Local Headlines Archives for 2020-03

Three more teens charged in connection to fatal Danbury Skate Park stabbing

Three more teens have been arrested for the fatal stabbing earlier this month at the Danbury skate park.  The three Danbury residents are facing charges in connection to the March 18th killing of 21-year-old Willy Placencia. 

The 15-year old and 19-year old Kenaas Council were charged with conspiracy to commit assault and breach of peace. 18-year old Nykeem Hawkins faces those counts and was also charged with assault and conspiracy to commit manslaughter. 

All were arrested without incident, the juvenile was remanded to custody and the adults were held for a cash bond pending arraignment or release. 

This continues to be an ongoing and active investigation, and court documents related to the case remain temporarily sealed. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Danbury Police Department’s Detective Division at 203-797-4662. Anonymous TIPS Line is 203-790-8477.

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Ridgefield, Southbury Police report car break-ins, stolen vehicle

Southbury Police recently received reports of car breaks with items taken.  Police say the valuables were in plain view.  Some unlocked cars were rummaged through and had belongings taken.  Southbury Police reminded residents to lock cars at night and not to leave valuables inside.

Ridgefield Police have received reports of cars being rummaged through and items take over the weekend.  Police Chief Jeff Kreitz says one car was reported stolen over the weekend.  He cautioned residents that during times of emergency there are people looking to take advantage of the situation, but the best protection is to lock cars at night and to remove all valuables.

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Some Ridgefield Crossing residents temporarily moved to avoid COVID-19 infection

Some residents of an assisted living facility in Ridgefield are being moved into other facilities.  6 residents of Benchmark Senior Living at Ridgefield Crossings, have died of coronavirus-related complications.  There are nearly two dozen residents and staff of the Route 7 facility who have tested positive for coronavirus.  Those who are not ill have been safely and securely temporarily moved to an off-site location.

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Brookfield coronavirus cases increase

Brookfield now has 58 confirmed cases of coronavirus.  Local officials are outlining new rules for coming out of isolation for those who have tested positive.  The Director of Public Health says those patients can only come off isolation if they are fever free for three days while off fever reducing medications and are entirely without symptoms of any cough, sneezing or respiratory difficulty for the same three days.  Patients must also have been in self-isolated for a minimum of 7 days.

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Nuvance CEO joins Governor's Health System Response Team

Governor Lamont has formed the Governor’s Health System Response Team, which will consist of the CEOs from three of Connecticut’s largest hospital systems: Hartford HealthCare, Nuvance Health, and Yale New Haven Health.

The team, in coordination with the Connecticut Hospital Association and the state’s other hospitals, will be responsible for advising the governor, the Department of Public Health and the rest of the state’s Emergency Support Functions in the Unified Command structure on the proper allocation and distribution of needed resources, supplies, and personnel, throughout the duration of the public health emergency.

This group has already been consulting on a regular basis with the Lamont administration prior to the confirmation of the first positive case in the state, and that work will provide the foundation of the plans and actions as the state’s health care system handles an expected surge of COVID-19 cases.

Nuvance Health CEO Dr John Murphy says the task force represents a collaboration that all hospitals in the state are now taking, regardless of their affiliation, especially when it comes to personal protective equipment.  They're actively sharing information that they ordinarily wouldn't have shared in the past.  Murphy says this allows them to collectively address problems that previously would have been done so independently.

Lamont says the state got another delivery from the feds of 111,000 N95 masks and 146,000 surgical masks.  He notes that 50 ventilators have been promised, but not yet delivered.  Lamont says FEMA diverted some PPE supplies because the state had a three day supply on hand.  But Lamont says the feds shouldn't make that judgement because the situation is changing on the ground by the hour.

Murphy talked about the average time a coronavirus patient is on a ventilator.  The average for patients at Nuvance hospitals is about 13 days, half of what it was in China, which was 4 weeks.

The number of health care professionals who have registered with the state to volunteer their services has doubled over the weekend, reaching a total of 2,079 people who have notified the state expressing interest in volunteering. On Saturday, Governor Lamont released a PSA  asking health care professionals – including students and those who are retired – to register with a state database administered by the Department of Public Health, and their services will be matched with Connecticut medical facilities in need. Those interested in volunteering can register online at ctresponds.ct.gov.

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Small towns to forego Annual Town Meeting for budgets amid pandemic

One of Governor Lamont's public health emergency Executive Orders directs local municipal leaders to make options available for the public to inspect and comment on the budget remotely. This would involve posting the budget on town websites and allowing residents to submit comments on these fiscal plans by email.  In an earlier order, Lamont gave local leaders an additional 30 days to adopt their budgets.

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the Board of Finance will essentially become a City Council for just this budget year.  The annual town budget meeting and the public hearing, which both typically draw about 130 people, and a referendum would draw more people into one place than is suggested by health officials.  He noted that this is why the Connecticut presidential primary was postponed to June.

The Board of Finance has proposed an $80.7 million budget, a 3.49 percent increase over the current year.  It's $48.2 million for the schools and $32.5 million on the municipal side.  The tax rate would increase by 2.39 percent.  This includes funding for an additional police officer and accounts for a rising school enrollment.  The Police Department initially requested two new officers.  The Board of Education's budget was trimmed by about $424,000. 

Knickerbocker says some of the other spending costs is because the building department's workload has increased so much in the past few years that at one point they were three months behind in logging permits into the system.  He noted that historically, in 1990 Bethel had 19 employees in the highway crew, while today there are 12, but the number of miles of road they maintain has gone up.

Bethel plans to hold a virtual public hearing where people can call into the meeting and voice their opinions. Residents are also encouraged to mail comments.  Knickerbocker plans to mail out letters about the budget to every household.  A budget presentation has been posted on the town’s website. 

Bethel Action Committee founder Billy Michael called this public health crisis an opportunity for government to take away voter rights.  He called it voter suppression and said will give free reign to increase spending, free of the control of the people that pay those taxes.  The head of the tax watchdog group is calling for transparency.  Michael says there have been years where referendum have been held into August so there's no need for elected officials to exploit the crisis.

Knickerbocker says there's no real savings with the schools being closed during this health crisis, noting there's extra cost associated with feeding kids at home, for the health department overtime and for the library, which has to pay hosting fees to make more material available online.

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Feds to pay 100% of costs for Conn. National Guard response to COVID-19 pandemic

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will provide 100 percent reimbursement for the costs associated with activating the Connecticut National Guard to provide the state with support in its COVID-19 emergency response.

Governor Lamont activated the Guard prior to the first confirmation of a positive case in the state.

To date the Connecticut Military Department and National Guard ha deployed mobile field hospitals at Danbury and St Francis Hospital, with a 3rd planned at Middlesex Hospital.  They're planning this week to convert large spaces at West Conn, Southern and Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport into medical surge capacity with approximately 300 beds at each site. 

The state has already used Guardsmen that work for major logistics companies to begin managing a warehouse to receive and distribute essential supplies and distributed protective masks, gowns, and face shields to healthcare workers and first responders. 

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Grocery stores to implement more rules to separate shoppers

One of the must-go destinations during this coronavirus outbreak has been the grocery store.  Supermarket chains statewide will implement more rules to separate shoppers in order to promote social distancing.  The Connecticut Food Association, an industry group that promotes retail grocers and their suppliers, says members including Big Y, ShopRite and Stop & Shop have agreed to halve the maximum occupancy of their stores and ask families to send only one representative to do the household shopping.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says Trader Joe's has limited the number of people inside at one time and Stew Leonard's has put up barriers between cashiers and customers.  He's also called the smaller corner stores asking them to also reduce overcrowding.

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New Milford has 33 confirmed cases of coronavirus

New Milford now has 33 confirmed cases of coronavirus.  The local Health Director says the next 3 weeks will be the targeted estimated peak of new infections if everyone practices proper hand hygiene, stays home except for bare necessities and practices social distancing by staying 6 feet apart.  Gatherings of 5 or more people is prohibited.  Anyone who has been travelling and comes into Connecticut by any mode of transportation is strongly urged to self-quarantine for 14 days.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass thanked first responders, doctors, nurses, medical staff, or Town Employees, for being on the front lines and protecting and serving town residents.

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Brookfield among local schools to donate PPE to state

The Town of Brookfield has donated numerous supplies that first responders need.  With support of the State Commissioner of Education, the school system turned over items not in used as students are not in the buildings and distance learning is under way.  The town has supplies on order, but some are delayed.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says they plan to return the supplies to the schools as soon as possible.  Dunn says everyone needs to make sure they are doing their part to stop this pandemic.  He is reminding residents that a very large percentage of those who have the virus have no symptoms and unwittingly may spread the virus.  Residents are being advised to treat every encounter as meeting someone with the virus.

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Ridgefield CERT puts in 1,000+ volunteer hours

As of Saturday, the more than two dozen members of the Ridgefield Community Emergency Response Team, who are all volunteers, have contributed over 1,200 hours helping in the town's response to the coronavirus outbreak.  Some of the CERT volunteers are working with the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and the National Guard to help with regional and statewide responses.  The volunteer team activations are increasing every week as resource needs increase.

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Weston Police communications center operations temporarily re-routed to Redding

Due to unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19, the Weston Police communications center infrastructure and operations were temporarily re-routed to the Town of Redding Communication Center.  All Police, Fire and EMS services will be dispatched by a Redding dispatcher in the same manner as done in Weston. For those calls to the routine phone line of 203-222-2600, an automated message will be played with instructions for how to proceed. 

Any Weston residents needing to speak with a police officer or other official should call 203-222-2600 and make the appropriate selection.   Weston officials urged residents to use discretion when calling to request services by strictly limiting calls to essential or emergent needs. 

Their goal is to return to normal operations as soon as possible.

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Ridgefield coronavirus death toll rises to 7

As of yesterday afternoon, there were 64 coronavirus cases in Ridgefield, ranging in age from 12 to 101.  Two more residents from Ridgefield Crossings have died from COVID-19 related complications, bringing the death toll to 7.  Ridgefield Crossings remains under lockdown and extreme measures are underway to protect both the residents and the employees. 

The Town of Ridgefield Health Director remains in constant touch with Ridgefield Crossings and continues to offer any assistance available.

As more people retreat from New York City, many have come to Ridgefield.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi is asking that anyone who comes in from New York City to self-quarantine for 14 days before entering any public area in Ridgefield.  Marconi says residents from South Salem, North Salem and all the other areas continue to be welcomed.

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Brookfield Town Hall closes for deep clean

As of yesterday, Brookfield had 45 confirmed cases of coronavirus.  The town's Director of Public Health says the virus is affecting all age groups and sexes.  Connecticut is low on the lists of deaths per capita, ranked at 44th.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says this is in large part due to the skills of healthcare workers in Connecticut.  As announced last week, a person who tested positive for coronavirus was in Brookfield Town Hall.  The building will now be closed this week to comply with the recommended 14-day isolation period.  A company will thoroughly clean the building early this week.  Staff will be working from home, but will respond to calls and emails daily. Brookfield town employees will be back in their offices starting April 6th.

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New Fairfield to continue food pantry donation collections

As of yesterday afternoon, New Fairfield has 25 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is the largest one day increase the town has had since the first confirmed case. The jump likely reflects increased testing and the implementation of rapid testing, however First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says it illustrates the need to be vigilant.

She notes that some experts believe that the true number of cases is about 10 times the confirmed number of cases, and includes those who have mild illness and those who did not qualify for testing.  Del Monaco says residents should assume and take precautions as if you could be exposed to the virus in any public space. 

New Fairfield Social Services, in conjunction with the Congregational Church will be collecting food for the Mobile Food Pantry today and Wednesday,  from 11am to 2pm in the parking Lot of the Congregational Church.  Items Accepted: Peanut Butter, Jelly, Bag of Rice, Canned Beans, Pasta, Pasta Sauce, Canned Fruit/Apple Sauce, Canned Vegetables, Parmalat Milk/Dry Milk, Oatmeal/Cereal, Canned Meats, Broth & Pudding.

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Danbury students start distance learning today

Danbury Public School employees are taking on new and different roles during this public health emergency.  Teachers and staff stepped forward to volunteer to distribute food that cafeteria workers prepare daily.  Custodians continue to come in to disinfect, clean and prepare the school sites so laptops and essential supplies can be safely distributed.  Secretaries are calling parents to help them to sign up for PowerSchool, and post instructions on their own social media accounts to spread the word about this critical step to online learning.  Administrators and their staff have organize distribution of laptop computers and deliver them to the homes of families who can not leave so that all students can access Distance Learning.  Nurses volunteer in schools and then go on to answer the City’s call for medical assistance for the homeless and the many needy families across the City.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella adds that the technology department has quite literally moved a mountain this week for students.  Given all of this, he is asking for parents to help out by being patient with school staff as this is a learning curve for them as well, and be flexible as adjustments are made.

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Newtown, Bethel adjust school meal pick up

Some school Districts in the Greater Danbury area are modifying school lunch pick ups.  Newtown Public Schools is offering box lunches for families who are in need of providing students with a healthy meal. Box lunches will be available for pick up on Mondays and Wednesdays between 8am and noon at Head O'Meadow Elementary School main entrance, Newtown Middle School A Gym horseshoe driveway and Newtown High School, main entrance.  Each box lunch will contain a sandwich, a fruit, a vegetable, and bottle of water. Monday pickups are for lunches on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and Wednesday pickups are for lunches on Thursday and Friday.  Every Wednesday, Newtown parents will receive an email with a link to a Google survey, which should be filled out with the number of students in the household in need and the location to pick the lunches up.

The Bethel Public School District has got approval from the State Department of Education to modify the meals program during the COVID 19 pandemic. Staff will be operating Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to noon at Berry School. Parents/Guardians will get a breakfast and lunch per child for a two day period. This will allow Bethel students to receive six days worth of meals as Friday pick up will be for Friday and Saturday. The protocols for pick up will be the same.

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WCSU delays incoming student deadline to pay deposits

West Conn has moved the deadline to pay housing and registration deposits for freshmen entering this fall to June 1st.  The $200 tuition deposit and $250 deposit for on-campus housing are normally due May 1st.  West Conn officials say with all of the insecurity and economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 virus, the university wanted to give families more time to make their decisions and commit to the next semester.  Because of the Coronavirus, West Conn has shifted classes to online learning and closed all campus buildings. Students may continue to contact the Admissions office and other university services, as employees are working from home and remain connected to their offices.

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Blumenthal hosts virutual rountable with Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce

A virtual roundtable has been held by Senator Richard Blumenthal with the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on their communities.   The companies on the chat expressed numerous concerns including how pay rent and utilities and how to keep people employed. 

Chamber President PJ Prunty helped to organize the gathering.  Blumenthal says the larger businesses expressed concern about making payroll, drops in revenue, and lack of a cash cushion.  

Blumenthal called the discussion heartening, but also challenging to hear the difficulties businesses are experiencing with resoluteness and resilience, trying to keep employees on payroll and meet their bills.  

He told businesses that he is pushing for loans that could be converted to grants and forgiven if they continue to pay their employees during this public health emergency.

The U.S. Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to support families, workers, and businesses through an expansion of paid sick leave and unemployment insurance, in addition to offering no-cost testing for patients and protecting access to nutrition programs. Previously, Congress approved $8.3 billion in funding for state health care response and research. Congress is also discussing billions of dollars in additional relief. 

Blumenthal says any one-time cash payment will be insufficient, especially in Fairfield County where rent is high.  He wants unemployment compensation raised so it's not just a fraction of payroll. 

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Trump backs off quarantine idea, travel advisory for CT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut political leaders had mixed views — and lots of questions — after President Donald Trump said Saturday a coronavirus quarantine might be needed for residents of their state, as well as New York and New Jersey. But the president backed away from the idea late Saturday and tweeted that a travel advisory would be issued. It urges residents of the three states to avoid any nonessential travel for two weeks. Meanwhile, New Haven worked with local universities to set up temporary housing for first responders — and Yale reversed an initial answer that it couldn’t do so for weeks.

Trump told reporters at the White House he was wighing the idea of a quarantine to prevent people in the tri-state area from traveling for a short time, but he later said a travel advisory would be issued.

Taken by surprise, some Connecticut officials wondered what such a quarantine would mean and how it would work. Others said they were open to any ideas on preventing the virus’ spread.

Gov. Ned Lamont said Trump’s comments created some confusion, and that he hoped the White House would clarify what it wants by the end of Saturday evening.

He got his wish. Trump tweeted late in the day that he’d spoken to all three governors and at the recommendation of his task force was asking the Centers for Disease Control to issue a travel advisory for the area. The CDC said it was urging residents of all three states to avoid any nonessential travel for two weeks.

“Confusion can lead to panic,” Lamont, a Democrat, told a news conference. He said such a quarantine order would be impossible to enforce, ”given the spiderweb of roads.”

In broaching the idea, the president cited requests from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a fellow Republican and outspoken Trump supporter. DeSantis has complained that people have come to his state from New York, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, and ordered them to isolate themselves on arrival for 14 days.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. said the idea raises “very significant questions,” calling it unclear how such a quarantine would be enforced and whether it would have any meaning.

“The specifics and impact are completely unclear and uncertain,” he said, noting that Lamont has already directed the state’s residents to self-quarantine.

Since Trump has said he wants the country “opened up and just raring to go” by Easter, Blumenthal suggested the quarantine idea “just adds to the confusion.”

In Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, Mayor Joe Ganim said he wouldn’t dismiss anybody’s ideas for stronger measures to contain the outbreak. Bridgeport is 50 miles (80 km) from New York City and is within Fairfield County, which counts over 750 of the more than 1,200 coronavirus cases reported statewide.

“I’m open to doing whatever it takes to stay ahead of this,” said Ganim, a Democrat. “We are evaluating and deliberating and open to ideas from the president, our governor, and other mayors.”

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker also said officials need to look at “all kinds of ways to make sure that people stop interacting with each other.” But he cautioned that a forced quarantine could have unintended consequences.

“Does that cover health care workers? Does that cover someone that works at a gas station that a health care worker may need to get gas to get to the hospital?” the Democrat asked. “If the president does end up implementing this, I think we have to be cautious about how we implement it.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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Trump raises idea of quarantines affecting NY, NJ and Conn.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump floated the idea of a quarantine as early as Saturday affecting residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut for a short time to stop the spread of coronavirus from reaching states with fewer infections.

Trump told reporters at the White House that he had spoken with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, among others, and that “a lot of the states that are infected but don’t have a big problem, they’ve asked me if I’ll look at it so we’re going to look at it.”

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., who has criticized the federal government’s response as his state became the country’s virus epicenter, said the issue had not come up in a conversation he had with Trump earlier Saturday. “I don’t even know what that means,” he said at a briefing in New York. ” I don’t know how that could be legally enforceable, and from a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing. ... I don’t like the sound of it.”

The federal government is empowered under the law to take measures to prevent the spread of communicable diseases between states, but it’s not clear that means Trump can order state residents to stay put.

But before Trump spoke in Norfolk, Virginia, as a U.S. Navy medical ship left for New York City to help with pandemic response there, he tweeted: “I am giving consideration to a QUARANTINE of developing “hot spots”, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. A decision will be made, one way or another, shortly.”

Trump said the idea of isolating many in the trio of Democratic strongholds in the Northeast was pushed by DeSantis, one of the president’s most outspoken supporters. It comes a day after Trump made clear he wanted governors to be grateful when asking for federal support for the pandemic.

Trump said people “go to Florida and an a lot of people don’t want that. So we’ll see what happens.”

In Norfolk, the USNS Comfort, a 1,000-bed hospital ship, had been undergoing planned maintenance, but was rushed back into service to aid the city. It is scheduled to arrive Monday at a Manhattan pier a week after its sister ship, the USNS Mercy arrived in Los Angeles to preform similar duty on the West Coast.

The president acknowledged that making the 140-mile trip to Naval Station Norfolk wasn’t necessary, but said he was doing it to recognize the work of sailors and medical professionals who worked to get the ship out of maintenance more than a week ahead of schedule.

“I think it’s a good thing when I go over there and I say ‘thank you,’” Trump told reporters Friday. He added he wanted to make the trip to show “spirit for the country.”

Trump, 73, is in a high-risk category because of his age, and federal guidance for weeks has advised those in that pool to refrain from non-essential travel of all sorts. He has already tested negative once after close contact with officials who came down with the virus.

“It doesn’t mean I’m going to be hugging people and it doesn’t mean that I’m going to be shaking people’s hands and everything,” Trump said. “But I think it sends a signal when the president is able to go there and say thank you. So, you know, we’ll be careful.”

It marks Trump’s first trip outside Washington since March 9 and only his second outside the gates of the White House since a March 19 trip to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

It comes a day after the president took a round of steps to expand the federal government’s role in helping produce critically needed supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic even as he warned the leaders of hard-hit states not to cross him.

“I want them to be appreciative,” Trump said Friday after the White House announced that he would be using the powers granted to him under the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to try to compel auto giant General Motors to produce ventilators.

Yet Trump — who hours earlier had suggested the need for the devices was being overblown — rejected any criticism of the federal government’s response to a ballooning public health crisis that a month ago he predicted would be over by now.

“We have done a hell of a job,” Trump said, as he sent an ominous message to state and local leaders who have been urging the federal government to do more to help them save lives.

Trump said he had instructed Vice President Mike Pence not to call the governors of Washington or Michigan — two coronavirus hotspots — because of their public criticism. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said.

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States impose new restrictions on travelers from NY, tri-state area

BOSTON (AP) — States are pulling back the welcome mat for travelers from the New York area, which is the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak, but some say at least one state’s measures are unconstitutional.

Governors in Texas, Florida, Maryland and South Carolina this week ordered people arriving from the New York area —including New Jersey and Connecticut — and other virus hot spots to self-quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival.

Connecticut officials have also pleaded with New Yorkers and others from out of state to avoid visiting unless absolutely necessary.

But, in the most dramatic steps taken to date, Rhode Island State Police on Friday began pulling over drivers with New York plates so that National Guard officials can collect contact information and inform them of a mandatory, 14-day quarantine.

Gov. Gina Raimondo ratcheted up the measures Friday afternoon, announcing she’ll also order the state National Guard to go door-to-door in costal communities starting this weekend to find out whether any of the home’s residents have recently arrived from New York and inform them of the quarantine order.

The Democrat had already deployed the guard to bus stations, train stations and the airport to enforce the executive order, which also applies to anyone who has traveled to New York in the last 14 days.

“I know it’s unusual. I know it’s extreme and I know some people disagree with it,” she said Friday, adding that she has consulted with state lawyers.

“If you want to seek refuge in Rhode Island, you must be quarantined.”

Raimondo maintains she’s within her emergency powers to impose the measures, but the American Civil Liberties Union has called it an “ill-advised and unconstitutional plan.”

Governors have the authority to suspend some state laws and regulations in a state of emergency, but they can’t just suspend the Constitution, argued Steven Brown, head of the ACLU’s Rhode Island chapter.

“Under the Fourth Amendment, having a New York state license plate simply does not, and cannot, constitute ‘probable cause’ to allow police to stop a car and interrogate the driver, no matter how laudable the goal of the stop may be,” he said.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

Florida was the first state to try to deter fleeing New Yorkers, ordering tri-state area arrivals on Monday to go into mandatory quarantine for two weeks. It has since expended the restrictions to travelers from Louisiana. The federal government followed up Tuesday with a recommendation to do the same country-wide.

“If you were in New York state, you left when you were told to shelter in place,” Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said earlier this week. “You defied that and then you got on a plane and came here, and so we don’t want there to be any fallout here.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has warned that those who don’t comply with his order, which also extends to those coming from New Orleans, risk jail time. State troopers would be conducting visits to make sure people were staying put as required, he added.

Connecticut officials have voiced concern that people from New York and elsewhere are returning earlier than normal to their summer homes, but Gov. Ned Lamont has so far not issued an official order for out-of-staters to self-quarantine.

In Rhode Island, Raimondo stressed that contact information won’t be collected from drivers passing through the state. Commercial vehicles, including tractor-trailers, won’t be stopped either, so goods can continue to be transported across state lines uninterrupted, she said.

She’s also promised that any information collected from travelers will be used only for public health reasons and not for police or immigration purposes.

“New York City is a hot spot — their infection rate is skyrocketing — and they are so close to Rhode Island,” Raimondo said Thursday announcing the order. “There is a lot of panic in Rhode Island right now related to folks from New York coming to Rhode Island.”

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Newtown creates Wellness Guide to help residents through effects of COVID-19

A Wellness Guide has been created by the Town of Newtown.  It includes resources for dealing with COVID-19, how to talk with kids about social distancing and local Mental Health Resources.  Those resources include the Newtown Department of Human Services, Newtown Youth and Family Services, the Resiliency Center of Newtown and Newtown Parent Connection.  As information about Coronavirus continues to unfold and response plans are implemented, there can be a wide range of feelings and reactions, including anxiety, and social withdrawal.  The guide includes online and in person resources to help people through these feelings.  https://www.newtown-ct.gov/sites/newtownct/files/uploads/newtown_wellness_guide_covid_19.pdf

 

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Sherman State Trooper to step up enforcement on dog waste collection

The Sherman Resident Trooper has been receiving an increase in local complaints about dog owners walking their dogs at town parks and not cleaning up after them.  This is in direct violation of town ordinance, which requires all dogs to be held on a leash on all Municipal properties, excluding playgrounds and the Town Beach where dogs are not permitted. Also owners must cleanup after their dogs as well, and dispose of the waste properly. A first violation results in a written warning and a second offense is a fine of $50. The third and subsequent offense results in a $100 fine.  Enforcement will be increased in these areas.

