Local Headlines Archives for 2019-11

Danbury Board of Ed get update on DHS fights

During Tuesday's Board of Education meeting in Danbury, members heard from the Police Chief and others about recent fights at the High School.  Chief Patrick Ridenhour told the group about the Department's response and about the ongoing investigations. 

Mayor Mark Boughton also addressed the Board of Ed.  He stopped by the school twice this week to meet with students.  Boughton talked about one rumor that was circulated online and through text messages.  The rumor was that authorities seized 5 weapons on Friday.  Boughton says that is absolutely not true.  He told the Board that there are two small group involved.  While the law says these students must be educated, it doesn't have to be at DHS and at the expense of the education of 3,000 other students.

DHS Principal Dan Donovan was also asked to shed more light on the situation.  He told the Board that there were some details that could not be made public because the students are juveniles.  There were 7 fights in the last two weeks.  5 were directly related to an ongoing issue that started last June.  The other two were unrelated. 

Donovan says disturbances are not the norm at DHS.  He noted that administrators have to spend a tremendous amount of time tracking things through technology they are not proficient in.  He says they also have to figure out who's handle is what, and what they are actually saying by what they type.

Donovan says at a school the size of DHS, he can't let a small group bring up the anxiety to what it was.  There were three different incidents, unrelated, that happened Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  He called it a perfect storm coming together to cause the problems.

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New Fairfield Zoning Commission to vote on short term rental regulations

The New Fairfield Zoning Commission will vote on short-term rental regulations next month.  The vote is set for the Commission's December 23rd meeting.  The current regulation only defines bed and breakfasts, and require a special permit.  The proposed amendment would allow rentals of six or fewer days, up to two people per bedroom, as long as a property owner obtains a zoning permit.  The two-year permit costs $500.  The owner would need to have a certificate of insurance for the proposed use, and live either on the same property as the rental or an abutting property.  The permit requirement would not apply to rentals of at least seven days.  If approved, the proposed amendment would go into effect January 1st.

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Putnam County officials call for public hearing on proposed Metro North parking fee hikes

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has called on the MTA to abandon its proposed parking fee increase at Metro-North stations until the issue has had a full public hearing.  Leaked documents showed the MTA parking fee increases would go up in December and that free Saturday parking would be eliminated. 

The increases would raise the costs at 25 stations where parking lots are owned by Metro-North and operated by LAZ.  That includes all five of the stations in Putnam County, where residents would see annual parking fees reach as high as $512 in Brewster. Daily metered parking would increase by 50 to 75 cents, with the highest set at $6.50 for 16 hours at the Brewster station. 

Putnam County Legislature Chairman Joseph Castellano acknowledged that the MTA is looking to solve a budget problem, but says doing it on the backs of already burdened riders doesn’t seem fair.  The Putnam County Legislature has written to the MTA to request a delay in the increase until December 2020, public discussions and a board vote for the 2021 fare increase. 

Metro-North riders saw ticket fare increases of up to 4% in April.

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New Milford Library committee goes back to drawing board

The New Milford Library Modernization Committee has revised the renovation and expansion plans.  Governor Lamont is freezing state grants as part of his debt diet and an attempt to scale back bonding.  Residents approved $6.5 million for the project last November, coupled with $1 million raised by the Friends of the Library and the $1 million state grant.  The first two rounds of bids came back higher than the approved amount and will be sent out to bid for the 3rd time.  Some of the revisions will be to floor and countertop materials.  The committee is looking to preserve the integrity of the project.  The library has not been updated since the 1970s.  The plan calls for adding a second floor with an outdoor terrace to the existing 1977 addition.  It also makes the library compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Conn. State Police step up patrols for Thanksgiving weekend

Tens of thousands of travelers will be driving through Connecticut this week and State Police are ramping up their plans to keep highways safe during the Thanksgiving rush.  Through Sunday night, State Police Troopers will patrol the roads and focus on aggressive drivers, unsafe drivers and drunk drivers.  Patrol Troopers will use traditional and non-traditional patrol cars to observe traffic and issue tickets.  Connecticut residents are asked to be a part of the public safety solution by obeying traffic laws: don’t follow too closely to cars around you, buckle up, drive the speed limit, and stay off the phone while driving. If you plan to consume alcohol, designate a driver.  The air space will also be very crowded, as relatives and friends fly in and out of Bradley International Airport. Extra Troopers will be on duty there, ensuring safety as passengers dash in and out of the airport.

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Metro North adjusts schedules for Thanksgiving weekend

In keeping with the holiday spirit, Metro-North will offer tickets at off-peak prices over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday starting today, until Sunday. Customers are encouraged to buy tickets in advance.  A 10-trip off-peak ticket can be used by more than one person, even when traveling together. The “Family Fare” costs $1 per ticket for up to four children ages 5 to 11 when they are traveling with a fare-paying adult.  On Friday, Metro-North will operate on an expanded Saturday schedule with additional inbound service in the morning and outbound service in the afternoon to accommodate the Friday workforce and Black Friday shoppers, as well as half-hourly service on the Harlem Line to and from North White Plains.  A normal Saturday and Sunday schedule will be in place for the weekend.

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NY legislators send letter to Conn. Governor opposing toll proposal

Members of the New York state Legislature have sent a letter to Governor Ned Lamont about his plan to put a cashless toll on the small section of Interstate 684 running through Connecticut.  In their letter, dated last week, the assemblymen and legislators say it would in effect create a New York tax on constituents who must travel through that 1.4 miles.  They predict a toll would case an increase traffic on local roads.  The lawmakers call the proposal a regressive tax which would be burdensome for low-income commuters who have little choice in their daily travels.  They say New York remains committed to collaborating with neighboring states to improve shared infrastructure, but that it cannot be done in a manner that explicitly targets and has a disproportionate impact on neighboring residents.

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Putnam County Sheriff speaks out against social media interference in barricade incident

The Putnam County Sheriff is speaking out about a recent incident in which a 28-year old man barricaded himself in a Carmel home for 7 hours on Saturday.  Sheriff Robert Langley commented on the role that social media played in escalating the situation and creating additional stressors.  He says people with no connection to the individual engaged with him via social media, countering the work of our negotiators to calm him, bring him out safely. 

Those online also created a secondary crisis situation.

Calls of protest based on misinformation were received non-stop for hours on the non-emergency lines for the Carmel Police Department and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department.  Some calls were in fact emergencies and needed to be forwarded from 911 dispatch.  Langley says public safety was compromised when precious moments were lost by individuals seeking to grandstand and interfere in a crisis and law enforcement’s response to it. 

Langley condemn the actions taken on social media since this incident and ask the public to consider what he called the dangerous potential impacts of such interference. Everyone has a right to opinion and free speech, but Langley says no one has the right to  hamper a police response and public safety.

Langley thanked the Putnam County Firearm Owners Association for their support of Law Enforcement and assistance in helping to defuse a serious situation.

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Metro North adjusts schedules for Thanksgiving weekend

Metro-North Railroad will operate 18 early getaway trains departing Grand Central Terminal through 4:15pm. The extra service includes 10 extra trains on the New Haven Line, connecting to Danbury, and three on the Harlem Line to Brewster. 

Last year on Thanksgiving Eve, Metro-North Railroad carried 100,275 people northbound from Grand Central between noon and 8 p.m., a 17.4% increase over a normal weekday and a 6.4% increase over the prior year. Metro-North expects to carry 102,000 customers from Grand Central between noon and 8 p.m., the highest ever in Metro-North history, and 2% higher than last year’s getaway.

Metro-North will provide additional inbound morning service for customers heading to the Thanksgiving Day Parade. There is also expanded outbound service starting in the late morning and continuing through mid-afternoon. 

Anyone from the Greater Danbury area headed to New York for the Thanksgiving Day parade tomorrow and taking the train are being urged by Metro North to get tickets in advance.  After the parade, riders must show a ticket before boarding trains at Grand Central or Harlem-125th Street Station. 

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Ridgefield Police raise fund for local girl during No Shave November

Throughout this month members of the Ridgefield Police Department have participated in No Shave November, a national movement to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.  Ridgefield chose to keep the funding local to help an 11-year old battling DIPG, a rare, untreatable form of pediatric brain cancer.  Brooke Blake is a 5th grader at Barlow Mountain Elementary School.  Donations made during November will help with her treatments.  She visited the Ridgefield Police Department yesterday and spent time with the officers, and K9 Loki. 

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Easton firefighters offer Thanksgiving safety reminders

Easton Volunteer Fire Department is offering some tips and reminders so that firefighters aren't unexpected guests this Thanksgiving.  Anyone deep frying a turkey should make sure it's completely thawed and dry before being slowly lowered into the vat.  The fryer should be set up outdoors more than 10 feet from the home.  Firefighters say everyone should have a multipurpose, Dry Powdered Fire Extinguisher ready in case oil ignites.  Oil and water don’t mix and should not be used to extinguish a grease fire or to cool down oil.

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Danbury Police investigate gun threat at school, increase officer presence

Danbury Police are investigating a threat sent as a text-to-911 notification Friday that someone was going to bring a gun to the high school.  Police on Friday guarded the school at dismissal time.  Police do not believe the threat is credible, and are continuing to investigate. 

The threat, coupled with a series of brawls has led to a doubling of the officers being stationed at the school. 

Danbury Police officials are providing a few more details about the fights.  Chief Patrick Ridenhour told the Newstimes that 8 to 12 students, most female, were issued juvenile summonses for breach of peace last week.  One student was charged with assault. 

There are a number of theories reportedly being investigated for the fights including neighborhood disputes, romantic jealousies and fallout from the death of a Danbury High School student this month from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  The 18-year old's death was ruled a suicide by the state medical examiner’s office. 

A series of Snapchat videos have been circulating among students of fights, not necessarily at DHS.  Replying to Facebook comments, Mayor Mark Boughton said the fights sprang from an incident outside of school with someone who did not go to Danbury High.

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Candlewood Isle seeks permission to add boat slips

More boat slips could be coming to a private community on Candlewood Lake.  First Light is requesting authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to allow the Tax District of Candlewood Isle to install 92 additional boat slips at its facilities in New Fairfield. 

The Candlewood Isle Association owns a Clubhouse on the northern tip of the Isle with a marina and tennis courts, adjacent to a more than 100-year old causeway. 

The 19 existing moorings at the Clubhouse location would be eliminated.  The Tax District currently has 40 boat slips at three docks.  There are also 12 slips, two of which are day docks, at the tennis courts.  20 slips would be added at the clubhouse and 72 at the tennis courts. 

The Isle currently has 364 residences, of which 111 are waterfront and are permitted to have a dock.  About 72% of homeowners do not have dock space.  

The 2014 survey shows that the area in the vicinity of the Clubhouse docks is heavily used on peaks days.  Eliminating the moorings would free up useable boating space.  As for the proposed 72 slips at the tennis court location, this is an area that is currently lightly used, even on peak days.

First Light proposes to waive the shoreline vegetative buffer zone requirement for the slips at the Clubhouse location because the additional docks would be extensions to the existing seasonal docks.  The shoreline in that area has a seawall and man-made beach, which have been in place for several decades.  The small amount of open space at the Clubhouse location that could be vegetated is already landscaped and has several trees. 

First Light has requested the applicant to propose a vegetation restoration plan for the Tennis Courts location.  The existing tennis courts and parking lot are located within a few feet of the water.  The applicant has agreed to manage and remove the invasive and declining trees and re-establish a native vegetated buffer as well as manage the storm water discharges through low impact development techniques listed in the Shoreline Management Plan.

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Southbury movie theater agrees to settlement on ADA complaint

A movie theater in Southbury has reached a settlement with the government to resolve allegations that it was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The U.S. Attorney's Office says an individual filed a complaint alleging Riverview Cinemas 8 was not fully accessible for individuals with physical disabilities.  Riverview is in the process of making the changes required by the settlement agreement, including providing additional accessible parking spaces, accessible tables in the lobby seating area, and hearing aid compatible assistive listening receivers.  The theater will also lower countertops for its vendor café and ensure that its restrooms are fully accessible. 

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Driver escapes uninjured from car fire

A driver escaped a car fire without injury.  Danbury firefighters responded to Ball Pond Road around 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon and found the car fully engulfed in flames.  Ball Pond Volunteer Fire Company out of New Fairfield also responded and quickly extinguished the blaze.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was called to the scene because of fluids that spilled from the vehicle and the runoff from knocking down the fire.  The  Danbury Fire Marshals Office is investigating the cause of the fire which is undetermined at this time.

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Bethel Winterfest to be held Friday

The Bethel Chamber of Commerce annual Winterfest celebration is being held Friday.  The events take place downtown from 1 to 6pm.  There will be horse-drawn wagon rides, a trolley from Broken Symmetry to Daily Fare to decorate cookies and hot soup served by the Scouts.  Music will be performed on PT Barnum Square and many stores downtown will have specials.  For anyone parking at the train station, the last trolley ride is 6PM from Broken Symmetry with no return ride.

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School buses to be replaced through VW settlement funding

$6 million from the legal settlement in the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal is being used in Connecticut to fund 15 clean air projects.   First Student will receive some funding to replace 12 school buses.  First Student will get $668,398 from the settlement, with the awardee's cost share being $359,906.  The buses are for the Watertown, Ridgefield, Hamden, Weston and New Fairfield districts. 

This is partial funding of an initial proposal to replace a total of 90 diesel school buses in Bethel, Chester, Watertown, Ridgefield, Hamden, Weston, Somers, Branford, Vernon and New Fairfield.

All of the projects selected, over their lifetime, will reduce almost 68 tons of Nitrogen Oxide emissions and almost 5100 tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. In addition, 3.4 tons of fine particulate matter, which contributes to asthma and other negative health impacts, will be cost-effectively reduced from environmental justice communities and other areas of Connecticut that bear a disproportionate share of air pollution. 

Governor Lamont says the projects will go a long way in helping to improve air quality and protect public health in Connecticut, while also providing economic development opportunities.

 DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes says the transportation sector is responsible for approximately 70 percent of smog forming air pollution and 38 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Connecticut. 

Through each round of VW grant funding, DEEP is identifying new ways to overcome barriers and support the switch to electric vehicles. The next grant round will focus on electrification and be informed by both the Electric Vehicle Roadmap for Connecticut and the Public Utility Regulatory Authority Zero Emission Vehicles Docket. 

In 2015, Volkswagen publicly admitted that it had deliberately installed a defeat device – software designed to cheat emissions tests and deceive federal and state regulators – in nearly 590,000 VW, Audi, and Porsche model year 2009 to 2016 diesel vehicles sold nationwide, with nearly 12,000 vehicles sold in Connecticut. As a result of a federal civil enforcement case against VW for violating the Clean Air Act, Connecticut was allocated more than $55.7 million to be distributed over a ten-year period for use toward offsetting the excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution emitted in the state by these vehicles.

