Local Headlines Archives for 2019-12

GA man arrested for bilking thousands from Sherman resident in phone scam

A Georgia man has been arrested for bilking a Sherman resident out of thousands of dollars in a phone scam.  The Sherman Resident Trooper says the man, later determined to be 21-year old Kevin Ortega, claimed to be a government employee during an elaborate scheme back in February. 

After a several month long investigation, he was identified and an arrest warrant issue.  Ortega was arrested in Georgia on the 18th and extradited to Connecticut.  He was charged with larceny and criminal attempt of larceny and held on bond. 

Ortega was arraigned yesterday. 

The Sherman Resident Trooper’s Office is reminding people to be cautious when answering suspicious phone calls, and while opening suspicious emails and letters.

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New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department offers New Years resolution suggestion

As 2019 winds down, many people find themselves making new year’s resolutions. New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department suggests making a difference by becoming a volunteer.  There are a number of ways to volunteer with New Fairfield Fire Department. Training and equipment are free. Volunteer opportunities include as a Firefighter, Fire Police  to direct traffic, and teen members in training.  If volunteering at an active emergency scene is not a good fit, there are other opportunities at New Fairfield Fire Department such as administrative volunteers to help keep the fire companies operational. Duties can include finance, logistics, fundraising, recruitment and retention, vehicle maintenance and information technology.  About 70 percent of America’s firefighters are volunteers, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

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New Fairfield Library children's section to be renovated

New Fairfield Library is closing the children's library through later this week for renovations.  The children's section will be closed from Thursday through January 8th.  Library officials urge people to come in after the renovation and take a "shelfie" of the improved department.

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Danbury Fire Department issues dried out Christmas Tree safety reminder

The Danbury Fire Department is issuing a reminder for people who have live Christmas trees.  They should be gotten rid of when it is dry.  Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home. Fire Department officials also suggest bringing outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.

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Boy Scouts, BHS Navy JROTC to collect live Christmas Trees

Now that New Year's Eve is here, some people may be thinking about taking down the Christmas decorations. 

Anyone who had a live tree and is looking to get rid of it in Brookfield, Boy Scouts Troop 5 is accepting reservations for its 10th annual Christmas tree pick up service.  Scouts will pick up trees the first two Saturdays in January and recycle them by grinding them into mulch to be used for other projects. 

The Bethel High School Navy JROTC also has a Christmas Tree pick up program.  They will be collected and mulched on January 11th. 

For Brookfield residents, pick ups can be scheduled on the troop's website, www.brookfieldtroop5.com, and selecting January 4th or 10th.  A  $10 per tree donation is suggested.  The Scouts say while donations in any amount are appreciated, it's not required.  Trees should be free of ornaments and left in the driveway for pick up. 

In Bethel, the cadets ask that trees be placed outside by 9am because the truck will pick them up between 9am and noon. A $10 donation is suggested and goes toward Educational Programs for the cadets. Cash or checks are accepted. Checks should be made payable to “Bethel NJROTC Boosters” and left in an envelope taped inside the storm door or other accessible area.  Bethel residents interested in helping the cadets should E-mail: BETHELNJROTCBOOSTERS@GMAIL.COM or call 203-794-8600 Ext. 101, AFTER 6 PM and leave a message with Name, Address & Phone Number.

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Sleet storm causes accidents across Greater Danbury, Putnam County

The hail storm that moved through the Greater Danbury area last night wreaked havoc on the roads.  New Milford Police cautioned drivers that the sleet and rain caused slippery road conditions.  The Department of Public Works was out treating the roads, but motorists were urged to allow extra time while out driving last night.  Brewster Fire Department officials say the road conditions deteriorated rapidly.  The icy and slick roads caused multiple accidents in Putnam County last night.

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Danbury legislator predicts trucks only toll vote will fail in Jan.

There more doubt that a transportation special session in Connecticut would yield a solution to the question of how to fund long term transportation infrastructure improvements.  Danbury Representative Bob Godfrey told the Patch online that there are likely not enough votes for the Governor's trucks only toll plan.  He doesn't think it's constitutionally viable given the legal case over a similar system in Rhode Island.  The deputy speaker pro tempore says many of his colleagues are uncomfortable with the constantly changing proposal, adding that a commercial trucks tolls will make consumer items more expensive as a result of the additional costs.  Godfrey suggested to the publication that alternatives like a gas tax increase could be viable.

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Freshman lawmaker reflects on first term in office

As her first year as a State Senator comes to a close, Julie Kushner of Danbury is taking time to reflect on the past twelve months.  She is touting enactment of a paid family leave program that will soon allow workers to take up to twelve weeks off from work with job protection and a wage replacement benefit of up to $900 per week. When the program comes into effect in 2022, Kushner says Connecticut workers will no longer have to choose between caring for a sick family member and paying their bills.  She also touted raising the minimum wage for 332,000 Connecticut workers, about a quarter of the state’s workforce.  Kushner says she's also proud of legislation making sure that police officers, firefighters, and state troopers were afforded workers’ compensation coverage for post-traumatic stress injuries, and expanding the coverage to EMS and Department of Corrections employees.

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Allegedly intoxicated man arrested for mistaking neighbor home for his own

A Newtown man has been arrested after allegedly mistaking his neighbors home for his own while intoxicated.  Newtown Police told the Newstimes 23-year old Christopher Amlicke was arrested early on December 21st for criminal mischief and ordered to appear in court this Friday.  Newtown Police responded to a report of an active break in on Great Hill Road.  The homeowner said someone was in their garage, yelling and banging on the door.  Amlicke, who lives less than a half-mile away, broke a window to get into the garage.  He did not know anyone at the home.

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Danbury allows Aquarion Water Company to connect to water system

Danbury officials have entered into an agreement with Aquarion Water Company to provide permanent water supply to its water system.  Earlier this year Aquarion experienced low pressure and water quality issues associated with wells serving 51 customers in the Pearce Manor community.  The wells were abandoned and Aquarion temporarily interconnected to the system.  As part of the agreement, Aquarion acquired an easement over city land, which was needed to construct a meter pit and install a meter within the Danbury Harvest Hill water tank parcel.  Public Utilities Superintendent David Day provided background information on water quality with wells in the area and the request for the connection.  He is confident that the City has adequate water supply to accommodate the request.  Aquarion officials discussed the evaluation to rehabilitate the wells and a new water tank. 

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Bethel to host open house for Track & Field facility

There will be a public Open House for the new Bethel High School Track and Field Center on January 1st from noon to 2.  Visitors are asked to wear sneakers.  The first practice in the new Center was held last week.  The center will be available for use by physical education classes, other teams and the community.  There is a 200-meter track on the mezzanine level and space for the athletes to practice shot put, long jump, hurdling and other events on the lower level. Bathrooms and storage space are included.  The facility is behind the high school, by the old tennis courts.

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Brookfield Police seek to ID person in connection to criminal investigation

The Brookfield Police Department is looking for the public's help in identifying a person wanted for an ongoing criminal investigation.  Brookfield Police posted a clear security video picture to their Facebook page of a woman leaving Best Buy.  Anyone who recognizes the woman is asked to contact Officer Ryan at 203-740-4143, or the Brookfield Police tips line at 203-740-4120.

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Mice in engine compartment blamed for Monroe car fire

A car fire in Monroe was quickly extinguished yesterday afternoon.  Stevenson Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to Monroe Turnpike and closed the southern end of the road.  A tanker arrived for backup water supply.  The fire's origin was attributed to mice in the engine bay as the vehicle is not driven often. The scene was turned over to Monroe Police

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Medical examiner involved in Sandy Hook, other crimes dies

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, the former Connecticut chief medical examiner whose office examined the bodies of victims of the state’s most infamous homicides, including the children and educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has died. He was 67.

Carver died Thursday night at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, said Dr. James Gill, current chief medical examiner. Carver’s death was natural, he said, but the exact cause was not immediately clear.

Carver, a portly man known for his dark sense of humor, joined the medical examiner’s office in 1983 and headed the office from 1989 until his retirement in 2013.

His most difficult day, he said, was the massacre at Sandy Hook in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012, when 20 children and six adults were gunned down.

“I’ve been at this a third of a century,” he said during a media interview after the school shooting. “It’s probably the worst I have seen or the worst that ... any of my colleagues have seen.”

He also investigated the killing of Helle Crafts, of Newtown, whose husband, Richard, fed her body through a woodchipper in 1986. Before the trial, Carver put a euthanized pig through one so jurors could compare the bone fragments with a few ounces of evidence that prosecutors said were the remains of Helle Crafts. His work helped convict Richard Crafts of murder.

Carver, who lived in Old Saybrook, also was a key investigator in the case of serial killer Michael Ross, who killed six women in eastern Connecticut and two in New York in the 1980s and was executed in 2005. He spent more than 17 years on the case at victims’ burial sites and testifying in trials and retrials.

Carver played a prominent role in numerous other murder cases, including the Cheshire home invasion in 2007, when a mother and her two daughters were killed after hours of being terrorized by two convicted burglars now serving life in prison.

Carver was born in St. Louis, raised in Skokie, Illinois, and attended his first year of premed studies while a high school senior in an accelerated program at Brown University. He did his residency and pathology training at the University of Chicago and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

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Bethel CERT Co-Coordinator loses short battle with cancer

Bethel Emergency Management & Fire Marshal’s office has announced the death of volunteer Teresa Patterson Fogel.  The volunteer Co-Coordinator of the Bethel Community Emergency Response Team fought a very short battle with cancer.  Bethel officials say her dedication to so many volunteer service organizations including the American Red Cross, Relay For Life, and CT State Animal Response Team shows the depth of her love of community.  They say Teresa and her family are in their thoughts during this difficult time.  Family will be accepting condolences on Sunday, January 5th, from 1PM to 4PM at Green Funeral Home in Danbury. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place Monday, January 6th at 10AM at St. Mary Church in Bethel. Burial will follow at St. Mary Cemetery.

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New Years Day hikes planned at 15 Connecticut state parks

Guided hikes will be offered on New Year’s Day at 15 parks and recreation areas across Connecticut, including in Southbury.  The free First Day Hikes, which average one or two miles, are being hosted by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. It’s part of America’s State Parks’ First Day Hikes initiative, which is taking place in all 50 states on Wednesday.  Kettletown State Park hosts a 2 mile, moderate hike at 1pm, meeting at the trail head for Miller Trail.  This hike will offer views of much of the tornado damage from May 2018.  Dogs are allowed on leash.  The goal of the First Day hikes is to encourage people to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the new year with friends and family. Parks staff and volunteers will lead the hikes.  First Day Hikes began more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park south of Boston.

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Blood drives scheduled in Greater Danbury area

The need for blood doesn’t pause for the holidays. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, more than 1 million units of blood could be transfused in the United States.  Despite this constant need, busy holiday schedules make it difficult for the American Red Cross to collect enough blood to meet those patient needs.  The Red Cross says donors of all blood types, especially type O, are urgently needed.  There are two upcoming blood drives in the Greater Danbury area.  One is on Monday the 30th at the The Crowne Plaza, on Old Ridgebury Road in Danbury, from 8am to 1pm.  The others is the day of New Years Eve, Tuesday the 31st at Congregational Church of Brookfield on Whisconier Road from 9am to 2pm.

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New Fairfield real estate and personal property taxes due soon

The second installment of real estate and personal property taxes for the Town of New Fairfield on the assessment list of October 1st 2018 are due January 1st.  Bills were originally mailed in June.  Motor Vehicle Supplemental bills are also due.  If payment is not made on or before February 3rd, the installment due becomes delinquent and subject to interest.

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Himes touts 2019 Congressional App Challenge winner

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says the 2019 Congressional App Challenge winner is a freshman at Wilton High School.  Avni Gupta created the app, the Food Allergy Scanner. 

The program uses a cellphone’s camera to scan food item barcodes to notify the user if there are any present allergens associated with the user’s profile. Her winning app will be featured in the U.S. Capitol building and can also be seen on House.gov. 

Himes says the advanced programming and digital skills students are learning are preparing them to succeed in future STEM careers. This annual challenge is hosted by the House of Representatives to inspire high schoolers to explore coding with hands-on practice and to include underrepresented communities and women into the technology field. In its third year in Connecticut’s Fourth District, the competition drew a record number of entries.

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Members of Americans for the Arts re-elect local woman to Board

Members of Americans for the Arts have re-elected Lisa Scails as a member of their advisory council for Private Sector Council.  The executive director of the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut will advise their staff on developing programs and services that will build a deeper connection to the field and the network membership.  She became Executive Director of the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut in 2007.

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Hayes defends vote for drug cost cutting bill over alleged predicted job losses

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is responding to a social media ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce alleging the House-passed Lower Drug Costs Now Act would result in 3,000 Connecticut jobs to be lost.  Hayes is defending her vote in favor of the bill. 

She says it's fair that big pharma, or the Chamber, wouldn't like the vote, but that she doesn't work for them.  Hayes says cutting jobs is a choice, and these companies can redistribute their 163% profit margins in a way that saves jobs. 

According to the non-partisan congressional budget office, the measure will save Americans $500 billion over the next ten years. 

For those who say it is not up to government to negotiate the price of drugs, Hayes says pharmaceutical companies cannot be trusted to self regulate. In 2019, the price of 3,400 drugs were boosted on average 17% or 5 times the rate of inflation. Instead of using their multi-billion dollar tax breaks to either lower prices or invest in research, Hayes says Big Pharma used the money for stock buybacks and multimillion dollar bonuses for CEO’s and executives.

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Culvert replacement project in Newtown will continue through winter

A culvert replacement project in Newtown will continue for as long as possible through the winter.  The state Department of Transportation wants the work done by the end of April on the 3-million dollar project along Mile Hill Road.  Construction is being done in two phases allowing two-way traffic through the work site.  A 40-foot-deep trench will make way for a seven-foot-diameter reinforced-concrete culvert to carry Deep Brook beneath the road.

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Special Town Meeting set in Ridgefield on bridge replacement

A Special Town Meeting has been scheduled in Ridgefield to appropriate money for a bridge replacement project.  The 109-year-old Depot Road Bridge was closed in October due to safety concerns.  The proposed $455,000 is the town's 20-percent share of the cost to replace one of the entrances to Branchville Train Station from Route 7.  The Town Meeting will be January 8th. 

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DOT delays I-84 ramp project in Newtown

There been a one-year delay in the start to a Department of Transportation project in Newtown.  The Newtown Bee reports that the $17.7 million I-84 exit ramp reconfiguration is now not slated to start until the Spring of 2021. 

The exit 11 project will add a new on-ramp. 

The delay is due to stormwater drainage and public utility relocations.  Spokesman Kevin Nursik told the Bee that they assumed stormwater capacity could be added to a drainage line on Wasserman Way, but an analysis showed that couldn't be done.  The drainage system redesign took several months. 

The project will also widen and generally improve adjacent state roadways to alleviate chronic traffic congestion on Berkshire Road, Route 34, and  Wasserman Way, which is not posted with route markers.  The Bee reports that the new on-ramp extending from Berkshire Road will allow motorists to travel in either direction on I-84, eliminating the need for those motorists to pass through two signalized intersections to enter I-84.

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Connecticut to receive about $5 million to secure elections

Congress has approved $425 million for states to enhance election technology and make election security improvements.  Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says the funding will arrive in time for the 2020 election.  While she doesn't know the exact amount, Merrill expects to receive about $5 million. 

Merrill noted that a month ago, Secretaries of the State were informed by intelligence agencies, the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Homeland Security and Attorney General that foreign adversaries were again trying to attack election infrastructure.  She called it an unprecedented announcement and a clear warning. 

Previous federal grants have supported Connecticut purchasing new voting equipment, security enhancements and training for officials, nationally-recognized auditing procedures, and improvements to voting accessibility. 

Merrill plans to launch a new campaign called Trusted Info 2020.  It's aimed at letting people know their vote will be counted accurately so they can have faith in the system.  Her office will be creating posters and taking other steps to make sure people know if they have questions, there's a place to find accurate information. 

Senator Blumenthal advocated for not only more funding, but also has helped lead the fight for more funding for voting systems, has helped lead several measures to protect the integrity of our elections, and hold accountable anyone who attempts to interfere in our democratic process. These measures include legislation that would make it a federal crime to hack any voting system used in a federal election, create a duty to report attempts by a foreign agent to interfere in an election, require federal cybersecurity standards for voting systems, and provide states with funding to strengthen election cyber defenses.

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Sign repairs to prompt highway lane closures in Danbury

Sign repairs continue on I-84 in the Danbury area.  The state Department of Transportation will have daytime lane closures westbound between Exits 5 and 4.  The work is expected to be completed by January 31st.  The right lane closures are scheduled between 8am and 4pm during the week, with Saturday closures possible.  All of the work is weather permitting.  Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will be used utilized to guide motorists through the work zone.  Modifications or extensions to the schedule may be necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions. 

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DEEP training lifeguards this weekend for Squantz Pond, other state park beaches

It may be winter, but the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is already looking ahead to the summer. There are training session this weekend for potential lifeguards at the state parks.  Lifeguards cover 8 of the state parks beaches including Squantz Pond in New Fairfield.  Weekends and holidays are mandatory.  Applicants must meet the minimum age of 16 for lifeguards, 18 for lifeguard supervisors.  Hours of work are 10am to 6pm, 5 days per week, for a total of 40 hours.  Lifeguards must also participate in physical and rescue skills training; perform general maintenance tasks and other related duties as required.

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Congressman reminds residents about open enrollment for health care

4th District Congressman Jim Himes is reminding residents that Access Health CT, Connecticut’s official health plan marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, has extended the Open Enrollment Period for healthcare coverage.  It now runs until January 15th. Connecticut residents must enroll in coverage or renew their coverage by that date for healthcare coverage effective February 1st. 

