Local Headlines Archives for 2020-04

Congresswoman's husband tests positive for COVID-19

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has announced that her husband, a Waterbury Police Detective, was exposed to and tested positive for COVID-19 at his workplace.  Her office says he seems to be healthy and asymptomatic, and given her exposure, Hayes was also tested.  Her result came back negative.  Out of an abundance of caution, and in keeping in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, Hayes and her family will be quarantining at home for the next 14 days and self-monitoring for symptoms.  She will be working remotely, talking with constituents and community leaders, and communicating daily with colleagues as Congress works on the next relief package to combat the health and economic crisis that the country is in.

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Water Witch Hose of New Milford organizes town wide Parade of Unity

Water Witch Hose of New Milford has organized a town wide Parade of Unity featuring local emergency vehicles. The two part parade will take place on Sunday May 3rd and Sunday May 10th, covering half the town each day. 

Fire officials say while they appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm, the parade will be limited to official vehicles.  No personal vehicles will be permitted.  The emergency vehicles can't go down every road in town, but they have outlined the route and suggested that those residents go to an intersection close to their homes that they will be going through. 

People needing to travel to see the parade of emergency vehicles are reminded to not park in the way of the firetrucks, and local traffic. 

The list of streets can be found here https://www.facebook.com/events/219138249381796/permalink/219138959381725/

https://www.facebook.com/events/265343254636433/permalink/265350761302349/

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New Fairfield lifeguards to become boat attendants during pandemic

New Fairfield officials have reassigned the duties of 12 seasonal Parks and Recreation Department employees to the Town Marina.  Most are lifeguards, who will now be making sure social distancing is practiced, are now boat attendants.  The announcement was made at last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says, ideally, there will be two attendants on duty at a time.

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Local lawmaker distributes donations collected for two local food banks

Senator Richard Blumenthal and State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan are delivering food and supplies to two Danbury-area food banks today.  They were joined by Action Together, a local community organization, to collect donations for ARC, the Association of Religious Communities and the Harambee Center for Youth.  More than $7,000 in monetary donations and $3,000 in donated items were collected.

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Ridgefield First Selectman gives first-hand account of bout with coronavirus

Ridgefield has lost 30 people to COVID-19 associated causes and is approaching 160 positive COVID-19 cases.

During the Governor's daily briefing Wednesday, First Selectman Rudy Marconi shared the story of his bout with the virus.  He says it was a multi-week ordeal that including eight consecutive days on oxygen.  Marconi said it's an experience that he would not want anyone else to have to deal with.  He called it a sobering impact on someone and a reminder of how precious life is.

His early symptoms presented as a head cold.  He stayed in bed for a couple days, got a test on Saturday April 6th and found out by Monday he had contracted the virus.  Two days later his physician recommended oxygen at home rather than going to the hospital.

Treatments included hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug, along with Tylenol, vitamins, and an anti-nausea drug.  His symptoms included aches, chills, pains, sore throat, headache and diarrhea.  He said that nausea was the toughest symptom.  In his case, all of the symptoms hit all at once.  Marconi says it was alarming for him and he was scared at times. 

“I can’t tell you how severe I felt, from laying on the floor and having difficulty in the evenings, to finally being here today to tell that story.”

His travel was limited from his home to town hall for the two weeks prior to feeling ill, so his contact with people was extremely limited.

Marconi contacted everyone through Human Resources at Town Hall and no one subsequently got ill.  He called it a strange virus that no one seems to understand.  Marconi’s wife, who nursed him back to health, tested positive after experiencing a low-grade fever that lasted a couple of days.  He credited his wife for encouraging him to walk around, noting that the biggest thing was getting out of bed to prevent clotting.  But he says it was difficult because he had zero energy.  Marconi also did breathing exercises.

When it comes to getting residents back to work, Marconi says people have to feel comfortable in society.  Until that point, he pleaded with people to continue to social distance, wear face masks and not pressure people to open.  Marconi called that the worst thing that can be done right now.  He added that the state should do it once, do it right.

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Department of Public Health Mobile Lab in Danbury today for rapid COVID-19 testing

The state Department of Public Health Mobile Lab will be in Danbury this morning to offer Rapid COVID-19 testing.  They'll be set up at the Connecticut Institute for Communities Greater Danbury Community Health Center, in the rear parking lot from 9am to 2pm. Health Center staff will collect the specimens and the state agency conducts and analyzes the testing.  Results will be available in 30 minutes.  Symptomatic patients or those with known exposure are given priority and all individuals must be registered with the Health Center as a patient in order to track results.  People can pre-register as a new patient by calling 203-456-1413.  The Health Center is located at 120 Main Street.

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Putnam County schedules another COVID-19 Diagnostic Drive-Thru Testing clinic

The Putnam County Department of Health has scheduled another COVID-19 Diagnostic Drive-Thru Testing clinic on Tuesday, May 5th from 11am to 1:30pm.  Testing supplies are limited to 150 people who need to fulfill certain criteria.  Putnam County residents or people who work in essential organizations in Putnam County are eligible if they have a history of COVID-19 symptoms, current symptoms or a close contact to a positive case.  Essential workers with direct public contact include but are not limited to Healthcare, Police, Fire, Childcare, Delivery, Funeral Home, Postal, Grocery Store, Gas Station, Transportation, Utility, and Janitorial or Cleaning.  Patients for the testing on Tuesday must complete an online survey.  People selected will be called for an appointment.

 

 

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Himes named to Bipartisan Northeast Congressional COVID-19 Regional Recovery Taskforce

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has been named to the Bipartisan Northeast Congressional COVID-19 Regional Recovery Taskforce.  Long Island Republican Congressman Peter King is a co-chair. 

The group will advise and coordinate how to best move states in the Northeast toward eventual reopening and preparation for future waves of COVID-19. 

As some states throughout the nation have opened businesses in the past week, Himes supports a path that protects the long-term health of the population and economy.  He understands that everyone wants to get back to work and resume a semblance of normalcy as soon as safely can be done, noting that the taskforce will lay the groundwork for how to do that responsibly.

In addition to advising on economic matters, the taskforce will also examine how the region can better prepare for subsequent waves of infection and protect our democratic institutions.  Himes says the country can’t get caught flat-footed again.  He called on officials to have enough personal protective equipment in the fall and ensure that November’s election doesn’t put voters at undue risk.  The taskforce will be meeting on a weekly basis to stay ahead of the curve and seek out the best options. 

Himes and King are joined on the taskforce by Reps. Mikie Sherrill (co-chair, D-N.J.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), Dan Meuser (R-Pa.), Elise Stefanik (R-NY, and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.).

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Benchmark Senior Living says steps being taken to protect residents, workers

Measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19 are being taken by the company that owns 14 assisted living homes in Connecticut where 56 residents have died from the coronavirus.  In a statement released Wednesday to Hearst Connecticut Media, a spokeswoman for Benchmark Senior Living said it wants to increase the availability of COVID-19 testing for workers and residents.  The company reportedly started to prepare for COVID-19 in February, before ther were any confirmed cases, including reducing group activities and trips offsite.  At least 48 residents at Ridgefield Crossing have testing positive for COVID-19, including 22 who have died.  18 employees have also contracted coronavirus.  The statement said Benchmark has increased pay for workers at facilities where there have been outbreaks.  Some residents who tested negative have temporarily been moved to a hotel.

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Bethel Police receives calls about email 'sextortion' scams

The Bethel Police Department has received several calls regarding email "sextortion" scams.  Scammers claim to have hacked the recipient's computer and obtained intimate video recordings of them through cell phone or computer cameras.  But Bethel Police say the most common claim in the scam is alleging the victim’s use of a pornographic website. 

The emails can claim to have one of the victim’s passwords for an online account as the subject line; the email may even appear to have been sent from the person’s own email address. Generally, the scammer claims to have access to the person’s contact list and threatens to send the intimate recordings unless a payment is made through Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency.

This scam is a typical "phishing" type of scam where the scammer is seeking information or compliance.  No one is uniquely targeted. 

People receiving this type of email should not respond, not send payment, change passwords and mark the email as spam.  Anyone who has fallen victim and suffered a financial loss should contact the Bethel Police Department to make a report.

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Wilton Board of Selectmen votes not to hire a new Fire Chief

The Wilton Board of Selectmen has voted not to hire a new Fire Chief.  A candidate was recommended by the Fire Commission.  Reasoning behind the decision was discussed in executive session, which is not open to the public.  No explanation or name was given before the vote, which was unanimous.  Selectman Ross Tartell recused himself because he's part of the fire commission. Chief Ron Kanterman served from 2014-2019.  Former Danbury Fire Chief Geoffrey Herald has been serving as interim chief for the Wilton Fire Department since July.

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New Fairfield Economic Development Commission creates t-shirt fundraiser

The New Fairfield Economic Development Commission has kicked off a "Support New Fairfield Businesses" t-shirt fundraiser.  

All proceeds will benefit New Fairfield businesses who have been directly effected from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Businesses can register as a beneficiary of the fundraisers https://forms.gle/E8Kssb63e4ENEZzc9.  The t-shirts were designed and manufactured in New Fairfield, printed and distributed locally by Godfather Promotions, who will also arrange for social distance compliant pick-up. 

Debit & credit cards are accepted through PayPal at checkout 

http://newfairfield.chi.v6.pressero.com/login.

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Horns for Hope in Newtown slated for Saturday

Horns for Hope in Newtown is an event happening this weekend encouraging residents to be loud and proud.  Organizers of Saturday's event say it's a time to appreciate neighbors, essential workers, first responders, small business owners, churches, and volunteers.  They say it's also a time to celebrate individual households for staying home to help keep everyone safe and healthy.  Newtown residents are being called on to make Thank You signs and decorate homes or yards.  At 7pm, local church bells will be ringing.  From 7:05 to 7:10, emergency sirens and horns will celebrate community helpers.  From 7:15 to 7:20, the community is invited to make noise and give thanks.

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Eversource changes tree work permissions policy during pandemic

As Eversource adapts to working during the COVID-19 pandemic, a “No Knock, No Hang” tree work permissions policy is being implemented. Trees are the number one cause of power outages.  Licensed arborists and tree contractors are obtaining customer consent for any tree work on private property using phone calls, e-mails or texts, rather than knocking on doors or leaving behind permission paperwork. In 2020, Eversource is investing more than $83 million in tree trimming and tree removal in Connecticut.  Eversource collaborates with the tree warden in each town where work is done to balance the need for providing reliable electricity while maintaining aesthetics.

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Wilton Selectmen extend Senior and Disabled Tax Relief program filing deadlines

At last night's Wilton Board of Selectmen meeting, the Senior and Disabled Tax Relief program filing deadlines were extended from May 15th to July 31st.  This change allows the deadline to better align with the change in the IRS filing deadline.  Relief is available to qualified taxpayers with income, as defined, of $85,700 or less.  Wilton residents can obtain a credit or defer their taxes or both.  All qualified taxpayers receive a minimum credit of $250.  The maximum credit is $4,900. The application is available on the town website.  Please email the Assessor’s department with questions.  The State did not change the deadline to file for the State’s senior and disabled tax credit program.  The State no longer provides funding for their program.  Instead, each year since 2018, when the State announced no funding, the Board of Selectmen has provided funding for the allowable tax credits.

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Kent CERT coordinates mask-making efforts for distribution again this Saturday

The Kent Citizen Emergency Response Team is continuing to coordinate mask-making efforts for distribution again this Saturday.  There will be a limit of 1 per person, 5 per family.  Residents will receive an email notification with detailed instructions and a time for drive-thru pick up between 9am and 11am at the Kent Town Hall parking area.  Requests must be submitted by 3pm Friday.  If requests exceed the 200 masks on hand, Kent CERT will prioritize those residents for the next round as they are made.  For more information about joining or assisting either the M.A.S.K. Initiative or the Kent CERT, or to donate materials, contact CERT Team Leader Bonnie Donzella at cert@townofkentct.org.

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Federal stimulus payments start reaching filers receiving state unemployment benefits

The Connecticut Department of Labor has begun issuing the first round of weekly federal stimulus payments to filers receiving state unemployment benefits. The additional $600 weekly payment is retroactive to March 29th and will be provided through July 25th. For those who already received unemployment benefits for previous weeks, DOL will be providing retroactive payments as a lump sum by the end of this week.

Agency employees are continuing to work to implement the remaining two recently established federal stimulus programs.  Both programs will be retroactive.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provides benefits for self-employed individuals among others.  DOL expects to begin accepting applications on April 30th.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation is a 13-week extension that allows eligible claimants to collect the additional weeks, after exhausting the 26 weeks of state benefits.  That program should be in operation by mid-May.

Connecticut and other states with old computer systems have been delayed in processing the federal payments because the state Department of Labor’s database needed to be modified, which officials said was a labor-intensive process while handling an unprecedented number of state unemployment claims.

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New American Dream Foundation providing more meals to Danbury students

Linde, a global industrial gases and engineering company with an office in Danbury, has partnered with the Roby Dodd Family Charitable Foundation to help ease food insecurity during this public health emergency.  They've made a combined $1,100 donation to the New American Dream Foundation's COVID-19 Hot Meal Program to provide 2,200 meals for families in need in Danbury.  The New American Dream Foundation started food distribution after being forced to cancel their annual scholarship gala.  They initially purchased 300 meals from the venue, The Amber Room Colonnade, and distributed them at the beginning of April to students of Morris Street School.  Then 1,200 meals were distributed on April 25 and May 2 at three locations.  Their goal is to provide hot meals to families in need at Morris Street School, Park Avenue  School, and The Early Learning Center at Cottage Street on Saturdays through May.

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Wilton leader wants state to change COVID test reporting stats

A Wilton official is asking the state change the way it reports a key coronavirus data point.  First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says the Department of Public Health is no longer reporting the number of patients tested and instead is reporting the number of tests administered.  She says that makes the information less useful because if a patient had more than one test or more than one specimen was taken, each is counted individually.  Vanderslice is asking for the information to returned to the reporting, or add a new line item for tests administered.  She notes that one of the barometers to assess adequacy of the level of testing is the percentage of the population tested.

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Danbury Fire Department helps Brookfield Police with vehicle sanitization technology

There is a lot about the coronavirus that is still unknown.  One of the areas of uncertainty is how long the virus can last on surfaces.  To combat the spread of the disease, area emergency responders have teamed up to help one another.  The Danbury Fire Department has worked with Brookfield Police Officers to build and set up a custom spray disinfecting unit to help keep officers and the vehicles they use everyday, safe and virus free.  Firefighters, EMTs and police officers are working side by side during pandemic response to keep residents safe.  The Brookfield Police Department says the intercity and inter agency cooperation is a great example of how public safety professionals continuously work together to get the job done.

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Alliance District schools to being receiving laptop donations next month

An update on the shipment and distribution of The Partnership for Connecticut’s gift of 60,000 Dell laptops to high school students in the state’s 33 Alliance Districts is finally available.  There's a tiered shipment plan in 3 rounds of delivery.  The first wave is expected to reach district identified shipping sites in May.  The Alternative Center For Excellence in Danbury is expected to get all 85 laptops in the first round.  Danbury High School will received 40-percent in round one, 50-percent in Round Two in June and the remaining 10-percent in July, with a total of nearly 3,300 laptops being delivered.  Western Connection in Danbury will get their 11 laptops in June.  The first round of shipment is devoted to shipping sites where fewer than 60 percent of students have 1:1 device access at the school level.

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Redding Finance Board to hold tax rate increase near flat

Local Boards of Finance are trying to walk a fine line in holding mill rates down as more residents are struggling to make ends meet because of the pandemic, but not making draconian cuts because municipalities are experiencing higher costs of providing services to more families.  That includes health department concerns, social services needs and school employees putting in overtime to provide meals and distance learning to students.  In Redding, the Board of Finance is planning to keep the tax rate in the proposed budget relatively flat, leading to cuts in the spending plans.  The .5 percent spending increase includes $22.7 million for the Redding Board of Education, $13.2 million for Region 9 and $15.2 million for the town.

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Ridgefield Selectmen meet to rehash budget proposals

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen will hold a budget meeting tonight to rescind the previous budget votes and withdraw previous recommendations made to the Board of Finance.  The Selectmen will then review, discuss and vote on Operating, Capital, and Road budgets, as well as a non-binding recommendation on the Board of Education operating budget.  The Selectmen will also meet tomorrow night to finish up any outstanding work.  Information on how to participate in the 6:30pm meetings can be found on the meeting agendas.  The date for final Ridgefield Board of Selectmen budget approval is now set for May 6th.  The Finance Board will set their meeting schedule for final budget adoption, including a public hearing, via zoom or other platform.

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Jericho Partnership food pantry serves three times as many families as usual

On Friday, Jericho Partnership served a record 111 families.  Typically, before the pandemic, they served 35 families.  Their shelves were fully stocked, but now items are mostly gone.  Jericho officials say many generous residents have contributed funds, so they'll be shopping, but the need for physical donations still exists.  Bins for no-contact drop-off are at 22 Maple Avenue through Thursday, 9:30am to 6pm.

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Wilton launches programs to boost business for restaurants, shops

Wilton officials will be launching two programs in the coming weeks to help boost business for local restaurants and shops.  The first program is called "Eat Local, Win Local in Wilton" and will be followed by "Shop Local, Win Local in Wilton".  Any resident ordering at least $15 at a Wilton restaurant through May 30th, takes a picture of the receipt or a selfie with the order will be entered into a weekly drawing for a gift certificate to a Wilton restaurant.  The photos can be emailed to sarah.gioffre@wiltonct.org, with one submission per day.  Funding for this program is through a donation.  4 winners will be selected each week.  Details about the second campaign, “Shop Local, Win Local in Wilton” will be announced at the end of May.

 

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Danbury Homeless Shelter is in need of specific items to be donated

The Danbury Homeless Shelter is in need of the several specific items including Temporal Thermometers.  They also need cleaning products like disinfectant wipes and sprays.  Dental hygiene items, feminine hygiene products, depends, and conditioner are also needed.  The shelter is seeking donations of coffee cups, paper bowls, disposable utensils, napkins, and paper towels.  The non-perishable items being sought are water bottles, breakfast items, individual snacks, tea bags, coffee/shelf-stable creamer/sugar packets, individual snacks, bottled drinks, and juice boxes.  To donate to the Danbury Homeless Shelter or to donate personal protective equipment to first responders and employees in the field, contact Taylor O’Brien, t.obrien@danbury-ct.gov. The Homeless Shelter will also accept meal donations, but contact O’Brien to schedule a drop-off time.

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Sherman approves tax deferral program for property owners

Sherman will offer a tax relief deferral program to residents, businesses and nonprofits affected by coronavirus.  The Board of Selectmen recently voted to offer the tax relief program, one of two authorized by an executive order from the governor to support eligible Connecticut taxpayers and organizations.  Sherman taxpayers have until July 1st to apply to have payments deferred for 90 days. 

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Machine catches fire in Monroe industrial building

Around noon yesterday, Stepney Fire Department was called for a fire alarm at an industrial building on lower Main Street in Monroe.  A police officer arrived first and found a significant smoke condition within part of the 50,000 building.  Additional volunteer fire departments were called in. Northeast Laser employees partially extinguished a machine that caught fire in the welding area and dragged it outside, but that created a large amount of smoke inside the building. 6 smoke ejectors were deployed to ventilate the facility. No one appeared to be injured. 

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Class action lawsuit filed against Danbury FCI

A class action federal lawsuit has been filed seeking to have emergency measures put in place to protect Danbury Federal Correctional Institution inmates during this public health emergency.  The Connecticut Mirror reports that attorneys from a Stamford law firm, Quinnipiac University School of Law and Yale Law School say prisons are hot spots for the spread of COVID-19, and claim FCI Danbury has placed the more than 1,000 inmates at an unconstitutional risk of contracting the disease by failing to take action to protect those in their custody.  The suit calls for an emergency order to immediately transfer the prison’s most medically vulnerable inmates to home confinement, and the implementation of social distancing and hygiene measures for those who remain incarcerated.  According to the Bureau of Prisons, more than 40 inmates and 30 staff have contracted coronavirus.  Sick inmates and staff are reportedly not being isolated from the healthy population.  There are four named incarcerated plaintiffs, all of whom have underlying medical conditions. None of the plaintiffs are Connecticut residents. 

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Conn. officials work to address food insecurity during pandemic

Connecticut officials are seeking federal approval to allow food stamps recipients to use their EBT cards to purchase food online during the pandemic.  Families with an EBT card could then have groceries delivered.  Department of Social Services Commissioner Deirdre Gifford says she's working with the USDA to get approval.  This would then be available late next month. 

It’s part of a wide-ranging effort to address food insecurity issues in the state.  DSS has already expanded eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and increased the amount of benefits families can receive.

Gifford said plans are also in the works to provide people who need to remain home with restaurant meals.  She hopes this will help the restaurant industry while addressing the food needs of people at home.  Currently SNAP recipients can't purchase prepared meals with their EBT cards, but her office is working with FEMA to get that changed.

Meat isn't going to disappear from supermarkets because of outbreaks of the coronavirus among workers at U.S. slaughterhouses. But as the meat plants struggle to remain open, consumers could face less selection and slightly higher prices. Industry leaders acknowledge that the U.S. food chain has rarely been so stressed and that no one is sure about the future, even as they try to dispel concerns about shortages.

