Local Headlines Archives for 2020-05

Ridgefield Police tout successful 'Push-Ups for the Pantry' fund drive

Nearly $35,000 has been donated to help Ridgefield residents experiencing food insecurity.  The Ridgefield Police Benevolence Association and the Ridgefield Department of Social Services are thanking the community for their support during the "Push-Ups for the Pantry" fund drive. 

Officers say during the month of April, $31,000 was donated online, and $3,900 in restaurant gift cards were dropped off.  That translated into 1,900 push ups by police officers. Throughout this month, the Ridgefield Rotary Club has been matching donations. 

The yellow drop box outside the police station will be by the driveway until Monday.  After that time, donors as asked to coordinate with the Department of Social Services directly.

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Danbury Police modify annual Police Memorial Ceremony amid pandemic restrictions

This year, the Danbury Police Department was unable to hold a public gathering for their annual Police Memorial Ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Members honored Officers who died in the line of duty with a short vehicle procession, memorial wreath placing and brief remarks from the Police Chief and the Mayor.  The video can be viewed on the Police Department's YouTube page. https://youtu.be/oR0f45spUWo

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Local lawmaker opposes restriction on inland park swimming

New Milford state Senator Craig Miner is voicing opposition to some of the State Parks plans this summer. He says shoreline beaches, where people are allowed to swim, is colder than the water inland in lakes and ponds. Miner is upset because Connecticut residents pay a fee on vehicle registrations to enter parks to utilize all of their benefits.  He also called on constituents to contact him if there is no staffing at park gates to charge out-of-state visitors.

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Curbside pick up to begin at Bethel Public Library

Bethel Public Library will begin curbside pickup of Library materials, by appointment only, on Monday.  Items can be requested online or over the phone.  Librarians will then locate the material, if not already checked out, and call to schedule a pickup day and time. 

Items will be checked out for three weeks, placed in a paper bag with last name on it and will be waiting on a table outside the front entrance. If a patron misses the appointment time, they are asked to call the library and not arrive at a different time, as appointments will be scheduled throughout the day. 

When picking up materials, Bethel Library officials ask patrons to wear a mask and if someone else is at the table, wait until they retrieve their bag before moving to the table. 

Library materials are to be returned in the exterior bookdrop.  Materials are quarantined for a minimum of three days before being handled by staff and recirculated to the public. Items will be checked in as of the date they are returned to the bookdrop.

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Bethel Transfer Station resumes normal fee schedule, hours

The Bethel Transfer Station has resumed the normal fee schedule and hours of operation.  Residents are required to wear a mask or other cloth covering while within the confines of the Bethel Transfer Station. A face covering must be validated to the Scale House attendant prior to entrance.  Social distancing recommendations from others must also be followed.  While there will be an attendant at the scale, household waste “scale” customers will be required to deposit items on the scale for weighing, remove items and place them into trailer. The Transfer Station Permits currently held with an expiration date of July 1st will be valid and not renewed until January 1st.

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Confidential reporting forms about COVID regulation compliance online

The Danbury Department of Health & Human Services has created a confidential reporting form for residents to fill out online if they have any concerns about how businesses are operating during the COVID-19 crisis.  City officials say the health department can follow up appropriately and ensure proper protocols are followed. 

https://www.cognitoforms.com/DanburyHealthDepartment/COVID19ReportOfBusinessConcerns

The State also created a Business Complaint Form.  The state form is more comprehensive and is intended for complaints that pertain to requirements of the Sector Rules only.

https://appengine.egov.com/apps/ct/COVID-19/Reopen-CT-Business-Complaint-Form

On the City report form, in addition to basic information about the business, complainants are asked whether the business should not be open, is allowing food self-service, is allowing dine-in service or a blank to explain another reason. 

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Memorial service planned for slain Newtown High School graduate

A memorial service will be held Sunday for the 23-year-old Newtown High School graduate who was killed Sunday, allegedly by a former classmate.  The service for Nicholas Eisele will be held in the parking lot of St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown at 2pm.  Wake arrangements are expected to include that viewing would be limited to 10 people at a time in the funeral home due to social distancing regulations.

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Application submitted to Conn. Siting Council for Kent cell tower

The Connecticut Siting Council has received an application from Homeland Towers and AT&T for a cell tower at one of two proposed locations in Kent.  One site is 93 Richards Road, the other is the area of 15-38 Bald Hill Road.  The tower would be 150- to 175-feet tall.  Kent officials plan to post application information on the town's website once it's available from the Siting Council.  Kent was granted “party status” in the proceedings.  The town will be able to respond to pre-hearing questions, submit to cross-examination and provide filings to the council, the applicant and any intervenor.

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Police: Man wanted in 2 slayings surrendered peacefully

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A college student wanted in connection with two killings in Connecticut was taken into custody when he walked out of a wooded area in Maryland and surrendered peacefully to officers who had their guns drawn, ending six days on the run in several states and providing some relief to the victims’ families, police said Thursday.

Peter Manfredonia, 23, declined to fight extradition back to Connecticut during a brief court hearing Thursday conducted by video in Hagerstown, Maryland. Connecticut State Police said they planned to bring him back to Connecticut within the next two weeks.

“We talked to all the family members of the victims,” state police Lt. Michael Pendleton said at a news conference. “They were very appreciative of our efforts and bringing him to justice. I think they were very relieved that he was finally in custody.”

Authorities allege Manfredonia killed 62-year-old Ted DeMers and seriously wounded another man in a machete attack in Willington, Connecticut, on Friday morning. The wounded man, whose name hasn’t been released, suffered serious hand injuries, but was expected to survive, DeMers’ wife, Cyndi, said earlier this week.

Manfredonia fled to another home in Willington and robbed a man of his guns and pickup truck, then drove about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southwest to Derby, Connecticut, on Sunday, authorities said.

In Derby, police allege Manfredonia fatally shot a high school acquaintance, Nicholas Eisele, 23, then forced Eisele’s girlfriend into a car and fled the state. The woman was found unharmed with the car at a rest stop near near Columbia, New Jersey, near the Pennsylvania line.

Connecticut State Police said they had no information on motives for the attacks Thursday.

“All of us are greatly saddened by the loss of life of two Connecticut residents, the severe injury to an elderly person, the terror inflicted upon countless others,” said Col. Stavros Mellekas, commander of Connecticut State Police. “The savagery of these crimes ... propelled our detectives to commit themselves to finding this individual as quickly as possible.”

On Wednesday night, authorities from several law enforcement agencies converged at a truck stop just outside Hagerstown — after learning an Uber driver had dropped him off there — and Manfredonia walked out of some woods and approached them, Hagerstown police Lt. Rebecca Fetchu said.

Pendleton said the officers, including two Connecticut State Police detectives, drew their guns and ordered the University of Connecticut student to the ground.

“At that point, he went to the ground,” Pendleton said. “He did not resist, and absolutely no force was used to effect the arrest.”

Manfredonia also led police to a black bag containing a gun, believed to be the one used to kill Eisele, that was about 200 yards away, officials said.

Manfredonia was scared and exhausted when he surrendered, said Michael Dolan, a Connecticut lawyer representing Manfredonia’s family. Dolan said he talked with Manfredonia on Wednesday night.

“The family was relieved that this ended peacefully,” Dolan said. “They’re anxious for his return to Connecticut.”

Dolan said Manfredonia had a history of depression and anxiety, but had never shown signs of violence. Manfredonia, a Newtown native, was an honors engineering student at UConn, Dolan said.

Manfredonia is detained without bail at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland. In a booking photo released by the sheriff’s office Thursday, he has no expression on his face, his hair is slightly disheveled and he is wearing a yellow shirt.

Cyndi DeMers told The Hartford Courant that she was “doing the happy dance that all are safe.”

“My Ted is at peace and will continue to watch over our family,” she said. “We will all move forward and continue on as he has instructed us to do.”

She did not return messages from The Associated Press on Thursday.

The death and crime spree began Friday morning when Manfredonia went to DeMers’ neighborhood looking for a young woman he knew, Cyndi Demers told the AP on Tuesday. Manfredonia was walking down the street wearing a motorcycle helmet, she said.

Manfredonia said his motorcycle had broken down and Ted Demers gave him a ride to the motorcycle, Cyndi Demers said. Then Manfredonia attacked Ted Demers and a neighbor who came to his aid, she said.

After leaving Eisele’s girlfriend in New Jersey, Manfredonia got rides from Uber several times while eluding police.

Investigators tracked Manfredonia to Pennsylvania, where police said he took an Uber to a Walmart in East Stroudsburg. Authorities searched the area but didn’t find him. On Tuesday night, a man fitting his description was spotted near Scranton, Pennsylvania, prompting another search there.

Police believe Manfredonia stole a car and abandoned it in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, before taking an Uber to Hagerstown on Wednesday. Later that night, he took another Uber to the truck stop where he was captured, authorities said.

Uber officials said in a statement Thursday that they provided information to law enforcement about Manfredonia. They declined to give details.

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Ridgefield receives Battlefield Protection grant

The Ridgefield Historical Society has received a $50,150 grant from the National Park Service: American Battlefield Protection Program.  The funding will be used for a two-year project to develop a deeper understanding of the 1777 Battle of Ridgefield and its place in the history of the American Revolution.  The Historical Society applied for the grant after the discovery of four sets of skeletal remains under a home near the battle site.

Historical Society President Sara Champion says they are thrilled that the National Park Service has recognized their efforts to preserve the history of the Battle of Ridgefield and are anxious to know as much as possible about the remains.

The details of the battle itself have been documented, but additional research could yield new information.

Among the questions that historians hope to answer are: Were the skeletons those of Patriots or Loyalists or British troops? How did the noncombatant residents of Ridgefield interact with the soldiers? What specifically did the British and Loyalist soldiers learn from the Ridgefield encounters? Who buried casualties from the Battle? Where are the other soldiers that died in the Battle buried?

Emeritus State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni, who was in charge of the recovery of the skeletons, believes there is a great deal yet to be learned about the Battle, both from continuing studies of the skeletons and associated materials, as well as from the work supported by the Battlefield grant.

Much of the battleground, including sites of skirmishes as well as the location south of the village occupied by the British overnight following the battle, has been largely privately owned and developed to varying degrees over the centuries. There are also considerable municipal holdings in the center of town that are part of the site.

A Battlefield Advisory Group is being formed to guide the project and hire a qualified consultant to do the detailed research at local, state and national levels and to inventory previously collected artifacts attributed to the Battle. All of the documentation will be indexed, annotated and provided to the Historical Society. The consultant will prepare a final report that describes the methods undertaken, a summary history of the Battle, preliminary assessment of the battlefield boundaries, and professional recommendations for additional research or archaeological surveys.

The Historical Society will work with the consultant to share information with property owners about their land and its significant role in the history of the United States.

At least four public meetings will be scheduled to share progress and discoveries and there will be monthly research updates on the Historical Society’s website. In addition, the Ridgefield Historical Society and the State Historic Preservation Office will sponsor two planning charrettes about battlefield preservation with the goal of creating policies for areas under the highest risk of development.

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Wilton disputes numbers in unemployment report

Last week, the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released April unemployment data for the State and municipalities.  Wilton First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says the published unemployment rates, of 7.9 percent for Connecticut and 5.2 percent for Wilton do not represent true unemployment.  She says that's because unemployed individuals not actively seeking employment were removed from the report.  In 2019, Wilton’s labor force averaged 8,400 with 8,200 employed.  The April numbers were a labor force of 7,400, with 7,000 employed.  About a thousand unemployed residents were dropped from the report.  If they had been included, Wilton’s April unemployment rate is 16.7-percent.

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Newtown Police Department preparing to resume fingerprinting services

The Newtown Police Department is preparing to resume fingerprinting services.  In an effort to keep officers and the public safe during the COVID-19 outbreak, law enforcement departments across the State suspended the services.  Although the exact date is unknown, the Newtown Police Department is drafting policies and procedures for when fingerprinting services are authorized by the Governor to resume.  Procedures may involve, among other things: fingerprinting by appointment only, mandatory facemasks and other PPE, social distancing, and temperature screening. Once the Newtown Police Department is authorized to resume fingerprinting services, an updated message will be posted on their website.  The information will include information on how to make appointments, and necessary safety protocols that must be adhered to.

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Dog license renewal statements mailed out in Bethel

Dog license renewal statements went out in the mail today.  Bethel Town Clerk Lisa Bergh says all dog licensing will be done remotely. Included in the mailing is a letter with detailed instructions, along with information about Transfer Station Permits.  A return envelope is also included for mailing to the Town Clerk's office.  Renewals can also be left in the Town Hall drop box located at the front entrance to the building.  The Governor has issued an Executive Order which allows for an additional 30 days before late fees are imposed. Instead of July 1st, the date before late fees will be August 1st.  If a dog’s rabies is expired, Bethel officials have highlighted that in the statement.  A copy of a valid rabies certificate can be sent with payment.  Currently held Transfer Station Permits with an expiration date of July 1st will not expire until January 1st.  A renewal process will be outlined at the end of the calendar year.

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Newtown Legislative Council approves funding for emergency communications upgrade

The Newtown Legislative Council has signed off on funding for part of a public safety project.  During their meeting earlier this month, the Council was asked to approve $2.5 million in bonding for the emergency radio system upgrade for first responders.  Under the Governor's executive orders, the Legislative Council can vote on items, rather than holding a referendum. 

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal told the group that the balance of the funding for the project, $5 million, does not need to be voted on immediately, and can go to the voters on the November Presidential election ballot, or next April.  In making the case for initial passage, Rosenthal said he believed taxpayers will support the upgrades since the implications of not completing the project brings consequences that could negatively affect virtually any resident or visitor in need of emergency assistance. 

Until the new equipment is authorized, purchased, ordered, and installed, taxpayers would still have to pay for the dispatch center to be open and operating at its present Town Hall South location when the new police headquarters open.

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Campfires, outdoor fireplaces, fire pit burning activities may resume in Easton

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Easton Fire Marshal’s office enacted a moratorium on all outside burning. This action was done in order to reduce the Fire Department’s responses during the pandemic.  Based the Phase I Opening of the State, campfires, outdoor fireplaces and fire pit burning activities may resume in Easton.  These activities are not regulated per se by the Easton Fire Marshal. Nuisance smoke will cause the fire department to shut down these recreational activities sa that is regulated by the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  Open Burning permits of Brush on Residential Property in Easton will be permitted on a phased-in basis.  Residents who already have a permit may follow the customary rules and start to burn brush. The conditions found on the burning permit must be strictly complied with or the permit will be revoked by the Fire Marshal.  Any applicant who has already applied for an Open Burning Permit and has not yet picked up the completed permit up from the fire department will be sent the completed permit in the US Mail by June 1st.

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Connecticut transgender policy found to violate Title IX

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut policy that allows transgender athletes to compete in girls sports violates the civil rights of female athletes, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has ruled.

The ruling, which was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, comes in response to a complaint filed last year by several female track athletes, who argued that two transgender runners who were identified as male at birth had an unfair physical advantage.

The office said in a 45-page letter that it may seek to withhold federal funding over the policy, which allows transgender athletes to participate as the gender with which they identify. It said the policy is a violation of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that guarantees equal education opportunities for women, including in athletics.

It has “denied female student-athletes athletic benefits and opportunities, including advancing to the finals in events, higher level competitions, awards, medals, recognition, and the possibility of greater visibility to colleges and other benefits,” according to the letter, which is dated May 15.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which oversees scholastic sports in the state, has said its policy is designed to comply with the state’s law barring schools from discriminating against transgender students. A call seeking comment was left Thursday with CIAC.

Attorneys for the Alliance Defending Freedom, who represent the girls who brought the complaint, said they would have a comment later on Thursday.

The Office for Civil Rights ruling names the CIAC and school districts the transgender runners and those filing the complaint competed — Glastonbury, Bloomfield, Hartford, Cromwell, Canton, and Danbury.

The office said it will “either initiate administrative proceedings to suspend, terminate, or refuse to grant or continue and defer financial assistance” to the CIAC and those districts or refer the cases to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In its letter, the Office for Civil Rights said it notified the CIAC and the school districts of its pending decision in February, but that subsequent negotiations failed to result in an agreement over the policy.

The dispute, which is already the subject of a federal lawsuit, centers on two transgender sprinters, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, who have frequently outperformed their competitors, winning a combined 15 girls state indoor or outdoor championship races since 2017, according to the lawsuit.

Lawyers for the transgender athletes have argued that both are undergoing hormone treatments that have put them on an equal footing with the girls they are competing against.

One of the plaintiffs, Chelsea Mitchell, won two state indoor title races over Miller this year.

The plantiffs sought to block the participation of Miller and Yearwood, both seniors, from spring track meets, which were later canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They were also seeking to erase all records set by the transgender athletes.

Connecticut is one of 18 states, along with Washington, D.C. that allows transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions, according to Transathlete.com, which tracks state policies in high school sports across the country.

Several other states have polices barring the participation of transgender athletes and Idaho recently became the first state to pass a law banning transgender women from competing in women’s sports. The American Civil Liberties Union and Legal Voice filed a federal lawsuit contending that law violates the U.S. Constitution because it is discriminatory and an invasion of privacy.

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Wilton making field available for senior photos

Wilton Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pierce is closely monitoring bookings for tennis courts, the Stadium track and fields.  Over the last 10 days, the track has been nearly fully booked, but plenty of availability has remained for the Stadium turf.   Wilton is making Lilly field available for senior class family photos on the “W”.  Opportunities will not only  be available during Phase 1, but also during Phase 2 to allow for families greater than 5 persons.  There are over 300 students in the Wilton High School graduation class.  Allowing for rain dates, photos will occur over a few weeks. 

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Redding Transfer Station to reopen, with restrictions

Beginning Monday, the Redding Transfer Station will begin accepting all previously accepted materials.  Hours will be 7:30AM to 3PM Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday.  Redding Transfer Station attendants will not be assisting residents and all activity will be self-service.  Cash will not be accepted, only checks.  Employees will be practicing social distancing and residents are also asked to follow similar protocols.

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Local lawmaker among delegation to tour Foxwoods to assess reopening protocols

Among the state delegation to tour Foxwoods this week was Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan, a member of the General Assembly’s Public Safety and Security Committee, which oversees Connecticut’s gambling programs.  Allie-Brennan says there are comprehensive safety measures that have been put in place to protect staff and guests ahead of the limited reopening on Monday.  Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have furloughed roughly 10,000 workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Allie-Brennan says helping Connecticut families get back to work is a high priority, but so is continuing to follow guidelines that have been issued by public health officials. He believes both can be done.

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New Fairfield Zoning Commission approves new regulations on generators, mechanical equipment

Storm damage has become more frequent in recent years which has prompted more homeowners to install generators.  The New Fairfield Zoning Commission voted this week to approve a new section in town regulations to define mechanical equipment and rules for size and placement.  Mechanical equipment would be required to have a minimum setback of 10 feet from all property lines in both residential and nonresidential districts and be located behind the front building plane of a property.  Mechanical equipment over 500 square feet would require a licensed Connecticut surveyor to determine if a storm water management mitigation system is also needed. Zoning Enforcement Officer Evan White says Brookfield, Danbury, Ridgefield and Redding established mechanical equipment regulations after the 2018 macroburst.  The New Fairfield Zoning Commission is next scheduled to meet on Wednesday via Zoom.

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College student wanted in 2 Connecticut slayings is captured

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A college student sought by police as a suspect in a crime spree including two slayings in Connecticut has been captured in Maryland, police said Wednesday night.

Peter Manfredonia, 23, had been the subject of a six-day search involving several police agencies and the FBI.

He was found in the area of a truck stop in Hagerstown, Maryland. He was not injured and no officers were hurt during the arrest, Connecticut State Police said.

“The suspect will face justice and this will bring closure. This is what is important for the families of the victims,” said Trooper First Class Christine Jeltema, a spokeswoman for Connecticut State Police.

Manfredonia was wanted in the machete killing of 62-year-old Ted DeMers and the wounding of another man in Willington, Connecticut, on Friday. Cyndi DeMers, the victim’s wife, has said Manfredonia was looking for a female acquaintance when he came walking down the road in front of their home wearing a motorcycle helmet and her husband offered him a ride to his motorcycle.

The University of Connecticut senior also went to another man’s home, held him hostage, stole his guns and truck and drove about 70 miles southwest to Derby, Connecticut, state police said.

In Derby, police found Manfredonia’s high school friend, Nicholas Eisele, 23, shot to death in his home on Sunday. Authorities believe Manfredonia then forced Eisele’s girlfriend into her car and fled the state. The girlfriend was found unharmed with her car at a rest stop near near Columbia, New Jersey.

A gun that police believe was used in the slaying of Eisele was recovered near where Manfredonia was taken into custody, Jeltema said.

Authorities have not offered a possible motive for the crimes.

Investigators tracked Manfredonia to Pennsylvania, where police said he took an Uber to a Walmart in East Stroudsburg, not far from the New Jersey border. Police discovered through interviews with the driver and from security camera footage that Manfredonia walked behind the store and onto railroad tracks, authorities said.