Himes says Access Health continues to offer a choice of health plans providing the comprehensive coverage at affordable prices that Connecticut families need.  He added that financial assistance is available for those who qualify as many individuals and families will receive a tax credit. 

Connecticut residents with pre-existing conditions cannot be charged more based on the coverage they select, and comparing plans while renewing coverage can save families money for coverage beginning next year.

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WestConn master degree program recognized

The WestConn master’s degree program in applied behavior analysis has received highest honors in a survey by the research group Intelligent.com.  It was named the nation’s best master’s program for students seeking to pursue careers as Board Certified Behavior Analysts. 

Overall program rankings were based on the strength and reputation of the university’s curriculum, experience in online education, affordable cost for degree completion, graduation rates, and projected return on investment through post-graduation employment.  The survey said that as mental health awareness increases and developmental disorders are diagnosed earlier, the demand is rising for Board Certified Behavior Analysts. 

The Seattle-based organization provides guides and rankings designed to inform student choices of degree programs at higher education institutions nationwide.  It also cited the online Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program at West Conn as the fourth most affordable nationwide--among 34 institutions evaluated in the 2020 survey.

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Vehicle fire causes sound of explosion heard in New Fairfield

A vehicle fire in New Fairfield caused explosions heard across the town last night.  New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to Cottontail Road shortly before 9:30pm and confirmed the cab of an oil truck fully involved.  The front tires blew out as they were overcome by fire and caused an explosion.  The flames were quickly extinguished to avoid the tank being compromised by the blaze.  The cause is under investigation by the New Fairfield Fire Marshall.  No injuries were reported.

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Car vs telephone pole crash reported in Brookfield

There was a minor car accident in Brookfield yesterday morning involving a telephone pole.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to the single car crash on Ironworks Hill Road, just south of the fork at Old Middle Road. The call came in from a firefighter and dispatcher en route to work for the day.  Fire police shut down the road to ensure scene safety for responding crews as well as Eversource and the tow truck.  The driver was evaluated by EMS and went to the ER in a private vehicle.

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Judge sides with New Milford in Century Brass case

New Milford has won its lawsuit against the firm contracted to clean up the former Century Brass site.  The judge also dismissed the counterclaim lawsuit filed by Standard Demolition Services that the town withheld information in the bid.  Cramer and Anderson law firm says New Milford was awarded nearly $490,000.  Standard Demolition plans to appeal the ruling. 

The suit was filed in January 2016, just months after Standard Demolition was hired to demolish the 320,000-square-foot former brass mill building.  The site was contaminated with asbestos and PCBs.  New Milford officials claimed removing the steel was just part of the job, the company said the town had to take care of the remediation. 

The site was vacant for more than 30 years before New Milford began cleaning it up in 2000, a year after acquiring the property.

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass said: “This is a great vindication for the Town. Although this litigation was anxiety provoking, time consuming, expensive and complex, it was necessary. Standard’s demands left us only two choices: either litigate or give in to Standards demands for money. We did not give in. The Town Council was continually briefed in detail as the case progressed, and had strong faith in our bidding and contracting process and in our attorneys. Our victory illustrates the good-faith and fairness of that process. Now Standard owes us $489,732 plus court costs.” 

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Waterbury man caught with drugs near stolen car

Police searching for a stolen car in Danbury found a Waterbury man with drugs in his possession.  Officers were in the area of Wildman Street and Triangle Street last Tuesday in the area where the car has been reported stolen and located it on Chestnut Street in the early morning hours.  Police approached Thomas Maurice Collier, of Waterbury, who ignored warnings to stop putting his hands in his pockets.  the 28-year old was frisked out of concern there was a weapon, and officers found 50 folds of heroin and 18 bags of crack packaged for sale.  Several hundred dollars cash, marijuana and an additional 15 grams of crack were also found. Collier was charged with sale of illegal drugs, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of less than a half-ounce of cannabis.  He was released on bond and is due in court January 16th.
 

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Conn. Police Chiefs Association presents Legislative Award to local lawmaker

The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association has presented their Legislative Award to a local lawmaker.  Newtown Representative JP Sredzinski received the recognition for his efforts on behalf of the law enforcement community during the 2019 session.  The annual award is given to legislators who demonstrate support for the police through their votes or public remarks.  The ranking member on the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee says more than ever, it’s critical to provide police with the resources and support needed to keep communities safe.  CPCA President Keith Mello says Sredzinski has for many years been a leader on many critical inclusions and exclusions on legislation affecting law enforcement, and knowledgeable about how certain legislation would affect the law enforcement community.

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Southbury Police, Eversource cautioning people to scams

Southbury Police and Eversource are cautioning people to some scams and deceptive marketing techniques.  Scammers can be relentless—using new tactics every time they make a phone call. Some can spoof the Caller ID so it shows the Eversource corporate number,  but it’s not them on the other end. Others have used text messages to contact customers.  Tell tale signs of a scam include demanding immediate payment by pre-paid debit card, threatening to disconnect power or asking for a copy of your energy bill.  The Federal Communications Commission received more than 230-thousand complaints of unwanted calls in 2018, and recent data predicts that over half of all phone traffic in 2019 will be scam calls.

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Sherman resident arrested for leaving scene of accident

A Sherman resident has been arrested for leaving the scene of an accident.  The Resident State Trooper responded to Route 55 westbound on Thursday afternoon.  Police say while 60-year old James Bryer vehicle was passing by the victim vehicle, his tail gate opened and a large object fell into the roadway striking the victim. After the collision, Bryer evaded the scene, but was located a short time later.  He was charged with operating without a license, failure to carry insurance and operating an unregistered motor vehicle.  Bryer was also charged for failure to secure a load.  He was released on bond and ordered to appear in court on January 7th.

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Bethel man arrested for allegedly stealing over $50,000 worth of jewelry

A Bethel man has been arrested by Wilton Police for allegedly stealing over $50,000 worth of jewelry from a town home.  33-year old Lucio Balthazar Gonzales was working as a handyman to prepare the home for sale when the alleged theft happened in February.  Detectives obtained search warrants for his DNA to compare to the evidence left at the scene, and it was a match.  Gonzales was charged early this morning with 1st degree larceny.  He was held on bond for arraignment today.

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Wrongful death lawsuit filed against New Milford Block & Supply

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against New Milford Block & Supply.  The family of 29-year old Daniel Kendrick filed the suit last week, seeking at least $15,000.  The Florida native became entangled in a conveyor belt system at the New Milford factory 6 months ago.  The Newstimes reports that the suit alleges that “carelessness and negligence” led to the death and that the company failed to “exercise care to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition".  OSHA cited 21 serious, one repeat and three “other” violations in its inspection of the company, and imposed nearly $150,000 in fines.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, New Milford Block & Supply was previously cited for several OSHA violations in 2018 and 2013.

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Wheelchair accessible vans used by non-profit vandalized in Bethel

Seven wheelchair accessible vans used by a non-profit have been vandalized in Bethel.  The Ability Beyond vehicles, used  transport clients with disabilities to and from Day and Work programs were rendered undriveable on Saturday night.  Thieves stole all of the catalytic converters from the engines of the vans parked at the Ability Beyond offices on Berkshire Boulevard. 

Repairs can't be completed until after the new year. 

Bethel Police are investigating, going through security camera footage and asking anyone with information to contact the Department. 

President and CEO Jane Davis says transportation is a critical service the non profit provides, and without it, many clients would not be able to participate in their programs.  As a nonprofit, Davis says any unexpected expense hurts, and having vans out of service during the busy holiday season has created a challenge for them.

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New Fairfield officials change Drop Off Center permits

New Fairfield officials are changing how Drop Off Center Permits are issued because the vendor that the Town used for online payment is no longer in business.  Online payment is currently unavailable.  Permits will also be stickers, rather than the paper permits used in the past year.  That change was based on feedback from residents and staff.  New Fairfield residents looking to purchase a permit will need to do so by check at Town Hall in the Land Use Department, or by check or credit card at the Drop Off Center.  New Fairfield officials say they hope to have the issue resolved in the near future.  This year, passes will be issued for a 6 month period from January 1st through June 30th, to align the Drop Off Center with the municipal fiscal year. On July 1st , annual passes will be available.

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Volunteer firefighter accused of setting fire to recovered SUV, reporting it stolen again

A Stepney volunteer firefighter is accused of setting fire to his recovered SUV and reporting it stolen again.  Police say 38-year old Matthew Bittner of Monroe told officers that he didn’t want it any more because of where it had been. 

The SUV, registered to his girlfriend, was first reported stolen from a driveway in Monroe in October.  It was recovered the following day in Bridgeport and picked up by Bittner.  Monroe Police contacted him about it being located burning in a Newtown parking lot.  He told police it must have been stolen again. 

The Connecticut Post reports that text messages between him, another man and his girlfriend included disparaging, racial comments about Bridgeport residents. 

Bittner was charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, tampering with evidence, making a false statement and insurance fraud.  His friend, 32-year old Joseph Bogdanyi of Seymour was charged with conspiracy to commit arson and making a false statement.  Each were released on bond for court appearances on January 2nd.

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Town meeting to be held in Brookfield about possible land purchase

A Town Meeting will be held in Brookfield for residents to decide about buying nearly two acres of land that could be used to expand the Police Station.  Brookfield officials are considering purchasing the property for $535,000.  The Boards of Selectmen and Finance have approved the idea.  First Selectman Steve Dunn told the Newstimes that the property was always intended to be part of the town campus.  The family that sold the other land, kept this parcel and gave the town first right of refusal for 20 years. The 20 years have past and the new owner, Joseph Grimes, is offering to sell it to the town.  The land is zoned as a contractor yard.   Town Equipment could be stored in the garage while the town rents the house to the current tenants.  The money would come from the town’s capital nonrecurring fund and rentals.  The town meeting is January 6th at 6:30pm and will be followed by the Selectmen meeting.

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Public pool to open in Danbury

Connecticut Institute For Communities is opening its public pool at the Danbury Community Center.  Extensive renovations to the pool were recently completed.  It's located in Malloy Hall on Boughton Street, the former Danbury YMCA. 

Pool operations will begin on Saturdays, starting December 28th, later to be expanded to additional days of the week as demand warrants and resources allow.  All pool services will be available for a membership fee of $1 per month, per person, through March 31, 2020. 

CEO Jim Maloney says having a pool in downtown Danbury fills a critical need as it's the only pool in the city to serve the general public and also to offer swimming and water-safety lessons to young people. 

The renovation work was funded by a grant from the State of Connecticut, with swimming pool operational grant support from The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation. Multiple structural and safety enhancements were made to the pool, including installing new drains, pumps and skimmers, and repairing a large crack in the bottom of the pool. A special pool air-handling system was also installed. 

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Road in Ridgefield could be renamed to avoid confusion

A road in Ridgefield could be renamed to avoid confusion.  There are two Lookout Drives, nearby to one another, but not connected.  Fire Chief Jerry Myers told the Board of Selectmen that an ambulance or a fire truck could end up looking for a house number on the road, and not find it because that number house is on the other road with the same name.  Residents told him the intention was to connect the two, but it never happened and sent a petition about the double names.  They could be named Lookout Drive North and Lookout Drive South.  The Board of Selectmen took no action on the proposal at their meeting earlier this month.

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New Fairfield Economic Development Commission updates Selectmen

Members of the New Fairfield Economic Development Commission has updated the Board of Selectmen about what they've been able to accomplish since being formed in April.  A community survey yielded over 500 responses.  Myke Furhman says the strategies they've come up with are in line with the needs and wants of townspeople. 

The committee is continuing community outreach, letting business owners know they exist.  They held a business owners happy hour and hope to continue to get all business owners in the same room, in the absence of a Chamber of Commerce. 

2020 initiatives includes filling open storefronts, streamlining approvals in the permitting process, and increasing collaboration with area towns to make sure as a region they're all working together.  The committee wants to make it known that New Fairfield is open for business. 

Furhman says the committee should work with Connecticut to take advantage of any free programs or grant opportunities.  He noted that the state Department of Economic and Community Development has free strategic planning.  Selectman Kim Hanson asked the committee to consider how results from initiatives are tracked.

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Monroe family displaced from home due to fire

A family has been displaced by a fire in their Monroe home.  Volunteer fire companies responded to upper Hattertown Road shortly before noon yesterday to find heavy fire showing on the first floor.  Crews made an aggressive interior attack, fighting fire on the first and second floors and in the attic that continued to flare up.  The original part of the home was balloon frame construction dating to the Civil War era.  Inside the home, there was an unusual layout and black-out smoke conditions.  A lack of nearby hydrants, and ice also made a challenging situation.  Trumbull and Easton firefighters also responded and several tanker trucks from Newtown supplied water. No residents or firefighters were injured during the 4 hour operation. The cause is undetermined and remains under investigation by the Monroe Fire Marshal. The residents will be staying with family.

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Mechanical issue causes heavy smoke at Putnam County jail

There was a possible fire reported at the Putnam County Sheriff's Jail Saturday morning.  It caused a heavy smoke condition.  The source was located in the elevator machine room and found to be a mechanical failure. Carmel Fire responded, found and addressed the issue quickly. 

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New Milford family displaced by a fire

A New Milford family has been displaced by a fire.  Water Witch Hose received several 911 calls about a possible structure fire on Candlewood Lake Road North Saturday night.  The structure was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived and extra tankers were called in from Brookfield, Gaylordsville and Northville. 

Several more calls inundated the dispatch center since the flames could be seen from most of the Route 7 valley. 

The family was not home at the time and no injuries to firefighters were reported. 

Some 30 firefighters battled icy conditions and freezing temps to bring the flames under control after an hour and a half. A partial collapse of the structure made for an extensive overhaul but units were able to clear the scene after three hours, to begin restocking the trucks back at Headquarters. 

Bridgewater provided coverage at the Water Witch firehouse while Kent, Washington, Hawleyville and Stony Hill back filled for Mutual Aid. The road was briefly closed by New Milford Police for the tanker shuttle and Public Works kept it from icing up.

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Wilton man charged for hosting underage drinking party

A suspicious vehicle complaint in Wilton led Police to find a large underage party.  On Friday night, officers responded to a home on Sturges Ridge Road.  One female was transported by ambulance to Norwalk Hospital for intoxication.  Police say the homeowner, 59-year old Patrick Cropper, was arrested after it was determined he was home and aware of the alcohol consumption. Cropper was charged with Serving Alcohol to Minors. He is due in court on the 30th.

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Pedestrian struck and injured in car accident

A pedestrian was struck and injured by a car in Danbury on Friday night.  Police received a call for a serious injury motor vehicle collision around 9pm on Federal Road, near the intersection with White Street.  A preliminary investigation shows that a Hyundai Sonata was traveling southbound and struck a pedestrian in the roadway. The pedestrian was transported to Danbury Hospital’s Emergency Department due to the injuries sustained.   The accident remains under investigation by the Traffic Division. Anyone who may have witnessed the collision or anyone with information is urged to contact Sgt. DeRocco at (203) 797-2157.

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Parking meters, garages to charge state sales tax soon

A new state law is set to take effect January 1st, which will lead to increased parking fees in Danbury.  Meters and garages will be subject to the state's 6.35 percent sales tax rate.  The Danbury Parking Authority is slated to discuss how to implement the change at its January meeting.  Director Debbie Pacific told the Newstimes that she expects the raise will be just enough to cover the taxes.  Hourly meter rates in Danbury have not increased since 2007, while monthly permits went up slightly in 2018.  The authority operates mainly on user fees and does not get funding from the city. 8-percent of revenue comes from violations and notices. Last year, the authority’s expenses exceeded $1 million, but revenues were just under $1 million.

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Bethel Police Department receives reaccreditation

The Bethel Police Department has achieved their second Law Enforcement Accreditation Award from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.  Captain Stephen Pugner and Lieutenant Michael Libertini went to Kentucky last month to  appear before the Commission for reaccreditation.  Reaccreditation was awarded for the next four years. 

There are only 19 municipal police departments in the State with this accreditation. 

Bethel Police say Lieutenant Heather Burnes made the process possible through her hard work. 

Department officials say the accreditation agency is the “gold standard in public safety.” Some of the benefits include increased community advocacy, strong support from government officials, better defense against civil suits, reduced risk and liability exposure, and greater accountability.

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Investor sentenced to 7 years in prison for Ponzi scheme

SHARON, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut hedge fund manager has been sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison for an investment scheme that prosecutors say swindled millions of dollars from his friends and family.

Alvin Wilkinson, 61, of Sharon, was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Illinois after pleading guilty earlier this year to one count of wire fraud. The Sharon resident was also ordered to pay more than $8 million in restitution.

Prosecutors say Wilkinson convinced at least 30 people, most of them his friends, family and colleagues, to invest approximately $13.5 million in two funds he founded: Chicago Index Partners LP and Wilkinson Financial Opportunity Fund LP.

Wilkinson, who is a former director of the Chicago Board Options Exchange, claimed he would use the money to invest in options and futures, using a trading strategy that would generate profits for this investors, regardless of market conditions.

Instead, prosecutors say, Wilkinson frequently used the money to cover personal expenses. He also used more recent investments to pay out earlier investors in a Ponzi-type scheme. Prosecutors say Wilkinson started the scheme around 1999 and continued it until 2016.

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Danbury Public Works does more paving this year than past years

The Danbury Public Works Department was able to do more paving this year than in past years.  Director Antonio Iadarola says it was possible because the City Council allocated surplus money to his Department in the spring, before the budget for the current year was approved.  He says that allowed crews to start earlier. 

