Local Headlines Archives for 2020-09

Dump truck catches fire after touching power lines

A dump truck with an elevated carrier touched power lines on Monday in Ridgefield.  Firefighters confirmed the incident and called Eversource so they could cut the power.  While waiting on the utility to respond, the truck caught fire.  After the power was controlled, the fire was extinguished.  Fire officials are reminding people to always treat wires as live until determined otherwise by Eversource.

(Photo: Ridgefield Fire Department)

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Overnight storm causes power outages

Danbury and Bethel each reported about 1,000 power outages each this morning following strong winds and heavy rain overnight.  

There were about 800 power outages reported in Ridgefield this morning.  Emergency Operations Center officials say town highway crews were on scene of down tree and wires on Ridgebury Road, and another priority site at Prospect Ridge, which is the cause of the large outage in Ridgefield of 723 customers out. The next largest outage in town affects 27 customers in the area of Branchville Road.  Additional priority calls in Ridgefield include Limekiln Road, Adams Road and elsewhere.

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the Department of Public Works crews were out on their assigned plow routes this morning, looking for hazards from the strong winds and rain that came through overnight.  Some roadways are covered with small debris. Once completed, Bass says crews will work on drainage, mowing, and site line clearing.

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Sherman CERT seeks volunteers

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department is looking for new members, but for those unable to join but are still looking to help the community, there's another opportunity.  The Community Emergency Response Team is also looking for members.  This team would be at the ready for checks on vulnerable people, to do necessary deliveries such as meals for the elderly, monitor community relief stations, and a variety of other important tasks related to long-term power outages and other emergencies.   Some of the tasks require no specific skills, but for other activities members will receive training.  Any resident interested in becoming part of this team for Sherman is asked to contact First Selectman Don Lowe.

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Danbury co. provided lists of potential victims to fraudulent mass-mailing schemes

Danbury-based list brokerage firm Macromark has pleaded guilty to knowingly providing lists of potential victims to fraudulent mass-mailing schemes. 

The U.S. Department of Justice says the fraudulent schemes tricked consumers into paying fees for falsely promised cash prizes and purportedly personalized “psychic” services.  Thousands of consumers lost $9.5 million to the schemes. The information alleges that Macromark specifically helped fraudulent mass mailers both acquire lists of potential victims to defraud and sell their lists of victims to other mass mailers. 

The Justice Department says company executives and employees engaged in this conduct despite knowing that their clients were mailing hundreds of thousands of deceptive prize notifications that misled victims into believing that they would receive a cash prize or personalized services upon payment of a fee. 

Macromark’s plea follows a separate guilty plea by former Executive Vice President Steven Keats in July 2018 to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.  In March, former Senior Vice President Norman Newman was indicted by a Connecticut Grand Jury for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, along with fifteen counts of wire fraud. 

Under the terms of Macromark’s guilty plea, the company would be sentenced to three years of probation, forfeiture and fines totaling $1,000,000, and be required to cooperate with any related government investigation or prosecution.  The final sentence awaits a ruling from the federal court overseeing the case.

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Kent sees slight rise in COVID-19 cases

Over the last few weeks, Kent has seen an uptick in the number of positive COVID-19 cases.  First Selectman Jean Speck says they are community-spread cases and there is no indication that they are related to any facility, school or activity.  While this increase is concerning, she says the town continues to be in regular contact with Torrington Area Health Department for regular updates.  Speck says the most important takeaway is that COVID-19 is continuing to spread at the community level, and the three keys to lowering community spread remain critical:Wear a mask, Maintain six foot social distancing, and Stay home if not feeling well.  She added that personal responsibility leads to community responsibility.

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Carmel man arrested for promoting obscene sexual performance by child

A Carmel man has been arrested for promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office received a referral from law enforcement in Texas about 44-year old Brian Lockhart sharing Child Sexual Abuse Material through a chat program. After a joint investigation, Lockhart was charged on September 17th.  K9 Hannah, the Sheriff Department’s electronics detection dog, assisted in the execution of the search warrant that resulted in the recovery of over a dozen electronic devices.  Multiple devices were seized at his home and the digital forensics examination process is still ongoing. Investigators advise that there may be more charges or investigations initiated at the conclusion of the digital forensics exam.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office is part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force run by New York State Police.

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Danbury gets state bond money for school improvements

The state bond commission has met and approved $64 million worth of projects. Among the funding is money for schools to make upgrades due to the pandemic. Governor Ned Lamont says Danbury will receive little more than $1 million to improve school buildings.  The Danbury delegation of state lawmakers say as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect and change the way education is approached , this funding could not be more timely.  Since COVID-19 impacted public schools, Danbury received a CARES grant of $ 2.28 million and a Coronavirus Relief grant of $1.68 million.

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Voters can check online if application, absentee ballot received

The Bethel Town Clerk is reminding residents that the state has an online voter look up tool to see if an absentee ballot application was received, and later to see if the ballot was received.  Town Clerk Lisa Bergh says she's not sure if people are waiting to file their applications, or are planning to vote in person on November 3rd, but her office hasn't received the number of applications that were anticipated.  The online voter look up web address is https://portaldir.ct.gov/sots/LookUp.aspx.

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Water Witch Hose making some changes to this year's Santa Express

Water Witch Hose of New Milford is making some changes to this year's Santa Express, following all local, state and CDC guidelines about coronavirus.  Depending on the climate of COVID-19, fire company officials say they will monitor and make changes as needed.  As of now, members of Service and Santa will do Health Checks prior to departure each day.  Santa and everyone he visits must wear a mask.  All stops will occur outside, at the end of each Driveway.  Santa will hand children the gift but there will be no hugs or holding, with all pictures at a distance in front of the firetrucks.  Water Witch Hose says everyone is need a little joy this season but they have an obligation to be safe. 

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New Milford Police Department Cadet Program now recruiting

The New Milford Police Department Cadet Program is now recruiting.  Chief Spencer Cerruto proposed the program recently for residents age 13 to 21 interested in a career in law enforcement.  He says the program offers young adults a personal awareness of the criminal justice system through training, practical experiences, and other activities.  Those interested can email cadets@newmilfordpolice.org or call 860-355-3133 ask for Ofc. Dietz or Ofc. Syan.

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Activism Group for Teens being formed at Danbury Library

A Discussion / Activism Group for Teens is being formed at Danbury Library.  The first meeting is being held tomorrow via zoom.  The virtual mixer will allow young people to get to know each other and share their interests.  Future meetings will focus on various topics identified by the teens looking to make a positive impact on the world.  Tomorrow's guest speaker will be Leslie Ruggiero, Field Organizer for the Jahana Hayes campaign for Danbury and the surrounding towns.  Registration is required for the virtual event from 3pm to 4pm.

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Virtual event to be held by Mark Twain Library on Medicare enrollment

The Mark Twain Library in Redding is hosting a virtual event next week about Medicare Enrollment Options.  The discussion on Wednesday October 7th is from 4 to 5pm.  A representative from the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging’s Choices program will talk about how to prepare for Medicare open enrollment.  Attendees will receive an update on changes planned for 2021 Medicare health plans, prescription drug plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and supplemental/Medigap plans and a review of Medicare assistance programs which can help beneficiaries pay for their Medicare costs.  Registration is required for this Zoom program.  Registered participants will receive an invitation prior to the program. 

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Youth sports to resume in Danbury Oct. 8

When restaurants across the state are allowed to go to 75-percent indoor capacity on October 8th, there will be some other changes coming in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton says playing fields will be reopened.  The fields were closed last month when there was a spike in COVID-19 cases.  This applies to youth baseball, girl's softball and soccer.  But Boughton says this is contingent on the clubs submitting health or safety plans to the City.  He notes that most have already done so.  Leagues that haven't were urged to get in touch with the City's acting health director.

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Oil spill into Sympaug Brook in Danbury being cleaned up

An oil spill into the Sympaug Brook in Danbury is being cleaned up.  The waterway flows into the Still River.  The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is overseeing the clean-up.  The pill resulted from a hose failure at a manufacturing facility owned by Stanley Engineered Fastening, located at 4 Shelter Rock Lane.  About 1,800 gallons of waste oil containing metals was assumed lost, and while some was recovered from secondary containment, some released into the brook, resulting in a milky-white color.  Stanley has taken responsibility for the clean-up and has engaged Moran Environmental Recovery and Fuss & O’Neill to assist.  Though the impacted area is not believed to be an active area for recreation, the health department is recommending that fishing, bathing, or recreational activities do not occur in the affected areas until remediation is complete.

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Bethel Commission to discuss affordable housing proposals

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a virtual meeting tonight about two proposed affordable housing projects.  The 7pm meeting will be held via Zoom.  The applications are for 9 units at 47 Shelley Road, and 11 units at 9 Good Hill Road.  Both applications are being made under the state's 8-30g statutes, which allow developers to bypass local zoning regulations, with some exceptions, as long as 30-percent of the units are designated as affordable.  Both projects were previously approve by the town's Inland Wetland Commission.

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Camella's Cupboard in New Milford seeks diaper donations

Camella's Cupboard in New Milford is calling on residents to help the youngest members of the community.  When the COVID-19 pandemic began, they started providing not only food, but other donated items for which families expressed a need.  One category that has been a huge help to families is diapers, pull-ups and wipes.  Diapers cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits and many families struggle to purchase them.  Camella's Cupboard says they are able to accept open packages of diapers of different sizes at the loading dock of 50 East Street on Tuesday from 9 am to 1 pm, Thursday from 9-10:30 am and Friday from 10 am to 1 pm or after 3 pm.

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Bridgewater Democratic, Republican Town Committees issue joint statement on political sign theft

The Bridgewater Democratic and Republican Town Committees have issued a joint statement about recent political sign theft and vandalism, and are offering a reward.  The chairs of the groups say the incidents are an attack on democracy and the political process that both parties are pledged to support.  They joined the First Selectman in confirming that the behavior is criminal and hope that technology in the form of security cameras will record the identities of the perpetrators.  The town committees are offering a $1,000 for the arrest and conviction of anyone engaged in these illegal acts.  The chairs of the town committees say the behavior is a threat to the rights of all citizens to express their political beliefs and is condemned by both major political parties.

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Sherman firefighters add call box outside station connected to 911 center

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department now has a call box outside.  The red box by the main entrance that faces Route 39 contains a phone with a direct link to the 911 dispatch center.  The phone is intended to be used by residents who arrive at the firehouse and need to call 911 because their cell phone isn't working, or that they were having some type of emergency and pulled into the firehouse hoping to get assistance.   Sherman is a volunteer organization so there are many times when nobody is at the firehouse.  There is no need to dial anything with the phone in the red box, it will immediately connect to the dispatch center.

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Pharmacy approved for drive thru in Danbury's central business district

The Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals has approved a drive thru for a pharmacy in the Central Business District.  Main Street Pharmacy is looking to move into a vacant former bank building, which already has a drive thru window.  Typically that convenience isn't allowed on Main Street.  Main Street Pharmacy applied for special permission to the Zoning Board of Appeals, which gave the go-ahead last month.  The drive-through window is for prescription and medical supply pick up only. The average number of customers picking up at the drive-thru window is expected to be three to four per hour. There are two exit driveways onto Main Street. One lane is strictly for the drive-thru window, the second lane is for exiting cars that did not use the drive-thru window. For people exiting the drive thru, there are four car lengths of space from the light. According to the managing partner, who has been involved with this building for 21 years, there have been no accidents with any cars exiting the driveways.

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Nightly bridge closures back this week in New Milford

The state Department of Transportation will again have nightly bridge closures in New Milford.  Starting last night, and throughout this week, Bridge Street Route 202 Route 67 will be closed from 8pm to 6am.  Subcontractor  scheduling, material availability and weather related issues may extend these closures further into the first week of October.  Advanced notice will be provided if additional Bridge Closures are necessary.  Drivers are being detoured onto Boardman Road/Housatonic Avenue/Young's Field Road or onto Still River Street/Grove Street.  40 construction and detour signs have been installed and will be uncovered nightly.  Two Police Officers will be on duty directing traffic from 8pm to midnight.

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Pick-up truck crashes into Southbury businesses

A pick up truck went through the front a building on Friday and damaged two Southbury businesses.  Firefighters responded to 760 Main Street South on Friday afternoon.  They cut utilities to the affected stores, established a safe area and remained on scene until the vehicle was removed.  One person was transported to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

(Photo: Southbury Fire Department)

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Sherman firefighters participate in Search and Rescue drill

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department has participated in a Search and Rescue Drill.  The training session simulated a lost young man who had wandered off during a fireworks display and was somewhere on the grounds of the Candlelight Farms Airport.  Various area agencies participated in the search using several off road vehicles, a K-9 unit and the New Milford Police Department Eagle 2 helicopter.  The mock patient was located with a simulated tib-fib fracture and was unable to walk.   After the leg was stabilized, the patient was secured in a stokes basket and carried up the steep terrain where he was loaded onto a waiting UTV for transport back to the command center.  Teams were assigned specific search areas and were in frequent contact with the command center.  

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Bethel Town Clerk receives 2,000 absentee ballot applications

The Bethel Town Clerk's office has received about 2,000 absentee ballot applications. They have been processed and absentee ballots are ready to be mailed, starting on Friday. All applications must be signed and dated, with the reason for requesting an absentee ballot checked off.  If this isn't done properly, the application will be returned with a letter of rejection.  The application can be resubmitted in order to be sent an absentee ballot.

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Danbury girls use lemonade stand proceeds to buy dinner for Police

A couple of young Danbury girls have used proceeds from a lemonade stand in their neighborhood to buy dinner for some Danbury Police officers.  Gina and Aurora set up the lemonade stand a couple of weeks ago, and over the weekend bought dinner for the evening shift.

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Firefighters respond to 5 illegal burns in New Milford

Firefighters from Water Witch Hose of New Milford responded  5 calls for illegal burning on Saturday.  Outside fires of any kind are prohibited until the region receives significant rain. The state has had several significant brush fires ignited by stray embers,  fire officials say they are spreading rapidly in with the extreme drought conditions.  Per the New Milford Fire Marshall’s order, any open burn the department is called to will be extinguished.

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Neighbor's dog credited with helping to save family from fire

A neighbor's pet helped save a family from fire.  Stony Hill and Bethel firefighters responded to a reported deck fire on Putnam Park Road early yesterday morning.  The family was inside sleeping and unaware.  Police evacuated the home while firefighters worked to extinguish the flames.  The blaze did not extend into the home, only damaging the deck.  Stony Hill Fire officials say the situation could have been drastically worse if it weren’t for a neighboring dog who barked to awake his owner and essentially alerted him to the fire next door. There were no injuries and the family returned to their residence once units cleared the scene.  The cause is under investigation by the Bethel Fire Marshal office.

