Local Headlines Archives for 2020-08

UPDATED: Mayor responds to John Oliver charity offer in exchange for sewer plant renaming

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — Comedian John Oliver upped the stakes in a tongue-in-cheek spat with a Connecticut city, offering to donate $55,000 to charity if officials follow through on a joke to name its sewage treatment plant after him.

Mayor Mark Boughton said last week that Danbury was going to rename the facility the John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant, in response to Oliver’s expletive-filled rant against the city on a recent episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

“Why? Because it’s full of crap just like you, John,” Boughton said in a video posted on his Facebook page.

Oliver’s Danbury diatribe came on his Aug. 16 show, in which he explored racial disparities in the jury selection process, citing problems three decades ago in Hartford and New Britain in Connecticut. He then seemingly randomly went off on Danbury.

On Sunday’s show, Oliver said he was surprised and delighted by the city’s response. But then he went off on another rant after playing a video of Boughton saying it was just a joke.

“Wait, so you’re not doing it? Aw (expletive) you, Danbury,” Oliver said. “You had the first good idea in your city’s history and you chickened out on the follow through. What a classic Danbury move. Listen, I didn’t know that I wanted my name on your (expletive) factory but now that you floated it as an option, it is all that I want.”

Oliver offered to donate $55,000 to Danbury-area charities, including $25,000 to the Connecticut Food Bank, if the city renamed the plant after him. If not, Oliver said he would make charitable donations to “rival” towns including Waterbury and Torrington.

Boughton responded with a Twitter post Monday: “Yeah. We are on it @iamjohnoliver. Standby..” He did not immediately respond to a phone message Monday.

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U.S. Air Force C130 travels via Conn. highway to RI

Anyone who was driving along I-84 in Bethel and other towns on Friday may have seen an airplane on the roadway.  Connecticut State Police say the Traffic Services Unit escorted a U.S. Air Force C130 through Connecticut to Rhode Island, with a final destination of New Hampshire.  Troopers say many people were surprised to see this plane traveling along the interstate and through Bethel, Thomaston and other towns.

(Photo: CSP)

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New Fairfield to hold annual 9/11 ceremony

New Fairfield plans to hold the town's annual 9/11 ceremony next week.  The event at Veterans Park next to senior center will be limited to 100 people, and attendees will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.  The ceremony is set for 6:30pm.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says more information will be available once plans are finalized.

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Comedian John Oliver offers to donate to Danbury area charities if sewer plant is named after him

In the back and forth between comedy host John Oliver and the City of Danbury, the game has been upped. Oliver said on his show last night that he would donate to Danbury charities if the City follows through in naming the sewer plant after him, something Mayor Mark Boughton joked about in response to an earlier knock on Danbury by Oliver.

The comedian pledged in a nearly 8 minute portion of his half hour show to give $25,000 to Connecticut Food Bank, $5,000 to ALS Connecticut and $25,000 to cover all of the Danbury teacher requests on the site Donors Chose.

He gave Boughton one week to make good on the naming, even offering a sign for the plant in case the Mayor didn't want to spend public funding on the idea.

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Comedian John Oliver offers to donate to Danbury area charities if sewer plant is named after him

In the back and forth between comedy host John Oliver and the City of Danbury, the game has been upped. Oliver said on his show last night that he would donate to Danbury charities if the City follows through in naming the sewer plant after him, something Mayor Mark Boughton joked about in response to an earlier knock on Danbury by Oliver.

The comedian pledged in a nearly 8 minute portion of his half hour show to give $25,000 to Connecticut Food Bank, $5,000 to ALS Connecticut and $25,000 to cover all of the Danbury teacher requests on the site Donors Chose.

He gave Boughton one week to make good on the naming, even offering a sign for the plant in case the Mayor didn't want to spend public funding on the idea.

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Bethel official: Eversource restoration decisions to make numbers look better, not to protect the public.

After sitting through 10 hours of testimony and questioning of Eversource officials, Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker finally got his turn in front of the legislature's Energy Committee.  The committee heard from two municipal officials during their more than 12 hour hearing into Eversource storm response.  One represented the Connecticut Conference of the Municipalities and the other was the Knickerbocker, president of the Council of Small Towns. 

Knickerbocker was upset with comments from Eversource officials earlier in the day.  He says the fact that they didn't recognize the people they serve in their mission statement was very telling.  He added that a regulated monopoly is supposed to have one foot in the public sector and one foot in the private sector for funding.  Knickerbocker says that relationship is gone. 

He called Eversource a company making decision based solely on its bottom line.

Knickerbocker also termed the updated liaison program dysfunctional.  There used to be one high ranking official dedicated to each town, but now they're not executives and deal with multiple towns.  He told lawmakers he was tempted to think it's a deliberate attempt to keep municipal CEOs at bay, giving them someone to talk to and think the first selectmen getting somewhere.  But he cautioned, that's not the case because the liaisons no longer have support from senior management.

Knickerbocker didn't mince words after CEO Jim Judge said the utility doesn't reimburse customers for lost food and medicine after prolonged outages because it's not mandated.  He told lawmakers they can't expect Eversource to do things out of the goodness of their heart; instead incentivize them to do things and disincentivize them to do the opposite.

Knickerbocker also challenged Regional  President Craig Hallstrom's comments that sounded dismissive of municipalities saying the towns can't be trusted to identify the right priorities.  He says that's contrary to everything done in the last decade and defended local decisions saying municipal leaders don't prioritize indiscriminately.  He added that they know the difference between a road that has no other egress, and one where residents can take a longer route out.  Knickerbocker says Eversource made restoration decisions that made their numbers look better and not decisions to protect the public.

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National Weather Service confirms tornado touched down in Kent

The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado touched down in Kent during Thursday afternoon’s storm. The EF0 tornado had a maximum wind speed of 80 to 85 miles per hour. According to an NWS report, it touched down at 3:31pm, was 75 yards in width and half a mile long.  The National Weather Service says the damage was confined to uprooted and snapped trees. On Friday, the federal agency confirmed “a strong EF1 tornado, with maximum wind speed of 110 MPH,” touched down and tracked southeast from Bethany to North Haven for 11 miles on Thursday.

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Community Health Center offering free flu shots

The Community Health Center on Delay Street in Danbury is offering free flu shots beginning today.  The Center says with a possible ‘twindemic’ as flu season and COVID-19 overlap, people should get vaccinated against the flu this year.  The drive-up test event will be held from 2 to 5pm Monday through Friday. Shots are available without an appointment for health center patients 5 and older. Patients under 5 will require an appointment.

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YMCA's GO! 5-2-1-0 program gets $25,000 grant

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation has provided a grant to support the YMCA's GO! 5-2-1-0 program.  The Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut is using the $25,000 for a six-week healthy eating program in Danbury.  The Y teamed up with Danbury Public Schools to help parents through a virtual learning community.  Facilitated in Spanish by Clementina Lunar and Maria Vargas, both trained health coaches with the YMCA, parents are engaged in weekly discussions including Growing and Using Herbs, Cooking with Kids, and how to double the value of the pandemic SNAP benefits and purchase more produce at the Danbury Farmers Market.  The farmers market is held Fridays at the Danbury Train Museum from 10am to 2pm. Parents in the learning community receive additional coupons to shop at the farmers market.  Go! 5-2-1-0 is a holistic wellness message that puts an emphasis on eating 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, limiting recreational screen time to 2 hours or less, being physically active for 1 hour or more, and consuming 0 sugar sweetened drinks.

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C. H. Booth Library to reopen to the public on a limited basis

C. H. Booth Library will reopen to the public on a limited basis beginning Wednesday.  Newtown residents will still have access to contactless pickup of materials, but a limited number of people will be allowed back into the building for computer use appointments and to browse the collection for checkout. Printing and faxing will also be available. Sessions will last 45 minutes and will be offered during set times.  Library officials say this will allow staff to clean and sanitize work stations and high-touch surfaces in between sessions.  The library will accept reservations up to one day in advance.  When arriving for the appointment, patrons are asked to wait outside the main entrance until 5 minutes prior to the scheduled time slot.  Masks are required.  Certain areas of the library will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

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Pedestrian, cyclist gateway created in 126 year old bridge reconstruction

Putnam County officials are holding a ribbon cutting ceremony today to reopen the Morningthorpe Avenue Bridge in Brewster.  The pedestrian and cyclist gateway connects Route 22 to Railroad Avenue.  The reconstruction was a $2.6 million renovation project of the 126-year-old bridge.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell hopes the new path will help spur the Village of Brewster’s economic development, bringing people to Main Street, village parks and the Metro-North train station.  Putnam County secured federal funding for the reconstruction of the bridge through the Mid-Hudson South Technical Coordinating Committee and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council.

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Sherman firefighters seek traffic cones left out after tropical storm

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department is calling on residents to help them get some of their property back.  During the aftermath of this month's tropical storm, traffic cones were a common sight around Sherman, marking everything from downed wires to closed roads. In the weeks since then the Fire Department has collected cones members have across, but their inventory is still a few dozen short of what it was before the storms.  Anyone who sees a traffic cone is asked to drop it off at the firehouse, leaving it outside by the main door near the flagpole.

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Opioid Addiction roundtable held in Kent

August 31st is International Opioid Awareness Day.  A gathering will be held at the state capitol later this morning.  Last week, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz hosted a roundtable discussion in Kent about actions by municipal, state and federal agencies to address the opioid addiction crisis. The panel discussion included First Selectman Jean Speck, Senator Blumenthal, Congresswoman Hayes and the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner. 

Shatterproof Ambassador Dita Bhargava also participated in the panel discussion on-site. 

She talked about her son Alec, a hockey player who suffered from a mild form of bipolar and depression.  He began self-medicating with pot, then senior year of high school was found unconscious with an empty bottle of oxycontin.  Bhargava says he wen through 7 years of an addition-recovery cycle.  He died of an accidental overdose on his 26th birthday in July 2018. 

Opioid-related overdose deaths in the state climbed 400 percent from 2012 to 2017, with over 1,000 deaths for each of the past two years. Fentanyl related deaths now account for over 70 percent of overdoses.

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C.H.Booth Library accepting book donations for sale

The Friends of the C.H. Booth Library will be accepting donations in the back of the library starting September 2nd.  The collection will be from 10am to noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays, rain or shine. Books, media, puzzles, and games from the public are accepted. Newtown residents are asked not to drop off  encyclopedias, magazines, Time-Life Books, VHS tapes, cassettes or outdated textbooks or travel guides. 

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Mark Twain Library to honor Laura Linney Sept. 26

Mark Twain Library in Redding is going ahead with this year's Pudd’nhead Festival, founded in 2014 by the library and actor/comedian/author Michael Ian Black.  The fundraiser for the library draws inspiration from one of Twain’s classic tales.  The centerpiece of the week-long Festival is the Pudd’nhead Prize for Outstanding Humor, awarded to someone who channels Twain’s legendary wit. This fall, it will be awarded to Laura Linney.  Library officials are looking for people to contribute to attend the virtual gala on September 26th.  The RSVP deadline is September 23.  The library is offering Dinner-To-Go, with entree & distribution details and virtual link provided the week of the event.

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Relay For Life of Mahopac to be Drive Through Experience

The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Mahopac next month will be a Drive Through Relay Experience at Sycamore Park. Participants are asked to decorate their cars September 12th. There will be live music, cancer survivor celebration, luminaria ceremony drive through, and sponsor’s village.

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Bethel First Selectman disappointed Eversource execs dismissed early from hearing

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker finally presented his testimony to the legislature's Energy Committee at 9:30 last night.  While he thanked committee members for being fully engaged and asking questions after 11 hours, he was disappointed that Eversource executives were allowed to leave the call early.  State lawmakers spoke for nearly 5 hours longer than intended and later said they should have had municipal officials go first so that Eversource could answer for their actions.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton also testified. 

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Putnam County warns of Spotted Lanternfly pest

Putnam County officials are asking residents to be on the lookout for the Spotted Lanternfly.  The invasive pest from Asia was spotted in Southbury in October of last year, recently in Staten Island and prevalent in Pennsylvania.  The destructive pest feeds on more than 70 plant species and crops that are critical to New York’s agricultural economy, such as maple trees, apple trees, grapevine, and hops.  That can leave them vulnerable to disease and attacks from other insects. Spotted Lanternfly also excretes large amounts of sticky "honeydew," which attracts sooty molds that interfere with plant photosynthesis, negatively affecting the growth and fruit yield of plants, and impacting forest health.

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Bethl to run extra school buses this fall

The Bethel School District is starting in a hybrid model to learn new mitigation strategies with a full reopening at Berry, Rockwell and Johnson on September 29th and at the middle school on October 5th.  Bus routes will be run by cohort group while the schools are in the hybrid model.  Bus runs will be posted about a week from the start of the new year.  Two buses will cover each route to allow for social distancing, and both will have the same number but be labeled A or B.  All students must wear masks while boarding and riding the school bus. Students will have assigned seating, with siblings seated together. This is not optional.

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Conn. announces COVID grants to school districts

Connecticut has alerted school districts to the amount of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds they will be getting from the nearly $131 million dollar pool of money.  Danbury will receive almost $1.7 million for technology and other needs.  Danbury is a Title 1 school district and gets federal funds because of a high number of students from low-income families.  Danbury will also receive $2.2 million separately.  Connecticut has told School Districts how much in federal funding they will be receiving for COVID precautions.  Bethel will receive more than $639,000.  Ridgefield received almost $298,000.  New Milford is getting just under $190,000.

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Uptick in COVID-19 cases in children, infants

The Danbury Board of Education received an update from the local Health Department about the number of children infected with COVID.  Kara Prunty said that the 4 infants tested positive since the middle of this month, compared to 4 since March through August 12th.  Nearly 30 children aged 9-and-under tested positive this month, compared to about five in July and 10 in June.

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Eversource defends storm response to skeptical legislators

Top officials from Eversource on Thursday defended the utility’s electricity restoration efforts after Tropical Storm Isaias hit Connecticut earlier this month, but some state legislators remained unimpressed, questioning why vulnerable constituents were left in the dark for more than a week and why there continue to be communication breakdowns between Eversource and local leaders.

Legislators also questioned whether the multistate electric, gas and water utility has made the necessary investments and improvements in the power grid and its operations since a state panel came up with dozens of recommendations in 2012 after Superstorm Sandy and an October Nor’easter hit the state, causing lengthy power outages.

The General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee held a virtual informational hearing on Thursday on the storm response by Eversource and other utilities. The meeting was originally organized by the lawmakers to examine a controversial electric rate increase imposed by Eversource that occurred in July, shortly before the storm hit the state.

Energy Committee chairman Danbury Representative David Arconti pressed CEO Jim Judge about help for overburdened ratepayers.  Judge responded with PURA ordered shut off moratorium and late payment flexibility.  He says the state has done a lot, but the very profitable company should as well.  Judge responded that there are financial consequences to each of those items and that he wanted to give credit to PURA for initiating those early on.

Eversource contends there were 21,000 damage locations during this storm, about 25 percent more than Irene or Sandy.  Arconti noted that ratepayers have invested hundreds of millions of dollars and questioned where they are going because customers don't think the money is being spent wisely.  Asked if the ratepayers should expect prolonged outages following severe weather no matter how much is invested in grid resiliency and vegetation management, Regional President  Craig Hallstrom says they are working to better manage vegetation.

Judge says reliability has improved when it comes to months between large outages and outage duration in minutes.

Judge told state legislators he understands many customers may be frustrated by the company’s response and lengthy outages, especially given the pandemic, but he insisted the company was well-prepared for the storm and that Eversource has made numerous improvements over the years that have resulted in improved service and reliability.

Judge stressed that the Aug. 4 storm turned out to be “more impactful and widespread than anybody expected,” creating three times the maximum damage that had been projected.

“Nobody, nobody that I’m aware of, predicted that Connecticut people would see a storm with impacts significantly bigger than Superstorm Sandy or Irene,” Judge said, noting there was a “huge logistics effort” to restore power that was made more challenging because of coronavirus safety protocols.

“We had more line crews working the restoration effort than we’ve ever had before on an event on our system — more than Irene, more than Sandy and more than the October 2011 storm,” he said, adding how the number of restoration crews was tripled within the first 48 hours after Isaias hit Connecticut on Aug. 4.

But lawmakers argued there were still places where people didn’t see crews for days. Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan, D-Bethel, voiced concern about vulnerable elderly residents in his district being without power during the sweltering summer heat and communities having to grapple with water shortages because they rely solely on well water. He and other lawmakers said they also heard numerous complaints from constituents who lost perishable foods and medications, such as insulin.

Meanwhile, Rep. William Buckbee, R-New Milford, raised the issue of local officials not being able to reach Eversource after the storm hit and not receiving a plan from the utility for restoring power, a complaint that was voiced years ago as well.

“We don’t know what your plan is for an emergency when it happens,” Buckbee told the company’s executives. “We just don’t know what’s going on and I think that’s a major communication breakdown as well.”

Connecticut regulators in July ordered Eversource to temporarily suspend a rate increase that appeared in customers’ July bills so an investigation can be conducted into whether customers were overcharged.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, which is also examining Eversource’s storm response, received numerous complaints from customers shocked by larger-than-normal electric bills, some twice as much as they usually pay. Eversource has said they were driven primarily by a significant increase in summer energy use and two recent delivery fee increases.

On Thursday, Judge said the average bill increased by $62, with $55 of that attributed to increased usage when many people were working from home during hot weather.

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Easton Police investigating checks stolen from mailboxes

In the last week, the Easton Police Department has received several complaints from residents of checks stolen from their mailboxes. The checks were written and left in their mailbox with the flag up for pickup by the mail carrier. In some instances, the checks were modified and then cashed. Easton Police urge all residents to use a USPS drop box when mailing any checks. Leaving the flag up on a mailbox is a clear indication that there is something inside. Any suspicious activity should be reported to Easton Police at 203-268-4111.

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Brookfield firefighters extinguish stubborn commercial building fire

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company extinguished a stubborn commercial fire on Wednesday.  Firefighters responded to Silvermine Road Wednesday morning.  Chief Ellis reported flames in the roof area of a 2 story commercial building.  The stubborn fire was manpower intensive and took 2 hours to extinguish and overhaul.  There were no injuries and the cause of the fire is under investigation by the Brookfield Fire Marshal’s office. Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company provided rapid intervention and Danbury Fire Department also provided mutual aid.  Water Witch Hose of New Milford relocated an Engine to the Pocono Road firehouse.

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Drought warning issued for Litchfield County

Some parts of Connecticut are in a drought.  Residents of Litchfield County towns are experiencing Stage 2 Drought conditions. Under the state’s plan adopted in 2018, Stage 2 is the previously used “Drought Advisory” stage and identifies an emerging drought event, potentially impacting water supplies, agriculture, or natural ecosystems.  The Advisory panel says the state must begin early steps now to mitigate the potential for harm should the drought become prolonged.  Litchfield County residents are being asked to voluntarily reduce automatic outdoor irrigation, minimize overall water use by fixing leaky plumbing and fixtures and postpone the planting of any new lawns or vegetation.  Stage 2 is the second of five stages of drought defined in the Connecticut Drought Response and Preparedness Plan.

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Danbury man enters plea for his role in fatal skate park stabbing

A Danbury man charged as an accessory to the fatal stabbing of a man at the Danbury Skate Park has entered a not guilty plea.  20-year old James Lema-Zaruma is accused of being the getaway driver on March 18th.  He was charged with accessory to assault, reduced from criminal liability to commit assault.  Two men in the car reportedly started a fight with 21-year old Willy Placencia, stabbing him multiple times.  Police say the fight stemmed from “an ongoing feud between rival Danbury groups.” Lema-Zaruma was released on bond for an October 7th Court appearance.

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Mayor gets slimed to end Summer Reading Challenge

Danbury Library hosted a modified summer reading program this year.  There were over 400 participants who spent nearly 350,000 minutes reading during the summer reading challenge.  The theme was Imagine Your Story.  The program culminated yesterday with the Mayor being slimed.  This year, children, teens, and adults tracked reading and completed activities online using Beanstack.

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Danbury Police report uptick in thefts from cars

Over the past several weeks the Danbury Police Department has seen an increase in vehicle break-ins throughout the City.  Police are reminding drivers to lock unoccupied vehicles and remove any valuables from plain site.  Anyone who sees something suspicious is urged call the Danbury Police Department at (203)797-4611.

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Easton Police receive recognition from FBI for training event

The Easton Police Department and Detective Kent Lyman have received recognition from the F.B.I. New Haven Field Office regarding a regional training session held last year.  Lyman coordinated the training with F.B.I. Agents and Explosives Technicians.  Easton Police say the training session provided valuable information for First Responders regarding the hazards of commercial explosives and the threats posed by improvised/homemade explosives.  100 First Responders attended classroom instruction and an outdoor exercise, which included the detonation of various devices.  The plaque was presented to Easton Police Chief Richard Doyle by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Robert Fuller on Tuesday.

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State identifies rehab facility in Danbury with COVID outbreak

The state Department of Public Health has identified the rehab center where there is an outbreak of COVID cases.  On Tuesday, the Danbury Health Department said 4 staff members and 1 client tested positive, but declined to name the facility.  The cases stem from the Midwestern Connecticut Council of Alcoholism.  Clients have been discharged to self quarantine.  Protocols have been established for staff to return to work.  MCCA offers a variety of substance abuse treatment programs, including a 21-day inpatient rehab program.

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Photronics: Fiscal 3Q Earnings Snapshot

BROOKFIELD, Conn. (AP)  Photronics Inc. (PLAB) on Thursday reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $10.8 million.

On a per-share basis, the Brookfield, Connecticut-based company said it had net income of 17 cents.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 15 cents per share.

