 4pm.  The day also features free entry to Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center in Ridgefield from noon to 4pm.

Worker killed in industrial accident in New Milford

A worker has been killed in an industrial accident in New Milford.

Police received a 911 call shortly after 6pm from a commercial building on Danbury Road, New Milford Block and Supply.  Police say the industrial accident resulted in a fatality.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responding to the scene  Preliminary reports are that the worker was stuck on the conveyor belt.

6 new conditions considered for medical marijuana program

The state Board of Physicians has considered six additional conditions to the Medical Marijuana Program.  Chronic Pain was tabled for a future meeting. 

Recommended for adults is MALS Syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, Interstitial Cystitis and Intractable Neuropathic Pain that Is Unresponsive to Standard Medical Treatments.  The last was also recommended for patients under 18.  For minors, the board recommends Tourette Syndrome for patients who have failed standard medical treatment. 

Vulvodynia and Vulvar Burning was recommended for adults.

New 'noise buster' on the job in Danbury

Danbury has sworn in a new staff member to patrol Rogers Park.  The newest so-called noise buster is Edwin Ordonez.  He started patrols last night. 

Danbury amended the City's noise ordinance about three years ago in response to resident complaints.  Instead of requiring the use of specialized sound meter equipment, the ordinance allows for a standard known as “plainly audible.”  

There are some limitations to the power of these part time noise control officers, they can't arrest people.  Officials say they're really on the job to calm the situation down by talking with offenders first.  If they refuse to comply, a ticket will be issued. 

Anyone with a noise complaint is encouraged to call 311, which is staffed 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. 

17th Annual Georgetown Day Celebration set for Sunday

The 17th Annual Georgetown Day Celebration is this Sunday. The Georgetown neighborhood is located at the four corners of Redding, Wilton, Ridgefield and Weston.  Events for the day include games, a chili cookoff, beer tent and live music.  Proceeds of the event go to benefit the non-profit organizations that host and under-write it: Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department, Georgetown Lions Club, G & B Cultural Center and Georgetown Village Restoration.  It's noon to 6pm.

Town Clerk offices in the middle of dog licensing month

Town Clerk offices across the state are now in the middle of dog licensing month. Bethel residents have the month of June to license before late fees of a dollar per month per dog will be assessed. Licensing may be done via the mail or can be done in person.  Hours of operation have changed since last year.  The Bethel Town Clerk's office and town hall is open Monday through Wednesday is am to 4:30pm, Thursdays until 6pm and Fridays until noon.

Garbage truck fire extinguished in New Fairfield

On Wednesday morning, the New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Departments responded to reports of a garbage truck fire on Route 39.  When firefighters arrived, they found a dumpster with its contents smoldering on the roadway.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was notified and the roadway was cleared.

New Fairfield schools offer tour of schools considered for replacement

The New Fairfield  Board of Education Community Building Tours are being held once again tomorrow.  Residents will also be able to review designs for proposed building projects.  Tours tomorrow start at 9am at Consolidated School and proceed to New Fairfield High School.  Both facilities are in need of renovations.  The town is looking into the possibility of a new Consolidated School near Meeting House Hill School and demolishing the High School, with a new building constructed nearby.

Danbury Police participate in Push Against Cancer fundraiser

Members of the Danbury Police Department will once again be participating in the Push Against Cancer Fundraiser, being held on Sunday. The event raises money to help send sick children, some terminally ill, to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.  Last year the Danbury Police group did over 10,000 pushups.  The Bethel Police Department is also participating in the fundraiser.  Their team is called “Maddie’s Mavericks,” named in honor of the daughter of Detective Frank O'Farrell, who is fighting Ewing Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. 

New charges filed against Danbury man accused of providing fentanyl to minors

New charges have been filed against a man arrested by Danbury Police last Friday.  33-year old Smill Almanzar-Nunez is facing new charges stemming from an investigation began after a 15-year-old and 16-year-old were transported to the hospital.

It was determined that both had overdosed from suspected fentanyl.  During the continuing investigation, which include the arrest of Almanzar-Nunez for possession of a substantial quantity of fentanyl, Danbury Superior Court issued an arrest warrant for Almanzar-Nunez for providing the juveniles with the fentanyl that caused their overdose. 

He was charged on Tuesday with possession and sale of a controlled substance, risk of injury and reckless endangerment.  He is due in Court on July 2nd on both arrests.