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Non-profit files violation complaint against FirstLight Connecticut Housatonic

A non-profit organization has filed a violation complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission against FirstLight Connecticut Housatonic.  American Whitewater is asking for fast track processing and motion to intervene.  The complaint alleges that due to actions taken by FirstLight, the public has been denied access to Housatonic River for recreational boating, specifically whitewater boating opportunity in the bypassed natural river channel at Bulls Bridge. 

American Whitewater says the actions were taken deliberately and without sufficient justification in violation of the project License. 

FirstLight says the decision to close access points was consistent with recommendations issued by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, to minimize the potential exposure of FirstLight’s workforce, FirstLight contractors, and the general public to COVID-19. The notice did not specify a duration for the recreation facility and access closures. 

Litchfield County currently has a COVID-19 positive rate that is well below the statewide average in Connecticut.  Recreation access at some of FirstLight's facilities in Massachusetts have been restored.

In the complaint filed with FERC, American Whitewater claims that FirstLight’s closures are principally motivated by a request from the towns of Kent and New Milford to prevent an influx of recreation users from outside the towns.  The group claims that comments on a local social media group suggesting that those who are recreating need to “speak English” and “we live in the United States of America” clearly demonstrate racial animus by some. The town of Kent is 96% white and the town of New Milford is 92% white. 

The complaint also says that problems of overcrowding and/or resource degradation did not begin with the pandemic, rather there has been a longstanding concern regarding trash and the large number of users at the recreation facilities. They did acknowledge that these problems have been exacerbated this year.

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Redding Registrar of Voters to complete preliminary registry list

A special session is being held tomorrow by the Redding Registrar of Voters to complete a preliminary registry list.  At this session, registrars remove electors from the registry list who have died, become disfranchised or confirmed in writing that they have moved out of town.  People who move out of town can notify the registrars via cancellation form, or the DMV will make the notification when they receive a change of address form.  Redding Registrars say the names of persons removed are not sent to the polls and may be restored on election day only if both registrars are contacted and consent to approve the applicant's request for restoration.  Redding Town Hall is open by appointments only. 

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Roxbury resident among group of 10 firefighters returning from service in California

A 10-person group of trained wildland firefighters have returned to Connecticut after spending the last several weeks assisting with wildfire response in northern California. The group includes Jeremy Johnson of Roxbury.  The four full-time DEEP employees and one full-time employee from Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management, were joined by five “administratively determined” members-- private individuals who are temporary federal hires while on assignment. They left Connecticut September 4th.  DEEP maintains a roster of agency staff members and personnel who have been certified to fight forest or wildfires.  Crew members must complete a rigorous training program and participate in an annual physical work capacity test and refresher training.  All state agency expenses directly associated with these deployments are 100% reimbursed by the U.S. Forest Service. This group is the second group of Connecticut Interstate Fire Crew firefighters Connecticut has sent this season- another group of ten was deployed in late July to assist with wildfire response in California.

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Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Day scheduled for Putnam County residents

A Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Day for Putnam County residents is being held on Saturday, October 3rd. Pre-Registration is required for the collection at Fahnestock State Park in Kent, New York between 9am and noon.  To register by email, Putnam County residents are asked to send 3 preferred times of the 15 minute increments to PutnamHealth@putnamcountyny.com. A confirmation with a time will be emailed back.  Anyone who does not receive the confirmation email within 2 business days, is asked to call 845-808-1390 x43150.  All materials to be discarded should be in the trunk of the vehicle due to COVID-19 guidance on physical distancing.  Face coverings are required.

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Officials consider what to do about Halloween amid pandemic

Greater Danbury area municipal officials are considering what to do about Halloween.  The CDC has identified some risk involved this year with Trick-or-Treating because of the ongoing threat of coronavirus.  There are conflicting beliefs over whether COVID-19 can be spread through touch, and how close people should be to avoid airborne contagion.  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says there's not currently guidance from the state on Halloween, but once there is he will meet with the City's acting Health Director to come up with a policy.  Boughton doesn't think cancelling Halloween is an option, not because he doesn't believe there's a pandemic but because they can't police it.  He says it may come down to something like people ok with kids coming to the door for candy leaving their light on.  People who aren't should leave their light off.  If that becomes the plan, he urged everyone to respect that system.

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West Conn to host virtual symposium on health of local lakes

West Conn is hosting a virtual symposium on the health of local lakes on Monday night.  Registration is required for the 7pm event.  Invited lake community representatives include Candlewood Lake Authority, Lake Housatonic, Ball Pond, Lake Zoar, Lake Lillinonah, Lake Waubeeka and others.  Aquatic Ecosystems Research member Larry Marsicano will facilitate the conversation among the panelists. 

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Easton Police to participate in National Drug Take Back Day

Easton Police will be again participating in National Drug Take Back Day.  The collection of unused prescriptions and leftover or expired over the counter medication will be held October 24th.  The Easton drive thru drop off at Samuel Staples Elementary School, from 10am to 2pm, will use the front loop of the school.  Easton EMS will also be in the front loop collecting cans and bottles and there will be electronics recycling behind the school.

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Ridgefield Police investigate reports of mail tampering

The Ridgefield Police Department has recently received reports of mail tampering.  Police are offering tips to help protect against mail and package theft.  Residents are encouraged to not leave letters and packages in the mailbox or at the door for any length of time.  Mail should be dropped in blue collection boxes close to pick up time.  Anyone who doesn't receive an expected check, credit card, or other valuable mail should contact the sender as soon as possible and inquire about it.

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Local school to be honored at National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony

The 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony will be held virtually on November 12th and 13th.  Among the 317 public and 50 non-public schools to be honored is South Street School in Danbury.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says the school is an example of where a community of educators really bands together to get to the root of helping students. By combining a rigorous academic program with family and community engagement, Pascarella says South Street School has been able to achieve unprecedented success in helping students meet goals in many areas.

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Danbury COVID-19 cases plateau

Danbury reported 12 new coronavirus cases yesterday, and no new deaths.  Danbury school officials are meeting today about a decision on whether or not to move to a hybrid model of learning next month.  Mayor Mark Boughton says coronavirus cases are still not down to where they need to be.  He says the City has plateaued, but they need to drop.  Danbury still has a 4 to 5 percent positivity rate.  A decision will likely be made next week in Danbury about opening playing fields back up following the COVID-19 spike.  Boughton says he knows that youth leagues are playing elsewhere in the state, and notes that the governor is basing his decision to reopen more and increase capacity based on statewide numbers.  The Danbury decision is made locally, based on City numbers.

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Monroe Police Department seeks reaccreditation

The Monroe Police Department will be hosting assessors from the Police Officer Standards and Training Council during the first week of November.  They will examine policies and procedures.  The department  is currently a full Tier III accredited police agency and is seeking their fifth re-accreditation.  As part of the assessment, agency employees and members of the community are invited to offer comments.  They can be mailed to William Tanner, Accreditation Program Manager, POSTC Accreditation Division at 285 Preston Ave, Meriden, Ct. 06450, by telephone at 203 427-2626, by fax at 203 238-6119 or by e-mail to William.Tanner@ct.gov.  Copies of the state accreditation standards are available at the Monroe Police Department and can be obtained from the Departments accreditation manager, Dan Brennan, at 203 452-2830 Ext 1209 or dbrennan@monroectpolice.com.

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DEEP reopens Lattins Cove state boat launch at 50% capacity

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will reopen Lattins Cove state boat launch on Candlewood Lake today at 50% capacity.  The boat launch was closed August 26th, following an uptick in new COVID-19 infections in Danbury and numerous reports of “rafting” – boats tied-up together in mass gathering.  DEEP says the shift in seasonal weather has reduced activity levels on the water, allowing for partial re-opening of access to provide safe outdoor recreation opportunities consistent with COVID-19 prevention guidance. The situation will continue to be monitored to deter and identify gatherings on the water and at state boat launches.  DEEP recommends that all persons using state boat launch facilities and docks maintain a six-foot social distancing separation from non-family members.  On vessels where distance is not possible, face coverings should be worn. “Rafting,” where several boats tie up, and large gatherings, are DEEP says not conducive to appropriate and safe social distancing, and are strongly discouraged.

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Danbury man arrested for home invasion, assault, kidnapping

A Danbury man has been arrested on home invasion and kidnapping charges.  Police were called to a disturbance at a home late Tuesday night and learned that 32-year-old Francisco Fontanez-Trinidad forced his way inside.  He allegedly assaulted a man, brandished a pistol and threatened the victim.  When the man resisted, Police say Fontanez-Trinidad discharged the pistol and assaulted the man with the gun.  A woman was forcibly removed from the residence and made to drive to Fontanez-Trinidad's home.  During the drive, Police say he repeatedly assaulted the woman, leaving visible signs of injury.  About an hour later, Fontanez-Trinidad called police about what he had done and asked police to come to his Bennett Place home.  He was arrested without incident and the pistol was recovered.  Fontanez-Trinidad was also charged with Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm, Disorderly Conduct, Assault, Threatening, and Reckless Endangerment.

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Danbury school has been named a 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools

A Danbury school has been named a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.

South Street School was recognized for Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing.  More than half of the K-5 students at South Street School are English learners. Overall enrollment is nearly 400 students, and 87.2 percent of the students are from economically disadvantaged families.

State Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona says South Street educators understand the challenges their students face, and they are dedicated to meeting their needs. Teachers use “big data” like test scores to frame a problem, but student work provides educators with the necessary detail to correctly identify the problem or misunderstanding and in turn, generate instructional solutions.

The school-wide daily 30-minute WIN (What I Need) block is a key structural piece in place at South Street School to meet the needs of all students whether they need intervention or acceleration. The WIN block is designed so that no student is removed from their class during core content instruction. Cardona says the effort is successful because of the commitment and “all hands on deck” approach of the professionals in the building including teachers, coaches, English learner specialists, and special education staff. This highly coordinated time used to provide “expert support” to students is a school priority. As a result, students are showing strong academic growth, and the school has been identified as a School of Distinction by the CSDE for three of the last four years.

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Woman arrested for allegedly damaging car during dispute

Southbury Police have arrested a woman for allegedly damaging someone's car during a dispute at a gas station.  Police responded to the station on Strongtown Road late Friday night on a report of a domestic dispute.  The caller said 24-year-old Hannah Capserson of Brookfield was smashing up his car.  Police then received a call from a woman who they said was hysterical and could not provide any information.  Other officers spotted a damaged car and launched an investigation.  Casperson was charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.  She was released on bond for a November 23rd court appearance.

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Virtual debate for 5th Congressional District candidates scheduled

A virtual debate will be held between the candidates vying for the 5th Congressional District seat.  The candidates will debate on October 5th at 7pm in an event hosted by West Conn, the Newstimes and The League of Women Voters chapters of Northern Fairfield County and Litchfield County.  Incumbent Democrat Jahana Hayes, Republican David X. Sullivan and Bruce Walczak of the Independent Party have been invited.  The live stream will be available on the WCSU website.  Hayes, a Waterbury resident, was the national Teacher of the Year.  Sullivan, a former assistant U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, lives in New Fairfield.  Walczak, a longtime Newtown resident, owns an employee relocation consulting firm and is a member of the Newtown Police Commission.

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One person seriously injured in highway accident

One person was seriously injured in a highway accident that snarled the morning commute yesterday.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company and EMS were dispatched to Interstate 84 East between Exits 8 and 9 shortly after 7am.  The single vehicle was found in the woods with a person heavily entrapped.  State Police and Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company also responded. Members used the HURST Jaws of Life to free the single occupant in approximately 25 minutes. Members had to cut the doors and roof off to access the driver. Firefighters remained on the scene until the vehicle was towed out from the woods. The occupant was transported to Danbury Hospital with serious injuries.

(Photo: SHVFD)

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Danbury company receives U.S. Department of Energy Project Award

A Danbury-based company has received a U.S. Department of Energy Project Award.  FuelCell Energy's reversible solid oxide project has been selected for $3-million in funding. The project focuses on developing performance improvements to advance the commercialization of FuelCell Energy’s reversible solid oxide fuel cell systems.  It's a hybrid operation system that performs water electrolysis for the production of hydrogen, stores the hydrogen, and then produces power by using the produced hydrogen.

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Southbury state lawmakers at odds over QAnon

A retiring state lawmaker is speaking out about one of his colleague's affiliation with QAnon, a conspiracy theory about a plot against the President.  Southbury Senator Eric Berthel has a bumper sticker on his car, which Representative Arthur O'Neill says demonstrates his support.  Berthel Maintains that his support is for the group’s desire for government accountability, not QAnon’s conspiracy beliefs.  O'Neill says Berthel lacks the character, common sense, and common decency to hold the office of state senator.  Both men are Republicans.  Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, who is also retiring, says O'Neill's attempt  to smear Berthel is misplaced.

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Newtown Transfer Station fee reinstated, road paving scheduled

Beginning Tuesday, the Newtown Transfer Station will reinstate a fee on wood larger than 3 inches in diameter. The $10 fee was waived by the town for storm cleanup. 

Milling and paving will begin in Newtown today on the Boulevard between Church Hill Road and  School House Hill Road.  While the road will remain open, delays are expected and alternate routes are recommended.

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New Milford Fire Marshal suspends burn permits until further notice

The New Milford Fire Marshal has suspended all burn permits until further notice.  Northville Fire Department says this is because Connecticut has been hit with concerning weather conditions - not only a drought but high winds as well. Branches and trees have fallen, leaving dead brush laying around. Normally, the Fire Marshal issues permits allowing residents to burn this brush under certain conditions, but firefighters say Connecticut is not under those conditions, and in fact it's just the opposite.  New Milford's fire departments say they will have a zero-tolerance policy for any outside burning as a result of the permit suspension. Anyone seeing outside burning is asked to call 911, though any questions regarding permits should be directed to the Fire Marshal’s office.

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Ridgefield COVID tax deferral programs coming to an end

The Town of Ridgefield deferral program and low interest program regarding taxes, which were implemented in conjunction with the Governor's COVID-related executive orders, are coming to an end.  The Low Interest program is expiring on September 30.  For any balance as of October 1, interest will revert back to the Statutory interest rate of 1-and-a-half-percent per month or part thereof which for the month of October is 6-percent.  Under the terms of the local Ridgefield Deferral program, taxes for the first installment due on July 1st were deferred for three months.  That payment is due by October 1, 2020 without any interest.   The terms were included in the Governor's Executive Orders and cannot be altered by the town.