The electronics imaging company posted revenue of $157.9 million in the period.

For the current quarter ending in October, Photronics said it expects revenue in the range of $148 million to $158 million.

Photronics shares have declined 30% since the beginning of the year. The stock has increased 18% in the last 12 months.

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Gov. Lamont visits Bethel schools

Governor Ned Lamont stopped by Bethel Tuesday afternoon.  He spoke with First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker, school administrators and teachers at Bethel High School to see firsthand how they are preparing to bring students back safely. 

He also got a chance to hear from students, stopping a tour group for freshman orientation, led by seniors.  Lamont says he was met with extraordinary enthusiasm as the Wildcats prepare for their first day back to school on September 9th.

(Photo: Gov Lamont)

He says the kids were isolated at home during distance learning and the students he met seemed excited to get back into the classroom.  Bethel has 6 tents ready to go to take advantage of warm weather in September and October to start the new year with a hybrid model of in person and distance learning. Lamont says being outdoors, kids will be able to get mask breaks.

Lamont learned about the summer school program, which included about 100 kids of all ages.  He says it worked well, and young children and students with disabilities were wearing masks.  Lamont noted that this should give teachers, parents and kids confidence for the new school year.

Bethel's Emergency Management team also met with Governor Lamont.  They discussed the storm response and restoration work by Eversource. 

Emergency managers say the Governor was pleased by the preparation by the schools and the enthusiasm by the students to return to the classroom.

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Hearing set for October on Newtown, Ridgefield storm experiences

Ridgefield and Newtown have been successful in their motions filed with the Public Utility Regulatory Authority earlier this month.  Ridgefield received Participant status in the PURA investigation into Eversource’s preparation for and response to the Tropical Storm. 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says there are two concurrent paths that require information from residents regarding their experiences.  Part one investigates the preparedness and response, while the other calls for additional enforcement orders and civil penalties as appropriate (established as Docket 20-03-02RE01). 

Information gathered from officials and residents of Newtown and Ridgefield will be presented at a hearing on October 21st and 22nd.  Ridgefield residents are asked to submit a timeline of their outage, interactions and restoration to pura.executivesecretary@ct.gov or pura.information@ct.gov and reference Docket No. 20-08-03 and copy selectman@ridgefieldct.org by October 16. 

The motion was filed to compel Eversource to undertake additional and  immediate restoration, communicate with the Office of Emergency Management, identify additional resources, provide detailed  estimates for restoration efforts, to follow the approved Emergency Restoration  Plan (ERP) and to comply with obligations under its ERP.

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New Fairfield to file Motion to Intervene in PURA Investigation

The Town of New Fairfield will be filing a Motion to Intervene in PURA's Investigation of Eversource's storm recovery, providing PURA with testimony and documentation of townwide experiences.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says it's important for the Agency to hear from Eversource customers directly.  Residents may provide input by e-mailing pura.information@ct.gov and reference Docket number  20-08-03 in the Subject lIne.  Some suggestions for information to provide in the submission include duration of outage, if there was an accurate time for restoration, if the road was inaccessible and for how long, the cost of lost food and medication, and if communication with Eversource was satisfactory.  Del Monaco says people can also share concerns that this problem will happen all over again with the next major storm.

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Bethel leader to chair coalition looking to improve waste reduction strategies

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker will co-chair a 65 town coalition to pursue improved waste reduction strategies. 

The municipalities, along with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have formed the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management.  This initiative comes at a time of aging waste-to-energy infrastructure like the MIRA Resource Recovery facility.  The coalition is holding its first meeting on September 8th, breaking into working groups on specific topics – such as organics collection – and developing waste reduction-related action items. 

Among the 65 municipalities are Bethel, Brookfield, Kent, Ridgefield, Washington, and Weston. 

Without a new plan, DEEP says it's likely that an increased amount of the state’s municipal solid waste would be shipped out of state for landfilling.  DEEP says Landfilling is the least preferred management option for solid waste and can be minimized by embracing more sustainable practices, including source reduction, recycling, composting, anaerobic digestion and other conversion technologies.   

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Ridgefield school reopening delayed by power outage

There were a couple of large power outages in Ridgefield Tuesday into Wednesday, which has bumped the start of the school year.  5 of the schools were without power, and after the lights came back on, some didn't have internet or phone service.  Superintendent Susie Da Silva said in an email to parents that time was lost for training, planning, and technology use.  K-8 will begin Friday with the existing calendar, with Cohort B attending in person and Cohort A engaging virtually.  Monday, Cohort A will attend in person, and Cohort B will engage virtually.  Preschool will still begin on September 3rd. Full-day kindergarten will begin on the 8th.

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Mahopac man sentenced for raping a child

A Mahopac man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for raping a child.  Khori Salmon was also ordered to 20 years post release supervision, and registration as a sex offender.  District Attorney Robert Tendy says Salmon was convicted for sexual conduct against his 9-year old victim beginning when he lived in the Bronx.  Salmon moved to Putnam County in 2017, and his abuse continued, cumulating in the rape of the then 12-year old victim on two occasions in his Mahopac home in 2018.  He faced a maximum of 25 years in state prison.

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Central Park monument honors women's rights pioneers

A sculpture crafted by a Ridgefield woman has been unveiled in for New York’s Central Park.  Meredith Bergmann’s sculpture of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth was chosen from 91 submissions. 

The 14-foot-tall monument was unveiled on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the amendment that enshrined women's right to vote in the U.S. Constitution.  The bronze sculpture is the 167-year-old park's first monument honoring historical heroines - as opposed to fictional female characters like Alice in Wonderland and Shakespeare's Juliet.

Bergmann hopes her latest work will make a statement about the need to recognize the contributions of women.

There had been a moratorium on erecting any new statues in Central Park. But in 2014, a volunteer, nonprofit group called Monumental Women, made up of women’s rights advocates, historians and community leaders, set out to break what they’ve called the “bronze ceiling” and develop a statue depicting real women. T

he FDR Hope Memorial on Roosevelt Island in Manhattan features two statues Bergmann created of the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a wheelchair and a young girl with crutches, greeting one another. The memorial is supposed to be an inspiration to people struggling with all forms of disability, in a location once called Welfare Island — a stretch of land with a long past that included a prison and a smallpox hospital.

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Dozen new COVID-19 cases found in UConn residence hall

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) — The University of Connecticut reported a new cluster of COVID-19 cases Wednesday, hours after the leaders of the state’s public and private universities declared their schools ready to reopen following months of preparations to make them as safe as possible during the coronavirus pandemic.

The school reported it discovered 12 cases in Garrigus Suites after testing all of the approximately 270 students who live in that residence hall. The infected students have been moved into isolation, the school said.

UConn, which has reported 38 cases since students arrived back on campus this month, said those living in the dorm will be tested again within the next few days, and are being given instructions on what they must do in order to help ensure they remain healthy and the virus does not spread any further.

The new cases bring the school’s infection rate to 0.76%, which health officials still classify as very low. UConn starts classes Monday.

The news came after officials from UConn, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system and the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges appeared with Gov. Ned Lamont at Central Connecticut State University to tout their plans for in-person, remote, and hybrid learning this fall.

The news conference came on the first day of in-person classes for three of the four schools in the state university system.

Western Connecticut State University has moved all its classes online and suspended moving students back onto campus for at least two weeks because of a recent COVID-19 outbreak in Danbury, which has seen more than 200 cases in the past two weeks and where the school is located.

“We are ready to serve all our students,” said Mark Ojakian, the president of the Connecticut State Colleges Universities system.

All Connecticut colleges have adopted strict guidelines for allowing students back on campus. Those include requiring students coming from states with high infection rates to have a negative test result before being allowed on campus. They must get another test when they arrive and quarantine for two weeks on campus before getting a third test.

Ojakian says he’s confident that students can and will follow social distancing guidelines and the requirement to wear masks. He pointed to UConn’s decision to evict a dozen students from campus housing after a party in a dorm room as an example of how serious the schools are taking those rules.

UConn President Thomas Katsouleas said officials haven’t seen any gatherings larger than six people since that incident.

Lamont said the state will be monitoring the reopenings closely and is prepared to shut schools down again, should the infection rates begin to spike.

“Look, I don’t want to be ‘Governor Killjoy’ and that was not my nickname when I was in college,” Lamont said. “But I also know that we’re going to have to work hard to keep our colleges open safely.”

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New Milford man arrested for alleged upskirting incident at Walmart

A New Milford man has been arrested for allegedly taking upskirt photos of a woman at Walmart in Danbury.  Police charged 30-year old Jesse Atwood with Voyeurism on Sunday.  The incident happened around 7 o'clock that night.  The woman reported that Atwood surreptitiously placed his cell phone under her skirt and took a photograph.  She had her back to Atwood at the time, but when she realized what happened, notified store employees. 

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New Milford Police showing off new aviation unit

New Milford Police are showing off their new aviation unit.  It's made up of civilian volunteers and police.  A refurbished helicopter, similar to a news chopper but adapted for the military, was obtained through the surplus military program from the federal government.  There are no weapons involved as this is an observation helicopter.  It was retrofitted by a nonprofit, which also works with Stratford Police.  The organization also does operation maintenance, part replacement and other components.  New Milford Police say the helicopter was used on its first weekend in town to search for people reported missing in the Housatonic River.  Officers also used the onboard loudspeaker recently to alert people swimming in the area of Bleachery Dam that the river was off limits there.

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Putnam County Legislator responds to Sheriff's comments on lawsuit settlement

Putnam County Legislator Neal Sullivan is responding to Sheriff Robert Langley's comments on the legislature voting to settle a federal lawsuit for 12 million dollars.  Langley cited comments he credited to Sullivan alleging that the Sheriff’s Department didn't adhere to the requirement of turning over evidence which could have been helpful to the defense.  Sullivan says the comment was taken out of context, noting that it was regarding past practice, not current ones.  The case centers on Anthony DiPippo being acquitted at his 3rd trial for the rape and murder of a 12-year old girl in Carmel.  DiPippo was incarcerated for nearly twenty years.

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Bethel looking for more donations for Back to School supply drive

The Bethel Social Services Department is updating the needs for their annual Back to School Program.  Department members thanked residents who have donated school supplies, masks and hand sanitizer so far.  There are 122 children receiving backpacks and supplies this coming school year.  Some items still needed include sharpies, pens, pencil top erasers, glue, scissors and post-it notes. Donations are being accepted until September 1st. Financial donations may be made to The Community Council of Bethel.

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Bethel Schools share state guidance on lockdown, fire drills

Bethel Superintendent Dr Christine Carver says she has been asked by parents how the district will carry out Lockdown and Fire Drills during COVID 19.  The state recently released a guidance on the matter.  Fore fire drills, students and staff should be instructed that during an actual emergency, evacuation and safety are the first priorities and social distancing should be enforced only once students are outside any threatened structure or area and in a safe location.  Schools should conduct lockdown drills in classroom settings while maintaining social distancing and using masks.

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Danbury residents urged to get tested, help contact tracers

State and local officials on Tuesday urged residents of Danbury to get tested for COVID-19 and pick up the phone when a contact tracer calls, saying it’s crucial to stopping the current “uptick” of cases.

Mayor Mark Boughton said the city has also taken other steps, such as asking churches to hold virtual rather than in-person religious services and delaying plans for in-person learning at the public schools until at least Oct. 1.

Danbury has been seeing a rolling average of 22 new daily cases per 100,000 people. That represents a roughly 6-7% infection rate, officials said. Statewide, the infection rate is about 1%.

“We want to make sure that we can slow the spread, and we really only have about a week-and-a-half to do that,” Boughton said. “Once a week-and-a-half goes by, if you haven’t taken the right steps, if you haven’t done the right things, it can be a runaway freight train.”

Boughton said about 1,000 people were tested over the last two days and he urged all residents to get tested, whether they have symptoms or not. The increase has been partly linked to people who’ve traveled both nationally and internationally, and people gathering at places of worship, athletic fields and parties.

Boughton appeared at a news conference outside city hall with Gov. Ned Lamont and a group of local lawmakers, public health and hospital officials to highlight the urgency of tamping down the spread.

“This is not a time to panic, but it is a time to be cautious,” Lamont said.  He also harkened back to the announcement of the first confirmed Connecticut case during a March 8 news conference in Danbury.

“It is a little ironic here we are back in Danbury because we have had, it is not a surge, but it is an uptick, and we’re going to come down down hard on upticks like this,” he said.

State officials have ordered accelerated testing in Danbury’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities, suspending a policy allowing nursing homes to stop the weekly testing of residents and staff if a building is coronavirus free for 14 days. Facilities in Danbury will have to test everyone on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future.

Danbury Acting Health Director Kara Prunty says one rehab facility reported four new COVID-19 cases among staff and one case among its residents this week, though she deferred to the state Department of Public Health to identify the facility.

Sharon Adams, the President of Danbury and New Milford Hospital provided an update on hospital COVID-19 cases. There has been a slight uptick in cases in the past week, but the numbers are relatively low. 

 

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Uptick in COVID-19 appears to coincide with prolonged power outage

Danbury State Representative David Arconti, co-chairman of the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee, said he’s concerned the uptick in infections appears to coincide with parts of the city that were without electricity for multiple days following the recent tropical storm.

He says that's the downtown area in particular.  Arconti says the health department has heat map tracking capabilities and noticed the trend.

Arconti said he has reached out to the Connecticut Department of Public Health to determine if there have been more COVID-19 cases in other parts of the state where electricity was knocked out for long periods, especially in densely populated neighborhoods where there may be more multi-generational households.

Lamont said that might be “a canary in a coal mine” to determine if there may be more cases in other communities.

Arconti says Connecticut has known about the dangers of this pandemic since at least March, and storm season is the same time of year every year.  He wants to question utility officials at his hearing on Thursday about what they did to prepare for a natural disaster amid a pandemic.  Arconti specifically wants to know how storm management plans changed over the last 5 months, if at all.  He noted that they can't assume anything when it comes to the utilities, so doesn't know if they made other provisions knowing that municipalities would not be opening emergency shelters.

Eversource was responding to people on Twitter concerned with the heat wave and lack of power, that they should stay with friends or family.  Arconti says that's something the state Department of Public Health has been advising against--not gathering with people outside of one's own household.

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Lattins Cove state boat launch closed, parking limited at Squantz Cove launch

The Lattins Cove state boat launch is closed and parking capacity is limited to 50% at Squantz Cove state boat launch beginning today.  Environmental Conservation officers will increase outreach and monitoring to deter and identify gatherings on the water and at state boat launches. 

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says these precautionary measures are being put in place due to the significant uptick in new COVID-19 infections over the last two weeks in Danbury.  These measures will be in place for at least two weeks, but may be extended or increased based on the continued prevalence of behaviors inconsistent with COVID-19 social gathering and prevention guidelines. 

There have been numerous reports of “rafting,” on Candlewood Lake, where several boats tie-up together in a mass gathering, as well as large gatherings on the islands, which have been closed to the public since August 1. Whether on water or on land, DEEP is reminding people of the continued importance of following social distancing guidelines, including wearing masks and limits on the size of outdoor gatherings. 

DEEP says when there are these kinds of upticks, the state is taking swift action to maintain hard-won progress in fighting the disease.

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Putnam County issues alert of possible COVID exposure in Carmel

The Putnam County Department of Health is putting out an alert about a member of the public who tested positive for COVID-19 and visited a couple of places.  Anyone who worked at or attended the 10am mass at St James Church in Carmel on August 23rd, or worked at or visited Shoprite on Route 52 in Carmel between 1 and 3pm on Sunday is being alerted to possible exposure.  People who were at these locations at those times are asked to watch for symptoms including fever, chills, shortness of breath, aches, loss of taste or smell and other similar symptoms.  The Putnam County Health Department urged people to contact their physician with any concerns.

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Boughton to visit COVID pop up test site

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton will be appearing today at one of the pop-up testing sites for COVID-19.  The Community Health Center hosts daily drive up free testing at their Clinic on Delay Street.  The pop up testing is being done today at Broadview Middle School from 10am-2pm. The free drive-up and walk-up COVID-19 testing is for children and adults. Individuals do not need to have symptoms, don't need a referral or an appointment to be tested. Results are available in 2 to 3 days.  A Community Health Center provider will call or text to discuss the results.

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DOT starts Rochambeau bridge reconstruction

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has started construction activities for the rehabilitation of the Rochambeau Bridge.  The structure carries Interstate 84 over the Lake Zoar section of the Housatonic River. The bridge also straddles the boundary between Newtown and Southbury.  Motorists are advised that two lanes of traffic in each direction will be maintained during peak periods, from 6 am to 8 pm, with lane closures only allowed at night.

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Areas of Lake Zoar chemically treated with Diquat herbicide

Select areas of Lake Zoar will be chemically treated with Diquat herbicide today.  The effort is targeting aquatic nuisance plants like Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed.  Printed signs have been posted in shoreline areas impacted by the treatment.  Newtown officials say there will be some water use restrictions in the area.  While there are no limits on swimming, boating or fishing, the treated areas of the lake can not be used for drinking purposes for 3 days.  Water for animal consumption is banned for 1 day.  There is no use of treated lake water for irrigating turf or ornamentals for 3 days, or for irrigating food crops for 5 days.  

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New tick found in Conn. for the first time

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station reports populations of the Gulf Coast tick in Fairfield County, and notes its potential to further establish in Connecticut and transmit pathogens.  Research scientists with the Tick Surveillance and Testing Program say this is the first report of populations of the Gulf Coast tick in the northeastern United States.  Connecticut already has pervasive populations of blacklegged ticks and established populations of lone star ticks.  The Gulf Coast tick is small to medium sized, body 3-7 mm long and 2-4 mm wide.  The Gulf Coast tick is a three-host tick because each active life stage feeds on a different host. Larvae and nymphs feed on birds and small rodents and rabbits, while adults primarily feed on larger mammals including white-tailed deer, dogs, coyotes, skunks, and bears. They will also readily feed on humans.

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New Fairfield firefighters warn of fundraising phone scam

The New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department is in the middle of their annual letter drive, and caution residents to a scam that's also circulating.  The chair of the actual fund drive received a call from a solicitor asking for donations for "Fire and EMS". The computer voice identified himself as Travis and, after further prompting, revealed that his company is a for-profit political entity. Anyone who is able to donate to the New Fairfield volunteers is asked to respond to the mailing and not be phone calls asking for donations. The New Fairfield volunteers say they are busy at the fire station; not calling asking for money.

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Danbury hosts pop up COVID testing sites

Danbury is holding several pop up COVID testing events this week to identify populations where there are high infection rates.  Testing tonight at Rogers Park Middle School is 4:30 to 7:30.  Tomorrow there's testing 10am to 2pm at Broadview Middle School.  Thursday it's back to Rogers Park Middle School from 10 to 2 and on Friday testing will de done at Broadview Middle School from 10am to 2pm. 

COVID-19 testing will take place on Saturday in Danbury.  The event will be noon to 3pm at Mt. Pleasant AME Zion Church on Rowan Street.  No appointment is necessary; drive and walk ups will be accommodated.

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Wilton, lower Fairfield County experiencing uptick in COVID cases

Wilton and other neighboring communities are experiencing a growth in their 6-day average daily COVID-19 case rate.  Wilton First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says he town, along with Westport and Ridgefield saw double the 31-day rate.  Weston’s was triple the 31-day rate.  She encouraged people to keep wearing a mask in public, avoid crowds and avoid affected areas. 

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Rate hike, storm lead to calls to break up Eversource

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut regulators heard calls Monday to break up the state’s largest electric utility in the wake of large rate increases and lengthy delays in restoring power following Tropical Storm Isaias.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority held a day-long hearing by videoconference on Eversource Energy’s rate hikes that went into effect on July 1, which led to the doubling of some customers bills. Those hikes were followed by the Aug. 4 storm that knocked out power to about 1 million homes and businesses and left many customers in the dark for more than a week.

Among the local officials to testify were Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker, Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky, Redding Senator Will Haskell and Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, urged PURA to consider several actions including breaking up Eversource and creating a publicly owned state-based utility. He also urged regulators to roll back the rate increase, issue refunds for customers who suffered losses during the tropical storm and eliminate guaranteed profits for the company.

“I think that the time for tinkering is over,” Blumenthal said. “I think that we need to think big about becoming smaller, more responsive and smarter in the way we do public utilities and deliver power to the consumers of Connecticut.”

Gov. Ned Lamont, a former cable television executive, argued the electric utilities need to have their rate of return tied to the amount of time it takes to restore power during outages. He called on PURA to penalize Eversource and UI for poor responses and reward them when they get power restored quickly.

“The disconnect between pay and performance is shocking to me,” Lamont told the regulators. “I think the days of getting a 9 1/2% rate of return for just showing up is over.”

Eversource officials apologized for requesting a rate hike in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The utility said the dramatically higher electric bills were due in large part to increased electricity usage in a hotter than normal summer, combined with people staying at home and using more power during the pandemic.

They said the rate hikes were necessary because of increases in costs from suppliers, including a state mandate requiring Eversource to buy electricity from the Millstone nuclear power plant in Waterford.

The utility posted profit of $909 million in 2019, down from $1.03 billion in 2018.

Penni McLean-Conner, the chief customer officer for Eversource, called the customer outrage deeply disturbing, but understandable.

“We realize now that in these difficult times we should have done more to ensure our customers and constituents were aware of the upcoming changes in rates,” she said.

The rate increase was temporarily suspended by the authority on July 31 amid complaints from customers and state officials.

Monday’s hearing lasted into the evening, with regulators questioning Eversource officials in details about their costs during the afternoon and then hearing from an angry public.