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Voter turn out averages 40% in Greater Danbury area towns

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has announced official voter turn out numbers from the November 5th election.  Danbury had a 40-percent participation rate.  It was slightly higher in Bethel, Ridgefield and Southbury, where 41-percent of eligible voters cast ballots.   Easton was nearly 50 percent, New Fairfield and New Milford each saw 43-percent turn out.  In Brookfield, 37-percent of town voters cast ballots, while Newtown, whose First Selectman ran uncontested, was at 33-percent.  In Redding, where the First Selectman was cross-endorsed, there was a 30-percent turnout.

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Putnam County Sheriff Deputies to crack down on intoxicated drivers

Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel times of the year. In a combined effort to stop impaired driving, prevent injuries and save lives, the Putnam County Sheriff Deputies will take to the roads. The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts start tomorrow and will end on December 1st.   Research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. Sobriety checkpoints play a key part in raising awareness about the problem.  Throughout the remainder of the year the Statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign will also target the Holiday Season in December.

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Swearing in ceremony scheduled in New Milford

A swearing in ceremony is being held this weekend in New Milford.  All candidates elected earlier this month will take the oath of office on Sunday.  New Milford state Representative Bill Buckbee will administer the oath.  Those being sworn in include Mayor Pete Bass, who was elected to his second term.  All incumbent Republican Town Council members and Democrat Walter Bayer were re-elected and are being joined by Democrats David Lawson and Mary Jane Lundgren.  Members of the Boards of Ed and Finance along with planning and zoning commissioners will also be sworn in.  The ceremony Sunday is at 2pm in town hall.

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Special Town meeting set in Sherman about school design funding

A Special Town Meeting will be held in Sherman next month about funding for a school project.  The Board of Selectman signed off on holding the meeting at the request of the Board of Ed.  Sherman residents will be asked to spend up to $50,000 on conceptual design services for the Sherman School.  Tecton Architects, which recently did design work for Brookfield's new school project, would be hired to do an architectural design and cost estimates for a building project.  A study of the building was done, which also included recommended mechanical, plumbing and electrical repairs.  The town meeting is December 7th at 10am at Mallory Town Hall.

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Ridgefield Planning and Zoning approves construction of a garage

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission has approved construction of a garage at a four-story building on Ethan Allen Highway in the Branchville section of town.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the commission ruled unanimously that a 22-by-38-foot storage garage, one-and-half-stories high can be constructed.  The parking lot can be repaved and exterior improvements can be made to the main building. The wood-frame building dates back to about 1900. The ground floor, with brick facade, is set up for commercial use.  Offices and apartments are located on the upper floors.  The property owner must put in a sidewalk as part of the Branchville TOD plan, in anticipation of sidewalks connecting properties throughout the area.

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Lawmakers looking at expanding PTSD coverage law

A Connecticut law implemented last session could be expanded to provide certain workers’ compensation benefits to more emergency response workers.  The measure included police and firefighters, but not EMTs, correctional officers and emergency dispatchers. 

State Police Dispatcher Ryan Graham testified at the hearing that dispatchers were the first emergency personnel to hear the terrible details about the shooting at Sandy Hook. 

Danbury state Senator Julie Kushner led the hearing.  The Labor and Public Employees Committee must review the feasibility of extending the law and make a report to the General Assembly for the next session, which begins in February. 

Municipalities and unionized police and firefighters reached a compromise earlier this year to provide benefits for up to one year.  Police and parole officers are also currently covered under the law.

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Bethel Police Department has promoted two members

The Bethel Police Department has promoted two members.  Lieutenant George Bryce Jr. was hired in 1999 and served as a patrol officer until 2004 when he became a School Resource Officer at the Bethel High School. In 2006, he transitioned to the position of Detective and specialized in both computer crimes and computer forensics. Following a promotion to Sergeant in 2014, he returned to patrol briefly before becoming the Detective Bureau Sergeant for the five years preceding his promotion.  Sergeant Adam Cleary was hired by Bethel Police Department in 2008. After serving five years on patrol, Cleary became a Field Training Officer and was awarded the opportunity to become a K9 handler in 2013. Sergeant Cleary has been partnered with K9 Officer Bishop ever since.

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Danbury firefighters union hosts annual food drive

The City of Danbury Firefighter's Union Local 801 is again collecting canned and non-perishable foods for the annual food drive to benefit the Salvation Army's holiday basket program and food pantry.  Donations can be dropped off at 4 career stations, fire headquarters and the Fire Marshal's office in City Hall.  The collection will run until December 23rd.  The food drive items can also be donated at Sikorsky Federal Credit Union on Main Street.  Fire Headquarters is located at 19 New Street.  The engine companies are located at 208 Osborne Street, 36 Eagle Road, 171 South King Street and 75 Kenosia Ave Ext.

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CityCenter schedules Light the Lights event

CityCenter Danbury will kick off the holiday season with the annual Light the Lights celebration on Saturday, December 7th, from 5pm-7pm. Residents are invited to the Danbury Library Plaza for hot cocoa and holiday entertainment. Mayor Mark Boughton will flip the switch to light up downtown with over 20,000 twinkling lights. Area fire houses will take part in the 5th annual fire truck parade down Main Street.

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Newtown firefighters collect donations for Food Pantry

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue is thanking Newtown residents and others for supporting their Fill the Fire Truck food drive this weekend.  55 turkeys and 72 boxes of food were sent to FAITH Food Pantry.  Donations of cash and gift cards totaling $2,536 were also delivered to the pantry.  Sandy Hook firefighters, Botsford Fire Rescue, Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Company, Hawleyville Volunteer and Newtown Hook & Ladder members were at two grocery stores this weened for the 17th annual donation event.

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Easton Police put a focus on kindness headed into holiday season

Easton Police Chief Timothy Shaw is one of four recipients of Easton Connects with Kindness’ Boomerang Award. This award is given to Easton residents and members of the community who “epitomize kindness in the hope that kindness that goes around, comes around”. 

Chief Shaw was recognized this weekend for his leadership in running a family- and community-centered police department that keeps residents safe in their homes, on the roads and throughout the town. 

After the ceremony attendees helped assemble care packages for homeless veterans.

Easton Police will be hosting a Stuff-a-Cruiser event to benefit Toys for Tots on Saturday December 7th from 8am-12pm at Helen Keller Middle School.  All donations go to children in the local area in need this holiday season.  Residents are asked to bring new, unwrapped toys to the toy drive. 

Those unable to make the event, but would still like to donate, can do so using a drop box in the Easton Police Department lobby.

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Shake Shack, Longhorn Steakhouse submit applications to Danbury Planners

Two new restaurants could be coming to the mall property.  The Danbury Planning Commission has held a hearing about applications from Shake Shack and Longhorn Steakhouse. 

Attorney Tom Beecher, speaking on behalf of the mall, said the proposal is to have the restaurants locate in an underused parking lot.  The lot is off Backus Avenue, where the mall hosts a carnival and occasional tent sale.  He notes that it's generally not used for parking, as there are plenty of other spaces available. 

(Proposed restaurant locations)

As part of the project, they would upgrade the time and synchronization of traffic lights within the mall and on Backus Avenue, which is City-owned. 

Longhorn's looks like a southwestern ranch house.  Shake Shack has a modern look, with a degree of retro. 

  

(Longhorn Steakhouse rendering, Shake Shack rendering)

The Planning Commission left the public hearing open through at least their meeting next month for answers to questions about pedestrian safety and traffic flow. 

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Man surrenders after 7 hour stand off at Carmel home

A man barricaded himself inside his Carmel home over the weekend.  Police say the 28-year-old surrendered after nearly seven hours Saturday.  Police arrived at the Carmel home about  a domestic incident involving the man's wife earlier in the day.  Carmel Police say the man was posting live updates on social media and that his followers only aggravated the situation.  Police say they don't believe he had a gun and no one else in the community was in danger.  Chief Michael Cazzari says this was a person in crisis, having issues and he didn't need the people on social media telling him that his rights are being violated, he needed medical help.  Police say that man is not expected to face any charges from the standoff.

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Fights at Danbury High School prompt letter to parents

An increase in altercations between several small groups of students at Danbury High School has prompted additional police presence inside the school, in addition to city and school officials enforcing the district’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy. 

All of the students involved in recent disruptive behaviors have been suspended from DHS and school officials say many have faced criminal charges.  These students will be educated in other settings. 

Any physical altercations at the high school, or any school, are prohibited; the same goes with bullying, intimidating or violent actions of any kind.  

DHS Principal Dan Donovan sent a letter to parents addressing these concerns.  Parents have been encouraged to ask students not to add to the tension by posting false information and comments on social media.

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State Police investigate hit & run at courthouse

State Police are investigating a hit and run accident that happened at Danbury Superior Court.  The accident happed last week.  The owner of a 2013 Mercedes-Benz reported that his car had been struck by another while parked. The vehicle sustained minor front-end damage.   The other vehicle was not at the scene, and no description of it was provided.  Anyone with information is asked to call Connecticut State Police Troop A at 203-267-2200.

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Congresswoman concerned over care disparities

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is concerned about care disparities for those suffering from Sickle Cell Disease, which is most commonly found among individuals of color.  She has written with those concerns to the acting Director of the Center for Medicaid & Children’s Health Insurance Program Services.  While federal law requires access to cutting-edge medical treatments designed to alleviate SCD, there is no such similar requirement for Medicaid or other in-state plans to cover those remedies.  A genetic blood disorder, SCD reduces the average lifespan by almost 30 years. According to the latest data, there are 100,000 Americans suffering with SCD, including 2,000 Connecticut residents.  

 

 

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Stony Hill firefighters host successful food drive

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says they held another hugely successful annual food drive this weekend.  With the donated food, they can begin to restock the Brotherhood-In-Action of Bethel Food Pantry after they make their thanksgiving deliveries.  Stony Hill thanked their colleagues from Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company and Bethel Police Department for participating throughout the day.  Following the food drive was the Stony Hill district tree lighting.

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Danbury School District names new Director of Finance and Business Operations

The Danbury Public School District has named a new Director of Finance and Business Operations.  Courtney LeBorious was most recently the executive director of finance business operations for the City University of New York (CUNY), Hunter College, where she oversaw the college’s budget, accounting, procurement and accounts payable departments.  She previously held leadership positions in the area of public finance in New York with the Administration for Children’s Services, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  Danbury Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says LeBorious impressed them with her knowledge of public finance in education and her demonstrated management skills in other similar large organizations.

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Ridgefield Police to conduct seatbelt enforcement campaign

There will be stepped up seat belt enforcement in the Greater Danbury area. With Thanksgiving week coming up, Ridgefield Police will be promoting safe driving and increase the protection of motorists. Officers will be enforcing the State Occupant Protection laws and issuing citations to those who are unbuckled.  This Click it or Ticket campaign will go from Monday through December 2nd.

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Congresswoman touts House passage of veterans bill

The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed the Deborah Sampson Act.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes called it critical legislation that  addresses long-term biases against female veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Hayes cosponsored many provisions in the measure.  While women have served in the armed forces since the country’s founding, Hayes says the services provided to female veterans continue to lag behind those of their male counterparts. Under this bill, VA coverage would be expanded to include benefits such as greater data on the availability of mammograms, child care, and housing assistance specifically directed to organizations promoting female veterans.  Hayes called on the Senate to pass the bill and send it to the president for his signature.

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Swearing in ceremony scheduled in Newtown

A swearing in ceremony is being held in Newtown next weekend.  By Charter, all newly elected or reelected officials will take the oath of office.  The public is invited to the ceremony and reception planned for November 30th at 11am at the Newtown Community Center.  Any elected official who cannot attend the ceremony is asked to contact the Town Clerk’s Office to make arrangements to be sworn in ahead of their first official meetings occurring after December 1st.  The event is free and open to the public. Any member of the public interested in attending next weekend's ceremony is asked to RSVP to the Town Clerk.

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Sandy Hook firefighters remind residents of cooking safety ahead of Thanksgiving

With less than a week to go before Thanksgiving, Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue is reminding residents of some house fire dangers associated with the holiday.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than three times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year.   There were 1,600 reported home cooking fires on Thanksgiving 2017, a 238% increase over the daily average. Unattended cooking was the leading cause of these fires.

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Local precincts selected for election audit

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has randomly selected voting precincts to have results audited following the November 5th general election. Five percent of polling places are subject to the audit under state law. Those manually counted ballots will be matched against vote totals from optical scan machines.  Among the locations selected at random is the Lillis Building, Schaghticoke School and Gaylordsville Fire House--all in New Milford, and the Bethlehem Town Office Building.  Alternate locations selected include Center Fire House District 1 in Southbury.  Merrill says auditing election results is one of the strongest protections there is to ensure that the results of Connecticut’s elections accurately reflect the votes cast.

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NUSAR to hold car recovery drill this weekend

A car recovery drill is being held this weekend in Newtown, at the town boat launch on Hanover Road.  Newtown Underwater Search And Rescue has invited the public to observe the training session on Sunday from 9am to noon.  The volunteer divers will use SCUBA gear to recover and lift a car out of the water.  NUSAR emergency response team members are trained for underwater recovery, inspections, and “dry” presentations.  They train on the third Sunday of every month on a local water body such as Lake Zoar, Lake Lillinonah, or Taunton Pond.

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Traffic control measures implemented in Newtown

Newtown Police Commission, which is also the Traffic Authority, has announced improvements planned for Toddy Hill Road are now underway.  The heavily traveled street now has a rumble strip along the center double-yellow lines from Berkshire Road to South Main Street.  The Department of Public Works will have the road re-striped and install new stop signs.  Foundations were poured earlier this month for two solar-powered speed display signs which will be installed. 

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Danbury contractor charged by Brookfield Police with larceny

A Danbury contractor has been charged by Brookfield Police with larceny.  Police were contacted over the summer by a Laurel Hill woman who said she and her husband wrote a more than $23,000 check to Paul Stock for an addition to their home.  The check was reportedly cashed, but no work was done by the 39-year old. 

According to the warrant, Stock said he was "fully licensed and insured" and had the woman sign a contract with C&R Contracting.  He repaired the house after a chimney fire earlier in the year, and converted a closet into a bathroom.  Permits were not filed for those projects. Stock was also charged with three counts of misrepresenting himself as a home improvement contractor.

He is due in court today. 

According to court records, Stock was charged by previously charged with violating home improvement contractor requirements and subsequently violation of probation in the case in Norwalk Superior Court.

