Local Headlines Archives for 2019-09

DOT schedules Route 133 bridge closures

The Route 133 bridge, connecting Brookfield and Bridgewater, will be closed beginning October 11 at 10pm.  This closure and detour will remain in effect through the weekend, until 5am Monday, October 14th.  Detours will use Route 67, 7/202 and 25.  The state Department of Transportation has also announced a second closure date, Friday, October 18th at 10pm through 5am October 21st.

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Danbury firefighters, police participate in Starts With Hello events at schools

Danbury Fire and Police Departments have taken part in Starts With Hello week in the schools.  Firefighters and police stopped by three different schools during lunch time to visit the students.. Hayestown, Great Plain, and Pembroke students are taking part in No One Eats Alone  and Starts With Hello.  These are programs of Sandy Hook Promise, and are meant to have students reach out to their peers who may feel isolated or ignored. 

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Congressman calls for SNAP benefit changes to be stopped

4th District Congressman Jim Himes is calling on the Department of Agriculture to rescind what he says is a harmful new proposed rule that makes changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  It bars the expansion of benefits to families living above 130 percent of the federal poverty line.  Himes says rule would specifically harm states like Connecticut with high cost of living and would force Connecticut to re-impose an asset limit test on most SNAP participants.  Over 57,000 Connecticut individuals—including working families, children, senior citizens, and disabled individuals—would see a decrease or a loss of SNAP benefits.  Connecticut allows certain individuals who earn up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level to enroll in SNAP.

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Bridge in Ridgefield to be as of Thursday

As of Thursday, Depot Road in the Branchville section of Ridgefield will be closed indefinitely due to structural deficiencies of the bridge determined by State Department of Transportation officials.  The bridge carries traffic over the Norwalk River. 

The bridge is the northern entry to the Branchville train station.  Cars could use the Portland Avenue bridge, but larger trucks looking to access business across the railroad tracks, can't negotiate that turn.  During a recent Board meeting, Selectmen Steve Zemo suggested cutting through the train station via the Portland Avenue bridge, and using the Depot Road rail crossing to get to West Branchville Road. 

The state is putting up signage in the right-of-way alerting drivers about the closure. 

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Regional Lake Communities Symposia at WCSU starts tonight

Three Regional Lake Communities Symposia are being held at West Conn this fall.  The first takes place tonight and is titled  “What Do We Want From Our Lakes?” The symposium will include a panel discussion featuring representatives from Ball Pond, Candlewood Lake, Lake Housatonic, Lake Zoar and Lake Lillinonah.

Aquatic Ecosystem Research partner Larry Marsicano and Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Associate Scientist Greg Bugbee will be among the panelists discussing the use of sterile grass carp to control invasive aquatic vegetation.  Representatives from each of the lake communities will discuss their aquatic plant challenges, current management actions and degrees of success.  T

he free symposium, open to the public, is at 7pm in Room 125 of the Science Building on West Conn's Midtown campus. 

Future Regional Lake Communities Symposia will include one on water quality October 21st.  One on the Value of the Lake, Monetizing the Social Benefits will be held November 25th.

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Motorcyclist injured in crash with teen driver in Newtown

A motorcyclist was seriously injured in an accident in Newtown involving a 17-year old driver.  Newtown Police responded to Berkshire Road near Sherman Street Friday evening.  The motorcyclist, 42-year old Joseph Romeo Jr of Monroe, had been traveling eastbound when a car driven by a 17 year old Sandy Hook girl exited Sherman Street.  The two vehicles collided and Romeo was thrown from the motorcycle.  He was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of serious injuries.  The girl was not injured.  Sandy Hook Fire Rescue responded and assisted on scene.  The Newtown Traffic Crash Reconstruction unit responded and is investigating this accident.  Any witnesses are asked to contact the Newtown Police Department at 203-426-5841.

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Woman involved in rollover Sherman crash charged with DUI

A woman has been charged with driving under the influence for a roll over accident in Sherman.  State Police responded to Route 37 late on Thursday night, in the area of Hubbell Mountain Road.  The driver, 26-year old Emma Peterson lost control, struck the wire guard rail and the car overturned onto its roof in a ditch.  She was uninjured.  Peterson was also charged with failure to maintain the proper travel lane.  She was released on bond for a court appearance on the 9th.

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Connecticut hiker knocked down by black bear

SOUTHBURY, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut officials say a hiker who was knocked to the ground by a black bear has been treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Connecticut Environmental Conservation Police say a 38-year-old Newtown man was knocked down by a black bear while hiking near Lake Zoar on Saturday. The man was able to get away, and the bear took off into the woods.

The man was taken to Danbury Hospital and has since been released.

Environmental police have not been able to find the bear. Wildlife biologists have set up a trap in the area.

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection officials are encouraging the public to keep their distance if they see a bear.

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Domestic violence fundraising walks planned across state

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Domestic violence organizations across Connecticut are planning to hold walks to raise both awareness and the funds needed to provide services to survivors.

Six "Walks Against Domestic Violence" will kick off on the morning of Sunday, Oct. 6. They're scheduled to take place at Parish Hill Middle/High School in Chaplin; the Danbury Fair Mall in Danbury; Bruce Park in Greenwich; Harbor Park in Middletown; Crystal Mall in Waterford; and the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford.

Some walks require a registration fee while others ask walkers to set a fundraising goal.

The money raised from the events will be used to help pay for local emergency domestic violence shelters and other services to help survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and trafficking.

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New Milford Police Chief asked to explain situation involving former Department spokesman

During the New Milford Town Council meeting last Monday, Mayor Pete Bass asked Police Chief Spencer Cerruto to respond to the recently completed investigation into a now retired Police Department member. 

The state police continued their investigation into Lt Larry Ash for months after he was reinstated by New Milford officials last year.  The FBI's criminal investigation was unable to substantiate DEA interference accusations.  Bass said Ash was cleared of the violations, but a state police internal affairs report, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, shows that Ash violated town policies regarding employee conduct, accepting gifts and ethics. 

Cerruto says had Ash still been on the payroll, they would have had to take steps to address policy violations.

Former Chief Boyne filed a lawsuit claiming that days after telling Bass that the investigation was moving to an outside agency, he was told his contract would not be renewed.  Te Mayor reportedly wanted a police chief who lives in New Milford. 

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Danbury man arrested for alleged drug sales

A Danbury man has been arrested after a several week long investigation into illegal drug sales in the City. 

Danbury Police knew that 27-year old Jeremy "Kuda" Roberts had a suspended license.  Officer saw him drive into a White Street parking lot yesterday.  As he attempted to leave the lot, investigators approached him and placed him under arrest. 

An open container was sitting on the passenger seat, which contained packaged heroin/fentanyl, cocaine and a portable scale.  A search of Roberts and his car turned up packaging material and several hundred dollars. 

Roberts was held on $100,000 bond pending arraignment.  He has several prior offenses pending in two Connecticut courts, for which he was released after posting several hundred thousand dollar bonds. 

He was charged yesterday with operating a car with a suspended license, possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell, possession near a school, possession with intent to sell near a school, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of drug paraphernalia near a school.

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Food trucks approved to be at Newtown Farmers Market

Food trucks have been approved to do business at the farmers market at the Fairfield Hills campus in Newtown.  The Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously following a public hearing on the issue earlier this month.  A one-year trial period was held to see if the feature would be successful and not disruptive.  Newtown Planning Director George Benson told the Commission that there were no problems involving traffic or litter.  The Newtown Farmers Market is held from mid-June to late October on Tuesdays, from 2pm to 6:30pm.  Food truck operators must pay a town Health Department fee for food service inspection, and the farmers market fee. A maximum of three food trucks will be allowed at each farmers’ market session.  If there are more than three operators who want to participate, the market will hold a lottery.

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Justice named as new Judge Mentor to Putnam County Youth Court

Justice Camille Linson has been named to succeed the late James Reitz as Judge Mentor to the Putnam County Youth Court. Youth Court is a diversion program for juvenile offenders run as part of the County’s Family Court.  Its goals are to reduce youth crime rates and prevent re-offenses by minors. 

Linson is also a candidate for the County Judge seat vacated by Reitz’s untimely death in June. 

Offenses commonly heard by the Youth Court include assault, criminal mischief, grand and petit larceny and criminal possession of a controlled substance.  Since 1988, the Putnam County Youth Court has ensured that youthful offenders are given a trial by their peers. Under the supervision of adult staff and consulting experts, including Justice Linson, young people aged 12 to 19 act as judge, supervisor, jurors, clerk, bailiff, prosecutor and defense counsel, and determine consequential sentences for offenders.

Linson says helping young offenders find meaningful ways to take responsibility for their actions breaks the cycle of crime right at the start. She says that means fewer repeat offenses, safer neighborhoods, and young people learning to be productive members of their communities.

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Newtown police cruiser hits school bus

A Newtown Police detective hit a school bus yesterday afternoon.  The incident happened near the police station as the cruiser pulled out of the Main Street parking lot and bumped the rear of the loaded bus, just north of the lot.  Police say there were no injuries reported.  The detective in an unmarked Chevy Impala was not headed to a call at the time.  Officers with the traffic unit are conducting the investigation, including noting the names of the students and where they were sitting on the bus.  The schools contacted parents to alert them to the incident.

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Properties selected for Ridgefield controlled deer hunt

Properties have been detailed for the upcoming controlled deer hunt in Ridgefield.  The sites have been hunted in the past.  There are 5 open space properties totaling nearly 200 acres. 

The Conservation Commission has recommended 34 acres of the Stonecrest/Ridgefield Brook property for archery and shotgun hunting, 26 acres of the Ledges property for archery and firearms hunting and 26 acres of Keeler Court, 19 acres of Colonial Heights and 94 acres of Ridgebury Farms for archery hunting.  On that last property, if the Ridgefield Police Department approves gun hunting, shotgun and muzzleloaders could also be used there. 

The first controlled hunt was approved in 2006 to cull the herd.  The properties are closed to the public during hunting by approved sportsmen. 

The Conservation Commission and Deer Management Implementation Committee agreed this year that the deer committee would provide a list of 15 possibilities and 5 would be selected each year, to rotate the sites.

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Arrest affidavit reveals new details in Danbury homicide case

Court documents have been unsealed about the fatal shooting in Danbury earlier this month.  According to the affidavit, 34-year old David Ramos was high on crack cocaine when he accidentally shot and killed his friend, 33-year-old Jason Hoffman, in his Sterling Woods condo unit. 

New information also details how the shooter's former girlfriend told police another man fired the weapon outside the condo, but later admitted that Ramos was the one holding the gun.  She initially told police the other man's name because they had an ongoing issue with him.  Police interviewed that person and determined he is “not considered to have any involvement in the homicide.” 

According to the woman, Ramos took the gun out to either look at or clean it, didn't know the safety was off and the gun went off.  Hoffman was struck in the back, with the bullet passing through both lungs and his heart.  The gun, with the serial number scratched off, was found in a nearby storm drain. 

27-year old Gabrielle Rega was charged with making a false statement and interfering with a police officer along with drug charges. 

Detectives noted it “appeared an attempt was made to clean up the scene or hide certain evidence.”

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Coalition launches awareness campaign to increase breastfeeding rates

A number of new laws take effect in Connecticut next week. One requires the Department of Social Services to provide Medicaid coverage for mothers who need donor breast milk for their newborns in cases where it is medically necessary.  Medical providers say this can result in improved infant growth rates, lower infant morbidity and mortality rates, and reduced health disparities.

The Department of Public Health in collaboration with the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition developed an informational campaign to increase support once out of the hospital and back in the community. 

The campaign is called It’s Worth It. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends to breastfeed exclusively for about the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until at least 12 months of age.  

Connecticut exceeds the national breastfeeding initiation rate based on recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  While duration rates are still above the national average, Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut Director of Community Wellness Maureen Farrell says they could be better.  When the figures are broken down by race and ethnicity, disparities exist. Only 75% of Hispanic women initiate breastfeeding, while only 69% of Black women initiate, compared to 82% of Caucasian women. 

Resources can be found at both itsworthitct.org as well as the CBC’s webpage breastfeedingct.org.

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Court hears Alex Jones' appeal in Sandy Hook case

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should not have been penalized for an angry outburst on his Infowars web show against an attorney for relatives of some of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, Jones’ lawyer told the Connecticut Supreme Court on Thursday.

Lawyer Norman Pattis told the justices Jones was exercising his free speech rights during the tirade in June against attorney Christopher Mattei, one of the lawyers representing the families in a defamation lawsuit against Jones, Infowars and others for calling the school shooting a hoax.

A lower court judge cited the outburst when she sanctioned Jones by barring him from filing a motion to dismiss the families’ lawsuit, which has also included contentious proceedings over Jones’ delays in turning over documents to the relatives. Jones appealed the penalty to the Supreme Court, which did not issue a ruling Thursday.

The sanction came after Jones, on Infowars, accused Mattei of planting child pornography that was found in email metadata files that Jones turned over to the Sandy Hook families’ lawyers. Pattis said the pornography was in emails sent to Jones that were never opened.

“You’re trying to set me up with child porn,” Jones said on the show. “One million dollars, you little gang members. One million dollars to put your head on a pike.”

Jones mentioned Mattei by name and pounded on a picture of Mattei while saying, “I’m gonna kill ... Anyway I’m done. Total war. You want it, you got it.”

Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the Sandy Hook families suing Jones, said there were safety concerns after Jones’ comments.

“What happens if that call for action, that call for a head on pike, goes out to 10 million-plus people that the person on the other side of that threat does not know anything about?” Koskoff asked the seven justices. “There’s clearly defamation. There’s elements of incitement. And there’s definitely true threat.”

Pattis said Jones, who was not at Thursday’s arguments, had good reason to be upset about the child porn, but his comments were not true threats and were protected by First Amendment free speech rights.

“From our perspective, Mr. Jones had every right to offer a million dollar reward to find out who did this,” Pattis said. “He had every right to express rage.”

Outside the Supreme Court with parents of some of the school shooting victims standing behind him, Mattei said Jones’ comments prompted him and the law firm to take precautions.

“I was a federal prosecutor for eight years so I’ve dealt with threats before,” Mattei said. “Whatever we’ve had to deal with ... pales in comparison to the abuse that he unleashed to the people standing behind me over a period of years.”

Relatives who attended the hearing declined to comment.

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 for promoting a theory that the shooting was a hoax. A 20-year-old gunman killed 20 first-graders, six educators and himself at the school, after having killed his mother at their Newtown home.

The families said they have been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones’ followers because of the hoax conspiracy.

Jones has since said he believes the shooting occurred.

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Road work to cause lane closures in Brookfield Four Corners area

Brookfield Police are warning about construction in the Town Center area starting tomorrow.  Drivers are cautioned to expect heavy delays in the Four Corners Friday and Monday.  Milling of the existing roadway and paving of the new road surface will reduce the majority of this area down to one lane. Access to all businesses in this area will remain open, but Brookfield officials are asking that through traffic avoid the area to reduce congestion and increase work zone safety.  Milling and paving will start at 7am and end at approximately 3pm on both days.

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Ridgefield Police to host Safety Day

The Ridgefield Police Department is hosting Safety Day on Sunday.  The event at East Ridge Middle School features crash simulators, fire safety information and child safety seat installation and checks.  Eagle One Helicopter will  arrive at 11am. A demonstration by K9 Loki is at noon.

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Danbury teen charged for Bethel assault

A Danbury teen who was being held in prison in an unrelated case has been charged by Bethel Police for an assault that happened last month. 

Kendrick Edwards was in custody at New Haven Corrections.  Bethel Police had a warrant for a disorderly conduct case involving the 18-year old from August 4th.  Bethel officers responded to New Haven Friday and later released Edwards on bond. 

The charges stemmed from an incident at the Howard Johnson.  Officers responded to a call about an argument between Edwards and a relative about making a lot of noise.  The argument turned physical, with Edwards allegedly pushing the complainant, who threw a soda at him.  Edwards allegedly punched the relative several times in the head. 

Last month, Edwards was charged by Danbury Police with two counts of sexual assault, illegal sexual contact, breach of peace and risk of injury to a child.  Those charges stemmed from an incident at Danbury Mall.

He is due back in court on October 29th.

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Bethel Registrars to hold office hours

The Bethel Registrars of Voters will be in their office on Tuesday October 1st from 10am to 2pm to complete the Preliminary Voter Registry List.  Any voter registration applications can be accepted at this time.  Voters have three ways to register: in person at the municipal center, by mailing a completed form to the Registrar's office and online.  The web based option is voterregistration.ct.gov.  People can also check registration status through the Secretary of the State's website.  In oder to be eligible to cast a ballot in the Municipal Election on November 5th, voters must be registered by October 29th.

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Easton Police marking Emergency Preparedness Month

September is Emergency Preparedness Month.  The Connecticut Alert Emergency Notification System allows state and local officials to help protect lives and property by providing critical information to residents during emergencies, including dangerous situations.  The Easton Police Department wants to make sure they can reach all residents with critical information when needed.  Connecticut residents can sign up at ctalert.gov by providing a zip code.

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Danbury FCI inmate enters plea on contraband charge

A Danbury Federal Correctional Institution inmate has pleaded guilty to possession of contraband.  35-year old Julian De Jesus Castillo had a razor blade taped to the underside of his assigned bunk.  He also had a 7.5 inch piece of flat metal that had sharpened edges and a point at one end concealed at the base of the pillar adjacent to the bunk.  Federal prosecutors say the objects were designed or intended to be used as weapons. Castillo is scheduled be sentenced December 19th, and faces a maximum of 5 years in prison.

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Bethel Superintendent sends follow up to parents after Snapchat threat against Middle School

The Bethel School Superintendent has sent a follow up letter to parents after a Middle School student made an indirect threat on Snapchat toward the school.  The Bethel Police Department notified the school of the incident last Tuesday and that their investigation found that the student did not have the means or intent to carry out the threat. 

Dr Christine Carver said in the letter that the district has held sessions over the past several years about safety and security, including how the district handles threats of school violence.  Carver said in the letter that the  typical student response is that, “I was only joking.” Regardless of perceived intent of the threat, the district handles them in the same manner. 

Given the recent incident, she wanted to review proactive measures and procedures.  The FBI has provided training for Police and administrators are indicators of school violence.  School counselors, psychologists, and social workers used that training to provide students with interventions when there are warning signs from potential aggressors. 

Carver says if parents continue to partner with the schools, they can reduce the non-credible threats, which leads to unnecessary anxiety in students.  She called on parents to set explicit expectations about the use of social media and monitor what children are posting.  Regardless of intent, threats have serious consequences, and all social media is permanent. 

Carver noted that school counselors can provide services or make referrals if a child needs help.

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Accessible playground at Pembroke School now open

The new playground at Pembroke School is open for play. The nearly $270,000 project took more than a year of fundraising and planning. 

School officials held a ribbon cutting at the playground yesterday evening.  Pembroke principal Dr. Sharon Epple says making the playscape a reality took a lot of effort, from many people.  She noted that the goal of this playscape was to create a more accessible playground that would allow all students to fully enjoy the use of each piece of equipment, and also to get all the kids to play together.

Epple and Leigh Viviano, a former teacher at the school who is still involved with the project, spearheaded the project at an initial cost of $150,000. Issues with drainage nearly made the project cost-prohibitive. The City Council stepped up in August to help match the money the school had raised through fundraisers and donations.  She thanked all of the faculty, tutors and staff for their efforts collecting can tabs, bringing thousands of recyclables to the store to get the deposit money, and collecting donations at football games.

Viviano says the new playground is unique in that it was built with a special concern for students who are challenged navigating older equipment. Pembroke has been selected to serve a number of students with disabilities in the district and, therefore, has six classrooms, one at each grade level devoted to these students.

The mostly blue and yellow playground has several playscapes with ramps and ladders and a spinner. One of Viviano’s initial concerns was that children with disabilities weren’t able to navigate equipment that was too high or steep. Some students may be prone to seizures, so the anxiety of tackling a dangerous incline can lead to serious medical issues. Children in wheelchairs must also be considered. The new playground includes platforms that are wheelchair-accessible.

Board of Ed member Richard Jannelli he never gave a thought, with his children and grandchildren, about the needs of somebody else at a playground.  He says this taught him to look at things through a different lens, not just from his own perspective.