New York portion of Deer Pond Farm opens this weekend

The New York portion of Deer Pond Farm opens this weekend.   10 miles of trails and 447 acres of public use have been added to a preserve in Sherman.  The Connecticut Audubon is celebrating the opening with a series of activities tomorrow.  The Pawling section is a sloping half-mile walk from the parking area at 57 Wakeman Hill Road in Sherman.  Parking and access to the New York and Connecticut trails are from this address.  The events include a guided bird walk at 8am, a birding demonstration at 9am.  A ribbon cutting and brief ceremony will follow at 10.  A birds of prey demonstration will be held at 10:30am.  Opening day programs and guided hikes are free but online RSVPs are requested.

Bethel to declare Friday as Gun Violence Awareness Day in town

A proclamation will be signed in Bethel today declaring Friday as Gun Violence Awareness Day in the town.  It's being done in  honor of a Bethel woman killed last year in Bridgeport, and other victims.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker will sign the proclamation at 2:15pm on the steps of the municipal center to remember 25-year old Emily Todd.  The Bethel native was shot to death in Bridgeport in December.  More than a dozen other Connecticut municipalities are issuing formal proclamations for National Gun Violence Awareness Day, which is held on the first Friday in June.  A vigil is being held in New Milford, as part of the campaign.

Tree worker electrocuted in Wilton

A tree worker has been electrocuted in Wilton.  Police responded to Ruscoe Road yesterday evening on a report of a 25-year old man who was unresponsive.  The Stamford man was working with a tree crew from M. Lato Tree Company. A preliminary investigation determined that the boom on the truck had come in contact with the power lines.  The victim opened the door of the then energized truck and was shocked.  He was transported to Norwalk Hospital, where he remains in critical condition with life threatening injuries. The incident remains under investigation by Wilton police and OSHA.

Brookfield Public Works gets set to do micro paving projects

Dryer weather appears to be in the forecast which means the Brookfield Public Works Department can begin micro paves. Crews will be mobilizing today and start work Friday on several roads. The entire process should take 5 to 7 dry days.  Work will start on part of Merwin Brook Road, then move to Obtuse South, Hillendale Road, North Mountain Road, Grays Bridge Road, Sandcut Road and ending at Pocono from Silvermine to 133.

New Fairfield names Outstanding Senior of the Year

Cheryl Reedy has been named Outstanding Senior of the Year by the town of New Fairfield.  She has lived in New Fairfield for over 36 years, has served as First Selectman, state representative and Director of the regional municipal solid waste and recycling management organization, the Housatonic Resource Recovery Authority.  Reedy was also a  member of the Board of Finance, Secretary and Treasurer of the Ball Pond Fire Department and Secretary of the New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department.  New Fairfield residents thanked Reedy for all that she has done, and continues to do.

Danbury marks Alzheimer's Awareness month

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.  The City of Danbury is working with the Alzheimer’s Association to paint the town purple.  City Hall, the Senior Center, Elmwood Park, the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce and others have added purple decorations to their windows and buildings.  Danbury firefighters will be sporting purple tee shirts on Fridays for the month of June.  There are 78-thousand people living with Alzheimer’s in Connecticut and 178-thousand caregivers.  The Walk to End Alzheimer’s takes place at West Conn on September 22nd.

Danbury's west side needs another fire station according to Statement of Conditions Report

The Danbury Fire Department has reported it's annual Statement of Conditions to the City Council.  The rapid addition and expansion of residential and commercial properties on the west side of the city places a bourgeoning demand for services, since even just a couple of years ago.

Chief TJ Wiedl says the need for a station hosting both an engine company and an ambulance is now more obvious.  He says the City must consider a plan for this now, as the growth will eventually over extend current staffing and response capability. 

Fire officials are still recommending a new engine house in the south end of the city, but say it's a desire rather than a necessity.  Wiedl says this would facilitate response to a densely populated part of the city, currently served by Engine 22 from Headquarters on New Street. 

The area of Main and South Street to Shelter Rock stretch of South Street would be ideal.

Danbury firefighters rescue man from under 200lb box, set up enclosed table

A man trying to move a heavy shipping box got trapped under it last night and had to be rescued by Danbury Firefighters.  A resident was trying to move the large stone topped table, when it shifted and fell on him.  His wife was unable to get the 200 pound box off him and called 911.  Firefighters lifted the box off the man, who was taken to the hospital for evaluation as a precaution.  While the patient was being transported, firefighters carried the table pieces up to the deck and put it together.  The man turned out to be ok.

Bill to help towns around Cricket Valley monitor air quality heads to Gov.'s desk

Final legislative approval has been given to a bill that requires the State provide support for an air quality study to Sherman and surrounding towns in anticipation of Cricket Valley Energy Center going online. 

State Senator Julie Kushner says one of her first visits to Sherman was to attend a meeting to discuss concerns about Cricket Valley.  She noted that a lot of people worry air pollution is likely to impact Connecticut towns near the Dover Plains facility. 

