Local Headlines Archives for 2020-01

Race4Chase coming to Newtown Community Center this summer

Race4Chase is coming to the Newtown Community Center this summer.  29 locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are hosting kids triathlon camps in honor of a boy killed on 12-14. 

Chase Kowalski had competed in his first youth triathlon just months before the shooting at Sandy Hook School.  Rebecca Kowalski says she and her husband, Steve, started Race4Chase because they wanted to honor their son’s memory with something that focused on families, health and wellness.

Two dozen managers of New England community centers and YMCAs made formal commitments yesterday at the Newtown Community Center to host the free Race4Chase camps to train kids in swimming, biking and running.  11 Race4Chase camps are also planned in South Carolina.

The Kowalskis say the letters of agreements mean more than 1,000 kids will be able to participate in free, six-week camps that each culminate with a USA Triathlon-sanctioned event. 

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Hayes supports Social Security 2100 Act

80 years ago, the first Social Security check was issued.  In marking the anniversary, 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says she supports the Social Security 2100 Act.  It would expand benefits for current and future recipients, cut taxes for over 10 million seniors, and keep the system solvent for the rest of the century. 

She also backs the Social Security Fairness Act to eliminate the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset.  Hayes says this will ensure benefits for millions of Americans who have devoted their careers to public service. 

Hayes also voted in support of the Comprehensive CREDIT Act.  It's aimed at correcting errors.  Hayes says right now consumers have little recourse when reports are incorrect.  She added that the security clearance, duty status or potential promotion of a servicemember may be in jeopardy because of incorrect information on a credit report. 

According to the Office of Servicemember Affairs, between April 2017 and August 2018, 52-percent of complaints submitted by service members were about incorrect information on their reports.

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Ridgefield Tax Collector Office to open for special hours Saturday

The Ridgefield Tax Collector's Office is open this Saturday from 9 am to Noon for payment of 3rd Quarter Real Estate, Personal Property & Supplemental Motor Vehicle Taxes.  The bills are due now, with the last day to pay without penalty Monday.  Anyone with questions is asked to contact the Ridgefield Tax Collector's Office.

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Weston volunteer firefighter recovering from fall at home

A Weston volunteer firefighter who sustained a severe traumatic brain injury in an accident at his Wilton home in June 2018 is on the mend.  John Kaczmarczyk fell backwards on the staircase, fracturing his skull.  The 58-year-old was taken to Norwalk Hospital’s trauma center for emergency surgery.  Kaczmarzyk spent 3 months in an inpatient rehab facility to work on speech and balance as he dealt with partial paralysis on his whole left side.  With outpatient rehabilitation, he now just has a limp and hopes to take part in the Tunnels to Towers Walk next September to support firefighters and their families, affected by 9/11.

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Danbury Sen. maintains opposition to tolls ahead of informational hearing

A draft of legislation calling for 12 toll gantries across Connecticut is the subject of an informational hearing this afternoon in Hartford.  A proposed Special Session for Monday or Tuesday has been scrapped.  The regular General Assembly term opens on Wednesday.

Danbury state Senator Julie Kushner says she ran in opposition to the Governor's proposed truck-only toll plan and her stance has not changed.

The proposal being considered today calls for 12 gantries on bridges throughout the state, including I-84 in Newtown and on the 1-mile stretch of 684 that's technically in Greenwich. 

The initial base rate for tolls — between $6 and $13 — would apply to big trucks. The transportation commissioner set the rate.  A new Transportation Policy Council would have the sole authority to change the rates on any tolled bridge.  The council would include commuter rail, transportation equity, bus transportation, municipal government, public safety, and construction or engineering experts.

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Man convicted of sexually assaulting 9-year-old girl

TORRINGTON, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man has been convicted of sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl.

Michael Romano, 43, of New Milford, was convicted by a jury Wednesday of nine counts including first-degree sexual assault and engaging a child in an obscene performance.  Romano faces up to 85 years in prison when he’s sentenced April 17. He remains held on $1.2 million bond.

The investigation started in December 2017 when the girl’s mother took her daughter to the New Milford Police Department with physical injuries. Further investigation of her cellphone revealed intimate photos of herself and text messages she had sent to Romano.

Romano, who is married and has two sons, and was friend’s with the girl’s mother, authorities said.

Both he and the girl took the stand during the trial. Romano, representing himself, said he only sought to help a single mother and her two children, including the victim, now 11.

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Rollover tractor trailer accident injures driver, snarls evening commute

A rollover tractor trailer accident on I-84 in Danbury snarled the evening commute.  Two lanes were closed eastbound by the exit 6 on ramp shortly after 3:30pm.  According to police dispatch reports debris from the crash fell from the highway overpass onto North Street and hit a car.  That debris was cleared quickly. 

The highway was closed until about 9:30pm. 

The truck driver, 50-year old Ronald Mike Smith, was injured in the crash and transported to Danbury Hospital.  A passenger was also injured and taken to the hospital.  Smith was charged with failure to maintain lane.

Firefighters worked to clean up the fluid spill on the highway as Connecticut State Police, the DOT and the removal crews remained on scene with the vehicle.  The decision was made to remove it after rush hour.

(Photo: DFD)

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Danbury area schools outperform state in new report

The annual Next Generation Accountability System for school performance shows the Danbury area experienced improvement, while Connecticut overall slipped.  The measure judges schools on a dozen indicators, including test scores, chronic absenteeism and access to the arts. 

As a whole, Connecticut public schools got a grade of 74.2 out of 100 for the last school year, compared to 74.9 percent the year before.  162 schools across the state were named in the report as Schools of Distinction for high overall and academic performance. 

The schools in the top 10 percent include ones in Bethel, Danbury, Newtown, Redding, and Ridgefield.

Seven Danbury schools were acknowledged, mostly for growth in math among all of the student groups and for growth in English and math for students with high needs. Great Plain was noted for its high performance and high growth among all of its students in English and Mill Ridge had high performance. 

Both Berry and Rockwell elementary schools in Bethel were named high performing schools.  Head O'Meadow Elementary School in Newtown had high growth for all students in English.  Redding Elementary School was recognized for being high performance and seeing high growth among all student groups in math. 

Ridgebury, Scotland and Farmingville elementary schools in Ridgefield were all listed as high performing and Farmingville was also recognized for its high growth among all students in English.

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New Fairfield Health Department staying up to date about Coronavirus

The New Fairfield Health Department is collaborating with community partners, including Danbury and New Milford Hospitals, and neighboring municipalities to protect residents from the Coronavirus.  While Coronavirus is new, New Fairfield Health Department officials say they have experienced other novel and emerging infections, and know the process to maintain preparedness for any developments.  Town officials say they will aim to provide the most current information and direction as it becomes available and are ready to adapt to updated CDC and state Department of Public Health protocols as they become available.  The Department plans to provide regular updates about Coronavirus transmission, containment efforts and other evolving information as it becomes available.

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Former Danbury priest to be arraigned today

A former priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Danbury will be arraigned today.  An attorney for Jaime Marin-Cardona  told Hearst Connecticut Media that his client intends to enter a not guilty plea.  Marin-Cardona was charged earlier this month with three counts each of sexual assault, illegal sexual contact and risk of injury to a child stemming from accusations of sexually assaulting one boy and groping another. 

He is being held on $500,000 bond.  The arrest warrant claims that the 51-year-old groomed both boys over the course of four years, starting in 2014.  The church found no abuse allegations when it investigated Marin-Cardona in 2015, though he was reportedly re-trained on church policies. 

The Bridgeport diocese contacted Danbury police this past September about “boundary violations” and possible grooming of two children by Marin-Cardona.  According to the arrest warrant, the Colombia native was transferred to parishes in Bridgeport 2017, but continued to drive to Danbury to visit both families. 

Marin-Cardona’s passport was seized by police and he was ordered to have no contact with either victim or any child under the age of 18.

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Kent Memorial Library to reopen following renovations

Kent Memorial Library's temporary location will be closed today as the collection moves back to North Main Street.  A renovation, which included asbestos remediation and new carpet installation, has been completed at the library building.  Patrons still had access to material during the renovation, with the library operating at a temporary location on Kent Green Boulevard.  The books, newspapers, computers and other materials will be ready for continued check out and use when the North Main Street building reopens at 10am Saturday.

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Democrat announces candidacy for Newtown state Senate seat

A Fairfield Democrat has announced her candidacy for the 28th state senate district, which also includes Newtown, Easton and part of Weston.  Michelle McCabe  is the director of the Center for Food Equity and Economic Development at The Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport.  The seat is currently held by Republican Tony Hwang.  He's been elected to the position for three terms.  McCabe challenged Hwang in 2018.

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Danbury firefighters track down odor of gas at Federal Rd business

Danbury firefighters were able to track down an odor of gas in the Federal Road area last night.  Firefighters, along with Eversource responded to the Party Depot building and determined there was a problem with a rooftop HVAC unit.  The business remained open while the issue was mitigated.

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Congressional candidate selling 5th District home

A 5th Congressional District candidate who made national headlines this month as part of the impeachment inquiry is reportedly selling his Simsbury home.  Despite calls from his own party to end his candidacy, Robert Hyde is continuing to run for the seat currently held by Democratic freshman Jahana Hayes.  The Constitution requires members of Congress live the state they will represent on the day they’re elected.  Hearst Connecticut Media reports Hyde’s four bedroom, three-bath raised ranch was listed in October 2019 for $469,900. Hyde lowered the price slightly in November and then on January 22nd, raised the listing to $549,900.

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Party line votes held on proposed $62 million bond package in Danbury

A public hearing has been held in Danbury on the proposed bond package.  It was followed by a Committee-of-the-whole meeting where members tied on a recommendation of whether to send the proposal to the City Council next month.  Because of the tie, the motion on the 62 million dollars failed. 

The City Council is scheduled to take up the matter at its regular meeting on Tuesday, February 4th at 7:30 pm

Council Minority Leader Paul Rotello proposed splitting the bond into two questions, one for the schools and one for everything else.  That also tied, resulting in the committee considering the bond package as a whole.  A freshman member-at-large, Roberto Lopes Alves, said he understands a list of roads to be paved can't be included in the bond package in case weather doesn't allow for a lot of work or money runs out.  But he says a list of priority roads should be outlined for residents.

Mayor Mark Boughton says all of the items in the package are urgent.  He doesn't have a problem separating the two questions and believes both will pass.  Boughton urged the Council not to push this off to November.  As for the road paving, Boughton says the reason the City was able to get ahead on some roads this season was because surplus money was allocated ahead of the budget being approved.  He doesn't want to see that progress backslide through a missed opportunity.

Council Democrats says there was a lack of detail and transparency. 

Town Committee Chairwoman Andrea Gartner says the Administration not only owes the Board of Education a more transparent method of governance, but also, the people of Danbury.  That prompted a response from the Republican Town Committee.  Officials said, in a post on social media, that put politics over people and sacrifices City children's future for cheap political points. 

There's been a workshop, public hearing, and Council Committee meeting about the proposed bond package.

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Ridgefield officials discuss deed restrictions for condo units to add affordable housing stock

Ridgefield officials are discussing how to increase affordable housing, without leading to sprawl. 

The Ridgefield Press reports that a tax credit could be offered for Casagmo and Fox Hill units that become deed restricted as affordable.  Some of the units have sold for prices considered affordable, but the state requires that a housing unit also be deed restricted to remain affordable for 40 years. 

But there are some concerns that a deed restriction will reduce the market value as both a rental and when there's a resale. 

The Selectmen say getting credit for an accurate count of affordable units will help when the state determines whether Ridgefield is open to applications under the 8-30g statute.  Any municipality with over 10% of its housing stock qualifying as affordable is exempt from 8-30g applications.  Density, height and setback restrictions can be bypassed by developers for projects that include 30% of units deemed affordable. 

According to the Town Plan of Conservation and Development Ridgefield has a total of about 10,000 housing units, 80-percent of which are single-family detached homes.

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NY Police to step up DWI patrols Superbowl weekend

A special enforcement effort to crackdown on impaired driving during Super Bowl weekend gets under way Friday.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office and Carmel Police will participate in the statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown through February 3rd. Sheriff Robert Langley says research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent. Sobriety checkpoints play a key part in raising awareness about the problem.  Langley says anyone hosting a Super Bowl party should ask attendees to designate a responsible driver before the game begins.  The law enforcement agencies have a new mobile app called Have A Plan to help make sure people who drink don't drive and get a ride.

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Safe Boating, Personal Watercraft course to be held by CLA Marine Patrol

A 2-day combination Safe Boating / Personal Watercraft course is being offered by the Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol.   To legally operate a boat with an engine or motor on Connecticut waters for more than 60 days, you must have a Safe Boating Certificate.  To legally operate a personal watercraft, regardless of state residency,  a Certificate of Personal Watercraft Operation must be held.  The safe boating course is required in order to obtain certification.  The class is being taught by instructors from the Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol Friday March 6th from 5pm to 9pm and Saturday March 7th from 8:30am to 12:30pm at Sail Harbour Club Clubhouse in New Fairfield.  Registration is required and class size is limited.  The cost is $25.

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NY man arrested for 2018 drug robbery, stabbings

A New York man has been arrested for a 2018 drug robbery and stabbing in Danbury.  

City Police took 24-year old Collin Hedley into custody last week after he was released from a New York correctional facility, where he was being held in a manslaughter case.  The Yonkers man was charged with home invasion, robbery, assault, conspiracy to commit assault, and accessory to robbery and to larceny. 

Hedley pleaded not guilty and is being held on bond for a court appearance February 5th. 

The charges stem from an incident on Windaway Road, where two men were found with multiple stab wounds.  Police found two knives in the house, both with blood stains.

The victims told police that they sold drugs to one of three men who came to the house that night.  According to arrest affidavits, one of the victims told police he sold them lean.  Lean is a liquid mix of prescription-grade cough syrup, soft drink and hard candy.  Court documents say a bag containing prescription Xanax pills was also stolen.  One suspect allegedly asked to to see the victim’s wax, a cannabis concentrate. Two of the men then allegedly began stabbing the victims.

Two other men have been charged and have their cases pending in court.

Diego Trejo, of Bedford, was identified by the victims.  He confirmed Hedley’s identity for police.  Connecticut Insider reports that Trejo told police after the robbery he ran into the woods and called a Lyft to take him home.  Trejo was arrested in August 2018 for home invasion, robbery, accessory to assault and conspiracy to commit assault.

28-year old Rodney Harvey, of the Bronx, was identified through DNA evidence at the crime scene.  He was arrested in August 2019 for home invasion, conspiracy to commit assault, assault, accessory to robbery, and accessory to larceny.  He is due in court February 26th.

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New law reduces taxes on retirement income, Social Security

A local lawmaker is updating residents on a new bill that reduces taxes on retirement income and Social Security.  State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says the measure now in place will impact 2019 tax returns.  Retirees making $7,000 or less and couples making $100,000 or less per year are now fully exempt from state income tax on Social Security.  There's also an increased amount of their pension income exempted from state income tax each year until 2025, when their pension income will be fully exempt.

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Sherman Volunteer Fire Dept. responded to nearly 400 calls in 2019

In 2019 the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department responded to a total of 399 calls. On average, firefighters were responding to at least one call per day for the entire year. Breaking down that total into categories shows 220 calls were EMS only, 138 were on the fire side and 46 required response from both fire and EMS.  As is the case each year, Sherman fire company officials say they could not have done this without the continued support from the community.  They thanked residents for attending the fireman's ball, donating as part of the annual appeal, participating in the boot drives and even just expressing appreciation.

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Congresswoman fights proposed SNAP rule change

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is renewing her call to stop changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  She says the proposed rule makes it harder for states like Connecticut to get work requirement waivers in areas with consistently above-average unemployment.  Hayes added that it also removes the ability to ensure residents can put food on the table while continuing their job search.  If this change goes into effect, she notes that the 22 towns currently using these waivers in the District will see them disappear. Connecticut could lose over $41 million per year in direct benefits.

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New Milford starts Young's Field playground replacement

The weather is cold and there are fewer kids playing outdoors so New Milford officials are taking advantage of the timing.  A contractor began tear down work on Young’s Field playground to make way for new equipment.  New Milford Parks and Rec asked that people keep away from the construction site for their safety as the playground is closed.  New playgrounds will also be built at Northville Elementary and Sarah Noble. 

(Rendering: New Milford Parks & Rec)

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Newtown High Schooler selected for regional competition

Newtown American Legion Post 202 recently held their High School Oratorical Contest.  Students presented for 8 to 10 minutes on the Constitution, without notes, and spoke specifically about one of the 27 ratified amendments, selected randomly.  State Senator Tony Hwang says each student made an impressive presentation and demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of the societal and policy impact of each amendment.  Ultimately the judges chose Newtown High School sophomore Ethan McGinnis as the local Post 202 winner. He will compete at the District level on February 15th at Fairfield Public Library.  Hwang works with organizations who provide opportunities to civically engage and inspire students as he advocates for youth involvement in government and politics.

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New Milford Town Council gets update on market analysis

The New Milford Town Council has gotten an update on a market analysis of what needs to be done to help the area thrive.  Camoin 310 recently told council members that the state's population is aging so more medical offices and assisted living options will be needed.  The analysis found that seniors made up 21 percent of the population in 2015 and it's expected to climb to 29-percent over the next decade.  The survey also suggested the need for more flexible industry space to meet the existing demand. 

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Anniversary of Fair Pay Act marked by Congresswoman

11 years ago, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says despite the bill prohibiting gender-based wage discrimination, the pay gap between men and women remains.  For every dollar earned by a white man, women earn 79 cents.  For women of color, that number is even lower, with Black women earning 62 cents, Native women earning 57 cents, and Hispanic women earning 54 cents.

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Bethel High School students organize 3rd annual Kindness Day campaign

Bethel High School students have organized their 3rd annual Kindness Day campaign.  The week long event is being marked in the school with a number of events, starting February 10th. 

The theme this year is “Love Leads the Way.”  Proceeds from this year's t-shirt sales and other activities will benefit Bethel Social Services, Bethel Public Schools Social Service Department and the BHS Kindness Committee Scholarship.  

Five students make up the executive committee organizing the events.  Senior Joe Bagala says they want to promote empathy among students and the broader community.  Junior Erin Lowenadler hopes the community will get involved by purchasing a shirt, created by a fellow student.  Senior Erin Gorman says there are different themes for the students to participate, similar to spirit week. 

Junior Ashlynn Ehrhard says Friday will be their Kindness Day assembly and all students who purchased a $10 shirt is asked to wear it.  A check will be presented to Bethel Social Services at that time. 

The community is also called on to wear their shirts that day.  Orders must be placed by noon on this Friday, the 31st.  Cash or Checks can be sent to the Bethel High Main Office, with checks made payable to BHS Student Activity Fund. Late orders will be processed, but school officials say they cannot guarantee shirts will arrive in time to wear on February 14th. 

The Scholarship will be presented to a graduating senior who exemplifies kindness, compassion, and empathy through their words and actions. Students and staff members will nominate senior students who represent these qualities and a scholarship committee will select a deserving recipient.

Bethel Public Schools’ Social Service Department assists students in need in a variety of ways: snacks when hungry, clothing needs (shoes, jackets, gloves, hats, socks), caps/gowns for graduation, field trips, school supplies, prom tickets/dresses, tragic loss (family, fire, accident), sickness/disability, halloween costumes, personal hygiene items, and the like. 

Last year, $7,000 was raised during Kindness week and donated to the Scotty Fund. 

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Newtown: Health District ready to deal with Coronavirus

The Newtown Health Department is updating residents about what they're doing to protect people from the Coronavirus.  The Health District is collaborating with community partners, Nuvance Health and neighboring municipalities to provide the most current information and direction.  No vaccine or specific treatment for Coronavirus is currently available.  Newtown Health officials say they are ready to adapt to updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Connecticut Department of Public Health protocols as they become available.  Common signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

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Plea hearing continued for man accused of killing Bethel woman

A plea offer from a man accused of killing a Bethel woman has been rejected by a Connecticut Superior Court Judge.  27-year-old Brandon Roberts could have gotten a 45-year plea, but the Connecticut Post reports that dozens spoke on behalf of 25-year old Emily Todd saying that he should serve life in prison.  The Judge did not agree with either and will come up with a plea offer, as required.  If it's rejected, Roberts could face a trial.  The case was continued for 6 weeks to March 11th.  Roberts is charged with murder and carrying a pistol without a permit in the December 2018 killing in Bridgeport.  After meeting online and having several dates, police said Todd called off the relationship. But, they say he convinced her to meet one more time, at the Bridgeport boat ramp.

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Next phase of former Mill Plain railroad station restoration under way

The next phase of the restoration of the former Mill Plain railroad station is under way.  The 1881-built station was relocated to the Danbury Railway Museum’s railroad yard in 2018.  The roof is now under construction and the next step is the restoration of the canopy.  Original components have been saved but some of the missing brackets that supported the canopy, as well as missing canopy rafters, are being reconstructed to match the originals. The restoration of the canopy has been estimated by the museum’s contractor to be about $20,000.  Museum officials want to get the roof waterproofed and shingled to protect the original walls.  Additional restoration work includes a new floor, doors and windows, along with rebuilding the bay window area.  Siding repair, electrical work, and repainting the interior and exterior is also needed.  The Danbury Railway Museum is a non-profit organization, staffed solely by volunteers.