A woman, identified on the video call only as Pammy from Middletown, testified that her electric bill was $786 last month for a three-bedroom ranch house and is expected to go up further if the rate increase is reinstated.

“I literally cannot sleep at night and am sick to my stomach,” she said. “To pay $1,000 a month, that’s a mortgage payment.”

PURA chair Marissa Paslick Gillett said the group also has received more than 1,000 letters and emails from the public commenting on their electric bills.

Constance Atiles-Hewitt, of Greenwich, wrote that her electric bill doubled just before she lost $120 in groceries during the storm. She said Eversource should have had extra crews in place and ready to respond to the storm, which had been tracking toward the state for days.

“Your top executives sicken me and should be ashamed to pass through all these costs to the customer while lining their pockets on the back of those who have no choice but to use your expensive, subpar service which delivered no preparedness,” she wrote.

Monday’s regulatory forum will be followed this week by a legislative hearing on both the rate increase and storm response.

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Free COVID testing in Danbury today, tonight

More free COVID-19 testing is taking place in Danbury today as the City experiences a spike in cases.  Governor Ned Lamont says the administration is reaching out to various populations in Danbury with public service announcements in different languages, warning people to get tested and quarantine.

Danbury has a 7 percent positivity rate while the rest of the state has a less than 1 percent rate.  Lamont says he is worried that the number has gone up quite a bit.   Between August 2nd and 20th, Danbury recorded at least 178 new cases, a sharp increase over the previous two-week period when only 40 new cases were recorded.

Lamont says some of the increase is due to populations that come in from out of the country.  He wants those populations addressed so he had Dr. Albert Ko, who is fluent in Portuguese, recorded messages about the importance of testing and quarantine efforts.

The COVID testing today is at 10 am to 2 pm and from 4:30 to 7:30 pm at Rogers Park Middle School

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Pop up tent used for COVID testing stolen in New Milford

A pop-up tent that the New Milford Visiting Nurse & Hospice Association was using for their COVID testing site has been stolen.  New Milford Police say the man was driving a pick up truck at the time of the theft on Park Lane Road.  The incident was reported August 11th around 7pm.  The 4-door, blue GMC, possibly a 'Canyon', had Connecticut license plates.  The numbers couldn't been seen because of the image quality and distance from the camera.  The man entered the south lot of the VNA, backed into a parking spot, loaded the pop-up tent into his truck and drove away north on Route 202. The tent was described as teal in color.  The VNA is offering the COVID testing site as a service to the community, and although the tent only costs $50, police say it is a valuable piece of equipment for the nurses who operate the test site. Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Begley at 860-355-3133 ex-2489.

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Danbury moves start of school year to all distance learning

Due to the spike in COVID-19 cases reported in Danbury, School Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella has announced that the year will start this fall with distance learning for all students.  He acknowledged that this decision impacts so many families in a variety of ways.  He intends to revisit the state of local health conditions and their impact on school programming on October 1st to determine the  best model in which to continue.  The school district is working with EdAdvance, the State Regional Education Service Center, to set up full-day childcare programming during the duration of Distance Learning.  He thanked families for patience as the administration has to make decisions on these fast-paced circumstances and the impact they have on the community.

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Bethel Police formally introduce new Chief

The Bethel Police Department took to social media on Friday to formally introduce the new Chief.  Stephen Pugner was officially promoted in July, but Pugner awaits his official public swearing-in due to COVID-19 gathering size restrictions. Pugner joined the Bethel Police Department in 2000 as a patrol officer.  The Department says the new chief is a trained accident reconstruction specialist, served as field training coordinator and holds a master’s degree in public administration.  The Department says the chief bears overall responsibility for the professional, legal and efficient operation of Bethel Police and through both Pugner's experience and education they are confident he will continue to further the success of the department.

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Former Brookfield First Selectman dies at age 80

A former Brookfield First Selectman is being remembered.  Jerry Murphy died on Friday at the age of 80.  He became first selectman in 2003 and held the position for two terms.  Murphy served for 31 years in the U.S. Navy, including in the Vietnam War.  He served as Executive Officer on USS Kalamazoo, commanded several ships, did two tours at the Pentagon and one at NATO Headquarters in Belgium. His military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal and the Legion of Merit.  Murphy stayed active in Brookfield with participation on the Candlewood Lake Authority, Brookfield Inland Wetlands Commission, Brookfield Lions Club and Brookfield VFW.  Funeral services will be private; however, there will be a live stream of the service starting at 10am by visiting cornellmemorial.com. In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to be made in Jerry's memory to the United Way of Western Connecticut, where he once served on the Board of Directors.

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Ridgefield Police reminder drivers of school bus laws

The Ridgefield School District plans to reopen with a hybrid model through at least the end of September.  With children preparing for a return to the classroom, police are urging drivers and pedestrians to pay attention.  Police ask all drivers to be aware of “back to school” bus, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic.  Under state law, it is mandatory that drivers stop for school buses that have their flashing red warning lights activated, whether they are approaching or following the school bus.  Fines for passing a standing school bus that has its flashing red warning lights activated starts at $470 for a first offense. Parents should remind their children to wait in a safe place, out of the travel portion of the roadway, and only cross the street after looking both ways, even if the red lights are activated.  Police urge children to tell an adult and the police about anything that makes them feel unsafe or uncomfortable on the way to/from school and while they’re in school. Children should be reminded not to speak to, or get into the vehicles of people they don’t know.

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Naugatuck Valley Community College delays opening of Danbury campus

Naugatuck Valley Community College has put off the opening of its Danbury campus for two weeks because of coronavirus.  Classes will be held online through September 6th.  The decision was made at the recommendation of the state Department of Public Health Commissioner out of an abundance of caution, to protect the health of all students, faculty, and staff.  The Waterbury campus is not impacted by the changes.  Classes start tomorrow and will be held via the Blackboard platform.  Naugatuck Valley officials acknowledged that delaying the on-ground learning experience is inconvenient and disappointing to students and their families, but said it had to be done in order to help prevent the spread of COVID.

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PURA hearing today on rate increases

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority temporarily suspended Eversource’s recent rate increase while it conducts a full review.  PURA issued the order to ensure that Eversource is not over-collecting revenues in the short term at the expense of ratepayers.  The hearing starts at 10am.  Eversource officials will respond to questions posed by PURA and other formal parties to the process.

PURA will receive comments from elected officials at the beginning of the hearing before conducting the evidentiary portion of its proceeding and will conclude by inviting public comment.  Written testimony from the public can be emailed anytime to the Authority at pura.information@ct.gov prior to the conclusion of the hearing.

The hearing will be conducted via Zoom.  The hearing will also be available to watch on ct-n.com.

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WCSU student move-in postponed

In Danbury, nearly 900 students were expected to begin moving into WCSU dorms on Sunday. School President John Clark announced the new restrictions on Saturday, noting all classes would be moved to online-only for at least two weeks because of the spike. About 60 students who moved in early were told to stay on campus for the next two weeks, and commuting students must stay off campus, he said.

The state Department of Public Health issued a coronavirus alert for Danbury on Friday night due to what officials called a serious outbreak in the city. Nearly 180 residents tested positive for the virus from Aug. 2 to 20, compared with 40 who tested positive the previous two weeks.

About 4,500 undergraduates attend WSCU, most of them commuters.

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City naming sewage plant after John Oliver

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut town’s officials are showing comedian John Oliver what they think about his expletive-filled rant about their city — they’re naming the local sewage treatment plant after him.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton announced the tongue-in-cheek move in a video posted on his Facebook page on Saturday that shows him at the plant.

“We are going to rename it the John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant,” the Republican mayor says. “Why? Because it’s full of crap just like you, John.”

The new name comes after a recent episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” in which he explored the racial disparities in the jury selection process, citing problems in a few Connecticut towns.

In the segment, Oliver noted Danbury’s “charming railway museum” and its “historic Hearthstone Castle."

“I know exactly three things about Danbury,” he said. “USA Today ranked it the second-best city to live in in 2015, it was once the center of the American hat industry and if you’re from there, you have a standing invite to come get a thrashing from John Oliver — children included — (expletive) you.”

It wasn’t exactly clear what prompted Oliver to go off on Danbury. A message seeking comment was left for his agent Sunday.

Oliver also made fun of Boughton and other American mayors in 2017 over videos they made seeking to attract Amazon’s second world headquarters. In his video, Boughton asks Alexa where the best place for the facility would be, and Alexa says Danbury.

In Boughton’s new video, he also mentions that Amazon has decided to open a distribution facility in Danbury, although it’s not the second world headquarters.

“And, oh by the way, thanks for showing that Amazon video,” Boughton says to Oliver at the end of the video. “We did get Amazon here in Danbury.”

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SNAP replacement deadline approaching

SNAP recipients who lost power during the storm are able to request replacement benefits.  In order to make a request, Danbury Senator Julie Kushner says SNAP recipients must call the DSS Benefit Center at 1-855-626-6632 to report the food loss, or mail forms on the DSS website to the scanning center prior to September 3rd.

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Congressional delegation oppose changes to Farmers to Families Food Box Program

The Connecticut congressional delegation has sent a letter to the Department of Agriculture in opposition to changes in the third round of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.  Vendors who were already participating are now required to reapply for disbursement.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says this overburdens  small Connecticut vendors who have diligently worked to serve their community at this time when food insecurity has skyrocketed.

 

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New Milford CERT steps up during public health emergencies

The New Milford Community Emergency Response Team volunteered 41 hours at the cooling center at The Maxx last week while residents were without power during the heat wave. CERT has also contributed 538 volunteer hours helping the New Milford Food Bank since the pandemic began in March, through the middle of last month.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the town will be conducting a new 20 hour basic course in the fall for Community Emergency Response Team volunteers.  The training will include basic emergency preparedness, CERT organization and Incident Command System, fire safety, first aid, medical operations and triage, terrorism (including active shooter), disaster psychology and light search and rescue. Shelter operations will be taught shortly after the basic course is completed.

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State delcares COVID-19 alert for Danbury

The state Department of Public Health issued a virus alert for the city of Danbury on Friday, saying it has seen a significant spike in cases.

Between Aug. 2-20, the city recorded at least 178 new cases, a sharp increase over the previous two-week period when only 40 new cases were recorded, the department said in a statement.

Much of the outbreak is related to recent domestic and international travel. Residents are urged to stay home if possible, avoid unnecessary outings and wear a mask when leaving home, according to the statement.

“This is a serious outbreak in Danbury and we really need an all hands on deck approach,” Acting DPH Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford said in the statement. “We need you to answer your phone if a contact tracer tries to get in touch.”

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Redding Police warn of phishing email aimed at Conn. licensed professionals

Redding Police say a phishing email is making its way through Connecticut, targeting professional license holders. The email appears to be from the state, even though it is not, and asks credential holders to follow a link to a web page that looks like the state’s eLicense system.  The scam leads asks people to validate their license by entering personal information, such as name, address, social security number and date of birth.  Anyone who received the referenced email and believes information may have been compromised, is encouraged to visit the FTC’s web site for advice on preventing and dealing with identity theft: https://identitytheft.gov/

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Walk-in visitors again allowed Ridgefield Town Hall

Walk-in visitors are again being allowed at Ridgefield Town Hall.  Visitors will have to obey certain rules in order to conduct business with various departments.  Face coverings must be worn at all times and must check in at the Information Office just beyond the Main Street entrance.  That is the only door that will be open, though people needing the handicap entrance on Bailey Avenue will be allowed in to use the elevator. 

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Household hazardous waste collection day planned in Brookfield

A Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Event is being held next month for Greater Danbury area towns.  The event on Saturday, September 12th from 9 am to 2 pm is at Brookfield High School.  It's open to residents of Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield and Sherman.

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Hayes introduces Helping America's Farmers Act

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has introduced the Helping America’s Farmers Act. This bill would create a new economic injury disaster loan program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.  It's been endorsed by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Connecticut Farm Bureau Association, Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association, Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association, and Dairy Farmers of America among others.  Under the new loan program, applicants would also be eligible for a $20,000 grant upon application, and can seek forgiveness for their loan based on demonstrated economic hardship. Application priority is given to farmers and ranchers located in the areas hit hardest by an economic disaster, as well as minority, veteran and women-owned operations.

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Danbury Fire Department holds promotion ceremony

The Danbury Fire Department has held a swearing in ceremony for three members who are taking on new positions.  Lt. Shea Hanson was promoted to fire captain.  Firefighter Mike Jewell and Lt. Ray Guard were made deputy fire marshals.  The City Council approved Hanson and Guard’s appointments this week, while Jewell’s was approved in April.  Hanson joined Danbury Fire Department in July 2006 after serving as a volunteer firefighter and 911 dispatcher. He became a lieutenant in March 2014. Guard became a Danbury firefighter in October 2005 and has earned various certifications.  Jewell has been with the department since January 1996 and served as fire dispatcher from 2013 to 2015. He also received the Sunshine Rotary Club’s Firefighter of the Year Award in 2013. He earned the No. 1 rank on the deputy fire marshal eligibility list.

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UPDATED: New Milford man turns himself in on manslaughter charge

A New Milford man has turned himself into Police on a manslaughter charge.  According to the Republican American Newspaper, 37-year old Josh Hilliard is accused of beating his 36-year-old wife to death with a hammer during a fight over infidelity.  The couple have two children.

According to the arrest warrant Hilliard called 911 about 20 minutes after video recording Jessica Hilliard's final breaths and can be heard saying “What did you do to yourself?”

The published report says Josh Hilliard claimed his wife smoked hump nugs, that her found her on the floor and that she previously attempted suicide. He later reportedly admitted to having a fight, taking her phone and that they struggled when she came after him with a hammer.  There was no evidence of illegal drugs in her system. 

An autopsy determined the death was a homicide. The injuries were not definitively linked to the hammer.

The Republican American reports that one of the couple’s two children told police she had overheard an argument about infidelity, that her her father took the phone and looked at her Snapshot. The girl reportedly told police she heard three loud thuds and then saw her father standing over her mother.

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Vehicle stolen in North Salem recovered, victim's credit cards used in CT

A vehicle stolen in North Salem has been recovered, though the thief is suspected of using the owner's credit cards at a Walmart in Connecticut.  New York State Police launched an investigation on Monday into the vehicle theft from a parking area.  The car, which was unlocked with the keys in the ignition, was recovered on Peach Lake Road.  Two suspects are believed to have used the victim’s credit cards to make several fraudulent transactions in Branford, Connecticut.  Anyone with information regarding the possible identity or location of the individuals is asked to contact the New York State Police at (914) 769-2600.  Reference case # 9768514.

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New Milford to host Hazardous Waste Collection Day

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the town's Health Department has signed off on holding the Hazardous Waste Collection Day again this year. It is scheduled for October 3rd at John Pettibone School from 9am to 3pm.  Participating towns are New Milford, Bridgewater, Kent, Roxbury, Sherman, Warren and Washington.  People must bring proof of residency.   People dropping off waste will be asked to stay in their vehicles and to wear a mask.  Electronics will be accepted. A list of all items can be found on the New Milford Health Department's webpage.  A licensed transporter will safely dispose of all household residential waste.

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Kent Park & Rec looking to hire After-School Program workers

The Kent Park and Recreation Department is looking for leadership team members to work at its After-School Program Monday through Friday, beginning September 8th.  The program is from 2:45 to 5:30 pm and follows the Kent Center School calendar. Candidates must be at least 18 years old and should have experience working with kids, be able to work as part of a team and be a role model for program participants. General duties include supervision of children and organizing and overseeing activities, including homework and snack time. Applications are available on the Kent Town website and should be returned to Park and Recreation by August 31st. Questions should be directed to Park and Rec director Lesly Ferris at 860-927-1003.

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Putnam County Sheriff calls for funding for additional training

As part of the 2021 budget, Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley is calling for funding for additional training for Sheriff’s Department members.  Target Solutions has an accredited online platform for Law Enforcement, Fire Departments, Emergency Medical Services and Local Governments. To keep Deputies techniques sharp, Langley says continued education is key.  A training series being considered covers Communication Skills, Patrol Tactics, Use of Force, Ethics, Leadership and other mission-critical topics.  There's also OSHA, Sexual Harassment Prevention, Driver Safety, and Diversity in the Workplace training courses. 

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Redding Highway Department starting roadwork Monday

The Redding Highway Department is starting roadwork Monday on several roads.  The work should take approximately one month to complete.  The streets are Stepney Road and North Park Avenue.  On Wednesday, work will start on Marchant Road and Hopewell Woods Road.  Work is also planned on Sport Hill Road, Rock House Road, and Great Pasture Road. There will be sporadic road closures and detours. Motorists are asked to take alternate routes when possible.  The schedule is subject to change.

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Danbury Fire Department responds to higher than usual number of outdoor fires

The Danbury Fire Department has experienced a higher than usual number of outdoor fires being reported in the past month.  The Danbury Fire Marshal’s Office is reminding residents of the dangers these fire pose.  Any burning of brush must be permitted by the Fire Marshal, but the burning of leaves or rubbish, even in a barrel, is prohibited. In the last month there were 3 brush fires, 4 trash fires, 2 involving outside equipment and a deck fire caused by an unattended candle.

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Clean up ordered by Danbury of long vacant restaurant property

The owner of the long vacant Bennigan's restaurant property in Danbury has been sent an order to clean up the abundance of garbage dumped in the rear of the site.  The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team says the property is often an attraction for illegal dumping, and criminal activity.  The garbage was cleared and fencing has been added to prevent further illegal dumping.

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Danbury has helped house 32 homeless individuals since March

There are currently 43 homeless individuals being housed at the Super 8 motel on Lake Avenue in Danbury.  Since the pandemic began, 32 homeless individuals have found housing.  The non-profit Pacific House is looking to purchase the motel and is already working with City employees on day to day operations of the shelter.

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Eversource reportedly missed deadline to roll back delivery fee

The chair of the legislature's Energy Committee has been fielding questions about a second round of inflated Eversource bills.  Danbury officials say state Representative David Arctoni relayed to them that the utility missed the chance to suspend the delivery fee on the August cycle, after PURA responded to customer outrage of the higher fees.  He says the reduction should be in place for the September bill.

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Sandy Hook families: Gun maker trying to wipe out lawsuit

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A lawyer for some of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims' families is accusing gun maker Remington Arms of using its new bankruptcy case to try to wipe out the families' lawsuit against the company. The comments came during a hearing Tuesday in federal bankruptcy court in Decatur, Alabama. The families are suing Remington in Connecticut over how it marketed the rifle used in the 2012 massacre that killed 20 children and six adults. Their lawyer says their lawsuit is not included in the bankruptcy filing and the company is trying to rush an auction of its holdings. A lawyer for Remington denies the allegation.
 

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Danbury cancelling youth sport activity due to COVID-19 spread

Effective Monday, Danbury is cancelling youth sport league activity, including pop warner football and soccer leagues.  Mayor Mark Boughton says this is in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the city.  The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference has oversight of fall high school sports, which put a pause on training activities.  The organization has a meeting scheduled with the state Department of Public Health tonight.  Nearly 2,300 Danbury  residents have tested positive for coronavirus since March.  There were 29 positive cases reported yesterday, 2 on Tuesday, 14 on Monday and 24 on Sunday.

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New Milford Board of Ed approves more money for school reopening

The New Milford Board of Ed has approved nearly $1 million to go toward school reopenings.  $750,000 for staffing and $200,000 for materials was approved Tuesday.  The Board doesn't hold its next regular meeting until after the school year begins so in order to allow the administrators to have all COVID-related materials they need, lump sum amounts were approved.  There was no line item approval at this week's meeting.  Some of the items needing to be purchased include ceiling fans, signage, dividers and more tables.  The New Milford Board of Ed approved little more than a million dollars in July for the schools emergency needs.

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Local town clerks getting ready for onslaught of November absentee ballot applications

The Brookfield Town Clerk's office has gotten a lot of calls recently about the upcoming election.  Brookfield has updated the Town Clerk's webpage to include a set of resources to help residents looking for details about the November vote.  There are links to verify registration, to register to vote, and information about absentee ballots.  Additional information will be added as the Town Clerk receives other inquiries from Brookfield residents.

Polling locations will be open for in-person voting on November 3rd.  Ridgefield officials say the Secretary of the State will be sending absentee ballot applications to all registered voters in the first two weeks of September.  Completed applications can be returned to the Town Clerk by dropping them in the secure Ballot Box located outside the Bailey Avenue entrance to Town Hall, the secure metal box mounted to the right of the Ridgefield Town Hall front door or mailing it through the postal service.  Ballots will be issued by the Office of the Town Clerk beginning October 2nd.

The New Fairfield Town Clerk's Office has received many calls and emails about the November election.  The polls will be open on November 3rd, but the Secretary of the State will be sending applications for absentee ballots to all registered voters.  Completed applications should be delivered to the town clerk's office, either by dropping off in the drop box at the back of Town Hall or by mailing it in. 

New Fairfield officials say anyone who has already filed an Application for Absentee Ballot for the November election, does not need to complete the application sent by the Secretary of the State.  Residents looking to confirm the application has been received can email the town clerk.

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Juveniles arrested for alleged thefts from cars in Bridgewater

Bridgewater was again the target for thieves early Monday morning. They hit the Blueberry/Bilberry area by robbing unlocked vehicles.  The juvenile perpetrators were caught within hours.  The 15-year olds from Bridgeport were sitting in a stolen car, which was equipped with a tracking device. They were released after arrest because they were minors.  Bridgewater Resident State Trooper Matt Bell is offering advice for residents about not being an easy target.  All residents should lock unoccupied cars and garages and not leave any valuables in sight.  Homeowners are urged to consider motion activated outside lighting and video monitoring as deterrents. 

