Local Headlines Archives for 2020-06

Bethel schools serve over 77,000 meals during distance learning days

The Bethel Public School District served the final meals of their distance learning feeding program yesterday.  Food Service Staff served 77,660 meals since March 18th.  Bethel families can still access the feeding program at Danbury meal distribution sites Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 10am to 11:30am for breakfast and lunch. Danbury meal distribution will be open this Thursday, and closed on Friday due to the Independence Day holiday.

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Greater Danbury area school districts analyze Conn. reopening guidelines

The State released the guidance to school districts yesterday, calling on local communities to submit plans to Connecticut by July 24th. Bethel School officials say by the third week of July, the district will be holding Zoom parent meetings to provide an overview on what it will "look like" for an in person Fall reopening. This should help families in making the choice between an in person model or opting for a continued Distance Learning. After those parent meetings, Bethel administrators will be surveying parents to determine a family's choice for in person or Distance Learning.

The Danbury Public School District has put together a survey for parents about ideas for a safe school reentry in the fall.  The short survey will be closed tomorrow.  One of the questions asks if families are planning to have kids return for traditional instruction in the school setting.  Another asks if kids will be riding the bus to school.  Parents are also given the option to say, if available, if they would chose an exclusive distance learning model or a hybrid model.  There is also a space for open-ended comments.

The New Milford School Superintendent plans to send out a survey about the August reopening of school buildings.  Dr Kerry Parker says parent feedback will be helpful as the district formulates the reopening plans.  New Milford school administrators are looking at the guidelines released by the state yesterday to discuss implications for operations both logistically and financially.  All guidance from the State will also be shared with the "Envisioning the 2020-21 School Year" advisory team, whose work has begun.  

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Congresswoman votes for Patient Protection & Affordable Care Enhancement Act

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has voted to pass the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Enhancement Act.  She says it builds on the Affordable Care Act to lower health costs and prescription drug prices.  The bill increases the ACA’s affordability subsidies to be more generous and cover more families. 

For the first time, no person will have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income for a benchmark silver plan in the ACA marketplaces, and Hayes says many Americans will see their premiums cut in half or more. 

The bill negotiates for lower prescription drug prices, delivering the power to negotiate--which Hayes says will mean people in Connecticut no longer have to pay more than people pay for the same drugs overseas. 

According to a new report from Patients for Affordable Drugs, from January to June, 245 drugs were subject to an average price increase of more than 20 percent.  More than 75 percent of increased drug prices directly relate to the COVID-19 crisis, including 30 drugs that are currently in clinical trials for their effect against the virus. The bill also cracks down on so-called junk plans and strengthens protections for people with pre-existing conditions, helping to ensure that health plans contain essential medical treatments and drugs and are not allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

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Warrant: College student accused in killings 'just flipped'

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A University of Connecticut student charged with killing two people and seriously injuring a third told a witness “he just flipped” when he fatally slashed the first victim with a sword and he was remorseful, according to an arrest warrant affidavit released Monday.

Connecticut State Police released the warrant charging Peter Manfredonia, 23, from Newtown, with murder, attempted murder and assaulting an elderly person in connection with the violence attacks in Willington on May 22. He also is expected to be charged with murder in the killing of another man in Derby on May 24.

Manfredonia, a UConn senior who was studying finance and mechanical engineering, was arrested in Hagerstown, Maryland, on May 27, ending a six-day police search in several states.

The witness told police that Manfredonia broke into his Willington home after the first attack, held a gun to his head, tied him up and held him hostage for about 24 hours. He said they had several conversations before Manfredonia took his firearms and drove off in his truck.

“I asked if he wants to talk about what took place with the murder and he told me that he hadn’t slept for 5 days and that he just flipped,” the man told police, according to the warrant. “He said he didn’t know why he did it and that he was remorseful for it. ... He was very careful about what he would say and it seemed like he didn’t want to face the reality of what happened.”

The man said he suggested Manfredonia turn himself in, but Manfredonia told him that wasn’t an option.

“He told me he was going to have two good weeks and then he figured it would end in either a shootout, the death penalty, or life in prison,” the man told police. Manfredonia surrendered peacefully to police when they spotted him and drew their guns, officials said.

Authorities allege Manfredonia killed 62-year-old Ted DeMers and seriously wounded another man in what appeared to be a samurai sword attack. The attack came while DeMers was giving Manfredonia a ride on the back of an ATV to Manfredonia’s motorcycle, which Manfredonia said he crashed down the road, the warrant said. The wounded man survived.

It’s not clear why Manfredonia was in DeMers’ neighborhood. But a female acquaintance of Manfredonia’s who lives near DeMers’ home told police she stopped seeing him after learning on March 18 that he had hacked into her social media accounts, police said. She had considered getting a restraining order against Manfredonia, police said.

State police also said Manfredonia had been “associated with numerous law enforcement investigations to include suicidal and homicidal ideation.”

Manfredonia’s lawyer, Michael Dolan, declined to comment on the allegations in the warrant but said, “We plan to mount a vigorous defense.” Dolan has said that Manfredonia had a history of depression and anxiety, but had never shown signs of violence.

After the home invasion, police said Manfredonia drove about 70 miles (110 kilometers) southwest to Derby and fatally shot a high school acquaintance, 23-year-old Nicholas Eisele. Manfredonia, 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.

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. A man fitting his description was later spotted near Scranton, Pennsylvania, prompting another search there.

Police believe Manfredonia stole a car and abandoned it in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, before taking another Uber to Hagerstown, where he was captured.

Manfredonia is being held on $7 million bail. He is scheduled to appear in court again on July 30 in connection with the Willington crimes.

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Special Bethel Planning, Zoning meeting tonight on affordable housing applications

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a special meeting tonight about two applications for affordable housing projects. 

Based off previous participation from the general public using Zoom videoconferencing, there will be some new criteria in effect tonight.  The applicant, Tim Draper, will present an overview of the proposal for about 20 minutes.  Town staff will review the proposal during the next 20 minutes.  Then general comments will be accepted, but residents are asked to limit remarks to two to three minutes. 

No other business is on the agenda. 

The applications are for 9 units at 47 Shelley Road, and 11 units at 9 Good Hill Road.  Both applications are being made under the state's 8-30g statutes, which allow developers to bypass local zoning regulations, with some exceptions, as long as 30-percent of the units are designated as affordable. 

Tonight's Zoom meeting is at 7pm.  The link to attend can be found on the town's website.

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Putnam County Sheriff warning of scam targeting parishioners of local places of worship

Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley is warning residents about a scam targeting parishioners of local places of worship.  Scammers purporting to be the religious leader sends a text message to the victim, who is a parishioner of that place of worship. The text claims to be collecting Steam Cards or iTunes gift cards for patients battling Coronavirus.

The scammers direct the victim to purchase the cards, scratch off the back numbers and send pictures of the codes via text message.  In several cases the scammers specifically request $100 denominations. 

The Sheriff's Office says the scammers in some cases address the victim by first name and sign the text message as the pastor, priest or leader of the place of worship.

Anyone who is contacted by these scammers should report the incident to the Internet Crime Complaint Center www.ic3.gov, even if they do not send money. Any Putnam County residents who suffer a financial loss should report the crime to the Sheriff’s Office or their local police department for further investigation.

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New Milford plans to send out a survey about August school reopening

The New Milford School Superintendent plans to send out a survey about the August reopening of school buildings.  Dr Kerry Parker says parent feedback will be helpful as the district formulates the reopening plans.  New Milford school administrators are looking at the guidelines released by the state yesterday to discuss implications for operations both logistically and financially.  All guidance from the State will also be shared with the "Envisioning the 2020-21 School Year" advisory team, whose work has begun.  Every district is required to submit their local plan to the State by July 24th.

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Wilton roads will be paved over the next two months

At the 2018 and 2019 Annual Town Meetings, Wilton voters approved about $6 million in bonding for the first two years of a 5-year, 15 miles per year road restoration program.  Due to weather delays, the town was not able to complete the first 30 miles by today, as originally planned.  Wilton First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says the remaining roads will be paved over the next two months.

Due to the pandemic, the town was unable to hold this year's Annual Town Meeting.  That means about  $3 million of funding for an additional 15 miles of road paving was not been presented to the voters for approval.   Wilton is planning to hold a Special Town Meeting in October with an adjourned vote on the November Election ballot. 

Historically, the Town’s paving schedule was developed based on the age of the road, with adjustments for highly traveled roads.  Last year a decision was made to scan all town-owned roads to obtain an engineering evaluation of each road.  Roads were assigned a pavement condition index. 

As of July 2019, approximately 18 miles were found to be in poor condition.  Further details about the scanning are available on the Department of Public Works page of the town website.

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Danbury Police investigating a suspicious death

The Danbury Police Department is investigating a suspicious death in the City.  An officer was alerted by a concerned citizen on Wednesday afternoon about an unresponsive Hispanic man, who appears to be in his late 50's, located near the railroad tracks by Maple Avenue and Garamella Boulevard.  The man was pronounced dead at the scene.  The Danbury Police Detective Bureau is investigating this as a suspicious death. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Mike Reo 203-796-1600. Those with information that wish to remain anonymous can call the TIPS Line at 203-790-8477.

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Great Hollow Lake beach and swimming area reopens

Monroe Parks & Recreation is mailing new park stickers with motor vehicle tax bills this week.  The current sticker will continue to be honored through July 15th.  Great Hollow Lake beach and swimming area reopened on Saturday, with hours this summer as 9am to 7pm daily.  The target date to open Wolfe Park Pool and basketball courts is July 6th.  Reservations will be through the Parks & Rec website, once we confirm all start-up procedures, maintenance and testing is complete.

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WCSU prepares for return of students in two months

While some West Conn student-athletes and other groups will return to campus in mid-August, the University will welcome all students back for classes and activities on August 24th.  West Conn President Dr John Clark says with guidance from the state and the organization that oversees the university system, they are preparing for a full educational experience.  Health and safety are foremost in planning, so Clark says there will be a mix of on-campus and online classes, clubs and other student activities.  The residence halls will be open for students who wish to live on campus, but West Conn is still developing protocols for testing and physical distancing.

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New Milford man for allegedly assaulting, threatening, kidnapping Brookfield woman

Brookfield Police have arrested a New Milford man for allegedly assaulting, threatening and kidnapping a woman.  30-year old Joseph Caruso was charged with 14 felony and 8 misdemeanor offenses earlier this month.  The Newstimes reports that someone reported a domestic violence incident involving Caruso and a 33-year old town resident.  The woman agreed to talk with police, who say she had visible bruising, cuts and a large bump on the back of her head.  The published report says the victim told police that Caruso strangled, sexually assaulted and slapped her repeatedly in the face before barricading her in a bedroom.  He allegedly held her face under flowing sink water and then strangled her until she passed out.  Caruso reportedly tried stabbing himself before putting a pair pf scissors to her neck and saying, “I’m going to kill you so you’re not with anyone else.”  Police say a 9-year-old boy was in a nearby bedroom.  Caruso has been charged with attempt to commit sexual assault, unlawful restraint, risk of injury to child, criminal mischief, two counts of sexual assault, two counts of threatening, three counts of 1st degree assault and four counts of 3rd degree assault.

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5 injured in two car crash in Washington

Five people have been hospitalized in a weekend crash involving two vehicles on Route 202 in the town of Washington.  State Police say the accident happened Saturday night near New Milford Turnpike and Route 47.  A Chevy Malibu hit a Jeep Wrangler, sending both off the roadway.  The jeep rolled over while the Chevy struck a tree.  Two passengers in the Jeep’s rear seats sustained serious injuries.  The driver of the Chevy and the two other people in the Jeep were taken to Danbury Hospital with minor injuries.  Bantam, Warren and Washington EMS responded.  Police says the crash is still under investigation.

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Brush fire deep in the woods on a steep embankment in Southbury extinguished

A brush fire in Southbury was reported deep in the woods on a steep embankment near Little York Park and George C. Waldo State Park on Saturday. Arriving fire personnel found an escalating brushfire and firefighters worked quickly to establish a barrier between the burning brush and the remainder of the park. 

(Photo: Southbury Fire)

Mutual aid companies, including Brookfield  and Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Departments used boats on Lake Lillinonah to help extinguish the brush fire. Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue provided assistance in the woods as well, while Woodbury Volunteer Fire Department provided coverage for Southbury.

Candlewood Marine 25 was special called to the scene and launched from the Newtown boat ramp on Hanover Road due to the Route 133 bridge being closed this weekend for recontruction. Brookfield responded with a brush truck to help equip the marine unit.  Members of both companies prepared Marine 25 for launch by loading it with extra brush equipment and a crew of five. The blaze was deep in the woods and inaccessible by fire apparatus so Marine 25 used its pump and deck gun to begin saturating the fire area with water.

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Beach at Cadigan Park reopens, with new rules

The beach at Cadigan Park is open.  Brookfield residents must have a pass to enter the beach and passes are only sold at the Parks and Rec office in Old Town Hall.  Parks and Rec was open this weekend to purchase passes.

In order to meet State guidelines, the town may have to limit the number of people on the beach at one time.  No daily passes are available at the beach for residents or guests. A reservation must be made.  Reservations are available daily for either a morning (10am – 1:45pm) or afternoon (2 – 5:45pm) session. Pass holders may make three reservations every 7 days; two weekday and one weekend, with no consecutive days. 

An online reservation system will be available as of today, with access and log in information emailed to all season pass holders.  Pass holders may add no more than two guests to each reservation, at a cost of $10 per guest.

Brookfield officials says they reserve the right to ask for proof of residency at time of season pass purchase. 

There must be 15 feet between family groups on the beach.  Minors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult while at the park. Masks must be worn by all patrons over age 2 when entering, moving through the park, using the bathroom or changing area and the concession area.  While at the beach or at a table, or in the water masks are not needed. Vending machines are available for credit card or cash purchases, but no other concession will be available this summer. 

The swings will be available for use, but the basketball court remains closed.   The volleyball court will be available for use and will follow current sector guidance on outdoor sports for capacity, which is currently limited to 2 versus 2.

Fields are now open for leagues to use. Organized sports must file with the Parks and Rec department and self certify with the State. 

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Bethel-based Save A Suit collecting food to distribute to Connecticut veterans

Bethel-based Save A Suit will be collecting food to distribute to Connecticut veterans and their families until June 30th.  The distribution will be on July 9th from noon to 3pm.  Save A Suit hopes to help over 100 families.  People looking to donate can drop off items at their offices at 137 Greenwood Avenue between 9am and 5pm.  Food can be left outside the building or inside by the office door.  Donations should be marked that it is for Save A Suit.  Those interested in receiving a free Patriot Package through the food drive, registration is available on the organization's website saveasuit.org/foodforveterans.  Save A Suit has partnered with the Burroughs Community Center in Bridgeport for the food distribution.

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Teen among Ridgefield COVID-positive patients

Positive COVID-19 reports for Ridgefield remain very low.  Town Emergency Manager Dick Aarons says they area within the margin of reporting error.  The town is experiencing one or two new positives weekly, mostly relatively young people. Last week, he said Ridgefield had one teenager and one man in his 40s test positive. Statewide, less than 2-percent of those tested were positive. Hospitalizations continue to drop each week as do reported deaths.  Health Director Ed Briggs says Ridgefielders seem to be employing common sense and using face coverings when they cannot maintain social distancing. He knows that people may be tired of hearing this advice, but washing hands often, not touching your face, avoiding large crowds and wearing masks when it makes sense are still the best option at this point.

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Sullivan Farm in New Milford split from the Youth Agency

Sullivan Farm in New Milford has split from the Youth Agency, but will remain as an independent municipal entity.  The New Milford Town Council approved the change this week.  Sullivan Farm helps teach students about agriculture with a hands-on introduction to farming.  Former Youth Agency director Mark Mankin will oversee the farm as a consultant for $1 a year.  Survey results from middle and high school students prompted a change in program offerings by the Youth Agency, moving to a more therapeutic approach to help New Milford students.  The director will be Jason O’Connor. The federal workforce grant that helps employ teenagers will still bring Sullivan Farm and the Youth Agency together.

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Danbury Railway Museum begins re-opening

The Danbury Railway Museum will begin the first phase of re-opening on July 4th, with limited hours of 10am to 2pm.  The museum will only be open on Saturdays, with the gift shop and children’s play area closed.  In the railyard, one or two pieces of equipment may be open if there's a separate entrance and exit. The Rail Yard Local train ride will not operate.

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New Fairfield Library to host Summer Reading Program

New Fairfield Library will host a Summer Reading Program this year for adults and children.  It starts on Monday and will run through August 7th.  It will be a virtual program, doing away with traditional paper logs.  Participants typically are required to use library resources, but this year, all personally owned items are eligible for the program.  New Fairfield residents participating in the program will need to log into their library account to track minutes read.  Logs can then be printed out in September for school.

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Local school districts waiting for more detailed plans from Conn. about school reopening

Now that the state has released limited guidelines about how to get students back into the classroom this fall, Danbury Public Schools Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says his administration will develop local plans. 

The state plans to publish full guidelines on Monday. 

Pascarella hosted another listening session this morning to talk with parents about what a reopening might look like.  Once the Danbury Public School Reopening Plan is developed, he plans to share it with staff and parents. 

Bethel Superintendent of Schools Christine Carver says it appears that preliminary guidance from the state on reopening this fall will have an option for families to stay on distance learning, particularly for students who are immunocompromised.  Carver says she and others in the administration will discuss implications for operations, both logistically and financially. 

Bethel anticipates having a plan in the next few weeks to share with parents, which also must be submitted to the state by July 24th. 

A survey will be sent out in the near future to gauge the number of families wanting to keep the distance learning model, and whether or not bus transportation would be needed for those opting to send their child in person.  Carver also plans to set up a Zoom meeting in July to answer parent questions, once a proposed model has been developed and shared.

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is hoping that a more substantive plan is forthcoming.  The former national Teacher of the Year says she hasn't been out of the classroom too long and knows that what was released yesterday is not realistic and does not instill any confidence.  She says the outline is not an adequate blueprint for parents or teachers.

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Brookfield Senior Center remains closed

The Brookfield Senior Center isn't planning to open its doors any time soon.  During the current reopen phase, the recommendation is that those in high-risk groups and over the age of 65 should continue to stay safe and stay home. Until this recommendation changes, the Brookfield Senior Center will not be able to offer on-site programming, even outdoors.  Town employees are working on plans for opening once allowed.  In the meantime, the senior center is offering live programming through Zoom to stay connected.

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Bethel High School student credited with helping to save grandmother's life

A Bethel High School student is being recognized by Stony Hill EMS and Bethel Police Department for helping to save her grandmother's life.  In May, emergency responders were  dispatched to a cardiac arrest.  The patient was found by family members unresponsive and not breathing. Arlene’s 17 year old granddaughter, Kaitlyn, put her CPR training she obtained at BHS to use.   Arlene has made a full recovery, with no deficits, and is back home. 

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Conn. Congressional members weigh in on Justice in Policing Act

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has voted for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act which passed the U.S. House yesterday. 

He says the comprehensive legislative package would reform policing, hold bad actors accountable, and help mend the relationship between law enforcement agencies and local communities. 

The measure also makes lynching a federal crime, and limits and regulates  the federal transfer of military weapons and equipment to state and local law enforcement agencies.  Himes notes that the bill makes it easier to prosecute police misconduct, reforms qualified immunity so that victims can recover damages when police violate their constitutional rights and provides grants to states that adopt laws that mandate external and independent criminal investigations and prosecutions in cases of police misconduct.  

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says it develops national training standards and requires greater accountability and transparency. The bill also bans chokeholds, ends no-knock warrants, and ends racial profiling.

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Danbury Mayor proposes new 'no tax increase' budget

Danbury officials have unveiled the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, days before the new fiscal year begins.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the $262-million will not lead to a tax rate increase, but will send more money to the schools than the Board of Education requested. 

There's a .2 percent spending increase overall. 

The City Council is traditionally the voting body, but because of the Governor's Executive Order Boughton will have final say on his own budget.  In Greater Danbury area towns with a town meeting form of government where there is typically a referendum on the budget, Boards of Finance have approved tax and spending plans for the new fiscal year.

Public comment will be accepted via email, comments@danbury-ct.gov, through 5pm next Thursday. 

The proposal includes $126.3 million for the city, with a focus on roads, public safety and parks and recreation facilities.  The schools will receive $9.8 million in funding from grants, coronavirus relief, money left over from this fiscal year and other sources.  The City contribution is $135.7 million, bringing the school budget to $145.5 million.

A cut in funding to the post-employment benefits program and a lower capital projects budget are helping to keep the tax rate flat.

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FirstLight calls on feds to respond to proposed marina expansion in New Fairfield

FirstLight Power has written to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service calling for a response to a proposed project on Candlewood Lake after nearly a year of the first request.  First Light is working on an application by Candlewood Isle to install additional boat slips at two locations of an existing marina in New Fairfield. 

FirstLight requested comments from the federal agency on the application last July, but says they did not receive a response. 

The marina expansion would involve some limited tree and vegetation clearing as part of a vegetated buffer installation.  FirstLight accessed an online tool to assess any effects on threatened or endangered species and found no critical habitats at this location, but that the northern long-eared bat may exist there.  First Light says any tree clearing and vegetation removal will not likely to adversely affect the bat and don't believe formal consultation is required.

FirstLight requested, in writing by July 24th, if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does or does not agree with their assessment.

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Route 133 bridge closure this weekend in Bridgewater, Brookfield

The second weekend bridge closure of the Route 133 structure connecting Bridgewater and Brookfield is this weekend.  The state Department of Transportation is closing the bridge at 8 o'clock tonight and it will remain closed until 5am Monday.  There will be orange Detour Signs along Routes 25, 202, 7 and 67.  The $9.86 million bridge rehabilitation project is scheduled to be completed by July 10th.  The 851-foot bridge was built in 1955, and determined to be deficient in 2015.  

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Easton Police urge pedestrians not to become distracted by electronics

With summer in full swing, and more pedestrians out on the roadways, the Easton Police Department is reminding residents about sharing the roads while running or walking.  Pedestrians should be predictable and follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.  Sidewalks, where available, should be used.  If there's no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.  In addition to the usual safety precautions of wearing bright or reflective clothing, pedestrians are now also being urged not to be distracted by electronic devices that take eyes and ears off the road.  Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians, and never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach to make sure you are seen.

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Save the Lake Day Saturday on Lake Lillinonah to clear weeds

A Save the Lake Day is being held on Saturday on Lake Lillinonah to clear weeds.  The Friends of the Lake will be meeting at Addis Park in New Milford.  Kayaks and pontoon boats will be used by volunteers to pull the water chestnuts around Lovers Leap and the Still River while the invasive aquatic plants are in bloom.  The organization is asking for volunteers with a pontoon boat or kayak to register to help.  They will be enforcing social distance guidelines to ensure members remain safe while volunteering.  Gloves and masks will be provided.  The event Saturday is 9am to noon.