The decision to build Cricket Valley was made without the input from communities that will potentially suffer the most.  Kushner says a baseline study will help Sherman and surrounding towns, but called this just a first step.  She says there has to be vigilance to protect the people and environment for the long term.

Ridgefield accepts bid for renovations to sewer plant

The Town of Ridgefield has accepted a bid to complete renovation and expansion work at the District I wastewater treatment plant.  The nearly $38 million bid came from Spectraserve of New Jersey and was the lowest of four received. 

The Newstimes reports that the bid must be reviewed by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection so the contractor can be certified.  That has to be done by July 1st in order for the town to qualify for a $1.5 million phosphorous removal grant. 

Residents approved $48 million for the project in November and the final boards and commissions signed off on plans last month.  The overall project includes closing the Route 7 District II sewer plant and building a pipeline to pump wastewater to the District I plant.  The bid does not include the pipeline work.

Crane helps to remove glider from Danbury home

A crane was brought in yesterday evening to help remove a glider from the roof of a Danbury home.  Workers secured the aircraft and removed the parachute, which was not deployed, before the crane could lift the glider out of the Golden Hill Avenue house. 

A mother and her two young children were watching TV around 6 o'clock Tuesday night when the glider crashed into their house.  The pilot suffered minor injuries. 

The plane is registered to Thomas Nejame, owner of Danbury-based swimming pool supply company Nejame & Sons. But the pilot has not yet been publicly identified.

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

Local lawmaker touts eventual single-use plastic bag ban

The state budget imposes a 10-cent surcharge on single-use plastic bags and a subsequent ban beginning July 2021.  This comes after a growing number of Connecticut communities took or are considering taking action on their own to ban single-use plastic bags at grocery stores to help protect the environment.

Currently Stamford, Westport and Greenwich have banned single-use plastic bags.  Wilton Senator Will Haskell says consumer behavior has changed over the past decade.  He called it smart public policy that should be scaled up to the state level.  Weston and Redding are considering bans, but waiting to see what happens by the end of the General Assembly session. 

Haskell says Connecticut shouldn't have a piecemeal approach.

The Connecticut Food Association says with 169 municipalities, a one-by-one plan doesn’t make sense, is not broad enough, makes it difficult for retailers to comply, and is confusing for consumers.

National chains Costco and Aldi, which both have stores in Connecticut, do not provide free single-use plastic bags.  An estimated 100 billion single-use plastic bags are thrown away in the U.S every year and less than 5 percent of plastic bags are recycled.

First weekend road closure for Route 133 bridge replacement scheduled

The Route 133 Bridge over the Housatonic River/Lake Lillinonah in the towns of Bridgewater and Brookfield will be closed for work beginning Friday June 21st at 10pm through 5am Monday June 24th.  Traffic will be detoured around the bridge utilizing Routes 67, 7/202 and 25. Signage and portable message boards will be in use to help direct traffic, according to the state DOT.

Electric glider crashes into Danbury home

An electric glider has crashed into the roof of a Danbury home.  Fire officials say the pilot suffered minor injuries yesterday shortly before 6pm. 

Three people in the home at the time were not injured, but taken to the hospital for evaluation as a precaution.  Neigbors rushed inside to check on the occupants and pilot.  They found the man wandering around the attic with minor cuts and looking for his glasses.

The glider plane took off from Danbury Municipal Airport and lost power over the Golden Hill Avenue, forcing it into an emergency landing.  The glider hit a home not far from Danbury High School. 

The battery operated craft glides most of the time, using the battery for to take off, and if needed in flight.  The pilot, a Danbury businessman who officials have not publicly identified, left the airport between 10am and noon.  The call to the control tower around 5:45pm was garbled and the connection lost.

New details about Sherman larceny investigation of Brookfield woman

New details are emerging about the arrest of a Brookfield woman last month in Sherman.  29-year old Elizabeth Schultz was charged with larceny and forgery May 20th in three outstanding warrants.  Schultz, a home health aid, is accused of stealing bank checks from a patient, according to the arrest affidavit.  The four checks totalled $780.  Schultz was taken into custody by Danbury Police on active failure-to-appear warrants for driving with a handheld device and driving with a suspended license in September, and criminal trespass and larceny in January 2019.

Sandy Hook memorial designers suggest professional cost estimator for project

Designers of the proposed Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial have met with members of the commission to answer budgetary questions.  Designers Ben Waldo and Dan Affleck recommended bringing in a professional cost estimator. 