Iadarola notes that Winter is historically brutal on the roads. 

The Department prioritizes the damage and will fit that into available funds in the following Spring, if there's money available.  He encouraged the City Council to continue the practice of allocating surplus money toward paving to keep roads in a state of good repair. 

Iadarola says crews do go out in the winter to repair potholes, but is constantly evaluating available technology to get the job done.  He notes that they've started an aggressive crack sealing program as maintenance so the City isn't paving after 5 years, but after 10 or 15.

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Conn. Senators tout passage of bill to crack down on robocallers

The U.S. Senate has passed legislation to crackdown on robocalls.  Senator Richard Blumenthal led the way on the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act.  The TRACED Act increases penalties for robocallers, prevents carriers from adding charges for blocking, and promotes call authentication and blocking adoption. Senator Chris Murphy says he's heard loud and clear from constituents who are sick of being inundated with illegal robocalls.  The measure he cosponsored has been sent to the president’s desk for his signature.

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Conn. officials visit Newtown High School, praise football champs

Connecticut officials this week took a trip to Newtown High School to congratulate the Nighthawks football team on their state championship.  Governor Ned Lamont says the state couldn't be more proud.  He says the video of that last play has been seen around the country and called it an inspiration.  Lamont says after the storm sometimes the sun is the very brightest, and told the team that they gave the state something to look up to.  Republican State Senator Tony Hwang and Democratic Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan were also on hand for the visit. 

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Southbury Police issue reminders for last minute holiday shoppers

As holiday shoppers look to take advantage of the great deals, Southbury Police Department cautions that would be criminals look to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers.  Tips to keep in mind including not leaving personal belongings unattended and be alert.  Southbury Police says con-artists are known to try and distract shoppers to take their belongings.

Southbury Police have issued a few reminders for last minute holiday shoppers out over the next couple of days. 

Officers will be patrolling shopping districts in town, but suggest people park in well-lit areas, lock the car and don't leave valuables in clear view.  Shoppers should also be alert and avoid using the cell phone while walking through parking lots.

When shopping with children, make a rule that you must always be able to see them and they must always be able to see you.  Parents should teach children to ask store personnel or security for help if they get separated, and never leave children alone in a vehicle.

 

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Bridgeport man arrested for suspicious person incident that prompted Masuk lockdown

A Bridgeport man has been arrested for the suspicious person incident that caused a lockdown at Masuk High School in November.  32-year old Edwin Galvez-Lemus was going up to and speaking with female students. 

The school resource officer started questioning him, but he fled at a high rate of speed, dragging her several feet and hitting her with the car's side mirror.   At first, the Connecticut Post reports that Galvez-Lemus told the officer he was waiting for his boss.  Then he said he was lost and refused to provide ID.  He eventually drove on a lawn on Monroe Turnpike and fled on foot into a wooded area. 

He was charged with assault on a public safety officer, trespassing, breach of peace, engaging police in pursuit and reckless driving. 

The Guatemalan citizen had been deported once, was back in the country illegally and being sought by ICE.  He was arraigned Thursday, held on bond and the case was continued to January 13th.

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Newtown seeks volunteers to serve on boards, commissions

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal is looking to fill openings on local boards and commissions.  All of the volunteers needed to fill the vacancies should be Republican or unaffiliated Newtown Voters.  The groups are the Library Board of Trustees, the Design Advisory Board, the Economic Development Commission and the Conservation Commission.  The design position is as an alternate.  Recommendations are due by January 17th.

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Himes touts House passage of SALT deduction restoration bill

The U.S. House has passed the Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act, which would raise the cap on state and local tax deductions that were instituted in the 2017 Tax bill. 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says the SALT cap disproportionately injured Connecticut families. In 2015, 483,790 Connecticut tax filers claimed more than $10,000 in these SALT deductions and are adversely affected by the tax bill provision. The average SALT deduction in Fairfield County before the change was $33,400, meaning families who itemize deductions are on average being taxed twice on an additional $23,400 of income each year. 

Connecticut officials estimated that the change in SALT deductions raised tax liabilities for Connecticut taxpayers by $2.8 billion.

By eliminating the cap entirely for two years, Himes says more money will be put back into the hands of Connecticut workers, who already pay more than their fair share of federal taxes. 

This bill will require action in the Senate before it heads to the President’s desk and becomes law.

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Conn. man charged for crash, police pursuit

A Connecticut man has been arrested following a crash and police pursuit in Newtown.  Officers responded to a report of drivers involved in a two car crash on South Main Street last Wednesday night, arguing.  Before police arrived, one car left the scene.  Officers located the vehicle and tried to pull the driver over, but 41-year old Ronald Morgan kept going.  Police boxed in the car about two miles down the road.  The Stratford man was charged with engaging police in pursuit, evading responsibility, driving under the influence, following too close, and failure to obey traffic control signals.  He was released on bond for arraignment a week from today.

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Danbury applies for grant to start Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Program

Danbury officials are applying for a Preventative Health and Human Services Block Grant.  The $92,000 would be used to start a Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Program.  Health Director Lisa Morrissey says the outreach program would be to reach people not already in a prevention program.  She says in Danbury there are a lot more older adults, people who have limited English language proficiency, and people of African American or Asian descent.  Morrissey says they are underserved, and this grant would allow the Department to bring prevention opportunities directly into the community.  Morrissey says community health workers would go to cultural centers and churches to get people interested in classes that would be hosted at a couple of sites throughout the City.  Participants would need to meet certain CDC criteria.  It's an evidence-based program.

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Documents added to court file about Danbury vs. Dorothy Day

20 items including hundreds of pages of letters and transcripts, have been submitted to the courts as the case of Dorothy Day versus the Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals moves forward.  The Roy estate sued over a cease and desist order issued by the City's Zoning Enforcement Officer in 2016.  The City maintains that Dorothy Day renewed their one-year special permit for the Spring Street facility once in the mid-80s, and then has been operating without a permit ever since.  The trial is slated to be held in June, in the Hartford Judicial District.

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Conn. education officials take next step to make community college free

The Connecticut Board of Regents has approved the “Pledge to Advance Connecticut,” or PACT plan.  It's the next step in making community college free for full-time students.  Participants must be Connecticut high school graduates and full-time students attending college for the first time. 

They must also fill out a FAFSA and accept all federal grants.  The program is designed to help students bridge the gap by covering what federal aid can’t. 

Bethel state Senator Will Haskell says it's true that nothing is free, this requires an investment by the state.  But he says the investment will not only pay off for students, but Connecticut’s workforce.  Haskell added that tuition costs will not be the thing that holds people back from earning a degree. 

Lawmakers are expected to come up a funding source for the program during the next legislative session.  The plan is to pay for the initial $6.5 million investment with funds from ILotto, a yet-to-be-launched program to purchase lottery tickets via cell phone. 

Registration for the PACT program will begin in July. 

Enrollment has gone down at 10 of Connecticut’s 12 community colleges as the high price of higher education has forced students to enter the workforce or leave the state.  Early estimates suggest the PACT program will attract 1,000 additional students to Connecticut’s community colleges.
 

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Hanukkah, Yule to be celebrated in Bethel Sunday

A menorah will be lit in Bethel on Sunday night.  The event will take place at PT Barnum Square at 6pm.  Organizer Bill Hillman says the first night of Hanukkah and Yule will both be publicly celebrated for the first time in Bethel.  He fundraised for a large, outdoor Menorah.  He was able to raise enough to also hand out 50 tin Menorahs, with boxes of Hanukkah candles, on a first-come basis to anyone who wants to light a Menorah for the rest of the Hanukkah celebration.  There will be traditional Hanukkah music and he plans to hand out a limited supply of Gelt and dreidels to kids.  The celebration will then move to Yule and the Winter Solstice with song and drumming.  This is the second year more than just a creche has been on green.  There are now also several holiday banners.

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Ribbon cut on newly renovated senior center in Carmel

The ribbon has been cut on the newly renovated senior center in Carmel.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell officially opened the Office for Senior Resources Carmel Friendship Center at the Donald B. Smith Government Campus yesterday morning.  She says a vision, collaboration and a lot of hard work have afforded Putnam County the opportunity to provide a more than $1-million renovation project to area seniors.  Former State Senator Terrence Murphy and current State Senator Pete Harckham, procured grant monies through the State and Municipal Facilities Program, administered through the Dormitory Authority of New York.  Odell says additional funding from Putnam County, along with the workmanship of the Department of Highways and Facilities personnel made the project possible.   

The facility was once a school and now it’s a senior center.  Odell said the challenges of the structure took a little longer than anticipated. As a school, the building had narrow hallways and small classrooms. 

The 6,000 square foot Friendship Center now includes a restaurant-sized dining room where more than 100 seniors can be comfortably served, an exercise room, a game room with a billiard table, and a sitting area where seniors can relax around a gas fireplace.  A nutrition office, Medicare counselor and case worker will also be on site.

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Local municipalities issue severe cold weather reminders

The State has implemented the Severe Cold Weather Protocol through 9AM Saturday morning.  New Fairfield officials say anyone in need of a warm place to stay during the day, can go to the Senior Center or Library today or Friday during normal hours.  Any New Fairfield resident who knows of someone who in need of warm shelter at night is asked to call 2-1-1.

Ridgefield Emergency Management officials are offering a few reminders as the first deep cold sets in this season.  Cold can kill and they urged residents to dress in layers, cover skin and limit time outside as the temperature drops.  They suggest layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, which will keep you warmer than one bulky sweater.

Danbury officials are issuing a reminder to property owners.  Responsibility for clearing sidewalks of snow, and making sure they're not ice-covered, does not fall on the City.  Danbury officials say keeping them clear is not only important for all residents, but especially for children walking to school.

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Danbury crews start work on Marjorie area dog park

Danbury Public Works crews have been out in the area of Marjorie Reservoir getting a parcel of land readied for the spring.  The property will be turned into a dog park.  In response to a resident question about a board to handle the park, Mayor Mark Boughton said the City doesn't put together a formal board for liability reasons, but rules will be posted.  He noted that the experience with the Miry Brook Dg Park has been positive with the same format. The City did a survey and modeled that park on rules in other communities in Connecticut.  Anyone who experiences issues is urged to call Animal Control.

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Excavation continues at Ridgefield home where possible Revolutionary War soldier remains found

Excavation work continues at a Ridgefield home where the remains of three people, possibly Revolutionary War soldiers, have been found.  Archeologists, historians, and scientists held a press conference yesterday on the findings that could be connected to the Battle of Ridgefield from April 1777. 

Two of the skeletons were buried side by side, and another was about 15 feet away.

(Sketch of remains found on Dec. 3)

State archeologist Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni says he's 85 to 90 percent sure the bones date back to that time.  He cautioned that there are a lot of things that could disprove the hypothesis, though he has yet to find any of those things.  Ballantoni called it a hasty burial of three adult men, two of whom look to have been stripped of their clothes.  That practice was the British custom at the time for infantry men or non-officers in the army. 

So far there hasn't been any evidence of trauma, so Bellantoni is unsure of what the cause of death was.  But he says lab tests may reveal if there was a saber cut on any of the remains. 

No musket balls or any other weapons have been discovered on the site.  There's also no evidence of coffin parts. The remains were found buried about 3 feet deep. One has a series of buttons from the neck to abdomen. The buttons are corroded and being cleaned up. Five are brass buttons, with no insignia.  There was also a textile attached, with a piece of possible leather found in upper neck area.  A piece of pewter was also found. A lot of analysis to do.

The State Medical Examiner's Office has estimated that one of the men was 5 feet 11 inches.  The commingled bodies likely did not fight on opposing sides.  Local historian Keith Marshall Jones III says the British would not bury anyone but their own.

Jones says the most likely outcome is that they were British infantry men, rank and file.  The British Consulate in Boston has been notified.  Bellantoni wants to ensure they are reinterred with full military honors.  His preference would be that they will be interred in Ridgefield with their final resting place marked.

Bellantoni is applying for a National Parks Service grant under its American Battlefield Protection Program.  That could lead to an archeological survey of Main Street and other locations near the battle site.

Gary Aronsen, a biological anthropologist and supervisor of Yale’s University’s biological anthropology laboratories says their nationality is a challenging aspect to evaluate, but says the bones are in good enough shape to try to determine that.  He says there are tests that can be done to determine if someone was born here or if they immigrated here during the early part of American history.

Ground penetrating radar has not turned up any other evidence.

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Newtown, State officials urge residents to prepare for cold snap

Newtown’s First Selectman and the Emergency Management Office urge residents to be prepared for severe cold weather and ask that they take action to protect pets.  Newtown officials are asking that residents check on any elderly or frail neighbors to be certain they are doing OK in this weather. 

There are several municipal buildings in town open during the daytime for people seeking relief from the cold including the municipal center, the community center, senior center, library and Edmond Town Hall.

As bitter cold temperatures and wind chills impact the state over the next several days, Governor Ned Lamont activated the state’s Severe Cold Weather Protocol.  This will be in place through 9am on Saturday. This is the first time this season that the protocol has been enacted.

 The protocol directs staff from the relevant state agencies to coordinate with United Way 2-1-1 and Connecticut’s network of shelters to ensure that the most vulnerable populations receive protection from the severe conditions. 

The Department of Social Services, Department of Housing, and Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services coordinate with 2-1-1 and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, along with community-based providers, to provide transportation for people seeking shelter.

The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security activates its WebEOC communications network, an internet-based system that enables local, regional and state emergency management officials and first responders to share up-to-date information about a variety of situations and conditions. The system is used to monitor capacity at shelters across the state, enabling 2-1-1 to act as a clearinghouse to assist in finding shelter space for those who need it.

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Jericho Partnership to reopen seasonal overflow overnight homeless shelter

Because of an unexpected and growing need to provide for Danbury’s homeless population this winter, Jericho Partnership will reopen as a seasonal overflow shelter.  The building at 13 Maple Avenue will open on Christmas night, for men, to ensure that everyone who needs a bed has a warm, safe place to sleep.  Jericho President Carrie Amos says this is a different capacity than how they operated previously.  This will only be an overflow shelter, with only overnight hours. The city’s Community Care Team is supporting the venture.  The 15-bed facility will stay open through at least the end of March, operated primarily by volunteers.

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Somers school bus driver cited for DWI while on the job

A New York school bus driver has been arrested for aggravated DWI under Leandra's Law.  State Police arrested 61-year old William Mendez of Somers yesterday on the felony charge.  He was driving a bus from Somers Intermediate School and transporting students in town when he was stopped last Monday.  An investigation by New York State Police revealed he was under the influence of alcohol, with a Blood Alcohol Content at .22 percent.  Leandra's Law is a beefed up penalty for driving under the influence when there are children in the vehicle.

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Police investigate alleged robbery at Days Inn on Route 7

Redding Police are investigating an assault and robbery that happened in the parking lot of the Days Inn on Route 7.  A woman reported sitting in the back lot on Thursday, when a man and woman got into her car.  The motel employee told police that the man took 100-dollars from her.  Police have not released the identity of the woman, but say the victim recognized her as a former friend from Torrington.  An arrest warrant is being submitted to Danbury Superior Court at this time. The man was described as a slender white male who appeared to be in his late 20’s with a short mustache and goatee and dark brown hair.  The case remains under investigation.

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Man shot by Police changes plea on two charges

There's a change of plea from the man accused of assaulting people before being shot by a Danbury Police Officer.  31-year old Aaron Bouffard initially pleaded not guilty to the 4 charges stemming from the incident at MCCA rehabilitation center, but two of the charges were changed and he changed his plea.  The 1st degree breach of peace charge was reduced to 2nd degree, and the threatening charge was increased from 2nd to 1st degree.  Bouffard was also charged with assault and disorderly conduct.  Bouffard had left the Old Ridgebury Road facility before officers arrived, leading to a two-hour manhunt.  Police say he had two large knives and did not comply with commands to drop them.  Bouffard was shot by Danbury Police Officer Alex Relyea. He is due back in court on January 7th.

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Police close investigation into Puppy Kisses sales

The police investigation into a larceny complaint involving a Danbury pet store has been closed with no arrests made.  Danbury Police received a complaint in July that 20 to 30 puppies were missing from Puppy Kisses on Federal Road.  Police determined that store employees had sold the dogs under false pretenses for $100 each.  The shop has since closed.  Police spokesman Lt Mark Williams told the Newstimes that he believes the court exercised prosecutorial discretion.  The owners of Puppy Kisses were sent an eviction notice shortly after the flash sale for failing to pay rent on time.

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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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Southbury Police ticket driver for failure to clear snow, ice from car

Southbury Police are reminding drivers to clear snow, ice and frost from cars before heading out on the roads.  Officers on patrol yesterday spotted a vehicle with just a small patch of ice removed on the drivers side windshield and the rest of the vehicle was covered in thick ice.  The driver was stopped for slow and erratic driving. There was little visibility and Southbury Police say the motorist posed a danger to themselves and others on the roadway.   The driver was cited and issued a $120 fine.  

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Charter Revision Commission hearing tonight in Bethel

There's a public hearing and special Charter Revision Commission meeting scheduled in Bethel tonight.  The meeting is for consideration of final deliberations and comments from the hearing on the proposed charter changes.  Some of the previous discussion has been about adding a new department, separating the Department of Public Works from the Department of Public Utilities.  Responsibilities for management of public water and sewer departments would be moved.  The public hearing is at 7pm, followed by a Charter Revision Commission meeting at 8pm.