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Newtown Bike and Trail Committee to study Fairfield Hills use

WestCOG, the regional planning agency for towns from Sherman down to Stamford, has hosted the Newtown Bike and Trail Committee.  The Committee, led by Brid Cradock, will be counting uses of the Fairfield Hills walking trail, starting in the spring and continuing throughout the year.  Representatives from Newtown Parks and Rec and Newtown Land Use  attended the meeting. Methodology, calibration, data compilation, placement of trail counters, trail surveys, and other topics were discussed.  Members of the Connecticut Trail Census shared hints and offered help to organize the effort.  WestCOG and CT Trail Census will continue to provide technical support for this project.

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Danbury Police accepting applications for Spring Citizen Police Academy

Danbury Police are now accepting applications for the Spring session of the Department's Citizen Police Academy. Sessions start on March 10th and will be held every Tuesday night until May 19th.  Interested participants must be at least 18 years old, and print out an application and send it in by March 3rd.  Space is limited to 26 participants.  The application authorizes the Danbury Police Department to conduct a criminal history background investigation, including convictions, pending charges and outstanding warrants.  The course is intended to teach residents about the operations of the police department and to foster enhanced understanding and cooperation between the police and the community they serve. It is not intended to make citizens into police officers but rather to heighten awareness of both the public and police in an effort to develop a partnership between both. 

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Redding Health Department is hosting new FEMA class

The Redding Health Department is hosting a new FEMA class.  The program is called “Until Help Arrives” and is sponsored by Redding CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and the Georgetown Fire District.  It will be Saturday February 8th from 9 to noon at the Georgetown Fire Department.  The course is free and will teach participants how to act quickly and do the most good should you come upon a situation where help is needed.  The class will also include hands-on instruction on how to use a fire extinguisher.  Registration is required by calling or emailing the Redding Health Department.  The class will be instructed by Jim Mecozzi, a life-time Redding resident, a Georgetown Fire District Commissioner, and a Lieutenant for 21 years at the Stratford Fire Department.

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BMS nationally recognized as 'Unified Champion School'

Bethel Middle School has been nationally recognized as a Unified Champion School.  The recognition was designated at the Unified Sports Youth Leadership Summit and a banner arrived last week marking the honor.  A champion school demonstrates commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 standards of excellence.  Schaghticoke School in New Milford also has been awarded the designation.  Only 6 Schools in Connecticut have achieved this status.

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Marvelwood School students on research trip to Panama

Six students and two faculty members from Marvelwood School are in the middle of a 10 day trip to Panama. Local students participating in the trip include Maddie Paddock of Lakeville, Connecticut and Olivia Pignataro of Carmel, New York. The trip is a combination of scientific research, community outreach, and international exploration. Over the years, Marvelwood students have contributed to the discovery of 380 avian species at a nature reserve, making the area the 14th rated hotspot out of 100 known hotspots for avian diversity in the country of Panama. This year, the group is bringing a hydrophone, on loan from Cornell University, which they're excited to use for underwater recordings of fish and amphibians.  Students will be working with top researchers and experts in their fields including Abel Batista, who is one of the leading herpetologists in Panama and Central America.

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Case continued against State Police Sgt accused of driving drunk, causing crash that injured two

A plea has not yet been entered by a Connecticut state police sergeant charged in DUI crash that injured a mother and her daughter.   37-year-old John McDonald made a brief court appearance yesterday and had his case continued to February 24th. 

The sergeant faces charges of assault with a motor vehicle, reckless driving and failure to obey a stop sign for the September crash in Southbury.  

According to the arrest warrant, McDonald had about eight drinks at a colleague’s retirement party at an Oxford brewery.  He was not given a breathalyzer test on the scene and left the hospital without blood tests. 

State police are conducting an internal affairs investigation, and McDonald remains suspended.

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Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist arrested for sharing personal info of a parent

A Florida man who for years has harassed the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting has been arrested.  Wolfgang Halbig has claimed the shooting never happened, or was the result of a government conspiracy.  The 73-year old also claimed that the child victims were crisis actors, and has requested documents that include photos of the shooting scene. 

He was charged yesterday for being in possession of another person’s identification. According to an arrest affidavit, Halbig repeatedly emailed several people and law enforcement agencies the Social Security number, birth date and other information of Leonard Pozner, whose 6-year-old son, Noah, was killed on 12-14.

Halbig was released after posting bail. 

Pozner filed a lawsuit against Halbig in 2015 and got an injunction against Halbig requiring his address, phone number and email address be removed from the hoaxer's website.

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Newtown woman charged with criminal trespass for refusing to leave Eversource office

A Newtown woman has been charged with criminal trespass for allegedly refusing to leave the offices of Eversource Energy.  47-year old Rebecca Carnes was arrested last Wednesday morning. 

The Newtown Bee reports that officers responded to the Barnabas Road facility and were told an irate customer would not leave after being asked multiple times to do so. 

Carnes told officers she wanted a remote meter removed from her home because it was a health danger.  The device uses radio technology to transmit electric-meter readings to nearby technicians who remotely read meters to record electric usage information.

She was released on a promise to appear in court on February 5th.

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Public hearing in Bethel on proposed Charter revisions

A public hearing will be held in Bethel tonight on the proposed draft report of the Charter revisions.  The hearing will be at 7pm in Meeting Room A of the Municipal Center.

There are several proposed modifications to the town's governing document such as adding another non-binding advisory option of 'just right" to ballots. 

The Commission unanimously agreed to recommend the use of purchasing cooperatives, prohibit Board of Finance members from serving on other Boards concurrently and raising the referendum trigger for capital utility projects to $2 million. The group also is recommending making the Public Utility Commission a 7-member board.  Some titles are changed including Comptroller to Finance Director, Civil Preparedness Director to Director of Emergency Management and Data Processing Department to Information Technology Department. 

The proposed revisions also include removing references to water and sewer from Public Works Department and clarifying duties, add a new section for the Department of Public Utilities, and adding a section covering resignations and removals of appointed Board members. 

There are technical changes from just "his" to "or her" in the terms in office, that meetings can be held at any town owned building, and notifications can be made in mediums consistent with state requirements. 

Other proposed revisions are that the Board of Finance should hold a public hearing not less than 7 or more than 14 days before the Annual Town Budget Meeting, that the meeting be held during the first 14 days of April and that the budget referendum be held 10 to 15 business days after the budget meeting.  All construction plans would have to be complete before a referendum is held according to one of the proposed additions.  The last change would be that a special referendum by petition be held 10 to 15 business days after certification. 

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Bethel Superintendent proposes increased budget due to enrollment hikes

Enrollment increases and the rising cost of health care are being cited for a higher proposed education budget in Bethel.  Superintendent Christine Carver presented a plan that's 4.18 percent more than the current fiscal year.  The $48.4 million budget takes into account two new elementary teachers, an assistant principal, an additional custodian and another bus.  Enrollment in Bethel Schools has gone up by more than 1 percent from last year, and has increased 6.6 percent since the 2015 school year. 

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GOP former lawmaker looks to in back state House seat

A Republican is looking to take back the state legislative seat he held for 6 years.  Dan Carter is running for election to the 2nd House district, which includes portions of Bethel, Danbury, Redding, and Newtown. 

He served in the position from 2010 through 2016.  Carter left the General Assembly for an unsuccessful run against U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal in 2016.  Carter served on the General Law, Education, Finance Revenue & Bonding, Public Health, Energy & Technology, and Banking committees. He was also a member of Aviation and Bioscience caucuses.

He is looking to unseat freshman Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan, who announced last week that he is seeking a second term.  Allie-Brennan has already raised the required donations to participate in the Citizen Election grant program. 

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Board of Regents proposed tuition hike for WestConn, Eastern, Central and Southern

The Board of Regents for higher education in Connecticut is considering tuition hikes at West Conn and the other three state universities.  The proposal calls for an increase of 3 to 4 percent next year, holding tuition at community colleges flat.  The Board's Finance and Infrastructure committee will consider the proposal at their meeting tomorrow.  Full-time in-state tuition across the system would from about $5,900 per year to about $6,100.  The university fee, charged at all campuses, would be from $918 to $946. University General Fees, which vary across the four schools, would also increase.  Out-of-state costs would be increased 2.9 percent to 3.7 percent.

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Facility in Middlebury could be purchased by the town of Southbury

A property in Middlebury could be purchased by the town of Southbury.  The Board of Selectmen have agreed to allocate 3-thousand dollars to secure the option on the Edgewood Bath and Tennis Club, through July 31st.  The overall price tag is 2 million dollars.  Southbury officials say it would replace the 50-year old town pool at Ballantine Park, and Pomperaug High School students already use the tennis courts there.  Residents would need to vote at a town meeting or a referendum on the final purchase.  An ad hoc committee is study the option.  The facility, across from the Region 15 Longmeadow Elementary School, has been on the market since September 2018.

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Youth Volunteer Corps in Danbury named 'Gold Level'

The Youth Volunteer Corps program through United Way of Western Connecticut has been named a Gold Level program for the fifth year in a row. It is one of 14 of these types of programs across the United States and Canada to be recognized.  Youth Volunteer Corps aims to encourage youth to be dedicated to giving back.  Groups that “serve as stand-out examples for how the program can serve its community” are given the Gold Level rating. Last year, 140 youth, ages 11 to 18, from across the Danbury area conducted services projects that benefit nonprofits, parks, senior centers and food pantries.  Two Youth Advisory Board members, Ridgefield resident Emma Kiernan and Danbury resident Connor Parille, also received the Ethic of Service award for completing 500 hours of service with the program.

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DOT continues tree clearing along I-84 in Danbury

Drivers in the Danbury area have noticed a big change in scenery around the exit 7 area along I-84.  The state Department of Transportation has cleared trees from the median and sides of the road.  Drivers have been stuck in traffic because of the lane closures for that work.  DOT Spokesman Kevin Nursik says some trees have been damaged by Emerald Ash Borer and Gypsy Moths, others were compromised by the 2018 macroburst.  But he says others were cleared to improve sight lines.  He says the goal is to have a 30-foot clear zone on either side of the highway, which is why clearing is now happening closer to exit 6.

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Two civilians, 1 firefighter injured in Bethel fire

Two civilians and one firefighter were injured in a house fire Friday in Bethel.  Stony Hill and Bethel Firefighters were dispatched to a home on Oak Ridge Road near the intersection with Walnut Hill Road.  They found heavy smoke from the front door and windows. Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company and Danbury Fire Department responded with mutual aid.  Crews were faced with deteriorating conditions which ultimately lead to a floor collapse in the front living room.  The building was evacuated and a defensive attack was initiated.  The fire was brought under control in about an hour. Crews remained on scene hitting hot spots and overhauling the badly damaged house. Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company was then called in as well.  The civilians and firefighter were transported to Danbury Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Bethel Fire Marshal office.

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Pedestrian hit-and-run accident under investigation in Danbury

A pedestrian hit-and-run accident is under investigation in Danbury.  Police are looking into a motor vehicle collision involving an unknown car and an elderly Hispanic male.  The incident occurred in the area of Main Street and Patch Street on Wednesday, between 6pm and 10pm.  After being struck by the vehicle, the elderly male was assisted by an unknown Hispanic male, who helped the victim to his nearby car. Anyone who witnessed the collision or can help identify the person who brought the elderly man to his vehicle is asked to contact Officer Mike Russotti at m.russotti@danbury-ct.gov.

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Candlewood Lake Authority asks towns for weed mapping money

The Candlewood Lake Authority has written to the leaders of the five towns surrounding the lake asking for help in funding an unanticipated expense this fiscal year.  The $20,000 would pay for results from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station for weed mapping in 2019 and 2018. 

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, which has done the work for the past 10 years, started weed mapping and studying aquatic nuisance plants without knowing that FirstLight changed vendors in 2018 to Northeast Aquatic Resources. Historically the vendor was chosen by First Light's Technical Committee, which includes DEEP, CLA, the Lake Zoar Authority and Lake Lillinonah Authority.  First Light, without consulting the Technical Committee, changed vendors.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was notified when the issue came to light and FERC issued a Notice of Violation to FirstLight for not getting Technical Committee approval first.  Last year, FirstLight asked the committee to approve the change of vendors, but CAES started the mapping. 

CLA says the methodology used by NEAR is substantially different and believes it's critical that the monitoring stays as consistent as possible.  CLA says the information is important to ensure the continuity of the sterile grass carp program evaluation. 

CLA asked that each municipality chip in $2,375 or greater, by the end of February.  New Fairfield has already approved a contribution, as has the CLA Board. 

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New Milford Police search for credit card fraud suspect

A credit card fraud case is under investigation in New Milford.  Police are asking for the public's help  in identifying a person caught on surveillance video at Game Stop in New Milford.  The man was wearing a white jacket with a red sleeve.  He may have used a stolen credit or debit card.  Anyone with helpful information, please contact Officer White at 860-355-3133 or the New Milford Police Anonymous TIPS Line at 860-355-2000.

(Photos: NMPD)

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96 new licensed home-based child care spaces created in Danbury

96 new licensed home-based child care spaces have been created in Danbury.  The child care initiative from United Way of Western Connecticut, called Cora’s Kids, is helping to fill the need for safe, affordable child care for lower-wage workers. 

The program was launched in 2018 in response to what some felt was a child care crisis in the city with not enough licensed spaces, especially for infants and toddlers.  Parents were resorting to placing their children in unlicensed, potentially unsafe care that didn’t meet their children’s developmental needs.  Teachers were reporting children in preschools and kindergarten lacked basic, age-appropriate skills to thrive in educational settings. 

Cora’s Kids launched 16 new Family Child Care homes over the past 21 months. 19 additional providers are in the process of getting their licenses.  The United Way has also created a broader Danbury Family Child Care Network to improve the quality of child care across Greater Danbury. 

There are now 40 providers who are part of the Family Child Care network: the 16 newly licensed providers and another 24 previously licensed providers.

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Bethel Inland Wetlands Commission to hold hearing on affordable housing applications

The Bethel Inland Wetlands Commission is holding a public hearing tonight on two affordable housing proposals, which were previously rejected.  A developer has re-applied for one plan on the agenda, which calls for 11 apartments on Good Hill Road.  There was strong opposition from neighbors during earlier hearings about how it would fit the character of the area.  The other proposal, also in an updated application, calls for a four-building, nine-unit development on Shelley Road.  Tim Draper has applied for both developments through the state statute 8-30g, which allows developers to bypass local zoning laws.  The Inland Wetlands Commission hearing is at 7pm in the General Purpose Room of the municipal center.

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Newtown officials propose spending plan for upcoming fiscal year

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal has released his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  The $43-million plan is a 2.45 percent increase of the current year.  Much of the increase is for the cost of the new senior center and the police station. There's also an increase in salaries, debt service and road paving.  In order to offset some of those costs, a full time assistance position in the senior services department and one in the police department will reduced to part time.  The Superintendent of Schools has proposed a $79-million budget, a 1.5 percent increase.  The Newtown Board of Finance will hold a public hearing on the proposals February 13th.  The Legislative Council must adopt a budget before a referendum May 28th.

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Seating around central Sandy Hook memorial design to be scaled back

The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial Commission met earlier this month to get an update on scaled back designs.  Seating around the central element of the memorial, a tree and reflecting pool, has been reduced but not eliminated.  Tricia Pinto, whose son Jack was killed on 12-14, suggested the possibility of using the stone benches that were donated and in the possession of a local resident to line the path down to the memorial in alphabetical order.  The size specifications for the benches need to be given to SWA.  The goal is to have a budget proposal on the ballot in November. 

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Progress being made in Brookfield on New School Project

Progress is being made in Brookfield on the New School Project.  Since September, Superintendent Dr. John Barile has facilitated multiple meetings with Tecton Architects to discuss designs to meet the needs of students and instructional programs. This collaboration includes elementary classroom, special education, pupil personnel services, specialist, health/PE/athletics and Visual & Performing Arts teachers; designated teacher leaders; media specialists; administration; nurses; and maintenance staff.  The Board of Education and Municipal Building Committee have held three, well-attended public forums on the Design Development Process. Topics included enrollment projections, energy efficiency, security, school start times, traffic, project budget and the possible development of Nabby Road for ball fields.

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Concerns raised about Monroe Superintendent months before he was placed on leave

Concerns were reportedly raised by the Monroe Board of Education about the performance of  Superintendent Jack Zamary months before he was placed on paid administrative leave.  The leave instituted earlier this month is over issues related to the budget. 

The district's interim Finance Director was also placed on leave pending an investigation. 

Board of Ed documents obtained by the Connecticut Post, through a Freedom of Information Act request, found that during a May 20th closed door executive session evaluation, Zamary’s knowledge of and involvement in the budget process were called into question.  Inaccurate reporting regarding a budget shortfall in the special education budget was cited.  According to the published report, the Board said Zamary needed to better understand each budgetary line item and be hands on every so when issues arise, they can be addressed in a timely manner. 

As for Frank Connolly, the Board said the priority of the district should be fixing financial issues, but he spent time on non-financial tasks like transportation and facilities.  The board recommended those tasks be delegated to central office personnel.

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Easton firefighters caution against viral video 'outlet challenge'

The Easton Volunteer Fire Department is calling on parents to talk with their children about the dangers of certain "online challenges" and to recognize the dangerous activity.  The so-called “outlet challenge” video on Tik Tok shows how to partially put a plug of a cellphone charger in an outlet and sliding a penny down the wall onto the exposed prongs.  Easton Fire company officials say this has been causing fires.  The National Fire Protection Association says sparks and damage to the electrical system, and in some cases, injuries and electrocution can occur.  While the search for the hashtag doesn't result in any videos being found, the NFPA says at least one high school student in Massachusetts tried to imitate it.

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Danbury lawmakers tour local businesses

Danbury state lawmakers took a tour of some local businesses yesterday. 

The bipartisan delegation visited Hologic.  Officials with the manufacturer say the group has been instrumental in passing legislation that helps women access their latest 3D mammography technology.  Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan, who worked in radiology for 7 years, says the technology offers faster and more accurate screenings. 

Hologic employees were joined yesterday by Senator Julie Kushner and Representatives David Arconti, Raghib Allie-Brennan, Stephen Harding and Ken Gucker.

Allie-Brennan visited Danbury-based Praxair with some of his colleagues yesterday.  The worldwide industrial gases company has over 500 employees in Connecticut.

As an energy intensive company, Allie-Brennan says one of their biggest challenges is the cost of energy in the state.  He is Vice Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee and wants to work to address this issue in the upcoming session.

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Gun fire reported to Danbury Police turned out to come from FCI

Danbury Police received several calls from concerned residents yesterday after hearing gun shots fired.  Police say the initial call was about the hill behind Home Depot, but there was also one about Stadley Rough Elementary School.  Police say it turned out to be outdoor firing range practice at the Federal Correctional Institution.  FCI Danbury does not need to alert the Danbury Police Department when the range is being used, but police called to see if they were the source of the noise.  Norwalk police were practicing with long guns at the time.  Danbury officers were sent to the school and the area of the business as a precaution. 

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Arraignment of former IT Director postponed

Arraignment for New Milford's former IT Director was postponed yesterday to today. 52-year old Kendrick Protzmann is facing 49 counts of cyber and computer crime.  According to the arrest warrant affidavit obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media, Protzmann allegedly downloaded 35 emails to and from high-ranking officials in town, including Mayor Pete Bass and the town's Personnel Director.  After an audit of New Milford's cybersecurity systems by the new IT director, it was determined that someone had accessed town emails without authorization.  Protzmann told police he wanted to see what was going on around town.  Police did not find any downloaded emails on Protzmann’s personal computer.

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Funding for streetscaping in CityCenter included in proposed Danbury bond package

Making downtown Danbury look nicer is part of the plan to revitalize the area. The $62-million bond package proposed for a vote on April 28th includes $8.55 million for streetscaping in the CityCenter area. 

Planning Director Sharon Calitro says the last time the area was beautified, was in the early 90s.  The plan today calls for concrete sidewalks, with a granite inlay, and landscaping. City officials are hoping to attract developers and make the area more walkable.  A previous $4 million streetscape plan, half paid for through a state grant, only covers about half of the sidewalks included in the Transit Oriented Development study.  That money would be supplemented by the latest proposed funding. 

Construction could begin in the spring, if the bond package is approved. 

Boughton says it makes sense to fund the balance of the project now since the workers and equipment will already be on site, an interest rates are at an historic low.  He added that they City wouldn't have to rebid the other half of the work nor have to worry about material not matching.  In response to campaign claims in the fall, Boughton pointed out that they would be reusing granite curbing from the last project. 

The proposed planters will use the kind of trees that won't cause the sidewalks to buckle.

Historically the intersection of West and Main streets, referred to as Concert Hall Square then later City Hall Square, was the center of public life in Danbury. It was flanked by public buildings and buildings providing public programs, concerts, and services.  Potential improvements include the rebuilding of sidewalks as well as a pavement pattern change in the crosswalks.  The intersection used to be cobblestone, and the TOD plan calls for stamped accent paving as a nod to the City's historic look. 

Calitro says the TOD plan incorporates share-a-lanes--shared vehicle and bike lanes.  There is not enough space to put bike lanes on both sides of Main Street and keep four lanes of car traffic going.  The plan also includes installation of solar parking kiosks to get rid of individual meters.