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WCSU working with state on COVID-19 response

West Conn is working with the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services and other agencies that may use the campus for a range of community and state response to COVID-19.   West Conn hasn't received  specific details or even dates that any of this may happen.  University President Dr John Clark says they will make sure that any cooperation will not stand in the way of West Conn's educational mission and intends to limit activities that would put anyone in the university community in harm’s way.

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Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce starting Virtual Pot Luck party

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce is starting a Virtual Pot Luck party.  Participants can order take out from a local restaurant, post a picture with the hashtag VirtualPotLuck and tag @danburychamber.  On Friday April 3rd, they'll select 3 winners from three categories:  Most Creative, Best Food Presentation and Most Decadent.  Winners will receive a $15 restaurant gift card.

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Juevnile, 20-year old arrested for fatal stabbing at Danbury Skate Park

Two arrests have been made in connection to the stabbing death of a 21-year old at the Danbury Skate Park.  A juvenile has been charged with manslaughter for the death of 21-year-old Willy Placencia of Danbury on March 18th.  

Danbury Police say several more arrests are anticipated within the near future. 

A 16-year old Danbury boy was arrested yesterday on charges of manslaughter, conspiracy to commit manslaughter, assault, breach of peace and two counts of conspiracy to commit assault.  20-year old James Lema-Zaruma of Danbury was charged Wednesday with Criminal Liability to Commit Assault. 

Court documents related to the case have been temporarily sealed as the investigation continues. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Danbury Police Department’s Detective Division at 203-797-4662. Anonymous TIPS Line is 203-790-8477.

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Bethel Town hall has new secure, weather-proof drop box for correspondence

Bethel Town hall has a new secure, weather-proof drop box residents can use for documents and other correspondence. Town officials thanked Bob Dibble and the Department of Public Works crew for quickly fabricating and installing the new secure drop box. 

The municipal center remains closed to the public, and residents are asked to use online services or US mail. However, the new drop box can be used for urgent communications. 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says he understands when people see the number of coronavirus cases grow, they naturally get worried and want to know more.  But he says that data is protected under HIPAA laws. Although sometimes basic information, such as the age is released by the state, Knickerbocker says they are not provided any other details that might allow someone to figure out who the person is, even if that possibility is very remote. 

Health officials want to avoid creating a false sense of security and think they are in the clear if age, underlying health condition or location do not apply to them.

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Newtown Police Commissioner in ICU for COVID-19 complications

The Newtown Police Department has reported that Newtown Police Commissioner Dr.Neil Chaudhary was recently admitted to the Danbury Hospital ICU after complications from his exposure to coronavirus.  His family says that Neil is a strong individual and is giving his all to fight this infection.

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New Milford Public Works updates operations of Recycling Center

New Milford Public Works has updated the operations of the Recycling Center amid the coronavirus outbreak.  The facility will only accept household trash in bags, recycling and small electronics.  Salvation Army donations must be placed in the bin by the donor.  Anyone who is elderly or needs assistance is asked to stay in your car and Center personnel will come to help. Credit Card payments will be completed without a signature until further notice.

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Wilton First Selectman concerned with state data on COVID-19

Wilton's First Selectman says there is an issue with the availability of case data on COVID-19 from the state.  Lynne Vanderslice says the Wilton Public Health Department is aware of at least 20 laboratory-confirmed cases while the state Department of Public Health indicates there are 17.  At this point in the pandemic, local health departments will hear about cases directly from hospitals and providers that the state does not know about.  Vanderslice says anyone who has received a confirmed or presumptive positive test and not contacted by the Wilton Health Department, is asked to call the department. 

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New Milford Town Council to hold informational on sidewalks

The New Milford Town Council has signed off on holding a public information meeting about adding sidewalks along Route 7.  New Milford received a $1.8 federal grant last year to improve accessibility.  The grant requires a $400,000 local match.  A public information meeting is aimed at giving the town's consultant an idea of where residents want new sidewalks and locations already approved by the state.  One proposal calls for sidewalks from Candlewood Lake Road South to Sullivan Road, Pickett District Road to Three Brothers Family Restaurant and by Taco Bell. Sidewalks could also connect Aspetuck Avenue to Canterbury School and to downtown.  The public hearing won't be scheduled until after restrictions on gatherings due to coronavirus concerns have been lifted.

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Conn. Gov. lifts 10-cent fee on plastic bags, reduces public gathering guidelines

Governor Ned Lamont has signed another executive order addressing the public health emergency.  He has temporarily suspended the 10-cent tax on single-use plastic bags, until May 15th.  The order also prohibits employers of any grocery store or retail business from requiring their employees to bag items into a customer-provided reusable bag. Customers may bag their own items. 

He is also restricting social and recreational gatherings to less than 5. The modified order is in place through at least April 30th.  This does not apply to government operations, private workplaces, or other activities that are not social.  Religious, spiritual, or worship gatherings are still prohibited to no more than 50 persons.  

The order requires all firearm transactions to be conducted by appointment only. Appointments must be limited in order to allow a six-foot distance between any customers and staff in a store, and only customers conducting such transactions will be allowed in the store.

Another order restricts restaurant payment and pickup operations When reasonable, restaurants and bars should limit entrance of customers or third party delivery personnel into their locations to pick up and/or pay for orders, use touchless payment systems, and have remote ordering and payment.  The order does not require businesses to acquire or use technology that they do not already have. The order doesn’t prohibit drive-through ordering and pickup, and doesn’t prohibit in-person payment or cash payment where this is no reasonable alternative. Previously issued guidance for hospital and business cafeterias remains in effect.

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Putnam County officials request local COVID-19 testing site

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has formally requested that the New York state health department establish a local COVID-19 testing site.  She says the lack of a state-run testing site within the county is putting healthcare workers, first responders and residents at great risk. 

The Putnam County Health Department is out of test kits and symptomatic residents must now travel to Westchester County, Dutchess County, Bear Mountain State Park or Danbury to get testing.  Every testing site location is providing information in a different way and it is not standardized. 

Much of the patient information is incomplete and numbers per municipality are skewed because zip codes overlap municipalities in Putnam.

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Bridgewater addresses so-called 'corona refugees' coming to weekend, summer homes

Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read says over the past two weeks towns in the region have seen an influx of people from New York and elsewhere.  He has noticed some blame and vitriol on Facebook about these so-called “Corona Refugees” leaving congested areas where the virus is spreading rapidly. 

Read acknowledged concerns that with more people using local recreation areas, like public trails and grocery stores, they may soon be overwhelmed.  But he says they can't blame New York City residents for coming to their weekend or summer homes to get away from the epicenter of the public health emergency. 

A strong recommendation is for new arrivals to self-quarantine for 14 days, and for everyone to maintain a 6 foot “social distance.”  Bridgewater has taken the precaution of closing down the Recreation Area playground and basketball court.

Read says there may be additional closings if non-residents keep flooding public resources.

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New Fairfield officials comiserate with residents confined to homes

With people being mostly confined to their homes for a week or two because of COVID-19, New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says she can understand how some may start to feel depressed.  Greater Danbury area municipal leaders understand how frustrating it is , but say it's the best shot at protecting the most vulnerable and not overwhelming the health care system.

Del Monaco says it may be helpful to focus on things you can control rather than those you can not, and make phone calls to loved ones or video chat with relatives and friends.

Del Monaco acknowledged that the economic uncertainty is adding to the stress for local businesses and families.  She urged people who have been furloughed to apply for unemployment--and to try to help local restaurants by enjoying a meal with family.  The Economic Development Commission is discussing fundraising ideas to help businesses secure some revenue during the pandemic.

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Brookfield Town Hall, Still River Greenway closed amid coronavirus outbreak

A person who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus was in Brookfield Town Hall, so out of an abundance of caution, Brookfield Town Hall is closed today.  A company has been hired to do a deep clean of the building over the weekend.  Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn says even though they've been cleaning the building daily, experts say the virus can live on surfaces up to three days. 

Brookfield officials will decide this weekend if Town Hall can open on Monday. 

In order to achieve safe social distancing, Brookfield is also closing the Still River Greenway because of the number of people using it. 

Dunn also encouraged residents to only go out if absolutely necessary.  A large percentage of those who have the virus have no symptoms and they, unwittingly, are out and possibly spreading the virus.  Dunn says Brookfield residents should treat every encounter with someone else as meeting someone with the virus. 

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Low interest loans available to Putnam County small businesses

Putnam County small businesses are eligible for up to $2 million in low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help alleviate the economic fallout from the coronavirus epidemic. County Executive MaryEllen Odell says Putnam is one of only three counties in New York State in which these Economic Injury Disaster loans from the SBA are available so far.  Small business owners in Westchester and Dutchess can also apply. 

The deadline to apply is December 16th.

Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of the Coronavirus. The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses. The interest rate for private non-profit organizations is 2.75 percent. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela

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Two Wilton residents succumb to COVID-19

Two elderly Wilton residents, who tested positive for coronavirus, have passed away.

Due to the increase in positive COVID-19 cases in Wilton, the town has temporarily increased health department staffing to ensure they have enough resources to perform contact tracing and monitor impacted residents.  First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice says the State is no longer performing contact tracing. Anyone receiving a confirmed or presumptive positive test and has not been contacted by the Wilton Health Department, is asked to reach out. 

The Norwalk River Valley Trail now has signage up reminding people to keep their distance from one another to limit the spread of coronavirus.  The same applies at all other popular walking and dog walking trails and open spaces in Wilton. 

The May 15th deadline for senior tax relief applications is being extended in Wilton. 

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State to offer loans to businesses, nonprofits

To provide emergency cash flow relief to small businesses and nonprofits negatively impacted by the coronavirus, Connecticut is now offering qualifying organizations with 100 or fewer employees access to no-interest loans.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan program will allow qualified entities to apply for a loan of up to $75,000, or three months of operating expenses, whichever is lesser.  The $25 million short-term emergency loan program will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The program will be expedited with the administrative and underwriting support of Connecticut Innovations.  More information can ben found on the state's website. https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Coronavirus-Business-Recovery/CT-Recovery-Bridge-Loan-Program?fbclid=IwAR3IQVaxCEqe0anz2-XRh_pUFCt38VT1Mhu1FgDtfJi6GDwnHgjBYlFm3W0

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Danbury home damaged by late night fire

Late last night Danbury firefighters were dispatched to Royal Drive for a structure fire.  First responders found smoke showing and a growing fire in the rear of the house.  One occupant was home and was able to safely escape with no injuries and evaluated on scene. With no hydrants in the area, volunteers of 4 companies responded with tankers, manpower, lighting and air support. Danbury Police provided security and traffic control.  Fire crews reported a need for extensive overhaul.

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Metro North makes schedule changes as riders plummets

Starting tomorrow, Metro-North will be running an amended Saturday schedule on the Hudson, Harlem, and New Haven Lines.  Until further notice, the schedule will have additional trains in the morning and afternoon peak periods, and hourly service during off-peak mid-day and evening periods.

During this special schedule, off-peak fares will be in effect.  The previously publicized March 29 schedule change will not go into effect until further notice. 

The North End entrances of Grand Central Terminal have closed temporarily until further notice. Other areas of the Terminal may be closed temporarily on a periodic basis to accommodate COVID-19 precautions. 

The changes are being taken to protect the health and safety of riders and employees.

In addition, the following phased-in schedule changes will take place: On Saturday and Sunday, March 28 and 29, we will run a regular weekend schedule, except there will be no train or bus service between Wassaic and Southeast; Starting April 4, on weekends until further notice we will run an hourly service on every line.

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New Milford Police Chief calls on kids to be morale boosters

The New Milford Police Chief is putting out a call to children for a morale booster.  New Milford kids are being asked to make poster or sign showing support for First Responders, Police, Fire, Medics and Dispatchers and email pictures to the Chief scerruto@newmilfordpolice.org.  Spencer Cerruto will then share them on the Police Department's Facebook page.  The poster or sign must include the term “New Milford Strong!” and be made using materials already at home, Chief Cerruto doesn't want people going out to the stores to get supplies. 

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Danbury Police make modifications amid coronavirus outbreak

Danbury Police are making some temporary modifications to how the Department operates because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  For non-emergency complaints, residents are asked to meet officers outside if possible, though some calls may be handled over the phone.  The Danbury Police Records Division is closed to the public until further notice, though calls are being taken.  Unless there are certain circumstances, police personnel will remain outside until cleared to enter by EMS for medical assistance calls.  Several services have been suspended until further notice including fingerprinting for background checks, child car seat installations, Police Explorers, Citizens Police Academy, use of the community room and tours of police headquarters.

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Redding Social Services organizing volunteers to help seniors

The Redding Social Services Department has received several donations and offers from residents to volunteer.  Staff is creating a formal application that includes a background check, for the safety of seniors. The police department is setting up a system to issue local volunteers with an identifying badge to help seniors feel more at ease when they see people on their property.  Redding Social Services hopes to have this set up some time next week.  Donations to the Food Pantry are only be accepted during limited days and hours.  Staff has been buying items for the food pantry with monetary donations, or giving out gift cards.

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People on coronavirus front lines in Danbury need supply donations

Danbury Hospital and emergency services are looking for the community to pitch in and donate supplies as they work around the clock transporting and treating COVID-19 patients.

The Danbury Health Department, Emergency Services, Public Works (employees in the field) need masks, gloves, gowns, any Personal Protective Equipment.  Donors can email Taylor O'Brien in the Mayor's office at t.obrien@danbury-ct.gov to schedule delivery.

Danbury Hospital needs Clorox Peroxide and Bleach Wipes. These items can be dropped off at 24 Hospital Avenue, main entrance valet.

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Mobile field hospital has been set up outside Danbury Hospital

A mobile field hospital has been set up outside Danbury Hospital.  The Governor’s Foot and Horse Guard Units were deployed to Danbury yesterday to work with the Connecticut Department of Public Health. 

The Ottilie Lundgren Memorial Field Hospital is a state-of-the-art mobile field hospital designed to support the state’s health care system in response to significant emergencies.  It is deployable in several parts as a flexible configuration 25-bed units that operate jointly or independently to provide triage and treatment anywhere in the state.

(Photo: Mayor Mark Boughton)

The field hospital is identical to one deployed Tuesday on the grounds of Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford. A third mobile field hospital is anticipated to be deployed on the grounds of Middlesex Hospital in Middletown in the coming days. 

The Ottilie Lundgren Memorial Field Hospital was named in 2006 in honor of a Connecticut woman who died from inhalational anthrax in 2001.

There's been a lot of uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.  Danbury Hospital has established a Community Hotline. 

The dedicated phone number is for community members who are concerned about symptoms they may have. Other inquiries can be directed to the hospital websites. Individuals experiencing symptoms are encouraged to call this line to mitigate the high-volume call-intake of emergency departments and medical practices. 

People can call 888-667-9262 between 8am to 6pm, seven days a week.

The Danbury Hospital mobile testing site on Locust Avenue is open between 8:30am to 3:30pm, but only for patients with a prescription to get a test, and who've made an appointment for that test.  Call 203-739-4344 to schedule an appointment at the collection site located at Danbury Hospital.

The COVID-19 collection site at Danbury Hospital is an alternative location for people suspected of COVID-19 to give a specimen sample for a test; this is instead of going to the emergency department or another medical facility.   You will be given an “Access Pass” after your ID and doctor order are verified. No specimen collection will be done without this pass.

You will be scheduled within one business day of when the test was ordered by your doctor. People without an appointment will only be seen if they have a valid doctor order for a test.  You must bring a Government-issued photo ID and insurance card (if you have one).   It’s important to stay in your vehicle. You will be asked to hold up your ID and insurance card for a photograph.

Only two passengers per vehicle are permitted at the collection site.

It may take up to six days to get your test results back. Your doctor will notify you of the results. Only call your doctor if you have not heard back in seven days.

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Danbury courthouse clerk's office employee tests positive for COVID-19

A Danbury courthouse clerk's office employee has tested positive for COVID-19.  The courthouse was immediately closed for comprehensive cleaning and sanitization.  A review of the business flow into the Danbury court over the last three days was conducted.  In light of the very low foot traffic, Chief Court Administrator Patrick Carroll decided to keep the courthouse closed until further notice.  All cases that would otherwise be handled in the Danbury courthouse were transferred to the Waterbury Courthouse, until further notice. Danbury States Attorney Stephen Sedensky has asked the Waterbury State’s Attorney to handle the Danbury cases temporarily transferred there.  That decision will be reevaluated at the end of the week.

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Universities to credit residential students for room, board

West Conn officials say they have made plans to refund residential students now that campus has been closed for the semester.  The Connecticut State Colleges and University system will credit student accounts for unused room and board by next week. Thereafter, any credit balance will be refunded to students. Each institution is currently in the process of reaching out to students to outline the timeline and procedures.  UConn’s Board of Trustees said students can expect refunds of between $1,600 and $3,200, depending on their housing situation. The school expects to return about $30 million to students.

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Danbury students must set up school emails before distance learning starts

Danbury Public Schools will move to a Distance Learning Model starting March 30th, with the district no longer mass producing paper packets. Teachers and administrators will receive training this week. Distance Learning is defined as regular and sustained interactive teaching and learning between teachers and students, remotely.  Many of the resources found on the K-12 Interactive Learning Site will continue to be used for practice, in conjunction with Google Classroom.  To make all of this work, Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says it is critical that parents have up to date information in the Parent Portal and that students retrieve their Danbury Gmail and Passwords and get connected to teachers by the end of this week and through next week. Laptops, if needed, must be requested through the school immediately, as building access and staff access is rapidly changing.

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US Justice Department: Don't treat trans athletes as girls

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department is getting involved in a federal civil rights lawsuit that seeks to block transgender athletes in Connecticut from competing as girls in interscholastic sports.

Attorney General William Barr signed what is known as a statement of interest Tuesday, arguing against the policy of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the board that oversees the state’s high school athletic competitions.

The conference allows athletes to compete as the gender with which they identify, arguing it is following a state law that requires high school students be treated according to their gender identity. It also argues the policy is in accordance with Title IX, the federal law that allows girls equal educational opportunities, including in athletics.

The Justice Department, in its filing, disagrees.

“Under CIAC’s interpretation of Title IX, however, schools may not account for the real physiological differences between men and women. Instead, schools must have certain biological males — namely, those who publicly identify as female — compete against biological females,” Barr and the other department officials write. “In so doing, CIAC deprives those women of the single-sex athletic competitions that are one of the marquee accomplishments of Title IX.”

The lawsuit was filed in February by runners Selina Soule, a senior at Glastonbury High School; Chelsea Mitchell, a senior at Canton High School; and Alanna Smith, a sophomore at Danbury High School, against the conference and several local boards of education.

They argue they have been deprived of wins, state titles and athletic opportunities by being forced to compete against transgender athletes.

“Males will always have inherent physical advantages over comparably talented and trained girls — that’s the reason we have girls sports in the first place,” their attorney, Christiana Holcomb said Wednesday. “And a male’s belief about his gender doesn’t eliminate those advantages.”

CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini said the organization’s transgender policy was formed with federal and state guidance and that multiple courts and federal agencies, including the Justice Department have acknowledged that the term “sex” in Title IX is ambiguous.

It’s historical usage “has not kept pace with contemporary science, advances in medical knowledge and societal norms,” he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union, whose attorneys represent the two transgender athletes who run track in Connecticut, said it was deeply troubled that the U.S. government would weigh in to ”make clear that it does not believe girls who are trans enjoy protections under federal law.”

“Our clients are two high school seniors who are just trying to enjoy their final track season of high school and who now have to contend with the federal government arguing against their right to equal educational opportunities,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice at the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project. “History will look back on these anti-trans attacks with deep regret and shame. In the meantime we will continue to fight for the rights of all girls to participate in the sports they love.”

The spring track season is on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but conference officials have put off a decision on whether to cancel it.

Holcomb has said because the lawsuit also asks for changes to the state record book, the lawsuit will go forward even if it is not resolved before the seniors graduate.

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Danbury man arrested for alleged sex assault of child

A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting an eight-year-old child.  Police charged 41-year old   Daniel Plaza Quiroz Tuesday on an outstanding warrant.  The warrant was issued as a result of an investigation earlier this month by members of the Special Victims Unit.  Quiroz was taken into custody without incident and arraigned on three counts of Sexual Assault.  He was also charged with two counts each of Impairing Morals of a minor and Risk of Injury to a Minor – Sexual Contact.

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Attorneys General urge online retailers to rigorously monitor price-gouging by sellers

Attorney General William Tong has sent letters to Amazon, Facebook, Ebay, Walmart, and Craigslist urging the online retailers to rigorously monitor price-gouging by sellers on their platforms.  The letters were cosigned by a coalition of 34 state attorneys general. 

Some examples they cite include a two-liter bottle of hand sanitizer being sold on Craigslist for $250, an eight-ounce bottle of sanitizer being sold on Facebook Marketplace for $40 and packs of face masks being sold on Ebay for between $40 and $50. 

Tong is calling on the retailers to, among other steps, implement a complaint portal for consumers to report potential price gouging.

He says irresponsible and unethical sellers are using this crisis as an opportunity to profit and major corporations can and must do more to protect consumers.  Price gouging during a public health emergency is against Connecticut law— and that is true for online sales and brick and mortar shops.

Acting in coordination with the Department of Consumer Protection, the Office of the Attorney General may file suit against price gougers and seek appropriate relief, including injunctive terms, restraining orders, restitution, and civil financial penalties designed to deter future unscrupulous sales.

Anyone who suspects price gouging should file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General online at https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/. Consumers are encouraged to file their complaints online and list accurate information about the company, retail store or online vendor where the suspected instance of price gouging occurred. In the complaint, consumers should list the name and address of the retailer, the date and time of the instance, and also submit any pictures that show the suspected price hike.

If consumers are unable to file a complaint online or via email, they can call the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5318.

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Third COVID-19 related death reported in Ridgefield

There are now 42 confirmed coronavirus cases in Ridgefield, with 8 new cases in the last 24 hours.  Another Ridgefield resident has died, bringing the coronavirus-related fatality rate for the town up to three.  This latest loss was not an individual from the assisted living facility, which still has 17 active coronavirus cases. 

Ridgefield officials say because residents are not doing their part to social distance and stay home, the town has deployed personnel to tape, chain and post signs at all town fields and courts.  On Wednesday, kids were seen playing Lacrosse at Tiger Hollow.  Ridgefield officials pleaded with them to stop and think about the lives being endangered before leaving the house. 

Neighborhoods with recreation areas are also being asked to make sure those courts and fields are closed.

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Housatonic Probate Court Judge provides COVID-19 service update

Housatonic Probate Court Judge Martin Landgrebe has provided an update about services available during this public health emergency. 

He says it may take the courts additional time to process non-emergency filings due to staffing adjustments consistent with the Governor’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” executive order.  Probate Courts are available by telephone, eFiling or for assistance through the Probate Court website.  All filings, whether emergency or routine, may continue to be mailed or eFiled with the Probate Courts. 

People are urged to call the local Housatonic Probate Court (860) 355-6029 if they have a probate emergency or a scheduled hearing. Hearings may be continued or go forward by teleconference or video-conference.

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Price gouging reports flowing into Conn. AG's office

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong continues to receive reports of price gouging related to the coronavirus outbreak.  Complaints can be filed online, or by calling the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5318. 

https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/

As of March 13, the Office of the Attorney General received 132 complaints regarding price hikes on basic supplies like hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and toilet paper since Gov. Ned Lamont declared civil preparedness and public health emergencies on March 10. In addition to today’s letter to Amazon, the Office of the Attorney General has sent letters as part of its aggressive investigations and law enforcement efforts to multiple Connecticut retailers both large and small in response to consumer price gouging complaints.

People can also file complaints through the state Department of Consumer Protection, through a link on their homepage www.CT.gov/DCP

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Metro North adjusts schedules as ridership drops 94 percent

Metro-North Railroad has seen a 94 percent decline in ridership as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Beginning on Friday, Metro-North will provide hourly service on the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven lines, with extra trains added during peak times. Normal weekday capacity will be reduced by approximately 50 percent when compared to a normal weekday. The reduced schedule will run 424 trains, down from 713 during a normal schedule. Beginning the weekend of April 4th and 5th, Metro North will provide hourly service while also suspending shuttle service between Wassaic and Southeast on the Upper Harlem line.

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Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce organizes COVID-19 conference call

All businesses in the Greater Danbury Area are being invited to take part in a conference call tomorrow with both local and state officials about the constantly evolving COVID-19 situation.  The call is being organized by Chamber President PJ Prunty.  It will feature state DECD Commissioner David Lehman, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Director of Health Lisa Morrissey and Connecticut Small Business Development Center State Director Joe Ercolano.  Businesses that register will get dial in info, but are encouraged to submit questions by 5 o'clock tonight.  Tomorrow's conference call is at 1pm. 

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Danbury seeks to hire homeless shelter staff

The City of Danbury is looking to hire Shelter Staff.  There are three shifts available for staffing.  The position pays 18 dollars an hour.  City officials say part of the job is to keep clients interest in mind while protecting the interests of the City by protecting the facility within the established policies and procedures.  The rest of the job description and how to apply can be found on the city's website.