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New Milford Fire Marshal offers 4th of July reminder

With the fourth of July around the corner, the New Milford Fire Marshal's Office is reminding residents that fireworks are illegal in the State of Connecticut.  Sparklers are a popular activity to do with the kids but parents should be aware that they are very hot. Sparklers burn at 1800 degrees. The Fire Marshal notes that this can cause severe burns and cause a fire. The only legal fireworks are the ones that say on the package "emits showers of sparks" and recommend that they not be used by anyone under age 18. 

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UPDATED: Man charged with social media threat to shoot police

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man has been charged with threatening to shoot police in a social media post, state police said Thursday.

Alexander Hassinger, 24, was arrested at his Newtown home Wednesday evening on harassment and breach of peace charges.

State police said Hassinger posted the threat earlier in the day on Twitter, writing “imma kill a cop today and when they ask my why I did it, imma tell them he was acting nervous and looked at me wrong.”

Hassinger told The Associated Press the posting was a satirical response to a police body camera video he saw on the internet showing an officer throwing a Black man to the ground despite the man complying with police. He said police were looking for a suspect and were questioning the man, but he turned out not to be the person they were looking for.

Hassinger, who wasn’t sure where the video was recorded, said he had no actual plans to shoot police and he has no guns.

“I’m speaking my mind on the internet, but I’m not doing anything wrong,” he said. “It seems weird because it seems like I should have freedom of speech.”

A Virginia resident reported the threat, officials said. Hassinger said he doesn’t know anyone in Virginia and has no Twitter followers in that state.

Hassinger was released on $10,000 bail and was ordered to appear in Waterbury Superior Court on July 15.

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Bethel Fire Marshal reminds residents of what is legal, illegal fireworks

With Fourth of July almost here, Bethel officials are reminding residents that Connecticut law prohibits the sale, possession or use of fireworks without a permit.  Novelties and trick noise makers such as smoke bombs, party poppers and snappers and the "snake," are banned in Connecticut. Sky Lanterns are also prohibited under this statute.  Sparklers and fountains, which produce sparks when lit, are not considered fireworks and are legal, but cannot be sold or used by anyone younger than 16.  Devices that fly or explode, including firecrackers, skyrockets, bottle rockets, roman candles and any firework containing any explosive or flammable compound, are illegal in Connecticut.  The State Fire Marshal issues permits for supervised displays of fireworks and the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection licenses fireworks displays, special effects, fireworks and special effects shooters, and fireworks distributors and manufacturers.

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Easton Police investigating report of stolen car, items taken from vehicles

On Monday night a vehicle was stolen from an Easton driveway and another car was entered.  Easton Police say these are not vehicle break ins because every vehicle that's been stolen in town recently has been left unlocked with the keys in it.  Every car entered, was also unlocked with valuables left inside. 

Easton Police say the offenders are usually juveniles driving in a stolen vehicle, two or three others dropped off and walk around.  If they try a door and it is locked, they move on to the next one. When they find one that is unlocked, they open the door and enter the vehicle. They press the ignition button, if it starts, they drive away.  If it does not start, they take whatever valuables you left inside. 

Easton Police say vehicles stolen from Easton have been recovered in Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury and several other towns. 

When a vehicle is recovered, Easton Police say they and other law enforcement agencies process the car for evidence and the analysis shows that the unknown offenders operate in communities all around the state.

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Backyard fire pits allowed in New Milford, with certain precautions

Backyard fire pits are allowed in New Milford. But the Fire Marshal's Office says they must be a safe distance from anything that will burn, and should not be placed under trees.  A water source should be nearby.  Garbage and construction material can not be burned in backyard fire pits.  Fires should not be left unattended New Milford residents are advised to check the forest fire danger level before using a backyard fire pit to make sure it's not HIGH, VERY HIGH, or EXTREME.  Today's fire danger is HIGH.

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National HIV Testing Day is Saturday

National HIV Testing Day is on Saturday.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan stopped by Apex Community Care, formerly AIDS Project Greater Danbury, to get tested.  The organization says the CDC currently recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested at least once. Apex is located at 83 West Street in Danbury.

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Heading to these 3 states? Quarantine might be in the cards

New York, Connecticut and New Jersey asked Wednesday for travelers from states with high coronavirus infection rates to go into quarantine for 14 days in a bid to preserve hard-fought gains as caseloads rise elsewhere in the country.

“We now have to make sure the rates continue to drop,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday at a briefing in New York City, joined via video by Govs. Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Ned Lamont of Connecticut, both fellow Democrats. “We also have to make sure the virus doesn’t come on a plane again.”

What was presented as a “travel advisory” that starts Thursday affects three adjacent Northeastern states that managed to check the spread of the virus this spring as New York City became a hot spot for the pandemic.

Travelers from more than a half-dozen states, including Florida and Texas, are currently impacted. The quarantine will last two weeks from the time of last contact within the identified state.

The announcement comes as summer travel to the states’ beaches, parks and other attractions — not to mention New York City — would normally swing into high gear.

It also marks a flip-flop in the COVID-19 battle since March, when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, both Republicans, separately issued orders requiring people flying in from the New York tri-state area, where cases were surging, to quarantine for 14 days.

Now, Florida and Texas are among the struggling states being eyed warily by the three northern governors.

“As Governor DeSantis said on Saturday, Governors have a prerogative to do what they need to do,” press secretary Cody McCloud said. “He just asks that Floridians not be quarantined in the nursing homes in New York.”

Murphy called a quarantine the smart thing.

“We have taken our people, the three of us, these three states, to hell and back,” Murphy said. “The last thing we need to do right now is subject our folks to another round.”

The states will relay the quarantine message on highways, at airports, and through websites and social media. Lamont signed an executive order on Wednesday evening requiring such messages be posted at all major points of entry into the state and at the state’s airports. He said the governors plan to also ask hotels and vacation rental companies to tell guests from affected states.

Lamont’s order also allows the state’s public health commissioner to make exceptions for essential workers and for “other extraordinary circumstances” when a quarantine is not possible.

Enforcement will vary by state. The Cuomo administration said violators in New York will be subject to mandatory quarantine and face fines from $2,000 to $10,000. Violators could be discovered at business meetings or during a traffic stop, he said.

It was not clear what, if any, penalties violators in New Jersey and Connecticut will face.

Lamont described the quarantine as “urgent guidance.” Murphy called it a “strong advisory ... to do the right thing.”

The quarantine applies to people coming from states with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average, or with a 10% or higher positivity rate over seven days.

As of Wednesday, states over the threshold were Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas, Cuomo said.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said later Wednesday that his state was erroneously included on the list.

A spokeswoman for Cuomo, Caitlin Girouard, said there had been an initial discrepancy with Washington’s reporting, but “they have since corrected it and we have removed them from the list of states under travel advisory.”

The order appears to apply to President Donald Trump, who was in Arizona on Tuesday and is slated to go to Bedminster, New Jersey, this weekend.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said in an email Wednesday that standard procedures were in place in Arizona to ensure the president did not come into contact with anyone who was symptomatic or had not been tested.

“It could come back and we can have a second wave arriving by jet airplane a second time,” Lamont said. “And right now, they wouldn’t necessarily be coming from China. They could be coming from one of six or seven or eight states that have a very high positivity rate.”

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$4 million COVID-19-related surplus recorded in New Milford

A $4 million COVID-19-related surplus has been recorded in New Milford.  Finance Director Greg Ospitow told the Town Council at their meeting this week that the money is in addition to the $1.5 or $2 million the schools are expecting. 

The numbers are still fluid and need to be approved in the final audit.  Ospitow says the surplus can not be used for operating expenses like salaries, but can be put toward capital items. 

Mayor Pete Bass says the high school roof project is the first priority.  The roof has been patched up since the 2018 macroburst.  A standing seam will replace the roof, giving it another 50 year lifespan before needing to be replaced.  That will cost $4.3 million .  New Milford residents previously approve $1.2 million in borrowing.  In order to get the maximum state reimbursement, Bass says the town will apply for funding in December.  

The COVID-related surplus will also be used to repair the town hall roof.  $500,000 will be used for road work, $125,000 for IT infrastructure and improvements, and $80,000 to repair the high school tennis courts.  The school surplus will be put toward new band uniforms and replacing athletic equipment and uniforms. A student enrollment study will also be funded. 

A police scuba boat and an excavator, grappler and fleet car for the public works department were also approved.

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Car stolen, vehicles entered in Redding

Redding Police are investigating a report of a stolen vehicle and cars entered within the Redding Ridge area.  Police say the suspects used the stolen vehicle to drive around to the six vehicles entered Tuesday night.  The stolen vehicle was later recovered by Newtown police.  Redding Police are urging residents not to be an easy target and to lock cars at night.  Police say like many other neighboring Fairfield County communities, Redding has seen an increase in overnight burglaries into unlocked motor vehicles.  Anyone with information about Tuesday's crimes are urged to contact Redding police at 203-938-3400.

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Public hearing in Bethel on proposed affordable housing applications

The Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on June 30th at 7pm to hear the application of Tim Draper for two Affordable Housing proposals.  One is for 11 units to be located at 9 Good Hill Road.  The other is for 9 units at 47 Shelley Road.  The public may send comments via regular mail and email landuse@bethelct.gov. Comments must be received 24 hours prior to the hearing in order to be included.  The state's 8-30g Statute allows developers to bypass local zoning laws, with some exceptions, if a certain percentage are designated as affordable housing.  Residents opposed to the Shelley Road plan are concerned about the high water table in the area.  The Good Hill Road proposal drew opposition about the building fitting with the character of the neighborhood.

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Nuvance Health updates visitation policy to bring back more visitors to hospitals

Nuvance Health has updated its visitation policy to bring back more visitors to its hospitals and facilities. Nuvance Health officials say they can expand visitation following safety guidelines because its hospitals and the surrounding communities are observing a decrease in the rate of COVID-19 infections. 

Visitors over age 18 are allowed if they meet specific requirements. Exceptions for visitors age 17 and younger may apply for patients with extenuating circumstances. 

The requirements include wearing a medical face mask, not a bandana, scarf, or any other type of face covering.  Visitors must pass screenings for COVID-19 risk factors.  Their visit will be recorded for contact tracing purposes if necessary.  Patients can have one approved visitor during their hospital stay.  The duration of a daily visit by the approved visitor is limited to two hours.

Exceptions apply for patients under age 21, maternity patients, and for patients with extenuating circumstances.

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No calls to change name of Christopher Columbus Ave in Danbury

There are a lot of calls coming into Danbury's 311 line, but none have been about Christopher Columbus Avenue.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton told CT Insider that he hasn't heard of anyone asking for the street on the City's west side to be renamed, and isn't sure if the City owns the street. The half a mile stretch of street could be a private road, which was only named after the Italian explorer in 2004.  Prior to that the road was named West Kenosia Avenue, as it borders Lake Kenosia and leads to Kenosia Park.  Christopher Columbus Avenue is home to the Amerigo Vespucci Lodge, named for the Italian merchant, explorer, and navigator, from whose name the Americas are derived.

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Tax bills mailed out in New Fairfield

In accordance with State guidelines for safe workplaces during COVID, New Fairfield Town Hall remains open to the public by appointment only for services that cannot be provided over the phone or online. Tax bills are being mailed out at the end of this week, and due to these restrictions, the town will accept payment through the 4 options.  Payments can be made online through the town's website, mailed to the Tax Collector's office by August 3rd, paid at the New Fairfield branches of Union Savings Bank and Savings Bank of Danbury or placed in the secure drop box installed on the back of Town Hall.  No cash payments will be accepted during this collection cycle. 

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Wilton starts new Independence Day event this year

The town of Wilton isn't holding their traditional annual July 4th festivities, First Selectman Lynn Vanderslice says they did want to provide an opportunity for residents to connect with each other over the holiday. Wilton Senior Center, the Wilton Library and her office have teamed up to sponsor a July 4th House Decorating Contest.  Sign-up information is available online at wiltonct.org/fourthofjuly.  Wilton residents should decorate the side of their home visible from the street with the theme of America or 4th of July.  Decorations should be up by July 1st. Judging will take place next Thursday. First place wins free parking pass to 2021 Wilton Fireworks  Prizes for 2nd and 3rd place will also be awarded.

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Bethel Fire Marshal warns of open fires, legal fireworks

Bethel Emergency Management & Fire Marshal is asking residents to be mindful of open fires and the use of any type of legal fireworks.  Summer Forest Fire Season is here. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says the current fire danger is HIGH and may rise to very high or extreme as the week progresses. With the current dry conditions and little to no rain in the forecast, sticks and leaves are ready to catch fire easily with a careless spark.  DEEP says these sparks can come from unexpected sources, such as fireworks, and performing lawn maintenance with chainsaws and lawn mowers. DEEP Forestry is strongly encouraging practicing fire safety and using caution during outdoor activities during these conditions.

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Public hearing in Ridgefield about Conservation Commission purchase of two parcels of land

A virtual public hearing is being held in Ridgefield tonight about the purchase of two parcels of land by the Conservation Commission. One is about 14 acres on Bear Mountain, adjoining Hemlock Hills open space.  The other proposed site is 1 acre at the end of Craigmoor Road, which allows access to open space that adjoins the former Garden of Ideas.  The purchase would be funded in part by a grant, and the use of Commission funds.  Tonight's hearing is at 7:30pm and will be held via the Zoom platform.

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Prayer walk will take place in Danbury tomorrow

A prayer walk will take place in Danbury tomorrow.  New Hope Baptist Church will lead the event from police headquarters to City Hall.  Reverend Leroy Parker says the walk is being held to mark one month since George Floyd’s police custody death in Minneapolis.  Organizers say Danbury’s faith community will gather at 11:30am tomorrow at the police station on Main Street.  Remarks will be delivered at City Hall.

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Chemical treatment for Eurasian Watermilfoil on Lake Lillinonah today

The chemical treatment for Eurasian Watermilfoil on Lake Lillinonah previously scheduled for June 16th is now scheduled for today.  Solitude Lake Management says invasive weeds will be treated using Tribune. Treatments will take place in 3 locations: Lake Lillinonah Road North in Bridgewater, Barkwood Cove in Brookfield, and Hanover Road in Newtown.  Water use restrictions apply to those within 500 feet of the treatment zones for drinking, cooking and irrigation through Saturday.  Watering of livestock should not be done today.  There are no restrictions on swimming, fishing, and boating.

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Bethel playgrounds reopen to the public

Effective today, Bethel’s playgrounds will reopen to the public.  Parks & Recreation staff will sanitize playground equipment twice per day, morning and evening, using a power sprayer. Restrooms will be sanitized every morning and evening, and all touch surfaces will be cleaned twice per day. Restrooms will be open from 6am to 7pm, and locked overnight.

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Connecticut begins partially reopening some DMV offices

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) -- The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday partially reopened four of its branches to begin offering in-person licensing and new vehicle registration services by appointment only, the latest in a series of steps toward resuming operations at one of the state’s busiest agencies.

Road testing also resumed Tuesday, in partnership with private driving schools, to reduce a backlog of approximately 1,000 road tests that developed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve now been rescheduled through June 30.

“Who would have thought everybody was missing DMV so much,” joked Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont, as he stood outside the Waterbury branch where DMV customers with pre-scheduled appointments waited in their cars until being notified electronically to come inside the building. Branches in Bridgeport, Enfield and New Britain also partially reopened Tuesday for new registration and license services.

New registration services will begin June 30 at the Wethersfield, Willimantic, and Danbury branches. All in-person services, including out-of-state license and registration transfers, and commercial driver’s license upgrades, now require an appointment which can be made online.

Meanwhile, additional locations reopened Tuesday for learner’s permit knowledge tests. Offices in Wethersfield and Cheshire previously opened May 11 as part of a pilot program. Now, the tests will also be offered at offices in Willimantic, Old Saybrook, Norwalk, and Danbury by appointment only.

DMV Commissioner Sibongile “Bongi” Magubane praised DMV staff for their efforts to slowly reopen in a safe way, noting “this journey has not been easy.” She said the agency should be able to start handling more and more walk-in traffic at various branches over the next couple weeks.

“But we needed to start slow because we understand how this pandemic is,” she said. “So we’ve learned a lot in the last three months and we are extremely excited to be in this point.”

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Danbury official warns of illegal fireworks dangers

There have been a lot of nuisance calls in Danbury about people illegally setting of fireworks.  Mayor Mark Boughton is reminding everyone that fireworks are not allowed by law in Connecticut for use by non-professional, non-licensed users. Sparklers and fountains, which technically are not considered fireworks, may be sold.  Children under age 16 can not buy or use sparklers or fountains.  Boughton says aerial and explosive fireworks are extremely dangerous because the hot debris can land anywhere causing injuries and fires.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection issued a warning of increased forest fire danger due to below-average rainfall.

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Hearing in Danbury cease and desist case against Dorothy Day to be rescheduled

The City of Danbury and representatives of Dorothy Day Hospitality House were scheduled to have a hearing today on an appeal of a cease and desist order, but it was called off as some courts remain closed. 

Attorneys for both sides are being called on to file a proposed, revised schedule by July 7th.  The schedule must include the dates that the outstanding briefs will be filed and a proposed date for the appeal to be heard, at some point after September 1st. 

Dorothy Day hasn't held a permit to operate as a soup kitchen for more than three decades.  City officials learned several years ago that the owners never applied for a renewal after the initial special permit was granted. Dorothy Day was looking for variances to driveway width, parking lot size and setbacks because their more-than century old building does not comply with regulations which were updated over the decades. 

The homeless shelter operator needed the variances in order to apply for a special exception before the Planning Commission.

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Aquarion asks customers to conserve water during heat wave

The Ridgefield Emergency Management Office is passing along a request from Aquarion Water.  The company is asking customers to conserve water and reduce nonessential use during the heat wave.  With below average precipitation and increased demand due to the unseasonably warm weather, some residents and businesses may experience lower water pressure.  Aquarion directed customers to their website about how to reduce indoor and outdoor use, and for helpful information on lawn and garden irrigation and other tips for saving water.

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Brush fires reported along Route 7 in Brookfield

Multiple brush fires along Route 7 in Brookfield have been extinguished.  Both volunteer fire companies responded to the area just south of exit 12 yesterday afternoon.  Fire officials say a cigar was found among the pile of burned brush.  Responding crews extinguished “multiple spot fires” along the highway.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection previously issued a warning of increased forest fire danger due to below-average rainfall.  Crews were on scene for about half an hour.

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Wilton road rage incident leads to charges for Redding man

A road rage incident in Wilton has led to breach of peace and reckless driving charges for a Redding man.  The Hour reports that a passerby called police Saturday evening about the events unfolding on Route 7. 

Police say an investigation determined that an SUV traveling in the left lane moved into the right lane and cut off a pick up truck.  The truck driver, 60-year old Michael Kennedy, sped around the SUV, cut in front of it and stopped, causing the SUV to also stop near the intersection of Catalpa Road.  Kennedy allegedly got out of his vehicle and approached the passenger side of the SUV. 

Juveniles were in car, drove around the stopped pick up truck as Kennedy pounded on the rear door and called 911.  Kennedy reportedly got back in his truck, chased the SUV, cut in front of it again, caused both to stop for a second time and was approaching the car again when officers arrived. 

Police said Kennedy told them he only wanted an apology from the other driver. He is due in Norwalk Superior Court on July 30.

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Redding Tax Collector walk-up tax window is open

Tax bills have been mailed and Redding residents should have received theirs by now.  The Redding Tax Collector says the walk-up tax window is open from 9:30am to 3pm this week, and beginning next week, the hours will be 8:30am to 5:30pm.  No appointment will be necessary, but visitors will need to wear a mask and have the bill and payment ready.  Residents are also asked to practice social distancing if there's a line.  August 3rd is the last day to pay without interest.  The delinquent interest rate has been reduced by Executive Order due to the public health emergency to 3% , or point-25 monthly, until September 30th.  On October 1st, interest will revert to the mandated 18% on any unpaid taxes.  The Redding Tax Collector says as of July 1st, bills can be paid via the town website.  Residents can also pay over the phone at (866) 923-8245. 

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Car accident sparks brush fire in New Fairfield

A car accident involving a utility pole caused a brush fire early yesterday evening in New Fairfield.  Route 39 was closed around 5pm for several hours due to the downed pole and wires.  The road was closed between Squantz Pond State Park and Wanzer Hill Road.  New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department says no injuries were reported.

(Photo: NFVFD)

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Vacancies on Newtown boards and commissions need volunteers

There are several vacancies on Newtown boards and commissions.  The Conservation Commission has an opening available to a Republican or an unaffiliated voter.  There are two openings for Democrat Constables; one for a Republican Constable and the Design Advisory Board has an opening available to any resident.  The Pension Board has one vacancy available to a Democrat or unaffiliated voter.  The Board of Ethics has two alternate vacancies available to any voter, but not two of the same party.  Interested parties must submit resumes by July 6.

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Sherman Volunteer Fire Department's new Tanker construction underway

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department's new Tanker construction is underway.  The apparatus is scheduled for delivery later this year.  The plumbing will be hidden from view when construction is complete. In addition to its primary role of bringing the water, that pump will allow the truck to feed a high volume of water as part of an initial attack without the need to drop the pond and have a Class A pumper draft out of it.  Fire company officials say that's something that they can't do today.

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Danbury to start road project Thursday

Beginning Thursday, the Danbury Public Works Department will be doing construction on West Pine Drive. The road work will not result in a closure, but there is the possibility of travel restrictions.  Construction should last about two to three weeks.  During this period there will be no on-street parking.

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Henry Abbott Tech graduation ceremony livestreamed

Another drive-thru graduation ceremony has been held for Greater Danbury area seniors.  Henry Abbott Technical High School held a commencement ceremony on Monday with decorated cars driving through the school parking lot.  Diplomas were distributed to students in groups, based on their field of study.  The 6 hour event was livestreamed for families of the 148 students.

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Brewster firefighter killed in line of duty in 1997 remembered

The Brewster Fire Department took time out last night to remember one of its members who was killed in the line of duty. Lt. Michael Neuner died while battling an early morning house fire 23 years ago.  A  brief prayer service was held in front of a statue dedicated to Neuner outside fire headquarters on North Main Street.  The Brewster firefighter was also a Peekskill police officer.

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Homeless individuals continue to be housed at Danbury motel

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is continuing to reimburse the state for putting up homeless individuals in motels as local shelters figure out how to best utilize their space to accommodate the most people, far apart from each other. 

Danbury City Councilman Bob Taborsak recently questioned City Health Department officials about progress.  He thinks it can only hold about 10 people because of social distancing.  Taborsak also noted that Dorothy Day Hospitality House hasn't been able to figure out something because of their configuration. 