A man fitting his description was spotted Tuesday night near Scranton, Pennsylvania, prompting another search there. And police later suspected Manfredonia to be in the Hagerstown, Maryland, area, where a ride-hailing service dropped off someone matching his description Wednesday.

A lawyer for the suspect’s family, Michael Dolan, said they were relieved the search had ended peacefully.

Dolan said Manfredonia, a Newtown native, was an honors engineering student at UConn who had a history of depression and anxiety but had not shown signs of violence.

“This came as a total surprise to everybody based on Peter’s past,” he said. “He’s been a kind-hearted person who has no history of violence or any trouble with the law.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont offered thanks to police agencies including those in other states that were involved in the search.

“We are appreciative of their unified approach to this disturbing situation,” Lamont said on Twitter.

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Ridgefield health officials continue to see disparity in COVID numbers from state

Ridgefield Health Director Ed  Briggs is asking residents to avoid calling the Health Department for COVID-19 statistics so staff can devote time to inspections and supporting critical town businesses and agencies as they plan and execute safe reopening.  Briggs says the time spent to explain the generalities in the state numbers takes away from the health mission. 

He added that current state information on testing is difficult to interpret because it combines various classifications of test results—positive, presumptive positive, probable positive, suspected positives, and positive for antibodies. Those who have tested positive are never removed, even after they recover. Those who have had more than one test can show up on the list multiple times. 

Ridgefield's cumulative number of positive tests as of Tuesday was 173, not including fatalities, which stands at 42.  The state however reported over 240 cumulative positive tests in Ridgefield that same day.  Briggs says there is no actionable information in these reports. 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says that the State is working to implement the more sophisticated testing data, but meanwhile Ridgefield will suspend giving out daily numbers until it is more relevant.

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More than 230 Nuvance patients received convalescent plasma as COVID-19 treatment

To date, more than 230 patients have received convalescent plasma across Nuvance Health’s seven hospitals.  In early May, Nuvance Health opened convalescent plasma donation centers at Danbury Hospital, Norwalk Hospital and Vassar Brothers Medical Center to help critically ill patients with  COVID-19.  Danbury Hospital officials say with the development of a vaccine  months, if not a year, away, medical institutions throughout the country have started trials to determine if plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, when given to those that are severely ill, might be effective in decreasing the severity or duration of the disease. The program has close to 2,000 donors registered in its database.

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Danbury Mayor provides status update on coronavirus closings, enforcement

The warm weather has drawn more people outdoors.  That's also caused some more neighbor disputes as people have been living in close quarters for months.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the Governor has left enforcement of crowd gatherings up to local municipalities. 

A lot of people have been calling to report their neighbors having parties, with upwards of 20 people.  Boughton says an officer can't be posted on every corner, but the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team is continuing to respond to complaints. He added that law enforcement will have a conversation with those offenders, but it will likely not end in arrest.

As distance learning comes to an end soon with students officially out of school, some Danbury residents are wondering when playgrounds, fields and the town park will open.  Boughton says not for a while.  He said for example, 4th of July weekend there could be upwards of 2,000 people at Danbury Town Park and social distancing can't be avoided.  He also noted that the mandate on face coverings can't easily be enforced. 

Until there's liability relief in case someone gets sick, Boughton says he's hesitant to open these facilities.  If it's dubious whether they should be open, or the area wasn't policed 24/7, the city could be sued.

There's been growing calls for religious institutions to reopen their doors.  Governor Lamont has noted that the state only restricted those gatherings to fewer than 50.  Boughton says online services should continue for the time being.  He understands people miss the social interaction and the tradition, but questioned at what cost.

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Public pools in Brookfield ordered to remain closed

The Connecticut Department of Public Health strongly recommends that public swimming pools remain closed.   An emergency order was issued last week by the Brookfield Director of Health saying that all public swimming pools in Brookfield should remain closed until the Governor expands the number of individuals allowed to gather. The state Commissioner of public Health has broad powers under another Publica Health Emergency Response Act, and that power was extended to local Directors of Health.  Under the Brookfield local emergency declaration, the Director must act in the best interests of preserving the public health of residents.

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Greater Danbury area towns reporting more stolen cars, thefts from cars

Police Departments across the Greater Danbury area are once again reminding residents to lock car doors at night and not to leave valuable items inside vehicles.  Keys should also not be left inside unattended cars. While everyone should abide by this advice, Monroe Police say residents who live off Route 110 and Barn Hill Road should pay special attention as these areas of town continue to see the highest number of entered and stolen cars.  Police continue to patrol all areas of town and have made arrests in many of these cases.

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Danbury man allegedly threatens bus driver with gun was in possession of cocaine

A Danbury man who allegedly threatened a bus driver after being told to put on a face mask was found with cocaine and other drugs in his possession.  Norwalk Police told The Hour that the incident happened Monday afternoon when 32-year old Jeff Forzani tried to board the bus without a face mask, even though it's now a state mandate to wear a covering. 

Forzani reportedly told the driver that he had a gun, the drive called police and the man fled on foot.  He was located nearby in possession of powdered cocaine, clonazepam pills, a digital scale and a large amount of money. 

No gun was located. 

Forzani was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of narcotics, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school and possession of a controlled substance within 1,500 feet of a school. He was held on $10,000 bond for a court appearance on July 10th.

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Bethel municipal center reopens with restrictions on Monday

The Bethel municipal center will reopen to the public beginning on Monday. Access will be limited, to those who have made appointments in advance, in order to ensure a safe, uncrowded environment.  Entry will be permitted only through the doors near the General Purpose room, with the ADA accessible ramp.  A staff member will ask a few health screening questions before issuing a guest pass.  All visitors will be required to wear a mask or cloth face covering.  Staff members will be wearing masks, as well.  Normal business hours will remain in effect.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says residents are encouraged to continue to use online services when practical to minimize the need for in-person visits.

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Putnam County launches coronavirus contact tracing effort

Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell says the region has been watching other regions in New York as they've reopened from the coronavirus shut down.  The Reopen Putnam Safely Task Force was formed recently to ensure a continued decline in positive cases.  Odell says over the Memorial Day weekend, residents at Putnam beaches showed restraint and were responsible with social distancing practiced.  According to the New York State reopening benchmarks, 30 contact tracers are needed per 100,000 residents.  However, reopening requirements for Putnam County called for 84 contact tracers in order to track and identify people who may become sick and advise them on how to avoid spreading the virus further. 

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New search for student wanted in killings comes up empty

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A man matching the description of a fugitive college student wanted in the killings of two people in Connecticut was seen in northeastern Pennsylvania, sparking a new search that lasted several hours but came up empty, authorities said Wednesday.

Police in Duryea, Pennsylvania, said a firefighter spotted a man with a large backpack behind the Germania Hose Co. shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday. The man fled toward nearby railroad tracks and a wooded area, officials said. The firefighter asked the man what he was doing, but he did not respond as he left the scene, police said.

Authorities said the man fit the description of University of Connecticut senior Peter Manfredonia, 23, who reportedly was last seen on Sunday about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Duryea in East Stroudsburg walking along railroad tracks with a large backpack.

Duryea officials said they called in officers from surrounding towns and state police Tuesday night and used a helicopter to help with the search of the railroad tracks and woods, but they didn’t find anyone and called off the search after several hours.

“At this time we don’t have enough information to confirm it was the suspect from Connecticut but ask that residents be aware and cautious of their surroundings,” Duryea police said in a statement Wednesday.

Connecticut State Police said Manfredonia is wanted in the machete killing of 62-year-old Ted DeMers and wounding of another man in Willington on Friday. Manfredonia went to another man’s home, held him hostage and stole his guns and truck, then drove about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southwest to Derby, Connecticut, state police said.

In Derby, police found Manfredonia’s high school friend, Nicholas Eisele, 23, shot to death in his home. Authorities believe Manfredonia then forced Eisele’s girlfriend into her car and fled the state. The girlfriend was found unharmed with her car at a rest stop near Paterson, New Jersey.

Manfredonia then took an Uber to a Walmart in East Stroudsburg, not far from the New Jersey border, Pennsylvania State Police said.

A lawyer for Manfredonia’s family said he has struggled with mental health problems, but did not show signs of violence.

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Bear spotted roaming around Ridgefield Village area

A bear has been spotted roaming around the Ridgefield Village area.  The  Police Animal Control Officer responded to a report of a bear on High Ridge Avenue yesterday morning.  The animal was spotted from a distance, and officials say did not present any danger as it proceeded south.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was advised of the sighting and location.  DEEP tips for people who do see a bear include to make your presence know shouting and waving your arms or walk slowly away.  People should never attempt to feed or attract bears and only observe them from a distance.

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New Milford Recycling Center adds Wednesday hours

The New Milford Recycling Center was closed yesterday, but Mayor Pete Bass say they've added additional hours back.  The Recycling Center will now also be open Wednesdays. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday,  8 am - 4:30 pm and Saturday 9 am - 3pm.  Some Bulky Waste will also now be accepted. Bulky Waste must be able to be handled by the resident only, with no help from the Recycling Staff.  This is to continue with social distancing practices.

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New Fairfield CERT seeks volunteers

The New Fairfield Community Emergency Response is a volunteer organization. CERT is  actively recruiting volunteers to be trained to support public officials and first responders in times of need by performing various activities. To comply with social distancing requirements, training classes will be held via Zoom beginning in early June.  An application for volunteers can be found on the Town of New Fairfield website, under the Emergency Management tab.  Applications can be dropped off at the Police Department, Attention: Maria Evans, or submitted via email to mevans@newfairfield.org.

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Victim's wife says fugitive student sought their neighbor

WILLINGTON, Conn. (AP) — A college student police say is an armed fugitive after killing two people was looking for a young woman he knew when he began his rampage, the wife of his first victim said Tuesday.

University of Connecticut senior Peter Manfredonia, 23, is a fugitive in the machete killing of the woman’s neighbor, 62-year-old Ted DeMers, of Willington, Connecticut.

He also is believed to have killed his own high school friend, Nicholas Eisele, 23, on Sunday about 70 miles (110 kilometers) away in Derby, police said.

Manfredonia was last reported seen in Pennsylvania on Sunday and is the target of a search involving police agencies and the FBI.

Cyndi DeMers, Ted DeMers’ wife of 42 years, said in an interview that Manfredonia was looking for a female acquaintance when he came walking down the road in front of their Willington home wearing a motorcycle helmet.

When asked why he was walking down the rural road, Manfredonia said his motorcycle had broken down, Cyndi DeMers said. Ted DeMers was killed with a machete after giving Manfredonia a ride back to his bike.

“He said to my husband, ‘I know so-and-so,’ who is one of our neighbors, which then opened up the door to trusting this person,” Cyndi DeMers said.

“I think he got in the way of what he was going to do,” she said. “He was clearly walking to her home with a mission, with a machete in his backpack.”

DeMers said she talked with their young neighbor’s father over the weekend and was told the family had been considering a restraining order against Manfredonia, who had been to the home in the past. Her neighbors have been told by police not to return to their home until he is captured, she said.

An additional neighbor, who came to DeMers’ aid, also was attacked. That man suffered serious hand injuries but is expected to survive, Cyndi DeMers said.

Connecticut State Police pleaded at a news briefing Tuesday for Manfredonia to turn himself in.

“We want you to be able to tell your story,” Lt. John Aiello said. “We are hear to listen to you. Your parents, your friends, all of us back here in Connecticut want a peaceful end to this.”

Manfredonia broke into another house in Willington over the weekend, stealing guns and a truck, and then headed south, police said. The truck was found Sunday in Derby, near Eisele’s home.

Police said they believe Manfredonia killed his friend, then forced Eisele’s 23-year-old girlfriend into her car and fled the state. The girlfriend was found Sunday at a rest stop near Paterson, New Jersey, with her 2016 Volkswagen Jetta and was not hurt, police said.

Manfredonia took an Uber to a Walmart in East Stroudsburg, not far from the New Jersey border, Pennsylvania State Police said Tuesday.

Police discovered through interviews with the driver and from security camera footage that Manfredonia walked behind the store and onto railroad tracks, authorities said.

Pennsylvania police said they don’t believe Manfredonia has ties to the area, or a car. He might try to use another ride-hailing service to flee, the agency said.

Authorities are looking for a black 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe with Pennsylvania registration KYW-1650 that was stolen around 9 p.m. Monday. Police haven’t connected Manfredonia to the theft, they said, but it was taken from the area where he was last seen on surveillance video.

Manfredonia, who is believed to be armed with several guns stolen during the home invasion in Willington, was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and dark shorts and carrying a large duffel bag. Police have circulated a photo of a person matching his description walking along railroad tracks in East Stroudsburg.

A lawyer for Manfredonia’s family, Mike Dolan, said the suspect has struggled with mental health issues and has “sought the help of a number of therapists.”

“Peter, if you are listening, you are loved,” Dolan said at a news conference Monday. “It is time to let the healing process begin. It’s time to surrender. You have your parents’ and your sisters’ and your family’s entire support. So, Peter, from your parents, we love you, please turn yourself in.”

Cyndi DeMers said she and her husband were looking forward to becoming grandparents for he first time next month. Ted DeMers would be remembered as a kindhearted man, always willing to help anyone in need. That, she said, was what he was doing when he was killed.

“He was like the neighborhood watch,” she said. “He was home all the time, so he kind of kept an eye out. He was that guy.”

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Ridgefield Police taking appointments for new pistol permit applicants

The Ridgefield Police Department is now taking appointments for new pistol permit applicants. Appointments can be made by calling 203-438-6531. State of Connecticut Pistol Permit applications can be found on the State of Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection website under Special Licensing and Firearms.  Anyone needing to pick up an application packet is asked to call the Ridgefield Police Department and they will make one available.  Questions can be directed to the department’s Detective Division.

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Retired State Police Trooper dies cancer resulting from 9/11 response

A retired Connecticut State Police Trooper has died from cancer resulting from his response to the World Trade Center site following the September 11th terrorist attacks.  Trooper First Class Eugene Kenneth Baron, Jr. died Monday.  This is classified as a line of duty death.Trooper Baron, along with other members of the Traffic Services Unit of the Connecticut State Police, responded to the World Trade Center immediately following the attacks to search for possible survivors and serve as a liaison to Connecticut families. Trooper Baron graduated from the State Police Training Academy in 1990. His first assignment was at Troop A in Southbury.  He served with the Connecticut State Police for a total of 18 years, leaving with a partial disability retirement in 2007. He is survived by his three children, his partner and her two children, two sisters, and his parents.  Governor Lamont has directed U.S. and state flags in Connecticut to be lowered to half-staff until sunset on the date of interment, which is scheduled for Saturday.

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Putnam County reopens for Phase 1 after 9 week PAUSE

After a nine week pause, some businesses in the Mid-Hudson Region have reopened, including construction, manufacturing, retail for curbside pickup only, wholesale trade and agriculture.  Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell says the region has shown a significant downward trend in the spread of coronavirus and met the seven metrics the state required to enter Phase 1 of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s four-phase reopening plan. 

A major part of the Phase 1 plan includes having contact tracers notify those who have been exposed to COVID-19.  Contact tracers throughout the region were trained this weekend and began work yesterday.  The region’s contact tracers include a mix of health department employees, other county employees, summer interns and volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps. 

Phase 1 will last for two weeks while the number of COVID-19 cases in the Mid-Hudson region are closely monitored. If the downward trend reverses and the numbers increase, the state can put the region back on pause. 

New York's seven criteria for reopening included: a 14-day decline in net hospitalizations; a decline in death; fewer than 2 new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents; at least 30 percent availability of hospital beds; 30 percent availability of ICU beds; and an aggressive testing and contact tracing program.

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Brookfield Board of Finance to adopt budget

The Brookfield Board of Finance will meet tonight for a final review and adoption of the budget for next year. Details to join the meeting are on the town website. The Governor’s Executive Order authorizes the board to adopt a budget and set a mill rate by June 4th. A virtual board meeting and public hearing was held on May 12th. 

Brookfield Town Hall will be returning to normal operations from 10am to 3pm over the month of June.  Offices are being reconfigured and sneeze shields are being installed.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says the demand for this equipment is great, so there may be a delay in getting Town Hall up and running. 

Brookfield residents will have to make an appointment in order to enter town hall, and then wear a mask when in the building.  Visitors will have their temperature checked and asked CDC health questions.

Brookfield will be opening parks and facilities gradually over the coming weeks, balancing the desire to enjoy them with the need to keep everyone safe. Dunn says the town will follow the guidance of the Brookfield Director of Public Health, the State, and  the local Emergency Management team. Details will be on the town website.

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More trains coming back to Metro North

Service enhancements are coming to Metro North under the MTA Essential Service Plan with the Phase 1 reopening of the mid-Hudson Valley region.  The MTA continues to run service for essential customers and essential trips only.

Face coverings are required for all customers and employees. Metro North will continue to charge off-peak fares at all times. 

Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi says Metro-North is undertaking the most aggressive disinfecting and cleaning program in MTA history.  There currently is hourly service on  the New Haven, Harlem and Hudson lines.  As of today, Metro-North is adding 18 trains to the schedule in anticipation of increased demand. 

The expanded service represents an overall increase of 26% in peak train availability since Metro-North’s Essential Service Plan went into effect. 

On the Harlem Line, Metro-North is adding a train from Southeast to Grand Central in the morning rush, two trains from North White Plains to Grand Central and one reverse-peak train from Grand Central to North White Plains. In the PM rush, Metro-North is adding a train from Grand Central to Southeast, two trains from Grand Central to North White Plains and a reverse peak train from North White Plains to Grand Central. 

On the New Haven Line, Metro-North is adding a train from New Haven to Grand Central during the morning rush, and two from Stamford to Grand Central. In the PM rush, Metro-North is adding a train from Grand Central to New Haven and two from Grand Central to Stamford. 

Metro-North will also have 14 train sets strategically positioned at major facilities to operate additional service as necessary.

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Ducklings, kitten rescued from storm drains in Brewster, Bethel

Two Putnam County Sheriff Deputies have saved a brood of ducklings from a certain demise as they had followed each other down into a storm grate near the Ski Haus at Routes 22 and 312 in Brewster.  The ducklings are currently being looked after by Patrick Moore at Animal Nation.  Sheriff's Department officials say the pair did a “grate” job. 

(Photo: PCSD)

Meanwhile, in Bethel, Stony Hill Firefighters were alerted to a a kitten stuck in a storm drain over the weekend.  Once the stubborn grate was removed, LT. Evanuska, an avid cat owner, entered the catch basin and coaxed the kitten out with his own bag of Temptations Cat Treats. The cat was uninjured and was returned to its owners.

(Photo: SHVFD)

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Hawleyville Volunteer firefighter assists unconscious patient involved in accident

A Hawleyville Volunteer firefighter came upon a serious accident outside Danbury Mall over the weekend.  A car struck a cement pole stanchion at the entrance.  Firefighter Reese Moffett donned his turnouts and personal protective equipment and approached the car.  He found an unconscious elderly man, and broke a window to gain access to the patient, who was unconscious, and having respiratory difficulty. Moffett updated police when they arrived.  He and another were able to gain access to the backseat, and hold the patient's airway open until Danbury Fire Department Engine 26 and EMS arrived.

(Photo: Hawleyville FD)

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Truck hits building in Bethel, causes natural gas leak

A truck hit a building on Saturday morning in Bethel and caused a natural gas leak.  The pick up truck with landscaping trailer was located inside a Grassy Plain Street building shortly after 11am.  The accident caused severe structural damage and a severed natural gas meter going to the unit.  Firefighters set up a protective ground monitor, keeping a constant flow of water on the gas leak. After the gas was shut off, the Bethel Emergency Management & Fire Marshal and Town Building Department responded to the scene to begin investigating.  Bethel Police and Danbury Fire Department  were also on scene assisting while West Redding Volunteer Fire Department provided station coverage.  The driver was uninjured.

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Greater Danbury area towns mark Memorial Day with abbreviated ceremonies

The New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department thanked Service Men and Women who served, and continue to serve, the United States at times on conflict as well as at times of peace.  Over Memorial Day weekend, they also celebrated and thanked all members of the Emergency Services who put their lives on the line in service to local communities as well.

Members of the Greater Danbury state legislative delegation participated in small wreath laying ceremonies yesterday in honor of Memorial Day.  In Bethel, Representatives Steve Harding and Raghib Allie-Brennan and Senators Julie Kushner and Will Haskell joined town leadership to honor fallen service members. 

A ceremony  was also held at the Danbury War Memorial. Kushner and Harding were joined there by Representatives Bob Godfrey and Ken Gucker, along with Veteran Juan Vasquez from Danbury VFW Post 149.  Kushner and Gucker also laid a wreath at New Fairfield Veterans’ Memorial.

A Memorial Day ceremony was held in New Milford yesterday.  Members of the High School band played TAPS.  Children in Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops placed American Flags on the graves of Veterans.  American Legion Commander Jeff McBreairty, VFW Commander Jim Delancy, Water Witch Chief Rich Squires and Police Chief Spenser Cerruto organized the Memorial Day Tribute.  Water Witch Fire, Northville Fire, Gaylordsville Fire, New Milford Ambulance, Police and all Honor Guards all participated.  Legion Chaplain Sullivan offered the benediction.