Due to social distancing guidelines and the age of volunteers, Dorothy Day Hospitality House closed about two weeks ago, the overflow shelter at First Congregational Church closed Monday.

HAZMAT crews have been cleaning the Danbury War Memorial as the City looks to locate homeless individuals into the emergency shelter.  Mayor Mark Boughton says a few people who were staying that the City's New Street shelter may have been exposed to coronavirus. 

The state is working on housing homeless individuals in dormitories at Western, Eastern, Southern and Central state universities and UConn. 

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Tractor trailer roll over in Monroe includes fluid leak

A tractor trailer rolled over against a telephone pole in Monroe yesterday morning and was leaking diesel fluid. Stevenson Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched, and learned that the occupant was helped out of the vehicle by passersby.  Mutual aid was provided by Monroe Volunteer Fire Department., Monroe Police, DEEP and Eversource. Once environmental cleanup was done, and Eversource deemed the pole safe; tow truck service was able to detach the trailer from the truck and flip the truck back onto its wheels.

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Half of Ridgefield's COVID-19 cases linked to 1 assisted living facility

Ridgefield Health Director Ed Briggs has confirmed half of Ridgefield's 34 COVID-19 active cases are associated with an assisted living facility on Route 7.  The other 17 cases are spread throughout the community.  Ridgefield recorded two previous deaths of senior citizens who resided at the facility on Route 7.  Briggs says Benchmark Senior Living at Ridgefield Crossing has assured the town that they are taking optimal health and safety measures. The facility also remains on lockdown to all visitors at this time.

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Municipal services in Danbury available online

While a lot of things today are in a holding pattern, there are aspects of daily life that can't be put on pause.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says people trying to get home renovations done can still access city services.  Permits will still be issued, processed and inspected.  People can call the building Department for a review of plans. 

He cautioned that while city employees are still working, callers will need patience as a lot of the work is being done remotely.  A number of functions have been moved online in recent years and residents are encouraged to visit the City website for available services. 

Danbury has also compiled a list of restaurants in the City offering take out and delivery service.

People continue to congregate in groups and disregard signs about parks and ball fields being closed amid this public health emergency.  Boughton says people in the 20 to 44 age group are moving from care free carriers to patients and need to heed the call for social distancing.  Boughton says every time someone decides to have a house party, that causes a problem because the virus is so contagious.  The faster residents follow CDC guidance, the faster everyone will get to the other end of the coronavirus outbreak and can go back to playing sports, to school and to work. 

While people are encouraged to go outside and get exercise and fresh air, officials are pleading with residents to keep a 6 foot distance from others in those open space recreation areas.

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Private donor in Redding sends dozens of N-95 face masks to Conn.

A private donor in Redding has sendt dozens of N-95 face masks to the state.  As part of Governor Lamont’s ongoing request for donations of Personal Protective Equipment that can be used by the medical community, the state received several more shipments of materials. 

Mohegan Sun, which was voluntarily closed by the Mohegan Tribal Nation, donated 160 N95 masks and nearly 40,000 gloves.  The donations will be distributed based on the needs of medical facilities and first responders.

Members of the public, businesses, and philanthropic organizations that are able to donate vital materials are urged to contact the state by filling out an online form located at 211ct.org/DonationsCOVID19.

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Bethe firefighters respond to oven fire

Bethel Fire & EMS crews responded to an oven fire Monday.  Responding firefighters determined that grease in the bottom of the oven had caught fire. No extension was found, no damage was reported.  All occupants of the home were uninjured.  Fire officials joked that the chicken was a little rough, though.  On a more serious note, Bethel firefighters reminded everyone to be attentive to appliances that may get increased use during this period of ”Staying Home.”

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Kent officials to craft plan for budget approval transparency as new fiscal year looms

The Governor issued a number of Executive Orders over the weekend, mostly focusing on town budget options and 'essential' and 'non-essential' businesses.  Part of the order waives the requirement that municipalities hold town meetings to adopt their annual budgets this year.  Kent First Selectman Jean Speck says when it comes to the town budget, she will work to ensure an open, transparent process is maintained for passage.  She met with Kent Town Clerk Darlene Brady to develop a plan for notification and public engagement for the budget process.  Speck cautioned that it will likely mean embracing new technology.  Once they work through the details in the coming days, she will share the information with Kent residents.

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Redding experiences first confirmed cases of COVID-19, Bethel sees increase

Redding has been informed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health of two positive cases of COVID-19. Noticing that the virus was in nearby towns, First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton says the presence of COVID-19 in Redding was expected. 

With this development Redding residents are reminded to be more adamant with their social distancing.  Pemberton says not feeling sick isn’t a good enough reason to break the social distancing norms because the virus could be incubating and spread inadvertently. Social distancing is primarily about protecting other people and slowing transmission. She says this includes avoiding getting together with other people if at all possible, working from home, and staying at least 6 feet from others, especially those who are ill.

More new cases are confirmed in Bethel.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker also stressed the need for all residents to take precautions to protect themselves from the virus. He says this is real, it's in Bethel and everyone must take aggressive actions to limit exposure to friends and family. 

In addition to thorough hand washing and other personal hygiene practices, Knickerbocker underscored the importance of social distancing as the only way to stop the spread of the virus.  He says this means limiting get-togethers and play dates, because with an incubation period of up to two weeks, it’s impossible to predict when or where exposure to the virus will occur.

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Conn. public schools could be closed until the fall

Governor Ned Lamont said in an interview today that it's likely schools will be closed through the remainder of the academic year.  April 20 is the minimum closure, but it probably will be longer.

WTNH-TV obtained a letter sent from State Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona to school officials that the final closure decision has not yet been made.  Based on federal guidance, and the CDC's suggestion that schools should expect longer-term cancellations, the governor is reducing reporting requirements and eliminate individual district applications for 180-day waivers.

In the letter, the commissioner said schools should now focus on continuing remote education possibilities for students. 

Cardona says all efforts should be focused on providing students in Connecticut with continuing educational opportunities to the greatest extent possible.  Districts should engage in providing continuity of educational opportunities for students.

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New Fairfield Social Services to accept donations for Mobile Food Pantry

New Fairfield Social Services, in cooperation with New Fairfield Congregational Church, will be accepting donations of newly purchased food items for the Mobile Food Pantry. Donations will be accepted tomorrow from 11am to 2pm in the Congregational Church parking lot.  Cars should enter the parking lot and drive up to the Orange PODS. One at a time, drivers will be allowed to exit their car and put donated items on a shelf on the pod being filled, then exit the lot. New Fairfield Social Services is asking the people only donate items listed and recent purchases should be donated.  The list includes Peanut Butter and Jelly, Bag of Rice, Canned vegetables, Pasta and Sauce, Dry Milk and Oatmeal and Cereal.

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Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company seeks personal protective equipment donations

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is in need of N-95 or surgical face masks, disposable protective gowns, Tyvek suits and sanitizer.  They are unable to get any of these items from their suppliers and need to ensure the Department has enough protection for staff responding to emergency calls.  The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is specifically looking 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean radios and pagers, and Lysol or Clorox wipes for vehicle interiors.  Any local business or resident that uses these items is asked to consider donating unopened, unused ones so firefighters can safely continue operations.  Donors should contact the fire department to coordinate pickup/drop off.

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Parks in Newtown, Brookfield remain closed amid COVID-19 outbreak

Brookfield parks are closed.  Town officials have received reports that people continue to use the playgrounds at Town Hall and the basketball and tennis courts at Cadigan Park.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says social distancing and gatherings in groups of 10 or less is the key to fight the virus. 

The best guidance from health experts is that there are many people carrying the virus who are asymptomatic, which means they have not felt any effects. Many of these people have not been tested, because of the lack of test kits.

Newtown Police are reminding residents that Town parks, Dickinson, Treadwell, and the Skate Park are closed during this public health emergency.  The Fairfield Hills Campus walking trails remain open, but Police stressed the need to not congregate and keep the social distancing guidelines in mind. 

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Kent First Selectman rings bell in solidarity with those in self-quarantine

For the past couple of evenings from 8 to 8:02pm, Kent First Selectman Jean Speck has started a nightly community bell ringing. South Windsor started this a couple of weeks ago, and when she heard about it, it spoke to her. Churches in Kent, the schools, and even a couple of car horns joined in last night.  Speck says it's given her a sense of true community spirit; letting neighbors know they're still close by despite the social distancing.  The Kent Emergency Operations Center, located at Town Hall, has expanded its hours to 9am to 5pm.  The Welcome Center, all Town buildings, Kent Memorial Library, and the Firehouse remain closed to the public.

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Connecticut public schools closed until at least April 20

Gov. Ned Lamont plans to issue a new executive order that will require schools across the state to remain closed until April 20, a spokesman said. Lamont, a Democrat, had previously instituted a two-week closure on March 17.

To help students learn while schools are closed, Lamont said the Partnership for Connecticut, a public-private education partnership with Dalio Philanthropies, plans to make 60,000 laptop computers available to high school students. He said the laptops will come at “virtually no cost” to the state of Connecticut.

“Laptops are going to mean that not just suburban kids from wealthier areas, but all kids, can have an access to online learning and education,” he said.

Eligibility is limited to the high schools across the state’s 33 Alliance Districts, including Danbury, that serve significant populations of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, and laptop distribution will prioritize students demonstrating the most need.

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Ridgefield officials call on people to not congregate, recreate in groups

As more businesses close and kids have been off from school for a week, there's a concern that people will start to congregate in larger groups.  Federal, state and local officials are reminding everyone that the reason for the closures is to try to limit person-to-person contact and slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi is asking that residents suspend all activities that encourage gathering.  Anyone out hiking on the open trails or at the high school track should still practice social distancing.  All recreation areas such as basketball, tennis, pickle ball and paddle courts are closed.  All playgrounds and the dog park are closed.  Marconi stressed the part about pickle ball, which is popular among seniors, noting that he's gotten a lot of emails from adult children asking for an ordinance or law to stop their parents from gathering.

The older age group is more susceptible because of underlying health issues and weaker immune systems.

Ridgefield Police Chief Jeff Kreitz says call volume has decreased.  But with more store closures, he reassured business owners that officers are performing more security checks.  There is a visible police presence in town, even though officers are taking more complaints over the phone to avoid contact.

Ridgefield Emergency Management Director Dick Aarons says mutual aid agreements will come into play when it comes to supplies.  He received a request to supply cots in case there's a need because of hospital overflow.

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Mobile field hospital to Danbury, dorms to be repurposed

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut is looking into re-purposing old nursing homes and empty college dormitories to help free up space for hospitals as they brace for more COVID-19 patients.

Over 400 people in Connecticut have tested positive for the virus, and 10 patients have died.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

Lamont said his administration has prioritized 2,000 nursing home beds that should be available over the next month or so for patients with COVID-19 infections. He said mobile field hospitals are also about to be deployed at Danbury Hospital and St. Francis Hospital in Hartford.

Additionally, the administration is working with colleges to possibly use empty dorm rooms to house intermediate care patients.  West Conn is preparing Fairfield Hall. Spokesman Paul Steinmetz says the 108-bed residence hall on the Midtown campus should be ready by tomorrow.  West Conn has not been officially asked to make the space available, but expects to be asked.  This would be for intermediate care patients out of the ICU.

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Employee at Garner Correctional in Newtown infected with COVID-19

Connecticut’s Correction Department says an employee at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown has been found to be infected with coronavirus. The department says that person hasn’t been in the facility since March 17th and has been self-monitoring at home. The Department on Monday instituted a policy requiring staff to pass a wellness screening, including a temperature check before entering a facility. Anyone with a temperature above 100-point-4 degrees won’t be allowed inside.  To date no other staff member or offender at the Garner Correctional Institution has shown symptoms associated with the COVID-19 virus.

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Volunteer fire companies seek donations of medical masks

Volunteer fire companies in the Greater Danbury area are usually the ones providing help to the community, but now they're asking for help from the community.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company officials say they have a very limited supply of surgical and N95 masks for emergency responders. 

New protocols are requiring all responders and patients to be wearing a mask, regardless of illness, when transporting to Danbury Hospital. 

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department and New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department are also asking for help. 

Anyone with any type of surgical or N95 masks that are willing to donate, or has the ability to make masks, is asked to contact the Volunteer Fire Companies.  Lysol, Clorox wipes, sanitizer, disinfectants are also all greatly appreciated.

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Bethel Municipal Center closes to the public until further notice

Bethel Municipal Center will be closed to the public until further notice. This closure includes the tax collector’s office, which had previously remained open.  Taxes and utility bills may be paid online, by phone or by US mail.  Paying bills by phone, 855-329-3811, you will need your bill number.  Many other transactions involving the offices of the Town Clerk, Assessor and Land Use departments may also be available online. For services that cannot be transacted online, by phone or by US mail, Bethel residents should call or email the department directly.

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Easton suspends open burn permit program

Until the State of Connecticut’s COVID 19 Precautions are lifted, the Open Burning Program is suspended in the Town of Easton. Applications, permit pick-ups and permission to burn will not be issued and or approved by the Fire Marshal. This decision was made to decrease potential exposure to first responders and the community, for the time being.  The smoke can also cause concerns to people especially those with existing breathing issues. The Fire Marshall's office will provide notice when the suspension is lifted.

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Brookfield Senior Center begins offering prepackaged meals

The Brookfield Senior Center will begin providing prepackaged lunches for seniors beginning today.  But Brookfield Senior Center officials are asking seniors to contact the Senior Center  to request a meal 3 days in advance. Meals are provided for a suggested donation of $3. The donation box will be available at the pick-up.  Anyone not currently registered for the congregate meal program at the Center can complete the required registration form at the same time as meal pick up.  The lunches will be distributed between noon and 12:15pm.

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Danbury man charged for alleged attack on ex-girlfriend

A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and attacking several people with a utility knife.  Police charged Jackson Ivan Ortega-Palacios on the 13th with burglary, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and several counts of assault.  Police say the 23-year-old cut the ex-girlfriend, as well as at least two other people, sending at least one to Danbury Hospital. In his arrest photo, the man's shirt is covered in blood and his face is scratched and has bruises. Ortega-Palacios was wanted on an outstanding warrant for two charges of risk of injury to a child stemming from allegations from last month.

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Bethel town employees to collect donations for Food Bank

Food donations are being collected tomorrow morning in Bethel to serve the increasing number of families in need. Bethel Town employees will accept donations in the library parking lot from 8am to noon, with items sent to the Bethel Community Food Pantry and Brotherhood In Action.  The Social Services Department says the goal is to fill the Senior Center van.  189 households are registered to use the food pantry, with 150 of them in need of food baskets for the spring delivery in a few weeks. Boxed pasta is the greatest need. Other high need items are: sauce, shelf stable apple and grape juices, tea, canned corn, non sugary cereal, tuna fish, peanut butter, jelly, small jars of mayonnaise and coffee.

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Brookfield starts relief fund, makes meetings virtual

The town of Brookfield has started a special fund to help residents affected by the coronavirus emergency.  Donations to “Brookfield Recovers” will be administered by the town’s Department of Social Services, with 100 percent of contributions directly benefiting residents in need by resupplying the food pantry and assisting clients. 

All donations are tax-deductible. Checks can be made out to the Town of Brookfield with “Brookfield Recovers” in the memo line and sent to Brookfield Social Services, 100 Pocono Road, Brookfield CT 06804. 

Brookfield officials are continuing the policy of asking all boards to only conduct meetings that are necessary to conduct town business.  When there are required meetings, they will be live streamed from Town Hall conference rooms.

Residents can sign on via computer or phone to watch, listen or participate in the meeting by making public comments. The meeting agendas will include the sign-in information for residents to join.

 

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Putnam County Health Department outlines community response plan

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving public health crisis. The Putnam County Department of Health say they are working with community partners to ensure the safety of Putnam residents and reduce the impact of this disease. The following is a guide to help residents access resources and get answers to important questions.

2-1-1 Get Connected Get Answers Phone Line (United Way of Westchester and Putnam)

·               8 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week

·               English, Spanish and other language translation services available

·               Up-to-date confirmed positive case counts

·               Trusted information from the Putnam County Department of Health, the New York State DOH and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control)

·               Referral to appropriate community resources and other call lines

·               NOT medical advice

·               https://www.uwwp.org/health-emergency-covid-19-coronavirus/

Putnam Hospital Center COVID-19 Line—888-667-9262

·               8 a.m. to 6 p.m., 7 days a week

·               Staffed by nurses answering general questions

·               NOT medical advice

·               www.nuvancehealth.org/coronavirus

NYSDOH Hotline—1-888-364-3065

·               24 hours, 7 days a week

·               General COVID-19 questions

·               Information regarding testing sites and appointments

·               NOT medical advice

·               www.health.ny.gov/coronavirus

Primary Care Provider

·               Individual patient assessment and referral information regarding testing 

·               STAY HOME if you are well and can postpone your appointment

·               IMPORTANT to CALL before you go to your healthcare provider

Putnam County Department of Health—845-808-1390

·               8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday

·               After hours for EMERGENT questions

·               Residents that are being monitored on home quarantine/isolation

·               Assist healthcare providers with questions and decision making

·               www.putnamcountyny.com/coronavirus

9-1-1 Emergency Number (Bureau of Emergency Services)

·               Shortness of breath

·               In need of IMMEDIATE medical help ONLY

·               Inform dispatcher of exposure risk for COVID-19

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New Milford schools ramp up for distance learning

On Thursday and Friday, the New Milford Public School District distributed 513 Chromebooks to students in need of a device to participate in upcoming distance learning.  Plans for Distance Learning will be distributed today.  Superintendent Parker says Principals are the best source for student-specific issues and can be emailed directly.  Starting today, free breakfast and lunch for any student in need will be distributed.  The grab and go meals are available at Sarah Noble Intermediate School Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11am to 1pm.  Today is the final day students will be able to retrieve essential school supplies left in lockers left at Schaghticoke Middle School and New Milford High School today.    This is not for collection of items from gym lockers, it's for items like textbooks. 

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Danbury to start elementary school distance learning next week

On Monday, March 30, Danbury Public Schools will begin online learning for all elementary students. In order to prepare for online learning, each child will need access to a computer and an active PowerSchool account.  Anyone needing to borrow a school computer must complete a request for technology on the appropriate school webpage.  A PowerSchool account will assign students a school email that will allow access to the online classroom. In addition, it will also allow the Danbury School District to share important information. Last week, all families were sent a letter with their children's access codes.

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Former state Rep. seeks state Senate seat

A second republican is seeking a state Senate seat in the region.  Former state Representative Will Duff has announced his candidacy for the 26th District, which includes Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton.  The seat is currently held by Democrat Will Haskell, who is the youngest member of the General Assembly.  Wilton Republican Kim Healy also has announced her candidacy.

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New Milford man charged for selling gun used in Danbury homicide

A New Milford man has been charged with a number of firearms offenses in connection with a homicide in Danbury last year.  Nikos Chelioudakis was arrested March 5th.  The indictment alleges that the 34-year old sold a .22-caliber handgun with an obliterated serial number to David Ramos last August.  At the time of the sale, Chelioudakis was an unlawful user of a controlled substance and had reasonable cause to believe that Ramos was also an unlawful user of a controlled substance--a violation of federal law.  Danbury Police conducted a joint investigation with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Chelioudakis was charged with one count of possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, and unlawful sale or transfer of a firearm to a prohibited person.

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Connecticut virus cases top 300 with 8 deaths

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A total of 327 people in Connecticut have tested positive for the virus, including 104 new cases announced on Sunday. There have been eight deaths, the governor’s office said.

More than 3,600 tests have been conducted in the state. Roughly 51 people are hospitalized with the virus, officials said.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough, and the vast majority recover. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

Gov. Ned Lamont urged residents to sign up for cellphone alerts Sunday, saying he will deliver a recorded message to more than 4 million phone numbers through the state’s CTAlert system about the coronavirus.

The message from the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Hartford will urge all residents to stay home and will be accompanied by a text message with a link to Connecticut’s coronavirus website.

Lamont on Friday signed an executive order that requires all “non-essential” businesses and nonprofit organizations, to shut down or have workers their employees to work from home, through April 22. https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Coronavirus-for-Businesses/Coronavirus-for-Businesses

The restrictions, part of Lamont’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” message to residents, will take effect at 8 p.m. on Monday.

Businesses such as grocery stores, gas stations, home health care companies and defense contractors, are not affected by the order. The list of essential entities includes 16 “critical infrastructure sectors” defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. State officials plan to release additional information before Monday’s deadline about which businesses are considered essential.

The Democrat said retailers not considered essential could face fines if they remain open. The order is similar to one imposed Friday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who ordered all workers in non-essential businesses to stay home and banned gatherings statewide.

“Don’t open your retail store unless you’re involved in some essential service like food, grocery stores or health care as in pharmacies, fuel as in gas stations.” he said. “I want to see all the rest of those nonessential services closed, closed for at least a few weeks or for the foreseeable future.”

The move comes as officials announced the state’s fourth fatality, a woman in her 80s who had been living in her home in Norwalk. She died after being treated for COVID-19 at Norwalk Hospital. Meanwhile, close to 200 people have tested positive, including the first resident of New London County. There have now been positive cases in all eight Connecticut counties.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

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Nursing home takes steps following COVID-19 outbreak

A nursing home where a short-term patient died on Saturday has at least five other patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokesman for Athena Health Care Systems, which owns the Stafford Springs facility.

Four of the patients who tested positive have been isolated in the Evergreen Health Care Center and the other is in the hospital, spokesman Timothy Brown said.

A deep cleaning of the nursing home was done after the first positive test was announced and all employees will now wear personal protective gear when dealing with any patients, Brown said.

The 88-year-old man who died had been at Evergreen for a week. The assisted living facility in Ridgefield where he had lived before has at least one other person with the virus, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi said.

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COVID-19 cases in Greater Danbury on the rise

There are now positive coronavirus cases in nearly every town in the Greater Danbury area.  Redding does not yet have a reported case. 

The Newtown Health District received notification from the state Department of Public Health of the first positive case -- a Female between the ages of 25 and 49.  This individual is currently isolated and recovering at home.  Health Director Donna Culbert says positive cases of COVID-19 in Newtown have been expected as community transmission of the virus has been occurring in the area.

Ridgefield is up to nine people who have tested positive for coronavirus and officials expect this number to continue to grow. Those who have tested positive range in age from 21 to over 80.   The Ridgefield Dog Park will be closed starting today.  Walking and hiking trails remain open, but people should maintain certain protocols.  Those include not touching any hard surface, maintain a ten-foot separation and other CDC guidelines.  Ridgefield officials cautioned people going outdoors that tick season is particularly bad this year due to the warm winter.

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Putnam County Sheriff warns of coronavirus phone scam

Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley is warning residents of a possible telephone scam relating to testing for the Coronavirus.  Recently, the Sheriff’s Office was alerted to a robocall stating that a company will mail a COVID-19 test kit if you provide your social security number.  The Putnam County Health Department confirmed that “there are currently no FDA-approved COVID-19 tests available through the mail.  Langley is reminding all citizens, especially seniors, to be cautious and not to provide a social security number for a mail-order COVID-19 test--or in general.  Any fraud case can be reported to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at (845)225-4300, or the local police department.

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Redding officials delay budget process

The Redding Board of Selectmen has voted unanimously to extend the Town's annual budget process by 30 days, culminating with a referendum on the first Tuesday in June, June 2nd. The Redding Board of Finance public hearing will now take place on Thursday April 16th, at 7:30pm at the Redding Community Center.  While eager to embrace technology, First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton didn't feel it prudent to ask residents to participate in a virtual public hearing process at a time when their concerns lie elsewhere.  No changes will be made to the budget before the public hearing, but she says with the upheaval in the daily lives of residents and the rapid escalation of this health emergency and its financial impacts, the view of the budget may be very different 30 days from now. 

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Brookfield Food Pantry to distribute pre-made bags of food

Out of an abundance of caution due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Brookfield Social Services will be changing how the Brookfield Food Pantry operates. The Brookfield Food Pantry is working with Danbury Food Collaborative and the Connecticut Food Bank during this time.  Pre-made bags of food will be distributed from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Tuesdays for registered food pantry participants outside of Brookfield Senior Center. Food pantry participants who are sick should stay at home and contact the social services office to make another arrangement.

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Lamont orders non-essential employees to stay home

Governor Ned Lamont has ordered that non-essential workers, public and private, stay home to promote social distancing and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The “Stay Safe Stay Home” initiative will start at 8pm on Monday. 

There are now 194 positive COVID-19 infections.  40 people are hospitalized.  Lamont also announced the fourth victim, who lived in Fairfield County.  The state is currently able to test 1,000 potential cases a day.

Only banks, liquor stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, vehicle repair shops, large construction projects and major defense contractors such as Sikorsky Aircraft should remain open, but with reduced staffs.  Restaurants and similar businesses, which are currently operating with take out or delivery service, can remain open.

This is similar to an announcement earlier in the day in New York State.

Lamont put a call out to companies that have extra medical protective equipment, asking to buy it, or the state will accept donations.

 

Lamont also put a call out for day care centers to remain open.  He announced that Barbara and Ray Dalio, and Dalio Philanthropies, will donate $3 million for 26 childcare centers near hospital where the parents of 1,066 kids work. Another $1 million will be split by the state’s two major food banks.