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Congresswoman supports Export Finance Agency Act

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Export Finance Agency Act.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes called it an important piece of legislation-- reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank for ten years and increasing its lending threshold to $175 million. 

She says this will also streamline operations in order to better serve consumers.  Hayes added that this bill ensures critical resources for Connecticut businesses is available over the course of the next decade.  She notes that there are companies in Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, New Milford, Southbury, and Watertown that export goods.  Hayes says over $230 million has been generated by exporters in Connecticut’s Fifth District as a result of assistance rendered by the Export-Import Bank, which supports small businesses. 

She encourage the Senate to pass this reauthorization and deliver it to the president’s desk for his signature.

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UNIT addresses three blight issues in Danbury

Three issues of blight in Danbury are being addressed by the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team, including a vacant property across from West Conn. 

In a report to the City Council this month, UNIT officials said the former Wendy's and other subsequent restaurants on White Street, has been used as a dumping ground.  UNIT sent out an order, but it was returned to the Department.  The property owner lives out of state and UNIT plans to follow up. 

Another long-vacant property on the City's west side has gotten worse.  20 Old Ridgebury Road is not secured, unsafe inside, and graffiti has been painted outside.  The City's Building Department has sent a notice to the property owner of the unsafe structural conditions.  UNIT sent an order for the graffiti to be cleaned up.

29 Ball Pond Road has been vacant and has gone uncared for after the property owner passed away a couple of years ago.  While the house is secure, the garage or barn is not and UNIT officials say homeless people have been squatting there.  A notice was sent to the estate to have the property cleaned up and secured.  The property has now been mowed, and the bank has put it on the market.

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Turkey pardoned by Danbury Mayor as part of Stew's 'Turkey Brigade'

A turkey has been pardoned by Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton ahead of Thanksgiving next week.  During Stew Leonard's 40th annual Turkey Brigade event, Dot the Turkey was presented with a medal and will be headed to Meriden.  Members of the Danbury police and fire departments helped give out the turkeys to charities, businesses, churches and senior homes.  This event collects and donates over 2500 turkeys to more than 100 organizations and facilities throughout the Connecticut, New York and New Jersey area.  The goal is  to provide Thanksgiving Day meals for families in need.

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Danbury applies for grant funding to support emergency shelter staffing

The Danbury City Council has authorized the City Health Director to apply for state funding to benefit the emergency shelter.  Director Lisa Morrissey is applying for $138,000, with no local match required.  The money would be sent to the City over two years.  Morrissey says this helps with operation expenses to staff the shelter during the day and overnight.  She says this will improve safety by keeping the facility in ratio.  Morrissey says they do keep 3 beds empty for an emergency.  With this funding, she says they will be able to explore more options to provide beds to the homeless in winter.  There are additional restrictions with the accompanying funds.  Morrissey notes that the City has been a recipient of this grant in the past, so no change in procedures are needed.

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Ridgefield sculptor crafting first statue of real-life woman for New York's Central Park

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. (AP) A sculptor known for trying to redress history through her art is creating the first statue of real-life women for New York's Central Park, where the only females so honored until now have been fictional characters.

Meredith Bergmann's vision for the sculpture, chosen from 91 submissions, features three women's rights pioneers Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth. While honoring their specific efforts on behalf of women's suffrage, women's civil rights and the abolition of slavery, Bergmann hopes her latest work will also make a statement about the need to recognize the contributions of women.

``This monument has a very focused message,'' she said in an interview at her studio in Ridgefield, Connecticut. ``The fact of the monument itself, that it exists at all, that it will be where it is, is the message.''

Of the 23 statues of historical figures in the 840-acre, 166-year-old public park, none honors actual women. There are statues of three female fictional characters: Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose and William Shakespeare's Juliet, who appears with Romeo.

There had been a moratorium on erecting any new statues in Central Park. But in 2014, a volunteer, nonprofit group called Monumental Women, made up of women's rights advocates, historians and community leaders, set out to break what they've called the ``bronze ceiling'' and develop a statue depicting real women. With the help of the Girl Scouts, private foundations and others, they raised $1.5 million in private funding for the 14-foot-tall monument, to be located on the park's Literary Walk. It's scheduled to be unveiled on Aug. 26, 2020, marking the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which enshrined the right for women to vote.

``It's fitting that the first statue of real women in Central Park depicts three New York women who dedicated their lives to fighting for women's rights,'' said Pam Elam, president of Monumental Women, in a written statement last month after the project received approval from a city commission. ``This statue conveys the power of women working together to bring about revolutionary change in our society. It invites people to reflect not just on these women and their work for equality and justice, but on all the monumental women who came before us.''

Midway into the massive and multi-faceted project, Bergmann and her assistants have nearly finished sculpting from foam and clay an imagined scene of the three women having a conversation at a table. Truth is speaking, Anthony is organizing and Stanton is writing, which Bergman describes as the three essential elements of activism.

The current design is the result of a long process that involved various changes, including the late addition of Sojourner Truth, an African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist who was born into slavery but escaped to freedom in 1826. It originally included Anthony, a writer, lecturer and abolitionist who fought for the rights of women to vote and own property; Stanton, another leading figure in the women's voting rights movement, and an abolitionist and author; and a scroll with a list of 17 other women involved in the women's movement from 1848 to 1920.

Bergmann dove deeply into the worlds and histories of all three women and their senses of mission, similar to what the artist has done with her other works of public art. One such work, the Boston Women's Memorial, features statues portraying Abigail Adams, the wife and mother of two U.S. presidents and a women's rights advocate; abolitionist and suffragist Lucy Stone; and Phillis Wheatley, a former slave who became a literary prodigy.

Meanwhile, work is nearly complete for the FDR Hope Memorial on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan, which features two statues Bergmann created of the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a wheelchair and a young girl with crutches, greeting one another. The memorial is supposed to be an inspiration to people struggling with all forms of disability, in a location once called Welfare Island a stretch of land with a long past that included a prison and a smallpox hospital.

For the Central Park project, Bergmann studied every photo and description she could find, taking great pains, for example, to reflect a ``hint of a smile'' on the face of Truth, known to have a good sense of humor. While the three activists are not depicted in the monument at any known meeting, Bergmann said it's plausible they could have met together. She noted how Anthony and Stanton, who worked together and formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, would have known Truth through abolition and women's rights circles, and how Truth was a guest at Stanton's home in the 1860s. Stanton's daughter would read newspapers aloud to Truth, who was illiterate.

Such a gesture, Bergmann said, ``just seemed to express the idea of women's cooperation,'' a message the artist has tried to invoke in the sculpture.

Bergmann has also focused on other fine details, such as the women's clothing. She noted that all three ``used their outfits to calm people, to show that they were not threatening propriety, but also that they were women who valued themselves.''

Once the sculpting work is done, likely in the coming weeks, Bergmann said molds will be taken and they will eventually be cast in bronze at a foundry in New York. Detailed work will need to be performed, such as making sure the women's heads are at the right tilt and the ends of the granite base are curved perfectly.

It has become a labor of love for Bergmann, albeit a challenging one.

``I haven't had a project on this scale, with this ferocious of a deadline. And it is, it is nerve-wracking. And I'm working harder than I've ever worked,'' said Bergmann. ``All summer, all fall, this is what I'm doing. And it's thrilling.''

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Bethel Police investigating reports of stolen vehicles

Bethel Police have recently investigated two reports of stolen vehicles in the Codfish Hill Road and Wolfpits Road areas.  Police are reminding residents to lock vehicles and take keys out of them at night.  Bethel Police say if a resident believes a vehicle may have been disturbed or broken into, not to touch it and contact Bethel Police Dispatch immediately.  In addition, anyone with residential video surveillance systems, is asked to report any suspicious activity observe on the footage.

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Congresswoman introduces reauthorization of Runaway, Homeless Youth Act

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has co-introduced reauthorization of the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act.  Hayes says the bill renews key federal grant programs to provide states with grants to help thousands of homeless young people nationwide.  The measure was first passed by Congress in 1974.  The reauthorization would expand protections to youths who are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking, and it would authorize funding for state and local programs to help provide transitional housing, street outreach, and crisis intervention programs to address the needs of homeless and runaway youth.  It would also raise the authorization of appropriations and double the minimum grant allocation provided to small states.

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Monroe Police release surveillance photo of suspicious person at Masuk

Monroe Police have released a surveillance image of a man suspected of fleeing the Masuk High School campus after being confronted by the School Resource officer.  Monroe Police say they have identified a suspect in yesterday's incident and will continue to investigate the matter.  Anyone with information about the Hispanic man, who is about 30 years old with a beard and was wearing tan pants and a black hoodie sweatshirt with white lettering is asked to contact Monroe Police at 203-261-3622.  Police remained on campus throughout dismissal yesterday.  The suspicious person drove away from the school and he fled on foot after abandoning the vehicle.

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Conn. man gets suspended sentence for fatal motorcycle crash

A Connecticut man who killed a motorcyclist in a Monroe accident has avoided jail time.  The judge Tuesday sentenced  60-year-old Louis Maiorino to a six-month suspended term.  Under the plea agreement, he was ordered to two years probation.  According to police, Maiorino crossed the yellow line on Route 25 in July of 2017 and collided head-on with Dan Falls of New Milford.  Falls died several weeks later.  His wife, Betty, was seriously injured and recovered.  The West Haven man pleaded guilty to negligent homicide with a motor vehicle.

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Danbury teen battling leukemia gets wish fulfilled

A teen from Danbury who is battling leukemia is getting a boost from Make-a-Wish and Macy’s Believe Campaign.  The Make-A-Wish foundation is seeking to capture the joy and generosity of the holiday season.  The organization is partnering with Macy’s Believe letter-writing campaign, with the retailer donating $1 for every letter dropped off or submitted online, up to $1 million, to help grant wishes for children battling critical illnesses. 

As part of the campaign, celebrations will be held across the country each Wednesday to grant the wish of a local Make-A-Wish child. 

Yesterday, the Danbury location welcomed 16 year-old Alexandra Chakar.  She wishes to go to Australia.  The High School senior loves marine animals and will get to have the opportunity to snorkel, with the help of Macy’s and Make-A-Wish. 

(Photo: All Rich Images)

Alexandra was diagnosed in June.  She is now nearing the end of her treatment, with her last chemo treatment right after Thanksgiving.  

The standout on the Hatters cross country and track teams missed the fall season and was home schooled while undergoing chemotherapy.

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New Milford, DOT coordinate traffic congestion mitigation work

New Milford officials have been working with the state Department of Transportation on traffic congestion mitigation around Bridge Street, and  intersections of West, Railroad, Main and Grove streets.  Mayor Pete Bass says engineers changed the traffic and pedestrian sync when they changed the lights on Railroad and  Bridge streets and took down the flashing light at West and Bridge. 

DOT Engineers were in New Milford this week assessing the light sync issues on Bridge Street to make adjustments, and that work is continuing. 

Bass has requested a ' do not turn on red' sign  at the intersection of East Street, Route 202 and Bridge Street, which he believes will alleviate cars entering Bridge Street  with a left hand turn from Grove being stuck in the intersection due to congestion. 

For East Street, Bass says the town has applied for Federal grant funding for a left hand turn lane at the intersection of Elm and Route 202, which he says  should help ease traffic on 202 from the light to Grove Street.

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Bethel man pleads not guilty to murder

A Bethel man has pleaded not guilty to murdering his brother.  40-year old Matthew O'Dell was charged for allegedly fatally shooting his 42-year old brother, Richard, on November 11th.  Bethel police say their mother returned to the Apollo Road home they all shared that evening and found her son’s body.  Police said at the time that she initially thought he had taken his own life.  O'Dell was arrested by Bethel Police at the courthouse, where he was brought by New Milford Police for charges in that town.  New Milford Police say O'Dell tried to steal a car at Young’s Hotel that night. The car's owner was able to disarm him and hold him until officers arrived.  O’Dell has a pre-trial hearing Friday on the murder charge and is due in Torrington Court on December 3rd for the charges out of New Milford.

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Bethel officials seek answer on flooding police station firing range

Bethel officials are asking the town's attorney to send a letter to Downes Construction Company over flooding issues at the new police station.  The firing range has experienced months of water issues.  The town is looking for a date of when the leak will be fixed.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the town has paid for a building, but one section is not working properly and needs to be corrected.  Police moved in at the end of 2018. A study from outside experts was not able to provide a reason for the flooding issue.  Knickerbocker says rain from recent storms cascades through the bricks.

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Department of Consumer Protection has role in Southbury crash investigation

The state Department of Consumer Protection Liquor Control Division has launched an investigation into the case of a Connecticut State Police Sgt who was charged this week for a DUI crash that injured a mother and her daughter in September.  The Department is looking into whether any Liquor Permittee in the state knowingly served an intoxicated individual, which is against state law.  While the spokeswoman declined to say whether regulators are investigating the Black Hog Brewery specifically, Sgt John McDonald was at a Trooper retirement party there before the crash.

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Danbury UNIT gets Jansen Street property owner to clean up parcel

The Danbury City Council has gotten an update from the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team on an ongoing blight issue.  UNIT officials say a commercial location on Jansen Street has been an eyesore for years, with construction debris, old vehicles, storage containers, mobile homes, a school bus and other blight.  For about a year, UNIT has been working with the property owner to comply with an order to clean up the property.  The agreed deadlines have been met by the owner, who systematically cleaned up the whole area. Since then, UNIT has received positive feedback and thanks from individuals who work nearby.

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Technology to detect wrong-way drivers tested in Danbury

Technology to prevent wrong-way drivers is being tested in Danbury.  The state Department of Transportation is installing the video software   detection device at the Exit 8 westbound off-ramp.  The Newstimes reports that flashing lights will activate on existing 'do not enter' and 'wrong way' signs to get the driver's attention.  The 250-thousand dollar project is being installed as the DOT replaces aging traffic signals.  DOT spokesman Kevin Nursik said in the published report that Danbury was chosen because of the confusing intersection configuration, and because three crashes have been reported there involving wrong-way drivers over the past several years.  If the pilot program is a success, the technology could be expanded across the state.

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Suspicious individual seen near Masuk High School in Monroe

A suspicious individual was seen near Masuk High School in Monroe this morning. The person was sitting in a vehicle, but when the School Resource Officer approached, the driver sped off.  The vehicle was abandoned shortly after and the driver fled on foot.  Monroe Police are searching for this person in the area outside of Masuk. 

The man appears to be in his 30s to 40 years old, with a beard.  He was wearing a black and gray sweatshirt and tan pants. 