Area schools and businesses, including Scotland Elementary School in Ridgefield and Fairfield County Bank--$1,000 and $2,000, respectively--King Street Intermediate, Stadley Rough School, Park Avenue School and Danbury High, helped get the project started. Westside Middle School Academy donated $620.  A Pembroke parent, who owns Hat City Tattoo, held a fundraiser that brought in $10,000 in one day.  Max Spirits, Hummus & Pita Co., Basilico, Chick-fil-A, Papa John's, McDonald's, and Texas Roadhouse hosted fundraisers as well.  Viviano says many local companies also made donations.  They included Praxair, Cartus and Chuck's Steakhouse.  Nonprofits like the Kiwanis Club, Ridgefield Rotary and VFW Post 149 made donations too.  Girl Scouts from Broadview Middle School, Pembroke alum, made donations as well.  DPS Printing donated lawn signs about the project.  Goldstone Family Foundation was one of the biggest donors. 

Because there is no other accessible playground in the district – the closest being in Ridgefield’s Ballard Park and another in Brookfield – the playground will be open to anyone afterschool and on the weekends.

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WCSU to launch Master of Science in Addiction Studies program

West Conn plans to launch a new Master of Science in Addiction Studies program this fall.  It's a response to the national opioid crisis and designed to prepare professional counselors specializing in the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders. The master's program, offered by the Department of Psychology, will feature course work with faculty specialists in the field of addiction studies. 

The program will also include extensive internship opportunities for students to work at area agencies on the front line in treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. The federal Health Resources and Services Administration has awarded West Conn a $1 million Opioid Workforce Expansion Program grant for the development of internship and training assignments serving high-risk populations. 

Partner agencies include the Western Connecticut Health Network in Danbury and Norwalk, the APT Foundation in New Haven, the Mountainside Treatment Center in Canaan, the Midwestern Connecticut Council of Alcoholism, and CHOICES at WCSU.

Connecticut’s opioid and heroin epidemic has seen deaths attributed to overdoses increase to more than 1,000 in 2017.

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Meeting in New Fairfield tonight to set school bonding referendum date

A Special Town Meeting is being held in New Fairfield tonight about setting the date and time for a referendum on school construction. The meeting is at 6:30pm in the Community Room.  An $84.2 million request is being made for construction of a new high school.  A $29.1 million bond is being sought for construction of a Consolidated Early Learning Academy, along with renovations to Meeting House Hill School.  New Fairfield officials are planning to apply for state reimbursement on eligible costs of the projects.

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Bethel stabbing case dismissed after defendant's death

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) The case against a Connecticut man charged with first-degree manslaughter in the stabbing death of his girlfriend has been dismissed after the defendant was found dead in his jail cell.

Officials say 34-year-old David MacDowell, of Bethel, was found ``suspended from a ligature'' in his cell on Sept. 5 at the Bridgeport Correctional Center. Staff at the facility unsuccessfully attempted to revive MacDowell.

The Danbury News-Times reports that the case was dismissed on Tuesday during a Superior Court hearing. A judge denied a motion to unseal court documents that would reveal the victim's identity.

The state Department of Correction Security Division and Connecticut State police are investigating MacDowell's death.

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Brookfield to hold meeting on new school design development

The New School Project in Brookfield is now in the Design Development Phase, when details and final design will be developed.  Three public forums have been scheduled for residents to review design details and provide input and feedback to the architect, the Board of Education and the Municipal Building Committee.  The forums are scheduled at Huckleberry Hill Elementary School at 6pm tonight, October  22nd, and November 19th.  The proposal includes demolishing the old school and constructing a new one on the same campus.  Center School students would also attend classes there, with Center School turned over to the town.  A School Naming Committee will be established in the near future.

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Stony Hill firefighters receive donation of pet oxygen masks

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company has received a donation of a set of pet oxygen masks from Dr. Jim McNamara and the Bethel Veterinary Hospital. With this donation, the department now has pet masks on all of their apparatus.  Fire officials say this give them the opportunity to provide initial care to animals at an incident until they can be transferred to definitive care.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company took delivery of their new Ambulance from Eastford Fire & Rescue Sales last night. It will replace their current 11 year old unit.

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Two local companies congratulate former members on joining FDNY

A former Danbury Fire Department member has graduated from the New York City Fire Department Training Academy.  Firefighter Daniel Mansdorf started his career in Charleston and then moved to Danbury, where he worked for several years before reaching his ultimate goal of joining the FDNY.  Mansdorf will be assigned to Ladder 59 in the Bronx.

The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department is congratulating Firefighter James Branson on his graduation yesterday. Branson, who grew up in Brookfield, spent several years as a member of Candlewood Company. He was a firefighter, an EMT and became a paramedic during his time volunteering in Brookfield.

While a member of Candlewood Company, Branson enlisted in the military and became a Corpsman in the U.S. Navy, and served overseas.

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Brookfield stops use of Roundup to control weeds

The Brookfield Inland-Wetlands Commission has asked that the town stop using glyphosate in the upland review areas of the town wetlands, and consider banning them from use completely.  First Selectman Steve Dunn agreed that the use of the product should be restricted and special care be taken around upland review areas. 

While he's not aware of any instance where the town uses these products near wetlands, Brookfield does have a policy in place now to limit the use of the product to only areas where there is no other option. 

Brookfield has stopped using Roundup and will be using another product to determine how effectively they work.  This will be an ongoing evaluation.

The Inland-Wetlands Commission cited studies showing that harmful chemicals from herbicides travel further than 75-feet during rain events.  They noted that town employees have been trained in its proper application, but those training have been proven by the manufacturer to not be fully safe for wetlands. 

Dunn says the primary use for products containing glyphosate is on roadways where the town has to maintain sight lines for drivers and cannot mow the right of ways due to localized conditions.

While the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection does allow for the use of these chemicals, they do note that town regulations must be observed.  DEEP does say that Roundup is not approved for use over water because the surfactant is toxic to aquatic organisms.  Surfactant is the soapy substance that helps the herbicide stay on the leaf surface longer. 

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Bethel Charter Revision Commission public hearing tonight

The Bethel Charter Revision Commission will hold a public hearing tonight.  Members will take comments about proposed changes to the Town Charter during the meeting. It's slated for 7pm in the General Purpose Room of the Municipal Center. 

Some of the discussion has been about adding a new department, separating the Department of Public Works from the Department of Public Utilities.  Responsibilities for management of public water and sewer departments would be moved.  There is also a language change proposed from building management to building maintenance. 

In the section on "use of purchasing cooperatives" for the Board of Education, the First Selectman asked that the town also be allowed to participate. There are numerous government-recognized buying cooperatives available that he says represent a valuable new opportunity to save taxpayers money and speed project turnaround time.

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Evening road construction underway in Danbury

Evening road construction is underway in Danbury on several roads.  The Public Works Department started the work Sunday night on Osborne Street, Germantown Road, Great Plain Road, Sandpit Road, Rockwell Road and Starr Road.  While there won't be any street closures, there is the possibility of travel restrictions and detours during this work period.  Construction should last approximately 3 to 4 weeks.  During that time on-street parking will be banned.

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Repairs could be coming to pavilion at Dickinson Park in Newtown

Repairs could be coming to the pavilion at Dickinson Park in Newtown.  Members of the Parks and Recreation Commission and Board of Selectmen recently toured the facility.  The pavilion can be rented for various events such as camps, weddings and the like.  It made nearly $10,000 for the town last year.  A 2012 master plan included a new pavilion, an uncovered deck expansion and splash pad.  The plan also calls for more handicapped parking.  All of the work is estimated to cost 400-thousand dollars.  Some of the work at the pavilion itself would be re-decking, re-shingling and leveling the floor.  The Parks and Rec Commission will present the needs and wants to the Selectmen during discussions this winter on projects in the Capital Improvement Plan.

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Southbury man charged for having unregistered weapon, ammunition

An unregistered military-style rifle, two other guns, three large-capacity magazines, and thousands of rounds of ammunition have been seized by Danbury Police from a Southbury man. 

47-year old Chad Ripley had been ordered to turn the weapons over following a domestic violence call in December.  Connecticut has a so-called Red Flag law requiring anyone who is issued a restraining or protective order to turn over any guns and ammunition within 24 hours.  He was charged by police Monday for having the unregistered gun and ammo. 

A Danbury woman Ripley was living with told police in December she and her daughter were assaulted by the man and she was concerned he would harm them again. 

Ripley is due in court on October 2.

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Case continued against man shot by officer due to ongoing police investigation

The case against a Connecticut man shot by Danbury Police in July has been continued.  Aaron Bouffard was in court yesterday on assault, threatening and other charges for the incident that led to a manhunt and the shooting.  The 31-year old is due back in court on October 29th, with the state police investigation still pending.  Bouffard allegedly fought with MCCA staff and clients on July 3rd, left and returned with two large butcher knives.  When the Bristol man was found on a nearby soccer field, he allegedly did not follow police orders to drop the weapons and was shot three times.

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Connecticut Congress members seek impeachment probe

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The majority of Connecticut’s all-Democratic congressional delegation by Tuesday afternoon had called for a House select committee to begin an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, citing the Republican’s efforts to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate the family of a political rival, former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden.

U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal kicked off the announcements after resisting for months to call on the House of Representatives to take action.

“I am deeply sorry that our nation must begin this journey toward impeachment,” Murphy said in a written statement. “But circumstances have changed, and the seriousness of the moment requires all of us to speak out in order to preserve our nation’s commitment to the rule of law.”

Blumenthal said he reached the decision “with sadness, but also with anger.” He said Trump’s efforts to seek “corrupt assistance from a foreign leader for personal gain crosses the line.”

By the afternoon, U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney, John Larson and Jahana Hayes issued statements expressing their support for an impeachment probe. A member of the House Intelligence Committee, Courtney said the Trump administration’s refusal to release a whistleblower complaint to the Congress regarding the president’s actions concerning Ukraine “has rapidly changed my thinking and the thinking of many other citizens in eastern Connecticut.” Larson said he spoke to Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes, a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee who in June was the first member of the Connecticut delegation to call for an impeachment inquiry.

He said Himes “underscored the gravity of the situation” and said the release of a written transcript of Trump’s phone conversation with the Ukrainian president would not change “that his people have kept the whistleblower complaint from being delivered to Congress in violation of the law.”

Hayes acknowledged she was “not quick to support impeachment” and wanted the process to play out. But she said the refusal to provide the whistleblower complaint led her to support the probe. She said the “president’s obstruction of Congress in carrying out our constitutional duty is concerning.”

Later Tuesday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that a formal impeachment inquiry of Trump was being launched, centering on whether the president abused his presidential powers and sought help from a foreign government for his re-election.

Trump has said he did nothing wrong.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the remaining member of the state’s delegation, on Monday issued a statement indicating a willingness to consider supporting an impeachment inquiry in light of Trump’s actions concerning Ukraine and his administration’s refusal to release a whistleblower complaint to the Congress regarding the matter.

“I have been reluctant to call for an impeachment inquiry because it would further divide the country,” DeLauro said. “But these actions regarding the 2020 election are a turning point.”

In June, Himes argued that an impeachment inquiry was necessary, arguing Trump has “shown contempt for the truth.”

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Sandy Hook Promise backs suicide prevention bill

Sandy Hook Promise is highlighting a new measure introduced in the Senate, in partnership with the organization.  The STANDUP Act stands for Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention and it pushes for every student in grades 6-12 to be trained in suicide prevention every year.  Sandy Hook Promise says about two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides. That’s why  they're expanding resources to help stop suicide. Preventing suicide is key to their overall mission to stop gun violence before it happens.

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5th Annual American Dream Awards gala held in Danbury

The 5th Annual American Dream Awards gala was held in Danbury this weekend.  The event promotes Danbury's immigrant history and highlights the cultural, social and economic contributions of all immigrants. 

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes delivered remarks and says the core American values everyone shares is equal opportunity, progress and freedom in the areas of education, health and civic engagement.  Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner presented citations to the American Dream finalists.  She says these students are the future. 

The New American Dream Foundation partnered again with Danbury High School’s Drama Department to take on the theme of Hamilton – The Musical.  Interpretative dance performances of songs from the hit Broadway play, about one of the most influential immigrants in American history, took center stage. 

Tickets sales proceeds will benefit Mission Health Day – a day of free health screenings and other community services for the uninsured and the income challenged, hosted by Western Connecticut Health Network, Western Connecticut State University and The New American Dream Foundation.  The Foundation was started by Danbury Board of Ed member Emanuela Palmeras.

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Local lawmaker wants investigation into DRS 'prepared meals' interpretation

There's a call for an investigation into how the state Department of Revenue Services came up with their initial interpretation of the prepared meals surcharge.  Wilton Senator Will Haskell has asked the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee to find out from DRS how and why its interpretation of the budget changed from what was agreed upon during budget negotiations.  He called their first position incorrect.  There are a handful of items for sale in some grocery stores, which could also be purchased at a restaurant or a fast-food establishment, that are currently subject to the 6.35% sales tax.  Haskell called it a matter of fairness for small business owners who own local restaurants and employ local residents.

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Preliminary investigation completed into fatal Pawling car accident

The preliminary investigation has been completed into a fatal car accident that happened in Pawling over the weekend.  The Dutchess County Sheriff's Office says a Jeep operated by 44-year old Jorge Rivera of Poughkeepsie was headed west on Route 55 when it was struck head on by a car operated by 62-year old Robin Shenitsky.  The Pawling woman was pronounced dead at the scene.  Rivera was transported to the hospital with life threatening injuries.  The investigation is continuing, but the Sheriff's Office believes the primary factor appears to be Shenitsky's failure to keep right..  No charges have been filed at this time.  New York State Police, Pawling firefighters and the Dutchess County Medical Examiner assisted at the scene. 

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Newtown Fire Marshal has smoke alarms for distribution

Free smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are being made available to Newtown residents who can't purchase the safety devices on their own.  The Newtown Fire Marshal received the supply for distribution at the recent annual Operation Save A Life event at the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks.  Newtown residents can pick up the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at the fire marshal’s office at Newtown Municipal Center.

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Mom's Demand Action founder speaks at book signing in Bethel

The founder of Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a movement intended to stop gun violence, spoke recently at a Bethel book store.  Shannon Watts noted that the organization has 300,000 active volunteers and a chapter in every state.  She authored a book about the grassroots movement.  Additional security was at Byrd's Books after a vague threat was allegedly posted on Facebook about gun rights activists open carrying on the sidewalk.  The shop's manager told the Newstimes it was a non-direct threat, but in anticipation of an incident, police were called.  There was no incident at the event.

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FuelCell Energy, Danbury agree to annual charitable corporate contributions

The City of Danbury has accepted an annual donation from FuelCell Energy, which has its global headquarters in the City.  A memorandum of Understanding has been approved for contributions to the city for specific municipal or charitable purposes, projects and initiatives.

FuelCell will donate up to $25,000 annually, for at least five years.  The agreement will be subject to extension by mutual agreement of the City and the company.

The City would provide the company with information about proposed projects, including purpose, participants and other sources of funding.  FuelCell will then review each proposal and decide whether they are applicable.  Some of the guidelines outlined in the MOU include that the project not be political in nature and can't conflict with the policies or business of FuelCell.  Each project must then include public recognition of FuelCell's contribution.

FuelCell wants to recognize the contributions of the City to FuelCell over the years and to show their intention to be a prominent corporate citizen and employer in the future. 

The company has developed a first of its kind, high efficiency fuel cell, installed at 64 Triangle Street.  Under state statute, the facility is exempt from personal property taxes.  The installation is a showpiece for FuelCell Energy.  The company will collect data from it and then research how to improve and refine its products.  FuelCell plans to bring prospective customers, lenders and dignitaries from around the world to the installation. 

About 45-percent of the workforce is located in Danbury.  Executive Vice President Jennifer Arasimowicz is on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

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Sherman sued by former Fire Marshal

Sherman and the Board of Selectmen are being sued by the town's former fire marshal. 

Sarah Beth Addison Larson claims in the suit that the decision was unjust and retaliatory for Department of Labor wage and OSHA violation filings.  The Board voted to dismiss Larson in January, citing instances of belligerence and willful insubordination. 

First Selectman Don Lowe told the Newstimes that Larson sabotaged her job with poor performance. 

She served 17 months as deputy fire marshal, 1 month as interim fire marshal and was officially promoted in October 2016.  Brookfield’s assistant fire marshal has been serving as Sherman’s interim fire marshal since Larson’s dismissal. 

Larson accused the Board of refusing to obtain protective gear for her, but the First Selectman says a request was never made through his office. 

When the state Department of Labor required a reclassification of the position from stipend paid to non-exempt paid with designated hours and an established hourly wage, Larson reportedly refused to sign the contract.  Lowe says Larson continuing on would have put the town out of compliance.

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Sothbury teen accused of hit & run on highway ramp

A Southbury teen is accused of intentionally hitting another car on an Interstate 84 ramp last week and fleeing the scene.  State Police responded to the Exit 15 westbound ramp Wednesday afternoon and Troopers were told by the other driver that he knew the accused.  Police arrested 18-year old Kyle Abraham Calitri at his home for  evading responsibility, illegal operation of a motor vehicle with intent to harass or intimidate, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and unsafe passing.  The teen was released on bond for a November 2nd court appearance.  State Police did not detail what led to the incident.

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Danbury Railway Museum gets grant for restoration effort

The Danbury Railway Museum has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Amherst Railway Society.  The money will be used to restore the Mill Plain Station, which was relocated to the museum last year.  The Mill Plain station was located 4.6 miles west of the former Danbury Union Station, now part of the Museum, and dates back to 1881. 

It was built to serve passengers on the New York & New England Railroad.  After 46 years, in 1927, passenger service was ended by the new owner, the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad.  The station building was purchased by a local businessman in 1931 and moved 200 feet to the south side of Route 6.  Several businesses had occupied the structure. 

When the property was sold, the new owner had planned to raze the building.  It was offered to the Museum at no charge.  

The Museum has the base of the structure already built in the rail yard with electric service included.  Reconstruction has begun.  Once completed, the station will become a destination for the Rail Yard Local train which the Museum operates during weekends most of the year and at special events within the rail yard. 

Since 1991, the Amherst Railway Society has funded railroad preservation and restoration projects across the United States.

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Connecticut improves energy efficiency rank

Connecticut has improved rank in the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard when it comes to energy efficiency policies.  Danbury state Representative David Arconti says Connecticut has moved to the number 5 nationwide.  Data collected from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy 2018 State Energy Scorecard on all 50 states and D.C., ranked the states on their local policies and efforts to promote clean energy.  Arconti, the co-chair of the legislature's Energy and Technology Committee says the state's track record on a strong commitment to energy efficiency initiatives is laudable.  In recent years lawmakers have worked to update building energy codes, offer financial incentives to consumers for energy efficient products and added standards for certain compact electronic devices such as audio players, televisions and others.

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Wilton Police carry out random acts of kindness

People in Wilton may have interacted with police yesterday for a different reason.  The Department teamed up with the Wilton Chamber of Commerce for a day of Random Acts of Kindness.  Instead of stopping cars to hand out tickets, officers gave the drivers flowers.  Some were caught by surprise, but were pleased to interact with the officers in a non-law enforcement capacity.  The Chamber says it's about paying things forward and putting positive energy into the world.

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Fatal two-car crash in Pawling under investigation

A fatal two-car crash Sunday night in Pawling is under investigation.  The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office says the accident happened on Route 55 during the late night hours.  1 person died at the scene and a second person was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Route 55 was closed for investigation for approximately 5 hours after the crash.  Anyone who may have witnessed all or part of the crash is urged to contact Deputies Wilber or LeMere at 845-486-3800. The Sheriff’s Office can also be contacted via the tipline at 845-605-CLUE.  All information will be kept confidential. 

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Stand Down 2019 serves veterans

About 1,100 veterans took part in Stand Down 2019, organized by the state Department of Veterans Affairs.  Commissioner Tom Saadi says they had 225 volunteers, many of whom are veterans, helping out at the event.  More than 120 federal and state agencies, community-based organizations, private businesses, and veterans' organizations spent Friday providing services to Connecticut veterans.  Those services included free workforce assistance, employment guidance, legal aid, housing referrals, and medical, dental and mental health screenings.  Veterans also had access to donated items like business clothing, new shoes and winter jackets.  More than 200,000 veterans in Connecticut were eligible to participate in the event.  Saadi says the attendees run the full age and service spectrum.  Some are first time attendees, while others see the event as a chance to reconnect each year with their fellow service members.