Interim Health Director Kara Prunty says there's a concerted effort underway in Fairfield County to house as many homeless individuals as possible.  The goal is to house a thousand people.  There are 60 people in the Super 8 motel, and 8 have been housed. 

Prunty noted that they don't want to return people to the shelter or the streets. 

Taborsak asked if there's a list of landlords willing to accept Section 8 vouchers, saying that finding them is one of the biggest challenges.  Prunty responded that two case managers are taking people to see apartments and working with landlords.

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Ridgefield Police to get on-site assessment for reaccreditation

The Ridgefield Police Department is scheduled for an on-site assessment on July 8th as part of the reaccreditation process.  The site visit had been scheduled for March 23rd, but was postponed due to the pandemic.  The Tier III re-accreditation will verify if Ridgefield Police are continuing to meet professional standards administered by the Police Officer Standards and Training Council.  As part of the on-site assessment, employees and members of the community are invited to offer comments. Comments can be made by telephone at 203-427-2602,or by email Accreditation.Compliance@ct.gov with Ridgefield Police Department in the subject line of the email.  The Connecticut Law Enforcement Accreditation Program is a no-cost, voluntary, self-directed process accessible to all Connecticut Departments and consists of 327 standards in general management, professional certification and liability certification.

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Newtown to receive money in dispute resolution with Community Center vendors

Newtown will receive nearly $136,000 following a dispute resolution with Community Center vendors.  The Newtown Bee reports that the money will be applied to a special fund created by the Legislative Council to reimburse funds for furnishings and equipment.  Litigation was initiated last fall when informal negotiations reached an impasse.  The parties involved were the town, Caldwell & Walsh Building Construction, Quisenberry Arcari Architects and Amara Associates.  The Public Building and Site Commission, among other issues, discovered key construction and material were not included in designs and had to be retrofitted into the community center.  The published reports says some of the issues, cracking tiles in the pool area and an oversized fire pump, remain. 

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More than 200 families served during monthly Conn. Food Bank Danbury distribution

A Connecticut Food Bank Mobile Pantry drive-thru food distribution in Danbury on Thursday served 227 households. The monthly distribution is a partnership with Danbury Public Schools and the Danbury Family Learning Center, which provides the site and volunteer support. 

Connecticut Food Bank Chief Operating Officer Daniel Gomez said the distribution is one of more than two dozen Mobile Pantry distributions the Connecticut Food Bank supports each month. The distributions are a way to fill gaps caused by transportation barriers for people in need, or where its network of member agencies does not have the ability to store larger quantities of food or perishable foods. 

Danbury Public Schools Director of Family, School & Community Partnerships Dr. Anne Mead says the food is needed no that children are home all day.  Combined, Connecticut Food Bank member agencies and mobile pantries represent 500 food access points for people in need.

The Mobile Pantry schedule is updated weekly at www.ctfoodbank.org/mobilepantry.

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Ridgefield deferral program, low interest program set to expire

The deferral program and the low interest program adopted by Ridgefield for the April 1 tax period is about to expire.  Any April deferred tax is due by July 1st in order to avoid interest charges of .25 percent. Any unpaid balance after July 1st will revert back to having an interest rate of 1.5 percent per month.  Any Ridgefield residents looking to apply for the deferral program for tax due in July, should submit an application along with proof of loss of income to taxoffice@ridgefieldct.org, by mail or in the lock box on the outside of Town Hall. The application must be submitted by July 1st to be considered. The application is available through the Tax Collector's link or the COVID-19 information page under Tax Relief Programs.

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FuelCell Energy resumes manufacturing at its Torrington facility

Danbury-based FuelCell Energy has resumed manufacturing at its Torrington facility.  Activity was temporarily suspended on March 18th as a proactive and voluntary measure due to COVID-19.  All employees affected by the temporary shutdown remained employed by FuelCell and have received full pay and benefits. 

Some work from home practices, limited laboratory activity and fuel cell platform construction and operations services did continue.  FuelCell officials say they were able to continue research and development work on a carbon capture solution under a joint development agreement with ExxonMobil Research and Engineering.  U.S. Department of Energy cooperative agreements on the development of advanced solid oxide electrolysis, hydrogen storage, and hydrogen power generation also continued.  Progress was also made on construction of the 7.4 megawatt fuel cell project located on the U.S. Navy Submarine Base in Groton. 

The company has self-certified with the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development its commitment to compliance with all applicable sector guidelines.

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Brookfield has no new COVID cases diagnosed over last 19 days

Brookfield has recorded another COVID-associated fatality.  The 80 year old woman was first reported to have the virus about six weeks ago. State reporting of confirmed cases has been moving up and down, but Brookfield has confirmed 161 confirmed cases since mid-March.  No new cases were   reported in the past 19 days.

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New Milford officials find trash, illegal fire pit on River Road

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass took a tour of the River Road area this weekend to see if drivers were complying with the no parking signs, put up to prevent swimming in dangerous parts of the Housatonic River. Bass says some people left garbage in the area, and there was also an unapproved fire pit near brush and trees.  Bass says if there were to be a forest fire, that would put the park, the nearby area and first responders in jeopardy.

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Brookfield firefighters celebrate high school graduates

Brookfield Volunteer firefighters, with help from Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue of Newtown, displayed a Brookfield High School graduation banner on Whisconier Road this weekend, along the graduation parade route.  Fire trucks and members were posted at several locations throughout the parade to cheer on the graduating seniors.  Last week, firefighters displayed the flag at the Whisconier Middle School moving up ceremony.  Several members were former students of the school.

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Milk to be available at weekly food distribution at church in Bethel

The Fairfield County Agricultural Extension Council is making nearly 2-thousand half-gallons of milk available to families in need.  Food panties have seen a 300 percent increase in people needing milk during the pandemic, but there's a surplus in supply because of school and restaurant closures.  Instead of dumping their product, the council purchased the milk wholesale for the weekly distribution at Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel.

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Local lawmaker meets with DECD about business initiatives

With a special session on the horizon, some Connecticut legislative committees are meeting.  Kent state Representative Maria Horn says the Appropriations Committee heard from the Department of Economic and Community Development on initiatives to help local businesses survive the short term closure brought on by the pandemic, and to help them start up again.  The Committee also heard from the State Department of Education. Horn says ensuring that children are accessing a quality education is critical both to their future welfare, and to today's economy as parents need to know the education system is supporting their families.

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Justice who led gay marriage, death penalty rulings retires

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — During his nearly 30 years on the Connecticut Supreme Court, Justice Richard Palmer’s views about the law and society changed with the times, leading him to write some of the court’s most consequential opinions in a generation.

He was the author for narrow 4-3 majorities in landmark cases that legalized same-sex marriage in 2008, abolished the death penalty in 2015, overturned Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel’s murder conviction in 2018 and allowed gun-maker Remington last year to be sued over how it marketed the rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.

Palmer, a lifelong Democrat who was forced by state law to retire from the court late last month when he turned 70, recently reflected on his career.

The case against Remington Arms, which made the rifle used to kill 20 first graders and six educators at the Sandy Hook school in 2012, is in the pre-trial stage.

Palmer said he never feared backlash from his opinions.

“I think that was always my guiding principle, to try to figure out where the law took me and then to make sure that I was true to that decision,” he said. “If I ended up in the majority and even the author of some opinions that were controversial, for which there was going to be a strong public reaction one way or another, so be it.”

“I do think that my views evolved over the almost three decades that I was a judge,” he said. “As time went on, I realized that times change. Circumstances change. We learn about the consequences of the opinions that we decided.”

Palmer took his seat on the state’s high court in 1993 after making friends with Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. on the tennis court. The state’s top prosecutor at the time, Palmer said Weicker, a left-leaning Republican elected as a third-party candidate, offered him a spot on the Supreme Court while playing tennis one day. Palmer at first thought Weicker was joking.

Wesley Horton, a prominent appellate attorney based in Hartford, said Palmer was very low-profile during his early years on the court, but that changed in 2001 when Palmer wrote a unanimous opinion saying the wealthy town of Greenwich’s longstanding policy barring nonresidents from local beaches was unconstitutional.

“In the past 15 or 20 years, he’s really turned into being a leader on the court,” Horton said. “He turned out to be a huge leader when he wrote the decision in the gay rights case in 2008.”

Before the 2008 ruling, Connecticut allowed civil unions that gave same-sex couples the same rights as married pairs. Palmer wrote the civil unions weren’t enough and created separate standards.

“We conclude that, in light of the history of pernicious discrimination faced by gay men and lesbians, and because the institution of marriage carries with it a status and significance that the newly created classification of civil unions does not embody, the segregation of heterosexual and homosexual couples into separate institutions constitutes a cognizable harm,” Palmer wrote.

The decision, in a case titled Kerrigan versus Commissioner of Public Health, made Connecticut the third state, after Massachusetts and California, to legalize gay marriage. State legislators codified the ruling into state law the next year. Palmer’s opinion influenced other states’ gay marriage laws, said William Eskridge Jr, a professor at Yale Law School.

“Kerrigan was a major landmark in the lengthy campaign for marriage equality which began in the 1970s,” Eskridge said. “This is really a beacon to all of America, not just Connecticut.”

The 4-3 ruling in 2015 that abolished the state’s death penalty exposed a rare rift in the Supreme Court, as justices launched highly unusual criticism at each other in the majority and dissenting opinions.

The decision overturned a 2012 state law that eliminated the death penalty, but only for future capital crimes, meaning the 11 men on death row at the time would still be executed.

Palmer wrote that the death penalty “no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose.”

The chief justice at the time, Chase Rogers, joined Justices Peter Zarella and Carmen Espinosa in a dissent accusing the majority justices of tailoring their ruling based on personal beliefs, which Palmer denied.

Palmer also was the lead author in the 2018 decision that overturned Skakel’s murder conviction, a highly unusual ruling because it reversed a previous decision by the same court.

Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, was convicted of murder in 2002 in the death of Martha Moxley in 1975 when they were teenagers in Greenwich. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, but was freed after serving 11 years behind bars when a lower court overturned his murder conviction in 2013.

In a 4-3 ruling, the Supreme Court reinstated Skakel’s murder conviction in 2016, saying the lower court was wrong to dismiss the conviction based on mistakes by Skakel’s trial lawyer.

But after the ruling, Zarella, who wrote the majority opinion, left the court and Skakel’s lawyers asked justices to reconsider the decision. With new Justice Gregory D’Auria aboard, the court decided to reconsider and reversed the ruling.

State prosecutors have not announced whether they plan to retry Skakel.

Over the next several months, Palmer will continue to work on Supreme Court cases that he heard before his retirement. He also wants to continue hearing cases on an occasional basis, either on the Appellate Court or as a part-time judge trial referee.

Palmer said serving on the Supreme Court was a high honor.

“I was really very fortunate to be able to participate in so many significant cases over the last 15 or 20 years,” he said. “My colleagues were always exceedingly respectful and helpful and supportive, but because these cases were controversial and closely divided, it was sometimes hard to maintain the majority. I was able to do it and I was very fortunate.”

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State Police investigate Route 7 hit & run

A hit and run accident in Danbury has left a motorcyclist hospitalized.  Connecticut State Police are investigating the evading incident, which happened on Route 7 northbound by the Federal Road exit.  The crash was reported shortly before noon on Saturday.  A black Dodge Challenger or Charger with dark tinted windows, Connecticut license plates, and a loud exhaust--with a german shepherd dog in the vehicle, struck a motorcycle and fled north.  The motorcycle came to final rest in the left lane and the driver sustained injuries. The damage on the evading vehicle will be likely on the driver's side of the vehicle. Anyone with information is asked to contact Trooper Cassavechia, Troop A, 203-267-2240.

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Ridgefield Commission releases COVID-19 Business Impact Survey

The Ridgefield Economic and Community Development Commission has released a COVID-19 Business Impact Survey.  The group says it's a comprehensive questionnaire to gauge how the town’s 600 businesses and nonprofit organizations are performing during the pandemic. 

The 44 mostly-multiple choice questions are divided among five categories: Operations and Supply Chain, Workforce, Finance, Business Resources, and Future.  The Commission says data collected from the survey will help Ridgefield officials gain a better understanding of the COVID-19 business climate and inform which resources to pursue in support business and nonprofit community. 

Ridgefield-based businesses and organizations can anonymously complete the COVID-19 Business Impact Survey before June 30th, with the link found on the town's website. 

One of the challenges the ECDC is hearing from businesses owners is the difficulty of wooing laid-off workers back to their jobs. Some workers, particularly older employees, are wary of the health risks associated with being around others in public. And, an unintended consequence of the PPP is that some employees—particularly in the restaurant and retail sectors—can earn more by staying home.

“Now into Connecticut’s Phase II re-openings, we’re looking to gauge what level businesses are operating at, if they’ve been successful at shifting to a larger online presence, and whether there have been any hiccups with the move to more curbside pickup and deliveries. Importantly, we also want to understand the impact of federal programs like Small Business Administration loans and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and whether businesses have the resilience to withstand a second pandemic wave, should one occur,” said Commission chair Geoffrey Morris.

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New Milford looks to alert swimmers to dangers of Housatonic

New Milford officials are looking to make swimmers aware of the dangers posed by what looks like a tranquil Housatonic River.  With the drowning deaths of two men earlier this month, and two drownings last year, Mayor Pete Bass signed an executive order to limit access to parts of the watercourse system. 

He says there have been too many close calls for those choosing to swim in dangerous areas, which also could put first responders at risk.  Bass says he's also concerned about COVID-19 spreading through gatherings along the river and exposure to first responders. 

Where there are posted signs, no parking will be allowed and vehicles found there will be towed. New Milford Police will be strictly enforcing no parking areas.  Bass toured the Parks and River Road area yesterday. Even with the police and park ranger patrols, some continue to park in violation. 

More signs and patrols are coming to River Road. 

Bass says the crackdown has been planned for months.  It was sparked by large gatherings last summer called in as noise complaints because of loud music. Bass was also concerned that children would be playing without life vests. 

Dike’s Point, which is owned by FirstLight Power Resources, is closed this year.  Bass said cars have been parked at nearby Hill and Plain Elementary School so signs are being posted alerting visitors that the park is closed and their cars will be towed.

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Brookfield planning to open town beach Friday

The town of Brookfield is planning to open the town beach on Friday, with a limited number of attendees to meet the distancing rules.  All details of the COVID-related regulations are expected to be posted early this week on the town's website.  Brookfield previously opened the Greenway for walking only, and masks must be worn. No running is allowed, along with a ban on bicycles, scooters and skateboards.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says this is to ensure the safety of residents and to allow the maximum number of people on the Greenway. The Board of Selectmen plans to reopen Brookfield parks and facilities gradually over the coming weeks. All tennis courts are now open using USTA guidelines and picnic benches are now available at the parks.

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Putnam County set to enter Reopening Phase 3

Putnam County restaurants are set to offer indoor dining, and personal care businesses are preparing to open tomorrow, when the county is expected to enter Phase 3 of the New York reopening schedule.  In addition to County Executive MaryEllen Odell, the county Legislature and the Department of Health, the reopen team includes several local business agencies.  The Putnam County Economic Development Corporation's new Small Business Advisory Committee offers a forum for small business owners to share concerns and ideas. Phase 3 includes reopening for nail salons, tattoo parlors and other personal care businesses, in addition to indoor dining for food service establishments.  Indoor restaurant seating will have maximum occupancy of 50 percent, not including staff, and tables placed six feet apart.

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Conn. Siting Council to hold hearing on proposed cell tower in Kent

A public hearing will be held by the Connecticut Siting Council next month on a proposed cell tower in Kent. Homeland Towers and AT&T want to construct a 150 to 175-foot cell tower at one of two locations.  The application is for either a 6.8 acre property on Richards Road or a nearly 2-acre parcel on Bald Hill Road. 

The virtual public hearing on July 23rd is about the Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need.  Some residents say improved coverage is needed, while others argue the rural aesthetic should be maintained. 

The Zoom evidentiary session is at 2pm with applicants and intervenors cross-examining positions.  At 6:30, an overview presentation will be made, and followed by public comment.  People wanting to enter comments into the record must sign up by July 16th.  Those attending the hearing via computer, smartphone or tablet must send an email to siting.council@ct.gov with their name, email address and mailing address.  Audio-only participants must leave a voicemail message at 860-827-2935 with the same info. 

The hearing can be accessed via computer, tablet or smartphone https://zoom.us/j/98239942005?pwd=ektScjhxZ0RMaFVvK2NHMzVBdWwydz09#success. People may also join the meeting via phone by dialing 1-929-205-6099, then entering meeting ID No. 982-3994-2005.

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Lynn Deming Park reopens for swimming, recreational opportunities

New Milford will we be opening Lynn Deming Park for swimming and other recreational opportunities today. The park will have reduced capacity due to social distancing guidelines.  It will be open to New Milford residents only, on a first come first serve basis.  Picnic tables will be locked up.  Beach goers must be 15 feet from the next set of beach goers.  Lifeguards will be checking social distancing compliance. 

Instead of the traditional restroom facilities, only port-o-potties will be available.  Mayor Pete Bass says that's due to sanitization requirements.  He says the town does not have the staff available to clean bathrooms after every use.  As the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has done at coastal beaches, port-o-potties were installed and are sanitized by the company.

New Milford invested in security measures a few years ago, which Bass says will help track the number of people in the park.  The Park Ranger, a security team and Parks and Rec staff will make sure all rules are being followed.

Lynn Deming will also have reduced hours.  If there's a spike in COVID-related confirmed cases or   hospitalizations, Bass says he will have the ability to change or close the park. 

Playgrounds will also be opened, with youth sports eligible to use the facilities.  Guidance will be send to youth sports groups.

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Putnam County to help connect families to childcare

As Putnam County residents begin to go back to work, some are worried about the availability of child care.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says several daycare centers and family daycare providers are open and have slots are available.  She says the Dutchess/Putnam Child Care Council can help connect parents with providers

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Newtown Police to hire entry level officer

The Newtown Police Department is looking to hire an entry level officer.  Those interested must submit their application by July 13th.  The position pays $57,600.  Applicants must have a high school diploma or a GED and a driver's license, and be at least 21 and a U-S citizen.  Applicants can not have a felony, domestic violence, A misdemeanor or B misdemeanor criminal conviction.

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Beach area opens for Wilton residents only

Merwin Meadows opens today for Wilton residents only. No more than 100 residents are allowed in the community park, which features a swimming pond and beach. Monitors will be at the park from 9am to 5pm to ensure compliance with the capacity limit, the residency requirement and social distancing.  The is no fee to use the park, but a resident park pass will be required and can be obtained via the Wilton Parks & Recreation e-Trak online registration system. Due to the pandemic there will not be lifeguards on duty.  Swimming will be at a visitor's own risk, but Wilton officials are discouraging residents from using the pond for swimming.  

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Racial slurs entered in chat section of Bethel High School commencement livestream

The livestream of the Bethel High School graduation ceremony last night was taken down after someone typed racial slurs in the chat feature.  School Superintendent Christine Carver and High School Principal Chris Troetti sent a letter to parents expressing their anger, frustration and sadness over the incident.  They say the decision was made to stop the live stream in an effort to not give the individual a platform for hate.  Bethel School officials have contacted the Police Department to assist in identifying the individual responsible for the hate crime.  Part of the letter addressed graduates directly, with the pair saying that they are extremely proud of their accomplishments.  A video of the event will be made available for graduates and their families in the coming days.  Carver and Troetti says they will keep the community updated on progress of the investigation.

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Rallies scheduled in Danbury, Brookfield this weekend

Today on Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States.  The Danbury NAACP will be holding a rally tomorrow celebrating freedom.  The event is at noon at Rogers Park, in the area of the rose garden.  Participants are asked to wear face coverings.  There will be a voter registration booth, census forms will be available and there will also be information about intimate partner violence.

A rally is being held tomorrow afternoon in Brookfield to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement.  The “Say Their Names” rally is being billed as peaceful and educational.  It will be at the municipal center at 4pm.  Attendees are required to wear face coverings. Organizers say snacks, water and masks will be provided.

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New Milford Parks and Rec Department to host Drive In Movie Night

The New Milford Parks and Rec Department is hosting a Drive In Movie Night.  The June 27th event is limited to the first 50 families to register and costs $25 per vehicle.  Cars will be allowed into the John Pettibone Community Center lot closest to Route 7 starting at 8pm.  The movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, will begin at 8:30.  Registrations will be accepted through noon on June 26th. Participants are asked to wear a mask when walking to the bathroom and are unable to socially distance from others.  All trucks must park in the rear of the parking lot. Anyone opening the trunk/hatchback must also park in the rear of the parking lot.

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Limited services could resume at Danbury DMV soon

Some services could return to the Danbury branch of the DMV by next week.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the Lee Mac Avenue site will open Tuesday, but only for driver tests.  DMV officials say there's a 4 week backlog of processing registrations and emissions tests.  People can register new vehicles through the mail or drop boxes at the Cheshire or Wethersfield offices.  4 branches will be opened next week for knowledge testing. 

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Bethel Fire Department ladder truck briefly back in service before sent off for repairs

An aerial ladder truck that was out of service for several months in Bethel came back into service for a few days before it was sent off for an overhaul.  When a ladder truck is needed on a call, mutual aid is requested from surrounding towns. 

The Bethel Fire Department had the hydraulic fluid replaced and one of the big safety issues was resolved.  This came days before the Bethel Fire Apparatus Committee met to recommend the firetruck be sent to the manufacturer for repairs.  Fire Chief Scott Murphy previously said the parts are difficult to replace due to the age of the 42-year old truck.

Committee Chairman Richard Thode questioned the timing while recapping the timeline.  The truck passed ladder inspection in August, was removed from service in September and then the fire company made a recommendation for a more than $1.5 million emergency certification for a new truck.

An inspection was done earlier this Spring on the truck, which was taken out of service because the ladder wouldn't extend.  A hydraulic leak at the swivel was found.  If it's at the bottom, Thode says it's an easier repair than if it's at the top.  In that case, the whole tower would have to be removed. 

Thode says Shipman would charge $150 an hour to do the hydraulic repairs and address the power steering situation.  He added that Shipman will then update the town on costs to date, and move on to other needed repairs.  Those include frayed seatbelts, a missing visor and the auto eject not working, things Thode says happen over time.

While any repair won't guarantee another 20 years of life for the truck, it would get it back in service.  The 2013 Holdsworth study determined that the Bethel Fire Department's current truck should be replaced with a completely new truck by 2020.  The Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department does not have a ladder truck, but officials say will need one in the near future due to growth in that section of town.