All students are safe, but Masuk was initially put in a lockdown as a precaution. That status has since been changed to controlled movement with all exterior doors remaining closed and locked.  Police are in close communication with the school.  

Newtown and State Police are assisting in the search.

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Newtown firefighters to collect donations for Food Pantry

On Saturday, from 9 am until 2 pm, firefighters from all five of Newtown's volunteer fire companies will be collecting food and other needed items for those who count on FAITH Food Pantry. The Fill The Fire Truck Food Drive will be outside Big Y on Queen Street, hosted by Sandy Hook, Hawleyville and Hook & Ladder members.  The food drive at Stop & Shop in Sand Hill Plaza is hosted by Botsford and Dodgingtown.  All donations will be delivered immediately to the nondenominational food pantry on Church Hill Road.

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Danbury High School robotics team hosts 6th annual competition

The Danbury High School Mad Hatters robotics team hosted their sixth and largest annual competition over the weekend.  61 teams from Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey gathered at Danbury High School on Saturday.  Danbury’s team robot 5150D won the design award for the best engineering notebook and is now qualified for the Southern New England Regionals held in March in  Massachusetts. Team 5150J ranked second after qualifying rounds and is likely to be have scored high enough in robot skills, a separate competition where a driver has one minute to score as many points as possible, to also qualify for the regionals.

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State police sergeant charged in crash that injured 2 women

A Connecticut State Police sergeant has been charged with drunken driving, assault and other crimes in connection with an off-duty car crash that injured two women.

State police say 37-year-old John McDonald was arrested Tuesday and released on a promise to appear in Middletown Superior Court on December 2nd.

McDonald was at the Black Hog Brewing Company in Oxford before the crash, according to the warrant.  Surveillance footage showed McDonald drinking at least eight alcoholic drinks over three hours.  He is later seen ordering more drinks and bringing them out of camera view.  According to the warrant, witnesses to the crash described McDonald as "slurring his words" and smelling of alcohol. 

Troopers say McDonald later ran a stop sign in Southbury and crashed into another car, injuring a 52-year-old Middlebury woman and her 19-year-old daughter.  Technology in his car showed McDonald was speeding at 71 miles an hour in a 40 zone.

A breathalyzer test was not administered on scene. Troopers say McDonald later checked himself out of the hospital without medical treatment.

A Southbury Police Officer was the first on the scene and saw a man standing in the roadway, swaying back and forth while on his cell phone.  The officer said he appeared injured or drunk.  A crash witness, an off-duty Oxford volunteer firefighter, said "that guy is definitely hammered, he's not listening to me to stay out of the roadway," according to the warrant.

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Conn. man sentenced for bank, Subway robberies

A Connecticut man has been sentenced for three bank robberies and two Subway store robberies.  56-year old Alvin Robertson of Bridgeport was ordered to 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.  Robertson robbed a Subway in Ridgefield last May, brandishing a knife and threatening to kill the store clerk if money wasn't turned over.  Last July, Robertson indicated that he had a gun while robbing a Subway in Monroe.  He also robbed a People’s Bank branch in Monroe, one in Watertown and one in Berlin, last August and September.  Robertson has prior federal and state bank robbery convictions.

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Conn. Supreme Court hears case of man claiming double jeopardy

The Connecticut Supreme Court will hear a case today from the Danbury Judicial Branch.  The justices will consider whether the defendant's convictions of assault as both a principal and accessory for a joint assault of the same victim violates the double jeopardy clause. 

Joesenier Ruiz-Pacheco and his brother fought with two men in a parking lot, stabbing them multiple times, and following them and stabbing them again.  Pacheco was convicted of assault as a principal and an accessory for injuries suffered by a victim, and for injuries sustained by the same victim.  On appeal, he claimed that his convictions violated the federal constitution's double jeopardy clause, and that his two assault convictions as an accessory should be vacated.  

The Appellate Court rejected the defendant's claim because of the the initial brawl and the stabbing after the pursuit. The court noted that the state never suggested to the jury that the assault charges were alternative theories of liability.

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Bethel seeks bids for construction of Chestnut Ridge Water Storage Tank

Bethel officials are seeking bids for construction of the Chestnut Ridge Water Storage Tank Project.  Bids will be accepted until December 17th.  The work involves the construction and installation of a 500,000 gallons wire wound prestressed concrete water storage tank, installation of interior tank piping, water main, landscaping, chain link fencing and an access gate.  A pre-bid conference will be held at the Municipal Center on Friday at 10am.  Attendance is non-mandatory, but participation is encouraged.

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Affordable housing roundtable to be held in Bethel

A roundtable on affordable housing will be held in Bethel tonight.  The discussion will be held at 6:30pm at the municipal center in response to concerns from residents over developments.  Panelists will discuss the state's 8-30g law, which allows developers to bypass local zoning regulations if a percentage of their housing is designated as affordable.  The state Housing Commissioner, a community development specialist and the town planner will be joined on the panel by  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker, Planning and Zoning Commission chair Pat Rist and state Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan.

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3 Danbury lawmakers recognized for support of environmental bills

Three Danbury lawmakers have received high marks on the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters’ 2019 Environmental Scorecard, released this week. Bob Godfrey and Ken Gucker tallied perfect scores of 100 percent. David Arconti received a score of 90 percent.  All three state representatives supported pro-environment legislation passed in the last session that included an act concerning the procurement of energy derived from offshore wind, a resolution approving the state water plan, and the winding down and eventual ban on single-use plastic bags in Connecticut. Arconti serves as co-chair of the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee.  Gucker is a member of the Environment Committee. 

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Conn. Education Commission accepts Danbury legislators offer to see school overcrowding firsthand

Members of the bipartisan Danbury state legislative delegation have written to the state Education Commissioner requesting he visit Danbury to tour the schools and discuss overcrowding issues and long standing state underfunding.  Representative David Arconti says Miguel Cardona has accepted the invitation and he looks forward to hosting him in the near future. 

Over the past decade, Danbury has experienced a 17-percent enrollment increase.  The district serves over 11,000 students and over 3,00 of those students attend Danbury High School.  There's been a 10-percent enrollment increase over the last 5 years alone.  This year, Danbury's enrollment was estimated to go up by 2.8 percent, but increased by 4 percent. 

58-percent of all district students quality for free or reduced price lunch, and over 26-percent come from homes where English is a second language. 

According to Danbury Public Schools facilities' capacity numbers, 7 elementary schools, two middle schools and the high school are all currently operating at over 100 percent capacity. 

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Bethel Representative named a 2019 Environmental Champion

The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters is recognizing Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan as a 2019 Environmental Champion.  He received a 100 percent score based upon his voting record during the 2019 legislative session.  Allie-Brennan says climate change is no longer some faraway threat decades down the line, its effects are already felt across the state. He added that he wants to bring the fight for clean energy and green jobs into the 2020 session. 47 state lawmakers received a perfect score in 2019 and only 16 of which received the Environmental Champion distinction this year. Allie-Brennan was Chair of the Clean Energy Caucus.  The CT LCV’s criteria focused on over 20 pieces of legislation introduced in the spring.

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Access Health CT hosting enrollment fair tonight in Danbury

Access Health CT is hosting an enrollment fair tonight in Danbury for Connecticut residents to get free, in-person help to sign up for health insurance during the 2020 Open Enrollment period, which ends December 15th.  The enrollment fair is at the Hatters Park Banquet Hall on East Hayestown Road from 5 to 8pm.  Access Health CT has conducted over ten enrollment fairs so far with volumes averaging 40 to 80 attendees per event. Attendees should come prepared with the necessary paperwork to make the process easier and faster. For more information on documents visit Learn.AccessHealthCT.com.

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Eversource conducting aerial inspection of equipment

Eversource will be conducting aerial inspections of high-voltage electrical equipment on rights of way throughout Greater Danbury. This semiannual inspection is  part of the company’s ongoing work to provide reliable electric service.  This work involves the use of a helicopter flying over Eversource’s transmission line corridors to check for any emerging vegetation and equipment issues that may threaten electric reliability.  The aerial inspections continue through Thursday, weather permitting.  Flights will take place from 8am to 4pm in a blue and silver helicopter, tail # N1431W.

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Danbury Music Centre hosting the first rehearsal for annual Messiah performance

The Danbury Music Centre is hosting the first rehearsal of the year for their 63rd annual performance of Handel’s, Messiah.  The Danbury Concert Chorus will meet at 7:30pm at the Danbury Music Centre for the rehearsal.   The performance will be at the First Congregational Church on the corner of Deer Hill Avenue and West Street on December 21st at 3pm.  All area singers, high-school aged and up, are invited to participate as long as they attend at least three of the four Tuesday rehearsals, and the dress rehearsal on December 20th. Participation is free to members of the Music Centre at the $50 and higher level. Otherwise, there is a $35 fee to participate.

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29 people arrested for protest at Cricket Valley Energy facility

29 people have been arrested for a protest at the Cricket Valley Energy facility on Route 22 in the Town of Dover.  The protesters gained access to the facility early on Saturday morning and blocked the entrance.  A smaller group climbed up onto smoke stacks on the property. The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police removed the protesters from the private property, who refused to follow dispersal orders.  All were released on appearance tickets.  Four people, ranging in age from 20 to 53, were charged with Criminal Trespass for climbing onto the smoke stacks.  The 25 charged with Trespass are accused of blocking the entrance.  They range in age from 18 to 77.  There were no injuries to anyone involved.

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Danbury Firefighter, en route to work, carries crash victim to safety

A Danbury Firefighter on his way to a night shift came across a car accident and carried the driver to safety.  Jeff Nolet was driving along the Saw Mill Parkway Sunday night and noticed a gathering of cars and people on the shoulder of the road.  He was told there was a car over the embankment with someone still inside. 

Nolet, who was already in his work uniform, made sure someone had called 911 and went to assess the situation.  The car was on its side in a small stream, with the engine still running and the wheels turning.  Nolet entered the calf-deep, cold, muddy water and told the driver to shut off the ignition. 

The driver was not trapped, but reported his shoulder hurt.  Nolet managed to lift the patient onto his shoulder and carried him away from the vehicle while negotiating the mud and water. 

Once emergency responders arrived, he briefed the local first responders on the situation and transferred care to them.  He still made it on time to the start of his night shift.

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Stubborn commercial building fire in New Fairfield extinguished

A Commercial building in New Fairfield was engulfed in flames Sunday night and one person was hospitalized as a result.  Firefighters responded to the structure fire on Sawmill Road around 11pm for an aggressive attack with multiple lines in operation. Mutual aid from Sherman, Putnam Lake and Danbury Fire departments helped with manpower and coverage while New Fairfield firefighters battled what officials said was a very stubborn blaze. Fire units cleared around 3 am to be called back for rekindle. The cause is under investigation.  One person was taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. No firefighters were injured.  The building houses an excavation and septic business, a landscaping contractor, and a handmade furniture shop.

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Connecticut man charged in baseball beating of mother

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. (AP) - Police in Connecticut have arrested a 21-year-old man they say beat his mother with a baseball bat.

Ridgefield police tell The News-Times that Colin Donnelly was charged with first-degree assault and was being held on $250,000 bond after the alleged attack on Friday pending arraignment Monday. The case was not listed in court records and it was not clear if the suspect had an attorney.

The 55-year-old woman was transported to Danbury Hospital by Ridgefield paramedics with what were said to be serious injuries.

Police in a statement said "an individual in need of medical attention was located and assisted by officers and Ridgefield Fire Department staff."

 

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Informational meeting in Brookfield tonight on new school project

A public information session is being held tonight in Brookfield about the new school project.  Residents are encouraged to attend and give the school committee input on what's needed in a new Huckleberry Hill School.  The facility for pre-k through 5th graders will also serve Center School students.  The $78.1 million project was approved by residents in March.  The informational meeting is at 7pm at Huckleberry Hill Elementary School.

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Danbury City Council Committee puts off decision about buying historic home

A group of Danbury City Council members have again met to discuss the idea of buying the oldest home in the City still standing.  Danbury Museum and Historical Society executive Director Brigid Guertin proposed saving 56 Wooster Heights from development.  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. 

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. 

The committee adjourned until early next year.

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Cause of cracks in foundation of Redding waste treatment plant to be investigated

Money has been approved in Redding to determine the cause of cracks in the foundation of the waste treatment plant.  The Board of Selectmen signed off on $3,300 for Milone and MacBroom to do the initial assessment of the cause and how big of a problem the cracks pose.  A study will be needed to determine scope of repairs, the cost of which has not yet been determined.  Members of the Water Pollution Control Commission, told the selectmen yesterday that it's possible the subsoil has degraded over time since the building was put in in 2008.

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Six WCSU dorm rooms impacted by accidental sprinkler activation

The fire sprinkler system in a dorm building on West Conn's west side campus was accidentally activated early Sunday morning.  The incident happened on the second floor, east side of Centennial Hall.  University officials say it was caused inadvertently by a resident student. The building was evacuated by the fire department, and within a half hour, West Conn was able to secure critical systems in the building and allow re-occupancy by the students.  Six residential apartments have been impacted by water. Response crews and repair companies were already on scene, and all affected students have been relocated.

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Monroe Police investigate theft of and from cars

This month, Monroe has experienced two more stolen cars and a rash of overnight thefts from unlocked motor vehicles.  Monroe Police are reminding residents to make sure to lock cars at night because the crimes have a common link--unlocked doors. Monroe Police say the crimes are happening in different parts of town and continues to be an issue throughout Fairfield County.  The most recent incidents in town were reported last week.  Anyone who sees or hears suspicious activity overnight is asked contact the Monroe Police Department at that time -203 261 3622

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Area officials sworn in for new terms

New Fairfield officials have been sworn in for new terms.  Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal participated in the ceremony this weekend.  Incumbents First Selectman Pat Delmonaco and Selectmen Khris Hall and Kim Hansen were all reelected earlier this month to serve another two years.

Redding officials are being sworn in tonight.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton, who was cross endorsed, along with Selectmen Peg O'Donnell and Mike Thompson will take the oath of office at 6:30pm in the Town Hall hearing room.

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Brookfield man sustained burns in weekend house fire

A Brookfield resident has been hospitalized for treatment of burns sustained in a weekend house fire.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to Candlewood Lake Road Saturday night and found the home fully involved in flames. 

Candlewood Fire Company provided additional water and hand lines.  Mutual Aid was provided by Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company and the Germantown Volunteer Fire with tankers and crew.  The fire was bought under control in 30 minutes.  

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Brookfield Fire Marshal’s office.  There were no injuries to fire personnel. 

Brookfield Police Department provided assistance with scene and traffic control.  Brookfield Public Works responded to provide ice control due to the freezing temperatures and water on the street from operations. 