 

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Local lawmaker provides update on who is eligible for unemployment amid pandemic

Danbury state Senator Julie Kushner, who chairs the General Assembly's Labor Committee says everyone who is currently out of work due to the pandemic is encouraged to file for unemployment as soon as possible.   Connecticut is one of six states that doesn’t have a waiting period for workers eligible to receive benefits. 

Kushner noted that people should make sure their employer provides a RETURN TO WORK DATE even if that date needs to be extended later.  A return to work date on documentation from employers allows the Department of Labor to automatically process an application. 

School employees who might otherwise be ineligible for unemployment during school breaks and summer vacation are eligible if furloughed or laid off because of school closings.

If an employer only permits you to work part-time instead of full-time, you may be eligible for partial unemployment during this public health situation.  The Department of Labor is suspending work search requirements for unemployment benefits. Furloughed employees are eligible for at least six weeks of benefits.

Kushner says prorated unemployment benefits, up to 60%, are available to eligible employees who have their hours cut due to the current public health emergency. 

Governor Lamont has authorized overtime to process claims and assist Connecticut workers. She notes that state Department of Labor employees will also be working on Saturdays to deal with claims.

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Brookfield closes playgrounds, encourages social distancing in open space areas

All playgrounds in Brookfield including Kids Kingdom Playground on the Town Hall Campus and school playgrounds are closed.  The fields at the schools, Cadigan Park and Town Hall are also closed.  All tennis courts and basketball courts are closed in Brookfield.  But The Brookfield Parks and Rec Department says the Still River Greenway and all open space properties including Williams-Gurski Open Space, Happy Landings and Burr Farm remain open for passive recreation.  Residents are asked to practice social distancing; keep a six foot distance while in public and avoid physical contact with people who do not share your home.

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New Milford modifies revaluation process

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass has worked with the Tax Assessor and Vision Appraisals, who is doing the state required inspections for the property revaluations.   Moving forward, the inspectors will ring the doorbell, back away from the door, and ask to measure the Outside of the home. there will be no more inside inspections until further notice because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Gov. orders new closures, allows restaurants to sell some alcohol with take out orders

A new executive order from the Governor directs the temporary closure of barbershops, hair salons, tattoo or piercing parlors, and related businesses effective at 8pm.  Mayor Mark Boughton had a message for businesses ordered closed.  Any business on that list, or ones previously ordered closed, must comply.  Boughton says they will be out enforcing the executive order.  It's a Class D felony to ignore the order.  Boughton says the quicker people comply with social distancing and closures, the quicker things can get back open.

Lamont's executive order on bars and restaurants being allowed to sell take out and delivery orders has been modified.  The establishments can sell alcohol, as long as the person picking up the order is of legal drinking age, not intoxicated, and if the order includes the pick-up of food prepared on site. The alcohol must be in a sealed container as received by the wholesaler.  The hours of such sales are the same as a package store.

The Governor's new order also expands the ability of patients and doctors to use telehealth for healthcare services, and temporarily suspends in-person investigation visits regarding suspected elder abuse and extends timelines for reporting investigation results.  Lamont has also suspended non-critical court operations and associated requirements, deadlines, and statutes of limitations.

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Bethel, Ridgefield provide updates on COVID-19

The Town of Bethel has establish local COVID - 19 info line at 203-794-8530.  Town officials are monitoring the CDC, and State of Connecticut information in order to provide the most up-to-date information.

The Ridgefield Emergency Management team says this is a fast moving and evolving public health emergency.  Director Dick Aarons says there are a number of ways to stay up to date on closures, modifications and any other pertinent information. 

He says residents should sign up through CT Alert.  For those who previously signed up, but haven't gotten communication from the town, Aarons says they should make sure all phone and email information is accurate.  In January, in compliance with new state Regulations, databases were updated.  More numbers are being collected automatically for the e-911 system, which is how the police department knows how to respond to you when you call via cell phone. 

Ridgefield Director of Health Ed Briggs says they've gotten a tremendous number of calls in the last two weeks.  His department is doing a lot of contract tracing for anyone who recently traveled out of the country, and monitoring their health. 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says signs have been put up all around playgrounds alerting residents that they are closed.

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COVID-19 cases jump in Conn. as testing ramps up

There are now 159 confirmed coronavirus cases in Connecticut, and three fatalities due to complications from COVID-19.  The third was another man in his 90s who was also from New Canaan. Both of the New Canaan men were living in private homes. 

A New Milford resident has been identified as having contracted COVID-19.  The person is a female between the ages of 45 and 64 who is currently isolated and recovering at home under self-quarantine. All close contacts of this person will be notified by the epidemiology section of the State Department of Public Health. 

Southbury officials have also identified one case in town. 

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says there are multiple confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the City.  All Danbury outdoor playing fields, whether in a park or school, are closed through April 30.  This includes all playgrounds.

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Conn. moves primary, Danbury moves bond vote from April 28 to June 2

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut has decided to move its presidential primary to a later date to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Twitter the April 28 primary will now be held June 2. Connecticut is the latest state to postpone primary elections amid the global pandemic. Maryland, another state that was part of the April 28 primary, dubbed the “Acela Primary” or “I-95 Primary,” also moved its primary to June 2.

Danbury was slated to hold a referendum on a bonding package on April 28.  Mayor Mark Boughton says that vote will also be moved to June 2.

The other states to postpone are Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Ohio.

Merrill said moving the primary date is a “good first step” toward insuring Connecticut voters can have a say in the selection of presidential candidates while ensuring they’re safe at the polls. She said it will also give local election officials more time to prepare.

“Changing an election date is not something we do lightly – it’s a recognition of the severity & nature of this crisis, and more steps may be necessary to guarantee that every CT voter has an opportunity to cast their ballot,” she wrote in a tweet.

Earlier this week, the presidents of associations representing local registrars of voters and town clerks sent letters to Merrill, asking her to call on Lamont to postpone the primary by using his authority under a recently enacted state emergency order.

Connecticut’s change makes it mathematically impossible for Joe Biden to clinch the nomination before May.

The delay of the primary comes as Connecticut officials warn there will likely be more positive cases of the coronavirus in the coming weeks. Officials announced the state’s second death on Thursday.

COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, has stricken thousands across the globe but usually presents only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For older adults and people with other health problems, it can cause complications or sometimes death. Most people recover.

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New Fairfield declares local civil preparedness emergency

The New Fairfield First Selectman has declared a Civil Preparedness Emergency to ensure that New Fairfield will be eligible for any reimbursement that becomes available from the federal and state governments.  The Director of Social Services is available by phone or email to provide assistance to residents in need of food, fuel assistance and rental assistance.  The New Fairfield food pantry is fully stocked, but officials say financial donations are always welcomed. As stock becomes depleted, residents will be alerted of the need for non-perishable food donations and how to donate.  The town has also added information to their Facebook page about Meal Delivery Services, Mental Health Resources and Addiction Recovery Support.

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Putnam County confirms 6 cases of COVID-19

The Putnam County Department of Health has confirmed a total of six confirmed positive cases in Putnam County.  The individuals have been quarantined at home and will continue to be monitored carefully.  The Department's communicable disease staff are interviewing these individuals to learn about their movements, and identify all close contacts. Contact tracing then begins, which includes asking for a detailed history of where they have traveled, worked, shopped, and more. On the basis of these answers, staff will compile a list of people who may have been potentially exposed. Staff then contacts each of these people to explain their risk. Regular communication and monitoring for symptoms of the disease continue for these contacts

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Police identify Danbury man fatally stabbed at skate park

Danbury Police have identified the man who was fatally stabbed at the Skate Park this week. Police say 21-year old Willy Placencia of Danbury sustained multiple stab wounds. Police responded to Patriot Drive on a report of a fight Wednesday night.  The man was transported to Danbury Hospital where he was pronounced dead.  The investigating is active and ongoing.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Danbury Police Department’s Detective Division at 203-797-4662 or the Anonymous TIPS Line is 203-790-8477.

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State athletics body argues it is not subject to Title IX

The organization that oversees high school sports in Connecticut is arguing in a court filing that it is not subject to the federal law that guarantees equal access to women and girls in education, including athletics.

The argument that the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference is exempt from Title IX comes as lawyers outline their positions in a lawsuit by three female runners who are seeking to block the participation of transgender athletes in girls sports.

The conference allows athletes to participate as the gender with which they identify, in accordance with a state law that says students must be treated that way in Connecticut public schools.

The lawsuit argues that male anatomy gives the transgender runners an unfair advantage in violation of Title IX.

In a March 13 filing, defense lawyers argued that the athletic conference should not be a defendant and also names several boards of education in districts where the track athletes compete.

“By its terms, Title IX applies only to recipients of federal funds,” the defense attorneys wrote in the filing. “The Board of Education defendants do not contest that they are recipients of federal funds and subject to Title IX. The CIAC, however, is a private non-profit organization organized under the laws of the State of Connecticut. It does not receive any direct federal funding.”

Christiana Holcomb, the attorney who represents runners Selina Soule, a senior at Glastonbury High School, Chelsea Mitchell, a senior at Canton High School and Alanna Smith, a sophomore at Danbury High School, said the argument is a blatant attempt to side-step compliance with federal civil rights law.

“There is clear federal case law that says that athletic associations that exercise this controlling authority over public school interscholastic competition are subject to Title IX,” she said.

Lawyers for all sides met in a teleconference on Thursday to discuss a timeline for the case to proceed. A judge is considering Holcomb’s motion for a temporary injunction that would prevent transgender athletes from participating in spring track.

That season is currently on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but CIAC officials have put off a decision on whether to cancel it.

Holcomb said the lawsuit will go forward even if the case remains unresolved after the graduation this spring of Soule and Mitchell as well as Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, the two transgender athletes who participate in track and field in Connecticut.

“These girls still had damage that occurred to them in the form of lost state championship titles and a number of other awards and medals,” Holcomb said. “One of the things we’re asking of the CIAC and the school districts is to fix their records.”

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Local banks latest institutions to modify business operations amid COVID-19 outbreak

Savings Bank of Danbury and Union Savings Bank will offer transactions via the drive-up windows and temporarily suspend access to its lobbies in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus and protect employees and the public.  ATMs, online, mobile, and telephone banking will remain available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Union Savings Bank says the Roxbury and Washington Depot offices, which do not have drive-ups, will offer limited-hour access by appointment only. 

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Region 9 to start distance learning on Monday

Easton Redding Region 9 is beginning grab and go meal pickups at Joel Barlow High School for those students who qualify for free or reduced meals.  The district also has Chromebooks available for those who do not have computers and/or internet access.  Then it's supplies last, on a first come first serve basis for other students.  The schools hope to have a distance learning program in place by Monday.

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New York DMVs to operate by appointment only

In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Putnam County officials are operating DMV offices by appointment only.  These appointments can be made online.  Customers are reminded that they must have all forms completed prior to arriving for their appointment, and they must show their confirmation e-mail to enter the office at their appointment time. Any car dealer transactions will be handled on a drop off basis only.  Previously scheduled learner's permit test appointments will still be honored at New York DMVs. Customers must use the drop box for renewal invitations and plate surrenders.  There are online processing options for services such as driver’s license renewals, vehicle registration renewals and duplicate items.

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Danbury man fatally stabbed at skate park

A Danbury man has been been stabbed to death at the Danbury Skate Park.  Police responded to Patriot Drive on a report of a fight around 7:30pm.  Officers found the 21-year old suffering from multiple stab wounds.  The man was transported to Danbury Hospital where he was pronounced dead.  The investigating is active and ongoing.  The Danbury Police Department’s Detective Division is continuing to gather facts.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Danbury Police Department’s Detective Division at 203-797-4662 or the Anonymous TIPS Line is 203-790-8477.

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Conn. seeks school standardized test waivers, closes malls

Two elderly Connecticut residents have died from complications of COVID-19.  The first was announced as a Ridgefield man who lived at Benchmark Senior Living at Ridgefield Crossing.  The second man was a New Canaan resident hospitalized in Norwalk.  The announcement was made at the Town Council meeting last night.

Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona says despite the uncertainty of everything temporarily shutting down, the school year is not cancelled.  He hopes to welcome students back, but class cancellation can be extended.  Connecticut is seeking waivers from the federal government on standardized assessments.

Governor Lamont has signed another executive order taking actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, this one allows Medicaid to cover audio-only telehealth services. 

The Governors of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are ordering indoor portions of large retail shopping malls, amusement parks, and bowling alleys in the four states to close by 8pm.  This includes Danbury Fair Mall.  This is an expansion of the orders the tri-state governors issued Monday temporarily closing movie theaters, gyms, and casinos, an order which Pennsylvania has also adopted. The governors also ordered restaurants and bars to close for on premise service and move to take-out and delivery services only.

Specifically, the large malls to be closed are:

Brass Mill Center, Waterbury
CT Post Mall, Milford
Crystal Mall, Waterford
Danbury Fair Mall, Danbury
Stamford Town Center, Stamford
The Shoppes at Buckland Hills, Manchester
The SoNo Collection, Norwalk
Westfarms Mall, Farmington
Westfield Mall, Meriden
Westfield Mall, Trumbull

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Brookfield resident tests positive for COVID-19

The Brookfield Director of Public Health says one Brookfield resident has been identified as having contracted the virus. The person is a male between the ages of 45 and 64 who is currently isolated and recovering at home under self-quarantine. All close contacts of this person will be notified by the epidemiology section of the State Department of Public Health.  Since yesterday, an additional 28 Connecticut residents tested positive, bringing the total positive cases reported in the state to 96. 

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Redding Police caution residents to CDC scam

Redding Police are warning residents to be aware of scams related to the recent health crisis. There have been several unverified reports throughout the country of people posing as personnel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allegedly conducting a coronavirus survey or investigation. 

The CDC is not conducting any such activity. Residents should not grant anyone access into their home whom they do not know, or who were not previously scheduled to be there. 

Redding Police are reminding residents who are randomly contacted by telephone regarding any financial problems should never send money or gift cards to anyone who they do not know, and to contact the police department whenever they receive any calls considered suspicious in nature.

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WCSU making plans for students to pick up personal items as campus closes for semester

Public universities in the state announced this week that they would not reopen campuses this semester.  All West Conn faculty and staff who will be working remotely should retrieve anything they need from their offices by Friday, March 20. After that time, West Conn will begin a deep cleaning of campus and they will not be able to allow access to buildings.  For all residential students, Housing officials have started working on a plan for retrieving belongings from the Residence Halls.  They are organizing a schedule to prevent crowds.  West Conn Housing and Residence Life Office does not yet have information from the University regarding refunds of housing and meal plan charges, but will make the information available as soon as it is available.  Students in the School of Visual and Performing Arts, and student athletes who left items in lockers will also get a schedule about pick up.  Virtual classes at West Conn begin on Monday via the online tool Blackboard. 

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Bethel Public Schools instituting distance learning program

Bethel Public Schools will now be instituting a distance learning program.  The days will count as learning days for students, and will not have to be made up in June.  Effective Monday, the Bethel Public Schools will use the distance learning model.  In terms of equity, the State is working with cable and phone companies to assist families in accessing the internet at home.  While it's not possible to replicate what would be occurring if classes were in session, Superintendent Christine Carver says distance learning activities and lessons can be effective in reinforcing previous learning, introducing new content, and providing continuity while schools are closed.  Classroom teachers will be taking attendance each day.  If a child is unable to complete work due to illness, parents should call the school attendance line as normal.  If a teacher is absent due to an illness, they will put up substitute plans on Google Classroom.  Work that is completed by students will count. Teachers will report their grades in a manner consistent with the district's current grading practice.

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Danbury officials outline COVID-19 test process

Members of the Danbury City Council have asked for an update from the City's Health Director on the procedures someone should take if they are experiencing respiratory illness symptoms and are not sure if it's a regular cold, the flu or coronavirus.  Lisa Morrissey noted that the state has gotten federal approval to run testing here, and not have to send samples to the CDC in Atlanta. 

If someone is ill, they can contact the Danbury Health Department for guidance on whether to call a primary care physician.  Once it's determined someone meets criteria for testing, that would be done at Danbury Hospital or the state lab in Rocky Hill.  She says the delay wasn't transit time to the CDC, it was the backlog of testing.  In Connecticut, workers will have to set up the test, see if the sample grows, and test it again to make sure they got the right result the first time. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the City is not doing the testing, don't arrange the testing, and don't determine if someone's blood should be tested. 

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First coronavirus death reported in Conn.

A Ridgefield man has become the first person in the state to die from severe complications from COVID-19. The patient, an 88-year old, had recently been admitted to Danbury Hospital, where he was receiving treatment.  He had been a resident of Benchmark Senior Living at Ridgefield Crossing, an assisted living facility in Ridgefield.

Governor Ned Lamont thanked all of the doctors, nurses, and medical professionals at the hospital who did everything in their power to save his life.

In his statement, Lamont also acknowledged the dedicated professionals from hospitals and medical centers throughout the state who continue to work on the front lines and treat patients, in addition to all of the support staff who are providing critical assistance through this trying time.  Lamont says people of an advanced age and in certain conditions are among the most at risk, however he urged everyone in Connecticut – regardless of age or condition – to take an active role in doing their part to reduce the spread of this virus throughout the community.

Since yesterday, 28 more Connecticut residents tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 96.

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Coronavirus Update: What's closed, what's open in Greater Danbury

Under the Local Declaration of Emergency in Ridgefield, hair salons and nail salons are to close by end of day today.  In Wilton, under that town's declaration, those businesses will be open by appointment only.

The Redding Social Services Department food pantry is open and busy. Residents are asked to call ahead to schedule an appointment. The Food Pantry is accepting donations and seeing an increase in need for services.

Bethel parks remain open for hiking and nature walks, however, the parks department has prohibited use of playground climbing equipment and swings until further notice. Recent information from the CDC indicates COVID-19 can remain on metal surfaces for up to 3 days.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has issued an order for any non essential city employee over 60 or with a compromised immune system to stay home. City offices and employees will be working on a staggered schedule and asked residents to be patient when conducting city business.

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Newtown Legislative Council to hold hearing on proposed budget

The Newtown Legislative Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at 7 o'clock tonight, but they are asking that residents not attend the physical meeting because of COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.  A dial-in phone number, 203-270-4249, has been set up for residents who have questions or comments.  All other residents can watch the meeting streamed live on the town's website.  Written comments can also be submitted to the Legislative Council through a link on the town's website.  The agenda and the budget details can also be found on the Newtown town website.

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NY Appellate Court petitioned to stop Cricket Valley Energy Center

A New York appellate court is being asked to issue an injunction to stop operations at the Cricket Valley Energy Center in Dover Plains, New York.  Lawyers want an environmental impact study to be completed.  Earlier requests for a temporary restraining order against the natural gas fired plant have been denied.  Attorneys representing Cricket Valley said the plant went through an environmental review process in 2012 when it was approved.

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Offer made to buy 25 Church Street to build apartments

An offer has come in to New Milford officials, for the first time in years, by a developer looking to take over 25 Church Street.  Mayor Pete Bass told Connecticut Insider that the town-owned building is appraised at $295,000.  David and Scott Benincasa have offered the full appraised value in order to build up to 20 high end apartments.  New Milford bought the building, which was constructed in 1920, back in 2001.  Former Mayor David Gronbach’s administration moved Gallery 25 into the old railroad station, and nixed plans to move the probate court there, but switched to the parks and rec building.  Bass said in the published report that he will continue to negotiate and bring the offer to the Town Council soon.  If approved, it would then go to a Town Meeting.

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Conn. takes further steps to mitigate COVID-19 impacts

HARTFORD, Conn (AP) — Connecticut officials are trying to speed up the certification of new nurses and urging retired nurses to come back to work to help handle the state’s anticipated spike in patients afflicted with the coronavirus.

“We need you. And we’re gonna to you over the next two, three, five, six weeks,” Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday. “So please reach out to your former hospital where you were. We need you to be able to step back.”

While the state now has close to 70 diagnosed cases, State Epidemiologist Matthew Cartter warned many more are expected in the coming weeks.

“Really, this is just starting to move across (the state). This is the beginning of this,” he said, noting that doctors and nurses at hospitals in the western part of the state are already working around the clock in facilities full of patients with many other ailments. Cartter said there are 26 patients currently hospitalized in Connecticut with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Steps are being taken to help the state’s hospitals meet the predicted increased demand for care. The Democrat said they’re looking into “separate housing” for patients on the mend in order to free up space in the hospitals.  Lamont said his office is continuing to work with the federal government to access more protective equipment for medical personnel.

Commencement exercises at the University of Connecticut the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities have been cancelled to because of the need to limit crowds. Both UConn and CSCU announced Tuesday they’re moving to all-online classes for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester.

State Attorney General William Tong said Tuesday that his office has received more than 70 complaints about price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic.  Some local gas stations and retail stores reportedly were selling 7.5-ounce containers of hand sanitizer for more than $25. Some were selling 30-packs of toilet paper for nearly $40 and three-packs of disinfectant wipes for nearly $40, according to complaints.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving announced Tuesday that it was providing $1 million to support nonprofit organizations that assist low-income families affected by the coronavirus pandemic with groceries, health care services, rent, utilities and other expenses. The foundation supports community groups in Hartford and 28 surrounding towns.

Lamont said 10,000 people applied for unemployment compensation benefits on Monday. In recessions, the state usually sees 5,000 applications a week.

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Brookfield forming outreach program to help seniors during coronavirus pandemic

In response to the current health emergency, Brookfield is forming the “Brookfield Outreach Program” to help residents over age 60 with needs during this time.  To prepare for possible assistance, Brookfield Social Services is asking that residents call or email to register for help. Meanwhile, beginning today, Brookfield Public Schools will be making available a bag lunch for all children up to age 18, provided at least one child in the household is a registered Brookfield Public Schools student.  Lunches can be picked up at the High School between 11AM and 11:30AM, Monday through Friday until school is back in session.  Brookfield has received permission from the State Department of Education to provide the meals for free.

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First COVID-19 case reported in Ridgefield

A Ridgefield resident has tested positive for coronavirus and is being treated at Danbury Hospital. 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says it likely won’t be the last case.  Health officials are investigating who may have had contact with the patient, who Marconi believes is 88-years-old, but provided no further information on their current condition. 

He says health officials expect the virus to peak in the next 45 days, after which cases may begin tapering off.  Marconi asked residents to avoid play dates and other gatherings that could risk spreading the disease, but noted that no curfews have been ordered for the town. 

An additional 27 Connecticut residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total positive cases reported in the state to 68. 

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Towns given permission to delay budget process as crowd sizes limited

Authorities at both the state and federal levels have issued guidance or direct orders to sharply limit the size of all public gatherings in order to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says this has affected many municipalities that still practice a town meeting form of government. These restrictions are especially difficult because of the annual budget approval process that requires public hearings and town meetings exceeding the maximum allowed participants.  In order to help towns protect residents through social distancing, the Governor issued an executive order which overrules local charters to allow towns to change the date of their budget meetings. 

The Bethel public hearing on the 2020-2021 budget originally scheduled for March 23rd is cancelled, as is the annual town meeting scheduled for April 6th.  The new dates are an April 27th Public Hearing, followed by the Annual Town Meeting on May 4th.  That would lead to a recommended referendum date of May 12th. 

These dates are tentative and based on the assumption that the spread of the virus will be contained by that time.

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Danbury Public Schools add Interactive Learning link to district website

Danbury Public School leaders have created a link on the district site that is called the K12 Interactive Learning Site.  It contains practice and learning resources by grade level along with suggested usage. In addition, K-5 paper packets will be distributed at food distribution sites.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says he's gotten a lot of questions about whether the district has the ability to teach students virtually.  At this time, the Danbury School District does not have the ability to provide comprehensive and equitable online learning experiences, that under normal circumstances require a 1:1 level of technology access, which is why they created the web link for supplemental learning activities.

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Daycare centers in Putnam County will be permitted to open today

Daycare centers in Putnam County will be permitted to open today, but parents should check with providers to see if they plan to open.  Putnam County issued an Executive Order to close licensed public daycare centers this week to contain the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19.   But an order Governor Andrew Cuomo signed on Monday about public schools, omitted daycare centers and required districts to come up with plans to show that first responders and healthcare workers would have access to childcare during school closures. His order supersedes local authority.  Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell says while protecting children from kindergarten through 12th grade, they were neglecting the youngest children who will go home to parents and grandparents who may be vulnerable to this virus.

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More government services limited to appointments only

In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the office of the Putnam County Clerk is taking additional measures to reduce exposure and encourage social distancing while providing necessary services to patrons.  Visits should only be made in an emergent situation. 

The Putnam County Clerk is reducing staff in the office by half and will only have limited resources to assist residents.  Visitors to the County Clerk’s Office will be for expedite passport applications and emergencies only. Patrons should use the drop box located outside the County Office Building for routine pistol permit transactions, business certificate filings, judgment transcript filings, non-emergency court filings, notary public renewals, land recordings.

New Milford officials are limiting the hours the public can enter town buildings. 

From 9am to 12pm, the public will be able to conduct business by appointment only.  Any public in the buildings after noon will be asked to leave. Mayor Pete Bass says this is for the safety of employees who face the Public in enclosed areas. New Milford town employees are being asked to practice good hand hygiene after each appointment. After 12pm staff will continue to work via phone, and email.