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Local proclamation issued in recognition of Juneteenth

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker has issued a proclamation in recognition of Juneteenth.  The anniversary is the oldest known public celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.  The proclamation says the work is not done and called on everyone to rededicate themselves to the pursuit of justice, equality and opportunity for all, as set forth in the nation's founding documents.  Juneteenth came about after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st 1863, and General Lee surrendered in April 1865.  News of the surrender finally reached Texas on June 19th 1865.

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Eversource conducting aerial surveys of high-voltage lines today

Eversource will be conducting aerial surveys of high-voltage lines in southwest Connecticut today.  This is part of an ongoing effort to strengthen the power grid and increase reliability.  The inspection involves the use of a helicopter flying over Eversource’s transmission line corridors to check for any emerging vegetation issues that may threaten electric reliability.  Weather permitting, a blue and white helicopter will be flying in the rights of way in Norwalk, Redding, Westport, Wilton between 9am and 3pm.

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NY makes hand sanitizer, face coverings available to local farms

Cornell Extension offices across the Hudson Valley will be distributing a second round of hand sanitizer and face coverings to help support local farms. Any farm in Putnam County looking for hand sanitizer and/or face coverings are urged to fill out an online request form at https://reg.cce.cornell.edu/FarmAgHandSanitizer_237. CCE Putnam will be distributing products from the Brewster office and will contact organizations with pick-up times.  The products will be provided free of charge, as New York State Ag and Markets continue to provide the supplies. Putnam County Cornell Cooperative Extension enables people to improve their lives and communities by bringing local experience and researched-based solutions together.  The programs are funded through grants and contracts and provide the latest research-based information from scientists at Cornell University.

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Regional planning agency studying shared animal control facilities, services

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments, the regional planning agency for 18 municipalities from Sherman down to Stamford, is studying the potential for improvements or sharing of animal control facilities and services.  A pre-bid meeting was held last week about implementing a plan to accommodate trends in local and regional animal control.  The submission period ended June 15.  WestCOG officials say like many public services, animal control is having to find ways to do more with the same, if not less.  Officials say sharing of services, combined with advanced technology, may result in cost savings and economies of scale.  The proposed project will consider a range of ownership, governance, operations and financial models.  Bidders were asked to create shortlist of realistic improvement scenarios. 

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Bethel students can use Danbury summer meal distribution program

Bethel Public Schools, like others in the area, run out of funding for the free and reduced price meals program at the end of the month.  The federally-funded summer meal distribution program in Danbury is open to any Bethel family with school aged children, including siblings under the age of 18.  The last day of the Bethel Public Schools Food Service Meals Distribution Program will be Monday, June 29th, with two meals served.=

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New Fairfield Library to reopen tomorrow

New Fairfield Library is planning to reopen June 20th. The library will have several safety precautions in place including plexiglas shields at the desks, continued quarantining of returned materials and regular cleaning of equipment.  Patrons must wear face masks and follow social distancing guidelines.  The New Fairfield Library will open with limited hours on Mondays through Thursday and on Saturday from 10am to 1pm.  There will be evening hours Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4pm to 7pm.  Computer use will be limited to 45 minutes and the number of computers available is reduced.  Patrons are asked to call to reserve a time to use a computer. All programs will continue to be virtual.

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Local lawmaker looks into worker's comp claim regulations amid COVID-19 pandemic

Three Connecticut essential workers testified during a virtual hearing yesterday of the legislature’s Labor and Insurance committees about worker's compensation and COVID-19.  Labor committee co-chair Danbury Senator Julie Kushner says lawmakers should look holistically at the situation and opt for a solution that will help these workers who are in dire need as soon as possible.  According to the state Workers’ Compensation Commission, only 29 of the 739 employees who have filed have won hearing requests.  The rest were denied and not appealed.  Governor Ned Lamont believes the current workers’ compensation process is sufficient to determine if there's a presumption of a COVID-19 diagnosis being work-related.  But Lamont says the state should be generous with its consideration.

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Help available for people who thought stimulus payments were junk mail

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says her office has received calls from constituents who have mistaken stimulus payments for junk mail.  Anyone who accidently discarded or lost the payment, or suspects it was stolen, is urged to call the government's toll free hotline at 1-800-240-8100.  Some of the 12-hundred dollar stimulus funds are being made via prepaid debit card, sent in an unmarked envelope.  According to the IRS, nearly four million people are being sent their Economic Impact Payment by prepaid debit card, instead of paper check.  Stimulus payments via debit card will arrive in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.” The Visa name will appear on the front of the Card; the back of the Card has the name of the issuing bank, MetaBank, N.A. More information can be found online at EIPcard.com.

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New regulations changed for access to Topstone Park

Topstone Park opened this week for Redding residents to swim, but changes are already being made to new regulations. The plan requires residents to make advanced email reservations to avoid being turned away at the gate.  Redding residents can now reserve up to 8 people in group, rather than 5, and make up to 3 reservations, rather than 2.  Residents will now be allowed to reserve 2 weekend days, but on separate weekends.  The plan will reduce capacity and allow for social distancing while keeping the Park open for residents.  This weekend, Redding has over 50 requests for use of the beach.

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Senate passes Great American Outdoors Act

Senator Chris Murphy is touting Senate passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. The bipartisan legislation fully and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund to ensure protection of and access to public lands. The legislation now heads to the House. 

It has funded over $60 million in conservation projects across the state since the program was created in 1965. As the threats from climate change become more severe, Murphy says providing permanent funding for LWCF will help Connecticut mitigate and adapt to those shifts. In addition, with aging park facilities and decreased visitation revenue, this bill will help address the deferred maintenance backlog of $2.3 million at Connecticut's National Park sites. 

The fund provides cost-sharing grants to help support timber sector jobs and sustainable forest operations in working forests like the Skiff Mountain in Kent and Great Mountain Forest in Norfolk.  More than $12 million in federal funding through the program has been invested in Connecticut’s forests while furthering conservation goals. 

The outdoor recreation sector is an important component of Connecticut’s economy, contributing $9 billion in consumer spending each year, supporting nearly 70,000 jobs generating $2.9 billion in wages and salaries, and adding $734 million in state and local tax revenues, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

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Bethel High School drive-in graduation ceremony tonight

Bethel High School is hosting a drive-in graduation ceremony tonight.  Residents are being alerted the Judd Avenue will be closed from 6:30pm to 8pm.  Heavy traffic is expected on Plumtrees and Whittlesey, leading to the school complex.  There ceremony will take place from 7:30 to 9pm on the lawn in front of the high school, on the Judd Avenue side.  Police will be out directing traffic.  All exiting traffic will leave from the corner of Judd and Whittlesey.

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New Milford Board of Ed makes cuts to fit in budget guidelines

The New Milford Board of Education has made about $1 million in cuts to fit the budget to the number approved by the New Milford Town Council.  The cuts were made to a range of areas, but the most significant reduction came to the cost of health insurance, due to unexpected savings.  The three vacant paraeducator positions and one retiring secretary will not be replaced.  A library clerk, a practical arts teacher and materials, a district courier, a lab assistant and strategic planning were cut.  A hold for out-of-district special education placement was removed. Due to uncertainty of sports returning, the Board approved cutting a combined $32,000 from athletic transportation and $46,800 from athletic and activity stipends.

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Medical marijuana dispensary approved as special exception use in Danbury retail zones

The medical marijuana dispensary run by D&B Wellness in Bethel could soon be relocating to Danbury. The City's Planning and Zoning Commissions have signed off on amendment to regulations that would allow a medical marijuana dispensary as a special exception in two commercial zones that allow retail activity. 

The amendment specifically excludes the sale of recreational marijuana within medical marijuana dispensaries in order to limit exposure and consequences for this potential new legalized use. 

The Danbury commissions found that the amendment allowing only two medical marijuana dispensaries in Danbury, coupled with the increasing needs of area residents to obtain medical marijuana products to manage debilitating illnesses and conditions, is consistent with the Plan of Conservation & Development as it provides for a revision of the land use regulations to accommodate growth without diminishing the quality of life of the City.

The amendment also limits the number of dispensaries in Danbury to two.  The approval process includes the vetting of proposed sites in a public hearing before the Planning Commission.  D&B Wellness would next need to go before the Planning Commission for a special permit once a location has been identified.

There are 17 licensed dispensaries in Connecticut, including three in Fairfield County, providing medical marijuana to 41,110 registered patients. 9,106 registered patients are from Fairfield County.

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Congressional delegation blasts DOE transgender ruling

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A group of Congressional Democrats is condemning a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Education that threatens to withhold federal funds over a Connecticut policy allowing transgender girls to compete against non-transgender girls in high school sports.

The group of 28 lawmakers sent a letter Wednesday to Kenneth Marcus, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, questioning the motives and legal reasoning behind the May decision that found Connecticut’s policy is a violation of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that guarantees equal education opportunities for women.

“Title IX was never meant to be used as a tool to threaten schools into discriminatory practices in order to preserve critically needed federal funds,” said Connecticut U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, a former national teacher of the year.

The Office for Civil Rights ruled the Connecticut policy, which allows athletes to participate as the gender with which they identity, 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.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has said that he is not willing to lose federal funds over the policy and is looking at Olympic and NCAA policies for guidance. Both of those groups require some level of hormone therapy before transgender people are allowed to compete.

But state Attorney General William Tong said Wednesday that Connecticut’s current policy reflects a state law that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.

“The law clearly demands that transgender girls be protected from discrimination in athletics and elsewhere,” he said in a statement.

The civil rights office said it will “either initiate administrative proceedings to suspend, terminate, or refuse to grant or continue and defer financial assistance” to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs high school athletics and the six school districts named in the complaint, including Danbury, or refer the cases to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

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

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

The Congressional letter, which was signed six of the seven members of the Connecticut delegation and 22 other congressional Democrats, questions notes that cisgender girls have beaten one of those transgender athletes in 10 different races.

Among other things, the members of Congress have demanded to know why the Department of Education is apparently violating its own policy by not deferring the federal court case.

They have asked for a response by July 1.

An email seeking comment was sent to U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, the only member of the Connecticut’s all-Democrat delegation who did not sign the letter.

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DOT bumps up weekend closure of Route 133 bridge

The state Department of Transportation has announced a minor change in the Route 133 bridge closure happening this weekend.  The road connecting Bridgewater and Brookfield over the Housatonic River was supposed to be closed to traffic starting at 10pm Friday, but that's been moved up.  The detour will start at 8 o'clock Friday night and last through 5am on Monday morning.  A second closure date has been set for 10pm on June 26th through 5am on the 28th.  The $9.86 million bridge rehabilitation project is scheduled to be completed by July 10th.  The 851-foot bridge was built in 1955, and determined to be deficient in 2015.  Traffic may be detoured to Route 67, Route 7/U.S. 202 and Route 25 during the closures.

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UV-C germicidal irradiation lamps added to both Bethel Ambulances

Bethel Fire & EMS is adopting some new procedures in light of the the current health crisis.  Officials say they recognize that in Emergency Medical Services, there may be a risk of preventable transmission of harmful pathogens to either patients or crew members. They are taking additional steps to protect patients, members, and staff. On top of what officials say is meticulous cleaning with disinfectants, they have integrated UV-C germicidal irradiation lamps to both of Bethel Ambulances. They say the units came at a significant cost, but did not specify a price tag, calling them invaluable.

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Brookfield Health officials ask for cooperation with contact tracers

The Brookfield Department of Health has a team of volunteer health professionals who will be conducting COVID-19 contact tracing over the next several weeks.  Contact tracing will help limit the spread of coronavirus by identifying people who may have been exposed to the disease and have them quarantine away from others.  Contact tracing has been used to successfully track TB and measles.  Town officials are asking that anyone testing positive and is contacted by a Brookfield Health Department phone number to cooperate in responding.  The volunteers can then contact prospective contacts with advice about protecting themselves and others.  All information is kept confidential. 

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Bethel Parks and Recreation Department reopen some facilities

Bethel Parks and Recreation Department says many outdoor facilities are now open.  Athletic fields, tennis courts and the dog park reopened yesterday.  Department officials say residents are still required to socially distance at the facilities.  Playgrounds are set to open June 24th.  The pavilion at Meckauer Park is available to rent for up to 40 people.  The pavilion at Bennett Park may be rented for up to 100 people.  Parks and Rec in Bethel continues to hold virtual events, but tennis clinics at the school complex courts begin July 14th.  Sign-ups begin June 24th.  Plans are underway for in-person basketball, tennis and other camps in August.

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Bernie Williams, Boehringer-Ingelheim launch 'Breathless Ballad Challenge'

RIDGEFIELD, Conn., June 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- New York Yankees all-time great and Latin Grammy-nominee Bernie Williams is raising awareness of the disease that took his dad's life - idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), through the launch of the Breathless Ballad Challenge.

Growing up, Bernie would fall asleep to the sound of his father strumming his guitar until he worked up the courage to ask him for a lesson. After that, music became a passion they shared that brought them closer together.

After years of suffering from the rare and serious lung disease IPF, Bernabé Williams passed away in 2001. It was a devastating reality. Bernie's dad was his hero - on the stage, on the field and in life.

Bernie wrote the instrumental song, "Para Don Berna" to honor his father's memory and is asking everyone to join him in developing the song further by submitting lyrics to his musical tribute.

Use the form on www.BreathlessBallad.com to submit original lyrics to accompany Bernie Williams' instrumental song, "Para Don Berna." The lyrics must be inspired by a hero in your life or someone for whom you are grateful. Following your written lyric submission, you will receive an email confirmation outlining the opportunity to submit a video of you or someone you know singing your lyrics with Bernie's track. All submissions will be judged based on the lyrics, not the video performance.

This initiative is part of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Breathless campaign, a national effort to educate and empower others who think they may have IPF - the most common form of interstitial lung disease (ILD) that causes permanent scarring of the lungs - to seek early diagnosis and treatment and offer hope to patients and families affected by this disease. ILDs encompass more than 200 disorders and can lead to pulmonary fibrosis - an irreversible scarring of lung tissue that negatively impacts lung function. Chronic fibrosing ILDs in which lung fibrosis continues to worsen are estimated to occur in 18 to 32 percent of patients with ILDs.

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ACE holds graduation ceremony

21 students, including four who received their diplomas earlier in the year, have graduated from Danbury’s Alternative Center for Excellence.  Principal John Webber and ACE staff created a drive-in ceremony in the school’s parking lot on Locust Avenue.  Students not only wore caps and gowns, but also face coverings and were socially distanced.  The school’s Social Worker led the event which was live-streamed and recorded on YouTube. Webber expressed optimism for the future of our graduates in this extraordinary time of change and added that the graduates give hope and he challenged them to be agents of change. As is traditionally part of the ceremony, each graduate delivers a speech including their reflections, aspirations, and gratitude.

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Danbury Mayor gets COVID-19 test results back

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has tested negative for coronavirus.  He was tested last week with a nasal swab.  Boughton also had blood drawn for an antibody test.  That test also came back negative.  

Boughton says he and Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour went to get tested as a precaution because they attended a number of protest rallies and were around a lot of people.

Governor Ned Lamont was in Danbury a couple of days ago and joked about Boughton's reaction to getting the nasal swab test.  Lamont has been encouraging everybody to get tested and quipped that the video was not helping his cause in any way.

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Brookfield's Marine 25 responds to report of swimmer in distress on Candlewood

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company says this boating season is starting off as a busy one.  Both Brookfield fire companies were dispatched yesterday afternoon on a report of swimmer in distress between the Candlewood Shores and Pine Island. Marine 25 responded with a crew of five, one being a Brookfield Paramedic.  People still on-board the boat were able to help the swimmer from the water.  Marine 25 made contact with the vessel and victim, ensuring that he did not need medical attention. All units were in service shortly after.

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Newtown Police investigating shoplifting incident at CVS

Newtown Police are investigating a shoplifting incident that happened at CVS Pharmacy on Queen Street.  Police say two black males went into the store in the late afternoon of My 27th.  Both had face masks on.  One was wearing a light-colored T-shirt and the other a dark-colored shirt and hat.  Anyone with information is asked to call Newtown Police at 203-426-5841.

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$45 million career academy for Danbury middle, high school students proposed

A $45 million career academy for Danbury middle and high school students could be coming to the former Matrix building. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the academy would address the surge in enrollment, while also filling a 1.2 million-square-foot vacant building. Initial plans call for about 40 classrooms for 1,100 students. 

Boughton says design requirements will be given to an architect and construction company, and the City will then buy back the portion of the building intended as the career academy.   Developers plan to have businesses and 400 apartments at the former Union Carbide world headquarters as well.  The Summit developers promised to pay $13 million over 15 years to cover the cost of any additional students the apartments could bring to the city.

Details were discussed Monday during the Vision 2020 Task Force meeting.  The group is developing plans to deal with overcrowding in the schools.  There would still be athletics and other activities, but also externships, internships and other training opportunities.   A shuttle bus would be provided. 

The student population projected to increase by as much as 7 percent over the next 10 years.

The Danbury City Council voted earlier this year on funding to create a 7-classroom annex for Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School, while 10 new preschool classrooms are expected to be ready this fall.  Danbury is applying for state reimbursement on eligible portions of those two projects.  Boughton is working with the legislature to approve a change to allow reimbursement on the so-called “design-build” method, which is unique from any other school project the state has granted reimbursement for, so far. 

State officials are visiting the building tomorrow.  The City Council will also need to sign off on approval, likely in August, in order to get the project on the November ballot. 

Similar to the way the Westside Academy came online, a class of 120 sixth-graders would attend the school the first year, with new grades being added each year. 

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RI man arrested for shooting death of New Milford man in August

An arrest has been made in a shooting death in New Milford in August.  State Police say 47-year old Hector Diaz-Negron of Rhode Island was charged with manslaughter, criminal possession of a firearm and unlawful discharge of a firearm. 

The arrest warrant released last night says New Milford Police got a 911 call on August 10th from an hysterical man, later identified as Diaz-Negron, who reported that his friend “had been accidentally shot” at a Kent Road home.  He told the dispatcher that 43-year old Robert Cerrato was showing him a gun “and it went off.” 

The victim was pronounced dead at the hospital.  Cerrato’s cause of death was a gunshot wound of chest and the manner was ruled a homicide. 

The warrant said Diaz-Negron told police he thought the magazine was removed, was handing the gun back to the victim and it discharged striking the victim.  The warrant says the safety manual that comes with the 9mm includes many levels of safety to prevent accidental discharges.  The loaded chamber indicator is at the top of the firearm and can be easily seen and felt.  

Cerrato did not have a valid pistol permit and did not have any firearms registered, though several guns were seized from the New Milford home.  Police say three of the firearms were registered to the victim's step-father and step-brother.

Diaz-Negron’s criminal history included arrests in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

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Local lawmaker hosts town hall event with Chamber, DECD leaders

Connecticut industries under Phase 2 of reopening are getting set to be back in business today.  But some are taking a cautious approach and more time to reopen their doors.  Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner is hosting a Facebook Live Town Hall on Thursday with state Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman and Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce President PJ Prunty.  They'll be explaining how businesses are preparing to keep shelves stocked and customers safe.  Kushner encouraged anyone with questions about the next phase of reopening to participate Thursday at 6pm.

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No infected residents tested in Ridgefield during townwide sampling on Saturday

165 Ridgefield residents turned out for a townwide COVID-19 testing event on Saturday.  Of the tests given at the Parks and Rec Center, there were no positive test results returned.  Of the 710 people who participated in the 3 townwide testing programs, only 6 have tested positive.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says social distancing and awareness, wearing face coverings and practicing all the guidelines is contributing to keeping the numbers down.  He urged everyone to continue doing what they are doing.  Only businesses and services normally inspected by the Ridgefield Health Department should be calling the department with questions.  For other questions or additional assistance, residents and businesses can contact the Reopen Ridgefield Hotline at 203-431-2718.

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Sandy Hook families suing Remington can question executives under oath

A judge has permitted the Sandy Hook families suing Remington to question the gunmaker’s executives under oath.  The families have filed a wrongful death lawsuit charging Remington with violating Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.  The lawyers can question the gunmaker about internal organization and procedures, which Remington considers invasive and improper.  Remington sought a motion for protective order to preclude the deposition.  The trial is set for 2021.  Remington has maintained in court filings for the last six years that the company’s AR-15-style rifle was not responsible for the deaths of 20 children and 6 educators in 2012. The families argue that Remington’s AR-15 marketing was unscrupulous and reckless.

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Newtown Legislative Council approves extending tax payment grace period

The Newtown Legislative Council has approved extending the current 30 day tax payment grace period ending on August 3rd to October 1st, for a total of 90 days.  This applies to taxes on real property, personal property or motor vehicles, or municipal water and sewer charges or assessments for such tax charge, or assessment from the time that it became due and payable. The grace period for sewer charges, due June 1st, will be 90 days extended to September 1st.  Eligible taxpayers are those that suffered a reduction in income of at least 20% by COVID-19.  Those taxpayers should contact the Newtown Tax Office before July 1st with name, address, and bill numbers.

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Danbury school officials seek parent feedback on reentry plans

A virtual listening forum for Danbury Public School families will be held next Monday night.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella will lead the forum for parents and families, to ask questions and voice concerns regarding the school system and students’ education.  Pascarella is expected to ask participants about the greatest challenges and concerns parents and students when classes resume in August, and how the district can best support families for an effective return.  He will also be taking recommendations for the return plan.  The virtual forum Monday night is at 6pm.

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Free, virtual suicide prevention training and certification programs offered

New Fairfield officials are reminding residents that every Friday in June there are free suicide prevention training and certification programs being offered virtually.  They are sponsored by Question, Persuade, Refer--an evidence-based suicide prevention program that teaches three steps anyone can take to save a life.  Registration is required and will be capped at 15 participants per session. One session qualifies for certification. Supplemental resources will be sent out via email a couple of days before the training.

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Wilton opens more recreational space for residents

As of tomorrow, all Wilton playing fields, including the Stadium track, will be open for non-team play.  The Town will not provide benches, goals or nets. Bleachers and dugouts remain closed.  The Wilton High School Route 7 tennis courts will be open for walk-on, non-team play.  Current reservations will be honored through June 21st.   As of July 6th, all Wilton basketball courts will be open for non-team play. Playgrounds remain closed.  As of June 20th, Merwin Meadows in Wilton will be open to residents only, at no cost.  There will be no lifeguards.  Lifeguarding can require mouth to mouth contact and other close contact, which can spread the COVID-19 virus and create a health risk to the individuals involved and the Wilton Community at large.  There will not be access to the bathhouse, Pavilion, benches, picnic tables, grills, and playground.  A face covering will be required if people can’t maintain 6-feet of distance from others.

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Gov. Lamont visits Danbury to discuss economy, pandemic

As more industries get set to go back to work tomorrow, state and local officials are keeping an eye on those that have been open for a few weeks now.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton was joined for lunch yesterday by Governor Ned Lamont.  They stopped by at least one restaurant on Mill Plain Road.  Lamont, Boughton and members of the Danbury state legislative delegation then met at the former Scholastic building, where it was recently announced that Amazon would be creating a distribution warehouse.  The delivery giant is not getting state or local incentives to bring up to 500 jobs to the City. 