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State Education officials reject Danbury Schools request for more money

The state Department of Education has turned down a request from the City of Danbury School Superintendent for additional funding due to an unexpected enrollment spike.  The agency said the request for an emergency supplemental appropriation, outside the normal appropriation process, was also outside of the Department's statutory authority.  Danbury’s proposed increase in Alliance District funds this year will be $2.5 million more than last year.  The Education Commissioner referred Danbury to the Chief Turnaround Officer about the next steps to best maximize the effective use of those dollars.  The commissioner encouraged Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella to contact the Turnaround Office to schedule a phone call to discuss next steps.

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Future plans for Fairfield Hills campus to be discussed tonight in Newtown

As the Town of Newtown considers options for future plans for Fairfield Hills, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal is hosting in a presentation tonight. 

The presentation will cover the history of Fairfield Hills since its purchase by the Town in 2004, buildings that have been demolished and the ones still standing, what improvements have been made to the campus and the challenges that still exist.  Additional sessions will be held to cover the financials of the campus and options for the property. 

The Fairfield Hills Master Plan Committee has unanimously recommended future uses for the former state hospital campus, including a possible mixed-use residential development. A referendum will be held this spring, before any decision are made. 

A survey about future uses found that residents were opposed to housing, but not to development.

The presentation tonight will be held at the Newtown High School Auditorium from 7 to 8:15pm. 

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College admission questions to be addressed at DHS tonight

Danbury High School is hosting College Night tonight.  The DHS School Counseling Department will lead  a panel discussion that includes admissions representatives from Western, Eastern, Quinnipiac, UConn and Naugatuck Valley Community College.  Panel guests will address a wide variety of questions regarding the college application process and the transition to college. School Counselors from DHS will also be available at the end of the presentation to answer questions directly tied to the college application process.  The event is at DHS auditorium from 6 to 8pm.

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Easton Police urge pedestrian, motorist caution near popular farm

The weather is getting cooler and Silverman's Farm traffic is picking up. Easton Police are asking motorists to use caution when driving through the area and use alternate routes on the weekends as the Fall season progresses.  Visitors to Silverman's Farm are asked to use only the designated crosswalk to cross Route 59.  Officers will occasionally be on duty to help with traffic flow and pedestrian safety.

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4 arrested at known drug house, 1 assaults officer

4 people, including one who punched a kicked a police officer, have been arrested at a known drug house in Danbury.  Police responded to 14 Balmforth Avenue Thursday afternoon to serve felony arrest warrants on a man visiting there.  Police say all of those arrested are known to be drug users. 

Police have responded to the location several times for life threatening medical calls directly related to ingesting illicit drugs.

As officers entered the house, they were confronted by several people, including the four arrested.  There were drugs and drug related paraphernalia on a table surrounded by a group that appeared to be in the process of ingesting the drugs.

27-year old John Fernandez tried to escape, violently resisted and, after a lengthy struggle, a Taser was used to stop him. He and one police officer were treated at the hospital and released. Fernandez was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Interfering with the duties of an officer, and assault on a police officer. 

54-year old John Crowell was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of a Controlled Substance.  53-year old John Timan, who lives at the address, was charged with Interfering with the duties of a police officer and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia .

28-year old Sonia Veras-Martinez was charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of a Controlled Substance.  She is the subject of several outstanding warrants from offer jurisdictions.

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Easton Police warn of Venmo scam

The Easton Police Department is warning of a new scam that has surfaced, preying on people using the cell phone app Venmo. The peer-to-peer payment app allows users to send and receive money to and from phone contacts.  Easton Police say crooks use text messages to deliver links to a fake website that collects personal and banking information. The message informs the potential victim that their Venmo account will be charged unless they decline the operation.  Anyone who thinks a link might be a scam should call the person claiming to be the sender and ask them.  Police remind residents to never accept money from someone you do not know or expect to receive payment from.

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Start With Hello Week gets underway

This is Start With Hello Week, an initiative from Sandy Hook Promise.  Founder Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed on 12-14, says she's encouraged by the feedback from parents and educators about the program making an impact on how students feel at school.  She says the activities are not only helping to reduce bullying and bring kids together – they're helping save lives.  Start With Hello Week is a nationwide call to action for students to reach out to peers who may feel isolated or ignored.  Hockley says the school activities had a ripple effect in some communities, resulting in neighbors becoming increasingly connected.  Sandy Hook Promise provides the necessary materials to schools for free.

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Two fire extinguished in Danbury

There were back-to-back small fires in Danbury on Friday.  First, firefighters responded to a report of a garage blaze on Osborne Street.  Crews extinguished the flames within minutes, around 3:30pm.  A brush fire extended to a garage, but was prevented from spreading to the house.  Traffic was blocked off at Osborne Street and Locust Avenue during the response.  Minutes later, a call for a fire on Oak Trail was phoned in.  Firefighters found a small pile of leaves burning behind a fence near a shed on the property.  No injuries were reported in either case.  The Fire Marshal's Office is investigating both incidents.

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New Milford Police investigating fight between adults at school

New Milford Police continue to investigate a fight between two men in the high school parking last week.  Students were sent home for their safety Wednesday evening.  It happened around 5pm in the back lot.  The Superintendent said in a letter to parents that the two adults became volatile and threats were made.  There were no further details provided, including what started the fight.  For their safety, students on campus were removed from the area and brought inside the building.  Those who couldn't drive had to call their parents to be picked up.  The police, coaches and the athletic director stayed until all students were taken off campus.

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Man sentenced for human trafficking fights HIV test order

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut businessman convicted for his role in a Danbury-based human trafficking ring that preyed on young men who were mentally ill and intellectually disabled is fighting a court-ordered HIV test.

The Hartford Courant reports Bruce Bemer is arguing that the order violates his constitutional rights against unreasonable searches. He's asking the state Supreme Court to overturn the test order. Some of the victims allege Bemer knew he was HIV-positive but never disclosed it while having unprotected sex.

Bemer was sentenced to 10 years in prison in June but is free pending an appeal of his conviction. A jury found the Glastonbury resident guilty of patronizing victims of human trafficking in April.

Bemer, who owns the New London-Waterford Speedbowl racetrack, admitted he patronized prostitutes, but denied any role in human trafficking.

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Path cleared for demolition of two Four Corners buildings

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has come up with an arrangement so two buildings in the Four Corners area can be demolished.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says it's clear and straight forward so the town can move forward with Town Center development.  The former Subway and Mother Earth Gallery buildings are over 50 years old, so even though the permit could be obtained right away, they can't be torn down for 30 days.  That's the length of the public comment period.  Aquarion has blocked the water, which Dunn says was a big issue.  He called it a win for the developer and for the town.  This was coupled with approval of a revised agreement.  Brookfield officials expect demolition be bigin around October 7th. 

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Bethel Charter Revision Commission to hold public hearing

The Bethel Charter Revision Committee is holding a public hearing on proposed changes to the town's governing document.  The Committee was charged last October with coming up with technical revisions and larger changes.  The group previously held a public hearing and met monthly to discussed proposals.  Among other things, they propose increasing the Board of Selectmen to a 4-year term.  This new public hearing is on Wednesday in the General Purpose Room of the Bethel Municipal Center at 7pm.

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Brookfield Police holding car seat safety clinic

The Brookfield Police Department is marking Child Passenger Safety Week with a car seat clinic on Saturday.  The event is at Brookfield Town Hall from 5 to 8pm.  The Department's car seat technicians will be there to answer questions and check or install car seats.  No appointment is needed.  The event is free and open to Brookfield residents, and nonresidents.

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New Fairfield Library holds fall book sale

Friends of the New Fairfield Library Fall Book Sale is this weekend.  It's Saturday through Monday 10am to 4pm.  Proceeds will benefit the library.  Sunday is fill-a-bag day for $10.  Monday, all books are free though donations are accepted.  Most books priced at $2 or less.

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Education organizations applaud Congresswoman for Pell Restoration bill introduction

The National Education Association and Connecticut Education Association has applauded 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, longtime NEA and CEA member, on her introduction of the Pell Grant Restoration Act.  The organizations said in a statement that Hayes has spent her entire adult life fighting for students, first in the classroom and now in Congress.  The proposed bill would allow students who were victims of predatory for-profit colleges to have a second chance at a higher education with a full slate of Pell benefits.

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State Labor Department releases latest unemployment statistics

Four of the six Labor Market Areas saw job increases in August and only one saw a decline. The Danbury area remained unchanged. Only the Waterbury area had job losses, dropping 200 positions.  The August unemployment rate for Connecticut is estimated at 3.6 percent, unchanged from the revised July figure.  It's down four-tenths of a percentage point from a year ago. The US jobless rate in August was 3.7 percent.  Connecticut gained 2,800 net jobs in August.  Over the year, nonagricultural employment in the state grew by 0.4 percent.  The July originally-released job loss of 100 was revised up to a gain of 1,600.  State Department of Labor Researcher Andy Condon says Connecticut saw gains in six of the ten major Industry sectors measured. The labor force grew for the first time in many months.

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Services scheduled for Redding native killed in horse riding accident

Services have been set for Samantha Calzone, a Greenwich resident who died in a horseback-riding accident on Monday in Dover, New York.  Services for the Redding native will be held Saturday from 3 to 7pm and Sunday 10am to 1pm at Leo P. Gallagher Funeral Home in Stamford.  The horse Calzone was riding reared for an unknown reason and fell on top of the 23-year old.  In 2014, Calzone was accepted into the animal science program at UConn and joined the equestrian team.  She graduated magna cum laude in 2018. The UConn Equestrian Team posted the following notice about Calzone, “She served as a mentor and a true ray of sunshine to UCET and all people who were lucky enough to know her. Sam was a true horsewoman and loved our sport, and these animals, with her whole heart.”

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Committee formed in Bethel to bolster Sustainable CT efforts

The Bethel Board of Selectmen has voted to create a new ad hoc committee to focus on the Sustainable CT program.  The initiative encourages municipalities to meet various environmental, business, housing, health and related goals.  3 to 5 people will be asked to examine the goals the town has met or can work toward in promoting the environment.  Brookfield, New Milford and Roxbury are among the other 50 towns in the program.  The municipalities are eligible for grants when they reach certain benchmarks toward becoming more sustainable.

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Vehicle snaps telephone pole, hits house in Monroe

Emergency responders in Monroe were alerted early this morning to a car versus  telephone pole and possibly into a house.  Firefighters, Police and EMS found a pickup truck off of Wheeler Road around 2:45am.  The vehicle severed a telephone pole and struck a local residence. Firefighters checked for various hazards and structural damage. The scene was turned over to Police and Eversource.  This happened near Pamela Drive.

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WCSU students, staff participate in Western Day of Service

Today is Western Day of Service at West Conn. Work teams comprised of students, faculty, staff and alumni will spread out across the community to help local schools, service organizations, first responders and others.  Close to 300 volunteers helped over 40 not-for-profit organizations in the Greater Danbury area last year. From clearing trails at a local horse farm to painting stairwells, sorting through donated clothes, pulling weeds or washing fire trucks and ambulances, University officials say there were worthwhile projects to do everywhere. Generally all volunteers had fun and organizations appreciated the help.

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Erratic driver in Newtown found with rifles, sword

A 911 call about an erratic driver in Newtown has led to a DWI charge against a Meriden man.  Newtown Police received the call Monday night, about a pickup truck in the area of the flagpole.  An officer with the department's traffic unit spotted the suspect vehicle on South Main Street. 

The driver, 56-year old John Petrocelli, failed field sobriety tests.  During the officer's investigation, police say Petrocelli was not very cooperative. 

He was found in possession of marijuana, two rifles, and a sword.  Police spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde says police have not been able to determine why Petrocelli was driving in Newtown, though he might have been lost.

Petrocelli was charged with DWI, Criminal Possession of a Firearm, Violation of a Protective Order, Weapons in a Motor Vehicle, Possession of Marijuana, and Possession of drug Paraphernalia. 

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Sherman tie vote denies funding to Candlewood Lake Authority for weed mapping

Funding for weed mapping on Candlewood Lake did not pass in Sherman.  During the town meeting last weekend, there was a tie vote which resulted in the $5,000 allocation being denied. 

The money would have been sent to the Candlewood Lake Authority so they could hire the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station to continue mapping the aquatic plants.  The move was proposed after First Light Power Resources, the lake's owner, hired Northeast Aquatic Research to do the mapping this year.  First Selectman Don Lowe told the Newstimes that the executive committee of the CLA sanctioned the change, but it was not supported by the CLA Board.

Sherman residents approved $2,000 for surveillance cameras at Volunteer Park in an effort to address vandalism issues with people driving on the grass.  Residents also signed off on Saturday for up to $7,000 for a fence at Volunteer Field. 

Sherman residents approved up to $15,000 to drill a new well by town hall.  The allocation will also be used for infrastructure needed to get the water to the Sherman Playhouse and the firehouse.  Sherman officials hope this solves a longstanding problem of high levels of sodium and chloride at town hall, the Sherman School and senior center. 

A study done last year found that the elevated levels are due to road salt getting into the wells.

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Bethel officials disband Religious Display Committee

The Bethel Board of Selectmen has disbanded the holiday display guideline committee.  At their meeting this week, the Board voted 2 to 1 to officially close out their work.  Selectman Paul Szatkowski argued that they should remain through the application process for this holiday season.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said they should consider disbanding other committees that are no longer active.  This group was empaneled to come up with guidelines for religious displays on town owned property, and how applications would be selected.

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Trial date set for permit issue in Danbury vs. Dorothy Day

A trial date has been set in the case of the City of Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals versus Dorothy Day Hospitality House.  The trial will proceed June 24th of next year.  The case centers on the decision to deny exemptions from certain zoning regulations so that the owner of the Spring Street facility could get a special permit from the Planning Commission to operate as a soup kitchen.  Dorothy Day hasn't held a permit for more than three decades.  City officials recently learned that the owners never applied for a renewal after the initial special permit was granted in the 80s. 

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Woman convicted in 13-year-old girl's death released

NEW MILFORD, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut woman who was part of a gang convicted in the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl is going to be released from prison early for good behavior.

The News-Times reports that Maggie Mae Bennett will be released on Oct. 10 after serving 17 years of a 19-year sentence for conspiracy.

Bennett is one of eight people five men and three women convicted in the kidnapping, beating, rape and drowning of Maryann Measles in 1997.

Measles' sister, Jennifer Johnson, calls Bennett's impending release ``sickening.''

Measles was preparing to make statutory rape allegations against two of the men in the gang, one 19-year-old and one 21-year-old.

Measles had had sex with Bennett's boyfriend, A.J. Walter, who is serving a 60-year sentence.

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Danbury Chamber to host Mayoral Debate

For the first time in 10 years, the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a Mayoral debate.  Longtime Republican incumbent Mark Boughton is being challenged by former City Council president Chris Setaro.  The debate is October 10th at the Crowne Plaza.  Tickets are still available through the Chamber.  It will be livestreamed, so other City residents can watch live online.  Boughton has served nine terms as mayor.  Setaro is an attorney and former City Council President.  In the 2001 Mayoral race, Setaro lost to Boughton by just 127-votes.  Boughton and Setaro have agreed to an hour-long format, taking questions from a single moderator. 

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Special Town Meeting in Bethel on Water Main Replacement Project

A Special Town Meeting is being held in Bethel about the 2019 Water Main Replacement Project. The Public Utilities Commission has recommended nearly a billion dollars for improvements to the water system.  The Boards of Selectmen and Finance are asking residents to weigh in on the 998-thousand dollar request for the work.  Payment for the project will be made by the water account users of the Public Utilities Commission.  The Special Town Meeting is at 7pm on September 24th in Meeting Room A of the Municipal Center. 

The streets in the project area are:

Mansfield Street

Grassy Plain Terrace

Oakland Heights

Maple Lane

Highview Terrace from Grassy Plain Terrace up to No. 22 Highview Terrace

 

Alternate Project portions:

Pleasant Street and Highview Terrace between Nos. 22 and 18

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Brookfield Health Department issues warning about vaping

A warning has been issued by the Brookfield Health Department about the dangers associated with vaping.  With the advent of at least 11 serious cases of “chemical” pneumonia reported in the State of Connecticut, The Brookfield Health Department warns parents and others against all forms of Vaping, until the issue and its effects upon the body can be more thoroughly studied.  As of October 1st, sales of Vaping delivery systems and paraphernalia will be limited to persons 21 and older.  Brookfield health officials say individuals under the age of 24 are particularly prone to the harmful effects of vaping; even for those who do not vape nicotine or marijuana. 

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Danbury Streetscape presentation scheduled

The Downtown Danbury Streetscape Renaissance project is underway with new design plans being prepared for construction.  This funded by a $2 million grant from the State of Connecticut Responsible Growth and Transit-Oriented Development Grant Program, with capital projects funding from the City. A presentation on the Downtown Danbury Transit-Oriented Development Study is being held tonight at City Hall. It's at 7pm in the 3rd floor Council Chambers. Plans include new sidewalk design, landscaping, and streetscape amenities.

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Redding League of Women Voters Fall hosts 'Meet Your Legislators' event 

The Redding League of Women Voters Fall meeting featured a 'Meet Your Legislators' event Tuesday night at Highstead Arboretum.  Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan attended the discussion.  He says this is part of a commitment to be visible and accessible.  He added that there can be debate, exchange ideas and even disagreement, with mutual respect. At the end of the day, Allie-Brennan says they all want what’s best for the community - even if there's not agreement on what that is.

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New Milford Senior Center hosts Storytime with Seniors

The New Milford Senior Center has welcomed kids back from the Children's Center of New Milford for Storytime with Seniors.  The Children's Center visits the Senior Center every third Wednesday morning of the month for about an hour.  The books are borrowed from New Milford Library.  Volunteers interested in reading to the children are asked to contact the New Milford Senior Center at 860-355-6075.

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GOP lawmakers want special session to scrap food tax

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's top Republican legislative leaders are urging their Democratic colleagues to call the General Assembly into a special session to stop a planned surcharge on prepared meals.

A majority of lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate - 50% plus one - must submit petitions to the Secretary of the State, requesting the session.

Wednesday's call for petitions comes after Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont directed the Department of Revenue Services to revisit a memo he said "too broadly interpreted" which prepared food items would be affected by the extra 1% tax.

GOP leaders are insisting lawmakers must change the law.

Republicans and Democrats have raised concerns that Revenue Services listed food items sold in grocery stores that have never been taxed, including containers of lettuce and loose baked goods.

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Elephant at center of 'personhood' legal fight dies

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - An elephant at the center of a legal effort to give animals "personhood" has died.

Catherine Pappas, a spokeswoman for the Eastern States Exposition, on Wednesday confirmed the death of Beulah at age 54. Beulah had been on display at the fair.

Andre Bell, spokesman for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, tells WWLP-TV the death was reported to the agency. The cause is unknown.

Beulah was owned by Connecticut--based Commerford Zoo.

The Nonhuman Rights Project had asked the courts to grant the animals the same rights as humans, saying they were mistreated and belonged in a sanctuary.

The Connecticut Appellate Court last month upheld a lower court's decision denying the elephants personhood. The decision has been appealed.

A spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is calling on the zoo to retire its animals.

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Connecticut regulators approve Millstone electric power deal

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut regulators have approved a contract between the owner of the Millstone nuclear power plant and the state's two major electric distribution utilities.

The deal approved Wednesday by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has been seen as crucial to keeping the Dominion Energy facility in Waterford open for the next decade. Dominion had signaled Millstone could close in 2023 if a long-term power contract wasn't achieved.

The contract requires Eversource and United Illuminating to purchase approximately half of Millstone's electricity output for 10 years, beginning this year. Connecticut officials say that will give the state and region more time to expand renewable and other clean energy resources, including offshore wind power.

Dominion says the deal ensures Millstone will continue powering 2.1 million homes for "at least the next decade."

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Danbury officials recommend resolution opposing tolls be approved

Members of the City Council have met about highway tolls.  The group was requested by Council President Joe Cavo in order to take a stand against the prospect of a gantry system coming to I-84. There's been no movement since the legislature adjourned in June about how to pay for long term infrastructure improvements. 

The bipartisan members of the City Council Ad Hoc Committee expressed opposition to tolls and recommended the full City Council vote in favor of the resolution.

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says there will be some residual traffic on local roads from drivers looking to bypass the tolls.  He says positioning gantries where the exits are, is going to be critical.  He hopes a study will best position them to lessen the impact to local roads. 

Planning Director Sharon Calitro expressed concern at Tuesday's meeting about the impact of tolls on neighborhoods and businesses.