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New Milford Recycling Center to be managed under Public/Private partnership agreement

Starting next Tuesday, the New Milford Recycling Center will be managed under a Public/Private partnership agreement by a New Milford-based family owned business. Three Veterans LLC is owned by Bob Hanna, who managed the center for the town from April 2017 to September 2019.   Under the agreement, Three Veterans will pay about $1,000 each month, and then keep the fees residents pay to use the center.  Any fee increase would be subject to Town Council approval.  The hours will be extended and more types of recyclables will be accepted.  If recyclables become profitable again, the town and Three Veterans will determine how the proceeds will be split.  Mayor Pete Bass says this change was made in order to save money, largely due to the volatile recycling market.  He says the town used to be able to sell some recyclables, but because China has become more restrictive on what they accept, the town has to pay people to take them away.  New Milford will still hold the permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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First established population of Asian longhorned tick identified in Fairfield County

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is reporting the first established population of the Asian longhorned tick in Fairfield County. The state agency is closely monitoring the distribution and human biting activity of this newly discovered invasive tick species, as well as its potential involvement in transmission of exotic and local disease agents. 

Asian longhorned ticks are reddish-brown.

They are a three-host tick species as each active life stage feeds on a different host.  In temperate populations, each female adult Asian longhorned tick can produce offspring—1,000 to 2,000 eggs at a time—without mating.

The invasive species was initially discovered in the U-U on a farm in New Jersey in 2017, raising public and veterinary health concerns, and has now been found in at least 14 other states.  The Asian longhorned tick is native to the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and eastern regions of Russia and China.  It's a major livestock pest in Australia and New Zealand, where it was introduced before 1901.  

The Tick Testing Program at The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station is a state-supported service offered to State residents since 1990. Ticks are accepted only from residents of Connecticut and should be submitted through their local health departments. Ticks are examined for species, life cycle stage, and engorgement status in addition to pathogen testing.

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Referee appealing negligence lawsuit against Newtown

A school referee is appealing a negligence lawsuit against Newtown.  Connecticut Insider reports that the case by Stratford referee Albert Buehler was dismissed last year as Newtown argued that its employees had the right to use their discretion under state law and were immune from most liability.  Buehler claims the town set up the volleyball court and was liable from the faulty stand, which he says opened like a trap door while he was signaling for the server to serve the ball.  The incident happened in 2015 and Buehler argued that he fell 4-and-a-half to 5 feet straight down.  He sued in 2017 and the suit was dismissed last year.  The appeal was filed last month. 

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More school students getting access to free breakfasts, lunches

More school students are getting access to free breakfasts and lunches through the Seamless Summer Option and Summer Food Service Program.  The programs for kindergartners through 12th graders, regardless of family income, were expanded and extended by the federal government through the end of the calendar year due to the pandemic.  The state Department of Education says 113 school districts are participating in the Seamless program, including Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, New Milford and Easton, Redding, Region 9.  Some 32 districts are participating in the Summer Food Service Program.  School districts are reimbursed by the U-S Department of Agriculture.  All free meals must meet nutritional criteria.

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Redding to become part of Sustainable Connecticut

The Redding Board of Selectmen recently voted to apply to Sustainable Connecticut to become a member town.  The program provides municipalities with a range of coordinated, voluntary actions, to continually become more sustainable.  First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton reviewed the benefits of becoming a member, noting that Redding has already done many of the action items. There is no charge to join but it will require a sustainability team.  The program provides resources and tools to assist municipalities in implementing sustainability actions and advancing their programs for the benefit of all residents.  Brookfield, New Milford and Ridgefield are all certified at the Bronze level.  Bethel recently joined and is not yet certified for their ongoing sustainability achievements.

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Redding Police continue to provide fingerprinting services by appointment only

The Redding Police Department continues to provide fingerprinting services for town residents and Easton Redding Region 9 school personnel by appointment only.  There are 3 appointments in the morning and 3 in the afternoon, 7 days a week.  Only one person will be fingerprinted at a time during each of the 15 minute periods. The charge for fingerprinting is $5, cash only and exact change is required. A mask is required. No walk-ins will be accepted.  For firearms permit fingerprinting, Redding residents are asked to call 203-938-3400 and speak to or leave a message for Officer Livingston.

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Sandy Hook Promise PSA wins Emmy

A jarring public service announcement created by Sandy Hook Promise has won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial of 2019.  The spot called “Back-to-School Essentials” juxtaposed a back-to-school commercial with a school shooting.  The organization says the goal is to emphasize that school shootings are preventable when people know the signs.  When the PSA was released last year, co-founder Mark Barden said it stemmed from the reality that people were selling bullet-proof backpacks as school supplies.

 

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Brookfield, New Milford Police partner for Child Passenger Safety Week

Two local police departments are teaming up to protect some of the youngest members of the community.  The Brookfield and New Milford Police Departments will be partnering for a car seat program during Child Passenger Safety Week.  More techs will be available to check and install safety seats than normal.  The event is being held on Saturday from 9am to 2pm at the Faith Church parking lot. No appointment is necessary.

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ARC's new executive director appealing a misconduct allegation

The Danbury-based Association of Religious Communities, also known as ARC, has hired a new executive director.  Ari Rosenberg was the rabbi at Temple Sholom in New Milford for five years.  He is in the process of appealing a misconduct allegation by the Central Conference of American Rabbis and suspension.  Sections of the ethics code Rosenberg was accused of violating include “financial,” “rabbinic relationships” and “sexual boundaries.”  He is prohibited from providing any rabbinic services to individuals or communities. ARC President Joe Walkovich told the Newstimes that Rosenberg was hired earlier this summer to the $75,000 executive director position, in part based on the strength of interviews the ARC board conducted with Temple Sholom congregants.

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Brookfield long term COVID-19 recovery committee seeks out residents in need

Communities across the state have formed long-term recovery committees as coronavirus is expected to be with the state for a while. The committees include government, nonprofit and private-sector partners and work through regional planning emergency teams.  In Brookfield, the group is led by a member of the town's Economic Development Committee. 

First Selectman Steve Dunn tapped his 2019 opponent Mel Butow to chair the Long-Term Recovery Committee.  Butow says they've reached out to the Senior Center, food pantries and various clubs and lodges.  There isn't much of a need currently, but any help that people need is already being met.  

The goal is to reach anyone identified through contact tracing or testing as needing to quarantine or self-isolate.  The committee can provide help with getting food, connectivity or mental and behavioral health activities.  If there's another wave of COVID-19 in Brookfield, Committee member Will Meikle says that may raise the need for assistance. 

The committee can be reached via email LTC@brookfieldct.gov or calling 203-775-7317.

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WWII tank on the green in New Milford getting a facelift

The tank on the green in New Milford is getting a facelift.  Sandblasting and a full day of cleaning has taken place on the World War II tank.  It's been prepped for the primer and finish coats of paint tomorrow and Friday back to its original color.  The stars and serial number are set to be added next.  The tank was donated to the Town of New Milford in 1947.  A social media campaign asked for donations to help repair the tank, which had peeling paint and some rusted areas.  The project was funded quickly.  Restoration began last week with all the work and supplies donated by local people and businesses.

(Photo: Mayor Pete Bass)

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Political signs reported stolen in Bridgewater

A notice has been sent out to Bridgewater residents about political signage after some signs were stolen over the weekend.  With the upcoming election in early November, First Selectman Curtis Read is reminding residents that people have the right to show support for their preferred candidates by putting up signs and flags on their property. This right is guaranteed in the First Amendment.  He says vandalism or theft of these signs is considered a crime and that is what happened this past Saturday night in Bridgewater. Signs supporting Joe Biden’s candidacy were stolen from front yards along Northrop and Christian Streets.  He notes that these incidents have been reported to the police for further investigation.

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Annual Veterans Stand Down program in Connecticut adds local events

The annual Veterans Stand Down program in Connecticut has changed a bit this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Online presentations and regional resource access sites have been added.  State Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi says the two-day outreach event this week will for the first time be held statewide AND locally to support veterans.  The official event starts tomorrow morning at the DVA Rocky Hill Campus and will be broadcasted on social media. Staff will be in Danbury, Bridgeport, Norwich and Rocky Hill on Friday to provide benefits information, pro-bono legal services, free flu shots and free COVID-19 testing. Only a certain number of individuals will be allowed to enter at certain scheduled times due to social distancing restrictions. The Danbury services are offered at the Patrick Waldron Veterans Hall on Memorial Drive, registration is required. Virtual information sessions on housing, employment, education, veteran caregiver support and more will follow.

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Wilton High School student died suddenly Monday

A Wilton High School student died “suddenly and unexpectedly” on Monday night.  Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith sent a letter to parents yesterday, but did not name the student, who was later identified as football team member George DiRocco, a junior.  DiRocco played football and baseball as a freshman.  Smith wrote in his letter that the school community feels deeply the incomprehensible loss of a person so young and so filled with promise.  The Wilton district and high school crisis response teams have responded with counseling and support services available to all students and staff.  Support centers have been set up in the high school and outdoors on the north side of the field house.

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Draft Transportation Improvement Program for the Greater Danbury area updated

The draft Transportation Improvement Program for the Greater Danbury area is being updated.

The Housatonic Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization has a list of all highway and public transit projects proposed over the next 4 years using federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration funding.  The draft will be voted on during the organization's meeting on October 15th.  Residents are urged to voice concerns and opinions on the plan.  The Public Comment period ends at noon on October 9th. 

The draft 2021-2024 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program documents are available at www.ct.gov/dot/stip. Comments should be directed to Ms. Maribeth Wojenski, PO Box 317546, Newington CT 06131.

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State lawmaker apologizes for sexist social media post about opponent

A longtime state lawmaker has apologized to his November opponent for what he called a distraction and flippant social media post.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky's Facebook page featured a post over the weekend that said seniors didn’t need a “pretty face and promises” but “a man of action” to represent them in Hartford. 

The 4-term Republican is being challenged by Democrat Rebekah Harriman-Stites, who narrowly lost the 2018 match up. 

Bolinsky blamed the message on an agency piece making an old-fashioned John Wayne reference and told The Newstimes it the wrong thing to say.  He also pulled a similarly worded campaign flyer and said from now on he would approve everything done by the campaign agency, which he did not name. 

Harriman-Stites is a Board of Education member and is a small business owner.

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Monroe firefighters remind of proper fireplace ash disposal

Monroe Volunteer Fire Department responded to a fire in the woods over the weekend caused by discarded fireplace ashes.  Fire official says this is the time of year to remember to properly handle disposing of fireplace or wood stove ashes.  They should be cool before disposal, but firefighters caution that they can stay hot for several days.  The ash should be placed in a covered metal container, doused with water, and not stored within 10ft of the house or other combustibles. Ashes should never be placed directly into the trash can.

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New Fairfield Fire Marshal warns of fire danger

Today’s fire danger is VERY HIGH.  The New Fairfield Fire Marhsal's office notes that a permit is required for open burning, but all burn permits are suspended today.  Residents are asked to be aware of potential sources of ignition such as discarded smoking materials, outdoor cooking, fireworks, and the like. New Fairfield fire officials say a very quick and easy way to improve overall safety is to make sure a house number can be quickly and easily identified in case of emergency. Numbering the mailbox, and home with reflective numbers that are at least 3 inches  is important. The quicker first responders can identify the address of an emergency, the Fire Marshal says the quicker they can mitigate the situation.

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Flu shot, COVID-19 testing clinic to be held in Danbury

The Danbury Health Department is holding an event this weekend aimed at preventing a twindemic later this fall.  A combined flu shot and COVID-19 testing clinic is being held on Saturday at Rogers Park.  The flu shot and COVID testing will be done between 9am and 1:30pm.

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Dumpster fire outside Brookfield school extinguished

A dumpster fire outside a Brookfield school has been quickly extinguished.  Firefighters responded to Huckleberry Hill Elementary School on Candlewood Lake Road around 11:30 yesterday morning.  The dumpster was located about 10 feet from the building, though there was no damage to the building reported.  Staff had activated the fire alarm and evacuated the building as they called 911 to report the fire.  Fire officials say smoke did not enter the building, but as a precaution before allowing students to re-enter the building, the atmosphere was metered and found normal.  The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Brookfield Fire Marshal’s office.

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Redding gets win in state Supreme Court over Gilbert & Bennett site

Redding has gotten another favorable ruling from the Connecticut Supreme Court when it comes to the former Gilbert and Bennett wire mill site.  Connecticut Insider reports that the justices ruled in favor of the town on all counts, ending a years-long battle.  Redding began the foreclosure process against Georgetown Land Development Company in 2014. 

Redding is owed millions in back taxes when the property wasn't redeveloped, and argued that the municipality should be paid before the taxing district.  A 2016 ruling went in favor of the town, but RJ Tax Lien Investments argued the district’s claims are equal to the town.  The special taxing district is overseen by the same company that owns the site, which includes the old mill.  The local authority created in 2005 so developers could issue government-backed bonds is owed the most money. 

The company wanted to build a new train station and created a mixed use development with hundreds of housing units and business space.  The 55 acre site remains mostly vacant because plans came to a halt with the 2008 recession.  Foreclosure could allow the town to commission housing on the site, or sell it to another developer.

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Spring break at WestConn, three other state universities canceled

Spring break at Connecticut’s four state universities was canceled and several public schools around the state were closed Monday because of the resurgence of the coronavirus.  Spring break, originally scheduled for March 15 to March 21, has been canceled at Western Connecticut State University, along with Central, Southern, and Eastern.  The start date for the spring semester at the four universities has also been pushed back one week later to Jan. 26.  System officials say the changes will help ensure the health and safety of campuses.  At this time, they are developing plans for next semester and the intent is to continue the combination of on ground and remote classes and activities.  The state’s community colleges and Charter Oak State College will follow the original schedule.

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WCSU looking into reports of off campus parties

There are no cases of COVID-19 reported among West Conn students or staff, but the university is keeping an eye on things.  Spokesman Paul Steinmetz says they haven't confirmed any parties over the weekend, but did see social media chatter about off campus gatherings.  West Conn is sending communications to students reminding them about the shared responsibility for keeping the campus safe.  No one has been warned or referred to the judicial affairs office.  Students are required to wear masks outside of their rooms and are only allowed one guest in their dorm at time.  Students who break coronavirus protocols could face penalties as severe as suspension.