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Political leaders call on 5th Congressional District candidate to withdraw from race

Political leaders from both parties are critical of a crude tweet posted by a man seeking the 5th Congressional District GOP nomination.  Robert Hyde tweeted about Kamala Harris dropping out of the Democratic Presidential race, using sexually explicit terms.  House Minority Leader Themis Klarides and Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano both called for Hyde to end his candidacy.  The tweet has since been deleted, but Fasano says the behavior and words were disgusting, morally reprehensible and not representative of the Republican Party.  He also called it beyond disgraceful and offensive.   Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nancy Wyman says this kind of insulting commentary, as well as others on his Twitter feed, has no place in any public discourse and any candidate who engages in it has no business seeking elective office.

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Newtown restaurant agrees to make changes to settle ADA complaint

A settlement agreement has been reached by the U.S. Attorney's office and a Newtown restaurant.  Market Place Kitchen & Bar has agreed to make changes to comply with ADA regulations to resolve allegations that the restaurant and its premises was not fully accessible for individuals with physical disabilities.  The Market Place and its landlord, Mesa Contractors will provide accessible dining tables throughout its restaurant, ensure equivalent service in the bar area, access to the patio area, and that the restrooms meet accessibility requirements.  They will post accessible signage.  Mesa Contractors will also increase accessible parking spaces in the parking lot at 32 Church Hill Road.  U.S. Attorney John Durham noted that the owners and landlord cooperated throughout the investigation.

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Local Police Chiefs providing insight for regionalizing Public Safety Answering Points study

A public safety study by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments is under way.  Towns participating in the study are Ridgefield, Redding, New Canaan, Weston and Wilton.  The first component is to look at the potential for regionalizing Public Safety Answering Points, a system used for handling 911 calls. Input from the five participating town's police chiefs and dispatcher staff is providing insight for the study, administered by Winbourne Consulting. A report is expected for January. Additional components of the public safety study are expected in 2020.

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Small rally in Bethel calling for impeachment of President

There was a small protest in Bethel calling for impeachment of the president.  About 40 people turned out at the intersection of Greenwood Avenue and Grassy Plains Street.  This was one of hundreds of rallies held across the country yesterday.  They were organized by the advocacy organization MoveOn.  Others held in Connecticut were in Stamford, Fairfield, and New Haven.  The rallies were scheduled on the eve of the House of Representative's debate on two articles of impeachment against the President today.   According to a tally compiled by The Associated Press, a majority of House members have said they will vote to impeach Trump, which would lead to a trial in the Senate, likely in January.

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New Milford to spend $110k on cyber security

The New Milford Town Council has agreed to transfer $110,000 to the IT department for new equipment and software.  The money would go to bolstering cyber security in New Milford.  The item was discussed in an executive session.  Mayor Pete Bass says that was done for security reasons.  An audit of the town’s information technology systems and practices recommended the purchases for the town government and the police department.  Bass said information of town employees who switched to state insurance plans last year was released online.  School employees who switched were not affected. New Milford is offering free credit card monitoring to its employees for two years as a precaution.

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Danbury Homeless Shelter staff to work with the state on rapid rehousing

Over 28 nights from the end of October through the second to last week in November, nearly 81-percent of beds available at Danbury homeless shelter were used.  There were 560 bed nights available and only 20 beds were left over that time period. 

The Community Health team met with various community leaders and shelter staff to address the cold weather plans for the shelter. 

Councilman Bob Taborsak asked if it was possible to add the number of bed nights used, which are part of state records.  He gave the example of one night earlier this month, with the sleet and snow, and 6 people being turned away from Dorothy Day and the overflow shelter.  He hopes every bed at the City Shelter was used, if available, on a night like that. 

Health Department Director Lisa Morrissey says they've conducted interviews to hire additional shelter employees and are currently going through the hiring process.  Danbury Health and Human Services is part of the Fairfield County Emergency Shelter Learning Collaborative and has been working with other area shelters to improve outcomes. Staff recently attended a training, held by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, that outlined a plan to improve housing placement rates. 

Morrissey says the state is helping with rapid rehousing, and making apartments available in other municipalities for people not originally from Danbury.  If someone is coming to the Danbury shelter who last had permanent housing in New Milford or Bridgeport for example, the state is working to find them housing in those locations. 

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Ridgefield Planning Commission meeting on bed & breakfast proposed postponed

Tonight's Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission meeting and public hearing has been canceled.  The Commission was set to continue the hearing into a special permit for 114 Main Street to be turned into a Bed and Breakfast. 

The historic eight-bedroom home sits across from Cass Gilbert’s fountain and next door to the historic Keeler Tavern.  The proposal calls for a four-suite bed and breakfast called The Fountain Inn. 

No exterior changes are proposed for the residentially-zoned home in the Historic District. 

Guests would access the home through a keypad lock at the front door and a keypad on each suite.  The house on the one-acre property was built in 1740.  According to the project file, check-in would be at 3 pm, check-out at 11am.  No pets or long-term stays would be permitted. 

The family that owns the home provide daily housekeeping service, breakfast and afternoon coffee/tea and snack.

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NY lawmaker proposed border tolls at Connecticut

As the toll debate continues in Connecticut, one New York State Senator has threatened tolls on all roads leading into Connecticut.  Senator Peter Harckham proposed the tolls in response to Governor Ned Lamont's plan for a gantry on the 1-mile stretch Connecticut owns of Interstate 684.  Harckhm proposed tolls on Route 116 in North Salem, on Route 35 and 123 in Lewisboro, and Routes 124 and 137 in Pound Ridge, as well as a toll on the Hutchinson River Parkway in Rye Brook

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Bond Commission expected to approve funding for Ridgefield Library

Ridgefield State Senator Will Haskell is praising the expected release of funds from the State Bond Commission to benefit the Ridgefield Library Association. Through the State Library Construction Grant, $40,400 will go toward a remodeling project to finish the library’s planned outdoor roof terrace space.  The Bond Commission is scheduled to meet tomorrow.  The funds will be matched by a private donation to complete the project.  Haskell says the terrace would provide  a scenic haven in a building already known for its beauty.

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Newtown celebrates football title, but continues to grieve

On the seventh anniversary of the massacre that killed Tricia Pinto's son Jack at Sandy Hook Elementary School, she found herself celebrating the state football championship by the team of her other son, Ben.

Ben Pinto plays linebacker for the Newtown High School Nighthawks, who won the Class LL state championship 13-7 on a 36-yard touchdown pass Saturday from Jack Street to Riley Ward as time expired. The title was the first for Newtown since 1992.

“It’s always so difficult to explain what it feels like to hold grief in your heart while celebrating these precious moments,” Tricia Pinto said Monday. "Our grief sometimes gets lost in this story of survival. That's not our story. Our story is of loss and of love."

Players and coaches didn’t publicly address the tragedy. There was some talk before the game about perhaps not playing or trying to get the date moved.

Pinto was not the only affected player. Jack Street was a fourth grader at Sandy Hook in 2012. Everyone on the team, everyone in the town, was affected in some way, said Lorrie Rodrigue, Newtown’s school superintendent.

“We knew obviously there would be challenges, obviously emotional challenges on that date,” she said. “So we did, the principal and the athletic director, we consulted not only the team, but the family of loss who plays just to make sure we heard their voices. They wanted to play.”

Football has been a part of the Pinto family’s healing process since the shooting. Jack Pinto was buried in the jersey of his favorite player, New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz, who later came to the family’s home, visiting and playing video games with Ben and his friends.

Cruz, now retired from the league and working as an ESPN NFL analyst, said about 1,000 people sent him the video clip of Newtown’s winning pass, and it brings goosebumps to his skin as he watches it over and over.

“For football to be able to be that kind of escape for them, to provide that moment for them, It’s just incredible,” he said. “I just want to congratulate them and Ben and the whole town for staying strong. I just remember how strong they were. And this is a testament to how strong they actually are.”

But Tricia Pinto said she wants it understood that while they celebrate the win for Ben and his team, it does little to offset the pain of what happened. Their grief is ever present, she said.

“That heaviness in our hearts always returns,” she said. “To be honest, as the weekend came and went, we’re just missing Jack," she said.

As for Ben, she said, he would just like to be able to be normal. But he does appreciate the town’s support.

“I come off the field, I look into the crowd and I can barely see an empty seat,” Ben Pinto told Hearst Connecticut Media shortly after the final play. “Knowing that we have the whole town just right there behind us, it’s unbelievable.”

The town is making arrangements to hold some type of event to celebrate the championship, said Dan Rosenthal, Newtown's first selectman. But, that he said, should not be linked to what happened seven years ago.

“For our community, 12-14 will always be about what was lost and not what was won,” he said. “But what those boys accomplished, in a game that just happened to be played on 12-14. It was amazing.”

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New Milford resident displaced by fire

A New Milford resident has been displaced from their home by a fire.  The blaze in the Danbury Road RV was extinguished yesterday.  It was at Faith Church.  The American Red Cross is helping one adult with immediate needs.  In addition, a recovery envelope containing information helpful to families recovering from a fire, including tips on cleanup; notification of important contacts; dealing with damaged items and more was provided.  Those affected will connect with Red Cross caseworkers in the coming days to work on a longer-term recovery plan.

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Newtown man sentenced on explosives-related charges

A Newtown man has been sentenced on three explosives-related charges.  70-year old Larry Bailey entered a guilty plea and was sentenced December 6th to five years’ probation.  He was charged with possession of explosives, bomb manufacturing and reckless endangerment for the incident at the Newtown Village in March of 2017.  At that time, Newtown Police said two pipe bombs were discovered at the mobile home park when officers went to investigate Bailey's report of vandalism to his car.  The devices contained substances that were highly flammable when kept contained.  The area was evacuated and no injuries were reported.  The Newtown Bee reports that conditions of probation include strict court-imposed limitations on his ability to travel.

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Conn. Supreme Court to hear case involving Redding, Georgetown Land Development Co

The Connecticut Supreme Court is set to take up a taxation and foreclosure case involving Redding and the Georgetown Land Development Company.  The town and the Georgetown Fire District brought the initial legal action to foreclose municipal liens on 51 acres of land almost entirely owned by GLDC, which started but hasn't finished a mixed-use development on the site. 

The defendant, RJ Tax Lien Investments, argued that the liens they have on the property should take priority to the town's and the fire districts.  A trial court ruled in favor of Redding and ordered a strict foreclosure, and RJ Tax appealed. 

The Supreme Court will hear arguments at 11am. 

The  Georgetown Special Taxing District was created by special act to help with the acquisition and financing of the public infrastructure and facilities needed for the development.  The special act granted the district "all the powers of collection and enforcement of taxes as held by municipalities.  Districts created under state law have equal lien priorities, but this special act said its liens "shall take precedence over all other liens or encumbrances except a lien for taxes of the town of Redding." 

The trial court determined that the language meant the liens are equal in priority to the town's liens and not superior to them.  The court noted that the interpretation by RJ Tax of the special act would lead to an absurd result that would both empower and incentivize GLDC, the district's sole taxpayer and voter, to render the town's taxes virtually unenforceable by levying, but not paying, a tax against itself. 

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Driver charged for striking Putnam County Sheriff Investigator

The SUV driver who struck a Putnam County Sheriff's Investigator out directing traffic this weekend has been charged.  The Investigator was transported to Danbury Hospital by ambulance for treatment of serious, but non-life threatening injuries.  Carmel Police issued the driver three summons for Speeding, Failure to Exercise Due Care When Approaching an Emergency Vehicle and Disobeying a Lawful Order of a Police Office.  The name of the driver was not immediately released.

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Danbury firefighter canned food drive continues

Danbury Firefighters Union Local 801 canned and non-perishable food drive continues.  The collection benefits the Salvation Army's holiday basket program and food pantry.  Donations can be dropped off at career stations on New Street, Osborne Street, Eagle Road, South King Street, and Kenosia Avenue.  Donations can also be dropped at the Fire Marshal's Office in City Hall.  The collection ends Monday. 

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WestCOG drafts Regional Plan of Conservation and Development

The public comment period ends soon for the Regional Plan of Conservation and Development.  Western Connecticut Council of Governments has published a draft plan, including comments given during two public information meetings held earlier this month.  The public comment period ends January 4th.  The draft has been posted at plan.westcog.org.  The plan covers topics like demographic trends, housing, infrastructure, the economy, natural resources and community character.  A public hearing will be held January 16th at 12:30pm at WestCOG's regular monthly meeting at 27 Governor Street, Ridgefield.

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Metro North planned NY parking fee increase scrapped

Plans to increase parking fees and eliminate free Saturday parking at Metro North lots in New York have been scrapped.  The Journal News reports that several MTA board members objected to average annual increases of 14 percent at the 25 parking lots.  Several said they were blindsided by the proposal and learned about it through published reports days before their scheduled board meeting.  Neal Zuckerman told the publication that riders, especially those of northern Westchester and Putnam counties, are already overburdened, paying between $6,000-$7,500 a year to the MTA.  The proposal was pulled from the agenda after the uproar.

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Ridgefield man accused of beating mother enters plea

The Ridgefield man accused of beating his mother with a baseball bat has pleaded not guilty.  According to court records, 21-year old Colin Donnelly was charged with assault.  He entered the plea Thursday in Danbury Superior Court and was ordered back in court on January 21st.  He allegedly attacked the 55-year-old woman inside their Peaceable Street home on November 15th.  The victim was transported to Danbury Hospital with what were said to be serious injuries.

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Downed wire in Monroe burns hole in roadway

Firefighters in Monroe have a few words of caution about downed power lines.  On Friday evening, firefighters responded to a possible transformer explosion at Monroe Turnpike at Highland Drive and found a primary wire down, arcing and burning in the roadway. 

The burning wire left a deep hole in the roadway, which needed to be repaired before traffic could pass.  After power was disconnected, firefighters dumped approximately 150 gallons of water in the hole, which proceeded to quickly boil and turn to steam. 

Monroe fire officials say that shows the danger in these power lines and remind people that when there are lines on the ground, stay away and call the power company.  

While firefighters were on the scene, a resident in a nearby house noticed smoke in their residence.  Crews checked and found no fire, but smoke from the burning wire was entering the house.  

Eversource was able to restore partial power while repairs were being made.

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House fire in Brewster rekindles early Saturday morning

There was a house fire in Brewster early Saturday morning.  The blaze was reported on Fox Hollow Road around 2:30am.  New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call for mutual aid.  Firefighters went back to the scene shortly before 6am Saturday on a report that the fire rekindled.  The main area of concern was the peek of the roof.

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New Fairfield lawmaker to take turn bell ringing for Salvation Army

New Fairfield State Representative Richard Smith will be volunteering with the Salvation Army tomorrow.  He'll take part in the red kettle drive to raise money for local residents in need, by ringing the bell at the New Fairfield Stop and Shop.  All proceeds collected will be donated directly to the Salvation Army.  Smith will be bell ringing from 5pm to 6pm.  He says for any resident who can't make it during that time, but still wants to donate to the Salvation Army can also donate Army’s website, www.salvationarmyusa.org, also lists other ways to do good this holiday season; for example, by donating cars, clothing, and household goods, or volunteering for the community.

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Putnam County Sheriff Investigator hit by SUV while directing traffic

A Putnam County Sheriff's Department member was struck by a car while directing traffic on Saturday.  Sheriff Robert Langley reports that an Investigator was on Route 6 in Mahopac shortly after 7:30am when the Investigator was hit and injured by an SUV.  Due to the injuries and the mechanism of injury, the Investigator was transported to Danbury Hospital by the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department’s Ambulance where it was determined that the injuries did not appear to be life threatening. The accident is currently being investigated the Carmel Police Department.

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Two car crash in Newtown prompted hour-long road closure

A two-car crash in Newtown was reported Friday with possible extrication.  Sandy Hook Fire and Rescue Chief Bill Halstead was first on the scene and confirmed the 2-vehicle collision in the area of Philo Curtis Road.  Both drivers were able to self extricate. Firefighters checked the drivers, and also spread Speedi-Dri on fluids.  Neither driver was transported to the hospital. The road was closed until wreckers could tow both vehicles.  The street was closed for a little more than an hour.

 

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Brookfield officials sign off on funding for new ambulance, fire truck refurbishing

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has signed off on using unspent money in fire lines in the budget for a new ambulance.  Money from the reserve fund and the fire company will also be tapped.  There's an increased call demand, which led to the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company purchasing a new one for $262,500.  It replaces a 2010 ambulance with 103,000 miles on it.  Assistance Chief Andy Ellis told the Selectmen that it's broken down twice with patients on board, one who was critical.  Refurbishing the fire company’s tower truck will cost $325,000.  The 100 foot ladder is needed as development grows in the town center area, and the current truck was purchased in 2001.  That truck is getting its safety standards updated and is out of service until May. 

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Timeline detailed for Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission is not meeting this month.  The group is starting to work on a timeline for getting the former SAC field site opened as the memorial.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says once the project is through advanced design, with better cost estimation, there will be public meetings so residents can view what is intended to be built.  The process with the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and Legislative Council will happen in July or August in order to get it on the November ballot.  Contractor bids are slated to be due by the end of October.  Construction would take 48 weeks, including winter work.  The permitting process with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers can happen after the referendum.  The next Commission meeting will be held January 9th. 

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?Newtown football title brings joy on painful anniversary

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - A high school football team in Newtown, Connecticut, delivered a celebration on the seventh anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The Newtown High School Nighthawks won the Class LL state championship Saturday on a 36-yard touchdown pass as time expired to beat Darien 13-7. Linebacker Ben Pinto's brother Jack was among the 20 first graders killed on Dec. 14, 2012. 

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House passes bill aimed at lowering prescription drug costs

The U.S. House has passed the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says the legislation meant to address the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs also includes the Supporting Trauma Informed Education Practices Act.  That portion of the bill directs money recouped from drug companies involved in the opioid crisis to grants supporting mental health care for children in schools. This legislation was sponsored by Hayes. 