While traditional Memorial Day ceremonies weren't held yesterday, the occasion was still marked and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice were honored.  Monroe First Selectman Ken Kellogg was joined by State Representative JP Sredzinski, and veterans to ensure that the Town properly recognized Memorial Day 2020 with an abbreviated ceremony.

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Bethel Police Department names 2019 Officer of the Year

The Bethel Police Department 2019 Officer of the Year is Detective Jonathan McClintock.  He was hired in 2015, and spent the majority of his patrol days on the evening shift. In 2018, when the position of Youth Officer became available, McClintock learned more about the position on a rotational assignment. Based on his efforts and enthusiasm, McClintock was officially assigned to the Detective Bureau in 2019 as the Youth Officer.  He has also served as one of Bethel Police Department’s Evidence Room managers and has been forensically trained in both Encase (digital investigations) and Finding Words (juvenile interviews). As Youth Officer, McClintock oversees all sexual assaults and juvenile related cases; participates in and conducts school and community events; and acts as the liaison between Bethel Police Department and numerous other agencies

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Ridgefield Police investigating report of man attempting to lure girl into car

A girl walking in Ridgefield yesterday reported to police that she was approached by a suspicious man while she was walking on Gilbert Street near Main Street.  The driver asked her to get into his vehicle around 9:30am.  After refusing and changing direction, Police say the vehicle continued down Gilbert Street making a right turn on Main Street. According to the girl, the driver appeared to be an Indian or Hispanic male with a slight accent who was in his late 20’s early 30’s. The vehicle was described as a silver Subaru or Honda sedan with Connecticut license plates.   Anyone who witnessed or experienced a similar situation is asked to contact the Ridgefield Police Department at (203)438-6531.

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Connecticut murder suspect's family pleads for his surrender

A lawyer for the family of a Connecticut murder suspect pleaded Monday for his surrender as police involved in a multi-state search for the 23-year-old college student circulated a photo of a person matching his description walking along railroad tracks in Pennsylvania.

Peter Manfredonia, a University of Connecticut senior, is suspected of killing Ted DeMers, 62, and Nicholas Eisele, 23, before forcing Eisele’s girlfriend into her car and fleeing the state with her.

The woman, 23, was located Sunday at a rest stop near Paterson, New Jersey, with her 2016 Volkswagen Jetta, police said, and was not hurt.

Manfredonia, who is believed to be armed with several guns stolen during a home invasion, was last seen Sunday wearing a white T-shirt, dark shorts and carrying a large duffel bag near train tracks in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Paterson is about a 90-minute drive from Derby, Connecticut, where Eisele was killed. East Stroudsburg is about an hour farther west on Interstate 80.

A lawyer for Manfredonia’s family, Mike Dolan, said the suspect has struggled with mental health issues and has “sought the help of a number of therapists.”

“Peter, if you are listening, you are loved,” Dolan said at a news conference Monday. “It is time to let the healing process begin. It’s time to surrender. You have your parents’ and your sisters’ and your family’s entire support. So, Peter, from your parents, we love you, please turn yourself in.”

Connecticut State Police plan to hold a press conference Tuesday.

Manfredonia, a finance and mechanical engineering major from Sandy Hook, is suspected of killing DeMers and assaulting another man, possibly with a sword or machete, in Willington on Friday after they found Manfredonia walking along a road and offered him a ride back to his motorcycle.

The second victim, Nicholas Eisele, was found dead at his home Sunday in Derby, which is about 60 miles (96 kilometers) southwest of Willington and just west of New Haven. Eisele, a 2016 Newtown High School graduate, worked with his father in a landscaping and irrigation business. State police described him as an acquaintance of Manfredonia’s.

Earlier on Sunday, a Willington man reported being held against his will by Manfredonia, who then left with food, several guns and the man’s truck, which was later found abandoned near Osbornedale State Park, about a mile from Eisele’s home.

Eisele’s family set up an online fundraiser to help cover funeral expenses and far exceeded the goal of $10,000 in just a few hours. On the page, friends and family shared memories, including his love of his mother’s German shepherds, Trooper and Sandy.

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Conn. man arrested in Newtown for stalking, criminal mischief

Twice in as many weeks Newtown police officers were dispatched to the area of Toddy Hill Road and Surrey Trail to investigate the report of an unwanted person. The second time was early Sunday morning around 3am.  Newtown Police located the suspect's vehicle attempting to leave and stopped the driver.  Police charged 31-year old Matthew Hanson, of Manchester, with Violation of Conditions of Release, Violation of Protective Order, Stalking and Criminal Mischief. Hanson was held on $100,000 dollar bond for a next available court date.  He was also arrested by Manchester Police Saturday for Harassment and Misuse of 911. This is Hanson's 8th pending arrest since April 1st.

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Wilton launches public safety campaign on importance of face coverings

The Town of Wilton has launched a public safety campaign to share with residents the importance of wearing a face covering while in public. “Face Coverings: Protect You, Protect Others” signage has been placed in public areas where social distancing is not always possible such as along River Road sidewalks or on popular Wilton trails.  The Governor's Executive Order from April 17th directs anyone out in public who can't maintain a safe social distance of six feet to wear a mask or cloth face-covering. The order provides an exception for those with a medical condition, a child in a child care setting, anyone under the age of 2 years, and older children if the mask cannot be placed safely on his or her face.

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Modified commencement ceremony to be held in New Milford

A modified commencement ceremony will be held in New Milford for graduating seniors.  The Newstimes reports that it will feature a car processional and graduates walking the sidewalk by the school to get their diplomas.  Graduates and as many immediate family members as can fit legally in the car can meet at Sarah Noble Intermediate School at 10:15am on June 20th, parading to the high school at 11am.  Police will lead the cars.  There will be markings on the sidewalk for the students to stand 6 feet apart, along with 4 photo opportunities and each graduates name will be read allowed.  The ceremony will also be livestreamed.  Recorded messages from the superintendent, principal, class president, valedictorian and salutatorian will be posted to Youtube.  The Parent Teacher Organization will give seniors caps and gowns in the beginning of June., along with a goody bag to decorate cars.

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New Milford Mayor reminds people to toss masks, gloves in trash

More people are wearing disposable gloves and face masks as the threat of coronavirus pandemic lingers.  But that's also leading to more litter as people dump the personal protective equipment in parking lots or leave them in grocery carts.  Greater Danbury area officials are asking people to toss those items in a trash can, and if one is not readily available, to throw them out at home.  They say litter is one issue, but it's also to protect public works crews and grocery store staff that would otherwise have to put themselves at risk of exposure to clean them up.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says he's asked the Police Department to be vigilant and issue the maximum ticket to people who litter these items.  He suggested keeping a trash bag in vehicles to have a safe place to dispose of gloves and masks until you get to a trash can.

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Police in 3 states seek suspect in 2 Connecticut slayings

WILLINGTON, Conn. (AP) — The search for a 23-year-old University of Connecticut senior suspected in two slayings and believed to be armed with several stolen guns had stretched from Connecticut to New Jersey and Pennsylvania on Sunday, state police said.

Connecticut troopers said Peter Manfredonia, suspected in a deadly assault in Willington on Friday and a homicide in Derby on Sunday morning, is believed to be armed with several weapons stolen during a home invasion. A car Manfredonia is suspected of stealing from the Derby victim was found in New Jersey at the Pennsylvania border Sunday afternoon, police said.

Police said Manfredonia is suspected of killing 62-year-old Ted DeMers and assaulting another man in Willington. DeMers’ wife, Cynthia DeMers, tells the Hartford Courant that the two men had been attacked after they found Manfredonia walking along a road and offered him a ride back to his motorcycle.

“It could have been anybody who offered him a ride,” she said. “It could have been any of my neighbors’ husbands. It just happened to be mine.”

DeMers was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The other man suffered severe wounds described as sword or machete wounds, state police said.

Connecticut Trooper Christine Jeltema said police were called to a home in Willington early Sunday morning. A man reported he had been held against his will by Manfredonia, who then left with food, several guns and the man’s truck, which was found abandoned at 6:45 a.m. near Osbornedale State Park.

Police investigators then went to the Derby home of an acquaintance of Manfredonia and found him dead. He was identified Sunday afternoon as 23-year-old Nicholas Eisele.

Manfredonia is a 2015 graduate of Newtown High School and a senior at the University of Connecticut majoring in finance and mechanical engineering, the Connecticut Post reported. Police describe him as a 6-foot-3 white man who should be considered armed and dangerous.

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Police warn of contact tracing scam

The Monroe Police Department is alerting residents to a Contact Tracing Scam. Real contact tracers will not ask for personal information, such as Social Security Number.

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Wilton Police reporting increase in car thefts

The Wilton Police Department has been seeing an increasing number of stolen vehicles from residential driveways. Year to date 5 vehicles have been stolen in 3 separate incidents. In all cases, vehicles were unlocked with the keys left in the vehicle.  Ridgefield Police say a vehicle stolen from Wilton was recovered in their town this week.

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Bridgewater to hold online Memorial Day Observance in lieu of parade

Bridgewater is having an online Memorial Day Observance in lieu of a parade.  A pre-taped video ceremony will be released Monday morning. It will include traditional aspects of the annual ceremony, including an address, readings, a patriotic song and wreath laying.  The link will be posted on the Town's website at Bridgewater-CT.gov.

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Friends of the Franc Preserve clearing plants that lead to tick population increase

The Friends of the Franc Preserve group in Bethel is encouraging residents to participate in a social distancing-friendly volunteer project.  Over the past few years, the open space group has been working to remove the Japanese Barberry plant from the preserve, as it increases deer tick populations, and the risk for Lyme Disease. They cited a study which showed that by removing barberry the average tick populations went from 458 to 191 ticks per acre within a few years in Connecticut sites, and the remaining ones were less active. Clearing the area will also lead to a view of one of the stone walls on the property.  The brush clearing will not be done on a specific date to accommodate social distancing guidelines, but volunteers looking for something to do outdoors can, take before and after photos of the work, and then post them to the Friends of the Franc Preserve Facebook page.

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Redding to mark Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day, Redding will be recognizing fallen soldiers at the WWI Memorial Stone on the Congregational Church Green tomorrow.  The tribute prayer will be delivered by Hank Sanford at noon.  A rendition of “Taps” will be played on trumpet following the prayer.  Redding residents attending the service are asked to continue to respect social distancing rules.

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Danbury Fire Department marks Home Fire Sprinkler Wee

This week is Home Fire Sprinkler Week.  The Danbury Fire Department, citing the National Fire Protection Association, says a home fire can become deadly in as little as two minutes. Common synthetic furnishings burn hotter and faster than natural materials and produce toxic deadly smoke. Danbury Fire officials say during the COVID-19 crisis, stay at home mandates are in direct correlation with an increase in home cooking fires.  They say home fire sprinklers can help eliminate these tragedies, but legislative barriers and a general unawareness of this technology have prevented its use in new homes. Misconceptions about cost is another obstacle. Officials say it only costs an average of $1.35 per square foot to add sprinklers to new construction.

 

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Ben's Lighthouse to host food drive in Newtown

Ben’s Lighthouse, an organization started by the family of a child killed on 12-14, is holding a no-touch, drive-thru food drive Sunday at Reed Intermediate School in Newtown.  Non-perishable foods, personal items, pet food and household supplies will be collected in the bus loop from 9 am to 1pm.   A food drive volunteer will remove donations from the trunk.  Donations will benefit Newtown’s F.A.I.T.H. Food Pantry.  Ben’s Lighthouse was founded in memory of 6-year-old  Ben Wheeler.

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Tennis courts at Redding Community Center now open

The tennis courts at the Redding Community Center are now open.  Residents can bring one non-resident play with.  Players must keep at least six feet from each other, use a racket or foot to pick up balls, stay on one side of the court and not touch the nets, fences and net posts.  Play is limited to singles, unless a family who lives together is playing, then doubles is allowed. Children younger than 12 must play with a parent.  Players should wear masks as they enter and leave the court and as they wait to play.  Topstone Park will remain closed until around June 20.

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Bethel to increase school meal costs next year

In order to keep up with federal standards that affect reimbursement to schools, Bethel will be increasing school lunch prices for students by 5 cents next academic year.  The increase means an extra $9 per year per student.  The Bethel School District will cover the expense for students who qualify for reduced-price meals.  Nearly a third of students in the district qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

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DMV 90-day extension for expiring credentials extended to total of 180 days

As the state continues responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles' previously enacted 90-day extension for Connecticut residents with expiring credentials is being extended to a total of 180 days. Eligible DMV credentials that expire between March 10th and June 30th are automatically covered by this extension.

In addition to extending the expiration date of DMV credentials, late fees associated with eligible expired credentials will be waived during the time period of the extension for qualifying credentials.

Deadlines have been extended for several DMV-related items including all Licenses, Permits and Identification Cards, car and boat registrations, Emissions Testing and Retesting due dates and Flashing Light permits.  Any permanent disability placard that expires at the same time as an eligible credential, will be extended.  The validity of school bus proficiency tests due during this time is also being extended.

Temporary Paper License expiration dates will be extended by 180 days for those obtained after March 10th. 

For any person who moved to Connecticut after March 10th, the deadline for obtaining a license, registration, or emissions inspection in Connecticut will be extended by 180 days.  Temporary registrations obtained after March 10th are also extended.

Suspensions will be delayed by 180 days as a result of failure to attend an Operator Retraining or Child Safety Seat Program, or nonpayment of fees due to a returned check or rejected payment.  Violations and penalties associated with failing to meet 30-day recalibration of ignition interlock devices will be waived until September 10th.

Expiring business Licenses credentials will be extended by 180 days from the expiration date. VIN Verification: Waived until September 10.

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Conn. temporarily bans walk-ins at state parks

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is temporarily banning walk ins at state parks.  This is something that New Fairfield officials have been calling for over the past decade as a way to control crowds at Squantz Pond.  DEEP officials in the past have said it couldn't be done without legislative approval, and instead limited car parking to 250 spaces.  Local officials say the car limit was helpful in preventing drownings, but allowing walk ins defeated the purpose. 

Under the Governor's Executive Order during this public health emergency, DEEP now says a ban on walk ins is needed for crowd control.  Commissioner Katie Dykes says this will help visitors follow social distancing guidelines.

As the traditional launch of the summer season approaches with Memorial Day weekend, the DEEP has released an operational plan that outlines current guidelines for state park grounds, trails, beaches, boat launches and other areas.  State parks remained open throughout the pandemic, with restrictions such as daily capacity limits, social distancing guidelines, and use of face coverings. 

State park beaches along the Connecticut shoreline will open Friday. Guidance from the state Department of Public Health indicates that recreational swimming is not a known form of transmission of COVID-19, in saltwater or freshwater.  Visitors to shoreline parks must maintain 15 feet of space from other beachgoers, blanket-to-blanket.  This distance will allow for a 6 foot radius around each person or family and a 3 foot walkway in between groups.

Face coverings should not be worn in the water. Visitors should not expect that restroom buildings will be open, but most locations will have portable toilets available.  Lifeguards will not be on shoreline beaches in Connecticut state parks early in the season.

Based on the very limited size of beach and swim areas at inland state parks, and current social distancing guidance, DEEP will close beaches at inland State Parks, and prohibit swimming at inland State Parks.  DEEP will consider the reopening of designated swim areas on a case-by-case basis. 

DEEP will reduce parking capacity and close beaches for the day if social distancing cannot be maintained, and will make adjustments to operations and consider longer-term closures if the situation warrants. 

Lifeguards will be provided training to reduce the risk of virus transmission in the course of their duties, including providing CPR. Guidance for lifeguards is available from the American Red Cross. Lifeguards will not be posted at inland beaches while swimming is prohibited at those beaches.

State Campgrounds, Cabins, Youth sites, Backcountry and River Camping sites are closed until at least June 11.  Additional campground reservations for the 2020 season have been postponed to prevent the need to reimburse the public for future reservations if campgrounds remain closed. 

While law enforcement personnel are authorized to enforce social distancing and group size guidance, DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes says they first seek to educate and ask people to follow the rules, in hopes that visitors will take personal responsibility and make sure that they comply.

If people are blatantly ignoring the new rules they may be asked to leave the park and/or face further enforcement action as required if actions and behavior are not corrected. The potential penalty for violation of any Executive Order, including Governor Lamont’s Executive Order prohibiting entry into a Park when its closed, during the course of a public health emergency can be a fine up to $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both, for each offense.

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Danbury boat launch on Candlewood Lake opens today

Danbury's boat launch on Candlewood Lake opens today.  State boat launches will remain open as long as social distancing compliance remains in effect.  To ensure continued use by the boating community, Boating Division staff and Environmental Conservation Police Officers will be on heightened alert for non-authorized users of these facilities.

The Boating Division has posted COVID-19 related boat launch use signage at all 117 launches. The signs highlight use restrictions to boating, fishing and wildlife viewing; use of social distancing and limitations on gathering; and other boating-related separation approaches.

Within the boat launch facilities, one of the areas where people come within close proximity to others is the courtesy docks. The Boating Division has prepared and will soon be installing signage at the docks that restricts the docks to necessary persons only; use of social distancing and avoiding contact with other boaters; and other protective measures. Courtesy Docks have been installed at all 14 locations.

Portable toilets have been installed at the boat launches that typically have this feature. These are being cleaned on an increased schedule by the vendor.

The Boating Division expects to have Boating Education Assistants stationed at various boat launches this summer. While conducting their business, doing safety checks and aquatic invasive species education, they will be following social distancing and utilizing necessary PPE.

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Dirt bikes stolen, cars rummaged through in Ridgefield

During the early morning hours Wednesday two dirt bike/motorcycles were stolen from a Ridgefield home.  Police say the thefts happened in the West Mountain Road area. Multiple vehicles were also rummaged through in the Barry Avenue and Florida Hill Road area. A stolen vehicle from Wilton was recovered on Florida Hill Road as well.  Ridgefield Police are reminding residents to keep vehicles secure, and remove personal belonging's overnight.    

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Late fee on pet owners obtaining a dog license delayed

One of the Governor's executive orders at the start of this public health emergency extended the start date for imposing a late fee on pet owners obtaining a dog license.  Ridgefield Office of Emergency Management says the late fees normally start on July 1st, but they now won't be charged until August 1st.  Before the renewal date, dog owners are asked to confirm that the rabies vaccine is up to date. Vaccinations are usually good for three years, after an initial one-year shot.  Beginning June 1st, dog license renewals can be done online, through the Town of Ridgefield website.

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COVID-19 Resiliency Grant awarded to DanburyWORKS

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation has awarded a $9,000 COVID-19 Resiliency Grant to DanburyWORKS.  The funding is meant to assist home-base family child care providers who face challenges due to changes in enrollment, lost income, and the need for more emergency supplies as a result of the pandemic.  DanburyWORKS is a city-wide collaborative, linking services across the community to break down barriers to employment by expanding safe, affordable quality child care. As part of the Cora’s Kids initiative, launched in 2018, it has created more licensed, safe child care providers in Danbury and developed a family child care network that now includes 32 providers. United Way of Western Connecticut provides backbone support to DanburyWORKS and Cora’s Kids.

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COVID stats released by Ridgefield Health Director

Corrected COVID-19 numbers for Ridgefield has been released by Health Director Ed Briggs.  Cumulative positive tests total 172. Deaths total 41, and Briggs notes that all but four originated in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. State and local health staffers are working to get the new Microsoft coronavirus tracking system up and running.  Briggs says there is still no actionable information coming from the system.  Ridgefield will continue to offer drive through testing for residents on Saturday, May 30th. Sign ups will begin on Tuesday, with instructions released as soon as the site is activated.

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New York State Police to conduct DWI crackdown this holiday weekend

New York State Police will increase patrols to combat drunk, impaired and reckless driving throughout this Memorial Day weekend. The STOP-DWI enforcement period starts today, and runs through Tuesday. State Police and local law enforcement partners will be out in force to remove impaired and reckless drivers from the highways.

Drivers can expect to see sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols during this holiday weekend.

Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement vehicles that blend in with every day traffic, but unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated. New York State Police Troopers will also conduct an underage drinking enforcement detail. 

On Memorial Day weekend in 2019, Troopers arrested 225 people for drinking and driving, issued 13,693 total tickets, and investigated 134 personal injury crashes, which resulted in four fatalities.  In addition to the New York State Police, numerous counties and agencies throughout the state also participate in the annual Memorial Day Crackdown.

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Danbury girl makes art kits for children in need

A 10-year old from Danbury is making more art kits for children in homeless shelters and foster care.  Chelsea Phaire has sent more than 15-hundred kits, with markers, coloring books and other supplies, across the country through an organization founded by Chelsea and her parents called Chelsea’s Charity.  The foundation was launched on her birthday last August when she asked her friends to donate art supplies instead of getting her birthday gifts.  In January, Chelsea was presented with a proclamation from the state during a visit to the Danbury Vet Center. 

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Department of Public Health reminds property owners to ensure water supply is clean

Bethel officials are offering a reminder for businesses reopening buildings.  If a business has been completely closed for a period of time, the Department of Public Health asks that property owners ensure the water supply is clean.  When buildings have been unused for a period of time, the trace amounts of chorine added to water to keep bacteria from growing will have broken down, which could allow organic contaminants to grow. This can be easily remediated by flushing the system.