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Air quality draft plan up for public hearing

The regional planning group, the Western Connecticut Council of Governments, is taking comments on an air quality proposal.  A public hearing is scheduled for tonight on the state Department of Transportation draft Air Quality Conformity Determinations for Ozone and Particulates plan.  The virtual hearing is from 7 to 8pm.  The meeting link can be found on the WestCog website.  People interested in participating in the public hearing are urged to email plan@westcog.org as comments will be addressed on a first-come, first-served basis.  The plans are available for inspection at westcog.org.

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Budget surplus won't be transferred to Newtown Board of Ed

A tied vote by the Newtown Board of Finance has resulted in a proposed Board of Education surplus transfer being denied.  There were hours of deliberations on the motion to transfer $1.3 million.  According to meeting minutes, the Board of Ed was looking to use the money for educational needs that are anticipated or already in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Last year's budge surplus was mostly used for that year's security camera system lease.  The surplus transfer would have been placed into the non-lapsing account, with expenditures subject to Board of Finance authorization.

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Brookfield High named Special Olympics Unified Champion School

Brookfield High School has been named a Special Olympics Unified Champion School.  The Unified Sports program was recognized for meeting national standards of excellence in inclusion, advocacy and respect.  Athletic Director Steve Baldwin says the award is because the hard work of the team as a whole.  Unified Sports involves students with and without disabilities playing on the same teams. More than 100 schools currently are part of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools programming in Connecticut.

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Injured hiker rescued from Upper Paugussett State Park in Newtown

An injured hiker has been rescued from Upper Paugussett State Park in Newtown.  The 55 year old was part of a group of five on one of the blue trails early Saturday morning when he fell and dislocated his hip.  The group started the hike from the state boat launch at Hanover and Pond Brook roads.  Firefighters, paramedics and Newtown Underwater Search And Rescue responded shortly before 7am.  A private boat on the lake located the group, picked up the injured hiker and transported him to the town boat launch.  The man was transported to the hospital.  First responders told the Newtown Bee that the hikers wanted a view from the Newtown side of Lake Lillinonah of eagles at the Shepaug Eagle Viewing area in Southbury. 

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Animal sanctuary to host equinox hike

The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown is hosting a Fall Equinox Hike this weekend.  People are invited to  the sanctuary and learn about the changes in the air, land, and water as the transition from summer to fall takes place.  There will be light to moderate hike through fields and wood chipped paths on Sunday.  The hike is  limited to 32 people and begins promptly at 3:05pm.  All participants must register and children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.  All guests must wear masks and practice social distancing by family.

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Plans for Octagon House in Danbury still uncertain

Routine inspections of the Danbury-owned Octagon House site have found that residents were using the property to dump garbage and bulky items.  The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team got the property cleaned up, but discovered that the building had been broken into.  UNIT arranged with other city departments to ensure that it was re-secured and safe. The Danbury Planning Director is working through the State Historic Properties Commission process.  The house is not on the registry, but is an historic property so the City does need to get authority for any work.  There is a federal component as well.  Mayor Mark Boughton says there is money in two budgets for stabilization and eventual renovations.  Plans originally called for the Octagon House to become a satellite police station, primarily due to challenges at the Dorothy Day and New Street shelters.  But Boughton says depending on how Danbury manages the homeless population in the future, that may not be necessary. He notes that there is enough space on ground floor and first floor.  The top floor is unusable because it requires significant renovations for an elevator and public access, but it can be used for storage.  He's talked with the Danbury Museum and Historical Society for some of the storage and office space.

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Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut tests positive for COVID-19

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut has tested positive for COVID-19 and will quarantine for 14 days, she announced Sunday on Twitter.

“After going to 2 urgent care centers yesterday, I finally got an appointment at a 3rd site and was tested this morning,” the first-term Democrat said. Hayes said she has no COVID-19 symptoms “except for breathing issues which are being monitored.”

Hayes sought testing after one of her staff members tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday.

Hayes, 47, said she contracted the virus despite taking “every possible precaution.” She said her experience underscores the need for a national testing strategy “with a coherent way to receive speedy, accurate results,” adding, “This level of anxiety and uncertainty is untenable.”

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New Fairfield Mobile Food Pantry still seeking donations

The New Fairfield Mobile Food Pantry is still seeking donations to help people experiencing food insecurity.  The Mobile Food Pantry is a collaboration between New Fairfield Social Services and the New Fairfield Congregational Church.  Food donations are accepted every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9am to 11am.  Donors are asked to drive up to the Orange pods in the parking area, exit cars one at a time, wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines. Food is distributed every Thursday from 3pm to 4pm.  Anyone in need of food may pick up a bag of groceries during that time. Anyone in need of an emergency supply of food, or can’t get to the Mobile Pantry is urged to call or email the Director of New Fairfield Social Services.

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Three Danbury volunteer fire companies consolidate

Three Danbury volunteer fire companies have been consolidated into one unit.  Hearst Connecticut Media reports that Wooster Hose, Citizens Hose and Phoenix Hose companies established the Danbury Volunteer Fire Battalion 19.  Consolidation discussions have been ongoing for years as the number of volunteers have shrunk and firehouse upkeep has increased.  The battalion’s business address is the Citizens Hose Company No. 6 firehouse on Jefferson Avenue, and while they are working together, all three volunteer companies are “still in business”.  They are still working out the logistics of training and documenting and responding to fire calls, but say that response has been improved since the consolidation.  Danbury has a combination career/volunteer department with paid firefighters at five locations and volunteers at 12 stations.

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Flu shot clinics to be held

The Town of Redding is hosting a Public Flu Clinic Tuesday from 9am to 12pm at the Redding Community Center.  The Preservative-free quadrivalent vaccine for ages 6 months and older and preservative –free high dose vaccine for 65 years and older will be available as supplies allow.  Residents are asked to bring a current primary medical insurance card.  There is no charge for vaccines for all children years 18 and younger, regardless of insurance carrier.  Participating insurance carriers are: Aetna, Anthem/BCBS, ConnectiCare, Harvard Pilgrim, Medicare part B & Medicare Advantage Plans with Aetna.

The Regional YMCA Greenknoll Branch is holding an outdoor flu clinic today from 9:30am to noon.  It will be under a ten near the gardens, but if it rains, a social distancing site is planned for indoors.  The clinic is first come first serve with no appointment necessary for adults and children. Insurance is accepted by the Bethel Visiting Nurses.  Masks are required.  There is no charge for vaccines for all children years 18 and younger, regardless of insurance.  The Preservative-free quadrivalent vaccine for ages 6 months and older and preservative –free high dose vaccine for 65 years and older will be available as supplies allow.  Residents are asked to bring a current primary medical insurance card. 

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Dorothy Day outlines case against City over zoning issue

The attorney for the Dorothy Day Hospitality House has filed a reply brief in their lawsuit against the City of Danbury.  The City outlined out their case last month, maintaining that the operation of a homeless shelter on the Property is illegal because of the failure to renew the zoning permits initially granted in 1983 and 1984. The Plaintiff argues that whether Dorothy Day intended to permanently operate a shelter on Spring Street in 1983 is completely irrelevant. They believe the relevant question is whether there was actual use as a shelter prior to the zoning regulation change that disallowed that use.  The zone change happened in 2014 and the regulation does not require a zoning permit for continuance of a nonconforming use.  Dorothy Day claims that even if the failure to apply for zoning permits starting in 1985 rendered the operation of the homeless shelter illegal for a period of time, any preexisting requirements to seek zoning permits were rendered moot when the use became permitted as of right in 1989. The homeless shelter says the right to operate was permanently vested in 1989 when the Regulations permitted such use as of right.  A remote hearing is scheduled for October 21st.

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Brookfield man participates in training exercises in Philippine Sea with Navy

A Brookfield man is stationed in the Philippine Sea with the Navy.  Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class David Martone recently performed duties as search and rescue swimmer in a rigid-hull inflatable boat from the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown during a visit, board, search and seizure exercise.  Germantown, part of the America Amphibious Ready Group assigned to Amphibious Squadron 11, along with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to enhance interoperability with allies and partners, and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

 (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Taylor DiMartino)

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Kent Town Clerk gives status update on absentee ballot applications mailing

The Kent Town Clerk has confirmed with the post office that absentee ballot applications were int he mail yesterday.  Any registered voter who doesn't receive one, can download a blank application from the Secretary of the State's website.  Anyone who has already submitted an application is asked not to send in another.  Completed applications can be returned in the drop box located at Kent Town Hall or mailed back to Kent Town Hall using USPS.  Ballots will start being mailed out October 2nd.

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New Milford Police Department starting a cadet program

The New Milford Police Department is starting a cadet program.  Chief Spencer Cerruto says it's designed to teach young people life skills, while fostering communication and connection between them and local law enforcement.  The program is for New Milford residents age 13 to 21.  The class will meet once every two weeks and cover topics including accident investigations, use of force and forensics.  There will also be demonstrations with the K9 and officers.  Those interested should call the New Milford Police Department at 860-355-3133 or send an email to cadets@newmilfordpolice.org.

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Details released about Conn.'s new Paid Family and Medical Leave Act

The Connecticut Paid Leave Authority has launched a new website – CTPaidLeave.org – with the goal of helping residents to understand their roles, rights, and responsibilities based on the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act. The site is built to provide information for employers, employees, and healthcare providers to better navigate this new program, administered by the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority.

The program is set to begin on January 1st. Paid Leave program benefits become accessible to qualified employees beginning on January 1, 2022.

Some of these tools include:

·       Downloadable fact sheets, video guides and timelines specific to employer, employee, and sole proprietor/self-employed individuals’ needs.

·       An estimator tool to help employees anticipate payroll deductions. (The program is funded through payroll deductions)

·       Resources for sole proprietors and self-employed individuals interested in opting in to the program.

·       Resources for employers interested in applying for an exemption from the program.

·       Resources specific to all business types on how to register with the CT Paid Leave Authority.

·       Frequently Asked Questions that are updated periodically to include the most common inquiries as this new program is rolled out.

The Authority says this website has launched as a result of the efforts of many people and organizations advocating for the support of the paid family and medical leave in Connecticut. In particular, the co-chairs of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner and State Representative Robyn Porter, were cited as instrumental in making Connecticut Paid Leave program a reality.

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Danbury adds job in latest unemployment report from state Labor Department

Connecticut gained 20,400 net payroll jobs in August, up 1.3 percent.  This was the third month in a row that job gains topped 20,000.  The largest August job gains were in Health Care & Social Assistance, Leisure & Hospitality, and Trade & Transportation. Federal Government also gained due to the decennial Census. 

All six Labor Market Areas experienced employment increases in August, according to the state Department of Labor.  The Danbury area gained 1,600 positions. 

The August unemployment rate for Connecticut is 8.1 percent, down 2.1 percentage points from the revised July level of 10.2 percent. The U.S. jobless rate in August was 8.4 percent, down 1.8 percentage points from July’s rate of 10.2 percent. 

The state Department of Labor says Connecticut's unemployment rate continues to be underestimated due to challenges encountered in the collection of data. Questions continue to be misinterpreted and misclassified. A significant number of respondents who should have been classified as temporarily out of work and therefore unemployed were instead classified as employed, but away from work.

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Lawmakers being asked by Eversource to authorize $700 million in borrowing

State lawmakers are being asked by Eversource to authorize $700 million in borrowing.  The utility says this  securitization would blunt the impact on consumers of losses from the tropical storm, pandemic and rate increase rollback.  Energy Committee co-chair, Danbury Representative David Arconti, says there's no change of this happening and called it a joke for them to suggest it.  Eversource calls the plan a rate reduction bond and says it would be in place of a rate increase due to extraordinary losses.  Arconti says the request should have been made to the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, though that would require a public review.  He told the Connecticut Post that to legislate this away would set a terrible precedent.  He added that the legislation references three open cases before PURA and if accepted, would effectively end the inquiry.

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Bethel VNA hosting a community Flu Shot Clinic

The Bethel VNA is hosting a community Flu Clinic for Flu Shots at Berry School October 7th, and a flu clinic for school district staff will be held on October 6th at the high school.  Residents were urged to call the pediatrician or family doctor to see if children should be vaccinated and then schedule an appointment.   Many insurance carriers are participating in the flu clinic.  There is no charge for children 18 and under regardless of insurance. 

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DOT continues work on Veterans Bridge in New Milford

The state Department of Transportation has updated their timelines for work on Veterans Bridge in New Milford.  The membrane installation was mostly complete, about 75-percent, on Monday evening.  The night  work and detours are likely to be complete by next week.  Day work, with two way traffic, will continue through the Fall.

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5 active COVID-19 cases in New Fairfield

There are 5 active COVID-19 cases in New Fairfield.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the low number of active cases is the result of residents wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.  She says probable cases are not confirmed positive and rarely become confirmed cases.  For example,  "probable" cases may include individuals who have been exposed to a confirmed case, or those who have been tested due to COVID-like symptoms, but not confirmed.  Every individual who is reported to the Director of Health as confirmed positive for COVID-19 is contacted by a nurse trained in contact tracing.  Contacts that were in prolonged, close contact with the infected individual are directed to get tested and to self quarantine.

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Half of New Milford students finally have first day of in-person learning

Half of New Milford students just had their first day of in-person learning yesterday. The delay was sparked by positive COVID-19 cases detected in the district last Wednesday. The New Milford Acting Superintendent of Schools is shedding more light on the decision making process to shut down all of the schools. 

Dr Paul Smotas says his office was notified late Wednesday afternoon that there was potentially multiple families with positive cases, though they didn't have reliable information.  The district started contact tracing with the local Department of Health. 

Smotas compared it to a spiderweb, looking into all of the variables including transportation, classroom, lunch and recess among others.  After two to three hours of contact tracing, Smotas says it became clear that there was a problem and it wasn't going to be just one school.  He says the contact tracing was completed too late on Thursday to be able to open on Friday. 

Smotas noted that state Department of Public Health guidelines call for schools to close for at least 2 days when there is a positive COVID case detected.

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Advice offered for college students looking for absentee ballots

The Bethel Town Clerk is offering some reminders for college age students who are looking to cast an absentee ballot in Connecticut, The application is available on the town website and can be filled out. The address of the school should be printed legibly.  The Town Clerk's office is operating as a production line and most other office procedures will take a back seat to the processing and accounting of what is anticipated as a tsunami of Absentee Ballots.