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Elections complaint against Bethel Superintendent dismissed

A complaint against the Bethel Superintendent has been dismissed by the State Election Enforcement Commission.  The group ruled that language in Christine Carver's newsletter did not violate state statute by advocating for approval of the budget.  Tax watchdog group Bethel Action Committee claimed in the complaint that the newsletter used “laudatory language” in favor of the budget. The newsletter listed aspects of the town budget supporting the schools. State statute prevents local officials from influencing a referendum by using town funds or a community notification system.

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Boughton delivers State of the City Address, announces bond package

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has delivered his State of the City Address.  In it, he announced the Danbury is financially in good shape.  Over the last 18 months, more than 1,700 new businesses have been registered in the City.  Major crime in Danbury is down 20-percent year over year. 

He says a new $63 million dollar bond package will be presented to the City Council next month, called SNAPP.  It stands for Schools, Neighborhoods, Parks and Planning. 

Boughton plans to expand capacity at some elementary schools, and request $18 million for paving and drainage work.  He also wants $7 million to expand parks and improve facilities in the parks.  Energy efficiency projects at the schools and other city buildings are also being proposed. 

Boughton says much of the bonding would be reimbursable by the State of Connecticut. 

$21 million would go to build classrooms at the Osborne Street facility as an interim step while the 2020 task force continues its work.  Another request, likely in November, will address long term resolutions to the space challenges at the schools.

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Woman files lawsuit against Danbury Officer who shot her

A lawsuit has been filed by a woman against the Danbury Police Officer who shot her and killed her son during a confrontation last year.  Linda Arbitelle claims Alex Relyea used excessive force.  The lawsuit does not seek specific monetary damages.  45-year-old Paul Arbitelle was fatally shot after investigators say he came at Relyea with a knife.  His 74-year old mother was seriously wounded.  The state's Attorney ruled Relyea's use of such force was both reasonable and justified under the circumstances.  The suit says the conduct was not objectively reasonable, shocks the conscience of the community and offends hardened sensibilities. 

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Flags ordered to half-staff in remembrance of children, educators killed at SHS

Governor Lamont is directing U.S. and State flags to be lowered to half-staff today, in remembrance of the 20 children and six educators who were killed 7 years ago at Sandy Hook School.  Lamont says he will never forget the innocent, gentle children and devoted adults whose lives were taken that terrible morning.  He says the tragedy that occurred that day is one of the worst in our history, but in its aftermath, there's been an unprecedented outpouring of humanity, hope, and kindness.

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Danbury man charged in $1.1 million embezzlement scheme

A Danbury man has been charged in a $1.1 million embezzlement scheme.  A federal grand jury returned the 10-count indictment charging 50-year old Anthony Teixeira with wire fraud offenses Wednesday and he was arrested yesterday.  Teixeira oversaw the Danbury branch of the Hartford-based printing Joseph Merritt & Company.  Court document allege that he defrauded the company and its customers by presenting sales orders, or test sales orders, as though they were actually invoices and accepting payment from customers who thought they were paying the company for the work.  He also allegedly stole printing-related inventory and sold it online.  Teixeira allegedly manipulated invoices to deceive JMC’s systems into thinking the company had sold the inventory.

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Second arrest made DHS shooting threat texts

Another arrest has been made by Danbury Police into text messages sent to Danbury High School students alleging they would be the targets of a shooting.  Police charged a 14-year old Danbury girl yesterday with threatening and breach of peace. 

Days before Thanksgiving, Danbury Police were alerted to a threatening text thread that was forwarded to several students and parents.  The messages asked students if they'd be attending school on November 27th and suggested they would be the “first” target of a shooting. 

The messages appeared to have been sent through a “spoofed” telephone number, with the source unknown to the recipient. 

Danbury Police say the department, as well as the Danbury School Administration, will continue to vigorously investigate all serious threats made to any students, faculty or schools.  A 17-year-old Danbury male was arrested on December 5th on the same charges.

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Newtown marking 7 years since shooting at Sandy Hook School

This weekend, Newtown will be marking seven years since 20 children and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook School.  

There will be a stepped up police presence at each school in the district today, with additional police at Sandy Hook School starting Thursday evening.  On Saturday, the 14th, an Interfaith Service open to the community is being held at 9 am at Newtown Congregational Church.  St. Rose of Lima will hold services for the community at 9:30 am.

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission is once again moving forward on design plans.  The initial project had a hefty price tag that members didn't think would pass in a referendum.  

A scaled back design, still keeping elements the Commission liked, was discussed at their most recent meeting.  The budget is now about $3.7 million.  

According to the proposed timeline, residents would vote on that dollar amount during the 2020 election.  If approved, the memorial is slated to open on December 14th 2021. 

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Danbury man accidentally shoots himself, ditches gun in front of Police Station

A Danbury man who accidentally shot himself in the leg, ditched the gun in the grassy area by the Police Station and went inside to get medical help, according to Danbury Police. 

27-year old Ross Avery Markey was charged Monday with unlawful discharge of a firearm, reckless endangerment, carrying a piston without a permit, interfering with an officer, illegally altering the marks on a firearm and possession of a controlled substance for the  October incident. 

Police told the Newstimes that Markey came into the police station with a gunshot wound near his knee, saying the injury happened while trying to adjust the gun in the driver's side door pocket.  He allegedly lied to police when asked where the gun was at that point.  He claimed to have given it to a friend, and then that he stashed it somewhere. 

The gun was found, cocked and loaded, on the grass near the main entrance the following day by an observant investigator.  The serial number had been filed off. 

When police searched the man's car, officers found cocaine.  Markey was released on bond, arraigned and ordered to appear back in court next Friday.

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Danbury Library slated to get state grant for Jr. Floor renovation

The Danbury delegation of state lawmakers is touting an expected $100,000 grant for Danbury Library.  When the state Bond Commission meets next Wednesday, the group will decide on the grant in aid to modernize and update the Junior Floor of the Library, for its first major renovation in 20 years. 

They say this grant will help preserve and expand the library’s capability for public service. 

The purpose of the grant is to optimize space available for Danbury’s growing population, purchase new, sturdier shelving and replace the Story Corner Curtain with a glass wall for safety and visibility.  The library sees 1,000 visitors a day and offers an average of 70 Junior programs per month.  The delegation says more programming in a more comfortable space will help more families to enjoy the library's resources.  

State Representative Bob Godfrey says a library is not only where books live, but also a community center.  The grant also allows for the addition of a Sensory Space, the first of its kind in a Connecticut library.

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Informational meeting in Kent tonight on proposed cell tower

A Public Informational Hearing will be held in Kent tonight about a proposed cell tower.  The hearing is at 7pm in the large meeting room of Kent Town Hall.  Representatives from Homeland Towers will be presenting information about the proposed tower Facility and the two alternate candidate sites - 15 Bald Hill Road and 93 Richards Road. After their presentation, there will be time for questions and comments, but residents are asked to sign-up on the sheet provided at the meeting.  The Technical report submitted by Homeland Towers is available on the Town of Kent website.

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Nuvance Health provides update to community following merger

During a meeting yesterday of community members and employees, Nuvance Health officials touted the benefits of their recent merger.  An independent firm found the hospitals have complied with nearly all 25 state requirements in the merger agreement. The Connecticut Post reports the hospitals have allowed community representation on their boards and kept generous charity policies, among other stipulations.  But Nuvance failed to notify the Office of Health Strategy before a change in its charity policy. The policy is adjusted automatically each year based on the federal formula for poverty levels. The hospitals have added services and hired top experts in cancer, surgery and neuroscience, which officials say have brought innovation and efficiencies as staff learn from each other.

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Danbury Music Centre tickets 'The Nutcracker' performances start tonight

An annual tradition in Danbury starts tonight.  The Danbury Music Centre’s 52nd production of the Nutcracker features 4 performances this year.  Tickets are still on sale for the shows.  The Danbury Symphony Orchestra will perform the music of Tchaikovsky. There are more than 200 dancers and snowflake singers in the cast.  The Snowflake Chorus comes out during the end of Act 1 and sing for just one scene.  They will also perform during intermission.  Executive Director Barbara Adams Jaeger says the performance showcases talented dancers from throughout the greater Danbury area.  Tickets can be purchased at the Danbury Music Centre on Main Street.  Tickets are also being sold online through their website.

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Marine Corps Reserve in Ridgefield holding Toys for Tots charity drive

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in Ridgefield is currently collecting toy donations for its annual Toys for Tots charity drive, with donations accepted through Sunday. Toys collected will be distributed to those in need through church groups, social services departments and children’s hospitals, among others.  With an estimated 30,000 expected toy donations this year, and more than 34,000 toys distributed last year, State Senator Will Haskell says this drive is slated to make the season special for thousands of children. Donation locations include American Legion Post 86, Wilton Fire, the Wilton WMCA, Greens at Cannondale, Wilton High School, and Middlebrook School.

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Hayes has busy week in Congress

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act is being voted on today in Congress.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says she will be voting in favor of the measure.  Hayes says farmers in the district have told her about their struggles with labor shortages and this bill aims to address that problem. 

It allows illegal workers to apply for an indefinite legal status and reforms the H-2A guest worker program.  Hayes called it a commonsense way to ensure the hardworking agricultural community will have the support it needs. 

The H-2A guest worker program allows foreign farmworkers to apply for a five-year legal status renewable for as long as the workers remain in agriculture. If they pay a $1,000 fine, workers with at least 10 years farm work experience could receive legal permanent residence, allowing them to work anywhere, after four years. Other legalized workers would have to wait eight years to earn that path.

Congress voted last night on the National Defense Authorization Act.  Hayes touted part of the measure which repealed the so-called ‘widow’s tax’, whereby Gold Star families were losing hundreds of dollars a month in benefits.  Hayes has advocated for it's elimination since coming to Congress.  She introduced legislation to address the offset earlier this year. 

The measure also includes 12 weeks of paid family leave for all federal employees and a pay increase for service members. 

But Hayes says she was disappointed that several bipartisan provisions she supported in the House bill passed in July were not contained in the final package.  Those included repealing the 2002 Authorization of Military Force, preventing unauthorized war with Iran, and ending American support for the war in Yemen.

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Skeletal remains found in Ridgefield may date to Revolution

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. (AP) — Human skeletal remains possibly belonging to Revolutionary War soldiers have been discovered in the basement of an 18th-century house being renovated in Connecticut, according to a published report.

The Connecticut Office of State Archaeology was notified by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner about skeletal remains found under the Ridgefield home on Dec. 2, The Ridgefield Press reported Wednesday.

Subsequent excavations by state archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni yielded two more skeletons.

All three were “robust adult men lying in an east-west orientation in ground that appears to be haphazardly dug,” Bellantoni said.

Their bone size indicates they were probably militiamen, he said. One of the other reasons Bellantoni and his team believe the bones belong to Revolutionary War soldiers is that they found five buttons at the spot. No weapons have been found.

The town is the site of the Battle of Ridgefield in April 1777.

If confirmed, the discovery would be the first time that Revolutionary War-era soldiers from the field of battle have been recovered in Connecticut, he said.

The original house was built around 1790, according to Sharon Dunphy, president of the the Ridgefield Historical Society.

There have been several additions made to the home over the years, one of which was built over the burial site.

Bellantoni told the Press the femur bones show that they clearly walked a lot and and carried a lot of weight like cannons or other artillery.  Bellantoni cautioned that there's compelling evidence, but no direct evidence yet that these were Revolutionary War soldiers. He says their teeth are in pretty good shape and that’s important for DNA forensics. They may be able to figure out their diet, which could determine who's side they were on. 

The homeowner called the Ridgefield Police Department during the basement renovation and police notified the medical examiner’s office after it was determined the bones were more than 50 years old.  Bellantoni will use this dig to apply for a National Parks Service “battlefield grant” to potentially survey the historic area of the Battle of Ridgefield.

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WCSU seeks fellows for summer biology research program

West Conn is opening applications for undergraduate students at all colleges across the country to compete for a fellowship grant to conduct a biology research project with a WCSU faculty member during the summer.  West Conn is offering two $4,000 grants.  Students will work on an intensive research project requiring a minimum of 30 hours' field and laboratory work per week over an eight- to 10-week period next summer.  Academic requirements and prospective mentors in the West Conn Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences faculty are listed on the university's website. Applicants are required to contact the faculty member to discuss specific research interests and seek the assistance in developing and writing a project proposal. The deadline for submission of applications is March 10.

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Brookfield Police investigate armed robbery, assault

An armed robbery and assault is under investigation in Brookfield.  Police received a call in the early morning hours Tuesday reporting that two white males wearing bandanas as masks, and dressed in black clothing, entered a room at a Brookfield motel.  The suspects allegedly hit another man with a hand gun. 

The two suspects took items of value and fled. 

Witnesses were able to identify one of the suspects only as "Tammy". “Tammy” is reported to be a white male with black hair and is approximately 20 years of age. “Tammy” is described as having a thin build and hid height is between 6' 5" and 6' 7". 

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Detective Michael Zezza at 203-740-4123.

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Public Hearing to be held on draft Bethel Plan of Conservation and Development

A public hearing is being held in Bethel tonight about the proposed 10-year plan of Conservation and Development.  The Planning and Zoning Commission is looking for comments from residents tonight on the draft plan.  Planners say the goal is to preserve quality of life in town by managing housing, open space and regulations for commercial development.  The plan was last updated in 2007 and has been under review for about two years.  State statute requires part of the plan address affordable housing.  Tonight's meeting is at 7pm.

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New Fairfield officials remind residents of sand/salt mix available for home use

As the snowy season gets under way, New Fairfield officials are offering some reminders to residents. 

Sand/Salt mixture is available at the Drop Off Center. Residents may fill two 5 gallon buckets with sand per storm. The Drop Off Center is open on Saturdays and Tuesdays 8am to 3:45pm, and Thursdays 4pm to 7pm. 

During storms, cars should not be parked on town roads so the plows can clear streets completely.

Mailboxes and posts that receive direct contact from snow removal equipment will be replaced with a standard mailbox and post by calling the Public Works Department at 203-312-5628. The Public Works Superintendent will inspect the damage and replace the mailbox accordingly. 

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Sandy Hook lawsuit against gun-maker set for trial in 2021

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut judge said Wednesday a lawsuit by families of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims against Remington Arms will go to trial in September of 2021.

A survivor and relatives of nine victims of the 2012 massacre filed the wrongful death lawsuit against Remington in 2015, saying the company should have never sold such a dangerous weapon to the public and alleging it targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games.

Remington, based in Madison, North Carolina, made the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used to kill 20 first graders and six educators at the Newtown, Connecticut, school on Dec. 14, 2012.

The Hartford Courant reported that Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis in Waterbury set the court date after nearly two hours of discussions with attorneys for Remington and the families.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in March that Remington could be sued under state law over how it marketed the rifle. The decision overturned a ruling by a state trial court judge who dismissed the lawsuit based on a federal law that shields gun-makers from liability, in most cases, when their products are used in crimes.

Remington appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.

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New Fairfield officials sign off on Fire Department tanker replacement

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen recently signed off on the purchase of a new fire truck.  Leaders from Volunteer Fire Department Company A attended the meeting last month to explain the process to chose the Tanker 7 replacement.  It's on the Reserve Fun replacement schedule for the 2019-20 fiscal year. 

They were able to use the cooperative buying program that the town is enrolled with to save both time and money on this purchase.  Initially estimated to cost $450,000, the replacement came in under budget.  A 2020 Freighliner, Pierce built tanker, with a pump and carrying 1,800 gallons of water, the price is $416,000.  $353,600 will come from the Reserve Fund, and the remaining 15-percent will be paid for by Company A. 

All three fire companies have approved bringing this request forward.

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Mother, child attacked by rabid raccoon

WESTON, Conn. (AP) — A mother and her young child who were attacked by a rabid raccoon at a school bus stop in Connecticut last week are undergoing rabies treatment, an animal control official says.

The child was getting out of a vehicle last Thursday when the raccoon “came out of nowhere” and started grabbing at the child’s legs, Weston Animal Control Officer Mark Harper told the Connecticut Post Wednesday.

The mother went around the vehicle and grabbed the raccoon, he said.

Both were taken to Norwalk Hospital with bite wounds to the arms and hands.

The raccoon was already gone by the time police arrived at the scene, but after getting a tip from a neighbor, Harper tracked the animal down to a swampy area and euthanized it.

It later tested positive for rabies.

Harper said it’s been 10 to 15 years since a similar incident happened in town.

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As Newtown students grow up, some turn to activism

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — They were children themselves when they lost siblings, friends, and schoolmates in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Too young to comprehend the massacre, they spent years in shock and denial.

Seven years later, some young people in Newtown, still struggling with the trauma, are emerging as new voices for school safety and gun violence prevention. The activism, they say, has been a way to turn something horrific into something positive.

Twenty first-grade students and six educators were killed inside the school on Dec. 14, 2012, by a gunman in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

Some stories from victims' siblings and students were in the school at the time of the shooting:

NATALIE BARDEN

Natalie Barden was 10 when her brother, Daniel, 7, was killed. She attended a different school that went into lockdown as word of the shooting spread. She remembers being annoyed that morning as Daniel hugged her while they got ready for school.

Her favorite memories are of sleeping on Daniel's bed with Daniel and their older brother, James, because it was the biggest, and watching television, playing board games and wrestling.

Her father, Mark Barden, became an activist with the Sandy Hook Promise group he helped create after the shooting. Natalie disliked the media attention and interviews in their home because they brought back the pain of losing Daniel.