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Gas odor in Bethel investigated

Bethel Fire & EMS responded to the smell of gas in a commercial complex Friday afternoon.  Danbury Fire Department responded to a mutual aid request for a ladder truck when a rooftop unit was suspected as the cause.  Eversource Gas responded for the investigation at Dolan Plaza as well. EMS provided evaluations of business employees. The problem was isolated to a rooftop HVAC unit, and the building was determined to be safe to occupy.

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Former Tails of Courage manager charged by Wolcott Police

Wolcott Police have charged the former manager of the controversial Tails of Courage with 7 counts of cruelty to animals and 3 counts of practicing veterinary medicine without a license.  The animal rescue group moved from Danbury after similar problems.  Krystal Lopez turned herself in Friday on the charges, which also included 21 counts of invalid health certificates, 27 counts of failure to provide veterinary care within 48 hours of an animal’s entry into the state and one count of possession of vaccines and serums.  Lopez was charged in 2018  with two counts of animal cruelty based on unsanitary conditions found at the organization's Danbury location. The Wolcott arrest stemmed from an investigation that began in July after the police learned a puppy released for adoption died within 24 hours from canine parvovirus.  Lopez was released on bond.

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Newtown Police investigate reported illegal credit card use

Newtown Police are investigating a case of illegal credit card use.  Police said Friday that they received reports of two men fraudulently using credit cards at local liquor stores earlier this month.  The men are believed to be from the New York area and were possibly driving in a dark Chrysler sedan with tinted windows and New York registration plates. Anyone with information regarding the identity of these men is asked to contact Newtown Police.

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New stop sign up in Ridgefield

There is a new traffic pattern in Ridgefield.  New stop signs have been installed creating a newly active 3-way intersection.  Ridgefield Police say this is at the intersection of Ramapoo Road and Mulberry Street.  Drivers are urged to use caution when approaching this intersection.

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Congresswoman takes part in hearings on college affordability

The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee has hosted the first in a planned series of five hearings to address the costs of higher education. Former Bush and Obama administration economic policy advisers, a university chancellor, and a current college student testified about a range of issues.  Topics included public and private loan programs and potential associated debt, access to employment and child care resources, and how populations such as veterans and homeless people are impacted by student loan debt.  The College Affordability Act would, among other things, dramatically expand PEL grants to a high of $625.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says it also incentivize free community college and drive states to invest in their public institutions.  She notes that it also invests in educators by fixing a broken public student loan finance and teach grant system.  The measure also permanently funds Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority serving institutions and improves completion for underserved communities through more robust and more flexible wrap around student support services.

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Report: Helicopter had fuel issue on day of crash

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A rented helicopter that crashed near Las Vegas, killing two Connecticut men, was found to have sediment in its fuel tanks just hours before the fatal flight, a preliminary report shows.

However, the cause of the crash last month of the private sightseeing aircraft has not yet been determined, according to the National Transportation Safety Administration report released Tuesday.

The investigation is continuing and could take more than a year, NTSB spokesman Terry Williams said.

The report says a flight instructor had canceled a plan to use the Robinson R44 helicopter on the morning of Oct. 23 to allow time for the fuel problem to be repaired.

Later in the day, the report states, the instructor called the helicopter rental office at North Las Vegas Airport and told officials the “maintenance was done and the helicopter was ready to fly.”

The flight instructor, who was not identified, has not spoken with investigators.

“It is not known what he did to the helicopter before the (fatal) flight, (or) the fuel in the helicopter,” the preliminary report said.

The crash happened less than 20 minutes after takeoff, near scenic Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area less than 12 miles (19 kilometers) from the airport.

Passers-by on a highway saw the crash and pulled pilot Scott Socquet, 53, of Milford, Connecticut, and passenger Howard Jameson, 27, of New Fairfield, Connecticut, from the wreckage. They died at a hospital.

The NTSB report noted that Socquet was a certified air transport and helicopter pilot.

Investigators found no evidence of a catastrophic engine failure, according to the report.

But they did discover that a main rotor tachometer magnet had separated from its housing, which a manufacturer’s representative said would have led to a faulty revolutions-per-minute reading, the report states.

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Trooper being investigated in crash suspended

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut State Police trooper under investigation for his role in a car crash involving his state vehicle that severely injured two women has been suspended.

Brian Foley, spokesman for state police Commissioner James Rovella, said the paid suspension for Sgt. John McDonald announced Thursday is directly related to the investigation of the Sept. 25 crash in Southbury.

Police are investigating whether McDonald had been drinking at a retirement party at a brew pub for another trooper before the accident.

The crash injured Lisa Conroy, of Middlebury, and her 19-year-old daughter, Madison. They have sued McDonald, the bar and state police. McDonald was also injured in the crash and wasn’t given a sobriety test because he had to be taken to a hospital.

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Sandy Hook lawsuit could force Remington to open books

A recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court has upended a longstanding legal roadblock that has given the gun industry far-reaching immunity from lawsuits in the aftermath of mass killings.

The court this week allowed families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre to sue the maker of the AR-15 used in the attack. The case against Remington will now proceed in the Connecticut courts.

Remington is widely expected to win the case, but critics of the gun industry are eyeing what they see as a significant outcome even in the face of defeat: getting the gunmaker to open its books about how it markets firearms.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs are certain to request that Remington turn over volumes of documents as part of the discovery phase, providing a rare window into the inner-workings of how a major gun manufacturer markets its weapons. Those materials might include company emails, memos, business plans and corporate strategies, or anything that might suggest the company purposely marketed the firearm that may have compelled the shooter to use the weapon to carry out the slaughter.

The plaintiffs also believe the ruling will put gun companies on notice about how they conduct business knowing they could wind up in the courts in similar fashion.

“If the industry wakes up and understands their conduct behind closed doors is not protected, then the industry itself ... will take steps to try to help the massive problem we have instead of do nothing and sit by and cash the checks,” said Joshua Koskoff, the Connecticut attorney who represents a survivor and relatives of nine victims who died at the Newtown, Connecticut, school on Dec. 14, 2012.

The case hinges on Connecticut state consumer law that challenges how the firearm used by the Newtown shooter — a Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle — was marketed, with plaintiffs alleging Remington purposely used advertisements that targeted younger, at-risk males. In one of Remington’s ads, it features the rifle against a plain backdrop and the phrase: “Consider Your Man Card Reissued.”

Remington did not respond to requests for comment after the U.S. Supreme Court denied its efforts to quash the lawsuit.

Larry Keane, senior vice president and legal counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gunmakers, said he anticipates Remington will ultimately prevail and that it’s unfair to blame the gunmaker for Adam Lanza’s crime.

“Adam Lanza alone is the responsible person. Not Remington,” he said.

Suing the firearms industry has never been easy, and it was made even harder after Congress enacted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005. The law backed by the National Rifle Association gave broad immunity to the gun industry.

The chances of the plaintiffs ultimately succeeding in this case are slim — a sentiment shared by the Connecticut Supreme Court, which said they face a “Herculean task” to prevail.

Judges and juries generally have a tough time blaming anyone but the shooter for the crime, said Timothy D. Lytton, professor at Georgia State University’s College of Law and author of “Suing the Gun Industry: A Battle at the Crossroads of Gun Control and Mass Torts.”

Add into the mix that Lanza himself didn’t own the firearm; he stole it from his mother after killing her in the home they shared, then went to the elementary school in Newtown, where he killed 20 children and six adults.

“It makes it harder for juries to connect the dots. It’s a significant hurdle in all of these cases. It’s very rare that you have a very close timeframe between the marketing of a weapon and a mass shooting,” Lytton said.

Lanza’s mother purchased the Bushmaster AR-platform rifle in 2010 from a Connecticut gun shop. It’s unclear if she or her son were influenced by or had seen Remington’s advertising.

Still, it’s been a tough few years for the industry. Sales plummeted with the election of President Donald Trump, and gun-control advocates have outspent perhaps his most loyal supporter: the NRA. With slumping sales, some companies, including Remington, have faced bankruptcy. And in the wake of high-profile mass shootings, corporate America has begun pushing back against the industry.

AR-platform long guns have been a particular bone of contention for gun-control advocates who believe the firearms — once banned for a decade in the U.S. — are especially attractive to mass shooters for their ease of use and their ability to carry large capacity magazines.

While handguns remain used more often in mass shootings, ARs have been involved in some of the deadliest shootings, including when a gunman fired on a crowd of concertgoers outside his hotel room in Las Vegas in 2017, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds.

The AR-15, its design based on the military M-16, has become one of the most popular firearms in the U.S. in recent decades. Lightweight, easy to customize and able to carry extended magazines, sales took off once the ban expired in 2004. There are now an estimated 16 million AR-platform long guns in the U.S.

Robert J. Spitzer, chairman of political science at the State University of New York at Cortland and a longtime watcher of gun politics, said a case against Remington could cause “pretty embarrassing information” to come out.

“And it is certainly possible they will find memos or other documents that may significantly support their case that Remington was manifestly irresponsible in the way they marketed their guns,” Spitzer said.

Even if embarrassing information isn’t uncovered, he said, it could have a long-lasting impact on the industry and, more specifically, Remington. Considered the oldest gunmaker in the United States, Remington — founded in New York in 1816 and now based in Madison, North Carolina — only emerged from bankruptcy in 2018.

“They’re obviously in a precarious financial situation and this suit is certainly not helpful to them trying to restore their financial health,” Spitzer said.

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Veterans Day ceremony Saturday in Brookfield

A Veterans Day ceremony is being held in Brookfield tomorrow.  The  Jason D Lewis Brookfield Memorial VFW Post will host the ceremony at 10:45am at Williams Memorial Park across the road from the Brookfield Public Library.  The public is encouraged to attend the event to honor our military veterans who have served our nation as members of the Active Component, the National Guard and the Reserves.  The ceremony will begin with the posting of the colors and the singing of the National Anthem. There will be a wreath laid at the foot of the Soldier’s memorial monument followed by a moment of silence to honor the memory of those Brookfield veterans who have passed away. The Post Commander, Joseph A. Beal, will then deliver the commemorative speech. After the address, the Post Honor Guard will render a 21 gun salute paying tribute to Brookfield and area veterans. The ceremony will end with the playing of Taps and a final prayer.

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Lamont officially unveils his retooled transportation plan

Gov. Ned Lamont officially unveiled his latest transportation improvement plan Thursday, expressing a willingness to compromise, but noting an urgency to finally address Connecticut’s long-standing transportation challenges.

The Democrat acknowledged his earlier proposal, which included dozens of tolls on highways throughout the state, was a “bridge too far” for many state lawmakers. Lamont said this new, scaled-back initiative relies on revenue from 14 tolls on a list of named bridges and overpasses, coupled with low-cost borrowing from the federal government and other borrowing. It attempts to target major traffic chokepoints across the state, helping to speed up commutes, both on the highways and rail lines.

Brookfield US 202 improvements are planned.  The total estimated cost is $7.1 Million.  Lamont says the commuter benefits include improvements to intersections reduce the number of crashes, as this is one of the highest frequency crash locations in Connecticut.  This section along Federal Road in Brookfield is notorious for crashes and traffic delays. An improved intersection and upgrades to the signal structure will lead to less traffic and fewer crashes, making it easier for drivers to access the various shopping and restaurant options on this stretch of road.

The plan calls for reconstruction of the Rochambeau Bridge over the Housatonic River in Newtown on I-84.  The total estimated project cost is $70 Million to $110 Million.  Lamont says this project is one of the essential elements to make sure CT2030 not only provides a prosperous future, but a safe one for Connecticut drivers. The reconstruction of this Newtown crossing will make driving safer and even more manageable during the winter months with an upgraded structure and repaved surface.

Improvements to ease access to local roads is planned in Southbury at Exit 14.  The total estimated cost is $5-7 Million.  Commuter benefits include exit upgrades rebuild the ramp, improving access to local roads, relieving congestion from both the highway and locally.  Lamont says this is yet another exit on a Connecticut interstate highway that was not designed with modern traffic in mind. When drivers come off the ramp, there is an abrupt stop at the end, which leads to headaches for both interstate and local drivers. Improvements to the exit structure will lead to better flows of traffic on and off the highway, decreasing delays on local roads in Southbury.

A controversial part of the proposal is the I-684, Bridge over Byram River in Greenwich.  The total estimated cost is $12.9 Million.  There are bridges across Connecticut that have not seen upgrades or renovations in decades and CT2030 addresses that issue head-on. This bridge on I-684 is maintained by CTDOT and is in need of State of Good Repair improvements. Improving this bridge will make traveling through Connecticut on this busy highway safer for all drivers.

Plans call for 132 New Rail Cars, 30 Locomotives for New Haven Line, Waterbury & Danbury Lines, Shore Line East, Hartford Line.  On the Danbury and Waterbury branch lines, new signaling systems, new cars, and new dual-power locomotives that can run on diesel and electric tracks will allow for more frequent service and for more convenient trains that provide direct service to Stamford and New York City.  The proposal also outlines digital fare collections and new kiosks.  Connectivity with a new CTtransit app allows customers to use the app to pay fares, and they have access to new kiosks on Shoreline East. This app provides connectivity across the CT Transit services.

New fare system investments in coordination with Metro-North Railroad that will better integrate mobile ticketing and fare kiosks with existing CTtransit & CTrail fare systems. Also Shore Line East will see new ticket machine kiosks on platforms in addition to a new mobile phone app.

It’s a new approach Lamont hopes will finally lead to a compromise with Democrats and Republicans in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly on transportation.

“As long as the numbers add up and they’re real, I’m willing to listen,” said Lamont, when asked if he’d agree to make changes. “Right now, there’s no other plan on the table. This is a plan that adds up and fixes the problems in front of us. If they have another idea, it’s time to bring it forward.”

Lamont is billing his new CT2030 plan, which he urged taxpayers to review online , as a “realistic” and “fiscally responsible” effort to reduce congestion, make travel faster, more convenient and reliable, while ultimately improving the state’s economy. It calls for investing $14 billion in Connecticut’s roads and bridges and $7 billion in public transportation, including airports, ports, and bus and rail service. There are two categories of projects: new enhancements, and preservation and maintenance projects. The whole package will require legislative approval. It remains unclear when, or if lawmakers might consider the proposal.

Representatives from both organized labor and business on Thursday urged legislators to support Lamont’s latest effort.

“Fixing our infrastructure is not a partisan issue,” said Sal Luciano, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO labor organization. “That’s why labor is standing with the governor and the business community today to call upon the legislature to summon the political courage to get this done.”