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Miscalculation in salaries will lower proposed New Milford school budget

New Milford school officials are recalculating teacher salaries after an error was discovered.  The Connecticut Post reports that the miscalculation in certified teacher salaries will lower the proposed 66 million dollar budget by thousands of dollars.  It's not clear if it was a computer or human error.  Officials said the teacher steps got reordered and redone.  The proposed budget is 3-percent more than the current year, mostly due to new hires planned at the elementary schools.  Those positions include a special education teacher and three part time paraprofessionals at Northville and Hill and Plain Elementary, and bilingual teachers and a coordinator.  The published report says state law requires a bilingual teacher at a school if there are at least 20 non-native English speakers who speak the same language.  About 15 percent of New Milford’s students are Hispanic.  Board of Education members have requested more details about a proposed line item of 25-thousand dollars for an armed school security guard or school resource officer.

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Newtown to schedule 'debt vacation' in 5 year capital plan

A five year Capital Improvement Plan has been finalized by the Newtown Board of Finance and the Legislative Council.  The plan includes a moratorium on bonding in the 2025 fiscal  year.  Similar to Governor Lamont's 'debt diet', Newtown officials are calling this a 'debt vacation.'  According to the Newtown Bee, Town Finance Director Robert Tait said taking a single year off from borrowing not only saves approximately $900,000 in debt service, but creates an opportunity to shift about a half-million dollars into the municipal capital nonrecurring account.  The plan calls for creating a pay-as-you-go scenario by planning a savings schedule to build earmarked funds in the capital recurring account.

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Applications being accepted for Newtown Police 25th Citizen Police Academy

The Newtown Police Department will be hosting its 25th Citizen Police Academy beginning March 22nd.  The free academy is open to adults 18 or older. The deadline for sign up is March 15th.  The 10 week program for residents of Newtown and surrounding towns is designed to teach people about the various aspects of law enforcement. Classes will be held on Sundays from 3pm to 6pm.  Program leaders say the Citizen Police Academy is a great way to interact with local law enforcement and discuss current issues facing the field of law enforcement.  More information about the Citizen Police Academy can be found on the Newtown Police Department web page.

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UPDATED: Danbury man charged with possession during routine traffic stop

A routine traffic stop has led to drug possession charges for a Danbury man. 

State Police conducting traffic enforcement by exit 4 spotted a vehicle with no license plates and pulled the driver over Tuesday afternoon, on Route 7 by the mall.  The driver was identified as 32-year old Nathanael Collado. 

57 Klonopin pills and a digital scale were located in his jacket pocket. 

Collado was placed in the cruiser and secured.  K-9 Favor, without being directed to do so, entered the compartment where Collado was seated and placed her nose on his waistband alerting to the presence of additional contraband.  Troopers informed Collado that K-9 Favor was a trained narcotics canine and asked what was in hid possession. Collado said two bags of cocaine were hidden in his pants.

Collado was charged with possession of a controlled substance, sale of narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia.  He will be arraigned on February 4th.

(Photo: CSP)

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DHS students fundraising for Wounded Warrior Project

Some Danbury High School students enrolled in the Peer Leadership class are fundraising for Wounded Warrior Project as part of their community change project.  The students will be holding a dodgeball game March 6th at the DHS gym.  The event is only open to high schoolers and there will be an entry fee when they make a team.  An optional donation slip from the players will also be available.  The students are also looking for outside donations to raise more money and help the Wounded Warrior Project.

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Bethel elementary schools to offer more vegetarian, plant-based options

During the month of February, Bethel elementary schools will be offering additional vegetarian and plant-based options.  Each Monday, in addition to the regular chicken menu item, they will offer a 'Meatless Monday' option of Falafel, Hummus & Wheat Pita.  On Wednesdays, in addition to the regular menu item, a Veggie Burger on a Wheat Bun will be offered.  A baked Breaded Cod Fish filet on a Wheat Roll will be added each Friday during Lent.  In order to gauge interest in these items, Bethel School officials say they will need to be specifically ordered by the student on the day of the menu choice.  Officials say tha'ts being done because they are expensive, and the district doesn't want to waste any food.  If the items are popular, they will be incorporated into future menus.

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Putnam County Sheriff Deputy stabbed Monday released form hospital

The Putnam County Sheriff Deputy stabbed during a response to a domestic incident Monday has undergone another surgery.  Sheriff Robert Langley says the damage was more extensive than originally thought, but both surgeries went well.  The Deputy was discharged from New York-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital yesterday with a good prognosis for a full recovery.  Members of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, local law enforcement, K9s and a helicopter fly over from the Westchester County Police stood by.

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Kushner to seek reelection to state Senate

State Senator Julie Kushner has announced she is seeking reelection.  The freshman lawmaker is running for a second term representing the 24th District, which includes Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield and Sherman.  Her goals for a new term include lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, improving public education and protecting the environment.  Kushner serves as Senate Chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, Vice Chair of the Environment Committee, and is a member of the Appropriations, Education, Housing, and Executive & Legislative Nominations committees.

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Break ins reported at businesses in Marbledale, Depot neighborhoods of Washington

The Town of Washington has had several break ins at businesses in the Marbledale and Depot neighborhoods.  Money was taken from safes and cash registers. 

The break ins happened January 20th and 22nd, in the early morning hours, believed to be between 3am and 5:30am. 

The suspect is believed to be travelling on foot and is familiar with the area.   The suspect appears to be a white man with a thin build, about 5-foot-9 to 6 feet tall.  The suspect was wearing a hoodie, with face covered, but his eyes were visible. 

(Photo: CSP)

The businesses were identified by police as 202 Tavern, Country Wine & Spirit, Marty's Cafe, Washington Cleaners, The Hen's Nest and Fine James.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Washington Resident Troopers Office at 860-868-9671.  State Police Troop L in Litchfield is also investigating.

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Newtown Police investigating rash of mailbox vandalism, car theft

Newtown Police are investigating a rash of crimes, including car theft. 

Police say a 2015 black Jeep Rubicon was stolen from the driveway of a Julia Court home late Saturday night.  The keys were left in the vehicle in the Walnut Tree Hill Village. 

A Honda CRV that was stolen last week was recovered yesterday in Bridgeport. Detectives responded and processed that vehicle for evidence. 

The Newtown Police Department is also investigating mailbox vandalism that occurred during the late Sunday night into early Monday morning this week. Several dozen residents have been identified as victims.  Investigators have identified at least three suspects and say they are confident that arrests will be forth coming in the next few weeks.

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Bethel man arrested for alleged baseball bat attack in Danbury

Danbury Police have arrested a Bethel man for allegedly attacking a man with a baseball bat on Main Street Friday afternoon.  The Newstimes reports that 34-year old Faisal Sadiq is accused of hitting a 20-year old man outside a mosque, near the police station, around 3pm.  He was charged with assault and breach of peace on Friday and will be arraigned a week from today.  Police say the victim called 911 to say he was assaulted and the man was following him.  He was located in the nearby Taco Bell, bleeding from the head.  Police say the incident appeared to be related to a domestic dispute.

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Teen driver caught with large number of THC/Marijuana vape cartridges

A teenager has been arrested in Newtown on drug related charges following a routine traffic stop.  Newtown Police pulled a vehicle over Tuesday night for not having a front license plate.  The driver, 18-year old Andrew Geriak of Stratford, had a large quantity of THC/Marijuana vape cartridges in the vehicle. Geriak was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and failure to display registration plates. He was released on bond for arraignment on February 5th.

(Photo: NPD)

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Drainage project at Rogers Park in Danbury underway

A drainage project is underway at Rogers Park in Danbury.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says they are rebuilding some outfields, among other associated work.  The funding for the improvements was approved last year.  He says an outside company has been hired to do the grading work with lasers, which the Danbury Department doesn't have.  Iadarola says a brook runs through the area and the drainage is shallow.  The infrastructure is an infiltrating drain, and the goal is to get the water in there.  It takes a while now, which is what has caused delays for games scheduled at the fields.

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New Milford plans regular risk assessments of computer network

New Milford officials plan to conduct regular risk assessments of the town's computer network.  Mayor Pete Bass says the checks will be done by different consultants to look for any vulnerabilities in the network.  The audits of digital defenses would be done annually.  New Milford's former IT Director, Kendrick Protzmann, was arrested for computer crimes earlier this month.  He is set for arraignment today.  The 52-year-old plans to enter a plea of not guilty.  When the crimes were uncovered, 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 monitoring for two years for anyone who might have been impacted.

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Monroe Superintendent placed on paid administrative leave

The Monroe Superintendent of Schools has been placed on paid administrative leave.  The Board of Education also placed the district's interim finance director on leave.  The Board hired a firm to investigate “employee-related issues on the budget as well as general performance-related issues.  The Monroe school budget has a projected deficit of $1.3 million dollars.  Jack Zamary was hired in 2017, with a one year contract renewal awarded in June.  Frank Connolly was named interim finance director in May.  Assistant superintendent Joseph Kobza has been named acting superintendent.

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Newtown legislative delegation to hold Community Conversation

A Community Conversation is being held in Newtown tonight by members of the town's state legislative delegation.  Representatives Mitch Bolinsky, JP Sredzinski, and Raghib Allie-Brennan and State Senator Tony Hwang will talk about issues and priorities for the upcoming Legislative Session.  The forum is at CH Booth Library from 6:30 to 7:30pm, in the meeting room. The legislators will take questions from people in attendance.

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Ridgefield freshman selected as MLK Jr essay contest winner

A Ridgefield High School student has been selected by Senator Chris Murphy as one of the winners of his 4th annual ‘Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Essay Challenge.’  Among the 4th Congressional District winners was Kavya Podila.  This year, Murphy received close to 1,500 entries from elementary, middle, and high school students from across Connecticut reflecting on Dr. King’s dream and their own aspirations.  Murphy says the essays show that his legacy is still inspiring future generations.

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Danbury lawmaker to introduce bills to address climate change

Danbury State Representative David Arconti met recently with the Land Trust Alliance and the Connecticut Land Conservation Council. They discussed legislation that passed last session and brainstormed legislative priorities for the upcoming session. As the co-chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, Arconti says introducing legislation that combats climate change, spurs economic development, and creates career opportunities is a top priority.  The new General Assembly session starts on February 5.

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FuelCell Energy: Fiscal 4Q Earnings Snapshot

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) _ FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCEL) on Wednesday reported a loss of $35.2 million in its fiscal fourth quarter.

On a per-share basis, the Danbury, Connecticut-based company said it had a loss of 23 cents. Losses, adjusted for asset impairment costs, came to 12 cents per share.

The fuel cell power plant maker posted revenue of $11 million in the period.

For the year, the company reported that its loss widened to $77.6 million, or $1.82 per share. Revenue was reported as $60.8 million.

The company’s shares closed at $2.88. A year ago, they were trading at $6.69.

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Councilman remains concerned about homeless shelter operations

A Danbury City Council member continues to be concerned about the City's homeless shelter not operating a full capacity amid reports of people being turned away.  The Mayor and the Director of Health and Human Services have denied the allegations by Councilman Bob Taborsak, saying no one has been denied a bed. 

Taborsak says every bed is used at the overflow shelter.  He volunteers at Dorothy Day and say every bed there is also full.  According to the latest report filed with the City Council, the City Shelter was only 80 percent full. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says he would like Dorothy Day to come to the table and implement the same intake protocol used by the City Shelter.  But he cautioned that he's hesitant to meet with Dorothy Day while the City is under litigation with the facility, noting that anything they say can and will be used against the City.  He added that Danbury can't condone Dorothy Day violating zoning regulations, but using the state as a mediator has been a good practice for working with the organization. 

Health Director Lisa Morrissey says they've discussed better coordination of services.  She says it's not unusual during the holidays to have empty beds because people were staying with relatives for several days at the end of the month. 

If there are no beds available, Boughton says they will be provided a bed somewhere in the region and the City provides transportation so no one is left out in the cold.

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DHS Senior credited with helping to discover habitable planet

A Danbury High School Senior is being credited with discovering a habitable planet.  Alton Spencer is working with NASA's planet-hunting mission, TESS, as a researcher.  He and others pointed out an error that initially miscategorized a star as much hotter, which led astronomers to think that the planets orbiting it would be too close and hot to support life. 

Astronomers confirmed their discovery using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope infrared capabilities with follow-up observations. 

CNN reports that the exoplanet the size of Earth is part of a multi-planet system orbiting a cool M-dwarf star about 100 light-years from Earth.  The star is only about 40% of the sun's mass and size, with half of the surface temperature.  The planet is known as TOI 700 d, one of three orbiting the star.  NASA says it's at just the right distance to support liquid water on the surface in the star's habitable zone.  

The planet is thought to be tidally locked, meaning one side is always in daylight.  In a NASA feature from April 2018, Spencer said he doesn't feel like there’s an age restriction when it comes to making great discoveries. He added that citizen science is a way for people in middle or high school to actually make contributions to science despite not being in college or having science careers yet.

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Ridgefield could use state money to finish designs for Farmingville Road Trail

Ridgefield could use state money to finish designs for the Farmingville Road Trail along the Bypass Road through the Schlumberger property.  Designs have been underway for several years to extend the existing Rail Trail.  The state reviewed the estimated $2.8 million project and approved a grant. Ridgefield officials say they will be ready to go to work next year, assuming that the bond package is approved by the State of Connecticut.  The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has discussed plans to possibly allow bikes on the Rail Trail portion.  They plan to discussed this in more detail at a future date.

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Grief counselors at Immaculate following death of student in highway crash

State Police have identified the driver killed in a fiery accident on I-84 Friday night as 17-year old Liam Declan Devine of Danbury.  The Immaculate High School senior was killed when the car crashed into a tree on the embankment between exits 8 and 9 westbound.  Immaculate postponed midterm exams until next week, but will dismiss students early, as planned.  10 grief counselors, 3 therapy dogs, and a priest have been brought in to help students and teachers.  According to the teen's death notice, Devine loved to play basketball, was in Immaculate’s guitar ensemble and had been accepted into college.  He was planning a career in sports journalism and analytics.

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Brookfield officials approve Fire Marshal Fee ordinance modification

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has approved the revised Fire Marshal Fees & Inspection Ordinance.  Changes were up for a public hearing earlier this month.  Fees for all required inspections will be determined by the Fire Marshal, with the approval of the Board of Selectmen. Instead of the specific fee being written into the ordinance, it will now just list the type of inspection.  This way the ordinance does not need to be changed each time the fee is modified.

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State Police ID driver killed in fiery I-84 crash as Danbury teen

State Police have identified the driver killed in a fiery accident on I-84 Friday night.  Police say 17-year old Liam Declan Devine of Danbury was killed when the car crashed into a tree on the embankment between exits 8 and 9 westbound.  The car was registered to his mother.  Devine was a Senior at Immaculate High School.  Family will receive friends tomorrow from 4pm to 8pm at Green Funeral Home on Main Street.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11am on Thursday at St. Gregory the Great Church.  His death notice says that interment will be at the convenience of the family.  In lieu of flowers, his family asked that donations be made in Liam's memory to Immaculate High School.

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Putnam County Sheriff Deputy stabbed while responding to disturbance

A Putnam County Sheriff Deputy is recovering after being stabbed while responding to a disturbance at Putnam Valley home yesterday morning.  A man confronted the deputies with a knife.  The subject was taken into custody, while the Deputy was transported to the hospital.  Officials said the investigation is continuing, but there is no threat to the public  Surgery repaired a severed artery, but the Deputy may need to undergo additional surgeries.

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Ridgefield firefighters caution residents to thin ice

With temperatures well below freezing yesterday, Ridgefield firefighters practice included Ice Water Rescue training.  Ridgefield Professional Firefighters urge all residents to stay off the ice.  During the drill, they did not cut any holes in the ice, but did fall through  while walking. Although it is very cold out, the ice is not thick enough to sustain substantial weight.

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Driver injured Sunday when van crashes down embankment

A driver was injured Sunday in Newtown when their van went off the roadway in the icy conditions.  Firefighters responded to Lakeview Terrace, where the driver reported chest and arm pain.  The full-size van had crossed the roadway and gone down an embankment. The vehicle landed about 10 feet off the roadway.  The driver was checked, and then transported to a hospital.  Traffic was temporarily reduced to alternating lanes while first responders were on the scene due to the narrow, winding roadway.

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Congresswoman delivers remarks on MLK Day at Conn. church where MLK worshipped

A service was held yesterday at a church in Simsbury where Dr Martin Luther King Jr worshipped during his time in Connecticut. 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes said everyone has to work together in the spirit of hope because hate is too heavy a burden to bear.  She called on those in attendance to reset and commit to keeping Dr. King’s dream alive.  Her 11 year old son spent the day volunteering at Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries food pantry with his friends.  Hayes says she understands even more Dr. King’s wish that his children be “judged by the content of their character.”

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West Street flooding, railroad grade crossings to be studied in Danbury

Some long standing issues could start to be addressed in Danbury if the proposed bond package is approved in a vote this spring. 

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says one of the most important projects is the West Street drainage issue under the railroad crossing.  He called it a complicated issue.  A cross pipe is linked directly into the Still River.  As the river comes up, water is pushed into the road, instead of allowing water on the road to go into the river.  He wants to at least do a survey of the area, do an in-depth investigation and preliminary designs. 

The study will look at what it will take to permit and gain easements to resolve the issue. 

Another project would involve the railroad grade crossings.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the poor conditions along Main Street and Balmforth Avenue means people stop short to swerve around the issue, causing safety issues.  

For the first time ever, Iadarola says the City had a meeting with the District Office of the Federal Transit Authority.  Members came down from Boston last week to discuss the issue.  He says the meeting was held to show there's initiative on the City's part to work with the local railroads to get the work done. 

Some of the money will go to road repairs that were left unfinished in the previous fiscal year.  Boughton says that includes Karen Road, where the drainage is done, but final paving is not completed.  Boughton says Long Ridge Road  is in horrible shape and is on the list.  Backus Avenue in front of the mall is also scheduled for repaving.  He notes that it will cost $1.1 million to pave just that one road. 

A vote on the bond package could be held April 28th, the same day as registered voters go to the polls for the primary.

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4th skeleton located in Ridgefield at site of 1777 battle

More skeletal remains have been found in Ridgefield.  State archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni says the remains could also be those of someone who fought in the Battle of Ridgefield in April of 1777. 

The Ridgefield Historical Society says 28 brass buttons throughout his chest and arms, including cuff buttons, were recovered.  All buttons were badly corroded and need to be cleaned in the lab to look for insignia. 

Bellantoni and others continued the excavation, under tunneling for almost three feet to remove the new remains.  The first skeletons were unearthed in December when a homeowner was doing renovations in the basement of a private home. 

Officials are hoping to be able to determine if these men were soldiers, and which side they were on--British or American. 

Forensic experts at the UConn, Quinnipiac University, Yale University, the University of Florida and the University of California-Santa Cruz are involved in the analysis process. The Ridgefield Historical Society has created a Battle of Ridgefield fund to raise donations to help identify and honor the men who died on Ridgefield’s battleground.

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New Fairfield seeks to fill vacancies on Permanent Building Committee

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen is looking to add members to the Permanent Building Committee.  Applicants should be experienced architects, engineers and construction managers who are registered voters in the Town of New Fairfield.

The Town’s sole building committee oversees and administers all building projects over $250,000, and all maintenance, repair and alteration projects over $25,000.

The Committee will also oversee the design and construction of the new schools through an Owner’s Project Manager.  There are two vacancies and town officials say it's critical for the Committee to be fully staffed as members begin reviewing design documents for the new High School and Consolidated Early Learning Academy. 

Interested New Fairfield residents can send a Letter of Intent and Resume to First Selectman Pat Del Monaco no later than January 31st.

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Ridgefield to review open space parcels for state compliance

The State has changed the definition of open space and Ridgefield can no longer count any property that is no longer in its natural state.  The Conservation Commission is looking at the Town’s open space properties to protect ones currently owned by the town.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi recently updated the Board of Selectmen with the Commission's draft.  There was a question of whether the fairway greens at the golf can't be counted, but the woods can. The Town has always counted all the properties, the fairways, the greens, the ball fields, all around the schools.  Ridgefield's open space percentage goal is 30-percent.  The Selectmen said that the modification should still keep Ridgefield focused on achieving that goal, regardless of the state change.

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State Police investigating fiery fatal crash

State Police continue to investigate a fatal accident that happened on I-84 Friday night.  Troopers responded to the area between exits 8 and 9 westbound for a report of a car spinning out of control and going into the woods.  The 911 caller said there was also fire spotted on the side of the road.  Investigators determined that the car crossed both lanes of the highway, went up an embankment and collided with a large tree before becoming engulfed in flames.  

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Ridgefield official calls for town regulations on 5G technology

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi wants the town to set up their own zoning regulation for 5G cell technology.  According to minutes of the Board of Selectmen meeting, there have been some health concerns expressed over the new cellular connectivity.  Marconi believes Ridgefield should get out in front of this issue. 5G antennas might be placed on every other telephone pole, and he also called it partly an aesthetic issue.  But he says a concern for the health ramifications needs to be looked into and addressed.