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Women's Center to continue counseling services via phone

Due to concerns surrounding spread of the coronavirus, the Women's Center will not conduct any in-person appointments or meetings effective immediately and until further notice.  All support groups, workshops, training, and activities are cancelled, or will be rescheduled at a date and time to be determined.  All individual counseling sessions will be offered via phone.  Women's Center staff will be available via email and phone during regular business hours.

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Nuvance Health has 200 nurses furloughed due to coronavirus contacts

The vast majority of people testing positive for coronavirus will recover. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness get better in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. 

Governor Ned Lamont told MSNBC that Danbury Hospital has 200 nurses on furlough because they were in contact with someone who tested positive.  That's actually the case for Nuvance Health, the health system that spans western Connecticut and the mid Hudson Valley and includes Danbury Hospital.

Lamont says testing capacity is going up, but only incrementally.  He added that the wave of patients is only a week or two away. 

Nuvance officials say they have capacity at Danbury Hospital to treat illness and injury including COVID-19--and continue to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of staff and patients.

Nuvance has announced a Visitor Policy for the new coronavirus outbreak. Effective immediately, no visitors are allowed.  There are exceptions for Active Labor and Delivery.  The patient can have one support person during labor and delivery.  Pediatric, NICU, and Nursery patients are limited to two parents or guardians per day.  Extenuating circumstances may include: end-of-life care, life-threatening admission to the hospital, legal guardian required or interpreter required.

Because of the COVID-19 testing site, Locust Avenue in Danbury will be closed at the intersections of Hospital Avenue and Osborne Street. Patient access to the Stroock Building at Danbury Hospital will be limited to a single, controlled access point at the intersection of Hospital Avenue and Locust Avenue. Patients will not be able to access the Stroock Building for medical appointments at Hospital Avenue and Osborne Street. Employees should also avoid the immediate area and enter the Gold and Red parking garages from the Danbury Hospital Medical Arts Center entrance on Osborne Street.

The detours and road closure will be in effect between 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Saturday.

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Greater Danbury municipal offices become appointment-only

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has officially declared a “state of emergency” in the city as the number of coronavirus cases in the state exceeds 40.  This declaration will allow the City to access federal funds when they become available.

Danbury City Hall is taking several precautions until further notice.  Residents and visitors must call ahead and schedule an appointment with a department before entering any City Hall office. Appointments are available between 10am – 4pm.  Departments will be providing essential services only. For example, if an issue can be resolved via phone or email, staff will assist remotely.  Employment applications for the Human Resources Department can be placed in the drop box by the front door. Applications will be available in the lobby. 

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says this is being done to increase separation and create more social distancing to protect all community members. 

The Newtown Municipal Center is now only open on an appointment basis. 

The Bethel municipal center is also closed to the public for all walk in visits. Persons needing to access town services are encouraged to conduct business online, by telephone, by fax or by USPS mail.  For residents who must come to town hall to transact business, Bethel officials are asking to call ahead to the department for an appointment. 

The Tax Collector's office will remain open for payment of utility and tax bills during normal business hours. The tax office has a secure glass barrier between staff and public areas that makes this possible, and this area is being cleaned with antibacterial agents several times per day.  But the use of mail or online services is strongly encouraged. 

Bethel officials say department heads have the right to refuse service to any person who is exhibiting symptoms of illness, regardless of whether or not an appointment has been made.  They also have the right to refuse face-to-face appointments for any transactions which, in the department head's discretion, may be successfully transacted via telephone or video conference.

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Sherman firefighters, EMTs could don HAZMAT suits on calls as COVID-19 precaution

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department has been working with local agencies to prepare for COVID-19 and the impact it will have on the community.  Their new protocol has modified responses to some emergency calls.  Fire Company officials cautioned residents not be alarmed if they see emergency responders wearing masks, gowns, eye protection, or haz-mat type suits. This is not only for their own personal safety, but also it protects their ability to serve the community. If any of Sherman firefighters need to be quarantined, they will no longer be able to respond to emergency calls.  Anyone calling 911 for a medical emergency will likely be asked additional questions to help screen for the COVID-19 virus.

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Redding declares public health state of emergency

The Town of Redding has declared a public health state of emergency.  Redding Director of Health Dr. Leibowitz says a standard tenet in medicine has always been to perform a test only if it will in some way change the way a case is managed.  In this instance, medical management would not change in the setting of a positive result, in the absence of severe symptoms requiring hospitalization.   The management advice for those who are not severely ill is to stay home until well, treat symptoms, employ social avoidance and self-quarantine, and practice good hygiene measures- whether or not COVID-19 is diagnosed.  

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Conn. NY, NJ to close bars, eateries to fight virus

NEW YORK (AP) — Bars and restaurants will become takeout-only and businesses from movie theaters to gyms and beyond will be shuttered Monday night throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut because of the coronavirus, the states’ governors said.

The governors said essential businesses such as supermarkets and gas stations will be able to stay open after 8 p.m. Monday, though all non-essential businesses must close. Restaurants will be able to offer take-out and delivery.

The steps mark the latest escalation of efforts to keep people apart in the New York metropolitan area in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus, and an attempt to coordinate a regional response in the face of what the states’ Democratic governors called lagging federal action.

“We’ve got to work through this together. The feds have been asleep at the switch,” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont told reporters on a conference call.

He and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy are Democrats.

New York City bars and restaurants were already set to shut their dining rooms and take up their barstools Tuesday morning, under a plan that Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Sunday.

Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts and Washington state also are among places that have ordered bars to close and restaurants to stop dine-in service.

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Bethel Police to take certain crime reports over the phone during COVID-19 pandemic

Bethel Police Officers will be available between the 8am and 11:30pm to take police reports over the phone for certain types of calls. This service will be used in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and will continue until further notice.

The types of calls that Bethel officers will take over the phone are those that do not require an on-scene investigation to be conducted, evidence to be collected, or otherwise require an officer to respond to the scene. Residents having incidents meeting these criteria are encouraged to use this service. 

The goal of this temporary procedure is to help cut down on unnecessary in-person contact and help mitigate the risks associated with person-to-person transmission of coronavirus. 

If it is determined that a response by an officer is warranted, they are likely to keep a “safe distance” and unlikely to shake hands out of an abundance of caution to keep staff and the public safe.  Bethel Police officials says officers will always respond to crimes of violence and crimes against a person.  

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Brookfield EMS implements new ambulance occupancy rules amid COVID-19 outbreak

The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company recently put into place policies to help protect patients and firefighters.  The fire company is currently not allowing anyone but the patient to be riding in the ambulance, excluding certain circumstances. Exceptions will be made for children and their parents, or patients that need any type of aid to accompany them. Nuvance Health is also restricting visitors in the hospitals at this time due to an influx in flu like cases and the need to also reduce the potential of any community spread of the seasonal illnesses.
 

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Putnam County confirms first COVID-19 cases

The Putnam County Department of Health is confirming two positive cases of COVID-19 in Putnam County residents. The individuals have been quarantined at home and will continue to be monitored carefully. Contact tracing is underway and those that are found to have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case will be notified by the Putnam County Department of Health and precautionary or mandatory quarantine will be established for each person.

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Danbury Hospital sets up hotline, mobile testing

There's been a lot of uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.  Danbury Hospital has established a Community Hotline. 

The dedicated phone number is for community members who are concerned about symptoms they may have. Other inquiries can be directed to the hospital websites. Individuals experiencing symptoms are encouraged to call this line to mitigate the high-volume call-intake of emergency departments and medical practices. 

People can call 888-667-9262 between 8am to 6pm, seven days a week.

Danbury Hospital will open a mobile testing site on Locust Avenue between 8:30am to 3:30pm, but only for patients with a prescription to get a test, and who've made an appointment for that test.  Call 203-739-4344 to schedule an appointment at the collection site located at Danbury Hospital.

The COVID-19 collection site at Danbury Hospital is an alternative location for people suspected of COVID-19 to give a specimen sample for a test; this is instead of going to the emergency department or another medical facility.   You will be given an “Access Pass” after your ID and doctor order are verified. No specimen collection will be done without this pass.

You will be scheduled within one business day of when the test was ordered by your doctor. People without an appointment will only be seen if they have a valid doctor order for a test.  You must bring a Government-issued photo ID and insurance card (if you have one).   It’s important to stay in your vehicle. You will be asked to hold up your ID and insurance card for a photograph.

Only two passengers per vehicle are permitted at the collection site.

It may take up to six days to get your test results back. Your doctor will notify you of the results. Only call your doctor if you have not heard back in seven days.

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Danbury Schools set up learning packet, food distribution plans

Grab and go meals will be available daily throughout the Danbury Public School district beginning Tuesday, March 17th. Your child needs to accompany you to the grab and go. You can drive up and a meal will be delivered to you or stations will be available for a walk up pick up; please refrain from congregating in a single area.

Locations and times could change the following week. Any changes will be communicated via a robocall.

If you have any questions or have challenges getting to one of these locations, you can email: schoolnutrition@danbury.k12.ct.us

The locations for the upcoming week (March 17-March 20) from the hours 8:00-11:30 a.m. are as follows:

? Mill Ridge Primary School, 49A High Ridge Road, Danbury, CT 06811

? Rogers Park Middle School, 21 Memorial Drive, Danbury, CT 06810

? Stadley Rough School, 25 Karen Road, Danbury, CT 06811

? Shelter Rock School, 2 Crows Nest Lane, Danbury, CT 06810

? Morris Street Elementary School, 28 Morris Street, Danbury, CT 06810

? Ellsworth Avenue School, 53 Ellsworth Avenue, Danbury, CT 06810

? New Hope Baptist Church, 12 Dr. Aaron B Samuels Blvd, Danbury, CT 06810

Breakfast and lunch will be offered at the same time.

 

*K-5 Learning Packets will also be available at food distribution sites.

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Bethel Schools announce meal distribution plans

The Bethel Public School District has announced a program to provide  breakfast and lunch for kids affected by the school shutdown, Beginning on Wednesday--until schools reopen.  The Bethel School District will be providing a “grab and go” lunch and breakfast at Berry School in the back parking lot. This program is offered to all children enrolled in the Bethel Public Schools and their siblings age 18 and under. There is no charge for these meals. This program will be offered Monday through Friday from 10am to noon.  Milk will be available in a cooler with ice. Parents can drive up to the area, get out of the car, get breakfast and lunch and staff will check off the names on a school roster to verify enrollment.

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New Milford school officials open building to allow students to pick up belongings

Governor Lamont has directed schools in the state to close for the next several weeks.  New Milford High School will be open for limited hours today for students and families to retrieve essential items such as medication and computers.   Students will be allowed to go to their lockers, music rooms and PE lockers between 10am and noon, and 4pm to 6pm.  Items  left in classrooms will be handled on a case by case basis and an administrator will escort the student in and out the classroom. All New Milford Public Schools will be closed through March 27th.  School based SAT testing originally scheduled for the 25th has been postponed to either April 28th or 29th.

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Putnam County Executive declares State of Emergency

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has declared a State of Emergency, which will allow the county to share resources more efficiently and better respond to the rapidly evolving epidemic of Coronavirus.  Odell says schools will be closed as of today for an initial five day period, with an option to extend it for another five days.  No classroom or extracurricular activities may take place at the schools.  Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley suspended all visitation to the Putnam County Correctional Facility.

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Kent officials partially activate Emergency Operations Center

Kent officials have  partially activated the Emergency Operations Center, which has been moved from the Kent Firehouse to the ancillary office in the Town Clerk's Office. An Incident Action Plan is in development and a Unified Command team is being assembled.  The Kent Food Bank remains open with a modified protocol in place for use. Participants must be enrolled in Social Service in order to use the Food Bank.  All visitors at Kent Town Hall are required to sign in when they arrive at the individual department. Staff have been instructed to ask visitors to wash their hands before conducting business.

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Ridgefield closes Parks & Rec buildings

Ridgefield’s First Selectman, as well as the town Health Director and Emergency manager remain in daily contact with other towns, the state health department and the state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.  Health Director Ed Briggs says the fear-driven purchasing and hoarding that has hit local stores lately is unnecessary and inventories will return as merchants’ warehouses work through backorders.  The Ridgefield Parks and Recreation buildings at Danbury Road and Yanity Gym are closed until further notice.  All indoor programs are postponed.  Outdoor facilities are all open including the town's parks, trails, walks and the dog park.

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Danbury gets new Emergency Manager, Airport Administrator

Danbury Director of Emergency Management Paul Estefan has retired.  He also served as Danbury Airport Administrator.  Assistant Administrator Mike Safranek had his official first day in the leadership role earlier this month. 

As for the duties of Emergency Management, the role is currently being split between Fire Chief TJ Weidl and Health Director Lisa Morrissey. 

Depending on the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, Mayor Mark Boughton is asking the public to be flexible.  The City is considering steps to take for public events and meetings.  He says it's possible there could be more virtual meetings to limit the amount of groups getting together.  

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Man accused of animal cruelty in Danbury dies by suicide in Bethel

Bethel Police say a man has died by suicide.  Danbury Police were searching for a missing person Friday morning whom they believed to possibly be suicidal.  The man was tracked to the area of Pawloski Lumber in Bethel.

In a news release, Bethel police said Danbury officers located the missing person in the rear of the lumber yard and found him to be armed with a 30/30 lever action rifle.  Officers urged the man to drop his weapon, but he di not comply and shot himself.  The man died on the scene of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Bethel police say the victim’s name is not being released at this time.  But News 12 Connecticut has identified the man dog trainer Eddie Simon, locally known as “Eddie the Dog Guy.”  Simon was charged by Danbury Police on Thursday with 15 counts of animal cruelty.  The dogs under his care when police served the arrest warrant were turned over to the Animal Control unit.

In that case, Danbury Police said investigators came across the poorly cared for dogs when animal control officers accompanied a member of the city’s Unified Neighborhood Task Force Team on a blight investigation at Simon's property.

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Bethel teen charged for alleged shooting of family member

Bethel Police have charged a 16-year old with manslaughter and assault.  Police say the teen allegedly shot a family member in the chest with a BB gun Friday night.  The family member later died at the hospital.

Bethel police responded to a call about a disturbance shortly after 6:30pm Friday.  EMS also responded to the scene and found the victim with a small chest wound.  Police say the victim stopped breathing and CPR was administered.

The teen, who was not named because of age, was transferred to the custody of the Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Center.

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Officials caution residents against flushing baby wipes

Concerns about coronavirus have led to shopping sprees for things like hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and toilet paper.  The Town Of Bethel is advising residents that baby wipes or any other products in place of toilet paper do not break down well and may lead to a blockage in septic systems and subsequent sewer backups.  It is strongly suggested that if these products are used, they be disposed of in the trash and not flushed.

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Putnam County law enforcement stepping up DWI patrols

Law enforcement agencies in Putnam County will participate in a special enforcement effort to crackdown on impaired driving this weekend.  The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts will end on March 18th.  Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley says St. Patrick’s Day weekend is a notoriously deadly period for impaired driving due to the number of celebrations and drivers on the road. Langley says people can help make a difference by having a Sober Plan.  Their mobile app - “Have a Plan” will help people find a safe ride home. www.stopdwi.org/mobileapp

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King Street student plays New York City's famed Carnegie Hall

A Danbury fifth grader from King Street Intermediate School was chosen to play in February on New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall stage.  Lucia Trudo competed in the Crescendo International Music Competition in December.  She's been playing the piano for five years and practices at least an hour a day and takes weekly piano lessons. The nonprofit youth music competition for musicians ages five through 22 held annually since 2007 through the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. The competition is open to all instrumentalists (piano, strings and winds), vocalists, duets and ensembles.  Trudo plays in the worship band at the children’s service at Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel.

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Six additional Conn. residents test positive for COVID-19

Six additional state residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number to 11.  The new cases are not related to international travel.

State epidemiologist Dr. Matthew Cartter says the new cases involve residents from Darien, Greenwich, Westport and Bethlehem.

They are: a woman between the ages of 30 and 40 from Bethlehem, a man between the ages of 60 and 70 from Bethlehem, a woman between the ages of 40 and 50 from Westport, a man between the ages of 50 and 60 in Darien, a man between the ages of 40 and 50 in Greenwich and a man between the ages of 20 and 30 in Greenwich.

Cartter says the younger Greenwich man tested positive in Utah and currently remains there.

As of Friday, 136 coronavirus have been tests completed in Connecticut.  125 of were reported to be negative. This data includes tests from state and private labs.

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Ridgefield declares local state of emergency, Bethel activates EOC

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi declared a local State of Emergency for the Town.  

This action gives the greatest possible operational flexibility to departments involved in COVID-19 response, recovery and mitigation.  The declaration does not indicate a major change in the local situation, but rather parallels the declaration made by Governor Lamont and facilitates dealings with state and federal authorities as necessary.

Bethel has partially activated its emergency operations center in response to the evolving information now available about the spread of the novel coronavirus.  Bethel Public Schools will remain closed through Friday, March 27th.  The Bethel Senior Center will also remain closed through March 27, at which time the threat level will be reevaluated.  Senior Center van service is suspended through March 27th.   Parks & Recreation programs are suspended through March 27th. 

The Bethel Public Library is curtailing hours of operation. The Bethel municipal center remains open for business during regular hours at this time.

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Municipalities, police cancel events and change services due to coronavirus concerns

With guidance from the City of Danbury, the Police Department will not be issuing Parade or Public Assembly Permits until further notice, out  of an abundance of caution due to the COVID-19 virus.

Redding Social Services officials have issued a statement about Food Pantry use.  The understand that this is a difficult time, particularly for families with children who may have received free or reduced lunch services at school.  Redding residents can call the social services department at at 203-938-9725 to schedule an appointment to use the pantry. The office will be open Monday through Friday.

The Newtown Senior Center will be suspending all classes, programs and tours, until further notice.   The exceptions to this will be the Mondays AARP Tax Program and the Monday through Thursday Lunch Program. The Newtown Senior Center will remain open during this time and officials will continue to monitor and follow all guidance from the Newtown Health District and the State Department of Health. 

Redding Social Services officials have issued a statement about Food Pantry use.  The understand that this is a difficult time, particularly for families with children who may have received free or reduced lunch services at school.  Redding residents can call the social services department at at 203-938-9725 to schedule an appointment to use the pantry. The office will be open Monday through Friday.

Danbury Public Library will close to the public beginning March 13th.  Staff will still be available via phone and email during normal business hours. The book drop located outside of the building will be available for returns of all kinds including books, electronic devices and museum passes.  Library officials are reminding residents that they have many digital services available for free, such as e-books and e-audiobooks; streaming TV, movie and music services.

The Town of New Fairfield St Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday March 14th has been cancelled. 

The Penguin Plunge Candlewood hosted by Brookfield Police Department scheduled for March 15th has been postponed to a date to be determined.  The event was a benefit for Special Olympics Connecticut. 

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Brookfield firefighters extinguish chimney blaze

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to Brookfield Meadows shortly before 9pm and found fire and smoke conditions.  Firefighters accessed the roof and deployed chimney chains and “snuffer” down the chimney.  Interior crews cleaned all the burning debris from the wood stove. Firefighters were on scene for little more than an hour.  Firefighters are reminding homeowners to have their chimneys, fireplaces and wood stoves cleaned and inspected at least annually to prevent fires like this one.

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Greater Danbury area schools close as a precaution to prevent spread of COVID-19

Bethel School officials have been notified that an attendee at a national conference which several High School students and staff attended, tested positive for COVID-19.  None of the students or staff are presenting with symptoms. Bethel Schools are closed Friday, March 13.  Superintendent Christine Carver plans to provide an update Friday when they have more information, including if they have to extend the closing.

Brookfield Public Schools will be closed beginning Friday, March 13, 2020 through Friday, March 27, 2020.  District officials will provide updates next week.

Danbury Public Schools are closing Friday, March 13th. The decision to close the schools for the next two weeks was made out of an abundance of caution due to the evolving Coronavirus situation. 

All Newtown Public Schools will be closed for Teacher Professional Development day Friday, March 13.  No students should report to school.

New Fairfield Public Schools and offices will be closed until further notice.

New Milford Public Schools will be closed until further notice.  The town has no known exposure in the district at this time.  The district's website will provide students with links and recommendations to online learning websites for those who are interested in maintaining skills during the closure. No New Milford Public School employees should report to work.

All schools in Easton, Redding and Region 9 will be closed from Friday, March 13, 2020 through and including Friday, March 20, 2020. School offices and Central Office will remain open until further notice.

Ridgefield Public Schools will be closed until further notice.  District officials say additional information will be forthcoming.

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Libraries closing, events being cancelled due to coronavirus concerns

Elmwood Hall Senior Center in Danbury is cancelling all programs except the Breakfast Program, Senior Nutrition Lunch program, and the AARP Tax Assistance Program. We will continue to administer the State of CT Rent Rebate program. The Elmwood Hall Senior Center will remain open to assist seniors, but all activities, programs and events, except for those mentioned above have been cancelled until the end of March.

Danbury Public Library will close to the public beginning March 13th.  Staff will still be available via phone and email during normal business hours. The book drop located outside of the building will be available for returns of all kinds including books, electronic devices and museum passes.  Library officials are reminding residents that they have many digital services available for free, such as e-books and e-audiobooks; streaming TV, movie and music services.

Out of an abundance of caution, the Brookfield Senior Center will suspend all classes, programs and events effective Friday, March 13.  Officials will reassess this policy as they receive new information.  The Friday AARP Tax Preparation Program and our Monday-Thursday Lunch Program will continue during this time. The Senior Center will remain open during normal business hours and staff will be available to answer questions.

Mark Twain Library in Redding will close through March 22.

The New Fairfield Library and Senior Center will be closed to the public until further notice. 

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce is postponing their Annual Eggs & Issues Legislative Breakfast, scheduled for March 27th.  Governor Ned Lamont was scheduled to be the keynote speaker.  PJ Prunty says they will announce the new date as soon as it becomes available.  Those who have already registered will remain on the guest list for the new date.  Anyone unable to attend the new date will receive a refund.

The Town of New Fairfield St Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday March 14th has been cancelled.

The Penguin Plunge Candlewood hosted by Brookfield Police Department scheduled for March 15th has been postponed to a date to be determined.  The event was a benefit for Special Olympics Connecticut. 

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Conn. Gov. issues executive orders to deal with COVID-19

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed an order Thursday banning gatherings of 250 people or more to slow the spread of the coronavirus, while personally recommending people avoid even smaller crowds.

The Democrat’s order, which also waives the requirement that schools be in session for 180 days — giving districts flexibility with closures related to the virus — comes as additional people have tested positive in the state, including a child.

“This is highly infectious, COVID-19,” Lamont said. “I think 250 will be our limit. I’m recommending stay out of any groups of 100 or more. I just think that’s the safe way to go.”

Lamont’s order affecting large gatherings applies to social and recreational activities, including but not limited to concerts, movie screenings, performances, community events and recreational activities. The prohibition will remain in effect until April 30, unless modified by another order. Violators could face criminal penalties.

A total of six people in Connecticut have tested positive for the virus, state officials said, as more schools around Connecticut announced closures to try to slow the spread of the illness. As of Thursday afternoon, 19 districts had closed schools or are scheduled to close schools in the next day or two, according to the state’s education commission.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, COVID-19 can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

State epidemiologist Matthew Cartter said Thursday he expects 10-20% of Connecticut residents could be infected in the next two months. If there’s a second wave of infections in the fall, he said 70% of the state’s population could be infected.

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NURSING HOME VISITS

Lamont’s executive order eases an earlier, unpopular restriction on visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Instead of no visitors, the order allows the state’s public health commissioner to limit visits to “at least one family member, domestic partner or other person designated by the patient” each day; a patient’s attorney or conservator; Probate Court officials; and anyone authorized by law to oversee or investigate care and services in facilities.

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STATE CAPITOL CLOSURE

Connecticut lawmakers were informed the state Capitol complex in Hartford will be temporarily closed until March 30 because of the latest public health information concerning the virus. In a email from House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, lawmakers were told that legislative leaders realize this will conflict with committee deadlines to act on bills and they are “contemplating ways to continue business following this suspension.” Legislative staff are being asked to work from home during the two-week period.

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FLU SHOTS

At a news conference earlier in the day, Lamont urged state residents to get a flu shot to stay healthy and help to ease the burden on hospitals that are bracing for patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

“We are worried about emergency rooms. They could be overrun,” said Lamont, who spoke after touring Sanofi’s Protein Sciences lab in Meriden that is conducting research for a possible vaccine for the virus.

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VACCINE RESEARCH

Officials at Sanofi’s Protein Sciences said Thursday their scientists in Meriden have been working for the past several weeks on a possible COVID-19 vaccine they hope may be ready for clinical trials by the end of the year.

Dozens of research groups around the world are racing to create a vaccine as case numbers continue to grow. Some are at more advanced stages and could start first-step testing soon.

“We are at the beginning of the stages,” said Mireli Fino, the site head in Meriden. “The first stages are going as fast we can. The rest of our group is waiting and they are preparing. we’re all preparing to be ready for our next stage.”

If all goes well, some initial manufacturing would be done in Meriden, as well.

While the various researchers at work on a vaccine are pursuing different types, Fino said information is being shared among them.

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COURTHOUSE CHANGES

The Connecticut Judicial Branch announced Thursday that all jury trials, civil and criminal — with the exception of jury trials currently in progress and trials involving defendants whose motion for a speedy trial has been granted — will be suspended for the next 30 days.