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New Fairfield officials working on plan to reopen town buildings, facilities

The New Fairfield Zoning Officer, Health Director and Fire Marshal have been working to make sure everything is safe as more restaurants expand outdoor dining. They're also making sure those establishments and reopened retailers use proper disinfecting techniques. 

Selectman Kim Hanson asked that people cooperate with retailer, restaurant and grocery store workers.  He says they've been working hard and last thing they need is someone to become belligerent if they're asked to wear a mask or stand 6 feet apart. 

Under the safe work place rules from the state, New Fairfield Town Hall will have a limited open on or about June 1st.  The town is making some physical changes to provide distance between employees and visitors.  New Fairfield will conduct business by appointment only, at first, with new ways of doing business.  There will be service windows and a drop box. 

First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the Town Beach will be closed until at least July 1st.  She says they'll look at the COVID cases later next month to see if the beach can be opened in a safe way. 

The track, fields and dog park remain closed.  Del Monaco says they will reassess the situation on June 1st and then there may be a limited open.  She says the Board of Selectmen knows how important those facilities are to a lot of people. 

New Fairfield Social Services Congregational Church Food Bank is still taking donations on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays 11am-2pm; food pick up is Thursdays 3pm to 5pm.  Peg's Mobile Food Pantry has pick up on Saturdays, 9 am to noon, through the end of June at the Squantz Firehouse parking lot.  People must call for appointment.

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Ridgefield releases guide about consumer expectations, responsibilities

The Ridgefield Office of Emergency Management has released a guide about consumer expectations and responsibilities.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says slowly and safely reopening Ridgefield’s economy is a collaborative, community-wide effort.  Businesses and residents are urged to prioritize drive thru and curbside pick up.  Marconi says it also remains safer to pay via phone, online, or through contactless payment when possible.  These are sensitive times and everyone is encouraged to avoid confrontations, for example if you come across someone not wearing a face covering in public, or not following social distancing protocols.  Marconi says the smart thing is to keep your distance, keep your cool, and share kindness.

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New Milford opening boat dock in Lynn Deming

New Milford will begin the process of allowing people who rented a boat dock in Lynn Deming to put their vessels in starting today.  But Mayor Pete Bass says this is by appointment only.  One everyone's boats are in, New Milford plans to allow the boat launch to be used by appointment only, through the Parks and Rec Department.  Kayaks will be allowed to launch on Tuesday as well as those who have property on the Lake and have purchased a 1 day boat launch. Boaters will have to comply with the DEEP recommended social distancing practices.  The rest of Lynn Deming Park will be closed because social distancing can't be observed. Security will be monitoring the Park and police will be patrolling the area.

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Candlewood Company's Marine 25 boat put into service for season

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company’s Marine 25 boat went into service this week for the 2020 boating season. This is going to be the first full year with the vessel.  Fire Company officials say it includes features unique to any fire/rescue boat in the area like side scan sonar.  Firefighters spent the last few weeks getting the boat ready after being stored for the winter, and training for the upcoming season on Candlewood and Lake Lillinonah.  Because of the current public health emergency, several changes have been made this year.  The boat will be regularly disinfected by crew members after each call, and during weekly checks.  Brookfield ambulances respond to all medical calls on the lake, but now the boat has been stocked with equipment to help limit exposure risks

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Mass COVID-19 testing session today at Connecticut Institute for Communities

Another expanded mass COVID-19 testing session is being held today by the Connecticut Institute for Communities.  The Greater Danbury Community Health Center staff will collect the specimens. The Department of Public Health's mobile lab will analyze it.  Test results will be available May 26th or 27th.  Follow-up telehealth visits are available for Health Center patients.  The testing is 8:30am to 3pm in the rear parking lot of 120 Main Street.  Testing is open to everyone, regardless of symptoms or exposure, with prescreening included.  400 appointments will be given priority due to limited testing swabs.  Cars are not needed for testing, but patients walking to the site must make appointments.  Testing is free, but photo ID is required. 

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Nuvance Health hospitals, ambulatory care centers reopening for elective surgeries

Nuvance Health hospitals and ambulatory care centers in Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk and Sharon are reopening for elective surgeries and endoscopy procedures as the region observes a decrease in the rate of new COVID-19 infections.  They will resume a limited number of elective surgeries and procedures starting with high-priority patients and those most acutely in need.

Nuvance officials say extensive measures have been put in place to promote safety from arrival through discharge to home or next steps care. 

There's a comprehensive screening process for all patients, which will now include procedural patients.  This includes mandatory COVID-19 testing for patients scheduled for a surgical procedure.  Patients are required to have negative test results within two days of their procedure, and they must self-isolate and follow stringent safety precautions to avoid possible infection between testing and the procedure date itself.   

The hospitals and ambulatory centers are continuing visitor restrictions.  Any COVID-19 patients in the hospitals will be treated in a separate area.

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Putnam Communities That Care Coalition host virtual Naloxone training

Putnam Communities That Care Coalition and the New York National Guard Counter Drug Task Force are hosting a virtual Naloxone Training session.  The training will be held on the Go To Meeting platform on Thursday from 2 to 3:30pm.  The life-saving training teaches residents to recognize, prevent and respond to an opioid overdose by using intranasal naloxone, a prescription medication that is used to reverse an overdose.  Kit dissemination details will be provided at the conclusion of the training. 

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Danbury Firefighters create video tribute for Memorial Day

Memorial Day has long been a day dedicated to commemorating American military personnel who died while serving in the United States Military.  Typically, American flag are displayed while crowds gather at memorial sites and people line up to view parades. 

This year, observances will de done differently. 

The Danbury Fire Department created a video to honor and remember fallen military veterans.  Firefighters who are veterans put together the tribute video, filmed at various memorial locations throughout the City including; The Vietnam memorial and the Lee Hartell Memorial, the Danbury War Memorial, The Main Street Civil War monument, Wooster Cemetery, Fire Headquarters, and the Germantown War monument.

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Danbury Mayor raises $65,000 for food pantries through karaoke dedications

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced last month that he would record karaoke videos in exchange for donations of $250 or more to a designated charity, food pantries in the City.  Boughton said as of yesterday, that effort has resulted in more than $65,000 being donated to Daily Bread and other pantries.  He specifically thanked Savings Bank of Danbury for $5,000 for Daily Bread, and Union Savings Bank for $25,000 for food pantries in various municipalities throughout Fairfield and Litchfield counties.  Some recent examples include the following:

 

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West Redding Volunteer firefighters help over 50 families celebrate birthdays during pandemic

Since April 11th, West Redding Volunteer Fire Department helped over 50 families celebrate birthdays. Now that the state is slowly beginning to reopen, firefighters will be resuming normal operations. Any scheduled or pending requests will be honored, but as of today, they will not accept any new parade requests.  Officials with the Department thanked Redding Fire & EMS Company #1, Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department, Redding Police Department, and Town of Redding for their support.

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New Milford Public Works Department conducts fog sealing roadwork

New Milford Public Works Department continues to work on the road system with different types of applications, depending on the road surface, fog sealing will be performed today.  Mayor Pete Bass says the process on Colonial Ridge Drive, Pilgrims Way, and Littlefield Road is a cost effective pavement preservation treatment where a light application of diluted emulsion is applied to pavement surfaces. This is for use on pavements that are oxidized and in need of rejuvenation. Fog sealed surfaces will add aesthetics, alleviate raveling, and seal minor cracks.  Fog sealing promotes adhesion as a pretreatment on all pavements and slows the deterioration of pavement surfaces caused by environmental factors such as sunlight and thermal variations. Please be advised there will be a short disruption in each location as this material dries quickly and is driveable within 30 minutes.

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New Milford Police arrest man for heroin, cocaine possession

New Milford Police K9 Mattis helped officers recover 140 bags of heroin and other drugs during a traffic stop recently.  New Milford Police say 40-year old William Slade was arrested on Main Street.  Mattis hit on several locations of the car and turned up the 14 bundles of heroin, 14 bags of cocaine and several ecstasy pills. Charges included Possession with intent to sell, Possession within a school zone.  Chief Cerruto commended officers for "keeping the pressure on drug dealers."

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Boaters rescue 2 adults, 2 kids after kayaks capsize

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — Two adults and two children were rescued from their capsized kayaks off the Connecticut coast in a spot where a man drowned three weeks prior.

Civilian boaters rescued a group of people Monday night off Wallacks Point in Stamford after hearing a radio distress call. the Stamford Advocate reported Tuesday. 

A resident on the point, between Cummings Beach and Cove Island Park, called 911 after seeing people in the water next to their capsized kayaks, Deputy Fire Chief Tom Gloersen said.

Joe Hoyt, 27, was on his way out of the channel when the distress call was picked up by one of his passengers, Joey Romaniello, 30, a volunteer firefighter.

Hoyt found the four people, including a 9-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy, with life preservers on the east side of Wallacks Point.

“They were holding onto the kayaks to stay afloat,” said Hoyt, who works for Stamford in the Department of Public Works.

The individuals were brought back to Cove Island Marina where they were met by medics. Hoyt believes the children walked away with minor injuries.

It was a rough day to have been out in a kayak, Hoyt said.

The rescue comes just three weeks after officials found Oscar Castillo, 22, dead when the kayak he was in overturned. The Danbury resident was not wearing a life preserver at the time.

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State Police narcotics K9 locates pot in car pulled over for speeding

Speeding has led to bigger issues for a driver stopped in Danbury on Monday.  State Police conducting speed enforcement on the highway clocked a vehicle traveling at 88 miles an hour by exit 6 westbound.  The driver, later identified as 28-year old Jahmel Jaimick Greathouse of Danbury, was pulled over by exit 5.  There was probable cause to search the vehicle and Troopers found a large amount of marijuana, a digital scale, plastic baggies and U.S. currency.  Police narcotics K9 Favor, a black Labrador was used during the search.  Greathouse was released on bond for a court appearance July 7th.  Police seized 7.48 ounces marijuana and $1908.

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WCSU creates Campus Re-opening Planning Document

Western Connecticut State University has completed a Campus Re-opening Planning Document that details some of the steps the university thinks will be necessary for reopening.  West Conn administrators and staff have also included a list of questions for state officials to answer.  While that report is being considered at the Connecticut State University System office, West Conn will now begin more detailed plans at the department level. They're also working with the Campus Life Office on plans for buildings and functions to be sure they've considered every important detail to keep the university community safe.  https://www.wcsu.edu/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/206/2020/05/WCSC-CSCU-Campus-Opening-Team-Reports-FINAL.pdf

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Newtown officials approve final design contract for Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial

The Newtown Board of Selectmen has approved the final design contract for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial.  Public Building & Site Commission Chairman Robert Mitchell told the Newtown Bee that the project will be completed by December 2022, the 10 year anniversary of the shooting in which 20 children and 6 educators were killed.  Award-winning Newtown landscape design architect Tara Vincenta has been authorized to serve as the local associate on the project.  San Francisco-based SWA Group will continue to oversee the project.  Vincenta is principal and founder of Artemis Landscape Architects, and has 30 years of experience ranging from environmental and regional planning studies, to multi-family housing, corporate, and institutional work.  Mitchell told the Bee he will be prioritizing Connecticut-based construction mangers in his Requests for Qualifications.  That person would be in charge of pre-construction work, cost estimating, and review of materials.

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Ridgefield creates signs for business owners about Face Coverings Required

Ridgefield officials are making signage available to local businesses indicating that Face Coverings are required for entry.  Business owners can pick up one sign in the front vestibule at Town Hall between 8:30-4:30 PM.  The Ridgefield dog park will be allowed to open with other outdoor facilities with very specific rules. No more than 50% of normal occupancy will be allowed, social distancing and face coverings are required for people. Residential camps are not open at this time.  Another drive through test for Ridgefield residents will take place on Saturday, May 30th. Sign-up information is not yet activated and will be posted on the town's website when they are available.

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Bethel Parks and Rec programming cancelled, changes coming to Town Hall

Currently held Bethel Transfer Station Permits will not expire until January 2021.  The Bethel Town Clerk says the deadline for renewal has been extended by 6 months.  The town will not be issuing renewals until that time.  Before January 1st, an online fillable form will be available to be emailed to the Town Clerk's Office. 

Meanwhile the Bethel Parks and Rec Department has announced that all summer programming this year has been cancelled.   That includes basketball, baseball and tennis camps and lessons, Tuesday Night Soccer, the Summer Theatre Program and the Firecracker Road Race.  Parks and Rec employees are working to provide alternate programming.  Some ideas are: Zoom camp activities and bingo, virtual theater programs with ERA Productions. 

Tennis Courts will tentatively reopen June 6 with single play only.  Bethel playgrounds continue to be closed.  The dog park is closed until at least Phase two or three of the state reopening.  All fields and BMX remain closed until at least July 20.  Organized Youth Sports, BMX Racing and Adult leagues are cancelled until August.   

Safety shields are being installed in all Bethel Town Hall offices where employees greet the public and other safety procedures are being developed.  Office visits will be by advanced appointment only.  Residents and business owners are still strongly encouraged to use online services whenever possible. 

All visitors to town hall will be required to wear a mask when in the building. All visitors will be required to check in and receive a temporary guest pass.  Staff will keep a visitor log to aid in contact tracing, should it become necessary.

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Sherman Volunteer Fire Department puts new fire/rescue boat into service

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department's new fire/rescue boat, Marine 7, is now in service. The boat is a 22 foot Landing Craft, equipped with a fire pump.  The boat will provide mutual aid support for the four other communities on Candlewood Lake.  Company officials say Marine 7 will provide firefighters with the ability to attack fires directly using the deck gun and serve as a water source to feed a fire truck on shore.  The drop down bow gate lowers into the water for easy access to bring a patient on board directly from the lake.  No tax dollars were used to purchase the vessel.  A local resident was credited with donating the funds for Marine 7.  Sherman Volunteer Fire Department members will be out on the lake over the next few weeks to train on the boat. 

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Bethel's 'Food Truck Friday' to be modified during public health emergency

Bethel's Food Truck Friday series is being modified as the governor extends the state's restriction on gathering size through June 20th.  The event will become Takeout Friday this summer.  Residents are encouraged to order food from Bethel restaurants for a picnic while socially distancing at home with neighbors.  Traditionally there has been live music on the lawn of the municipal center during Food Truck Friday, so the town is arranging to have local bands perform in the general purpose room at town hall, and live stream the concert.  The first summer event is slated for June 5, with the band GoRjA performing at 7pm.

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New pharmacy location added for COVID-19 testing in Danbury

Starting on Friday, the CVS Pharmacy location on Lake Avenue in Danbury will be open for drive-thru COVID-19 testing. Hours of operation will be Monday- Friday 9am to 6pm, Saturday 9 to 5, and Sunday 10 to 5. Testing will be by appointment only.  This opening comes on the heels of 12 locations, including Durant Avenue in Bethel, opening for self testing at a drive thru.

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Former First Selectman to run for State Senate

Former New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman is running for the 24th State Senate District.  The Republican received unanimous support at the nominating convention.  Chapman will challenge Democratic freshman Julie Kushner for the seat representing parts of Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield and Sherman.

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Greater Danbury area town halls to make modifications before reopening

Some physical changes will be made to New Fairfield Town Hall before it reopens to the public.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says only half of the staff will be in the building at any one time and there will be social distancing.  The complete list of changes has not yet been finalized. 

New Milford Town Hall and other municipal offices are only open to the public by appointment.  Mayor Pete Bass says town employees, who are working remotely, will be phased back in.  Partitions will also be added in shared offices.  The buildings will be cleaned and sanitized frequently.  In order to further maintain appropriate distances, new foot traffic patterns will be put into place.

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Ridgefield First Selectman tests negative for COVID-19, returns to Town Hall

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi is back at his Town Hall desk after recovering from COVID-19. He has been working from home using Zoom, conference calls, emails and texts since April to manage town business.  Marconi tested negative on May 12th and doctors cleared him to return.

Most town services continue to be available to residents online or by appointment at Town Hall. 

The state is continuing their mask distribution program to businesses with less than 50 employees. Only those who have ordered masks should pick them up today at the Boys and Girls Club.  Businesses must bring a printed paper copy of the email that confirming distribution instructions.

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New York state increases coronavirus antibody testing

COVID-19 antibody testing is taking place across to New York to identify if a person has ever been exposed to coronavirus.  The Putnam County Health Department cautions that scientists do not yet know if a positive antibody test indicates if a person has immunity against the virus or how long that immunity might last.  The Department added that antibody test results should not be used to make individual decisions about returning to work or changes to social distancing. 

The test does help public health professionals begin to determine how common the virus is in the population. It also allows for the identification of people who are eligible to donate plasma to be used in trials as a potential treatment for COVID-19. 

The New York State Department of Health is conducting a prevalence study through random antibody testing. They will never ask for payment, insurance information or social security number to perform this testing.  Anyone receiving a letter, email or phone call asking for these things, should not give out this information.

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Dog parks, tennis courts in Danbury to open this weekend

Some changes are coming in Danbury because of the public health crisis. 

Since some more businesses are allowed to open, the dog parks and tennis courts will reopen this weekend.  The Senior Center will be the last City facility to reopen.  Mayor Mark Boughton says that's because they deal with the most vulnerable population, though he noted that the Senior Center is holding a number of virtual events.  Danbury officials are working on a plan to close out the pandemic homeless shelter at the Super 8 motel on Lake Avenue. 

Shelter Rock School will be hosting a virtual talent show and science fair in June. Boughton says plans are also being formed for a commencement ceremony for high school seniors.  He again cautioned that it will not look like the graduation ceremonies of the past.  Any proposal from DHS Principal Dan Donovan would have to go through the Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella. 

Clean City Danbury Day, which typically takes place this month, will be moved to the fall--though no date has been set.

While there will not be a Memorial Day parade this year in Danbury, the Public Works Department will be putting out the annual plantings and flags on Main Street.  The big flag will also be returning to West and Main Streets.

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New Milford to close some streets to allow more outdoor dining, retail

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass has released more details about his emergency order easing some local zoning restrictions in order to help restaurants have more room for outdoor dining.  Some roads will be made pedestrian only in the evenings.  Stores will also be allowed to have some sidewalk and road space. 

Bank Street will be closed to drivers Fridays and Saturdays 5pm to 11pm to increase space for outdoor retail and dining.  There will also be more outdoor dining space on Railroad Street. The top part of Bank Street will close at 4pm to allow cars parked on Bank Street to leave. On Railroad Street, Jersey Barriers will be set up to extend outdoor seating safely.

For restaurants outside of the main downtown area, Bass says they'll be allowed to use parking areas and other parts of the property for seating. 

Beginning June 1st, New Milford restaurants will be taking part in a "Welcome Back Dining Out" program. Restaurant Week will be June 8-14.   Other weekly promotions will continue through the 4th of July weekend.  

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Roads to be paved listed on Wilton town website

A list of roads in Wilton to be paved in the current calendar year is available on the Town website. The list is broken down by roads in progress, meaning prep work has begun or is completed and roads to be scheduled, meaning prep work hasn't begun.  The schedule is weather dependent.  Due to the mild weather in March, Wilton Public Works was able to begin prep work earlier than in a typical year.  That means the the lead time between when the road prep is completed and the road is paved has been lengthened.   The paver performs both the mill work and the paving, so there isn't a lag between those two processes.  Wilton has the funds to pave roads through much of the fall.  To allow for additional funding, town officials expect to have the question on the ballot in November.  

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Legislature's Progressive Caucus call for wealth tax to bounce back from COVID-19

Labor leaders and some legislators are voicing opposition to policies that would cut state spending to plug budget shortfalls created by coronavirus, instead calling for tax increases on the rich. 

Redding Representative Anne Hughes says there shouldn't be a cut to public services.  Even if Connecticut receives federal funding, she says it wouldn't be enough o replace revenue losses. Connecticut faces a $900 million deficit due to COVID-19.  Hughes says millionaires migrating out of the state and taking their wealth with them is changed by the pandemic.

Advocates of higher taxes face opposition from Republicans and some in their own party.  Hughes says they don’t have a percentage in mind, but it could be a combination of personal wealth and top personal income tax. 

Governor Lamont has said he plans to close budget shortfalls in the short term with spending cuts and by dipping into the state’s rainy day fund.

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Local beach, swim area opening decisions left to municipalities

Connecticut municipalities continue to make decisions regarding the local beaches and swimming areas they oversee. DEEP will publish a detailed operations plan early this week that municipalities may adapt to their needs.  For local beaches, DEEP recommends spacing of 15 feet or more between beach blankets.  Other recommendations will be similar to those in effect at start parks, including groups of 5 of fewer, wearing face coverings and capacity limits with daily closures when social distancing cannot be maintained.  Currently, the Connecticut Department of Public Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that there is no current evidence of COVID-19 transmission through recreational freshwater or saltwater swimming.

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Laptop distribution ahead of schedule for Alliance Districts

The Governor’s COVID-19 Learn From Home Task Force has started a tiered shipment plan for 60,000 donated digital devices.  The first of three waves of nearly 17,000 Dell laptops is a week ahead of schedule. Danbury and six other Alliance Districts will take delivery throughout the week. Dell is in direct contact with District IT Directors to coordinate delivery and logistics.