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Danbury, NY interviewing consultant on railway extension project

Danbury and Putnam County officials are starting to interview primary consulting firms to perform the Danbury to New York Rail Connection Feasibility/ Planning Study.  The City's Engineering Division worked with the Mayor and Putnam County government, along with other stakeholders to secure a $1 million dollar grant from New York Metropolitan Transportation Council for the study.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says this type of grant is difficult to secure, but the project has so much potential that the Council signed off.

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Truck driver lost control on wet highway in Danbury

The truck driver who went down a highway embankment in Danbury yesterday morning and snarled the commute lost control on the wet roadways.  State Police say 26-year old Jamie Zene of Hartford was in the left lane of I-84 west by exit 3 and tried to negotiate the right curve,  He struck the metal beam guardrail, ran off the roadway and ended up at the bottom of the embankment.  The crash crushed the driver side of the cab.  No injuries were reported.  Zene was issued an infraction for failure to maintain lane and given a verbal warning for traveling too fast for conditions.

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Putnam County Sheriff weighs in on legislature setting DiPippo case

More Putnam County officials are weighing in on the legislature's decision to settle a federal lawsuit by Anthony DiPippo for 12 million dollars.  Sheriff Robert Langley cited comments from Legislator Neal Sullivan alleging that the Sheriff’s Department had a policy of not adhering to the requirement to turn over evidence which could be helpful to the defense.  Langley noted that the “Brady Rule” is a pretrial discovery rule that requires the Prosecution to turn over to the defendant in a criminal case all exculpatory evidence in the possession of the Police and Prosecution.  He says the department follows that rule in order to minimize the risk of liability to Putnam County.  DiPippo, on his third trial for the rape and murder of a 12-year old girl in Carmel, was found not guilty.

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Bethel officials say SOTS formalizes plan for November absentee ballots

The Secretary of the State has formalized a plan for the issuing of absentee ballots for the November election.  Every registered voter will receive an application for an absentee ballot.  The Bethel Town Clerk says the town has over 12,000 voters, with more people still registering.  Lisa Bergh says it will be a daunting task to issue that number of ballots, but appreciates residents working with her office to facilitate a smooth process.  Residents are asked to wait to receive their application in the mail, rather than print out the application from the Secretary of the State's website.  She anticipates that the applications will be sent within the next few weeks, but does not yet have a specific date.

 

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Southbury Police investigating thefts from cars

Southbury Police are investigating thefts from cars.  The burglaries happened on Reservoir Road over the weekend.  Two vehicles were entered sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning and several items of value were stolen.  Police say the vehicles had been left unlocked, according to authorities.  Anyone with information is asked to call Southbury police at 203-264-5912.

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New Milford motorcycle cops training for October deployment

Two New Milford Police Officers spent time this week training with Danbury Police in order to prepare for upcoming police motorcycle certification course. The Police Motorcycles will be part of a plan for increased traffic safety in New Milford. In addition to speed enforcement, Chief Spencer Cerruto says the motorcycles will be used for red light, distracted driving and school bus stop enforcement.  The motorcycles were previously owned by the East Hartford Police Department and are expected be in service sometime in October.

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Hazardous material removed from Hearthstone Castle to be sent to AL, OH

OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, work plan for Hearthstone Castle in Danbury doesn't allow Public Works and other crews to be within the building footprint.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the contractor allowed them to use a completely remote control Brokk machine for a small fee.  The machine, with several attachments, normally costs $300,000 to purchase.  The excavator arm was used to clean the debris inside the castle.  The last loads removed had lead contamination in them, in addition to asbestos.  The material will be transported to an Alabama landfill specially designed for this waste stream. All asbestos waste went to Ohio.

  

(Photos: Danbury Public Works Instagram)

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Danbury to help non-profit acquire Super 8 motel for homeless shelter operation

Danbury is looking to help a non-profit acquire the Super 8 motel on Lake Avenue Extension so that it can be run as a homeless shelter.  The City is applying for an $11 million Community Development Block Grant from the state Department of Housing. 

Danbury started using the hotel as a homeless shelter at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The grant is being made available to the City as a pass-through to Pacific House, which will negotiate the purchase price, and then own and operate the facility as a shelter.  The money for the grant comes to the state from the federal government. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says this will allow for the proper and efficient provision of homeless facilities and services during COVID-19.  Boughton says the grant is not tied to this building if the deal falls through. 

He notes that Pacific House has a tremendous donor base in lower Fairfield County that the City doesn't currently have access to.  The organization houses 105 tenants in 15 buildings in Stamford and 2 buildings in Norwalk. It's an emergency shelter, and includes meals.  Case management is focused on housing.

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Danbury now accepting applications for Fire Chief position

The application period has been opened for the position of Danbury Fire Chief.  The position pays $145,000 a year.  The Fire Chief candidate must be able to demonstrate a strong motivational leadership style with a track record of having affected positive change in an organizational environment.  The candidate must show significant knowledge and experience in the municipal fire arena. This is leadership and administrative fire service work. 

Bachelor’s Degree with emphasis in Fire Science, Business, Public Administration or related field plus a minimum of five years experience in career fire service with supervisory fire fighting experience, fire department administration and fire prevention is required.  A working knowledge of Emergency management matters and related laws, rules, regulations, and requirements as it relates to Civil Defense and Natural Disaster Relief is highly preferred.

The Fire Chief is required to become a resident of the City of Danbury within 6 months of hire and maintain residency for the duration of the appointment.  The application deadline is September 12.

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4,000 pounds of items collected by United Way at Danbury food drive

The United Way of Western Connecticut and the Danbury Mall collected 4,000 pounds of nonperishable food donated by the community on Friday and Saturday.   The food drive also served as this year’s United Way Day of Action, and raised $2,400 in donations. Both the food and the monetary contributions will be distributed among nine food pantries in the greater Danbury area that are members of the Danbury Food Collaborative.  Since its formation in 2013, the collaborative has worked with food pantries and food providers to address food insecurity in the Greater Danbury area.  45 corporate and community volunteers participated in the Food Drive including Belimo, Boehringer Ingelheim, Branson, Fairfield County Bank, Kimberly-Clark, Linde, Meyer Jabara Hotels, Newtown Savings Bank, Union Savings Bank, and UPS.

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Sherman officials considering $400k for new school playground

The Sherman Board of Selectmen held a special meeting earlier this week about a new Sherman School playground.  The spending request is for up to $400,000, to be approved in a town meeting. 

The date for a town meeting to gain approval has not yet been set. 

School district official say the Board of Education has been working with playground manufacturer Little Tikes on a proposed replacement project.  The plan is to replace the lower playground in a way that it can be potentially reinstalled later if future building projects require its relocation.  The proposed price tag includes money to remove the surface at the pirate ship playground and replant grass seed. 

The Sherman Board of Selectmen’s next regular meeting is scheduled for August 27th at 7pm.  Due to the pandemic, the town meeting will be held via Zoom.

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NY State Police participate in 'Operation Hard Hat' initiative

New York State Police in Troop K and the Department of Transportation issued 49 tickets during two days of the “Operation Hard Hat” initiative that took place on 684 in Putnam County and the Taconic State Parkway/Sprain Brook Parkway junction in Westchester County.  Operation Hard Hat had State Troopers dress as highway workers to crack down on work zone violations. Based on the initial success of the initiative, Troopers say plans are in place to roll out additional operations throughout the summer. During this detail, Troopers issued tickets for a variety of violations, including speeding, use of a cell phone while driving, failure to wear a seat belt, and the ‘Move Over’ law.

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Bethel Schools release more details about fall reopening

The Bethel School District has sent out an update to parents who have opted for in-person learning for their children this fall.  Bethel school officials are suggesting a transition to the full in-person model, Pre K through 8th, and hybrid model at Bethel High School. This provides a slow reentry and the ability for staff and students to acclimate to all of the reentry procedures and mitigation strategies.

Johnson, Rockwell, and Berry Schools will open with a hybrid model and assigned cohort September 8th - September 24th, moving to full in-person reopening on Tuesday, September 29th.  Bethel Middle School's hybrid will last through October 2nd with full in-person reopening on Monday, October 5th.  Bethel High School - hybrid by cohort A and B - full in-person reopening to be determined. 

Factors such as enrollment patterns, resources and the age of buildings and their ventilation systems were taken into account.  The decision to reopen schools was made based on the wearing of masks, ventilation systems, social distancing, the ability to clean and disinfect, cohorting of students into groups and implementation of hygiene protocols.  Other factors locally were also considered, including the age of student and level of support needed in the distance learning model.  The impact of isolation on the social emotional well-being of students, access to food and the impact on working families were also taken into account. 

Any plans for reopening schools are fluid.

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New York State Police investigating 7 vehicle crash in Somers

New York State Police are investigating a 7 vehicle crash in Somers that happened Thursday afternoon at the intersection of Routes 35 and 100. 

A preliminary investigation revealed a box truck driven by 26-year old Dondre Birch, of the Bronx, was headed west on Route 35 when it crossed the center line and struck another vehicle.  That car hit a third vehicle.  Debris struck another two vehicles.  The box truck continued west, hitting vehicle six,  causing it to strike vehicle seven, which was parked on the side of Route 35. 

The box truck then flipped. 

The operator of vehicle two, 54-year old Ted Dimond of New York, New York, was transported to Westchester Medical Center in critical condition.   Birch was also transported to Westchester Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.  No other serious injuries were reported. 

The cause of the initial crash is under investigation.

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County Executive responds to DA's criticism of lawsuit settlement

The Putnam County Executive is responding to District Attorney Robert Tendy's opposition to the County Legislature approving a settlement of a federal lawsuit.  MaryEllen Odell says she is disappointed with Tendy's position regarding the DiPippo case settlement.  She called it an emotional response in a case where two prior District Attorneys obtained convictions, but he was unable to do so. 

Odell says many members of the legislature live in Carmel and remember the tragedy of when the victim's body was discovered.  She notes that justice was not to be and now they are making the most advantageous decision possible to put the past so that everyone can begin to heal. 

Odell noted that the settlement was reviewed and considered by the County’s insurer, insurance defense counsel, two separate insurance coverage counsels and a federal mediator.  She says Tendy was correct in one sentence of his statement where he asserts that the settlement was about one thing: money. The County Executive and the Legislature are collectively responsible for safeguarding the financial stability of the County government and for managing the County’s risk. 

She points out that Tendy’s job is to put criminals behind bars, adding that where Tendy failed to do his job effectively he cannot then blame Odell or the Legislature for doing theirs.

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Bethel School District looking for temporary bus monitors

The Bethel Public School District is looking for temporary bus monitors to supervise students in the morning while riding the bus, to ensure they are wearing their masks and staying in their seats. This is a temporary position for the first two or three weeks of school to help students adjust to the new protocols.  The first day is September 8th.  Expected hours are 6:45 am to 9am, though may be adjusted based on runs. The position pays 12 dollars an hour, and because it's part time there are no benefits. 

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Tree takes down power lines in Ridgefield

The severe thunderstorm that roared through the area early this morning caused some power problems.  Ridgefield officials say a tree took down power lines on Route 7 south of Haviland Road.  There is a partial southbound closure with traffic being rerouted onto Stonehenge Road. 

The last day for Ridgefield residents to take debris from the tropical storm to the transfer station for free is Saturday.  The Transfer Station and Recycling Center are operating normal hours during COVID-19.

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Truck goes down highway embankment in Danbury snarling morning commute

A tractor-trailer truck went down an embankment on Interstate 84 westbound early this morning.  The accident happened around 4:30am.  The left lane was closed between exits 3 and 2.  The state Department of Transportation does not have an estimate on when the scene will be cleared.  Motorists are urged to use caution in the area.

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Connecticut might make utilities pay customers for outages

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Legislation being drafted in Connecticut would force utility companies to pay consumers for spoiled food and lost medicine following lengthy power outages.

The move comes after more than 1 million state homes and businesses were left in the dark for days earlier this month following Tropical Storm Isaias.

The Democrat and Republican leaders of the Legislature’s Energy & Technology Committee said they are working on a bipartisan package that would hold Eversource and United Illuminating responsible for poor planning and an inadequate storm response.

“We are working to understand how it’s possible after rate increase after rate increase to prepare for storms, how such a colossal failure on the part of UI and Eversource occurred,” said state Sen. Norm Needleman, of Essex, a Democrat and the Senate chair of the committee.

The lawmakers said they hoped to address customer reimbursement in a special legislative session in September.

The package would include forcing the companies to pay $100 a day to residential customers with critical needs who lose power and to reimburse all ratepayers up to $500 for food and medicine lost as the result of a power outage of more than two days.

They plan to address larger issues in next year’s regular session, such as requiring that future power lines be placed underground and perhaps moving toward allowing more regulation or competition in the industry.

An informational hearing in front of the committee has been scheduled for Aug. 27.

“We are open to a robust dialogue about how we can improve storm readiness and response, while mitigating the impact of major storms on customers,” Ed Crowder, a UI spokesman said in an email.

The Aug. 4 storm and its high winds brought down trees across the state. At its peak, more than 1 million homes and businesses in Connecticut lost power, including more than 800,000 customers of Eversource, the state’s largest electric utility.

But the lawmakers criticized the utilities for failing to follow plans put in place after two major storms in 2011 that were supposed to mitigate power-outage events. Those included pre-positioning line crews and having utility companies work with town liaisons to best direct restoration efforts.

The state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority already has opened an investigation into the storm response.

It has a public hearing scheduled for Aug. 24 that will focus on whether recent rate hikes were justified, with the storm as a backdrop.

Eversource argues it prepared adequately for the storm based on weather forecasts and adjusted when the storm changed its path. The company said Monday that it appreciates the frustration of its customers, but defended its response as being 33% faster than during Hurricane Irene in 2011 and storm Sandy in 2012.

“That said, we expect that PURA will conduct a thorough and tireless review of all aspects of the storm and that we will be called upon to provide information on our preparation, response and lessons learned,” said Tricia Taskey Modifica, a company spokeswoman.

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Danbury City Council approves new Emergency Management Director

The Danbury City Council has approved of a contract for a new Emergency Management Director.  Former Fire Chief TJ Wiedl took over the position in March from Paul Estephan, who retired.  The man appointed to the position last night is  Matt Cassavechia, director of emergency medical services at Danbury Hospital’s parent company, Nuvance Health.  He will retain that position.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the contractual position is the best option for serving the City.  Cassavechia has 30 years of experience running ambulance services in Danbury and four surrounding towns.

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DanburyWORKS partnering with Amazon for info sessions on employment opportunities

Economic collaborative DanburyWORKS is partnering with Amazon to host information sessions about employment opportunities at the new delivery center on Old Sherman Turnpike.  Amazon is locating to the former Scholastic distribution center, bringing hundreds of jobs to the city.  The first two virtual information sessions will be held on Wednesday, August 26, from 1 to 2 pm, and on Thursday, September 10, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm.  DanburyWORKS is a city-wide collaborative focused on creating economic vitality, and links services across the community to break down barriers to economic engagement and create lasting change. Other efforts to improve employment among immigrant and minority communities in Danbury have included English language learning services and the expansion of affordable family home child care.

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Veterans Bridge in New Milford closed overnights for construction

Veterans Bridge in New Milford will be closed for construction overnights from now through September 11th, weather permitting.  There are detours from Route 7 to Boardman Road, Housatonic Avenue, Young’s Field Road and then to Route 202/67.  The other detour is from Route 7 to Still River Street and Grove Street to Route 202/67.  About 40 Construction/Detour Sign locations have been previously installed. They will be uncovered and re-covered on a nightly basis.  3 Changeable Message Signs will be used for advanced warning to drivers.  Sidewalk Closed Signs will also be installed.

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Towns in Southwestern Conn. named Economic Development District

Several towns in Southwestern Connecticut have been named by the U.S. Economic Development Administration as an Economic Development District.  The municipalities include Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Wilton, Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, and Westport.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes says this will allow the region to consider applying for Public Works, Economic Adjustment, Planning and other grants offered by the federal government.  The Western Connecticut Council of Governments launched the effort to get the designation in 2015.  The application was supported by Himes and Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy.

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Brookfield teachers to appear in classroom, online at same time

Brookfield teachers will be pulling double duty in the fall, appearing in classrooms and live via private Zoom links or through Google classroom.  The first day of school will be September 8th.  The Brookfield School District plans to reopen with a hybrid model with half of the student population in buildings Mondays and Tuesdays, with Wednesday set aside for a deep clean, and the other half of students coming in on Thursday and Fridays.  There will be distance learning for all students three days a week.  In order to prepare for the hybrid reopening, Brookfield school and town officials last month approved funding for laptops and Chromebooks.

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Spike in COVID cases reported in Danbury

Connecticut's COVID-19 infection rate is about .8 percent.  Danbury is experiencing a spike in cases, with 24 reported in one day.  Mayor Mark Boughton says it's concerning because they were all symptomatic, and many were kids.  He says there's been community spread among youth sports leagues, specifically an outbreak among soccer players.  Boughton notes that their parents may be waiting a few days for a test and also spreading the disease.  This follows news that  health officials in multiple northeastern U.S. states are investigating the possible spread of the coronavirus among youth hockey players who attended a skills clinic in New Hampshire and playing in a tournament in Connecticut.

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Two NY men arrested for trying to cash forged check in Newtown

Newtown Police have arrested two New York men on forgery charges.  Police received a call Friday from Newtown Savings Bank on Main Street South about the stolen check worth more than 20-thousand dollars.  Police say 28-year-old Quantae Nixon, of Brooklyn, tried to cash the check, while 26-year-old Desmond Lindo, of the Bronx, waited in the parking lot.  Nixon was also charged with issuing a bad check over $2,000 and conspiracy to commit larceny.  Lindo was charged with larceny and issuing a bad check over $2,000.  The Newstimes reports that the pair cashed a $17,990 check at the Newtown Savings Bank in Trumbull and tried to cash a stolen check at a Newtown Savings Bank in Shelton “before becoming suspicious” and leaving prior to police arrival.

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GOP House candidate critical of incumbent's call to bring back old bill

Former state Representative Dan Carter, who is running for his old seat, is taking aim at the freshman lawmaker currently representing Bethel, Danbury and Redding.  Democrat Raghib Allie-Brennan called for a 2012 bill proposal about holding utilities accountable to be resurrected.  Carter says the cost of credits to ratepayers impacted by outages would have been borne by all customers.  He touted passage of a different bill that would have sent fines for failing to perform to ratepayers as credits.  Carter says in this measure the fines were not to be recouped with higher electric rates, offering protection to ratepayers and letting shareholders bear the cost. The bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Malloy.

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New Fairfield Selectmen to meet tonight about grant to improve Town Hall ventilation

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen is planning to hold a special meeting about applying for a state grant to improve ventilation at town hall and the annex.  The buildings have aging air conditioning systems, and due to the construction of the buildings, there can only be limited ductwork.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says one of the preferred methods for treating recirculated air when it comes to dealing with COVID-19 is putting ultraviolet light sanitization in the ducts.  The STEAP grant application deadline was extended to August 28th due to the tropical storm.

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Special Brookfield Board of Selectmen meeting to be held tonight

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen is holding a Special Meeting tonight. 

They plan to discuss generators needed at the Police Department and Town Hall.  It's expected that the Selectmen will forward the request to the Board of Finance for funding.  The generator currently supplying power to the Police Department was installed in 1983.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says that one can then be used as an emergency backup.  He says the new generator installed at Center Fire in the past year worked very well in the latest outage. 

The Selectmen will also discuss a state grant to improve Town Hall in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.  The deadline to submit an application for a STEAP grant is August 28th so tonight's gathering is a special meeting to forward the request to the Board of Finance. 

Brookfield already approved the STEAP grant for the Still River Greenway Extension Project and discussed the three options for reducing the cost further. The redesign of town hall offices would also qualify for the grant and First Selectman Steve Dunn says the town could submit this project instead of the Greenway Extension due to the higher more immediate need to keep employees safe during the pandemic.

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New Milford begins curbside pick up of storm debris

New Milford has started curbside debris pick up.  The Department of Public Works is only making one round of collections.  Mayor Pete Bass posted a list of roads to be addressed today on his Facebook page, but cautioned that depending on the amount of debris, crews might not complete the roads listed.  The streets that were missed today will be adjusted to the next day.  Debris along private roads and communities will be collected after Public Works completes the Town roads.

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Putnam County District Attorney critical of lawsuit settlement

Putnam County District Attorney Robert Tendy opposes the County legislature approving a settlement of a lawsuit filed by Anthony DiPippo, who on his 3rd trial for the rape and murder of a 12 year old girl was found not guilty.  The suit was settled for 12 million dollars.  Tendy says it's his opinion, and prior courts have agreed, that DiPippo’s civil rights were never violated.  He says the suit had no factual or legal basis and would ultimately fail.  Tendy claims the County never investigated  DiPippo’s claims.  He believes, based on comments made by the legislators as they cast their votes, the County was only concerned with money.  Tendy called the settlement decision reprehensible, indefensible, and incomprehensible adding that he was astonished and sickened by this decision.

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Family rescued from nature preserve in Easton

A family lost in the Trout Brook Nature Preserve in Easton has been rescued.  Easton 911 was notified Friday night by someone that 2 family members called saying they had been lost for hours, then their phone batteries died.  Police, firefighters and EMS responded to the pre planned staging area to begin search operations.  Their new UTV went out on its first call.  K9 TJ and a firefighter found the parties walking on the road near the Bradley Road entrance. They reported no injures and were assisted back to their car.  Easton EMS is reminding all hikers to travel with the basics: water, a charged phone, a flash light, and basic first aid materials.