“When you're that young, it's really hard to wrap your mind around it," said Natalie, now a 17-year-old senior at Newtown High School. “Your sibling is such a big part of your life, and to know your brother for only seven years is gone — I still can't wrap my mind around it. When I got to high school, it really hit me."

As she entered school, the shock was wearing off. Then 17 people were killed in the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She was inspired by the Parkland teens who demanded action on gun control.

“That just kind of pushed me to become more involved with the whole youth movement,” Natalie said in an interview.

Her sophomore year, Natalie joined the Junior Newtown Action Alliance, the youth arm of the Newtown Action Alliance, a local group dedicated to promoting gun control measures.

She has called the offices of federal lawmakers, urging them to pass gun control bills, including an assault weapons ban. She began going on speaking engagements with her father.

An article she wrote for Teen Vogue last year sparked positive feedback from others affected by mass shootings, she said. She also wrote about her brother, feelings of loss and hope for the future in a chapter of a book published earlier this year, “If I Don't Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings."

“I lost my brother, so I know how life-shattering a gun can be," she said. “I think it’s just human nature to want to prevent others from feeling that way. We’ve kind of lost our innocence. We can’t sit back and ignore it.”

J.T. LEWIS

J.T. Lewis also lost a brother in the shooting, 6-year-old Jesse Lewis. He was a 12-year-old seventh grader at the time. Their relationship was like those of many brothers — lots of fighting and lots of making up, he said.

“As a kid, you grow up really fast when something like that happens to you," he said. “Most 12-year-olds wouldn’t be able to comprehend it. It changes the trajectory of your life."

Lewis, 19, is a political science major at the University of Connecticut and a Republican running for the state Senate.

He never imagined becoming involved in activism. But shortly after the shooting, he found comfort in forming Newtown Helps Rwanda, which has raised college money for relatives of victims of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Unlike many relatives of mass shooting victims, he isn't a gun control supporter. Instead, he favors improving school security and boosting mental health programs.

“I’m tired of watching my politicians fight for gun control to no avail," he said. “Right now, we need to look at other things. You're seeing a lot of shootings now where the measures they wanted to pass wouldn't have prevented anything."

Last December, Lewis was among those invited to the White House as President Donald Trump discussed the findings of a federal school safety commission.

Lewis said there is an extra sadness surrounding this year's anniversary of the shooting, because this is the first year most of the child victims have been dead longer than they were alive.

“The pain is still there," he said. “The lost person is still not there. Nothing is very different between now and last year."

RAYNA TOTH AND OLIVIA DOSCHER

Friends Rayna Toth and Olivia Doscher were third graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in different classrooms, when the shooting happened. Their classes gathered on carpets as teachers closed their doors and covered the door windows with paper.

“I knew when I was sitting in the classroom that I was in danger," Rayna said. “I think ... not knowing if I was going to be OK or if others were going to be OK was ... terrifying."

Olivia remembers one of her friends was crying. Then the school intercom came on with hysterical crying. They huddled in their classrooms until police with big guns came to lead them out of the school.

“At that point in my life, I didn’t know what a shooting was because I was little," Olivia said. “I obviously knew something bad was going on."

For a long time after the shooting, the two girls talked little about their experiences. But when they became sophomores at Newtown High School this fall, both joined the Junior Newtown Action Alliance out because they wanted to prevent others from having to experience what they did.

“I knew I wanted to do it," Rayna said. “I was very young when the shooting happened, so I don’t think I got to use my voice and say what happened to me."

Both have urged federal lawmakers to pass gun control bills. Rayna also has written to families in Santa Clarita, California, where two students were killed and three injured in a high school shooting last month. She told them that it is OK to cry and that help is available to help them cope with their pain.

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Suspect sought in larceny from Target

Bethel Police are looking to identify a man who is a suspect in a larceny from the Bethel Target store yesterday. The suspect left the scene in a beige or off-white Hummer H3 with ski racks on the passenger side roof.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Bethel Police Officer Jason Broad at 203-744-7900 x670.

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SHeriff Deputies investigate phoned in bomb threat at Southeast retailer

A general bomb threat was called into the Home Depot call center in Utah leading to a search in Putnam County.  The Sheriff's Office was notified on Sunday about the threat, which did not target a specific retail location.  Based on certain information, it was believed by the Home Depot call center that the threat came from the Putnam County area. 

The Southeast store was notified and several deputies responded. 

Brewster Fire Department helped with an evacuation and closure of certain areas while the sheriffs conducted an investigation.  The MTA police responded with two Bomb detection K9 units and Westchester Police responded with three Bomb detection dogs. 

All units were on scene for about 90 minutes. 

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Bethel Police remind drivers to clear car of snow and ice

The Bethel Police Department is offering a friendly reminder that officers will be enforcing the removal of ice and snow from vehicles that are traveling through town this winter.  Not only is the obstruction of vision a significant danger to drivers, but Police say ice and snow that dislodges from a vehicle can result in property damage or hazardous driving conditions for other motorists.  Drivers should clear ice and snow from not only the front and rear windshields, but the body of the car as well.  Bethel Police say that could save you from an accident or receiving a $120 infraction.

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Routine traffic stop leads to arrest for heroin possession

A traffic stop on Interstate 684 led to heroin arrest.  Troopers pulled a vehicle over in Southeast on Friday morning.  The 2019 Nissan Sentra was operating as a taxi service and Troopers had probable cause to search the vehicle.  95 decks of heroin belonging to the passenger, 26-year old, Thomas King, was located.  The Waterbury man was charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance with intent to sell.  King was arraigned in Patterson Court, and ordered held at the Putnam County Jail in lieu of bond.  He is due back in Court on the 19th.

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Ridgefield parent under investigation for alleged verbal, physical abuse

A Ridgefield parent is under investigation for allegedly verbally abusing and forcefully grabbing a six-year-old autistic student.  Ridgefield Police and the state Department of Children and Families launched an investigation into the incident that happened in late September during the Veterans Park Elementary School annual spirit run. 

According to statements from eyewitnesses, the alleged abuser yelled at the victim, grabbed her by the arm and pulled her onto her feet, pushing the student into a timeout.  A deep bruising patterns was photographed, and provided to Ridgefield Police and DCF. 

The mother's attorney is quoted in the Ridgefield Press as saying the school district claims they can’t get involved at all because it was a PTA event.  The parent is supposed to be on probationary status, but has reportedly volunteered for the classroom holiday party. The attorney for the school said someone from the PTA who was using the account of the accused.

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Ex-officer, restaurant, settle suit brought by crash victim

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut restaurant and a former police officer who pleaded no contest to charges connected to a drunken driving crash have agreed to settle the lawsuit filed by the woman injured in the collision. The Connecticut Post reported the settlement Monday. Terms were not disclosed. John Carrano, a former Bridgeport officer, pleaded no contest last week to assault with a motor vehicle. He crashed into a car driven by 19-year-old Elizabeth Bucci of Monroe just before Christmas in 2017 after a night of drinking. According to the lawsuit, restaurant employees continued to serve alcohol to Carrano even though he was visibly intoxicated.

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Danbury Railway Museum adds vintage train rides to visit with Santa

Due to a basement flood at the Danbury Railway Museum, last weekend's Santa train events were cancelled.  The nonprofit has added rides this Friday and next Friday at 4:30pm, 5pm  and 5:30pm.  This is in addition to the regularly scheduled rides on the Saturdays and Sundays leading up to Christmas.

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Putnam County Sheriff responds to Legislature rebuffing overtime funding transfer

Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley is responding to the County Legislature calling his request for a funding transfer to cover overnight 'budget manipulation."  Langley commended the members for publicly questioning the proposed budget transfers as being fiscally responsible, as they should with all County departments. 

Langley noted that budgets are estimates because no department can determine unanticipated costs a month or a year in advance.  He added that his Department held off purchasing various budgeted items until the end of the year to make sure money was available to purchase them.  Langley instead chose to transfer other funds to Patrol overtime, which he says has been substantially underfunded for many years.

The Sheriff's Department has renegotiated the daily housing rate they charge the United States Marshall’s Service to board in prisoners, generating an estimated additional $350,000 in revenue. The rate had not been renegotiated since it was established in 1992.  The Civil Division increased its revenue by over 60% in 2019 by updating its policies and procedures to be consistent with existing laws.

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6 locations sell to minors during Danubry liquor compliance checks

During recent liquor sales compliance checks, 6 locations were found to sell to minors in Danbury.  On Saturday, Police and the Liquor Control Division of the state Department of Consumer Protection visited 47 liquor stores, grocery stores and other points of sale.  Police Explorers tried to buy alcohol and 12-percent of the locations checked sold to the underage volunteers. 

The Liquor Control Division will be continuing an investigation into the 6 locations not in compliance, which will likely end with fines and administrative penalties at a later date and time.

Non-compliant locations were Grade A Market of Danbury, S&D Liquors, both on on Padanaram Road, Bevmax on Backus Avenue, J&B Wines and Spirits on Newtown Road, Edwin & Julia Liquor Store on Westville Avenue and Pague Meno’s Supermarket on Triangle Street. 

Danbury Police say 50 retailers took part in a seminar in June, which is believed to have contributed to the low number of non-compliant points of purchase.  Dichello Distributors, Inc presented training for intervention procedures and Liquor Control Division fielded questions regarding the state Liquor Control Act.

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No injuries reported in highway car fire

There was a car fire on I-84 in Danbury last night.  State police responded and blocked the right lane near the area of exit 3 while firefighters extinguished the blaze.  There were no injuries reported.  State Police say passerbys should not go near or try to pass a vehicle on fire in an unsafe way. 

(Photo: @CSP_troop_a Instagram)

In about six weeks the recruits will graduate from the training academy, become trooper trainees, and head out to patrol where they’ll ride with a Field Training Officer, for some on-the-job training, and respond to a variety of calls for assistance--like the car fire.

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Putnam County legislature questions budget transfers for Sheriff Deputy overtime

The Putnam County Legislature has voted nearly unanimously against a last-minute Sheriff’s Department request to transfer more than $120,000.  The money would be directed to overtime costs for road patrol.  In its December meeting, legislators discussed end-of-year budget reconciliation.  The money requested had been allocated during the 2019 budget process to cover Sheriff’s Department expenses in 40 different spending categories, not for overtime.  The Sheriff’s deputies who worked the overtime have been paid but, the Legislature expressed its displeasure at what it called budget maneuvers.  Putnam County Legislature Chairman Joseph Castellano says they don’t know why overtime is going higher every year and need to talk with the Sheriff’s Department about that.  Only one Legislator, Nancy Montgomery, voted in favor of the transfer.

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Newtown officials announce plans for 12/14

Plans and preparations ahead of 12/14 have been announced by Newtown School officials.  A heightened police presence will be visible at all schools throughout the district. Additional police will be onsite at Sandy Hook School beginning on Thursday evening and continuing throughout Friday. 

The Superintendent sent a letter to parents saying that this time of year is especially difficult for so many students, staff, and families.  While the anniversary falls on a Saturday this year, they have plans in place for Friday, to ensure a respectful remembrance of the students and staff lost 7 years ago. 

Support staff at each school is prepared to respond to any students who might ask a question or experience anxiety.  Elementary staff assumes that a majority of younger students may know little to nothing about the tragedy, and they should not be the first-time providers of this information.  Newtown Middle and High School Principals will organize a personal message that is age-appropriate for their students. 

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Ridgefield Inland Wetlands Board names leadership

Ridgefield’s new Inland Wetlands Board will be led by Patricia Sesto, a longtime environmental officer for Wilton and Greenwich, among other towns.  Susan Baker, member of the grassroots Ridgefield Open Space Organization, will serve as vice chair.  The Board will hold its first public hearing tonight on expansion of the town’s Governor Street parking lot.  Plans call for the lot to be doubled.  Tonight's hearing is at 7:30 in the lower level meeting room of the Town Hall Annex.  The Planning and Zoning Commission must also rule on the town’s parking lot plans.

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Sherman residents approve funding for school renovation designs

Sherman residents have approved spending up to $50,000 on conceptual design services for the Sherman School.  During the town meeting on Saturday, about 60 residents turned out to discuss and vote on the funding.  The money will come from Sherman's capital non-recurring account.  Tecton Architects will come up with architectural designs and associated cost estimates for the school, which serves pre-k through 8th grade students.  The 1937 building has undergone a number of additions and renovations over the years.  Mechanical, plumbing and electrical repairs and replacement are needed.

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Lamont outlines proposed toll rates for trucks

Governor Lamont has delivered a letter to Democratic and Republican legislative leaders detailing proposed legislation to improve Connecticut’s transportation system.  The truck only toll rates for heavy trucks to go over the I-84 bridge in Newtown would be $6.40, with a Connecticut transponder.  That's the Rochambeau Bridge over the Housatonic River.  One of the other 12 bridges is along the 1-mile stretch of Connecticut on I-684.  Lamont says the boost in the Special Transportation Fund will allow Connecticut to implement a multi-modal vision for a transportation future that reduces the congestion.

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Newtown Police hosting a Mitten Tree

Newtown Police are hosting a Mitten Tree.  This is the 20th year for the event, with all donations going to social services in the immediate area.   The mitten tree is located in the lobby of the Newtown police department.  Anyone in need of mittens, scarf, hats is invited to come by and take what's needed.

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In US schools, resource officers woven into daily life

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — An imposing presence in uniform at 6-foot-5, Officer Will Chapman towers over students in the halls of Newtown Middle School, but he tries to be as approachable as possible.

The school resource officer known as “Officer Will” aims to been seen by each student at least three times a day as he walks the halls 2 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a 2012mass shooting left 20 students and six educators dead. He drops into art class and joins in on projects. Some days, he takes math quizzes alongside students.

The police officers assigned to schools receive scrutiny in times of emergency — as in Wisconsin, where school resource officers were involved in two student shootings this week — but they also play a less-known role in the rhythms of everyday American classroom life.

Beyond their law enforcement role, the model for school resource officers endorsed by the U.S. Justice Department enlists them also as mentors, informal counselors and educators on topics ranging from bullying to drunk driving with the goal of promoting school safety.

School resource officers receive the same baseline training as other officers, but experts say doing the job well requires skills and training to understand and build strong relationships with young people.

“It is very much a community-based policing approach,” said Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers. “This is about problem solving, relationship building and doing things to make a positive difference in the lives of kids, quite frankly.”

Chapman, for one, said he works hard to ensure students know he is there for them — and not because of them.

“I want my students to understand first and foremost that I love them dearly and there is nothing they can do, bad or good, to change how much I care about them,” he said. “Their choices can limit my options in how I communicate that love, but it is never any less true.”

Nationwide, 43% of public schools had an armed law enforcement officer present at least once a week in the 2015-2016 school year, the last time the National Center for Education Statistics released data on this topic. The officers work closely with school administrators, who are encouraged to reach understandings with officers that disciplinary issues short of anything illegal are to be handled by school officials.

In cases of real and immediate threats to students or teachers, however, the rules on use of force are set by the police departments that assign the officers to the schools.

That is important because it is the police department that ensures the officer has the appropriate training, said Jeff Kaye, president of School Safety Operations, a consulting firm. In the event of a police shooting, the officer also should face oversight from an agency with expertise in use-of-force policies, he said.

In Wisconsin, an Oshkosh Police Department resource officer shot a 16-year-old student Tuesday after the boy stabbed him at Oshkosh West High School. On Monday, a resource officer at Waukesha South High School helped clear students out of a classroom after a student pointed a pellet gun at another student’s head. Another police officer entered the room and shot the student. Neither of the students who were shot suffered life-threatening injuries.

Chapman said he always parks his cruiser where it is visible from the street, in part to reassure parents in a community still recovering from one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. He’s able to focus more on students because of private armed security hired in the tragedy’s aftermath.

“It frees me up to go into a classroom and sit down and dissect a frog with seventh graders because I’m not constantly worried about, ‘What if somebody comes in that we don’t want here?’” he said.

At Aberdeen Middle School in Maryland, school resource officer Jason Neidig said he greets students as they enter the building to look for anything out of the ordinary and takes aside any who seem upset to ask if they want to talk. He walks the hallways, checks areas where weapons could be hidden and joins administrators in meetings with troubled students. He pokes fun at himself and trades messages with students on his Instagram account as @srojason.

“I do not take the stereotypical ‘aggressive’ approach when talking to students, not even the ones I sometimes have to refer to the Department of Juvenile Services or arrest,” he said.

The growth in the number of officers inside schools over the last quarter century has led to fears about children getting caught up in the criminal justice system, furthering the so-called school-to-prison pipeline. A 2013 review by the Congressional Research Service found that students in schools with resources officers might be more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses, but studies also indicated that the officers could deter students from committing assaults or bringing weapons to campus. Critics in some communities also have argued the funding would be better spent on mental health programming and school counselors.

Some school resource officers have come up short of expectations, including the school resource officer in Parkland, Florida, who remained outside rather than entering the building to engage the shooter.

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, school security video showed a sheriff’s deputy slamming a 15-year-old girl to the ground in September after she tapped his knee with her foot. In October, a New Mexico police officer was shown on video throwing an 11-year-old girl on the ground.

Officers with experience as school resource officers say those with the right skills can make a lasting difference in children’s lives.

“A patrol officer can get an award for saving a life or reviving a person in an overdose situation. You can’t quantify how successful a school resource officer is,” said Officer Kelly DeJonge, a spokeswoman for the Glendale, Wisconsin, police department who spent a decade as a high school resource officer. “If a kid is dealing with mental health issues, and they come to a school resource officer, and they are there to help and listen to them, did that officer save that person’s life possibly? You never know.”