Also, all federal courts in Connecticut have delayed jury selections and trials to at least April 10. They’ve also began limiting access to courthouses to screen out “high-risk” people, include those who have traveled to China, Italy, New Rochelle and other hotspot locations within the past 14 days.

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PRISON VISITS

The Connecticut Department of Correction has suspended all visitation at state prisons and is barring volunteers from entering the facilities. The department also is suspending all community inmate work crews, limiting the transfer of inmates from facility to facility, and cutting back on recreation, limiting access to one housing unit at a time in each prison.

The Department said it has negotiated with its telephone provider, Securus, to allow inmates to have two free phone calls each week for the next 30 days, in an effort to mitigate the loss of visitation. There have so far been no suspected cases of COVID-19 inside any state prison.

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DMV DEADLINES

Lamont’s executive order authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner extend licensing renewal deadlines. The goal is to reduce large crowds at DMV branches throughout the state. The order also relaxes restrictions on certain trucks carrying relief supplies.

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Redding officials make changes to town services due to coronavirus

At present there are no known cases of the coronavirus in Redding.  Out of an abundance of caution, all Park and Recreation and Heritage Center programs at the Redding Community Center are cancelled until further notice. The extended day childcare program will remain open until the end of day today, and then close until further notice.  First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton says she understands that these decisions will impact Redding residents, but they are being made in the best interests of the community as a whole.  The Superintendent and administrators of Easton, Redding, Region 9 schools are working closely with local and state departments of public health, as well as the state department of education, and are engaged in contingency planning in the event of a school closing.

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Ridgefield Schools cancel field trips, make other changes

Ridgefield Schools have postponed all in-state and out-of-state field trips through May 1st as a precaution because of coronavirus.  The district is trying to reschedule trips when there is no longer a public health risk.  All school day and after school large gatherings scheduled through May 1st are also being postponed.  Athletic information related to each sport will be emailed to those who register. As of today, spring sports tryouts and practices will occur as scheduled.  Decisions on those will be made before March 21st.  The Ridgefield School District's Facilities Department continues to clean schools with EPA approved disinfectants.  Custodians continue to be vigilant in ensuring that all high touch surfaces are properly disinfected and sanitized several times during the day and evening.  All student transportation providers are disinfecting vehicles every day.

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Man arrested for Jan. shooting at Danbury restaurant

A Danbury man has been arrested in connection to the shooting at Costello’s restaurant in January.  Danbury Police say 29-year old Andrew Fermin was taken into custody by detectives and the U.S. Marshalls Violent Fugitive Task Force yesterday. 

On January 11th, Danbury Police responded to the ER on a report of a man and woman being treated for gunshot wounds in their legs.  Both were in the restaurant's bar area when a fight broke out between Fermin and the male victim.   Fermin fired off one shot, as he was falling to the floor after being struck.  A projectile from the fired pistol passed through the male victim’s leg and then entered the female victim’s leg. 

Fermin was already wanted for absconding from parole and on an active arrest warrant from a gun-related incident in Danbury from February 2018.  Fermin was charged with criminal possession of a firearm, unlawful discharge, reckless endangerment, carrying a pistol without a permit and two counts of assault. 

Related, Danbury Police say the management of Costello's violated State  liquor laws, and the incident was referred to the Connecticut Liquor Commission for further action.

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Mahopac man convicted of child rape charges

A Mahopac man has been convicted of two counts of Rape and Sexual Conduct Against a Child.   Khori Salmon was convicted Wednesday.  Putnam County District Attorney Robert Tendy says the crimes began when Salmon lived in the Bronx, where he sexually abused his nine-year-old victim. Salmon moved to Putnam County in 2017, and his abuse continued, cumulating in the rape of the then twelve-year-old victim on two occasions at his home in January 2018.  Sentencing is scheduled for May 6th. The defendant faces a maximum of 25 years in state prison.  Tendy commended the  courage and resolve of the young victim throughout this ordeal.

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Newtown Police Department needs to hire School Traffic Agent immediately

The Newtown Police Department has a position open that needs to be filled immediately.  The Newtown Police Department is looking for a School Traffic Agent. Duties will include directing traffic flow and school bus movement into and out of school parking lots during the school year.  Traffic agent works approximately 20 hours per week. Daily assignments will include a 2-hour block of traffic in the morning from 7:30am to 9:30am and 2-hours in the afternoon from 2:15pm to 4:15pm.  The position is paid 16-dollars an hour. Uniform and Training are provided.  Applicants must be 18 years or older, have current driver’s license and undergo background investigation.

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Danbury, Bethel, Newtown schools to close

Bethel School officials have just been notified that an attendee at a national conference which several High School students and staff attended, tested positive for COVID-19.  The district has been in contact with those families and they will be monitoring themselves for symptoms. None of the students or staff are presenting with symptoms.

In an abundance of caution the Bethel School District is closing school Friday, March 13 to assess the situation with the Bethel Director of Health and the Director of Emergency Management.

Superintendent Christine Carver says this is a low risk situation.  She plans to provide an update Friday when they have more information, including if they have to extend the closing.

Danbury Public Schools are closing Friday, March 13th until further notice. The decision to close the schools was made out of an abundance of caution due to the evolving corornavirus situation. 

All Newtown Public Schools will be closed for Teacher Professional Development day Friday, March 13.  No students should report to school.

Elmwood Hall Senior Center in Danbury is cancelling all programs except the Breakfast Program, Senior Nutrition Lunch program, and the AARP Tax Assistance Program. We will continue to administer the State of CT Rent Rebate program. The Elmwood Hall Senior Center will remain open to assist seniors, but all activities, programs and events, except for those mentioned above have been cancelled until the end of March.

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Bethel Registrars confirm precautions taken to protect health of referendum voters

Some 900 Bethel voters participated in a water tank project referendum Tuesday.  In light of the public concerns about potential spread of coronavirus, the Bethel Registrar of Voters say they took measures to protect both poll workers and voters.  When setting up the polling places, they used Clorox wipes to clean table tops, privacy booths, marker pens and voting equipment. Checkers did a hands-free inspection of voter IDs. Rather than handing each voter a privacy folder, Ballot Clerks point to them. Most voters declined the folders. After each voter placed their ballot in the ballot scanner, the Tabulator Tenders directed voters to the place their folders in a box. During the day, neither the tickets or folders were reused. Also through out the day, the Assistant Registrars cleaned the pens and privacy booths with Clorox wipes. Hand sanitizer was also available at the polling places.

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Brewster Fire Departments asks residents to alert them if quarantined due to COVID-19

The Brewster Fire Department is calling on residents to help them keep first responders safe.  As a precaution during the COVID-19 outbreak, anyone quarantined in their home due to possible or confirmed COVID-19 exposure is asked to notify the Brewster Fire Department. 

This can be done via email, chiefs@brewsterfiredepartment.org, or by placing a sign/note on the front door to alert firefighters and EMS personnel to take infection-prevention precautions before entering the home.  Any Brewster resident calling 911 for an emergency is asked to tell the dispatcher so the information can be relayed to responding emergency services personnel. 

There has been an entire fire company quarantined in Westchester county after they responded to a quarantined home and were not alerted before entering. 

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New Milford officials to hold live stream COVID-19 planning meeting

New Milford officials are continuing to monitor the COVID-19 situation. Mayor Pete Bass says there continues to be a global shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and others who need to be in the presence of someone who may be infected with COVID-19, the State of Connecticut has made an emergency request from the Strategic National Supply for a total of 540,000 additional N-95 protective masks.  The New Milford Coronavirus task force will be meeting again today at 1:30pm.  They will be updating New Milford residents and answering questions anyone may have concerning the virus. The link is https://youtu.be/TFp66y-_b_M

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WCSU to close through April, holds classes online

West Conn students are on spring break next week, but then the University plans to run all academic programs online starting March 23rd, through April 3rd. University officials say this will allow them to continue to enhance health and safety protocols on campus. Students will return to campus on April 6th.  All campus events are cancelled through April 30th.  Residence Halls will close at 5pm this Friday. All residential students must return home for the next three weeks, not returning to campus housing until April 5th. Any student who can't meet that deadline should discuss their individual circumstances with the Housing and Residence Life Office.  Teaching Faculty should teach from home, but are allowed to go to their office or use their lab.

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Greater Danbury area schools make plans to deal with coronavirus

Weston Schools are closed until further notice.  Wilton public schools are also closed “until further notice” due to coronavirus concerns.

The Wilton school district released a statement that after being notified that parents of one or more Wilton Public School students have had direct contact with a potentially presumptive positive COVID-19 patient.  As a result of that contact, Wilton Public Schools are closed until further notice. All sports and other activities involving Wilton public school students are suspended until further notice.

Bethel School Superintendent Christine Carver said in a letter to parents that the probability of school closures as a precaution to prevent the spread of coronavirus is likely.  She is asking that families be prepared in case such an event occurs.  Parent/Teacher Conferences may be able to be held via phone or digital communication. 

Carver says Connecticut state law and recent legal guidance has impacted the ability to provide “distance learning.”  In order to receive a waiver for distance learning, the State is requiring that school districts certify that all students have equity in their instruction.  Carver says some families do not have access to the internet, so the district cannot certify that all instruction is equitable. Districts also have to certify that all students have access to their specialized programming written in their IEPs and 504 plans. The Bethel School district would have to accept all legal risk if there were any challenges to providing special education access and/or access to equitable instruction. Given all of these constraints, Bethel will not be in a position to ask for a waiver for distance learning, therefore will have to make up days like they would for snow closures.

The NJROTC is looking for a date to reschedule the military ball, near the end of the school year.  Bethel High School and Johnson Spring Musicals will be moved to June.

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Newtown cancels planned Fairfield Hills campus meeting

Out of an abundance of caution for Newtown residents, the upcoming community conversation on the future of the Fairfield Hills campus scheduled for this Monday, has been canceled.  Alternative arrangements are being planned and First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says they will be announced as soon as possible.  Town officials are discussing future uses and development on the former state psychiatric hospital property.  The Selectmen will hold the Board of Selectmen meeting that night for regular board business; Fairfield Hills will not be discussed.

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Connecticut lawmakers want tougher rules on Sandy Hook fund

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut lawmakers were urged Tuesday to support legislation that would prevent the mixing of money intended help first responders, educators and staff emotionally impacted by the Sandy Hook shooting with any other funds.

The bill comes after a state audit last year found tens of thousands of dollars in philanthropic contributions went missing from a labor organization charity overseeing the fund and were mixed with other money. Various investigations are underway, and the Connecticut AFL-CIO, which is affiliated with the United Labor Agency charity, has said the missing funds were replenished. But lawmakers said more needs to be done to ensure the money for workers still in need of help is properly spent.

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

“We want to make it right. This bill makes it right,” Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, R-Newtown, told members of the Public Safety and Security Committee during a public hearing.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said the top Republican and Democratic leaders of the General Assembly all support the legislation, which also extends the lifespan of the program indefinitely. They said at least one state trooper is currently seeking benefits from the fund.

Both Klarides and Bolinsky last year requested an audit after Bolinsky had been tipped off that two first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder did not receive the benefits they were eligible to receive, although the audit verified that no worker, union or non-union was ultimately denied benefits from the program.

According to the audit, it appears that, “as a result of financial difficulties,” ULA may have used funds from the assistance program “for other purposes.” While union officials have said those funds have since been put back, the lawmakers said they’re uncertain if it has all been replaced.

The audit found that ULA’s financial statements showed a fluctuating balance in the fund since 2014 -- including a deficit at one point. As of Sept. 30, 2019, it was $41,977.

Sal Luciano, who is president of both the Connecticut AFL-CIO and the United Labor Agency, said last year the audit report “came as a shock and a disappointment” to him and the rest of the board and promised there would be an investigation.

Besides, the ULA, the state attorney general and state auditors are further looking into the matter. Klarides said she and Bolinsky also forwarded information to the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office for a possible criminal investigation.

The bill awaits a committee vote.

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Suit filed over Sandy Hook-inspired law limiting gun rounds

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gun rights supporters are suing Connecticut officials over part of a 2013 state gun control law passed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, saying it unconstitutionally bans people from loading more than 10 rounds of ammunition into their firearms.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court cites the Second Amendment right to bear arms and the ability of people to better defend themselves with more bullets in their guns.

“Law abiding gun owners in Connecticut are left more susceptible to harm or death by being limited in their means of self-defense,” Holly Sullivan, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said in a written statement. “Criminals who are intent on doing harm will not follow this same law.”

The defense league, the Second Amendment Foundation and two Connecticut gun owners filed the lawsuit against Public Safety Commissioner James Rovella, state police Col. Stavros Mellekas and Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo Jr., none of whom were in their current jobs when the gun control law was passed.

“This is a legal process, in which they were named as a result of their current position,” said Brian Foley, a top aide to Rovella, who oversees state police. “We will work through this important process, unfortunately we cannot comment further.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that states can regulate firearms to protect public safety, said state Attorney General William Tong, whose office will defend state officials and the gun law.

“Commonsense gun violence prevention measures are clearly constitutional,” Tong said in a written statement. “Reasonable limits on high capacity magazines save lives. The vast majority of the American people support — and demand — these basic public safety measures.”

State officials passed some of the strictest gun control laws in the country after a gunman used an AR-15-style rifle to kill 20 young children and six educators at Sandy Hook in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012.

The laws included a ban on ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets. People who owned “large capacity” magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition before the law took effect were required to notify the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection and were allowed to keep them, but are prohibited from putting more than 10 rounds in them.

Gun control supporters say the law can save lives by limiting how many bullets a shooter can fire before having to reload. It was approved by former Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, and the Democratic-controlled legislature.

But gun rights supporters say that magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are considered standard and that many firearms are not available with magazines that hold fewer than 10 rounds.

“This law does nothing more than penalize law-abiding citizens while criminalizing components of handguns they own that were previously legal,” said Allan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue, Washington.

The two gun owners suing the state are Susan Ross, of East Haddam, and Domenic Basile, of Watertown, who both own handguns with magazines designed to hold more than 10 rounds.

“A person with 15 rounds of ammunition available will be better able to defend himself or herself from a criminal gang, or from a drug-crazed criminal who continues attacking even after being shot, than a person who has only 10 rounds of ammunition available before they must reload their gun,” the lawsuit says.

Po Murray, chairwoman of the Newtown Action Alliance, said the lawsuit should be dismissed in the interest of public safety and public health. The alliance was formed to prevent gun violence after the Sandy Hook shooting.

“Assault weapons and high capacity magazines are the weapons of choice for mass shooters,” she said. “The U.S. Constitution must protect the lives of innocent children and adults in schools not the gun lobby’s pursuit of profits selling weapons of war designed to efficiently kill maximum number of people.”

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Bethel School officials reviewing events to cancel, postpone

Bethel Public Schools, like many surrounding school districts, will be rescheduling or cancelling some upcoming events as a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

There have been questions about why schools aren't closing.  District officials say the recommendation is just for activities to be postponed or cancelled is because children are not affected by the virus in the same way as adults. In school, they are able to effectively monitor the overall health of students and ensure prevention protocols are properly implemented.  They are, however, unable to extend monitoring to community members such as parents and grandparents. 

Bethel School officials are focusing on events leading up to April vacation, trying to reschedule each event in late May or June.  But they are also looking at later events that may impact students or families financially, such as the Junior Prom, to minimize the impact.

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Ridgefield First Selectman orders partial activation of Emergency Operations Center

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi has ordered partial activation of the Ridgefield Emergency Operations Center to function as a multiagency coordination center to support the town’s response to Covid-19.  Town and school officials have met several times over the last two weeks to assure continuity of operations of community services.  Ridgefield Health Director Ed Briggs is the Covid-19 incident commander. Participants in the Policy Group include department heads from all municipal agencies and public/private schools.  The Ridgefield EOC provides a path for rapid response to the Covid-19 challenge and assures, to the extent possible, the best use of local resources.

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Injured hiker rescued from Southford Falls State Park

Southbury Firefighters were dispatched to Southford Falls State Park yesterday to assist EMS with an injured hiker in the woods. Fire personnel, along with Southbury Police, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and EMS, secured the patient and carried them out of the woods where they were transported to the hospital.

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Easton Police participate in 'Blue Envelope' program

The Easton Police Department is participating in the Blue Envelope program which went into effect in Connecticut January 1st.  The initiative was created to enhance communication between a police officer and a driver with autism spectrum disorder.  An insurance card, registration and driver license can be placed in it and handed to the officer during a traffic stop.  Helpful tips and instructions for both the officer and driver are printed on the outside on how to successfully communicate with each other.  Envelopes can be picked up at Easton Police, any DMV location, driving schools and through autism advocacy groups.

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Gov. declares civil preparedness and public health emergencies

Governor Ned Lamont has declared civil preparedness and public health emergencies.  The declarations also trigger price gouging laws, and make clear that municipal leaders have emergency powers to mitigate disasters and emergencies.

The second Connecticut resident that tested positive yesterday is a female in her 60s who is a healthcare worker at Bridgeport Hospital and a resident of Bethlehem. She recently returned from a trip to Nevada, where it is believed she contracted COVID-19. She is being treated at Bridgeport Hospital.

While the declarations permit the governor to take certain actions related to the closure of schools and large gatherings, at this time those decisions are still being delegated to local municipal and public health officials as they are on the ground closest to the circumstances in each respective community and are empowered to make the best judgements regarding specific events.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

The emergency statute provide pharmacists the discretion to fill a ninety-day refill of prescription drugs under certain circumstances, even if the original prescription was for a lesser amount. Assuming the other circumstances are met, including coverage under the customer’s health plan, the health insurance carriers will cover the refill quantity dispensed, without additional coinsurance, deductible or other out-of-pocket expense required from the patient. Patients will still be expected to provide the usual coinsurance, deductible, or other out-of-pocket expense associated with a ninety-day refill. Customers who rely on maintenance drugs to treat a chronic or long-term condition should contact their pharmacist to discuss acquiring these refills.

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New Fairfield residents self-quarantine over possible coronavirus exposure

A public school teacher in New Fairfield has self-quarantined.   Superintendent Pat Cosentino said in a letter to parents that the staff member may have been exposed to COVID-19 over the weekend.  The employee did not return to school after the exposure and will not return until after a period of quarantine. 

Cosentino noted that young adults living with New Fairfield families are also self-quarantining after returning from travel abroad, though they have not exhibited any symptoms. 

Meanwhile, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs high school sports in Connecticut, cancelled the state’s remaining high school winter sports championship tournaments. CIAC's Executive Director said some schools said they would not participate and some venues indicated they could not host the events.

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Wlton man with COVID-19 in coma, Region 14 schools closed for cleaning

The Wilton man who first tested positive for COVID-19 in Connecticut is in a medically induced coma at Danbury Hospital.  The man's wife and twin infant sons are quarantined at home. 

The man, in his 40s began showing symptoms shortly after he returned from a work conference in California.  He tested negative for influenza, but positive for coronavirus.  The man eventually developed pneumonia. 

The Region 14 school district, Bethlehem and Woodbury, is closing for the rest of the week after a student came into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.  School officials say the student and their family are not showing any signs of illness and are self-monitoring in their home for 14 days, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

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Danbury Library cancels events, gatherings but remains open

Danbury Public Library is getting daily COVID-19 guidance from the City Public Health Department and the Mayor’s Office.  In the interest of protecting the high-risk populations, the Library is canceling all programs, events, meeting room bookings through the end of the month.  The Library building will continue to operate with standard hours.  As some patrons have asked, the Library does not currently disinfect borrowed materials when they are checked in or as they are browsed or used in-house. Disinfecting these types of items and materials is currently not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Danbury Library is crafting a plan to remove items in children’s areas such as toys, puzzles and other playthings that are difficult to clean and sanitize.

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Easton Police recover Department's stolen speed sign

A speed sign belonging to the Easton Police Department, which was reported stolen early Saturday morning, has been recovered.  The investigation is ongoing.  At the time it turned up missing from the area of Ferndale Drive, police said they were working with the manufacturer to track down the sign using its GPS signal. 

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Two local lawmakers reach across aisle to tackle opioid epidemic

A local Republican and Democratic lawmaker are working together on a piece of legislation to address the opioid epidemic. New Milford State Representative Bill Buckbee and Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan are teaming up with the Morrisey family in support of Brian Codys Law.  The proposal calls for enhanced support systems to help those struggling with opioid addiction, stricter penalties for suppliers of lethal overdoses, better oversight of tracking opioids and waste, and ending safe havens – such as ‘trap houses’ where numerous overdoses occur on a frequent basis.

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Man found dead in river after fatally stabbing woman in New Milford

New Milford Police are investigating a fatal stabbing that happened last night at Young's Field.  Police say a man and a woman were arguing and the 38-year old woman sustained multiple stab wounds to her chest and back, and a wound to her face. 

The woman was treated on scene, but later pronounced dead at the hospital. 

Witnesses told responding Officers that the man jumped into the nearby Housatonic River.  An extensive search was conducted by the K9 unit and the dive rescue team.  The 32-year old man's body was recovered last night. 

Police say the victim and assailant knew each other and believe there is no threat to the public.  The identities of the Danbury residents were not immediately released. 

Anyone with more information is asked to contact New Milford police at 860-355-3133.

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Danbury St Patrick's Day parade cancelled, Fireman's Ball postponed

Danbury City officials are asking organizations to postpone or cancel events with more than 100 people expected to attend as a precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Anyone hosting a large gathering should follow CDC recommendations on how to keep participants safe.  Danbury's St. Patrick's Day Parade and flag raising have been cancelled.  The Danbury Volunteer Fireman's Ball scheduled for this Saturday night is postponed to April 18th. 

Officials continue to discuss how to continue providing City services that the community relies on if or when there's a rise in positive test results. 

A number of previously scheduled campus events at West Conn have been postponed or canceled as a precaution to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  The community is encouraged to look at the online calendar before coming to campus for an event. 

Connecticut residents can now send a text message to get the latest information form the state about Coronavirus, in either English or Spanish.  Residents can text “CTCOVID” to 898211 to get questions answered. People can also call 2-1-1 for information.

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Bethel residents voting on Chestnut Ridge water tank proposal

Bethel residents are voting in a referendum today about a 500,000 gallon Chestnut Ridge water tank project.  The tank would be partially buried in a lot in the woods between Long Meadow Lane and Briar Cliff Manor.  The project is eligible for a state grant and low-interest financing from the state.  The rest would be paid for from customers’ water rates.  Bethel officials say the $2.24 million project is needed to further reduce the need for reservoir water and to increase pressure to the eastern side of town.  Officials added that well water is cleaner than the reservoir.  Polls close at 8pm.

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Brookfield selects Construction Manager for school project

The Brookfield Municipal Building Committee narrowed the list of construction managers for the planned school project down to 4, and at their most recent meeting recommended that O&G Industries be hired.  The architect and owner’s project manager also provided input on the selection.  A new building to replace Huckleberry Hill Elementary would house pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students and lead to the closure of Center Elementary School.

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Infrastructure work today in Redding, Ridgefield

The Redding Highway Department will be working on Hopewell Woods Road starting today, for approximately one week.  The road will be closed from Beck Road to the Newtown town line. 

Redding Residents will be able to access the Transfer Station, detours will be in place. 

Aquarion will be improving infrastructure in Ridgefield today.  The work is being done near Mckeon Place, Taylor Court, Titus Place, and Turner Street.  During the event, customers are asked to use stored water for drinking, cooking, and delay clothes washing. Run your cold water faucet until the water appears clear, prior to resuming use.

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New Fairfield officials to narrow list of qualified construction management service firms

The New Fairfield Permanent Building Committee plans to narrow the list of qualified construction management service firms at its meeting Tuesday for the two school construction projects.  During their meeting last month, School Business and    Operations Director, Rich Sanzo said they are still working toward a possible agreement with a land owner nearby.  Former New Fairfield first selectman Patricia Gay previously said the high school project would surround three sides of her 2-acre Gillotti Road property and is concerned about the value decreasing.  The town could buy the lot.  Residents approved the $84.2 million high school and $29.2 million early learning academy projects in October.  The high school project includes field replacements, locker room renovations and ADA compliance work.  The academy project involves modifications to the Meeting House Hill School, replacement of the bus lot and demolition of the existing Consolidated Elementary School.

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Coronavirus fears spark changes at nursing homes, schools

There are now two positive cases of coronavirus in Connecticut.  The state Department of Public Health has issued a directive to all nursing and convalescent homes imposing restrictions on visitation to constrain the spread of COVID-19. 

All Danbury Public Schools are postponing or canceling any event that will draw large groups of people. Plays, musicals, concerts will be postponed or can modify their event to perform without an audience.  All sporting events will go on as scheduled, but without spectators.  Mayor Mark Boughton is strongly recommending that all public events that draw more than 100 people be canceled or postponed. This would include fundraisers, dances, parades and the like. 

The Connecticut Department of Insurance issued a bulletin on Monday, calling on health insurers and health care centers to waive the cost of COVID-19 testing to “ensure that cost-sharing is not a barrier” to testing.  They’re also being urged to offer and waive fees for medical advice and treatment of COVID-19 via telehealth services. 