Danbury state Representative David Arconti attended the meeting.  He was asked about federal regulations preventing tolls from being placed on the borders.  Arconti told the committee that he believes a gantry can't be placed approximately 12 or 16 miles from the state border.  In response to a question about if the regulation was circumvented by having tolls all along a roadway, Arconti said he was unsure.

Councilman Vinny DeGillio said Danbury hasn't had a voice in the conversation, but Arconti disagreed.

The lobbyist hired by the City suggested that the committee, in addition to or in place of this resolution, offer up solutions and be a bigger part of the conversation.  Cavo responded that there are many solutions, including lawmakers not taking money out of the Special Transportation Fund.  He says 62-cents per gallon of gasoline and motor vehicle registration fees should be enough.

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Eversource to dig 'test pits' along Main Street in Ridgefield

Eversource's contractor plans to begin digging test pits along Main Street in Ridgefield. There are 6 holes planned to locate underground utilities and to establish the exact elevation. The work is expected to take a couple of days.  Eversource says this work is necessary to take the next step into final design plans of the upcoming State's Main Street project.  Ridgefield officials say most of the holes are not deep and should not take that long. They will be more toward the curbs and not in the traffic lanes.

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Women's Center, DHS coaches team up for new initiative

The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury has teamed up with the Danbury High School Athletics Department as part of the Coaches as Partners initiative. The program of the Sexual Violence Prevention Collaborative consists of five local nonprofits working together to eliminate sexual violence across Fairfield County. 

Coaches are given education and skill-based tools for sexual violence prevention. Coaches as Partners aims to empower coaches and other adults involved with youth sports with the tools to promote an inclusive and respectful sports culture. 

Three trainings will be provided throughout the academic year to reach coaches of all sports teams. 

The initiative marks the first of its kind for this area.  Ann Rodwell-Lawton, Director of Education & Outreach at the Women’s Center, says coaches wield a significant amount of influence on their athletes and can shift the paradigm by modeling prosocial behaviors and demonstrating what it means to be an ally in ending sexual violence. 

The SVPC consists of the following agencies: The Center for Family Justice, The Rowan Center, Triangle Community Center, the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury, and YWCA Greenwich Domestic Abuse Services. SVPC is made possible by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls.

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Congresswoman introduces Pell Grant Restoration Act

The Pell Grant Restoration Act has been introduced by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.  She says the measure supports students defrauded by for-profit colleges by restoring their Pell eligibility.  Hayes added that Congress should be working to help students, not trapping them with a degree that has no value and no means to pay for an actual education. 

In Connecticut, there are more than 1,000 students that have been defrauded by predatory colleges and could qualify for Pell Grant restoration.  Under existing federal law, all students are entitled to 12 semesters of Pell Grant eligibility.  Students deceived into attending for-profit colleges, who used Pell Grants to do so, now find themselves in the position of trying to attain an actual education without Pell Grant assistance.

As a Pell Grant recipient herself, Hayes says she know just how vital a lifeline it can be in helping students on their path towards a degree.  But she says some students are stuck with mounds of debt and no means to acquire the education necessary to secure gainful employment.

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Licensed Redding hemp grower reports theft of 45 plants

A Redding man has reported having 45 hemp plants stolen from a licensed home growing plot last week.  The Redding Road man called Police on September 9th to report the theft of $11,200 worth of plants.  The state Department of Agriculture has issued 82 growers licenses as part of a pilot program allowing the cultivation of hemp.  The man gave Redding Police his license number, and the Agriculture Department asked that the resident contact them for follow up.  Police are no longer investigating.  Hemp is a cannabis plant, but it does not contain high concentrations of THC, the substance which gets marijuana users intoxicated.

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Local lawmaker to take part in Sacred Heart University legislator-in-residence program

Sacred Heart University will debut a legislator-in-residence program this fall.  State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district also includes Newtown, will spend two days on the campus meeting with groups as part of the program engaging state lawmakers, students, faculty and the entire community in dialogue and discussion on a host of current policy topics.  The University’s Institute for Public Policy is sponsoring policy forums, classroom visits and other events.  The initiative builds on outreach efforts, including a Congress to Campus program that welcomed two former U.S. congressmen to Sacred Heart to foster civil literacy and increased participation in government.  As a nonpartisan entity, the legislator-in-residence program will include Democrats and Republicans from the Connecticut General Assembly.

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Sandy Hook Promise Premieres Latest PSA 'Back-to-School Essentials'

NEWTOWN, Conn., Sept. 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Following one of the deadliest years on record for school violence in 2018, Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is debuting its latest PSA, "Back-to-School Essentials", a powerful and impactful video that highlights the anxiety and fear students face in the reality of school shootings. Since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook School almost seven years ago, reactive measures to gun violence such as active shooter drills and bulletproof backpacks have increased.

Many students fear that it's only a matter of when, not if, a shooting will erupt on their school campus. Subconsciously accepting shootings as regular occurrences has become the "new normal" at schools and public spaces across the country.

The PSA starts off as a cheery and often-familiar back-to-school ad but slowly unfolds to highlight students using everyday back-to-school items to survive a shooting, shedding light on the gruesome reality that students face.

As with its previous PSAs, including the award-winning " Evan " that was viewed over 100 million times and the Emmy-nominated " Point of View ", SHP reinforces that there are proven preventative solutions, including its Know the Signs programs. These programs teach students and adults to recognize warning signs and threats that often precede an act of violence or self-harm, along with the steps to properly intervene and get help before violence occurs.

In conjunction with the PSA, SHP also provides a downloadable brochure that highlights many of the warning signs to help students and adults recognize them when seen. This Know the Signs brochure is available at www.SandyHookPromise.org.

"So far this year there have been over 22 school shootings, and with students heading back to school, it seems sadly probable that we will see more incidents. This is unacceptable, given that we have proven tools to prevent these acts from occurring. We cannot accept school shootings as the new normal in our country. Our goal with this PSA is to wake up parents to the horrible reality that our children endure. Gone are the days of viewing back-to-school as just a carefree time, when school violence has become so prevalent. However, if we come together to know the signs, this doesn't have to be the case. I hope that parents across the country will join me to make the promise to stop this epidemic," said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan who was killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting.

To date, more than 7.5 million people nationwide have been trained in Sandy Hook Promise's lifesaving Know the Signs programs that focus on gun violence prevention by training youth and adults how to identify at-risk behavior and intervene to get help before a tragedy can occur. Through these no-cost proven programs, Sandy Hook Promise has averted multiple school shooting plots, teen suicides, and countless other acts of violence.

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Funeral services announced for men killed in wrong-way crash

Funeral services have been set for the Newtown man killed by a wrong-way driver on I-84 in Southbury over the weekend.  48-year old Diego Jimenez is survived by his wife, two daughters, mother and a brother.  Calling hours will be held at Honan Funeral Home in Newtown from 5pm to 8pm.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30am tomorrow at St Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown.  The motorist who crashed into the limo that Jimenez was driving, 46-year old David Hozer of Southbury, was also killed in the accident.  A memorial service was held yesterday in Southbury, with a private burial.

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New Milford Public Works taking icing prevention measures

The New Milford Public Works Department is taking on ice prevention projects ahead of the winter season.  Many areas of town will be addressed over the coming months to assure water runoff is captured in proper drainage channels, and not flowing onto roadways.  Officials say this will not only keep drivers safe from icing issues, but should also help to preserve the quality of roads from the  freeze/thaw cycle and unnecessary water damage.  Public Works crews are adding a catch basin off roadways, along with perforated pipe and stone to collect any ground water that may affect the area during the rainy season.  New curbing is meant to help ensure all water will stay off the road and drain properly into the underlying stone.

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Conn. woman killed in horse accident in Dover, NY

A horse accident has resulted in the death of a Connecticut woman.  New York State Police from the Dover Plains barracks responded to a family farm on Byrds Hill Road in Dover on Monday morning for a report of a female fallen off a horse.  Investigators determined that the horse reared for an unknown reason, and fell on top of the rider.  23-year old Samantha Calzone of Greenwich was pronounced dead at the scene.  Northern Dutchess Paramedics and the Dutchess County Medical Examiner’s Office also responded to the scene.

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Putnam County temporarily suspends 2019/2020 School Tax Collection process

The Putnam County Commissioner of Finance has temporarily suspended the 2019/2020 School Tax Collection Process due to a file control error.  It caused Veterans Exemptions to exceed maximum limits, making the bills incorrect.  New tax bills will be mailed out this week and will be clearly marked 'Corrected Tax Bill' printed in yellow.  The vast majority of taxpayers will see a small reduction in their tax bill, while about 3,300 people receiving the affected exemptions will see a bill comparable to previous years.  Due to this error, the tax collection period will be extended.  First half partial payments will be due October 7th.  Full Pay payments without interest are due October 21st. Taxpayers who already paid will receive a refund if their school taxes were overpaid, or must pay the difference to the Local School Tax Collector if they are underpaid.

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School shooting hoodies with bullet holes draw criticism

There's an uproar over a line of sweatshirts embroidered with names of schools where mass shootings have occurred.  The controversy is because the designs have holes that look like they came from bullets.  The names include Sandy Hook, Columbine and Virginia Tech.  Sandy Hook Promise denounced what they called the “offense and traumatic release” of the sweatshirts.  The organization's two founders, who each had a son killed on 12/14, called it repugnant and deeply upsetting.  The designer said they wanted to make a comment on the type of gun violence that needs preventative attention, while also empowering the survivors of tragedy through storytelling in the clothes.  Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden said this is not about inspiring change to prevent these acts of violence.  They called for an immediate halt to production. 

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Lamont says review of taxed, prepared foods under way

Bethel state Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan has signed onto a letter to the Department of Revenue Services Commissioner calling for a review of the policy guidance release last week on the meals tax.  He says the unilateral decision by the agency to expand the sales tax to additional food items is not consistent with the intent of the budget. 

Allie-Brennan says the budget assumed the definition of meals as enforced at the time by DRS.  He says while the guidance is an attempt to resolve some of the inequities in the current definition of meals, complete understanding of the real-world impact is necessary. 

Meanwhile Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano says lawmakers who voted for the budget need to clean up their mess in a Special Session.  He says they created the confusion and the public uproar over a damaging policy.  If they now regret their actions, Fasano added that they need to admit their mistakes and fix the legislation. 

He notes that it is not unprecedented.  The legislature returned in a special session in 2018 to restore funds for the Medicare Savings Program.

Gov. Ned Lamont says Connecticut's tax department "too broadly interpreted" a planned tax on prepared foods and will revisit which items should be taxed.  The Democrat said Tuesday his budget office and legislative Democrats, who crafted the final budget deal, only planned an extra 1% tax on items already subjected to the 6.35% sales tax, such as sandwiches and pizza sold at restaurants and many grocery stores.

Lamont hopes the revenue department can clarify things before the tax takes effect October 1. Republicans say a special session is needed to change the law.

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Science experiment gone wrong prompts Bethel High School early dismissal

A science experiment sent Bethel High School students home early yesterday when the sprinkler system was set off.  The chemistry experiment led to a small fire, and the sprinklers flooded a handful of rooms shortly after 9:30am.  Classes at Bethel High School were dismissed around 10:45am.  All after-school sports and activities still scheduled took place in the afternoon.  Superintendent Dr Christine Carver says the rooms were professionally cleaned and classes are back on as normal today.  Carver says the experiment will be investigated as a personnel matter to determine whether it was an appropriate experiment.

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Proposed short term renal regulations get hearing in New Fairfield

Proposals about short term rental regulations in New Fairfield were up for a public hearing last night.  The Zoning Commission is looking into an amendment allowing rentals of six or fewer days as long as a property owner obtains a zoning permit.  Rentals of at least seven days would not require a permit.  For short term rentals, the owner would have to pay 500-dollars every two years, hold a certificate of insurance and live on the same property, or an abutting one.  Current New Fairfield Zoning regulations only have a special permit detailed for bed and breakfasts.  The Zoning Commission's next meeting is set for October 2nd.

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Bethel Public Works Director resigns after week of administrative leave

After being placed on administrative leave, Bethel's Public Works Director has resigned.  Doug Arndt held the position for nearly 5 years.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker has not commented on why Arndt was placed on leave, or why he volunteered to resign.  Knickerbocker told Hearst Media that it was time for a change for both Arndt and the town, but noted that he did a lot of good work overseeing various water projects and intersection realignments.  Assistant public works director and highway superintendent Bob Dibble is filling the role on an interim basis.  The job opening post says Bethel is seeking a director with a professional engineer license who has management experience.  Knickerbocker said in the published report that the new Director would focus on building maintenance and highway planning, as well as using technology to analyze how the town could save on vehicle costs.

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Local businesses featured at annual "Discover Connecticut" reception in DC

The sixth annual “Discover Connecticut” reception, which will showcase more than 30 businesses based in Connecticut, is being held in Washington DC today by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and the Connecticut State Society. 

Among the small-batch food producers, restaurants, breweries, tourist attractions, and other businesses featured are Bethel-based Noteworthy Chocolates and Candlewood Coffee Roasters and DiGrazia Vineyards, both from Brookfield.  The reception is expected to attract more than 300 guests, including Members of Congress, national retailers, and Connecticut residents. 

Blumenthal says the Discover Connecticut event is an opportunity to showcase some of the nation’s most inventive businesses and tourist attractions.  Whether they’re household names or local favorites, he says they create thousands of jobs, boost economic development and represent a sample of Connecticut’s diverse industries. Some of those household names are products like PEZ Candy, Newman’s Own, defense manufacturer Sikorsky and minor league baseball team the Hartford Yard Goats.

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New Fairfield Selectmen, Finance to meet on school building proposals

A special New Fairfield Board of Finance meeting is being held tonight, followed by a special Board of Selectmen meeting. This follows a public hearing last night on proposed school building projects. A new high school would be constructed, along with a learning academy for some Consolidated students.  Other elementary students would move into an existing wing at Meeting House Hill School.  New Fairfield is applying for state reimbursement, which would bring the total cost to taxpayers for the projects to $79.9 million.  The Board of Finance meeting is at 6:30pm, the Selectmen's meeting starts at 7:30.

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Brookfield, Bethel firefighters train together

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company, along with the Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company, did a joint drill on Rapid Intervention Team techniques. They did various evolutions on freeing and extricating a down firefighter at the New Milford smoke tower. Both Brookfield and Stony Hill respond to each others district’s frequently for coverage during structural fires or other major emergencies.  Brookfield fire officials say the drill was a great way for both departments to refine and hone their skills together so they can stay ready for future incidents.

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Danbury Mayor hires gubernatorial campaign manager for jobs at City Hall

There are some vacancies at Danbury City Hall, and a person filling the positions has drawn some criticism during this election season.  Republican incumbent Mayor Mark Boughton, who is seeking reelection in November, hired his gubernatorial campaign chairman.  Marc Dillon is being paid $75,000 to be community services coordinator and project excellence director.  The employees holding those positions left in August and this spring, respectively.  Democratic challenger Chris Setaro called the hire concerning and that it the impression that people of Danbury are paying for Boughton’s campaign.  Dillon previously was press secretary for the Connecticut General Assembly and chief of staff in Stratford.  The $45,000-per-year community services coordinator job was vacated by Austin Samuelson.  The  $120,000-per-year project excellence director job was vacated by Stephen Nocera.

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Brookfield lawmaker speaks out about meals tax guidance

The state Department of Revenue Services guidance on the list of items considered prepared meals, which will be subject to a new higher sales tax, has a number of lawmakers speaking out.  Brookfield Representative Steve Harding says the previous 2-percent proposed grocery tax got well-deserved pushback, and was abandoned.  He cited comments from Governor Lamont during a February business gathering in Southbury that the idea was “one of the options discarded very early on.” 

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Bethel Police highlight National Child Passenger Safety Week

This is National Child Passenger Safety Week.  Bethel Police are reminding people to get car seats checked or installed this Saturday at their clinic.  The event on the 21st, by Bethel Police Car Seat Technicians, is by appointment only.  They can be made through the department's website, Bethelpd.com.

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Connecticut man gets probation for sex assault of child

MILFORD, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl a decade ago has avoided prison and instead been sentenced to 10 years of probation.

The Connecticut Post reports that a prosecutor said in court Monday during the sentencing of 51-year-old Gregory Bystryk that the now 15-year-old victim is ``content'' with the deal.

The Seymour man pleaded guilty to third-degree sexual assault in July. The assault occurred in June 2009, and was reported to police eight years later.

The victim told a social worker from the Department of Children and Families that Bystryk had sexually assaulted her when she was between 4 and 6 years old. Bystryk knew the girl.

Bystryk said in court that he was ashamed of himself and the assault should ``never have happened.''

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Aquarion to clean water mains in Stony Hill section of Bethel

Aquarion Water Company will be cleaning water mains in Bethel’s Chimney Heights System through Friday.  Residents might notice some discoloration in the water, which results from the temporary disturbance of the water flow stirring up naturally occurring minerals that settle in water mains.  If water is discolored, Aquarion advices people to delay washing clothes until it is clear.  The cleaning schedule is 8am to 5pm daily.

The roads include:

Adams Drive
Apple Tree Road
Benedict Road
Brookview Court
Budd Drive
Buff Lane
Cedar Drive
Chimney Drive
Colonial Drive
Far Horizons Drive
Fox Den Road
Green Pasture Road
Hearthstone Drive
Hillcrest Road
Hilldale Lane
Hollyberry Drive
Meckauer Circle
North Hearthstone Drive
Oak Ridge Road
Old Field Drive
Old Hawleyville Road
Partridge Drive
Payne Road
Pondview Drive
Pound Sweet Hill
Quaker Ridge Road
Ridgedale Road
Rockwell Road
Sand Hill Road
Shelter Rock Road
Sky Edge Drive
Sky Edge Lane
Stony Hill Road /Route 6
Terrace Drive
Walnut Hill Road
Westview Drive
Wine Sap Run
Woodlawn Drive

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Metro North improvements proposed in MTA's $51 billion Capital Improvement Plan

Metro North will get some upgrades as part of a proposed $51 billion investment plan by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  Some $184 million worth of work on the Harlem line is planned.  Infrastructure work to improve reliability includes support of a future third track.  Work is underway to relocate and expand parking at Southeast Station to allow for future Brewster Yard expansion. Plans also call for building two new electrical substations and designing three more.

The proposed program advances New Haven Line access to Penn Station via four new stations in the Bronx, begins reconstruction of the Grand Central Terminal train shed and Park Avenue tunnel and viaduct, begins replacement of Metro-North’s fleet of M3 rail cars, improves stations, prepares for capacity improvements on the Harlem Line and Port Jervis Line.

Metro-North will add accessibility improvements at up to four stations, bringing wheelchair access to 78% of stations serving 93% of customers, renew stations on the Harlem Line in the Bronx and southern Westchester County, and make priority component repairs at stations on the upper Hudson Line and upper Harlem Line. This work will benefit 60% of customers.

Metro-North will pursue Phase 1 of the replacement of the 100+ year old Grand Central Terminal Trainshed and Park Avenue Tunnel and Viaduct used by more than 700 trains per day and 83% of customers, and build four new emergency exits.

Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi says the proposed replacement of the Park Avenue Viaduct is one of the most significant construction projects in the history of the MTA.

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DOT seeks rail riders for Customer Advisory Panel

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is looking for public input as it develops the state’s next generation of rail cars.  The DOT is purchasing a fleet of new rail cars to replace its existing push-pull coaches operating on the Danbury branch, the Hartford Line, Shore Line East, and the Waterbury Line. 

To help in developing rail cars that are reliable, comfortable, and sustainable for the next 30 or more years, the Department is asking interested residents, who are current rail riders, to participate in a Customer Advisory Panel. One of the goals is to identify possible features and amenities desired in the state’s next generation of rail cars.

The Panel will include up to three representatives from the Americans with Disabilities Act advocacy community including persons with visual and mobility disabilities, the bicycle and pedestrian community, and a representative of the Connecticut Rail Council.  The Customer Advisory Panel also will include customers from each rail line.  These customers will be selected through an open lottery process. 

A survey has been placed online as well http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/newrailcars, and people can apply there for a position on the CAP.

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New Milford Police make 20 DUI arrests during recent enforcement campaigns

During The 2019 national enforcement mobilization campaigns to crack down on impaired drivers, there were significantly more arrests in New Milford than last year.  From August 14th to September 2nd, New Milford Police made 20 DUI arrests compared to three in the previous year.  The nationwide campaigns were dubbed  "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” “Ride Sober or Get Pulled Over,” and “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different; Drive High Get a DUI.”  Mayor Pete Bass offered thanks to Chief Cerruto and the Department for their continued efforts to serve the New Milford community.