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Monroe Parks and Rec evaluating future of summer programming

With Memorial Day weekend just a week away, the Monroe Parks & Recreation Director is continuing to evaluate when programs, such as our Summer Fun Days Camp, Webb Mountain Camping, and other summer sports and activities can open.  The Emergency Management Team is evaluating all of these programs in the context of state restrictions.  Wolfe Park Pool will not open while the limits on social gatherings make public use impractical.  Monroe officials are evaluating the ability to provided limited access to the beach at Great Hollow Lake during the upcoming weeks.  Parking at Wolfe Park and Great Hollow Lake will remain restricted to Monroe residents and taxpayers until further notice

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Former Newtown man pleads not guilty to child pornography possession charges

A former Newtown resident arrested in Massachusetts earlier this year has pleaded not guilty to child pornography possession charges.  The Newstimes reports that 51-year old David Eric Anderson was taken into custody by Newtown police in January, following a seven-year investigation.  He also faced charges in Massachusetts after admitting to secretly recording women showering. and was released to Newtown Police upon completion of that prison sentence.  The Newtown investigation began after Anderson's wife found hundreds of obscene images on their computer.  Anderson is due back in court July 1st.

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Brookfield parks to remain closed through Memorial Day

The Town of Brookfield will not be opening parks until after Memorial Day weekend, on the advice of the Director of Public Health.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says they are very concerned that there will have an overflow of visitors unless the parks are opened in conjunction with surrounding towns, and following state guidance.  He cautioned that the decision is subject to change as Brookfield gets further direction from the state, which is coordinating with Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Delaware to have an orderly reopening.

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CH Booth Library to have materials drop off day Thursday afternoon

CH Booth Library in Newtown plans to have a library materials drop off day on Thursday, from 2pm to 6pm in the back parking lot.  Librarians will begin the process of returns for the roughly 9,000 materials currently checked out. This is a pilot program as the library remains closed.  Only as many returns as space and logistics allow can be accepted. At this time donations are not being accepted.  Newtown residents are being reminded that all library materials were automatically renewed until July 1st, and no overdues will be charged.

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DEEP rejects stormwater management plan for Candlewood Solar project

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has rejected the stormwater management plan for the controversial Candlewood Solar project,under the general permit.  This delays its construction on Candlewood Mountain again. 

DEEP is now requiring any new plan be submitted under stricter individual permit, a request from New Milford officials earlier this year.  The individual permit process will trigger a public hearing to allow for open vetting of the stormwater and erosion-control aspects of the 20 megawatt Project and their consequences to the water and other natural resources of the state.  

In March 2019, DEEP Commissioner Katherine Dykes rejected Candlewood Solar’s stormwater management plan certification, citing substantial flaws and even raising doubts about the future of the embattled solar power generation Project.  The petition says there are enormous environmental consequences, risks, and implications with the Project. 

Opponents of the project say it would destroy 54 acres of core forest.  Stormwater Management Plan approval is the last hurdle before work can begin on the Project, which the Connecticut Siting Council approved in 2017.  The group Rescue Candlewood Mountain and have filed an appeal of the Siting Council’s approval. A trial got underway at the end of 2018 and is ongoing.

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Transition team created to help with Danbury schools reopening

Information and guidance regarding the potential for a fall school opening continues to trickle out from the State.  Danbury Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says as they wait for that guidance, a transition team has been convened.  It includes District and municipal leaders. With the traditional start of summer school,  Danbury officials continue to review plans for continued Distance Learning as a way to provide critical support to students. School Principals and Special Education teams continue to work with administrators on identification of students who would benefit from summer programming.  Pascarella is also calling on parents to enroll new students, including kindergartners, as soon as possible so the district can accurately prepare for the number of children in each school.  Registration can be done online.

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Numerous state parks close early due to capacity issues

The state on Saturday and Sunday closed several parks because parking lots had reached capacity under social distancing guidelines.  The facilities included Lover's Leap in New Milford, Huntington in Bethel and Redding, and Southford Falls State Park in Southbury.  The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has kept parks open during the pandemic but has implemented lower capacity limits to support social distancing.

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Monroe creates Emergency Outdoor Seating Plan approval process

Monroe First Selectman Ken Kellogg says many restaurants may, with the permission of the property owner, explore the use of non-traditional areas, such as a portion of their parking lot, for outdoor dining.  Kellogg issued an emergency directive that suspends certain regulations, and allows for administrative approval for restaurants to provide outdoor seating and service, so long as they comply with state rules and requirements.  The Monroe Director of Health will facilitate a process for restaurant owners to submit an “Emergency Outdoor Seating Plan,” which will be reviewed by a small team for safety.  There will be no fees charged.

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Fund created in New Milford to help with COVID-related hardships

A fund has been created for New Milford residents, First Responders, and businesses who have fallen on hard times requiring financial and other assistance during the pandemic.  It's an official town fund run by the finance department, and overseen by the Mayor and Town Council.  The purpose is to help sustain the community through the pandemic.  New Milford Town Councilman Chris Cosgrove says the fund will be used to help residents and businesses who may not be eligible for federal or state programs.  Mayor Pete Bass gave the example of volunteer first responders.  Cosgrove says if they become ill, they may have expenses like for quarantining or be ineligible for worker's compensation.  Those looking to donate can do so by check, or through the community tab on the town's website and clicking a link for the sustainability fund.

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Great Hollow Nature Preserve seeks ID of ATV riders

Great Hollow Nature Preserve is asking for the public's help in identifying some ATV riders who have been damaging their property.  The facility in New Fairfield prohibits the use of ATVs.  Officials with the preserve say they have been cutting down trees to create their own trails.

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Wilton reopens more recreational facilities

The Wilton High School Track and Field at Memorial Stadium will be reopened on a limited basis this weekend through the Parks & Recreation Department’s e-Trak reservation system.  As with the tennis courts, residents will be able to reserve time for up to five family members.  Tennis at the high school courts is being expanded to allow family doubles and non-family singles beginning this weekend as well, also through the Parks and Red e-Trak reservation system.

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New Fairfield Board of Finance to take input on proposed budget

The New Fairfield Board of Finance is scheduled to adopt a budget and set the mill rate on June 3rd.  The Board approved the proposed $12.27 million municipal spending plan and a $43.7 million education budget this week.  The mill rate would be a .99 percent tax increase of the current year.  The Board of Finance plans to hold weekly Zoom meetings to take public input ahead of their June 3rd meeting.

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Brewster Fire Department cancels 150th anniversary celebration

Due to the pandemic all of the Brewster Fire Department's 150th anniversary events are canceled this year. This includes the block party and parade.  Brewster firefighters plan to celebrate their 151st anniversary with the community next year.

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Crisis intervention resources available during public health emergency

There are a number of crisis intervention resources available for people during this public health emergency.  Danbury Hospital has a psychiatric emergency services crisis intervention center for adults in the Greater Danbruy area.  The center is located at the hospital and is also available by phone at 203-739-7799.

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Conn. to distribute infrared thermometers to small businesses, nonprofits, places of worship

Connecticut will be distributing 50,000 infrared thermometers it has secured for small businesses, nonprofits, and places of worship to support safe reopening activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interested small businesses, nonprofits, and places of worship should fill out a form online to indicate their request. The state has partnered with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and its affiliate CONNSTEP to distribute the thermometers. They will be delivered to the municipalities in which the organizations are located, and then the municipalities will contact the recipient entities to inform them of a time and location they can pick up their requested equipment.

Entities that would like to request a thermometer can fill out the forms located at ct.gov/coronavirus in the “Access to Personal Protective Equipment” section.

This distribution will continue while supplies last.

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Former Bethel First Selectman passes away at age 86

Former Bethel First Selectman Charlie Steck has died at the age of 86.  He passed away Wednesday.  He owned and operated Steck Nursery until his retirement in 1989 and served two terms as First Selectman.  Steck was also a member of the Bethel Lions Club and Masons.  A private graveside service will be held at the Elmwood Cemetery in Bethel, and there are no calling hours planned.  Steck's family is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Regional Hospice in Danbury.

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North American Hockey League announces 'Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks'

The North American Hockey League has announced the relocation of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights to Danbury for the 2020-21 season.  The team will be named the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks and play out of the Danbury Ice Arena, which is also home to the Danbury Colonials.  Arena co-owner Herm Sorcher says they're looking forward to having the new team play in the City and bring the highest level of junior hockey to the area. The Knights have been a member of the NAHL since the 2015-16 season.  Commissioner and President Mark Frankenfeld says Danbury has been a market of interest for years.  The head coach will be Billy McCreary, who was the head coach and general manager of the Danbury Hat Tricks of the FHL this past season. 

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Ridgefield Volunteer Firefighters cancel annual carnival

Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department has made the decision to cancel this year's carnival due to the ongoing health concerns and CDC guidelines regarding large gatherings. The annual carnival has been held since 1997.  The fireworks show has also been cancelled.  The carnival is a major fundraiser for the volunteer fire department.

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Bethel distributes face masks from Conn. to small businesses

Bethel's Emergency Management Director says the town has distributed masks to over 80 Bethel businesses to date.  The state has received shipments of more PPE and is still offering 2 masks per employee to essential small businesses with 50 or fewer employees.  A link to the application can be found on the state's COVID response website.  With the gradual phased reopening of the state's economy and the arrival of warm weather, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there's no doubt some may be tempted to let down their guard.  But he says  public health officials are still concerned that relaxing too soon and too fast will cause a spike in illnesses that could easily set back the plans to reopen the economy.  Residents are urged to continue to wear masks when out in public, keep 6 feet from others not in your household and to wash hands often.

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School districts to receive CARES Act, Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief

Danbury will be receiving $2.28 million from the CARES Act, Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief fund. The money can be used to ensure that all students have access to appropriate technology and connectivity.  

Danbury State Representative David Arconti says students and educators will have access to high-quality curriculums that addresses the needs of all learners, including students with disabilities.  He added that these funds will address student learning gaps and provide social and emotional support for educators and students.  The money can also be used to ensure a healthy and safe transition back to school for everyone. 

The $2.2 million is part of $111 million awarded to the state Department of Education.  Funding will be distributed to local school districts based on the proportion of Title I funding they received for fiscal year 2020.

Other Districts in the Greater Danbury area will receive: 

Bethel--$236,455

Brookfield--$74,096

Monroe--$115,515

New Fairfield--$201,385

New Milford--$300,856

Redding--$27,805

Ridgefield--$94,454

Weston--$51,548

Wilton--$77,995

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Danbury crafts regulations, permits for outdoor dining

Danbury Restaurants with outdoor dining must request a certification to reopen from the Danbury Permit Center.  Existing approvals must be verified in order to obtain a certification, confirming that the establishment meets Danbury Department of Health and Human Services guidelines for a safe reopening.  If a restaurant owner wants to establish a new outdoor dining area, the owners or operators will be required to submit a Temporary Outdoor Dining Permit application.   Application requirements can be found on the City website.  Restaurants will be allowed to use public sidewalks/public outdoor areas for outdoor dining.  But City officials cautioned that the certification form and Temporary Outdoor Dining Permit Application are being finalized.  When completed, they will be posted on the City’s website.  Completed applications will be processed within 10 calendar days.

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Bethel Board of Finance approves budget

The Bethel Board of Finance has signed off on a budget for the coming fiscal year in a 4 to 2 vote, with one abstention.  The combined $79.8 million plan will raise taxes .98 percent.  Some members see the plan as a compromise in an unusual year, when the Governor's executive order authorized the Board to be the voting body, bypassing the town meeting form of government Bethel residents are used to.  Member Cynthia McCorkindale abstained, calling the vote “illegal.” She filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice arguing that voting rights are being violated because a referendum was prevented from taking place during the public health emergency.  

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Water mains of Chimney Heights System to be cleaned by Aquarion

Aquarion Water Company will be cleaning the water mains in Bethel's Chimney Heights System from Sunday, through May 29. The work will be performed between 9PM and 5AM Sunday through Thursday nights.  This project should last approximately two weeks and, during that time, residents might notice some was  discoloration, which results from the temporary disturbance of the water flow.  The work can stir up naturally occurring minerals that settle in water mains.  Delay washing clothing until the water is clear.  Residents are encouraged to store tap water in the refrigerator ahead of time for drinking and cooking.

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New Milford works on plan to increase outdoor dining flexibility

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass has issued an Executive Emergency Order authorizing Temporary Outdoor Restaurant Dining.  He worked with Heath Director Mike Crespan, the Zoning Enforcement Officer and others on the order to allow for flexibility on maximizing the outdoor opportunities.  A virtual meeting was held with New Milford Downtown Businesses Tuesday evening to discuss the opening next week. A virtual meeting will be held Monday night for the Town businesses as a whole.

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United Way offering free financial coaching program

A free financial coaching program is being made available online and by phone.  It's run by Connecticut United Ways’ ALICE Saves in partnership with Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, a nonprofit social enterprise and national leader in financial coaching.  The one-on-one support is for clients with challenges such as dealing with creditors, finding emergency resources, and reducing debt.  United Way of Western Connecticut CEO Kim Morgan says it's available to all Connecticut residents, but has particular relevance for easing the burden on those struggling financially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  Neighborhood Trust has provided expert financial guidance for low-to-moderate-income Americans for more than 20 years.

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Bethel included in CVS Health's 12 new COVID-19 test sites

CVS Health is opening 12 new COVID-19 test sites at select Pharmacy drive-thru locations in Connecticut, including in Bethel at the store on Durant Avenue.  These new sites will use self-swab tests for individuals meeting CDC criteria, in addition to age guidelines. Patients must register in advance at CVS-dot-com beginning tomorrow to schedule an appointment. Patients will be required to stay in their cars and directed to the pharmacy drive-thru window where they will be provided with a test kit and instructions.  An employee will observe the self-swab process to ensure it is done properly. Tests will be sent to an independent, third-party lab for processing and the results will be available in approximately three days.

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Ridgefield holding town-wide COVID-19 testing day Saturday

Ridgefield is holding a town-wide COVID-19 testing day on Saturday. The town has partnered with DocsMedical Group for the Nasal Swab- Drive-Thru clinic.  Testing will be performed at the Parks and Recreation Center on Danbury Road from 11am to 3pm.  No doctor script is required, but pre-registration is requested as there is a limited number of tests available.  Ridgefield residents should selected COVID-19 Ridgefield Resident fro ma dropdown menu on docsmedicalgroup.com/get-tested.  Personal and insurance information can be entered, and for those uninsured, there are additional steps required at testing.  The tests are first come/registered, first served.  There will be very limited tests for non-registered Ridgefield residents.  On the day of the test, residents must bring your license and insurance card.

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Conn. Air National Guard 'Operation American Resolve' flyover of hospitals planned

To salute Connecticut’s health care workers for the service they are providing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Connecticut Air National Guard will conduct Operation American Resolve. This includes the flyover of the Guard's C-130H aircraft over hospitals and other health care facilities throughout the state. 

Connecticut residents are recommended to observe the flyover from the safety of their home, maintain social distancing, and avoid large gatherings in accordance with local health officials. 

The aircraft is expected to be overhead Danbury Hospital around 11:27am, give or take a few minutes.  It will be heading from the Litchfield County area, with flyovers scheduled earlier for Torrington and Sharon.

Major General Francis Evon, Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard, says defending the homeland has taken a new shape, and the Connecticut National Guard is proud to serve alongside the first responders and essential personnel in the COVID-19 response efforts.  Evon added that the Guard is humbled by the sacrifices of heroes at the front line battling COVID-19.

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Newtown man charged for allegedly threatening to shoot two individuals

A Newtown man has turned himself in over allegations that he threatened to shoot two people.  Newtown Police say George Geanuracos turned himself in yesterday morning after learning of an outstanding warrant for his arrest.  The warrant was based on a complaint that Geanuracos had threatened people who arrived at his house, as arranged, to drop off items that belonged to him on April 23rd.  Geanuracos allegedly re-entered his house, returned with a handgun and shot at the victims, but did not strike them.  Geanuracos was charged with Reckless Endangerment, Threatening, Criminal Possession of a firearm, Disorderly Conduct, and Illegal Discharge of a Firearm.  He was held on a $100,000 bond and transported to Waterbury Court for arraignment.

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Lawyers ordered not to refer to transgender athletes as male

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A federal judge has been asked to recuse himself from a lawsuit that seeks to block the participation of transgender athletes in girls’ sports after he ordered the plaintiffs' lawyers not to refer to them as biological males.

The plaintiffs argue that U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny showed bias during a conference call last month when he ordered them to use the term transgender female, which he said was “consistent with science, common practice and perhaps human decency.”

The attorneys from the Christian nonprofit organization Alliance Defending Freedom represent four female runners who contend that transgender athletes have an unfair biological advantage that violates Title IX, the federal law that allows girls equal educational opportunities, including in athletics.

The lawyers for the female runners refer to the transgender athletes as males or biological males throughout the lawsuit, which seeks to block a state policy that allows students to compete as the gender with which they identify.

“In short, the court’s order and comments during the hearing would leave an impartial observer gravely concerned that the court has prejudged the matter, rejected core aspects of plaintiffs’ case before hearing the evidence and legal arguments, and assumed the role of advocate for the defendants,” the plaintiffs' attorneys wrote in last week's filing.

Judge Chatigny has not indicated when he might rule on the motion to have him removed from the case.

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which oversees high school sports in the state, has said its policy is designed to comply with the state's law barring schools from discriminating against transgender students.

The plaintiffs have asked for a hearing that would allow for a ruling on an injunction blocking the participation transgender girls before next winter’s indoor track season.

They had been seeking to block two transgender runners from participating in the spring track season and to erase the records they hold from the state's record books.

The spring season has since been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the two transgender athletes are scheduled to graduate next month.

The two seniors have combined to win 15 girls state indoor or outdoor championship races since 2017, according to the lawsuit.

Both transgender athletes are receiving hormone therapy as treatment for gender dysphoria, and both have hormone levels that are typical for non-transgender girls, their lawyers have argued.

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Brookfield firefighters extinguish house siding fire

A Brookfield resident drove up to the fire house Tuesday and alerted Assistant Chief Andrew Ellis to a possible structure fire down the street. Upon investigation, firefighters were dispatched to a a house with the siding on fire. Crews from across town responded along with Engine 4 and quickly extinguished the fire.  It was contained to the outside of the home.  The Fire Marshal's Office is investigating.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company officials are asking that if anyone has an emergency, to call 911 immediately as the stations may not always have personnel at them.

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Hundreds attend virtual Bethel Board of Finance meeting on budget

There was a lot of participation and interest in the Bethel Board of Finance public hearing held this week on the proposed budget.  The virtual meeting was held in place of the annual town meeting due to restriictions on gathering size.  The Board has also been authorized by the Governor to act as the voting body on the budget, instead of the town holding a referendum.  More than 200 people attended the virtual public hearing, nad more sent letters to the Board.  The propsed spending incrase of 2.27 percent would result in a .98 percent tax rate increase.  The proposed budget includes about $48 million for the Board of Ed and $31.8 million on the municipal side.  A virtual special meeting is bieng held at 7 o'clock tonight to discuss and likely approve the budget. Another meeting is scheduled for 3pm tomorrow if more time is needed.

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Newtown officer's name to be added to national Law Enforcement Memorial

A Newtown Police Officer who succumbed to lung cancer attributed to his response efforts on 9/11 will have his name added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.  Officer Stephen Ketchum is among the 370 fallen law enforcement officers to be honored during a candlelight vigil at the nation’s capital this evening.  Ketchum served as a Newtown police officer for 25 years.  He died March 15, 2016 at the age of 48.

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Congresswoman calls for funding to support child care facilities

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is calling for a $100 billion investment in the child care sector following the COVID-19 pandemic.  She and some colleagues have proposed providing $50 billion in the form of short-term stabilization funding and an additional $50 billion in long-term recovery funding to support students, families and providers. Even before this pandemic, Hayes says over 44% of people in Connecticut lived in a child-care desert. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, 60 percent of licensed child-care providers in the nation have already closed due to the pandemic and a survey from the National Association for the Education of Young Children shows that only 11% of the country's child-care providers will survive without government support.

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Himes, Blumenthal to host tele-town hall

A tele-town hall is being held this evening by Senator Richard Blumenthal and 4th District Congressman Jim Himes.  They'll answer constituents’ questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The tele-town hall will be live streamed on Blumenthal's Senate website, starting at 5:20pm.  Since the beginning of the outbreak, Blumenthal has hosted a series of virtual roundtables to discuss, with groups throughout the state, actions taken by Congress to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and learn of the pandemic’s effects on Connecticut.

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Judge backs Danbury FCI inmates in COVID-19 suit, orders warden to move on release requests

A federal judge is backing inmates at Danbury FCI who claimed in a class action lawsuit that they are being confined in unconstitutionally dangerous conditions because of coronavirus. 

U.S. District Judge Michael Shea issued a 74-page order requiring the prison administration, within two weeks, to identify inmates with health conditions that place them at risk for COVID-19 complications.  The order also requires FCI Danbury to begin aggressively evaluating requests by prisoners for transfer to home confinement or compassionate release. 