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Town Meeting set in New Fairfield for Animal Control funds transfer

A Town Meeting will be held in New Fairfield on Thursday night.  Residents are being called on to vote on transferring $35,275  from Cap and Non-Animal Control to Animal Control Materials and Supplies.  Selectman Khris Hall noted that the reason for this transfer was that the town approved having their own animal control officer last year but needed to wait until March 2020 to get out of the agreement with the Regional Animal Control in order to coincide with their budget year.  There is no budgetary impact to this transfer.  The Town Meeting on Thursday is at 6:15pm in the Community Room.

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DHS Boys' cross-country head coach finalist in NHSACA contest

Danbury High School Boys’ cross-country head coach Robert Murray has been named a finalist in the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year program.   Murray was one of eight cross-country coaches selected from across the US. The title was based on criteria that included win/loss record, championship years and tenure as head coach.  Finalists will be recognized at an awards banquet in July in Nebraska, where the Coach of the Year will be announced.

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Danbury firefighters conduct second training at WCSU Visual Arts center

Members of the Danbury Fire Department have conducted a second training session at West Conn's Visual and Performing Arts Center on the west side campus.  Both groups that have trained are working with theater staff to develop and implement “a rescue plan” to keep students and the public safe in the modern space.  The technical staff helped firefighters work through some high angle training, so in the event of something going wrong, they’d be able to effect a safe and efficient rescue.  Behind the scenes some hazards include lights, curtains, riggings, cables, and steep staircases.

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Forner New Milford IT Director arrested on computer crime charges

The town of New Milford's former IT Director has been arrested on 49 counts of computer crime.  This stems from an investigation of the town’s information technology systems and practices.  Mayor Pete Bass said at the time of the audit that information of town employees who switched to state insurance plans last year was released online.  School employees who switched were not affected.  52-year old Kendrick Protzman was IT Director from 2002 to 2019.  With the reorganization of the IT Department, Bass asked the new Director to do an analysis of the System, and he uncovered the unauthorized breaches of the network. New Milford is offering free credit card monitoring to its employees for two years as a precaution.

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Former Newtown man arrested on possession of child pornography charges

A former Newtown man has been arrested on possession of child pornography charges.  Newtown Police traveled to Massachusetts Correctional Facility where they took 51-year old David Anderson into custody Friday.  He was transported back to Newtown and held on bond for arraignment later that morning. 

The warrant stems from an investigation that was started in November 2012, after a complaint was made to the Newtown Police Department.

The investigation crossed state lines into Massachusetts and New York.  Anderson was arrested in Massachusetts and served 7 years in prison. He waived extradition to face additional charges for the crimes that took place in Newtown.

Lt. Aaron Bahamonde says Detectives did an excellent job working with other state agencies, conducting computer forensics, and putting a case together to put this predator away.  He added that the community is made safer when individuals such as Anderson are identified and taken out.

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New Milford Police participate in traffic stop education program

The New Milford Police Department is participating in a program meant to improve interaction and communication between officers and drivers during traffic stops..  The state Department of Motor Vehicles and New Milford Police are providing Blue Envelopes for Drivers on the Autism spectrum and Green Envelopes to Deaf/Hearing Impaired Drivers.  It holds a driver's license, registration and insurance card, and it includes tips on how the driver and officer can best respond to one another during a traffic stop. Drivers can keep the envelope in the glove box or visor so they can easily find it and hand it to a police officer.

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Ridgefield Police caution people to solicitation phone scam

Ridgefield residents are reporting receiving calls asking for donations on behalf of the police department. The Ridgefield Police Department does not solicit donations by phone.  The Ridgefield Police Union and The Ridgefield P.B.A only do fundraising through the mail.  Ridgefield Police cautioned residents to be wary of phone requests because some fraudulent fundraisers claim that donations will benefit police, when in fact no money goes to the department at all.  Police are also cautioning residents to beware of sound-alikes. Some try to fool people by using names that are very similar to those of legitimate, well-known charities or organizations.

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Car fire extinguished in Danbury

In the midst of the snow storm Saturday, the Danbury Fire Department was called to a car fire in the Lake Waubeeka community, reportedly near a house. Out of an abundance of caution, it was dispatched as a structure fire, with West Redding's tanker added to the assignment.  Engine 26 of Danbury arrived first and was able to knock the fire down before it spread. Two other Danbury apparatus also responded. There were no injuries and the fire was put out quickly.

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Brookfield to purchase land for campus center expansion

Brookfield residents have decided to buy nearly two acres of land near the municipal center complex.  A Town Meeting was held earlier this month about purchasing the property for $535,000.  

First Selectman Steve Dunn says 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 pre-existing, non-complying contractor yard.  

No new contractor yards are permitted in Brookfield.  Dunn says they've had contractors setting up in the parking lot of the bowling alley and the town had to kick them out.  He added that contractors occasionally park their equipment in yards in residential areas as well. 

Town Equipment could be stored in the garage while the town rents the house to the current tenants.  The garage is heated and has a work space.  Vehicles not used regularly could be stored indoors, out of the elements. 

At some point Brookfield will have to expand the police station.  Preliminary designs are done, but given the current property, a lot of that would have to be in the form of another level.  Dunn notes that it's much less expense to build an attachment than to build up.  He estimates that the town could probably save the entire purchase price on the cost of a new police station. 

The money for the property purchase  would come from the town’s capital nonrecurring fund and rentals. 

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New classrooms, elevators proposed in Danbury bond package

A public information meeting was held this week in Danbury about a proposed 62 million dollar bond package. Some of the money would be dedicated to adding new classroom space at the middle school level and renovating the Osborne Street Administrative Building into classroom space.

Mayor Mark Boughton says after engineering and architecture plans are drawn up, they may determine a pre-k center is needed to centralize those operations.  He added that the City could decide a new school is needed, but that has yet to be determined.

Boughton says it's frustrating for everyone when an elevator at Danbury High School goes down for two months.  He says it's not for lack of paying the bills or lack of money in the budget, it's because the infrastructure is so old that the City can't get the parts anymore.  The building department has struggled for years to fix the elevators because it could take two to three months to have special pieces machined and then installed. 

The bond package calls for new elevators at DHS, Broadview Middle School, and Rogers Park Middle School.  Boughton says this is critical to meeting ADA and Special Education requirements.  C and D wing have elevators from the early 1960s.  In E wing, Rogers Park and Broadview, it will be a modernization. 

That part of the bond bill is estimated at $1.5 million.

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WCSU student athletes earn NCAA Team Works Community Service Competition award

Student athletes at West Conn have earned the NCAA Team Works Community Service Competition award.  The Division III award went to West Conn.  430 student athletes participated in the campus wide Day of Service, including youth clinics and A Walk to End Alzheimer's.  The teams contributed over 2,800 hours of service this academic year.  The student athletes will receive their awards this spring on campus.  This is the 6th competition, a partnership with volunteer management and tracking platform Helper Helper. 

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Women's Center looking to hire more staff members

The Women's Center is currently looking to hire a Family Violence Victim Advocate,a Bilingual Child Counselor and a Part-time Residential Counselor. 

The primary role of Family Violence Victim Advocate is to provide services to family violence crime victims who are involved in criminal court cases. These services include providing information and civil advocacy from arraignment and throughout the court process. The advocate works in the court as part of the Family Violence Intervention Unit and provides immediate and ongoing services within the legal system and throughout the community.  

The post provides counseling and advocacy support services to residential and non-residential clients.  The Residential Counselor is needed to help those who come to the Women's Center for shelter services through domestic violence, sexual assault and resource programs. 

Required qualifications are  posted on the "Career Opportunities" page of the Women's Center website.

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Danbury looks for applicant to operate vendor truck at Rogers Park

Danbury officials are looking for a food truck to operate at Rogers Park.  The City is accepting proposals from experienced parties interested in operating a Vending Truck for the 2020 season.   A copy of the complete Scope of Work is available from the Purchasing Department at City Hall.  Bids will be accepted until 2pm on February 5th. 

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US House passes bill to eliminate Division created to enforce a refusal of care rule

A division of the Office for Civil Rights at the US Department of Health and Human Services would be eliminated under a bill passed in the House.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division was formed in 2018. 

Hayes says the bill saves taxpayer money by eliminating the Division, which was created to enforce a refusal of care rule that she says would jeopardize access to medical services, including abortion and gender affirmation surgery among others. 

Hayes has been vocal about her personal faith, but says nobody should be forced to live their life according to the religious values of another. 

Despite receiving significant funding, Hayes says the Division handles a minuscule amount of cases annually.  In Fiscal Year 2018, there were 784 complaints, of which only 6% were closed, and 5% didn’t require any formal investigation at all. During the same period, there was a nearly 50% increase in civil rights cases and a nearly 20% increase in health information privacy cases. 

The Department of Health and Human Services requested a more than $1 million funding increase for the Division – covering six new staffers – while making deep cuts to other Divisions in the Office of Civil Rights with significantly heavier caseloads.  The bill does not end religious exemptions, instead it eliminates what Hayes called a wasteful government division.

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New Milford provides radon test kits for homeowners

The New Milford Health Department is offering free radon test kits for home use.  In partnership with the state Department of Public Health, the goal is for residents with elevated levels detected to take corrective action.  Radon gas, which is odorless and invisible, is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.  It occurs naturally and is found in rock, soil and water. It’s a low risk when outside, but can become a health hazard if it enters buildings. New Milford residents can make an appointment to get a free radon test kit by calling the town’s health department at 860-355-6035.  A limited number of kits are available through the end of the month. A sanitarian from the department will help residents start the test and then collect it at the end.

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Native Meadows property accepted by New Milford residents in Town Meeting

New Milford residents have approved accepting 25 acres of land into the town's open space portfolio.  Native Meadows is located next to Veterans Bridge.  The Northwest Conservation District purchased the property several years ago.  The GE settlement money could not go to a town, so the conservation district bought the land with the intention of turning it over to New Milford.  Some members of the Town Council were reluctant to take ownership over concerns about maintenance costs.

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Brookfield officials discuss special education costs

A joint meeting of the Brookfield Boards of Education, Selectmen and Fiance was held this week to talk about soaring costs for special education.  The Superintendent says three new students with special needs have joined the district this past week.  The Newstimes reports that their education plans are still being discussed, but it could bring the number to 8 of students who could be placed out of district.  The budget overage is estimated at between $730,000 and $995,000.  Outplacements are considered a last resort, with districts trying to provide appropriate services to students in their home community.  The selectmen approved $208,000 from town savings in the budget for the known increase. The Board of Finance will consider the request next month.

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Resolution in opposition to tolls approved by Newtown Legislative Council

The Newtown Legislative Council has unanimously passed a resolution opposing tolls.  One of the proposed gantries would be on the Rochambeau bridge on I-84 in Newtown.  

The resolution approved Wednesday night says they are concerned about the unintended consequences of shifting a significant amount of traffic on Newtown's roads as drivers attempt to avoid the cost burden.  The Legislative Council is specifically concerned about the dramatic increase in the number of tractor-trailer trucks and heavy duty trucks on local roads, the damage to the roads, the cost to the town for repairs and the financial burden on Newtown residents. 

The resolution points to the existing traffic congestion in Sandy Hook Center, around Exit 11, by Newtown High School and Church Hill Road.  They also point to safety concerns of increased local traffic potentially delaying emergency personnel.  The Council is concerned that it would discourage retailers and shopping, putting the local businesses at a competitive disadvantage. 

The town's delegation has expressed bipartisan opposition to tolls. The resolution is being sent to the Governor and the state legislature.

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Local legislators to introduce bill protecting older job applicants from age discrimination

A bipartisan group of legislators is supporting a bill that prohibits employers from asking the age, date of birth, or graduation dates of job applicants, unless a particular age is a bona fide occupational qualification. 

With 436,000 workers in their mid-50’s, Connecticut has the 6th-oldest workforce in the nation, with a median age of 41, as of 2017.  Some 20% of Connecticut employees were over the age 54 in 2008; today that figure is 26.5%, with the health care, manufacturing, educational services and retail trade industries employing the most workers over age 54.

A 2018 AARP survey found about 60% of older workers have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, and 76% of them see age discrimination as a hurdle to finding a new job. Meanwhile, nearly a third of U.S. households headed by someone age 55 or older have no retirement savings or pension, meaning they’ll have to continue working or rely on Social Security in order to survive financially.

“Today, no one walks into a business and asks for a job application. Everything is done online,” said Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner, who is Senate chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee. “Today we’re announcing our intention to make a real difference for older workers in Connecticut. They should be evaluated on the merits of their skills and experience. When an employer does that, Connecticut businesses are going to find a wealth of talent in the pool of older applicants. To rule someone out simply because of their age is not only wrong, it’s also bad for businesses.”

“Age discrimination is real, and this legislation accomplishes many good things. I’ve been advocating for this for years,” said Newtown State Rep. Mitch Bolinsky. “First, it gets older workers in the door, considered, and interviewed on the strength of their work, not the date on their resume. Second, it’s important to know that it doesn’t mandate employers to do anything they don’t already do when considering their best-fit, new employees. In fact, it may help them meet some of the hardest-working, dedicated employees out there. Third, there’s a lot of current conversation about enriching Connecticut’s talent pool. Fact is, there is a wealth of talent in our state’s older workers, and this simple bill will showcase that.”

The bill, which will be formally introduced once session begins in February, will closely the follow the language of a similar bill introduced last year, House Bill 6113. That bill noted that, “except in the case of a bona fide occupational qualification or need,” employers are not allowed to “request or require a prospective employee’s age, date of birth or date of graduation from an educational institution on an initial employment application.”

Last year’s bill passed the Labor Committee in March but was never raised in the House for a vote.

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Newtown Police investigate report of stolen car, make arrest in 2018 car theft case

The Newtown Police Department is investigating the report of a car stolen from the driveway of an Indian Hill Road home.  The 2017 silver Honda CR-V is believed to have been taken at about 2:30 yesterday morning.  The vehicle was unlocked with the keys inside.  

Newtown Police have arrested a man on an outstanding arrest warrant for allegedly stealing a car in Newtown.  Police charged 22-year old Kevin Santos this week with Larceny.  Police say his DNA was found in a recovered stolen car from Newtown. The car was stolen from a residence on Walnut Tree Hill Road in October of 2018.

In the past couple weeks, Police investigated several daytime vehicle break ins.  The suspects have been identified and arrested in New Jersey.  Newtown Police say they are apart of an organized gang that targets the entire east coast, moving state to state in a rental car.  In every stolen vehicle from Newtown and the surrounding towns, the cars all had the keys inside.

Police are reminding residents to lock cars, take valuables out, not to leave the keys inside. 

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Improvements to White Street proposed in Danbury

A public information meeting is being held in Danbury on January 29th about proposed improvements on White Street.  The project is from the intersection with Eighth Avenue to the intersection with Meadow Street and Locust Avenue and Wildman Street.  The design presentation will be followed by a question and answer session.  The construction will be funded under the Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program.  Plans are available for review at the City of Danbury Engineering Department.  The information meeting is at 6pm at Danbury City Hall City Council Chambers.  Written questions or comments can be emailed to Danbury Project Engineer Thomas Altermatt t.altermatt@danbury ct.gov.

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Short-term rental regulations approved in New Fairfield

Short term rental regulations have been adopted in New Fairfield.  The Zoning Commission, at their meeting last week, approved an amendment allowing rentals of six or fewer days as long as property owners obtain zoning permits for their rental properties. 

According to meeting minutes, the update requires a payment of $500 every 24 months for the permit.  A certificate of insurance for the proposed use and Zoning Commission-approved site plan are also needed.  The renter must live on either the same property as the rental or an abutting one.  Occupancy is limited to two people per bedroom.  

The changes passed on a 2-1 vote. 

Proponents say the supplemental income helps pay for property taxes or improvements to their property.  Opponents argue there have been large groups, strained septic systems, a lot of street parking and noise. 

The amended zoning regulation go into effect March 1st.

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FBI agents visit Congressional candidate's house, business after impeachment document release

FBI agents have visited the home and business office of a GOP 5th Congressional District candidate, according to ABC news.  Robert Hyde's name emerged this week in documents released by the U-S House as part of the impeachment inquiry.  He claimed to have knowledge of surveillance of Kent-native Marie Yovanovitch when she was U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.  In text message between Hyde and Lev Parnas, a close associate of Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Hyde gives Parnas updates on the location of Yovanovitch.  Both Hyde and Parnas have said they were alcohol-fueled joking messages.

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Bethel Chamber of Commerce to host Legislative Breakfast

The Bethel Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Legislative Breakfast on January 27th.  People in attendance will learn more about the legislative focus of the town's State Senators and Representatives. Senators Will Haskell and Julie Kushner, along with Representatives Raghib Allie-Brennan and Stephen Harding have been invited.  Opening remarks will be delivered by First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker.  There will be a question and answer session for residents to share questions and concerns.  The event will take place at the Bethel South Street Fire Station,from 7:30am to 9am. It's $15 for Bethel Chamber Members and their guests, $25 for non-Chamber Members. Registration is requested by January 20th. Walk-ins are welcome, but pre-registration and payment are preferred.

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Freshman lawmaker to seek reelection

Bethel state Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan has announced that he is running for re-election.  The freshman lawmaker says Connecticut is at a pivotal moment.  He touted his work in the first term so far, including efforts to repeal the business entity tax.  Allie-Brennan says he's hosted over a dozen community conversations on issues ranging from affordable housing to the opioid epidemic, and wants to continue to address those issues.

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Ridgefield Police Department Citizen Police Academy accepting applications

The Ridgefield Police Department Citizen Police Academy is accepting applications.  The program is aimed at connecting the community and the police.  Participants will gain insight into how the department works and services provided to the community.  Topics include Crime Scene Investigation, K9 Unit, Firearms, TASER, Speed Enforcement, D.U.I. Enforcement, Search and Seizure, and Department History.  Applications are due by February 9th.  The Academy will begin February 11th, and meet for 8 weeks every Tuesday from 6pm to 9pm at police headquarters on East Ridge Road.  Participants must be 18 and live or work in Ridgefield.  Applications can be found on the town's website, and must be dropped off or mailed to the police department.

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League of Women Voters kick off 100th anniversary of 19th Amendment ratification

Members from the League of Women Voters of Ridgefield have marked the 135th birthday of suffragette Alice Paul.  During a gathering Tuesday morning at the Keeler Tavern Museum, the group also kicked off the town’s yearlong commemoration of the 100th anniversary of 19th Amendment’s ratification. A longtime Ridgefield resident, Paul helped secure passage of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote. In 1923, Paul authored the Equal Rights Amendment, which has yet to be adopted.  The gender equality measure is continuing to advance in the Virginia Legislature.  It has to be ratified by a certain number of states to become the next amendment to the U.S. Constitution.   Even if it's ratified in Virginia, court battles are expected nationwide over a long-passed 1982 deadline set by Congress.

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Bethel Superintendent recognized by UConn School of Education

UConn's Neag School of Education has named Bethel Superintendent of Schools Christine Carver as the 2020 Outstanding School Superintendent of the Year for the state.  The alumni board says the award is given annually to a graduate who has made a significant impact on education, has a national reputation for her/his work, has been an inspiration to other professionals, and has shown continued involvement with the School of Education.  Carver has been superintendent in Bethel for five years and will be formally recognized at Neag’s 22nd annual Alumni Awards Celebration March 14th.

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Vote on proposed bond package could be held in Danbury during Primary Day

A vote on a bond package in Danbury could happen April 28th, the same day registered voters go to the polls for the primary.  During a meeting this week, officials discussed the education portion of the bond. 

The City needs to meet a June 30th deadline in order to obtain a state grant, which would cover 60 percent of eligible costs.  Mayor Mark Boughton says if they miss that deadline, there could be kids that don't have a spot in the fall. 

The classrooms would go on the first floor of the Osborne Street building, with administrative offices moving to a renovated second floor. Maintenance crews would move into the Department of Public Works building.  But the first set of new classrooms likely would not open until 2021. 

According to demographers, Danbury's student enrollment could increase by as much as 7.1 percent over the next 10 years.  The other school bond money would go toward adding classroom space at the middle school level.  Architectural and engineering work would also be paid for with the funding.

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Flood conditions prompt delay of Candlewood Lake drawdown

FirstLight has been delayed in beginning the annual drawdown of Candlewood Lake.

High water flows in the Housatonic River downstream of the Rocky River Pumped Hydro Station, particularly near downtown New Milford and below the Stevenson Dam in Monroe, required the company to store water in Candlewood Lake and prevented releases of additional water into the river from the impoundment. 

The Candlewood Lake Authority says there's continued flooding events from the end of December and first two weeks of January.  FirstLight says temperatures haven’t been consistently cold enough to impact milfoil growth as well, so the lake's owner doesn't believe they've missed an opportunity to impact the weeds.  

FirstLight will continue to draw the lake down, and eventually return to the recreational depth by opening day of fishing season on April 11th.

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Bridge rehabilitation could continue through winter in New Milford

There was some brief work on Veterans Bridge in New Milford yesterday.  Mayor Pete Bass says the contractor is technically in a winter shutdown, but can work with the state Department of Transportation's approval. 

They are not allowed to close the bridge during the day, only at night between 10 PM and 6 AM.  They are limited 8 weeks cumulative total for shutdown of the bridge. 

The contract calls for work to resume April 1st and they have 244 days, completing the project by November 30th. 