Connecticut Agricultural Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt says farm stands could fill some of that gap.  He says there's been a tremendous demand for Connecticut grown products as people are returning to supporting local community businesses.  The Department regularly publishes information with a list of farms, farmers' markets, and farm stands.  Hurlburt says they've created an interactive map that can be found here: https://portal.ct.gov/DOAG/Commissioner/Commissioner/Farmers-Markets-Farm-Stores-and-CSAs-during-COVID-19

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4 cars stolen in Ridgefield early Sunday morning

During the past few weeks, municipalities across the state have seen an increase in stolen motor vehicle complaints. This trend is now being seen in the Ridgefield Community.  Ridgefield Police say 4 cars were stolen from homes in the Lafayette and Barry Avenue areas during the early morning hours Sunday.  The vehicles were not locked, with the keys or fob inside the vehicle.  Residents are urged to continue to be diligent with securing vehicles and removing personal items overnight.  Anyone with information or video footage from the impacted neighborhood is asked to contact the Ridgefield Police Detective Bureau or the confidential tip line.

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'Salute to Hero Parade' held outside Danbury Hospital by area emergency responders

A "Salute to Hero Parade" has been held for healthcare workers at Nuvance Health Danbury Hospital.  First responders from across the Greater Danbury area participated.  

Danbury Fire Department organized the event. 

Officials say the healthcare employees have been working tirelessly through the pandemic and this was a small token of appreciation. 

Danbury career and volunteer firefighters were joined by Danbury Police, Bethel Volunteer Fire Department, Eversource, State Police, Danbury and New Fairfield Lions Clubs,  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company, Ridgefield Fire Department, Roxbury Ambulance, Water Witch Hose of New Milford, and Stony Hill firefighters. 

(Photos: DFD)

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Lane closures announced for Veterans Bridge construction in New Milford

Veterans Bridge construction in New Milford will include a new daytime alternating traffic pattern beginning Friday, May 1st.  The work will be done between 9am and 3pm.  Workers will be milling the deck surface for inspection and evaluation. Three police officers will be assigned to direct traffic, one on the bridge and one at each associated intersections east and west. This phase is expected to be complete by May 8th, at the latest. Once the milling has been completed two lane "offset" traffic flow will return. The bridge will be repainted to have two eleven foot lanes on the north side of the bridge. Approximately eight feet on the south side will be sectioned off from the flow of traffic. This is to displace the load distribution to facilitate work below the deck.  Once the south side is complete the traffic flow pattern will again be shifted to the south allowing for the same procedures to be completed under the northern shoulder side

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Danbury man drowns in kayak accident on Long Island Sound

A Danbury man has died after his kayak capsized on Long Island Sound this weekend.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection identified the man as 22-year old Arpi Oscar Castillo.  His wife was hospitalized after the incident. 

Stamford Fire officials received a report of someone ins a kayak in trouble on Sunday afternoon and found the woman struggling, about 20 feet from the rocky shoreline.  She was suffering the effects of hypothermia. 

The U.S. Coast Guard searched the water and found the fishing poles and a backpack in the water.  The victim was located a short time later. 

The couple were not wearing life jackets.  State regulation requires anyone aboard a kayak or canoe to wear personal flotation devices between October 31st and May 31st.

Stamford Marine Police say with wind gusting at 30 mph with waves two to four feet high, it does not appear the couple took the weather into consideration before they launched their kayak from Cove Island Park.

 

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Wilton officials explain assistance provided to elderly communities during pandemic

Some Wilton residents have recently raised questions about what town officials are doing to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in  nursing home facilities.  First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice says these facilities have had a disproportionate share of the state's cases. Wilton’s Health Director and Police Captain Rob Cipolla have performed site visits at Wilton’s one nursing home and six other senior housing communities.  They also made  recommendations for additional proactive measures, trained staff, and helped with isolation planning.  School nurses, who have been provided with personal protective equipment, were deployed to supplement staff shortages due to illness.  After a resident at the School Sisters of Notre Dame facility tested positive, the emergency team worked to reactivate the long-term care facility on the property to allow for isolation.  Wilton’s one nursing home accounted for 7 of 135 laboratory confirmed cases and 6 laboratory confirmed Coronavirus deaths. 

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Brotherhood in Action to hold Bethel food drive

Bethel Community Food Pantry and Brotherhood in Action are working overtime to meet the nutritional needs of Bethel households experiencing food insecurity. Traditionally they receive an enormous amount of food from the annual Postal Carriers’ Food Drive in May, but that event has been cancelled due to the tight proximity of the loading dock where the food is collected and transferred. 

Currently, 191 families, consisting of 417 people, are registered to use the food pantry. These households are comprised of 417 people.  Brotherhood in Action hopes to fill their pantry for their summer food delivery to approximately 67 households with children. 

They're holding a food drive on Saturday May 16 between 9am and 12pm at 137 Greenwood Avenue. The items that we are in highest need of include pasta, cereal, sauce, child friendly snacks, coffee, mac & cheese, small bags of rice, shelf stable juices and small laundry detergent.

Brotherhood in Action is located next to The Methodist Church, in the rear lot.  In order to limit social interaction, organizers are asking donors to direct them to doors/trunks to access. Drivers are asked to enter from Greenwood Avenue and exit from the back lot, onto School Street.

A summer food deliver for June 13th is planned.

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Sherman Selectmen approve funding for work at Happy Acres Farm, Town Hall

The Sherman Board of Selectmen has approved funding for repairs at Happy Acres Farm and landscaping at Town Hall.  Up to $5,000 from the town’s capital and non-recurring fund will be used for landscaping design, materials and plants for the Mallory Town Hall outside walkway entrance.  Up to $12,000 from the Local Capital Improvement Program grant would be allocated to update and renovate the town hall business office.  Up to $26,000 from the Happy Acres Restricted Fund will be used to repair the barn's cracked foundation.  Up to $4,000 will be used to repair the storage shed garage doors.  Selectman Kevin Keenan opposed the funding to repair the foundation, noting that the crack has been there since 1933.

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Newtown firefighters extinguish home fire

Another home in Newtown has been destroyed by fire.  All 5 of Newtown's volunteer fire companies responded to a report of black smoke and flames coming from a Toddy Hill Road home on Friday.   It took less than 40 minutes to knock down the fire, which spread from the garage area into the full dwelling, but firefighters remained on scene for another hour to extinguish some hotspots.  Mutual aid was received from Southbury, who sent a tanker and a crew to the scene. Stepney provided coverage at Botsford’s firehouse.  Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps also provided a crew for coverage.

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Putnam County to hold drive thru test event for COVID-19 tomorrow

Putnam County will hold a drive thru test event for COVID-19 tomorrow from 11 AM to 1:30 PM.  The site will be able to accommodate 150 appointments.  Healthcare workers will be prioritized, and it's only for Putnam County residents.  Patients must be prescreened by taking an online survey.  Putnam County Health Department staff will call patients meeting the criteria for testing.  Proof of residency and employment in the case of healthcare workers, will be verified at the testing site. Additional drive-through testing events will be scheduled.

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Brewster man arrested for alleged burglary

A Brewster man has been arrested on a burglary charge. 

Putnam County Sheriff Deputies responded to Kobackers Market in Brewster on Thursday and found a broken glass pane near the front door entrance.  The owner reviewed surveillance footage with the Deputies and saw a man, later determined to be 21-year old Jose Luis Zacaria Ramos, using a rock to break the window. 

K9 Lex conducted a track into the Putnam County Trailway and through the woods eventually placing them in the area of Wells Woods Lane. A canvas of the area around 4:30am led deputies to Ramos, who was walking in the middle of the road on Garden Street. 

In addition to burglary, Ramos was charged with Criminal Mischief and Tampering with Physical Evidence. After a bail hearing Ramos was remanded to the Putnam County Correctional Facility in lieu of $5000 cash bail or $10,000 bond.

This was the second time within a two-week period that Ramos was charged with Burglary. 

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Danbury man charged for Newtown home invasion, robbery

A Danbury man has been charged by Newtown Police with home invasion and other crimes.  Police say the arrest of 21-year old Logan Buckner is the result of an extensive investigation into a complaint of an armed robbery that occurred at a Meadow Brook Road home in October 2018. 

Buckner was stopped by Danbury Police early Sunday morning and arrested on the outstanding felony arrest warrant. 

Newtown Police spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde described the incident as a planned robbery, drug deal gone bad.  The victim was struck in the head with the butt of a gun during the robbery and not seriously injured.

Three suspects were identified during the investigation and warrants were secured for all three. One of the suspects was a juvenile and the other suspect who has yet to be charged is currently being held in a New York State Correctional Facility on other gun related and drug charges. 

In addition to home invasion, Buckner was charged with Robbery, Larceny and Conspiracy to Commit Home Invasion. Buckner is being held at a $250,000.00 bond and will be taken to Waterbury Superior Court today.

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Hiker experiencing medical issue rescued from Richter Park

A hiker was recused from the woods of Richter Park in Danbury on Saturday.  Fire officials say the weather was great and many people took advantage to get outdoors.  Firefighters were alerted around 1pm at that a hiker was having difficulty in the woods on the red trail.  They and a paramedic used the off road rescue vehicle known as "Ranger 1" until the trail narrowed, and then headed out on foot.  The hiker was located near the summit of the Farrington property. After having a temporary medical issue, the Paramedic made sure the hiker was feeling better, and they were escorted out of the woods. Once back at the command post and feeling better, the hiker was released without needing further medical attention.

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Nuvance Health Blood Plasma Donation Centers to open this week

Nuvance Health has launched three Convalescent Plasma Donation Centers, giving people who have recovered from COVID-19 an opportunity to donate potentially life-saving plasma to critically ill patients fighting the virus.

The center at Danbury Hospital will open on Friday.  The one at Vassar Brothers Medical Center opens today.  The one at Norwalk Hospital opens Wednesday. 

Nuvance Health has been using plasma for COVID-19 patients, working with the New York Blood Center and the American Red Cross to procure donations.  Nuvance Health has opened its own donor centers to meet the demands and to rapidly increase available plasma. 

The FDA requires donors to be 14 day symptom free, have a negative swab or have been symptom free for 28 days, with no need for a repeat swab.  Individuals must first register online and a staff member will contact the prospective candidates for further instruction. Priority is now being given to donors getting closer to the 28-day, symptom-free interval.

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Bethel parents weigh in on distance learning

Bethel School District officials sent out an online survey to parents recently about distance learning and how their children are doing with the academic year.  There were also questions about social-emotional resources and many endorsed the need for more.  Bethel school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers are available to speak with children and families during this time. 

Crisis intervention services are available to children and families in Connecticut through the state's 211 info line. 

Some parents requested resources to have virtual social interactions with peers and Bethel officials say Google Meets is a free video conferencing program available to any person who has a Gmail account.  FaceTime also has the ability to have up to 32 individuals on a call. 

Bethel officials also listed several nationwide inline resources that can be helpful on their Facebook page, including links to the National Association of School Psychologists and supplemental digital lessons for remote learning.

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Kent officials set up survey for residents to comment on budget

Kent officials are asking for residents to weigh in on the modified budget process through an online survey.  The Board of Finance has been authorized to adopt a budget within the scope of Governor Lamont's Executive Order, put in place because of the COVID19 pandemic and the reduction in gathering size. 

Kent residents will be able to submit comments and ask up to 5 questions of the Boards of Education, Finance and Selectmen about the proposed budget using SurveyMonkey.  The comment period is open until the end of day on May 6th. 

All of the submissions will be sent to each board for their response, which will then be read in for discussion at the Board of Finance's May 19th meeting, where the public will be also allowed to ask questions. The Board of Finance will then adjourn to a special meeting to approve the budget and set the mill rate.

Follow this link to comment: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Ask_Your_20-21_Kent_Budget_Questions

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Brookfield residents called on to make noise tonight to support front line workers

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is calling on residents to make some noise tonight to give thanks to health care workers, firefighters, police, EMTs, teachers, food handlers and others.  The event will take place from 7 to 7:05pm with participants gathering at their front doors with pots and pans, bells, whistles and voices to celebrate Brookfield.  They says neighbors should be thanked for sewing facemasks or assembling 3D parts for medical equipment and donating to the Brookfield Recovers Together special assistance fund.  The event will also honor the Food Bank volunteers making sure everyone has food and home supplies.  teachers creating a parade to wave to their students, the students working hard studying virtually and local businesses sharing their PPE masks and gowns with those on the front line.

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Former gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski starts Masks for CT nonprofit

Bob Stefanowski, who ran for Governor in 2018, started a nonprofit called Masks for Connecticut.  They've been distributing masks to those on the front lines.  But he says many people don’t have the ability to make their own mask, get to the store to buy one, or purchase one online.  Now the organization is providing free masks for Connecticut residents.  His group is looking for Patrons and Corporate Sponsors for distribution events and donations to keep up with demand.  More details can be found at https://jewishnewhaven.org/masksforct.

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Bethel boy reviews local restaurants on Youtube in hopes of boosting business during pandemic

A 9-year old Bethel boy has come up with an idea to help support restaurants in town during this pandemic.  Nicholas Zaccagno, whose father is a former Deli owner, says the idea is to help boost the businesses by ordering his favorite food items and recording a Youtube video review in hopes that others will also order from those restaurants.  The name of the YouTube channel is Nicky Will Eat It and the episodes are called “Boosting Bethel”.  Dino Zaccagno lost his deli and pasta place, Villarina’s, a franchise with locations in Bethel and New York, during the 2008 recession.  He how workers for HARTtransit.

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Local lawmaker to hold virtual town hall with Early Childhood Commissioner

Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner says childcare is one of the trickiest parts of this pandemic and one that deserves significant attention. On Monday, she will be joined by Connecticut Office of Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye for a Facebook Live Town Hall.  Anyone with questions about childcare subsidies, resources for frontline workers, how to keep kids engaged at home, or any other COVID-19 topics, is urged to tune in Monday at 5pm.

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Easton Police receive reports of e-mail 'Sextortion' scam

Easton Police say email "sextortion" scams are on the rise, targeting people due to them being home during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Victims have received an email that claims their computer has been hacked and that the scammer has obtained intimate recordings of them.

Some versions of the scam have included the person’s password for an online account or may appear to have been sent from the person’s own email address.  The scammer threatens to send the footage to the person’s contacts unless a payment is made, often as Bitcoin. 

Police say this is also a phishing scam with hackers hoping that out of 1 million e-mails sent, 1000 people fall for the scam. It’s unlikely your account has actually been compromised however Police say it’s a good idea to update your password. If the email included a password, Police caution that it is most likely from a large scale data breach from one of the many effected companies.

If you have transferred and lost money due to this scam, contact the Easton Police Department at 203-268-4111 and speak with an officer on duty.

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Bethel High School All Sports Booster Club creates t-shirt sale to benefit food pantries

The Bethel High School All Sports Booster Club is looking to help people who are helping those that are most in need during this public health emergency.  The organization has designed a t-shirt to bring together families with the teachers, doctors, nurses, restaurant owners and first responders.   All proceeds will be donated to Bethel Social Services and Bethel Community Food Pantry.  The shirts are available in both youth and adult sizes in three colors.  The design is being made available in a short or long sleeve shirt, and a hoodie and rang in price from $15 to $25, plus shipping and handling. https://bethel-whateverittakes.itemorder.com/

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Newtown Police investigate reports of cars entered at night

Early yesterday morning Newtown Police received multiple reports that several parked vehicles had been entered into during the overnight hours. A lot of the criminal activity was focused in the Greenbrier Road area, but Police say this has also occurred in other areas.  Several area towns have reported similar incidents including Monroe, Bethel, and Trumbull.  Police are reminding residents to take keys and valuables out of the vehicle when unoccupied, and lock car doors at night.

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Kent seeks volunteers to sew face masks for residents

Members of the Kent Community Emergency Response Team are organizing an effort to make face coverings for residents now that the governor has issued an executive order requiring masks be worn when in public and 6 feet of distance can't be observed.  CERT will provide the materials and patterns to people who can help make face coverings. Volunteers are asked to email CERT@townofkentct.org.

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Redding Highway Department to remove dead trees starting Monday

The Redding Highway Department will begin removing dead ash trees from various locations in town starting Monday April 27th.  Beginning May 4th, the Highway Department will begin their annual sweeping of town roads. They will also be crack sealing various roads in town. The work is weather permitting and subject to change.

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Bethel schools survey parents about distance learning

The Bethel School District recently sent out a survey to families about distance learning.  School officials plan to use the feedback to adjust programs to better meet student needs.  About half of families with children in the district answered the survey and the Superintendent has posted aggregate data for elementary and secondary schools on their website.  Parents were asked if their child needed more direct support, academically or for social-emotional well-being.  Some parents did indicated it was needed, and are encouraged to reach out to the principal, who can work to organize that assistance.

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Plans for community garden in Ridgefield progress

There's not a lot that looks the same today as it did in February.  But a Ridgefield Girl Scout working on her Gold Award says plans are moving forward as planned for a Town Community Garden at Farmingville Elementary School.  Jax Mantione says construction will begin in the next week and 40 garden beds will be ready for planting.  The parcel has been increased by another 20 plots because of high demand.  Anyone looking to participate is asked to contact Ridgefield Town Hall.  New plot owners were all sent the presentation’s link to access all necessary and helpful information. During the planting of the garden, proper social distancing guidelines will  be followed. 

 

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Greater Danbury area residents raise concerns about price gouging

There continues to be reports of price gouging in Connecticut on items that have been selling out quickly, including hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. 

Danbury Mayor Mark Bought says that's something they're keeping an eye on, but he had this warning.  If for instance there's no paper towels in the City, except at one retailer who is charging $5 a roll, it may not be right but it's not necessarily considered price gouging under state statute.  To make a case, it has to be broad and happening all the time. 

Boughton notes that one company was caught price gouging, using Amazon for fulfillment. 

Anyone who suspects price gouging can file a complaint through the Office of the State Attorney General website, and list accurate information about the company, retail store or online vendor. In the complaint, consumers should list 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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No curfew in Danbury, but Mayor cautions it could happen

State officials say hospitals in Connecticut were not overwhelmed by patients because people, for the most part, followed social distancing guidelines of keeping 6 feet from others, not gathering in groups of more than 5 and staying away from playground equipment. 

But some are concerned that there could be flare ups as summer approaches.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says there is no curfew, yet.  Boughton says he reserves the right to implement one if, as the weather warms up, people gather in large groups.  There could be a curfew after 9pm, but that's not happening right now. 

Meanwhile, the organization that oversees high school sports in Connecticut says spring sports could be played if schools reopen, but would only take place in the month of June. The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference also decided Thursday to cancel all spring state championship tournaments.

The CIAC says athletes will be required to have at least 10 days of practice or conditioning before any competition resumes, but says five of those conditioning days may occur at home. 

The CIAC said it surveyed superintendents, principals and athletic directors in addition to the student-athletes themselves, as well as parents, before making these decisions. The organization also consulted with the Connecticut State Medical Society, Sports Medicine Committee and the Department of Public Health and stayed in constant communication with Education Department Commissioner Miguel Cardona.

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Greater Danbury area officials decry lag in COVID-19 testing, reporting

Some Greater Danbury area officials are trying to explain the difference in COVID-19 testing numbers that they're seeing and that the state is providing. 

The Ridgefield Office of Emergency Management says there's been a lot of confusion, but what residents need to know is that the numbers reported daily are cumulative from day one when testing first began.  People who have recovered are included in the total, but only those with symptoms severe enough for their doctors to write prescriptions have been tested. 

Wilton First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice says they learned Wednesday that there was a lag in reporting from one lab that services Fairfield County.  As a result, mid-Fairfield County communities experienced one-day double digit percentage increases in cases, ranging from Norwalk at 41% to Ridgefield at 12%. 

Connecticut has historically lagged surrounding states in testing due to shortages of PPE and test kits.

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Putnam Women's Resource Center hotline remains open for domestic, sexual violence victims

This is a particularly difficult time for victims experiencing domestic or sexual violence because in many cases they are at home with their abuser, with no respite during the COVID-19 shutdown.  Putnam Women’s Resource Center Director Ann Ellsworth says their hotline remains fully operational, despite the physical offices being closed.  Staff continue to be available by phone 10am  to 4pm, Monday through Friday, as well as at other times by appointment. Remote services include crisis intervention, therapy, case management and victim advocacy.  In-person services also continue with the emergency domestic violence shelter remaining open, fully staffed and operational, with all COVID-19 precautions in place.  Victim advocacy services are available in person in an emergency. All services can be accessed 24/7 via the hotline number 845-628-2166.

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Danbury nonprofit to provide meals to more families in need

A Danbury nonprofit will distribute more meals to families after big demand last week while schools were on spring break.  The New American Dream Foundation provided 300 meals to students and their families last week.  They were provided by The Amber Room, where the Foundation was scheduled to hold a scholarship gala, but had to cancel because of the pandemic.  The organization has raised additional money for another distribution of 1,200 hot meals over the next two Saturdays.  Some 200 meals will be distributed at Morris Street Elementary School, Park Avenue Elementary School and the Early Childhood Center on Cottage Street.  Distribution this Saturday and next will be from 10am to 11:30am.  The New American Dream Foundation is collecting additional donations to provide meals on Saturdays through the end of May.

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Newtown home destroyed by fire, nearby house also damaged

Two homes were damaged by fire in Newtown late Wednesday night.  A man escaped unharmed when his Riverside Road home caught fire and was destroyed.   A second home, about 30 feet south of the fire, was damaged.  Three residents there were unharmed. 

All five of Newtown’s fire companies responded.  The Newtown Bee reports that the exposure was the biggest concern, a window had popped and flames were shooting through the roof.  Firefighters dumped water on the nearby home, but say the fire reached the exterior and caused some damage. 