The judge refers to the “apparent failure” of FCI Danbury  to carry out an April 3rd memo by U.S. Attorney General William Barr ordering the facility and others to "maximize” emergency authority granted by Congress to release inmates to home confinement.  Barr referred specifically to FCI Danbury and two other prisons particularly hard hit by the virus.

The inmates claimed that nearly four dozen prisoners and 39 staff members tested positive for COVID-19, and that one inmate died.  Danbury FCI claims that positive diagnoses has since dropped to five and say there is proper and adequate testing.

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Bethel Board of Finance member files complaint over Gov. executive order

A Bethel Board of Finance member has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.  Cynthia McCorkindale opposes the governor’s executive order authorize Boards of Finance to act as the voting body on budgets, overriding the town meeting form of government because of restrictions on gathering size during the public health emergency. 

The complaint claims Governor Lamont and local officials are violating the Voting Rights Act.  McCorkindale, who is also part of the tax watchdog group Bethel Action Committee, says the selectmen and local health officials are complicit in their failure to challenge the executive order. 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker told Hearst Connecticut Media that the town could not have safely held a referendum, especially if the state, with its resources, postponed the presidential primary. 

The Justice Department did not provide a timeline for how long it would take to review the complaint.

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DOT worker struck by vehicle on I-684 in Southeast

A New York State Department of Transportation worker has been struck by a car on Interstate-684.  State Police say a driver headed northbound in Southeast, a mile north of the rest area, hit the worker Monday afternoon.  Troopers responded and determined that 48-year old Richard Russo of North Salem was driving a Chevy Silverado in the right lane at the time of the accident.  The road worker, identified as 41-year old John Fitzpatrick of the Bronx, was airlifted to Westchester Medical Center with serious but believed to be non-life-threatening injuries.  684 was partially closed northbound until shortly after 8pm.  This investigation remains on-going.

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First community health center in Conn. to offer expanded, free mass COVID-19 testing is in Danbury

The Connecticut Institute for Communities in Danbury will be the first community health center in the state to offer expanded, free mass COVID-19 testing to the public.  No pre-screening or advanced medical referral is required.  The expanded mass testing session at the Greater Danbury Community Health Center at 120 Main Street will be analyzed at the state Department of Public Health Mobile Lab.  Test results are generally available within 24 hours. Follow-up telehealth visits are available for all those who wish to register with the health center as patients.  Today's testing session has been expanded and will be 8:30am to 4pm in the rear parking lot.  The testing is also now open to all, regardless of symptoms or exposure.  Appointments are encouraged and will be given priority.  Testing is free, photo ID is required.

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Putnam County Department of Health answers questions about COVID testing

The Putnam County Department of Health is fielding many questions about COVID-19 testing. There are three types currently being conducted: diagnostic, antibody and antigen. Diagnostic tests identify active infections.

As of May 10, the FDA has given emergency use authorization to several antibody tests and one antigen test. Many more tests are on the market, but have not received approval. The FDA allows this as long as the test results do not claim the ability to diagnose COVID-19 or prove immunity. At this time, the FDA does not allow any blood tests to be performed at home, so all tests must be conducted in clinical labs or by health care workers. 

There are dozens of antibody and diagnostic testing locations throughout Putnam County.  The New York State Department Of Health continues to run diagnostic testing sites.  An online assessment can be completed to see if the guidelines for testing are met: https://covid19screening.health.ny.gov/

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Family identifies woman killed in Sunday fire in Danbury

Family members have identified the woman killed in a Danbury fire over the weekend as Elisa “Lissy” Elida Annuzzi, of Stratford.  The Newstimes reports that family members say the 24-year old was spending the night at a friend’s apartment when the fire broke out early Sunday in the multifamily house on 9th Avenue.  There were only two people inside the apartment at the time.  Annuzzi was pronounced dead at the hospital. The state medical examiner’s office determined that the woman died from smoke inhalation and ruled her death accidental.  A man, whose name has still not been released or confirmed, was transferred to Bridgeport Hospital burn unit, in critical condition.  The cause of the fire remains undetermined.

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Danbury schedules road construction on Delno Drive

Beginning Wednesday May 13th, Danbury Public Works Department will be conducting road construction on Delno Drive. This construction will not result in road closings, however, there is the possibility of travel restrictions during this work period.  While construction is going on, there will be no on-street parking. Construction should last approximately 2 to 3 weeks.

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Single car crash involving tree reported in New Fairfield

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to a single car accident at the corner of Gillotti and Ball Pond Road at 4am today.  The driver crashed into a tree and the vehicle sustained heavy damage to front end. Only one patient was involved and refused medical treatment. Fire police and fire remained on scene to assist with traffic and lighting for tow operator.

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Local lawmaker says state approves lower energy rates

Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan, Vice Chair of the legislature's Energy and Technology Committee, says electric rates are going down starting July 1.  The state approved new rates meaning the average Eversource household will save $15.35 per month. Average United Illuminating households will save $13.89 per month.

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Bethel NJROTC to post flags on downtown lamp posts

Bethel NJROTC is looking for volunteers to help posting the flags on downtown Lamp Posts.  They're hoping that cadet alumni home from college can come out to help on Saturday and RSVP to dwinellsm@bethel.k12.ct.us.  The cadets will gather at P.T. Barnum Square at 9am to assign teams, distribute PPE (masks and gloves will be provided), tools/flags, and give a brief on what is to be accomplished. After a safety brief, teams will work on both sides of Greenwood Ave towards the center of Bethel but not crossing the railroad tracks. Teams will "leapfrog" from one pole to another, and alternate lamp posts while maintaining social distancing. There should be a minimum of three people per team, ladder climber, ladder holder, and a third individual carrying flags and acting as a safety observer. After all of the flags have been placed, the cadets will re-assemble at P.T. Barnum Square for a debrief, and dismissal.  Families of cadets and former cadets may participate and will be kept together for health reasons.  Volunteers are asked to being an 11 ft step ladder or extension ladder, Battery Operated Drill with 5/16th nut driver, and Pliers or similar tool.  It's suggested to wear something brightly colored or patriotic.

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Ridgefield Selectmen to vote on budget, education recommendation

A Special Board of Selectmen Budget Meeting is being held tonight in Ridgefield.  The Selectmen will vote on an operating budget and vote on a nonbinding recommendation to the Board of Finance on the Board of Education budget.  The Board of Finance has been authorized under the Governor's Public Health Emergency Executive Order to act as the final voting authority this year due to limits on crowd sizes and social distancing restrictions.  Tonight's virtual Board of Selectmen meeting is at 6:30m.  A link to the meeting can be found on the agenda on the town's website.

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Sherman Board of Selectmen approves budget

The Sherman Board of Selectmen has approved a budget for the coming fiscal year.  The $14.25 million budget is a 2.25 percent decrease from the current year and would reduce the mill rate 3.53 percent.  The plan includes $4.8 million on the municipal side and $ 9.3 million for the schools. 

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Local official weighs in on malls being allowed to open in Phase One

There's a lot of guidance now released by the state about what companies have to do in order to reopen as of May 20th.  But there are a number of industries that are not opening in Phase One.  Malls will be allowed to reopen in Connecticut as part of Phase One on May 20th.   Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says crowd control will be key to protecting public health.  He says the facility can safely open, but visitors should follow regulations to make sure they don't get sick or get others sick.

Boughton says consumers should take precautions when patronizing any reopened business by wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and not congregating in large groups.

Boughton says post-May 20th, the city will be inspecting to ensure establishments are adhering to guidelines.  He says those not following the regulations could be issued a ticket, or worse

Boughton and Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce President PJ Prunty have formed a local reopening committee.  They'll parce through the guidelines and help break it down for businesses so they know exactly what the regulations are calling for when it comes to getting operations back open safely.

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Bethel Board of Finance to host virtual hearing on proposed budget

The Bethel Board of Finance is holding a virtual public hearing tonight on the proposed budget.  The municipal side of the plan is proposed at $31.79 million, an approximately $200,000 increase from the current year.  The proposed school budget is $47.9 million, a $1.5 million increase over the current year.  There's more money for Police Officers, the Senior Center, Social Services department, and tax abatement program are all fully funded.  The mill rate increase is less than 1%, meaning the average Bethel household will pay $5.91 more per month.  The online Public Hearing is at 7 pm.  The zoom link can be found on the agenda, on the town's website.

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Buses replacing trains on Danbury branch indefinitely

Buses are replacing trains on the Danbury branch.  Starting the morning of Saturday, May 16th until further notice there will be substitute busing on the Danbury Branch of Metro North to support track work, and other infrastructure improvements.  The MTA says all buses will be disinfected throughout the course of the day.  Customers will be seated in a manner to maintain appropriate social distancing.  The 4:52 AM departing Danbury making all stops to South Norwalk, will only run Monday through Friday.  Buses will depart up to 40 minutes earlier than scheduled train times. All customers should wear masks or face coverings.

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Antibody, rapid COVID testing available in Danbury

COVID 19 Antibody testing is starting in Danbury.  AFC Urgent care sites in Connecticut are performing the tests.  Patients must meet several requirements, including to not have have symptoms and then wait at least 10 days before being tested. 

20 to 30 people per day are expected to be tested, and tests are conducted in the clinic by drawing blood.  The sample is sent to a certified lab for validation and results should be received within 24 to 48 hours. 

Meanwhile rapid COVID 19 testing is being offered again tomorrow at the Greater Danbury Community Health Center.  The state Department of Public Health’s mobile lab will provide free testing, with results the same day. Patients with symptoms, those with known exposures and those with appointments are given priority. 

Testing tomorrow is from 8:30am to Noon.

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Wilton Board of Finance to set proposed budget, mill rate

The Wilton Board of Finance is meeting tonight to set preliminary budget and mill rate amounts to allow for public comment before making a final determination.  Following the comment period, the Board of Finance is scheduled to meet on June, 1st, 2nd and 3rd for deliberations and the approval of a budget and mill rate.  The Boards of Selectmen and Education provided the Board of Finance with four budget scenarios, in addition to their previously submitted budgets.  They ranged from a flat budget down to a 10-percent cut.  The previously submitted Board of Selectmen budget request of $33.9 million was an increase of 1.22.

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Conn. to provide Pandemic Electronic Benefits program for student meals

Connecticut intends to provide a Pandemic Electronic Benefits program by the end of the month, providing eligible Free and Reduced Lunch students with a debit card.  It will be loaded with a cash value of $5.70/day, for the equivalent of one school breakfast and one lunch for each day that school is closed. This debit card can be used for food purchases at participating food retailers. A flyer detailing this program was attached to a newsletter sent to parents by Danbury Superintendent of Schools Dr Sal Pascarella.  He says this will not impact or replace the district's continued provision of meals through the end of the school year, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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Wilton school nurses assisting Health Department with contact tracing

Some Wilton residents have questioned if contact tracing of COVID-19 exposure is mandatory, and what happens to the information provided.  First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says participation is voluntary, and performed by the Wilton Health Department.  School nurses are currently assisting in the efforts.  Information is confidential and protected by HIPPA laws.  If direct contacts are provided by the positive resident, those individuals are contacted and told they may have been exposed and advised. The information remains with Wilton’s Health Department.  There is no universal computer-based system used by municipalities to facilitate contact tracing. The State engaged Microsoft to develop the system.  That system is currently being tested by 20 municipalities.  Wilton is not one of these municipalities.

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Brookfield Board of Finance finalizes budget for next year

The Brookfield Board of Finance has finalized the budget for next year. Town Operations will go up .31 percent and schools will received a 3.25 percent increase. The Mill Rate will rise 1.76 percent. If revenues were to remain flat, First Selectman Steve Dunn says the Mill Rate increase would be .71%. But, in an abundance of caution, the board lowered the estimate for revenues coming in. The board has scheduled a virtual Town Hall on June 12.  The board has until June 4 to submit the final budget to the Brookfield Town Clerk.

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Monroe, Southbury firefighters respond to blazes

On Friday afternoon, Monroe volunteer firefighters responded to a garage fire on Pastors Walk.  Heavy smoke and fire were encountered in the attached garage and storage area.  The fire was knocked down shortly after arrival and largely held to the garage. 

5 engines and a ladder truck responded and operated for about two hours. No injuries were sustained and the Fire Marshal is investigating the cause. Trumbull and Shelton provided station coverage and Monroe Volunteer Emergency Medical Service and Police assisted on scene.

Southbury Fire was dispatched to a report of a chimney fire this weekend. When fire personnel appeared on scene, there was heavy smoke and flames coming from the chimney as well as a smoke condition in the home.  The blaze was contained to the chimney and firefighters were able to put it out using a dry chem extinguisher.

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Woman dies in house fire near university campus

One person was killed and one person is in critical condition following a house fire in Danbury.  Just after midnight on Sunday, firefighters responded to a reported smoke detector activation on Ninth Avenue across from the West Conn midtown campus. 

Arriving firefighters didn't see any smoke or flames from the front side of a two story multi-family dwelling, but later found a smoldering fire on the first floor in an apartment.  Three apartments were searched, two victims, a male and female in their thirties, were rescued and transported to the hospital.

(Photo: DFD)

The male victim is considered to be in critical condition and the female victim was pronounced at the hospital.

Units extinguished the fire quickly and worked through an extensive overhaul. The cause of the fire which is undetermined at this time.Danbury Police and Nuvance Hospital Danbury Paramedics, along with the Fire Marshal’s Office also responded.

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Bethel home destroyed by fire

A Bethel home was destroyed by a fire this weekend and the family's cat was missing for some time, but has since been found. 

Stony Hill and Bethel firefighters were alerted to a shed fire near a house on Walnut Hill Road around 12:15pm Saturday.  Arriving firefighters found heavy fire from the back of the house and from the attic. Mutual aid from Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company and Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Company was requested. 

(Photo: SHVFD)

Crews had to initially back out of second floor operations after a ceiling collapse.  Approximately 50 firefighters spent two hours extinguishing the fire, overhauling and salvaging belongings for the homeowners. There were no injuries to the residents or firefighters. 

Phoenix Hose Company Inc. Engine 8 Danbury, West Redding Volunteer Fire Department, Water Witch Hose Co. #2 of New Milford provided station coverage. The cause is under investigation by the Bethel Emergency Management & Fire Marshal office.

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Two drivers hospitalized in crash that shut down Rt 53 in Bethel

Two people have been hospitalized after a car crash in Bethel on Route 53 near the Danbury town line.  Bethel Police received several 911 calls around 2:45pm yesterday.  The two occupants were each trapped in their cars and extricated.  Both were transported to Danbury Hospital for care. The road was closed for approximately an hour for emergency operations.  The cause of the crash remains under investigation and any witnesses are asked to contact Officer DeOliveira at 203-744-7900 extension 650.

  

(Photos: BPD)

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Brookfield to test all police, fire, EMS and town employees for coronavirus, antibodies

Brookfield has now lost 7 residents to COVID-19.  State reports suggest new infections have plateaued, but First Selectman Steve Dunn says it’s essential to continue to protect the community by isolating and following social distancing guidelines.  Brookfield has had 147 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with no new information on those hospitalized. 54 people are reported as having recovered. The data reporting systems are still sporadic so Brookfield officials are only report those cases confirmed by the Director of Public Health.  Brookfield has arranged to test all police, fire, EMS and town employees for coronavirus and antibodies, which Dunn says will help ensure they are safe.  The test takes five minutes and results are returned in 24 hours.

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FirstLight closes some recreational areas

FirstLight Power has sent the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission notice that it is temporarily closing or reducing access to a number of recreation facilities, at the recommendation of the Connecticut Department of Public Health.  This includes Rocky River Dikes Point picnic areas, parking lot, and canoe portage. Hiking is formally closed.  Bulls Bridge Scenic Area and Overlook,  Fisherman’s Parking Lot, all canoe portage areas, and the picnic area at Bulls Bridge Take Out are closed. Hiking is open. The upstream boat barriers will be installed as river flows allow.  Shepaug picnic areas, Eagle View, both canoe portages and portage trail, and the interpretive hiking trail are closed.  Falls Village picnic areas, canoe portages, and hiking trails are closed.  Stevenson picnic area and downstream fishing access are closed.

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Bethel man arrested for alleged sex assault of minors

Bethel Police have arrested a town resident on charges of sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor.  Police say 45-year old Santos Cardona was taken into custody at the Best Western hotel early Saturday morning.  Police said in a statement that the arrest warrant was the result of an investigation where an 8-year old female disclosed to a parent that she had been molested while at Cardona's residence.  While investigating, Police also identified a 6-year old femal victim, who disclosed that she had been molested by Cardona.  He was held on bond.

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Nuvance hospitals discharge more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients

Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner has held a virtual roundtable discussion with Dr. Patrick Broderick, chair of Emergency Medicine at Danbury Hospital.  Broderick says it's been a rollercoaster for staff since the first case was diagnoses March 6th.  He equated it to waiting on the shore during a tsunami and knowing that a giant wave is coming. 

Broderick noted that Nuvance Health hospitals took a number of steps to protect workers, patients and visitors.  One of the first steps was to limit or ban visitors.  He's been practicing medicine since 1981, and never in his career has he seen this degree of restrictions.  In the Emergency Room, they changed air flow so that the stale air is circulated out and fresh air constantly comes in to the department.  

Broderick relayed a message from one of Danbury Hospital's infectious disease specialists that the way they were treating patients on March 15th is different than on April 1st, Arpil 15th, and today.  This is because doctors have been learning more about the disease each day. 

He says Nuvance hospitals have been able to discharge more than 1,000 patients, and from Danbury Hospital alone, that number is more than 300. 

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State issues protocols for businesses to begin reopening

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut officials on Friday released detailed protocols on how restaurants, retail stores, hair salons and other businesses can reopen beginning May 20, as hospitalizations due to the coronavirus continue to decline but deaths remain on the rise statewide.

Some business owners, however, are concerned about opening by that date, citing a lack of availability of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies. State officials said they’ll be working with owners to obtain those supplies and help them ensure social distancing.

Meanwhile, others, including some restaurant owners, are concerned there are still too many restrictions being put on them.

“The plans announced today would be a step toward reopening, but unfortunately not nearly a big enough step to save hundreds of restaurants from going out of business in the weeks ahead,” said Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, in a written statement. “This plan would keep the inside of restaurants closed at the same time other industries are opening up, even those who also serve customers indoors.”

Under the protocols, restaurants will be limited only to outdoor dining and takeout, and bars must remain closed. Outside tables must be 6 feet apart. Bathrooms and other areas must be cleaned frequently. Employees must wear face masks and disposable gloves, and customers must wear face masks except while eating. Visual social distancing markers also will be required. 

https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DECD/Covid_Business_Recovery/CTReopens_Restaurants_C5_V1.pdf?la=en

In office buildings, capacity will be limited to 50%, meetings will not be allowed to have more than five people, employees must be seated 6 feet apart and elevator capacity must be limited. Employees must wear face masks, except in private offices. Frequent cleaning also will be required. State officials will continue to urge people to work from home if possible.

https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DECD/Covid_Business_Recovery/CTReopens_Offices_C4_V1.pdf?la=en

Retail stores also will be restricted to 50% capacity. Fitting rooms will be closed. Checkouts must have barriers separating cashiers from customers. Markers indicating 6 feet of distance must be installed at entrances and checkout lines. Customers and workers must wear masks, and frequent cleaning will be required.

https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DECD/Covid_Business_Recovery/CTReopensRetail-C4V1.pdf?la=en

Hair salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen by appointment only, and capacity will be limited to 50%. Waiting rooms will be closed, and workstations must be 6 feet apart.

Scissors and other tools must be soaked in disinfectant between appointments. Workers must wear masks and face shields or eye protection, and provide a clean smock for each customer. Customers also must wear masks. Visual social distancing markers also will be required.

https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DECD/Covid_Business_Recovery/CTReopensHairBarbershopsC4V1.pdf?la=en

Guidelines for outdoor areas of museums and zoos were also released.

https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DECD/Covid_Business_Recovery/CTReopens_MuseumsZoos_C4_V1.pdf?la=en

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said she recently heard from more than 120 hair and nail salon owners during a teleconference and some were concerned about being able to maintain social distancing and obtaining personal protective equipment. She said the guidelines announced Friday were designed to keep workers and customers safe.

“We want everybody in our state to feel comfortable,” she said. “All of us have longer hair and we can’t wait til you reopen. But we’re willing to wait until it’s safe to do that.”

Nail salons originally were on the list of businesses that were going to be allowed to reopen, but officials said they must remain closed for now. Gyms will continue to be prohibited from opening.

Gov. Ned Lamont said state officials will be watching closely to see if the reopenings lead to increased infections of the coronavirus.

The Democrat said earlier this week that testing for the virus continues to ramp up, with a goal of 42,000 per week. Nearly 4,400 tests were performed Thursday. The state is also stockpiling personal protective equipment, and a contact tracing program is being put together. The measures are aimed at curbing any outbreaks.

Lamont and David Lehman, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, said they don’t expect all businesses to reopen on May 20, because many may not be ready or still have concerns about the virus.

Lamont said that in states like Texas and Georgia, which have taken a quicker approach to reopening, many businesses did not reopen right away and many customers continued to stay away.