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Danbury Schools participating in federally funded Summer Food Service Program

The Danbury Public School District is participating in the federally funded Summer Food Service Program.  Nutritious meals are provided free of charge to children 18 years and under at several sites.  Breakfast and lunch will be provided for pick up only between 10am and 11:30 on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays.  Due to the Independence Day holiday being marked on Friday July 3rd, meals will instead be served on Thursday July 2nd that week.  The meal sites are Mill Ridge Primary, Ellsworth Avenue School, Rogers Park Middle, Shelter Rock School, Stadley Rough School, Park Avenue School and Morris Street School.

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DHS posts graduation ceremony to Youtube

Greater Danbury area school leaders have found creative ways to make commencement ceremonies personalized and meaningful for students and families, despite restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.  Danbury High School spread events out over several days due to the size of the senior class.  Mayor Mark Boughton says everything went safely and smoothly.

Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella thanked everyone for working together to support students and families.  He says they've all learned to be flexible in these difficult times and although it has been challenging, believes Danbury has grown as a community. 

An hour and a half ceremony has been posted on the DHS YouTube page and includes speeches and all of the graduates receiving their diplomas.

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New Milford Police identify two Bronx men drowned in the Housatonic River

New Milford Police have identified the two Bronx men who drowned in the Housatonic River last week.  Police say 21-year old Alexander Osoria-Paredes and 24-year old Luis Hernandez-Cuello were swimming with friends and family Wednesday near the Bull’s Bridge power plant when they were swept away.  There is a strong current in the section of river by the Kent line.  Osoria-Paredes was found Friday and Hernandez-Cuello was found Saturday.  The  Chief Medical Examiner will conduct autopsies to determine the official cause of death.  New Milford Police say the circumstances surrounding the incident aren’t suspicious at this time.

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Ridgefield CERT wants residents to prepare for natural disasters differently because of pandemic

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association is predicting an active hurricane season this year.  The Ridgefield Community Emergency Response Team says the way residents need to prepare is different because of the ongoing pandemic.  The Ridgefield Office of Emergency Management recommends having a preparedness plan, which should include replacing supplies depleted due to COVID-19 response.  Due to the pandemic, Regional Red Cross Shelters, of which Ridgefield is one, will not be able to handle the normal amount of people who might need sheltering. Residents should plan to be self-sufficient and shelter in place for the first 72 to 96 hours.  If there is a need to evacuate because of a weather emergency, Ridgefield officials say a go-bag should now also include hand sanitizer, mask, gloves, and toilet paper. A photo record on a cellphone should include important documents like drivers license, insurance, prescription, passport, deeds and the like.

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Public swim areas in Putnam County set to reopen

While drowning remains a risk in any body of water, people in Putnam County and elsewhere now also have to contend with coronavirus.  But public pools are set to reopen, with New York State-issued guidance regarding distancing, masks and enhanced cleaning.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says pool operators are submitting individual plans describing how they will uphold social distancing and mask-wearing practices, and what measures for cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces will be in place.  Six feet of separation will be required between groups of patrons at pools and beaches, and each group will be limited to ten individuals from a household or family unit. Masks should not be worn in the water, but distancing should be maintained there. On the pool deck or beach, masks must be worn if six feet of distance is not possible between one group and another.

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Southbury Police investigating thefts from cars, other crimes

Southbury Police are investigating a series of thefts from cars and other crimes.  Police say 3 people dressed in black hoodies entered cars in the Walnut Brook Lane around 3am Friday.  Southbury Police say the suspects were driving a red Jeep Cherokee and a dark-colored Acura RDX.   The Acura was reported stolen from a home in the area and later seen speeding down Main Street North.  State Police say the driver struck a guardrail on I-84 and fled on foot.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Southbury Police.  Residents are being reminded to lock cars and night and not leave valuables in plain sight. 

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New regulations in place for Topstone Park in Redding

New regulations are in place for Topstone Park in Redding.  Starting tomorrow, residents will have to reserve a time by email and walk-ins will not be allowed.  Only 40 people will be allowed at Topstone in order to reduce capacity to allow for social distancing.  Residents can reserve up to three hours at a time for up to two dates, but the dates can’t be consecutive and only one can be on a weekend.  Beachgoers must be at least 18 years old unless accompanied by an adult and wear a mask when entering and using shared facilities.  Seasonal passes are not for sale, boats and chairs won't be put out.  The daily fee of $5 per person can be paid at the gate.  Reservations must be received by 3pm the day before.  If there's capacity, non-Redding residents can reserve spots beginning on July 1st and pay the $15 fee at the gate. Birthday parties and camping won’t be allowed this year. topstonereservations@townofreddingct.org

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Minor injury reported in weekend basement fire in Bethel

A minor injury was reported in a weekend basement fire in Bethel. Stony Hill and Bethel firefighters responded to a multi-family home on Elizabeth Street shortly after midnight on Saturday.  While the flames were extinguished quickly, firefighters remained on scene for an extended period of time overhauling and ventilating the house. One responder was transported to Danbury Hospital with a minor hand injury and was quickly released.  The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Bethel Fire Marshal's office.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company provided station coverage while members operated on scene.

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Milling, paving set to start on Route 6 in Danbury, Bethel and Newtown

A paving project is set to get underway on Route 6 in Danbury, Bethel and Newtown.  The state Department of Transportation will be milling the road and then repaving starting tomorrow night.  The milling work will be done 7pm to 5am Sundays through Thursdays until June 25th.  The repaving will be done July 9th through 21st.  The Newtown section of Route 6 runs from the Bethel town line to the flagpole and continuing, except for the newer sections, to the I-84 Exit 10 bridge. Motorists can expect delays and one-way alternating traffic. Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will be utilized to guide drivers through the work zones, when active.

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Danbury Public Schools to hold conversation about racism

Danbury Public School parents are being called on to attend a community conversation about racism.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says the District has partnered with Danbury Works and NYU for this event.  Natalie Zwerger will lead a conversation on June 18th on being proactive in Danbury to Disrupt and Dismantle Racism. You can access the meeting https://zoom/us/j/96726220396.

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Annual Government of Ridgefield Against Drunk Driving flag raising ceremony held

Although COVID-19 limited the number of attendees, the annual Government of Ridgefield Against Drunk Driving Flag Raising Ceremony was still held.  This weekend marked the 33rd year of the GRADD program.  The cooperative effort between the police department, students, faculty, town government and resident has a goal of ensuing a safe and sober graduation period for students.  The community partners work to bring awareness and prevention of underage drinking and of drug use.  In support of the graduating class, police officers wear ribbons on their uniforms, class colors are flown on the flag pole at town hall, and ribbons are tied to the antennae of the patrol units.

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Sens. seek explanation for BOP response to spread of COVID-19 at FCI Danbury

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy are following up with Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal in seeking an explanation for the BOP response to the spread of COVID-19 at FCI Danbury. The letter follows a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where the Director didn't have specific information about Danbury.

As of June 5th, 98 inmates and 61 staff members at FCI Danbury have tested positive and one inmate has died.  The courts ordered inmates eligible to be released to home confinement be transferred, but have not been moved. 

The Senators say serving time or working inside a prison should not be a sentence to sickness or death.  They called for answers about whether the BOP is taking appropriate measures to protect inmates and correctional officers from COVID-19.

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Danbury School District seeks input on re-entry plans

In conjunction with the anticipated guidance from the State Department of Education, the Danbury Public School District has scheduled a Virtual Community Forum.  The event on June 22 at 6pm is for parents to share thoughts and ideas to help inform the re-entry plan. A link to the meeting will be made available on the district website soon.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says they will also be sending out the 2020 Teacher of the Year survey.  People can nominate a staff member from Danbury Public Schools to celebrate outstanding educators who are experts in their craft.  The nominees should demonstrate accelerated growth for all students, and leadership beyond the classroom by partnering with colleagues, students, families and communities to support innovation in teaching and learning.

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UPDATED: Rescue crews recover bodies of two men from Housatonic River

The bodies of two Bronx men who went missing in the Housatonic River in New Milford have been recovered.  After four days of searching, rescue crews were able to recover the bodies of the 21 and 24 year olds who were last seen in the water near Bulls Bridge and the Kent line.  Police have not yet released the names of the victims, who were swept away on Wednesday afternoon.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass has previously said that the current in that part of the river is dangerous, even for the most proficient swimmer.

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Seymour woman killed while at graduation party in the Bronx

The NYPD says a 19-year-old Seymour woman was killed while attending a graduation party in the Bronx over the weekend.  Police say Tyanna Johnson was shot five times on Friday night when two men exited a silver BMW and opened fire on the crowd.  4 people were struck by bullets.  The others, a 15-16-and-24 year olds, are all in stable condition.  Police say Johnson was caught in the crossfire and not the intended target.

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Brookfield Library selects 'Wizrd of Oz' for One Town, One Read program

Brookfield Library is now offering contact-less curbside pick-up.  The Library is staffed from 10am to 3pm Monday through Friday.  The library also has online story times, book discussions, teen and adult game nights and other virtual events. 

Summer Reading Kick-off is June 22.  One Town, One Read, the town-wide shared reading program asks everyone in town to read the same book.  This is the third consecutive year that Brookfield is participating in this program. 

With the library closed to the public due to COVID-19, they decided to select a title that is in the public domain, where the copyright protection has expired.  Library Director Yvonne Cech says the selection committee chose The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum.   The library is planning COVID-safe enrichment programs and discussions inspired by the themes within the book.  

The kickoff for this year’s program is a Book Giveaway of 200 brand-new copies of The Wizard of Oz.

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WCSU Jane Goodall Center receives grants for Permaculture Garden

West Conn's Jane Goodall Center for Excellence in Environmental Studies recently received grants to support operation of its Permaculture Garden on the Midtown campus. The grants will be used to pay student interns to care for the on-campus garden, as well as for the maintenance and development of the garden itself. 

The summer internship program is designed to teach students about sustainability and permaculture. Among other things, the interns will learn the science and techniques behind permaculture, and will be trained to plant sustainable gardens, pick and plant seeds, understand the benefits of crop rotation, and identify plants correctly to avoid inappropriate weeding.

The three student interns, Charla Beauvais, Holly Pais and Astrid Sundberg, also will be responsible for cultivation of the garden’s crop as well as distributing a portion of the harvest to local food pantries. 

The funding awards include a $3,000 grant from the Fairfield County Community Foundation, $1,300 from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund and $400 from The Women’s Club of Danbury/New Fairfield.

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Ridgefield Parks and Recreation to offer Summer Camp programs

Ridgefield Parks and Recreation has announced that the Department will be offering Summer Camp to residents entering grades 1 through 8.  Space is limited, but there are three options available.  They include a 3-week, a 4-week or a 7-week session Mondays through Fridays 9am to 4pm at the Rec Center in July and August.  Details on prices, safety protocols and required forms can be found on the town's website.  All children will participate in sports, games, arts & crafts, water fun, nature exploration, and team building activities.

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Brookfield Farmers Market will be in new location this year

The Brookfield Farmers Market will have a new location this year.  The Market will open on June 19th.  While it will stay at the Municipal Center campus, the Farmers Market will move to an open space area behind the Senior Center.  Officials note that there is convenient parking and the Committee designed a single flow one-way in and another out. Shoppers will need to wear masks and the vendors will all be social distanced.

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Monroe Police outline use of force guidelines

A lot of questions have come up recently about the duty of officers to intervene when they see a colleague acting out of line. 

Monroe Police officials say the Department general orders demand that an officer take action to prevent a crime from continuing, which includes an assault by another officer. Any Monroe Police officer who observes another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances, if in a position to do so, has the duty to intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force and report their observations to a supervisor.

Police officials say they have long required officers to report every incident where force is used.  An investigation is done to determine if it was necessary, and if the appropriate level of force was used.  Monroe officers have body worn cameras and in-car cameras.

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Deadline to request PPE from Conn. is today

The deadline for eligible essential small businesses, nonprofits and houses of worship to request surgical masks and infrared thermometers will close at 5PM.  Emergency Response teams across the Greater Danbury area note that the link to request PPE is on the state website.  Those with 50 or fewer employees are eligible and urged to fill out the form in order to ensure delivery next week.  Emails are then sent out to the entities with a date, time and location for pickup.

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Danbury School officials investigate racist social media insensitive post

The Danbury Public School district was informed yesterday of a racially insensitive social media post hurtful to students.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says the situation was addressed through critical dialogue and student consequences, though he didn't go into detail about the post or the consequences.  He says there is no place for racist, derogatory, discriminatory, or biased words or actions within the school district.  Pascarella added that they will hold accountable all bystanders and those promoting any inappropriate messages.  He urged parents to have conversations with their children about race, equity, kindness, inclusivity and togetherness.

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Truck fire temporarily closed highway ramp Thursday

A truck fire closed the Interstate 84 exit 5 on ramp eastbound in Danbury yesterday.  The ramp was closed around 3pm.  Flames were seen coming from under the hood of a tractor-trailer hauling cars.  Firefighters were on scene for about two hours.  No injuries were reported.

(Photo: DFD)

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Bethel Selectmen vote to hire attorney in ongoing police firing range leak issue

During the Bethel Board of Selectmen meeting this week, members voted to hire an attorney to represent the town in an ongoing issue at the new police station.  In heavy rain, water seeps through the brick in the firing range and there's disagreement on how to fix it. First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says an independent engineer could be hired.  The warranty on the building will cover the cost to fix the problem.  Officers moved into the new facility in October 2018, but the range was not outfitted with equipment because it wasn't part of the original budget.

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Groundbreaking set for New Milford Library expansion, some services suspended

Demolition and construction of the New Milford Library modernization project is starting later this month.  Curbside pickup and outside book drops have temporarily stopped.  They will not be available through July 6th.  Library staff will be moving books and other items into the old library building starting Monday, through the day of the groundbreaking, which is scheduled for June 26th.  The temporary library will be located in two floors of the 1897 building, with a new side entrance available off Whittlesey Avenue.  The $8.5 million project is being paid for with $! million state grant, $1 million from the library's board of trustees and the balance in borrowing, previously approved by residents.  A second floor will be added to the 1977 addition.  There will be new meeting space, facade and entrance.  The library will then be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

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Person pinned between a car door and a rock wall in Bethel vehicle accident

An accident left a person pinned between a car door and a rock wall in Bethel yesterday afternoon.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company officials say a number of fire, EMT and police responded to the intersection of Rockwell and Plumtrees roads around noon.  The vehicle struck a bridge and was hanging over the creek below. 

(Photo: Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department)

The driver tried to get out of the pickup truck and became stuck between the door and the bridge.  The Jaws of Life eDraulic spreader was used to lift the vehicle off of the patient.  The driver was transported to the Hospital for treatment of injuries.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. 

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Barricaded person in Newtown taken to hospital for evaluation

A barricaded person in Newtown has been taken to the hospital for evaluation.  Newtown Police were called to a Sandy Hook home yesterday afternoon about a person in need of crisis intervention. 

During the investigation by police and medical personnel, the person broke free and engaged in a foot chace.  The person locked themselves in a secured outbuilding.  The combined Danbury Regional Emergency Service Team was called to assist in the safe extraction so the subject could receive medical care. 

About four hours later, Police said the person was transported to the hospital. 

During the situation, Newtown Police Spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde said officers were in full control of the scene while negotiators work with the subject to get help.  He noted that the incident was contained and isolated, and there was no immediate danger to area residents. 

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Conn. man arrested after 6 day manhunt charged with murder

The 23-year-old Newtown High School graduate arrested after a six-day manhunt in connection with two homicides is back in Connecticut State Police custody today. 

Peter Manfredonia was arrested in Maryland, on May 28th.  He was charged with murder, criminal attempt to commit murder, assault, home invasion, kidnapping with a firearm, robbery, larceny, assault on an elderly person, and two counts of stealing a firearm. 

Bond has been set at $5 million.

Manfredonia is wanted in the killing of 62-year-old Theodore DeMers, of Willington, assaulting another man, the killing of 23-year-old Nicholas Eisele, of Derby and the kidnapping of a woman believed to be Eisele’s girlfriend, who was taken from their home. 

Charges against Manfredonia are still pending for crimes in Connecticut. During his time as a fugitive, Manfredonia is also suspected of stealing several vehicles.

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Dive teams head back into Housatonic River in search for two NY men

Regional police dive teams are heading back into the Housatonic River in New Milford today as they search for two New York men swept away from where they were swimming on Wednesday.  The 21 and 24 year old Bronx men were picnicking with a group adjacent to the Bulls Bridge Power Plant when one struggled in the water, the other jumped in to help.  The search was called off yesterday due to heavy rain and possibility of lightning.  The Brookfield Police Dive Team will pick up the search today.  Police say the identities of both victims are not being released until search, rescue or recovery activities are completed.

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Protest march at WCSU today

Another protest march in support of the Black Lives Matter movement is being held today at Western Connecticut State University.  Participants plan to meet at 11am on the Midtown Campus quad.  The group will start the march at noon and head to the Science Building and around the rest of campus, ending near the gates on White Street.  University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says speeches will be held there.  It's the third protest march to be held in Danbury in the past several weeks in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man killed when a white Minneapolis cop kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.

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Lamont looking at transgender policy after federal decision

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is not willing to lose federal education dollars over a state policy that allows transgender athletes to participate as girls in high school sports, he said Thursday.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights last month said the Connecticut policy, which allows all athletes to participate as the gender with which they identify, violates the civil rights of non-transgender girls and threatened to withhold federal funding from some school districts.

The governor’s office said it has had multiple discussions about the issue with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the board that oversees high school athletics.

“I don’t want to lose any federal funds, that’s for sure,” Lamont said Thursday. “I’m looking at the NCAA. I’m looking at the Olympics. I’m seeing how those organizations handle this very delicate issue of somebody who identifies with a gender that they weren’t necessarily born with and I think we’ve got to work through that.”

The civil rights office said in a 45-page letter dated May 15 that the policy is a violation of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that guarantees equal education opportunities for women and 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.”

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

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

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

Connecticut is one of 18 states, along with Washington, D.C., that allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions, according to Transathlete.com.

Several other states have polices barring the participation of transgender athletes, and Idaho recently became the first to pass a law banning transgender women from competing in women’s sports.

The ACLU 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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Accused Mar-a-Lago checkpoint crasher pleads insanity

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Western Connecticut State University opera singer accused of crashing her car through a checkpoint outside President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, drawing gunfire from law enforcement, has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Hannah Roemhild’s attorney filed the written plea Wednesday to charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon and fleeing and resisting an officer. Authorities do not believe she was targeting the president or Mar-a-Lago.

Attorney David Roth has previously said the 30-year-old resident of Middletown, Connecticut, has a history of mental illness and had been off her medication when she crashed through the checkpoint on Jan. 31. She nearly struck Secret Service agents and Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies, who opened fire as she sped off.

Insanity defenses are both rare and rarely successful. Under Florida law, Roemhild’s attorneys will have to convince a jury she is mentally ill and that caused her to not know what she was doing or not understand it was wrong. Even if found not guilty, that would not necessarily mean she would go free as the judge could sentence her to a mental hospital for treatment.

Palm Beach County prosecutors did not return a call seeking comment. They have a policy of not commenting on pending cases. No trial date has been set.

Prosecutors say Roemhild was spotted dancing on the roof of her rented SUV outside The Breakers, a ritzy Palm Beach hotel about 2 miles (3 kilometers) north of Mar-a-Lago. When a Florida Highway Patrol trooper working off-duty security at the hotel approached her, Roemhild jumped into her driver’s seat and sped south on Ocean Boulevard with the trooper in pursuit, authorities said.

Roemhild didn’t stop when she reached the checkpoint outside Mar-a-Lago, authorities said, causing Secret Service agents and Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies to open fire, shattering the SUV’s back window.

The trooper backed off and Roemhild picked up her mother, who had just arrived at nearby Palm Beach International Airport, and drove to her hotel. Troopers tracked her there and she was arrested. The president wasn’t at the resort but arrived several hours later to spend the weekend.

Mar-a-Lago has been the scene of several intrusions since Trump became president. On Jan. 5, just hours after Trump and his family had left the club following a two-week vacation, a Florida man who had been dishonorably discharged from the Marines for sex offenses was arrested after he got past two checkpoints. He had falsely identified himself as part of the president’s helicopter crew.

In March 2019, Chinese national Yujing Zhang gained access to Mar-a-Lago while carrying a laptop, phones and other electronic gear. That led to initial speculation that the 33-year-old businesswoman from Shanghai might be a spy, but she was never charged with espionage. Text messages she exchanged with a trip organizer indicated she was a fan of the president and wanted to meet him or his family to discuss possible deals.

Zhang was found guilty of trespassing and lying to Secret Service agents and was sentenced to time served.

In December, the club’s security officers confronted Jing Lu, 56, for trespassing and told her to leave, but she returned to take photos. Lu was charged with loitering and resisting an officer without violence after taking photos by entering a service entrance.

And in 2018 a University of Wisconsin student visiting Palm Beach with his family for Thanksgiving mingled with a crowd gaining admission to the resort just to see if he could get in. He did, even though the president and his family were there. He apologized, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and got probation.

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9 ducklings rescued from Brookfield storm drain

A brood of ducklings trapped in a storm drain on Federal road in Brookfield have been rescued by firefighters.  Both Brookfield fire companies and the police department were dispatched around 4:30 yesterday afternoon and were told that eight ducklings were trapped along three drainage grates. Brookfield firefighters removed the grates and climbed down into the storm drain.

(Photos: Candlewood Company)

After a nearly 45 minute rescue, a total of nine ducklings were successfully extricated. 

The ducklings were handed over to the Police Department, who brought them to the nearby creek to be released back to their mother.

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New Milford delays road project due to planned Aquarion line replacement

The Town of New Milford was scheduled to do a reclaimation, mill and pave project on Wellsville Avenue this summer.  Aquarian Water informed the town that they will be doing major line repair on Wellsville next Spring. Mayor Pete Bass says rather than have a new road opened up for the water line repair, a chip seal application will be put down to make the road safe until Aquarian can complete their new line installation.

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Putnam Lake house destroyed by early morning fire

New Fairfield volunteer firefighters have provided mutual aid to the Putnam Lake Fire Department.  They responded to a fire on Hazel Drive this morning.  No hydrants were in the area so tanker trucks were needed.  The family escaped without injury.  Home home was destroyed.  The Journal News reports that mutual aid was also provided by Brewster, Croton Falls, Danbury and Patterson firefighters.