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Bill could be considered dealing with sexual assaults on college campuses

A bill could be considered by Connecticut lawmakers during a special session this fall dealing with sexual assaults on college campuses.  Kent state Representative Maria Horn says there's a concern that student won't report incidents if the assault happened at a gathering, illegal due to coronavirus restrictions.  As parties are essentially banned, students found attending could be asked to leave school.  The proposed bill would make it easier for survivors or bystanders to come forward and report it.  The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities have an amnesty provision built into the student code of conduct meaning the student would not receive any kind of negative consequences upon reporting that.  According to research by the U.S. Department of Justice, the first month and a half of college is the time when freshmen women are most likely to be raped or experience attempted rape.

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Easton man charged with production of child pornography

An Easton man has been charged with production of child pornography.  The one-count indictment against 41-year old Robert McGuire, returned last week, alleges that he produced the images between 2018 and June of this year.  McGuire appeared yesterday via video conference and pleaded not guilty to the charge.  He has been detained since his arrest by Easton Police on related state charges on July 10th.  If convicted, McGuire faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years.

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Ridgefield Board of Ed member resigning

A Ridgefield Board of Ed member is resigning to spend more time with her family.  Carina Borgia-Drake is leaving effecting September 30th.  She was first elected to the Board in November 2017.  In her resignation letter, Borgia-Drake talked about the Board's two searches for a Superintendent and the pandemic.  The vacancy is required to be filled by a majority vote of the remaining members of the Board of Ed within a month.  If that time passes, the Board of Selectmen will make the appointment.  The Democratic Town Committee can make an advisory recommendation to the Board of Ed, which began seeking potential candidates for the vacancy last week.  Interested candidates should send a “statement of interest” and resume to recruitment@ridgefielddems.org by next Saturday.

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Traffic stop leads police to find gun reported stolen from VA

A routine traffic stop has led to more charges against a New York City man.  State Police from the Brewster Barracks pulled a Mercedes Benz over on I-84 in Southeast Saturday afternoon.  Troopers determined that 26-year old Victor Jimenez was in possession of a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun.  An investigation revealed the gun was reported stolen out of Chesterfield County Virginia.  Jimenez was charged with felony counts of criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of stolen property.  He was arraigned and ordered held at Putnam County Jail on bond.  His next scheduled appearance is October 13th.

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Trooper assists injured Immature Sharp-Shinned Hawk

Connecticut State Police say a recent incident brings a new meaning to “Wingman.”  On Tuesday, Trooper Lit Winczyk, who is assigned to the Troop L Barracks, stopped to assist an injured Immature Sharp-Shinned Hawk which had been struck by a motor vehicle near Mount Tom State Park in Washington. The hawk is listed as a threatened species in the State of Connecticut and was transported from the scene by Connecticut State Environmental Conservation Police for further treatment.

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Putnam County Sheriff to host Rx drug takeback event

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office will be holding a prescription drop off this Saturday for safe disposal of expired and/or unused medication. The event will be at the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in Carmel between 10 AM and 2 PM. Social distancing guidelines will be strictly enforced.  Residents are asked to consider using this safe way of disposing of medication so it does not end up in the water system or in the wrong hands.

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Bethel Town Clerk gives update on absentee ballot application mailings

The Bethel Town Clerk knows that people are waiting for Absentee Ballot Applications.  Danbury has received, as has Newtown, and Wilton.  Lisa Bergh says she was told by the Secretary of the State last week that applications began a roll out beginning on the 8th with larger cities and finishing up on Friday with the mailing.  But she learned during a conference call this week that the mailouts continued through yesterday.  Ballots can not be mailed to people who have applied for them until October 2nd. 

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New Fairfield seeks grant money for ventilation upgrades at Town Hall

New Fairfield officials are applying for funding to upgrade the ventilation system for both Town Hall and the Annex due to COVID-19.  STEAP grant funding could be used for this project.  

Town Engineer Antonio Iadarola researched information about the systems and determined that a combination of adding ventilation and UV disinfection would be the best option. 

FEMA could cover some of the cost of this project, but then a state STEAP grant can't be used.  But First Selectman Pat Del Monaco noted that she has not been able to reach FEMA regarding this issue. She believes the project is important and should go forward even if grants are not awarded. The cost is approximately $155,000.  The STEAP grant application is for $128,205. 

The current AC units cannot provide the sufficient outdoor air intake and air exchanges to mitigate COVID exposure for employees and the public.  The project includes installation of energy-recovery ventilators to new and existing air handling units and adding ultraviolet germicidal irradiation to return air ducts.

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Danbury's new Emergency Management Director sworn in

Danbury's new Emergency Management Director has been sworn in.  Matt Cassavechia took the oath of office yesterday.  He holds a Masters degree in homeland security.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the City is adding an office in city hall for the director because the public health emergency is still underway.  Cassavechia will work with current Director TJ Wiedl for another month or so.  The former Fire Chief took over the position in March from Paul Estephan, who retired.  Cassavechia will also continue to serve as director of emergency medical services at Danbury Hospital’s parent company, Nuvance Health.  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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Danbury to hold pop up COVID-19 test event Saturday

Danbury's positive COVID-19 numbers have been all over the place in the last week.  There were 17 new cases were reported yesterday and 19 on Tuesday.  5 positive tests were identified Monday, 6 on Sunday, 11 on Saturday and 23 on Friday.  The City's infection rate is at 6-point-8 percent is the same as last week.  It's down just slightly from last month when the state issued a a COVID-19 alert for Danbury due to a spike in cases.  There will be a testing event on Saturday at Sacred Heart Church on Cottage Street from 10am to 2pm.  There are no scheduled pop up tests scheduled by the Community Health Center nor the Greater Danbury Community Health Center, though each offer testing at their facilities.  The Community Health Center offers free testing 9am to 1pm. Monday through Friday at 8 Delay Street.  The Greater Danbury Community Health Center offers testing from 3pm to 5pm on Mondays and from 8:30am until needed on Wednesdays and Fridays at 120 Main Street.

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Bethel agrees to hire law firm to investigate Eversource storm response

The Bethel Board of Selectmen has voted to hire a law firm to investigate Eversource’s response to last month’s tropical storm.  The firm Cohen and Wolf will counsel the town, which filed last week for intervener status in the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority’s investigation into Eversource.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says not only will the municipalities be able to cross-examine witnesses, they could seek compensation for losses.  Newtown, Ridgefield and New Fairfield have all hired the same law firm.  Each town is expected to pay about 25-thousand dollars.  New Milford is also looking to investigate storm response.

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Bridgewater officials give update on ballot application delivery status

The Town of Bridgewater has been advised by the Secretary of State’s Office that the application for absentee ballots were mailed on Friday.  Registered voters should be on the lookout in the mail during this week for the application.  Anyone who would like to vote by mail, is asked to fill out the application and mail it to the Bridgewater Town Clerk or place it in the drop box outside of the back door of Bridgewater Town Hall.  Absentee ballots will become available beginning October 2nd. Polls will still be open for in-person voting on November 3rd.

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Eversource contends it took COVID-19 precautions into account in storm response

Eversource executives say in a mandated post-storm report that the need to apply COVID-19 protocols to protect the health of employees and customers permeated every aspect of the utility's response.  But Danbury state Representative David Arconti previously expressed doubt about Eversource taking the pandemic into account.  Danbury experienced a small spike in COVID-19 cases about two weeks after the tropical storm, prompting the state Department of Public Health to declare a COVID-19 alert for the City.  The local Public Health Department was able to trace some cases to areas where there was no power for more than a week after storm.  On Twitter, Eversource had been directing people to stay with family or friends to beat the heat if their electricity was off.  Arconti says that goes against all of the guidance for people to socially distance from people not in their immediate household.

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Southbury man arrested for fatal 2019 crash

A Southbury man has been arrested for a fatal motor vehicle accident that happened last year.  79-year old Thomas Sherk was charged Tuesday with negligent homicide and improper turn.  The warrant stemmed from a November crash on Old Waterbury Road that killed 66-year-old Southbury resident Elizabeth Ballard.  Police say Sherk tried to make a left turn into a condo complex, but crashed head on with another vehicle.  He was released on bond for an appearance in Waterbury Superior Court on November 18th.

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Bethel again designated a HEARTSafe Community

The Town Of Bethel has once again has been designated a HEARTSafe Community by the Connecticut Department of Public Health. It recognizes the town's continued commitment to providing improved cardiac response and care to residents utilizing the “Chain of Survival” -- early 911 access, CPR, defibrillation, and ALS care. Bethel Emergency Management say agencies that help to support the mission include Bethel Police Department, Nuvance Health, Bethel Fire & EMS, Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company, Bethel Parks and Recreation, and the Bethel Public Schools.

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Southbury Police investigate hit and run accident

The Southbury Police Department is investigating a motor vehicle accident that occurred on Peter Road Sunday evening.  The suspect vehicle struck a concrete and stone mailbox around 8pm and left the scene of the accident. The suspect vehicle is possibly a Honda Accord, and sustained heavy front end damage. Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Critelli at the Southbury Police Department. All calls and information will be kept confidential.

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Brookfield Parks and Rec fall program guide only available online

The Brookfield Parks and Recreation’s Fall Program Guide is now online and registration is underway. Due to the fluid nature of programs because of the public health emergency, Parks & Recreation will not print and mail copies of the guide.  Information will continue to be updated on their website and Facebook page and is also available by calling the Parks & Recreation Office.

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Ridgefield Police partner with Special Olympics for mask fundraiser

The Ridgefield Police Department has once again teamed up with Special Olympics of Connecticut to support the athletes that compete in the Summer and Winter games.  The Department has teamed up to sell face masks supporting the Special Olympics and the Law Enforcement Torch Run. The games have been drastically changed due to COVID-19. The fundraiser is running now through September 21st.

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New Milford Town Council approves sale of a town owned building

The New Milford Town Council has approved the sale of a town owned building.  25 Church Street will be sold for nearly $295,000 to David and Scott Benincasa.  They plan to convert the building into up to 20 high end apartments.  Some New Milford Town Council members questioned if the sale was an emergency to keep the town operating, because according to the Charter, the sale of town buildings require town meetings.  Governor Lamont's executive orders allow local boards to rule in place of town meetings or referendum due to gathering restrictions.  Former Mayor David Gronbach started discussions on the sale of the building, and current Mayor Pete Bass asked the Facilities Utilization Committee to look at all town buildings to determine best uses.  The town bought the 1920-constructed building in 2001. 

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Southbury Police investigating theft of trailer, tools

Southbury Police are investigating the theft of a trailer containing more than $3,000 worth of tools from Heritage Village.  The trailer was stolen sometime Saturday into Sunday from Winship Drive.  Police say the trailer has custom shelving interior and aluminum ladder racks.  Southbury Police say neighbors told them during the investigation that they heard banging and people talking in the early morning hours, but did not notify police at the time.  Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Stephen Houle at 203-264-5912.

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Local lawmaker calls for transparency in health benchmarks for reopening

New Milford State Senator Craig Miner is questioning Governor Lamont's benchmarks used to make decisions through executive authority, including when he will relax Phase 2 restrictions to limit further damage to the business community and private residents.  He says the fall season means evening/early morning temperatures are lower and warned that restaurants will not make it through Christmas if only allowed to operate at 50% indoor capacity.  Miner says Lamont and his administration is turning their backs on businesses across the state that have been hemorrhaging money since last spring.  He wants Lamont to inform the public what public health benchmarks are behind decisions to keep Connecticut stagnated in Phase 2.

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Garbage truck fire extinguished in New Fairfield

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to a report of a possible garbage truck fire yesterday morning.  The fire was found in the back of the truck.  The driver was able to dump the load in the parking lot of Stop & Shop.  At least 3 fire trucks arrived on scene.  Firefighters stayed with the truck until representative from Oak Ridge and cleanup crew arrived.

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Newtown Police urge voluntary compliance with mask mandate

The Newtown Police Department is reminding people about Governor Lamont's executive order mandating masks, and now implementing fines for violations.  Police officials say most people have become accustomed to wearing masks and complying with the executive orders in the interest of public health.  Local officials may soon start issuing 100-dollar infractions for violations.  The goal is voluntary compliance with the orders, though Newtown Police say at times enforcement might be necessary.  There's a $250 fine for attending an event that exceeds size limits.  It's a $500 fine for organizing an event that exceeds size limits. Indoor private gatherings are limited to 25 people, Outdoor private gatherings at 100 people and Outdoor organized gatherings 500 people.

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Observation tower proposed for center of Hearthstone Castle

Debris removal and abatement work at Hearthstone Castle in Danbury is complete. The work started at the end of July.  The material was removed, stockpiled and loaded out by Manafort Brothers.  The company wet down the material prior to removal so no dust was released into the atmosphere.  The last of the debris was loaded out in mid-August. All air testing and sampling in three locations, including a downwind location, were done daily. 

Public Works Officials say they had zero dust readings and the test samples all came back clean. The Phase One Abatement was completed on schedule and within budget.

The work now taking place is at the Cities request, securing the building for safety.  It's also being prepared for removal of a 1,200-gallon oil tank discovered on the property, something unforeseen before crews got on site.  Public Works crews and the contractor are securing approximately 60 window openings from the basement up to what was the second floor. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says kids are still getting in and vandalizing the structure.  A 10 foot chain link fence and a 20 foot gate have been installed surrounding Hearthstone Castle. 

Boughton wants to see if an observation tower can be built in the center of the castle's walls so that people will be able to climb to the top and see out above the walls and all around.

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New Fairfield hires law firm, gets intervener status in PURA hearing

New Fairfield is joining the towns of Ridgefield and Newtown in hiring a law firm to intervene in PURA Investigation of Eversource Response to Tropical Storm Isaias.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco and Selectman Khris Hall voted in favor of a retainer agreement put together by Cohen and Wolfe.  Hall says this would give New Fairfield formal standing in the matter and will let PURA know the Town’s experience and dissatisfaction of the Eversource’s response.  Selectman Kim Hanson questioned the cost of the retainer and whether funds can be recouped through this agreement. He doesn't see the financial upside, with costs that the town has little to no control over.  He also believes the documentation can be submitted without this representation.

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State offers tips to avoid mosquito gatherings, bites

Two Greater Danbury area residents have been diagnosed with West Nile virus and state officials are urging everyone else to take precautions. Mosquitoes require water for reproduction.

There are measures that can help reduce mosquitoes. 

Eliminate standing water suitable for mosquitoes. Dispose of water-holding containers, such as ceramic pots, used tires, and tire swings. Drill holes in the bottom of containers such as those used for recycling.  Turn over objects that may trap water when not in use, such as wading pools and wheelbarrows. 