The bridge rehabilitation includes deck repair, steel repair, rivet replacement, pavement replacement and painting. Eversource is working with the contractor as an impacted utility. The detour is Still River drive. The work may periodically close one lane and New Milford Police are working with the contractor for traffic safety.

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Ridgefield Police investigating residential burglary

Ridgefield Police are investigating a residential burglary.  Police say forced entry was made in to a North Street home by breaking a window and unlocking the door.  The incident took place sometime over the last four days, likely Monday or Tuesday.  Police say a safe containing jewelry and personal documents was taken from the home.  Police are continuing to investigate.  Anyone with information about the break-in is asked to call the department’s tip line at 203-431-2345.

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Bethel Planners reschedule public hearing over large turnout

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission postponed Tuesday's planned hearing about the proposed expansion of a wood recycling facility downtown because of the large turnout.  The hearing will be held February 11th at 7pm in the general purpose room of the municipal center.  All Regional Recyclers of Wood has proposed constructing a nearly 8-thousand -square-foot building on its Wooster Street property.  During the first hearing, residents expressed concern that the trucks would be travelling through downtown and that the facility would accept municipal and kitchen waste.

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Brookfield Board of Ed member email use issue probed

A Brookfield Board of Education member has been disciplined for using her official email account to try to get information about a student who wasn't her child. 

The Board of Selectmen and the Ethics Board investigated the situation involving Joy Greenstein.  The Newstimes reports that parent Andrew Corea filed the ethics complaint after she emailed the principal of Whisconier Middle School about disciplinary action taken against several girls for a matter that happened out of school.  They are part of the Brookfield Lacrosse Club. 

The Selectmen adopted the Ethics Board's recommendations, which include requiring Greenstein to speak with an attorney or expert about acceptable practices when using town email accounts and asking for student information.  The retraining has since occurred.  The Club is not a school or town organization. 

According to the  Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act, information about educational records can't be released, regardless of the email account requesting it, without written permission from a parent. 

Greenstein said she wanted to “mirror appropriate action” for the girls involved. 

The selectmen are looking into developing policies for town employees about using town email accounts and recommend the Board of Ed do the same.

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Bethel officials sign management agreement for track & field facility

Bethel officials have signed off on a management agreement between Yvonne Grimes, the Board of Education and the Town for the Bethel High School Track and Field Center.  Attorney Peter Olson says she must comply with all town regulations, there's a priority for usage laid out and an explanation about how funds are to be used.  That last part includes details about which entity will pay for what.  Olson says if there are any issues with the building going forward, the town, as the owner, is now part of the contract that can enforce the terms of the contract.  For example, if the roof leaks, the town can go after the General Contractor.  But that contractor could go after Grimes if she told them to construct the roof in a particular way. 

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Connecticut man linked to impeachment has many legal woes

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) —  Before emerging as a figure in the impeachment proceedings, Robert F. Hyde was known best in Connecticut as an obscure Republican candidate for Congress censured by his own party’s leaders for offensive and misogynistic tweets.

Hyde, a former landscaping company owner who presents himself on social media as an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, made headlines Tuesday when House Democrats’ released text messages between Hyde and Lev Parnas, a close associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. In the messages, Hyde disparages U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and purportedly gives Parnas updates on her location and cellphone use.

While it remains unclear how he first connected with Parnas, a review of court records and police reports depict a man who struggled with extensive financial and legal problems, including police concerns about his mental health and debt racked up at the Trump National Doral Resort in Florida.

In June, Connecticut State Police required that he turn over three rifles, two shotguns and nearly 400 rounds of ammunition because of a protection order, according to records from the Simsbury Police Department. It’s unclear what led to the protection order. A week later, records show members of a Simsbury church asked police to tell Hyde not to return because of his “unsettling behavior and political campaigning,” accusing him of taking videos of himself in and around the church for political purposes and later posting them on social media.

In May, police escorted Hyde from Trump National Doral after he reported that a hit man was “out to get him.” Hyde was transported for evaluation under a law that allows people to be detained if their mental state is such that they might harm themselves or others.

The communications released Tuesday raise questions about whether Hyde was involved in possible surveillance of Yovanovitch.

“She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Her computer is off,” Hyde allegedly texted to Parnas, adding that Yovanovitch was under heavy security.

“We have a person inside,” a text message read. With another saying, “guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money ... is what I was told.”

Parnas allegedly texted back: “lol.”

Previously, the most statewide news coverage Hyde, 40, garnered occurred last month, when he was urged by GOP legislative leaders to drop out of the race for Congress after posting an offensive tweet with sexual innuendo about California Sen. Kamala Harris, following her decision to drop out of the presidential race.

U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, the incumbent 5th Congressional District Democrat Hyde hopes to challenge in November, said after Tuesday’s disclosure that it was “deeply disturbing.”

“I cannot believe this is coming from my own district,” she said.

Calls seeking comment from Hyde were met with a message that said “Senator Hyde” had a mailbox that was full. But in an interview Wednesday evening with “America This Week with Eric Boiling,” a Sinclair Broadcast Group program, Hyde denied he was part of a surveillance of Yovanovitch, laughing at the suggestion and telling Boiling he thought he was in Ecuador when the two were texting.

“It was just colorful. We were playing. I thought we were playing,” Hyde said of his conversations with Parnas. “I didn’t know he was so serious.”

But in an interview with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, aired Wednesday night, Parnas said he never believed Hyde’s texts about Yovanovitch were credible and didn’t think her safety was at risk.

“I think he was either drunk or he was trying to make himself bigger than he was, so I didn’t take him seriously,” said Parnas, who noted he gave Hyde only abbreviated responses and eventually “cut him off.”

Hyde, who acknowledged in the Sinclair interview to having “a few pops back when I used to drink” with “characters” he met at political fundraisers and events, said he plans to continue his run for the U.S. House of Representatives. Besides running for the U.S. House of Representatives, records show he also hopes to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal in 2022.

Hyde, who has received thousands of critical messages on Twitter since Tuesday’s revelations, has used the controversy to try to raise cash for his struggling campaign. He tweeted Wednesday: “Great stories and accusations. ... Please consider making a contribution to my campaign,” with a fundraising link.

JR Romano, the state’s GOP chairman, said he didn’t know Hyde when the political newcomer contacted him last year, expressing a desire to run for Congress. A big supporter of Trump, records show he has contributed more than $56,000 to political campaigns since 2016, much of it to the Republican National Committee. Romano said the Connecticut GOP returned any contributions Hyde had made to the state party after the offensive tweet about Harris.

Romano said Wednesday he has asked Hyde to end his bid for Congress.

Hyde’s twitter feed features selfies with Trump, Trump family members, Trump confidant Roger Stone, Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and others. He’s made references to Democrats as “terrorists” and journalists as “scumbags.”

His personal woes included battles over child support, writing in August that his payments should be reduced because he had not been employed for eight months.

Documents from Hyde’s family court case include emails from the Trump National Doral Resort in Florida, dated in September and October, telling Hyde he was past due on a bill of $4,666.38. The emails indicate Hyde attempted to pay for at least part of the bill with “mini-bar credits” he claimed he was owed dating back three years. The resort wrote that the credit program was no longer in existence and told Hyde they would turn the bill over to a collection agency if he did not settle it. It’s not clear if that dispute was resolved.

A cease and desist letter from a political consulting firm, also contained in the Family Court file, indicates Hyde tried to use a credit card from that company, A10 Associates, in December 2018 to pay for thousands of dollars of charges at Doral. That letter accuses Hyde of disparaging the company to its clients and using vulgar and misogynistic language to describe its chief executive.

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Women injured in crash involving state trooper settle suit

A Connecticut mother and daughter severely injured when their car was struck by an unmarked state police vehicle driven by a trooper investigators allege was drunk have settled their lawsuit against the bar that served him. Lisa and Madison Conroy sued Black Hog Brewing of Oxford after the crash in Southbury in September.

The Conroys' attorney said Tuesday he agreed to the $225,000 settlement with the bar's insurance company. The Conroys' suit against the state and suspended state police Sgt. John McDonald is pending.  

Prosecutors say the 37-year old McDonald consumed at least eight alcoholic drinks during a retirement party for a colleague before the crash.  He was driving more than 70 mph and ran a stop sign before the accident. 

McDonald, charged with drunken driving and assault with a motor vehicle, is on paid leave.

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Town Hall meetings scheduled by Congresswoman Hayes

Two town hall meetings have been scheduled by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.  The first will be a live stream on Facebook this Saturday morning.  Hayes plans to give updates on her recent work in Congress and answer constituent questions.  She asked for questions to be submitted in the comment section of the Facebook post announcing the event.  On Tuesday, Hayes will hold a Congressional update at the Newtown Community Center beginning at 6:30 PM. Doors will open at 6PM.

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Kent Memorial Library undergoing renovations

Kent Memorial Library is undergoing renovations.  Officials say they are taking care of some long-deferred and necessary repairs including asbestos remediation and new carpet installation.  Beginning today, patrons can visit 19 and 23 Kent Green Boulevard to access the library's offerings.  Kent Green owner John Casey is donating the space and provided grant money to pay some of the expense for the move and repairs.  The North Main Street building is expected to reopen in early-February.

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ARC seeks volunteers for annual Homeless Youth Count

15 volunteers are needed for the 5th Annual "Homeless Youth Count" in Danbury.  There's a volunteer training session tomorrow at ARC on Delay Street at 11am.  Trained Volunteers will administer surveys in Danbury, which officials say are critical to understanding the scope of homelessness and to generating resources to end/prevent youth homelessness. Interested volunteers should contact Reverend P.J. Leopold at ARC at 203-792-9450 Ext. 102

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Visibility test scheduled in Kent at sites of proposed cell tower

Kent residents will get a look at the visibility of a proposed cell tower this weekend.  Homeland Towers will be conducting their visual field work at Richards Road on Saturday, with an inclement weather date of Sunday.  Around 9am, they expect to raise the crane's boom to the proposed height of 175 feet, and drive the area to document both views and non-views.  If low winds are expected, they plan to simultaneously float a balloon at the Bald Hill Road site to the proposed height of 154 feet.  They expect the work to take approximately four to five hours. Once complete, the crane and balloon will be taken down.  Both sites are on private property.  Anyone out driving in the area is reminded to stay alert to other vehicles and possible foot traffic.

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Conn. Congressional hopeful appears in new documents released on eve of impeachment trial

One of the men seeking the GOP nomination to be the 5th Congressional District candidate to represent the Greater Danbury area in Washington, D.C., plays a role in the latest impeachment news. 

Messages between Robert Hyde and Lev Parnas were released by House Democrats yesterday.  They show the pair communicating about the removal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. 

Hyde appeared to be describing detailed surveillance of Yovanovitch while she was in Ukraine.  Parnas also received messages from Hyde, who referred to Yovanovitch as a “bitch.” 

There are also references to President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.  Hyde says "Wake up Yankees man. She's talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off. She's next to the embassy. Not in the embassy. Private security. Been there since Thursday."  He also says "they are willing to help if we/you would like a price, guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money ... what I was told."

On Twitter, Hyde dismissed the claims as “laughable” and appeared to try to distance himself from Parnas. He said he would “welcome” an investigation.

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Motorist drives into Danbury building

A driver crashed into a Danbury building yesterday afternoon, sustaining minor injuries.  The Fire Department responded to 20 Germantown Road shortly after noon.  Firefighters confirmed heavy damage to the building.  Despite initial reports of the driver being trapped in the vehicle, there was no entrapment.  The building department responded to inspect the damage.  A few appointments were affected by the incident, but all offices were returned to work at the conclusion of the incident.

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UNIT: 2019 included nearly 12,000 service requests, quality of life complaints

In the last month of the year, the Danbury Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team received 60 quality of life issue complaints.  The top issues addressed in December were abandoned or unregistered vehicles and illegal dumping.  There were also a dozen blight issues and a handful of complaints about parking violations.  Overall for 2019, UNIT responded to nearly 12,000 service requests and complaints.  The department also coordinated and managed projects associated with housing inspections, community service work, graffiti removal, parking enforcement, and inspections.  For the year, UNIT reported 41-percent of the complaints were vehicle violations.  That was followed by 26-percent being litter complaints.  12-percent of service calls were about unsafe living conditions.  7-percent of the UNIT's time was spent on blight warnings and orders.  The balance was Miscellaneous quality of life issues.

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Danbury applying for state grant to fix bridge

Danbury is applying to the state for funding to pay for a bridge project.  The work would be done on the Kennedy Avenue bridge over the Still River.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the local bridge program changes every year, and this year the state is awarding 50-percent grants.  The money would be matched by the City though a capital request to be presented to the City Council.  The federal funding program has certain requirements and contingencies, and requires a lot more reporting so it negates the cost of any money that would be awarded.  Iadarola added that the state grant program has faster turnaround time.  If awarded, that funding would pay $1.46 million.  The bridge is 43 feet long, 36 feet wide and has a 71-percent sufficiency rating.  It's got a 69-percent priority rating.

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Danbury man allegedly throwing objects at car on highway is charged

A Danbury man who allegedly was throwing things at a car on the highway last week has been arrested for driving under the influence and driving without a license.  State Police charged 18-year-old John Victor Medeiros Thursday.  Troopers received a report of a driver throwing things on Route 7.  The car was located a short distance away.  Medeiros is scheduled for arraignment on the 28th.  According to court records, Medeiros was arrested in Danbury five months ago on burglary and similar charges, in addition to tampering with a motor vehicle.

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School board member pleads not guilty to kidnapping attempt

MILFORD, Conn. (AP) — A member of the school board in Connecticut’s largest city pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of impersonating a police officer and trying to kidnap his 21-year-old son at gunpoint, and told a judge he would be representing himself in court.

“The case involved a family member who wasn’t in his right mind,” Bridgeport Board of Education member Chris Taylor, 50, told the judge. “I think I can work this out with the prosecutor.”

Taylor’s wife, Stacy Taylor, who is facing similar charges to her husband, told the judge she intended to apply for a public defender.

The judge continued the case to Jan. 28 at which time he will decide whether Chris Taylor can represent himself.

Taylor declined comment as he left the courtroom.

Both Taylor and his wife are free on $100,000 bond.

The couple went to the Seymour apartment of the 21-year-old man in November and attempted to force him to go with them, police said. They were charged last month.

The victim’s landlord told officers he had received a call from a man who identified himself as a police officer with warrants for the arrest of the victim, police said.

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Workshop tonight in Danbury on proposed bond package

A public workshop is being held in Danbury about the proposed 2020 bond request.  The forum will be held from 6pm to 7:30pm at City Hall.  Some $38.7 million for the City and $23.3 million to the schools are being requested. 

The money for the schools is split between classroom space and replacing elevators.  Danbury officials have proposed renovating the Osborne Street facility to create new classrooms, relocate maintenance crews and create Board of Ed administrative offices.  Danbury expects 60-percent state reimbursement on eligible costs. 

There's money for several infrastructure improvement projects including downtown streetscapes, energy efficiency projects and parks.  The bulk of the bonding for the City would go toward paving, drainage improvements and repairing or replacing bridges.  The Downtown streetscaping involves sidewalk replacement, decorative lighting and landscaping.   

The Fire Department needs additional space to house apparatus and alleviate space constraints at fire headquarters.  A storage facility is planned adjacent to Engine 26 near the airport. 

The funding for the parks include drainage and field improvements, acquisition of land, environmental remediation, signage and access improvements. 

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Danbury officials look to increase supportive housing residential program units

Danbury officials are looking to increase supportive housing residential program units.  An affiliate of the Housing Authority has issued a Request for Proposals for 98A Elm Street.  The Health and Human Services Department is sending a reply. 

Director Lisa Morrisey says the project aligns with the strategies identified in the Mayor's 10-year plan to end homelessness and the long-term plan to provide more housing opportunities with support services to the most vulnerable populations. 

Supportive housing combines affordable housing with intensive coordinated services, which can provide that needed assistance. 

Morrisey says people with mental illness, chronic health conditions, histories of trauma and other struggles often end up in crisis situations while living on the streets, and emergency rooms and interaction with public safety officers may be the only care they are able to access. This, in turn, leads to greater strain on social services, health care and public safety systems. 

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Bethel Planning and Zoning continue hearing on proposed contractor yard

An applicant is looking to build a transfer station on Wooster Street in downtown Bethel.  The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal at their meeting tonight.  The 8,000 square foot building would expand the property's existing recycling yard in order to include construction debris for indoor recycling and to accommodate "small local"  contractors.

The material would include sheetrock, pipes and other assorted construction material -- to be sorted and sold from the facility.  The property owner, in response to question from the public, said that no household or municipal waste would be collected at this facility and that truck traffic would be directed away from downtown.  But there's controversy because the permit request states that accepting municipal waste, or kitchen garbage, is part of the proposal.

The Commission is awaiting Inland-Wetlands Commission decision as well as reports from the Fire Marshal, Health Department and Planning & Zoning Director.

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Danbury Police warn of Eversource phone scam

The Danbury Police Department is warning people against an old phone scam that's recirculating.  Police have received an increase in complaints about residents receiving calls from scammers purporting to represent Eversource Electric. The scammers claim they will shut off their electricity immediately if they do not make a payment over the phone. These types of phone calls are scams.  Eversource representatives never ask for instant payment in person or over the phone, nor require the use of prepaid debit cards.  Customers who are scheduled for disconnection due to nonpayment receive written notice via the U.S. mail which includes the actions they can take to maintain service.

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Connecticut Institute For Communities, Ann's Place partner

Connecticut Institute For Communities has partnered with Ann’s Place, a Danbury-based nonprofit that provides counseling and wellness services to people living with cancer, and to their loved ones.  CIFC is giving Ann’s Place space in their Greater Danbury Community Health Center at 120 Main Street Danbury, to meet clients downtown once a week.  Ann's Place CEO Shannon Cobb says facing cancer is both emotionally and physically exhausting for everyone in the family. When there are barriers to getting services, such as lack of transportation, Cobb says it can have monumental effects.

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Weekend shooting at Danbury restaurant not considered random incident

Danbury Police do not believe the early Saturday morning shooting at a Padanaram Road restaurant was random and there is no danger to the general public.  Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour says two people were grazed by a single shot from a handgun after a fight broke out inside Castello.  But he says it's not clear at this time whether the two victims were the shooter's intended targets.  Both sustained non-life threatening wounds.  According to Facebook posts, the bar hosts Friday night parties with a DJ.  Emergency room staff notified police about the two gunshot wound victims around 3:30am.

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Conn. Coalition to End Homelessness seeks volunteers for point-in-time count

The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness will conduct its annual point-in-time count on the evening of January 21st into the following morning.  Volunteers are needed to conduct the census of homeless individuals living in Danbury and across the state.   A youth outreach and count will be held January 22nd through 28th.  Last January, the coalition counted 114 individuals in Danbury. 75 were single adults, the others were children or adults in families. According to the report, about 30 were unsheltered during last year's count.  Details about volunteering for the Point in Time Count can be found on the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness website.

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Easton Police identify man found dead in home Friday

The Easton Police Department is continuing to investigate an untimely death.  Police responded to a Redding Road home on Friday afternoon on a report of an unresponsive person.  Although the investigation is still open, it was determined that 63-year old Michael Baldyga succumbed to injuries sustained due to an accidental fall.  Based on the conditions inside the residence, the State  Police Western District Major Crime Unit was called to assist in processing the  scene. The States Attorneys Office was also contacted and is assisting.  

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Two lost hikers rescued from Devil's Den Preserve

Two lost hikers have been rescued from Devil's Den Preserve.  Weston Volunteer Fire Department officials say yesterday's record breaking temperatures led more people out on the trails. Shortly before 5:30pm Sunday Weston Fire was dispatched to Devils Den.  With the help of Weston Police, a UTV was used to locate the parties about 40 minutes later.  There were no injuries reported.

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DOT schedules road projects in Brookfield, New Milford this week

The state Department of Transportation has scheduled some road work projects in Brookfield this week.  There are right lane closures on Route 7 northbound between exits 11 and 12, and left lane closures southbound through that stretch today.  The left lane northbound and the right lane southbound will be closed tomorrow.  The work is being done 9am to 3pm. 

On Friday, there will be alternating one way and lane shifts on Route 133 between Route 202 and Pocono Road.  That work is also scheduled for 9am to 3pm.

Work is being done later this week on Veteran's Bridge in New Milford.  The state Department of Transportation will have a crew working on the structure Wednesday.  There will be alternating one-way closures on Bridge Street from 9am to 3pm because of the work.  New Milford Police will be on hand to direct traffic through the Work Zone.

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3 school buses destroyed by fire in Bethel

Three school buses have been destroyed by fire in Bethel. 

Firefighters responded to the bus depot on Henry Street just before 2:30am Sunday.  Fire officials say an observant Bethel Police Officer smelled smoke in the Greenwood Avenue area and recognized it wasn't just chimney smoke.  The officer began to search downtown and found one mini-bus and one regular school bus fully involved. A second full size bus was catching fire, about 50 feet from the building. 

Stony Hill officials say the situation could have been much worse if it weren't for the officer. 

West Redding Volunteer Fire Department responded mutual aid with an engine and a tanker.

The cause is under investigation by the Bethel Emergency Management & Fire Marshal office. 

According to an email from Superintendent Christine Carver to parents and staff, it appears the fire originated with a small van, and because of the high winds, the fire spread to two full-size buses, which were spares.  First Student provided a replacement van.