Governor Lamont raised concerns during a call on Monday with Vice President Mike Pence about the distribution of federal test kits for COVID-19, considering Connecticut’s proximity to New York, where the coronavirus caseload rose Monday from 105 to 142.  Fairfield County borders New York’s Westchester County, where there is a cluster of cases.  Lamont believes the federal government should be thinking about this more regionally as they figure out who’s going to get priority for those tests. 

LabCorp is fully operational with COVID-19 testing. Quest Diagnostics expects to have testing available soon.

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WCSU postpones Entrepreneur Award breakfast

West Conn's Macricostas Entrepreneur of the Year Award breakfast scheduled for later this month has been postponed to the fall.  University officials say this is a precaution as the Connecticut State University System is urging all gatherings of 100 or more people be cancelled or postponed because of coronavirus. 

Erik Landegren and Andrew Blauner of Bridgewater Chocolate will receive the award at a date to be determined in October. 

Western Connecticut State University designates the Entrepreneur of the Year annually to recognize local business leaders whose drive, intelligence and creativity lead to notable business success. Founded in 1995, the company has since expanded to multiple locations. 

Landegren, a native of Sweden, moved to New York to open the Nordic-style restaurant called Aquavit. Later, he and his wife Patti moved to Bridgewater, where he managed the Bridgewater Village Store and started making chocolates. Blauner joined the operation in 1999 and runs the business side of the company.

Now celebrating the company’s 25th anniversary, Bridgewater Chocolates sends its confections throughout the world, with the bulk of sales coming through mail-order and corporate sales. Retail outlets, including those in Brookfield, Bridgewater and West Hartford, comprise remaining sales.

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Conn. college students urged not to travel for Spring Break

There are new directives from the Connecticut State Colleges and University System when it comes to protecting students and faculty from the potential spread of coronavirus.  All students, faculty, and staff are strongly discouraged from personal travel outside of the state of Connecticut, particularly during spring break.  West Conn, Central, Southern and Eastern students deciding to travel may be required to not return to campus and directed to self-quarantine for 14 days. 

This does not apply to faculty, staff and students who commute to campus for work or classes. 

Students, faculty, and staff are directed to postpone, cancel, or adjust all campus events and meetings, other than classes, that are expected to have 100 or more participants through at least April 30th. This could include using technology to allow remote participation.

Any requested exceptions must be approved by the chief executive of the schools in consultation with the CSCU Chief of Staff.

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No cases of coronavirus, so far, in Putnam County

There are no cases of coronavirus, so far, in Putnam County.  19 Putnam County residents who either returned from mainland China or came in contact with a person who tested positive for coronavirus are being monitored, all were asymptomatic. 

New York state officials have declared a State of Emergency.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says even though no local residents have tested positive, with increased testing she expects there may be some cases.  The Putnam County Health Department has been working for weeks with emergency personnel, law enforcement, school district officials and other relevant agencies to prepare and keep them informed of the rapidly changing conditions.

Health officials urged residents to take simple precautions, like frequent handwashing and staying home if sick, to avoid the spread of COVID-19. They also recommends the “Call Before You Go,” plan.  Before going to the doctor’s office, urgent care or emergency room, call ahead about symptoms and any possible exposure to the virus.

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Southbury Police investigating larceny

The Southbury Police Department is investigating a larceny that occurred at Old Navy on Main Street North Wednesday afternoon.  The suspects are two black females, one wearing a blue denim jacket, blue jeans and braided hair, the other wearing a red jacket, pink sweat pants and a multicolored head scarf. The suspects left the store with two blue and white tote bags filled with unpaid items and took off in a blue sedan. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Officer Pierce of the Southbury Police Department at (203) 264-5912.

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Danbury considers land donation near Richter Park

Danbury is being offered an open space lot near Richter Park.  The lot at 12 Timber Crest Drive borders the golf course.  It's owned by Richard Pane through his Limited Liability Company, Pane Properties LLC.  Corporation Counsel Bob Yamin says the Pane family is not requiring the City to establish any particular restrictions on the land, but the proposal is to hold it as open space.  The City already owns an access easement over the property.  An ad hoc committee of the City Council will look into all of the details to see if it makes sense to take possession of the lot.  If the Council approves accepting the donation, the matter would be referred to the Planning Commission for approval.

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Southbury Police investigating larceny from Walgreens

Southbury Police are searching for three suspects who allegedly stole items from Walgreens on Main Street South Wednesday night.  The three suspects left in a black Chevrolet SUV. 

Police say one suspect, a light-skinned male, threw up hand signs to the camera when entering the store.  He was accompanied by two black women. 

    

(Photos: SPD)

The man had short dark hair and was wearing a black and grey sweatshirt, grey sweatpants, and white shoes.  One of the women had long dark hair and was wearing a black Nike hat, black jacket, dark jeans, and black sneakers, while carrying a large black bag. The other woman had dark hair and was wearing a black sweatshirt, grey jacket, and black sweatpants tucked into white socks with blue sneakers, while carrying a large black bag. 

Anybody with information is asked to contact the Southbury Police Department at 203-264-5912.

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West Conn, Danbury schools evaluating coronavirus precautions

Danbury Schools Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says the administration is continuing to monitor the status of nearby coronavirus cases.  Pascarella says he continues to feel the risk to the community remains low and decided to open school as normal.  In the event that circumstances change, Pascarella plans to send out a robo call and post information to the district website.

West Conn nursing students will not work at Danbury and Norwalk hospitals at least through Spring Break because of the recent coronavirus case.  Students work at the hospitals to  complete academically required training. Hospital and health officials have assured the university that no students worked in the same areas as the infected employee, and have not had contact with the individual. 

After Spring Break, West Conn will reassess the situation.  Similar discussions are taking place regarding student athletes who may have games scheduled out of state.  Training will be held in the coming week to ensure professors can continue the semester by teaching courses online if required.

A free dental clinic planned for later this month at the West Conn has been postponed as a precaution over the potential spread of coronavirus.  The Connecticut Foundation for Dental Outreach is postponing its Mission of Mercy free dental clinic to limit potential exposure to both patients and volunteers. 

The organization is in the process of identifying dates to reschedule the clinic.  Volunteer registration will be reopened for the event once new dates have been selected.

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Brookfield firefighters extinguish brush fire caused by fireplace ash

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to a report of a brush fire yesterday morning  on Music Hill Road.  Firefighters says the blaze  was contained to a 20 by 80 foot area.  It was caused by improperly discarded fire place ashes. Firefighters extinguished the fire within 30 minutes.  Fire Company officials are reminding everyone to exercise caution when disposing of fireplace or wood stove ashes as they will retain heat for up to a week.  Yesterday the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection had rated the fire danger as high.  That means outdoor burning, even with a permit, is not allowed.

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Easton Police Captain named next Chief of Police

The Easton Police Commission has unanimously selected Captain Richard Doyle to be the next Chief of Police for the Town. Doyle will be promoted on April 6th.  He's been a member of the Easton Police Department for 32 years and also performs the duties of Emergency Management Director for the Town.  Doyle graduated from the New York City Police Academy in 1986 where he started his law enforcement career in the New York City Police Department.  He is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy.  Easton's current Chief Tim Shaw was announced last month as the new Police Chief in Stamford.

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Allegedly armed, suicidal man engages police in two-hour long standoff

An allegedly armed and suicidal man held police in a stand off at his Southeast home for about two hours Thursday night.  The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call of a family member about the man pointing a shotgun at himself and expressing thoughts of suicide. 

Sheriff’s Deputies, New York State Troopers and members of the Carmel Police Department were met with the family member who confirmed that the man was still inside the home.  With the help of the family member, they were able to contact the 20 year old male, who refused to come out. 

Authorities evacuated several nearby residences. 

A special weapons and tactics unit comprised of Sheriff’s Deputies and Officers from the Carmel and Kent Police Departments–was dispatched to the scene.  They were able to persuade the young man to surrender himself peacefully.  He was transported to Putnam Hospital Center in Carmel for a mental health evaluation. 

A shotgun and shotgun shells were recovered from inside the home.

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Danbury Health officials detail quarantine, isolation differences for coronavirus

Quarantine and isolation are both legal terms.  Danbury Health Department director Lisa Morrissey acknowledged that the word quarantine sounds scary, but in context, it's just asking for movement restrictions. 

Morrissey explained that quarantine is asking people who are not exhibiting symptoms of a disease, but could develop them at some point, to confine themselves to one location.  Isolation is for someone actively symptomatic being confined to one location. 

She says quarantine is something done often, for a variety of reasons including suspected tuberculosis, measles or other similar illnesses. 

Since February 5th, approximately 200 state residents returning to Connecticut from other countries have been under self-monitoring following guidance from the CDC due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Travel guidance issued by the CDC advises anyone returning from China, Iran, Italy, Japan, and South Korea to stay home for a 14-day period of self-monitoring.

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Car stolen from Ridgefield driveway found in Waterbury

The Ridgefield Police Department is investigating a report of a motor vehicle stolen from Norrans Ridge Drive during the early morning hours on Saturday.  Police say multiple vehicles were also rummaged through in the Wilton Road West and Rockwell Road area. The stolen vehicle has been recovered in Waterbury, and police are asking that the public continues to help by locking cars overnight.  Anyone with information or security footage that could assist in the investigation is asked to contact the Ridgefield Police Department at (203)438-6531 or the Tip Line at (203)431-2345.

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10 Connecticut companies sign 2030 gender equity pledge

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Ten major private-sector companies in Connecticut have pledged to close the gender gap in corporate leadership over the next decade.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, who last year called on companies to support the priorities of the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls, lauded the 10 firms that have signed onto the national Paradigm gor Parity pledge to achieve gender parity by 2030.

“I applaud these companies for actively working towards fighting gender inequality in corporate leadership and for leading by example as the first ten companies in our state to sign the Paradigm for Parity Pledge,” Bysiewicz said in a written statement.

“This is a critical step towards closing the gender pay gap and ensuring that all women working in our state have equal opportunities for success,” she said, noting there are only 36 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S.

The participating companies include Ridgefield-based Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Cigna, CVS Health (including Aetna), Eversource Energy, Frontier Communications, KeyCorp/KeyBank, Stanley Black and Decker, Synchrony Financial, The Hartford, and United Technologies Corporation.

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Fire in Danbury home displaces two residents, 4 dogs

Residents have been displaced by a fire at their Ball Pond Road home.  Danbury Fire Department, with mutual aid from Ball Pond Fire Company of New Fairfield, responded to the scene late Saturday night.  An addition tanker, emergency medical services, and police, along with Eversource also responded.  The fire was deemed under control in under half an hour.  Fire officials say there was some difficulty getting to some pockets of fire forcing crews to conduct an extensive overhaul of the residence. Red cross was requested to the scene for two adults and 4 dogs.  The Danbury Fire Marshal’s Office is in the process of investigating the cause.  There were no injuries reported. Units cleared the scene a little before midnight.

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Two Danbury women arrested for alleged drug sales

Two Danbury women have been arrested on a number of drug related offenses.  Police received neighbor complaints about illegal sales weeks ago and police launched an investigation into 56-year old Barbara Fleckenstein and 33-year old Erin Melissa Rusek.  On Wednesday afternoon, officers set up surveillance outside their Lake Breeze Drive home.  They were stopped after attempting to drive away.  Police found  a substantial quantity of crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin and money.  The pair was also in possession of a scale and packaging material.  Rusek, who is nine months pregnant, and Fleckenstein were each charged with 3 counts of possession and possession with intent to sell and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.  Both were released on bond.

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Wilton man is Conn.'s first presumptive case of COVID-19

The Connecticut Department of Public Health State Laboratory has confirmed the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease, COVID-19, involving a Connecticut resident. The patient, a resident of Wilton who is 40 to 50 years of age, is being treated at Danbury Hospital. The person most likely became infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 during a recent trip to California and sought medical care shortly after returning to Connecticut.

This presumptive COVID-19 case is not related to the COVID-19 case involving a Danbury Hospital employee who is a resident of New York State that was announced on Friday, or the COVID-19 case involving a community physician who made rounds at Bridgeport Hospital and is also a New York State resident that was announced on Saturday.

This case is considered a presumptive positive case until it is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Extensive contact tracing is being done on this case. All people who have had direct, face-to-face contact with this person are being instructed to stay home and self-isolate.

Risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 is considered low for people who had contact with an individual who does not have COVID-19 and does not have symptoms.  In other words, a contact of a contact is considered low risk.

To date, 29 people had negative test results at the Connecticut DPH State Laboratory.  Eight test results are pending.  Governor Ned Lamont encouraged anyone with questions about how to protect yourself and your family from this virus to go online at ct.gov/coronavirus to obtain important guidance and other information or call the 2-1-1 info line.

Dr. John Murphy, president and CEO of Nuvance Health, the hospital system that includes Danbury Hospital, said, “First, we want our patient and their family to know that we are here for them, and to our other patients, staff, volunteers, and communities, we are working around the clock to contain the spread of COVID-19. Second, it’s important to emphasize that this patient is in no way related to the hospital employee from New York who tested positive for the virus. This patient’s infection is connected to recent out-of-state travel. We understand there is a lot of concern. Please know that we have been preparing for this new outbreak for the last several weeks, and we have years of experience effectively dealing with infectious diseases.

There are many respiratory illnesses circulating in Connecticut, such as the flu and the common cold. Having respiratory symptoms does not mean that you have COVID-19.  People are at higher risk for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of the virus (cough, fever, shortness of breath) AND if they were a contact of a positive case of COVID-19, or have traveled to country with community transmission, such as China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Japan.

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Local lawmaker weighs in on proposed recreational marijuana legalization bill

Connecticut lawmakers are again considering bills about recreational marijuana legalization. Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan recently  hosted a Community Conversation about the idea and said the greatest concern was about enforcing driving under the influence laws given the lack of specific tests for marijuana impairment.  Allie-Brennan says this year's proposal includes increased support for additional drug recognition experts in the State and training for public safety professionals to better recognize drivers impaired by any substance, including cannabis and prescription drugs.

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Ridgefield Girl Scout to build community garden at school for Gold Award project

A Ridgefield Girl Scout is building a community garden in front of the silo and barn at Farmingville Elementary School for her Gold Award.  Jax Mantione from Troop 50784 is working with the First Selectman and town professionals in gardening, construction, and nutrition on the project.  She is hosting educational seminars at the Ridgefield Library, in the Dayton Program Room on March 16th from 6-8 pm and March 28th from 3-5 pm for the public.  She and others will talk about gardening, healthy eating, and farm to table food.

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Danbury Hospital employee tests positive for coronavirus

A Danbury Hospital employee who lives in Westchester County has tested positive for coronavirus.  The individual was exposed to the virus while in their home by another individual who has tested positive, and then the individual worked shifts at both Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals. 

Governor Ned Lamont says patients and staff may have been exposed as a result.  The hospital employee is currently at their home, where they are in isolation and recovering.  She self-quarantined on Wednesday. Notification came almost simultaneously as identification of the source patient.  The test results came back late today and Nuvance Health started notifying appropriate people here. It is an isolated number of people because the patient worked in isolated places within the hospitals.

Lamont says they have been expecting exposure of this virus for several weeks, so its presence should not surprise anybody.  Lamont says public health officials and medical experts have been making every effort to put every precaution possible in place.

The State Laboratory has tested 42 patients and all of them have returned negative results for the virus. Another 11 cases are in the queue to be tested. There still are no confirmed cases among Connecticut residents.  Connecticut has one kit for coronavirus testing; one kit provides 600 tests. Lamont has requested additional kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coleman-Mitchell said the extra kit should be in next week.

State Department of Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell says people should continue adhering to the basic but important steps like washing your hands frequently, avoid shaking hands, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home when sick. Mitchell notes that people with questions can call 211.  They can either listen to a recorded message with answers to frequently asked questions, or speak with a person.

Coleman-Mitchell says they will provide technical assistance to Nuvance Health and can bring in DPH staff.  Nuvance COO Kerry Eaton says they've been preparing for an infection since mid-January with weekly meetings.  But she cautioned that anyone who is ill should first call their primary care physician and not just show up at the ER.  Eaton says they don’t want to be overwhelmed by the “worried well” looking for answers. 

Once exposed, the likelihood of developing symptoms is within 14 days.

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Monroe Police create Safe Exchange Zone

The Monroe Police Department has created a Safe Exchange Zone. It's located outside the police department’s main entrance, which faces Church Street.  The zone is marked with a sign indicating that the area is under video surveillance, monitored by police security cameras 24 hours a day. Residents are encouraged to use the area for sales and purchases via sites like Craigslist, EBay and others.  Monroe Police also offered some safety reminders including completing tractions in daylight, not going into someone else's house or letting them into yours, and making sure someone knows the transaction details  If someone is not willing to come to the police department to conduct a transaction, authorities say it's likely not a legitimate transaction.

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Water line extension sought by two restaurants looking to build near mall

The Danbury City Council has accepted an application for extension of water lines to two restaurants near the mall and sent the proposal to the planning and engineering departments for reports.  Shake Shack and LongHorn Steakhouse are are looking to construct two buildings in a mall parking lot.  These applications have already been approved by the Planning Commission.  Attorney Tom Beecher, speaking on behalf of the mall, said the proposal is to have the restaurants locate in an underused parking lot.  The lot is off Backus Avenue, where the mall hosts a carnival and occasional tent sale.  He notes that it's generally not used for parking, as there are plenty of other spaces available. 

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Local firefighters take forest fire training class

Weston Volunteer Fire Department has hosted a Forest Fire Training run by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Forestry Division.  The event this week drew firefighters from around the state.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company had several members attended the training last evening.  Last month, fire companies from across the Greater Danbury area responded to an unusually large number of brush fire calls.  February was generally warmer and drier than typical years.

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Newtown Representative to kick off reelection campaign next week

Newtown State Rep Mitch Bolinsky will seek a fifth term, having served in the state House of Representatives since first being elected 2012.  

Bolinsky says Newtown has done well getting and keeping its fair share during his time in office.  As a member of the budget writing Appropriations Committee, Bolinsky played a lead role in the reforms instituted in the historic 2017 Bipartisan Budget.  Bolinsky added that his fluency with state budgets assures that Newtown’s key state funding is always monitored and acted upon before potential issues can become “problems.” 

Bolinsky also touted his work on the Joint Committee on Education to institute a new, 10-year state education funding model to assure a predictable state revenue stream into the future. Bolisnky helped to legislate the phase-out of state income tax on Social Security and pension income. 

Bolinsky will be holding a re-election kick off campaign on Tuesday night.

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New Fairfield Republican announces campaign for 108th House District

A New Fairfield resident has announced his intention to seek the 108th state House District seat.   Planning Commission member Patrick Callahan, who is a Chief Probation officer for Connecticut’s Judicial Branch, wants to represent New Fairfield, Sherman and parts of Danbury and New Milford.  He is a West Conn grad who previously served as a member of the Ethics Commission and as chairman of the Candlewood Lake Authority.  Callahan has coached local youth lacrosse and football in New Fairfield as well.

Incumbent Republican Richard Smith announced this week that he wouldn't seek another term in office, having served since 2010. 

In announcing his run for office, Callahan said a top priority would be to make Connecticut affordable for its residents.  He also wants to preserve the health and beauty of Candlewood Lake.  Callahan opposes tolls.  

Smith and Former State Representative Mary Ann Carson endorsed Callahan.  Callahan's father, Robert, served as Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court from 1996 to 1999. 

Republicans in the 108th District will choose their nominee for the seat in a May convention.

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Brookfield man charged for death of elderly pedestrian

A Brookfield man has been charged for the death of an elderly pedestrian in October.  51-year old Gary Elwell turned himself in last month on charges including negligent homicide with a motor vehicle.  He was released on a written promise to appear in court and has not entered a plea.  He is scheduled to appear this coming Tuesday.  Elwell allegedly struck 76-year old Linda Warner on Candlewood Lake Road October 4th while she was out walking or jogging.  Elwell stayed on the scene.  He was also cited for failure to exercise due caution to avoid colliding with a pedestrian, use of a handheld mobile device while operating a motor vehicle, and failure to use the proper lane.

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Fluid spill from broken street sweeper causes road closure

A fluid spill from a broken street sweeper closed part of West Street in Danbury yesterday afternoon.  The hydraulic line broke shortly before 2pm near Oil Mill Road.  Traffic was diverted off West Street, with police closing both lanes of travel.  The oil slick travelled up Westville Avenue.  Firefighters put down sand to stop the flow of oil downhill.  A sand truck then dumped material in the area to soak up as much as 20 gallons of the leaked fluid.  The vehicle, owned by Danbury-based Hawley maintenance company, was later towed from the scene.

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Sens. Murphy, Blumenthal to host roundtable discussion at WCSU

A roundtable discussion is being held in Danbury this afternoon by Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal.  They will be at West Conn to talk about Gun Violence Prevention Legislation.  The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Expansion Act more than a year ago.  Connecticut's two Senators are calling on the leaders of their chamber to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.  Last year, Murphy led 40 of his colleagues in introducing the companion legislation, which Blumenthal co-sponsored.  Murphy and Blumenthal will be joined by representatives from Newtown Action Alliance, Sandy Hook Promise, Connecticut Against Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action, Everytown, March For Our Lives, and Project Longevity.  The roundtable is at 3:30pm on West Conn's midtown campus.

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Danbury in talks with major employers in City about coronavirus preparedness

More communication and outreach is being done by the Danbury Department of Health as the coronavirus situation evolves.  Director Lisa Morrissey says they're not just updating city employees and the school district, but also in talks with major employers in Danbury and with medial providers.  She says it's important that they have plans ready for how to continue operations if staff become ill. 

Morrissey says dealing with emerging infectious diseases is something the department does on a regular basis.  A lot of the plans have been adapted from responses to pandemic influenza, Ebola, and SARS. 

The Danbury Health Department has been working with Nuvance Health to develop clear messaging to distribute across the community so that everyone has the same information.  She notes that the CDC has a lot of great information available to the general public, but its so dense, people can't get through it all. 

Morrissey and Mayor Mark Boughton talked about using the reverse 911 system to put out information, but thought that would cause more fear and more panic.  Once it gets to the point of communicating immediate information, they will use the system, but is concerned that using it from now will cause the opposite effect.

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Free dental clinic coming to WCSU

The Connecticut Foundation for Dental Outreach and the Connecticut State Dental Association will host a free dental clinic at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury later this month. The Connecticut Mission of Mercy Free Dental Clinic is March 20th and 21st.  There are no appointments, patients are seen on a first come, first served basis.  Over 300 medical and dental volunteers will provide dental care to those who normally do not have access. Some of the services include cleanings, extractions, fillings, x-rays, and limited root canals.  No child under the age of 18 will receive treatment unless accompanied by their parent or their legal guardian.  Services not provide include Braces, Crowns, Full dentures, Implants, Root canals on back teeth and Tooth whitening. 

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New Milford green lit red for Julia's Wings Foundation

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says there will be red Lights on the Green this week in support of Julia’s Wings.  The foundation raises funds and awareness for Aplastic Anemia and was formed in memory of Julia Malsin, who passed away in 2012 from complications of the rare and serious blood disorder.  Julia’s Wings Foundation works to provide financial assistance to families of children with life threatening hematological diseases and to professionals for healthcare research. 

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Photronics: Fiscal 1Q Earnings Snapshot

BROOKFIELD, Conn. (AP) - Photronics Inc. (PLAB) on Wednesday reported fiscal first-quarter earnings of $10.3 million.

The Brookfield, Connecticut-based company said it had net income of 16 cents per share.

The results met Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was also for earnings of 16 cents per share.

The electronics imaging company posted revenue of $159.7 million in the period.

For the current quarter ending in May, Photronics said it expects revenue in the range of $145 million to $155 million.

Photronics shares have decreased 20% since the beginning of the year. The stock has climbed 27% in the last 12 months.

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Hayes addresses issues involving U.S. Department of Agriculture

A recent roundtable discussion with USDA officials on filling staffing shortages included 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. She says current staff vacancies are derailing important work and effecting farmers. 

Hayes believes Connecticut students could be the answer.  She wants investments in Vo-Ag programs and more agricultural centered education/technical programs to infuse the jobs pipeline.

For the third time Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has proposed eliminating SNAP benefits for nearly half of the eligible participants and replacing them with "Harvest Boxes."  But Hayes says there has been zero forethought or plan for implementation. 

According to the budget language, the food boxes would ensure that Americans in need would have access to a nutritious diet while reducing costs to taxpayers.  The food would be grown in the United States and delivered to the participant’s doorstep, according to the USDA. 

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Fire breaks out in New Milford townhouse

A fire in a New Milford townhouse was quickly extinguished yesterday.  Water Witch Hose was called just before 8am on a report of smoke coming form the upper windows of a unit at the Sunny Valley Townhouses.  Fire crews forced entry to the front door and made quick work of extinguishing a smoldering bedroom fire, while the second due crews vented the roof to release smoke that filled the home.  Fire and smoke damage was contained to the one unit.  Northville, and Gaylordsville, and New Milford Ambulance also responded.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company provided station coverage for the town. 

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Danbury Mayor proposes taxing illegal dwellings as commercial property

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has proposed a unique way to try to tackle the rise of illegal apartments in the City.  He wants to tax the properties as commercial rather than residential. 

Under the plan, members of the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team would act as support for the city’s Tax Assessor office to identify and document homes that have illegal apartments.  UNIT normally deals with blight and quality of life issues.  They have discovered many illegal dwelling units where overcrowding threatens the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants and the public at large. 