The state Department of Public Health says homeowners should clean clogged roof gutters.  They also suggest people clean and chlorinate swimming pools. When pools are not in use, use pool covers and drain when necessary. 

Residents should minimize outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Consider the use of CDC-recommended mosquito repellents, containing DEET, and apply according to directions, when it is necessary to be outdoors.  Be sure door and window screens are tight fitting and in good repair to avoid mosquito bites when indoors.

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New pedestrian and cyclist gateway in Brewster opens

The newest pedestrian and cyclist gateway to the Village of Brewster has officially been reopened.  The Morningthorpe Avenue Bridge, a 126-year old structure, was rehabilitated through a $2.6 million renovation. Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says this will help make the community more walkable, provide healthy recreation opportunities and bring people to village parks, the Metro-North train station and Brewster’s Main Street shopping district. The bridge runs from Route 22 to Railroad Avenue and crosses over the Croton River. The New York Department of Transportation told Putnam County to close the bridge to pedestrian traffic in 2013 because of a danger it could collapse into the reservoir.  Putnam County had to remove the old bridge, but discovered a federal grant opportunity to create a pedestrian walkway.  The grant covered 80% of the cost.

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Area towns to mark 19th anniversary of 9/11 attacks

The Bethel Fire Department is hosting a remembrance ceremony Friday night to mark the 19th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  The service will take place outside the Bethel Municipal Center at 6:30pm. 

Wilton's traditional September 11th remembrance will not take place in-person.  Instead, Wilton Firefighters union announced the the remembrance of the day will occur over social media. Local 2233 President Dave Chaloux says assembling to honor the victims poses a risk to the community and essential services that should not be underestimated.  The tribute this year will be posted online at wiltonfirefighters.org and on their Facebook page.  5 Wilton residents will killed on 9/11. 

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Naugatuck Valley Community College keeps Danbury campus closed

Out of continued caution, Naugatuck Valley Community College has decided that the Danbury Campus will remain closed for the foreseeable future.  The Connecticut Department of Public Health, Governor Lamont, and system President have determined that Danbury faculty and students will continue to participate in their courses virtually.  Students who have not already done so, are urged to connect with professors through Blackboard to stay on track with all coursework and assignments.  College officials say they hope to hear soon about a return to the Danbury campus and that classes will be able to resume in a traditional, on-ground format.

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Bridge inspections prompt lane closures

The state DOT is doing bridge inspections in the Greater Danbury area prompting some lane closures the rest of this week.  Thursday, between 9am and 3pm, the right lanes of Route 7 in Danbury between the highway and the Federal Road exit will be closed.  On Friday,  between 9am and 3pm, the right lanes of Route 7 in Brookfield will be closed between Exits 11 and 12.

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Downed, energized power line burns through road in New Milford

A downed but still energized power line burned through a road in New Milford early this morning. Water Witch Hose was notified around 1am about an unknown type fire on Long Mountain Road. 

Responding firefighters discovered the line burning on the roadway near North Valley Road. Long Mountain was shut down at the intersections of Grandview and Hine Road while Eversource responded.  The fire burned through the roadway for an hour before the power was shut down at by Utility crews. 

A small brush fire was extinguished, a nearby truck and camper were checked out for damage and firefighters flooded the molten hot asphalt with 1,000 gallons of water.  

Water Witch Hose cautioned residents to consider all downed wires as live until rehung by Eversource.

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Election grants sent to all Conn. municipalities in anticipation of record absentee ballot use

Election grants have been sent to every municipality in the state to help keep polling locations safe during the pandemic and give towns the resources to process, mail out, and count a record-breaking number of absentee ballots.  The grant assumes that 80% of registered voters will chose to vote in 2020, and that 66% of those voters will choose to vote by absentee ballot. 

Danbury is one of 20 municipalities to also be awarded an Election Day Registration Access Grant, because of the historical number of Election Day registrants, in order to be prepared for a potential surge in new voters registering to vote on Election Day.  Each of the twenty towns is granted $2,500 and the total grant amount is $50,000.

Bethel $11,598

Brookfield $8,946

Danbury $56,569, including a $2,500 EDR stretch grant

Newtown $15,596

New Milford $16,206

New Fairfield $7,819

Redding $6,075

Ridgefield $13,902

The Secretary of the State also offered municipalities grants to strengthen their local election infrastructure. Towns were offered $200,000 in 50/50 matching grants to replace outdated equipment, $350,000 in Cybersecurity Risk Assessments by the Connecticut National Guard, and the Secure Polls Grant of $220,000 conditioned on completing cybersecurity training and risk assessments by the Connecticut National Guard.

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Danbury teacher says comedian fulfilled promise to fund Donors Chose projects

A Danbury High School teacher says comedian John Oliver has followed through on funding projects on the site Donors Chose.  There were $25,000 worth of teacher requests on the crowdfunding site and Kathryn Tong says the High School’s Health & BioScience Academy students will all now have a blood pressure cuff and stethoscope for practice during distance learning as they prepare for clinical. 

Last Week Tonight funded each of the projects on the site, adding the comment:

"Hats off to you! Please enjoy this John Oliver memorial donation and good luck with the new school year!"

Oliver offered to fund the projects, along with make donations to Connecticut Food Bank and ALS Connecticut in exchange for the City renaming the sewer plant after him. 

Oliver bashed Danbury on an August 16th segment on racial disparities in jury selection that was actually focused on other areas of Connecticut.  Mayor Mark Boughton responded with a joke on the sewer plant name, but Oliver upped the ante offering $55,000 in donations, and a sign, if it became a reality. 

Boughton says he would accept Oliver’s challenge, if the comedian comes to Danbury when the ribbon is cut.

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Danbury won't hold in-person 9/11 ceremony due to COVID-19

The City of Danbury is not planning to hold an in-person ceremony Friday to mark the 19th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.  Members of the Police and Fire Departments, along with Mayor Mark Boughton, will record remarks for a video tribute this year due to the pandemic.

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Lawmakers write to urge Gov. Lamont to sanction fall football

A number of state lawmakers have written to Governor Lamont, urging him to meet with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and the Department of Public Health. 

New Milford Senator Craig Miner has joined all 14 members of the Connecticut Senate Republican Caucus in writing to the Department of Public Health Commissioner requesting more information on the recommendation to cancel contact football this fall. The lawmakers are also questioning what public health metrics the agency believes the state needs to reach in order to be comfortable with a football season moving forward.?

Among the lawmakers is also Danbury Representative David Arconti.  They want to find a way for kids to play football this fall.  The lawmaker acknowledge that Connecticut is one of the safest places in the country as the pandemic lingers on.  They want DPH and CIAC to continue the conversation so that parents, athletes and administrators can be on the same page about the rationale for decision making for each Fall sport.  Like the students participating in other Fall sports, Arconti says Connecticut's young football players benefit from a well-rounded support system that helps them deal with the emotional fall-out of the pandemic.  The lawmakers say that similar or more rigorous safeguards and guidelines can be put in place.

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PURA public comment hearing on Eversource rate hike set for tomorrow

The final Public Utilities Regulatory Authority public comment hearing on the July Eversource rate hike will be held via Zoom on September 10 from 9am to 11am. To register, all members of the public should submit their information to the Office of Consumer Counsel through their Online Registration Form, by email at occ.info@ct.gov or by telephone at 860-827-2900. The direct link to the Zoom public comment hearing is https://ctdeep.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJcofuGqqj0uGdIzcn300ttCQqABLc9GBLOJ. PURA is still accepting written public comment and those Eversource customers are encouraged to submit their written comment to PURA via e-mail at pura.executivesecretary@ct.gov referencing Docket No. 20-01-01.

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New Milford will hold 9/11 memorial ceremony Friday

New Milford will hold a 9/11 memorial ceremony on Friday.  The service will begin at 8:46am by the memorial near the railroad station at the town’s memorial in Patriot’s Way.  Residents, who must wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines, are invited to gather at 8am.  The program will include the apparatus bell toll at 8:46am, followed by a flag folding, a flag presentation and the singing of the National Anthem.  An invocation will be offered by Deacon Al Gambone followed by comments from Mayor Pete Bass, State Representative Bill Buckbee and State Senator Craig Miner.  St. Francis Xavier Church Choir will sing “God Bless America” and then “Amazing Grace” will be performed by Patrick Maguire on bagpipes. A wreath made up of red, white and blue carnations will be placed at the memorial. Attendees are invited to bring a carnation or rose to be placed at the memorial.

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Wilton Police Department swears in two new officers

The Wilton Police Department has sworn in two new officers.  Elizabeth Myles and Navin Nair will be attending the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden starting Friday.  The current academy lasts a little over 26 weeks and will be a mix of virtual and onsite learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Officer Elizabeth Myles grew up in Wilton, and is a recent graduate of the University of New Haven. While attending UNH she completed her college internship with the Norwalk Police Department.  Elizabeth was also a Wilton Police Explorer from 2011-2015.  Officer Navin Nair grew up in New Canaan, and is a graduate of the Norwich Military Academy of Vermont. Navin's been in the Army National Guard since March of 2017, as an artillery cannon crew member.  He is a member of the Wilton Volunteer Ambulance Corp. and works for Norwalk Hospital as an EMT. 

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Danbury schools have form to request a change in student cohort

The Danbury School district still has a form on their website about how to change the cohort their student is part of in the hybrid model.  Danbury opened yesterday with distance learning due to a summer spike in COVID-19 cases.  When the hybrid model takes effect, students whose last names beginning with the letters A-L will attend school in person on Monday and Tuesday, and will participate in Distance Learning Wednesday-Friday. Children whose last names begin with M-Z will participate in Distance Learning Monday-Wednesday and attend school in person on Thursday and Friday. Parents may request a change in the cohort under extenuating circumstances. Requests will be granted provided there is space available.  There is a brief questionnaire, which among other things, asks parents if the child is receiving Special Education or ESL Services, if they'll be riding the bus and the reason for the request.

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Brookfield Board of Ed answers privacy questions about distance learning

This is the first week of school in Brookfield, and there is distance learning once again.  The Board of Ed is trying to answer parent questions about how a teacher is going to manage a class without saying students' names, if there are privacy issues.  The Board says they are unaware of any widespread privacy issue or concern that needs to be dealt with at the district level.  Because it doesn't seem to be a widespread issue, it would be handled on a case by case basis with the child's teacher. If a parent wants their remote student to have complete anonymity to all but the classroom teacher, the Brookfield Board of Ed says that student would miss out on many educational opportunities like peer and teacher interactions and group work. 

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Danbury school year starts with focus on social emotional lessons

The focus of lessons in the first few weeks of the Danbury school year will be about building connections, relationships and class community.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pacarella says the purpose of this is to provide a safe environment and allow students to feel comfortable to talk about how all the social changes in their lives are affecting them, both with COVID-19 as well as with recent racial tensions across the country. Throughout the school year, Pascarella says social emotional lessons and activities will continue each school day to support students. In addition, teachers will focus on digital citizenship and connecting students to programs and the digital tools needed to succeed this school year. Regular curriculum content will pick up after the first 8 to 10 days of school. 

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Danbury offering additional enrichment activity designed by special areas teachers

Danbury students are returning to school today, though not to the traditional classroom.  The district is starting with a full Distance Learning model.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says he knows this is not a  standard school opening with the bustle of students as they exit the bus and fill the classrooms and cafeterias with the buzz of the new year.  Pascarella cautioned parents that there may be additional times that teachers will request to work with children by special arrangement, particularly if the student typically receives services during the school year.  While school officially begins at 8:30 am each weekday, the Danbury district offering an additional enrichment activity designed by special areas teachers that will be accessible each morning by 8 am. He says these morning energizers will have some elements that support the social emotional needs of students.  The content can be accessed at any time during the week.

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Brookfield Board of Ed caution parents that distance learning is not home schooling

Some Brookfield students are back in classroom today as the new school year starts.  The Board of Ed and Superintendent has answered a number of questions about how distance learning will work, specifically how teachers will manage parents watching every zoom and scrutinizing the day.   Remote learning is now, and for the foreseeable future, a part of education and it's likely unavoidable.  School leaders says parents will need to understand that the remote learning option is not "homeschooling" simply with the curriculum being provided by the District. Parents can and should assist, but the teacher must remain the instructional authority and the Board will support teachers and administrators in this way.

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Local lawmaker calls for sales tax elimination on PPE

Newtown State Representative JP Sredzinski is calling for the elimination of the 6.35% state sales tax on face masks and other personal protection products, like face shields and latex/rubber gloves.  He says Connecticut has one of the lowest COVID transmission rates in the country and residents should not be punished for purchasing and wearing the proper PPE.  In 2019, Sredzinski opposed the final two-year state budget, which included several new tax increases, including the repeal of the tax-exemption of safety apparel that subjected many pieces of safety gear to state sales tax.

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Car ended up in water way in Bethel accident

A car went off the roadway in Bethel Friday and ended up down a ditch in a water way.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company responded to assist Bethel Fire for the accident on Route 53.  The sole occupant was removed with the assistance of fire personnel and transported to Danbury Hospital for his injuries. Crews mitigated a fuel spill into the water as well.

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City won't waste John Oliver's donation, on 1 condition

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut city won’t waste an opportunity to get a sizeable donation from comedian John Oliver about a weeks-long joke pertaining to the name of a sewage plant in the area.

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said on WTNH-TV that he would accept Oliver’s challenge to name the city’s sewage plant after him following Oliver’s offer to donate $55,000 to local charities.

But Boughton said there was one stipulation to the facility’s renaming. “We do have one very specific condition. You must come here to Danbury and be physically present when we cut the ribbon,” he said in a Facebook video posted Sunday.

The announcement was the latest volley in a war of words between the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and Boughton after Oliver first bashed Danbury on an Aug. 16 during a segment on racial disparities in jury selection that was actually focused on other areas of Connecticut.

“If you’re going to forget a town in Connecticut, why not forget Danbury?” Oliver said. He finished his rant with a taunt: “If you’re from there, you have a standing invite to come get a thrashing from John Oliver -- children included.”

Boughton followed up with an Aug. 22 Facebook post that showed the mayor in front of the city’s sewage plant. “We are going to rename it the John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant,” the Republican mayor said. “Why? Because it’s full of crap just like you, John.”

Oliver raised the stakes on his Aug. 30 show by offering to donate $55,000 to Danbury-area charities if officials followed through on naming the plant after him.