Eversource was contacted to cut power to both structures because one power line to each house were burning.  The Bee reports that the fire started in a bathroom in an area with a light switch and outlet.  The Fire Marshal says it's also backed up to the chimney for a wood stove. 

The cause remains under investigation. 

The Red Cross is assisting the four people affected by the fire. One cat was reported missing.

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Bethel Selectmen approve property tax deferral amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Bethel Board of Selectmen has approved a tax deferral program to help residents and businesses impacted by COVID-19.  The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously at their meeting earlier this week.  Bethel residents, businesses and non-profits with property could be eligible for a 90-day deferral on all real and personal property taxes, utility charges and assessments between March 10th and July 1st, 2020. This will apply to April tax bills that are currently pending, as well as tax bills to be issued in June.  For those that qualify, the new deadline date for April taxes will be July 1st; for June taxes, the deadline date will be October 1st.  Taxpayers must sign a form attesting to a loss of income during this period of 20% or more.  Program details and the application form can be found on the town website.

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New Milford Board of Finance recommends $2.1 million in cuts from proposed budget

The New Milford Board of Finance held budget deliberations this week and made the several adjustments.  On the municipal side, there was a $1.1 million reduction, taking $500,000 from the personnel line and $650,000 from capital.  The Board of Ed request was reduced by $1 million. 

Another $500,000 from the Landfill Settlement Fund will be added to the proposed budget to offset some of the reduction.  The Investment line will be reduced by $250,000, resulting in a net decrease to the tax rate of .69 percent. 

The proposed budget now moves to the New Milford Town Council for final review and to adjust the recommended Town side per line item. The Board of Education will adjust the line items in their budget. 

Mayor Pete Bass called a special Town Council meeting to be held June 1st for deliberations.

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Danbury Mayor does karaoke to 'Old Town Road' after large donation to food pantry

Daily Bread Food Pantry in Danbury remains open during this health emergency.  The number of households visiting has more than tripled in recent weeks and organizers say it's been enormously challenging to keep the shelves stocked.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said during his nightly update that he would jump on the viral video bandwagon and record karaoke performances in exchange for donations of 250-dollars or more to a designated charity.  On Wednesday, the City received receipt of a $1,000 donation to Daily Bread Food Pantry and Boughton posted a video to Facebook, dancing and singing to Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus’ hit “Old Town Road.” 

The video was completed in one take, having never listened to the song before Wednesday.

After a separate $1,000 donation to the pantry, Boughton said he will perform “The Scarn” dance from NBC’s “The Office.”  Boughton promised to do karaoke again to the song choice of the donor who gives $250 to Hillside Food Outreach, which is delivering free food to homebound individuals. 

Donors should email their receipt to t.obrien@danbury-ct.gov.

Non-perishable food donations help replenish the Daily Bread Food Pantry twice-weekly, while monetary monetary donations allow volunteers to make bulk purchases of food to supplement government and supermarket donations. Food donations can be accepted Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 10am to 1pm.  Credit card PayPal donations can be made through their website dailybreadfoodpantry.com. Most needed items include: canned tuna, canned/bagged black beans/other beans, peanut butter, canned corn, 1-3 pound bags of rice, pasta, canned tomato sauce, peanut butter. 

The pantry is located behind St. James Church at 25 West Street in Danbury. Access the pantry by heading up the Terrace Place cross street to the second small parking lot on the right.  If no one is inside the pantry to receive donations call 203-748-3561 and pantry coordinator Jill Shaw will meet donors at the door. 

There is a team of volunteers staffing the Daily Bread Food Pantry, but are looking for more people to be added to a stand-by list of volunteers to be called upon as needed. Volunteers should be energetic and willing to work hard as part of a team. Bilingual volunteers a plus.  Possible responsibilities include:

1. Running food distributions with other volunteers (Mondays 11 am – 3 pm or Fridays 8 am – 12 pm)
2. Off-loading large truck-loads of goods (timing varies)
3. Packing bags of food (timing varies)
4. Picking up large quantities of food at local supermarkets. Pickup truck or very large SUV needed (timing varies)
Location

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Wilton Police received several reports of e-mail 'Sextortion' Scam

Wilton Police have received several reports of an e-mail "Sextortion" Scam, requesting ransom payment by Bitcoin. The e-mail's contents contain legitimate passwords to various personal accounts of the recipient.  But Police say this is a scan and recipients should not respond or send money or Bitcoin.  Recipients should change the password to any compromised accounts.  Wilton Police say no further action is required, as there is no legitimate threat.  Overall, extortion by email is growing significantly, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Compliant Center. Last year, these complaints rose 242-percent, with total losses of $83 million.  This scam spiked in 2018, according to IC3, netting millions for scammers.

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Ability Beyond moves annual fundraising gala online

Each year, Ability Beyond relies on the proceeds from its gala to provide a hopeful future for more than 3,000 individuals with disabilities served by the nonprofit organization. Due to this year’s pandemic, the event has been reinvented. 

Currently, the organization has 12 COVID-19 positive clients and staff members.  Two-thirds of Ability Beyond’s residents are considered high-risk because they have multiple diagnoses, underlying conditions and are of advanced age.

The newly designed virtual fundraiser will be held on Saturday, April 25th via a livestream webcast from 6 to 7pm.  It will be headlined by comedian Christine O’Leary. Donations are being accepted from now, through event day. 

By logging onto www.AbilityBeyond.GiveSmart.com, the public can purchase a virtual ticket, table or contribute to numerous “Lend a Hand” levels that range from $100 for birthday parties on up to $25,000 for handicap accessible housing upgrades for the 3,000+ individuals with physical, emotional and intellectual disabilities served by the nonprofit organization.

Since suspending all of its day program, employment, clinical, transportation and in-home support services on March 12th, Ability Beyond is losing approximately $90,000 per day with an estimated financial hardship of over $5 million by mid-May, yet it continues to provide care for 450 individuals who are self-quarantined in 120 group homes, trying to provide 3 meals a day for workers, obtain supplies and shop for food, while trying to keep the homes virus-free. 

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New Milford Recycling Center has new temporary weekday hours

The New Milford Recycling Center has new temporary weekday hours due to the public health emergency.  In order to better maintain social distancing and to help ensure the health and safety of Town employees, the Recycling Center will only be open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 7:15am until 3:15pm, but closed for half an hour at 11:30 for lunch breaks.    These hours kick in on April 28th.  The center will also be open on Saturdays during regular hours from 8:30am to 3pm.

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Bethel Public Schools Kindergarten Registration underway

Bethel Public Schools Kindergarten Registration for the upcoming school year is underway.  Registrations are being processed as they occur so the District is prepared to complete Kindergarten screenings and school placements as soon as they can safely move forward. A link to the registration process can be found on the Bethel schools website.  During the school closure due to COVID-19, the required documents will be accepted by the District Registrar electronically by   email or fax.  Parents will be asked to provide originals for viewing once school is back in session.

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Brookfield to offer property tax deferral to residents, businesses

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen is considering the best way to help residents struggling to pay their bills.  One of the Governor's executive orders allows municipalities to offer one of two tax payment programs, or both.  One option is a 90 day deferment.  The other is  lowering the interest on delinquent taxes from 1.5 percent a month to a quarter of a percent for three months.  Brookfield officials this week are going with the option to defer payment, which they say will better help those in town who need the assistance.  Brookfield residents will have to show their income is at least 20 percent less due to the coronavirus, while businesses and nonprofits must show their revenue is 30 percent less from March to June, compared to those months in 2019.  The deferment applies to property, personal property and motor vehicle taxes, as well as sewer and water rates.

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FuelCell operation on Triangle St now operational

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy has started commercial operation of its multi-megawatt SureSource 4000 fuel cell project on Triangle Street.  The power plant is the Company’s first deployment of this platform designed to extract more electrical power from each unit of fuel with electrical efficiency of approximately 60 percent.  FuelCell says the project will provide increased power reliability, grid resiliency, and economic development for the state without harmful particulates that are generated by combustion based technology.  The plant generates enough power for 37-hundred average sized homes, and requires only about 10-thousand square feet, or less than a quarter of an acre.

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Connecticut Fire Academy 'mask fit tests' Brookfield firefighters

The Connecticut Fire Academy has been visiting fire departments to "mask fit testing" first responders for N95 masks. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Brookfield’s Fire and EMS says the need for this became vital to ensuring the safety of personnel and the public. Candlewood Company hosted the Connecticut Fire Academy last week.  Since the outbreak started in Connecticut, the Academy has Fit tested over 2000 first responders and health professionals.  They have 20 testing dates already scheduled into the first week of May.  Fit testing is required for employees who regularly wear N95, Self Contained Breathing Apparatus and other masks during their work.

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Danbury PTO creates yard signs to celebrate Class of 2020

The Danbury PTO has created yard signs to celebrate the Class of 2020. Signs must be ordered by May 1st and will be delivered in mind-May. Signs are in color and are double-sided.  They cost $15 without a name or $20 with a student's first name.  Checks can be made payable to DHS PTO and mailed to DHS PTO care of Rich Matzinger, 34 Fox Den Road, Danbury CT 06811.  Payment is also be accepted via Venmo @dhs2020signs and including applicable personalization in the comment section of Venmo.  Questions can be emialed to DHS2020@comcast.net for Rich Matzinger or Kathy Snow.

https://sites.google.com/danbury.k12.ct.us/dhspto?fbclid=IwAR2cCe1nS0aEbx2e9a--PDGJwb7o1oYhcyX7eT7jErR0mTer-mg4O9yQcLc

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Vehicle stolen from Southbury gas station while owner inside building

The Southbury Police Department is investigating a report of a motor vehicle being stolen shortly after 5:30am yesterday. The car was stolen from the Shell gas station located on Main Street North, while the victim was inside the building. The suspect who took the Grey 2016 Ford Explorer was caught on surveillance video. An accomplice vehicle was used and Southbury Police say it appeared to be a dark colored BMW X5.  Anyone who recognizes the suspect or has information about this incident is asked to contact the Southbury Police Department at (203) 264-5912. Ofc. Fernandes is investigating the case.

(Photo: SPD)

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Ridgefield Fire Department gets donation of protective masks, coveralls

Members of the Ridgefield Fire Department are thanking an organization called Direct Relief, for donating masks and coveralls.  Fire officials say this has come at a crucial time when their supplies were starting to run low and traditional avenues of obtaining them had not come through. This will allow Ridgefield firefighters to continue to provide the highest level of care while keeping patients and members protected during assessments and transporting to the hospital. Direct Relief is a non-profit humanitarian health organization which provides medical resource aid throughout the U.S. and internationally.  They operate entirely on private charitable support.

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Ridgefield principal to be honored by school counselor organization

Scotts Ridge Middle School principal Tim Salem has been selected by the Connecticut School Counselor Association as Administrator of the Year.  The professional organization is dedicated to supporting and promoting the role of school counselors.  The organization is planning a virtual awards ceremony. Salem thanked school counselors for making the nomination as well as the Connecticut School Counselor Association for the selection.

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3 Danbury teens arrested for allegedly abducting, assaulting man

Three Danbury teens have been arrested for allegedly abducting a man and holding him against his will.  Danbury Police say the officers located the victim and a female acquaintance at the Quality Inn & Suites on Federal Road April 15th. 

The suspects allegedly assaulted the man and stole from the victims. 

Police charged 18-year olds John Victor Medeiros and Yumari Nunez, along with 19-year old Rosangie Nicole Burgos last week. 

Medeiros is charged with unlawful restraint, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, threatening, criminal mischief, assault, larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct, possession of a controlled substance and use of a motor vehicle without permission.  He is being held on $150,000 bond and has a plea hearing scheduled for May 18th.

Burgos is charged with unlawful restraint, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, criminal mischief, larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, possession of a controlled substance and use of a motor vehicle without permission. Her bond was set at $50,000.

Nunez has been charged with unlawful restraint, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, criminal mischief, larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny. Her bond was set at $25,000.

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Monroe First Selectman calls on Finance Board to consider proposed budget cuts

Monroe’s budget process started prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. On February 8th, First Selectman Ken Kellogg presented a budget to the Town Council that included a municipal expenditure increase of less .60-percent, and reduced the Board of Education’s requested increase to 4-percent. The Board of Education’s appropriation is the largest driver in the Monroe budget, which would have resulted in a projected tax rate increase of approximately 2.6-percent.  Economies of the town, state and households have chanced since then, and Kellogg assumes that the upcoming fiscal year will present significant financial challenges.  He called on the Board of Finance to adopt a budget with a zero increase to the tax rate, while leveraging tools to avoid draconian reductions in service.

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Danbury Library to mail requested material to patron's homes

Danbury Library will begin offering residents the option of requesting library items to be mailed to their home.  It's being started to celebrate National Library Week.  Residents will be limited to one item per library card at a time. 

All material will have a 3 week loan period. 

Under guidance from the Danbury Health Department, items with touch screens, devices, and bags will not be circulated.  Due to ongoing Junior floor renovation, children and teen material is currently not available for request. 

If residents have multiple items on hold, Danbury Library staff will use their discretion to choose one title to mail at a time.  Patrons will be able to receive another item by mail once all other items are returned and checked in.  Holds may be placed through the library’s online catalog. Or, they may be placed by phone by calling 203-797-4505 extension 7707.

The library’s book drop is now open for returns of items.

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Danbury seeks to hire 'coronavirus czar' to focus on grants

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is concerned about the economy coming back after Stay at Home orders are lifted.

He says restaurants will likely not hired all employees back because they could have to cut capacity to allow for 6 feet of social distancing.  Boughton added that nonprofits won't be able to have fundraisers right away. He says it's not like on May 20th there can be a gathering of 500 or more people, and even if you could, Boughton questioned who would even go. 

Boughton says this will be worse than post-9/11 and worse than the great recession, something that no one has experienced.

There are a lot of parts to the pandemic response.  Some are easy to pinpoint leaders for--the health side, food distribution or distance learning organization.  But when it comes to the recovery, Boughton plans to hire a Coronavirus Czar. 

This new employee will have the sole focus on how to access all of the available grants, big and small.  Boughton earlier announced a hiring freeze to try to control the budget, but he says this person will pay for themselves through the money they bring back to the City by finding and applying for these grants. 

Boughton says Danbury has been very hard hit by the crisis.

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NY allows golf courses to reopen, with precautions in place

New York state has changed its guidance on golf courses and will now allow golfers to return to the links with additional public safety precautions in place.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the County Golf Course, which was closed on April 11th to comply with an Executive Order on non-essential businesses has now reopened.  Odell says golf is one of the few recreational activities where it’s easy to maintain social distancing, and being outdoors in nature is great for mental health.  Under the new rules, no golf carts will be allowed at the Putnam County Golf Course and golfers must walk. The food vendors, driving range and pro shop are closed to the public. Golfers are required to prepay for reservations online, no walk-ons are permitted. Items that golfers would touch have been removed from the course. Social distancing rules will be strictly enforced. 

 

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Danbury Proton plans to build treatment center

Danbury Proton plans to submit a Certificate of Need to the Connecticut State Office of Health Strategy for an $80 million proton therapy treatment center, to be operational in 2023 at 85 Wooster Heights.  The project would create over 100 construction jobs during a two-year period.  Danbury Proton would employ over 30 full-time equivalent workers including radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiation therapists, medical support and administrative staff. The new center would feature a U.S.-made proton therapy system manufactured in Massachusetts.  The non-invasive cancer-fighting tool was first used to treat patients in 1954, and received FDA approval in 1988. Unlike traditional radiation which uses photons, or x-rays, protons can deliver nearly all of their energy within a tumor.

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Brookfield Board of Finance to meet virtually on budget tonight

The Brookfield Board of Finance will meet virtually on Wednesday, at 7pm to discuss the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The governor issued an executive order mandating that the board adopt a budget and set a mill rate for next year.  The Board of Finance has until June 4th to adopt a budget and set that rate. The Brookfield Board of Finance will be meeting virtually weekly on Wednesday evenings to review and adopt a tax and spending plan.  Details about how to participate in the meetings can be found on the town website.

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New Fairfield officials sign off on property purchase

The New Fairfield Boards of Selectmen and Finance have signed off on the purchase and price of acquiring 78 Gillotti Road for the high school building project.  During a virtual joint meeting Monday night, some residents voiced opposition to the plan to purchase the 2 acre property for $325,000.  The funding is coming from the town’s capital and non-recurring projects fund balance.  The New Fairfield Permanent Building Committee has agreed to reduce the budget and move more money into contingency to offset the cost.

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Ridgefield health officials seeing plateau in COVID-19 cases

The number of COVID-19 cases in Ridgefield is 143 and the current death toll remains at 20.  Emergency Management Director Dick Aarons says this is a cumulative number and not a list of active infections. It sometimes disagrees with the state numbers because the Health Director Ed Briggs does a “deep dive” making sure there are no redundancies or other inaccuracies in reporting.  Aarons says that because people have been practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings when social distancing can't be maintained,the Greater Danbury area is approaching the plateau, if not already on it. He stresses that everyone should continue to keep up these safe practices.

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Cars stolen, rummaged through in Bridgewater, Roxbury

Two vehicles were reported stolen in Bridgewater last week.  Resident State Trooper Matthew Bell says the incidents happened Wednesday night or Thursday morning.  State Police say several other vehicles were rummaged through and personal property in them was stolen. The following evening, residents in Roxbury suffered similar losses.  Residents are reminded to keep their vehicles locked and to remove valuables at night.

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Early release denied for Measles murder defendant

The Board of Pardons and Paroles has rejected the application of one of the people jailed for the murder of Maryann Measles in New Milford.  June Bates Seger was seeking early release from her 30-year prison term. 

The Republican American reports that the two hour hearing was held via conference call and the three board members were unanimous in their objections. 

13-year-old Maryann Measles was kidnapped, raped, strangled, and drowned 1997.  8 participants were arrested, including Seger, who was 17 at the time and accused of running after Measles when she broke free and bringing her back. 

According to the published report, the State's Attorney told the Board that either by manipulation or a convenient ability to black out certain memories, Seger remains an “extraordinary danger” to the community. 

Seger has been held at York Correctional Facility since her sentencing in 2006.  The mother of three reportedly told the Board that she has undergone mental health rehabilitation, obtained job training and had planned to either live in a halfway house or with her mother in Torrington. 

Cindi Measles, Maryann's mother, said she nearly suffer a panic attack in her Torrington home as she addressed the Board.

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Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to help Conn. college students

4th District Congressman Jim Himes says colleges and universities in Connecticut will receive millions of dollars from the newly created Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. Half is specifically designated for emergency cash grants to eligible students in need of assistance.  Himes says the colleges will be able to provide financial aid grants to cover students’ expenses such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and childcare. Schools can also use the funds to purchase technology to expand remote learning capabilities and defray expenses such as lost revenue. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund created by the CARES Act provides colleges and universities national-wide $14 billion, of which $6.28 billion is specifically designated for emergency cash grants to students.

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ARC executive director resigns amid move out of Danbury

The Danbury Association of Religious Communities, ARC, has announced that long time Executive Director Reverend P.J. Leopold  is resigning.  Her Bishop is assigning her as a full-time pastor at Darien United Methodist Church effective July 1st.  Leopold was the driving force behind many of ARC's programs including Dream Homes, and the Domestic Violence Prevention Explore Program.  She will be succeeded by Juliette Taylor.

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Joel Barlow High School's Key Club organizes food drive

During this public health emergency, Redding officials say food insecurity is devastating those in need. Joel Barlow High School’s Key Club is holding a food drive for the Salvation Army to aid in the fight against hunger. Boxes for food donations have been placed outside the Easton Village Store and The Spinning Wheel and will be there through Friday, April 24th. Donations will need to be dropped off between 10am and 3pm, and will be collected nightly. Redding officials says precautions have been taken to make this food drive safe, and it has been cleared by medical professionals. The Salvation Army will also be accepting monetary donations to help those in need pay medical bills. Checks may be made payable to Town of Redding, with the notation "Salvation Army" in the memo section and mailed to Town of Redding Social Services.

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Brookfield Recovers Fund raises thousands to help residents in need

The Brookfield Recovers Fund, which will allow the town to help residents in need of assistance during this pandemic, has received more than $12,500 in donations.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says he is pleased at how quickly the community has responded to the call for aid and thanked donors.  The town has added a PayPal link to their website, but is also accepting checks at Town Hall, with 'Brookfield Recovers' written on the check.

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UPDATED: Bear spotted walking down Main Street in Danbury

There was a bear wandering around Main Street in Danbury Monday.  The bear, which was tagged by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, was caught on video by the banks in the 200 block of Main Street.  The bear was also photographed behind the New Street Fire House.

(Photo: Joe Cavo)

The biologist from DEEP estimated he was approximately 15 months old; called a “yearling.” He weighed about 135 pounds and appeared to be in good health. While they had him sedated, they tagged and chipped him as well as recorded his measurements. He was relocated to another location in the state and safely released back into the Wild by Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection.

(Danbury Fire Department)

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Feds announce COVID-19 associated death of Danbury FCI inmate

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has announced the COVID-19 associated death of a Danbury Federal Correctional Institution inmate. 

On April 9th, inmate Anthony David Gentile reported to the Health Services Department.  The 59-year old had shortness of breath and was unable to maintain a sufficient oxygen saturation.  He was transported to the hospital for further treatment, where Gentile tested positive for COVID-19.  His condition declined and he was placed on a ventilator.  On Saturday, Gentile, who had long-term, pre-existing medical conditions, was pronounced dead by hospital staff. 

Gentile was serving a 60 month sentence for Receipt and Possession of Child Pornography Depicting Pre-Pubescent Minors. He had been in custody at FCI Danbury since April 13, 2018. 