(Photo: Bethel Fire & EMS)

The bus company checked the other buses to ensure there was no impact to the rest of the fleet and bus runs will not be affected today. 

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Two people wounded in Danbury shooting

Two people have been wounded in a shooting in Danbury.  Police say the incident happened at Castello restaurant on Padanaram Road early Saturday morning, but officers didn't learn of it until emergency room staff reported the victims.  No arrests have been made.  Police did not disclose any details or possible motive for the shooting.  It wasn't immediately known how many shots were fired.

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Newtown couple displaced by fire

A Newtown couple has been displaced by a fire.  All of the volunteer fire companies responded to the single-family home on Brookwood Drive shortly before 8pm Thursday.  The homeowners returned to find smoke coming from their house and called 911.  The fire was knocked down within 15 minutes.  Due to the cold, a Public Works employee was requested to the scene with a sand truck.  No injuries were reported.  The damage was not extensive, but firefighters say the home in uninhabitable.  The American Red Cross was contacted to help the elderly couple.  The fire is believed to be accidental and started near the basement.  Southbury sent a crew for standby at Sandy Hook’s main station. Stepney sent a crew to Botsford’s station for coverage.

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Lamont answers public's questions on tolls, transportation

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont was greeted by a mostly pro-tolls crowd Sunday during a forum about transportation, which comes as lawmakers inch closer to a possible vote on a plan that includes tolls on big trucks.

The Democrat told reporters Friday that he believed a tentative deal on a transportation funding bill could be reached soon, possibly over the weekend, with leaders of the Democratic controlled General Assembly.

“And we’ll be getting together with the leadership very early next week and hopefully bringing it to a vote,” Lamont said.

Lamont, Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti and state legislators appeared at Bedford Middle School in Westport for the town hall forum on transportation. About 400 people turned out, including many union members who have advocated for tolling.

“Labor knows these are thousands and thousands of good, recession-proof jobs,” Lamont told the crowd, the Hartford Courant reported.  Organized toll opponents mostly boycotted the event, campaigning instead for anti-toll candidates hoping to fill several open legislative seats.

Some in the crowd Sunday expressed concern that the proposed tolls on big rigs will eventually be extended to cars and smaller trucks. But state Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, said lawmakers are working on language that would prevent that from happening, the Courant reported.

“It is simply not allowed in the current toll proposal,” Haskell said.

A draft copy of the latest transportation proposal, obtained by the Hartford Courant, calls for installing electronic tolls for large tractor-trailers on a dozen Connecticut bridges along Interstates 84, 95, 395, 684, Route 8, as well as the Charter Oak Bridge in Hartford and the so-called Mixmaster in Waterbury.

Lamont and supportive lawmakers began to coalesce last month around the idea of only tolling trucks after previous plans to toll other vehicles, including passenger cars, faltered. It still remains uncertain whether a 10-year, $19.4 billion transportation plan that includes tolls as a way to generate part of the needed revenue can ultimately clear the legislature. The state would also pursue low-cost federal loans.

“We’re following Rhode Island’s example — the big tractor-trailer trucks — taking their law, a law that’s been in operation a couple of years,″ Lamont said Friday.

Members of the public at the forum were mostly in favor of Lamont’s latest plan for truck-only tolls on 12 bridges that span six highways across the state, the Hartofrd Courant reported.

Lamont and Democratic legislative leaders have said they want a vote held before the regular legislative session opens on Feb. 5.

Republican lawmakers, who represent the minority party in the General Assembly, have opposed any tolling on Connecticut’s highways and bridges, even if it’s limited to big rigs like in neighboring Rhode Island.

Tolls on trucks have been estimated to raise between $150 million to $200 million annually, figures questioned by the president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut.

“As recently as three days ago, legislative leaders admitted that they had out-of-date revenue estimates that were not valid anymore,” said Joseph Sculley on Friday. “Legislative leaders had not even decided what type of vehicles they wanted to toll until three days ago. Now all of the sudden, they claim to have a legitimate bill ready to be voted on next week. Nothing about this is legitimate.”

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Danbury officials to continue negotiations with owner of blighted land near Airport

The Danbury City Council has reauthorized negotiations about paying for two parcels of blighted land near the airport--either through a sale or an eminent domain payment.  89 Wooster Heights Road and 25 Miry Brook Road continues to be the subject of enforcement actions by the City, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and others.  The properties are within the flight path of the airport and funds from the FAA may be available to purchase and improve the sites.  City officials say this would ensure aircraft safety, and that personnel and property is fully protected and maintained.  Danbury could also use open space money to acquire and restore the land.

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Ridgefield interim Superintendent to present budget proposal

The Ridgefield interim Superintendent of School is presenting a budget to the Board of Ed tonight.  The current year budget is $98 million and enrollment is projected to continue to decline.  There have been several years of layoffs due to the decline.  Officials anticipate there will be money in this year's budget for needed building repairs.  Dr. JeanAnn Paddyfote’s budget presentation is scheduled for 7pm in the Board of Education meeting room at the Town Hall Annex building.  The Board of Education will meet for a series of presentations on different portions of the budget throughout the rest of this month.  The first public hearing will be held Saturday February 1st at 10am.

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Center School Ad-Hoc committee sends out survey to Brookfield groups

The Center School Ad-Hoc committee in Brookfield is starting its work to determine the best use for the facility when it's vacated in 2022, after the new school is completed.  They will begin by requesting information from a number of groups, clubs and organizations in town to identify and prioritize space needs. The committee planned to send the survey to the chairs of all Brookfield boards and commission the first week of January. The groups will have 10 days to respond.  The survey will help the committee make an informed recommendation on the future use of the school to the Board of Selectmen.  The Ad-Hoc Committee was appointed by the Board of Selectmen in August.

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Danbury applying for FEMA grant for FD equipment

The Danbury Fire Department is applying once again for a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant.  The Department is looking for $800,000, with FEMA paying 90-percent.  The City would pay 10-percent of the cost of personal protective equipment. 

Fire officials applied for this grant two years ago.  Fire Chief TJ Wiedl says they were denied because some of the SCBA, self-contained breathing apparatus, were not old enough to meet the requirements of the grant.  The City has purchased a large number of this type of gear, and those purchases go in cycles due to the size of the Department.  Depending on the years they were purchased, the equipment is required to be updated by NFPA every few years. 

Last year, Wiedl says the City was competitively involved in the grant process, right up to the last round.  Danbury did not receive a negative on the application until FEMA basically ran out of money in the grant fund.  He believes the City has a much better opportunity this year.

Finance Director David St Hilaire says it's not an urgent item at this time, but the City will have to start setting aside money soon. 

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Ex-mayor on prison life: Spin class, teaching and law books

The former mayor of a Pennsylvania city who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for public corruption told a newspaper his life behind bars is “kind of like being mayor but for a lot less money.”

Former Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has spent more than a year at a low-security prison camp in Danbury, Connecticut, after his sentencing in October 2018. Pawlowski had just started his fourth term when he was convicted of rigging municipal contracts in a scheme to raise money for his political campaigns for higher office.

Since being locked up, Pawlowski, 54, said he has kept a busy schedule that includes drumming in several bands, teaching a class on government, learning foreign languages and attending spin and yoga classes.

“The one good thing about prison is that it has gotten me in shape,” Pawlowski, responding to an interview request from The (Allentown) Morning Call, wrote in a letter to the paper. He said he’s dropped 30 pounds.

The former mayor said he spends afternoons and weekends in the prison’s law library, where he works on an appeal. He said he’s also been helping inmates with immigration paperwork and presidential pardon requests.

“I’m thinking of just skipping law school and just taking the bar exam when I get out,” he joked, saying he’s become “quite the legal scholar.”

Pawlowski also wrote that he serves as head elder for the prison church, leads a Bible study and oversees a crew of 15 men who clean his unit.

“It’s kind of like being mayor but for a lot less money,” Pawlowski wrote. “I get all the complaints, work the bureaucracy to get things done and attempt to motivate folks to keep our living environment habitable.”

Pawlowski, who is due to get out of prison in 2031, said he has started writing a book about the experience.

A jury found that Pawlowski coerced Allentown city vendors to contribute to his failed campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate, orchestrating a scheme to rig contracts for legal, engineering, technology and construction work. Pawlowski was convicted of dozens of federal charges, including conspiracy, bribery, fraud, attempted extortion and lying to the FBI.

He has denied wrongdoing.

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106 reported UFO sightings in Connecticut for 201

There were 106 reported UFO sightings in Connecticut for 2019.  According to a database compiled by the National UFO Reporting Center, which was created in 1974, there was at least one reported sighting reported Brookfield, Kent, New Fairfield, Sandy Hook, Weston, and in Woodbury.  The Brookfield report was made February 22nd, noting there was round white light with orange flame around it in evening sky for about 10 minutes.  In Kent, on May 21st, a report claimed there were glowing lights that appeared and disappeared for several minutes around 1am near the Kent School.  In July in New Fairfield, there was a reported cylinder-shaped object with two flat scuba like tanks on its side that wobbled in opposite direction of wind.  A drone user said there were no other aircraft in area at that time and that as a pilot, this was not a balloon or other type of aircraft of their knowledge.

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Waterbury man arrested for larcenies from cars in Sherman

A Waterbury man has been arrested for a series of larcenies from motor vehicles in Sherman.  The Resident State Trooper says an active arrest warrant was served at Danbury Superior Court yesterday morning on 22-year old Keven Santos.  He was charged with three counts of burglary.  Santos was arraigned yesterday on the new charges.  Santos was in Department of Corrections custody for a separate incident and will remain there.  The Sherman Resident Trooper says this is the third and final arrest of this criminal investigation, concluding a year long probe.

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Redding to hold weekend budget workshop

The end of the fiscal year is still months away, but Redding officials are starting the budget process for fiscal 2021.  The special budget workshop meeting is January 10th from 8am to 5pm in the hearing room of the municipal center.  Department heads will present their budget requests, including Parks and Red, Health, Town Clerk, Registrar and tax collector and assessor.  The request from Conservation, Planning and Zoning will also be heard.  After a brief break, the library, building department and police will present their requests.  After lunch, the rest of the departments, commissions and selectmen will discuss their funding proposals.  Public Comment, up to a maximum of 5 minutes, will be allowed after each department presentation.

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Local lawmaker pushing for follow up on alleged mismanagement of Sandy Hook fund

A local lawmaker is pushing for follow up on the alleged mismanagement of money from the Sandy Hook Workers Assistance Program.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky says the issue came to light because of a State Auditors report. 

Attorney General William Tong will take the lead role in transitioning the program, transferring the money from the United Labor Agency to another charitable organization.  Bolinsky is concerned about the unilateral shift of money without additional guidance from the legislature. 

He added that portions of the bill establishing the fund remain unclear and need to be addressed by the General Assembly.  Bolinsky doesn't want a new fund created, but rather clarifying language in order to avoid the problems that led to the misuse of the resources in the first place. Bolinsky says the legislature needs to do its part to tighten up the existing laws and reassure the public that adequate safeguards are in place when it comes to oversight of these funds.

The state auditors are working to determine exactly how the money intended for those most greatly affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy was spent.  The Chief State’s Attorney will determine if any criminal liability exists.  The Chief Court Administrator has committed to assisting in any way to returning the remaining funds to the state - more than $100,000 – since it was misused by the ULA.

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Plaque honoring Sacklers will continue to hang at UConn Health

A plaque honoring the late Raymond and Beverly Sackler will continue to hang at the UConn Health campus in Farmington, according to the Hartford Courant.  This comes as Connecticut and others looking to hold Stamford-based Purdue Pharma, owned by the Sackler family, accountable for its role in the opioid crisis. 

The plaque recognizes the millions donated to UConn over nearly three decades. 

Wilton state Senator Will Haskell, co-chair of the legislature's Higher Education Committee, says names matter.  The committee has overnight over certain UConn matters.  He says the names of classrooms, programs, dormitories and professorships often become shorthand for students as they describe where they live or what they chose to study.  Haskell added that those names should inspire students who walk through the university gate and the lives they memorialize should embody our highest values.  Purdue Pharma manufactures OxyContin, an addictive painkiller that is blamed for thousands of overdose deaths. 

UConn has frozen spending from Sackler gifts. 

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Brookfield man sentenced for assault on Candlewood Lake

A Brookfield man has been sentenced for assaulting someone on Sand Island in Candlewood Lake.  41-year old Richard Nigro had the charges against him lowered last month to one count of assault in exchange ofr a guilty plea.  He was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in jail, suspended after two years, and five years probation.  Police say Nigro and his brother-in-law, Neil Yandow, attacked the 25-year old pilot of their boat after mistakenly believing that he made an inappropriate comment about Nigro's wife, who is Yandow's sister.  Yandow died in October, and the case against him was dismissed.  Nigro was initially charged with assault, strangulation and interfering with an officer/resisting arrest.  The victim was left with fractures and permanent facial disfigurement.

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Investor defrauded by two claiming to be Timberlake's booking agents for Sandy Hook Promise concert

Two people posing as booking agents have been arrested for claiming they could get Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars to perform at a concert benefitting Sandy Hook Promise.  51-year old Nancy Jean of Georgia and 41-year old Carissa Scott of Mississippi have been arrested for a scheme to defraud concert investors through false claims. 

They were arrested at JFK Airport Wednesday and appeared in court yesterday.  The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York says in the complaint that the pair were contacted about a conecrt at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, to benefit the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. They provided the investor with a contract for a total fee of $500,000 that purported to commit Timberlake to perform.   

The investor wired $100,000.  Approximately half of the money was used by the defendants for personal expenses or withdrawn as cash.

When Timberlake’s social media account failed to mention or promote the event, the investor requested confirmation, and someone claiming to he his manager said he would perform at the concert, but that the fee would have to be raised to between $800,000 and $1 million.  The defendants then allegedly sent the investor an agreement stating that Mars would perform at the concert as an alternative to Timberlake for a fee of $600,000. 

The investor agreed that Mars could be the headliner, but did not send an additional deposit.

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Greater Danbury area lawmakers call on Gov. to hold local transportation town hall meeting

Some local lawmakers want Governor Lamont to hold a town hall meeting in the Greater Danbury area about his transportation plans.  After hearing that Lamont agreed to attend one hosted in lower Fairfield County, State Representatives Bill Buckbee, Steve Harding and Richard Smith sent him an invitation to a yet-to-be scheduled town hall in this area.  Their districts include Brookfield, New Milford, New Fairfield, Sherman and parts of Danbury and Bethel.  Buckbee says he has plenty of questions to ask about his administration's ever-changing transportation plan.  The lawmakers have sent a formal request to the governor's office to hold a town hall meeting in New Milford or Danbury.

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Former New Milford Mayor to run for State Senate

A former New Milford mayor has announced his campaign for the 30th State Senate District.  Democrat David Gronbach wants to represent the 14 towns in Northwestern Connecticut, from Brookfield to the Massachusetts border.  The 44-year old attorney served as the Mayor of New Milford from 2015-2017.  Gronbach practices commercial litigation, education law, employment law, and offers government consulting services.  He also does pro bono work for individuals and families seeking asylum in the United States.

Gronbach is also the Director of Business Development for Medinstill, a biotech company working to modernize pharmaceutical manufacturing processes to make life saving drugs safer and more cost-effective.

Gronbach led controversial efforts to convert the closed Pettibone elementary school into a Community Center.  Parks and Rec, the Youth Agency, and Social Services were moved into the facility in 2017.  He also oversaw construction of a bike and walking path known as the River Trail.  Gronbach opposed the introduction of chemicals to control milfoil in Candlewood Lake.  Gronbach's first budget proposed reducing taxes and fully funding the Board of Education.

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Car fire in Danbury quickly extinguished

A car has been destroyed by fire in Danbury.  The blaze was reported behind the Edge Fitness Club on Newtown Road around 6pm.  The car was parked closed to the side of the building and the fire reportedly extended to the structure.  It wasn't immediately clear if the fire did any damage inside the building.  The flames were out within minutes of firefighters arriving.  The Danbury Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause.

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Missing Wilton man found dead

A Wilton man reported missing on Wednesday night has been found dead.  Wilton Police say 53-year old Todd Davies was found deceased around 10am yesterday.  He was reported missing around 7pm Wednesday.  The Police Department will work with the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine his cause of death.  While the investigation remains ongoing, police do not suspect foul play at this time.  The Department thanked the Fire Department, Wilton CERT and neighboring law enforcement and fire agencies for their efforts to locate Davies.

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Despite forecasted warmth, Danbury firefighters train on response to snow blower incidents

Despite possible record warmth this weekend, members of the Danbury Fire Department recently trained on removing a simulated arm from a snowblower.  Firefighters used a variety of tools to free the arm.  Department officials are reminding people to review the owners manuals and safe operation recommendations on power equipment. Most injuries associated with snow blowers involve injuries to the hand or finger, including amputation. The typical cause is users trying to clear a clogged auger or discharge chute with their hands.

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Congresswoman opposed to proposed HUD roll back of 2015 Fair Housing rule

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is opposed to a proposal from the Administration to roll back the 2015 Fair Housing rule, citing high homeless levels across the country. 

The rule says that if a community receives money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the municipality needs to have a real plan to address racial discrimination in housing.  Hayes says Congress should focus on reducing housing segregation. 

The proposed HUD rule would redefine fair housing standards to place more emphasis on improving housing choice rather than reducing discrimination. It would reduce regulatory burdens and eliminate the assessment tool used to map racial segregation under the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule.  According to HUD, simplifying the process for cities to meet fair housing requirements would help them meet their civil rights obligations.

But housing advocates caution the plan would substantially weaken fair housing enforcement, leading to a resurgence of racial segregation across the country.

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Greater Danbury area awarded open space preservation grants from DEEP

Connecticut is awarding $9 million to support grants for 24 communities in the purchase of 2,400 acres of land that will be designated as open space. 

Weston will get a $602,000 grant to protect 74 acres of forest directly adjacent to Devil’s Den Preserve.   Weston Farms is a mature, mixed hardwood forest that lies within the Saugatuck Central Greenbelt.  A hiking trail will connect to the 20-mile loop trail at Devil’s Den.  This is The Nature Conservancy's largest preserve in Connecticut and is part of 15,300 acres of contiguous forestland. 

The Aspetuck Land Trust will use $625,000 to protect 85 acres adjacent to their 118 acre Honey Hill Preserve.  The wetlands on the northern end of the property form the headwaters of the West branch of the Saugatuck River.  Migratory bird species and amphibians inhabit the site. A trail head and parking area at the end of Upper Parish Drive will create a link to the area’s regional trail system.

The Wilton Land Conservation Trust will use $707,000 to protect 13 acres of open field habitat that runs parallel with Ridgefield Road, about a mile outside of Wilton Center.  There are 12 acres of Prime and Statewide Important Farmland Soils on the site. The northern 2 acres of the property is a forested wetland habitat. The open fields are in the center of the Wilton pollinator pathway.  A trail will be created, along with a wheelchair accessible gravel parking area.  The site will have educational kiosks and opportunities for school groups to learn about that state’s agricultural history.

Steep Rock Association has been awarded $350,000 to preserve 85 acres of open-space farmland and intact core forest. It will use the land to extend its trail system and to permit continued agricultural use.  Steep Rock Association plans to create a 1.5-mile hiking trail, and will allow catch and release fly fishing.  13 acres are currently being farmed for hay and corn and will continue to be farmed after purchase.  The parcel contains 1,800 feet of frontage on Sprain Brook.  It can be accessed by the public from Nettle Hollow Road.  The site is less than 2 miles from the Audubon Society’s 13,800-acre Important Bird Area. 

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Waterbury man arrested in Danbury for allegedly running over pedestrian he quarrelled with

A Waterbury man has been arrested by Danbury Police for allegedly running over a pedestrian he had an argument with earlier on Sunday.  Police told the Connecticut Post that Tan Prazeres confronted the other man at the Lions Condominium, chased him on foot while armed with a tire iron.  The  39-year-old then allegedly got into his car and drove off Triangle Street into the victim.  The other man was treated for non-life threatening injuries sustained in the incident.  The victim knew the suspect and provided a description to police.  Prazeres was located a short time later and charged with assault, evading responsibility, reckless endangerment, threatening, and reckless driving.  He was held on bond and is due to appear back in court on January 13th.

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Man who allegedly fled DUI crash handed child to bystander

A Danbury man who reportedly got into a car accident Monday, left his 5-year old child with a bystander and fled the scene, has been arrested.  The Newstimes reports that Celso Leonardo Remache-chunir was charged with risk of injury to a child, operating a motor vehicle under the influence, and reckless endangerment, among other crimes. 

Police say he appears to have rear-ended a car stopped at a light at the intersection of West and Division streets.  Police later found the car, which had open containers of alcohol and fresh blood inside.  

The 33-year old was found hiding in the bathroom of a nearby business. He refused to take a breathalyzer test. 

The Newtown Road resident was also charged with evading responsibility, following too close, and transporting a child under the age of 8-years-old without a restraint system.  He was released on bond for a January 30th court appearance.