In response to possible cost saving moves, they said crushed stone in the parking area is not recommended and noted that there will be enough lighting for code compliance.  The parking lot is designed for 16 spaces.  Their firm, SWA, deferred other security decisions to the town.  The entry gate would be included in that deferral. 

The decision on bathrooms will also be deferred to the town, but note that they are the most universally desired facility and not a significant cost difference. 

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said he would discuss with the Land Use Department about the possibility of using the property behind the firehouse for access, saying it may change the cost dynamic significantly.

SWA has relationships with area nurseries and can ask them about donations or price reductions.  Pond rehabilitation is subject to more discussion.  Ben Waldo and Dan Affleck noted that there maybe schools or students that can clean the ponds on the property.  The ponds are interconnected so what's done to one is done to the other. 

Rosenthal said he'd look to see what the Newtown Department of Public Works can do on site.  Planting costs could be reduced by using hydroseed, but that would take time to establish.

Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run takes place Friday

There will be more pedestrians running along streets across the state on Friday for the annual Torch Run.  Local police department members will be running with Special Olympics athletes. 

Part of the run, starting at 7:30am, will be from the New Milford Town Green to Faith Church on Danbury Road where New Milford Police will pass the Torch to Brookfield Police.   New Milford PD said drivers can support the athletes by sounding car horns when passing by. 

Starting at approximately 9:50am, Danbury Police Officers will receive the Torch from the Brookfield Police Department at the KFC on Federal Road.  At about 10:15am, the runners will travel down White Street to Crosby and onto Main Street.  The Officers will continue on South Street to the Bethel line, where they plan to hand the torch over to the Bethel Police Department at 10:50am. 

There will be minor traffic delays as the torch passes through each town. 

This year's Torch Run in Ridgefield will kick off at 9am. Ridgefield Police will run on Prospect, East Ridge, Market, Main, Catoonah, and Gilbert Streets.  Ridgefield Special Olympians and the police department will be joined by members of the Wilton and Redding Police Departments, Bridgeport Correctional Center, Ridgefield Bicycle Company, and East Ridge Middle School teachers.



Opioids symposium this weekend hosted by Pomperaug District Department of Health

A symposium on opioids is being held this weekend by the Pomperaug District Department of Health.  The free event on Saturday at Pomperaug Woods in Southbury is part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness of the issue and connect people with treatment resources.  Attendees will also learn about alternative strategies for managing pain due to chronic health conditions and safe prescription medicine disposal locations.  Free drug testing kits will also be distributed.  The Regional Opioid Awareness and Response Initiative is a partnership with the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Officers Foundation.  Narcan trainings and other community educational sessions have been held.

Danbury Library celebrating 150th anniversary

Danbury Library is turning 150 and a celebration is planned for tonight.  Local food trucks will gather at Library Plaza as live music and other entertainment offerings happen.  There will be magic tricks, face painting and an arts and crafts station.  The Friends of the Library book sale table will also be set up.  The first 150 attendees will receive a free cupcake.  The event is 5pm to 7pm, but will be cancelled if there is rain.

Bookkeeper pleads guilty to helping restaurant owners evade taxes

A bookkeeper has pleaded guilty for helping the owner of local restaurants evade taxes.  59-year old Idalecia Lopes Santos of Queens Village, New York, waived her right to be indicted yesterday.  She worked for Bruno DeFabio, who owned Pinocchio Pizza in Wilton and other restaurants in Connecticut and New York. 

Santos admitted that she and others at the accounting firms knew DiFabio and his businesses took cash from the registers and did not deposit into the restaurants’ operating bank accounts.  The accounting firm though still used the bank records to determine gross receipts of the businesses, and the cash that was removed from the registers was not reported to the IRS.  

Certain employees had their entire wages paid “off the books,” while a portion of other employees’ wages was not reported. 

DiFabio pleaded guilty, agreeing the lost to the IRS was $816,954.  DiFabio awaits sentencing.  His business partner in some of his restaurants, Steven Cioffi, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and assisting in the filing of a false tax return.  He also awaits sentencing. 

They also operated Pinocchio Pizza in New Canaan, Connecticut; Amore Pizza in Scarsdale; Amore Cucina and Bar in Stamford; ReNapoli Pizza, in Old Greenwich; and Pinocchio Pizza in Pound Ridge.

Danbury receives $300,000 donation for new Animal Control Facility

The City of Danbury is getting a sizable donation to be able to finish the new Animal Control Facility.  The $300,000 comes from the estate of Ellen Levy, the late wife of Councilman Warren Levy. 

The City Council voted to name the new building The Ellen Levy Animal Control Facility in her honor. 