FCI Danbury is a low security facility that currently houses 688 male offenders, with an adjacent low security satellite prison that currently houses 166 female offenders and a minimum security satellite camp that currently houses 155 minimum security female offenders.

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Bethel Cinema permanently closes doors

At least one business in the Greater Danbury area shuttered by coronavirus will not be reopening.  The owners of Bethel Cinema have announced that they were thrown a curveball by COVID-19.  They say the continued operation of Bethel Cinema has become impossible due to the current pandemic and economic strife that goes with it.  The owners, who have run the theater for the last 15 years, say they would be thrilled if someone was interested in taking over the business. 

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Ridgefield residents instructed on mask guidance

Ridgefield residents who have concerns about others in the community following the mask/face covering directive are being told to use their best judgement on whether or not to enter an area where this is occurring. Connecticut residents are being asked to take protective measures and when possible, share those measures with friends and family.  Emergency management officials are asking that Ridgefield residents keep in mind that some people may not be wearing masks due to health reasons. Director Dick Aarons also noted that the CTAlert system is used as a public warning system for information that the public needs to know immediately. This is different from daily updates from the Office of Emergency Management which are timely, but not necessarily urgent.

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Virtual public hearing in Bethel next month on proposed budget

A virtual public hearing will be held in Bethel next month about the budget for the coming fiscal year.   Information on the public hearing process and the budget will be shared on the town website and through home mailers.  The public hearing will be May 12th at 7pm via Zoom.  The Bethel Board of Finance is considering a $79.8 million budget, which is a less  than 1 percent increase in the tax rate.  The plan includes $48-million for the Board of Ed and $31.8 million on the municipal side.  Nearly $1 million was cut from the proposal discussed before the coronavirus outbreak.  The final plan will be approved by the Board of Finance at a virtual meeting May 15th.  The Board was authorized by the Selectmen, in accordance with Governor Lamont's executive order, to act as the City Council and bypass the town meeting and referendum process.

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Stew Leonard's announces first responder express lines

Stew Leonard was joined yesterday by state officials to announce first responder express lines for police, fire fighters, nurses, and health care workers.  Also on hand for the announcement were  local food pantries that are in crisis.  Food Pantries across the State have been closing and being reduced due to the high demand of local residents from the coronavirus. Stew Leonard’s will be donating over 40,000 pounds of groceries to those in need.   Leonard was joined by senator Richard Blumenthal for a discussion about a “Heroes Fund,” proposal that Senate Democrats announced last week, which calls for a $25,000 pay increase for all essential employees putting themselves on the front line. Grocery workers are interacting with hundreds-of-thousands of people each day, in providing produce, dairy, food items, and paper goods to the general public as they restock essential items during quarantine and social distancing. 

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Three families displaced by fire in Danbury

There was a fire yesterday morning in Danbury.  Firefighters responded to Bells Place, owned by the Danbury Housing Authority.  The fire was reported around 9am in the building with a maintenance garage.  Flames and heavy smoke could be seen from nearby Rose and Beaver streets.  The fire was extinguished quickly and all residents of the two-story, multi-family building were able to escape without injury.  The Red Cross responded to provide assistance to three displaced families.  The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Fire Marshal’s office.

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Actor Liam Neeson voices support for Nuvance Health staff during COVID-19 crisis

Actor Liam Neeson, who has a home in Wassaic, New York, is lending his support to Nuvance Health employees.  He was treated at Sharon Hospital back in 2000 when he hit a deer with his motorcycle. 

In a video shared by Danbury Hospital Thursday, Neeson says he has seen first hand the courageous, dedicated professionalism and resiliency of the staff at Nuvance.  Neeson added that during this challenging and stressful time, he is encouraged by the hospital's readiness for this serious health crisis. 

He wanted to show the Nuvance health heroes who much their devotion and commitment to patient care is appreciated.

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Brookfield Selectmen move 'Coffee with the Community' event online

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen for years now have been holding a monthly Coffee with the Community event on the last Saturday of the month.  Because of social distancing guidelines and restrictions on gathering size, this month will be virtual.  The Brookfield Board of Selectmen will meet informally tonight at 5:30pm to discuss tax deferrals, but most of the time is set aside to answer questions and concerns from residents.

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Bethel couple charged for alleged embezzlement from baseball association

A Bethel couple has been charged with larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny for allegedly embezzling from the town’s baseball association.  51-year old Kurt Dyer was treasurer of the private Bethel Baseball Association while 47-year old Jennifer Dyer was the concession director.  Police say the couple allegedly used an Association-issued debit card for personal use including cash back purchases like gasoline, food, home goods and women's clothing.  Police say Kurt Dyer made numerous purchases at Dick’s Sporting Goods only to return the items for a cash refund.  They are due in court on June 5.

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Connecticut State Police announced death of Oxford Corporal

Connecticut State Police have announced the death of Corporal Dennis D’Archangelo following a long battle with cancer. The D’Archangelo started his career as an Oxford Police Officer in 2003 and during his tenure, earned Life Saving and Outstanding Service awards, along with several Unit Citations. He was promoted to the rank of Corporal in May of 2019.  The Oxford Resident Trooper's Office says "D-Train", as he was known by the community, leaves behind a wife and a 14 year old son.

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Office of Tourism highlights cultural sites with modified programs, activities online

Ridgefield state Representative John Frey says social distancing restrictions may have temporarily closed many of cultural, arts, education, and entertainment venues, but not all is lost. Many of Connecticut’s unique experiences can be had virtually.  The Connecticut Office of Tourism has links to dozens of museums, art galleries, libraries, fitness and wellness centers, zoos and aquariums that put modified programs and activities online.


https://www.ctvisit.com/articles/virtual-activities-for-at-home-experiences?fbclid=IwAR1N_IY_gbaIRcYPWuRHya4D-MWNfWrwb0Z4pHcKuRFMbo-56rI3AbQkibg

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Weekend fire extinguished at Danbury multi-family home

There was a weekend fire nearby the Danbury Hospital field testing site.  Danbury Police working the testing site detail on Hospital Avenue were alerted to a structure fire on nearby Locust Avenue Saturday afternoon.  Firefighters were dispatched while police and Nuvance Health Danbury Hospital Paramedics raced to the incident and confirmed a working blaze.  Firefighters quickly extinguished the flames in a 2-story multi-family residence.  All occupants were able to escape without injury.  The Danbury Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause, which is currently undetermined.

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Agewll Community Council offering grocery services to older Danbury residents

A coalition of local non-profit support agencies is offering food delivery and shopping services to older people in Danbury who should not be traveling to grocery stores.  Agewll Community Council co-chair Dianne Yamin says it may be unsafe for people over 60 who have a serious underlying medical condition to do routine grocery shopping during these uncertain times.

Several years ago the Peter Buck Foundation created the Council.  It's a collaboration of government, business, philanthropy, nonprofit and other community organizations dedicated to moving communities forward where people can age in ways that are relevant, healthy and meaningful.  Currently, the Council is working with community partners to help Danbury Senior Residents who are homebound and unable to obtain groceries and food. 

With assistance from United Way, Connecticut Community Care, Hillside Food Outreach and Jericho Partnership, they are providing food delivery and/grocery shopping for the homebound elderly.

Danbury Seniors who need food delivered or groceries can contact Connecticut community care at: 203 591-5485  or go on the website: www.agewellct.org/foodhelp 

Greater Danbury area residents can still call and volunteers will connect them with Hillside Food Outreach.

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Putnam County legislature approves county fund transfer for COVID-19 response

The Putnam County Legislature has approved County Executive MaryEllen Odell’s request to transfer $220,000 in county funds to cover the cost of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Medical supplies, including protective masks, face shields, gowns and gloves, account for $150,000 of the funds requested.  The remaining will go toward disinfectants and the estimated cost of cleaning county facilities when they eventually reopen. 

Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services commissioner Ken Clair says it wasn't easy to get these supplies, and worked with a consortium of Hudson Valley counties to obtain protective gear for first responders, fire departments and highway departments. 

Putnam County will ultimately seek federal reimbursement for all coronavirus-related county expenses and expects FEMA will pay 75 percent of all approved costs. 

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COVID-19 cases slow in most of Fairfield County

Dr. Albert Ko, a co-chair of the committee advising the Governor on the benchmarks which will allow for the State to begin re-opening, noted last week that one factor is a 14-day decline in coronavirus cases.  In Fairfield County, there continues to be a significant case increase, with 46% growth in five days last week.  The average daily growth in cases for Monday through Friday, was 9-percent across Fairfield County.  The growth in Ridgefield and Wilton, two percent each, and the surrounding suburbs has slowed.  Growth in Bridgeport and Stamford is strong at 13 and 8 percent, respectively.

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3rd Brookfield resident has died of complications from coronavirus

A third Brookfield resident has died of complications from coronavirus.  Town officials say the woman was in her 50s.  Brookfield's two previous losses were men in their 50s and 70s.  As of this weekend, 102 Brookfield residents had confirmed cases of the virus, with 5 patients hospitalized.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says the trend in new patients and hospital admissions is slowing, indicating that  social distancing efforts are working. He urged people to continue to contribute by staying home and staying safe, and protecting neighbors.

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Ridgefield officials outline proper way to discard gloves

Ridgefield officials are urging people to continue to stay home unless necessary.  People who are venturing out are being reminded of the proper way to remove and discard of the gloves.  Emergency Management Director Dick Aarons says gloves should not be tossed in parking lots or on sidewalks, but should be discarded in trash bins or taken home to discard.  Ridgefield Responds is now accepting applications for rental assistance from Ridgefield residents who are experiencing immediate financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19. Applications and criteria can be found on the town website.  The 501C-3 is also accepting more donations for the rental assistance program.  All donations are tax deductible and can be sent to: Friends of Ridgefield-Ridgefield Responds at 400 Main Street.

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State parks close early with parking at capacity

With sunny skies and a mild day yesterday, many Connecticut residents went outdoors to enjoy the weather.  But the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection cut the number of cars allowed in state parks due to social distancing rules and parking lots filled to capacity quickly.  By mid-morning, Huntington State Park in Bethel, Paugussett Forest in Newtown, Lover's Leap in New Milford, Squantz Pond in New Fairfield, George Waldo and Southford Falls State Parks in Southbury all closed to more visitors.  Danbury has not taken the steps of closing parks, but did urge visitors to Tarrywile, Bear Mountain and Richter Golf Course to maintain their distance from other visitors.

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Danbury delays opening Candlewood Lake town park boat ramp due to COVID-19

Danbury is not opening the Candlewood Lake town park boat ramp due to COVID-19.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the parking lot across the street tends to attract a lot of partying.  He says people congregate there so it will not be open during the public health crisis.  Boughton hopes it will open at some point later this summer.  He notes that anyone with a boat and a private dock can go out on Candlewood, as long as they only go out with members of their household.  Candlewood Lake Patrol will be on the water breaking up large groups of people, parties, picnics and other things people shouldn't be doing in groups of 5 or more.  Boughton says he knows everyone wants to get to the other side of this, but the community can't if people don't take it seriously.

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Make Some Noise, Danbury! support event is tonight

If you live in Danbury and hear a big racket at 7 o'clock tonight, lasting for about 5 minutes, it's a planned noise event.  Churches will be ringing their bells, the Federal Correctional Institution will sound their alarm and drivers are encouraged to honk in support of all front line workers.  Residents can bang on pots, cheer and clap to show their thanks to medical professionals, grocery store workers, janitors, teachers and other essential personnel working during this coronavirus pandemic.

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Mark Twain Library to host virtual talk with Michael Ian Black, Mo Rocca

Mark Twain Library in Redding making a fundraising event virtual, and free.  Tonight, Michael Ian Black will be chatting virtually with his friend Emmy Award-winning Mo Rocca.  Black is the founder of the library's annual Pudd’nhead Prize Festival.  This event was originally scheduled to take place at the library and both agreed to take part in a virtual program, which will be live-streamed via a library-hosted YouTube link. 

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Putnam County Health Department urges residents to wear masks in public

The Putnam County Health Commissioner says new evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted between people in close proximity before exhibiting symptoms is an important discovery.  County officials say wearing a cloth face covering is not a replacement for responsible distancing, and staying home unless it is for an essential task or job.

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Primary delayed again

The governor plans to sign an executive order that will push back the date of the state’s presidential primary for a second time.

The election, which was originally scheduled for April 28, will now be held on Aug. 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor’s office said. The governor had previously moved the date to June 2.

The move sets the presidential primary for the same date as primary elections scheduled in Connecticut for federal, state, and local offices.

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Rapid testing site opens in Conn.

Connecticut’s first rapid COVID-19 testing center opened Friday in New Haven.

The drive-up center, located in the parking lot of the former Gateway Community College campus at Long Wharf, will provide testing by appointment in a partnership with CVS Health. Patients must register online to schedule a time for the free test created by Abbott Laboratories.

When patients arrive, they will be put in testing lanes. They are required to remain in their vehicles, and someone will check their registration and guide them through the swab testing.

Gov. Ned Lamont said test results will be available in about 30 minutes. Officials hope to conduct about 750 tests each day at the site.

Lamont said the first 100 tests each day will be reserved for first responders, four of whom tested positive for the virus at the site on Friday.

“Not only will this new testing site significantly increase the number of people being tested, but the speed at which we can get results will aid in our effort to prevent further spread of this disease,” Lamont said.

For most people, COVID-19 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 or death.

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Coronavirus death toll in Connecticut tops 1,000 people

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — More than 1,000 people in Connecticut have died from the coronavirus, Gov. Ned Lamont said Friday as hospitals in southern and western parts of the state contend with a surge in the number of infected patients.

State officials reported 65 new deaths associated with the virus, bringing the total number to 1,036.

“It’s a milestone tragic day,” Lamont said, asking for a moment to say a prayer for the families.

The state’s first coronavirus death was reported on March 18, a man in his 80s who had been living in an assisted living facility in Ridgefield.

The area hit hardest has been Fairfield County, a part of the New York City metro that has become the epicenter of the country’s worst outbreak. As of Friday, Fairfield County had 7,146 confirmed cases of COVID-19 out of 16,809 across the state.

Hospitals in the area are under strain. Bridgeport Hospital this week began moving COVID-19 patients into a 32-bed mobile field hospital that was nearing capacity, and soldiers with the Connecticut National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve have begun caring for COVID-19 patients at Stamford Hospital.

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Redding Fire & EMS looking for PPE donations

Redding Fire & EMS is looking for donations of either rain ponchos or surgical gowns.  This is an effort to better protect first responders amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  Anyone who is able to donate and help out is asked to contact the Redding Fire Chief via email chief@reddingfire1.org.

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Bethel Fire & EMS orders Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation equipment for ambulances

As part of a continuing effort to protect EMS providers and patients, Bethel Fire & EMS has ordered UVC lamps for Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. These will be installed in Bethel ambulances within the next 2 to 3 weeks.  Department officials say they are excited to implement these into the new enhanced cleaning and protection process.

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Southbury Police warn of COVID-19 texting scam

The Southbury Police Department is warning of a COVID-19 related scam.  Anyone receiving a text message that claims you came in contact with someone who tested positive or has shown symptoms of COVID-19 and recommends you self isolate/get tested should be ignored.  The scam text also includes a link, which is an attempt to install maleware or obtain personal financial information.  Southbury Police say the virus is not the only invisible enemy and everyone should be vigilant against all threats.

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Several unlocked vehicles entered overnight in Easton

Several unlocked vehicles were entered overnight on Wednesday night in Easton.  Police officers are urging all residents to bring valuables inside and lock car doors. This has been an ongoing problem throughout the state, where residents make it easy for criminals and leave their vehicles unlocked, and then become victims with various items being stolen.  Easton Police urged residents not to provide the perpetrators with an easy opportunity.

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2020 Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run cancelled

New Milford Police say the difficult decision has been made to cancel the 2020 Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run. The Connecticut Special Olympics and New Milford Police Department thanked everyone who had donated time and money toward the cause. Organizers say they hope to come back next year even stronger. All businesses who donated to the "Adopt-A-Mile '' campaign will be contacted in the near future.

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Many Connecticut nursing homes have had over 10 virus deaths

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The coronavirus outbreak has killed 10 or more residents in eight nursing homes across Connecticut, according to state figures released on Thursday.

Nursing home residents account for 375 of the 971 people in Connecticut to die from the virus, which has spread quickly through nursing homes around the country.

Two Connecticut nursing homes have had 15 deaths — the Gardner Heights Health Care Center in Shelton and the Abbott Terrace Health Center in Waterbury, according to state officials.

Athena, however, which owns Abbott Terrace, said Thursday night in a written statement that its internal count of deaths is six.

The state’s tally appears to include residents who were already receiving hospice services prior to contracting COVID-19, the company said.

“We are not confident that the numbers in the report are an accurate depiction of our centers,” the company said. “Several of our centers have accepted COVID-19 positive residents from area assisted livings and other nursing homes who were unable to be cared for in those settings.”

Phone and email messages seeking comment Thursday night from a representative of Gardner Heights were not immediately returned.

Town Nursing Home Licensed beds Residents with COVID-19 COVID-19 associated deaths among residents
Bethel Bethel Health Care Center 161 18 2

Danbury

Glen Hill Center

100

2

1

Danbury

Saint John Paul II Center

141

23

9

Danbury

Western Rehabilitation Care Center

120

13

7

New Milford Village Crest Center for Health & Rehabilitation 95 4 -
Ridgefield Laurel Ridge Health care Center 126 12 1
Wilton Wilton Meadows Health Care Center  148 6 4


Josh Geballe, the chief operating officer for Gov. Ned Lamont, said at a news conference Thursday that the deaths represent about 2% of the beds inside state nursing homes that have reported infections.

“So I think it’s a real testament to our nursing homes, to the nurses and the staff there and the work they’ve been doing to put in place the right infection control procedures,” Geballe said. “We know that this is a highly at-risk population. We’ve seen that across the nation, across the world, and the teams are doing great work within the nursing homes to really protect the residents.”

Nursing home residents account for 1,713 confirmed cases of the virus in the state, out of a statewide total of 15,884, according to the state’s numbers.

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Bond Commission cuts proposed funding for new Danbury, Waterbury branch rail cars

After a false start last week because of technology issues, the state Bond Commission has met to approve funding, most the long over due aid to municipalities.  There was an item on the agenda calling for $360-million for new rail cars for the Shoreline East, the Hartford to Massachusetts line, and the Danbury and Waterbury branches of Metro North.  Then it was lowered yesterday to $300-million, and eliminated the 12 rail cars for Danbury and Waterbury. 

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw says the rail cars were postponed for now because of funding issues.  She says the lengthy debate, and no action, over how to pay for transit improvements has led to reduced funding availability.  McCaw says the additional rail cars were contemplated as part of a broader enhancement plan, a plan that has not been resolved.  That's a reference to legislative opposition to Governor Lamont’s now-trucks-only tolling plan.

DOT Commissioner Joe Giulietti told the Bond Commission that the the cost per car is about $5 million.  He noted that rail cars along the Hartford line have been leased from Massachusetts and the state needs to replace them.  The Shoreline East cars are the oldest in the system.

State Representative Chris Davis, ranking member of the Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee, is a member of the Bond Commission.  He asked why some of the new cars cannot also be used on the Danbury and Waterbury branches.  Giulietti said the need is on the two other lines.  He noted that the DOT will continue to modernize the lines, adding that they've taken advantage of the fact that with ridership down more work is getting done on Positive Train Control and the signalization project. 

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Danbury Fire Department creates 'MTV Cribs' style video tour of HQ

Due to the public health emergency, the Danbury Fire Department has cancelled fire station tours.  The decision was made in an effort to limit the exposure to firefighters and visitors.  Department officials say it was a hard decision because the firefighters like giving tours and take pride in their second home.  To give a behind the scenes tour of fire headquarters, and bring a little levity to these stressful times, the Danbury Fire Department put a video together with an MTV Cribs spin.

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West Conn President issues message about concerns of racism against Chinese-American

West Conn's President has issued a message to the campus community about concerns of racism and xenophobic animosity against Chinese, Chinese-American and Asian people.  Dr John Clark says this is something that's happened across the country because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and members of the West Conn community have now begun to have similar concerns.  He says West Conn provides itself on having a campus community in which everyone feels a sense of belonging.  Clark added that West Conn is steadfast in its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  The university's Affirmative Action Policy Statement prohibits discrimination and harassment based on protected-class identity.  Students can   file an online report with the University Anonymous Incident Report Form and/or send an email to the Office of Diversity and Equity (at ode@wcsu.edu) for guided assistance. Counseling and/or health services are available through the University’s Counseling Center, Health Services, and/or the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury, as needed.

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New York State Police investigating possible murder suicide

New York State Police are investigating a possible murder suicide in the Town of North Salem.  Troopers were dispatched shortly before 2am yesterday to Titicus Road for an alarm activation, and discovered two deceased adults inside a private home.  The Westchester County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the couple as 63-year old Barry Naderman and 64-year old Peggy Naderman.  The initial investigation revealed that their deaths were a result of a murder suicide, but the investigation is ongoing.  State Police do not believe there is any danger to the public.

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Nonprofits run out of food for school meal distributions

There was a traffic jam in Danbury yesterday around Rogers Park Middle School.  The school district is on Spring Break and the official meal distribution did not happen this week, though non-profits stepped up to provide free lunches for students in need.  But the Rogers Park distribution, organized by the Connecticut Food Bank, ran out of their 400 meals within 20 minutes.  Police drove through South Street, Mountainville Avenue and part of Main Street with loudspeakers announcing to the hundreds of cars that there was no more food, to turn around and go home.  The announcements were made in both English and Spanish. Emanuela Palmares, vice president of The New American Dream Foundation, says they also handed out 150 hot meals within 45 minutes of its distribution at Morris Street School. During their Tuesday distribution, 150 meals had been sufficient.