H. Darrell Harvey, co-chief executive officer of The Ashforth Co., a Stamford-based real estate firm, said Lamont’s plan aligns with what needs to be done to retain and attract business in Connecticut and help the state’s workforce move easily around the state.

“This is the infrastructure of the state. We’re way behind the rest of the country. We’re way behind the rest of the world,” he said. “Let’s play politics on stuff besides our foundation of our state, the infrastructure of our state.”

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said he appreciated the hard work and thoughtfulness that went into Lamont’s plan. But he said he still has “serious concerns” about tolls, which Lamont said would be in place for the length of the state’s loan for each of the 14 projects.

“Republicans agree with Governor Lamont that we need to invest in transportation to support economic success and encourage job growth,” Fasano said. “But where we have always differed is how to pay for it.”

Fasano said tolls “remain very problematic” for him and his fellow Senate Republicans. They also remain problematic for anti-toll activists, some of whom attended Lamont’s announcement on Thursday, and the trucking industry. Joe Sculley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, said his group remains opposed to tolling existing highways, whether that means current highway lanes as first proposed or on specific bridges.

“As the trucking industry already pays the diesel tax, the Petroleum Gross Receipts Tax, and vehicle registration fees, tolls would be a fourth tax for the privilege of using what we have already paid for,” he said.

The base rate for tolls would range from 50 cents to $1 for passenger vehicles and $3.50 to $7 for heavy trucks, before discounts are applied. Some of the bridges proposed for tolls include the Gold Star Bridge that stretches over the Thames River from New London to Groton; the so-called “mixmaster” in Waterbury; and the Routes 15 and 17 interchange in Norwalk.

Lamont’s plan also proposes Connecticut partner with private companies to develop high-speed ferry service from Stamford to lower Manhattan; sets in motion a possible fully functioning airport in south-central Connecticut; calls for track improvements and new stations along the Hartford Line; and includes funding for new commuter rail cars and public busses.

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Recount triggered in Danbury City Council at-large race

An automatic recount has been triggered in one of the Danbury City Council races.  With all of the absentee ballots, Election Day Registration ballots, and the ballots cast at polling places, there was just a 14 vote difference between two candidates seeking an at-large seat.  Democrat incumbent Bob Taborsak got slightly more votes than Republican incumbent Bruce Bennett.  If the results stand, there will be an 11-10 split on the City Council, giving Republicans just one more seat than Democrats.  While there was a meeting last night, the new members won't be seated until the December 5th meeting. 

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State DVA Commissioner to take leave of absence for military duty

State Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi will be taking a six-month, quasi-leave of absence beginning next Friday while on active duty with the U.S. Army.  In a letter to the governor, Saadi explained that he will be stationed in upstate New York, enabling him to maintain regular contact with his staff via email and telephone.  He will also have the ability to use his military leave, and return to the DVA campus on occasion to keep the agency on a steady course forward.  

Saadi, a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve, volunteered for the active duty mobilization. He is serving with the Danbury-based 411th Civil Affairs Battalion. 

Saadi said he is thankful to have a team of dedicated DVA staff, volunteers, community-based partners, and veteran service organizations who will continue the collective mission of ‘serving those who served’ --without interruption. 

Governor Lamont says he appreciates the fact that the veterans affairs commissioner not only has dedicated his career to ensuring veterans have access to the services they’ve earned, but is also willing to volunteer to serve the nation when called upon.

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Danbury-based FuelCell Energy signs new agreement with ExxonMobil

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy has signed a new agreement with ExxonMobil.  The company says the two-year expanded joint-development agreement will further enhance carbonate fuel cell technology to capture carbon dioxide from industrial facilities.  The agreement, worth up to 60 million dollars, will focus efforts on optimizing the core technology, overall process integration and large-scale deployment of carbon capture solutions. ExxonMobil is exploring options to conduct a pilot test of next-generation fuel cell carbon capture solution at one of its operating sites.  ExxonMobil and FuelCell Energy began working together in 2016 with a focus on better understanding the fundamental science behind carbonate fuel cells and how to increase efficiency in separating and concentrating carbon dioxide from the exhaust of natural gas-fueled power generation.

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Caseworker on Your Corner events scheduled in 5th District

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has scheduled a number of events in the Greater Danbury area over the next few weeks to have her staff help constituents with various issues.  The Caseworker on Your Corner events are meant to help people with any questions or cut red tape with federal agencies.  All of the events are at 10am.  Her staff will be at Brookfield Town Hall next Wednesday, Newtown Municipal Center next Friday, on the 19th at New Fairfield Library, on the 20th at Bethel Library and the 22nd at the YMCA on Main Street in Danbury.  The last event will be on the 26th in Southbury.

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Sandy Hook Memorial group seeks to move forward on selected design

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission recently held another meeting about how to move forward on the selected design. First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says the first call with a fundraising firm was promising.  The second firm asked for a potential donor list and he says had an extraordinary fee.  

One of the parents on the Commission who lost a child on 12-14 has questioned what kind of budget would pass at a referendum. Rosenthal told Brian Engel and others on the Commission that the community accepts the idea of a memorial, but because of emotions people will be private on their feelings.  He thinks a lower cost stands a better chance of passing.

Committee member, former First Selectman Pat Llodra suggested rescoping the project as the cost is greater than what can realistically be achieved.  She does not believe a $10 million project would be acceptable to the community.  None of the elements have been subject to professional cost estimates.  Llodra suggested the Public Works Department help with topography to reduce overall infrastructure costs.

One Committee member said they can't let the excellent get in the way of the good and should continue with parts of the design that are affordable. 

When discussing the cost of the pavilion, the question was asked about scaling back its size, as opposed to removing it all together.  Joann Bacon, whose daughter Charlotte was killed on 12-14, was disappointed.  Bacon believes option three won't work because it's missing so much of what the Commission liked. 

If there can't be bridges over the two ponds on site, another feature such as a dock or platform was requested.

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Recount held for Newtown Legislative Council seat

There was a recount in Newtown for a Legislative Council race.  There was an apparent tie for the final council seat in District 3, with    Democratic newcomers Carol Walsh and Alison Plante getting the same number of votes.  The recount showed Plante winning the seat by a single vote, 949-948.

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Danbury gas station owner arrested for illegally shooting off gun near highway

A Danbury gas station owner has been arrested for accidentally firing a shotgun while familiarizing himself with the recently purchased weapon.  29-year old Jeehad Jamal, owner of the Exxon off North Main Street, was charged Monday with illegal discharge of a firearm, reckless endangerment and breach of peace.  Police say the Mahopac man was behind the gas station, in a wooded area facing the highway where drivers exiting westbound saw the shooting.  No one was injured.  Police collected four live shells and a spent shell casing.  Jamal was released on bond for a court appearance next Thursday.

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Sherman man arrested for alleged Halloween assault

A man has been arrested for an assault in Sherman on Halloween.  The Sherman Resident Trooper responded to a Route 55 West home, near the New York border, on a report of an active assault.  28-year old Jacob Harris was charged with disorderly conduct and assault.  He ported bond and was released for a court appearance the following day.  Harris was arraigned and the case was referred to a Family Relations Officer.  His next court appearance is scheduled for December 5th.

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New Milford Police investigating hit & run accident

New Milford Police are investigating a hit and run accident.  The crash happened on Railroad Street in front of the former New Milford Train Station around 5 o'clock last night.  The evading vehicle was exiting the public parking lot when it hit the rear bumper of another vehicle waiting in traffic.  The dark colored, possibly blue or black, Volkswagen Beetle or Fiat 500 style vehicle could have minor front end damage.  The driver was described as a white woman with little to no hair.  Anyone with information is asked to contact New Milford Police Officer Petersen at 860-355-3133.

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FEMA continues to send macroburst reimbursement to state for pass through to towns

Now that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has passed along some money for debris removal operations in the wake of the severe storms, local towns are waiting for the funding to be passed along from the state.  The Public Assistance Grant reimburses Fairfield and New Haven counties for actions taken in the immediate response and during recovery.  New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco noted that the FEMA reimbursement numbers from the May 2018 macroburst have been finalized. The amount to be received for debris removal $1,900,920 and administrative costs of $133,190. The total reimbursement is $2,131,052, which is approximately 85% of the total expenditures from the storm.  New Fairfield's Finance Director noted that this money is expected to be received in 3 or 4 weeks.

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DOT continues nightly highway ramp closures in Newtown

The state Department of Transportation is continuing overnight highway ramp closures in Newtown. The Exit 9 on and off ramps had been closed at the beginning of this week. Starting tonight, the Exit 10 ramps will be closed nightly until Monday morning.  This project will bring paved and striped lanes, bridge decks and travel lanes without exposed concrete foundation repairs.  All closures are weather dependent. Detours will be put into place for each ramp closure.  Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolisnky was critical of the DOT for what he said was the unreliability or lack of information about the extent and timing of the repairs.  He says communication issues with the contractor and DOT resulted in dissemination of updates that were, at best, inaccurate and, at worst, denied upon request.

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Old Bethel train station canopy fully restored

The old Bethel train station canopy has been fully restored to its 19th century look.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says this section of the old station was still owned by state DOT until recently, and their plan was to tear the canopy down due to its age and poor condition.  He notes that it took 10 years of negotiations with the state for the town to finally get control of the canopy so it could be restored. The project costs are covered by lease receipts, not the town budget.

(Photo: Matt Knickerbocker)

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Education task force in Danbury holds another meeting

It was right back to business yesterday for Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.  A day after winning reelection to start a 10th term, Boughton held a Task Force meeting about education in the City.  An updated demographics study has been ordered following the unexpected enrollment increase at the start of the new year.  Boughton says there are short and long term problems to address, which could be done through a new Charter School, a new pre-k center to free up room in elementary schools, and building new classrooms.  A study found that most of the increase came from multi-family houses, and about half were from other countries.  The number of English language learners increased 11 percent from the previous year, and about half of those students are new to the district.

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New Milford Town Council takes control of 25 protected acres by Veteran's Bridge

The New Milford Town Council has unanimously agreed to take control of 25 protected acres by Veteran’s Bridge.  The Northwest Conservation District agreed to buy the land several years ago using money from a GE settlement, which could not be directed to a municipality.  The intention was always to gift it to New Milford.  But some Town Council members are concerned that it will cost too much to maintain the land, which runs from the bridge to Housatonic River Brewing.  The proposed donation was sent to the Planning Commission and must still be put to a Town Meeting for a vote.  If approved, the property will be conserved in perpetuity.  Mayor Pete Bass says the limited mowing could be done by a private company in exchange fro a sponsorship. The Youth Agency could use an employment grant to have program participants clear existing trails.

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New Milford officials approve new Public Works Director

There's a new director of public works in New Milford.  Jack Healy, who has served as the acting director, was confirmed to the position at the Town Council's most recent meeting.  Michael Zarba resigned from the post last month in a stunning letter where he said he felt he no longer had control of his department and that decisions about personnel, equipment and design criteria were made without his input. Healy became assistant director in June, from the Town of Berlin, where he was the public works director and town manager.  He was also the public works director in Litchfield.

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Ohio man makes brief court appearance in case of murder of Bethel woman

An Ohio man was back in court yesterday on charges stemming from the death of a Bethel woman.  The judge told 27-year-old Brandon Roberts he will have to decide at his next appearance whether to plead guilty or go to trial, with only one plea deal offered.  Details were not disclosed.  The case was continued to January 8th.  Roberts was charged with murder, felony murder, robbery and carrying a pistol without a permit for the December 8th killing of 25-year-old Emily Todd in Bridgeport.  The Danbury senior center therapist was found the next morning.  Her family later told police she met Roberts, who was staying with relatives at a Stratford hotel, on an online dating app.

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Officer fired after lying about underage drinking at party

WILTON, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut police officer has been fired for lying about a party where there was underage drinking.

The Wilton Bulletin reports the Wilton Police Commission voted to terminate Officer Steven Zawacki on Oct. 16 following an internal affairs investigation.

According to the report of the investigation, Zawacki violated the department's standard for dishonesty or untruthfulness.

Zawacki reportedly responded to a noise complaint at a home where an 18-year-old resident was hosting a party for about 100 minors. Zawacki turned his body camera off after the resident admitted there was alcohol at the party.

The report says Zawacki didn't perform any substantive investigation at the residence and did not notify a supervisor about what was taking place.

The investigation also found Zawacki gave misleading information to two shift supervisors who questioned him.

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EPA awards grant to Housatonic Valley Association project in Danbury

$30,000 is coming to the Housatonic Valley Association for a watershed restoration project in Danbury.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the funding as part of $1.5 million in competitive grants. 

The Still River Watershed Connections program engages local youth in the restoration of the Still River in order to build a sense of stewardship, teach valuable career skills, and provide a steady source of volunteers for watershed restoration projects.

This project aims to support a significant expansion of the existing Connections program to reach 250 additional at risk youth many of whom live in neighborhoods close to the River. Project activities include retooling a local high school's existing aquatic science curriculum to integrate the Connections program; conducting student-led restoration projects along the Still River, and developing a paid summer job-training internship program. Interns will be hired to perform work on the four restoration sites, and 10 local high school science teachers will be trained in project-based learning methods and Still River watershed issues and will integrate that training into their courses.

Project partners include the Danbury Public Schools, Danbury Youth Services, and Western Connecticut State University.

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Danbury lawmaker speaks out against expressions of hate at WCSU

Danbury state Representative David Arconti is speaking out about the flyers and vandalism at West Conn found on Halloween. He called it a despicable act of malice, racism and hate that disturbed the peace and fellowship of students, faculty, family and friends.   Arconti says he is pleased by the swift response by the university president, local police and federal agents in getting to the bottom of what he says is a shameful act.  Arconti condemned the flyers, saying that is not what he, the school or staff stands for. He added: “As a life-long resident of Danbury with strong family roots, I can attest to the fact that our diversity is our strength. All of the contributions from many different ethnic backgrounds have played a role in our success and we must be vigilant against moving backward towards intolerance.”