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Bethel High School Navy JROTC to again collect old Christmas trees

As local volunteer fire departments sell Christmas trees in an annual fundraiser, another group is thinking beyond the holiday.  The Bethel High School Navy JROTC runs a Christmas tree pick up program for recycling.

All trees will be picked up and mulched on January 11th.  Bethel residents participating in the program are asked to have trees placed curbside by 9am.  A $10 donation is suggested and goes toward Educational Programs for the cadets. Checks payable to “Bethel NJROTC Boosters” or cash should be placed in an envelope taped inside storm doors or other accessible area. 

Any Bethel residents interested in helping the cadets should E-mail: BethelNJROTCboosters@gmail.com with Name, Address and Phone Number.

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Minor fire reported at Maron Hotel

There was a minor fire at the Maron Hotel in Danbury on Friday.  Officials say the cause was a small lighting fixture in a room on the 3rd floor.  Spokesman James Gagliardo says there was an impressive amount of smoke, but fire crews made a quick response.  There were no injuries reported.  The occupants had to change hotel rooms, but there was no other disruption.  Firefighters ventilated the building and cleared the scene.

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Ridgefield Board of Ed to consider capital project funding

The Ridgefield Board of Education is meeting tonight about capital improvement funding.  The Ridgefield Press reports that 39 items over 5 years would be funded under the plan presented to the Board last month.  7 projects would be funded in the upcoming school year.  That includes removing and replacing 30-year-old oil tanks at Farmingville, Branchville and Ridgebury elementary schools.  Asbestos abatement and floor re-tiling are proposed for Scotland and Branchville.  All of those items total $747,650.  Some $1,043,087 in building improvement projects is also requested.  That money would go toward auditorium upgrades at East Ridge Middle School, Ridgefield High School, Barlow Mountain and Scotland elementary schools.  Well infrastructure improvements at Branchville and Farmingville schools and LED lighting upgrades at Ridgebury and bathroom renovations at the high school, East Ridge, Branchville, Farmingville and Veterans Park are also planned.

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Newtown Police charge man for alleged jet ski thefts

Newtown Police say a former Waterbury man has turned himself in on larceny charges for allegedly stealing 4 jet skis from town this summer.  31-year old Jerrysan Rohena turned himself into the Newtown Police Friday.  He was released on 50-thousand dollars court set bond and ordered to return to court at a later date.  Newtown Police spokesman Lt. Aaron Bahamonde says detectives did an excellent job putting this case together, including working with other agencies to help identify and arrest this suspect.

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Six new Danbury firefighters sworn in

Six new Danbury firefighters have been sworn in.  The newest members received their badges at a ceremony yesterday.  They graduated from the Connecticut Fire Academy's Recruit Firefighter program on Friday, after spending 15 weeks as residential students learning the skills it takes to be career firefighters.  The Recruit Class consisted of 66 firefighters from 21 departments.  The probationary firefighters have one more week of in-house training, and then will report to their respective platoons effective December 15th.  Also Saturday, the Danbury Fire Department Annual Awards Ceremony took place. 

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Women's Center looking for new Board Committee members

The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury is looking fo community members to work on Board Committees and join the Board of Directors. The Women’s Center, founded in 1975, has been a safe haven as the sole provider of services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in 13 towns around the Greater Danbury area.  The organization serves women, men and children at their office,West Conn, at Danbury Superior Court, and in area police stations and hospitals. Each year, the Women's Center serves more than 30,000 individuals with free and confidential services. The Center's key areas of focus include emergency shelter and support services, counseling and advocacy, crisis intervention, and community education.  Volunteers are needed for the Development,. Marketing, Finance and Governance Committees.

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Bethel Police annual holiday toy drive this weekend

The Bethel Police Department Annual Toy Drive is around the corner.  Bethel Police will be in front of the Toy Room on Greenwood Avenue on Saturday, from 10am to 3pm, to accept donations of toys for all ages.  Bethel Police officials say they are excited to help make the holidays special and look forward to seeing residents there.  Anyone who is unable to attend the event, but want to participate, a donation box has been placed in the Bethel Police Department Lobby. All donations will benefit Bethel Social Services and the Women’s Center of Danbury.

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Former Danbury priest removed from his duties by the Diocese of Bridgeport

A priest has been stripped of his job amid allegations of abuse.  The Rev. Jaime Marin-Cardona has been removed from his duties by the Diocese of Bridgeport.  He is prohibited from engaging in public ministry.  The clergy’s Sexual Misconduct Review Board learned the state found the accusations credible.  There is an ongoing investigation by Danbury Police into the allegations.  He served at Our Lady of Guadalupe on Golden Hill Road in Danbury.  The diocese received a letter in September indicating that “parents were concerned by Father Marin-Cardona’s contact with a family member who is a minor.  Originally from Columbia, he joined the Bridgeport Diocese nearly a decade ago, and most recently served at Saint Mary Parish in Bridgeport.

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Danbury family displaced by fire

A family has been displaced by a fire that damaged in a Main Street apartment in Danbury.  The blaze appears to have broken out Friday in the third-floor kitchen. Firefighters extinguished the flames within minutes.  A family of three adults and two children is being helped by the American Red Cross.  The apartment is the top floor of a three story building.  The ground floor houses Polla’s Supermarket, which was not affected.  Fire officials say there appeared to be multiple apartments upstairs, but only one was damaged.  The fire marshal is investigating.

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Danbury Paraeducator union agrees to pension changes

An agreement has been reached between the Danbury Board of Education and the Danbury Paraeducators CSEA/SEIU Local 2001.  The agreement includes provisions about pension plans.  The Board of Ed employees have historically participated in the City's pension plan.  Mayor Mark Boughton noted that this does not enable tutors to collect a pension, which is a different collective bargaining unit.  He says this agreement is only for people currently enrolled in the pension plan and does not add a new pension to another bargaining group.  With this agreement, effective July 2021, current Paraeducators will contribute 1-percent into the City's General Employees Pension Plan.  Boughton says current para participants will be asked to contribute 1-percent into the plan; it used to be free.  New Paraeducators hired after July 2020 will participate in the City's Defined Contribution 401a Plan with a 3-percent contribution.  The City will make a 3-percent contribution match.  New employees will be part of the same defined plan as teamsters and clerical staff.

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Blumenthal touts House passage of bipartisan legislation to help block robocalls

Senator Richard Blumenthal is touting House passage of bipartisan legislation to help block robocalls. 

The legislation gives regulators more time to find robocall scammers, increases penalties for violators, promotes call authentication and blocking adoption.  The measure is also aimed at addressing obstacles to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally flout laws.  Blumenthal says he will work for swift strong Senate action to approve the bill. 

Blumenthal has also authored the ROBOCOP (Repeated Objectionable Bothering of Consumers on Phones) Act, which would require telephone companies to offer free robocall blocking services to all their customers. 

An estimated 22.1 million Americans lost $9.5 billion to robocall scams in 2016, according to a 2017 study. This epidemic of telephonic harassment skyrocketed in 2018, with the number of robocalls made to Americans exceeding 16.3 billion in the first five months of that year. Thus far efforts like the Do Not Call Registry have had little to no impact, particularly when it comes to scams and call centers located outside of the United States.

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Water Witch Hose firefighters in New Milford retiring Engine 27 from service

After almost 27 years of work, Water Witch Hose firefighters in New Milford are retiring Engine 27 from service.  The fire truck arrived at the Grove Street Firehouse in 1992.  Company officials say it’s high ground clearance and short wheelbase made it the perfect truck for accessing tight lake communities and rural water sources. On Tuesday, the fire truck answered it’s final call, stationed in the driveway at a reported structure fire on Legion Road.  The fire company will be taking delivery of the new Engine 27 in January.  A Freightliner/ Pierce Custom Pumper will replace the apparatus retired this week.  The old Engine truck will now head to an Apparatus reseller in Pennsylvania to await it’s next assignment.

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Insider Trading Prohibition Act introduced by local Congressman passed by House

The U.S. House has overwhelmingly passed a bill introduced by 4th District Congressman Jim Himes.  The Insider Trading Prohibition Act was approved by a vote of 410-13. The bill establishes an unambiguous statutory prohibition on insider trading.  The bill codifies and clarifies the overarching principles on insider trading set forth by courts.  Himes says it also eliminates the ambiguities that have existed in the case-by-case evolution of the law in this area.  Himes added that the fairness, integrity and safety of capital markets are weakened when corporate insiders and others who wrongfully obtain inside information misuse it, profiting at the expense of other investors and the market as a whole.

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Opossum found sleeping in Southbury woman's bed

A Southbury woman woke up to find a strange intruder in her bed.  Police say officers responded to a call about an opossum curled up with a resident Wednesday night.  The officers were able to carefully and strategically rescue the creature in a soft laundry hamper.  No injuries were reported to the woman or the animal. 

The opossum was released back into its natural habitat. 

Southbury Police say opossums eat up to 5000 ticks per season, reducing human risk of contracting Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.  The nocturnal animals kill vermin, including mice and garden pests.  Opossums have a serum protein in their blood that neutralizes snake venom.  Southbury Police say scientists have produced an antidote to poisonous snake bites for humans using opossums' blood, but it is still being tested for large-scale production. 

They are timid, and hiss or faint when frightened.  They have a hard time surviving in cold climates because they don't have very thick coats.

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3 former Pomperaug students charged for vandalism at school

Southbury Police have charged three people for a vandalism incident at Pomperaug High School.  The Republican American newspaper reports that the three 18 year olds turned themselves in for allegedly spray-painting vulgar graffiti around the school campus in August.  Ryan Canty and Jon Catan, both of Southbury, were each charged with criminal mischief, criminal trespassing and conspiracy.  Jonathan Tapia of Middlebury was charged with criminal trespassing and conspiracy.  The actions were caught on surveillance cameras.  Southbury Police say at least two of the former Pomperaug students were away at college and were charged when they cam home for break.  The vulgar words and objects were spray painted on the bathroom walls near the football field, in the baseball dugouts and on the walkway from the school to the stadium.

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Danbury Police arrest teen for making school shooting threats

Danbury Police have arrested a teenager for making a threat against the High School.  Police received word that threatening texts were sent to several students on November 26th, all apparently from the same source.  The texts suggested among other things, that students should not to attend School the following day, indicating there would be a shooting and that the recipients would be targeted.  An investigation, with the help of Danbury High School officials, led to the source.  The 17-year-old male was arrested yesterday, charged with Breach of Peace.  He will appear in Juvenile Court at a later date.  The Danbury Police Department, as well as the Danbury School Administration, will continue to vigorously investigate all serious threats made to any students, faculty or schools in the City.

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Audit report: Thousands in Sandy Hook funds went missing

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Tens of thousands of dollars in philanthropic contributions intended to help first responders, educators and staff impacted by the Sandy Hook school shooting went missing from a labor charity organization and were mingled with other money, according to an audit report released Thursday, raising questions about how the account is being managed.

The leader of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, which is affiliated with the United Labor Agency that runs the fund, said the national labor organization has “put together the funds to make the Sandy Hook Workers Assistance Program whole again” and plans to investigate what happened.

“As soon as we learned about the results of the audit, the board met and took immediate corrective action,” said Sal Luciano, who is president of both the Connecticut AFL-CIO and the United Labor Agency, which helps workers and their families with a variety of issues, from drug and alcohol counseling to disability benefits. Luciano said the audit report “came as a shock and a disappointment” to him and the rest of the board.

The audit was requested by two Republican lawmakers, House Minority Leader Themis Klarides of Derby and Rep. Mitch Bolinsky of Newtown, whose district is where the 2012 elementary school shooting took place.

“That money should be in one place. We should know where the money is going. We should know who the money is being used for,” Klarides said. “This is very important to this state. This is very important to that town.”

According to the audit, ULA’s financial statements showed a steady decline in net assets, from $188,420 as of June 30, 2014 to a deficit balance of $20,962 in June 2018. The balance kept fluctuating over the years, based on the timing of receipts and disbursements. As of Sept. 30 of this year, it was $41,977.

The auditors said it appears “as a result of financial difficulties” ULA may have used funds from the assistance program “for other purposes.”

The Sandy Hook Workers Assistance Program was created by the General Assembly in the aftermath of the mass shooting to help replenish lost wages for union and non-union workers as they dealt emotionally with the tragedy that left 26 dead, including 20 children. The ULA eventually became responsible for managing and disbursing the remaining funds.

Luciano said the program is currently available to any worker impacted by the shooting. He said the ULA board has established new financial protocols “to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.” The board has created financial trustee positions to provide greater oversight of the organization’s financial practices and plans to hire an independent outside attorney to conduct an investigation into how the money from the workers fund was used.

The audit found that money from the Sandy Hook program was mixed with other funds and made it hard to understand how the money had been spent. While the ULA is promising to do better, the group was not required to keep the funds in a separate account.

“As soon as the results of that investigation are completed, the board will make a determination on necessary disciplinary action,” he said. Meanwhile, Klarides said her office is considering asking the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office to investigate the matter.

Luciano stressed that the auditors verified no worker, union or non-union, was denied benefits from the program. But Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, R-Newtown, said he was initially tipped off that two first responders with PTSD did not receive benefits they were eligible for, prompting him to contact Democratic Attorney General William Tong in February for help.

“It’s ghastly to think about what was done and from whom this money was taken from,” Bolinsky said.

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Newtown Police identify suspect wanted for stealing jet skis

Newtown Police have identified a suspect wanted for stealing jet skis this summer.  An arrest warrant has been secured for 31-year old Jerrysan Rohena.  Newtown Police are actively looking for the man, formerly of Waterbury.  He is wanted in connection with 4 stolen jet skis.  Police believe Rohena could either be in the New York or Massachusetts area.  The outstanding arrest warrant charges him with four Counts of Larceny. Anyone who knows where Rohena is currently located is asked to contact Newtown Police 203-426-5841.

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Old boat being used as dumpster at blighted property

The owner of a blighted property in Danbury has received an order to clean it up, including the old boat being used as a dumpster.  The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team received a complaint about 6 South King Street from a neighboring resident stating that there is garbage around the lot.  There was litter found near the front door, back door, around the garage and the boat on the trailer being used as a dumpster.  The property went into foreclosure and the lender is in the eviction process of the individuals living there.  UNIT sent the clean up order to the lender, who is working on remedying the problem.

(Photo: UNIT)

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New Fairfield Social Services Department sponsoring workshop on Mental Illness

The New Fairfield Social Services Department will be sponsoring a Workshop on Mental Illness next week.  It will be presented by the Connecticut  Alliance for Mental Illness.  Organizers say life can be challenging, especially around the Holidays.  People in attendance will learn what it means to struggle with Mental Illness and how to help someone with it.  The workshop is December 12th at 1PM in the Senior Center Community Room.

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House passes robocall bill

The U.S. House has passed a bipartisan bill to Stop Bad Robocalls. 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says the comprehensive bill requires every call to be verified, allows the blocking of spam calls, and empowers the FCC to protect Americans from scammers.  The House bill goes further than the Senate one.  They must now be reconciled.  Legislators say the final measure will require phone companies to verify that phone numbers are real, and to block calls for free. It will also give government agencies more ability to go after scammers.  Tech vendor YouMail said there were 5.7 billion calls from scammers, telemarketers, debt collectors and others in October. Not all those calls are unwanted, though — you might want to get the call from your pharmacy saying your prescription is ready.

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Danbury Railway Museum cancels first weekend of Santa Trains due to flood

A flood at the Danbury Railway Museum has prompted the cancellation of the first weekend of the Santa Train event.  About 7 feet of water flooded the basement of the nonprofit on Sunday, damaging the mechanical and electrical systems.  There is no power in the building, which will be closed until at least early next week.  A broken water line is the suspected cause.  Families who bought tickets for this weekend’s Santa Trains may exchange them for a full refund, another Santa Train or a Bunny Train this spring around Easter.  Santa Trains are still planned for December 13, 14, 20 and 21.  The money from the event is used to preserve antique trains and other equipment.

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Greater Danbury 'Good Scout' Award service held

The Greater Danbury “Good Scout” Award reception has been held to benefit the Boy Scouts of America.  Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner attended and says  the scouts recognized Cynthia Roy of the Danbury Regional Hospice this year.  Fil Cerminara of F&M Electrical Supply was also honored for work in service to the community.  Kushner says the reception was a great opportunity to not only support the Boy Scouts of America, but also to recognize the values of courtesy, respect, and service that the Boy Scouts embody every day.

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Danbury man charged for weekend stabbing in Bethel

A Danbury man has been arrested for the stabbing that happened in Bethel over the weekend.  22-year old Ricardo Ferraz DeOliveira Guedes was charged yesterday afternoon with assault.  The victim identified Guedes as the man who assaulted him Saturday on Midway Drive, allegedly over comments the victim made about the suspect's girlfriend.  The victim was driven to Danbury Hospital and officials there called police.  Danbury Police, in an unmarked car, spotted the suspect's vehicle and started a pursuit.  Bethel Police then also responded to the scene. 

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Man accused of threatening two others has case continued

The man accused of threatening two New Milford men after allegedly killing his own brother in Bethel has had his plea hearing case continued.  Matthew O’Dell of Bethel was in court on charges of threatening, reckless endangerment and other crimes, and due to appear again on January 15th. 

The 40-year-old is facing a murder charge for allegedly fatally shooting his 42-year-old brother.   The younger O'Dell left their Apollo Road home and went to New Milford where he allegedly threatened two men with the gun and tried to steal their truck from a Railroad Street parking lot. 

The men subdued O’Dell.  He was also charged with carrying a pistol without a permit, disorderly conduct, illegally carrying a firearm while under the influence and attempt to commit larceny. 

He was arrested by Bethel police two days later, pleaded not guilty and is due back in Court December 20th.