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New Fairfield officials meet Monday on land purchase for school project

A special meeting is being held in New Fairfield on Monday night to vote on the acquisition of 78 Gillotti Road for the high school building project.  The 2-acre property will be incorporated into the $84.2 million project.  The Selectmen were slated to vote earlier, but wanted to give taxpayers more time to weigh in.  The Selectmen will vote on authorizing the purchase, while the Board of Finance would vote on authorizing the 325-thousand dollars in funding.  Patricia and Jerry Gay have owned the property since 1990, according to land records.  They expressed concerns about the property value because of the building project.  The Boards of Selectmen and Finance meeting on April 20th will take place on the Zoom video conferencing platform at 7:30pm.

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Wilton residents question recreational area closings

Some Wilton residents have questioned which recreational areas are open and why certain ones were closed.  First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says with the exception of the north lot at the High School, all school parking lots are open for walking, running and biking. Social distancing guidelines still apply. 

Fields in Wilton are closed. 

The north lot remains closed because it is adjacent to Lilly Field, the location of the greatest number of social distancing noncompliance issues. After the schools were closed, many teammates met at the fields to practice and parents met at the facilities for playdates, which Vanderslice says undermined social distancing. 

She cautioned that parking lots remaining open should not be viewed as an opportunity to join together other families. 

Wilton Police patrols have increased and officers are issuing trespassing tickets, but Vanderslice says they are still removing residents from the fields. 

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Chamber announces grant program for small businesses

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce is alerting small businesses to more assistance being made available during this pandemic.  The U.S. Chamber Foundation has launched a grant program called the Save Small Business Fund, which is being financed by contributions from corporate and philanthropic partners.  The Chamber Foundation will distribute $5,000 grants to small employers for immediate needs, to mitigate closures and job losses, and mobilize the long-term support needed for recovery.  Grant applications will open on April 20th. For more information on eligibility, grant timeline, and more, visit savesmallbusiness.com.

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Danbury Fire Department urges families to hold fire drills

Since distance learning is now in effect, the Danbury Fire Department is asking parents to make sure to practice fire drills with the entire family.  They says this is something that should be done at least twice a year anyway, even when regular school is in session.  Families should make sure there are two ways out of every room and that everyone knows the central meeting place.

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New Fairfield Social Services to collect items for Mobile Food Pantry

New Fairfield Social Services, in conjunction with the Congregational Church will be collecting food for the Mobile Food Pantry every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11am to 2pm in the parking Lot of the Congregational Church.  Items Accepted include: 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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Southbury Police investigating alleged canoe theft

Southbury Police are investigating the theft of a green, two person Old Town Canoe from a home in the area of Hemlock Ridge Road.  Police received a report from the resident saying that the canoe was allegedly stolen between Saturday and yesterday.  The seating in the canoe is made of wicker that is worn down. Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Alfano at (203) 264-5912.

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Ridgefield First Selectman recovering, nursing home reports more fatalities

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi continues to recover from coronavirus.  He reports feeling much better after a long two weeks of symptoms including nausea and trouble breathing. He thanked Ridgefield residents for continuing to do their part to flatten the curve, but urges people to wear face coverings when they go into public places, like the grocery store. 

Health Officials throughout the region are reporting a flattening of the curve,  Ridgefield Emergency Management Director Dick Aarons emphasizes that this is because people are continuing to do their part.

Two weeks ago, he says, the story was bleak.  He asked for continued cooperation with social distancing, sanitizing and being sensible while outdoors.  Aarons says this will help avoid a spike.

Benchmark Assisted Living has reported 16 coronavirus related deaths at their facility.  35 additional people at Ridgefield Crossing have tested positive for the disease, including 17 employees.  But Health Director Ed Briggs says he only has confirmed 13 deaths of Ridgefield Crossings residents. One death has been reported at Laurel Ridge, a nursing home that shares a campus with Ridgefield Crossings, and two others were attributed to other addresses. 

Briggs says there are 126 active cases, but notes that these numbers might be skewed in that many people, particularly those with mild symptoms, have not been tested.  Briggs says more people are being released from the hospital than those being admitted.

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Forms now available for Danbury residents looking for property tax deferral

Forms are now available in Danbury for property tax payers to fill out and get a deferral.

The City Council unanimously approved a COVID-19 Tax Deferral Program at their virtual meeting earlier this month.  The application form and instructions were posted to the City website yesterday for any Danbury resident, business owner or landlord who has been affected by COVID-19.  ( https://www.danbury-ct.gov/covid-19-tax-deferral-program/ )

The form can be filled out online, so people don't need a printer. It can be emailed to taxdeferral@danbury-ct.gov. 

Physical copies will be available at City Hall starting next week for those who do not have access to a computer and those forms can be mailed back to the Tax Collector's Office.

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New Milford Finance Board to hold virtual Town Meeting on budget Saturday

New Milford officials are hosting a virtual Town Meeting Saturday on the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  Mayor Pete Bass says voters should continue to have their say, even though gatherings of more than 5 are not recommended. 

He was working with the New Milford Registrar of Voters to see if a vote by mail option is possible, but then the Governor issued an executive order mandating that towns not hold referendums this year.  After speaking with the New Milford Town Council, the Town Attorney, Bond Council and Brookfield's Town Attorney, Bass says a vote by mail will not happen. 

The Board of Finance has the recommended Town Council Budget to review and make adjustments if they choose. They will be holding their Town Meeting this Saturday for public input.  The New Milford Board of Finance will deliberate on Wednesday to make any adjustments to the budget, and send it back to the Town Council for final approval.

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Wilton officials say nonprofits suffering as a result of coronavirus

Greater Danbury area towns are taking a hard look at their budgets for next year because not a lot of revenue is coming in right now.  Wilton officials say this emergency has impacted non-profits as well.  The Wilton Library is experiencing a $100,000 fundraising shortfall due to the cancellation of three spring events: the Annual Gala, the Spring Book Sale and the Authors Luncheon.  Trackside Teen Center is unable to earn the required rental income to help underwrite their facility costs. Circle of Care is hoping a Virtual Road Race will make up for the cancellation of their annual fundraiser. Ambler Farm, Wilton Historical Society, Woodcock Nature Center are also on the list of non-profits impacted.  The Wilton Town website now has a single page with descriptions and links to Town resources related to Coronavirus.

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Bethel Board of Finance will continue budget discussions

The Bethel Board of Finance will continue budget discussion this evening through a virtual meeting via the Zoom platform.  During an earlier public hearing on the proposed $80.7 million proposal, there was mixed response.  Some residents say the spending increase is needed because of increased school enrollment and more people relying on town services during this public health crisis.  Others oppose the idea of not being able to vote on a tax increase, and say more residents are unemployed and can't afford a tax hike.  During the earlier public hearing, the Board of Finance discussed the possibility of cutting the recommended budget by at least $1 million to keep te tax increase under 1-percent, or $1.6 million for a flat budget.

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Driver issued verbal warning for Tuesday morning highway accident

There were no injuries reported in a highway accident that closed I-84 yesterday morning for about two hours.  State Police say an 80-year old Florida man was headed eastbound in the right lane and lost control after the trailer he was towing fish-tailed and swerved into the left lane.  Paolo Fichera of Pomano Beach hit a car being driven by a 61-year old Brooklyn, New York man shortly before 8:30am.  Both vehicles were heavily damaged.  About 50 feet of metal beam guardrail and a metal light pole were also hit.  Fichera was issued a verbal warning for failure to maintain a proper lane.  Various lane closures were in place until approximately 10am.

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Local lawmaker highlighting statewide program to distribute protective masks

Brookfield State Representative Steve Harding is highlighting an effort to help protect first responders and front-line emergency workers. 

A statewide program called Masks for Heroes has been launched by the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven. 500,000 masks have already been distributed throughout the state, but hundreds of thousands more will be needed.  The grassroots partnership distributes Level 1, FDA-approved masks to hospitals, first responders, and other front-line emergency workers. 

All donations, which can be made online or by check, go directly to purchasing masks for these parties. 

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Ridgefield Emergency Operations Center passes on reminders from CDC

The Ridgefield Office of Emergency Management is passing along a reminder from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  The CDC says it takes just one person to break a chain of COVID-19.  People are being urged to stay home, wash hands frequently, and when out for essential trips, wear a cloth face covering, and keep at least 6 feet of distance from others.

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Conn. manufacturers getting help to retool operations to make medical equipment, supplies

The State of Connecticut is partnering with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and its affiliate CONNSTEP to help the state’s manufacturers that are retooling their operations to make critically needed medical equipment and supplies, and the health care institutions that are experiencing specific shortages.

Governor Ned Lamont highlighted Curtis Packaging in Sandy Hook, Modern Plastics in Shelton and Wepco Plastics in Middlefield.

He says manufacturers will be able to obtain information on the current supply needs in Connecticut, make connections with suppliers, and ultimately provide the products.  Lamont added that this is crucial so the state doesn't have to sit with a tin cup waiting for the strategic reserve to provide the needed supplies. 

Lamont says this effort is focused on using manufacturers as non-traditional sources to meet needs that currently can’t be met in the market, which has become overwhelmed as global demand has dramatically increased.

A new website has been created by CONNSTEP – www.ctcovidresponse.org for manufacturers. The Connecticut Department of Administrative Services has a purchasing team that is generating and following sourcing leads for traditional manufacturers, distributors, and other sources.

In response to the COVID-19 impacts, the Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund Voucher Program will give priority and focus to manufacturers realigning or expanding capacity and capabilities to respond to the shortages of critical medical equipment and supplies.

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Danbury, Norwalk mayors back Gov. on response to coronavirus pandemic

As time has gone by with businesses shut down and families struggling, political backbiting has started up.  Democratic Putnam County legislators are critical of Republican County Executive MaryEllen Odell while Republican Connecticut lawmakers are judging Governor Ned Lamont's actions. 

During the Governor's evening press conference yesterday, Lamont was joined by a Democratic and a Republican Mayor on the front lines. Mark Boughton says Danbury struggled with how to provide more space in the homeless shelter when the pandemic started.  He reached out to the state, and they pulled resources together to set individuals up at the Super 8 motel.

Boughton doesn't see the state falling down, and credited the Governor for answering the call of municipal needs.  He added that the state, like local governments, has stepped up to do things they've never done before. He also noted the City's strategic partnership with Putnam County.  While separated by a line on the map, there's no real separation.  He says the holistic decisions being made with Governor Cuomo are going to make a difference in the Greater Danbury area. 

Lamont and Boughton were joined by Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling. 

Rilling says politicizing the issue does little at a time when the western half of the state has not yet reached its peak of infections.  He says every one of the 36 deaths in Norwalk affects the city, noting that residents of surrounding towns of Westport, Darien, New Canaan and Wilton regularly visit Norwalk to shop.

If there were shortcomings, Boughton said it was underestimating the nature of the virus and how contagious it is.  He says the effect on the elderly and nursing homes is something that they will have to keep a close eye on and work to better protect that vulnerable population.

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Two Redding residents with COVID-19 have passed away

Two Redding residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have passed away. The current total number of positive COVID-19 cases in Redding is 29. 

Redding Health officials say now is not the time for guards to be dropped and everyone must continue to “Stay Safe, Stay Home”.  But they acknowledged that households with a tested-positive family member have found it challenging to live under the same roof and not spread the disease to others.  This virus is demonstrating that no one is exempt from illness and that social distancing must apply to everyone. 

Health officials from the federal down to local level are saying at this time it’s best to assume that anyone anywhere could be infected and to act accordingly with precautions. This virus is more transmissible and has ten times the mortality rate of seasonal flu.  

If everyone distances effectively, Redding officials say the end result will be that we can think about getting back to some degree of normality sooner than later.

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Newtown initiative aims to help restaurants, people in need of groceries and meals

The COVID-19 virus has put many people out of work, and impacted local restaurants.  An effort is now underway in Newtown to help get food in the hands of the elderly, struggling families, and those at risk here in Newtown, as well as support the local restaurant community. 

The Department of Human Services has partnered with the Knights of Columbus and other organizations in town to coordinate efforts.  Meals or gift cards will be purchased from local restaurants, and groceries will be purchased to stock the shelves of FAITH Food Pantry. Food will be delivered to those without means of transportation or at risk to leave their homes. 

Partners include FAITH Food Pantry, Lion's Club, Rotary Club, Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, Chamber of Commerce, Interfaith Council, Real Food Share, FONS (Friends of Newtown Seniors), and Whitsons Culinary Group. 

Information can be found online at https://www.gofundme.com/f/newtown-helping-hands.

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Local lawmaker provides update on unemployment claims processing

Ridgefield state Representative John Frey says the state Department of Labor is providing updates on their website in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  He notes that the agency is currently working to process an unprecedented number of claims.

Unfortunately, Frey says the large number of new claims is taxing the system and delays are being reported.  To date, the agency has received more than 343,000 claims, and has released an average of $44 million per week in benefits for each of the last two weeks. The backlog to process claims remains around 5-6 weeks, however Frey says the benefits will be made retroactive to when the application was filed. 

While the federal CARES Act provides unemployment benefits to self-employed and independent contractors, the state Department of Labor is not yet set up to receive applications for these persons.

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Danbury Airport gets federal funding to help get through COVID-19 pandemic

Danbury Municipal Airport is getting some federal funding to help get through the coronavirus pandemic.  The Federal Aviation Administration is awarding $30 million in aid to 11 airports in Connecticut to help respond to the public health emergency.  Danbury is getting $69,000, while Bradley International will get most of the funding.  This money will support continuing operations and replace lost revenue resulting from the sharp decline in passenger traffic and other airport business due to COVID-19. The funds are available for airport capital expenditures, airport operating expenses including payroll and utilities, and airport debt payments.

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New Milford man allegedly attacks roommate with hatchet

A New Milford man has been arrested for allegedly hitting his roommate with a hatchet.  Police responded to Housatonic Avenue Monday night on a report of a verbal argument that turned physical.  58-year old Morris Bothwell was charged with assault and disorderly conduct for allegedly attacking his 54-year old roommate.  The victim was transported to Danbury Hospital in stable condition with a leg laceration. Bothwell was held on $100,000 bond and will be arraigned today.

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No roadside pick up for this year's Bridgewater Spring Bulky Drop-off

The Town of Bridgewater Spring Bulky Drop-off will not have roadside pick up this year.  Large dumpsters will be at the Town Garage located on Hut Hill Road.  Residents may drop off bulky household items there from Monday the 20th through this coming Friday, 7:30am to 3:30pm and on Saturday the 25th, 9am to 1pm.  First Selectman Curtis Read says they will allow one free pickup truck load or two carloads per household. Additional pickup loads will cost $25 per household. 1-3 ton truckloads will cost $50 per additional load, with a maximum of 3 total loads per household.  Bridgewater residents can not bring hazardous waste, construction debris, concrete, or household garbage.

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Ridgefield Police report uptick in larcenies from motor vehicles

Ridgefield Police have started to see another increase of larcenies from motor vehicles over the last few weeks. Police are asking for the public's help to make it difficult for the criminals by locking unoccupied cars and setting alarms. Anyone who sees or hears something suspicious is urged to contact Ridgefield Police. 

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Redding, Ridgefield Social Services offer support during COVID-19 pandemic

Redding Social Services Department is looking for volunteers interested in helping out seniors.  People who can do grocery store errands, food pantry drop offs, or calling seniors and helping in other ways can fill out a volunteer form on the town's website.  The Redding Social Services Director will then respond with volunteer opportunities.

The Redding Police Department is thanking Danbury-based Bedoukian Research and Robert Bedoukian for manufacturing and distributing hand sanitizer to the police department.  The company is also distributing hand sanitizer to Danbury Hospital and other neighboring public safety agencies.

Ridgefield Social Services says a local team of mental health providers has convened to support the Ridgefield community during these stressful times.  Ridgefield Healthy Heads and Hearts has created a list to connect residents with a professional, including the insurance they take.  The list also includes those offering a sliding scale and who can offer pro bono services.  https://bit.ly/2V2G4Ah

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Wilton Officials: Demand for isolation housing lower than expected

Wilton officials say the demand for isolation housing for people who can't quarantine at home is lower than expected and the town has put a hold on any further efforts to ready Miller-Driscoll School for patients.  The school will continue as a third priority location, but for the time being will remain inactive.  The likelihood of requiring Comstock, the fourth priority location, has diminished enough that the food pantry will re-open in the next few days with access restricted to Social Services Director Sarah Heath and clients.  Donations should still continue to be dropped off at the shed in the parking lot in front of Wilton Police Headquarters.

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Boughton calls on residents to make noise to thank essential workers Saturday

This Saturday night, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is calling on residents say thanks to First Responders, doctors, nurses, PA's, health care professionals, teachers, grocery workers, and other essential workers.  Danbury residents can honk horns, drum on pans and make noise from 7 to 7:05pm to let those workers know their neighbors care.

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Old Newtown Road in Danbury to be closed for two months

Old Newtown Road in Danbury will be closed for about two months, starting on the 22nd at 8pm. The state Department of Transportation will then start intersection and safety improvements on Newtown Road in Danbury to relieve congestion at several intersections.  The goal is also to reduce crashes between the Public Works Complex to Plumtrees Road and from Plumtrees Road to Eagle Road and Industrial Plaza Road. 

Newtown Road will be widened from the Public Works Complex to Plumtrees Road, providing two through-lanes in each direction and exclusive left turn lanes at the Old Newtown Road and Plumtrees Road Intersections. 

A raised median will be installed from Eagle Road to Commerce Drive within the existing painted island and left turn lane.  Roadway widening is not anticipated to be needed for the installation of the raised median.  Intersection improvements are also proposed for Eagle Road intersection, including minor curbline adjustments, minor grading and new traffic signal. 

The $9.18 million dollar project is expected to be completed in November 2021. 

Old Newtown Road will be closed until 6am on June 22.  A detour route will be posted, using Newtown Road and Beaver Brook Road.  Work along Plumtrees Road will utilize lane closures during the day between 9am and Noon and between 7pm and 6am,  Monday through Friday.  All other roadways between 9am and 3pm.

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Brookfield records second coronavirus related edeath

Brookfield has lost a second resident, a man in his 70s.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says now, more than ever, it is critical that everyone continue to protect each other by isolating with families. He asked that people stay home unless absolutely necessary. 

The Brookfield Board of Finance will meet virtually tomorrow at 7pm to discuss the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The governor issued an executive order mandating that the board adopt a budget and set a mill rate for next year. The Board of Selectmen has extended, by 30 days, the date by which Brookfield must adopt a budget, in order to allow the Board of Finance as much time as possible to gather information.

The Brookfield Board of Finance has until June 4th to adopt a budget and set the mill rate.

 

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Putnam County Golf Course closed until further notice

The Putnam County Golf Course is closed until further notice to comply with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order on non-essential businesses.  Until now, the county golf course in Mahopac, like public courses in New York State Parks and in Westchester County, remained open with significant restrictions added to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

But new guidance issued by the Empire State Development Corp. the economic development arm of the state has deemed golf courses non-essential, which now requires them to close.  It also cited boat launches and recreational marinas as non-essential.  

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said while public health comes first, they thought that golfers could enjoy one of the few recreational activities where it was easy to practice social distancing.  At the Putnam County Golf Course, the food vendors, driving range and pro shop were closed to the public, golfers were required to prepay for reservations and, to limit contact, no walk-ons were permitted. Items that golfers would touch – rakes, flags, benches, etc. – were removed from the course. 

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Bethel Board of Finance to discuss proposed budget tonight

The Bethel Board of Finance will discuss the budget tonight at their regularly scheduled meeting, which will be held virtually.  The proposed budget was $80.7 million.  It was was slated to go to a public hearing, town meeting and then referendum before the pandemic hit and gatherings of less than 5 were recommended.  The Governor has mandated finance boards approve budgets directly.  The Bethel Board of Finance will take another look at the recommended budget and hold a public hearing at a future date.  The $80 million is a 3.49 percent spending hike and breaks down to $32.5 million on the municipal side and $48.2 million for the schools. If nothing is changed, the tax rate would increase by 2.39 percent.  Tonight's Bethel Board of Finance meeting will be held on the Zoom video conferencing platform at 7pm.

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Bethel Planners hold virtual hearing on proposed indoor recreational facility

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a virtual public hearing on the 14th at 7pm.  They will be hearing the application of Maximillion Partners LLC, for property located at 13 Stony Hill Road for an amended Special Permit to allow for the lower level of an existing building to be used for indoor recreational purposes including amusement devices. There are no proposed exterior modifications.  The public can send comments via regular mail, or email: landuse@bethelct.gov.  The public may participate in the hearing through Zoom video conferencing, or residents looking to participate by a home phone should call the Land Use office at 203- 794-8578 for instructions.

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New American Dream Foundation providing meals to Morris Street students

The New American Dream Foundation is providing 300 meals to Danbury students of Morris Street School during spring break.  The organization for the past 7 years has hosted a gala event to provide scholarships, but has postponed the 7th annual event.  The New American Dream Foundation purchased 300 meals from its official gala venue, The Amber Room Colonnade, and will distribute 150 of them today, and the other half on Thursday.  80% of Morris Street students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, over 70% identify as minorities, and over 50% as English as Second Language learners and would not have access to the nutrition program over spring break.