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WCSU marks Constitution Day

West Conn will celebrate Constitution Day today.  It's a federal observance commemorating the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787.  The event features a lecture by Danbury state Senator Julie Kushner at 6pm in White Hall on the midtown campus.  It's free and open to the public.  Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr Michelle Brown says the constitution is alive and applied to every citizen, so everyone should understand the authority and responsibilities Americans hold.  Kushner plans to talk about ideas of how to get involved in government.  She is a freshman lawmaker who chairs the Labor & Public Employees Committee, vice-chairs the Environment Committee, and is a member of the Housing Committee. Kushner previously served as director of Region 9A of the United Auto Workers, which covers New England, a portion of New York and Puerto Rico.

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Brookfield Police ask to tap funding for vehicle lift repairs, building survey

Brookfield officials have sent a request to the Board of Finance to approve money for the Police Department.  The funding would coming from the Police Outside Services Fund.  One request is $17,000.  It's a supplementary request to the original one, looking at Plan B, a new police station.  Police are looking to estimate the cost of potential building sites on town owned property.  The original estimate was skewed and they need another look.  There's also an $8,670 request.  It will cover half of the full replacement cost of a vehicle repair lift at the town highway garage, which is used to repair police vehicles.

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Man driving wrong way, kills himself and limo driver

SOUTHBURY, Conn. (AP) Police say a Connecticut man driving the wrong way on an interstate highway crashed head-on into a limo, killing himself and the other driver.

Connecticut State Police say 46-year-old David Hozer, of Southbury, was driving an Audi SUV east in the westbound lanes of Interstate 84 at about 1 a.m. Saturday when he collided with a limousine operated by 48-year-old Diego Jimenez, of Newtown.

Jimenez was taken to Waterbury Hospital where he died.

Hozer was taken to St. Mary's Hospital in Waterbury. He died Sunday afternoon.

State Police are investigating.

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Local lawmakers speak out about DRS interpretation of prepared meals definition

Local lawmakers continue to speak out about the Department of Revenue Services guidelines from last week that redefined prepared meals, and increased the items subject to a higher sales tax. 

New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith says the tax is being implemented in a confusing way, for example, a package of two rolls from the bakery will be taxed, but a package of only six will not.  Smith says smaller ‘mom and pop’ establishments are going to suffer under the burden of complying with these complicated new tax laws and also keeping their customers.

Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says the guidance was more broad than intended.  He called on the Commissioner to amend the document.  He added that no budget is a perfect document and says he's be happy to work with anyone who wants to help rollback this provision.

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Sandy Hook Fire Chief receives statewide award

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Chief Bill Halstead has received the Connecticut Firefighter of the Year award at the State Convention. Halstead  has served Newtown for over 50 years, 40 of them as Chief.  He also served as Fire Marshal for the Town of Newtown, retiring in 2016.

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Danbury Music Centre to hold auditions for The Nutcracker

The Danbury Music Centre is holding auditions for the Nutcracker Ballet, now in its 52nd year. Auditions are held based on age for performers from area communities in Connecticut and New York.  The auditions start on Friday at 4:30pm, or Saturday at 12:30pm.  Dancers should fill out an audition form online and attend an audition at Danbury High School.  Performances are scheduled on December 13th through 15th, 2019 at Danbury High School.  Each performance features the live accompaniment by the Danbury Symphony Orchestra.

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Department of Veteran Affairs to hold annual Stand Down event

Danbury area veterans are being urged to attend the state Department of Veterans' Affairs annual Stand Down event.  It's taking place at the DVA's main campus in Rocky Hill on Friday.  The event features workforce assistance, including employment and training guidance.  Free bus service will be provided by the Connecticut Department of Transportation from a number of locations around the state, including Danbury.  More than 30 government agencies and social service organizations will take part in Stand Down 2019 from 8am to 2pm. 

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New Fairfield Board of Ed to hold hearing on proposed school construction

The New Fairfield Board of Education will hold a public hearing tonight to discuss schools construction projects, including state school construction reimbursement guidelines and other related issues.  Plans call for replacing New Fairfield High School and the Consolidated School.  State Representative Ken Gucker will also be on hand.  He says this hearing is important because residents will be able to get answers to all of their questions.  Representatives from the state Department of Administration Services, the agency in charge of overseeing and approving reimbursements for this development, will also be in attendance.  The public hearing is at 7pm in the New Fairfield High School auditorium.

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Firefighters remove child's finger from seatbelt buckle

Firefighters have safely removed a 5-year-old child's finger from a school bus seatbelt buckle after it got stuck.

First responders from New Fairfield and Danbury used a high-speed diamond cutter to free the unnamed boy from the buckle Friday evening at Danbury Hospital.  Firefighters tried a number of different ways to free the finger, including using oil and ice before turning to the cutter.

They placed a safety guard over the child's finger and kept a stream of water going over the tool and the belt to keep the metal from overheating. 

(Photos: DFD)

Firefighters say the child's hand wasn't injured and that his family planned to keep the remaining buckle as a reminder of the ordeal.  Danbury Fire Department officials are planning visit from the patient and his family for a tour of the firehouse and maybe some ice cream.

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Former Danbury Chamber President arrested in Bethel

The former President of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce has been arrested for allegedly driving drunk and getting into an accident.  The Newstimes reports that Bethel Police received a call last week of a man getting into his car drunk, tried to pull the driver over, and 57-year old Stephen Bull of Bethel eventually stopped near his home.  Police say they received a second call that Bull struck and damaged a car, before leaving the scene.  He was charged with operating under the influence, engaging in pursuit, operating with a suspended license and evading responsibility in a motor vehicle crash.  Bull was released on bond, arraigned and the court file has been statutorily sealed.  He's due in court November 29th.

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Metro North to make Danbury Branch track repairs

Metro North is making some track improvements to the Danbury branch.  But that will mean some substitute bussing for off-peak weekday trains, beginning today.  The cyclical track replacement program will continue through mid-November.  Substitute buses between Danbury and South Norwalk will operate as much as 20 minutes earlier than scheduled trains.   Bus service for the 6:48 PM train from Danbury will connect with the 8:30 PM train leaving Stamford.

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New Milford reverses High School bathroom closure policy

After student uproar and an online petition, New Milford school officials are changing their bathroom policy at the high school.  Administrators closed the bathrooms on the second and third floors of the school between classes and during lunch in an effort to prevent vaping.  That led to long lines for the first floor restrooms.  Hundreds of students signed the online petition last week.  The Superintendent then sent out a letter saying they have listened to concerns from students and parents over the last several days and will be opening all restrooms during the school day for student use. The letter continued by saying that the dialogue about ending vaping by students will continue and options will continue to be explored.

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14 Putnam County retailers checked by Sheriffs for alcohol sales compliance

A plain clothes police operation has been carried out by New York State Police in 14 retail locations selling alcohol in Putnam County.  Police were checking for their compliance with the Alcoholic Beverage Control. 

12 retail establishments were checked, and found to be in compliance.  Two people were arrested for violations.  59-year old Guillermo Vanegas of Brewster, who works at Route 6 Petroleum in Mahopac and 51-year old TracyMarie Disimone of Peekskill, who works at 76 Mart in Brewster, were issued appearance tickets. 

According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, underage drinking is associated with the three most common causes of death among youth, including accidental deaths such as car crashes, homicides, and suicides. 

 

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NY State Police make 89 alcohol sales compliance checks, 14 violators charged

89 spot checks on establishments in Putnam County have been carried out by the Sheriff's Department’s Narcotics Enforcement Unit to look for alcoholic beverage sales compliance. 

Undercover members, along with the Putnam County Communities That Care Coalition, which funded the operation, found 14 illegal sales.  The spot checks were conducted at various times throughout the day by an underage volunteer.   At each of the 14 places, the clerk who completed the sale without requiring proper identification was arrested and charged with Unlawfully Dealing with a Child.

The individuals charged and the establishments which failed compliance checks are:

Chetranie Indarpersaud, age 42, of Newtown, CT, employed at at the Border Beer and Soda, 3867 Danbury Rd, Brewster

Shannon Tompkins, age 23, of Carmel, NY, employed at House of Wine and Liquors/ Kent Liquors, 1100 Route 52, Carmel

Timothy Pachonka, age 52, of Patterson, NY, employed at Route 311 Liquors/ Patterson Wine and Liquors, 1270, Route 311, Patterson 

George Varghese, age 48, of Milford CT, employed at Border Wines and Liquors, 3687 Danbury Road, Brewster

Dennis Lebron, age 52, of New Windsor, NY, employed at Box Bev Inc./ Carmel Beverage Center, 323 Route 52,Carmel

Mike Boakye, age 38, of Bronx, NY, employed at Brewster Gas and Mart 76, 494 North Main Street, Brewster

Tatyana Johnson, age 20, of Peekskill, NY, employed at Gulf, 1122 Route 9D, Garrison

Mujde Francis, age 57, of Danbury, CT, employed at Citgo Borderline Food and Beverage, 182 Fairfield Drive, Brewster

Harry Cua, age 18, of North Salem, NY, employed at Putnam Wine and Spirits, 1926 Route 6, Carmel

Mitchem Williams, age 35, of Carmel, NY, employed at Brewster Gas and Mart 76, 494 North Main Street, Brewster

Karin Ramos-Perez, age 23, of Danbury, CT, employed at El Universal, 26 Main Street, Brewster

Sujan Chhetri, age 24, of Carmel, NY, employed at BP Route 22 Convenience Store, 876 Route 22, Brewster

Heidy Sarceno, age 34, of Brewster, NY, employed at Saj & V Grocery, 145 Main Street, Brewster

Gregorio Baizan, age 42, of Brewster, NY, employed at La Guadalupana Mini-Mart, 70 Main Street, Brewster

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Gov. finds unlikely ally in toll fight

Discussions on electronic tolling continue among Connecticut lawmakers, the state Department of Transportation representatives and members of the Governor Ned Lamont's administration.  Lamont recently told a Chamber of Commerce luncheon that Connecticut has lost some of its location appeal between Boston and New York because of the highway gridlock and slow trains.  Lamont has found an unlikely ally in his push for electronic highway tolls.  While he faces opposition from Democratic members of the Danbury legislative delegation, Lamont says the Trump administration has been a good partner. They say if there's an independent revenue stream, Connecticut could be first to get federal funding from an infrastructure bill.  An infrastructure bill has not yet come before Congress.  State lawmakers adjourned in June without a resolution to how to pay for long term transportation improvements.  They're not back in session until February.

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Danbury hosting FEMA Certified Emergency Response Team training

Danbury is hosting a FEMA Certified Emergency Response Team training.  Volunteers will be trained to prepare for disasters by learning to organize basic disaster response and how to safely respond to hazards.  The classes will take place at the Police Department today, and on the 16th, 18th, 23rd, and 25th at City Hall. All classes must be attended in order to become a member of Danbury CERT and help respond to community disasters.  The classes are hosted by the Danbury Department of Health and Human Services, Danbury Police Department, Danbury Fire Department, and Danbury Emergency Medical Services.

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Richter Arts hosting Sunday concert

The Berkshire Jazz Orchestra will be presenting an outdoor concert at Richter House in Danbury on Sunday.  The Stanley Richter Association for the Arts event is at 3pm.  The 17 piece ensemble maintains the tradition of a true jazz orchestra featuring many creative soloists from within each section.  Admission is free.  As part of this outdoor presentation, the Richter Association for the Arts Board of Directors asks attendees to wear hats for their first Hat Contest. Richter Board members will admire, and judge, hats worn by the guests.

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United Way raises funds for ALICE families with annual Road Race in Bethel

The United Way of Western Connecticut spent Patriot Day, 9/11, hosting a fundraising race.  The King of the Hill Road Race in Bethel was dedicated to supporting the 40% of families in the region who have trouble affording basic necessities, such as rent, child care, transportation, housing, and food.  The ALICE families, Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed families, benefited from the money raised through the event.  The United Way hosts programs that make fresh, healthy food more available and affordable for those families, reduce the cost of child care, and help people get on more solid financial footing.  Last year, through United Way’s sponsored programs, more than 194,000 pounds of healthy food were distributed at Mobile Food Pantries; 4,338 children received more affordable child care and after school care; and 520 individuals received free budget coaching that put them on the path to financial stability.

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Juvenile arrested in Wilton for alleged online school threat

A juvenile has been arrested by Wilton Police for allegedly posting a possible school threat on social media.  Police were notified last night of the group chat and identified the suspect, contacting his parents around 1am.  They brought the child to the Wilton Police station and he said it wasn't meant as an actual threat and wasn't meant to be carried out.  Wilton Police say the juvenile appeared remorseful and understood the consequences of his actions. Police said there never appeared to be a viable threat, but did increase their presence and visibility in the school areas.

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Documents added to court file about Danbury vs. Dorothy Day

Documents have been added to the case file of the City of Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals versus Dorothy Day Hospitality House.   A clerk for the Board sent documents to the court about the decision to deny exemptions from certain zoning regulations so that the owner of the Spring Street facility could get a special permit from the Planning Commission to operate as a soup kitchen.  Dorothy Day hasn't held a permit for more than three decades.  City officials recently learned that the owners never applied for a renewal after the initial special permit was granted.  The documents include dozens of letters in favor of Dorothy Day, with the opposition letters coming from nearby businesses and the Zoning Enforcement Officer.  The documents span from early 2016 through the legal decision that September.

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Mark Twain Library to host author talk with local writer

Mark Twain Library in Redding is hosting an author talk this weekend.  C.J.Hauser will discuss her newest novel Family of Origin.  She also plans to share her thoughts on creating strong narrators and give participants an exercise to do at home to help develop this in individual writing.  Copies of Family of Origin will be available for sale and signing at the event.  Hauser is originally from Redding and now teaches creative writing and literature at Colgate University.  The event Sunday is 2 to 3pm.  Family of Origin is an absurdist meditation on nature vs. nurture centered on estranged half siblings yoked together on a swampy Gulf Coast island after the unexpected death of their biologist father.

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Putnam County official touts rail study as 'climate-smart initiative'

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell is touting the $1 million grant secured from the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council recently to study the feasibility of restoring passenger train service from the Southeast Metro North station to Danbury.  Odell says this could relieve traffic congestion, reduce air pollution and shorten the commute.  She says leaders have a responsibility to do their part for climate-smart initiatives, and partnerships are an opportunity to implement change.  Odell added that mobility for everyone, from millennials to seniors, is a priority for strong economic growth. The study is expected to take up to two years.

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Tax on many food items will increase on Oct. 1

There's a new advisory out from the state Department of Revenue Services about the so-called 'meals tax' included in the budget, which takes effect October 1st.  The tax on prepared food items at restaurants, a 1-percent increase to 7.35-percent, will apply to items sold in grocery stores considered eating establishments.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano doesn't buy the Governor's parity argument.  He argues that those stores were already taxed.  Fasano says the quantities are also arbitrary.  He noted that the tax applies to five rolls, but not six.

Fasano says the tax increase was sold as being something that people could afford, if they were going out to dinner.  But he says that's not how it is being interpreted by DRS. The document clarifies that the total 7.35-percent tax rate will also be effective in grocery stores, “which previously taxed meals in a different manner than other eating establishments.”

DRS Examples of Taxable “Meals” (taxed at 7.35% in eating establishments AND grocery stores):

·         Sandwiches, grinders, and wraps;

·         Popsicles, ice cream cones, cups, sundaes, and other individual servings of frozen desserts unless sold in factory prepackaged multi-unit packs;

·         Ice cream, frozen yogurt, and other frozen desserts sold in containers of less than one pint;

·         Salads sold at salad bars;

·         Lettuce or greens-based salads sold in containers of 8 ounces or less;

·         Salads that are not greens-based (macaroni, potato, pasta, fruit, etc.) sold in containers of 8 ounces or less;

·         Donuts, muffins, rolls, bagels, and pastries (5 or fewer);

·         Cookies sold loose (5 or fewer when cookies are sold by quantity, or less than 8 ounces when cookies are sold by weight);

·         Pies or cakes by the slice;

·         Prepackaged or factory-sealed bags or packages of 5 ounces or less of chips, popcorn, kettle corn, nuts, trail mix, crackers, cookies, snack cakes, or other snack foods, unless sold in factory prepackaged multi-unit packs;

·         Pizza, whole or by the slice;

·         Cooked chicken sold by the piece, including buckets of chicken, and whole cooked chickens;

·         Cooked ribs sold by the piece or portion and whole racks of ribs;

·         Hot dogs served on a bun or heated;

·         Bagels that are individually prepared;

·         Soup sold in containers of 8 ounces or less, unless sold in factory prepackaged units;

·         Smoothies;

·         Meal replacement bars;

·         All beverages provided with the sale of a taxable meal;

·         Food sold at a hot buffet;

·         Food that is cooked to order;

·         Popcorn, kettle corn, nuts and any other snack foods that are kept warm for purchase; and

·         Items such as salads, side dishes, and rolls, when sold as part of family pack meals typically including, whole chickens or buckets of chicken, when prepared and sold for immediate consumption, even when the items exceed the weight or quantity limits specified above

DRS Examples of Taxable Drinks (taxed at 7.35% in eating establishments AND grocery stores):

·         Beer, including nonalcoholic beer;

·         Fruit juices, sweetened beverages, soft drinks, and soda;

·         Carbonated water;

·         Coffee or tea (ready to consume, hot or iced);

·         Distilled alcohol such as brandy, rum, whiskey, gin, vodka, and tequila;

·         Fountain drinks of any kind;

·         Hard cider;

·         Kombucha tea, and other naturally carbonated beverages;

·         Malt liquor;

·         Milkshakes;

·         Hot chocolate;

·         Syrup-flavored crushed ice drinks;

·         & Wine

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Hayes staff to host Caseworker on Your Corner event in Sherman

A series of events called "Caseworker on Your Corner" is being organized by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.  It's a take on the "Congress on Your Corner" events, but instead of featuring the Representative, it's members of her staff.  Hayes says they will be available to help constituents obtaining a passport, locating a tax refund,or getting documentation from the VA among other tasks involving federal agencies.  Staff can also provide information about the Affordable Care Act, Social Security Disability and other federal programs.  The closest event to Danbury is the Kent Farmer's Market today from 3-5pm.

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UNIT updates Danbury officials on enforcement action

The Danbury City Council has gotten an update from the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team about the clean up of a vacant lot being used to store old commercial containers.  A notice of assessment for $7,000 was issued to the owner of the Great Plain Road property after the containers had not been moved in a while, and were starting to sink into the ground.  Previously-agreed upon deadlines were not met and UNIT officials say the fines will turn into a lien on the property if no response is provided. Meanwhile, UNIT says a complaint was received of an unregistered vehicle parked on the front lawn of a Carol Street home.  The property owner was not responding to notices and letters, until the last minute when the vehicle was removed and the owner avoided a $4,000 fine.

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Danbury Police Chief to be honored

Danbury's Police Chief will be honored by the Police Commissioners Association of Connecticut.  Patrick Ridenhour will be one of three honorees at the Distinguished Chiefs Dinner on the 25th.  The police chiefs of Westport and Trumbull are the other honorees.  The Association says Ridenhour is being recognized for education, excellence and experience within the job.  Ridenhour is vice-president of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association and serves on the executive board of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.  He's been the chief in Danbury since July 2016, after previously serving as Waterbury Assistant Chief and Stratford Deputy Police Chief.

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Women's Center looking to hire part-time educator

The Women's Center of Greater Danbury is currently hiring a part-time Prevention Educator to educate and inform the community about issues of interpersonal and sexual violence, as well as providing the tools and resources needed to deal with these issues.  The organization says candidates should have experience working and engaging with youth.  The required qualifications are posted on the "Career Opportunities" page of the Women's Center's website.  Anyone interested in the position should send a resume and cover letter to the Director of Administration & Human Resources at the Women's Center. 

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Danbury resident arraigned for Sterling Woods homicide

A Danbury resident charged with manslaughter for a shooting at Sterling Woods condominium last week has been arraigned.  33-year old David Ramos was in court yesterday and was silent during his first court appearance.  The arrest warrant application remains sealed, under court order, from public view because it's part of the ongoing investigation.  His attorney was told by the judge not to discuss the details contained in the affidavit with his client.  When Ramos was arrested on Wednesday, police said they believe he will face additional charges related to the incident as the court case moves forward.  Police are also looking into the possibility of others facing charges related to the death.