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New Milford creating community computer lab

As New Milford continues to update, reconfigure, and harden the town's IT infrastructure, a community computer lab is being created.  Mayor Pete Bass says they reconstituted computers that were aged out and the IT team was able to reuse them.  Bass also thanked the facilities employees, Youth Agency, Parks and Rec and Social Services for their work in getting this together.  He says that will help students through the Homework Club at the Youth Agency.  Bass says this will also allow the town to start offering residents financial literacy education.  New Milford will partner with the United Way and local banking institutions to educate residents on everything from bank accounts to credit score to  retirement.

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New Fairfield considers legal action against Eversource

New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco is describing the Eversource response to this month's Tropical Storm as uncoordinated, wasteful and poorly executed.  Danbury is considering a lawsuit against Eversource.  Del Monaco suggested to her fellow Selectmen they explore the idea of New Fairfield taking its own legal action or joining action with other municipalities. 

Selectmen Kim Hanson and Khris Hall were leery of the cost of a lawsuit and how successful a lawsuit would be for recouping money for ratepayers.  They were leaning more toward filing a complaint with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. 

Del Monaco said she shares the anger and the frustration of residents, many of whom went days or more than a week without power.  She said it's not just a matter of being without power, it's people who were put in jeopardy and who had very real financial losses.  She says residents suffered a loss of food and medicine and had to use gasoline for generators for an amount of time that she called unreasonable.  

Del Monaco says a big problem with the storm response by Eversource was a lack of make-safe crews, which communicate with public works and Eversource about when it’s safe to cut trees out of wires.  But overall, she says the response was defined by a lack of communication that started when the Eversource outage reporting system crashed, making it difficult for Eversource or the municipality to even know where all of the outages were.

Del Monaco says there were 30 line crews in the center of town for 48 hours, not doing anything.  She called that an incredible waste of resources noting that it's also not an efficient use of resources.  She also highlighted an issue where New Fairfield made recommendations to Eversource for restoration priorities, but they were ignored.  One priority was a tree hanging over Route 37.  They tried barricading the road, having police and public works there, but drivers still continued to drive under the tree.  Once a crew was sent, she says they insisted on clearing Route 39.

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Person testing positive for COVID-19 visited Ridgefield High School

A person who has tested positive for COVID-19 was in the Ridgefield High School building.  A letter was sent to parents and staff by the Superintendent noting that the building would be thoroughly cleaned.  Staff head back to school on Wednesday and students return on the 27th.  The start date has not been changed by this incident.  The district alerted those who would have had access to Ridgefield High School on August 10th about the positive test and urged them to follow the CDC and Connecticut Department of Public Health protocol to quarantine for 14 days. 

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No invasive Zebra Mussels found at 3 searched locations in Candlewood Lake

On the most recent investigation to see if invasive Zebra Mussels were found in Candlewood Lake, researchers didn't find any. Dives at three locations were conducted July 24th, including at the location where the single mussel was found in May, a location in New Milford, and a new location in Sherman. The two trained divers searched for several hours and didn't see any evidence of Zebra Mussels.  The Candlewood Lake Authority called this good news, but note that they will continue to search.  CLA says this is because they can't confirm that there are no Zebra Mussels in the lake.  Researchers are taking water samples to test for Zebra Mussel DNA and looking for larvae under a microscope. Citizen scientists have deployed nearly 30 monitoring stations all around the lake as well.

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Brookfield official cautions residents to tree service companies going door-to-door

Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn is issuing a word of caution about tree service companies.  He says there was at least one tree removal company from outside the area going around and offering to remove trees from resident's properties. No tree company from outside of Brookfield has received the proper permits to go door to door and Dunn notes that it's illegal to do so.  He cautioned residents to be careful in using these firms as they may not have quarantined for 14 days.  Dunn suggested that residents report them to the police department non-emergency line.

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Local lawmaker calls for 2012 utility accountability bill to be resurrected

A local lawmaker is calling for a bill approved in the state House in 2012, but never called before the Senate, to be resurrected in order to hold utility companies accountable.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says House Bill 5542 would have provided protections to ratepayers. 

The measure would mandate the disclosure of salaries of certain executives of public utility holding companies, limit the ratepayer funds used to compensate such executives, credit certain utility customers for food losses during prolonged service outages and require certain utility companies to waive late fees and credit customers during prolonged service outages. 

In testimony submitted on the bill, PURA said that it included a provision allowing the cost of the food reimbursement program to be funded by adding to the System Benefit Charge borne by all ratepayers. 

Then-Connecticut Light & Power also submitted testimony, saying the salary disclosure section was not needed because the companies are already file the information with PURA.  At the time, CL&P also said that the reimbursement should only apply if the loss is from service interruptions resulting from the utility's gross negligence or willful misconduct.  CL&P also said in 2012 testimony that while they appreciate the provision allowing for reimbursement would have a means test, the company believed that there should be clear standards to prevent potential fraud. 

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Putnam County Legislature approves settlement of federal lawsuit

The Putnam County Legislature has approved a settlement of a federal lawsuit brought against the county by Anthony DiPippo.  The man was convicted of raping and murdering 12-year old Josette Wright in Carmel at two separate trials, but he was subsequently tried a third time and was acquitted in 2016.   The case was settled for $12 million, but the county will only be responsible for paying $200,000. The rest is covered by insurance.  Putnam County was exposed to liability for federal civil rights violations, including wrongful conviction and due process claims. County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the decision to settle was made to reduce the risk to county taxpayers of a much larger verdict being awarded at trial.  Since DiPippo was incarcerated for nearly twenty years, he could have potentially been awarded up to $30 million, plus millions in legal fees. 

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PURA orders Eversource to respond to a joint request by Ridgefield and Newtown

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has ordered Eversource to respond to a joint request by Ridgefield and Newtown asking for an investigation into their response to power restoration following Storm Isaias. 

Eversource must coordinate with Ridgefield and Newtown to identify areas where the health and safety risk to residents is amplified by the power outage, and prioritize power restoration efforts in these areas, as consistent with Eversource’s approved Emergency Restoration Plan. 

The Eversource incident commander or municipal liaison must community with each of Ridgefield’s and Newtown’s Office of Emergency Management to identify the additional resources to be made available for storm response in each respective town, and to provide detailed estimates for the remaining power restoration efforts. 

PURA also ordered the utility to comply with its obligation under its Emergency Restoration Plan to provide its “communities with accurate, timely, and consistent information” by regularly updating the Towns on its restoration progress. Specifically, Eversource shall immediately notify the Towns of any delays to the estimated restoration times.

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Danbury Police show off Officer's community connection amid storm response

Danbury Police are highlighting the efforts of one officer to connect with the community.  Officer Howley was checking the areas of Danbury that were hardest hit by the storm when he came across a group of kids playing football.  He took the opportunity to challenge them to a 1 on 1 and got a run for his money.  Howley spent 20 minutes playing ball with the young children.

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Putnam County experiencing rash of car thefts, break ins

Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley says there have been a huge spike in auto thefts recently.  An  investigation has shown that the majority of vehicle thefts and vehicle break-ins have occurred between the hours of 3am and 5am.  Any suspicious activity or person should be reported immediately to local law enforcement regardless of the hours of the day. 

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Danbury Schools to send out confirmation of fall learning program choice

By the end of next week Danbury families will receive a confirmation of the school program selection for next fall. The Hybrid Model will be divided up by alphabet, A-L (Blue) will be Monday & Tuesday and M-Z (Orange) will be Thursday & Friday. Everyone will use Distance Learning on Wednesday. This will divide the school system to better ensure social distancing for a safer return.  The first day of school in Danbury will be September 8th.  Students who opted for all Distance Learning are still able to continue their schooling at home. The hybrid is for students who opted for that or who did not respond.

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Bethel Emergency Management assesses damage for FEMA reimbursement

As the Bethel Emergency Management team completes their Preliminary Damage assessment to submit to the State for possible FEMA assistance, they are asking for help.  Any homes or businesses that suffered damage as a result of trees or debris striking structures and causing damage, and the owner doesn't have insurance is asked to reach out.  People can email eoc@Bethel-ct.gov with name, address, and description of damages.  Bethel officials will respond to make a visit and obtain more information.  They have already received reports of several homes damaged that have homeowners insurance, but are looking to only capture uninsured losses at this time.

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Prospect man charged for criminal mischief incident in Newtown

A Connecticut man has been arrested for allegedly taking the keys out of a truck and throwing them into a swampy field at Ferris Acres Creamery in Newtown.  Police, with the assistance of the Naugatuck Police Department, identified the man as Kasdyn Click of Prospect.  The 25-year old was charged with breach of peace, criminal mischief and larceny for the July 25th incident.  He was due in court this week and arraignment is set for September 23rd.

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Local municipal officials decry lack of communication from Eversource

In addition to the seeming lack of utility crews staged in areas where they would be needed the most, municipal officials say there is another big issue that needs to be addressed. 

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says there's been a complete lack of communication and coordination with town leaders.  He says they haven't been able to get assessment of crews coming in and out of town.  In prior storms, municipal officials knew exactly where the crews are working. 

Bass says that's also a departure from requirements by PURA following the 2011 storms.

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says it's worse than just a lack of communication by Eversource to municipal officials.  He says the mutual aid crews weren't able to get timely details about restoration work they were supposed to be doing.  He says they're doing the best they can, but aren't getting critical information. 

Marconi says finally got a call on Day 8 that the town was getting trucks coming in, and where they would start.  He called that unforgivable and demanded action against the utility. 

Marconi says Connecticut deserves better and called on Eversource executives to step forward and admit their wrongdoing.

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Council of Small Towns files to be part of PURA investigation into storm response

The Connecticut Council of Small Towns supports PURA’s decision to pursue a comprehensive investigation into the failure of Eversource and United Illuminating to adequately prepare for and respond to last week's Tropical Storm. 

COST President Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says Eversource failed to adhere to well-established “make safe” protocols to address life safety issues, which he called inexcusable.  Knickerbocker says that put residents, including individuals with serious medical conditions and the elderly, in grave danger for a long period of time. 

He believes measures ordered by PURA and implemented in response to 2011 storms have been abandoned.

Knickerbocker says the lack of communication with town officials severely undermined efforts to protect residents and restore power in a timely manner.   He says electric utilities should have worked closely with municipal officials to address electrical hazards caused by downed wires, identify blocked roads, and prioritize power restoration to critical facilities, such as elderly complexes, nursing homes, police stations, fire stations, water and wastewater facilities.

COST represents 115 small towns throughout Connecticut.

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Bethel Police warn of high tech car theft trend

Bethel Police are sharing some safety information about car thefts.  Vehicles have been entered or broken into and stolen frequently over the past few years.  While Police have always recommended not leaving valuables in unoccupied cars and locking them, they're adding new advice.  Bethel Police say thieves are now using signal boosters to steal locked vehicles while the key fobs are inside homes.  Faraday boxes or pouches are one potential way to prevent the signal boosters from being effective.  For people who can't find these items, Bethel Police say there's a low tech option: tin foil may successfully disrupt the signal.  If you are unable to lock and unlock the car while the keys are inside the foil, that's a possibility.  When all else fails, Bethel Police recommend keeping the key fobs in a location further away from where the vehicle is parked.

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New Fairfield plans to reopen with full-time in-person schooling

The first day of school in New Fairfield will be September 2nd.  The district plans to reopen with full-time in-person schooling.  Parents were given the option to have children start the school year on remote learning.  Plan A calls for having September 2nd, 3rd and 4th as Early Dismissal days, though New Fairfield HIgh School will have a special schedule during those three days.   All schools will be open on Tuesday, September 8th for full days. The New Fairfield School District has planned for having small class sizes to accommodate physical distancing.  Administrators will work with the local health department so if the number of cases increase in New Fairfield and the state, a hybrid or fully remote plan will be triggered.

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Assault weapon found at home of man who threatened law enforcement

Court documents have been unsealed in a case involving a Redding man who allegedly made threats toward law enforcement. Police responded to Greg McGuiness's home last month after a friend called saying that the 37-year old posted a photo holding a gun, captioned with a message about killing himself and shooting at police.  Hearst Connecticut Media reports that Officers were told that McGuiness may have an AK-47 semi-automatic rifle. 

After the man was taken to the hospital for observation, he told officers he had been drinking and denied having an assault rifle.  The owner of the Indian Hill Road home allowed police to search.  They found multiple firearms, air guns and facsimile firearms, but not the gun in the picture. 

Officers had McGuinness draw a map to where he hid the gun, which was located near a tree and ferns.  According to the affidavit, the gun had a high capacity magazine, folding bayonet, folding stock and pistol grip--qualifying it as an assault weapon by definition. 

It was found with a round in the chamber. 

McGuiness was charged with possession of an illegal firearm, criminal weapon possession, reckless endangerment, negligent storage of a firearm, illegal possession of a large capacity magazine, illegal possession of an assault rifle, threatening and breach of peace.

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Local lawmaker calls for ratepayer credit when power is out more than 48 hours

As House Chair of the Energy Committee. Danbury State Representative David Arconti says he supports requiring utilities to offer residential customers $100 bill credit a day for outages lasting longer than 48 hours.  He says constituents have reached out to him with concerns that they cannot handle the financial burden of replacing food and medication, especially given the constraints of the ongoing pandemic.  Arconti added that many have lost pay because they didn’t have electricity for over a week while most are working from home.

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Local lawmaker calls on utilities to reimburse ratepayers for lost food, medicine

Danbury State Representative David Arconti, chair of the legislature's Energy and Technology Committee, has requested Eversource CEO James Judge to attend a hearing and investigation into the utility company.  Judge has not addressed community leaders trying to navigate Eversource’s mess. 

Arconti says the committee wants to find a way to deliver reliable, and affordable electricity in Connecticut.  He hopes to strengthen customers confidence in Eversource by investigating not only the storm response, but also the recent distribution fee increases.  

Arconti says too many residents have been struggling with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot absorb the impact of not having power for a week or longer.  He's calling on Eversource and United Illuminating to reimburse ratepayers up to $500 for medication loss and $500 for food loss during this outage. 

Eversource has notified investors it does not expect a “material impact” as a result of power restoration expenses.  That was included in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission on Monday. 

The utility has not yet issued a preliminary estimate on the cost. 

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Eversource in response to the Tropical Storm.  The suit, filed by 3 residents and a business owner on behalf of everyone who lost power, accused the utility of negligence, breach of contract, recklessness, and violating the Connecticut fair trade practices act.

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Danbury City Council meeting postponed again due to power outages

The virtual Danbury City Council meeting was postponed again due to power outages from last week’s tropical storm.  The council was supposed to meet virtually the night of the storm, but was postponed due to outage.  Many residents, council members and others were still without internet service this week.  The monthly meeting is now scheduled for Monday at 6pm.  The public comment period remains open until noon Monday.

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Virtual career fair for New Milford businesses next week

A virtual career fair will be held for New Milford businesses next week.  The Economic Development Department and the Corporation for New Milford Economic Development event was rescheduled to this coming Monday and Tuesday due to the Tropical Storm.  14 companies are participating and have nearly 100 job openings.  The virtual career fair is also being hosted by Indeed so job seekers can create a profile and upload a resume in advance. https://events.indeed.com/event/45895/.

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Car hits house in rollover accident in Bethel

A rollover accident involved a house in Bethel early yesterday morning.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to Benedict Road around 1am and found that a car went airborne and hit the upper part of a garage.  Officers were able to free the single occupant from the vehicle and begin medical treatment. The driver was transported to Danbury Hospital with unknown injuries.

(Photo: SHVFD)

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Ridgefield to become a party to PURA investigations of Eversource

Ridgefield will be pursuing what First Selectman Rudy Marconi says is two major failings on the part of Eversource during this recent storm.  One is their initial “make safe” response and the other is their communications to the town.  He met with Senator Richard Blumenthal yesterday to stress the failings of Eversource.  The Board of Selectmen approved becoming a party to the PURA investigations into Eversource’s response to the storm.  In spite of extensive power restoration, Marconi says there are many downed wires and much clean up to be done.

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Bethel First Selectman believes Eversource outage map is wrong

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says Eversource did not quite meet their goal of 99-percent restoration by 6pm Tuesday night, and that their online outage map is inaccurate.  The map showed about a dozen outages yesterday afternoon, but based on emails to his office, Knickerbocker believes there were more than that.  The town cataloged every address and sent them to Eversource.  He asked that residents email or call when power does come back on so the list can be updated.  Knickerbocker says some the last outages are related to damage to underground equipment and individual service lines.

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Redding Highway Department picking up the debris

The Redding Highway Department is out every day picking up the debris from last week's storm. The crews are collecting only storm debris road by road so please be patient. There will not be a town wide storm pick up for residential brush.  Residential brush may be brought to the Transfer Station during regular hours Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 7:30AM to 3PM. The Transfer Station will also be open for brush drop off ONLY Tuesday August 18th from 7:30AM - 3:00PM. 

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Distance learning materials to be distributed in Bethel next month

Bethel School District officials say distance learning is meant to be a temporary measure during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Parent who chose that option for the fall will have their children take part in a combination of synchronous live instruction along with independent work.  All materials families will need to participate in Distance Learning will be distributed on September 3rd and 4th so students are ready for the September 8th start to the new school year.  The distribution will include textbooks and Chromebooks, along with supplies needed for core and elective classes.  In order to plan for a timely distribution, Bethel Schools are asking the parents of pre-k through 5th graders if a school-issued device is needed for at home in a distance learning or hybrid model.  Parents should indicate this when updating demographics in the Parent Portal.

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Conn. Senators call for answers from Remington CEO following bankruptcy filing

Following the announcement of Bushmaster Remington’s second bankruptcy filing in two years, Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal called on the firearm manufacture to ensure that the Sandy Hook lawsuit can continue regardless of their bankruptcy proceedings.  The pair also asked Remington's CEO to make sure that no sale of the company happens unless they can ensure they can pay out monetary damages.  They say Remington’s bankruptcy filing has, for the moment, halted progress in the families path to justice.  Murphy says Remington’s decision to omit any mention of these Sandy Hook families or their claims from both the initial bankruptcy filings and its listing of the Top 40 Unsecured Creditors raises concerns about the potential use of the bankruptcy process to selectively shed its liability to these families while paying off other similarly situated creditors.

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Bethel Schools need parents to respond to technology need question

Bethel students who are assigned to Cohort B won't start in person classes until September 10th.  The district wants to ensure that they have technology to attend Distance Learning on Tuesday and Wednesday.  In order to accomplish this, Bethel schools will be distributing Chromebooks on September 3rd and 4th.  For planning purposes, parents of Pre-K through grade 5 students will be asked in the Parent Portal to determine if kids will need a school-issued device to learn at home.

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Kent official: Eversource not counting outages related to underground wire issues

The Eversource crews made massive progress in the last 24 hours. There were over 20 crews in Kent yesterday working on the residual outages. Eversource is reporting only four remain without power, but that does not factor in where they've brought in generators due to underground wire issues.  Any Kent resident still without power is asked to reach out to the town's Emergency Management so they can follow up with the utility.

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Ridgefield added staff to fire station shifts during storm

During the past week, Ridgefield firefighters responded to about 200 calls for service related to the Tropical storm, with most being for wires down, trees down, trees on houses, and trees on cars.  There were also calls for traumatic injuries, Motor Vehicle accidents, Medical alarms, Fire alarms, missing persons calls, smoke in the building, water issues, and many carbon monoxide emergencies related to generators.  While the Ridgefield Fire Department usually staffs 8 members at the Ridgebury fire station during normal operations, they bumped that number to 10 to increase efficiency in call response in that section of town.

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Bethel official: Every absentee ballot received by poll closing time counted in Primary tallies

The Bethel Registrar of Voters says every Absentee Ballot that was received by the time polls closed yesterday was included in the primary result tallies.  The Bethel Town Clerk, in the presence of the Registrars and a Police Officer, emptied and locked the Ballot Dropbox at 8 pm.  But, Town Clerks must accept, and Registrars of Voters must count, all absentee ballots received by mail by Thursday if they have an August 11th postmark.

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Easton, Redding, Region 9 appoint new Superintendent

A new superintendent has been appointed to the Easton, Redding and Region 9 school system.  Rydell Harrison was appointed last night.  He is currently Watertown’s superintendent, is on the board of directors for the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, and has more than 20 years educational experience.  Harrison replaces Thomas McMorran, who retired last month.

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Republicans vote for 26th state Senate candidate in Tuesday's Primary

In addition to the presidential primaries, registered Republicans in portions of 7 area towns were also voting on a candidate to be the 26th state Senate challenger to Democratic freshman incumbent Will Haskell.  Wilton resident Kim Healy, the endorsed GOP candidate, garnered more votes than Bethel resident Will Duff, who had enough backing at the nominating convention to force a primary. 

With all polling locations reporting, Healy had 2,414 votes while Duff received 1,736.  This does not necessarily reflect all absentee ballots.

The district includes portions of Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield, Wilton, and Weston. 

Healy has a background in accounting. She says one of her priorities, if elected, is getting the state’s financial books in order. She also wants to keep zoning local and help businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has said there were about 300,000 requests for absentee ballots statewide, which is about 10 times the highest number of requests for absentee ballots for any election in Connecticut. Concerns about contracting the virus have recently been added to the list of eligible excuses for both the primary and general election.

On Monday, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order that gives election officials until Thursday to wrap up counting the ballots, so long as they’re postmarked with Tuesday’s date of Aug. 11. Merrill had made the request because of the storm and other issues that delayed the delivery of applications and ballots. Also, power outages affected the election workers’ abilities to process ballots.

Some Republican legislators have criticized the move, accusing Merrill, a Democrat, of mishandling the temporary expanded absentee ballot system. They’ve cited delays in ballots being sent to voters and other issues. Merrill said it’s been an “unprecedented situation” given the pandemic, noting “our job is to allow people to vote under very trying circumstances.”