But the governor added, “In those places that opened quickly a lot of young people came pouring back into some of those venues and there have been some spikes in terms of the infection rate. This is what we’ve got to watch carefully.”

Lehman said state officials will be working with local leaders to enforce the protocols, and officials may consider suspending or revoking licenses of businesses that don’t follow the rules.

As of Friday, more than 32,400 state residents had tested positive for the virus and 2,874 residents had died. There were 1,336 people hospitalized because of the virus, 49 fewer than the previous day, continuing a two-week decline.

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

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Brookfield Senior Center alerting residents to COVID related scams

Several coronavirus-related scams are circulating. 

Brookfield Senior Center is cautioning people to be wary of new investment opportunities, especially one claiming to be a new biotech company working on developing a vaccine.  The scammer claims that anyone buying company stock now, is sure to get a windfall when the markets go up.  Senior Center officials are cautioning that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Numerous companies have been touting products from special teas to essential oils to silver lozenges--claiming to prevent or treat coronavirus. There currently are no approved vaccines, drugs, or investigational products available to prevent or cure the virus.  These suspected scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721. 

Seniors are also being cautioned to not give money to unfamiliar charities.  Whenever a crisis occurs, scammers will try to draw on people's goodwill to seek supposed donations. 

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Danbury Youth Services staff continue to work remotely

Danbury Youth Services staff continue to work remotely and connect with clients on a weekly basis offering case management, counseling, mentoring, and academic support.  The organization is also working to plan summer enrichment activities, a combination of virtual programming and small group work.  DYS expects programming to kick off in late July or early August.

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Local lawmaker reflects on shortened General Assembly session

Kent State Representative Maria Horn is reflecting on the shortened legislative session.  The General Assembly was under constitutional orders to adjourn this week, but lawmakers hadn't been at the capitol since March 11th.  Horn says their job as legislators changed this year, but the issues remain the same.  She says it's less about regulating the insurance industry to making sure essential workers are protected.  Work has moved from technical issues related to internet connectivity, to measuring broadband signals and making sure that students can use the internet to get their homework done while their parents work from home.

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New Fairfield Library to provide 'front door pickup' of books, DVDs

New Fairfield Library continues to be closed, but is working on a plan to reopen.  Any resident needing physical materials, such as books and DVDs, the library staff can provide “front door pickup”.  Patrons are asked to call 203-312-5679 or reserve items online for pick up Monday to Saturday from 10-11 am at the library’s front door.  New Fairfield residents should call to let librarians know they are picking up your reserves or knock on the front door.

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Bethel Republican Town Committee objects to Gov order on budget voting authority

The Bethel Republican Town Committee has issued a statement about the Governor's Executive Order allowing local Boards of Finance to be the budget voting authority this year due to restrictions on gathering size.  The BRTC says the order to override the Town Charter infringes on the soul of the Town Meeting form of government at a time of great crisis for the community.  The party says an average increase of $70 per household may seem miniscule, but for many households who are now affected by unemployment, that is equal to paying next week’s food bill or next month's electric bill.  Chairman Bryan Terzian says it's best to wait until next year before considering any increase in Bethel’s tax mill rate.

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Ridgefield First Selectman 'presumptive postive' for COVID-19 in follow up test

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says he feels fully recovered after his bout with COVID-19.  He recently tested “presumptive positive” while his wife tested negative in a follow up.  Marconi says they were told that many people test positive for weeks after they have recovered.  But he is anxious to move from working at home to getting back to town hall.  However, Marconi says that he will adhere to all regulations and will not be back in his office until his test is negative.  According to Health Director Ed Briggs it isn’t unusual for people to carry the virus around even six weeks after they have completely recovered. This does not necessarily mean that a person is still infectious, but because the virus is so new and there are so many unknowns.

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UPDATED: Motorcyclist killed in Route 7 crash in New Milford

A man has died in a motorcycle crash on Route 7 in New Milford.  Police say a Lexus was also involved.  New Milford Police, Fire, and Ambulance along with Brookfield officers all responded to the area of Faith Church late yesterday afternoon. The driver of the car, a 73-year old Bethel woman, was not hurt.  The motorcyclist, later identified as 34-year old Ryan Laedke of Brookfield, was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital.  Police said he had been wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

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Chimney fire in Danbury extinguished

Danbury firefighters have extinguished a chimney fire.  The Department responded to Golden Hill Lane around 7:30 last night and found the fire spreading to the attic of a cape cod style house.  The fire was controlled within a short time, utilizing four engines. EMS stood by, and there were no injuries. The fire marshals office is investigating, while the American Red Cross is assisting the sole occupant of the house.

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Wilton to soon allow use of some town recreational facilities

As the weather warms up, Wilton First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says she recognizes the need for residents to be able to use town recreational facilities.  This week, Wilton Parks and Rec will be rolling out restricted use of a limited number of Wilton High School tennis courts.  Using the department’s e-Trak system, residents will sign up, a day in advance, for one hour of court time, comprised of 45 minutes of playing time and 15 minutes for entering and exiting the court in a manner that ensures the safety of other players.  Initially, play will be restricted to singles played between family members.  Vanderslice says if this goes smoothly, additional facilities, like Stadium track, Stadium field and softball and baseball fields, will be made available through registration.  Monitors will be present at each facility and registration will be limited to Wilton residents. 

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Nonprofit addiction treatment provider MCCA offering Telehealth therapy

MCCA, a nonprofit addiction treatment provider, is offering Telehealth therapy for those in need during the pandemic.  Secure services can be accessed with a computer or smartphone, and most insurances are accepted, including Medicaid.  As the state begins to open in the coming months, treatment will be available at their seven outpatient clinics located in Danbury, New Milford, Torrington, Waterbury, Derby, New Haven, and Bridgeport.  MCCA also provides residential treatment, medically monitored detoxification, and affordable, supportive transitional housing at their main campus in Danbury.  Connect to Recover: 877-874-6222 or go to: MCCAONLINE.COM

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Brookfield Senior Center alerting residents to COVID related scams

Residents are being warned by the Brookfield Senior Center of some coronavirus related scams, including one about stimulus payments.  Phony callers pretending to represent a government agency were one of the top-reported scams in 2019.  Another scam involves fraudulent letters claiming social security benefits will be suspended due to COVID-19 related office closures. Social Security is not suspending any benefits and never requests people to pay a fee to receive their benefits. Last year alone, more than 166,000 people complained to the FTC about fake Social Security calls.  Government agencies rarely call unless you have ongoing business with them and they never make threats about arrest or legal action. Report suspicious calls to the SSA Office of the Inspector General by calling 1-800-269-0271, and report instances of IRS-related fraud to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

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UPDATED: Danbury Police identify suspects in Ridgewood Country Club break in, burglary

The Danbury Police Department is investigating a break in at Ridgewood Country Club.  The two suspects were caught on surveillance video in the early morning hours on Friday burglarizing the facility.  Police posted photos to their Facebook page and asked for the public's help in identifying the pair.  Just hours later, Danbury Police posted that due to the overwhelming response, both parties were identified.  The investigation is still ongoing, but police say it is one step closer to being completed.  No further details were immediately provided.

(Photos: DPD)

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Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company hosting Food Drive

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company is hosting a Food Drive to benefit the Brotherhood-In-Action of Bethel food pantry. Their annual Postal Carrier Food Drive has been canceled this year and they need help keeping their shelves full.  A collection box has been placed in the front vestibule where non-perishable items can be placed between now and May 16th.  Firefighters are asking however that anyone feeling ill  refrain from entering the building and make other arrangements to donate. 

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Drivers urged to be aware of upcoming Snapping Turtle nesting season

The Redding Animal Control Officer is asking that drivers be aware of the upcoming nesting season for Snapping Turtles, which means more of them will be crossing the roads.  Snapping turtles rarely leave their aquatic habitat except during the breeding season, at which time females travel great distances in search of a place to dig a nest and lay eggs. Selected nest sites include banks, lawns, gardens and road embankments.  The Redding Animal Control Officer is a trained Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator and does assist residents with wildlife matters.

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Newtown Community Center shares swim safety videos

May is National Water Safety Month.  With facilities like the Newtown Community Center closed due to the current public health emergency, there's fewer opportunities for kids to learn to swim.  The Newtown Community Center has partnered with the Red Cross, Note and Float, and Stew Leonard's for Water Safety Month activities. 

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the first three weeks in May water safety videos will be posted online by the American Red Cross. A printable packet with information is also available. 

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Bug detected in unemployment benefit program for self-employed, gig workers

The self-employed, gig workers and others must wait longer for their unemployment applications to go through after a bug was detected in the Connecticut Department of Labor's system.  The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program  is an entirely new system that had to be stood up from scratch.  Connecticut Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe said the DOL hopes “to have it fixed and ready to launch soon.”

Last week, Department of Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said the final application process would be available by the middle of this week. The glitch has delayed the second part of the application process.  No word on the new timeline. 

The federal government passed the PUA benefit program to help those who work for themselves because historically, they've never been eligible for unemployment.

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Danbury City Council approves $62 million in borrowing, now taking public comment

The Danbury City Council has approved $62 million in borrowing, and is now taking public comment on the matter.  The COVID-19 pandemic has turned many things upside down, and having residents voice their opinions through a vote on government spending is no different. 

First term Councilman Frank Salvatore Jr questioned at Tuesday's virtual monthly meeting what constituents will think about them voting first and taking their comments second.  Some council members asked if the vote could be delayed until after public comment was received.  But they ultimately approved the bond package. 

The city will accept public comment for 10 days on the borrowing plan.  An ad hoc committee will examine the responses. 

Danbury officials initially scheduled the vote for April, to coincide with the presidential primary.  When the state moved the primary to June, the City also moved the bond vote.  Now that the primary has been delayed again, this time to August, Mayor Mark Boughton says they can't wait.  He notes that there's a June 30th deadline for a state grant for the school projects. 

Classrooms will be added to a district-owned building near Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School to accommodate rising enrollment.  In response to questions about whether Danbury residents can afford this given the financial impact of COVID-19, Boughton said the city still needs to pave its roads and address growing enrollment, noting that problem doesn’t change with COVID-19. 

While Boughton has has finished his budget proposal, he is waiting to present it to the City Council until he is certain the governor does not cut funding to the city.  Some in smaller towns have expressed concern that Boards of Finance were authorized by the Governor's Executive Order to be the voting body.  In Danbury, the City Council always voted on the annual budget, not taxpayers. 

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Reopening plans call for mass testing of college students

West Conn Academic Affairs is considering the full range of teaching possibilities for the fall semester as online classwork continues through the summer.  They will decide between classroom instruction, on-line learning, or a hybrid of online and in-person courses. 

All options are being considered by West Conn, in conjunction with the CSCU System Office and the other three Connecticut State Universities.  All buildings are being cleaned and disinfected for the eventual return of students, faculty and staff. 

The Office of Enrollment Services has extended to June 1st the deadline date by which students commit to attend West Conn. This will allow families to have more time to thoughtfully consider the decision. 

The Student Government Association and the offices of Student Affairs and Institutional Advancement have raised money for the Colonial Cares fund to provide financial relief for students in emergency financial situations.

Connecticut’s colleges and universities may open at their discretion, in a phased-in way between May 20 and September 1, with mass COVID-19 testing of students living on residential campuses, under a package of recommendations submitted Wednesday to Gov. Ned Lamont.

The plan, however, depends on certain benchmarks being met, such as a steady decline in hospitalizations in Connecticut and colleges and universities having adequate supplies of tests, face masks and personal protective equipment.

Approximately 190,000 students are enrolled in higher education institutions across Connecticut. They employ about 45,000 people.

“For residential institutions, we are recommending that a screening of everyone, testing of everyone, when they come in the fall, and isolating those who test positive and depending on what the public health thinking is at that time,” said Rick Levin, former president of Yale University and co-chairman of the higher education subcommittee of Lamont’s reopening advisory committee. Levin said there may be a second round of testing and more random screenings during the course of the school year.

Under the proposed guidelines, institutions will be free to decide whether they need more time for certain programs to restart.

The suggested timeline for reopening calls for research programs to restart beginning May 20; nonresidential workforce programs and nonresidential clinical/laboratory courses required to complete degrees in the beginning of June; other nonresidential programs, graduate programs and undergraduate residential programs on a small-scale pilot basis starting July and August; and the bulk of undergraduate residential programs and K-12 boarding schools to begin opening Sept. 1.

The guidelines also recommend various social distancing measures, such as 6 feet of separation when possible in classrooms and dining halls, requirements for wearing face masks and providing single-occupancy dorm rooms for students with preexisting medical conditions.

“Given the heterogeneity of our colleges and universities, one size won’t fit all, which is why we need carefully tailored guidelines for differing parts of this sector. This framework to reopen our higher education institutions is a vital component of our overall plan to reopen Connecticut,” Lamont said in a written statement.

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Kent, Wilton planning for more outdoor visitors

Guidelines for how summer camps will be allowed to operate will not be available until May 15th, but Wilton Parks and Recreation Director Steve Pierce is starting to make modifications to this year's summer camp program.  It will be smaller and different than previous summers.

Expectations are that campers will be separated in groups of no more than 10 and swimming at Merwin Meadows will not be included, as it does not allow for proper social distancing. 

As the weather improves, overcrowding in many public places in Kent has been a growing issue.  The Emergency Management Team has been working with State Police, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and others to ensure visitors comply with the Governor's Executive Orders. 

No Parking signs have been posted along the road just south of the Bull's Bridge intersection and enforcement action will be taken with the help of an additional Trooper in Kent on certain weekends.  The Bull's Bridge volunteers will have a presence and will be reminding visitors of the orders.  DEEP will be checking fishing licenses.

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More than 1,900 gallons of milk distributed to local families in need

A number of community partners have teamed up to help one another during this pandemic, and recently more than 1,900 gallons of milk were distributed to local families in need.  The milk was donated by Guida’s Dairy of New Britain, a refrigerated truck donated by Gulf Shrimp in Plantsville distributed from The Stony Hill Preserve in Bethel to local food pantries.  UConn Fairfield Extension and 4-H volunteers say it was a win-win situation.  Because schools and restaurants are closed, there is a milk surplus and some farms have to dump their milk.  This comes at a time when food pantries are seeing an increasing number of food insecure families and cannot afford to buy milk for distribution.

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Ridgefield forms short-term COVID recovery team

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi and Selectman Bob Hebert will lead a short-term recovery team that will include representation of the community.  Marconi says the team will provide precise, considerate and safe best practices for re-opening the town. More details will be provided shortly. This differs from long-term recovery programs in that it is an immediate response to the Governor’s re-opening plan and will provide time-sensitive guidelines that take into consideration the best interest of the community.

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SBA reopens Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program portal 

The Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program portal  has reopened as a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation included additional funding for farmers and ranchers and certain other agricultural businesses affected by the pandemic.  Agricultural businesses include businesses engaged in the legal production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries, as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)). Eligible agricultural businesses must have 500 or fewer employees.

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NUSAR reminds kayakers, canoeists to wear life jackets

Newtown Underwater Search & Rescue recently conducted boat maneuvers on Lake Lillinonah.  While outdoor temperatures over the weekend reached into the 70s, the water was still only 50 degrees. While the first responders were out, they saw many kayakers and canoeists, very few wearing life jackets.  While NUSAR officials say they are prepared to respond to recovery calls, they prefer to meet boaters in a different way.

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20 bags worth of garbage removed from Still River in Danbury

Just before COVID-19 gathering restrictions went into effect, the Danbury Unified Neighborhood Inspection team performed a comprehensive cleanup of the Still River.  UNIT officials said in a report to the City Council last night that the shores, and in the canal between White and Crosby Street was cleaned.  UNIT members crossed the river in water boots and filled up over 20 bags of garbage that had accumulated. In addition to litter, they removed six bicycles, a mattress, large car parts, shelving and other items.  They said the biggest challenge was tying it to ropes and pulling it up and over the 20 foot wall. The Highway Department then hauled it all away.

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Danbury schools could resume in fall with mix of in-person, online learning

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says he can't see putting 3,200 students all in one building at the High School in the fall. 

He anticipates having to split them up.  Danbury will likely use the new online distance learning system, as well as the buildings so students can have some classroom experience.  But he says they can't maintain social distance under the model in place up until March.  Boughton noted that this goes for any high school and everyone will modify their approach to schooling.

Boughton says the elementary summer camp, run through the Parks and Rec Department for about 200 kids, is not happening.  He called it unfortunate, but says once the City gets the staff and accepting liability of having the young people working is not something that can be pulled off this year. 

The town park will likely not open for most of the summer.  He says it could open for a couple of weeks in August, but contingent on the public health situation, and the ability to hire lifeguards.  Boughton says the City has hard time hiring lifeguards in the past several years because young people need to be certified and are choosing not to and working elsewhere.

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WCSU converting O'Neill Center from makeshift hospital back to field house

West Conn is taking back the O’Neill Center on the westside campus. 

The university worked with the National Guard and Danbury Hospital to set up the facility as a field hospital in the event the hospital needed overflow beds. The crunch of patients did not happen, and health officials have told West Conn and the state that they expect Danbury Hospital to be able to handle any future admissions due to COVID-19.

University staff is working to convert the O’Neill Center back to a field house, ready for athletic events and other gatherings as soon as possible.

West Conn officials are still working on how to conduct an in-person commencement celebration to replace the canceled May 17th event.  In the meantime, a virtual celebration of every senior’s accomplishment is now online.  Seniors have submit photos, major and hometown to be published on the university's website and on Facebook. 

For incoming students, orientation will also be virtual in several sessions. They're scheduled on June 18 for students entering the School of Visual & Performing Arts, June 22 for the Ancell School of Business, June 24 for the Macricostas School of Arts and Sciences, and July 9 for the School of Professional Studies.

More details will be released as the dates get closer.

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Conn. Senators concerned about COVID-19 outbreak at Danbury FCI

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy are calling on Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal to answer questions about response to the COVID-19 outbreak at FCI Danbury.

There are currently over 60 inmates have contracted the disease, including one inmate who has died.  18-percent of the staff, 50 members have tested positive.  Their letter, a follow up to one dated April 13th, says without additional intervention, including greater testing capabilities and supplies, FCI Danbury will continue to be a hotspot for COVID-19, putting inmates, staff, and the greater community at risk. 

While FCI Danbury appears to be using isolation and quarantining units to some extent, they say almost every unit has at least one inmate who has tested positive for COVID-19.  Supply limitations mean only symptomatic inmates are being tested.  The Senators are calling for increased testing and temporary shelter for employees who would prefer to quarantine away from family. 

Their questions include: Does BOP policy require staff to be tested by their own primary care physician? Is it BOP policy that staff are only required to be tested once they are symptomatic? If so, why is BOP not allowing FCI Danbury to use its testing capabilities to test all staff? If FCI Danbury is relying on outside testing for its staff, how is the facility coordinating with Department of Public Health, the Danbury Department of Health and Human Services and local health care providers to ensure access to testing?

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DCP: Restaurants need local, state approvals for outdoor service of alcoholic beverages

The Ridgefield Emergency Operations Center is passing along guidance from the state Department of Consumer Protection Liquor Control Division about outdoor service of alcohol.  Restaurants and other dining establishments, which will be allowed to open for outdoor service on May 20th, will need local and state approvals to offer outdoor service of alcoholic beverages. 

A sketch of the proposed outdoor service area must be included.  The Department has put an application, complete with instructions, online.  It's been used for several years now, and there is no associated fee.  The Patio, Extension of Use, And/or Additional Consumer Bar Application can be found under the Liquor Control Division page. 

The form needs to be reviewed and approved by local officials, specifically zoning, fire marshal, and local health.  Electronic signatures will be accepted.  Any application returned to the Agency without the local approvals will not be reviewed. 

To expedite the review and approval process, email completed application and sketch to dcp.liquorcontrol@ct.gov and then an updated liquor permit showing the outdoor service (patio) approval will be emailed back. 

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Putnam County Executive opposes a New York state budget change

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell opposes a New York state budget change that she says punishes homeowners who have fallen behind on their property taxes by taking away their Basic STAR tax exemption. 

The program, which started in the 1990s, is an upfront exemption on school taxes that saves the average principal homeowner in New York State about $800 year.  Now, those who are more than a year late on their property taxes will no longer qualify for the exemption. 

The Enhanced STAR program, which gives senior citizens a larger property tax break, is not affected by the change.  Odell called the change the kind of budget shenanigans that may make state finances look better, but amount to nothing more than hitting people when they are down. 

She says Governor Cuomo has long sought to eliminate the upfront reduction in the school tax bill that STAR offers and replace it with a STAR credit check that is sent to homeowners in the fall. When the state pays STAR by a rebate check, it is considered a revenue reduction rather than state spending, thus allowing the state to keep spending under the 2% cap.

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Congressman holds virtual roundtable on Maintaining Mental Health During The Pandemic

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has hosted a virtual roundtable discussion called Maintaining Mental Health During The Pandemic.  He moderated a panel of experts and advocates about resources available for constituents to maintain mental health and wellness while staying home. Public health officials have warned that mental health hotlines have seen a spike in calls, as many struggle with feelings of isolation and anxiety while self-isolating.  Program participants included Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, National Alliance on Mental Illness CT Director Lisa Winjum, Dr. Allen Levy and The Hub CT Co-Directors Margaret Watt and Giovanna Mozzo.