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New Milford Police investigating robbery at local farm stand

New Milford Police are investigating a robbery at a local farm stand.  Police say the suspect was caught on Kimberly Farm’s security camera stealing cash inside its retail stand on Chestnut Lane Road January 3rd.  The farm's Facebook page says the suspect also broke open the cash register and broke into their office around 1:30am and stole the farmers market cash boxes.  According to the post, the suspect appeared to know his way around and this may not have been their first time at the stand.  Anyone with information is asked to contact New Milford Police at 860-355-3133.

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Proposed Charter revisions discussed in Bethel

The most debated possible Charter revision in Bethel is about extending the First Selectman position from two years to four years.  

Collectively, the commission recognizes the responsibilities of the Board of Selectman have evolved dramatically since the town's form of government was adopted, particularly the role of First Selectmen.  Ultimately they are not recommending the term be lengthened. 

Those who want to keep the term at two years argued that there was no recall provision or ability to vote out a poor performing First Selectman sooner to protect the town.  Those who argued for an extension said a longer-term would provide more stability, noting that all other boards and commissions are on a four-year cycle, and that it would allow for long term planning. 

When proposed at the last charter revision, it failed. 

A public hearing on the proposed revisions is planned for January 28th at 7pm at the municipal center.

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Danbury Lions Club donates $17k to Police for gym equipment

The Danbury Lions Club has donated $17,000 to the Danbury Police Department.  The money will be used to upgrade equipment in the gym.  Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour told the City Council that the gym is more than 10 years old and the equipment needs to be replaced due to usage.  Various machines, including treadmills, will be purchased.  Mayor Mark Boughton says most of the money was raised at the Lions Club’s annual Mayor's Cup Golf Tournament.  Council and Lions Club member Warren Levy says they've previously donated thermal imaging cameras to the fire department, joking that there is equality between the two services.

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Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company hosts informational in Wingdale

The Iroquois Pipeline Operating Company is continuing to hold informational open houses for proposed work in the Greater Danbury area.  Their proposed Enhancement by Compression Project includes possible construction of additional compression at its Brookfield facility.  The next open house is in nearby Wingdale, New York about work at the Dover compressor station and installation of emission reduction equipment.  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.  A formal application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will be filed this month.  The proposed in-service date is November 2023.  The hearing in Wingdale is from 6 to 8pm at the American Legion Post 1949 on Route 22.

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Man charged with killing a Bethel woman to plead guilty

A man charged with killing a Bethel woman in Bridgeport in 2018 will be allowed to plead guilty at his next court appearance.  27-year old Brandon Roberts was in court yesterday on charges of murder, felony murder, robbery and carrying a pistol without a permit.  He shot 25-year old Emily Todd, a therapist at a Danbury senior center, in the back of the head.  She was found lying face down in the sand along the shore the following morning, a single spent bullet shell casing nearby.  After meeting through an online dating app and several dates, police say Todd called off the relationship. But Roberts convinced her to meet one more time, luring her to the boat ramp.  Roberts is due back in court on January 28th.

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Danbury launches Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Lifestyle Change program

The Danbury Department of Health and Human Services is launching a 12 month Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Lifestyle Change program.  There's an open house tonight at City Hall at 5pm about the program. 

The grant funded, evidence-based program is free and open to the public. 

It specifically targets individuals who are considered prediabetic or are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.  In the first 6 months of the program, participants will learn new skills and strategies to allow them to make healthier food choices, deal with stress, incorporate physical activity into their routine, and stay on track with their plan. The second half of the program focuses on maintaining these newly developed habits to foster a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.  They will also learn how to solve problems that can get in the way of healthy changes.

Certified coaches will be available throughout each session.  The meetings will be on Thursdays from 5PM to 6:30PM at Danbury City Hall.

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Redding Police investigating credit card fraud case

The Redding Police Department is attempting to identify the individual pictured in the black hat in reference to an ongoing credit card fraud investigation. The fraudulent transactions occurred around the Hartford area. Anyone with information related to this individual is asked to contact Officer Livingston at 203-938-3400.

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Bethel Public School District starting up Parent University again

The Bethel Public School District is starting up Parent University again.  Parents who attend will get expert advice on everything from academics and social/emotional well-being to substance abuse, cyber safety, and other topics.  The forum is free to attend.  Childcare will be provided.  It will be held on February 26th at Bethel Middle School from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.   The snow date is February 27th.

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Women's Center among "Charities of the Month" competing for additional donation

As last year's March winner of $1,000, Fairfield County Bank has chosen the Women's Center of Greater Danbury as one of 12 "Charities of the Month" to be in the running to win another $1,000 during their January Champion's Month.  There's online voting, with entry cards also available at all branch offices and the customer care center.  At the end of the month, the votes are tallied, and the winning charity receives an additional $1,000 donation from Fairfield County Bank.

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Wooster School student selected as finalist in International Science & Engineering Fair

A Wooster School student was recently selected as a finalist for the Brazilian International Science and Engineering Fair and represented the United States with her polymer project. Isha Patel of Danbury will be presenting another one of her ideas, called the "Green Sleep Project," at the Global Student Leadership Summit this spring in Canada. 

The 11th grader hopes both of her ideas can help protect the environment. 

Wooster officials say during her trip to Brazil in November, Patel got to see performances of finalists from around the world and answer questions about the U.S., sharing her own stories with attendees. 

There were 420 projects and over 800 students from high school from 21 different countries.

Patel's project was about creating an adsorptive microporous polymer for textile dye filtration. Wooster says she created a polymer using shrimp shell waste, coconut husk waste, and potato starch.  Water gets poured into the top of a cylinder and comes out clean.  When it becomes saturated, the polymer will act like fertilizer, providing nutrients to a plant and it will retain water.

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Plans moving forward to add supermarket in Brookfield Town Center.

Brookfield officials say plans are moving forward to add a supermarket in the Town Center.  The principals of this project recently made a presentation to the town’s development services team. They propose a mixed-use project, with a 10,000-square-foot supermarket and additional retail on the first floor, and market-rate apartments on the second and third floors. It would be located next to the Still River Greenway and include a parking lot dedicated to municipal use.  36 parking spaces are currently planned.

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3 NY defendants incarcerated on pending charges released under new criminal justice reforms

The Putnam County Sheriff has announced that three defendants incarcerated on pending criminal charges had to be released under new criminal justice reforms that took effect in New York on January 1st.  50 year old Suffolk County resident James McInerney who is charged with Grand Larceny and 28 year old Brooklyn resident Dusean Davis who is charged with Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument were among those released.  Also released was 40 year old Javier Lorenzano-Fercano who was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal automobile accident in Philipstown when he struck and killed a 38 year old man.  When he was released Immigration officials took him into custody on an I.C.E. detainer.

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Putnam County Anti-Human Trafficking program launches mobile app

Safe Harbour, Putnam County’s Anti-Human Trafficking program has launched a mobile app called Safe Harbour Putnam County.  Departments of Mental Health, Social Services and Youth Bureau Commissioner Michael Piazza Jr says human trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery where victims are sold for sex or labor, exists everywhere.  He hopes the free app will help to educate the community about trafficking and what to look for, and provide information to at-risk youth and youth being trafficked about where they can go for help.  The Safe Harbour App includes resources and programs in Putnam County that are available to trafficked youth and those at risk of trafficking.

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Public forum in Brookfield on proposed budget

The Brookfield Board of Education is holding a public forum tonight about the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  The Superintendent has presented a $47.1 million plan, a 6.8 percent increase.  About half of the increase is for contractual obligations, transportation, health insurance and energy.  Other factors leading to the proposed increase is for special education outplacement and transportation.  There are some new hires proposed to meet an enrollment increase at Center School. The public forum will be held at 6:15pm, before the regular Board of Ed meeting at the Brookfield High School Media Center at 7pm.

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Another Republican entering 5th Congressional District race

Another Republican is entering the race for the 5th Congressional District nomination.  Hearst Connecticut Media reports that 37-year old Ryan Meehan, a Litchfield resident and a businessman, is filing paperwork this week.  The West Point and UConn grad grew up in Bethlehem.  He is a veteran who completed two tours in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2012, achieving the rank of captain. Meehan has taken a leave of absence from his role as director of Operations for Unison Energy to run for Congress. 

He and others are looking to challenge freshman Democrat Jahana Hayes. 

The other candidates in the GOP race are former assistant U.S. attorney David Xavier Sullivan of New Fairfield, New Britain meter technician Ruben Rodriguez, and Robert Hyde, a public relations representative who recently came under fire for a sexually explicit tweet about Kamala Harris dropping out of the Democratic Presidential race. 

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Slight decline reported in jobs in Danbury Labor Market Area

There was a slight decline in jobs in the Danbury Labor Market Area in November.  According to the latest statistics from the state Department of Labor, the Danbury area and the Waterbury Labor Market Area each saw a decline of 100 jobs. 

The Hartford area saw an increase of 500 net positions while the  Norwich-New London area, which also takes into account some Rhode Island employment, gained 400 jobs.  The Bridgeport–Stamford–Norwalk area led declines, dropping 900.  The New Haven area lost 400 jobs. 

Connecticut gained 900 net jobs in November.  The state has now recovered 85.5-percent of the jobs lost in the recession of 2008.  Connecticut’s unemployment rate is 3.7-percent, up one-tenth of a point from the revised October level. Trade, transportation and utilities led job declines in November in Connecticut. 

The private sector workweek, not seasonally adjusted, averaged 33.8 hours, up one-tenth of an hour from the same month a year ago.  Average hourly earnings at $33.43, were up $1.04 from the November 2018 estimate.

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Danbury Police deny human trafficking at mall, confirm suspicious person report

Danbury Police say there is no current human trafficking problem at the Danbury Fair Mall. The statement is a response to recent social media posts alleging that incidents have been confirmed by both the Danbury Police and mall officials. 

Police spokesman Lt. Mark Williams says there is no validity to these allegations at this time. 

This weekend there was one complaint of a suspicious man allegedly following a group of youths. Both Danbury Police and Mall Security responded and concluded that there was no criminal aspect. The man in question has no known criminal history. 

While Danbury Police officials acknowledge that human trafficking can take place anywhere, they have no evidence or information to support any allegations that it is a problem at the Mall.  As a general rule, Police say the public is encouraged to employ the following crime prevention tips in an effort to avoid becoming crime victims:

• Be aware of your surroundings at all times and trust your instincts. If you think you are in an area you should not be, you probably are

• Walk in well-lit areas avoiding short cuts through alleys and parking lots

• Keep purses and packages tucked securely between your arms and body

• Vary your route while jogging/walking and/or go with a friend

• If you are being followed, change directions, cross the street, go into public buildings, call the Police Department

• Carry some type of noisemaker (i.e. whistle) to deter an attacker and attract the public’s attention

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New Milford officials create survey about possible shuttle service to train station

New Milford officials are working with HART transportation to see if there is a need and interest for express shuttle service to Brewster Train station from Patriot's Way parking lot.  A brief, 4-question online survey has been created to gauge interest in this type of service coming to New Milford.  One of the questions asks how many times a week respondents would use this service.  Another asks for suggestions on what times the express shuttle should depart from and return to New Milford.

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Proposed transportation forum prompts uproar, postponement

A transportation forum that was to be held tonight in Westport has been postponed, but there's still a controversy about the event.  It was being organized by State Senator Will Haskell, whose district includes Ridgefield and part of Bethel.  He asked Governor Ned Lamont and Transportation Commission Joseph Giulietti to speak about the 2030 transportation plan. 

The forum was postponed because the legislative caucuses are scheduled to meet at the state capital today. 

The Middletown Press reports that Haskell reached out to a pro-tolls Westport-based grassroots organization, to gauge interest in the forum.  A member of the group send out an email to members with the subject line, “TOP SECRET & URGENT: Gov. Lamont Needs YOU." 

The conservative think tank Yankee Institute wrote that the email shows coordination between Lamont and toll supporters to hold the town meeting.  The Yankee Institute opposes highway tolls for Connecticut.  The governor’s office denied any coordination with the grass roots group and said the administration had no advance knowledge of the email. 

The body of the email said "We have advance notice of this event, thanks to Senator Will Haskell and Gov. Lamont's office, and we want to keep that advantage over the plan's ‘No Tolls’ opponents as long as possible.”  

The Press reports that a link in the email to RSVP for the forum opened a poll created by Angela Liptack, a pro-tolls supporter from Ridgefield, who is not a staffer for either Lamont or Haskell.  Haskell said he was waiting to publicize the forum until he could confirm Lamont and Giulietti would attend.

Lamont is scheduled to appear at a public meeting this weekend in Westport to discuss his proposed transportation plan, which could include highway tolls.  Haskell says improving infrastructure is a top concern for his constituents.  He wants them to hear directly from the administration at this town hall meeting.

After finding a date to work around everyone's schedules, he hopes people of all political opinions attend to share their thoughts on how to get faster trains and safer roads.

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Man run over by tractor at Bridgewater Fair passes away

16 months after being run over by a tractor at the Bridgewater Fair, the 25-year old has died.  Timothy Meeker Jr. suffered serious injuries in the August 2018 accident.  The medical examiner’s office told the Newstimes that the cause of Meeker's December 30th death is pending further study.  Meeker, then a Washington Depot resident, suffered traumatic brain injury when he fell from an antique tractor and was run over by the left tire as he was helping tow cars out of the fair’s muddy parking lot.  Meeker’s family has sued the tractor driver, Bridgewater, and Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department, blaming them for failing to train personnel in the parking area, and neglecting to supervise the towing of cars, among other claims.  Bridgewater officials said in court documents that Meeker failed to be on “proper lookout” for his own safety and to “exercise reasonable care for his own safety.”

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Newtown Police investigating car break-ins

Newtown Police are investigating vehicle break ins at the Fairfield Hills campus.  Items were stolen from two vehicles on New Years Day.  Police received a report on Saturday afternoon that someone broke into a car parked in the Upper Paugussett State Forest parking area off Echo Valley Road.  The passenger side rear window was broken.  A purse was reported missing.  Witnesses told police that a red vehicle was in the area at the time.  Anyone with any information about the three break ins is asked to contact Newtown Police at 203-270-4255.

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122 diagnosed flu cases in Danbury in December

This is peak flu season.  The Danbury Department of Health and Human Services has continued efforts to increase vaccination rates. Data reported from the State has confirmed there have been 122 diagnosed flu cases in Danbury for the month of December. Of those 122 cases, 65 have been in children ages 17 and younger.  The Department has been hosting flu clinics in surrounding towns in an effort to keep flu numbers low in the area. There has been a higher demand for flu vaccinations in children, so clinics have been conducted in elementary schools to vaccinate that population.

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Bethel Selectmen to consider proposed Charter changes tonight

The Bethel Board of Selectmen will consider a report from the Charter Revision Commission when they meet tonight.  The Selectmen will also set a date for the public hearing. 

There are several proposed modifications to the town's governing document such as adding another non-binding advisory option of 'just right" to ballots.  The Commission unanimously agreed to recommend the use of purchasing cooperatives, prohibit Board of Finance members from serving on other Boards concurrently and raising the referendum trigger for capital utility projects to $2 million. 

The group also is recommending making the Public Utility Commission a 7-member board.  Some titles are changed including Comptroller to Finance Director, Civil Preparedness Director to Director of Emergency Management and Data Processing Department to Information Technology Department. 

The proposed revisions also include removing references to water and sewer from Public Works Department and clarifying duties, add a new section for the Department of Public Utilities, and adding a section covering resignations and removals of appointed Board members. 

There are technical changes from just "his" to "or her" in the terms in office, that meetings can be held at any town owned building, and notifications can be made in mediums consistent with state requirements. 

Other proposed revisions are that the Board of Finance should hold a public hearing not less than 7 or more than 14 days before the Annual Town Budget Meeting, that the meeting be held during the first 14 days of April and that the budget referendum be held 10 to 15 business days after the budget meeting.  All construction plans would have to be complete before a referendum is held according to one of the proposed additions.  The last change would be that a special referendum by petition be held 10 to 15 business days after certification. 

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Redding Police Humvee has new home with Norwalk Department

The Redding Police Department Humvee has a new home with the Norwalk Police Department.  The Humvee was acquired several years ago through a retired military equipment grant.  Redding Police Chief Mark O'Donnell believed it's been underutilized by the department for a long time and thought that it would better serve another department.  The Humvee was turned back over to the Grant Program where the Norwalk Police Department was able to acquire it.

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New Milford Social Services Department help hundreds of residents

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is touting the work of the Social Services Department during the holiday season.  They were able to help at least 470 local children with holiday gifts.

Over 220 families received gift cards for their holiday meal, and about 75 disabled adults received holiday gift cards and personal care packages.  An average 175 families utilized the New Milford food bank. 

Mayor Pete Bass says they received an unexpected donation of coats and were able to share them with multiple families and individuals. 

Assistance was provided to 54 New Milford with food insecurity, medical, financial, CHORE services, and health and safety issues during the past month.  The Senior Center provided 84 lunches and 118 rides to 43 clients. 

The facility was awarded two grants from The Connecticut Community Foundation, including $3000 for the Chore Services Program and $3000 for a "Chef on Site" program offering several 'cooking demonstration' programs.

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Brookfield firefighters caution residents about keeping dry Christmas trees

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is issuing a warning now that the holiday season is over.  Firefighters urge all residents to remove Christmas Trees from their homes.  Even if they have been watered daily, the trees are dry and highly combustible.  The Fire Company is asking that residents do their part to prevent fires in the home.

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Tests begin on bones that may be Revolutionary War soldiers

NORTH HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A university laboratory began tests Friday on skeletal remains found beneath an 18th century home in the hopes of identifying the three people believed to be soldiers killed during the Revolutionary War.

In December, while homeowners were renovating their house in Ridgefield, the remains were discovered in a grave under the foundation.

“These bones are so robust, they’re dense, they’re thick with muscle attachments (and) they’re long,” said Nick Bellantoni, emeritus state archaeologist of the Connecticut Museum of Natural History. “Who exactly they are, we are hoping the forensic work will show.”

While much remains unknown, researchers believe the remains belonged to men and possibly date to the Battle of Ridgefield, which occurred in April 1777. The way the men were buried in a haphazard grave also lends credibility to the idea that they were victims of the Battle of Ridgefield.

“They’re actually laying on top of each other overlapped,” Bellantoni said.

If confirmed, Bellantoni said that would make them the first remains from a Revolutionary War soldier recovered in Connecticut.

Bellantoni said the medical examiner quickly suspected the bones were very old because older bones tend to have less organic matter and start to flake over time.

Copper buttons found with the remains could indicate they belonged to militiamen.

While researchers suspect they might be soldiers, they don’t know if they might be British or American.

The bones are being analyzed at Quinnipiac University’s Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Science in North Haven.

Jaime Ullinger, director of anthropology at the university, said they are starting to conduct X-ray analysis on the bones to help examine parts of the skeleton that have deteriorated over time.

She said that, even before the remains are identified, researchers will be able to gather other kinds of information, such as what kind of diet the men had and more broadly where they might be from.

Tania Grgurich, clinical associate professor of diagnostic imaging at the university, said it is an important opportunity to learn about history and for staff and students to be up close with unusual remains.

“This is part of our history, potentially, and then these are human beings that are being unearthed,” she said. “It’s not that often that something like this happens.”

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Chris Ehrmann is a corps member for Report for America, a nonprofit organization that supports local news coverage, in a partnership with The Associated Press for Connecticut. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Pedestrian struck and injured in car accident

A pedestrian was injured by hit and run driver, who is now being sought by Danbury Police.  A 911 call about the Lake Avenue accident came in Saturday morning, shortly after 11am.  It happened near the intersection with Lawncrest Road. 

A blue 2007 Chrysler Sebring with New York plates, JKG1933, was reportedly speeding eastbound and passing vehicles on the right.  The driver hit a pedestrian, who was walking on the grass.  A witness reported seeing the vehicle operating erratically from Kenosia Avenue.

The pedestrian was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of injuries. 

The Danbury Police Traffic Unit is investigating.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Sgt. Rory DeRocco at (203) 797-2157.

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Redding begins house-by-house Christmas Tree pick up program today

The Redding Highway Department will be picking up Christmas Trees on a house-by-house basis beginning January 6th and continuing through January 13th.  Town officials say this is done as a courtesy to Redding residents, who must call to schedule a pick up.  Trees must then be placed at the curb, with all lights and ornaments removed.  Trees in plastic bags will not be accepted.  Collection may be delayed due to inclement weather.  Trees are also being accepted at the Recycling Center free of charge during normal business hours.  The trees will be chipped and the chips will be available at the Recycling Center free of charge to residents.  To schedule pick up, call 203-938-2801.

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CIFC 4th Early Childhood Education Center to open in Danbury

The Connecticut Institute for Communities is opening its fourth Early Childhood Education Center today.  An open house is being held at the 29 Park Avenue location at 3 this afternoon.  The center serves the children in the Head Start and School Readiness programs, which are intended to prepare low-income children under age 5 for school.  The new center has seven preschool classrooms and will serve 140 students.  CIFC President and CEO James Maloney, director of early learning programs Nicole Taxiltaridis, staff, parents and local officials are expected to attend this afternoon's open house.

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Restaurant owner helps man escape car before train collision

REDDING, Conn. (AP) — A restaurant owner helped a man escape a car just before it was hit by a commuter train in Connecticut on Saturday night.

Pizzeria owner Tom Costanzo told Hearst Connecticut Media that the car got stuck on the Metro-North Railroad tracks as the driver was trying to turn into his restaurant’s driveway in Redding.