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Amazon to create Last Mile Distribution Facility in old Scholastic building in Danbury

Amazon will be repurposing the former Scholastic Corporation building on Old Sherman Turnpike this fall into a Last Mile Distribution Facility. The goal is to be operational in time for the 2020 holiday shopping season.  The company is also ramping up deliveries of personal protective equipment and other orders as people avoid stores. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says 400 to 500 full and part time jobs are coming to the City, including seasonal work. He says this also means hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue for the City. 

The 147,000 square foot facility will be converted into a fulfillment warehouse for shipments to customers throughout the area.  The company is locating to Danbury without financial incentives from the city or state. 

Scholastic closed recently, laying off nearly 90 people.

Developers FSI-DB, LLC, in association with Rizzo Companies, will cover the $450,000 costs to repair the cross culvert on Old Sherman Turnpike.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says they discovered an at least 3-foot gap underneath the retaining wall of the culvert in April.  The wall was repaired several years ago when part of the road failed and it exposed a high volume and high pressure gas main. 

A majority of the traffic is heavy commercial and the road is very narrow, and a dead end  If the road fails, there is no way to get people out of that area or any emergency services into the end of that road.

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Crews search Housatonic River for two missing swimmers

A search is underway of the Housatonic River in New Milford.  Emergency responders were called to the river late yesterday afternoon on a report of two men in their 20s struggling to swim.   New Milford police say the Bronx men were picnicking with a group in a recreational area off Route 7 when one began to struggle in the water.  The second tried to help and both were swept away.  Rescue crews from Sherman, New Milford, Gaylordsville, Kent, Washington, Goshen, Connecticut State Police and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Environmental Conversation Police joined the search.

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Danbury Mayor gets tested for COVID-19

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has gotten his nose swabbed to determine if he has COVID-19.  Boughton says he and the Police Chief went to get tested yesterday because they attended a number of protest rallies and were around a lot of people. 

Boughton joked on Twitter that if he could tolerate his skull being removed, this shouldn't be too bad.  That's a reference to his 12-hour surgery in August 2017 to have a non-cancerous, lemon-sized tumor removed from behind his left ear. 

Test results are expected back within 48 hours.  Boughton says the testing was also part of the reopening plan for City Hall. 

There were no deaths reported in Danbury yesterday.  Since the pandemic began, more than a thousand residents have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Coronavirus related hospitalizations in Connecticut are down to 270.  While the state reported 23 fewer people in the hospital yesterday, there were also 23 new COVID-associated fatalities recorded. 

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Redding resident arrested for shooting death of his wife

A Redding resident has been arrested for the shooting death of his wife in April.  State Police say 70-year old Richard Commaille was charged with murder on Tuesday and arraigned.  Redding Police received a call from the Top Ledge Road man on the night of April 6th, saying that his wife died by suicide.  64-year old Nanci Commaille was found dead from a gunshot wound.  The Western District Major Crimes Squad was called in after State Police say the untimely death investigation turned up suspicious evidence and inconsistencies in Commaille’s account of what happened.  Nanci Commaille’s death was ruled by the Medical Examiner as a homicide.

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Investigators fine Conn. nursing homes for violations during pandemic

Investigators have fined several nursing homes in Connecticut for violations found during the coronavirus pandemic.  Bethel Health Care Center was fined about 25-hundred dollars on May 27th. 

According to the report, a resident who recovered from COVID-19 was left in the COVID unit for seven days, despite a room in the symptom-free unit being available.  CDC guidelines say a person can be moved after three days of being COVID-free.  Investigators also found laundry attendants at the 161-bed nursing home folding clean towels without masks.  A nursing aide was observed wearing a surgical mask underneath her N95 mask. 

National Health Care Associates did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The state Department of Public Health, with the help of the National Guard, have been conducting inspections at all 215 nursing homes in the state.

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Ridgefield High School drive-thru diploma pick up Friday

Ridgefield High School is not holding in-person commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020.  Drive-thru diploma pick up is planned in an event Friday from 9am to 4pm.  Two drive-in ceremonies are planned for June 18th between 11am and 4pm.  Due to ceremony set up and break down, visitors are not allowed on campus at that time.  The events are for graduates and immediate family only.  Due to the size of the graduating class, heavy traffic should be expected on both days around the high school area.

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Putnam County Sheriff opposes repeal of law shielding police disciplinary records

The New York state legislature has voted to repeal Section 50a of the state's Civil Rights Law, which has shielded police disciplinary records from the public for more than four decades.  It was an issue this week in Putnam County.  Sheriff Robert Langley said to Putnam County Legislators at their Protective Services meeting that he would not provide the names, addresses and personnel records of deputies.  Those records include any disciplinary action involving the individuals. 

Langley does not support the repeal, saying he will work with the PBA to protect the rights of the women and men of the Sheriff's Department. 

The statute does include exceptions, it did not apply to any district attorney or his assistants, the attorney general or his deputies or assistants, a county attorney or his deputies or assistants, a corporation counsel or his deputies or assistants, a town attorney or his deputies or assistants, a village attorney or his deputies or assistants, a grand jury, or any agency of government which requires the records in the furtherance of their official functions.

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Ridgefield seeks to hire Firefighter/Paramedic

The Town of Ridgefield will be accepting applications for the position of Firefighter/Paramedic or Firefighter/EMT through July 10th.  Applicants must be non-smokers, in good physical condition and of high moral character. No previous firefighting experience is required. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, a driver license and pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test.  This position may work rotating 24-hour shifts or rotating 12-hour day shifts scheduled after Recruit Firefighter Training and orientation.  Fire Applications are available on the town's website.Applications received after the close date and time, will not be accepted.

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Tunnel to Towers Foundation donates PPE to Danbury Police, Fire, Hospital

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has donated personal protective equipment to the Danbury Police and Fire Departments, and to Nuvance Health Danbury Hospital.  Members of all agencies, along with Mayor Mark Boughton, convened at Fire Headquarters this afternoon to accept the donation of 10,000 pieces of PPE.  Boughton says the City was fortunate to have a lot of PPE donated at the start of the pandemic, but as the weeks have gone by there are fewer offers.  He notes that as long as cases continue to be detected, there will be a need for PPE.

(Photo: DFD, Tunnel to Towers)

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Putnam County Sheriff Deputies investigating high-end vehicle thefts

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office says several high-end vehicles have been stolen from driveways recently during the late night/early morning hours. Sheriff Robert Langley says the perpetrators, believed to be individuals from out of state, searched for vehicles that were unlocked, with the key left inside. Typically, the thefts were not discovered until several hours after the vehicles were driven away. The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the thefts along with agencies from Westchester and Dutchess Counties.  Residents are being reminded to lock parked cars, remove valuables and have adequate driveway lighting.  People are being urged not to confront potential perpetrators as they should be considered armed and dangerous. Suspicious activity should be reported by calling 911 immediately.

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Congresswoman opposes defunding the police

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes opposes defunding the police.  She instead called for implementation of greater training, accountability, and transparency to ensure that police forces sworn to protect communities have the needed resources.  Hayes also called for addressing the underlying, structural inequalities which expose communities to police violence. 

She clarified that The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 does not defund the police, rather holds law enforcement accountable by giving American citizens recourse if they believe there has been a violation.  The legislation leverages access to existing federal funding by conditioning it upon increased training, banning practices like chokeholds and no-knock warrants, limiting use of force, and requiring public reporting when force is used. 

Hayes, who is married to a Waterbury Police Detective, says these measures protect both the members of our community and the police who serve them.

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Two Republicans qualify for primary in 26th state Senate district

Wilton resident Kim Healy has won the Republican nomination for the State Senate’s 26th District race.  Former state representative Will Duff of Bethel received more than 15-percent of delegate support at the Republican nominating convention and is eligible to appear on the August 11th primary ballot.

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Mark Twain Library starts curbside pickup

Mark Twain Library in Redding has started curbside pickup.  Patrons can place holds on items either through the library’s online catalog or with the request form on the library’s website. The building remains closed. An email will be sent out when the hold is ready for pick up.  The items will be placed in reusable bag, labeled with a name, and arranged alphabetically on tables outside. The due date slip will be inside the bag.  All return items will be quarantined before being redistributed.  Staff will wear gloves and masks.

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Hate crime investigation underway in Brewster

A hate crime is under investigation in Brewster.  New York State Police received a report from a Hispanic woman early Monday morning.  She was sleeping in her vehicle on the westbound shoulder of Interstate 84 near Exit 65 when two white men approached and yelled racial slurs. 

They were in an older model, two tone black and silver, Chevrolet pickup truck.  As the victim attempted to drive away, her vehicle was struck by the suspect vehicle.  The victim did not have license plate information. 

There were no injuries reported. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the New York State Police in Brewster at (845) 677-7300 and reference case # 9634509. 

The first suspect was described as a Caucasian male, possibly in his mid-40’s, husky build, copper colored beard, blonde hair, thick brimmed dark color glasses, a green button-up shirt and baggy blue jeans.  The second suspect was described as a Caucasian male, possibly in his mid-20’s, skinny build, wearing a green tank top, and had a tattoo of the letters “Ang” located on his left wrist.

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Chokeholds banned, de-escalation tactics now required by New Milford Police

The New Milford Police Department has been going through the state accreditation process, which requires departments conform to 126 professional standards. 

Chief Spencer Cerruto announced to the Town Council this week that the use-of-force policy no longer allows chokeholds and instead requires de-escalation tactics.  Cerruto is requiring verbal and nonverbal skills, noting that body language, tone of voice and respect are important in de-escalating a situation. 

Cerruto has condemned the actions and inactions of the Minneapolis officers involved with George Floyd’s death.  Cerruto has pledged to review all of the department’s policies and training procedures.  He also hopes to schedule a public listening session or workshop when large gatherings can happen safely. 

Cerruto has been on the job about a year and a half.  He's looked into getting body worn cameras and believes there are many pros to that type of system.  But he says it would cost about $50,000 to cover the 50 officers and implement the program.  There are also annual costs associated with the program.  New Milford is looking into grant opportunities for the program. 

Cerruto noted that there are cameras in police cruisers that record motor vehicle stops, any time the emergency lights are activated.  There's also video in the cell block and police station.

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New Milford tennis courts open, with restrictions

As COVID cases and Litchfield County hospitalizations remain low, New Milford Health Director Mike Crespan has given the go ahead opening the Town and High School Tennis Courts.  When playing doubles, partners should coordinate in order to maintain physical distancing.  Players should avoid touching their face after handling a ball, racket or other equipment.  No extra-curricular or social activity should take place at the courts after playing.  People should arrange to play tennis only with family members or with individuals who are considered to be low risk.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says they will be monitoring the courts for compliance. If COVID numbers increase rapidly, the facilities will be closed.

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New Fairfield High School seniors to get celebratory car parade, ceremony

New Fairfield High School seniors will participate in a celebratory car parade throughout town on Thursday night.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco asked residents for patience as they recognize the accomplishments of the seniors, who have missed many traditions due to the coronavirus and will not have a typical graduation day. Although it may cause some traffic, Del Monaco says this is a way for the community to say “Good Luck” and job well done.  Graduation ceremonies will be held on Friday, beginning with awarding diplomas at the High School from 3:45pm to 6:15, followed by a video “drive-in” ceremony at 8PM at Squantz Pond State Park.

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Candlewood Lake Authority tests water quality for 36th year

The Candlewood Lake Authority is once again out on the water taking samples to measure different metrics, including water quality.  This is the 36th year for the collection activity at 4 locations on Candlewood and one on Squantz Pond.  They measure items like dissolved oxygen, temperature, and blue-green algae concentration, at each meter of depth all the way to the bottom.  The monthly activity is conducted from May through October and gives scientists an idea of how the lake is changing over time. The monitoring included a new addition last summer: monthly plant monitoring at boat launches to look for possible invasive species.

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Domestic cat shot and injured by an air pellet rifle in Bethel

Bethel Police are investigating a report of a domestic cat shot and injured by an air pellet rifle.  Police received a complaint on Thursday from a resident about his white and black cat named Noodle Dork.  The cat was shot and seriously injured Wednesday around 8pm in the area of Fleetwood Park.  Bethel Police are asking for the public's help in identifying a suspect.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Animal Control Officer Shanley at 203-778-7424.

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Newtown First Selectman explains why town didn't back protest rallies

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal is clarifying why he didn't attend racial justice protest rallies this weekend.  He told the Newtown Bee that the gatherings were not town-supported because of the Governor's Executive Order restricting public gatherings to no more than 25 people.  Rosenthal, also a Democrat, said he was not against the idea of a protest in any other time, but right now, he is concerned about possibly spreading coronavirus.  Rosenthal also told the Bee that he can't reconcile a database of demonstrations being posted online by the State Democratic Party, while the head of the party has a limit on public gatherings.  Rosenthal told the publication that there's a difference in a local gathering, and one publicized statewide.

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COVID-19 testing sessions scheduled every Wednesday in June

Additional mass COVID-19 testing sessions have been scheduled at the Connecticut Institute for Communities Greater Danbury Community Health Center.  Free testing will be done every Wednesday in June from 8:30am to noon in the parking lot of 120 Main Street. 

In collaboration with the state Department of Health, staff will collect the specimens.  Test results typically are available in a few days, but lab processing time vary. 

Testing is open to all, regardless of symptoms or exposure, with prescreening included.  Appointments are encouraged and given priority due to limited testing swabs.  Appointments for each day are given to the first 200 who call. 

Cars are not needed for testing, but patients walking to the site must make appointments by calling 203-456-1413.  

Photo ID is required. Uninsured patients also accepted.

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FirstLight finds first invasive zebra mussel in Candlewood Lake

FirstLight Power has reported that a single juvenile zebra mussel was found in Candlewood Lake, at a depth of 13 feet off the southern tip of Vaughn’s Neck.  It was found by FirstLight’s consultant who was hired to conduct their annual zebra mussel monitoring program. Ten sites are searched annually. 

The zebra mussel was removed and it is not believed to be of reproductive age. No other zebra mussels were found at the other nine sites on Candlewood. 

More than a decade ago, zebra mussels were discovered in the Housatonic River, coming from a lake in Western Massachusetts.  Water entering Candlewood benefited must be pumped up from the river so FirstLight has now voluntarily decided to not pump when the water reaches the temperature the mussels need to reproduce.

The Candlewood Lake Authority says it's not yet known if it's a solitary occurrence or if more are hiding in areas that haven’t been searched.  FirstLight, the CLA and DEEP are working with other organizations to identify and prevent any other invasive plants and animals from entering the Lake. Zebra mussels can quickly take over ecosystems and change the dynamics of entire bodies of water. 

The Candlewood Lake Authority is working with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, FirstLight and the surrounding municipalities to expand invasive species monitoring programs to include additional sampling locations for zebra mussel larvae and the continued deployment of underwater monitoring stations. 

One of the major ways invasive species like zebra mussels enter the lake is attached to boats. 

The CLA is reminding users to clean, drain and dry boats, trailers and equipment to help prevent the introduction of invasive species like this one.  Cleaning also applies to the outboard motor, car wheel wells, and anywhere else that these species might be hiding.  Signs are up at boat launches on Candlewood with that message, and DEEP “Boating Education Assistants” are stationed at state boat launches.  They will inspect boats and educate boaters on the best ways to help stop invasive species spread.

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Stickers promoting white nationalist group removed from Newtown lamp posts

Prior to youth demonstrations on Sunday in Newtown calling for racial justice, stickers were removed from light posts promoting white nationalism.  Newtown Police are investigating stickers promoting Patriot Front, a Texas-based group that is classified by two national watchdog organizations as a white supremacist hate group.  There were no racially explicit words on the stickers.  The Newstimes cites an Anti-Defamation League report this year about white extremist and anti-Semitic incidents in 2019, noting that Patriot Front was responsible for 17 incidents in Connecticut last year.

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Danbury School District team making plans for fall reopening

The Danbury Public School District Reentry and Recovery Committee has been meeting to work through the many complex details of opening in the fall.  The Sites and Facilities teams has looked into the purchases of critical safety related materials such as PPE and plexiglass.  The Curriculum teams continue to discuss flexible planning to manage unforeseeable events.  The Transportation providers are looking into how to meet the anticipated guidelines regarding bus capacity.  The Committee is also working on a regional level to collaborate with surrounding  towns’ educational leaders to ensure consistency, efficiency and effectiveness, as they wait for further guidance from the Governor and the State Department of Education.  Regional aspects being discussed include funding, contract modifications, policy flexibility, assessment of student learning, and health related practice and policy.

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Injured jet skier rescued from Candlewood Lake

Firefighters and EMS crews have rescued a jet skier with a serious leg injury.  911 calls came in to New Fairfield on Sunday afternoon about an accident on Candlewood Lake.  A boater was trying to get the injured man out of the water, onto their pontoon boat, but couldn't  The jet skier was located just off the western tip of the Vaughn’s Neck peninsula.  Mutual aid was requested from Brookfield and the Candlewood Lake Authority was notified.  The patient was stabilized and brought to the dock, where he was transported by ambulance to the hospital.

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Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission to consider ending food drive-thru ban

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission is set to consider a request to end the ban on drive-thru food service.  Attorney Bob Jewell wrote in a letter to the commission that the argument leading to the ban was made in the 1970s when littering was rampant.  He claims some people do still litter, but they are the exception and not the rule.  The request was made as a "pre-submission concept discussion" for 896 Ethan Allen Highway.  The Route 7 property is just south of the intersection with Route 35. Jewell proposed in his letter that drive-thrus be allowed only in zones where restaurants are already permitted. The Planning and Zoning Commission is set to hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday night.

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Danbury Fire Department looking to hire Entry-Level Firefighters

The Danbury Fire Department is looking to hire Entry-Level Firefighters.  Mayor Mark Boughton says they are expecting a lot of retirements over the next two years.

In order to be considered for the position, applicants will be asked to take written, psychological, and physical examinations and be interviewed by the Fire Chief.  The new recruits will participate in all aspects of the fire service including public education, emergency medical response, fire suppression, rescue, and many other emergencies. 

Applications will be available from July 1 – Sept 1. An informational orientation will be held via Zoom on June 18 at 6:30pm. Registration is required. The meeting will also be live-streamed to the City of Danbury Youtube page for those who do not wish to participate in the Q&A.

Zoom Registration Link, Requirements and Recruitment Schedule can be found online https://www.danbury-ct.gov/firerecruitment/

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Easton firefighters cancel carnival, keep car raffle

Out of an abundance of caution, the Easton Volunteer Fire Company has cancelled the 2020 Fireman's Carnival. Like many other volunteer departments, the event is their main fundraiser each year.  The Easton firefighters are still holding the annual car raffle. A 2020 Ford F150 or 2020 Ford Mustang GT are up for grabs.  In the event one or both of the vehicles are not yet available at the time of the drawing due to COVID-19, the winner will be given a credit of equal value off any vehicle from Colonial Ford in Danbury.  Credit card and Apple Pay accepted at https://easton-volunteer-fire-company-1.myshopify.com.

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Ridgefield seeks volunteers to fill Board, Commissions vacancies

A number of Boards and Commissions in Ridgefield have vacancies.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says volunteers come from every age group and walk of life, yet they all want to build a better community.  He says Ridgefield is fortunate to have many dedicated, talented people lending their expertise to help make a difference.  Among the Boards and Commissions needing volunteers are the affordable housing, blight citation hearing appeals, deer management,   golf, arts and youth commissions.

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Bethel Police tout organized, productive protest rally

The Bethel Police Department has issued a statement following this weekend's protest rally downtown calling for racial equality.  Bethel Police say it was a well organized and productive event yesterday, adding that the event was exemplary of how discourse and discussion should be handled in order to see positive outcomes.  Bethel Police called the event an amazing representation of passion and dedication by all who participated.

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Brookfield Police Department to resume fingerprinting services

The Brookfield Police Department will resume fingerprinting for residents and those seeking employment in town needing Fingerprinting services.  Appointments will be made 1pm to 3pm Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  A face mask is required and there will be a temperature check.  Those making appointments are asked to come alone.  If child care is an issue, kids can be brought into the building.  People will be required to wash hands in the restroom before and after the appointment.

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Brookfield opening Greenway Wednesday, with restrictions

The Town of Brookfield will be opening the Greenway on Wednesday, with restrictions.  It will be for walking only, and masks must be worn.  Other limits include no running, and a ban on bicycles, scooters and skateboards.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says this is to ensure the safety of residents and to allow the maximum number of people on the Greenway. The Board of Selectmen has met to review the plan to reopen parks and facilities gradually over the coming weeks, balancing the desire to enjoy them with the need to keep everyone safe. The Board will rely on the guidance of the Director of Public Health, the State, and the local Emergency Management team.

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More protests in Greater Danbury area

A second protest march has been held in Danbury.  About a thousand people gathered again over the weekend for a march from Rogers Park to the police station and back. 

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and Senator Richard Blumenthal were among the officials in attendance.  Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour, who is black, told protestors that he wants to meet with organizers to discuss what steps are needed to improve and educate the community on police training.  There were also gatherings in Bethel on Greenwood Avenue and in New Milford.

Two rallies in Newtown converged yesterday afternoon and more than a thousand people marched to the police department.  The Newtown Bee reports that the events were publicized as peaceful gatherings meant to show support for racial equality, though neither identified the organizers. 

One of the rallies started at Edmond Town Hall and moved to the flagpole, where the second event was slated to be held.  Main Street was closed between Hanover Road and Sugar Street during the two events.   

As those in attendance knelt at the flagpole, the chanting stopped.  Organizers said the demonstration would last 8 minutes, 46 seconds, the amount of time that a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on George Floyd's neck.  But the silence and kneeling lasted only a few minutes. 

Police Chief James Viadero addressed the crowd and said his department hears them, and stands with them.

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NY moving up some reopening activities in Putnam County area

New York is moving up some reopening activities in the Putnam County area.  Governor Andrew Cuomo says outdoor dining can be allowed in Phase Two, which starts tomorrow.  Restaurants/Food Services were originally not to reopen until Phase Three, which is projected to be on June 23rd. Some best practices include how patron safety will be ensured, proper delineation of areas, consideration of hours permitted for outdoor operation, and how and whether outdoor music will be permitted.  Putnam County Town Supervisors and Village Mayors were called on to streamline local codes to ease existing restrictions.  Several towns have already outlined fee waivers and accommodations to do just that.  The Putnam County Department of Health has reminded restaurants that outdoor seating that is not preexisting and previously approved by the Health Department and the Building Departments must receive approval from the local Code Enforcement Officer prior to use.

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Danbury Library begins curbside pick-up of materials

Danbury Library will begin curbside pick-up of materials today.  Patrons may browse the catalog and request materials through the library’s website or by calling.  Pick-up is available Monday through Friday, 10am to 6pm.  When the materials are available, patrons will receive a phone call or email from library staff.  Upon arrival, patrons are asked to call 203-797-4505 ext. 3 and inform the staff where they have parked. A staff member will then deliver the items while patrons remain in their vehicle. For patrons visiting on foot, curbside pickup service is available at the West Street entrance to the Library.