Ellen Levy passed away last year.  She had been a community activist who believed in helping those less fortunate than her.  Ellen was the Director of Head Start in Westchester County.  She also loved animals and always had a dog by her side. 

The City ran into some expensive problems, which also caused lengthy delays.  Overhead wires had to be moved and an issue with the right or way ownership had to be resolved.  $1 million in bonding was previously allocated.  The capital budget for the coming fiscal year includes another $700,000 for the work.

Animal Control officials say a new facility is desperately needed, despite improvements made a few years ago to bring the current building up to date with state regulations.  They say it's still sub-standard to pounds of today.  The building was constructed in the early 70's, doesn't have heat or air conditioning, and there's no room to quarantine animals if they're sick. 

Officials say a new building will give them a humane area to hold dogs before they're adopted.

Glider crashes into Danbury home

A glider crashed into a home in Danbury this afternoon. The plane went through the roof and causing damage to the home on Golden Hill Avenue.

According to Mayor Mark Boughton, the glider operator went through the roof and came out the other side.  Boughton said the operator is expected to be OK, but was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

No other injuries were reported.

Volunteer fire companies in Danbury continue to consider consolidation

Danbury Fire Department officials are working with the volunteer division to help in their consolidation efforts.  In the annual statement of conditions report to the City Council, the Chief reaffirmed that three volunteer fire company stations should be decommissioned and consolidated.  The Padanaram Hose building on North Street was built in 1950, but is on a dangerous curve.  Wooster Hose and Citizen Hose remain antiquated and marginally meet the operating needs of the companies.  The Coal Pit Hill fire house was built in 1883 while the Jefferson Avenue firehouse, built a few years later, had additions completed after the 1955 flood when the basement was filled in and again in 1980.

Danbury Fire Department considers adding marine unit

The Danbury Fire Department is looking to put together a marine program for Candlewood Lake.  Department officials have held two meeting in the past month with the Boat Committee on the initial phases of development.  They are also looking to design and purchase a marine unit.

Conn. House approves bill to extend Works's Comp to firefighters, police with PTSD

Under a bill gaining final legislative approval last night in the Connecticut House, Police officers and firefighters may be eligible to receive limited workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder caused in the line of duty.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan cosponsored the bill, which also calls for a review of expanding the assistance to emergency medical services and Department of Correction employees who might not otherwise be eligible. The legislation previously passed in the Senate and Governor Lamont is expected to sign it into law.

Traffic control project implemented in New Milford

A traffic issue in New Milford if starting to be addressed by the Department of Public Works.  Employees were out with the state Department of Transportation for traffic control work yesterday on Bridge Street and West Street.  The DOT painted “Do Not Block the Intersection" on Bridge Street and installed a sign reminding motorists as well.

Parking restricted around Henry Abbott Tech after neighbor complaints

Complaints from neighbors of Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury about students parking on their street have been heard. 

The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team received the reports of daily parking on Rowan Street Extension, often congesting the road and making it difficult for residents to safely exit their driveways. With restrictions on parking passes for the school, students will park wherever they can nearby. 

UNIT put in a request for No Parking signs to be installed, prohibiting parking during school hours.  The Highway Department recently installed the signs, and UNIT will assist in the enforcement.

Sinkhole reported in New Milford

It was a busy day for New Milford Public Works crews.

Officials are working to repair a sinkhole on Wellsville Avenue.  Mayor Pete Bass says a drainage pipe under the road broke, causing the problem late yesterday afternoon.  Public Works made a temporary fix for the evening commute. 

Earlier in the day New Milford started to replace the underground oil tank at Town Hall. 

Employees were also out with the state Department of Transportation for traffic control work on Bridge Street and West Street.  The DOT painted “Do Not Block the Intersection “ on Bridge Street and installed a sign reminding motorists as well.

New Putnam County Sheriff Deputies graduate training academy

Three Putnam County Sheriff’s Deputies have graduated from the 147 Session of the Basic Police Recruit Class held at the Westchester County Police Academy on Friday.  They were among 83 new police officers in the class from 23 law enforcement agencies completing 20 weeks of training.  Following 6 to 8 weeks of field training, these deputies will begin patrolling the streets of Putnam County.  Sheriff Robert Langley wished them well as they begin their careers.

Danbury schools to get more state funding over proposed budget

Danbury Public Schools will get more funding from the state under the budget approved by the House last night.  Representatives David Arconti, Bob Godfrey, Ken Gucker and Raghib Allie-Brennan say Danbury will get $2.6 million more in  education cost sharing funds for fiscal year 2020 than it did in the previous fiscal year, and another increase in fiscal year 2021.  The House Danbury Democratic legislative delegation says they worked together seeking an increased and fair investment in Danbury’s education funding share – a key priority for the lawmakers.  They noted that the budget also does not move some teachers’ pension cost to towns.