While Trump and Biden both faced challengers, they were expected all along to easily win on Tuesday. California real estate developer and businessman Rocque “Rocky” De La Fuente challenged Trump, while Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard challenged Biden, even though both suspended their campaigns. In each race, voters could also choose to vote “uncommitted.”

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PURA sets public hearing into Eversource rate hikes

Ridgefield state Representative John Frey says PURA announced a public hearing will be held Monday, August 24th by Zoom about Eversource rate increases, which have been paused. The hearing begins at 10am. Anyone who wants to participate must first register, and further instructions will follow.  Public comment will occur at the end of the hearing. Written testimony can be emailed to PURA.information@CT.gov any time before the hearing’s conclusion. Comments should include "Docket No. 20-01-01" in the subject.  The General Assembly's Energy & Technology Committee has asked Eversource President/CEO James Judge to participate in the legislative hearing which committee members hope to hold this month.  Registration can be done online: https://ctdeep.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYqcO2urTosGtGf4iMYOF9fUA1xdzNgkD_6

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Bethel First Selectman blasts Eversource over lack of crews immediately after storm

Despite the lengthy restoration times, Eversource insists it was properly prepared.  Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker disagrees.  If the company recognized that Western Connecticut was the hardest hit area, he questioned why it took three full days before Bethel saw a single make-safe crew.

Eversource, unlike ConEd in New York, will not reimburse customers for lost food because their fridge and freezer didn't have power for an extended period of time.  Knickerbocker doesn't think the response is acceptable and believes residents shouldn't have to go through their insurance carriers.  He says any company that made $250 million in the last quarter and pays its top 5 executives $40 million, can afford to compensate customers for the food and medicine they lost.  Knickerbocker says a $500 check from an insurance company doesn't come anywhere close to compensating people for what they've lost out of pocket, not to mention what they went through in terms of stress and suffering.

Municipal leaders say they could not get hold of Eversource immediately after the storm.  Knickerbocker says the communication wasn't there, especially compared to Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, when then CL&P assigned a liaison to every town hall.  He says it was a high ranking executive who was in his office and actually toured with the Director of Public Works to see what needed to be done, and then directed crews to those locations.

Knickerbocker says the liaisons today have multiple towns to work with.  He quipped that Eversource has to pay massive bonuses somehow and got the money by downsizing that staff.  Knickerbocker says the information wasn't getting to the crews on the ground.

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Danbury Mayor considers legal action against Eversource over storm response

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is looking into taking legal action against Eversource over their storm response.  He is consulting with surrounding mayors and first selectmen about legal action against the utility's CEO and its senior management team as well.  Boughton says Eversource has no plan, have broken promise after promise and the the subcontractor Crews are not working or dispatched with any sense of urgency.  He says he had to explain repeatedly to Eversource staff where an outage was located because it has two addresses, which the Eversource system couldn't handle.  Boughton called it a total failure of its system.  Following the prolonged outages during Irene and Sandy, Eversource assigned each municipality a liaison to help with restoration efforts.  Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says their representative was left out of the decision making process.  Boughton noted that Danbury's liaison happened to be on vacation, and the City was provided with a back up.  But he says he's never seen this kind of lack of communication before. 

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New Fairfield officials working with cable, phone companies to restore service

Eversource has restored power to most New Fairfield customers.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says many have called for assistance with Spectrum and Frontier.  The town's Spectrum representative has identified the areas in New Fairfield without service, and has indicated work started in earnest last night. Spectrum and Frontier couldn't begin work until Eversource reenergized and cleared their lines. Anyone with cable or communications line damaged must report it directly through Customer Service.  The town's Frontier Representative indicated that the outage must be phoned in to customer service directly.  With the heat advisory still in effect, the New Fairfield Senior Center will be open from 9:30am to 5pm for cooling. Due to COVID-19 protocols, it's limited to 25 residents at one time. Residents must sign in, observe social distancing and wear a mask while in the building

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Newtown First Selectman calls for action against Eversource

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says as nearly all homes and businesses have power back eight days after the Tropical Storm, now the real work begins. He told Governor Lamont that, more than transportation, reliable power is critical to living and doing business in Connecticut. Until now, Rosenthal says the bar has been set ridiculously low and week long power outages have become acceptable.  He says elected officials and regulators have let this slide by, and that has to change.  He plans to work with his counterparts in other communities, as well as leadership in Hartford, to make it clear that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result isn’t acceptable.  Rosenthal acknowledged that power outages will happen, but says they don’t need to be eternal.

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State to apply for mass replacement for SNAP beneficiaries due to power outage

The state Department of Social Services will apply for mass replacement for SNAP beneficiaries in Fairfield County, as more than 50% of Fairfield County lost their power.  Bethel officials say residents who receive SNAP benefits and would like to pick up an application to be considered for reimbursement is asked to contact the Town of Bethel Social Worker, at 203-794-8537 to schedule an appointment.  Applications will only be provided in-person, not via mail.  The deadline to apply for SNAP benefit replacements is September 3rd.  No additional information about the reimbursement is available at this time.

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Any Ridgefield resident still without power urged to call OEM

Much Progress has been made in restoring power in Ridgefield, including Route 7.  Any resident who doesn't have power by 10 o'clock this morning is urged to call the Ridgefield office of emergency management at 203-431-2350 to report the location, and leave contact information.  The outage should also be called in to Eversource.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi asked that residents not interrupt Eversource crews as they work towards restoration. For safety reasons, they cannot continue to work while residents are talking to them.  He says this wastes precious time that could be spent on restoration.  Ridgefield has had 44 Carbon Monoxide calls related to this storm. Residents with portable generators are asked to make sure they are away from windows, doors, garages and any other ventilation that enters the house.

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Power finally restored to Bethel Police station

The Bethel Police Department finally had power restored yesterday, six days after the Tropical Storm. The department ran on a generator and First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker said the delay is unacceptable.  There were up to 10 times last week that the phones went out altogether.

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Wilton, Kent First Selectmen call Eversource response unsatisfactory

Wilton First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says there was minimal power restoration and she was in contact with the governor's office to get more crews into Wilton.  She says it's appalling that six days in, municipal leaders are still asking what the plan is, and where the crews are.  Vanderslice says as of Monday, Eversource messaging continued to be of little to no value.

In the aftermath of a major storm, Kent First Selectman Jean Speck says being neighborly takes on a new meaning and sense of urgency. She asked that residents continue to check on neighbors.  She has been in communication with representatives from both Charter and Frontier, and heard resident's frustration that their customer service has been less than satisfactory.

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Charging station in Redding moved due to primaries

Charging stations in Redding have move to Town Hall today, until 6pm, because voting is taking place at the Redding Community Center in the primaries.  Drinking water is available at Joel Barlow High School on the back patio at cafeteria entrance. Enter via Turney Road. Bring your own jugs.  Water is also available at the West Redding Firehouse.  Outdoor hoses at town hall and the community center are available for general purpose water. Bring your own jugs.  Masks and social distancing requirements must be followed in order to gain access to town facilities.

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Siting Council holds hearing on proposed Kent cell tower

Despite the continued power outage in Kent, the Connecticut Siting Council's evidentiary hearing for the cell tower application before them is taking place via Zoom at 1pm this afternoon. Members of the public interested in listening in on the hearing are encouraged to visit the CT Siting Council website for instructions to login to view the proceeding.

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Stony Hill firefighters respond to dangerous carbon monoxide situation

Just after 3am yesterday, Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company responded to a carbon monoxide alarm in a residential home. Levels over 1,000 parts per million were found in the garage, a level that could be fatal if exposed to for as little as 1 hour.  It was determined that the cause was a generator operating too closely to the home.

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Newtown Police ID man killed in construction accident

Newtown Police have identified the man killed in a construction accident on Friday.  Police identified the victim as 57-year-old Winstead resident Ralph Ehrhardt.  Emergency responders were dispatched to Lakeview Terrace on a report of a man falling off a building platform down a steep embankment by the home, which was under construction.  The man was found unresponsive and in very serious condition.  Medical personal attempts to revive the male were unsuccessful. This incident is currently being investigated by both Newtown Officers with the assistance by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

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Ridgefield State Rep. calls for action to break up Eversource

Ridgefield State Representative John Frey called on his colleagues to break up Eversource.  He believes the state’s biggest utility has grown too big to effectively manage large scale response and restoration efforts.  Frey says Eversource has failed to communicate properly with local officials, keeping municipal public works crews sidelined too long while the company scrambled, and failed, to get inspection and restoration teams deployed in an orderly fashion.  A 2011 report from the Office of Legislative Research tackled the topic of splitting up the territory of the former Connecticut Light & Power, reporting that a service territory break-up and transfer, though possible, would require “extensive” legislation.  DEEP would ensure that the utilities that took over from CL&P were technically managerially, and financially qualified to provide the services, CL&P would be compensated for its investments that were not covered by the price paid by the successor utilities; and- to coordinate the successor utilities to ensure reliable service.

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Half of Danbury senior living complex gets power back

Half of the Glen Apartments complex for seniors in Danbury now has power. Over the weekend Mayor Mark Boughton called it a dire situation for the elderly, many of whom rely on power for medical equipment and to keep medication chilled.  The United Way is assisting with ice and water.  Boehringer Ingleheim supplied lunch yesterday and the New American Dream Foundation, along with the Amber Room, helped out with dinner.  Boughton says despite senior living facilities being on the City's priority one list for restoration, Eversource hasn't been keeping up with the priorities.

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Brookfield official to request funding for new generator for police station

Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn is joining in the voices saying that Eversource was not prepared for the severity of last week's storm, and unable to handle the number of outages.  When they finally started work late Thursday, Dunn says they were unable to efficiently direct crews to work sites, so many crews sat idle waiting for instructions on where to go. 

He acknowledged the frustration of residents unable to receive calls and messages.  Brookfield Town Hall lost power Tuesday afternoon and was not restored until Friday. They lost the phone system and could not pick up messages, so employees are still returning calls to residents from last week. 

Dunn plans to ask the Selectmen and the Board of Finance to provide funding for a new emergency generator to replace the one supplying power to the Police Department, which was installed in 1983.  That one can then be used as an emergency backup. 

Dunn says the new generator installed at Center Fire in the past year has worked very well in this outage. 

Showers are available in the main YMCA building from noon to 3PM. Masks are required and they will take your temperature when you check in. Water, charging stations and wi-fi are available outside at Brookfield Town Hall and Brookfield Senior Center.  Water is also available at Brookfield Fire HQ and at Brookfield Police Department.

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Newtown First Selectman skeptical of Eversource restoration estimate

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says this storm response has been more chaotic and taken much longer than it needed to.  He drives around town every day and sees the destruction remaining and knows man people are wondering if Eversource even knows about the outages.  He voiced that skepticism on a conference call with Eversource yesterday and the utility confirmed that they are aware of all issues in Newtown and standing by their commitment of substantial restoration by noon.  The Presidential Primary is being held from 6a to 8p at Newtown High School. Only voters may enter the polling place and face coverings must be worn. Voters may also bring a pen.

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Bethel municipal center charging station moved due to primary

Due to the heat advisory in effect, Bethel Middle School will be used as a cooling center  today, Noon to 8pm. Masks are required. Social distancing rules apply. Custodians will disinfect at regular intervals.  Showers are also available at Bethel Middle School today 6am to 9am and 3pm to 7pm.  Bethel municipal center charging station is being moved downstairs to the Senior Center cafeteria to allow the General Purpose room to be used for today's presidential primary vote.  Residents are asked to use the Senior Center entrance off Durant Street.  Clean water is also available at town hall.

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Motorcyclist unconscious in Brookfield crash

A motorcyclist was seriously injured in an accident in Brookfield this weekend.  Emergency responders were dispatched to Candlewood Lake Road between Federal and Nabby Roads Saturday night on a report of a collision.  Police said the road was closed for an extended period of time as the investigation continued.  Initial reports were that the motorcyclist was unconscious and struggling to breath.

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Newtown Police bring bottled water to hard to reach residents

Newtown Police Officers have been bringing food and bottled water to residents who've been without power since Tuesday's storm.  The Emergency Operations Center identified impacted neighborhoods where there were elderly residents, those with medical conditions or those unable to reach out for help.  Newtown Police urged residents who are concerned about a family member, friend, neighbor to reach out and they'll do what they can to help.

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Ridgefield Transfer Station to accept residential brush debris

The Ridgefield Transfer Station is accepting storm related debris at no cost to Ridgefield residents. All commercial haulers will be charged unless accompanied by the resident.  Ridgefield officials are asking that residents not pile brush on the street as there is no town brush removal program. 

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Bethel Emergency Management receives donation from Duracell

Bethel Emergency Management has received a donation from Duracell of a limited supply of mostly AA batteries and some C and D size batteries. They are available at the Bethel Public Schools Middle School shower station as well as at the Municipal Center.  The Stony Hill Fire Department charging station was closed today as the building will be used for voting tomorrow.

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Danbury Police help free man trapped in house by fallen tree

Danbury Police say several members took action to help a man who was trapped in his house by a fallen tree.  Sgt. Krupinsky and Officers Hildebrand and Geanuracos cut the tree during the start of the storm and helped rescue the man.  The tree pinned the door closed.  The resident was uninjured.

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Man killed in a construction accident in Newtown

A man has been killed in a construction accident in Newtown on Friday.  Police, firefighters and Newtown Ambulance responded to Lakeview Terrace on a report of a man falling off a building platform down a steep embankment.  Police say the home was under construction.  The 60-year old was found unresponsive and in very serious condition.  Medical personal attempts to revive the male were unsuccessful. This incident is currently being investigated by both Newtown Officers with the assistance by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Police say they will not be releasing a name at this time.

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Back the Blue rally held in Danbury

A Back the Blue rally has been held in Danbury.  Sgt. John Krupinsky, president of the Connecticut State Fraternal Order of Police, has been outspoken against the police accountability bill signed by Governor Lamont last month.  Speakers included Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and  Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour.  The Newstimes reports that the organization called Back the Blue CT promoted Saturday's event, including with a batter from Act for America, considered by the Southern Poverty Law Center to be an anti-Muslim hate group.  Back the Blue says their organization is not affiliated with Act for America and that it was an independent, community-led event.  According to Act for America’s website, Back the Blue is an Act for America activism campaign to build support for officers.  

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Danbury Mayor calls power outage 'life threatening situation' for some

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says a serious situation is developing at the Glen Apartments on Memorial Drive.  There is still no power at the facility for elderly and disabled residents.  Boughton says so far Eversource has not responded to pleas to restore service and there are no trucks on scene. 

HART buses were brought in for cooling overnight, and should there not be any results soon--any resident who wants a shelter the City will figure out a way to pay for their housing. 

Boughton says these situations around Danbury are now becoming life threatening.  He may put out a call for food and ice today if the situation doesn't improve. 

Boughton has been highly critical of Eversource’s response. He said the first Eversource crews arrived in Danbury on Thursday, two days after the storm. Boughton joined state and federal officials in expressing frustration that the utilities didn’t appear to be prepared for the storms, despite having nine years to upgrade their systems and response plans following two storms in 2011 that both knocked out power to 800,000 customers. 

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Local lawmaker wants Eversource profit used to pay for storm response

Some state lawmakers are doubtful the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority would rubber stamp a request from Eversource to put the tab for storm response on customer's bills; something President of Regional Electric Operation Craig Hallstrom has said the utility will likely do. Danbury State Representative David Arconti, chair of the legislature's Energy Committee, says he wants to look into whether to require a utility's profits be used for storm management, or a percentage of profits for storm response.  Arconti hopes that would force Eversource and United Illuminating to properly build resiliency into the grid. State regulators have launched an investigation into both utilities’ preparation and response to Tuesday’s storm, which cut power to more than 700,000 customers.

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Newtown First Selectman: Eversource giving municipalities misinformation

Newtown officials say Eversource has given the town misinformation.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal apologized to residents after initially saying that certain roads would be cleared, but crews showed up a day later. In past events, he says the information received from the community representative has been reliable and consistent.  Rosenthal noted that the liaison is not to blame because it appears the approach taken by Eversource management has been to restrict the representatives’ access to the “war room”, where they plan and allocate resources.  He says this is a complete departure from previous practice and has led to all kinds of frustration.

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Bethel Police Department continues to operate using backup generator

The Bethel Police Department is continuing to operate using the backup generator.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the highway crew did get some help this weekend from Eversource and their tree contractor, but that Eversource was not able to give them as much time as they needed.  There are some roads that remain completely closed with wires and trees on the ground.  Several other key thru-roads are open but restricted to one lane, including Wolfpits and Payne. They are passable, but motorists are advised to avoid them if possible.  Knickerbocker says some town employees have gone above and beyond the call of duty during this stressful time including Emergency Operations Director Tom Galliford, Parks & Recreation Director Eileen Earl, Director of Public Utilities Tom Villa, and Highway Superintendent Bob Dibble.

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New Milford Mayor questions where the Eversource crews are

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass said last night that  Eversource again told him the town would receive a contingent of Out of State Linesman. Currently there are zero in New Milford.  There are crews from Frontier, ATT that helped in clearing portions of Long Mountain Road. There are still some trees with wires but those are Eversource and have to be taken down by them or Mutual Aid.  After calling Eversource, Bass says he still doesn't have an answer for their absence.  He says the utilty's lines of communication is disjointed at best. There are 2 Stay Safe Eversource crews working in New Milford.   Bass says lack of preparation, poor communication with their own staff, Town government, residents, false promises, continue to haunt this restoration process. 

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COVID precautions in place in New Fairfield for Tuesday's primaries

Potable and non potable water will be available at New Fairfield High School and Middle School until 7PM.  Town officials are reminding motorists not to drive through barricades at closed roads. The roads have been closed by the police or Eversource for everyone's safety.  The New Fairfield Town Clerk and Registrars of Voters have been working to ensure that polls will be open tomorrow for the primary.  Anyone voting in person, should report to their normal polling station from 6AM to 8PM.  Voters are asked to wear a mask, follow all signage, maintain social distancing, have ID ready and to bring their own blue or black ballpoint pen for marking ballots. Absentee ballots may be placed in the ballot collection box outside of town hall until 8PM on primary night, tomorrow.

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Putnam County offering water, dry ice to residents without power

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell continues to meet at the Emergency Operations Center, monitoring the cleanup and restoration efforts.  While the County has seen a little more than half of impacted customers get their power restored, there are still over 16,000 without.  NYSEG expects to see significant progress by the end of the day.  Dry Ice and water is being made available to customers impacted by the outage. Residents should contact their local municipality for distribution information because each will establish their own location and schedule.  Locations will include Brewster Village Town Hall, Carmel Knights of Columbus, Mahopac Roller Rink Parking Lot, Patterson Town Hall and Southeast Town Hall.

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Kent opens cooling center

Eversource continues to have multiple trucks in all areas of Kent working on restoring power.  The utility  brought two generators online last night at Templeton Farms to provide temporary power to the residents.  Charter Communications has committed to provide additional crews in town today to restore internet and phone service. 

Due to the incoming heat wave, Kent CERT will be opening a cooling center today and tomorrow from 11am -6pm, at the Kent School Pre-Engineering center, located in the old Cyberian Outpost building behind the Kent Town Center shops on North Main Street. Charging station, bottled water and MRE distribution are relocated there as well.  There is a bottle fill station at the Kent Welcome Center at the rear of the building near the shower. 

The Welcome Center bathrooms and shower are open.  The coin operation has been modified to make the showers free. There are quarters on top of the coin-op machine to use so that the shower will turn on, but the coin-catch is open so they come back out.  Users are asked to put the coins back on top of the machine for the next person.

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Energy Committee chair, Danbury lawmaker, to hold hearing into storm response

Danbury State Representative David Arconti serves as chair of the legislature's Energy and Technology Committee.  He says the group will conduct its own hearing into what he called Eversource's incomprehensible response--from wrongly categorizing the storm event all the way down to their communication system failure.  This is separate from PURA's investigation.  Arconti says the hearing will include investigating their storm management response, delivery charges, whether or not enough investments have been made hardening the grid, and whether Eversource needs to make immediate investments in their linemen.  Arconti echoed Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton's questioning of where the money has gone considering Eversource made a $1 billion in profits in 2018 and their CEO gets a $19 million compensation package.

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Newtown to schedule curbside pickup of storm debris

The Town of Newtown hopes to begin its curbside pickup and removal of storm generated debris sometime on or after August 17th. Only trees, limbs and similar storm debris from the Tropical Storm is FEMA reimbursable.  Debris collection will be done within a three week period.  A property owner must place all debris within 10 feet of the curb, but not into the roadway--and not blocking sightlines. During the collection, residents should keep at least 75 feet or more away from all crews and equipment as injuries may be caused by flying debris or distraction.

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Bridgewater to accept residential brush from storm

Bridgewater's Public Works Department on Hut Hill Road will be accepting brush in diameter up to 3 inches from 9am to 1pm today. Public Works will also be open to accept brush throughout next week, 7:30am to 2:30pm.

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Monroe firefighters respond to carbon monoxide emergencies

Monroe firefighters continue to respond to numerous carbon monoxide emergencies.  While Department officials say this means CO detectors work; it does mean residents are running generators too close to their homes. A generator should be at least 20 feet from the house, windows on that side of the home should not be open and the exhaust of the generator should face away from the house.  Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas.

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Structural fire at generator building in Weston town hall complex

Weston's Office of Emergency Management says there was a structural fire at the generator building in the town hall complex yesterday.  They lost power, telephone service and internet, along with 911 service and radio communications.  911 was redirected to Wilton and the Fairfield County mobile field communications truck was brought to Weston. The town received mutual aid from both Wilton and Westport Fire Departments.