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Bridgewater experiences string of car break-ins

There were more incidents of vehicle break-ins in Bridgewater Friday night into Saturday morning. At least six locations were involved where the perpetrators found cars unlocked and rifled through the contents to take anything of value. 

First Selectman Curtis Read says this may be a sign of these times when many people are becoming unemployed. Residents are encouraged to lock cars at night and remove valuables. Garages and sheds near town roads should also be secured.  Read has directed officers to take on night patrols and asked the Resident State Trooper to increase presence in Bridgewater.

State Police Troop A says there's been a dramatic increase of vehicle break-ins through the region.

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Expedited permit process planned in Danbury for outdoor dining space

A number of small businesses have questions about how and when they can safely reopen, including restaurants looking for guidance on the outdoor dining allowance as of May 20th.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says a restaurant can't put a tent up in the parking lot, but an establishment that has a space with 3 sides open air, that's probably ok.  Restaurants will need a permit if they don't currently have outside permitted space.  Danbury officials are working to get an expedited permit process in place. Boughton says a restaurant has to have had an outdoor dining area in the past or be permitted for one that was never used.

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Alcohol suspected in Danbury crash into building, firefighter injured in subsequent crash

A car crashed into the Greater Danbury Community Health Center building in Danbury early Monday morning, and an emergency responder on scene was hit during a subsequent accident.  Police say a driver was headed northbound, struck the center median in front of St. Peter Church, crossed both lanes and crashed into a railing and shrubbery at 120 Main Street. 

The accident happened shortly after midnight.  Police say the engine compartment caught fire and was put out by responding officers with fire extinguishers. 

Evidence in the vehicle suggests alcohol was involved.

The investigation is ongoing, as the operator was transported to the Danbury Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. 

Danbury Police say soon after fire department personnel arrived to assist, a second accident occurred.  A firefighter was hit by an EMS vehicle at the scene and transported to the Danbury Hospital with minor injuries. 

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Danbury City Council to vote on bonding, referendum cancelled

The Danbury City Council is traditionally the voting body on local budgets, but residents in the past have been able to vote on bonding.  Now because of coronavirus, the planned bond vote has been scrapped.  The vote was going to be held when the state's presidential primary took place, but now that it's been moved to August Danbury is changing course. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the City is still seeking the $62 million in funding.  Per the Governor's Executive Order, the City Council will decide whether to accept or reject the bond.

An email address will be created to accept public comment for 10 days. 

There's more than $23 million for the schools to add classroom space and replace elevators.  The City needs to meet a June 30th deadline in order to obtain a state grant, which would cover 60 percent of eligible costs.  Boughton says if they miss that deadline, there could be kids that don't have a spot in the fall. The classrooms would go on the first floor of the Osborne Street building, with administrative offices moving to a renovated second floor. Maintenance crews would move into the Department of Public Works building.  But the first set of new classrooms likely would not open until 2021. 

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

On the municipal side, the money includes downtown streetscapes, energy efficiency projects and parks.  The bulk of the bonding for the City would go toward paving, drainage improvements and repairing or replacing bridges. 

$8.55 million for streetscaping in the CityCenter area calls for concrete sidewalks, with a granite inlay, and landscaping. A previous $4 million streetscape plan, half paid for through a state grant, only covers about half of the sidewalks included in the Transit Oriented Development study.  That money would be supplemented by the latest proposed funding.

The Fire Department needs additional space to house apparatus and alleviate space constraints at fire headquarters.  A storage facility is planned adjacent to Engine 26 near the airport.  The funding for the parks include drainage and field improvements, acquisition of land, environmental remediation, signage and access improvements.

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Ridgefield Police investigating single car crash into tree

Ridgefield Police are investigating an accident that happened on Route 7 early yesterday afternoon.  A northbound vehicle went off the roadway, striking a tree. The lone occupant was extricated from the vehicle and transported to the Danbury Hospital. As this is an active investigation, Ridgefield Police are looking for nay witnesses that may have been behind the vehicle before the crash.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Capt. Platt at (203) 438-6531.

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Parents can provide feedback about school closure, possible reopening

The Danbury and Bethel Superintendents of Schools are sharing a survey from the state for parents to provide feedback about the Closure and Possible Reopening.  The Commissioner of Education has enlisted the help of the six Regional Education Service Centers  to form teams of Connecticut education stakeholders to gather issues, concerns, and ideas related to the process of reopening schools.

An online tool, "ThoughtExchange," is entirely confidential and anonymous to use.  https://my.thoughtexchange.com/493894984.

In Danbury, the district is still planning for the last day of school on Friday, June 12. The May 22 Professional Development Day currently in the school calendar will remain as a day with no virtual school, so that  teachers can participate in professional development activities. There will be no assigned work for students on this day.

DHS Administrators continue to consult with our students, families, and faculty on a plan for celebrating graduates. 

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Danbury Housing Authority to receive coronavirus relief funding

More than 30 public housing authorities in Connecticut will be sharing in $10.8 million dollars in federal coronavirus relief.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says the Danbury Housing Authority will receive nearly $253,000 for personal protective equipment, childcare costs, travel costs to receive testing and more.  HUD New England regional administrator David Tille says Connecticut public housing authorities have been on the front lines working to protect those most vulnerable from the impact of COVID-19 and these funds will allow them to continue those efforts.

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Brookfield Arts Commission seeks input on sculpture for new pocket park

The Brookfield Arts Commission has the opportunity to install a sculpture at the site of a new pocket park opposite the entrance to the Greenway on Federal Road.  Residents are being invited to share ideas, thoughts and inspiration with the Commission.  The theme should encompass a welcoming town for everyone, a town that is rich in history, the arts, nature, and provides a wonderful quality of life. Suggestions can be submitted to the group until May 6th by emailing BrookfieldArtsCommissionCT@gmail.com.

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Seniors 60 or older in Monroe having trouble getting groceries to be helped

Seniors 60 or older in Monroe who are having trouble getting groceries are getting help from the town and the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging. 

Monroe will be providing bags of free groceries to people deemed by the CDC to be at greater risk of serious complications from COVID-19 if they leave their home to grocery shop.  Each grocery bag provides a one week supply of, among other things, produce, eggs, bread and toilet paper.  There is no financial requirement to be eligible.

Meals-on-Wheels recipients can receive a bag in addition to their meals. 

Monroe residents must pre-register in advance by contacting Henna Ali at the Monroe Senior Center at 203-452-2815, Ext. 4. Some basic demographic information is required.  Supplies are limited and on a first-come-first-serve basis. 

Funding for this program is made available by the Federal Government CARES Act, with additional support from Tuft’s Health Plan Foundation, the Griswold Foundation and the Fairfield County Community Foundation.

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State Police warn of fake stimulus checks circulating

Stimulus checks are in the mail, but State Police warn that so are some fakes.  The federal government estimates that over 100 million stimulus checks will be mailed over the next five months.  Criminals have an opportunity to scam some of the most vulnerable members of the community and State Police are alerting people that real stimulus checks have 5 unique security features.  They include a protective ultraviolet pattern, invisible to the naked eye, and microprinted words so small they appear as just a line to the naked eye. When magnified, they become visible.  There is also a watermark, the treasury seal, and security ink that will run and turn red when moisture is applied to the black ink of the seal.

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Bethel staff to hold parade for students

May 5th is Teacher Appreciation Day, but Bethel Public Schools will hold a staff parade for all Bethel students. This parade will follow the normal bus routes and will begin at 10am and end around 11:30am. Students are encouraged to consider making a poster for Bethel teachers to see as they drive by.  The district's newsletter has a list of streets that teachers will be going down on parade routes.  School officials thanked Bethel Police, Bethel Fire and the bus company for being partners in the parade.

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Danbury School officials say more Chrombooks available to students in need

While the initial mobile Chromebook distribution program for Danbury students has ended, the distribution of additional Chromebooks will continue at food distribution sites today, Wednesday and Friday for those students still in need.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says parents should visit individual school websites to fill out a device request form.  Parents will then be contacted with a time and location for pickup. When picking up the device, parents are asked to place a large piece of paper in the front windshield with child’s name, school and grade. Devices that are not working correctly can also be exchanged for a working device at this time.

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Litchfield County towns report stolen vehicles, items taken from cars

The Kent Resident State Trooper says there were a number of vehicle break-ins Saturday night in the Geer Mountain Road area.  Troop L is investigating.  Most of the vehicles that had items stolen from inside were unlocked in residents' driveway. There is an increased police presence in Kent as Police continue their investigation.

The New Milford Police Department is reminding residents to lock their car doors and not to leave keys or valuables inside the vehicle. Several vehicles in New Milford were ransacked or stolen in the early morning hours on Friday.

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Local state lawmaker highlights 'You Are Not Alone' campaign for Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month.  Danbury State Representative David Arconti says the common statistic that 1 in 4 people are coping with mental health is probably an understatement during COVID-19. Over the past 6 weeks, everyone has had their lives altered and he says everyone is learning to cope in new ways.  He is highlighting the “You Are Not Alone” campaign, which builds connection and increases awareness of how important connection is, especially during physical distancing. More information can be found online https://bit.ly/YouAreNotAloneNAMI

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Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department cancels 2020 Bridgewater Fair

Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department has announced the cancellation of the 2020 Bridgewater Fair and Raffle. The firefighters say much consideration was given to the safety of the general public, residents, fair workers, and Fire Department personnel.  Based on the current climate, and future uncertainty, they say it was the only responsible option.  The department previously said that the weekend-long event accounts for 90-percent of their budget.  The volunteers 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. 

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Two cars reportedly stolen from Newtown driveways

Newtown Police are investigating the theft of two cars during the overnight hours Friday into Saturday. The first vehicle was a 2018 Mazda Cx-5 silver and the second one was a 2020 Audi Q3 blue. 

Newtown Police say this is a very common occurrence, especially when the victims leave the keys in the car.  Newtown has not had a reported car theft without the keys being left inside. 

Police say these types of crimes are usually being done by small groups of youths that travel out at night and hit a different town just about every night. They will take whatever valuables they can find in unlocked cars and move to the next until they find a car with the keys in it and take it for a joy ride, which almost always involves a police chase if they are ever located. 

Newtown Police recover these stolen vehicles in about 95% of the cases, but say they are not found in a favorable condition.

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Good weather weekend draws Conn. residents to state parks

Beautiful spring weather brought people out to Connecticut’s parks Saturday and Sunday, forcing state officials to close many that became too crowded under the state’s guidelines for social distancing.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection had closed a dozen parks each day because their parking areas were at capacity. Officials had urged residents to seek out lesser-used parks to avoid crowding.  Huntington and Southford Falls closed before 11am each day.  DEEP has implemented lower capacity limits at parks to support social distancing. It says the closures are temporary and parks can be expected to open the following day.

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ARC's Food Pantry increasing distributions

ARC's Food Pantry is increasing distributions.  The facility at 24 Delay Street is now open on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Friday of the month.  Patrons experiencing food insecurity are asked to arrive promptly at 10:30am as hours of operation are limited.  ARC has been spending $1,000 per distribution since last month when the public health emergency started.  The nonprofit says funds will become depleted the longer people are out of work.  ARC is seeking donations, through their website, and food or gift card donations, which can be made at the Food Pantry.

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Danbury dentist office agrees to resolve ADA compliance issues

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has reached a settlement agreement with Blake I. Winokur, Rolling Hills Dentistry, and its landlord, 53 North Street, LLC, to resolve allegations that the facilities of the dental office were not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. An individual with physical disabilities who uses a wheelchair filed a complaint alleging that Rolling Hills Dentistry could only be accessed using a staircase.  The landlord agreed to install an ADA-compliant platform lift for each of the two staircases in the shared interior space of the building.  As part of the settlement agreement, Rolling Hills Dentistry will remediate minor ADA-compliance issues in its patient toilet room.

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Sopranos' star Joe Pantoliano struck by car while walking

WILTON, Conn. (AP) — Actor Joe Pantoliano, known for his roles in movies and in HBO’s “Sopranos,” is recovering at his Connecticut home after being struck by a car while walking.

Pantoliano’s agent told Variety the 68-year-old actor was walking near his rural home in Wilton when two nearby cars crashed into each other. The collision sent one of the cars sliding down the asphalt, where it collided with Pantoliano and knocked him to the ground.

The impact left him with a gash on his head and other injuries. His agent told Variety that Pantoliano was taken to a nearby hospital.

A post on Instagram showed Pantoliano with stitches in his head and giving a thumbs-up sign. It read, “Joey is home recovering. He has a severe head injury and some chest trauma.”

Pantoliano played mobster Ralph Cifaretto on the HBO series and has appeared in “The Matrix,” and other films including “Bad Boys,” “Risky Business,” “The Fugitive” and “Midnight Run.”

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Danbury City Council accepting comments on proposed capital budget

Danbury residents have until the end of the day on Sunday to submit public comment on the proposed $3 million in bonding for the capital budget.  Comments can be emailed to comments@danbury-ct.gov and include full name and Danbury address.  Anyone without email access can contact members of the City Council by phone to have them submit a comment on your behalf. 

Half of the money is for paving, drainage and road improvements.  There's $1.25 million set aside for bridge re placement.  The proposed bond package also includes $250,000 for sidewalk repair and replacement.  

Danbury Residents can also submit comments to the City Council about 2020 Neighborhood Assistance Act Program recipients through Sunday evening.  The state Department of Revenue Services provides tax credits for businesses that contribute to community programs that have received both municipal and state approval.

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Brookfield Republican Town Committee seeks candidates for Registrar, Justices of the Peace

The Brookfield Republican Town Committee is seeking candidates for Justice of the Peace and a nominee to be the  party’s Registrar  of  Voters for the 2021-25 term.  The Republican Party may nominate up to 33 of Brookfield’s 100 Justices of the Peace. The Vacancy Committee will conduct interviews with interested candidates during the first two weeks in May and present a slate of nominees to the full 25-member Republican Town Committee at its regular meeting on May 19th.  All registered Republicans in Brookfield can caucus on May 26th. The candidate for Registrar will appear on the ballot this November 3rd.

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Brookfield Senior Center offers Wellness Checks, "Friendly Visitor" calls 

Brookfield Senior Center say Wellness Checks and "Friendly Visitor" Calls can be helpful during this public health emergency.  Isolation can lead to depression and anxiety.  Anyone who thinks speaking to someone on a more frequent basis would be helpful, is urged to call the Brookfield Senior Center. There are community volunteers who are willing to call seniors to check in weekly, but seniors must consent to having a telephone number released to a volunteer.

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Winners selected for HRRA annual Recycling Billboard Contest

The annual Recycling Billboard Contest is facilitated by the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority, the regional governmental solid waste and recycling authority. More than 2,000 students in grades K-12 from all 11 HRRA member towns participated this year, with 49 regional winners. First, second and third place winners were chosen from every grade, in addition to a number of honorable mentions.  This year’s theme was about recycling glass separate from the mixed recycling stream. Students were asked to research and understand the importance of recycling glass, and why collecting it separately is more sustainable than mixing it with other items. They used that knowledge to create a recycling billboard ad. 

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Ducklings rescued from Danbury storm drain

A couple of ducklings have been rescued in Danbury.  Firefighters from Engine 22 were dispatched to the intersection of George Street and Williams Street early last night on a report of the ducklings stuck in a storm drain. Firefighters removed the grate and jumped in to get the ducklings from the covert pipe.  Mother duck was waiting nearby in a bush and appeared happy to be reunited with her babies.

(Photo: DFD)

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Ridgefield will provide a Tax Deferral Program due to coronavirus

Ridgefield will provide a Tax Deferral Program to taxpayers under the Governor Executive Order.  The program is available by application, with documentation of proof of residency and loss of income, submitted to the Tax Collector by email no later than May 15th for the April tax quarter, and no later than July 1st for the July tax quarter. The program is an extended grace period on tax bills so that any payments made anytime within three months from each bill’s due dates will not incur interest charges or penalties. If accepted into the program, the new last day to pay without penalty is July for the April installment and October 1 for the July installment.

 

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Bethel Police continues to receive reports of suspicious persons entering unlocked vehicles

Bethel Police Department continues to receive reports of suspicious persons entering unlocked vehicles and taking items of value. These individuals have been captured on various home surveillance systems quickly moving from one driveway to the next, hiding in yards and tree lines when vehicles travel past.  Bethel Police are reminding residents that when cars are unoccupied, all items should be removed and the vehicle locked.  Police say a simple change in routine could prevent a vehicle, identity, or belongings from being stolen.

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Increase in computer scams in Putnam County since work from home restrictions began

An increase in computer scams is being reported in Putnam County since the work from home restrictions began in March due to COVID-19. 

County Sheriff Robert Langley says one scam involves an email claiming that the suspect is in possession of recorded webcam video footage of the victim watching pornography. The suspect implies that he has malware/remote access to a victim’s computer to record video. The suspect then threatens to share the alleged footage with the victim’s Facebook friends and family unless the victim pays the suspect in the form of bitcoin. 

The scammer will often include  the victim’s valid, yet often old, password to prove that they had access, but it was likely obtained from an old data breach already on the dark web.  Recipients should not send payment or click any links. 

All passwords should be changed, and a complaint filed with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at IC3.gov.  Anyone who suffered a financial loss because of this type of scam can report the crime to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at (845) 225-4300.

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Nuvance Health treats more than 60 COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma

Nuvance Health has treated more than 60 COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma.  Nuvance launched three donation centers this week to increase access to this treatment option, with the 3rd opening today at Danbury Hospital. 

Nuvance hospitals worked with the New York Blood Center and the American Red Cross to procure donations, but opened these 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 First Selectman forms long term COVID recovery committee

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker has created a committee to prepare the town for when things can reopen to the public.  Key department heads are part of the committee tasked with making changes in town hall, including physical barriers to keep staff and members of the public safe while they transact business.  Some offices will have to increase distance between work stations and make changes in work procedures.  When it comes to town facilities, such as playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, Knickerbocker says he will follow the guidance of the state’s medical and health authorities.  He plans to coordinate reopening plans with neighboring towns.

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Hayes calls on protections for essential workers

5th District Representative Jahana Hayes announced yesterday that her husband, a Waterbury Police Detective, tested positive for COVID-19 and that she and her family would self-isolate at home for 14 days.  The Congresswoman tested negative.  While some are clamoring to return to Washington to conduct in-person business, Hayes says this test result has reinforced that Connecticut still have a ways to go – and there is still real danger in a premature return to regular order without appropriate precautions.  Hayes says never has the need to support essential workers, those keeping the streets safe, stocking grocery shelves or producing the food, been more clear.  She says they need workplace protections, living wages, and benefits so that no one should have to choose between going to work sick or being able to put food on the table.  

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Newtown Parks and Rec making plans for how to safely open Eichler's Cove Marina

The Newtown Parks and Rec Department is making plans for how to safely open Eichler’s Cove Marina for the season.  Tri-state governors have given the OK for marinas to open, though no chartered watercraft services or rentals will be allowed.  Parks and Recreation Director Amy Mangold told the Newtown Bee that the marina will open May 9th.  Wardens patrolling the area will follow strict social distancing protocols and will inform patrons of the guidelines.  To discourage people from congregating, the picnic area and beach at Eichler’s Cove Marina will not open.  Only people who have purchased passes, launch keys and slips will be allowed to enter the marina and there will be added sanitization measures in place.  Wardens and security guards will be at the marina 24 hours a day

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Wilton Social Services transitions from makeshift food pantry to full-time location

On Monday, Wilton Social Services transitioned from the makeshift food pantry back into their full-time food pantry in the lower portion of the Comstock Community Center.  As the numbers of individuals needing assistance from Social Services and the food pantry goes up,  Wilton officials thanked the community for their support.  The increasing need for assistance is supported by preliminary Department of Labor data on initial unemployment claims filed by town, by industry, by gender and by age.  Between February 24th and March 22nd, some 378 Wilton residents filed new claims for unemployment.  For the period ending April 12th, another 269 Wilton residents filed for a total of 647 new claims by Wilton residents.  This represents 7.7% of February’s labor force, of which 3.6% was unemployed.  The unemployment rate for Wilton as of April 12th was 11.3%.

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Ability Beyond raises $465,000 during 'No Go Gala'

Ability Beyond had to change their annual fundraising gala to a virtual event this year.  On Saturday, the non-profit serving more than 3,000 individuals with disabilities across the Northeast held their “No Go Gala” and raised $465,000.  The event featured a live Giving Hour webcast with comedian Christine O’Leary, who encouraged online viewers to donate by displaying a huge thermometer that tracked the event’s success in real time. 

Gala proceeds will directly help the organization’s COVID-19 relief efforts, ensuring that it can continue to safely provide care and support for its clients and families. 

CEO Jane Davis says Ability beyond has lost over 40-thousand dollars a day because among other things, to provide the 900 staff on the frontlines with personal protective equipment as they provide 24-hour care for over 450 full-time clients in group homes.  They've also launched new digital services to 2,000 homebound clients.

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