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Wind gusts knock out power, down trees

Hurricane strength wind gusts have wreaked havoc on the Greater Danbury area.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton sent out a reverse 911 call urging residents to secure outdoor items and to check windows.

Police and Fire Departments across the Greater Danbury area urger motorists, if they are out driving, to use extreme caution.  The wind has knocked down tree limbs and utility wires.

Eversource is reporting more than 28,000 outages across the state as of 1pm Monday.  

NEW MILFORD 1,216
NEWTOWN 1,126
WOODBURY 928
NEW FAIRFIELD 724
DANBURY 590
WASHINGTON 535
ROXBURY 439
RIDGEFIELD 284
REDDING 180
BETHLEHEM 158
BETHEL 127
WILTON 100
BROOKFIELD 65
WESTON 56
MONROE 55
SOUTHBURY 28
KENT 26

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Firefighters: Don't microwave face masks to kill germs

Danbury Firefighters are warning people against the use of a microwave to disinfect face masks.  As the use of masks is becoming more prevalent, officials say microwaving then can start a fire.  Danbury shared a photo from the Stratford Fire Marshal showing a kitchen heavily damaged by fire, noting that most masks have metal in the nose piece.

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Redding temporarily suspends issuance of burn permits

Due to the current situation dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, Redding officials have agreed to suspend the issuance of burn permits until May 1st.  They're concerned with the unnecessary exposure of volunteer first responders in the event the fire departments are required to put out a blaze. 

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New Fairfield holding virtual Board of Selectmen meeting tonight

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen is holding a virtual meeting tonight.  One of Governor Lamont's executive orders allows municipalities to offer property tax relief to residents.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says that could be in the form of  deferment and low interest rate programs to support eligible Connecticut taxpayers and organizations economically affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen also plan to discuss another order about short term rentals. Lamont restricted lodging to only necessary visits, not for vacation or leisure purposes.  New Fairfield officials short-term rental regulations only went into effect last month.  Tonight's board meeting is at 7:30 and will be held on the Zoom video conferencing platform.  

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Gov. lifts restrictions on food trucks at rest areas

Truckers and essential workers looking for a meal will be able to find something at Connecticut’s rest stops. Governor Lamont’s latest executive order lifts restrictions on commercial activity and permits food trucks to set up at rest areas located in Danbury on I-84, among other locations. Interested food truck operators must obtain a permit from the Connecticut Department of Transportation, which requires a valid license issued by a local health department or health district to serve food in Connecticut.  Lamont says these truck drivers are keeping Connecticut moving and are providing critical necessities to the state during this national crisis.

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Greater Danbury area towns report first coronavirus associated fatalities

Several towns in the Greater Danbury area have reported their first Coronavirus related deaths.  A Monroe resident in his seventies who tested positive for COVID-19 has died.  New Fairfield officials say a woman over the age of 70, died Thursday.  A Brookfield man in his 50’s was reported as the town's first COVID-19 deaths.  Brookfield has 95 confirmed cases of the virus and 7 people remain hospitalized.

Bethel suffered its first fatality due to COVID-19. The victim was a woman between the ages of 70-79.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the number of confirmed cases reported in Bethel jumped from 90 to 103 in a 24 hour period.

Although the governor announced that the rate of new infections seems to be slowing, this does not mean social distancing procedures can be relaxed.  Knickerbocker said he shared these numbers not to cause alarm or anxiety, simply to underscore the importance of being vigilant. 

Ridgefield Health Director Ed Briggs reports that while the state systems have been sporadic with reporting, he estimates that the town has 122 active cases of COVID-19 and 15 deaths.  Emergency Management Director Dick Aarons says the volunteer Community Emergency Response Team deserve praise, putting in over 21-hundred hours since March 5th when they were activated. 

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Greater Danbury school districts make different decisions on Spring Break

School districts in the Greater Danbury area are taking different approaches to Spring Break.  Brookfield, Danbury, Newtown and New Milford are all continuing their breaks as planned.  Meanwhile, several districts will still have some school this week. Bethel and New Fairfield students had Friday and today off.  In New Fairfield, the rest of the week will be a spirit week.  Ridgefield was supposed to be off last week, but had school Monday and Tuesday, early dismissal Wednesday and classes resume today. Easton, Redding and Region 9 will have today, tomorrow and Wednesday off, with students returning to distance learning on Thursday and Friday.

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Kent appoints new Emergency Management Director

Some Kent residents have questioned why the new Emergency Management Director is not a Kent resident.  First Selectwoman Jean Speck says the former Emergency Management Director and Deputy Emergency Management Director resigned their positions for other endeavors. Because of the current emergency, she had to prioritize filling at least the Director position as quickly as possible.  Speck says David Becker worked with the pair, and the Volunteer Fire Department, during the ice jam emergency a couple of years ago, and has been helping during the last few weeks.  She says he has the necessary communication, collaboration, and organizational skills needed to navigate the complex and detailed landscape of the FEMA reimbursement process that is to come.  He has also helped organize a Citizen Emergency Response Team.  Speck added that the emergency is not geographically-focused and the technology is available to move to a virtual Emergency Operations Center.

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Pedestrians reminded to walk against flow of traffic

The Ridgefield Office of Emergency Management has issued a reminder to drivers.  With the increase in pedestrians, motorists are asked to use extreme caution.  People out walking and jogging should make sure they are facing traffic.  Winding roads with no sidewalks make it difficult to know if a vehicle is coming from behind, especially if the vehicle is a silent hybrid.

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Local lawmaker to recognize community heroes, seeks nominations

Danbury State Representative David Arconti is launching an effort with his colleagues in the House of Representatives to honor constituents who are going above and beyond during this time of crisis. He's asking neighbors to nominate a first responder, health care worker, Grocery clerk or others for the recognition.  He will feature these community heroes in his e-newsletters and Facebook.   The lawmakers are also launching a new website to recognize everyone.  Nominations, which should include name, picture, street address, email or phone and two sentences as to how they have made the community stronger during the pandemic, should be sent to David.Arconti@cga.ct.gov.

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New pothole repair machine paying off in New Milford

A pothole machine that New Milford purchased last Spring has since filled over 20,000 potholes.  Mayor Pete Bass says the town has saved tax payer dollars by reducing the personnel needed to fill a pothole from between 2 to 4 crews of at least 4 men per crew, to just one person in the pothole machine.   Bass says the "coldpatch" that New Milford was using would leave the pothole shortly after it was put in the  hole.    He noted that this machine's application lasts much longer, cutting down on filling redundant potholes saving time and material.

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Ridgefielders encouraged to take on personal responsibility during pandemic

Ridgefield residents are being asked not to call the health department with complaints about those who are not complying with the COVID-19 public health directives. Health Director Ed Briggs suggests that if you see people standing too close in a line, take your own precautions. Each individual business is responsible for encouraging social distancing, but everyone is responsible for using best practices and for helping them comply.

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Wilton Board of Finance authorized to set mill rate

The Wilton Board of Finance, which is responsible for setting the budget and the mill rate, expects to settle on a preliminary plan at their May 12th meeting.  That proposal would then be made available to the public for comment before their deliberations, which are expected to occur during the first week in June.   The Selectmen and Board of Ed will reconsider their submitted budgets and the Board of Finance will provide the two boards with feedback by May 1st. 

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Double fatal car crash on I-84 under investigation

Two people have died after a crash on Interstate 84 in Middlebury Thursday. State police say five people were travelling in a Chevrolet Cobalt when the vehicle lost control Eastbound near exit 17 just before 4:30pm. 

18-year old Kayla Nicole Veness and 20-year-old Daniel Brian Veness Jr., both of Waterbury, died in the crash.

State Police say a 45-year old Danbury man and a 24-year old sustained suspected serious injuries.  The driver, a 19-year old Waterbury man, sustained suspected minor injuries.  Four of the five people share a last name, though State Police did not have information on the relationship between the people in the vehicle.

State police say the vehicle was travelling at a high rate of speed prior to the crash.

Anyone who witnessed the crash is asked to call state police at 203-267-2200. 

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6th arrest made for fatal stabbing at Danbury Skate Park

A sixth arrest has been made in connection with the fatal stabbing that happened last month at the Danbury Skate Park.  Danbury Police say 36-year-old Shalina Tallman, of Danbury, was charged with Hindering Prosecution for knowingly rendering criminal assistance to person(s) involved in the killing of Willy Placencia. She was arrested on Tuesday.  The arrest was made without incident and she is scheduled to appear in court on June 24th.  Danbury Police say this continues to be an active and ongoing homicide investigation. Anyone that has information related to the case can leave a confidential message on the Danbury Police Department TIPS line, 203-790-8477 (203-790-TIPS).

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Ridgefield approximately a week behind New York in flattening the curve

Ridgefield Health Director Ed Briggs reports that while the state systems have been sporadic with reporting, he estimates that Ridgefield has 112 active cases of COVID-19 and 14 deaths. He also estimates that Ridgefield is approximately a week behind New York as far as flattening the curve and that everyone should remain vigilant. 

Ridgefielders are urged to continue to do their part by staying home. If you must go out, continue to follow the CDC directives of maintaining social distancing, washing hands and wearing face coverings.

A member of Ridgefield's Community Emergency Response Team, Bob Hebert, is also serving as the Region 5 Logistics Section National Guard Liaison with the State.  He distributed 600 masks to Ridgefield locations yesterday including to the Ridgefield Police, Bissell Pharmacy, Congregate Housing, Ballard Green, and Town Hall.

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Newtown Police Commissioner released from hospital, home recovering from COVID-19

The Newtown Police Department has announced that Police Commissioner Dr. Neil Chaudhary was released from the hospital this week.  He is home with his family recovering from COVID-19.  Police say Neil was humbled by all the support and believes that's what helped him and his family pull through this difficult time.

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Brookfield had 92 confirmed COVID-19 cases

Brookfield had 92 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Thursday afternoon.  This is an increase of 2 since the last report. There have been no reported deaths in Brookfield. 8 residents are hospitalized and the remainder are self-isolating at home.

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Danbury Fire officials remind residents to obtain burn permit for yardwork

With the warm weather here and more people home, the Danbury Fire Department has seen an increase in the number of “illegal burning” calls. Brush fire calls also increase this time of year when well-intentioned burns get out of control. Burning leaves, trash or construction debris is always illegal. Burning brush no greater than 3 inches diameter is legal, only if you obtain a burn permit from the City. Although City Hall is closed to the public, this can be done through the online permit portal.  Permits are $30 and good for 30 days.  Safe burning includes being 20 feet from any structure and checking the day’s air quality index, along with the forest fire danger level.

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Danbury School officials announce meal options during Spring Break

For any child in Danbury who needs a meal during Spring Break, School officials say Texas Roadhouse is offering 1 kids meal per day.  United Way has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim and Food Rescue USA to distribute meals to families with children 18 and under from 2:45 pm - 3:15 pm from Monday - Friday starting at two locations: 23 Eden Drive and 1 Meehan Place B.  Hillside Food Outreach is prepared to make home deliveries to quarantined people in the Danbury area by contacting them at 203-702-4881 or their website: https://hillsidefoodoutreach.org/  End Hunger Connecticut!’s SNAP call center remains in full operation to help residents with applications, redeterminations, and other assistance by calling 866-974-7627 or their site ctsnap.org.

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Wilton officials providing update of areas open for solo, passive recreation

Wilton officials are providing an update of the areas open for solo, passive recreation.  Lilly Way is open for walking, biking and driving. At the end of last week there were some new volunteers patrolling the areas around the schools and one or more incorrectly told residents they could not walk along Lilly Way.  Those individuals have received updated instructions.  First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice says residents continue to use the fields and the track despite the signs, barriers and police tape.  One resident was seen climbing up the tennis court fencing.  The fields and facilities were closed by local directive, not by executive order, which she says would provide greater punitive enforcement measures. 

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Bethel Selectmen authorize Board of Finance to adopt budget

During the Bethel Board of Selectmen meeting Tuesday night, members voted, in accordance with the Governor's executive order, to empower and instruct the Board of Finance to craft a budget, hold a virtual public hearing and set a mill rate. 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there will be no Annual Town Meeting or referendum votes.  This directive applies only to this year.

The deadline for the Board of Finance, acting as the town's legislative body, is May 15th.  Knickerbocker plans to meet with the Board's chair soon to discuss a timeline. 

The budget is posted to the town's website, but he says the most likely scenario is to send a budget summary to every household.  That way people without internet access can also have an opportunity to see details.  The information will also include a way to send feedback to town officials.  Knickerbocker says that will probably be via email and U.S. Postal Services.  There is also a secure drop box installed in front of town hall. 

According to the town Charter, there must be 10 days from publicizing the budget to respond before the Board of Finance can act.  The goal is to have the mailing send out by next Monday.

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Brookfield Police alert families that help is available for anyone experiencing abuse

Brookfield Police are alerting families that help is available for anyone experiencing abuse at home and needs a violence restraining order.  Governor Lamont signed an executive order making it possible to file for a family violence restraining order completely online. Domestic violence advocates are available to assist in the process.  Advocates are available 24/7 via call, chat and email. All services are confidential, safe, free and voluntary at CTSafeConnect.org, or 888.774.2900.

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Southbury Senior Services implements new process for Grocery Brigade

Due to the overwhelming response, some 200 calls per day, Southbury Senior Services have implemented a new process for Grocery Brigade.  Orders can be made by using the Senior Services website: https://www.southbury-ct.org/groceriesforseniors or by calling the new Grocery Brigade Hotline at 475-207-5504, with name and number for a volunteer to call back.  General email orders will not be accepted. 

Residents of Watermark and Pomperaug Woods should contact staff at the respective facility for grocery assistance. 

When a volunteer calls back, seniors should be prepared to give the grocery list of items that will last for two weeks.  Due to the demand, if seniors have family locally that can shop for you, that assistance would be welcomed. 

The Southbury Senior Services Grocery Brigade cannot use food stamps.  Payment is by check, payable to the Town of Southbury, and no tips accepted.  https://www.southbury-ct.org/groceriesforseniors?fbclid=IwAR1ZcXcrm4Rm4kMYh2XQ16dhoziGgYFzeSZhrwZQZbI96DoGJuO-MnFnXVk

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Putnam County Economic Development Corporation nowe in 'response & recovery' mode

The Putnam County Economic Development Corporation is shifting into “response and recovery” mode to address the economic fallout of COVID-19.  The Commission has added a COVID-19 Related Business Resources banner to the opening page of its website to direct businesses and not-for-profits to the most current programs available to assist them.  The non-profit organization funded by Putnam County was joined on a conference call by members of the County Executive's Office to brainstorm ideas for assisting local businesses.  Mary Ellen Odell says Putnam County relies on the Main Street economy to offset property taxes, provide employment opportunities and foster caring community values.  She notes that these businesses constantly work behind the scenes to support non-profits, including local  sports clubs, veterans groups, cancer support events like Relay for Life and more. 

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WCSU program 3D printer for hostpital to make face shields

The West Conn Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, with the Office of Information Technology & Innovation, are manufacturing a component used in the assembly of protective face shields for medical personnel. They programmed a 3-D printer, which was delivered to St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, which made the original inquiry. University officials say another is available for additional hospitals. The effort is part of a statewide project that hopes to build 20,000 face shields in the next several weeks.

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Wilton executive order closes playing fields, recreational facilities

A local executive order has been signed in Wilton closing playing fields and recreational facilities.  The school parking lots remain open for biking and walking.  Though residents can walk along trails through Allen's Meadow, they can not walk around the perimeter of playing fields.  The fields that are closed are outlined in the executive order on the Parks & Recreation Department page and under News & Announcements. 

Three members of the Parks and Recreation staff will be monitoring the playing fields and other recreational facilities.

The electronic signs are being moved to the area. 

Dogs are allowed off leash, but under the direct control of the owner on all town-owned trails, except for Cherry Park, Town Forest and Schenck’s Island. They are also allowed off leash on these Wilton Land Trust Preserves: Gregg, Harrison Smith and Marble/Van Haelwyn.

Dogs must be on leash on the Norwalk River Valley Trail, which is on state-owned land.

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Local salon donates PPE to hospital, Bethel first responders

Care packages of thousands of personal protective supplies has been donated to Danbury Hospital by a local salon.  Escape Salon, which is closed due to the pandemic, has also given gloves and masks to Bethel first responders.  Owner Maria Rodrigues distributed thousands of masks, hundreds of boxes of gloves and cases of Clorox wipes.  She called on other hair, nail, spas and tattoo facilities to do the same.  Care packages with shampoo, conditioner, body wash and shaving cream were also given to doctors and nurses who cannot return to their homes.

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Firefighters respond to gas leak in Danbury

There was a gas leak in Danbury this morning.  Firefighters responded to Stacey Road shortly before 8am on a report of a gas line being dug up.   Eversource responded within half an hour and stopped the leak.  The State Department of Transportation has been doing roadwork at the intersection to realign Route 37.  There's also roadwork at the intersection with Barnum Road.

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Brookfield Board of Finance gets more time to adopt budget

The Brookfield Board of Finance is making plans to adopt a budget and set a mill rate by June 4th.  The Board of Selectman extended the May 5th adoption day by 30 days for members could get the most current financial reports.  The proposed municipal budget is $19.6 million.  The Brookfield Board of Ed has proposed $46.2 million.  There's about $2 million for capital items and $4.6 million for debt service.  At least one virtual public hearing will be scheduled before the  Board of Finance votes.

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Metro North schedule changes start Monday

Metro-North will soon operate on an hourly schedule on the New Haven and Harlem weekdays and weekends.  Trains will operate every three hours on the Danbury and Waterbury Branches daily.  Trains will operate every two hours on weekdays between Southeast and Wassaic; there is no connecting service on weekends.

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All brush fire responses in Monroe recently had valid permits

Monroe first responders continue to serve residents, but for everyone's safety, residents are being reminded that 911 is for true emergencies.  Volunteer firefighters have been experiencing an increase in neighbors calling in brush fires, which are later determined to be small, controlled campfires or burning of sticks from yard clean up, all in accordance with a permit issued by the Office of the Fire Marshal.

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Staff return to Brookfield Town Hall following deep clean

Brookfield Town Hall is once again staffed after a deep clean following a visit by someone who later tested positive for COVID-19.  But the building remains closed to the general public.  Brookfield residents with urgent business is asked to call the appropriate department and town employees will help.  Most staff is working from home, but at least one department member is in the office between 10am and 3pm.   Brookfield residents should call and make an appointment if there is something that has to be done in person.

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Pomperaug Health District to offer drive-thru COVID-19 testing

The Pomperaug Health District and Town of Southbury PhysicianOne Urgent Care are providing a drive-through COVID-19 testing site at 900 Main Street, on Saturday, from 9am to 3pm. Licensed health care providers will test patients who have completed a medical evaluation prior to Saturday via a Virtual Visit. Patients do not need to be current patients of PhysicianOne Urgent Care but must complete a medical evaluation pre-screen by their staff in advance.

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More Fire Departments to conduct birthday visits

More firefighters are looking to make children's birthdays special this year as social gatherings are prohibited.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company has announced a way to brighten their day with a special drive by, contact free, parade.  Bethel parents can email PIO@stonyhillfd.com to schedule a time.  West Redding Volunteer Fire Department is also offering to swing by and brighten Redding children's special day! Parents can message the department on Facebook.

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New York State COVID Emotional Support Helpline launches

The coronavirus pandemic has created a stressful and anxiety-provoking situation, but Putnam County officials say support is available.

A New York State COVID Emotional Support Helpline has been launched with more than 10,000 volunteer therapists.  The Helpline can be accessed by calling 844-863-9314 between 8am and 10pm, 7 days a week. The phone line is staffed with specially trained volunteer professionals who are there to listen, support and refer if needed.

For individuals in crisis, the Putnam County Crisis Hotline is also open 24 hours a day, 7 days each week and can be reached at 845-225-1222.  Putnam County Commissioner of Social Services and Mental Health Michael Piazza says maintaining daily routines and self-care practices such as eating right, getting enough sleep and exercise are all important ways to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Mental health providers are also using video platforms and online meeting software to stay connected with clients.

The National Suicide Prevention Talkline continues at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24/7, with special supports for Veterans by pressing 1 after dialing. 

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Redding Health Director calls on parents to monitor for groups of kids congregating

The Redding Health Director has been noticing groups of teens traveling in cars together and hanging out in public spaces without practicing social distancing.   Dr Larry Leibowitz says there is no sugar coating the matter, this is how coronavirus spreads, people get sick and die.  He says it only takes one hand-to-hand contact, one cough, one sneeze, one sharing of a piece of sporting equipment or vaping device in order for one particle of coronavirus to spread from one person, symptomatic or not, to another.  Redding Health officials encouraged parents to be diligent in monitoring kids behaviors.

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Wilton cancels Spring Clean Up

As more Wilton residents are taking walks in their neighborhoods, some may have notice trash along the side of the roads.  First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice says this is an ongoing issue in town, but notes that the Health Director advises now is not the time to be picking up other people’s discarded trash.  The safer alternative is to wait.  In a normal year, Wilton would be holding the Annual townwide Cleanup at the end of April.  This year, town officials hope to be able to hold the event in the late fall.  Residents often suggest the best deterrent to littering is for the police to ticket.  But Vanderslice says for a police officer to ticket a resident, they have to actually see the act of littering.  With 3 patrol officers and one sergeant answering 9-1-1 calls and patrolling 127 miles of town owned roads, more than 80 private roads, Route 7 and the other state-owned roads, they can’t be everywhere at once. The best solution is for everyone to commit to not litter. 