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Bridge in Ridgefield to be closed soon

A bridge in Ridgefield carrying traffic over the Norwalk River will be closed soon.  Depot Road bridge, the northern entry to the Branchville train station, has deteriorated.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi said during the recent Board of Selectmen meeting that the state has told the town to close it to truck traffic immediately, noting that the advisory was for vehicular traffic, not just trucks.  The state would need to put up signage in their right-of-way alerting drivers about the closure, which will take time.  Marconi says cars could use the Portland Avenue bridge, but larger trucks looking to access business across the railroad tracks, can't negotiate that turn.  Selectmen Steve Zemo suggested cutting through the train station via the Portland Avenue bridge, and using the Depot Road rail crossing to get to West Branchville Road.

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Easton police, firefighters, schools honor Hanson family on 9/11

Easton Police Department has a 9/11 Memorial in the lobby. The Flag of Honor was donated by residents Eunice and Lee Hanson. They lost their son, Peter, their daughter-in-law, Sue Kim, and their granddaughter, Christine Lee, who was the youngest victim, in the 9/11 attacks.

The Hanson Family were passengers on Flight 175. 

Easton Volunteer Fire Department paid tribute to all victims yesterday.  They also honored emergency responders who got sick working downtown after 9/11. Each year the firefighters place 343 flags on th green to honor the firefighters killed that day. 

For the last 16 years, The Peter Burton Hanson award for humanity is presented to a senior at Joel Barlow High School.  Hanson graduated from Barlow in 1987.   This year's recipient is Colin Hanson, no relation. He was praised by coaches, is involved in best buddies program and has helped special needs students with sports. 

The award, created by Peter's family, is presented to a Barlow student who embodies his characteristics of dedication to social justice, appreciation of cultural differences, love of the arts, concern for the environment, volunteerism, and sensitivity to issues of peace.

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Ridgefield Police Department looks to hire full time dispatcher

The Ridgefield Police Department is looking to hire a full time dispatcher.  The position is full time and for the evening shift, Tuesday through Saturday.  The hours are 3:30pm to midnight.  The job description says the candidate will be responsible for managing the incoming communication for the police department and transmit the information to the proper officer, agency or unit.  Applications will be accepted by the Town of Ridgefield Human Resources Department through September 25th at 4pm.

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World War II veterans from across the country gather in Danbury

World War II veterans from across the country will gather in Danbury over the next several days.  The 70th WWII Veteran Reunion and Education Forum is being held at the Crowne Plaza.  7 veterans who fought in General George Patton’s Third Army in the Battle of the Bulge will be in attendance.  They plan to visit West Point tomorrow.  Educational forums, which are open to the public, will be held Saturday afternoon.  The gathering will close with a reception in the evening.  Mayor Mark Boughton is expected to present proclamations to the veterans.

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Brookfield celebrates National Library Card Sign-Up month

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month.  Brookfield Library officials say first-time new card holders will get a totebag for signing up. A library card gives residents access to more than books: there are online resources, museum passes and digital materials to supplement the library’s offerings of DVDs, audiobooks, and programs. This month, Brookfield is concluding “One Town One Read” activities with a genealogy class, and an author visit by Dani Shapiro, who penned this year’s selection: Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love. 

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Danbury schools enrollment spike prompts state funding request

There's been a jump in enrollment at Danbury Schools, which has prompted a $1.3 million emergency funding request to the state by Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella.  The district planned for an increase of 2-percent, but the projections fell short and there's been a 5.6 percent student population increase. 

Pascarella wrote a letter to the Board of Ed saying they have witnessed an unprecedented and alarming increase in new student registrations in the last 30 days that will further strain the ability to provide an appropriate education to students under the approved budget.  He called it a highly unusual and wholly unexpected situation in a letter to the state Education Commissioner. 

Since the close of the last school year, the District received 619 newly registered students.  They've estimated a net increase of 350 K-12 students.  Pascarella says historical data suggests the district can expect about 60 additional students during the month of September.

Many of the students require additional educational services, as they are identified as High Need.  Pascarella says the district needs additional bilingual education teachers and additional high school core course teachers.  There's also an increase in mandated OT and PT services, all at a cost of $433,000.  100 additional desks have been ordered for the high school, at a cost of $30,000.  The estimated $600,000 special education budget needs to be increased by $250,000.  Three additional buses will cost $210,000.

Pascarella says the modular classrooms at the elementary and middle schools, new building additions at the elementary and high school levels, and the reopening of a previously shuttered building as an intradistrict magnet middle school have left them with few options for expansion into unused space.

Democratic mayoral challenger Chris Setaro faults Mayor Mark Boughton for not regulating residential development growth on the west side.

Boughton responded that the increase is due to existing houses turning over.  He quotes from a Board Of Ed study that found three blocks of Osborne Street generate as many students as one 470 unit project.  Boughton says it will take about $600,000 to hire new teachers and cover the cost of transportation.

Pascarella said in a letter to the Board of Education that Boughton promised an additional $600,000 for special education costs.  But the matter has not yet been presented to the City Council.

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New Milford students sign petition against bathroom rule changes meant to curb vaping

New bathroom rules at New Milford High School, put in place to curb vaping, has prompted a petition calling the rules change unfair. 

When the new school year started, there were changes about which bathrooms students could use, which some say has led to 20 minute trips in some cases.  The bathrooms on the second and third floors are now closed during lunch and between classes, forcing students to use ones on the first floor during the day. 

A letter to parents explained that the closures were a response to the dramatic increase in vaping over the last few years.  Hundreds of students have now signed an online petition, hoping to send a message to school officials that the change is disruptive to learning.

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Brookfield woman joins state task force on positive school climate

The Social & Emotional Learning and School Climate Collaborative has been formed in Connecticut.  The group recently held their inaugural meeting. 

One of the members is Suicide Prevention Advocate Debbie Berman.  The Brookfield resident lost her daughter to suicide 11 years ago at age 14.  Berman started a website called She Mattered, and gives presentations in churches, libraries and schools about recognizing bullying and speaking up.

State Representative Liz Linehan started off the meeting, by saying why she felt it was important to have a group like this. An 11-year old died by suicide in Cheshire, the town she represents.  Her family believes bullying was a large part of that. 

Linehan says that's when lawmakers started to look at what was happening in schools.  She notes that one of the the charges of the Collaborative is to determine if there's an early assessment tool, for children as early as 3rd grade.  But Linehan says there was pushback because some people believe if suicide is discussed, somehow permission is being given for suicide.  She says that's not the case.

The collaborative was created to assist local and regional school boards in efforts to improve school climate.  The group will also study youth suicide and the state's response.  The  model positive school climate proposal is due to state officials by January 1st.  By July 1st, the Collaborative must submit a proposed assessment. 

Two subcommittees will be established in the coming weeks.  One will investigate deaths by despair while the other will come up with a model policy based on best practices from schools and communities in Connecticut.

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Sherman Fire Department receives FEMA grant for radios

An $88,000 federal grant is coming to the Sherman Fire Department.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced the funding as part of more than $45-million in grants awarded this week to 294 fire department across the country.  Sherman will use the money to buy 28 portable radios for firefighters.  The Assistance to Firefighters Grant is meant to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs like protective gear, emergency vehicles training and other resources.

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Overturned tractor trailer snarls evening commute in Newtown

A truck driver sustained non-life threatening injuries when the tractor trailer overturned in Newtown yesterday afternoon.  The crash was reported around 1pm on Route 25, just past Button Shop Road.  The driver was quickly extricated by emergency responders and transported to the hospital.  The truck was carrying garbage, and there was construction debris scattered across the northbound lane and onto the grassy area by businesses.  Clean up efforts continued into the early evening commute, which caused some heavy delays. 

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Arrest made in killing at Sterling Woods condo in Danbury

Danbury Police have made an arrest in the homicide investigation of Jason Hoffman, which occurred at the Sterling Woods Condominium Complex earlier this month.  33-year old David Ramos of Danbury has been charged. 

Police say Ramos is a friend of Hoffman’s and resident of the complex where Hoffman was killed on September 4th. 

The arrest warrant was approved on Monday.  Police say Ramos eluded apprehension until this morning when he was found in a friend’s apartment on Scuppo Road.  The court has sealed the information contained in the warrant affidavit, which limits the details that can be revealed at this time. 

Ramos was charged with manslaughter, possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, failure to keep prescriptions in the original container and interfering with the duties of an officer.  Investigators believe Ramos will face additional charges related to the incident as the court case moves forward.

Police are looking into the possibility of others also facing charges related to the death.

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New Milford Police investigating weekend assault

New Milford Police are investigating an assault.  Police say the incident happened on Saturday morning, shortly before noon.  Police responded to Danbury Road at Sunny Valley Road for a report of the assault and are asking anybody who witnessed the incident to contact Officer Young at the police department at 860-355-3133.  No other details were immediately released.  The anonymous TIPS Line is 860-355-2000.

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Sandy Hook Promise and Bark Partner to Help Protect Children Nationwide

NEWTOWN, Conn., Sept. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Sandy Hook Promise and Bark announce a strategic partnership creating the country's first comprehensive "home-to-school" portfolio of prevention programs for schools and parents to utilize to prevent shootings, acts of violence, and other harmful acts.

When it comes to prevention of school shootings and violence, experts agree that solutions need to start in the home and extend into school. It is for this very reason that Sandy Hook Promise and Bark have joined forces to bring comprehensive solutions to tens of thousands of schools and millions of parents nationwide.

Specifically, Sandy Hook Promise will teach students and educators how to recognize warning signs, intervene and provide help through delivery of its evidenced-based "Know the Signs" programs. Meanwhile, Bark will provide its flagship Bark for Families product as well as its community-oriented Bark for Schools safety suite to alert parents and schools to signs of potential danger in online content such as text messaging, email, and 24+ social media platforms.

Since inception, Sandy Hook Promise and Bark programs have intervened cumulatively upon hundreds of school shootings, thousands of suicides, and other harmful threats. By strategically combining program and operational outreach and implementation together, they are creating a comprehensive solution that will reach more schools, more students, and more parents - resulting in innumerable interventions and lives saved in the years ahead.

"We know that educating kids to 'know the signs' of potential violence is helping to prevent tragedies from happening. Coupling our lifesaving school training with Bark's award-winning safety software provides a holistic solution to help keep kids safe, both online and in real life, and gives parents greater peace of mind and engagement with their children. Both Bark and Sandy Hook Promise are committed to saving lives and protecting children, which makes our partnership an ideal match," said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

In 2015, Bark launched its flagship product, Bark for Families, which monitors text messages, emails, YouTube, and 24+ social media platforms for issues like cyberbullying, online predators, adult content, depression, acts of violence, suicidal ideation, and more.

In 2018, Bark extended its suite of online safety services to all K-12 public and private schools in the U.S. - at no cost to them or their communities. They offer content monitoring of school-issued accounts, web filtering, and a Parent Portal for after-hours alerts.

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Update provided on two infrastructure projects in Bethel

Progress is being made on a couple of infrastructure projects in Bethel.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the new canopy is going up at the old train station.  He says it will be back to its historic look in a couple of weeks.  The start of the project was delayed because Metro North didn't have an employee available to act as a flagger during the work, near the active train tracks.  The school's new new track and field training center is coming close to completion.  Knickerbocker hopes for a December ribbon cutting ceremony.  The facility is going up behind the high school where the old tennis courts used to be.

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Greater Danbury area towns host 9/11 remembrance ceremonies

Greater Danbury area municipalities are marking the 18th anniversary of 9/11.  Danbury officials are hosting a ceremony at Elmwood Park on Main Street.  It's earlier this year, starting at 5pm.  There will be road closures leading to that portion of Main Street starting shortly before the ceremony, and lasting until about 6pm.

Bethel Fire & EMS is hosting a peaceful remembrance at 6pm on the lawn of the Bethel Municipal Center.

In Ridgefield, a ceremony will be held at 6:30pm at the monument on Danbury Road.

New Milford's ceremony takes place in the morning at their 9/11 monument.  People are asked to gather at 8am, with the service starting at 8:46am.  The apparatus bell will toll at that time.  First responders will raise the flag, an invocation will be offered and there will be brief remarks by local and state officials.  The National Anthem, God Bless America and Amazing Grace will be performed.

During the state's commemoration, the Jr ROTC from Bethel High School served as color guard.  Rabbi Rachel Bearman of Temple B'Nai Chaim in the Georgetown section of Redding offered the invocation. 

Some of the names were read by State Police En Con officer Alexandra Blackwell, whose father FDNY Lt Christopher Blackwell of Putnam Lake, responded to the World Trade Center.  He was an Immaculate High School graduate and served as a New Fairfield Volunteer Firefighter.  Other names were read by Newtown Police Officer Christopher Vadas, who also shared memories of his late brother, Bradley Vadas, with the crowd.

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Low turnout for Conn. primaries

There was low turn out for yesterday's primaries in Connecticut. 

In Southbury, registered Republicans opted to have incumbent First Selectman Jeff Manville be the candidate on the November ballot.  He garnered 1,098 votes compared to GOP endorsed candidate Jennifer Naylor's 682 votes.  Manville, who is seeking a third term, will face Democratic challenger Rich Boritz in a couple of months.  Naylor, who is a member of the Board of Selectmen, will be unable to qualify to run for a selectmen seat in November.

Five candidates have been selected in Ridgefield to run for the Board of Education as Republicans.  None of the five are current members of the Board.  Candidate Darrin McGuire, who petitioned his way onto the primary ballot, did not received enough votes to qualify for the ballot in November.  The other five up for election in yesterday's primary will advance.  There was low turn out among registered Republicans in Ridgefield with about 450 voting, compared to the registered 5,800 eligible voters.

The Democratic First Selectman and Selectman race in Oxford was so close, according to preliminary numbers from the Secretary of the State's Office, that there could be an automatic recount.  Challenger Betti Hellman received three more votes than Scott Flaherty to be on the November ballot.  Heather Ann Haney beat Democrat Party-endorsed candidate Leslie Kerwin 180 to 159 votes.  If there's a recount that shows the same results, Hellman would run against incumbent Republican George Temple in a few months.

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Ridgefield Police offer tips to combat mail, package theft

With a few incidents of mail tampering occurring in recent months, the Ridgefield Police Department is offering some tips to help protect from becoming a victim of mail and package theft.  Homeowners should try not to leave letters and packages in the mailbox or at the door for any length of time.  Outgoing mail should be placed in a Blue Collection Box as close to the listed pick up time, of dropped off inside the local Post Office.  Ridgefield residents are urged to be careful about what is sent through the mail, and shouldn't risk sending cash.  If you do not receive a check, credit card, or other valuable mail you’re expecting, contact the sender as soon as possible and inquire about it.

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Danbury Fire Department marks National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month is recognized each September.  Danbury Fire Department says this is done to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning now and throughout the year. The 2019 theme is "Prepared, Not Scared."  Danbury Fire Officials say each week will have a different focus, with the first focused on saving early for disaster costs.  This week is highlighting having a plan.  Next week will be about teaching youth to prepare, and the final week will be about getting involved in the community's preparedness.

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Conn. Congressional delegation push for gun safety legislation

Representatives are back in Washington DC and 4th District Congressman Jim Himes is calling on his colleagues to take action on gun safety legislation. 

Himes says he agrees with the President that the latest mass shooting hasn't really changed anything about the fun reform conversation.  He says moving commonsense measures forward, like universal background checks, closing gun show loopholes and supporting red flag laws, has stalled. 

Himes added that Mitch McConnell is hiding behind the President refusing to do anything until Trump takes a position. He called the inaction infuriating.

Senator Chris Murphy has released a statement on his direct negotiations with the White House on background checks legislation.  Murphy says time is running short to find a compromise on the issue.   He is still negotiating in good faith to find a bipartisan proposal that will expand checks to cover more commercial sales.

Murphy continues to take the president at his word that he wants the same thing.  But as each day goes by, Murphy says it seems more likely that they're going to find themselves back in a familiar place where 90 percent of the Americans who want more background checks are going to be disappointed once again.

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Report: New Milford, State at odds over investigation into police official

The state and the town of New Milford are at odds over the status of an investigation into a now retired Police Department member.  The Republican American reports that state police continued their investigation into Lt Larry Ash for months after he was reinstated by New Milford officials last year. 

Mayor Pete Bass said Ash was cleared of the violations, but a state police internal affairs report, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, shows that Ash violated town policies regarding employee conduct, accepting gifts and ethics. 

Retiring while under investigation for malfeasance bars future employment with law enforcement agencies.  The Lake Lillinonah Marine Patrol hired Ash a month ago, based on Bass’s claim of exoneration. 

He allegedly accepted a a free grill in exchange for dropping an investigation, and tipped off individuals that a federal drug case could result in warrants.  A woman claimed someone forged her name on a credit  from Powerhouse Appliance, and eventually Ash said that the case was being worked out by her attorneys and lawyers for the company, and the woman was withdrawing the complaint.  Ash then allegedly disclosed information about a narcotics investigation to the individuals under investigation, according to notes made by a Drug Enforcement Agency agent, and reported in the news article. 

The FBI was notified of the potential DEA interference, and their criminal investigation was unable to substantiate the accusations. 

Boyne filed a lawsuit claiming that days after telling Bass that the investigation was moving to an outside agency, he was told his contract would not be renewed because the Mayor reportedly wanted a police chief who lives in New Milford.

The new Chief, Spencer Cerruto, said no further investigation was required since Ash was back on the job.  The published report says that State Police Capt. David Delvecchia, the head of the internal affairs unit, then spoke with Cerruto, who then agreed that the administrative investigation would continue.

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Danbury Library selected to take part in 'Great Stories Club'

Danbury Library has been selected as one of 35 libraries nationwide to take part in the Great Stories Club.  The reading and discussion program for underserved teens means library staff will travel to a workshop in Chicago next month. 

As part of the Great Stories Club series on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation, staff from Danbury Library will work with Danbury Youth Services in recruiting teens to read and discuss stories that explore questions of race, equity, identity, history, institutional change and social justice. The competitive grant is offered by the American Library Association, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. 

The books — curated for the theme "Growing Up Brave on the Margins: Courage and Coming of Age" —  were selected to inspire young people to consider "big questions" about the world around them and their place in it.  Danbury Library will receive a $1,200 programming grant and 11 copies of each of the selected books, which will be gifted to the book club participants at the end of the program.

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Bethel Fire Department to commemorate new apparatus this weekend

The Bethel Fire Department is hosting a Wet Down ceremony for their new fire truck this weekend.  There will also be an open house on Sunday from noon to 4pm.  They are celebrating the new apparatus, a 2019 Seagrave Marauder and a 2019 Ford Frazer Ambulance.  The department's 1936 Mack truck will also be on display, with the museum open.  The dedication ceremony typically involves squads of firefighters from neighboring departments and towns anointing a new fire apparatus with water sprayed from the other firefighting equipment.

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Dog dies a hero in weekend fire in West Redding

A dog has died a hero in a Redding fire over the weekend.  The initial call on Sunday came into Danbury Fire Department about a basement fire on Long Ridge Road.  It was actually the other end of the street, which is technically West Redding. 

Occupants reported that they were all out of the house, except for a dog.  Crews encountered heavy smoke and high heat conditions while conducting a search of the house. The large dog was found under a bed on the second floor and removed from the building.  West Redding used pet resuscitation equipment to attempt the resuscitate the dog, but were unsuccessful. 

Firefighters later learned that the family dog's barking woke the family of three and alerted them to the fire.  The parents and their 11 year old son and their two dogs were all sleeping on the second floor.  Both dogs had exited with the three people, but the hero dog ran back into the house.

The father attempted to go back in after the dog, but the extreme smoke and rising heat prevented his efforts. 

Mutual aid was provided by Bethel and Georgetown. A Bethel paramedic evaluated the family for smoke inhalation concerns. The fire is being investigated by the Redding Fire Marshals office.

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3 people rescued from Danbury apartment fire

Three people have been rescued from a Danbury apartment fire. 

A 3rd floor occupant of a South Street building woke up to an odor of smoke early Monday morning.  They found the hallway wall on the second floor was on fire and tried to out it out with the nearby extinguisher.  When they couldn't get control, the occupant called 911 and alerted emergency responders to a family on the second floor. 

Firefighters found flames showing on the side of the three story, wood frame structure. 

Some firefighters went inside the building, while others placed a ground ladder to a second floor window.  A woman was brought down the ladder, while firefighters helped a man and toddler child, past the fire area, and down the exit stairs.  There were no injuries reported. 