The man was still in the car when Costanzo went to help him. Then the train crossing arms came down and Costanzo heard the train horn blow.

“I told him to get the (expletive) out of the car,” Costanzo said.

The driver managed to get out before the train struck the car and crushed most of its engine compartment. No one was injured, but the driver and a train conductor appeared shaken, Costanzo said.

“Never saw a car get hit by a train,” he said. “That was scary.”

Train service on the Danbury Branch was shut down for about two hours because of the accident, but bus service was provided to passengers.

Antique shop owner Dottie DeLuca said she has had concerns about the intersection because it’s dark and drivers have difficulty seeing whether they’re turning into a driveway or onto the train tracks.

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Fight near City Center green ends with weapons charges against 36-year old

A fight near the Danbury City Center green has led to weapons charges for a 36-year old City resident.  Police saw Jose Manuel Abreu get out of his car and approach another man early last Saturday morning, getting into a verbal argument off Railroad Place.  Abreu walked back to his vehicle and got something out of it. 

Police say officers heard the sound of the slide action of a pistol and intervened.  Abreu was found in possession of a loaded pistol and brass knuckles. 

Spokesman Lt Mark Williams told the Newstimes that it appears

Abreu was in a jealous rage.  Abreu was charged with carrying a dangerous weapon, illegal possession of a weapon in a vehicle, breach of peace and 2 counts of threatening.  He will be arraigned on Wednesday.

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Newtown Board of Selectmen reject buying property next to Hawley School

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has rejected the idea of buying a one-acre property next to Hawley School.  Given other capital priorities, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says there is no pressing need for the purchase, even to improve security and traffic flow.  The vacant residential lot on Church Hill Road is on the market for $450,000.  There is significant overgrowth between the properties and Rosenthal called for the vegetation on the town's side to be to cut back to create better sight lines.  There currently is no fence, and he suggested in a letter to the Superintendent that one could be installed.  The acquisition remains on the Board of Education’s 10-year Capital Improvement Plan.

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Certificate of Occupancy filed for new Bethel High School Track and Field Center

The Certificate of Occupancy has been filed for the new Bethel High School Track and Field Center.  The Board of Selectmen, at their last meeting, signed off on a notice of ground lease termination and contract assignment with Yvonne Grimes. 

Town Attorney Peter Olson says he anticipates receiving the termination notice officially for signing soon.  When the documents were drafted, it was the intention of the Grimes to operate the Field House as the owners for a short period of time before turning it over to the town.  But they decided a few weeks ago to turn it over as soon as the CO was issued. 

There were punch list items that needed to be completed and Olson was concerned if all of the invoices were paid to all subcontractors.  If they weren't the town would be left open to complains of non-payment and a mechanics lien on the High School.  But Olson says all punch list items are now complete. 

All November invoices have been paid.  The General Contractor estimates $348,000 in invoices for December, and the Grimes have wired that money to the contractor.

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Himes reflects on work done over past year

4th District Congressman Jim Himes is reflecting on the work done in Fairfield County over the past year.  His office hosted a series of over 30 workshops and roundtables focused on helping small businesses grow, combating Medicare scams targeting seniors, and ensuring the upcoming elections are secure.  Himes says he learned a lot through his "Jim on Your Job" series.  He spent time hearing from workers about their daily lives and responsibilities, and learning how to better support these businesses in Washington.  After learning how to deliver pizza, how to help out backstage and how to release a red hawk into the wild, Himes says he is looking ahead to new opportunities to learn more from local businesses this year.

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LWV to host film screening about voting rights struggle

The Redding League of Women Voters is hosting an event next week called Let the People Decide.  The film explores the struggle for voting rights in the U.S. through present day.  League leaders say the story shows that today's fractured political environment  was not sprung from a vacuum, but a continuous struggle over time.  The filmmaker will hold a question and answer session after the screening.  Doors open on January 9th at 6:30, with the film starting at 7pm at the Mark Twain Library.  Registration through the Library is required.

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Public registration for new Bethel High School Track and Field Center now open

The public registration for the new Bethel High School Track and Field Center is now open. Bethel residents, over age 18, can register to use the building.  There is an annual 25 dollar fee, payable to the Bethel Board of Education.  The second floor facility will be open to the public during the week from 6am to 7am, and on weekends from noon to 2pm.  The track and field center will operate on the school schedule for cancellations and delays.  Athletic shoes must be worn at all times and the entry key is non-transferable.  No bags, including pocketbooks, are allowed and no food or drink, only reusable water containers.  Entry into the building will be through the BHS upper parking lot.  The building will be closed on April 12th, July 4th, September 7th, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. 

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Redding officials to host first budget planning session of the season

The end of the fiscal year is still months away, but Redding officials are starting the budget process for fiscal 2021.  The special budget workshop meeting is January 10th at am in the hearing room of the municipal center.  Department heads will present their budget requests, including Parks and Red, Health, Town Clerk, Registrar and tax collector and assessor.  The request from Conservation, Planning and Zoning will also be heard.  After a brief break, the library, building department and police will present their requests.  After lunch, the rest of the departments, commissions and selectmen will discuss their funding proposals.  Public Comment, up to a maximum of 5 minutes, will be allowed after each department presentation.

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Danbury Schools open AIS lottery

Parents should plan from now if they want a chance to send their child to Danbury's magnet school.  The lottery to apply to the Western Connecticut Academy for International Studies is now open for grades K-5. Children who are five year old by January 1st, 2021 are eligible. The Danbury district's magnet school and is open to all Danbury students through a lottery system with some seats for participating towns.

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New Fairfield school projects placed on state Construction Priority List

New Fairfield officials have been told that planned school renovation and building projects have been placed on the state Office of School Construction Grants & Review’s School Construction Priority List.  The reimbursement will also be slightly higher based off calculations using the town's grand list.  The existing Consolidated Elementary School will be demolished.  Meeting House Hill School will be modified, with a new learning academy project added to the facility.  The High School project includes 143,000 square-feet of new construction, field replacements, locker room renovations and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades.

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2 kids ejected from car as driver falls asleep behind wheel, crashes

A Waterbury resident fell asleep behind the wheel on New Years Day and was involved in an accident on I-684 in Bedford in which two kids were ejected from the car. 

New York State Police determined that 49-year old Maribel Mota was headed northbound around 11am and drifted into the left guardrail, then across all lanes into the right guardrail.  The car spun and overturned, hitting the left guardrail for a second time. 

Mota and the front seat passenger, 29-year old Maria Mota, were wearing seatbelts, but both sustained minor injuries.  Three children in the backseat were not buckled in and sustained serious to critical, but non-life threatening injuries.  A 16-year-old and an 8-year-old were ejected as the car rolled.  The 12-year old was not. 

I-684 was closed for 3 hours during the emergency response.  The investigation remains ongoing.

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Man convicted for fatal DUI crash gets new DUI

A man convicted of manslaughter for a fatal alcohol-related crash has posted bond after being arrested last week for a drunk driving  charge.  The Republican-American reports that 55-year old Kevin Douma of Woodbury was arrested on an outstanding warrant for a September incident.  State Police say he was the driver of a disabled motor vehicle, who was later determined to be intoxicated.  A DUI case is also pending against Douma for an August arrest.  The publication says he served 6 years in prison on charges stemming from the death of a 40-year old Danbury motorcyclist on Federal Road in Brookfield in 2005.  Douma was prohibited from driving during 5 years of probation after his released from prison.  He has two prior drunken driving convictions. He is due in court on the 7th.

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Putnam County Courthouse lit up blue for Human Trafficking Prevention Month

In recognition of January as National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month the Putnam County Courthouse will be lit with blue light.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the crime is everywhere, including Putnam County, and lighting the courthouse blue, is a show of support for victims and survivors.  She urged every business, community organization, faith community, and school to learn the signs of human trafficking. 

It is estimated that 300,000 domestic youth are at risk for commercial sexual exploitation and that 100,000 children are the victims of sex trafficking every year. The average age of youth being forced into the commercial sex trade is 12 to 14 years old.  Runaway and homeless youth, youth who have been in foster care,and LGBTQ youth are at higher risk.

Warning signs of human trafficking can include: A history of multiple runaways or homelessness, frequent absences from school, unexplained changes in lifestyle such as excessive amounts of cash or items that a youth cannot reasonably afford, a controlling relationship with an older partner or adult, signs of physical abuse, or a lack of documentation.

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Crash on I-84 closes left lane during emergency response

There was a serious car accident on I-84 in Danbury yesterday morning.  The accident happened eastbound just before exit 7, closing the left lane for about an hour while emergency responders were providing care and investigating.  The Danbury Fire Department and EMS provided rescue, and medical care while State Police provided scene safety and investigative tasks.  Fire officials say their large fire apparatus was used to block the lane and direct traffic around working first responders.  They reminder motorists that it's state law to move over and slow down when safe to do so if approaching emergency vehicles.

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Teen working on Eagle Scout to raise funds for firefighting equipment

Water Witch Hose fire company of New Milford has partnered up with a local teen working to achieve his Eagle Scout. Ryan Desantis is raising funds to purchase gear racks that he will then install at the firehouse.  Fire Department officials say these racks will allow members to safely store and organize gear, between calls and when drying after decontamination.  The Troop 432 member says the lack of a proper place to store and clean their gear over the years has exposed the firefighters to   hazardous residue that can be left on their equipment. The lockers will also help contain the residue from the equipment and can be easily hosed down at the end of the day.  The money raised from a go fund me campaign will pay for 5 metal lockers and other materials to complete the project.

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Volunteer firefighter accused of arson is arraigned

A Stepney volunteer firefighter accused of setting fire to his recovered SUV and reporting it stolen again has been arraigned.  38-year old Mathew Bittner of Monroe was charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, insurance fraud, making a false statement and tampering with evidence.  Bittner did not enter pleas yesterday and the case was continued to the 17th. 

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.  His friend, 32-year old Joseph Bogdanyi of Seymour, who is facing arson charges, is scheduled to be arraigned January 8th.

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Congressional 'Caseworker on Your Corner' event in Danbury

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes will have members of her staff in Danbury tomorrow afternoon for a Caseworker On Your Corner event.  The constituent services forum will be held at Danbury Library from 1pm to 4pm.  Anyone with questions about Medicare, Social Security or other federal program is encouraged to attend.  The caseworkers can also offer assistance with getting documentation from the VA among other agencies.

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Car fire in Danbury on New Years Eve day quickly extinguished

A car fire in Danbury on New Years Eve day was quickly extinguished.  The car caught on fire on Balmforth Avenue around 10am on Tuesday.  Police blocked the street for about half an hour as firefighters extinguished the flames.  Danbury Fire officials say fortunately there was  a hydrant right where the fire was, which provided plenty of water. The fire marshals office is investigating the cause, and there were no injuries.

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Danbury begins picking up live Christmas trees

The City of Danbury will begin picking up live Christmas trees today.  Residents must place their trees curbside for pick-up, with everything removed--including tinsel, lights, tree stands or other items.  This program is for LIVE trees only. No artificial trees will be picked up.  The collection runs through January 31st, weather permitting.  There is no set schedule for when crews will be out in a given neighborhood for this free service.  Live Christmas trees can also be dropped-off free of charge for Danbury residents, as “wood waste” at Ferris Mulch Products, on Plumtrees Road. 

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Congressional candidate to file excessive force complaint against police

A congressional candidate plans to file an excessive force complaint against Westport's police department following his arrest last month.  TJ Elgin made his first appearance in court Monday on charges of breach of peace and interfering with an officer.  The GOP 4th District candidate was arrested at his home December 21st when a neighbor reported a man yelling and kicking at the door.  The 30-year old says it was a misunderstanding--he forgot his key and was trying to wake his grandmother, who also lives in the home.  Elgin did not enter a plea and the case was continued until next month.  He thinks it's related to his announcement days earlier that he was running for office.

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Monroe Planning and Zoning to discuss expanded senior community

The Monroe Planning and Zoning Commission is considering an application for additional units in a previously approved 55 and older community.  15 detached housing units at Purdy Hill and Cutlers Farm roads were approved in 2016.  The developer has applied now for 10 more two-bedroom units based on a state health code change increasing the allowable daily wastewater discharge.  Beaver Brook LLC wants to construct eight buildings with a total of 25 units, increasing the number of bedrooms from 30 to 50.  A public hearing held on the special exception permit and site development plan application will continue January 16th.

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Candle left burning unattended at Brookfield house blamed for smoke damage

A candle left burning at a Brookfield house while the occupants were not home is being blamed for setting off fire alarms yesterday afternoon.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to an activated fire alarm in a single family home and members found an odor of burning upon arrival.  An investigation revealed the damage.  Brookfield fire officials say this was as close as it could get to having a fire in the home as there was smoke damage throughout the first floor.  Firefighters are reminding people that candles can be dangerous and discourages their use. They should never be left unattended and should always be in containers away from combustibles.

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Brookfield refinances bonds, saves thousands on interest

Brookfield officials say the town has saved $276,000 in interest expense.  The town went to market and issued new bonds to replace $3.6 million in existing bonds, taking advantage of lower interest rates. The estimated savings is after expenses, over the life of the bonds, which were issued with the same maturity dates as the original ones.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says there was very strong interest in the bonds, with eight underwriters bidding on the issuance.  He says Brookfield's strong financial position and balance sheet enabled the town to obtain a much lower interest rate.

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Public hearing continues next week in New Fairfield on short-term rentals

New Fairfield officials will be voting next week on a proposal about short term rentals.  The Zoning Commission continued the public hearing at its December 23rd meeting, to January 8th.  Had the proposal been approved at last month's meeting, it would have taken effect with the start of the New Year.  Only bed and breakfasts are currently defined in the town’s zoning regulations.  The proposed amendment would allow rentals of six or fewer days, up to two people per bedroom, as long as a property owner obtains a zoning permit.  The two-year permit costs $500.  The owner would need to have a certificate of insurance for the proposed use, and live either on the same property as the rental or an abutting property.  The permit requirement would not apply to rentals of at least seven days. 

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Sherman officials study dangerous roads, intersections

Sherman officials have taken an inventory of the roads in towns to identify trouble spots.  It's being done as part of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments regional transportation safety study.  Sherman officials plan to present the findings to WestCOG on Monday.  Town officials have been looking at sharp curves and sightlines.  According to the UConn Connecticut Crash Data Repository, Routes 37 and 39 were the most dangerous roads in Sherman this year.  WestCOG officials say the goal of the study is to  educe fatalities and injuries and increase safety awareness

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5 acres of open space land donated to Bethel by Aquarion

During the most recent Bethel Board of Selectmen meeting, the group accepted a donation of nearly 5 acres of land for open space.  The 5 Old Turnpike Road property was owned by Aquarion Water Company.  The well on the land has been decommissioned, the well head removed and sealed for safety purposes.  The deed says the property must be used for agriculture, parks, forest, wildlife habitat, hiking, golfing or similar activities.  The parcel was last appraised at little more than $38,000.  The 10-year Bethel Plan of Conservation Development, approved last month, calls for creating a commission to identify and advocate for open space.

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Public hearing scheduled proposed changes to Brookfield Fire Marshal Fee Ordinance

Brookfield officials have rescheduled the public hearing on proposed changes to the Fire Marshal Fee Ordinance.  The hearing was slated for December 2nd, but the Selectmen meeting that night was cancelled due to the snow.  The exact prices are currently laid out in the ordinance.  That means each time a fee change is approved by the Board, the entire ordinance requires revision.  The fee would not be changed on a case by case basis, but rather only when deemed necessary by the Fire Marshal.  Fees for all required inspections will still require approval by the Board of Selectmen.  The public hearing on the proposed revision will be held January 6th at 6:15pm. 

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Judge orders Alex Jones to pay $100,000 in Sandy Hook case

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas judge ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $100,000 in legal fees and refused to dismiss a lawsuit that targets the Infowars host for using his show to promote falsehoods that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax.

Jones is being sued for defamation in Austin, Texas, by the parents of a 6-year-old who was among the 26 people killed in the Newtown, Connecticut, attack at an elementary school. Similar lawsuits against Jones have been filed by other Sandy Hook families in Connecticut courts.

In what is now the most recent court setback for Jones, State District Judge Scott Jenkins of Texas — where Jones operates Infowars — ruled Dec. 20 that Jones’ defense team “intentionally disregarded” an earlier order to produce witnesses. He ordered Jones to pay legal fees to attorneys representing a Sandy Hook father who brought the lawsuit, Neil Heslin, and denied a request to dismiss the case.

T. Wade Jefferies, an attorney for Jones, said in an email Tuesday they would appeal the decision to not dismiss and challenged how much Jones was ordered to pay.

“In my opinion, and every lawyer with knowledge of the case I have talked to agrees, the attorney’s fee awards are excessive,” Jefferies said.

Jenkins’ orders were first reported by The Daily Beast.

Families of the Sandy Hook victims say they have been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones’ followers because of the hoax conspiracy promoted on his show. The shooting at the elementary school left 20 first-graders and six educators dead. The 20-year-old gunman, who also killed his mother at their Newtown home, fatally shot himself.

Jones has since acknowledged that the Sandy Hook killings occurred. His attorneys have previously defended his speech in court as “rhetorical hyperbole” and deny it was defamation.

In June, the father of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, one of the Sandy Hook victims, won a defamation lawsuit against the authors of a book that claimed the shooting never happened.

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More than two dozen new laws take effect in Conn. this new year

More than two dozen new laws take effect in this new year. 

One is meant to make life easier by cutting down on trips to the DMV.  The six years between license renewals will expand to eight an the two years between registration renewals will expand to three.  The registration fee is being increased to account for the change. 

The 6.35% state sales tax will be expanded to more goods and services, including parking, dry cleaning and laundry, interior design and safety apparel.  The broader base for sales tax is estimated to bring in $25 million the first full year collected. 

The state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection will expand its free training for state and local police to include techniques for handling youths and adults with on the autism spectrum. Advocates says the training is needed to avoid situations from escalating needlessly based on miscommunications or misinterpretations.  

Health insurance policies in Connecticut will be required, as of today, to expand coverage for breast ultrasound screenings to include all women who are 40 and older, regardless of whether they have a family or personal history of breast cancer.  With certain exceptions, out-of-pocket expenses for covered breast ultrasounds and mammograms are also prohibited. 

Another bill taking effect today in Connecticut removes a previous age restriction of 12 years and under for mandatory health insurance coverage for hearing aids. Individuals of all ages are now eligible.

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New fee on boats to be used to combat spread of invasive species

Several new laws take effect in Connecticut today.  Boaters will pay a new annual fee that will go toward eradicating aquatic invasive species. The fee is $5 for in-state vessels and $20 for out-of-state registered vessels.  The fee will be required to be paid whenever a boat’s registration is renewed.

The state expects to raise about $500,000 a year from the new fee. 

Danbury state Representative Ken Gucker says some of the funding could be used for education to alert boaters about the law. 

New Fairfield Inland Wetlands Commissioner Carolyn Rowan testified on the bill during a public hearing that the only scientific way of monitoring for zebra mussels is through West Conn students.  Rowan says invasive weeds can get tangled in people's boats, damaging their vessels.  She added that property values are contingent on the health of the lake. 

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Noise control amendment now in effect for Candlewood Lake

Boating on Candlewood Lake this upcoming summer could result in a more quiet experience for shoreline homeowners.  After complaints of some loud party boats, New Fairfield Representative Richard Smith and others were able to get some noise control language added into a bill that takes effect today. 

Any state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection environmental conservation police officer now has the authority to enforce the noise ordinance of any municipality that abuts Candlewood Lake on the waters of the lake.  The most restrictive standard for noise in the 5 surrounding towns will be the ordinance followed on the waters. 

He says the loud music not only has become a nuisance for other lake users around offenders, but also residents who have to close their windows during the summer.  

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Business Entity Tax repealed in Conn.

A series of new laws take effect today.  One was spearheaded by Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan.  The $250 business entity tax, collected every two years from all companies that do business in Connecticut, will be eliminated. The measure was included in the two-year budget.  State financial officials have estimated that eliminating the tax will cost Connecticut about $44 million in revenue in the upcoming fiscal year.

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Public forms scheduled in Sherman about possible school construction

Three public information forums have been scheduled in Sherman over the coming months about the possible Sherman School building project.  Officials are seeking input from residents, who will also be able to ask questions and voice any concerns about the the project. 

The Board of Selectmen recently signed off on using up to $50,000 for conceptual design services.  Tecton Architects will also provide cost estimates on renovations and construction work.  The preschool through eighth grade school was first constructed in 1937. 

The Board of Ed will host the forums on January 8th and February 25th from 6pm to 8pm at the school's multipurpose room.  There will also be a forum in the same location on March 25th from 7pm to 9pm.  If the Board of Ed recommends to the Selectmen that the project go forward, a referendum would be held in May.

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Public hearing to be held about affordable housing application in Ridgefield

A public hearing will be held soon about an affordable housing application submitted to the Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission.  A nine-unit multifamily development is proposed on little over an acre in Ridgebury’s corporate development district.  A site walk was held this weekend.  The applicant plans to set aside 3 of the units as affordable under the state’s 8-30g law, which allows developers to bypass most zoning regulations such as density, minimum lot size, and setback distances.  The public hearing is scheduled for January 14th.  The applicant is listed as Black Oaks LLC of Danbury.

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