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Southbury Police warning of COVID-19 scams

Southbury Police are warning that scams are on the rise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  One involves people pretending to be from Eversouce.  Police and utility representatives say Eversource would never threaten to disconnect power immediately by phone or in person, would never demand immediate payment and will not accept payment with a gift card or prepaid debit card.  Anyone receiving a suspicious call is urged to call Eversource directly at 800-286-2000 to verify it's them.

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WCSU nursing students asked to volunteer in state's COVID-19 response

Governor Lamont has made an urgent plea for those with experience in the health care field to volunteer to assist in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He asked West Conn President John Clark to reach out to nursing, allied health, and pre-med students with information about how to sign up.  Those willing to volunteer can register online at ctresponds.ct.gov and the Department of Public Health will match volunteers with a location in need.  Clark stressed that volunteering is a personal decision and is not required for graduation or credit. He called it an opportunity for West Conn students to support Connecticut’s medical efforts during this unprecedented time.

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Danbury City Council signs off on property tax deferment

The Danbury City Council has adopted a policy, created by Governor Lamont, to allow taxpayers to defer paying their 4th quarter property tax bill.  The bill usually due April 1st, payable by May 4th without penalty, can be deferred until July 1st.  Danbury residents must fill out an application and submit it to the Tax Assessors Office to take advantage of the program.  The City will have applications posted online soon. Mayor Mark Boughton cautioned that the deferred property tax bill must be paid on or before July 1st.  If paid by that deadline, there will be no interest assessed for the delayed payment.

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Row of Honor set up early in Carmel to honor first responders, medical professionals

The Row of Honor that has lined the shore of Lake Gleneida in Carmel every Memorial Day and Veterans Day for nearly a decade was installed last week to recognize and give thanks to healthcare workers and first responders who put themselves at risk to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says even in the best of times it is not easy to leave family and rush out to take care of sick people, or answer an emergency call, but now, when caring for others can put their own health in peril, first responders and healthcare workers are nothing short of heroic.  A single line of flags and a “God Bless America” banner will remain installed at the lakefront until Memorial Day.  Then the traditional three rows of flags will be completed to include veterans in the recognition.

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Nuvance Health developing Blood Plasma Donation program to treat COVID-19 patients

Nuvance Health is developing a Blood Plasma Donation program to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients. Anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered, may be able to donate their blood plasma, which contains antibodies that can be transferred to patients presently fighting the virus. 

Nuvance Health is recruiting volunteer donors, before the program launches this month. Potential donors are asked to follow this link: https://veoci.com/veoci/p/form/d9keubfc4gca and register by filling out a questionnaire.

The Food and Drug Administration has set up criteria for donations that continue to evolve. Presently, a person must have had a positive COVID-19 test, be symptom-free for at least 14 days with a repeat negative swab, or 28 days symptom-free with no need for a repeat swab. In the near future, it may be possible to evaluate people who may have had COVID-19 but were unable to get a test.

Once a person registers, a member from the Nuvance Health plasma team will contact the donor, with priority to those who meet the criteria.

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Easton home destroyed by fire

An Easton home was destroyed by a fire early yesterday morning, which started in the garage.  Police arrived first and reported that a large portion of the house was involved.  Two occupants were alerted by a smoke detector around 2:45am and made it safely out of the house. 

Portions of the home not directly impacted by the fire sustained smoke, heat and water damage.

(Photo: EVFD)

Stepney fire provided station coverage, Fairfield, Westport, Redding, Botsford and Weston all responded to the scene and assisted in different capacities. The bulk of the fire was knocked down fairly quickly with units staying on scene for two hours to overhaul and check for hot spots.

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Danbury Fire Department moves some crews to increase social distance

Danbury Fire officials say medical calls are being approached with far more caution and protective equipment. To increase social distancing, some crews have changed from day/night shifts to 24-hour shifts, some are running out of Padanaram Hose on North Street, and Rescue-1 is running out of the Fire School on Plumtrees Road.  Moving the crews included procuring needed emergency communications radio equipment and computer technology to set up each location with access to the reporting systems.  Civilian employees of the Danbury Fire Department are set up to work from home with minimal in-office hours.

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Putnam Couty lowers flags, offers birthday pass through by emergency responders

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has ordered all U.S. flags on county properties to be flown at half-staff in remembrance of all those who have been lost to COVID-19.  As of Tuesday morning, 15 Putnam County residents died of COVID-19. The flags will be lowered from today until further notice.  Odell says Putnam is a small County and these are no just numbers, but friends and loved ones. 

Social distancing has affected everyone, especially children celebrating birthdays.  The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department will be doing Drive-Bys for a child’s birthday in an effort to make that day memorable for them.  Parents can contact pcsdbirthdaywish@gmail.com with information to make the arrangements. 

Brewster firefighters are asking parents to send them a private Facebook message so they can do a drive by with lights and sirens.  They will be doing this Saturday April 11th, after 3 pm.

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New Milford parks now only open to New Milford residents

New Milford parks will now only be open to New Milford residents.  After traveling to various parks over the weekend and seeing that some were overwhelmed, social distancing was non- compliant.  Mayor Pete Bass, with support of the Police Chief, Town Attorney and Director of Health, signed an Emergency Order allowing Only New Milford Residents access to the parks.  Police will provide additional patrols and check the license plates of the vehicles and photo ID if needed to prove residency.  For residents who have a second home in New Milford and may not have ID, Bass says they will be required to have three bills with proof of residency.  Violators of the order will be ticketed and towed.

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Wilton Police to fine trespasser at closed fields and recreation areas

Wilton will implement a fine for people trespassing on the fields and recreation areas in Town. First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice announced an order for the police to issue a $92 trespassing fine to each individual using a closed field or recreation facility. 

They include, but are not limited to WHS and Middlebrook tennis courts, Comstock and School basketball courts, Allen’s Meadows playing fields , Lilly Turf Field, WHS North Field, Guy Whitten Field, WHS Stadium Track and Turf Field, Middlebrook fields, Hurlbutt Street fields, WHS and other Town owned baseball and softball fields, Merwin Meadows playground, Comstock playground and school playgrounds.

Specifically excluded from the order are residents tending their plot at the Community Gardens at Allen’s Meadows and residents walking, jogging or biking through Allen’s Meadows and Merwin Meadows, which are connectors for trails.   

She notes that the Wilton Police Department has been recognized statewide for its community policing and its relationship with the community, and this is something they and she wishes was not required. 

At Monday's Wilton Board of Selectmen meeting, members reviewed possible revenue risks to this year’s results and next year’s proposed budget, along with actual and possible direct costs as a result of coronavirus.  This included housing to isolate and quarantine emergency responders, Board of Education janitors redeployed to perform cleaning elsewhere, VNA nurses, including school nurses, redeployed to perform nursing duties and assist within the health department, temporary personnel to assist in the health department and cover vacancies along with increased medical benefits costs. 

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Danbury Director of Public Health leaving for same role in Bridgeport

The Danbury Director of Public Health will be leaving the position and taking the same role in Bridgeport.  During last night's City Council meeting, Mayor Mark Boughton announced that Lisa Morrissey would be moving on at the end of the month.  She's led the Danbury Department since 2017. 

He noted that Bridgeport leaders and Morrissey are willing to work with the City for the next few weeks to ensure a smooth transition. 

Boughton says Kara Prunty, the associate director of community health, will become acting health director.  Danbury has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases of any municipality in the state, behind only Norwalk and Stamford. 

Bridgeport hasn't had a health director since late January, when the employee left for the same role in New Haven.  State statute mandates this position be filled within 60 days of a vacancy, but Bridgeport already received an extension.

Meanwhile Danbury Fire Chief TJ Wiedl has taken on the full-time duties as the City’s Emergency Management Director.  Assistant Fire Chief Mark Omasta is Acting Chief.  

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Danbury modified school meal pick up program

Danbury Public Schools officials have modified school meal distribution so that parents will be able to pick up a multiple meal kit with a single “grab and go” visit. On Mondays, families will be able to pick up two days worth of breakfast and lunch and on Wednesdays, three days worth of food. Children do not need to accompany parents, who can drive up and a meal will be delivered to the vehicle.  There will also be stations for a walk up pick up.  Parents are asked not to congregate in a single area.  Danbury School officials are reminding families that they will not be operating school lunch distribution during Spring break next week.

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Ridgefield moving co. owner delivers ventilators from KY to Danbury Hospital

Connecticut State Police Troop A, Danbury Police Officers, and Ridgefield Police Officers provided an escort yesterday of a box truck containing four ventilators from the Connecticut state line, to Danbury Hospital. 

The box truck was driven from Kentucky by a volunteer.   Ezra Zimmerman, owner of Ridgefield-based EZ Moving company, was contacted by a past client, who is an anesthesiologist at the hospital, to see if he could pick up the equipment which ordinarily would have taken 7 to 10 day to ship.  He left Sunday and arrived yesterday morning.  Dozens of people met the caravan outside Danbury Hospital. 

The Newstimes reports that the hospital had purchased 10 used ventilators for about $200,000 each, and 6 were not ready for pick up. He's expected to deliver those on Saturday. Zimmerman was paid for the delivery, but says he charged a discounted price.

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Ridgefield First Selectman feels like corner turned in battle with COVID-19

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says he is doing well and feels like he has turned the corner in his battle with COVID-19.  Ridgefield has 110 COVID-19 cases, and the death toll has climbed to 13.  Health Director Ed Briggs says a resident at Laurel Ridge Health Care Center, a nursing home run by Athena Health Care Systems, has died.  Briggs asked that all Ridgefielders follow CDC guidelines and wear face coverings in public settings.  This adds an extra measure of protection. However, everyone is urged to continue to practice social distancing if you must go out.

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Brookfield firefighters announced a special birthday initiative

In these long days of isolation and home schooling, Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company has announced a special birthday initiative.  Any Brookfield child with an April or May birthday, could have a fire truck drive by the house with lights flashing to wish them a happy birthday, letting the whole neighborhood know it’s a child’s special day. This will not include a ride on a fire truck, but Brookfield fire officials say it’s the next best thing.  This is for Brookfield residents only, and parents should contact Bvfcsocialmedia@gmail.com for information and scheduling the drive by.

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Topstone beach area in Redding, Southbury dog park closed

With groups still congregating, Redding officials are reminding residents of the restrictions in place for the duration of shelter-in-place.  Playing fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, playgrounds and the Topstone beach area are all closed.  State Parks in Redding are open, but to discourage groups and crowding, parking capacity will be enforced. 

The Huntington State Park ranger had to break up a large group picnicking on Saturday.  Parking along the roadside and creating spaces are not allowed.  Dogs must be on a leach at all times on trails. 

Topstone is residents only or guest with a resident.

Due to safety precautions, Southbury Dog Park is closed until further notice.  Although most of the town operated parks prohibit dogs, there are some that allow dogs on leashes.  The complete list can be found on the Southbury town website.

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Newtown Transfer Station procedure changes

Beginning today, Newtown residents will no longer be able to make payments at the Transfer Station. Payments need to be made in advance either on-line through the town's website, or over the phone, 203-270-4307.  Until further notice, construction and demolition debris will not  be accepted at the Newtown Transfer Station.  It can be brought to Oak Ridge’s Mom & Pop Drop off on White Street in Danbury.

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Danbury FD reports rescue of cat from tree, infrastructure upgrades on hold

Danbury fire officials say a cat that was stuck in a tree for two days has been rescued.  In a report to the City Council for their meeting tonight, the Fire Department said crews responded in the evening, but were unable to help the animal.  Firefighters received another call the following day and found the cat about 30 feet up in a pine tree meowing loudly. 

They used a 20-foot ladder and pike pole to move the car closer so they could grab it and bring it to the ground.  The cat appeared to be uninjured, but was suffering from the affects of the weather and lack of food and water.  DAWS was able to get in touch with the owner and return the animal.

The Danbury Fire Department emergency communications radio upgrade project is on hold until further notice due to the potential impacts on critical infrastructure.  Last month the Department reported continued work with Northeastern Communications on the Abbey Woods site.  The site ground work is complete, the radio cabinet is in, and the antennas are installed.

The last step is to configure the system and do acceptance testing.

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Danbury City Council Meeting to be live streamed tonight

The Danbury City Council Meeting will be live streamed on Youtube tonight. Residents can submit public comments, which will be read aloud during the first 30 minutes of the City Council Meeting as usual. 

To submit input on an agenda topic, Danbury residents must send an email with full name, address and the item number or item title.  That email can be sent to comments@danbury-ct.gov until 7pm. Any email sent after 7pm will not be accepted. Emails that do not include name, address and agenda item will not be read during the meeting. 

Any Danbury resident who does not have an email address is asked to contact their respective city councilperson, who can submit a question via email on your behalf. 

The video will be available on https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYT0_yohMpyZ8eif3W2sA-w/ at 7:30pm.

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Danbury students will get planned Spring Break

Danbury school officials have made some decisions about the school calendar during this time of distance learning.   The scheduled Spring Break will go forward as planned. School will not be in session starting on Friday, April 10 through Friday, April 17.  Danbury will resume   Distance Learning on Monday, April 20. The last day of school is currently Friday, June 12th.  But Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella cautioned that as he receives more guidance from the Governor and the State Department of Education, there could be updates, including the status of the continued closure, and how to celebrate graduates if distance learning is continued through the end of the school year.

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Monroe suspends biennial filing requirement for Elderly, Disabled Tax Relief Programs

Monroe officials have suspended the biennial filing requirement for any person already receiving tax relief under Town’s Elderly or Disabled Tax Relief Programs.  The town has also established a page on the Monroe website for those wishing to make a financial donation towards the Town’s response and relief efforts.  First Selectman Ken Kellogg says this was done in response to the number of offers to help Social Services programs such as the Food Pantry, other Town volunteer programs, or to make a general donation towards COVID-19 efforts.  Public health experts from the State currently predict that the total number of cases in Fairfield County will continue to rise, and will peak in 2-3 weeks.  Kellogg is reminding residents that the actions taken now, as individuals, impact the entire community.

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New Milfrod creates COVID- 19 Resiliency Fund

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass has been working with the town Finance Department to create the New Milford COVID- 19 Resiliency Fund.  It will work with seed funding from a individuals, private foundations, corporations and others. 

Bass says the Fund will rapidly deploy resources to trusted, frontline community organizations that meet the basic needs of local residents.  The Fund’s purpose is to help alleviate the social and economic consequences of this global pandemic. 

Bass says the New Milford COVID 19 Resiliency Fund is designed to be flexible in its focus, nimble in its action, and to compliment other resources at the national, state and local levels. 

Donations are Federally Tax Deductible and checks must include Town of New Milford, CT - COVID 19 -Resiliency Fund" in the memo.  They can be sent to 10 Main Street attention Mayor's Office.

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Bethel residents step up to support community in need

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says as is often the case, a crisis like this pandemic brings out the best in people. The town’s social services department organized a food donation drive to help restock the Brotherhood in Action food pantry. Over 100 food donations and more than $400 in cash donations were received. 

A coalition of Bethel restaurant owners launched a GoFundMe drive to pay for meals for people in need as well as front-line health care workers. To date the program has raised over $18,000.  Volunteers are making face shields and hand-sewing face masks to help fill the gap in supplies of essential protection equipment.

Over 7,000 breakfasts and lunches have been delivered by Bethel Public Schools.

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Ridgefield First Selectman tests positive for COVID-19

First Selectman Rudy Marconi reports that he has tested positive for COVID-19. In a message distributed through the Emergency Operations Center, Marconi said he wants to re-assure all Ridgefielders that while he doesn’t feel great, he is doing fine and will work from home as he continues to isolate himself.

“Because I have been extremely careful in following all the directives, this is a reminder of how aggressive this virus is. Please stay home.”

Health Director Ed Briggs confirms that Ridgefield has 107 COVID-19 cases reported with the expectation that these numbers will climb later today.  The death toll remains at 12, all associated with a care facility.

Anyone who has gathered in groups over the weekend are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days before entering any public areas in Ridgefield.  Briggs says this is the only way everyone can be protected.  

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Danbury High School baseball team creates meal train for hospital workers

The Danbury High School baseball team wanted to help take care of those on the front lines of the coronavirus and have started a meal train. The students say these frontline workers are making sure everyone can get through these trying times and they wanted to help them accomplish that by keeping their energy up, and boosting morale. By ordering food, the students say this will help local restaurants' bottom line, and restaurants will prepare the food and drop it off at the hospital.  More details can be found online: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/g4l7km

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New Milford Police to patrol high school area due to youth use of fields

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says he was called to the high school on Saturday by people concerned by the number of youth playing on the fields and tennis courts.  He noted that the youths that were using the fields and tennis courts, when asked politely to leave the fields,  did so.  Bass has instructed New Milford Police to make additional patrols of the High School . If groups continue to congregate, he will have to close the area to all activities.  The track is open for people to get solo exercise.  Bass says everyone needs to continue to practice social distancing, especially during these next three weeks as the experts believe that is the “peak” of infection rates.

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Bethel Emergency Management takes delivery of requested FEMA resources

On Friday, Bethel Emergency Management received a partial delivery of requested resources for Town agencies from FEMA.  500 medical face shields and 275 protective coveralls will be distributed to Bethel police and EMS to help them respond during the Coronavirus pandemic.  

As of Sunday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bethel stands at 61.  There have been no deaths reported from the Bethel cases. The majority of the patients in these cases are recovering at home. Some are serious enough to require hospitalization, but the exact number has not been publicized. 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says more viral infections occur from touching contaminated surfaces, rather than direct contact with an infected person. Unknowingly touching a contaminated surface, then unconsciously rubbing your eyes or nose can transfer the virus and let it get a foothold in your system.  Knickerbocker says that's why it is so important to not only wash your hands every time you go out, but also wipe down and sanitize commonly used surfaces regularly, especially when returning from a shopping trip.

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Southbury firefighters remind residents of open burn regulations

Southbury Fire Department was dispatched to three different illegal burn calls on Saturday. While spring has sprung and many are stuck at home with nothing better to do than spring yard work, Fire officials say it's important to follow proper procedures for burning and contact the fire marshal through town hall in order to acquire a burn permit.  The fire danger is high today and no open burning is allowed.

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More Memorial Day parades being cancelled

More municipalities are cancelling this year's Memorial Day parades.  Last week, Danbury and Bethel officials called off their parades because of the current social distancing guidelines and the uncertain timeline of this virus.  New Milford officials have also now decided to cancel this year's Memorial Day parade for the safety of the parade attendee's and the community.  Once Governor Lamont lifts the stay in place orders, Mayor Pete Bass and the New Milford Veterans Committee plan to discuss options to honor service men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for the Community and Country.

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Chimney fire extinguished in New Fairfield

A chimney fire in New Fairfield was quickly extinguished.  New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department was called to Cloverleaf Drive on Saturday morning.  Some firefighters took to the roof, while others handled interior operations. Firefighters were able to keep fire contained to the chimney and no extension to the home. After checking the structure for carbon monoxide, which is common with chimney fires, New Fairfield firefighters returned to their stations, where they followed recently-enacted coronavirus cleaning procedures put in place to protect the members, their families, and the public.

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Recreation areas in Kent close amid coronavirus outbreak

In the interest of public safety and public health during this pandemic, the Bull's Bridge and North Kent Road Recreation Areas are closed until further notice. Additionally, the AT gate on River Road is closed. Residents will still be able to use the parking area for 'solitary recreation.'  The Commissioner of the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection also contacted Kent officials over the weekend to discuss the overcrowding at Kent Falls.  The State Park will be closed effective today in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Ability Beyond moves annual fundraising gala online

Each year, Ability Beyond relies on the proceeds from its gala to provide a hopeful future for more than 3,000 individuals with disabilities served by the nonprofit organization. Due to this year’s pandemic, the event has been reinvented as the “No Go Gala” Giving Hour.

The newly designed virtual fundraiser will be held on Saturday, April 25th via a livestream webcast from 6 to 7pm.  Donations are being accepted from now, through event day. 

Ability Beyond President and CEO Jane Davis says they are facing incomprehensible needs brought on by COVID-19 and have taken actions to prevent its spread, protect residents and staff, and abide by mandated safety precautions.  The financial hardship for Ability Beyond is estimated to be over $5 million.

The gala has always been Ability Beyond’s largest fundraising event of the year, attracting close to 500 guests each year. The money raised allows the organization to continue providing critical services to clients in Connecticut and Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties in New York.

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Brookfield to establish new CODERed alert system

Brookfield officials are establishing a new system that will alert residents via phone, text or email about important issues going on in town.  This will be an opt in system.  Residents can register by phone or through a link on the town website under the CodeRED logo at the bottom of the homepage.   First Selectman Steve Dunn says this system is not the Emergency Reverse 911 system used by the Police department and residents will continue to receive notifications from that system in the future.  Brookfield had 72 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Friday, an increase of 13 since the last report.  Dunn says the State has caught up in reporting and this number represents 4 days of reporting.

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Ridgefield state Rep. opts not to seek reelection

A long-term state lawmaker will not seek re-election in November.  Ridgefield Representative John Frey will not seek a 12th term serving the 111th House District.  Frey says it's been an honor to serve his neighbors and to have their trust over the last 22 years.  Frey says with his constituents, he's been able to preserve the character of Ridgefield while making incredible improvements.  He cited work on behalf of veterans, seniors, students and families, to preserve open space and provide help for those in need, non-profit organizations and arts and culture.