The Danbury Fire Marshals Office is investigating.

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Public hearing in Bethel on proposed apartment near municipal center

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing tonight on proposed apartments for the downtown area.  The application calls for 8 apartments at 10 Wooster Street.  The approximately half an acre of land borders the municipal center property.  20-percent of the apartments will be considered affordable.  The plan is calling for 6 one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units.  The meeting tonight is at 7 o'clock at the municipal center.

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Health aid arrested for larceny, identity theft

A health aide has been arrested on identity theft and grand larceny charges.  Putnam County Sheriff's Deputies investigated a complain from an elderly resident of Plaza at Clover Lake Nursing Home Facility in Patterson.  The woman noticed that her credit card had been moved and that money was missing from her wallet.  The 82 year old then found that her credit card had been used to make an unauthorized purchase.  Deputies arrested 29-year old Takara Baldwin of New Windsor Sunday.  She was arraigned and ordered held on bond for a future appearance in Patterson Justice Court.

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Wilton woman gets two DUIs in one day

A Wilton woman has been give two DUI tickets in one day.  Wilton Police received a call Saturday afternoon about a driver hitting a parked car.  64-year old Ellen Needleman-O'Neill was located and police say she failed field sobriety tests.  Needleman-O'Neill's blood alcohol content was nearly three times the legal limit.  Police also reportedly found Tylenol/codeine pills in her purse.  She was released on a written promise to appear in court September 17.  A few hours later, she allegedly drove to a liquor store.  Police say Needleman-O'Neill was located on Old Farms Road and found to still be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.  She also did not have a valid driver's license, the vehicle was unregistered and her right to drive had been revoked earlier in the day due to the previous DUI arrest.  Needlman-O'Neill was released on bond.

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Primaries in several Greater Danbury area towns

There are a couple of primaries today.  Registered Republicans in Southbury are at the polls to chose a candidate for First Selectman.  Incumbent First Selectman Jeff Manville is seeking his third term.  Jennifer Naylor, a member of the Board of Selectmen, was nominated by the GOP.  The winner will face Democratic challenger Rich Boritz in the November election.  In Ridgefield, voters registered with the GOP are being asked to narrow down 6 candidates for the Board of Ed to 5 to appear on the November ballot.  In Oxford, there's a Democratic primary for First Selectman and Selectman.

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Several primaries to be held in Conn. tomorrow

Some Connecticut residents have the chance to vote in primary elections tomorrow.  There's a Democratic primary in Oxford.  Republican primaries are being held in Southbury and in Ridgefield tomorrow.  Registered Ridgefield Republicans can vote for any 5 candidates for the Board of Ed, who will then appear on the November ballot.  In Southbury, the GOP primary is for First Selectman because the incumbent was not endorsed by the party.

 

Southbury, Republican Primary

First Selectman
Vote for One
*Jennifer Naylor
Jeffrey A. Manville

 

Ridgefield, Republican Primary

Board of Education
Vote for Any Five

Robert Ceccarini*, Elizabeth Floegel*, Sean McEvoy*, Rachel Ruggeri*, Darrin McGuire, Bryan P. Ward

 

Oxford, Democrat Primary

First Selectman
Vote for One
Scott Flaherty*, Betti R. Hellman

Selectman
Vote for One

Leslie Kerwin*, Heather Ann Haney

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Brookfield Museum hosting presentation on Alexander Hamilton

Brookfield Museum is hosting a presentation on Alexander Hamilton: The Man, The Military, and The Music.  Author Dr. Raymond Sullivan, who is also Brookfield’s Director of Health, will expand on songs featured in the current Broadway hit musical to give a presentation on the many phases of Alexander Hamilton’s life.  Sullivan will focus on the role Hamilton played during the American Revolution as the Aide to General Washington and a Military Field Commander.  Admission is free for tonight's event at the Brookfield Museum.  It's at 7:30pm.

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WCSU moves Family Weekend to Homecoming

Western Connecticut State University is providing an update from the Office of Parent Services.  Family Weekend has been rescheduled for Friday, October 11th, and Saturday the 12th.  That is also homecoming weekend.  The office says West Conn prides itself on being a community-oriented university with a great number of public events that can involve the entire family.

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FuelCell Energy: Fiscal 3Q Earnings Snapshot

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCEL) on Monday reported a loss of $5.3 million in its fiscal third quarter.

The Danbury, Connecticut-based company said it had a loss of 18 cents per share.

The fuel cell power plant maker posted revenue of $22.7 million in the period.

The company's shares closed at 40 cents. A year ago, they were trading at $13.45.

 

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Danbury student selected as national finalist in science competition

A Danbury 8th grader has been selected as one of 300 winners nationwide for the 2019 Broadcom MASTERS, a program of Society for Science & the Public.  Westside Middle School Academy student Gabriella Brown was one of six students awarded at last spring’s Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair for her project: “Design, testing, and optimization of Kombucha SCOBY-based biofilms.”  30 finalists will be selected from the 300 top MASTERS on September 18th.  Those finalists will head to Washington, D.C., to attend the Broadcom MASTERS finals week competition Oct. 25-30.

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Danbury Police warn of Eversource phone scam

Danbury Police are warning about phone scams. The Department has received several complaints from business owners and residents about calls from someone claiming to be an Eversource Electric employee.  The victims have been told that their electricity will be shut off unless immediate payment is received via "bitcoins".  Danbury Police say Eversource will never ask for instant payment in person or on the phone, will not require pre-paid Bitcoin or Green Dot MoneyPak and will never request customers meet at a payment center, such as a department or grocery store, to make a payment.  Anyone receiving such a call should hang up and call Eversource at 800-286-2000.

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Pair arrested for art theft from Newtown home

Two Danbury residents have been arrested for allegedly stealing art from a Newtown home this summer.  27-year old Brooke Vazzano and 26-year old Cody Delmedico turned themselves in on outstanding warrants Friday.  Newtown Police launched an investigation in June into the theft of 50-thousand dollars worth of artwork from a Currituck Road house, while the owners were out of town.  Vazzano and Delmedio were each charged with Burglary and Larceny, and released on bond.  Police say the suspects were related to the pet sitter and used their keys and alarm code to gain access into the residence.  The stolen artwork was recovered.

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Mother, daughter arrested for DWI and drug possession

A mother and daughter have been arrested on drunk driving and drug possession charges.  Putnam County Sheriff Deputies saw a car stopped in the middle of Route 22 in Southeast early on Thursday evening.  An investigation revealed that the vehicle’s driver, 45-year old Erica Turen of Patterson, was allegedly intoxicated.  Deputies found Concentrated Cannabis in the vehicle, which allegedly belonged to Turen’s daughter, 19-year old Amber Holic, who had arrived on the scene.  Both were transported to Putnam County Correctional Facility.  Turen was charged with DWI, while Holic was charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance.  Both were released and issued tickets to appear in Southeast Justice Court at a later date.

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New Milford Police celebrate 50 years, announce helicopter for department usage

The New Milford Police Department is celebrating 50 years of service.  As part of the anniversary celebration yesterday, Chief Spenser Cerruto announced a partnership with the Nelson D’Ancona Foundation which will allow the department to have a helicopter.  The chopper will  be used for search and rescue, water incidents, Ariel Command and Control of critical incident management if needed, Assisting Special Teams, Community/Educational events and other activities.  Through the partnership, there is no operating nor insurance costs born by the Town of New Milford.  Cerruto was hired last year to bring community policing to New Milford. He initiated a downtown weekend foot or bike patrol this summer.  Cerruto plans to start a citizen police academy, form a chief’s advisory board, and begin the State Police accreditation process.

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Danbury Museum & Historical Society wants to buy oldest house in the City still standing

Danbury Museum and Historical Society is looking to purchase a Wooster Heights home, the oldest house in the City still standing.  The Authority's mission includes the preservation of historical assets important to the community.

56 Wooster Heights was the home of Admiral Dickens, a Spanish-American War hero. It was constructed in 1690 by the Crofut family, among Danbury's early settlers.  It was also the home of the City's first librarian, Mrs. Taylor, and connected through family genealogy to Charles Dickens.

Executive Director Brigid Guertin says an artist-in-residency program could be created at the site.  She says that would change their organization from just being an historic home museum to also being an arts museum, making multiple grants more accessible.  Council members seemed intrigued by the idea of opening revenue options to the City entity. 

The Wooster Heights house once served as an inn and sits on an acre of land and is on the market for $360,000.  It has antique chestnut, hand hewn beams and authentic hand sawn wide chestnut floors.  There are two fireplaces and a wood stove.  The home has 9 rooms including 3 bedrooms and one full and one partial bathrooms.

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New Milford hires 'At Risk Navigator' to tackle opioid crisis

New Milford Police have announced an overhaul to how the town deals with the opioid crisis.  In addition to a previously announced proactive approach to going after those that deal drugs to the community, there's a new initiative.  A Town of New Milford At Risk Navigator has been hired to help those addicted and their families.  Army veteran Justin Cullmer  held that same position for Nuvance Health.  He will provide the link to resources within the community and beyond to get the services needed.  The town is partnering with New Milford Hospital, bringing a connection to the Department of Social Services, Youth Agency, CARES and New Milford Coalition for Awareness and New Beginnings.  New Milford state Representative Bill Buckbee is working on legislation to get insurance companies to better cover treatment program.  Mayor Pete Bass is planning a meeting of all Town stakeholders on this issue in the near future.

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New Fairfield Historical Society marks 50 years with letterboxing event

The New Fairfield Historical Society is celebrating “50 years of History” this year.  A letterboxing treasure hunt-style activity is being held tomorrow.  Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly-accessible places and post clues to finding the box online, and then others can stamp their logbook, and leave their imprint on the letterbox's logbook.  All of the letterboxes in this hunt are in historically significant places in New Fairfield.  Participants can go to the Little Red School House on Sunday from 1-3pm to pick up a stamp card and rules for the hunt. There's a suggested 5 dollar donation.  Commemorative patches will be given to those who find all locations.

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14-year old is featured artist at Richter House this weekend

A 14-year old Danbury High School student is the featured performer at tomorrow's Stanley L. Richter Association for the Arts concert.  Timothy Chen will be joined by Ava Turner in performing works by Beethoven, Bach, and others at Richter House at 3pm.  Chen has been studying the piano for eight years and has won recognition for his talent and dedication.  Ava Turner is a 17-year-old home-schooled senior.  Admission is free.

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SCOTTY Fund picnic this weekend in Bethel

The SCOTTY Fund, a local charity based in Bethel that raises money for families of children with life threatening illnesses, is hosting their annual picnic this weekend. Over the last 23 years, the organization has donated over 1-and-a-half million dollars to the local community.  The fundraising picnic on Saturday is from 11am to 6pm on the Bethel Municipal Center lawn.  There will be local food vendors, inflatables, pony rides, live music and other activities.  The proceeds from this event go directly to helping families with children with life threatening illnesses in the Greater Danbury area. Admission is $7 per person.


Pony rides: 12-4
Live music from GoRjA: 4-6
Cornhole Tournament: 1-4
Desserts by Cinnamon Churros CT: all day

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Household hazardous waste collection day Saturday in Bethel

The next household hazardous waste day is being held tomorrow at Walnut Hill Church in Bethel, from 9am to 1pm.  Volunteers will unload the waste from residents’ cars.  The event, hosted by the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority, is free for Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, Newtown and Ridgefield residents.  Information on what to bring and what not to bring is on the HRRA website.  The organization is also hosting events October 5th in Ridgefield and November 2nd in Danbury.

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CT United Ride, fundraiser for 9/11 Responders, comes through Fairfield County this weekend

Area police departments are cautioning drivers to a motorcycle fundraiser this weekend, which will slow traffic.  CT United Ride, a fundraiser for 9/11 Responders is being held on Sunday.  This event is the largest 9/11 tribute in the State.

The ride travels with full police escort through 11 cities and towns, Norwalk, Westport, Wilton, Georgetown, Redding, Bethel, Newtown, Monroe, Trumbull, Fairfield, and ending in Bridgeport.  1,000 motorcyclists will be participating so motorists are asked for patients and to use caution. 

The route travels through Redding along Routes 58, 107 and 53 from 10am through noon.  Redding Police say travel on intersecting roads along the route will also be affected.  The Monroe leg of the fundraiser is estimated at between noon and 1pm along Main Street.  Police say drivers should expect delays up to a half hour.

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Garner inmate charged for allegedly threatening Correction Officer's family

State Police have charged an inmate of Garner Correctional Institution with threatening and disorderly conduct for allegedly trying to intimidate a corrections officer and his family.  Troopers responded to the maximum-security prison in Newtown on August 22nd. 

The Newstimes reports that 30-year old Jean Conquistador allegedly made the threat on the 13th.  He reportedly said he wanted to be escorted by a different officer for his daily recreation period, but none were available.  Conquistador allegedly said he would find the Corrections Officer and his family when he gets out of prison and kill them all.  He was then placed in segregation/restrictive housing unit. 

Conquistador was scheduled for release August 30th, but was charged and moved to Bridgeport Correctional Center.  He has a plea hearing scheduled for September 13th in Danbury Superior Court.

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Officials investigating death of prisoner charged in killing

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut officials are investigating the death of a prisoner who was being detained on charges he stabbed a woman to death in an act of domestic violence.

The Department of Correction said in a statement Thursday that 34-year-old David MacDowell, of Bethel, was found dead at the Bridgeport Correctional Center on Tuesday. Authorities say a guard found MacDowell hanging in his cell.

Prison officials say staff members tried to revive MacDowell, but he was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.

Prison officials, state police and the medical examiner's office are investigating the cause and manner of MacDowell's death.

MacDowell was charged with first-degree manslaughter and being detained on $1 million bond in the Aug. 24 stabbing death of a woman in Bethel. The woman's name hasn't been released.

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Man arrested for falsely reporting fight 'to get back at' ex-girlfriend

A Brookfield man has been arrested in Newtown for allegedly calling in a fake report of a fight in order to get back at an ex-girlfriend.  Newtown Police responded to a report of a fight Monday involving 5 to 10 people at a Berkshire Road home.  When officers arrived, they determined there was no fight.  

Police were able to track down the caller, who was identified as 40-year old Erik Gilstad.  He was charged with falsely reporting an incident and misuse of 911.  Gilstad was released on $500 cash bond. 

Newtown Police spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde says due to nature of the 911 call, a large police response was initiated, only to find out it was a hoax.  He called it very disturbing as the lives of officers, the homeowners, and the general public were put at risk by a selfish individual who put revenge in front of everyone's safety.

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Motorist stopped for texting while driving found with pot, cocaine, LSD

A routine traffic stop in Wilton has led to the bust of an alleged drug dealer.  Police stopped a motorist on Route 7 at Sharp Hill Road yesterday for distracted driving.  30-year old Jesse Daniel Pomponio of Watertown, Massachusetts was spotted texting while driving. 

As officers approached, they could smell marijuana coming from the car.  A search of the vehicle turned up 5.5 pounds of pot, 50 grams of cocaine, 17 grams of hallucinogenic mushrooms, LSD, and several pills.  Wilton Police also seized $13,770 in cash.

Pomponio was charged possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and three counts of possession with intent to sell.  He was held on bond for arraignment this morning.

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$1 million approved to study connecting Danbury to Southeast by train

Progress is being made on plans to get the old Maybrook train Line up and running in Danbury to hook into Metro North.  The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council has unanimously agreed to fund a study to connect Danbury to Southeast and the Harlem line. The $1 million study is mostly being funded by the federal government.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell is a voting member of the Council, which is a collaborative planning forum to address transportation-related issues, develop regional plans and make decisions on the use of federal transportation funds for its planning area.  The money for the feasibility study comes from an $800,000 federal grant, and a $200,000 contribution from from Putnam County.

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Danbury officials work to pick up slack from closing of Jericho homeless shelter

The Danbury homeless shelter is now operating around the clock.  Jericho Partnership closed their shelter at the end of last month, meaning the the City lost 14 beds for the homeless.  Danbury Health and Human Services Department Director Lisa Morrissey told the City Council this week that she's been meeting with the Department of Housing about the situation.  She was told the City will receive a sizable grant for this fiscal year to cover operational costs of the additional hours.  Morrissey has a meeting coming up between multiple city offices, state agencies and Governor Lamont's office to talk about long term plans for meeting the needs of the homeless and the at-risk of being homeless population in Danbury.  

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Aquarion acquires Interlaken Water Company in New Fairfield

Aquarion Water Company has acquired the Interlaken Water Company in New Fairfield. The system provides water to approximately 60 New Fairfield residents.  The acquisition brings the total number of residents in town served by Aquarion to nearly 1,700.  Aquarion is also is in the process of acquiring New Fairfield’s municipal water system, as announced in late 2018.  That acquisition is currently under review by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.  Aquarion President and CEO Charles Firlotte says these two moves allow the company to leverage extensive experience to maintain these water systems, make smart investments in infrastructure, and ensure that residents and businesses can count on high-quality water.

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Danbury Police identify homicide victim as Brewster man

Danbury Police have identified the victim of Wednesday morning's homicide at Sterling Woods Condominium Complex.  33-year old Jason James Lowry Hoffman of Brewster sustained a  gunshot to the upper torso.  While there is limited information at this time, investigators know that Hoffman was visiting a friend in the complex when the incident occurred.

Police say several people have been interviewed, however, person(s) responsible for the death have yet to be identified or charged. A pistol was recovered just feet away from the crime scene, which will be analyzed to determine if it is associated with this incident.

Police say there is no reason to believe other members of the community are at risk of harm based on preliminary information, which indicates the incident was not a random act. 

Hoffman had a criminal record, including a 2013 arrest.  He was found guilty the following year of manslaughter and sale of narcotics for the December 2010 death of 39-year-old Danbury resident Donald Sturges Jr.  Hoffman was 24 at the time and the arrest warrant claims he injected Sturges with a fatal dose of cocaine and heroin during a party.  He spent five years in prison and was recently released on probation.

Anyone with information related to Wednesday's incident is asked to call the Danbury Police Department TIPS Line at 203-790-8477 or the Detective Bureau at 203-797-4662.

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Putnam County Director of Tourism appointed

A Putnam County Director of Tourism has been appointed. 

Carmel resident Tracey Walsh will fill the role created recently by the Putnam County Legislature through the new Department of Tourism.  The move was made so that the Tourism Director would be able to attend legislative meetings and listen to any concerns.  Walsh, the Senior Community Development Manager for The American Cancer Society, was selected from a large pool of applicants.

She plans to leverage the county’s assets – five Metro-North stops, local shops and restaurants and community arts groups – to lure day-trippers and others to Putnam County.

Her salary will be $80,000.  The department will be funded with a combination of county funds and a matching grant from the state’s I Love NY campaign -- the same budget amount that had been allotted Putnam’s now defunct non-profit tourism agency.

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Ransomware found on Sherman School computer server

A form of malware has been found in the computer system of Sherman School.  The Connecticut Post reports that State Police are investigating the discovery of ransomware on the server.  The software denies access to data or they system until a ransom is paid.  The malware was found August 16th and their data encrypted.  State Police were notified last week.  Schools in Middletown, Wallingford, New Haven, Pomfret and Wolcott were also victims of a ransomware attack. Anyone with information on Sherman School ransomware is asked to call State Police Troop A at 203-267-2200.

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Brookfield earns Tree City U.S.A. recognition

Brookfield has earned the Tree City U.S.A. recognition for 2018 from the Arbor Day Foundation, National Association of State Foresters, and the USDA Forest Service.  Town officials say healthy community forests help make the state a better place to live by increasing the amount of shade, improving air quality, and creating a natural setting.  Moreover, they say a commitment to forestry on a small scale helps further the nation’s efforts to conserve energy.

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Next Household Hazardous Waste Day has shorter hours

There are shorter hours for the next Household  Hazardous Waste collection event.  It's taking place on Saturday in Bethel, at the Walnut Hill Church.  The collection is 9am to 1pm.  HRRA events in the past ran until 2pm.  This collection is for residents of Bethel, Danbury, Newtown, New Fairfield, Redding and Ridgefield.

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States, politicians back gun-maker in Sandy Hook appeal

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Ten states and nearly two dozen members of Congress are joining the National Rifle Association in supporting gun-maker Remington Arms as it fights a Connecticut court ruling involving the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Officials in the 10 conservative states, 22 House Republicans and the NRA are among groups that filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court this week asking justices to overturn the ruling.