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Joel Barlow to hold drive-thru graduation Thursday

More local school districts have announced plans for alternate graduation ceremonies.  Redding and Easton seniors at Joel Barlow High School and their families will be able to drive up to one of two stages outside of the school at a designated time on Thursday.  Students will step out of their vehicle, get their diploma and then drive to another area to receive some gifts. Students will wear caps and gowns and will receive a video of the ceremony.  There will be a tribute to each graduate and speeches included as well.  Students, staff and others had a voice in the planning process.
 

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Blumenthal: Not Danbury FCI inmates released to home confinement yet

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday,  Senator Richard Blumenthal questioned Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal about progress on releasing non-violent prisoners to home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A temporary restraining order was issued by a federal judge against the Warden of FCI Danbury last month ordering a safe and immediate release of prisoners to home confinement. The court found that FCI Danbury officials are “making only limited use of their home confinement authority, as well as other tools to protect inmates during the outbreak, and that these failures amount to deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm to inmates in violation of the Eighth Amendment.”

Blumenthal pressed Carvajal for information about the number of FCI Danbury prisoners who have been released to home confinement, as ordered by the court.  Carvajal was unable to answer with specifics about Danbury, but promised to provide the relevant information to Blumenthal.

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Blinking street light fix still on 'to do' list

There have been two big issues that are the primary calls coming into the Danbury Public Works Department over the last few months.  One is the tree clearing on I-84, the other is the flickering street lamps.  Many of the lights are on the highway, but some issues have been reported on City Streets, including White Street and Patriot Drive.  Motorists have said it is distracting for them.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola told the City Council a few months ago that it looks like Uncle Sam is at a disco.  He believes it's a vendor issue, and  thinks the controller that got put into those lights don't match the bulb.  Iadarola says it appears the LED lamps don't work well with the controllers.  The ones on City Streets and along the highway were all replaced around the same time.  He has spoken with Eversource several times, only to be told its on the list.  Asked if the City can do anything, Iadarola says they have cut the feeders to stop them from blinking.

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Bethel Registrars preparing for August primary

Bethel Registrars of Voters have been working while the Municipal Center has been closed due to the pandemic.  They've been processing voter applications and updates to registration information.  They are also working on the annual canvass of the voting list.  Anyone who received a letter asking to update or verify voter registration information, is asked to send it back to the Bethel Registrars immediately.  They are also completing a Safe Polls Plan for the Primary on August 11th.

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Boaters urged to follow safety tips in case of onboard fire

With the boating season here, the Danbury Fire Department is offering some safety tips on how to be prepared for an onboard fire.  FEMA officials say fires that occur on boats or in marinas can spread quickly and present unique response challenges.  Boaters are urged to have a fire emergency plan and practice it.  Only certified chargers should be used for personal electronic devices, and boaters are cautioned not to overload power outlets.  Appropriate fire extinguishers should easily accessible, and all boaters should be trained on how to use them.

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Census Bureau opening Area Census Office in Danbury

The U.S. Census Bureau is opening Area Census Offices in Danbury, Hartford, and New Haven.  Census takers have started to drop off 2020 Census questionnaire packets at front doors in rural areas of Connecticut.  Temporary field staff have been trained to observe all social distancing protocols and will wear official government-provided personal protective equipment. This operation is contactless and follows the most current federal health and safety guidelines.

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West Conn mascot could be replaced

Chuck the Colonial, the West Conn mascot could soon be history.  University President Dr John Clark says some Western Connecticut State University students and alumni asked for the current mascot to be replaced and they have been heard.  The Student Government Association, the organization Speak Truth to Power, and the university will begin a student-driven process to find a new mascot.  The Facebook post from yesterday evening announcing the change drew over 200 comments just hours later, with some asking where the money will come from for the rebranding.  Others say it will take too long to get through the Board of Regents approval process.

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Man injured in fall from Danbury bridge trestle

A man was injured in Danbury when he fell off a bridge trestle into heavy brush on a riverbank. A Danbury Police Officer heard a call for help in the area of the police station shortly before 9 o'clock last night and found the man, who sustained injuries after falling about 12 feet down from the wall in a thicket of poison ivy and other vegetation. Firefighters, using their technical rescue techniques, cleared some brush, then secured the victim into a basket stretcher and hoisted him by ropes back up to the street level. EMS transported the man to the hospital for treatment.

(Photos: DFD)

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Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Day in Newtown tomorrow

A Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Day is planned for tomorrow for all residents of the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority region.  It's being held at the Newtown Public Works facility from 9am to 2pm.  In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there can only be one person per car, and people must remain in the vehicle at all times, with the windows rolled up.  Only items to be dropped off should be in the back of the car.  Drivers should be ready to place a driver’s license against the window for proof of residency.  Workers, in full safety gear, will then remove the household hazardous waste items.

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Putnam County Office for Senior Resources to host Face Covering distribution days

The Putnam County Office for Senior Resources has scheduled two Face Covering distribution days.  The white, washable cotton fabric will come with cleaning instructions.   Seniors have been identified as being a group vulnerable to COVID-19.  Putnam County Department of Health and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance recommends that we wear face coverings when in groups and in public settings.  Putnam County seniors over age 60 can pick up face coverings today or Monday noon to 2pm at Carmel Friendship Center, Koehler Senior Center in Mahopac, Putnam Valley Senior Center, or Friendship Center in Philipstown.  Sings will be posted directing cars and walk-ups.  Seniors driving in are to remain in their cars and the face coverings will be handed to them on a tray by staff and volunteers wearing face coverings and gloves.

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Bethel marks Gun Violence Awareness Day today

Bethel will mark Gun Violence Awareness Day today with the installation of a public art piece.  The Newstimes reports that Jenn Lawlor, mother of 25-year old Emily Todd who was killed in Bridgeport in 2018, will put up the artwork outside Molten Java on Greenwood Avenue between 3 and 5pm.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker has signed a proclamation stating that the first Friday in June will be National Gun Violence Awareness Day in Bethel "to honor and remember all victims and survivors of gun violence together with Jennifer Lawlor in memory of Emily Todd and to declare that we as a county must do more to reduce gun violence."  The statement goes on to “pledge to do all we can to keep firearms out of the wrong hands, and encourage responsible gun ownership to help keep our children safe.

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12-year old Ridgefield girl dies of rare form of brain cancer

A 12-year old Ridgefield girl has lost her battle with a rare form of brain cancer.  Brooke Blake died yesterday.  The Scotts Ridge Middle School student was diagnosed at the end of 2015 with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, DIPG.  She was the inspiration behind “Believe in Brooke” signs and fundraising efforts by emergency responders and others in the community. By 2018, Brooke underwent 4 brain procedures, 3 clinical trials, and 40 rounds of radiation. 

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Virtual forums to be held about Route 37 study in Danbury, New Fairfield

A study is underway about improvements to Route 37 between the Exit 6 highway ramps and the New Fairfield town line.  WestCOG, the regional planning agency, is working with City and Town officials to develop a corridor study.  They're looking at how to alleviate traffic congestion, improve pedestrian mobility, and to promote healthy and environmentally friendly modes of transportation. Two virtual workshops about the study have been planned.  The work to date will be presented and then WestCOG will take comments from  residents, travelers, and stakeholders on issues and ideas.  Both will have the same format and cover the same content.  The virtual forums will be about an hour, and take place on June 10th at 4pm and the 11th at 7pm.

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Vandalism found in Bethel, protestors turn out despite cancelled vigil

A planned vigil in Bethel last night had been postponed, but dozens of people still gathered to protest racism.  When the event was cancelled out of concerns that the crowd would be too large and would not be appropriate under social distancing guidelines, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker said they would try to organize virtual discussions. 

The Newstimes reports there was some vandalism found in Bethel Tuesday into Wednesday.  Phrases including “Black Lives Matter,” “No justice, no peace” and the number 12 with a slash through it were painted on the floor of the gazebo. They have since been painted over with white.  The letters 'BLM' were also found on the side of town hall, which have since been painted red, over red brick. 

Knickerbocker told the publication that police have identified possible suspects from video surveillance.

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Meal distribution to end early due to planned protest

Due to a planned protest nearby, meal distribution in Danbury will end early on Saturday.  The New American Dream Foundation has been distributing donated meals to students at Morris Street, Park Avenue and South Street schools, as well as the Early Childhood Center on Cottage Street, normally between 10am and 11:30am, but the distribution will end tomorrow at 11am to avoid traffic and road closures.  The protest against racism is planned for noon at Rogers Park.  The New American Dream Foundation is also distributing meals to seniors at nearby low income senior apartment complexes Danbury Tower and Kimberly Place.

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Danbury Superior Court to reopen June 29

Effective June 29th, limited operations in four additional courthouse locations will resume including Danbury.  Courthouses in Milford, Stamford, and Danielson will also reopen, with expanded hours and days.  Hours will be Mondays 9am to 5pm, and Tuesdays through Fridays 9am to 1pm.  Hours will be expanded to 9 to 5 as of July 6th.  Most work within the open court locations will continue to focus on those most pressing matters such as criminal arraignments for defendants held on bond, domestic violence cases, restraining orders, emergency child custody matters, juvenile detention hearings, and all other emergency matters.  In just a few weeks’ time, family court has held over 600 remote status or settlement conferences and disposed of more than 300 divorce cases remotely. Civil court has conducted close to 1,000 remote events and has ruled on more than 7,000 short calendar matters. Juvenile Court is holding remote detention hearings each day of operation and reviewing permanency plans remotely.

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New Fairfield Board of Finance approves budget for new year

The New Fairfield Board of Finance has approved a budget for the coming fiscal year.  The spending plan will result in a less than a 1-percent tax increase.  The $12.2 million municipal budget and $43.7 million for the schools will result in a 30.58 mill rate.  The two sides of the budget almost balance out as the town portion is a 1.9 percent decrease from the current year, but the schools are getting a 1.8 percent increase. 

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Ridgefield officials approve capital budget

Ridgefield officials have approved a capital budget for the coming fiscal year as continued restrictions on gathering size forced the cancellation of a planned referendum.  The $7.7 million includes nearly half a million dollars to repair leaky fire sprinklers at Ridgefield High School.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the project was started with funding in the current year's budget and the engineering firm will have its work order expanded, rather than sending the balance of the work out to bid.  That raised some concerns, but First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the repairs are needed to abate a condition in the suppression system identified by the Ridgefield Fire Marshal.  The Ridgefield municipal and school budgets, a combined 150-million dollars, received approval May 21st. 

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2nd vigil for equality, justice planned in Danbury this weekend

Another group of young people is planning a vigil in Danbury this weekend, again a response to the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The "Walk For The Change You Want To See" event will take place this Saturday at 12pm at Rogers Park in Danbury.

Danbury School Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella has issued a statement about the demonstration seen in Danbury yesterday.  He says the district supports those who showed their commitment to racial and social justice, and administrators are committed to equity as both a process and an outcome for all students. 

Pascarella noted that school psychologists, social workers, and all staff are able to assist any parent needing resources to talk with their children about current events.

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Bethel vigil planned for tonight called off

Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says he is disappointed with the decision to cancel the vigil in Bethel tonight, saying it would have been a vital opportunity to come together as a community to condemn systemic racism, to grieve, and to begin to heal. Allie-Brennan noted that similar peaceful events have taken place without incident in towns across the state, most of which have had the support of local elected officials and law enforcement leaders.  He was confident that residents would have maintained a respectful and peaceful atmosphere, had they been given the opportunity to gather.

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Residents called on to decorate Bethel in maroon and white in support of grads

Graduation ceremonies this year aren't looking like the traditional commencement of years past.  In order to show support for the seniors as they enter the next chapter of their lives, Bethel officials are calling on residents to decorate Bethel in maroon and white.  From June 14th through 21st, lights, banners, posters, balloons and streamers can be used to celebrate the BHS Class of 2020.

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Report of person with gun in Walmart parking lot unfounded

There were reports of a person with a gun in the parking lot of Walmart in Danbury yesterday afternoon.  Police received calls about the incident and say it turned out to be a man with an umbrella.

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Protestors march in Danbury streets holding 'Black Lives Matter' signs

About 1,000 people turned out for a protest Wednesday in Danbury in response to the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Danbury Police say it was mostly peaceful, with no injuries and no property damage.  

As marchers moved up West Street from the Danbury Public Library to City Hall, there were chants of "No Justice, No Peace" and "I Can't Breathe" among others.  At City Hall, the speakers condemned racism and police brutality, and asked what officials in Danbury are doing to help.  

(Photo: Will Love)

Among the speakers was Will Love of Danbury Area Justice Network.  Love shared a story about being an 8-year old and participating in a Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance, and sang 'We Shall Overcome'. "I am grateful they came together and made this happen," said Love.

"I am grateful that the Danbury Police Department supported us today and I look forward to finding a path forward with the Chief that leads to a more equitable society in Danbury.  The way the police treated all the people of color, is how we should always be treated. We should not have to hold our breath and hope to survive an encounter with the police," said Love.

Love also read a statement issued by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes for the event.

Mayor Mark Boughton met the crowd at the library and also delivered remarks in front of City Hall.  Boughton said the phrase All Lives Matter is wrong, that when a house in on fire, that house must get the attention. 

"Today Black Lives Matter," Boughton said.  At that point, a woman came up and took the megahorn from his hands, jumped up on the stantion and talked about getting pulled over by Danbury Police, accusing politicians and advocates of only caring today, and not caring tomorrow.

The march then moved down New Street, around to Kennedy Avenue and onto Main Street to head to the police station.  People chanted "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" followed by more remarks. 

Organizers called for a moment of respect and for those in the crowd to take a knee.  Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour also took a knee.  When he started to address the crowd, one of the protestors yelled "I'm a victim of police brutality" and Ridenhour responded that they would talk about that.

Things became tense when some protestors yelled over the rally organizers and Ridenhour.  One person questioned what he's done to bring equality to the City in his few years as Chief.  He attempted to say that training isn't enough, and that the community must work together to make things better.

Boughton was also asked to speak in front of the police station.  He said the state must change some of the regulations so that the police force can better reflect the make up of the community.  Ridenhour noted that the state struck down residency requirements.  

Boughton and Ridenhour didn't have much of an opportunity to talk as they were shouted down.  Others tried to have their grievances heard, but the yelling was too loud.

A portion of the group splintered off and headed up Main and Downs Streets to get to the highway.

Connecticut State Police closed down Interstate 84 in Danbury for about an hour.  Protestor also blocked the exit 5 ramps as they made their way between city streets and the interstate.  

At approximately 1:35 pm, the Danbury Police Department notified Troop A that an estimated 500 protesters were heading towards I-84 in the area of Exit 4. Troop A Troopers, along with Command Staff, arrived in the area to assist with shutting the highway down.  Troopers dispersed the protesters and reopen the highway at approximately 2:36 pm.

There were no arrests, no damage to any property, and no injuries.

A pick up truck driver flipped off the protestors as he made his way up the exit 5 off ramp.  About a dozen people ran up the ramp after the truck, but there were police stationed at the top of the hill to control the situation.

State Police say as of about 2:45pm the road was cleared of pedestrians.  There was still heavy traffic and road closures locally as the group headed back to the area of the library.  A majority of the protestors continued on the planned route from the police station back to the library where the demonstration started.

Most people in attendance were wearing masks, though there was little social distance occurring. 

(Photo: Will Love)

After the official demonstration wrapped a crowd of about 100 remained in front of the police station chanting "Enough is Enough" and handing out water bottles because of the high heat and humidity.  They also continued to have a dialog with Ridenhour.

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Vigil planned in Bethel postponed

A vigil was planned tonight in Bethel in honor of George Floyd, but it has now been cancelled.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the only reason for the postponement is to maintain the safety of those who choose to attend. 

He says the anguish caused by Floyd's death is so raw and there would likely be many more people attending than can be safely accommodated on the lawn of town hall.  Wilton's vigil earlier this week was attended by more than 800 people and the rally in Danbury drew even more attendees. 

There is concern on the part of state and federal health officials over the possibility of a spike in COVID-19 infections as a direct result of these rallies and gatherings. 

Knickerbocker says many residents have contacted him asking for an outlet for grief and frustration, and urged them to attend a service at a date when it's safe to do so.  In lieu of a candlelight vigil, knickerbocker invited people to leave a small memorial to Floyd at the gazebo at any time.

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WCSU to launch University Action and Research program in response to Floyd death

Talking about change isn't enough for West Conn President Dr John Clarke, when it comes to a response to the Minneapolis police custody death of George Floyd. 

West Conn Provost Missy Alexander suggested that with the faculty resources in education, healthcare, psychology, social work, justice and law administration, sociology and related fields, the university could create a multi-disciplinary research group.  They would focus on evidence-based solutions to the myriad problems of structural racism. That research must work to propose new policies and advocate for legislation on the federal, state, and local levels.

During the coming months, West Conn officials will discuss other components of the University Action and Research program that will be designed to put an end to racism and its consequences that run counter to the spirit of our Declaration Independence: that all persons are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

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Danbury Fire Chief to retire

Danbury Fire Chief T.J. Wiedl will retire tomorrow Friday after 39 years with the department.  Wiedl, who became chief in 2014, announced his retirement Tuesday during the City Council meeting.  He was recently named to the position of Emergency Management Director.  Wiedl says he will help with emergency management for a while.  Assistant chief Mark Omasta will serve as Acting Chief.

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Red Cross: Urgent need for blood donations as elective surgeries resume

The American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood donations as hospitals resume non-urgent and elective procedures, increasing the demand for blood products. Blood donors are encouraged to make donation appointments to prevent another shortage like the one that occurred at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.  The Red Cross says demand for blood products has grown by 30-percent, after sharply declining in early April.  The Red Cross cautioned that blood drives continue to be canceled as many businesses and organizations remain closed.  There are blood drives scheduled on the 11th at the Ridgefield Parks and Rec Center from 1:30pm to 7pm, and on the 12th in Bethel at Walnut Hill Community Church from 1:30pm to 6:30pm.

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Old Newtown Road scheduled to reopen June 22nd

Drivers along Newtown Road in Danbury have about another month left of a road closure needed for the intersection and safety improvement project that got underway at the end of April.  Old Newtown Road is scheduled to reopen June 22nd.  Department of Transportation crews have been out in the area of Old Newtown Road, the Public Works Complex and Plumtrees Road, but part two of the project is from Plumtrees down to Eagle Road.  The road widening project will provide two through-lanes in each direction and exclusive left turn lanes at the Old Newtown and Plumtrees intersections.  A raised median will be installed from Eagle Road to Commerce Drive, within the existing painted island and left turn lane.  A new traffic signal was also proposed for the Eagle Road intersection. 

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Weekend bridge closures scheduled on Route 133 in Bridgewater

Three weekend bridge closures are schedule over the next two months in Bridgewater in order to complete overlay paving, roadway reconstruction and overhead steel repairs and painting.  The Route 133 bridge will be completely closed to through traffic, weather permitting on the weekends of June 19th through 21st, 26th through 28th and July 10th through 12.  The bridge will be closed to all traffic at 10pm on those Fridays and remain closed until 5am the following Monday.

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Danbury protest closes I-84 temporarily

Connecticut State Police closed down Interstate 84 in Danbury for about an hour as some protestors moved from CityCenter to the highway.  At one point protestors were also blocking the exit 5 ramps as they made their way to and from city streets to the interstate.  

State Police say as of about 2:45pm the road was cleared of pedestrians.  There was still heavy traffic and some road closures locally as the group headed back to the area of the library.

A majority of the protestors continued on the planned route from the police station back to the library where crowds gathered at noon to start the demonstration.

Hundreds of people came together in downtown Danbury this afternoon calling for change as part of protests across the country in response to the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  As marchers moved up West Street to City Hall, there were chants of "No Justice, No Peace" and "I Can't Breathe" among others.  

At City Hall, several speakers delivered messages on the topic of law enforcement reform, equality and more.  Mayor Mark Boughton briefly joined the crowd.  Most people in attendance were wearing masks, though there was little social distance occurring. 

The march then moved down New Street, around to Kennedy Avenue and onto Main Street to head to the police station.  While there, more remarks were made.  People chanted "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" as others in the crowd took a knee.

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Putnam County Sheriff monitors for outside disruptors at protests

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is monitoring information about outsiders coming to region as events take place in response to the Minneapolis Police custody death of George Floyd.  Sheriff Robert Langley says the rank and file condemn acts of violence as it has no place in the much needed healing of society.  While addressing multiple vigils and protests throughout Putnam County, Langley reminded residents they the region is still dealing with COVID-19.  The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office put out a statement that members will participate in any local, peaceful protests to honor and remember Floyd and the other victims because the actions of the officers involved are not acceptable.

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Hundreds turn out for vigil in Wilton

Hundreds of people turned out to a vigil in Wilton last night at Our Lady of Fatima Church.  Afterward, dozens of high school students marched down Route 7 and held a sit in across from the police department.  Chief John Lynch addressed the crowd as cruisers blocked the road from both directions.  Several religious leaders addressed the vigil, as did the Police Chief and First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes and state Senator Will Haskell were also in attendance.

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New Milford Public Works makes emergency repairs to Cherniske Road bridge

New Milford Public Works crews were able to make emergency repairs to Cherniske Road bridge in just a few hours.  A metal plate was put down yesterday and the detour cleared.  The one lane bridge is scheduled for reconstruction.  Mayor Pete Bass says it was originally slated to become a two lane structure.  But neighbors said they would prefer to continue to have it be a one lane structure.  He says this would slow traffic, and help avoid large trucks from making a detour and going to surrounding towns.

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WCSU president calls for forums, more action on race and justice

West Conn President John Clark says there's an exceptionally strong feeling in the university community that while talk has its place, action must be taken to stop racism and its consequences.  Clark says there are several possible actions to take.  One includes creating a scholarship fund for students of color who wish to become police officers so law enforcement agencies better reflect the community, and to host lectures, podcasts, discussions, or conduct educational forums.  A few years ago a forum was held entitled “Race, Community, Policing and You – a Conversation to Make a Difference” featuring Danbury Chief of Police Patrick Ridenhour, a State Police representative, West Conn Police Chief Roger Connor, faculty, students and community members. 

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Bethel Parks and Rec organizes community drive-in movie night

The Bethel Parks and Recreation Department has organized a community drive in movie night.  There will be several restrictions for the event on June 19th, and will only be open to the first 75 cars to register.  Parks and Rec officials are asking that there only be one car per family.  The movie night will be held at 4 Berkshire Drive when the sun goes down.  If there is a threat of bad weather, registered families can call the Parks and Rec cancellation line at 203-794-8531.  The rain date is June 26th.  Cars will be parked in every other spot on a first come first serve basis, with staff directing drivers to the spaces.  The earliest registered families can arrive is 7pm.  families must remain in their cars or truck beds, except to use portopotties.  Social distancing space must be observed and masks must be worn.  Online registration begins today and is open until June 17th.