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Election Night Greater Danbury 2019 Results

Election Night Greater Danbury 2019

BOLD = winner

* = incumbent

Vote tallies unofficial until certified by the Secretary of the State

 

TOWN/OFFICE CANDIDATE/PARTY   TOTAL
       
Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker* (D)   2,236
  Pat Rist (R)   1,946
  Bill Ochs (petitioning)   312
       
Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn* (D)   2,500
  Mel Butow (R)   1,954
       
Kent First Selectman Jean Speck (D)   661 
  Ed Matson (R)   431
       
Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal* (D)   4,279
       
New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco* (D)   2,357
  John Hodge (R)   1,353
       
New Milford Mayor Tom O'Brien (D)   2,334
  Pete Bass* (R)   4,743
       
Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton* (D)   1,762
       
Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi* (D)   4,763
  Dick Moccia (R)   2,472
       
Sherman First Selectman Don Lowe* (D)   560
       
Southbury First Selectman Richard Boritz (D)   2,276
  Jeff Manville* (R)   3,433
       
Wilton First Selectman Deborah McFadden (D)   1,541
  Lynne Vanderslice* (R)   2,924
  Michael Powers (petitioning)   116
       
 Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton* (R)   8,598
  Chris Setaro (D)   7,372
       
Danbury Treasurer Daniel Jowdy* (R)   8,339
  Kate Johnson (D)   6,747
       
Danbury Town Clerk Janice Giegler* (R)   7,792
  Andrea Gartner (D)   7,189
       
Danbury City Council at Large Coleen Stanley* (R)   7,602
Elect 7 Michael Esposito* (R)   8,314
  Warren Levy* (R)   7,621
  Bruce Bennett* (R)   7,407
  Emile Buzaid Jr (R)   7,951
  Rachel Chaleski (R)   7,128
  Philip Curran* (R)   7,374
  Robert Taborsak* (D)   7,426
  Timothy Gaburungyi (D)   6,178
  Wilson Hernandez (D)   6,887
  Roberto Alves (D)   7,429
  Anjali Illescas (D)   6,283
  Frank Salvatore Jr (D)   7,450
  Helena Abrantes (D)   7,127
       
Danbury Ward 1 (Elect 2) Irving Fox* (R)   1,296
  John Priola* (R)   1,260
  Dennis Perkins (D)   1,172
  George O'Loughlin (D)   1,067
       
Danbury Ward 2 (Elect 2) Vinny DiGilio* (R)   1,112
  Elmer Palma* (R)   1,194
  Kirsten Kovacs-Hardy (D)   980
  Elvis Novas (D)   879
       
Danbury Ward 3 (Elect 2) Chris Arconti* (R)   1,614
  Joe Cavo* (R)   1,510
  Mary Consoli (D)   1,003
  Carolyn Thibodeau (D)   947
       
Danbury Ward 4 (Elect 2) Alexander Rodriguez (R)   565
  Erin Domenech (R)   557
  Farley Santos* (D)   992
  John Esposito* (D)   1,044
       
Danbury Ward 5 (Elect 2) Delvin Rodriguez (R)   565
  Matthew Orr (R)   537
  Duane Perkins* (D)   937
  Fred Visconti* (D)   910
       
Danbury Ward 6 (Elect 2) Andrew Wetmore (R)   901
  Rachel Mary Halas (R)   970
  Paul Rotello* (D)   1,096
  Ben Chianese* (D)   1,142
       
Danbury Ward 7 (Elect 2) Nancy Cammisa* (R)   928
  Joe Scozzafava* (R)   868
  Fidel Hombra (D)   885
  Richard Molinaro (D)   1,023
       
Danbury Board of Education  A. Kathryn Hodgdon (R)   7,063
Elect 6 Maegen Bollin(R)   6,871
  Ralph Pietrafesa* (R)   6,738
  Loren Daly (R)   8,123
  Albert Russo (R)   7,749
  Veasna Rouen (R)   7,140
  Gladys Cooper* (D)   7,524
  Joseph Britton* (D)   7,885
  Kate Conetta* (D)   7,874
       
Board of Ed to fill vacancy Eileen Alberts (R)   6,342
Vote for 2 Patrick Johnston* (R)   5,971
  Kathy Molinaro (D)   7,303
  Joseph DaSilva Jr (D)   7,494
       

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Southbury considers gender neutral titles among other Charter revisions

There are four question on the ballot in Southbury.  One asks if the revised Charter should be approved.  The remaining three question are about specific changes. 

The next question is about runners up.  If the change is passed, the votes cast for a candidate running for First Selectman will not count as votes for a seat on the Board of Selectmen. 

Question three would increase the term for the Board of Selectmen from two years to four years, and stagger the terms.  If approved, the First Selectman and the two top vote getters would be elected for four years and the remaining three Selectmen would be elected for two years. 

The last question changes the titles of the First Selectman, Board of Selectmen and Selectmen, to First Selectperson, Select Board, and Selectperson.

Southbury Public Library is closed for regular library business. The library staff will have an in-service training day. The public will be able to access the library’s catalog online.  The library is open for voting for Southbury residents who live in District 2 and voting will take place in the Kingsley Room until 8pm.

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Danbury Police renew call for assistance locating missing woman

The Danbury Police Department is renewing its call for help from the public to find Laelcira DeLima.  The 53-year old woman was last seen by her family on October 20, 2017.  DeLima left her Danbury home driving her red Honda which was located unoccupied 3 weeks later at the Putnam Diner in Patterson, New York.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Danbury Police Department at 203-797-4611. Calls can also be made to the Anonymous Tips Line at 203-790-8477.

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Danbury grocery store sells winning $25 million lotto ticket

A winning $25.8 million Connecticut Lottery ticket was sold in the Danbury Stop & Shop on Lake Avenue last week.  The store plans to donate its $10,000 commission to an area charity.  The ticket had the winning numbers of  1-9-10- 15- 41- 43. The jackpot has been growing since January of 2018, and was the third largest.  Winners have the choice of receiving either 21 payments as an annuity, or one-time cash lump sum.  Players have 180 calendar days, or until April 29, 2020, to claim their prizes.  There were little more than 46,000 tickets sold for Friday's drawing.

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Election Roundup 2019

Bethel Democratic incumbent First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker is seeking another term in office. He is in a three-way race with Republican Pat Rist and petitioning candidate Bill Ochs.

Brookfield incumbent Democratic First Selectman Steve Dunn is seeking another term in office, and is being challenged by political newcomer, Republican Mel Butow.

Danbury Republican Mark Boughton has been Mayor for 18 years and is seeking a 10th term. He is being challenged by Democratic former City Council President Chris Setaro. The pair ran against each other in 2001, and Setaro lost by a few hundred votes.

Kent First Selectman Bruce Adams is not seeking reelection after serving 10 years in that role.  The Republican nominee for the position is Edward Matson.  The Democrats have nominated Jean Speck. 

A former First Selectman is looking to take the office back in New Fairfield. Democratic incumbent Pat Del Monaco is seeking reelection, but faces a challenge from Republican John Hodge.

New Milford Republican incumbent Mayor Pete Bass is seeking a second term in office.  He is being challenged for the role by Democratic candidate Tom O’Brien.  O’Brien is on the Board of HART transit.

Ridgefield incumbent Democratic First Selectman Rudy Marconi is seeking reelection in November.  He is being challenged by former Norwalk Republican Mayor Dick Moccia for the position. 

The incumbents in Monroe, Newtown, Redding, Sherman and Weston are all running unopposed.  

Sample ballots can be found through each of these links:

Bethel

Brookfield

Danbury

Kent

New Fairfield

New Milford

Newtown

Redding

Ridgefield

Sherman

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Three Greater Danbury area First Selectmen running unopposed today

Newtown incumbent Democratic First Selectman Dan Rosenthal is running unopposed today.  In a second term, Rosenthal says he will continue his open-door policy and “best idea wins” approach to governing.  He says public safety and roads remain a priority.  Rosenthal says working together over the last two years has added onto an already great community.  He will also oversee the budgeting process for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial, and how that will fit into the Capital Improvement Plan. 

Sherman incumbent Democratic First Selectman Don Lowe is running unopposed today.  There are a number of infrastructure projects he is looking to take on in the next two years.  There's upgrades needed at Happy Acres Farm and the Emergency Operations Center, along with new hand-held radios for the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department.  He also will be working with the Board of Ed as they study what renovations or additions are needed for the Sherman School.

Redding incumbent Democratic First Selectman Julia Pemberton has been cross endorsed today.  She was first elected to the position in 2013.  Despite progress, there are several projects she would like to continue working on over the next two years.  There are still outstanding issues with the old Gilbert and Bennet Wire Mill site, the new Plan of Conservation and Development is being finalized and emergency response infrastructure need attention.

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Danbury Mayoral race enters final day

Danbury Republican Mark Boughton has been Mayor for 18 years and is seeking a 10th term. He is being challenged by Democratic former City Council President Chris Setaro. The pair ran against each other in 2001, and Setaro lost by a few hundred votes.

On the issue of pedestrian safety and vehicle violations along Main Street, Boughton notes that’s the City has obtained a $4 million grant from the state for sidewalk and intersection improvements. He says that will include flashing lights. The old granite will be reused, saving some money. Boughton says the plan calls for starting on the green, because the city owns that, and then get permission from the state for work along Main Street, Route 53. He added that traffic enforcement will continue. He wants to work with business owners about using some of the garages to free up parking spaces.

One of the things Setaro has heard most often though is a concern over the City’s infrastructure. He says the overdevelopment happened because there was no solid plan. He wants to focus on certain roads, which need to be rebuilt because of neglect. He wants to implement a traffic study to make vehicles flow more smoothly from one side of Danbury to the other. Setaro says anything that can be done to alleviate traffic should be a top priority because it will improve the quality of life for many people.

Danbury officials are still in negotiations with the Congregational Church to buy the building and property. The transfer is for $1. The church has seen a decline in population, and the thought is that the iconic building needed to be protected from developers. Boughton says this will give the City an 800-seat recital hall. He added that there is a benefactor who has agreed to make all of the necessary capital improvements, including a new boiler and sound system. It will still be used as a church on Sundays. The name will be changed to the Meeting House.

Setaro believes the Congregation Church is historically significant and can understand why it should be preserved. He would look for state or federal grant money to offset the maintenance cost. As for the Tuxedo Junction building, he thinks it’s an asset for the City. Setaro would like to see both of those venues used for live entertainment downtown. He thinks that could lead to restaurateurs and entrepreneurs coming back to CityCenter. Setaro noted that one of the ways to make the City more attractive for people to stay in Danbury is to have nightlife downtown.

There is an overflow homeless shelter in the basement of the church. The agreement will allow that to continue, as long as they can staff it. Boughton says the City can’t take over every service that a religious or nonprofit group can no longer afford to run.

Setaro says services to help the homeless population currently are provided by a number of different entities in different locations. While he says it’s good that there is a lot of help available, it should be in a central location. Setaro wants to find a suitable location on the bus route. He believes that will not only serve that population well, but be good for visitors to the downtown area.

Several surrounding municipalities have been making improvements to town parks along Candlewood Lake. Boughton says the City just replaced the ticket booth, which wasn’t air conditioned. The bathrooms and the snack bar have been updated and electricity has been run to the lifeguard shack. Some exercise equipment is being installed as well. Another dog park is planned near the New Fairfield border. Boughton says he’s just waiting for sign off from the state before announcing the official location.

Recreation is constantly an ‘ask’ from residents, particularly young people. All of the tennis courts have recently been redone. Boughton says they’ve also been lined for pickleball, a sport popular among older people. He has a spot in mind for basketball courts on Maple Avenue, behind the police station. The half an acre site will have two courts, with parking.

Setaro says one of the things talked about by parents when he goes door to door is expanding recreation opportunities for youths. He wants more access to decision makers on fields and maintenance to make more opportunities available. Setaro wants to work collaboratively with leagues and parents to provide those services.

As for making city services more available to residents, Setaro doesn’t agree with the change in hours for City Hall. Staff members are available later on certain nights, but are off on Fridays. He says that doesn’t send a good signal to businesses interested in investing in Danbury. But Setaro says the collective bargaining agreements would have to be reopened in order to change it back. He doesn’t know if that’s possible, but wants to provide a high level of services to residents within current time constraints.

When it comes to infrastructure needs in the City Boughton says it’s time to focus on the fire service. He believes a new headquarters would suit the department well.  The volunteer department is working on a consolidation plan, which could include them moving into the current career headquarters on New Street. Boughton says there’s a need for more maintenance space. Currently they have to work outside the bay, which is weather dependent.

Setaro believes the consolidation of volunteer fire houses is a good idea. He says they area able to provide a high level of public safety, supplementing the career fire department.

On questions of his commitment to the City, since he’s run for Governor 3 times, Boughton says he doesn’t plan to run for statewide office ever again. Boughton noted though that there are some ideas that have worked for Danbury that he’d like to share with the rest of the state.

One of the first things to tackle in office would be planning for the municipal budget. Setaro says he would meet with the Finance Director and the Tax Collector to get a picture of if taxes are collected at a 100-percent rate. His next step would be a cabinet meeting with all of the department heads to discuss the needs of the community. He wants to be sensitive to people’s ability to pay, while trying to balance that with providing good services.

There is a growing student enrollment in Danbury. Boughton clarified that his 2020 Task Force doesn’t refer to the year 2002, next year, but is called Vision 2020--as in clear vision.

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Rally held at West Conn in response to racist flyers, vandalism

100 West Conn students, faculty members and staff gathered in front of the Midtown Student Center yesterday to stand in solidarity against hate and bias. In addition to flyers that some interpreted as racist and sexist West Conn officials say there was also  a racial slur painted on university property and an alt-right flag posted on campus last week. The flyers said “It’s OK to be white” and “Islam is right about women.” The flag design is based roughly on a Nazi battle flag.  Student leaders called the rally yesterday to express concerns, and allowed open mic time for anyone who wanted to ask a question or make a statement.  West Conn President John Clark acknowledged the diverse crowd and vowed to make the university a safe and bias-free second home for students.

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Fire at Danbury deli extinguished

A fire was extinguished last night at a Danbury deli.  Fire crews responded to the Tropical Deli on Lake Avenue for the report of smoke coming from the building roof.  Firefighters located the blaze after opening up a section of the wall and roof eves. No one was injured at this incident.  The Department of Health & Human Services and building departments were requested to the scene. The fire marshals division was on scene and is investigating the cause, which is undetermined at this time.

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Brewster woman charged for alleged cocaine possession

A Brewster woman has been arrested for alleged possession of crack cocaine.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office reports that a deputy was on patrol Saturday evening and saw a traffic violation on Danbury Road in Southeast.  While speaking with the driver and passengers, the Deputy saw several pieces of drug paraphernalia on the floor of the vehicle.  A passenger, later determined to be 51-year old Katherine Shanahan, had suspected crack cocaine in her possession.  Shanahan was charged with one count of possession and released for a future court appearance.  The driver was issued several traffic summonses and released.

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Danbury elementary school interim principal on paid leave

The King Street Primary School interim principal accused in a new lawsuit of of sexually abusing a boy in the 90s has been placed on paid administrative leave.  Danbury Public School officials say the allegations against 37-year old Mark Poliquin do not relate in any way to conduct while an employee of the Danbury Public Schools.  The statement continued that they do not have any information substantiating these allegations, and hope to resolve this matter promptly.  Central office staff will oversee King Street until a new interim principal is appointed.  The complaint alleges Poliquin started abusing a boy in 1996, when he was 15 and the boy was 10.  The complaint says the alleged abuse ended in 2003, when Poliquin was 22. 