Accused PTO embezzler granted accelerated rehabilitation

A Brookfield woman accused of embezzling money from a local PTO has been granted accelerated rehabilitation by the courts.  39-year old Monica Bevilacqua will have the 5 felony charges dropped if she completes the two-year, pretrial intervention program.  She allegedly stole $12,700 dollars from Center Elementary School PTO's accounts over two years by writing herself 11 checks and making more than 180 personal charges on the PTO's credit card.  Bevilacqua paid restitution, plus a more than $7,000 charitable donation to the PTO, which does not receive any public funding from the town or its schools. She must also complete 156 hours of community service and continue counseling and treatment.

New Milford considers sidewalks along Route 7

The New Milford Town Council has approved $70,000 to design sidewalks along Route 7.  The money is part of a $400,000 local match required by a $1.8 million federal grant.  The Plan of Conservation and Development identifies 8 miles of roadway from the High School to Bridge Street for sidewalks.  The Newstimes reports that officials may be looking at the 5-and-a-half mile stretch near the Community Center and Picket District Road where there have been 7 pedestrians hit in the last 10 years.  The New Milford Board of Finance must approve the funding as well.  The town requires sidewalks for new development and redevelopment on Route 7.

Sinkhole in Danbury caused by collapsed storm sewer

The Shelter Rock Road sinkhole in Danbury will need further repairs.  It was patched up on Friday night and backfilled for the weekend.  4th Ward City Councilman John Esposito says a decision will be made today by Public Works on how to proceed with repairs. 

The sinkhole was formed when a more than 50-year old storm sewer collapsed, according to 4th Ward Councilman Farley Santos. 

(Photos: Farley Santos)

He says it will be a big repair job which will likely require a road closure at some point this week.  The catch basin is closed off near the intersection with Cross Street.

Brookfield Police remind drivers of dangers in leaving kids, animals in cars

With the warmer weather here and the beginning of summer just around the corner, Brookfield Police officials are reminding drivers of the dangers associated with leaving kids and animals inside of a vehicle.  On Sunday morning, it was already 72-degree outside and cloudy, but one of the K9 vehicle interiors reached 90 degrees.  The rear windows were down and the front windows were partially opened.  The Police K9 was not inside the car.  All of those vehicles are equipped with special heat monitoring technology, which notifies the handler via text message if the car gets too warm.  The technology also activates the vehicles lights/sirens, turns on a specially installed fan, and begins making phone calls to the handler and the dispatch center if temperature exceeds the pre-set range.

Local lawmakers rebuked over antics during late night debate

The Friday state House session opened with a rebuke from both House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz and Minority Leader Themis Klarides.  She said there was an act of disrespect directed at Representative Dubitsky during a debate Thursday night over revisions to the Trust Act.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan passing behind him with a potted plant, and Redding Representative Anne Hughes, another freshman, pausing to stare.  House Majority Leader Matt Ritter said the complaints were heard, but noted that disrespectful behavior is non-partisan.  During debate on banning plastic straws, Big Gulps were brought in and a lawmaker held his drink in front of him, tugging at the straw with his teeth.

Road realignment project started in Redding

A road realignment project in Redding is now underway.  Work on Long Ridge Road will continue throughout the summer.  The goal is to improve safety and sight lines and to smooth the “hump”.  A map of the project will be available at Redding Town Hall.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton says there will be periodic closings of the train crossing, which they hope will be contained to two or three weekends over the course of June and July.  More details on the closings will be provided as soon as town official have the schedule. The town will use variable message boards on the roadside to alert residents of the closing in advance, as well as the town's email alert system.

Danbury students honor by Superintendents group

The Western Connecticut Superintendents Association has recognized 10 students from Danbury.  They were among 54 students from Western Connecticut honored during a ceremony last month in Danbury.  The students were from 27 middle and high schools.  Awards are based on community service and service to others, academic prowess (relative to ability), and leadership service to the school and community.  The Danbury students honored are: Jessica DePalma and Sean Donovan, Broadview Middle School; Higor DaSilva and Elvia Fajardo, Rogers Park Middle School; Sharva Karthikeyan and Sydney Vincente, Westside Middle School Academy; Lucas Amaral and Alisha Nagarsheth, Danbury High School; and Xinia Cruz and Justin Escobedo, Alternative Center for Excellence.

Danbury Early College Opportunity participants graduate from NVCC

Four students from the first class of the Danbury Early College Opportunity program at Danbury High School have graduated from Naugatuck Valley Community College.  100 students started in the program in 2015 to earn an Associate Degree while attending high school. 