The comedian played a video of Boughton saying the offer was a joke and said, “Wait, so you’re not doing it?” Oliver said he hadn’t known that he wanted his name on the sewage plant “but now that you floated it as an option, it is all that I want.”

A message seeking comment on Boughton’s demand that Oliver attend the ribbon-cutting was sent to Oliver’s manager.

It was unclear why Oliver first singled out Danbury, a city of about 80,000 in Fairfield County that was once a hatmaking center.

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9 men charged in so-called Felony Lane Gang scheme

9 men have been charged for their roles in the so-called Felony Lane Gang scheme.  The criminal investigation by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, with the FBI, stemmed from larcenies from vehicles and identity theft which targeted women throughout multiple states along the East Coast.  

The 13 count indictment is about a wide-ranging bank fraud scheme that affected hundreds of victims.  The defendants were collectively involved in more than 700 smash-and-grab thefts and approximately 1,000 fraudulent bank transactions, with losses exceeding $1.5 million. 

Each of the defendants is charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft for the conspiracy of using stolen identification from one victim to conduct fraudulent transactions using checks and credit cards stolen from another victim. 

The mobile identity theft ring allegedly traveled across the country breaking into cars, often targeting those parked by women at locations such as health and fitness centers, daycares, outdoor recreational parks, and dog parks. Authorities say some of the IDs were used even years after the smash and grab activity.

The leaders of the scheme reportedly recruited women, whom they often referred to as “faces,” to impersonate the smash-and-grab victims in drive-through bank lanes. The recruited check cashers were almost always suffering from an addiction to a controlled substance and were provided payment at least partially in narcotics.


Those charged are:
TYRONE PARKER, JR. a/k/a “Ty,” a/k/a “Cheese,” a/k/a “Little Thigh,” age 21, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida
JOSHUA MALLORY, a/k/a “P,” a/k/a “Pudge,” age 35, of Fort Lauderdale
TYRONE PARKER, a/k/a “Tyron Parker,” a/k/a “Thigh,” age 39, of Fort Lauderdale
RANDALL TAYLOR, a/k/a “Gucci,” a/k/a “Guwop,” age 34, of Fort Lauderdale
CEDRIC LYNCH, a/k/a “City,” a/k/a “C,” age 35, of Orlando, Florida
TERRELL MCDONALD, a/k/a “Ruger,” a/k/a “Moon,” age 30, of Troy, New York
KEYSHAWN ARNOLD, a/k/a “Key,” age 23, of Schenectady, New York
ROBERT NATSON, a/k/a “Big Rob,” age 34, of Fort Lauderdale
GARY GRIER, a/k/a “G,” age 34, of Fort Lauderdale

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Committee to hold session on draft bill to hold utilities accountable

The legislature's Energy & Technology Committee will hold a special listening session tomorrow to hear comments on a bill being proposed to address the problems in the most recent Eversource storm recovery.  The listening session will start at 10:30am.  The committee is co-chaired by Danbury Representative David Arconti. 

The draft bill requires Electric Distribution Companies to open, operate and staff Regional Service Centers, staffed with Connecticut- based grid and power line service workers.  The bill calls for residential customers to get a $125 credit to their account for each day a power outage exceeds 72 hours and a reimbursement of up to $500 for any food or prescription drug that spoiled due to power outages lasting more than 72 hours. 

The bill also puts a number of requirements on PURA.  They would have to initiate a proceeding to investigate, develop, and adopt a framework for implementing performance-based regulation of EDCs and other utilities; consider the implementation of penalties in addition to incentives based on performance; and to initiate a proceeding to consider the implementation of an interim rate decrease, low-income rate and economic development rates.  The bill prohibits PURA from allowing EDCs to recover executive compensation packages in rates which exceed comparable compensation packages in other states.

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Putnam County Sheriff raises awareness about suicide prevention

September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.  The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is making residents aware of help available to people in need.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK.  Sheriff Robert Langley says anyone thinking about suicide should avoid alcohol and drugs, make the home safe by removing anything that could be used for harm, and to reach out to a trusted person for help.  Anyone concerned about someone who may have suicidal thoughts should look for warning signs.  Those signs include increased use of alcohol or drugs, withdrawing from activities, giving away prized possessions, talking about hopelessness and displaying moods of depression, anxiety, loss of interest, irritability, humiliation, shame, agitation, or anger.  People are urged to pay attention to new or uncharacteristic behavior.

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Sandy Hook Promise creates suicide warning sign recognition program

Sandy Hook Promise has launched a free program to help students and educators learn the warning signs of suicide. The Newtown-based group says its suicide prevention program is the first of its kind to provide separate materials for school kids, parents and educators.  Cofounder and managing director Nicole Hockley says youth suicide is becoming a public health crisis in this country.  She says it's a trend they're seeing reflected every day in the types of tips that come into the crisis center of the organization's Say Something Anonymous Reporting System.

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New Fairfield Selectmen get update on boat dock repairs

New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco has given the Board of Selectmen an update on the boat docks and noted that the bid was received in March shortly before everything shut down due to COVID 19.  She says they would still like to get the first phase done this fall. She spoke of the need to do this as soon as possible since the uneven tension is causing the anchoring system to break. Del Monaco says the cost of doing the work is approximately $830,000.There was a brief discussion of the possibility that the town could do some of the work themselves to lower the price. Demolition and disposal can be done by the town, as well as replacing the brackets on the anchors. This still would leave the fund approximately $200,000 short.

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The Silo gets a new director

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the sudden closure of The Silo last Summer left a hole in the community, but new leadership has opened it's doors once again.  Bass met recently with Alessandro Piovezahn, The Silo's new Director, to learn about his vision for reviving the historic complex in line with Ruth and Skitch Henderson's original wishes.  The Silo is hosting an Open Mic Night and Crafts Fair September 8th at 6pm.  The requested admission is a donation of 1lb of non-perishable food per person, which will be donated to New Milford Social Services.

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Newtown commissions seek volunteers to fill vacancies

Newtown First Selectman Rosenthal is seeking residents to volunteer to fill vacancies. The Conservation Commission and the Sustainable Energy Commission each have an opening available to a Republican or an unaffiliated voter.  Interested parties are asked to apply by September 15th by sending a letter of interest and a resume.

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Danbury City Council signs off on Teamsters contract

A contract between the City of Danbury and the Teamsters Union Local 677 has been approved by the City Council.  The update keeps salaries flat for public works, public utilities and public buildings employees.  It's retroactive to July and is in effect through next June.  The contract terms were programmed into the city’s budget for this fiscal year.

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New Fairfield firefighters host Shred-it event

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department Company A is hosting their annual free Shred-It Event on Saturday September 19th from 9am-12pm.  It will take placed at Company A Firehouse at  302 Ball Pond Road.  Firefighters say this is also a fundraiser, so donations will be accepted and are appreciated.  All documents are shredded on site. Only paper items will be accepted.

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Absentee ballots to be ready for mailing in October

Bethel Town Clerk Lisa Bergh says the absentee ballot drop box located outside of town hall is triple locked and under video surveillance.  Absentee ballots will not be available until October 2nd, but will be mailed to the address on the application at that date.  She's asking residents not to file an application for an Absentee Ballot unless they're sure they won't be attending the polls. This will save much work based on the anticipation that her office will be issuing 8,000 to 10,000 ballots. Each ballot number is tracked and accounted for.  She notes that voiding of absentee ballots is time consuming, and labor intensive.  It is allowable, however the ballot must be returned to her office by October 30th at the latest.

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Newtown state Rep. suggests middle ground on Gov.'s executive powers

Some state lawmakers are walking a fine line in their opposition to Governor Lamont extending his executive powers related to the pandemic.  Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky acknowledged that Connecticut is a leader in beating the curve and was thankful for the governor's actions to help get the state to and maintain an infection rate of under 1-percent.  He's suggesting an alternative to letting the executive authority expire, and to extending it by 5 months.  Bolinsky suggested a 30-day extension of powers to plan specific contingencies, should Connecticut need to react to a resurgence. He urged residents to remain vigilant as the way to prevent a very real threat of a resurgence of the virus.  Bolinsky feels it’s critical that the legislature come together to deliberate, fine-tune and vote on important issues.

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Car fire melts siding off nearby building in Danbury

A car fire melted the siding off a nearby building in Danbury on Wednesday.  Firefighters responded to a 1st alarm call on Federal Road near White Street.  Responding units found an active engine compartment fire extending to the passenger compartment and melting the siding of the adjacent structure.  The fire was extinguished quickly.

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Danbury man charged for alleged assault of woman in parking lot

A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly assaulting a woman on Wednesday.  Police charged 48-year old Edward White was charged for assault, breach of peace, disorderly conduct, strangulation, threatening, and unlawful restraint.  He allegedly attacked the victim after seeing her speaking to another man in a parking lot.  Police say White also attacked the man she was talking to and forced the woman into his car.  White was arraigned and is due back in court September 24th.

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Group forms to deal with issues on Candlewood Lake islands

New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco is part of a newly formed group designed to tackle issues that currently exist on islands in Candlewood Lake. The group is made up of municipal representatives, DEEP, Candlewood Lake Authority, First Light and EnCon Police.  A new challenge this year was large groups of people are being dropped off without means to evacuate if necessary.  Del Monaco says the issues also involves gatherings of multiple people creating a lot of noise, which was all part of why access to the islands was closed.  There are no bathrooms on these islands and that also caused a potential sanitation problem.

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More details released about absentee balloting for November

The Secretary of the State will be sending out applications for absentee ballots to all eligible, active, registered voters on a rolling basis between September 8th and September 11th.  Residents can check their registration status at myvote.ct.gov/lookup. All voters are eligible to vote by absentee ballot for the 2020 election by checking the COVID-19 excuse on the application.  Although applications will be mailed after Labor Day, the Bethel Town Clerk is cautioning that the absentee ballots themselves cannot be distributed before October 2nd, by Connecticut law.  Lisa Bergh says the small amount of time between October 2nd and November 3rd makes it imperative that voters return their applications and their ballots as soon as possible.  Connecticut law only allows the counting of ballots that have arrived by the close of polls, 8pm on Election Day.  Residents are urged to use the Absentee Ballot drop box located at the entrance of Town Hall, to avoid delays that may occur from mailing a ballot close to election day.

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Newtown students start school year in hybrid model

Some Newtown students have returned to the classroom.  The district started with a hybrid model, having about half the student population in buildings yesterday and the other half learning online.  The other half of students will be in classrooms today.  Families were given the option of starting the year with all distance learning.  About 15-percent of the student population is learning at home 5 days a week.  Newtown plans to move to full in person learning for younger students next month, and all students in November.

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Elephant's Trunk Flea Market in New Milford reopening this weekend

The Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market in New Milford is reopening this weekend, but it will look a little different.  The outdoor market off Route 7 will open on Sunday with fewer buyers and sellers allowed on site.  It typically is open on Sundays April through December, but the pandemic forced its closure until now.  Everyone will be required to wear masks and socially distance from others.  The picnic tables have been removed.  The Super Early Buyer admission has been suspended.  All Buyers need to wait in their parked vehicles instead of lining up prior to 5:45am and 7am admission opening.  Express Lane vendor tickets can be purchased through their website.

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Danbury Fire Department gets new superintendent of apparatus

Danbury Fire Department Lt. David Kirkwood has  been promoted to superintendent of apparatus.  The City Council approved of the move at their meeting earlier this week.  He earned the number 1 rank on the eligibility list.  Kirkwood joined the department in 1987, promoted to lieutenant in 2004, has served as provisional captain and provisional training officer and instructs at the Fairfield Fire School.

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GOP Congressional candidate opposes Gov.'s emergency power extension request

David Sullivan, a New Fairfield Republican running for the 5th Congressional District seat, argues that Governor Lamont should not be allowed to grant himself unlimited powers for five more months.  He's referring to the Governor's request to extend emergency orders related to the pandemic.  Sullivan says Lamont can still do his job without ruling by decree and argued that the Legislature has been silenced.  Sullivan says Congress would object if they were shut down and similar unrestricted powers were granted to the President. 

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Danbury City Council approves 10-year tax agreement on Matrix site proposal

The Danbury City Council has approved a 10-year tax agreement on a developer's plan to fill the mostly empty former Matrix building.  The plans for Summit at Danbury call for a city within a city featuring apartments, commercial space and potentially a school. 

Summit will agree to drop their appeal of Danbury’s assessment on its 99-acre property in exchange for the agreed levy of $860,000 in annual property taxes.  The developer would also be charged an additional city services fee for 19 years starting at $550,000 annually.  After 10 years, the property will be taxed based on fair market value. 

The approval came on a 17-to-3 vote.  Those opposed to the deal say Danbury would lose taxes if the building value grows as its developed.  Mayor Mark Boughton says it wouldn't be fully developed until later in the agreement so it wouldn't be too detrimental. 

The 1.2 million-square-foot former Union Carbide world headquarters was purchased by the developer in 2018 for $17.8 million. 

The Danbury Zoning Commission has approved the master plan.  Summit is still in the design phase of the planned 404 units so no plans have been submitted to the Planning Commission.  About one-third of the 600,000 square feet of commercial space has been leased.

A measure will be voted on this month by the legislature sending Danbury grant money for the facility.  While the developer would pay a City Services Fee, not designated for the schools, the money is intended to be sent to the Board of Ed.  Councilman Farley Santos, a former Board of Ed member, wanted it in writing so that future City Councils or Mayors couldn't redirect the funding elsewhere.  Corporation Counsel Les Pinter advised against that, noting that if there are fewer children living in the apartments, the developer could argue to pay a lower annual fee.

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Social media posts may lead to a Danbury High School teacher's removal

Social media posts may lead to a Danbury High School teacher's removal.  Hearst Connecticut Media reports that health and physical education teacher Joe Hanna was told by district officials that he would be fired if he didn't quit. 

One of the social media posts in question used the n-word.  “I do regret saying that. My intent was not malicious,” Hanna said, adding he has heard the word used locally and in music. “... I made a poor judgment call because I’ve been conditioned all my life by rap culture. I went to Danbury High.” 

He also shared a meme about vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris. One post supported building a wall.  Hanna said in the published report that he was trying to spread messages about issues like addiction, human trafficking and pedophilia.

Hanna told the publication that district officials felt his conduct would impact his teaching in the classroom.  He added that his observations reflect that he was a competent teacher.  Hanna was hired full-time early this year after being a long-term substitute. He previously taught at Henry Abbott Technical High School from 2010 to 2017.

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Manager of a Brewster pharmacy convicted of grand larceny

The manager of a Brewster pharmacy has been convicted of grand larceny. 