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COVID-19 testing session in Redding Saturday

A COVID-19 testing session is being held in Redding on Saturday.  The town is providing an opportunity for Redding residents looking to be swab tested for coronavirus from 9am to 1pm at the Redding Community Center.  The testing will be conducted by DOCS Medical Group.  All pre-registered residents, ages 2 and up, can be tested and do not need to have a physician’s order and do not have to be symptomatic.  Test results will be returned within 24 to 48 hours.  The pre-registration process assigns a time slot.  Walk ups will not be allowed.  Residents must remain in the cars when they show up at the appointed time.  Payment will be through insurance or the CARES Act for uninsured individuals. A government ID and an insurance card are required.  COVID testing is 100% covered by insurance with no copay or deductible.

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New Milford Town Council adopts budget for new fiscal year

A budget for the new fiscal year has been adopted in New Milord.  The Town Council agreed with the proposed cut by the Board of Finance, totalling little more than $2 million.  The budget is a slight increase in spending from the current year, but money will be used from other accounts to lower the tax rate by .1 percent.  The New Milford budget includes $64.5 million for the schools and $39.3 million on the municipal side.  Much of the public speaking during virtual comment periods came from parents asking that the school budget not be reduced as more instructional and emotional support will be needed due to the pandemic. 

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Bethel High School to hold drive-in graduation ceremony for seniors

Bethel High School will hold a drive-in graduation ceremony for seniors.  A big screen is being rented from the New Fairfield Parks and Rec Department to be set up in the field off Judd Avenue on June 18th.  A pre-recorded ceremony will be shown as the 226 graduates and their families sit in their cars.  As their name is called, a student's photo will be shown and they can get out of their vehicle to receive their diploma from the principal or superintendent.  Senior photos will also be set up in front of his or her parking spot for the registered vehicle.  Flatbed trucks and RVs are not permitted due to space restrictions.  The event on the 18th is at 8:30pm.  There will also be a separate drive-thru night for students to pick up yearbooks, athletic awards, scholarships, senior shirts and other items.

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Brookfield High School to hold events honoring graduates

Brookfield High School is sponsoring a car parade for graduating seniors. 

The 200 honorees and their families will meet on June 20 at Whisconier Middle School at 11am.  Families are encouraged to decorate the vehicles.  Once the cars get to the high school, graduates and up to two two parents can enter the building to receive their diplomas in the auditorium. Groups will have to stay at least 15 feet from each other and must wear masks except at designated photo spots. A maximum of 50 people will be allowed in the building at one time. 

The activities will be available for viewing on the Brookfield school district's YouTube channel.  A video of the ceremony, along with recorded speeches, will be sent to families over the summer. 

Administrators at Whisconier Middle School have planned a car parade for eighth-graders headed to the high school.  The event on June 17 will also be a chance for students to receive their certificates and awards.

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Danbury PTO sponsoring car parade fro graduating seniors

The Danbury PTO and the high school administration are giving the Class of 2020 an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishment by having a car parade on Friday at 11am.  But Danbury Police have limited the parade to 100 cars.  The first 100 graduates to register their vehicle will be sent an email confirming their participation.  Any vehicle not registered will not be allowed to participate.  Cars will be ‘checked-in’ at Rogers Park School beginning at 10:30am on Friday, given their pass for the parade, and lined up.  The graduate and their families must stay in their vehicle.  Parents are encouraged to drive so the graduate can get the full experience and are not a distracted driver.   Cars will make their way from Rogers Park School to Danbury High School via Main Street.  Cars should be decorated and noisemakers are encouraged.  Once at DHS, the parade will be escorted to the student parking lot on the gym side as a holding area. Cars will be dismissed from the student parking lot to the front so graduates can receive their cap and gowns. 

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Wilton clergy sponsoring Walk for Peace and an End to Racism

Wilton clergy are sponsoring a Walk for Peace and an End to Racism tonight.  After speaking with Police Chief and Emergency Management Director John Lynch, guidelines were set consistent with the Governor’s executive orders and health and safety requirements.  Outdoor religious gatherings of up to 150 are currently allowed.  This event will consist of a single file walk on the sidewalk from the Wilton train station to the parking lot at Our Lady of Fatima Church, a service in the parking lot and a walk back to the Wilton Center train station.  Participants must maintain social distance and wear a face covering, unless exempt under the executive order.  Participants are asked to line up in a single file line beginning at 5pm, and plan to start by 5:30pm. The outdoor service will include short remarks and interfaith prayers and lighting of luminaries.

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Brookfield senior citizens to celebrate high school seniors

Brookfield Senior Citizens are being called on to honor Brookfield High School seniors.  The Brookfield Senior Center staff is providing materials for residents to create a small poster with words of advice that will be displayed during a drive by parade to honor graduates and send them on to their next chapter with some fanfare.  The caravan of cars will meet at the Senior Center on June 24th at 1pm.  The Parks and Rec Department will record the parade and post it to social media sites.

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Easton Police Chief reacts to Minneapolis Police custody death

Easton Police Chief Richard Doyle has released a statement about the actions of four officers in Minneapolis.  He says the direct action of one officer and those standing idly by are viewed as a failure of the morals, ethics, and standards of conduct they swore to uphold.  Chief Doyle shared an excerpt from the Easton Police Department Policy “Code of Ethics” reading in part that it's the duty of each officer to respect and protect the rights guaranteed to each citizen by the Constitution. No person may be deprived of constitutional rights because he/she is suspected of having committed a crime.  Doyle pointed out that the task of determining constitutionality of a statute lies with the court of proper jurisdiction. 

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IRS: Debit card in unmarked envelope is economic stimulus payment

Better Business Bureaus across the country have received an influx of calls from consumers questioning a prepaid debit card sent in an unmarked envelope stating it was their economic stimulus payment.  These payments are legitimate.  BBB Connecticut is urging consumers who receive these cards not to throw them away.

According to the IRS, nearly four million people are being sent their Economic Impact Payment by prepaid debit card, instead of paper check.

The IRS website states that some payments may be sent on a prepaid debit card, sponsored by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service.  They are managed by Money Network Financial, LLC.

Stimulus payments via debit card will arrive in a plain envelope from “Money Network Cardholder Services.” The Visa name will appear on the front of the Card; the back of the Card has the name of the issuing bank, MetaBank, N.A. Information included with the card will explain that this is the $1,200 payment that others received via direct deposit or by check.  More information can be found online at EIPcard.com.

There have also been numerous scams popping up surrounding the distribution of the economic stimulus checks. Consumers can visit BBB.org/coronavirus for more information on how to avoid a stimulus check scam.

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Danbury youth organize march to protest racial injustice

Danbury youth are organizing a peaceful march tomorrow afternoon to protest what they see as institutionalized racism and to honor George Floyd, a black man who died last week after a white Minneapolis officer pressed his knee on the man’s neck for several minutes. 

21-year old Solomon James, a Southern Connecticut State University student, and Serenity Schreiber, a soon-to-be Danbury High School graduate, are organizing the event.  It's being supported by several organizations.  Mayor Mark Boughton will be among the speakers at the end of the march. 

It was originally slated to start on North Street, but there are no sidewalks and little parking so the start was moved.  The marchers will meet at Danbury Public Library at 12pm on June 3rd.  The route will turn left on West Street, stopping at City Hall.  The route continues to the right down New Street, around to Kennedy Avenue.  Once on Main Street, the route turns left to the police station.  Marchers plan to do a lap around the police station and turn back down Main Street, ending back at the Danbury Public Library.

Organizers plan to require masks, with donated ones supplied to people who do not have them. The youth are also urging peaceful demonstration.  The Danbury Police Department has granted the group permission to march on the street.

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Danbury School officials announce end of year plans

Danbury Public School District Principals have been organizing plans for students to pick up any belongings left in lockers and desks at the time of the school closing on March 13th.  Details, which will also includes textbook returns, will be emailed and posted to the school websites.  

For K-8 students, Scholastic has donated a summer reading book pack, which will be distributed when parents come to retrieve belongings. 

The DHS Parent Teacher Organization is sponsoring a “Decorate the City in Blue & Orange” event from this Friday through next Friday.  They encouraged residents to display lights, banners, posters, balloons and streamers in school colors to celebrate the graduates. 

DHS Principal Dan Donovan has released a plan to distribute caps and gowns, and to provide the best possible celebration and send off for the nearly 772 graduates. Cap and Gowns will be distributed on June 5th from 9am-2pm at DHS.  The first entrance to DHS will be closed and all traffic must come through the East Gate side. 

A paper with the graduate's name must be taped to the car's dashboard, and everyone must remain in the car.  Gold cords will be included for those who earned them.  Students will be contacted by advisors for various tassels from clubs and organizations. 

All dues must be paid before receiving cap and gown.  Dues can be paid through MySchoolBucks.com. 

The class of 2020 commencement will be taking place in the front of Danbury High School and will be a three-day event.  Each graduate will have the opportunity to walk across the stage and hear their name called. Families will have the opportunity to view this from their car, with one person being allowed out of the car to take pictures.  The dates for graduation are June 10th, 11th, 12th.

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Local lawmaker delivers masks to CLA Marine Patrol

A member of the Candlewood Lake Authority recently reached out to State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan about difficulty obtaining personal protective equipment for their patrol personnel for this boating season. Allie-Brennan was able to deliver 250 KN95 masks directly to the Candlewood Lake Authority Marine Patrol.  As the weather gets warmer, boat traffic on Candlewood Lake can be very heavy and he says it's important that these officers are safely equipped to ensure everyone can have a fun, and safe, experience on the Lake.

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Brookfield Board of Finance approves budget for new fiscal year

Brookfield residents will pay a little more in taxes next year.  The Board of Finance approved a combined $71.5 million budget last week.  The mill rate is a 1.76 percent increase over the current year, which members say will mean an extra $126 per year in taxes for the average homeowner.  The budget includes $45.4 million for the schools and little more than $19 million on the municipal side.  There's nearly $5 million for debt service included, and about $2 million for capital items.  The Board of Finance was authorized this year to be the voting body, rather than hold an annual town meeting and referendum, because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

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NY officials call for faith-based institutions open to 25% capacity

The County Executives of Putnam, Dutchess and elsewhere in New York are calling on houses of worship to allow at least 25-percent occupancy in order to be available for the community to come together in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell and her regional counterparts say they understand the anguish, sadness, and anger so many across our country are feeling.  They acknowledged that there's an urgent need to address injustice wherever it resides in America, including locally.  Any faith based organization that does allow 25-percent occupancy should follow guidelines for social distancing, use of face coverings and proper cleaning and hygiene at their facilities.

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545 COVID-19 tests administered during two days in Ridgefield

Two townwide COVID-19 testing events in Ridgefield resulted in 545 tests being administered. Of those tests, a total of six positives were reported.  There were 3 from each test date.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says that Ridgefield has had the largest turn out for any of the Statewide drive through testing sites and encouraged residents to continue their efforts by taking advantage of upcoming testing in two weeks.  Preregistration is recommended the week of the test through Docs Medical Group.  People who test positive are reminded to contact their primary care physicians and to immediately self-quarantine.

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SNAP recipients can start using EBT cards online for groceries

The Department of Social Services says recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits will be able to purchase food online from participating retailers in Connecticut beginning today and tomorrow. SNAP enrollees will be able to use their electronic benefit transfer EBT card to purchase eligible food items online for delivery or curbside pick up. Retailers approved for the initial launch of onlineSNAP purchasing are Amazon (including Amazon Pantry and AmazonFresh), 12 Walmart stores and 22 ShopRite stores (including the one in Danbury).

Only SNAP benefits on EBT cards can be used for online purchases. At this time, cash assistance benefits on EBT cards cannot be used for any part of online shopping, including shopping, delivery, or service fees.

Federal rules do not allow any SNAP benefits to be used for shopping, delivery, or service fees, but some food retailers may choose to waive fees (as Amazon does for orders over $35). Online shopping customers using SNAP benefits will be able to use other debit or credit cards to pay for any fees or non-SNAP-eligible items they wish to purchase.

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Baby ducks, dog rescued from tight spaces in Greater Danbury

Bear activity increases in early spring.  There have been multiple sightings in Southbury in the Bucks Hill Road, Reservoir Road and Woodland Hills Road areas.

Baby ducks have been rescued from a catch basin in Bethel.  Police and firefighters found 4 ducklings in the pipe crossing Apollo Road at Gemini Road.  After flushing the ducks to one side, emergency responders were able to scoop them from the water with a lacrosse stick. Local children helped with the rescue.  The four ducks were secured and transported to Wildlife in Crisis in Weston.

(Photo: Bethel Fire &EMS)

Danbury Animal Control received a report last week that a dog had fallen down a 7 foot hole between two walls.  Firefighters responded and determined that the do was about 3 feet down in a space, no wider than 14 inches.  Firefighters were able to deconstruct enough of the concrete wall to give the dog enough space to get out.  Animal Control says things became a little tense a couple of times while Maya was stuck and refused keep her muzzle on, but was eventually happy to be freed.

(Photo: Danbury Animal Control)

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New Milford Town Council to vote on budget tonight

A special New Milford Town Council meeting is being held tonight about the Budget for the coming fiscal year. The 6:15pm start time includes an opportunity for members of the public to address the Town Council with comments and concerns.  After public participation, the New Milford Town Council will hold deliberations, then vote on the Budget.  They are the legislative entity for the town authorized by the governor under a public health emergency executive order to be the voting body on a budget for the new year.  A link to the virtual meeting can be found on the Council's agenda on the New Milford town website.

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Newtown officials weigh in on Minneapolis police custody death

Newtown officials have released statements in response to a handcuffed man losing his life while in custody in Minneapolis. 

Police Chief James Viadero says sworn law enforcement officers who have taken an oath to protect and serve the community are all sickened by what transpired.  He says it undermines and diminishes public trust in law enforcement and underscored that everyone  deserves to be treated fairly, with dignity, respect, and expect impartiality when dealing with law enforcement. 

"On a daily basis men and women honor their oath, risking their lives for the safety of the communities and citizens to which they serve. The actions of one officer is viewed as a failure to all who serve in our chosen profession," Viadero said. "Equally disturbing is the actions of other officers who stood idly by while this act occurred. We have been entrusted to act when we witness injustices and protect those who are victims, this clearly did not happen in this instance."

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says there should be accountability when officers violate their oath, but answering with violence is not the answer as violence only begets violence.

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Pomperaug grads to get senior drive, scholarship awards night, graduation ceremony

Pomperaug High School administrators have formalized events to celebrate their class of 2020 seniors.  The Region 15 seniors from Southbury and Middlebury will get to experience a senior drive, scholarship awards night and graduation ceremony.  The senior class will parade be held on June 8th, starting in their respective town’s elementary school, proceeding to their respective middle schools and finishing by driving to Pomperaug High.  Only the seniors’ vehicles and Region 15 staff will be allowed on the school campuses during the parade. Signs honoring the seniors will be placed on the Pomperaug grounds.  On June 9, Pomperaug will stream a pre-recorded video to honor the senior class scholarship and award winners on the district's website, after 7pm. The graduation ceremony will be held on June 12 and will use a drive-in format in the parking lot of the Olymbec Corporate Group at 199 Benson Road in Middlebury starting at 9am. There will be speeches and performances. One vehicle per student will be allowed.  The ceremony will be live streamed on the Region 15 website.

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WCSU to include instruction about online learning for First Year courses

In response to what will be a new normal because of COVID-19, West Conn has revised First Year courses to include instruction about online learning and the kind of study habits necessary to thrive in a blended learning environment.  The university has also moved advising, tutoring, and academic coaching to online meeting environments so students can interact directly with staff and get support at home, as well as in the residence halls, as needed.  West Conn is working on creating opportunities for student engagement through clubs, student government, and events that are well-supported in online environments and that favor live interaction so that all students will have the opportunity to take part in our co-curricular experiences.  In the next few weeks, the fall course schedules will be complete, and students will be able to see how the course types have been assigned.

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Greater Danbury area reacts to Floyd death

Protests have been held across Connecticut in response to a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes. 

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says she has felt this incident on many levels, including as a mother and the wife of a Waterbury Police Detective.  Hayes spoke out over the weekend during a Facebook live town hall.  She said one of the first things she did was call her son, and for a few seconds it took for him to pick up, Hayes was concerned.  Then her husband came home and she could see the anguish in his eyes, because he loves his profession. 

She also answered questions and took comments.  Hayes noted that it's a difficult conversation, even for Black people. Hayes says what the four Minneapolis officers did, officers all over the country now have to deal with.  She says the actions make her husband and others less safe because the level of trust in the community has come down

About 75 people, including Ridgefield Police Chief Jeff Kreitz and First Selectman Rudy Marconi marched down Main Street in solidarity against racism.  Many who marched in Ridgefield held signs and chanted.  Drivers honked  horns as they passed by.  The peaceful protest stopped in front of Lounsbury House.  Compassionate Ridgefield created a public tribute honoring George Lloyd and Ahmaud Arbery, the black man who was shot and killed while out jogging in Georgia.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour have issued a statement about the recent events in Minnesota.  They called the actions inexcusable and say officers standing idly by when it happens is equally troubling and unacceptable.  The pair acknowledged the pain this and all similar incidents have caused and say police brutality  should not be condoned under any circumstance.  Danbury Police officials say they cherish the relationship the department enjoys with the entire Danbury community and will never take that relationship for granted.  The Chief says the members will do their best to to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all.

Demonstrators rallied in Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and other Connecticut cities Friday through Sunday to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck.  There were no reports of violence or major property damage.  Protesters closed both sides of I-84 in Waterbury, Interstate -95 in New Haven and several other highways temporarily on Sunday.  In Bridgeport, protesters forced the closure of Route 8 for more than three hours by demonstrating on the highway, resulting in two arrests.  Governor Ned Lamont wore an “I can’t breathe” T-shirt in a video message supporting peaceful demonstrations. 

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Brookfield Police arrest pair for December armed robbery at motel

Brookfield Police have arrested two New Milford residents for an armed robbery at a motel last year.  Police say 19-year olds Charles Brockett and Shyann Ranslow were each charged with burglary, larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to commit assault.   Brookfield Police have two additional suspects and active arrest warrants in this incident and are continuing efforts to locate them.  The Two New Milford residents were released on written promises to appear in court on July 10th.

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Three men arrested for Woodbury assault, robbery

State Police have arrested three Greater Danbury area men for an assault and robbery that happened in March in Woodbury.  21-year old Edmon Lasane of Danbury, 19-year old Kyle Morrissey of Danbury and 19-year old Miguel Acevedo of New Milford were charged Friday.  State Police responded to a Main Street North gas station on a report of a 16-year old stabbed multiple times.  The victim said he didn't know the assailants.  He sustained five significant slashing wounds requiring internal and external sutures.  State Police say the victim got a message over social media from someone claiming they wanted to buy an ounce of marijuana.  The men allegedly robbed and assaulted the teen.  State Police reviewed video surveillance and identified the men as Morrissey, Lasane and Acevedo.

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New Milford officials tour waterways via helicopter for summer preparation

New Milford officials took to the sky yesterday to tour waterways via helicopter in preparation of this summer.  Mayor Pete Bass says with inland state park beaches closed for the summer, local officials are fine tuning plans to ensure waterways remain safe. As the Housatonic River, depending on the area, can be dangerous with swift under currents Bass says it's imperative to protect those that enjoy the river and first responders who will be responsible for emergency services if someone is in need on the river.  There will be continued patrols of the areas of Gaylordsville, Youngsfield, Pickett District, Bleachery Dam, Gorge Area, inland streams.

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New Fairfield Town Hall begins reopening to the public today

New Fairfield Town Hall will begin the process of reopening to the public today. To start, services that cannot be accommodated online will be available by appointment only.  Residents must call the department needed to process the request to set up an appointment. New Fairfield officials are encouraging residents to continue to use online services when possible.  Changes have been made in Town Hall in order to create a safe environment for both employees and visitors, including installing plexiglass service windows, instituting a disinfection protocol, providing hand sanitizer dispensers and limiting the number of employees in the building at any one time. Visitors and employees will also be required to wear masks.

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Bulls Bridge drawdown moved up for emergency repairs

The Housatonic River at Bulls Bridge Development will have an earlier drawdown than anticipated in order for emergency repairs to be made.  FirstLight Power has filed a notice with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that river flows are currently lower than expected and are forecast to be too low to maintain reservoir elevation within the license limits due to damaged flashboards.  FirstLight needs to repair the Spooner Dam flashboards starting today.  The reservoir will be lowered about 3-and-a-half feet.  The repair is slated to start Wednesday and be completed by June 15th.  This emergency repair is being done about a month earlier than scheduled.

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Ridgefield creates Reopen Committee

Ridgefield officials have formed a small committee of 10 people from throughout the community to help town businesses and residents better understand the reopening.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says they've put together a guide for small businesses on the dos and don'ts.  There's also a hotline at Town Hall, 203-431-2718, for anyone with questions.  The committee includes a cross section of individuals, looking at every situation.  The group includes Selectman Bob Hebert, salon owner Adam Broderick, and representatives of organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, Support Downtown Ridgefield, the Arts Council, and Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra.  Marconi notes that each reopening phase and industry comes with its own restrictions, which generates a lot of questions.  That's why the committee was formed.

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WCSU. colleges make reopening plans for fall semester

Significant measures will be in place, but students and faculty will return to Connecticut college and university campuses this fall.  Over the past several weeks, System President Mark Ojakian says campus teams and steering committees have identified opportunities and challenges.

Recommendations are being made for academic affairs, enrollment management, student life, student support services, logistics, technology, operations, and facilities.  Ojakian says they still have a lot of planning to do and more questions need to be addressed in the coming weeks and months.

West Conn and the other three universities can start bringing residential and commuter students to their campuses on August 24th. Classes will follow the common calendar through Thanksgiving, with the balance of the semester and exams online. Arrangements for residential students to move in are still to be determined.

The 12 community colleges are permitted to offer on campus courses beginning June 1 for those spring semester students who need to complete programs, and for new students to enroll in workforce development programs.


Classes at the colleges and universities this fall will be delivered in a variety of on campus, online, remote, hybrid and flexible course design models. The community colleges and universities will be prepared to pivot to offer fully remote courses and services if public health conditions warrant.

The ReOpen framework provides guidance on the planning of repopulating campuses with the re-entry of students; monitoring the health of students, faculty and staff; containment of the virus should an outbreak occur; and preparing to shut down physical campuses and transition as seamlessly as possible back to a remote-only model if it becomes necessary.

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