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Woman who allegedly slapped elderly man on leave as Principal

A Middle School Principal in Westport has been placed on administrative leave following her arrest in Southbury.  49-year old Kris Szabo was arrested last week, but she wasn't placed on leave until this week.  Police responded to an an assault in the Southbury Green parking lot the day before Thanksgiving.  A Heritage Village resident saw a woman, later identified as Szabo, park in a handicap space without a handicap placard.  Witnesses said the 71-year old man confronted her and she allegedly struck him 3 or 4 times with an open hand.  

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Woodbury woman charged for highway fight in Danbury

A Woodbury woman has been arrested by state police in a road rage incident.  The Republican American paper reports that Troopers responded to a two car crash on I-84 westbound in Danbury on Saturday.  Before they arrived, more 911 calls came in about the drivers engaged in a fight near exit 6.  Police allege 30-year old Shaneiqua Williams physically assaulted the other driver because she believed he was trying to leave the scene.  Williams was charged with assault and disorderly conduct, and later released on bond for an appearance in Danbury Superior Court on December 11th.

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Former New Milford town employee suing for wrongful termination

A former New Milford town employee is suing for wrongful termination.  The Newstimes reports that former highway superintendent Robert Rzasa claims was fired without any notice his work performance “had been unsatisfactory,” the reason given for his firing. 

The suit names New Milford, the Mayor, the Personnel Director and Paul Szymanski.  Rzasa alleges the now former town council member fabricated evidence that caused him to be fired.  The lawsuit claims Szymanski's car slid on ice and hit a guardrail, called for disciplinary action against Rzasa over the icy conditions. 

Rzasa is seeking at least $15,000 to cover lost wages and other damages, claiming the accusation and firing has made it hard for him to find a new job. 

Former Public Works Director Michael Zarba resigned this fall saying he no longer had control over personnel decisions, purchases and design criteria.  Former police chief Shawn Boyne filed a wrongful termination suit in April.  A pretrial conference is scheduled for December 19th.

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3 dead in apparent murder-suicide in Watertown

WATERTOWN, Conn. (AP) — Two teenage siblings and their mother’s boyfriend died in what appears to be a murder-suicide when an argument over smoking in a Connecticut home got out of hand, police said Wednesday.

Officers responded to the Watertown home at about 10 p.m. Tuesday after a woman called 911 to report the shooting, police said.

Sterling Jette, 16, and Della Jette, 15, were taken to Waterbury Hospital where they were pronounced dead.

Police also found Paul Ferguson, 42, dead at the scene of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Chief John Gavallas says both teens were shot in the chest.

Ferguson had moved into the home two weeks ago and as a convicted felon, was not allowed to have a gun, police said.

The teens’ mother was not hurt and is cooperating with the investigation.

Both teens were students at Kaynor Technical Institute in Waterbury.

“These domestic incidents can turn violent so quickly,” Gavallas said. “And this mother is completely distraught.”

Police say Della returned from a school field trip and started loudly discussing with her mother about Ferguson smoking cigarettes in the house.  Ferguson, who was downstairs with Sterling, told her to quiet down and not speak to her mother that way.  Police say he went to the bedroom, came back with a Glock handgun that was kept in a safe and shot Sterling in the leg when he tried to intercede.  Police say the girl was found on the deck.  The boy was found between the kitchen and living room. 

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Blighted property in Danbury racks up $4,000 in fines

A blighted property in Danbury has racked up $4,000 in fines for failing to comply with orders to clean up the parcel.  The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team say 15 Broad Street fell into foreclosure and neighbors have called 311 about the situation.  There is garbage around the property and some broken windows, which have been boarded up.  UNIT officials say the plywood has caused the property to look more unsightly.  UNIT sent a notice requiring the plywood removed, and to ensure that the property is maintained while vacant.

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Three dead in apparent murder-suicide in Watertown

One man and two teens have died following a shooting in Watertown last night.  A woman called 911 shortly before 10pm and reported that her boyfriend shot her teenage son and daughter.  15-year-old Della Jette and 16-year-old Sterling Jette Jr., died at the hospital.  42-year-old Paul Ferguson was found dead at the home with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

Police say Ferguson is a convicted felon and was disqualified from possessing a firearm. 

Police say Della returned from a school field trip and started loudly discussing with her mother about Ferguson smoking cigarettes in the house.  Ferguson, who was downstairs with Sterling, told her to quiet down and not speak to her mother that way.  Police say he went to the bedroom, came back with a Glock handgun that was kept in a safe and shot Sterling in the leg when he tried to intercede. 

Police say the girl was found on the deck.  The boy was found between the kitchen and living room.  Each suffered a gunshot wound to the chest.

Ferguson had been dating the mother for two years and moved into the home about two weeks ago. 

Watertown Superintendent of Schools Rydell Harrison in a message to parents Wednesday said the victims were former Watertown students, but not currently enrolled at Watertown High School.  Crisis teams are being made available Wednesday at the high school and middle school to help students and staff.

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Furnace malfunction caused smoke condition inside Brookfield building

A furnace malfunction caused a smoke condition inside a Brookfield building early this morning.  Firefighters responded to the building on Stoney Farm Lane around 6:30am.  There were elevated levels of Carbon Monoxide in the building, which was then ventilated.  The furnace was taken out of service.  A smoke alarm activated in the basement alerted occupants to the problem. 12 firefighters were on scene for about half an hour.  Brookfield fire officials urge everyone to have working smoke and CO alarms, and make sure furnaces or boilers are properly maintained.

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Woman due in court next week for allegedly slapping 71-year old man

A woman is due in court next week for allegedly slapping a 71-year old man.  Police responded to an an assault in the Southbury Green parking lot the day before Thanksgiving.  A Heritage Village resident saw a woman, later identified as 49-year old Kris Szabo, park in a handicap space without a handicap placard.  Witnesses said the man confronted her and she allegedly struck him 3 or 4 times with an open hand.   Szabo was charged with Breach of Peace and released on bond for a court appearance a week from today.  The elderly male was not injured during the incident.

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Congress members opposed proposed SNAP rule change

Connecticut's Congressional delegation has sent a letter to the Department of Agriculture urging officials to abandon its proposed rule regarding the Standard Utility Allowances in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says the change would jeopardize SNAP benefits for vulnerable households, citing the Department’s own analysis that the proposed rule would have a net negative impact.  The proposed rule would remove states’ ability to set allowances based on differences in utility costs and rates. 

45 percent of households in Connecticut would lose or see a decrease in SNAP benefits.

The delegation says this proposed rule dramatically undermines Connecticut’s ability to assist families in need and will disproportionately impact the state’s must vulnerable populations, including seniors and people with disabilities.  

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says the ability for SNAP recipients to deduct certain costs, like utility expenses, is an important part of accurately and fairly determining an individual’s SNAP benefits.  He noted that low-income residents spend a large portion of their income on heat and electricity because Connecticut has the third highest energy costs in the nation, behind only Hawaii and Alaska. 

The delegation pointed out that 22 states, including Connecticut, have Standard Utility Allowances exceeding the 85th percentile estimates.  Himes was critical that there was no explanation for why this threshold was set.  

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Bethel state lawmaker named to '30 Under 30' list

Bethel State Senator Will Haskell has been named to Forbes Magazine’s ‘30 Under 30’ list.  600 individuals under the age of 30 are recognized each year.  Haskell placed in the magazine’s Law and Policy category.  He says the ranking with other millennial leaders is about a generation that’s rolling up their sleeves and building a government that makes them proud.  Haskell added that they see the world differently and believe climate change isn't an academic anxiety, but a real threat, and that the price of earning a degree has skyrocketed. The Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ list was first published in 2011.

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Flood in basement forces Danbury Railway Museum temporary closure

A flood at the Danbury Railway Museum has forced its closure for most of the rest of the week,  The basement was flooded with 7 feet of water Monday, damaging mechanical and electrical systems.  As officials assess the damage, power has been shut off to the Uncle Sam statue in the museum's parking lot.  The heating system at the Railway Museum is being drained so repairs can be made.  The cause was a broken water line, but it’s unclear whether there was a faulty valve or crack in the main.  The museum was closed Monday, and is normally closed Tuesdays.  They will be closed today and tomorrow too.  The museum rents the building from the city of Danbury and the city has insurance, but it the cost of repairs was not immediately known.

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Kent registrars caution residents to registration deadline for presidential primary

With the municipal election in the books, thoughts are turning to the 2020 election.  A Presidential Preference Primary for one or both major political parties will be held in April.  Connecticut has a closed voting system so only registered voters of the party holding a Primary may vote in that party’s Primary.  The Kent Registrar of Voters says people interested in voting in the Democratic or Republican primary must affiliate with that party.  The deadline to register is January 28th. Voters who are registered Unaffiliated may join a party up to noon the day before the Primary, which will be held April 28th. 

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Truck fire extinguished in Bethel

There was a truck fire in Bethel yesterday morning.  Firefighters responded to the corner of Chestnut Ridge Road and Nashville Road Extension.  The truck was fully engulfed in thick smoke.  There were no reported injuries.  The cause of the fire was not immediately known.  While there were no flames visible, there was a heavy smell of burning rubber.  Bethel Police blocked traffic as firefighters overhauled the scene.

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Public hearing continues in Danbury on restaurant applications

A public hearing will continue tonight by the Danbury Planning Commission as the group goes over an application for two new restaurants at the mall.  Shake Shack and Longhorn Steakhouse would be located in a parking lot between Backus Avenue and Ring Road, where the carnival is typically located during the summer months. 

There is a crosswalk, but Traffic Engineer Joe Balskus says it's in an awkward spot between drive aisles.  The application proposes removing that crosswalk and moving it to another, more logical location.  But Balskus says they are widening the road to five lanes, and doesn't recommend a sidewalk to cross that length.  He notes that mid-block crosswalks are the most dangerous crosswalks there are. 

The natural intersection crossing in this case poses its own challenges.  There are signs that say 'no pedestrian crossing' and doesn't have accommodations for pedestrians. 

To mitigate traffic tie ups, the applicant proposes adding a left turn lane into the site and extend the current left lane in the opposite direction.  Proponents of the application believe people will drive from one mall parking lot to the restaurant parking and say there is no easy way to connect existing sidewalks to the proposed parking area.

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Informational meeting held in Brookfield on proposed Iroquois work

An informational meeting has been held in Brookfield about proposed work by Iroquois.  The plan calls for two new compressors in one building, next to the two smaller buildings with the compressors already on the property.  This would add 24,000 horsepower for the main line allowing gas to go from the Algonquin line to the Iroquois line.  Gas cooling will also be added.  A formal application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will be filed in January.  Iroquois says benefits of the project include reduced price volatility and lower fuel prices for gas and electric utilities.  The project complements the state's zero-carbon initiatives and pursuit of off-shore wind resources.  Iroquois says the work will enhance electric grid reliability and resiliency with additional compression that enables fast start and quick ramping during peak periods. 

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People needing community service hours to be used for park clean up

In a report to the Danbury City Council last night, the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team discussed plans to clean the hillside and general location of the Beaver Street Park over the next couple of weeks.  UNIT officials say the back side hill of the park accumulates a lot of trash during the warmer months, and now that the growth is dying down, it's easier to clean the hill.  UNIT will be coordinating with residents who need to complete community service hours to clean the area.  Most of the problem is trash and litter, but there are also some bulky items that were tossed down the hill.

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Danbury magnet school to hold open house

On Wednesday, December 11th, the Academy of International Studies in Danbury will hold an information session with tours of the building for parents and guardians interested in applying to the kindergarten through fifth grade magnet school.  It's from 6:30 to 7:30pm at the school and attendees must register by emailing the AIS secretary.  The lottery will be open January 1st through 15th. The drawing will take place on January 22nd and notification letters will be mailed by January 31st.

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Danbury accepts donation of land near East Lake Reservoir

Danbury has accepted donation of a couple of parcels of land along East Lake Reservoir.  The land is being donated to the City by Dr. Laurence Sibrack.  The combined assessed and appraised values of the two parcels are $44,200 and $63,200 respectively.  They are 42 through 46 East Lake Road.  The undeveloped lots are on the norther border of the reservoir.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says City ownership of these two properties will provide additional drinking water quality protection.  Councilman John Esposito was concerned that, with the proximity to the golf course, there would be run off of fertilizer.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the land would be kept for passive recreation.  He notes that with new Department of Public Health regulations, the City would have a hard time doing anything else with the property.  Boughton says there could be hiking like there is around Marjorie Reservoir and other similar areas. 

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Informational meeting in Brookfield tonight on proposed Iroquois work

Iroquois is hosting a Pipeline Informational Open House tonight in Brookfield.  Representatives will meet with interested residents about their proposed Enhancement by Compression Project and possible construction of additional compression at its Brookfield facility.  

The informational is from 6pm to 8pm at Brookfield Town Hall. 

Iroquois officials say the project is needed to meet the increasing need for natural gas in the northeast region, without having to build a new pipeline.  In addition to projects at the Brookfield facility, the proposal includes work at the Dover, New York compressor station and installation of emission reduction equipment. 

The proposed in-service date is November 2023. 

In Connecticut, Iroquois says benefits of the project include reduced price volatility and lower fuel prices for gas and electric utilities.  The project complements the state's zero-carbon initiatives and pursuit of off-shore wind resources.  Iroquois says the work will enhance electric grid reliability and resiliency with additional compression that enables fast start and quick ramping during peak periods. 

A formal application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will be filed in January.

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Brookfield Health Department issues reminders about generator use

During these colder months, the Brookfield Health Department is reminding residents of the need for extreme caution in the use of generators. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless and tasteless, so it can lead to serious harm, even death, without ever being aware of its presence.  Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages, crawl spaces, and basements.  Open windows and doors may not prevent CO from building up when a generator is located in an enclosed space.  A generator must have 3 to 4 feet of clear space on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation.

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Wilton Police investigate reports of car theft, vehicles entered

There's been another rash of thefts from vehicles in Wilton.  Police say the pattern has picked up recently and all cases are under investigation.  This is despite thefts from cars being down 55-percent from last year.  Stolen vehicle crimes are down 36-percent year over year.  Wilton Police remind residents to make sure to lock vehicles even when parked in the driveway at night, and not to leave keys inside the vehicle.

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State trooper in court to face drunken driving charges

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut State Police sergeant charged with drinking heavily at a retirement party for a colleague before injuring two women in an off-duty car crash has made his initial court appearance.

John McDonald was released after his arraignment Monday on charges including drunken driving and assault with a motor vehicle.

Neither he nor his attorney, Robert Britt, addressed the allegations outside of Middletown Superior Court.

Authorities say the 37-year-old McDonald consumed at least eight alcoholic drinks at an Oxford brew pub during the party before the Sept. 25 accident in Southbury.

Troopers say McDonald was driving more than 70 mph and ran a stop sign before crashing into another car, injuring a 52-year-old Middlebury woman and her 19-year-old daughter. They have sued McDonald.

McDonald has been placed on paid leave.

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Danbury has street parking ban due to snow

Danbury has declared a Level 1 snow emergency. That means there's a parking ban on City Streets. Residents should move their cars so that plows can come through City streets and do a complete job clearing the roads.  The Town of Bethel has a winter parking ban which prohibits on-street parking between the hours of 2am and 6am so snowplowing will not be impeded when needed.  Any Bethel resident who normally parks on the street should prepare by locating alternative parking spaces.  Bethel Police urge drivers to travel only when necessary and, if unavoidable, allot extra time for reduced speed due to hazardous road conditions.

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Bethel Police investigate weekend stabbing

Bethel Police are investigating a stabbing.  The victim told police the incident happened on Midway Drive Saturday. Police say it happened during the early morning hours and that the case remains under investigation.  The victim was wounded, but their condition was not immediately known.  No further details about the stabbing has been released.  Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Sgt. Zavatsky at 203-744-7900.

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Candle on stove top blamed for New Fairfield house fire

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to a possible kitchen fire Saturday afternoon on Prineston Lane.  Homeowners quickly put the flames out with extinguisher that was nearby and called 911 to have firefighters double check that it was out. The cause of the fire was a candle on a cooktop stove that was turned on to help even out wax inside the glass jar. The glass broke and caused a large flame. Firefighters vented smoke from the home.  Fire officials say the residents will be busy cleaning up extinguisher powder for a while and urged others to be careful with candles this holiday season.

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Danbury, New Milford cancel planned swearing in ceremonies

Due to possible inclement weather in Danbury, the elected officials swearing in scheduled for tonight has been postponed to Tuesday night at 6pm. The Special Meeting scheduled for tonight at 8pm in Danbury is cancelled. New Milford Mayor Pete Bass cancelled the planned inauguration that was to be held at Town Hall yesterday afternoon  He says safety of residents and volunteers is paramount.  Lt Governor Susan Bysiewicz is scheduled to attend the Bethel municipal swearing in ceremony tonight.  It's set for 7:30pm at Bethel Municipal Center.

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Public hearing scheduled for proposed cell tower in Kent

A cell tower is proposed for the town of Kent.  A technical report from Homeland Towers and New Cingular, AT&T, says the tower would provide “reliable wireless communications services” to the central portion of town.  The Board of Selectmen will hold a public informational meeting on the 13th about installing a tower at either 93 Richards Road or on Bald Hill Road.  An analysis of radio frequency in the Bald Hill Road area identified an area of deficient coverage affecting a significant portion of Kent, including key traffic corridors through residential and commercial areas.  The 1.9-acre Bald Hill Road parcel is owned by InSite Towers Development.  The 6.8-acre plot Richards Road parcel is owned by the Dubray family.  The hearing is at Kent Town Hall at 7pm.

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