32-year old Aatif Kahn was charged for stealing in excess of $100,000 worth of diabetic test strips over the course of two years from JNR Pharmacy.  Putnam County District Attorney Robert Tendy says the Newburgh resident sold the stolen test strips to various third parties throughout the country. Khan was also convicted of Criminal Tax Fraud for failing to report any of that income. 

Tendy says this case represents one of the largest asset forfeiture cases in the history of the District Attorney’s Office. Khan’s illegally obtained proceeds in this case will be used to amplify law enforcement efforts and to promote the safety of the residents of Putnam County. The pharmacy has been reimbursed for the loss the business suffered. 

Sentencing is scheduled for October 27th.

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Connecticut's Kid Governor to host virtual event in Danbury

Connecticut's Kid Governor will be visiting Danbury next weekend--virtually.  Myra Stanfield will be speaking with students and their parents throughout the month about her Standing Up for Animals in Need platform and how they can get involved. During Myra's digital visit, she and the Kid Governor team will share information on how students in the community can get involved with Connecticut's Kid Governor, and lead an interactive virtual hand-on activity.  The event is hosted by Danbury Library on September 12th from 9am to 10am. The  program is presented by The Connecticut Democracy Center.

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New Milford Police to host listening session

A listening session is planned for tonight in New Milford.  Police Chief Spencer Cerruto, Mayor Pete Bass and other police command staff will be on hand.  They bill the event as an open forum, saying topics of discussion will be up to the attendees.  Cerruto says the dialogue plays an important role in continuing to communicate and gain insight from the community.  The listening session is set for Thursday at 6:30 pm, on Zoom. 

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Naugatuck Valley Economic Development District gets federal grant

The Naugatuck Valley Economic Development District has received a $400,000 federal grant.  The money from the CARES Act, coronavirus relief funding, will be used to implement the necessary economic development strategies required to address the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the region.  The 19-town region includes: Bethlehem, Watertown, Woodbury, Southbury, Oxford, and Seymour. Ansonia, Derby and Shelton, Thomaston, Plymouth, Bristol, Middlebury, Waterbury, Wolcott, Naugatuck, Prospect, Cheshire, and Beacon Falls are also part of the region.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes says the pandemic has been devastating for many Southwest Connecticut communities, but this will help combat the economic havoc --and encourage growth and recovery. 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says these federal dollars will provide a robust boost to support state and local efforts to protect public health.

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Proposal to rename Danbury sewer plant not addressed by City Council

The Danbury City Council met last night, though they were not asked to approve a name change for the sewer plant. Mayor Mark Boughton advised that maybe in the next couple of weeks they'll deal with comedian John Oliver's offer to donate to 3 charities in exchange for what started out as a joke response to his knocks on Danbury.

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Canada goose rescued from net at Danbury High School

During last night's Danbury City Council meeting, the Fire Department detailed a recent animal rescue.  Firefighters received a call about a Canada goose ensnared in netting at Danbury High School.  The net separates a baseball field from the tennis courts. The goose was trapped between two layers of netting, about 25 feet from the ground.  A Fire Department ladder truck was deployed so firefighters could free the goose, which flew away with no visible injury.

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Brookfield: Over 3,000 cubic yards of debris collected from Tropical Storm Isaias

Brookfield Public Works employees collected over 3,000 cubic yards of debris and removed numerous damaged trees and limbs following last month's tropical storm. Cleanup is expected to continue through this month.

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Danbury Police, Fire, UNIT worked together to deal with overcrowding issue

Danbury Police, Fire and the UNIT have worked together to deal with an overcrowding issue.  Police were at the Chappelle Street property for a domestic issue and contacted the Fire Department about occupancy in the garage.  They then reached out to the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team.  UNIT coordinated a whole home inspection with the Fire Marhsal's Office and the property owner.  The garage occupancy was determined to be a violation of building and zoning regulations.  There was also a small apartment in the basement with two bedrooms, none of which were safe.  A  wall was being constructed to split the living room in half, and no permit had been on file for the work.  A stop work order was issued until a permit is obtained, but UNIT is encouraging a removal of the wall.

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New Milford buys brine machine to pre-treat roads in winter

The New Milford Department of Public Works has purchased a brine machine.  This will allow the Department to pre-treat the roads during winter storm events.  Mayor Pete Bass says it's an important snow-fighting strategy used in anticipation of storms when accumulating ice or snow is predicted.

If brine is applied before a winter storm, Bass says salt brine will begin working as soon as the first snowflake falls.  He adds that anti-icing returns street surfaces back to normal faster, resulting in fewer accidents and delays.  Bass says this will save the department time and money, making government operations more efficient. 

Bass says another benefit is that brine is more efficient than salt, which means there will be less cost to the municipality.  He noted that brine doesn’t bounce or blow of the road surface so the salt residue stays on the road, ready to work when precipitation begins.  It's also better for the environment. 

New Milford plans to sell excess brine to both other municipalities and contractors to help pay for the cost of the brine machine.

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Family wants mother of alleged killer transferred to another school

A petition is calling on the mother of a former Newtown man charged with killing two people to be transferred from her teaching position.  Jeannette Roderick Manfredonia is a biology teacher at Newtown High School. where the sister of one victim is set to attend tomorrow.  WTNH-TV reports that the family of Nick Eisele wants her removed from the same building as the incoming senior.  The district reportedly told them Manfredonia would have to voluntarily transfer to be reassigned.  Her son Peter is accused of killing Nick Eisele during a multi-state kidnapping and killing spree in May. The change.org petition has garnered thousands of signatures, but a counter petition supporting Mrs. Manfredonia described the long time teacher as beloved, patient and kind. Newtown Schools Superintendent Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue said in a written statement that while the district empathizes with the victims and their families, cannot comment on student or personnel matters.

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Fundraiser being held to benefit Nuvance Health employees

A fundraiser is being held this month to benefit Nuvance Health employees.  The Essential Race, a virtual race, will raise funds for 3 Connecticut hospitals to help essential workers impacted by the pandemic. Runners earn their medals by participating in a location of their choice.  Organizers of The Essential Race say these workers have gone through high levels of stress and trauma; from the nurses who helped their patients say goodbyes to their families to the doctors who pushed themselves to the brink of exhaustion working non-stop.  Race participants must register by September 20th. All competitors receive a race medal and t-shirt.

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New Fairfield students return to classroom today

New Fairfield students are returning to the classroom today.  With school buildings be back in use for the first time since March, there are some changes because of COVID-19 precautions.  The west high school driveway by the soccer fields is now the entrance for buses only.  Buses will enter the west driveway, drop off students and will exit together through the main driveway when all buses are empty.  Parents have been encouraged to drop off and pick up their children. This will increase traffic on Gillotti Road and at all school driveways.

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DEEP holds hearing on Aquarion Water request

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has held a hearing about a request from Aquarion Water Company to double the amount of water it pulls from the Greater Bridgeport System area to the southwest region.  This would move water from reservoirs in Easton and Redding, significant sources of drinking water for southern Fairfield County, sending it to Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan and Stamford. 

The permit would last 25 years.  The proposed activity includes the transfer of up to 14.2 million gallons per day between the Town of Wilton and the Town of New Canaan. 

DEEP has made no final or tentative decision regarding this application.  Once the application and the review is complete, DEEP will formally receive comment from the public. 

Interested parties may obtain digital copies of the application from Peter Galant, Vice President, Tighe & Bond, 1000 Bridgeport Avenue, Shelton, CT 06484 (203-712-1104). Questions may be directed to Doug Hoskins of DEEP’s Water Planning and Management Division at douglas.hoskins@ct.gov / 860-424-4192.

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Brookfield Water Pollution Control Authority plans sewers for Candlewood peninsula

The Brookfield Water Pollution Control Authority is planning to provide sewers for the Candlewood peninsula, the Pocono/Dean Road and Brookfield Market areas. These projects were delayed because a required public hearing couldn't be held due to COVID-19.  Meanwhile, the Sewer Commission reported that the system includes backup generators, both stationary and portable, that were able to maintain environmental integrity during the August 4th storm.  There were no spills or backups during the subsequent power outages at the pump stations.  The Authority was even able to provide backup power to the Brookfield police station when its generator failed.

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Danbury ramps up COVID-19 testing again this week

Danbury has ramped up COVID-19 testing again this week.  The free testing is from 3 to 5pm at Rogers Park Middle School.  Tomorrow they'll be at Broadview Middle School from 10am to 2pm.  Thursday testing is at Rogers Park from 3 to 5pm and Friday 10am to 2pm at Broadview Middle School.  This is being done by the Community Health Center on Delay Street and the Connecticut Institute for Communities on Main Street.  On Wednesday and Friday CIFIC will be tested in their back lot from 8:30am until the last car is tested.  People are asked to call 203-456-1413 for an appointment for a more efficient visit.

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New Milford Police tout Community Care Coordinator

Yesterday was International Overdose Awareness Day.  New Milford Police say there's been one confirmed overdose death this year with a second possible, pending medical results.  Between 2015-2020, over 5000 people have died in Connecticut from a drug overdose.  The Police Department has a Community Care Coordinator, Justin Cullmer, who helps to connect the family and victims to resources as quickly as possible.  Chief Spencer Cerruto says they are committed to addressing the issue of drug overdoses through a multi-pronged approach by not only cracking down on drug dealers and educating the community, but also by showing concern for addicts and a willingness to help those in need.

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Wilton wants PURA to investigate phone, cable co. response to tropical storm

The Connecticut Public Utility Regulatory Agency will hold hearings on October 21st, 22nd and 23rd as part of their investigation of Eversource’s preparation for and response to Tropical Storm Isaias.  Wilton has received Intervenor status and will take part in the hearings.  Residents can submit testimony.  Wilton is working with neighboring communities to request a similar investigation into Altice and Frontier’s preparation for and response related to cable and telephone services.  PURA isn’t authorized to conduct an investigation related to internet services. 

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New American Dream Foundation seeks donations for COVID-19 Hot Meal Program helping seniors

The New American Dream Foundation is looking for donations to continue to deliver meals to about 530 Danbury seniors and those with disabilities who in low-income housing communities.  The group is currently making deliveries twice a month on Saturdays.  A donation from the United Way of Western Connecticut covered August, but the nonprofit is hoping to continue the service through the end of the calendar year.  A once-a-month delivery schedule is planned beginning in the fall due to funding levels. Volunteers are also needed on distribution days 10:30am to noon.

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Danbury City Council needs to approve of sewer plant name change

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says the City is working on it.  That's his response to comedian John Oliver offering to donate $55,000 to Danbury-area charities, including $25,000 for teacher requests on Donors Chose, if the city renamed the sewer plant after him. If not, Oliver said he would make charitable donations to “rival” towns including Waterbury and Torrington. 

Boughton plans to release a response by the end of the week.

He said the City Council would have to approve any renaming of the sewage plant. The City Council is holding their regular monthly meeting tonight.  A new name for the sewer plant is not on their agenda, but could be discussed tonight as an add-on item.

He added that it's very generous, appreciated, and just a great distraction for people to get laughs.

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Region 15 schools reopen today

Today is the first day of school today for most students in Region 15’s four elementary schools, two middle schools and Pomperaug High School.  Kindergartners return to the classroom tomorrow.  Elementary and middle schools have all be in-person learning. Pomperaug High opens with a hybrid format --two days in school and three days with distance learning.  Masks are required, but separate rooms have been identified for “mask breaks” during the day.

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Putnam County Sheriff hosts regional De-Escalation Training

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department has continued to provide De-Escalation Training to Deputies through hands-on scenarios and via video instruction.  The Department recently hosted a Mental Health Awareness and De-Escalation seminar for other police agencies in Putnam County. The training focused on many aspects, but emphasized how an Officer’s own personal issues may influence their behavior when dealing with someone in a high-stress situation.  The training was attended by members of the Putnam County Emergency Response Team, supervisors of the Sheriff’s Department, the Town of Kent Police, Town of Carmel Police and the Village of Cold Spring Police Department.

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Eversource estimates Aug. bills due to severe weather challenges

When some Eversource customers got their August bills, they were faced with two surprises. One was that the higher deliver fee implemented in July wasn't suspended as the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority had ordered.  Eversource supposedly missed the deadline to get it off the bill. The other surprise, was that the supply side was on par with previous months despite not having power for 8 days. Eversource sent follow up letters saying due to the extensive damage from the tropical storm, they were unable to obtain usage information from the meter to calculate the bill and it was an estimate based on previous usage.  Once they are able to obtain a precise read form the meter, Eversource says they will adjust the account to reflect actual usage.

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Tanker Shuttle Drill held in New Milford

Multiple fire departments have participated in a Tanker Shuttle Drill in New Milford this weekend.  There was a large presence of Fire Apparatus on Boardman Road from MedInstill to O&G Quarry for the event on Sunday.  Since pressurized hydrants are scarce outside of the downtown fire district and Route 7 corridor, firefighters use tanker shuttles whenever there's a working fire in any other area of New Milford.

For the majority of Litchfield County, this is how water arrives at the fire scene. 

Water Witch Hose Engine 27 and Sherman’s Engine 3 established a water supply at the reservoir on the O&G property while Engine 24 and Northville’s Engine 4 supplied Tower 25 operating at the Medinstill Property. Tanker 28, joined by 8 Mutual Aid Tankers, hauled nearly 130,000 gallons of water in less than 2 hours time; allowing Tower 25 to maintain a flow of 1400 gpm for 90 minutes.  There are no fire hydrants in Sherman. 

Volunteer firefighters say if they need more water than can be carried to the scene on the firetrucks, members have to find a water source and then use tankers to shuttle the water from there to the fire scene.  

120,000 gallons in a 90 minute period is roughly equivalent to five average sized inground swimming pools.   

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Danbury Library now scheduling appointments

The Danbury Library is now scheduling appointments to use library computers, photocopy, fax, browse new titles, pick up holds, and connect with staff inside the library.  Appointments can be scheduled online or by calling the library at 203-797-4505.  There are 1 hour appointments for most of the newly reopened services, with half hour appointments for photocopying and faxing.  Patrons will be checked in for appointments at the Bank Street Entrance.  One person will be   admitted per appointment, and if visitors are more than 10 minutes late, they will have to call to be let in.  Appointments will not be extended if someone is running late.. One visiting appointment and one library technology appointment may be made per day.  The Junior Floor is still undergoing renovation.  The new shelving is currently being installed and once the collection is fully unpacked and on the new shelves, the library will be able to allow reservations for pickup

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