Madison, North Carolina-based Remington made the Bushmaster rifle used to kill 20 first graders and six educators at the Connecticut school in 2012.

The state Supreme Court ruled in March that a survivor and relatives of nine victims could sue Remington over how it marketed the rifle.

Remington and its supporters say the lawsuit is barred by a 2005 law that shields gun makers from liability.

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Danbury Police to give update on homicide case

Danbury Police plan to release more information about a homicide that occurred early yesterday morning at Sterling Woods Condominium Complex off Nabby Road.  One person is dead and investigators are seeking the suspect, but say there is no reason to believe other members of the community are at risk of harm.  Preliminary information indicates the incident was not a random act.  Initial reports are that the victim was shot in the chest.  The identity of the victim was withheld yesterday to notify the family.

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Wrong way driver found with drugs, $21k cash in Newtown

A wrong way driver on the highway in Newtown was found by police to have 100 cartridges of THC vapes and over $21,000 in cash.  Newtown Police stopped the vehicle on the exit 10 on ramp around 9pm Tuesday.  Officer could smell marijuana as they approached the car. 

A search also turned up 9 ounces of marijuana wax and a digital scale. 

The driver, 38-year old Charles Palmenta of Pennsylvania, and the passenger, 34-year old Skyler Arnold of Norwalk, were arrested.  They were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and 2 counts of possession with intent to sell. 

  

The vehicle and cash were seized.  The men were released on bond. 

(Photos: Newtown Police)

Newtown Police spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde says this was a great arrest by an observant patrol officer, doing his job. He says these black market vape pens are the exact type that have sent dozens of people across the country to the hospital with serious, even critical, health issues.

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Danbury to fix flooding by West St overhead railroad bridge

Danbury has hired a consultant to prepare plans and submit the required permits to reduce the flooding on West Street near the existing overhead railroad bridge. The project will involve removing sediment from the Still River Channel and under the bridge.  Crews are also looking into protecting the channel embankment from further deterioration. The City’s consultant is working on securing the permits for that part of the project and design for the embankment.

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Eversource to inspect equipment under manholes in Redding

Eversource will be performing underground transmission line inspections in Redding this month. Crews will be accessing existing manholes within town streets to inspect the transmission cables and clean out any debris from the vaults. Redding manhole locations are within the Eversource Substation off Archers Lane, on Umpawaug Road, Diamond Hill Road and Redding Road.  Eversource Outreach Representatives will contact residents who live near the manhole locations.  Work will take one to three days per manhole and will not interrupt electric service to any homes or businesses.

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Richter House Renovation design project in preliminary stages

The Richter House Renovation design project is in the preliminary stages in Danbury.  Plans call for a new stage and concession building. The designer has met with the State Historic Preservation Office and arranged a walkthrough with representatives at their request.  The architect is moving forward with the design, meeting with a theatrical group to review the new stage design.  There was also an on-site meeting and walkthrough with the City Building Official and Fire Marshall to review the 90-percent Preliminary Design Drawing for the renovation.  The building has been surveyed by environmental and structural sub-consultants.

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Brookfield Health officials explain beach testing

The Brookfield Health Department has received some questions about water testing at the Town Beach.  The weekly sampling is done to test for E. coli bacteria and for the toxic product of some blue-green algae that shows up intermittently.  Testing has confirmed that what is seen on the water is non-toxic, so is not detrimental to one’s health. Testing also confirms that with extremely low levels of toxins, there appears to be no threat to pets or wildlife. If high levels of harmful bacteria or microtoxins are detected, the Brookfield Parks and Recreation Department will post signs warning people to stay out of the water.

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Bills to help veterans set to take effect

A bill signing ceremony has been held to commemorate the enactment of three new laws impacting veterans, which take effect October 1st.  Governor Lamont says the measures were adopted to expand the ability of veterans to access certain state services and provide assistance after they have returned to civilian life. 

Each of the bills were approved in both chambers of the Connecticut General Assembly by unanimous, bipartisan votes. 

Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi says the bills include tax relief for disabled veterans, enhanced re-employment programs and increased access to residential and supportive programs and services at the state Department of Veterans Affairs.

One bill requires the workforce development board for Connecticut’s southwest region to develop and operate a Military to Machinists pilot program that will assist veterans in earning an advanced manufacturing certificate from a qualifying program and secure employment in the field upon certificate completion.

Another bill extends certain state war service benefits to veterans who have served less than 90 days in a period of war because they incurred or aggravated an injury in the line of duty that is not a service-connected disability rated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  It also removes a prior law that required a two-year state residency eligibility for certain state benefits, like hospital care and funeral expenses, for veterans who did not live in Connecticut at the time of their enlistment or induction into the military.

The base property tax exemption for certain disabled service members and veterans is increased by $500 in another bill. 

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Special Town Meeting in Ridgefield tonight on APA jurisdiction

There's a Special Town Meeting in Ridgefield tonight.  Residents will be deciding on whether the Aquifer Protection Agency should be under the jurisdiction of the Planning and Zoning Commission or to the soon to be elected Inland & Wetland Board.  Tonight's meeting is at 7:30pm in the Veterans Park Elementary School Auditorium.  The Board of Selectmen will convene their regularly scheduled meeting in the same location after the Special Town Meeting.  The vote is needed because the APA obligation is assigned in town ordinance to members of the Planning and Zoning Commission in their capacity as the Inland Wetlands Board.  A Charter revision approved last year separated the Board from the Commission. 

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Primary scheduled in Ridgefield for GOP Board of Ed position

There will be a primary in Ridgefield this month.  It's a contest for the Board of Education and open to registered Republicans.  Connecticut has closed primaries. so people looking to participate in the vote on September 10th must be registered with the Republican party.  The primary is 6am to 8pm with District 1 voting at East Ridge Middle School, District 2 at Scotts Ridge Middle School, District 3 at Yanity Gym.  School will be in session on Primary Day and Ridgefield's Registrars are recommending that voters avoid school start and dismissal times around 8am and 2:50pm.

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Police say man fatally shot during argument outside market

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - Police say a confrontation outside a store led to a fatal weekend shooting in Connecticut.

Bridgeport police say surveillance video shows 41-year-old Jose Perez-Ortiz, of Monroe, attempting to stab a man outside the variety store just after 6 p.m. Sunday.

The man pulled a gun and fired, striking Perez-Ortiz.

Police say the shooter left the scene in a light-colored vehicle.

Perez-Ortiz was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The Connecticut post reports the shooting was the city's 13th homicide of the year.

Police are urging the shooter to come forward, because if it is a case of self-defense, no charges will be lodged.

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Renovations progressing at two Bethel elementary schools

Renovations are continuing at two Bethel schools with the projects on track for completion next August or the fall of next year. The $65.8 million projects to Rockwell and Johnson is on budget.  Johnson is significantly under cost, but Rockwell has gone over.  The state is reimbursing 45-percent of eligible costs.

Rockwell second and third graders are in portable classrooms, which are climate controlled and have bathrooms.  Mid-year, second graders will move into new classrooms and first graders will move to the portables.  A substitute teacher will walk students to the main building when needed.  Asbestos abatement has also been completed at the school.

Classes got underway at Johnson School in Bethel yesterday.  The steel frame of the addition is up and the inside work will start soon.  The main staircase was replaced and the gym has been demolished.  Yoga and aerobic activities will take place in a classroom, there's a separate room with exercise equipment.  More outdoor activities like hiking and snow-shoeing will be part of the phys-ed curriculum.

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Suspect sought in Danbury homicide

A homicide in Danbury is under investigation.  Danbury Police say the crime occurred at Sterling Woods Condominium Complex early this morning.  One person is dead and investigators are currently seeking the suspect, but say there is no reason to believe other members of the community are at risk of harm.  Preliminary information indicates the incident was not a random act. The identity of the victim is being withheld at this time pending the notification of family members.

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Hearing in Newtown Thursday on allowing food trucks at Farmers Market

The Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing tomorrow night on a proposal to allow food trucks at farmers' markets.  A one year trial period was approved in 2016, allowing a small number of food trucks.  When that year ended, the Newtown Farmers Market did not come back to the Planning and Zoning Commission to make the feature permanent.  The market has been held at various locations over the years, but this year is located where Woodbury Hall stood, before being demolished.  The Commission's meeting tomorrow is at 7:30pm at Newtown Municipal Center.

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Man sought after entering unlocked car, taking credit card

A white male is being sought by Newtown Police for entering an unlocked car in a Commerce Road parking lot and taking cash and a credit card.  The incident happened last Tuesday morning, between 8am and 9:30am.  The suspect was able to make a credit card purchase at Walmart in Shelton, but the card was rejected at Best Buy in Trumbull.  Video surveillance shows the man wearing a dark colored hoodie with cargo shorts, white socks and black shoes.  Newtown Police say it's possible the man fled in a small red car.  Any one with any information is asked to contact the Newtown Police Department and refer to case number 2019-21861.

 

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Hit and run highway accident remains under investigation

A hit and run accident on the highway in Danbury from last week remains under investigation.  State police are continuing to search for the driver who hit an SUV eastboud by the Exit 8 off ramp Thursday around 9:40pm.  Police say a 25-year old Woodbridge resident slowed for traffic in the left lane when he was rear ended, by an unidentified vehicle, which fled the scene. Anyone with information is asked to call Trooper Daniel Albohn at 203-267-2200.

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DHS track renovation nearly complete

The Danbury High School track renovation project continues and is now substantially complete.  The running surfacing will likely start later this month.  Public Works officials say it's scheduled September 24th through October 24th.  The contractor and Public Works crews met with the DHS Athletic Director, Principal, Men’s Track Coach & Women’s Track Coach about the colors and texture. They also discussed the markings needed and layout was approved by the coaches.

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Southbury Police investigating theft of 100 gallons of cooking oil

Southbury Police are investigating a case of who took 100 gallons of cooking oil.  The Newstimes reports that Police were called by a Main Street business last week saying the waste vegetable cooking oil had been stolen from a holding tank.  Used cooking oil can be sold to recyclers, who turn it into profitable yellow grease for use in products like biodiesel and shampoos.  A bill was approved by the Connecticut General Assembly shortly before adjournment to double the maximum prison time for stealing cooking oil.  It was vetoed by Governor Lamont.

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Redding working on 10-year Plan of Conservation and Development

Redding officials have selected a planning firm to conduct public workshops about the Plan of Conservation and Development. Interviews were held with the three firms that submitted proposals. The Board of Selectmen has chosen Milone & MacBroom, which recently completed similar work for Bethel and other towns. 

Selectman Peg O'Donnell says the challenge remains making residents aware of the workshops.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton says there will be a town-wide mailing.  Pemberton says a phone survey, which is random, would identify bias in an online survey, which people can participate in proactively. 

The Town Plan is done every 10 years. 

Pemberton says the Redding Planning Commission has done a lot of work on the plan so far, creating chapters and the writing.  There is a public input requirement, but due to turn over on the Commission it wasn't done so the Board of Selectmen took up the mandate. 

Pemberton noted that there's a lot of limitations to do anything in West Redding Center and it's premature to do one for the Gilbert and Bennett area.  She says it may be time take another look at  Main Street because of parking issues.

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Police arrest Naugatuck man for alleged burglary, attempted robbery

A Naugatuck man has been charged with a number of crimes for allegedly attempting to rob a Danbury Walgreens, and then minutes later breaking into a nearby apartment. 

Danbury Police told the Newstimes that 27-year old Justin Na was held on bond for a court appearance on the 16th. 

He allegedly yelled and called a store manager and employee the N-word multiple times last Monday.  The manager was preparing the register for the next shift and Na allegedly demanded the money.  He reportedly threatened to “come back with some guns and kill (them).” 

Minutes later, neighbors in a Bank Street apartment heard banging and found the man running to a blue Nissan, driving off the wrong way down their one-way street.  They grabbed a bag with a power drill,  X-Acto knife and paint brushes from him.  The apartment was being remodeled. 

For the Bank Street incident, he was charged with burglary, criminal mischief and larceny.  For the Walgreens crime, he was charged with attempt to commit robbery, threatening and  intimidation based on bigotry or bias.

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Brookfield officials revise road paving schedule

Brookfield Public Works officials have provided an update on road paving.  There was a last minute change to the schedule, with crews doing the Fiber Mat on Obtuse Rocks Road today.  The contractor will work around the bus schedule so there should be little to no impact on them and the routes.  Paving continues on Obtuse North, Falls and Kimberly.  Cherry, Pasture and Old Grays Bridge still need to be done.

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Natural combustion likely cause of overnight flash fire in Monroe

Monroe Firefighters handled a post fire investigation Saturday morning. A homeowner called in to report they had heard an explosion in the middle of the night and when they woke up, found a contractor’s equipment pile had burned up.  Firefighters found a painter’s equipment had likely naturally combusted and caused a flash fire that burned various materials and shrubbery. Due to smoldering conditions firefighters overhauled and wet down the area. The incident is under investigation by the Fire Marshal and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. 

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City Council discusses eminent domain to take blighted properties in flight path

A group of Danbury City Council members are considering request for nearly $1 million to acquire two parcels of land near the airport.  The Airport Administrator requested about $815,000 for the land at 89 Wooster Heights Road and 25 Miry Brook Road.

The City is applying for a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration and Connecticut Aviation Administration for reimbursement.  Environmental studies are needed.  The FAA would pay 90-percent while the CAA pays 7.5, leaving the City to cover 2.5 percent.  The estimated cost doesn't cover legal fees. 

Council President Joe Cavo says the City is trying to take the properties by eminent domain, but that still requires the current owner be paid the fair market value on its current condition.  The actual cost of the acquisition is unknown because the City doesn't know if the FAA will cover environmental clean up costs.  The cost of abatement is also unknown at this time. 

Assistant Airport Administrator Mike Safranek says another appraisal then has to be done, and there are relocation fees to pay. 

Danbury went through the same process in 2006 with what is now the dog park.  The FAA did follow through with grant reimbursement there. 

The blighted properties are within the flight path of the airport and continue to be the subject of enforcement actions by the City, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and others.  City officials say that owning the property will ensure airport personnel and property safety. 

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Two-Alarm Fire Reported in Danbury Business

A 2-alarm fire had to be extinguished last night in a Shelter Rock Lane business in Danbury.  Police received a burglar alarm around 5pm and noticed smoke coming from the C and S Auto Truck and Repair building. 

Firefighters arrived to find heavy black smoke billowing from the commercial structure.  A 2nd alarm was struck, bringing in additional resources due to the size and occupancy of the building. Smoke and carbon monoxide were throughout the entire building, requiring additional time to ventilate the entire structure. Eversource was requested to secure the power and gas feeds to the building.

(Photo: DFD)

The Danbury Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating. There was no one in the building at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.  The scene was cleared around 7:30pm.

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Danbury men arrested on drug related charges

A Danbury man has been arrested on drug trafficking charges.  Police launched an investigation weeks ago into resident complaints about 35-year old Jason Edward Jones selling drugs throughout the City. 

On Friday afternoon, police carried out search warrants after following him to a Lake Avenue business parking lot.  He was arrested in the middle of a drug transaction, and the other man was also arrested because he had heroin in his possession.  The other man, 33-year old Joshua Boyle of Danbury, was charged with possession and released on a promise to appear in court. 

A search of Jones' Park Place home and car turned up a considerable quantity of crack cocaine and prescription narcotics. 

Jones was charged with four various counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, attempted sale of a controlled substance and carrying a dangerous weapon.  Jones was held on bond pending release or arraignment.

 

 

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Brookfield Police raise $3k for Special Olympics CT at Tip-A-Cop event

Brookfield Police are thanking the community for their generosity during this weekend's Tip-A-Cop event, calling it a huge success. Brookfield Police raised over $3,000 on Saturday at the annual fundraiser for Special Olympics Connecticut.  The department partnered with Down The Hatch Restaurant staff for the fundraiser.  Several business, including Echo Bay Marina and Bridgewater Chocolate provided the gifts for the raffle.  Brookfield Police say donations can still be made by mail, payable to Special Olympics Connecticut, by sending checks to the Brookfield Police station.

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Ohio woman pleads guilty to ATM skimming in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The U.S. attorney for Connecticut says an Ohio woman has pleaded guilty in federal court to using skimming equipment on ATMs to read customers' card numbers.

John Durham says 61-year-old Maya Florina Luiza DeSteffano, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty Friday in Hartford to conspiracy and identity theft charges.

A Connecticut bank experienced about 35 incidents of ATM skimming in Stratford, Monroe, Trumbull, Greenwich, Fairfield and other locations in 2017, for a loss of nearly $300,000.

Durham says DeSteffano, also known as Maya-Luisa Pastorelli, acknowledged installing and removing skimming equipment and using re-encoded cards and PINs.

He says DeSteffano further acknowledged participating in ATM skimming activity in Virginia, Maryland and Georgia.

Durham says a co-conspirator, George Dragusin, pleaded guilty to the same charges in August and acknowledged participating in skimming in other states.

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New Fairfield Fair Day will be held on Saturday

New Fairfield Fair Day will be held on Saturday from noon until 6 pm. This event is run by the Parks and Recreation Department with most activities on Memorial Field.  During the recent Board of Selectmen meeting, it was announced that there will be a Beer/Wine tent this year.  The Selectmen held a brief discussion of the responsibility of insurance for this tent.

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Lottery to be held in Redding to determine ballot order

A public lottery will be held by the Redding Registrars of Voters to determine the order of names of party-nominated candidates for multiple offices appearing on the November 5th ballot.  The ballot lottery will be held on September 11th at 11am in the Redding Town Hall Hearing Room.

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Danbury officials consider shared bike lanes for Main Street

Danbury is moving forward on plans for a Transit Oriented Development district downtown.  Officials are also working on a streetscape project for the sidewalks.  Planning Director Sharon Calitro told a committee of the City Council earlier this month that they are limited on some aspects of making CityCenter more bike friendly.  Her department is proposing shared bike lanes on Main Street, because of the width and travel of the street.  If there were dedicated bike lanes, Main Street would lose a lane of travel and lead to more congestion.  The discussion came during a study into the possible sale of surplus property off Main Street on Liberty Street.  The parcel is currently a permit and metered parking lot.

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Road closures, parking restrictions for Newtown Labor Day parade

There are road closures and parking restrictions in Newtown today for the 58th annual Labor Day Parade.  Marchers will step off at 10am from the intersection of Main Street and Currituck Road.  The parade will proceed southward on Main Street to Glover Avenue, turning left to Queen Street and the review stand.  Roadblocks will be set up on streets leading to the town center from approximately 9:40am to approximately 1pm.  The roads being blocked include Route 25 at Reservoir and Mile Hill Roads, Route 6 at The Boulevard, Route 302 at Elm Drive and Queen Street at Elizabeth Street

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War of words on social media in Bethel over Food Truck Fridays

There's been a debate brewing online about Bethel's Food Truck Friday events.  The Director of Chamber of Commerce, Brad Koltz, has been critical of the evening events on the Municipal Center law.  He believes it takes business away from brick and mortar restaurants. 

First Selectman's Office Administrator Dionne Craig organizes the bi-monthly Food Truck Fridays, and noted in a Facebook post that there's always pizza boxes found on site from people who chose to avoid the lines and come out to enjoy the musical performances and community spirit. 

Koltz says the Town aggressively promotes this assault on it’s largest base of business and throws in a free concert to celebrate the devastation.  Craig pointed out that the Food Trucks have to pay Health Department fees and a fee to the Town for each event they participate in. 

The Food Truck Friday events evolved form a Farmers Market event, which turned into a Community Market.  At both, the food trucks attracted the biggest crowds.  Craig says she has consistently reached out to the Chamber, year after year and asked if any local restaurants would like to participate and offered the lawn as a place to set up a table and share the different highlights of downtown Bethel.

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Planning continues on how to pay for Sandy Hook memorial

Planning continues in Newtown on how to pay for the proposed Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial.  Last year, the commission selected designers Daniel Affleck and Ben Waldo’s project.  As designed it would cost about $11 million. 

The Newtown Capital Improvement Plan only included $4 million for a memorial.  SWA Group then presented three revised options, ranging from $3.3 million to $5 million.  But the Commission decided to look for outside funding so the original design could be carried out. 

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said recently that he is in the beginning stages of talking with a fundraising firm recommended by the designers.  If in the end the commission decides to recommend a scaled-back design to town officials, it could go to an April referendum. 

The next Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission meeting is scheduled for September 12th at 7pm in the Municipal Center.

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