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Firefighters draw attention to dangers of live, downed wires

What started out Friday as a primary wire rubbing against a tree 40 feet above Aspetuck Ridge Road, turned into a serious situation in New Milford.  Water Witch Hose Company firefighters closed the road at the nearest intersections and notified Eversource of the problem. A crew was not immediately available so the wire continued to burn through the tree while firefighters stood by. The intense heat overcame the live wire and brought it crashing to the ground where it continues to burn.  The damaged tree top could no longer support itself in the wind, and broke, suspended above the roadway by the remaining power lines.  Once Eversource did respond to turn off the power, firefighters were able to extinguish the small brush fire burning along the road.

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Redding PTA purchases supplies for indoor recess

The Redding Elementary School PTA has purchased supplies to make rainy day indoor recess more enjoyable.  The school's Occupational Therapist, Melissa Campanero, and the PTA bought mobile carts filled with everything from board games to crafts and coding activities.  Redding officials thanked recess monitors for their help getting this in place.

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New Fairfield Parks & Rec to again host Great Holiday Light Fight

New Fairfield Parks and Rec is hosting their now annual holiday competition.  The  winner of New Fairfield’s Great Holiday Light Fight will be awarded a gift cad.  The deadline to register to participate is the 14th.   Light displays should be lit up and ready for our judges viewing on December 5th from 6pm-9pm. Judges will use the following categories when deciding on a winner; holiday spirit, use of lights, and overall design.  Participants will have an option of adding their address to the list of “places to view holiday light creations” from December 1st - December 21st.

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Putnam County officials blast NYSEG for response to Halloween storm

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell is blasting NYSEG for its poor performance and lack of communication during a windstorm that left thousands of residents without power and without word as to when it would be restored. 

NYSEG reported to the state Office of Emergency Management that only 5 customers were out in Putnam County.  Odell says there were actually 2,700 customers without power as of 11am Friday.  Odell added that the company is obligated to let residents – their ratepayers -- know where the power is out and when it will be restored. 

She says even Putnam’s Bureau of Emergency Services couldn’t reach NYSEG during the height of the windstorm Thursday evening.  They, and 911 operators, have a special number of outages,  and they weren’t answering it. 

In Lake Carmel and Patterson, the fire houses were without power, as were the Patterson Library and much of the Carmel schools.  Several emergency responders throughout the county had to guard downed wires for hours during the storm before NYSEG responded.

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Danbury resident injured in weekend fire

A Danbury resident suffered minor injuries in a Saturday morning fire.  Firefighters responded to Chambers Road shortly after 10am and found a working fire.  Crews say the flames were contained to the room of origin.

An occupant suffered minor injuries and was transported to Danbury Hospital by ambulance for evaluation.  Two dogs were evaluated and found to be ok.  The Danbury fire marshal's office was requested to the scene and is investigating the cause.  

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company is reminding area residents that now that Daylight Saving Time has ended and the clocks have been changed, it's time to change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Fire Company officials say a sleeping family in Bethel were able to escape from a fire in their home early Friday morning, all thanks to working smoke detectors. 

There should be a smoke detector on each level of the home and outside each sleeping area.

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Open race for First Selectman position in Kent

Kent First Selectman Bruce Adams is not seeking reelection.  The Democrat has served for 10 years in that role. 

The Republican nominee for the position is Edward Matson.  The Democrats have nominated Jean Speck.  The League of Women Voters of Litchfield County recently moderated an event with the candidates at Kent Memorial Library.  Matson if a former Selectman, a small business owner, and works for the DOT.  Speck is a regional EMS coordinator with the state Department of Public Health and has served with other civic organizations. 

Matson is president of the Kent Volunteer Fire Department while Speck is secretary. 

Matson says his top priorities include work on affordable housing, Kent Center School, Town Garage, Solar Commission, Highway and Fire Department.  Speck says hers are dealing with the Schaghticoke continuing to seek recognition, managing Birch Hill and other substance use disorder treatment facilities, the revitalization of sidewalks, staffing levels at the fire department and economic development.

Both say technology in Kent should be improved.  Speck views high-speed internet access as a critical public utility and not a luxury because there are too many dead spots in town.  She added that sometimes there's no portable emergency radio connectivity.  Matson said it would by costly, but believes internet should be accessible to all residents especially to attract younger people to the community. 

Even if affordable housing was being built, Matson is concerned there aren't the jobs for people to be able to afford to live in Kent.  Speck believes young people want more mobility and suggested that portable or cottage housing might attract them to Kent.

The candidates were asked about the Schaghticokes continuing to pursue Bureau of Indian Affairs recognition. Speck notes that there's no current application pending.  But she is concerned over the land claims and what would happen if the sewer plant were to go away.  Speck wants to protect the rights of the people of Kent and fighting the claims.  Matson was a Selectmen when the tribe filed their first petition for recognition.  He believes there's a good group of people keeping an eye on developments.  But he cautioned that they have to remain vigilant.

On the matter of the nearby Cricket Valley Energy Center being built in Dover, New York, Matson says it's going to be hard to fight something that's already built, but it's important to monitor air quality.  Speck says there's a great group of citizen scientists measuring local air quality to get a baseline measurement.

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Lawsuit alleges Danbury interim elementary principal sexually abused boy

A lawsuit has been filed alleging that a man who is interim principal at King Street Primary School in Danbury sexually abused a boy over a seven-year period in the late 90s.  37-year old Marc Poliquin denied the allegations and says he will fight the suit in Waterbury Superior Court.  The Danbury Board of Ed and Superintendent are looking into the matter, but did not comment further.  The complaint alleges Poliquin started abusing a boy in 1996, when he was 15 and the boy was 10.  The complaint says the alleged abuse ended in 2003, when Poliquin was 22.  The plaintiff’s attorney told the Hartford Courant that her client wasn’t going to come forward at all, but when he learned Poliquin was named principal, he decided he had to speak out.

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Racist, sexist flyers found at WCSU

The investigation continues into racist and sexist flyers found at West Conn's midtown campus.  Spokesman Paul Steinmetz says they were found Thursday on sidewalks and lawns outside of Fairfield Hall dorm and taped to windows in Higgins Hall classroom building.  One said  “It’s OK to be white,” while the other said “Islam is right about women.”  Photos of the flyers were sent to the FBI.  State and Danbury Police are also investigating.  West Conn President John Clark says the university is  treating this as an attack on the whole community and taking every effort to see that those responsible are caught and properly punished.  He added that all members of the community should feel comfortable, safe and secure at the University.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the university’s police at 203-837-9300. Reports will be confidential.

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Truck driver injured in crash into fencing, construction equipment

A truck traveling on I-84 in Newtown Thursday crashed through metal fencing, and then collided with several parked construction vehicles that had been staged in that area.  Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue responded to the area of Exit 11 and had to extricate the male driver.  The sole occupant of the truck was unable to move due to the crash, having sustained major injuries.  Firefighters stabilized the vehicle and had to work around the fencing and equipment.  The extrication took less than 20 minutes, and the patient was transported to the hospital.  It then took nearly 90 minutes to remove the vehicle from those it had crashed into.

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Newtown Parent Connection to host informational forum on vaping

Newtown Parent Connection is hosting an informational forum on vaping.  It's aimed at people of all ages and the organization encouraged students, parents the general community to attend.  The forum, called  “VAPING ME CRAZY!”, is presented by Michael DeLeon.  It will be held Thursday night at the Newtown Middle School Auditorium from 7 to 8:30pm.

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Brookfield hires firm to oversee school building project

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has, on the recommendation of the Municipal Building Committee, agreed to hire ARCADIS as the owner’s agent for the New School Project.  They will be responsible for overseeing the entire project on a daily basis for Brookfield and are charged with keeping all records needed to be fully reimbursed for the state grant. The Board Of Selectmen also appointed the Energy Advisory Board to advise the Municipal Building Committee about the most energy efficient and green ways to construct the new school.

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Ridgefield Police to host fundraiser for Women's Center

The Ridgefield Police Department is hosting a fundraiser for the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury.  The annual Cops and Robbers 5K at the Ridgefield Playhouse is set for Sunday.  Runners get a three-minute head start, and Ridgefield police officers follow. For every runner the officers “catch,” the Police Benevolent Association will donate $1 to the Women’s Center.  The race starts at 7:30am and will traverse roads, parking lots, stairs, fields, wooded trails, and the Rail Trail.

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Bethel Town Clerk to hold special hours for absentee voting

Bethel Town Clerk is providing information about absentee balloting for residents who will be out of town or unavailable during all voting hours on November 5th.  The Town Clerk's Office will be open on Saturday from 9am to noon for absentee voting.  Anyone who is an active member of the military, physically disabled, have prohibitive religious tenets, are working at the polls or have an illness that prevents voting in person--meets the criteria for allowable absentee voting. A copy of the ballot and applications are available on the home page of the Town of Bethel website.  

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Public hearing in Kent tonight on Streetscape Project

A public hearing is being held in Kent tonight on the Streetscape Project.  Town officials call it an infrastructure investment and a health and safety issues.  Sidewalks, like any other asset of the town, need maintenance and upgrading. 

Officials say tens of thousands of people walk on these sidewalks each year, but consistent with the aging demographic, some have have physical disabilities.  The sidewalks are uneven, inconsistent, leave many areas of Kent village unserved and are poorly lit.  They also do not conform to Connecticut handicap codes or requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

By doing the sidewalks and curbing on Routes 7 and 341 in concrete, the cost estimate is $3.43 million.  With concrete sidewalks and granite curbing, the cost is $3.8 million.  If only Route 7 is done in concrete and granite, the cost is estimated at $2.66 million. 

Tonight's hearing is at 7pm. 

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Early morning basement fire extinguished in Bethel

A basement fire has been extinguished in Bethel.  Stony Hill and Bethel Fire and EMS responded to Grassy Plain Terrace early this morning and found heavy smoke conditions and flames in the basement.  This was Engine 6’s first structure fire, since put into service.  Danbury fire Department responded with a ladder truck and crew.  The blaze was contained to the basement area.  West Redding Volunteer Fire Department and Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company provided station coverage.

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Congressman reminds residents about open enrollment for health care

4th District Congressman Jim Himes is reminding residents that the 2020 health care open enrollment period starts today. He notes that this enrollment period is shorter than in previous years.  Families and individuals in Connecticut buying their own insurance plans can find them on AccessHealthCT.com through December 15th.  A hotline has been set up to help selecting a plan and navigating the site, 1-855-805-4235.  Assistance is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to review coverage options and eligibility, and ultimately sign up for a plan.

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Wind knocks down tree limbs, utility wires and prompts school schedule changes

There was some strong gusty wind last night.  That brought down some tree limbs and power lines prompting road closures, power outages and school schedule changes. 

Easton-Redding-Region 9 closed

Monroe --90 minute delay

Newtown --closed

Oxford --2 hour delay

Region 14 --3 hour delay

Ridgefield- closed

There are thousands of power outages across Connecticut being reported by Eversource. One of the towns in this region hit the hardest is Newtown where more than 1,100 outages are reported.  There are several hundred other outages reported in each of the Greater Danbury area towns.   There was no immediate estimate for time of restoration because of the continued wind gusts.  Eversource crews can't get up in bucket trucks to evaluate the situation and restring utlity lines because of safety concerns.

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Brookfield gets update on progress of FEMA reimbursement

The FEMA reimbursement process is still ongoing for damage from the macroburst and tornadoes that ripped through Connecticut last May.  Brookfield Finance Director Marcia Marien gave an update to the Board of Selectmen at their meeting earlier this month.  

Special consideration was looked at when it  came to helping a specific animal that lives in the region. FEMA wanted to know what remediation plans were put in place before the trees were removed to help the one-horned bat.  If Brookfield cut down trees that had these bats in them, the town might not have been able to get reimbursement. 

Brookfield officials have been told that 3 of the 7 categories have been committed to the town, and they expect the rest of the money in the next month or so.  One department at FEMA is expected to transfer the debris removal category funding to another department this week to keep it moving toward Brookfield.  FEMA gives the money to the state, which is supposed to pass it along to municipalities. 

Brookfield is on target to get $2.8 million.  The town spent about $1.7 million, but FEMA gives towns $150 per hour for use of fire trucks.  When it comes to deciding on reimbursement for debris removal, FEMA requested specific information including diameter, type and height of trees, GPS of trees and where it was taken.  There were hundreds of trees to keep track of in Brookfield. 

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State Police release body cam footage from Southbury crash response

State Police have released body-worn camera footage of the State Police supervisor who responded to a crash involving Sergeant John McDonald, who allegedly ran a stop sign.  The force of the T-bone crash sent the other vehicle off the road, injuring 52-year old Lisa Conroy and her 19-year-old daughter Madison.  When Sergeant Shawn Prusinowski realized a State Police vehicle was involved in the collision, he retrieved his body-worn camera and began recording.  He is heard asking firefighters why  McDonald was still sitting in his damaged car.  One responded that he's injured and complaining.  McDonald was not given a Breathalyzer test on scene, but was transported to the hospital — where he refused treatment, also not being administered a blood-alcohol content test.

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EPA adds arsenic-contaminated neighborhood to priority list

KENT, N.Y. (AP) The Environmental Protection Agency has added a neighborhood near a former arsenic mine in Putnam County to the Superfund National Priorities List.

The site in the town of Kent was proposed to be added to the priority cleanup list last spring after elevated arsenic levels were found in soil near 10 homes. The site is downhill from a 19th-century arsenic mine.

EPA has removed contaminated soil on some properties and covered soil in some areas with wood chips or stone to prevent contact. Residents with elevated arsenic levels in their drinking water wells are using treatment systems or bottled water.

EPA has initiated a feasibility study to identify options to address residents' exposure in the long term. The study is expected to be completed in 2020.

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Kent Board of Ed seeks feedback on Regional Middle School Sports proposal

The Kent Board of Education is looking for resident feedback on the Regional Middle School Sports Proposal.  A special meeting was held on Monday to discuss this proposal and information was given by Region One Athletic Director Anne MacNeil.  The proposal is for sports for 7th and 8th-grade students, but will affect the regional and local school budget.  Anyone unable to attend the meeting can view the video and read through supporting documents included in the online survey.  Residents are asked to fill out the survey by this coming Monday. The Board of Education will review feedback at their regular meeting on Wednesday at 5pm.

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