The students earned either a degree in general studies or in computer information systems and will graduate from DHS next month.  13 students in the program received certificates from NVCC in management information systems and/or microcomputer networking.

Some students will continue working toward their Associate Degree while others will move on to a four-year college. 

The DECO program has already accepted 76 students to begin as DHS freshmen in the fall.  Students begin accelerating their high school requirements so that by sophomore or junior year they can begin incorporating college-level courses. Some courses may take place at NVCC’s Danbury campus. DHS is the second high school in Connecticut to offer such a program.

DOT plans road work in Danbury, Monroe

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is restricting some traffic along Route 34 over the Housatonic River.  The area between Monroe and Oxford, the Stevenson Dam, will be posted for load restrictions of 15 tons for ALL vehicles. The restriction will be in place until needed repairs are designed and completed.

The DOT is performing nighttime bridge maintenance work and deck repairs I-84 east and westbound in Danbury tonight through July 31st.  Motorists can expect lane closures between Exits 1 and 8, 9pm to 5am Monday through Thursday nights.  Changes or extensions may be needed due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions. 

Some Ridgefield roads have new speed limits

Several Ridgefield roads have new speed limits.  They are consistent with the state DOT's Office of the State Traffic Administration regulations.  The roads had been limited to 25 miles an hour, but certain sections have been changed to 15, others 20 or 30 miles an hour. 

Speed Limit Changes made May 30, 2019

1. Lafayette Ave – Washington St to Copps Hill Rd - changed to 20 mph
2. Pelham Lane – Wilton line to Nod Hill Rd - changed to 15 mph
3. Rochambeau Ave – Copps Hill Rd – Washington St - changed to 20 mph
4. Washington Street – Rochambeau to Lafayette - changed to 20 mph

Speed Limit Changes to be made May 31, 2019

5. George Washington Highway – entire length - changed to 30 mph
6. Farmingville Road – RT 35 to Limekiln - changed to 30 mph
7. North Street – RT 116 to Wooster Street - changed to 30 mph
8. Regan Road – entire length - changed to 30 mph
9. Old Sib Rd – NY line to Rock Rd - changed to 20 mph

Unexploded military device found at Newtown Transfer Station

An unexploded military ordinance found at the Newtown Transfer Station on Friday closed the facility for the afternoon.  The transfer station was closed around 11am due to the investigation of hazardous material.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said later in the evening that the Transfer Station would reopen for regular hours Saturday.  The Bomb Squad was called in to investigate and the ordinance proved to be inert.

Danbury man charged for suspected fentanyl overdose of juveniles

A Danbury man has been arrested on drug related charges for the suspected fentanyl overdose of two juveniles. Danbury Police say 33-year old Smill Almanzar-Nunez supplied the juveniles with the substance that caused them to overdose. He was the focus of another active investigation involving illegal drugs being sold throughout the Danbury area.  Almanzar-Nunez was arrested on Friday at his home.  He was found in possession of a substantial quantity of illicit drugs and charged with 3 counts of risk of injury to a child and two counts each of possession and possession with intent to sell. 

Man arrested on sexual assault complaint at the mall

A Stamford man has been arrested on a sexual assault complaint at the mall.  Danbury Police say 60-year old Kevin Hassan was arrested at his home Wednesday for the February incident. 

The man allegedly complimented the complainant on their hair while also inappropriately touching them without their consent.  Another victim came forward after surveillance photos were released of the man and said they previously experienced similar behavior from the man. 

Hassan had previously been told to not go back to the locations where these incident had occurred. 

He was released on bond for an appearance in Danbury Superior Court on June 17th.  He was charged with criminal trespass and 3 counts each of sexual assault and breach of peace.

Bus fire, mulch pile blaze, electrical incident reported in Greater Danbury

There were some fires over the weekend in the Greater Danbury area. 

On Friday afternoon, Ridgefield firefighters received a call of a school bus that appeared to be smoking heavily near the intersection of George Washington Highway and Old Mill Road.  The children had been evacuated.  It turned out to be a brake fire, which the driver put out with an extinguisher. 

Brookfield firefighters responded to Obtuse Road South on a report of a brush fire late Friday night.  Firefighters worked for 90 minutes to put out the deep seated mulch fire.  They had the help of a backhoe from the Brookfield Public Works Department. 

On Saturday, New Fairfield firefighters responded to an electrical fire.  A homeowner was using a space heater to take the chill out of the house, but it was plugged into a power strip.  Fire officials cautioned people against that, saying the device must be used on its own plug.