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Another resident of Ridgefield Crossings succumbs coronavirus

Another resident of Ridgefield Crossings has succumbed to coronavirus.  Ridgefield Health Director Ed Briggs confirmed that as of Friday, the town-wide death toll stands at 12.  There are 100 COVID-19 cases in Ridgefield, with ages still ranging from 2-101. First Selectman Rudy Marconi says these numbers are a reminder of how diligent everyone must remain in keeping the most vulnerable population safe.   All residents are asked to continue to isolate as much as possible, practicing social distancing when it's necessary to go out and following all the CDC recommendations.

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A.G. Barr orders some Danbury FCI inmates released amid COVID-19 outbreak

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General William Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons on Friday to increase the use of home confinement and expedite the release of eligible high-risk inmates at three federal prisons where coronavirus cases have skyrocketed.

Officials were told to give highest priority to inmates who are being held at FCC Oakdale, a prison complex in Louisiana where five inmates have died and more than a dozen others remain hospitalized. Also listed were FCI Elkton in Ohio — where three inmates have died — and FCI Danbury in Connecticut, which has reported 20 inmates testing positive for coronavirus.

“We have to move with dispatch in using home confinement, where appropriate, to move vulnerable inmates out of these institutions,” Barr said in a Friday evening memo to the prison system’s director.

As of Friday night, 91 inmates and 50 staff members had tested positive for coronavirus at federal correctional facilities across the U.S., the agency said. Congressional leaders and prison advocates have been pressing the Justice Department for weeks to release at-risk inmates ahead of a potential outbreak, arguing that the public health guidance to stay 6 feet away from other people is nearly impossible behind bars.

Earlier this week, the agency moved into a new phase of its coronavirus response plan: a nationwide lockdown, keeping all federal inmates locked in their cells for 14 days.

In the memo, Barr said the protections the Bureau of Prisons has put in place “have not been perfectly successful at all institutions.” He ordered the agency to conduct a review and identify all inmates who may have coronavirus risk factors, beginning with those at Oakdale, Danbury and Elkton.

Under the order, once the Bureau of Prisons identifies an inmate as someone who could serve a sentence at home, they must immediately prepare to release them to home confinement, Barr wrote. All of those inmates would be subject to a 14-day quarantine, officials said.

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Projected hospital beds needed

Gov. Ned Lamont said Friday that Connecticut is expected to need about 12,000 COVID-19 hospital beds and 4,000 ventilators during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

The governor said the peak will vary in different parts of the state, but is still about three weeks away in Fairfield County, which is expected to experience the surge first. He said the state currently has 7,000 hospital beds, and about 4,000 are COVID-19 ready. He said the state currently has about 1,000 ventilators.

The governor’s office reported Friday night 132 people in Connecticut have died from COVID-19, with 909 currently hospitalized. The governor said a new 15-minute test for the coronavirus is being implemented at Stamford Hospital, which he said will free up beds as people test negative.

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 or death.

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Danbury Library providing 8 unique platforms for digital content

With communities nationwide grappling with the realities of social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, libraries are providing more digital content.  Kanopy has more than 30-thousand streaming classic films, independent films and documentaries.  Freegal Music features over 12 million songs, and over 40,000 music videos. Hoopla Digital allows borrowers access to movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks, comics, and television shows.  Danbury Library has redirected some of their funding for this fiscal year to more digital content so patrons are still able to read, view and listen to various material.  In total, Danbury Library provides 8 unique platforms for digital content, which can be accessed through a computer, smart phone, or tablet.

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FAITH Church to provide weekly meals to families in need

On Wednesday, Faith Church in New Milford distributed 12 pallets of groceries.  Now Faith Church is hiring local restaurants to be able to distribute meals this Wednesday, and all subsequent Wednesdays in April and May to those in need. The drive up system will be available Wednesdays at Faith Church from 4 to 6pm.

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NUVANCE CEO explains why southwestern Conn. harder hit with COVID-19 cases

Fairfield County continues to experience the most residents in the state testing positive for COVID-19.  NUVANCE Health CEO Dr. John Murphy says there's a reason Fairfield County has more coronavirus cases than other parts of the state.  Most diseases they've tracked over the years follow a pattern from JFK and then 684 coming north, out of the city.  He says it then migrates along I-84 or the rail line.  Connecticut officials put Stay Home orders in place to try to slow the spread of COVID-19 to other parts of the state.

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Newtown officials outline details on how to support Danbury Hospital COVID-19 efforts

Newtown officials have released information for residents looking to support Danbury Hospital efforts during the health crisis.  Nuvance Health staff have been working around the clock and any resident who can provide financial support or an in-kind donation such as Personal Protective Equipment, are asked to consider doing so during this critical time. 

Demands on the health care system are immediate and growing. 

The list of approved donation items include new,clean disposable face masks, gowns, head covers, gloves, goggles/eyeshields, shoe covers, scrubs, coveralls, and unopened bleach wipes. Masks: N95, N25, P95, R95, N100, P100, R100.

To speak to the Foundation office regarding an in-kind donation, contact Danbury Hospital at (203) 739-7227.  https://www.westernconnecticuthealthnetwork.org/novel-coronavirus-covid19-update/support-our-efforts/give-now

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HARTransit calls on riders to only take essential trips

HARTransit continues to be committed to serve essential workers and riders who rely on public transit to access critical resources. But officials are asking the community not to travel on the bus if it's not necessary.  People who must use HARTransit are being asked to be diligent in protecting the health of drivers.

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Brookfield officials believe positive COVID-19 cases higher than reported

Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn says the State reporting system is under severe pressure.  The town's Director of Public Health believes the number of positive cases in town is higher than the number reported.  Dunn says Brookfield has seen some stabilization in the number of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last few days though suggesting the Stay Home order is working.

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Extra SNAP Benefits available this month for nearly 100,000 households

Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says extra SNAP Benefits are available this month for nearly 100,000 households. The Department of Social Services is providing Emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to nearly half of Connecticut SNAP participants on April 9 and April 20.  The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 authorizes the maximum benefit per household size, even if they aren’t usually eligible for the maximum benefit.

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Regional Hospice seeks donations of new, unused disinfectant products

Regional Hospice is seeking donations of new and unused disinfectant products such as wipes, liquids and gels.  They are collecting donations of new disinfectant products outside of their lobby at 30 Milestone Road in Danbury. Hospice officials do not expect the community to go out and shop for them specifically, but if they're in a household stock or someone is already going to the store, they ask to consider purchasing an extra bottle for Regional Hospice to help support their frontline safety efforts.

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New Milford grad is Command Master Chief of Naval hospital in NYC

Command Master Chief Todd Mangin, of The U.S.N.S COMFORT Naval hospital stationed in New York City, is a 1993 New Milford High School graduate.   Mangin enlisted in the United States Navy prior to graduation and achieved the highest enlisted position in the Navy, Master Chief Petty Officer.  He is currently a Virginia resident.  A Facebook post touting the position, says his mom, Eileen Mangin, and brother, Troy, are residents of New Milford.  Eileen works in the public school system.

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Bethel groups to host virtual concert this afternoon

The Bethel Lion's Club, Bethel PBA and Bethel Business Network is hosting a virtual concert this afternoon.  Dozens of performers are sending in videos to be streamed online at BethelConcert.com between 4pm and 8pm.  The Money raised during the event will benefit businesses impacted by the coronavirus shut down.

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Danbury cancels Memorial Day parade, considers property tax deferral

Next week's Danbury City Council meeting will be a virtual meeting.  The governing body meets monthly, so this is the first one since the coronavirus outbreak started in Connecticut. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says they'll have only a few agenda items, but one is a property tax deferral program for residents, businesses and non-profits.  Boughton says it's a 90-day extension to July 1st.  But Boughton cautioned, it's a deferral program so residents, businesses and nonprofits will still have to pay the taxes that are due-- and 3-percent interest.  Boughton says the City can't waive the interest. 

One thing that can't be held virtually is the annual Memorial Day Parade.  Boughton says it's been canceled this year.  Some questioned why the decision was made this far in advance, and Boughton says it's because non-refundable deposits on bands and expenses start now. The parade takes about 10 weeks of planning.

Boughton says his personal recommendation is that people wear a mask, as much as possible, particularly when outside shopping.  He says a surgical mask or a bandana covering your nose and mouth can be beneficial.  Boughton says N95 masks are difficult to come by and should only be used by health care providers and first responders because they have to be properly fitted.

A mask does not guarantee you won't get sick. Health officials urge everyone to still wash hands frequently, practice social distancing, and not gather in groups larger than 5 people.

Right now the CDC has not taken a position on wearing a mask.

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New Milford officials work to enhance local farm operations

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the town's COVID-19 task force continues to meet. One of the goals is to monitor logistical supply chains, including the availability of fresh, locally grown food, rich in Vitamins and Minerals.  A representative from a local farm is part of the task force and has been asked by Bass to speak with other local farms to see about increasing production.  He's also asked the Youth Agency to increase production at Sullivan Farms as well.  Bass noted that during World War II, residents had so-called "victory gardens". He's asked the New Milford Garden Club President to help create a Frequently Asked Questions run down on how to set up and tend a garden, with merchants that sell garden seeds, materials, equipment to develop a starter kit.

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Bridgewater firefighters hopeful annual fair can go on as planned

The Bridgewater Country Fair usually takes place in August.  It's run by the Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department and the weekend-long event accounts for 90-percent of their budget.  They do not get tax dollars from Bridgewater residents to run operations and maintain equipment.  The volunteers own and maintain all the apparatus, land, and buildings and pay for all the training from donations and the Annual Fair.  With the coronavirus pandemic and it's uncertain timeline, there's a lot of unknowns about future events.  But Bridgewater Volunteer Fire officials say they continue to be available to protect the town.  They encouraged people to be safe in these unprecedented times and hope to see everyone at the Fair in August.

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Appalachian Trail Conservancy Visitor Centers, shelters, privies closed

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Visitor Centers are closed until further notice, to ensure all visitors, staff members and volunteers are kept as safe and healthy as possible.  The National Park Service has closed all 56 overnight shelters and 75 privies on land administered by the Appalachian National Scenic Trail Park Office. 

Appalachian National Scenic Trail Connecticut shelters covered by this order include ones in Sherman, Kent, Sharon in Connecticut, and ones in Wingdale and Union Vale in New York among others. 

Appalachian Trail Conservancy President & CEO Sandra Marra issued an unprecedented request to hikers saying that in these unprecedented times: stay away from the Appalachian Trail.  In a time when social distancing is necessary to minimize the spread and contraction of coronavirus, many have escaped to nature, but they’ve found trailhead parking lots exceeding their maximum capacities, shelters full of overnight hikers, day hikers using picnic tables and group trips continuing as planned. 

Marra cautioned that the rural communities adjacent to the Trail may not have the healthcare resources to help a sick hiker or volunteer or manage a COVID-19 outbreak, should a hiker transport the virus in from the Trail. Marra closed by saying the unfortunate truth about this virus is that unless everyone is safe, no one is safe.

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Wolfe Park and Great Hollow Lake restricted to Monroe residents

Monroe First Selectman Ken Kellogg has ordered that parking at Wolfe Park and Great Hollow Lake be restricted to town residents until further notice.  Monroe residents though are being asked to follow social distancing guidelines of not having a group larger than 5 people, and to maintain social distancing.  Vehicles must have the blue valid park sticker issued last spring, or show identification with a Monroe address. 

Fishing licenses will continue to be honored at Great Hollow Lake.  The basketball courts and playgrounds remain closed. 

The Garder Road Landfill remains open as scheduled and will now be accepting brush and wood in addition to leaves, grass, scrap metal, and electronic recycling. There will be no charge, however there is a limit of one trip per day.

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Danbury school officials hold off on decision about commencement

Danbury High School seniors are thinking ahead to graduation and wondering if there will be a traditional commencement ceremony.  Mayor Mark Boughton says a decision has not yet been made.  With 5,000 people in the grandstands, Boughton says it can be difficult to have the pomp and circumstance that's expected.  He acknowledged that students will be disappointment, but noted that they have to think of safety first and don't want a resurgence of this disease.  Schools in the state are closed until at least April 20th. 

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Pair from Mahopac arrested for alleged break in and fight

A Mahopac couple has been arrested for an alleged break in and fight, which ended with a stabbing. 

New York State Police say 23-year old Tiara Frederick and 26-year old Giovani Fernandez forcibly entered the Cortland home of people with whom they were familiar.  There was a physical altercation, which resulted in Frederick suffering a non-life-threatening stab wound.  Frederick was transported to Westchester Medical Center for treatment. 

Frederick and Fernandez were each charged Friday with felony counts of burglar and criminal mischief.  They were issued tickets to appear in Court on May 11th.

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NVCC makes money available for financially struggling students

Naugatuck Valley Community College is making money available for students struggling financially due to the coronavirus outbreak from an emergency fund.  The Newstimes reports that the money is meant to meet students’ immediate needs.  Students are asked to apply for funding through an online application, which asks them to explain their emergency situation and needs.  The Foundation usually supports student scholarships, capital improvements, college programs.  Naugatuck Valley Community College has campuses in Danbury and Waterbury.  Naugatuck is offering classes online for the rest of the semester.  President Daisy Cocco De Filippis is stepping down from that role on August 1st to take on the position in the City University of New York system. She spearheaded the creation of the Danbury campus.

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Danbury Airport hangar housng refrigerated trailers as overflow morgue

One of the City owned hangers at Danbury Municipal Airport is serving a different purpose than usual.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the City, in collaboration with Danbury Hospital, is using a hanger to house two refrigerated trailers to serve as an overflow for the Danbury Hospital morgue.  Boughton stressed that right now there are no deceased individuals at the airport. Because of the pandemic there are new requirements for funeral homes to protect their staff so it takes longer for planning and conducting of memorials and funerals, regardless of the cause of death.   The overflow demand is due to a slower than normal processing of those who have passed.

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Bridgewater officials say people still not heeding social distancing guidelines

Greater Danbury area leaders continue to remind residents about the importance of social distancing.  Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read says some people still aren't heeding the message and he's offering some suggestions.  When walking along country roads or trails, keep a distance and don't walk four abreast.  He's also calling on people not to tear down yellow warning tape at the Rec Area and use the swing sets. 

Last week, Bridgewater town employees had to remove the basketball nets and hoops because young people were congregating.  Read says the problem is that these close social interactions can spread COVID-19 which is then brought into private homes and can infect parents and grandparents. 

Bridgewater trails are listed on the published state list as an alternate place to state parks where people can go. Read is worried that this will bring increasing foot traffic and more people with dogs off leash. Residents have already noticed this situation.

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Brookfield sees increase in intra-household transmission of COVID-19

Brookfield now has 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19.  They range in age from 1 to 81.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says things are changing rapidly and seeing an increase of intra-household transmission but no evidence of community transmission at this time.  Everyone who tests positive with COVID-19 must self-isolate from family and friends in a separate room and using a separate bathroom, if available.  Dunn says the new data suggests positive patients are not self-isolating within their home. He added that coronavirus is widespread enough to consider everyone a  suspected carrier.  The Brookfield Health Department will no longer be listed the age range for local cases in the daily update because the virus is affecting all age groups.

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Ridgefield Water Pollution Control Authority: Only flush toilet paper

Ridgefield Water Pollution Control Authority officials are asking residents to stop flushing anything other than toilet paper.  While this is true at all times, it is especially important now as many are wiping down surfaces with disinfectant. Sanitizing wipes, paper towels, and baby wipes should never be flushed down the toilet as they do not dissolve the way toilet paper does and instead cause blockages and backups in home and town sewer systems. Even wipes that are labeled and sold as “flushable” are not, and should be thrown away in a trash bag. These items get snagged in the pipes, cause a blockage, and then potentially an overflow. This will create an additional public health risk in the midst of the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

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Blumenthal hosts virutual rountable with First Selectmen in Danbury area

A virtual roundtable discussion has been held between Senator Richard Blumenthal and members of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.  He discussed actions taken by Congress to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and asked the municipal leaders about the pandemic’s effects on Connecticut. 

Redding officials expressed concerned about the pull back of who should seek a prescription to be tested given the short supply of personal protective equipment. 

Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn asked for a worksheet with simple explanations of the help for residents and businesses passed by Congress.  Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker agreed and said he's gotten a lot of questions seeking details of the stimulus check that's going to be coming to individuals. 

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi shared his concerned with the number of residents coming into town from New York, specifically from the City who are occupying short term rentals.

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DEEP makes changes to state park capacity, trout stocking

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is putting off stocking trout in Fairfield County  because of coronavirus.  Some municipalities have restricted public access to lands and parks to help promote social distancing and prevent crowding. 

The fish have been reallocated to neighboring areas so anglers can still access the stocked trout. 

There are new restrictions on entrance to state parks, forests, and other lands.  In light of significant visitors in recent days, a new state executive order gives the commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection the authorization to ban visitors after the property has reached a capacity to supporting social distancing policies.

These penalties can include fines and even arrest, for interfering or obstructing any lawful civil preparedness activity.  Violators will be subject to a 30-day eviction from all State Parks and other lands under DEEP’s oversight.

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Mobile food pantries to help residents in New Fairfield, New Milford, Putnam County

The Connecticut Food Bank Mobile Pantry will be at Faith Church in New Milford tonight giving bags of food for those in need. The Bags will be handed out to people lined up in their cars for social distancing purposes.  Pick up is 5pm to 6:30. 

The Mobile Pantry will be at New Fairfield Congregational Church for Food Pick Up tomorrow.  Anyone who needs food can take part in the food pantry pick up on Thursday, April 2 from 3pm to 5pm in the New Fairfield Congregational Church parking lot.  Each person may take one bag of groceries.  Cars should enter the parking lot and drive up to the Distribution Tent, and exit one vehicle at a time.

To help those who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency, Putnam County Government and the United Way of Westchester and Putnam have organized for food to be available for pick up from 11am to 1pm tomorrow in the parking lot of Putnam County Campus building on Old Route 6 in Carmel. The service is free and no ID or financial information is required.

For seniors or those who are immune-compromised, volunteers are available to deliver the food within Putnam County.

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Redding Police warn of coronavirus benefits scam

The Redding Police Department is alerting residents to a new scam. Scammers are calling asking for bank account numbers to process relief money coming soon.  The goverment will not call for that information. Money will be automatic, depending on how you file your taxes. Direct deposit is automatic. Mailing your taxes results in a mailed check when the time comes.

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Banks in Connecticut to offer mortgage relief

Governor Lamont's administration has reached an agreement with over 50 credit unions and banks in Connecticut to offer mortgage relief to the state’s residents and businesses who continue to face hardship caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the agreement, participating financial institutions will offer a 90-day grace period for all mortgage payments, which will allow homeowners to reduce or delay monthly mortgage payments. There will be no new foreclosures or evictions for 60 days. In addition, the institutions will provide a streamlined process for requesting forbearance for COVID-19-related reasons.  

For at least 90 days, participating financial institutions will waive or refund mortgage-related late fees and other fees including early CD withdrawals. 

For those taking advantage of this COVID-19-related relief, late or missed payments will not be shared with credit reporting agencies so there will be no credit score changes for accessing relief.

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Ridgefield officials to rework budget proposal amid pandemic

A virtual Ridgefield Board of Selectmen’s meeting is being held tonight to deal with budget issues. 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said has cancelled the public hearing, town meeting and referendum.  He is now asking that the Board of Selectmen, as authorized by Governor Lamont's executive order, give the Board of Finance the ability to pass a budget for the coming fiscal year.  They will also be called on to set the tax rate.  Marconi notes that the meeting will be live streamed, residents can call in and participate via Zoom video conferencing to make the process as transparent as possible.

Substantial cuts will be made because the Board recognizes that the economic impact of coronavirus will have ripple effects for months, if not years to come.

Marconi is concerned about revenue, and the ability of residents to make tax payments.  He is looking to get to a zero-percent increase.  The Golf Course usually generates $1.3 million a year, but is shut down, the Parks and Rec Department revenue has fallen off completely amid coronavirus-related closures.

Marconi says they have to look at how to cover shortfalls and see how the town can help people impacted by the shut down.  He notes that the economic consequences are deep.

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Putnam County small business to get access to SBA loans

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the U.S. Small Business Administrations website to apply for Economic Disaster Injury loans crashed under the pressure of too many applicants.  Putnam was among the first counties in New York State in which these Economic Injury Disaster loans from the SBA were made available.  Putnam County small business owners who had difficulty applying are urged try a new link and follow the directions carefully to upload all the necessary documents.  Small business owners are also encourage to try filing early in the morning or later at night.   The link to the new application page with instructions for uploading documents: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/apply-for-disaster-loan/index.html.

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Conn. sales and occupancy tax payments can be deferred

Connecticut small businesses are getting some more assistance during this coronavirus shut down.  Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says sales and occupancy tax payments can be deferred to May to provide administrative relief.  Taxpayers that have 150-thousand dollars  or less in annual Sales Tax liability qualify for an automatic extension of time to file and pay.  Taxpayers that have $150,000 or less in annual Room Occupancy Tax also qualify for this relief.  For monthly Sales Tax and Room Occupancy Tax filers, returns and payments due March 31st, and April 30th, are extended to May 31.  For quarterly Sales Tax and Room Occupancy Tax filers: returns and payments due April 30th, are extended to May, 31st.

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Monroe Police share resources for domestic violence victims

Monroe Police are sharing information from The Center for Family Justice.  Staff is working remotely to serve clients in crisis who are living in abusive situations.  Domestic violence programs throughout the state are concerned victims may lack the ability to safely reach out for help as they are forced to stay in close quarters with an abuser.  The Domestic Violence hotline is 203-384-9559, though Monroe Police cautioned that any victim in immediate life-threatening crisis should call 911. They are encouraging victims living in abusive situations to establish safe words or signals with friends or family that can be shared if they are in danger, so that those people can call for help.

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