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Brookfield Fire Marshal shuts down overloaded generator

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company has a charging station available daily 9am to 5pm or when we staff is at the Pocono Road firehouse. Water is available 24 hours a day by the front entrance.

The Brookfield Fire Marshal shut down a generator that was improperly set up and powering appliances in 4 different units.  The generator was incorrectly placed, too close to the structure, and was clearly overloaded. 

  

(Photos: BVFD)

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No showers in New Fairfield, Bethel opens showers

Bethel Middle School is open for residents without power to shower.  The facility is open 3 to 7pm tonight and 6am to noon Saturday and Sunday.  People should enter the back of the school and follow signs.  Charging is available, as well, during those hours.

There are no showers available at New Fairfield High School as there have been in the past during prolonged and widespread power outages.  As part of the effort to reconfigure the schools for reopening during the pandemic, the locker rooms have been repurposed, and are not accessible.

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Officials caution power may go out as repairs are made

Ridgefield Emergency Management is alerting residents that as Eversource makes repairs, electrical circuits are being turned off and on. People who have power may lose it again for a short time. As power is restored, wires on the ground may become energized, so people should always treat all wires as live.

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Danbury Health Department offers reminders about defrosted foods

The Danbury Department of Health and Human Services has some reminders about food and power outages.  Never taste food to determine its safety.  Residents are being told to discard several items if the fridge has been without power for more than 4 hours--including raw meat, fish and eggs, lunch meat, milk, cream, yogurt, and soft cheeses.  Salad dressing, cut vegetables, cooked vegetables and garlic stored in oil.  Any opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, and horseradish should be discarded if they were held above 50 °F for over 8 hours.  Safe-to-Eat Foods include pickles, non-creamy salad dressings, whole fruits and vegetables, hard and processed cheeses, and butter or margarine.  Safe-to-Eat Frozen Foods are those that have thawed, but still contain ice crystals.

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United Way of Western Connecticut holding Community Food Drive

The United Way of Western Connecticut is holding a Community Food Drive tomorrow at the Danbury Fair Mall.  The collection is 9am to noon. The Drive-By Community Food Drive will benefit the Danbury Food Collaborative. 

211 received five times as many calls for food assistance in Fairfield County between March and June of 2020 than it did during the same time last year. Feeding America predicts that food insecurity could increase in Connecticut by 44%, from 11% of the state’s population to 16%, as a result of unemployment and economic dislocation due to the pandemic. 

Donations will be collected via a drive through in the mall parking lot located off the main entrance, facing Backus Avenue, closest to L.L. Bean.  Volunteers at the collection tent will remove donations from each vehicle's trunk. 

 Per health code, they cannot accept expired items.  The following items will be collected:

 All rices & grains: long grain, white, brown, wild, quinoa, couscous, barley

Peanut butter, including natural

Jelly

Canned tuna

Pastas, including whole grain
Pasta sauce* **

Macaroni & cheese*

Beef stew*

Chili *

All beans/legumes,dried or canned: lentils, black beans, kidney, lima, black-eyed, navy, garbanzo, pinto

All canned vegetables and potatoes*

Canned fruit, in light syrup or packed in natural juice

Soups including ramen noodles*

Cereal – boxed or bagged, whole grains*

Oatmeal

Laundry Detergent, cleaning supplies

Hand soap & sanitizer

Diapers, infant & adult size

Feminine hygiene products


*To encourage healthier eating, donors are asked to consider providing low-sodium or low-sugar options.
**When possible, donors are asked to refrain from donating items in glass jars.

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Danbury Mayor questions $19 million Eversource leader's salary amid slow response

The Danbury Public Works Department completed the opening up of every road that was blocked or closed by fallen trees and did not involve wires within a matter of hours.  The work was coordinated across 42 roads, but there were still 43 that were blocked or closed due to trees impacted by electrical lines.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola called it very frustrating since his employees are ready to work, but can not.  During this so-called idle time waiting for Eversource, Danbury crews cleaned up what we cut down Tuesday night.

Mayor Mark Boughton is critical of the preparation by Eversource to this storm.  He also questioned why the utility's leader is paid an astronomical amount.  He says there has to be some connection to competency.  If someone is paid $19 million a year and there's no plan to deal with a Tropical Storm, let alone a Hurricane, that's bad.  He acknowledged that this was a complicated storm, but says when the assessment isn't started until two days after the storm that pushes restoration back.

Boughton called on Eversource to engage local contractors on retainer to keep them on call.  He says part of the problem with outside crews is that they don't know where the streets are located. 

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Man fatally wounded in a chainsaw accident in Newtown

A person has been fatally wounded in a chainsaw accident in Newtown. Newtown Police responded to a Mount Nebo Road home Wednesday night and located 33-year old Stephen Caciopoli bleeding heavily from his neck.  The man was helping his friend remove a downed tree when the portable masonry saw got wedged.  The Newtown resident was was taken to Danbury Hospital where he was pronounced dead. A 66-year-old Naugatuck man, Raymond Schultz, died when a tree fell on him as he was clearing branches from a road. Five other people were seriously injured.

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Ridgefield sets up hotline for Tropical Storm related questions

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi is relaying a message from Eversource: due to COVID-19 mutual aid has been slow.  He says the town finally have some crews that were clearing roads until early this morning, but special crews are needed to deal with wires in trees.  With almost every road affected, Marconi is asking for patience. 

A special hotline has been set up from 9 am to 3 pm for questions: 203-431-2718. 

Ridgefield Police and Fire are working as a team traveling to neighborhoods via an ATV in the areas where the roads are blocked. They urge everyone to check on neighbors, especially those that are older or have special needs.  The Fire Department has received numerous calls for CO poisoning due to improper use of generators. Do not operate a generator in a closed space like a garage or inside a home. 

Potable water will be available 24 hours a day:
o Parks & Rec, 195 Danbury Road
o The Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 East Ridge Road
o Ridgebury Fire Department-169 Old Stagecoach Rd.

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New Milford Public Works planning debris removal day

New Milford Department of Public Works Director Jack Healy says they expect additional resources from Eversource today to open up roads and restore power.  He wants residents to be prepared to be inconvenienced for several days.  But then Healy says things will be back to pre-storm normalcy, not that this year is normal. 

In speaking with AT&T, New Milford officials said the company will be bringing in an emergency cell on wheels to help with cell coverage. 

Once power is back and all roads have been reopened, Healy says Public Works will be making one round collecting debris left at the streetside.  It will only be done once, but an exact date has not yet been scheduled. 

Eversource is telling local elected officials say that COVID-19 restrictions is slowing mutual aid response to Connecticut.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says it's plausible because some crews were coming from Rhode Island and when that state was added to the travel advisory, it backed them up a bit. 

Charging stations are available at several locations- Water Witch Fire, Northville Fire, Odd Fellows Lodge , New Milford Senior Center --for seniors only, and at United Methodist Church. Fresh Water is available for residents at several locations including Water Witch Fire, Northville Fire, and New Milford Facilities Maintenance Building.  Pettibone Community Center is open, for up to 25 people at a time.  Masks are required.

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Redding First Selectman understands resident anger at lack of Eversource response

Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton says she understands that everyone is frustrated, and even angry, by the lack of response from Eversource.  She urged residents not to jeopardize personal safety by cutting their way through the trees as wires can be hard to see when tangled in the branches.  Water is available from hoses at Redding Town Hall and the Redding Community Center. This is general purpose water and not suitable for drinking.  Drinkable water via hose is available at Joel Barlow High School.  People should enter the rear parking lot via Turney Road and go to the loading dock.  A charging station is set up at the Redding Community Center.  When utilizing the town buildings, people must observe all social distancing guidelines. Masks are required to enter the buildings

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30 line crews are in New Fairfield

30 line crews are in New Fairfield and the town is waiting for tree crews to assist them with removal and “make safe” operations before power can be restored.  There are now 700 active crews in CT, with another 677 arriving from out of state today.  Governor Lamont has activated the National Guard to assist with clean-up efforts.  Charging stations are open at New Fairfield High School 9AM to 7PM daily. However, to comply with COVID-19 guidelines, only 25 people can be there at one time. Masks are required.  New Fairfield residents will be asked to sign in and use hand sanitizer. Non potable water is available at the Middle School.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says they will not be able to accept debris or brush at this time.

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Bethel charging stations, showers to be open throughout weekend

Eversource crews reconnected about 750 Bethel customers yesterday, but the leaves slightly more than 5,000 homes and businesses yet to be reconnected.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says they are aware there are still roads blocked by downed trees with power lines tangled in them. Restoration work in those areas cannot begin until those roads are cleared.  He is pressing Eversource, with extreme urgency, to supply more "make safe" crews to work alongside the town's highway department to finish clearing those areas.

The municipal center will be open for charging devices from 9am until 8pm. It will also be open over the weekend from 9am to 6pm.  Stony Hill Fire Department will be open from 9am to 6pm today through the weekend for charging stations.

When using the facilities Bethel residents will be asked a few health screening questions and will be required to wear a mask. Due to social distancing requirements, space is limited, and people can be there for no more than one hour.


Showers will be available at Bethel Middle School:
            Friday, Aug. 7               6am - 9am
                                                 3pm - 7pm
            Saturday, Aug. 8           6am - Noon
            Sunday, Aug. 9             6am - Noon
Enter at the back of the school. Signs will be posted to help guide you. Charging stations will also be available at BMS.

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Putnam County Executive declares State of Emergency

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell has declared a State of Emergency.  She says the storm caused an unprecedented amount of damage to electrical infrastructure with an estimated 86% of all customers without power.  To enable resources to be effectively deployed, the Declaration will stay in effect for a period of up to 5 days.  NYSEG is working with local towns and villages to provide water and wet ice for distribution. Residents should contact their local municipality for distribution information. Each municipality will establish their own location and schedule.  Two comfort stations have been opened.  One is the former Butterfield Hospital site, the Friendship Center of Philipstown, and the other is the Knights of Columbus in Carmel.  Both facilities are open from 10 AM until 4 PM. Residents can use the facilities to cool down and recharge their phones and other electronic equipment.

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New Milford Mayor still waiting for answers from Eversource

In speaking with Eversource and the Emergency Management region 5 team, New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says no real answers were obtained.  He says Eversource continues to do damage assessments to the electric grid.   Bass says limited mutual Aid Crews from COVID hot spots limited the initial wave of additional response. 

As a general rule, Eversource is looking at days for restoration, to some outlying areas over a week for restoration. 

Oddfellows and Waterwitch Fire opened up yesterday for charging stations.  The Senior Center opened a Seniors Only charging station from 9am-3pm.   Starting today, from 9am -4pm, the Pettibone cafeteria will have wifi access and charging capabilities for New Milford residents. Due to Social Distancing it's limited to 25 people at a time.

Currently New Milford has 81 Town Roads impacted and need Eversource assistance: Aldrich, Apple, Aspetuck Ridge, Barker, Bear Hill, Birchwood, Boardman, Browns Forge, Buckingham, Burnett, Candlewood Lake Rd S, Candlewood Mtn, Carmen Hill #1, #2, Cherniske, Church Hill, Cornwall, Cossman, Courtland, Dorwin Hill, Elkington Farm Rd, Forth Ill, Great Brook, Grove Rd, Heacock Crossbrook, Highway to Green Pond, Hine Hill, Hine Rd, Indian Trail, Jefferson Dr, Judds Bridge, Legion, Lillis, Long Mtn Rd, Lover's Leap Rd, Marwick, McMahon, McNulty, Medowwood, Mine Hill, Mt. Tom, Mud Pond, Mullberry, New Bridge, New Preston Hill, New St, North Sawyer, Old Middle, Old Mill, Old Ridge, Old Stone, Old Town Park, Papermill, Pleasant, Pumpkin Hill, Reservior, Ridge, River Rd, Rolling Glen Dr, Rooster tail, Sand Pit, Sawyer Hill, Second Hill, South Kent Rd, Squash Hollow, Standish, Stephanie, Stillson Hill, Stone Tent Rd, Sunny Valley, Tamarack, Taylor, Taylor terrace, Town Farm Rd, Treadwell, Upper Malletts, Upper Reservior, West Meetinghouse, Walker Brook Rd, North and South, Wellsville, Wheaton Rd

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Danbury declares state of emergency, lists roads impacted by storm

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says cell phone service became spotty yesterday as the batteries on the towers drain. He asked Verizon to bring a temporary tower to be set up at Broadview Middle School.

Boughton declared a state of emergency yesterday due to the tropical storm. Danbury had the most Eversource outages reported yesterday, but he heard little from the utility.  Boughton expressed his frustration on Twitter to Eversource over not having an estimate for when people would have their power restored. 

While there were so-called make-safe crews staying at hotels in the City, Boughton says he hadn't seen any out working by late afternoon.

The City has posted a list of impacted roadways: https://www.danbury-ct.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/stormdamage8520330.pdf

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Ridgefield First Selectman frustrated by Eversource lack of response

77% of Ridgefield is without power and First Selectman Rudy Marconi says he doesn't have an estimation on a complete restoration time.  He says it's been reported to municipal officials that due to COVID-19, mutual aid has been slow. As a result Marconi says Ridgefield will be waiting for crews from New Hampshire and Massachusetts once they have addressed their local issues. 

The Fire Department has received numerous calls for CO2 poisoning due to improper use of generators. They should not be operated in a closed space like a garage or inside a home. There are no charging stations or showers available at Parks and Rec at this time due to COVID-19. 

Potable water will be available at Parks & Rec, the Ridgefield Playhouse, and Ridgebury Fire Department.

Marconi is frustrated with the response by Eversource to this tropical storm.  He told the Ridgefield Press that they're more interested in the bottom line than they are in the power lines.  Marconi joined Governor Lamont in calling for PURA to investigate and take action in line with the declining customer services.

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Newtown makes showers, charging available to residents in need

There are at least 50 roads that are blocked in Newtown. Resolving blocked roads is the primary focus before meaningful electric restoration can begin.  Showers will be available this morning at the Newtown High School, daily 6 am to 9 pm.  Residents are asked to enter through the rear “glass” entrance nearest the gym/locker rooms/showers – drive past the High School Building Main entrance and circle down to the right.  Dumpsters will be available for food waste only, at the Botsford, Dodgingtown and Sandy Hook Firehouses.  Residents can bring their own container to Sandy Hook, Hook and Ladder and Botsford fire houses and the parks and rec garage –to fill with water from a hose.

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New Fairfield firefighters respond to CO issues due to increased generator use

The New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department has responded to many calls for carbon monoxide detectors going off in the past 12 hours. Residents are asked to move generators farther away from homes.  A generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device should never be used inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.  Although CO can't be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right away.  Non-potable water will be available in front of New Fairfield Middle School from 9AM to 7PM every day this week through Sunday.  Residents should bring their own containers.

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Bethel waiting on Eversource crews

It will likely to take anywhere from one to two weeks for all power to be fully restored in Bethel, according to First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker. 

This is based on previous experience with large scale outages.  Most roads were reopened yesterday morning, with the exception of roads that are blocked with downed wires and trees with wires.  Knickerbocker is reminding residents that Bethel highway crews are prohibited from clearing any trees where wires are involved; they crews must wait for qualified Eversource "make safe" technicians. 

Residential brush and tree limbs can be dropped off at the transfer station at no charge. You must show Bethel ID, and this is for residential customers only. Commercial tree cutters are not included.

Currently major road closures in town include: Route 58 between Jacobs Lane and Putnam Memorial Park, Route 302 immediately East of Judd Ave, and Payne Rd between Buff Lane and Shelter Rock Rd.

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Redding declares local state of emergency

Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton has declared a State of Emergency due to the extent of storm damage.  By last night there were 25 roads blocked and many other partially obstructed roadways with fallen/leaning trees and downed wires. All residents are advised to please stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.  The Town of Redding Emergency Management Team is working with Eversource to get crews in town to clear roadways.  The Redding Community Center has been set up for residents to get jug water in the parking lot and charging station in the parking lot until 6 pm via generator.  Jug water will also be available at Redding Town Hall.  When utilizing the town buildings, residents are asked to observe all social distancing guidelines and masks are required to enter buildings.

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Conn. outages from Tropical Storm Isaias greater than Superstorm Sandy

As of 10 am, Eversource crews have restored power to more than 100,000 customers since the storm began yesterday. Approximately 617,000 Eversource customers in Connecticut remain without power as a result of the severe storm. The energy company anticipates restoration of all its customers in the state will take multiple days.

Eversource Vice President of Electric Operations in Connecticut Michael Hayhurst says the impact from this storm, in terms of power outages, is greater than Superstorm Sandy.  A helicopter is being used to conduct a detailed damage assessment of overhead equipment.

Issues related to Eversource’s reporting system have been resolved and the energy company encourages customers to report any outage online at www.eversource.com, or by calling 800-286-2000. Customers who signed up for the company’s two-way texting feature can send a text to report an outage and receive outage updates as they happen

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Ridgefield fire truck, Brookfield emergency responder car damaged by falling trees

A Ridgefield Fire Department truck was damaged during yesterday's storm.  Union officials say all members are safe and unharmed.  They continued to respond to multiple calls and note that trucks can be fixed. 

(Photo: Ridgefield Professional Firefighters)

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to over 70 requests for service yesterday. One firefighter escaped serious injury when his vehicle was struck by a tree as he tended to the victim of a car accident. Brookfield firefighters are out today dealing with an increase in call volume as clean up gets underway

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Charging stations being made available in Greater Danbury area

Water Witch Hose Company in New Milford, recognizing that power may be out for a while, has set up a public charging station on the side of their prospect hill firehouse at Route 67 and Grove Street.   People taking advantage of the service are asked not to block the apparatus bays.  Firefighters will be available to help anyone that needs potable water, though residents must bring their own containers.

Newtown residents who need WiFi are able to get service outside CH Booth Library.  The 25 Main Street facility's back parking lot is within the reach of a recent upgrade to the wireless signal.  Library staff has also put out extension cords and two charging stations.  The building itself remains closed.  Booth Library is however offering curbside service and, weather permitting, patio browsing service.

Due to COVID restrictions, Ridgefield Parks and Rec is closed and not available for showers .  Emergency Management officials are working on a limited opening.  As of this morning. Main Street only had one lane open at the library and Route 35 was closed between High Ridge and the Fountain.

Danbury Fire Headquarters on New Street has been set up with an outdoor charging station.  Water is also available for residents.

Bethel Municipal Center will be open from 9am to 8pm today, tomorrow and Friday for charging stations.  The designated, marked front entrance includes a sign in sheet and visitors will be asked to do a quick health screening, The General Purpose room will be available for about 6 people at a time to charge their devices due to COVID-19 restrictions.  Residents are asked not to use the space as a remote work site in order to accommodate as many people as possible.

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Long lines reported at Ridgefield gas stations

Ridgefield Emergency Management officials say there were long lines this morning at all gas stations in town, with cars spilling onto main roads.  Residents were called on to consider waiting to fill tanks if possible.  Many people ventured out this morning to get fuel for generators anticipating that power will be out for days if not weeks.

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Ridgefield's southern end hit hardest by storm

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the town's southern end was hit hardest by yesterday's storm,  downing many large trees, utility poles and stretches of power lines and communications cables.   Utility and tree crews are working with Ridgefield highway personnel to clear roads and restore services, but Marconi says it may be several days before all residents are back online. 

Motorists are being reminded not to drive over downed lines, and if a downed line is in or near water, keep your distance, even from a little puddle. 

Generator exhaust contains carbon monoxide, and using a generator indoors can kill a perosn within minutes.  The generator should be well away from the home, making sure exhaust cannot easily enter in through open windows or doorways.  The safe way to connect a generator to your existing wiring is to have a licensed electrical contractor install a transfer switch. When improperly installed, home generators of any size - even small ones - can backfeed enough power onto the electrical grid where it is “stepped up” to very high voltages.

As of 5am Wednesday, Eversource is reporting 8,748 outages, about 79.61% of town.

Impacted roads include:

High Ridge closed near Bryon Ave due to tree down.

Nod Rd. closed near Twin Ridge due to tree down

Main St closed near Pound Street and 116 due to tree down
Main St partially blocked near Market St due to tree down
Main St at Rockwell blocked due to tree down

Copps Hill blocked due to tree down

116/North Salem Closed at Continental due to tree down

Route 7 Blocked at Cains Hill

Ivy Hill blocked at Prospect due to tree down

Wilton Rd West (33) partially closed by tree

Farmingville near Walnut Grove blocked due to tree down

Lewis blocked at Golf Ln

Golf Ln 1 lane passable

Peaceable Hill between Peaceable Hill and Remington, Tree on wires, 1 lane

Boulders in Road Florida Rd, drive carefully

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Tree down on car, brush fire among storm impact in Danbury

70 to 80 trees fell across roads in Danbury by early evening Tuesday due to strong wind gusts.  Richter Park Authority officials shared photos showing 20 downed trees and damage to the driving range.  Mayor Mark Boughton says this is as much damage as he's seen from a storm in a number of years.  On Joe's Hill Road, a tree fell on a car.

A small brush fire was reported on Coal Pit Hill Road.  Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames.

Boughton notes that transformers had blown up on Main Street and Mill Plain Road.  He says it could be days if not a week before all power is restored.  He added that Eversource did have crews positioned across the state ahead of the impact.  Dozens of utility trucks could be seen parked at Danbury hotels along Lake Avenue and Mill Plain Road. 

Boughton says the eye of the storm went to the west of the Danbury area, which is why the region experienced stronger winds than expected.

As of 5am Wednesday, Eversource is reporting 14,887 outages, about 39.71% of the City.