Bill would charge fee to help combat invasive aquatic plants

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Boaters will pay a new fee to help cover the cost of combatting invasive aquatic plants if proposed legislation becomes law.

The House of Representatives on Saturday voted 131-10 in favor of a bill that imposes a $5 fee for Connecticut residents and a $20 fee for out-of-state individuals who register vessels intended to operate on state waters. The General Assembly’s Office of Fiscal Analysis estimates the fee will generate approximately $400,000, to be used by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for various invasive species programs, including grants for research on managing state lakes, rivers and ponds.

Proponents of the bill say various lakes around the state are experiencing pervasive and invasive aquatic species and toxic cyanobacteria blooms, a problem that can be expensive to address.

The bill awaits Senate action.

Bethel seeks to address structural deficiencies at animal control facility

Bethel is considering upgrades to the Animal Shelter. The current facility was constructed in the 1970s. Its location is the biggest issue, with the recently added garage settling in the direction of the nearby swamp.

Public Works Director Doug Arndt says it's getting to the point where it's unsafe and should be condemned.  A structural engineer has evaluated the garage and the existing building.  Although the actual building was deemed to be in safe condition, he says there were some structural deficiencies due to the settling of the back end of the building.

The Bethel Board of Selectmen considered a bid waiver proposal from BMP Construction for the 83-thousand dollars project, plus a 10-percent contingency.   

Selectman Paul Szatkowski requested that the town contact Danbury Animal Shelter about renting or leasing options with their animal shelter. First Selectman Knickerbocker tabled the item until Arndt had written approval from the State that the improvements presented to the board would meet the states requirements, Town Counsel had an opportunity to review the proposed bid waiver and the town had an opportunity to contact Danbury Animal Shelter.

Conn. Trails Day events to be held this weekend

A Connecticut Trails Day event is being held by the Bridgewater Recreation Commission.  The hike meets at the trailhead across the road from 280 Christian Street.  Participants will walking the yellow and white trails, which have several ups and downs.  Participants were encouraged to wear appropriate shoes and bring bug repellent.  The event is Saturday from 9am to 11am.

The Brookfield Conservation Commission and Brookfield Open Space Legacy is hosting an Educational Walk along the Still River Greenway.  It's part of this year’s Connecticut Trails Weekend.  The event Saturday is from 10am to 2pm.  People in attendance will be able to visit exhibits from local nature and conservation groups, including wildlife protection, tick and mosquito prevention, beekeeping, and watershed protection. 

Participants will also learn more about what the local commissions and organizations do, and how residents can help to keep the environment beautiful.  People will be able to enter the Greenway at any point and collect information from each exhibit to receive a prize when finished.

The Redding Conservation Commission and Redding Land Trust are hosting a hike at the new Mary Ann Guitar Preserve, tracing a ridge and crossing streams.  There will be a short on-road segment to hike Sandy's Trail, crossing a field and looping trails in the Stormfield N.A.   The meeting time is 9am Sunday at the main entrance to Stormfield at the bend in Fox Run Road.  

Participants are asked to wear boots and to bring water and a snack for this 3.5 mile hike, which includes a few steep spots.  No dogs are allowed and only heavy rain cancels the event.  Registration is requested to help prepare for parking.


Danbury Fire Department reports busy month of activities to City Council

There were about a dozen responses to unauthorized burning in Danbury over the past month, according to a report from the Danbury Fire Department to the City Council. 

Fire officials reminded residents that there are dangers of brush and forest fires. Burning of small brush is allowed within the city limits as long as a permit has been issued and the requirements of the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have been met. Burn permits are available through the Fire Marshal’s Office. 

Fire Marshal Osborne is conducting Restaurant and Liquor inspections.  Fire Marshal Bergemann has addressed large apartment complexes, having them scheduled for the upcoming weeks.  Fire Marshal Bruce has been working with Boehringer Ingelheim, monitoring the progress and confirming code compliance of the large construction project. He has also worked with Mall Management to bring compliance to all cooking hoods and extinguishing systems. 

Danbury continues Still River Channel maintenance work

The Danbury Department of Public Works is collaborating with a City on-call consultant on maintenance of the Still River Channel from Patriot Drive to Jansen Street.  They have secured the necessary approvals from the Army Corp of Engineers, City of Danbury Environmental Impact Commission and the CT State DEEP to start Phase II. The plans and specifications were completed. Work involved the removal of almost 6,500 tons of sediment that had accumulated in the river channel over years and the spraying of vegetation with a DEEP approved herbicide. The contract was awarded to EnviroConsultants and Recyclers. Vegetation and sediment removal work has been substantially completed.


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