Boughton hopes that the change in tax burden will encourage landlords to ensure their properties conform with building and housing maintenance requirements.  UNIT members would not determine actual assessments, they will perform measurements, verify structural layouts and complete certain clerical tasks. 

An Ad Hoc Committee of the City Council is considering the proposal.

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Next session of presentations on Fairfield Hills future to be held March 16

The 4th session in a series of community conversations about the future of the Fairfield Hills campus in Newtown is being held on March 16th.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal encouraged all residents to attend the presentation.  Potential developers will be introduced and discuss their ideas for the property.  The snow date will be March 18th.  The discussion will be held at the Newtown Community Center from 7 to 8:15pm.  The community conversation will be followed by the normally scheduled Board of Selectmen meeting, also being held in the Community Center.

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Spring forward this weekend, change smoke detector batteries

Greater Danbury area fire departments are reminding residents that when they change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time, to also change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  At 2am on Sunday March 8th, we will “spring ahead”. For many years the Fire Service along with the International Association of Fire Chiefs and Energizer batteries have used this event to ensure the batteries in these life-saving tools are fresh. 

Fire officials say detectors can double the chances of surviving a home fire. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. 

From 2012 through 2016, smoke alarms were present in three-quarters and sounded in more than half of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.  Dead batteries caused one-quarter of the smoke alarm failures. 

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Danbury Health Director says no need to create run on sanitizing products

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is reporting that four state residents have been tested for the coronavirus and all four tested negative.  That pushes the total number of tests for coronavirus in the state to eight. 

Three family members and a neighbor of a 50-year-old man from New Rochelle, New York, who tested positive for coronavirus Tuesday, have also tested positive for the virus.  They remain under quarantine in their home.

Hand washing, for 20 seconds, with soap, remains the best precaution.

Cleaning and hygiene supplies are reportedly in high demand in the Danbury area.  Department of Health Director Lisa Morrissey says she got a text from her husband about a store that was out of hand sanitizer and wipes, with a picture of someone filling the back of their truck with cases and cases of water bottles.  She says there is no expected impact to the water system.  

Councilman Paul Rotello says it's not even a remote possibility that the City would run out of water.  The Department of Public Health has a strict requirement of a 15-percent reserve, based on maximum supply use.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says Danbury is in good shape on that front. 

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WCSU urges students, faculty to get flu shot

West Conn has scheduled a flu shot clinic next week in Health Services.  Students and faculty who have not yet gotten a flu shot are encouraged to do so on Tuesday, March 10, from 1pm to 2:30pm.  The symptoms of Influenza and COVID-19 may include fever, sore throat, cough, body aches or difficulty breathing.  Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical advice. It is important to call before going to any medical office and report symptoms.  Students can call Health Services at (203) 837-8594.

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Ridgefield man enters plea agreement for shooting alleged attempted car thief

A Ridgefield man has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge for a shooting at his home three years ago. 

Mauro Tropeano was in court Tuesday.  He was charged for shooting a teenage girl in the back during a botched car robbery. The 35-year old will be sentenced June 9th.  Tropeano will receive a one year suspended sentence with three years of probation, during which he will not be allowed to possess firearms.  

Police said at the time of the incident that a group of at least 5 teens tried to steal his car in the early morning hours, but crashed it.  The homeowner fired three shots, one passing through the back of the car and hitting the teen.  The girl initially reported to police that she was shot in Waterbury. 

Tropeano is due back in court March 30th on two drug-dealing charges.  Police found steroids, vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana in his home.

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WCSU, New Milford Hospital provide updates on coronavirus precautions

While the risk of contracting COVID-19 is considered low for much of the American public, New Milford Hospital officials are urging everyone to stay informed and take the proper precautions.  Those precautions include washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home if sick.  New Milford hospitals and physicians continue to work with public health and state and federal agencies to monitor new trends and adopt best practices and standards for treating patients. 

Anyone who might be experiencing COVID19 symptoms, which mimic the flu, are asked to contact local municipal public health offices for screening and guidance instead of going to a primary care physician or ER without giving them a heads up.

West Conn officials are monitoring the rapidly developing coronavirus situation. In addition to making sure students are maintaining a healthy diet, daily exercise and adequate sleep, University officials say they should practice social distancing, which is defined as staying six feet away from other individuals.  The campus community should not share food or drinks and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as desks, phones, doorknobs and water faucets.

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Public Hearing, Town Meeting in Ridgefield on 'Demolition Delay Ordinance'

A Public Hearing Special Town Meeting is being held in Ridgefield tonight about a proposed Demolition Delay Ordinance.  Ridgefield residents will vote at the meeting to approve or reject the proposed ordinance, sponsored by the Ridgefield Historical Society and the Historic District Commission.  It would give historic preservation a 90-day opportunity to try to save historic buildings.  A substantially similar proposed ordinance was defeated previously.  The hearing and town meeting are at 7:30pm in the Ridgefield Town Hall Large Conference Room.

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Local lawmaker testifies on bill about recreational marijuana legalization

The Legislature is again considering a bill to legalize cannabis for adult, recreational use. Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan submitted written testimony to the Judiciary Committee.  During the public hearing this week, he yielded his time to Michael Cutler who co-authored the cannabis legalization initiative in Massachusetts.  Allie-Brennan says it's important to learn of the successes and setbacks from implementation in other states. While saying he's not encouraging the use of cannabis, Allie-Brennan says he does believe it's time to replace unregulated cannabis with a system to give municipalities control of adult-use businesses within their borders, provide protections for employers and employees, and expunge the records of people convicted for cannabis offenses.

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Immaculate High School teachers receive grants

Two Immaculate High School teachers have received art grants from Foundations in Education, a non-profit initiative that supports Catholic schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport.  Leslie Quinn plans to use a $5,700 grant to create a “pop-up” display to exhibit artwork in and out of the school.  She says the modular pop-up towers will allow the community to see the work being created by AP Portfolio students, who  will also use the 6 towers and 2 screens as a mini gallery to display and talk about their work.  Math and engineering teacher Jeanine Antonios will use a $3,000 grant for a 3D printer for two classes and the Engineering Club.  Students will be able to build a prototype of their technical drawings.

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Redding Police identify driver of car found in Putnam Park Pond

The driver whose car was pulled from Putnam Park Pond in Redding has been identified.  Police received a call from a 24-year old New Milford man about two hours after emergency responders were dispatched to the pond.  John Macchiaverna was later accounted-for, uninjured, at home.  The cause of Sunday night's crash remains under investigation.  Redding Fire officials say swimmers immediately went into the water to do a rapid primary search of the vehicle and its surroundings. NUSAR joined later to include underwater spaces in the search. 

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Report: Danbury Officer justified in shooting man armed with knife

The shooting of a Bristol man in Danbury last July by a City Police officer was justified.  According to Hearst Connecticut Media, Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky reviewed the state police report about Officer Alex Relyea's shooting and wounding of a 31-year-old man who was carrying two knives.  While he has not yet released a written official report, Sedensky said Relyea acted appropriately when he shot Aaron Bouffard.  The 33-year-old officer joined the force in 2014 and has been on administrative leave since the shooting.  Danbury Police initially responded to a report of an assault at MCCA and learned that the suspect fled the scene.  Police say Bouffard refused to obey commands to drop the knives as he approached officers.

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Bethel residents send proposed water tank project to referendum

Residents at a Special Town Meeting in Bethel Monday night authorized plans for a 500,000 gallon Chestnut Ridge water tank to go to referendum.  There was low turnout earlier this week.  The project will be decided on next Tuesday.  The tank would be partially buried in a lot in the woods between Long Meadow Lane and Briar Cliff Manor.  The project is eligible for a state grant and low-interest financing from the state.  The rest would be paid for from customers’ water rates.  Bethel officials say the 2-point-24 million dollar project is needed to further reduce the need for reservoir water and to increase pressure to the eastern side of town.  Officials added that well water is cleaner than the reservoir. 

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New Fairfield state Rep. won't seek reelection

New Fairfield State Representative Richard Smith has announced that he will not seek a sixth term representing residents of 108th House District in Hartford.  The district covers most of New Fairfield, all of Sherman, and parts of New Milford and Danbury. 

Smith, first elected to the General Assembly in 2010, said serving has been the honor of a lifetime, and he's grateful for his constituents placing their faith in him over the years.  Smith currently serves as Policy Chairman of the 60-member House Republican Caucus. He has a been a long-time member of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee. 

He’s received regular endorsements from business advocacy organizations for his efforts to get Connecticut’s finances and economy back on track. Over the years, Smith has been honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving as both a “Community Champion” and “Legislative Champion” for his policy work to combat drunken driving. 

The New Fairfield-based attorney, plans to spend more time at his law practice traveling, and golfing with his wife of 34 years, Elizabeth.

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Ridgefield Schools continue seasonal influenza protocols amid coronovirus fears

There are no known cases of Coronavirus, COVID-19, in Connecticut.  But as a reminder, the Ridgefield Health Department recommends everyday actions to help prevent the spread of all respiratory diseases.  That includes avoiding close contact with people who are sick and covering a cough or sneeze with a tissue and disinfect frequently touched objects.  Ridgefield Public Schools are continuing with their seasonal influenza protocols, including the CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting schools. The school bus contractor -- First Student-- is implementing similar protocols to clean buses.  First Selectman Marconi has ordered all town departments to observe strict personal hygiene rules and to install hand sanitation stands where appropriate.

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Danbury Elderly Services to apply for grant to fund outreach programs

The Danbury Department of Elderly Services will be applying for a $40,000 grant to continue being able to employ staff to coordinate programs and services.  Director of Elderly Services Susan Tomanio says they are applying to the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation.  She says the majority of the work is to help seniors understand the differences between Medicare A,B, C and D--which is prescription drug coverage, and Medigap plans.  The department does a lot of one-on-one counseling, as well as outreach for that.  They were able to save seniors 8-thousand dollars during the recent enrollment period.  Staff also does outreach at the different housing buildings about the rent rebate program.  The department is also starting new initiatives, including a poetry society.

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Danbury firefighters rescue boy from tree

Sometimes firefighters are called to rescue cats in trees, and sometimes it's something different.  Danbury Firefighters were called yesterday to rescue a four year old boy who climbed 16 feet up a tree, but couldn't master getting down.  Engine 23 arrived, and Firefighter Nick Nunnally made a successful rescue. The boy was uninjured.  Fire officials say they suspect he'll be a Danbury Firefighter one day.

(Photo: DFD)

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Bethel health, emergency management in communication about coronavirus protocols

The Bethel Director of Health and Director of Emergency Management are monitoring the global coronavirus situation closely and are in contact with state and federal health authorities.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says they will continue to work collaboratively with other town and school officials to ensure necessary precautions are taken.  COVID-19 is a novel virus, and as such there is still much to learn about it.  Knickerbocker says one fact that is known, however, is an infected person can be a carrier, capable of spreading the virus to others for several days before they begin to show symptoms or know they are sick. The best prevention strategy is to implement good hygiene practices now, not to wait until cases begin emerging in the area.

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Funeral services for Monroe police officer will be private

Funeral services for a Monroe police officer who died after a battle with brain cancer will be private.  55-year old Andrew Wall died Wednesday.  His family asked that anyone wishing to remember Wall may do so through a donation to Newtown Volunteer Ambulance to thank the volunteers for for their dedication and quick response to the family's many calls. Wall served more than 20 years with the Monroe Police Department before retiring in 2018. He was diagnosed with Glioblastoma in 2015.

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Putnam County SPCA looking for information about three emaciated pit bulls

The Putnam County SPCA is looking for information about three emaciated pit bulls found roaming the area of Tinker Hill Road in Putnam Valley last night.  A Good Samaritan caught the dogs and transported them to the Putnam Valley Dog Shelter. 

(Photo: PCSPCA)

The dogs, one male and two females, are all approximately mid-aged to older and were transported by staff to the Carmel Animal Shelter for examination.  All three were rated as 1s on the Body Condition Score, with 1 being severely emaciated, 5 being normal and 9 being obese. 

    

(Photos: Putnam County Sheriff)

The incident is being investigated as possible cases of animal cruelty and neglect or abandonment.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Putnam County SPCA at 845-520-6915.

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Former Danbury City Councilman nominated to fill vacancy on Council

A former Danbury City Councilman is being nominated to fill a vacancy on the Council.  Jack Knapp, who chairs the Republican Town Committee, will have his nomination voted on tonight.  He would replace Chris Arconti who announced his resignation last month.  Arconti is moving out of Danbury and no longer eligible to serve.  RTC Vice Chair Mike Safranek says Knapp previously served in the 3rd Ward and is up to date on City issues.

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Appeal filed in Danbury vs. Dorothy Day zoning case

An appeal has been filed in the case of the Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals against Dorothy Day Hospitality House.  In the new filing, Attorney Neil Marcus argues that the City is wrongly fighting to uphold cease and desist order by the Zoning Enforcement Officer, who alleged there are violations in operating an emergency homeless shelter at 11 Spring Street. 

The City argues that the Planning Commission had no jurisdiction in 1983 to determine whether a zoning permit should issue for the property and that Zoning regulations did not authorize the issuance of a temporary zoning permit. 

A temporary one-year permit was issued in 1984 and a renewal wasn't sought until 2015.  The cease and desist order was issued in October 2016.  Marcus argues that Zoning regulation changes allowed shelters as a permitted use starting in 1989, and even when later amended to allow shelters as a special exception use, Dorothy Day was a pre-existing nonconforming use entitled to protection. 

A trial is set to move forward in June.

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Black Balloon Day to be marked in New Fairfield Friday

On March 6, New Fairfield residents and visitors may see black balloons displayed around town. "Black Balloon Day" has become a national and international event, bringing awareness to overdose deaths.  As with many things with the opioid epidemic, Black Balloon Day began with a family's' loss. Diane and Lauren Hurley began the day in remembrance of son-in -law Greg Tremblay who died of an overdose on March 6th 2015 when he was 38 years old.  New Fairfield officials say unfortunately the town is not immune to this crisis, and have lost members of the community to opioid overdose.  Residents looking to participate in the day should tie a black balloon to the mailbox to help raise awareness of the opioid crisis.

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UNIT, Danbury Police find homeless encampment in vacant restaurant space

In a report to the Danbury City Council tonight, the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team says they worked with Police on an enforcement issue.  UNIT was called by police to the Old Wendy's restaurant on White Street, across from West Conn.  It had been broken into and there was evidence of a group of homeless individuals living inside. No one was there at the time, but there were personal belongings, as well as clothes, food and toiletries.  UNIT met with the property owner who fixed the broken door.  Police are monitoring the property to ensure it remains locked and there are no squatters.

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New Milford getting outdoor spaces ready for summer

The New Milford Parks and Rec maintainers have been busy during the offseason.  They   finished the painting of the bathrooms at Lynn Deming Park. The playground at Young’s Field is completely dismantled and removed from site. Creative Recreation cut out and removed topsoil for the larger footprint. They expect that the new playground will be delivered around March 12th and then they will begin installing it. The bid for tennis/basketball court repairs will open March 26th.  At the request of the Senior Center, the Park Maintainers installed a bench near 47 Bridge Street. Maintainers are repairing and repainting benches at Lynn Deming Park. New Milford has sold all 83 boat slips for the season.

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Studies continue on possible Revolutionary War remains found in Ridgefield

It's going to take more time, but a former state Archaeologist believes the remains found in Ridgefield in December were Revolutionary War soldiers.  Nick Bellantoni discussed his findings last night at Quinnipiac University. 

While it's not confirmed, he is struggling to find another explanation for it.  Calling it a hypothesis, Bellantoni still has a number of unanswered questions like whose side they fought on, why there was no sign of musketball and why they remained clothed.  The other theory was that the men were from a Connecticut farming family, but their burial doesn't fit with the practices of the time. 

He suggested that the bones could provide answers on whether they died of bayonet attack and guessed that the clothes were too bloody to pass on to the living. 

He estimates it will take at least a year to get more definitive answers, including where the men were from, possible illness and what they are.  Bronze buttons,two pewter buttons, and tiny fabric scraps attached to some of the buttons are still being analyzed.  There doesn't appear to be any insignia on the buttons, which Bellantoni says could mean the men fought with the Patriots, who didn’t have the standard blue coats yet often associated with the time.

Bellantoni says finding undisturbed skeletons from the Revolutionary War is an extremely rare event, and is going to be extremely significant. 

The Ridgefield Historical Society has set up a fund to help cover the research costs and are applying for  a battle field grant to survey the mile-long area of the April 1777 battle.

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Local legislator marks Rare Disease Day at state Legislative Office Building

State Senator Julie Kushner joined the National Organization for Rare Disorders and Connecticut Rare Action Network Friday for Rare Disease Day at the Legislative Office Building.  Attending the event was Father Nick of Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Danbury and his wife Meghan, with their young daughter who has a rare disease. Father Nick needed to use a handicap tag to drop off his daughter close to school, but the family's tag was on his wife's car.  After calling the DMV to obtain a second tag, he was prevented from receiving on due to a restriction in state law.  Kushner says Father Nick then initiated a piece of legislation she voted for that would allow families to obtain a handicap placard for a second vehicle. 

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Ridgefield, Monroe officials provide update on coronavirus precautions

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says public safety agencies and the Ridgefield school system continue to coordinate efforts to prevent the potential local spread of coronavirus. There are no known cases in the state. 

Neither the Ridgefield Health Department nor the CDC recommends that people who are well wear face masks to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.  Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.  They remind people to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.  If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Monroe First Selectman Ken Kellogg is holding regular meetings with members of the Emergency Management Team, which includes the Director of Health and Superintendent of Schools.  While there are currently no confirmed cases in Connecticut, the Monroe team has joined the State Department of Public Health in an enhanced monitoring mode.  The Town’s website will be updated regularly to provide the community with timely information from both the CDC and the DPH, as well as any specific local actions or precautionary measures. 

Kellogg is also reminding residents to practice everyday, preventive actions. Simple steps like regular hand washing, covering a cough or sneeze, and staying home when sick will help to limit the spread of disease.

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Car in pond, rollover accidents investigated by area police

Redding Police are investigating how a car ended up in a pond at Putnam Park and what happened to the occupants.  West Redding Volunteer Fire Department and Redding Fire and EMS responded to the park last night.  They found the car in the water with the help of Newtown underwater search and rescue.  There was nobody in the car nor the pond.  The vehicle's driver was later accounted-for at home.

(Photo: West Redding Volunteer Fire Department)

It was a busy Sunday for Brookfield Fire crews.  There was a single car rollover with entrapment at North Mountain Road and Laurel Hill Road shortly after 1pm. Police on scene reported minor injuries, however the doors to the vehicle would not open. Crews were able to gain access to the passenger compartment.  The patient was transported to Danbury Hospital for evaluation. Around 6pm, Firefighters responded to a report of a vehicle hitting a  building on Federal Road near Elbow Hill Road. The patient was out of the car when they arrived, and transported to the hospital for evaluation.  No immediate word on damage to the Winsupply building.

Two rollover accidents in Southbury from Saturday are under investigation.  Around 6pm Saturday,  Southbury Fire was dispatched to I-84 eastbound between exits 15 and 16.  The car was on  its roof in the median. There were no serious injuries and the occupants were able to extricate themselves. As crews were clearing the scene, Fire was again dispatched to a two car crash, at 690 Main Street South.  Southbury Police say one vehicle rolled over in front of the Movie Theatre.  There were no serious injuries and the occupants were able to extricate themselves.

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DOT Commissioner, local lawmaker discuss Maybrook train line study

During a public hearing held by the General Assembly's Transportation Committee on February 24th, a local lawmaker asked about improvements to the Danbury branch of Metro North.  Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle also asked Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti for his opinion on the idea of connecting the old Maybrook line in Danbury to the Southeast Metro North train station. 

Lavielle is concerned that less riders would make spending money on the line seem less attractive.  Giulietti says it would not change DOT plans for the branch. 

He is also skeptical of the time savings for commuters who would use the Maybrook line.  Giulietti says there are a lot of hurdles to getting trains up and running there, but wouldn't prejudge the study and is open to whatever the findings are.

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council agreed to fund a $1 million study.  It will provide a full analysis of ridership, impact on I-84, impact on the Southeast station and what physically needs to happen to the old rail line. 

The track is owned by freight operator Housatonic Railroad, not the state.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton noted that 1,200 people a day take HART shuttles or park at Southeast and this will get drivers off I-84, easing congestion.  But he cautioned that the project would require $50 million to $70 million in funding and will take time with all of the needed upgrades.

The Maybrook line began in 1871, 30 miles west of Poughkeepsie and went to Hartford. In 1892, a connection was built allowing through service from Danbury to Maybrook.  Passenger service was provided on and off until it was turned into a freight line.  In 1993, the track was sold to Maybrook Properties and most freight service ended.

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Stolen car, attempted thefts under investigation in Newtown

A car was stolen from a Newtown home early Saturday morning.  Police received a report that the keys were left inside the 2019 White Nissan Altima in a Marlin Road driveway.  Newtown Police say the vehicle is believed to be in the Waterbury area and the plate number is AS32123. 

Spokesman Lt. Aaron Bahamonde says these type of crimes are almost 100% preventable and is almost always a crime of opportunity.  He encouraged people to take their keys and valuables out of their car and lock them when unoccupied. 

On Friday morning, around 3am, a resident in the area of Taunton Lake Drive, picked up suspicious activity on their home surveillance camera.  Two cars pull up in front of the house and an individual get out and checked the doors on the homeowners cars.  This incident is currently being investigated.

Newtown Police encouraged residents to consider purchasing a home surveillance systems, saying these tools have become more reliable than a typical residential alarm. 

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GoFundMe page created to help Bethel Fire Chief

A GoFundMe page has been created to help the Chief of the Bethel Fire Department.  On the morning of February 15th, Fire Chief Scott Murphy found the kitchen and enclosed porch of his home on fire.  Despite the rapid response and aggressive attack by responding firefighters, there was extensive damage to the structure and contents.  Most of the family's personal possessions were lost in the fire. Chief Murphy, his wife, one of his children and grandchildren live in the home, but are now staying with relatives.  The page of was created last night with a goal of raising $25,000.  Within hours, about $2,000 in donations were pledged.  Bethel Fire officials say Chief Murphy, and his father before him, have faithfully served the Town for many years and now need the community's help. 

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Scientist to discuss findings in exam of 18th-century bones

HAMDEN, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s former state archaeologist is set to release the results of his examination of skeletal remains found beneath an 18th century home in Connecticut.

Nick Bellantoni, state archaeologist emeritus of the Connecticut Museum of Natural History, has been trying to determine if the remains of three people found at the site in Ridgefield were soldiers killed during the Revolutionary War.

The house was undergoing renovations in December when the bones were found under the foundation. It is near where soldiers fought in the April 1777 battle of Ridgefield.

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

He has said copper buttons found with the remains could indicate they belonged to militiamen, but it was not clear whether they might be British or American.

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

Bellantoni plans to release his preliminary findings in an hour-long presentation at Quinnipiac University on Monday evening.

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Two people injured in rollover accident in Danbury

Two people have been injured in a rollover accident in Danbury.  A little after 11pm Saturday, emergency services responded to a motor vehicle accident reported on White Street at the intersection of Crosby Street. An SUV had left the roadway, rolled over, and struck the cement wall for the Still River.  Firefighters found the SUV with two injured occupants on its side in the grass. Firefighters, working with EMS and Police, removed the occupants, then treated and transported them from the scene. The Danbury Police Department conducted their accident investigation.

(Photo: DFD)

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Special Town Meeting in Bethel tonight on Chestnut Ridge water tank

A Special Town Meeting is being held in Bethel tonight about the proposed 500,000 gallon Chestnut Ridge water tank.  It would be partially buried in a lot in the woods between Long Meadow Lane and Briar Cliff Manor.  The project is eligible for a grant and low-interest financing from the state.  The rest would be paid for from customers’ water rates.  Bethel officials say the $2.24 million project is needed to further reduce the need for reservoir water and to increase pressure to the eastern side of town.  Officials added that well water is cleaner than the reservoir.  The Special Town Meeting is at 6:30pm in Meeting Room A of the municipal center.  Residents are asked to send the project to a referendum on March 10th.

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Two people arrested on drug related charges following neighbor complaints

A Danbury woman and a Waterbury man have been arrested on a number of drug offenses after neighbor complaints of illegal sales near South Street School.  Police put the apartment under surveillance and approached the residence last Tuesday. 

Amanda Fitzgerald was outside with a man and police say it looked like she was hiding something in her purse when they walked up.  Inside, officers found 28-year old Thomas Collier.  A search turned up 2.9 grams of cocaine, $513 in cash, and about 7.5 grams of “a green plant substance."  Police also found a digital scale with white powder residue, baggies, heroin packaging and glass smoking pipes.

Fitzgerald had seven Clonazepam pills, a baggie of heroin labeled “now and later", and $390 cash on her.

Collier was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell within 1500 feet of a school, possession of narcotics within 1500 feet of a school, possession of drug paraphernalia within 1500 feet of a school, interfering with a search, and use of drug paraphernalia.  Collier’s bond was set at $50,000 and he is being held in custody for a March 26th court appearance.  He is due in court that day in an unrelated case as well.

Fitzgerald was charged with possession of a controlled substance near a school, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia near a school and possession of drug paraphernalia.  She was released on $10,000 bond, and is due in court March 13. 

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