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96% of Redding without power Wednesday morning

Redding was hard hit by yesterday's storm with trees and wires down all around town.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton says there are too many closed roads to list and asked residents to stay home if possible.  She cautioned that full restoration of power could take 3 to 5 days and maybe longer because this is a state wide event.  Redding Highway Department personnel and Police are out on the roads assessing storm damage and road blockages to send the information to Eversource. 

This looks like the 5th largest power outage in modern state history behind October Snowstorm, Tropical Storm Irene, Hurricane Gloria, and Hurricane Sandy.

As of 5am Wednesday, Eversource is reporting 3,679 outages, about 96.08% of town.

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New Fairfield First Selectman declares state of emergency

New Fairfield Public Works and the Fire Department worked into the evening to clear as much of the storm debris as possible.  Crews are unable to clear wires and poles from the roads until Eversource is on scene to de-energize the lines. Due to widespread damage in the State, New Fairfield officials do not expect Eversource to arrive in town until early this morning.

Due to the extent of the damage in Town, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco has declared an Emergency in New Fairfield. 

Residents were asked to shelter in place if able to do so until crews have cleared the remaining trees and wires from the roads. People are urged not to attempt to drive under or over downed trees and power lines. Although the wire is on the ground they could be energized.

As of 5am Wednesday, Eversource is reporting 3,202 outages, about 52.63% of town.

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New Milford Parks and Rec to help Public Works with storm clean up

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the Public Works Department employees are out clearing as many roads as they can, but are only able to move trees that don't have power lines in them.  The Parks and Rec team will be up the Green and boat slips at Lynn Deming assisting in continued clean up.  Lynn Deming was closed around noon yesterday, except for people tying down boats. 

Eversource will continue clearing trees with power lines in them to open up closed roads and then Bass says they will focus on power restoration.  He asked for residents to be patient as the damage in New Milford is extensive. 

Drivers are reminded to watch out for trees and wires in the roadway, and not drive across a downed power line.  Motorists should treat all nonworking traffic lights as stop signs and proceed cautiously at intersections. 

Bass is also reminding residents to not enter damaged buildings with flame lanterns, candles or lighted cigarettes because there may be gas leaks.  Appliances should be plugged in and turned on one at a time to avoid a power surge once power is restored.  Bass is also asking the community to call family or friends, and do a wellness check to see how they are doing - especially those that are elderly or have medical issues. 

As of 5am Wednesday, Eversource is reporting 6,393 outages, about 45.70% of town.

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Brookfield reporting numerous impassable roads

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is reporting that multiple roads are impassible due to yesterday's storm. Junction Road between 25 and the bridge is among the closed roads. Residents are reminded to keep generators away from their homes, at least 20 to 30 feet, and not to operate gas equipment/vehicles inside the garage. Keep windows closed in the side of the house with your generator.  Water is available for Brookfield residents in front of Fire headquarters at 92 Pocono Road.

Closed roads include:
Elbow Hill
Carmen Hill
North Mountain
Federal (between the 2 old new Milford intersections)
Multiple off obtuse/obtuse N and S

As of 5am Wednesday, Eversource is reporting 5,487 outages, about 64.91% of town.

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Partial building collapse, gas leak in Bethel

A partial building collapse in Bethel has been reported as a result of the storm yesterday.  The brick on the north wall of the old Vaghi woodworking building collapsed onto the roof of the Village Square building off Elizabeth Street.  The collapse also caused a gas leak.  While the Vaghi building was vacant, several businesses are in the Village Square.  Bethel Emergency Management is getting reports of many trees and wires down in town. 

(Photo: State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan)

People are reminded not to go near wires or trees on wires as they may be energized.  Firefighters and Police are patrolling the roads and taping off or barricading blocked roads.  Drivers are urged not to drive around or move those barricades.  More than half of Bethel homes are out of power.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says residents should expect several days for full restoration. 

As of 5am Wednesday, Eversource is reporting 5,827 outages, about 64.97% of town.

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Boarding school changes name to honor abolitionist founder

WASHINGTON, Conn. (AP) — A 170-year-old Connecticut boarding school has changed its name to honor its abolitionist founder.

The Gunnery, a co-ed college preparatory school with an enrollment of just over 300 students from 25 states and 17 countries, has announced it will now be known as the Frederick Gunn School.

Gunn founded the private school in 1850 with the idea of providing a place that would treat all students fairly, regardless of color or gender, school officials said.

Peter Becker, the head of the school, told the Republican-American newspaper that the Gunnery has not always lived up to Gunn’s ideals and the name change was made in part to remind the community of what he stood for.

Gunn led the Underground Railroad in Litchfield County. He also founded the nation’s first summer camp, the Gunnery Camp, in 1861, according to the American Camp Association.

“A school founded by an outspoken abolitionist should really be a place that is unafraid to welcome and fully include all people,” Becker said. “There are definitely moments in our history that we haven’t done that, in ways that I think Frederick Gunn would have. In part, the name is a declaration that that’s something we’re committed to.”

The name change went into effect on July 25, but was approved by the school’s board of trustees in January.

Becker said he anticipates criticism from people who incorrectly believe the renaming is linked to the Black Lives Matter movement. He called the timing a “facinating coincidence.”

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Local leaders offer severe weather reminders

The first tropical storm of hurricane season is threatening Connecticut. 

Ridgefield Emergency Manager Dick Aarons says this could just be a rain and wind event, but households should inspect their generators to be sure the manufacturer’s recommendations for safe operation are followed while being fueled.  Water and food for at least three days should be stocked for family members, including pets. Due to the Pandemic, there will be no pre-storm sheltering in Ridgefield.  Residents are being advised to shelter in place during and after storm passage.  Group shelters will only be opened in Connecticut as a last resort for this storm, or any other major event until the pandemic ends.

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker is offering a few severe storm reminders to residents.  In the event of power failures, outages should be reported directly to Eversource.  Residents should not attempt to clear or trim trees that are tangled in downed power lines.  Downed trees that are blocking roadways can be reported to the Bethel Police Department non-emergency line at 203-744-7900, press "0" for the dispatch desk. The police department will coordinate with the highway department.

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DEEP closes State Parks, Forests, Campgrounds amid storm

Connecticut DEEP says State Parks, State Forests, and State Campgrounds are closed for the rest of the day.  This is due to the Tropical Storm impacting the region.  No immediate word on if people will get refunds if they lose their camping reservations.

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Bridgewater Congregational Church hosts annual School Kit program

The Bridgewater Congregational Church will again host their annual School Kit program.  A yellow plastic bin is now out front of the Friendship Hall laundry room for donations.  The bin is marked School Kit Donations.  The collection will run until August 24th.  The cost to fill one complete backpack is about 10-dollars.  The church has purchased the backpacks and will assemble and deliver the backpacks to the Church World Services shipping depot in Meriden on September 1st.  There is a $2 shipping and handling fee for each backpack. 

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New Milford to offer Summer Youth Employment program again

The town of New Milford has again teamed up with the Department of Labor and Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board to provide summer jobs to eligible youths.  The Summer Youth Employment program provides the hourly wage, FICA, contribution towards the town's Worker's Compensation Insurance and safety gear for the additional workers. For the safety of these temporary employees, Mayor Pete Bass says an extra supervisor was hired, which is also covered by the program. Those in the program also take Career Edge modules to assist with their future.  This is the second year New Milford participating in the program.

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DOT repaving portion of Route 7 in Brookfield

A repaving project is underway in Brookfield.  The Connecticut Department of Transportation started the nighttime milling and resurfacing project on Route 7 last week.  The project along the 2.3 mile segment, both north and southbound, is expected to be completed on September 8th, weather permitting.

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Car fire reported at Danbury gas station

A driver with a vehicle issue pulled off the highway and into a Danbury gas station moments before the engine caught fire yesterday.  Danbury Firefighters responded to Lake Avenue Extension on a report that a single occupant parked away from the gas pumps, but the passenger compartment was ablaze.  The fire was quickly extinguished and there were no injuries reported.  No other property damage was reported.  The Danbury Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the cause.

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Motorcyclist involved in weekend crash in Ridgefield succumbs to injuries

Ridgefield Police say the motorcyclist involved in a crash this weekend succumbed to his injuries.  Police say 60-year-old John Lienhardt of Greenwich died at Danbury Hospital.  Emergency responders were dispatched to South Salem Road around 11:30am Saturday for the reported accident.  Police say the motorcycle was headed eastbound when it went off the roadway and struck a road sign.  The accident remains under investigation.  Anyone with information is asked to to Capt. Shawn Platt at 203-438-6531.

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Danbury School parents to decide by Sunday on student learning option for fall

The first day of school has been moved to Tuesday September 1st in Danbury  for teacher training.  Families are being called on to finalize their selection by August 9th for the upcoming school year.  The Danbury Public School District is offering  three state-mandated options including a hybrid mode.  There will also be five days online learning at home with both teacher directed and independent opportunities.  The other option is Homeschooling.  Students formally withdraw from Danbury and their parents assume full responsibility for learning. Those choosing this option must contact Kevin Walston, Assistant Superintendent at (203) 797-4723 for formal withdrawal.  School officials say because of uncertainties, families will have the ability to make changes after submission.

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More than 1,600 Bethel voters apply for absentee ballots for primaries

The Bethel Town Clerk is providing an update on Absentee Ballot voting for the Democratic and Republican Primary.  More than 1,600 Bethel voters mailed in applications.  The applications were scanned into a centralized voter system used for every vote.  The state electronically processed the information to mail out the ballots directly.  The Secretary of the State's office apparently hired a mailing house to process the actual ballots.  The mailing house is located in Rhode Island.  The ballots were to be mailed on July 21st, but they weren't mailed until the 27th.  The Town Clerk's office has been fielding calls from residents on their whereabouts, because the application stated to call the town clerk if the ballot didn't arrive in a week.  People should not send a second application as it will be null and void.  As the 11th draws closer, ballots should be returned directly to the secure BALLOT BOX located directly in front of the main municipal entrance.  They should not be placed in the yellow town drop box.

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Older Brookfield residents eligible for Farmer's Market coupons

Brookfield residents 60 or older; or are disabled and live in a facility occupied by primarily older individuals and which provides congregate nutrition services are eligible for Farmer's Market coupons.  There are annual income caps on this program.  People looking top participate are asked to call the Brookfield Social Services Department to attest to eligibility and to leave a name and address for reporting purposes. This year, residents do not need to sign for them or sign the coupons at the Farmer's Market due to pandemic precautions.

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YMCA members concerned about online reservation system

With Stage 2 reopenings this week at the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut, the organization is looking ahead to stage 3, tentatively set for mid-September.  Change include to Greenknoll Fitness open Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to 3pm without a reservation needed.  There will be a modified Water Aerobics schedule and programming.  The indoor track, shower facilities and group swim lessons will reopen.  There were some concerns raised in a survey of Y members.  One was about the reservation system time slots not being listed in chronological order and that there is no online cancellation option.  The software company is looking into changes. 

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Man suffering medical incident on Still River Greenway rescued, treated

A man suffering a medical emergency on the Still River Greenway in Brookfield was rescued and treated by emergency responders.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company and EMS responded to marker 112 on the Greenway yesterday.  They were able to quickly access, treat and remove the patient from the trail to the ambulance.  The town has several areas where restricted access requires the use of a UTV and the Police Department‘s Ranger personnel responded.  The Still River Greenway is broken down into sections that are marked with signs should visitors need to call 911 for assistance.

 

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Possible HAZMAT situation at Brookfield pool house fire mitigated

A possible HAZMAT situation in Brookfield has been mitigated.  Both of Brookfield’s fire companies were dispatched to the area of Cedar Hill on Friday for a reported pool house on fire. A large plume of smoke could be seen and first responders were concerned about the spread to the main residence.  As firefighters started to extinguish the flames, they discovered a large amount of chlorine tablets inside the pool house.  Since the water and heat from the fire could have dispersed that chlorine in a gaseous form; firefighters evacuated some nearby residences as a precaution.  After the gas had dispersed, the tablets were placed in a metal container for disposal.  The Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

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2 of 3 stolen cars recovered by Monroe Police

Three cars were stolen in Monroe in the last week and more were entered and rummaged through.  Police say all of the stolen vehicles were left unlocked and had the keys left inside.  Monroe Officers were able to recover two of the two cars and are developing leads on the whereabouts of the third car.  Police are asking residents to make it more difficult for car thieves by removing keys and locking doors of unoccupied vehicles.

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Stage 2 of Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut's reopening is today

Stage 2 of the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut's reopening started today.  The Functional Fitness room opened with limited capacity on a first come first serve basis.  Members may be asked to limit their time if others are waiting.  Reservations are required for limited Group Exercise Classes. 

Spin bikes were moved out of the Spin studio and into half of the gym. Spin classes will continue to be held outdoors, weather permitting.  Free weights and benches were moved to the Spin Studio from the gym for member use during time slots. 

Two Basketball hoops will be available in the gym for family and member use. Members should reserve a time slot ahead of time and bring their own basketball.  Basketball hoops are available for shoot around only and not for pick up games at this time. Maximum capacity is 3 per hoop and masks will be required. 

Locker rooms will be available for changing out of wet swim suits. Lockers will not be available.  Social distancing pods will be created in the outdoor pool area for families to keep their belongings or sit during family swim.

The Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut is issuing a reminder to members given the popularity of pools during this time of year.  Anyone cancelling a reservation should do so 24 hours in advance.  Cancellations can not be done online, so must be done via phone message or email.

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Motorcyclist hospitalized in weekend crash in Ridgefield

Ridgefield Police say a motorcyclist was hospitalized following an accident this weekend.  The crash happened along South Salem Road Saturday morning between West Lane and Silver Spring Road.  One patient was transported from  the scene.  No further details were immediately available. 

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Bethel Registrars: One ballot per envelope

Everyone who sent in absentee ballot applications for the Primary should be receiving their absentee ballots in the mail.  The Bethel Registrars of Voters are asking that residents not place all of the ballots for one family into one single envelope.  Each ballot must have its own envelope.  Completed ballots can be mailed to the Town Clerk, or dropped in the secure absentee ballot box in front of the Bethel Municipal Center.

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Some new outdoor dining permits in Danbury will end next month

Some of the outdoor dining areas approved in Danbury as part of the Governor's Executive Orders will be legalized for use in future years.  Danbury Zoning Enforcement Officer Sean Hearty says the order waived a number of requirements, including parking and set backs, so some of the patios will not be allowed to stay.  Those businesses will be transitioned back to indoor only. 

Hearty says the rug won't be pulled out from under them when the Executive Order expires in September. 

The Danbury Health, Planning and Building departments worked with the Fire Marshal's Office to get the existing outdoor permits and the new dining options open as quickly and safely as possible. Hearty credited all city employees for working efficiently together on the opening of temporary outdoor spaces. 

He says the biggest issue now is making sure these facilities turn down the noise late at night, and his staff is working with the police department on that front.

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Two vehicles reported stolen from Brewster Ford

Two vehicles were stolen from Brewster Ford last month.  New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation is currently investigating the complaint from the Route 22 dealership.  The vehicles stolen were taken from the sales lot between July 18th and July 28th.   One is a white 2019 Ford F-350, 4x4, Crew Cab.  The other is a Silver 2020 F-250, 4x4, Super Cab. Anyone with information about the possible location of these vehicles or the persons responsible is asked to contact New York State Police at (845) 677-7300 and refer to case number 9731188.

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Putnam County Sheriff to request Body Cameras as part of 2021 budget

Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley will be presenting a request for Body Cameras as part of the 2021 budget. The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department is seeking to implement Axon Body Cameras next year. Axon is recognized by law enforcement agencies as the leader in the industry providing the best equipment to capture every detail frame by frame.  Langley says having these body cameras will result in enhanced public trust, improved quality of evidence and the reduction in the number of false complaints. The Sheriff’s Department has been using cameras in all the patrol cars for more than 20 years.  Langley says this has increased documented evidence to aid in prosecution as well as decrease frivolous complaints. 

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Police identify two people killed in Housatonic River car accident

Police have identified the two people who died after their car crashed into the Housatonic River.  The accident happened late Friday afternoon off Roosevelt Drive in Seymour.  Police identified the victims as 54-year-old Connie Crowell and her 22-year-old son, John Crowell, both of Monroe.  Police say the pair were rescued from the car after the fire department used a winch to drag the SUV closer to shore.  Resuscitation efforts at the scene were unsuccessful and they were both pronounced dead.  Firefighters commandeered a resident’s boat while other members entered the water in life jackets and rescue suits.  The response came from many jurisdictions because it was a large, complex scene.  The investigation is ongoing.

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Danbury schools to open with hybrid model this fall

The Danbury School District will have a hybrid reopening in the fall.  About half of the student population will be in the buildings Mondays and Tuesdays, a cleaning day Wednesday and the other half in classrooms on Thursday and Fridays.  There will be distance learning on days when students aren't in the buildings.  The announcement followed a car rally in Danbury by teachers calling for more state funding to ensure a safe reopening.  Governor Lamont has acknowledged that even though a full reopening was the goal, it's not possible for some schools.  The Connecticut Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, had local chapters across the state host car parades for school safety, including one that ended at the governor’s house.

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Greater Danbury braces for possible impact from Tropical Storm

Heavy rain and strong winds are probable for the Greater Danbury area late tonight and tomorrow as a Tropical Storm passes through early Wednesday. 

Ridgefield could expect 45 to 50 miles per hour steady winds with gusts between 50 and 60.  Emergency Manager Dick Aarons says historically, Connecticut sees greater tree and wire damage when winds come from the south rather than the north and northwest as is the case with nor’easters and offshore tropical storms. 

Aarons advises businesses and residents to remove or stabilize tents and secure outdoor furniture and unanchored equipment that could become dangerous missiles in strong winds.  He says Eversource has already warned that its restoration times may be slower than usual because of pandemic precautions.  

New Fairfield officials are also monitoring the track and forecast.  Residents are urged to make sure to have enough non-perishable food, drinking water and prescription medicines to last through an extended power outage-- in addition to supplies such as flashlights and batteries.

Although the scenario is unlikely at this point, New Fairfield officials are advising that the Town's sheltering capability will be limited due to the ongoing pandemic.

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GOP congressional candidates pitch anti-socialist message

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — With the state’s Aug. 11 primary fast approaching, some Republican congressional candidates have been bucking conventional wisdom it will be difficult to run in Democratic-leaning Connecticut on an outspoken conservative message this November. Instead, they argue that they’re resonating with a large number of silent voters concerned by what they see as efforts to move the country drastically to the far political left.

They’ve often used words like “socialist,” “radical” or “leftist” in their campaigns to describe Democratic policies and the political positions of the five incumbent Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives, all of whom are all seeking re-election.

Jonathan Riddle, the endorsed Republican in the 4th Congressional District who doesn’t face a primary challenge, recently accused four-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Himes on Twitter of being a “Marxist in sheep’s clothing bent on supporting the Socialist agenda of Nancy Pelosi, AOC, and their far leftist squad,” a reference to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, and three other freshman members of Congress.

A message was left seeking comment with Himes’ campaign about the tweets.

James Griffin, a candidate in the 1st District primary who left the Democratic Party and became a Republican in 2017, has gone further and accused those he considers to be establishment Democrats of supporting communism, not just socialism.

“I can see that my old party Dems, they’re trying to make this country a communist country. And if you’re not awake, you don’t see that,” said Griffin. He contends the “Democratic bureaucracy” in Washington “has progressively moved the country to a chaotic state which is ripe for taking by communist control.”

Republican President Donald Trump has accused Washington Democrats of having a “socialist” agenda, promising during his 2019 State of the Union address to “renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” Yet, Trump, who lost Connecticut in the 2016 presidential election, is not very popular in the state. A May 6 survey conducted by Quinnipiac University showed 36% of registered voters approved of the job he was doing, while 61% percent disapproved. When asked about how he was handling the coronavirus, the results were the same.

While Democrats control all five House seats, both Senate seats, the legislature and all state constitutional offices, including governor, many municipalities are controlled by Republicans and the GOP has made inroads in places like eastern Connecticut, where there are more blue-collar Republicans who support Trump.

Mary Fay, a financial services senior executive who was endorsed by the state’s Republican party in the 1st District primary, has billed herself as a moderate who stands the best chance of defeating Democratic U.S. Rep. John Larson in November. A member of the town council in West Hartford, a Democratic stronghold, Fay acknowledged she is concerned about the “squad” and the factions she believes support socialist policies in the U.S. However, Fay said she votes with the Democrats on the council when she believes it makes sense and opposes them when it doesn’t, an approach she’d like to bring to Washington, D.C.

“I can’t accuse every Democrat of being a communist,” she said with a laugh. “It’s an issue, I just don’t know that campaigning on that is a winning strategy because it just sounds so crazy. Right? So, we’ve got to unite and pull the country together. And I believe leading in the middle is where most people are now.”

Justin Anderson, who is challenging endorsed candidate Thomas Gilmer for the Republican nomination in the 2nd District race, said he believes Trump and his policies are more popular in the state than the polling shows.

Anderson, a retired correctional officer and a Connecticut Army National Guard veteran who served two combat tours in Afghanistan, said voters tell him they’re concerned about what they consider a move toward socialism in Washington. He said they’re also worried about calls to defund police and other issues, but they’re reticent to express their concerns, as well as any support for Trump, because it’s not welcome in Connecticut.

While Anderson said he’s been told by some Republicans he can’t defeat Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, he contends he’s well known in military circles and believes there’s support for his message that the party doesn’t see.

“Eastern Connecticut is going to quietly pull the lever for Trump and go down the line,” predicted Anderson, who quit his federal job as a state intelligence operations specialist to run for the chance to challenge Courtney in November.

“That was a huge decision to walk away from this job. That’s not something you take lightly,” Anderson said. “That’s not something I would do if I didn’t honestly believe I could win.”

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