Local Headlines Archives for 2020-10

New Fairfield Library closes as a precaution due to family COVID-19 positive test

A household member of a New Fairfield Library employee has tested positive for COVID-19.  Out of an abundance of caution, the Library is closed until Monday, November 9th.  The Director of Health believes that the risk of close contact between the employee and patrons is very low and does not feel that patrons need to quarantine or be tested, unless they exhibit symptoms.   

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Danbury Police not handing out candy for Halloween

Due to the challenging nature of this year’s pandemic, Danbury Police will not be handing out candy at the police station this year as has been done in the past.  Police are also reminding residents of safe trick-or-treating this year, discouraging people from giving out candy at the door, instead placing candy outside.  Anyone who decides to opt out this year, should leave the outside light off and police asked that people respect the decision of homeowners.

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NY law enforcement to step up DWI patrols this Halloween

The Putnam County Sheriff, Carmel Police Acting Chief and Kent Police Chief say their agencies are participating in a special enforcement effort to crack down on impaired driving this Halloween.  When it comes to drunk driving, Sheriff Robert Langley says Halloween can turn the roads into a horror fest.  The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts started last night and will end on Sunday. Research shows that high visibility enforcement can reduce impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent.

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Danbury Museum selling John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant swag to benefit food pantries

The Danbury Museum & Historical Society is getting in on the joke.  In cooperation with the City, they're selling John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant swag.  The museum's online store has mugs, tees, totes, hoodies, and stickers among other items.  The profits from all sales benefit the Danbury Museum and the Danbury Food Collaborative.

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New Milford Board of Ed appoints interim Superintendent

The New Milford Board of Education has appointed a new interim superintendent.  Alisha DiCorpo will lead the district while the board looks for a permanent replacement.  The last day for current interim Superintendent Paul Smotas is today.  The Board of Ed is looking to hire someone to permanently fill the role by February. Smotas started in August and intended to leave in December, but personal family matters out of state necessitated him leaving early. DiCorpo joined New Milford Public Schools in 2016.

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Water main break causes issues in Danbury

There was a water main break in Danbury yesterday afternoon that caused issues for residents on 10 streets.  The break happened on Merrimac Street near Peace Street.  The repair took about 5 hours to complete.  The affected area included Merrimac St, Victor St, Peace St, hobson St, Lee Ave, Belmont St, Belmont Circle, Perkins St, So Well Ave.  Parts of Lake Ave experienced discolored water as well.  Crews flushed hydrants in the area to alleviate any discolored water once the water main repair was completed and water service returned to all customers.

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Newtown Town Clerk has different hours leading up to Election Day

The Newtown Town Clerk's office has special hours of operation for regular business and issuing absentee ballots tomorrow.  The Newtown Town Clerk will be in the office from 9am to noon.  The office will be closed Monday and Tuesday for non-election in person business.  There is a statutory exception for marriage licenses and funeral home business, which will require in-advance appointments.  All other Town Clerk business in Newtown must be done either by mail or placed in the Drop Box window by the tax office.  This change is being done to allow employees to process, issue, and receive an unprecedented amount of absentee ballots for Election.

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Ethan Allen: Fiscal 1Q Earnings Snapshot

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) _ Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. (ETH) on Thursday reported fiscal first-quarter profit of $9.4 million.

On a per-share basis, the Danbury, Connecticut-based company said it had profit of 37 cents. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, were 36 cents per share.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 35 cents per share.

The home furnishings company posted revenue of $151.1 million in the period, which met Street forecasts.

Ethan Allen shares have fallen 13% since the beginning of the year. In the final minutes of trading on Thursday, shares hit $16.62, a decline of 16% in the last 12 months.

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Bethel Town Clerk clarifies little used election law information

The Secretary of the State issued a tweet saying that people who are quarantined can call the town clerk for an emergency absentee ballot that can be hand delivered to you on election day. 

Bethel Town Clerk Lisa Bergh says Denise Merrill needs to clarify the statement because that's not exactly the case. The Town Clerk explained on Facebook what an emergency ballot is and how to obtain one. 

A person who has an unforeseen illness or finds themselves hospitalized within 6 days of an election may request an “Emergency Absentee Ballot”. This involves choosing a “designee” to come to the Town Clerk's office to pickup an Application, appoint this “designee”and sign the application. The “designee” brings that back to the Town Clerk, who may issue an Absentee Ballot.  The “designee” brings the ballot to the sick person to vote and then the “designee” returns that ballot.

Meanwhile, a robo call went out last night by the Bethel Republican Town Committee informing voters that they can withdraw their Absentee Ballot, if they've changed their mind on the candidates, by going to the Town Clerks office by 5 PM Friday. The Bethel Municipal Center remains closed to the public and appointments must be made for any business taking place. The normal business hours on Fridays are 8AM to noon. 

By this morning, the Bethel Town Clerk was awaiting procedure information from the Secretary of the State.

The little used law does allow anyone to withdraw their absentee ballot by 5pm on the Friday before the election, and then vote in person the following Tuesday.

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Freshman lawmaker challenged by former First Selectman in 24th state Senate district

A freshman lawmaker is being challenged by a former First Selectman in the 24th state Senate district, which includes Danbury, part of Bethel, New Fairfield, and Sherman.  Democratic incumbent Julie Kushner faces a challenge from Republican Susan Chapman.

Kushner is touting her record during the past two years in accomplishing campaign promises.  She cited the new Paid Family Medical Leave program, an increase in the state minimum wage, and gun safety bills.  Chapman decided to run because she believes the legislature needs more people with municipal experience who understand the impact on cities and towns of the decisions that are made at the capitol.  Her priorities include repealing the police bill, getting a proposed charter school in Danbury funded and making the state affordable again.

Kushner says she was personally involved in helping the Governor establish safe store reopening plans.  While the session ended early, she says the work didn't end.  During that time back in the district, Kushner says she helped people get unemployment benefits, worked with the United Way to help people get needed medicine and other related issues.  She wants to focus next session on protecting residents and employees of long term care facilities and plan for the economic recovery.  Chapman says most people are happy with how the Governor has handled the pandemic.  She called for more guidance on how businesses can move forward and get people back to work. 

Kushner touted more funding being included in the biennium budget for the Danbury school system.  She also was pleased that the legislature voted in special session on school funding requests for Danbury and New Fairfield.  Chapman supports a proposed charter school in Danbury.  She notes that the Prospect School has a donor willing to give $25 million to get the facility up and running. 

As Vice Chair of the Environment Committee, Kushner says she wants to continue advocating for Candlewood Lake.  In 2019 she helped pass an Invasive Species Stamp bill that will direct funding to efforts to fight invasive species.  She notes that there was so much use of the water this summer and the Lake Authority now needs to replace two vessels.  That also brought quality of life complaints for shoreline residents. She wants to address noise on the lake.  Chapman wants the shoreline towns to follow their septic plans.  She touted New Fairfield's successful septic walk over program.  She says towns water management programs also need to be followed. 

The candidates both oppose tolling.  Kushner feels infrastructure is important to address in the next session, but doesn't see the toll issue coming back.  Kushner says the state needs to be strategic about economic development, and infrastructure makes sure Connecticut can function. Chapman says the money meant for the Special Transportation Fund needs to actually make it into that lockbox.

With more people working from home, there's lower demand for Metro North, but Kushner says progress should be made to make the commute safer. She commuted for many years and supports measures to make transportation as safe as possible.  Chapman says anything to improve public transportation is worth looking into.  She would support measures to improve rail travel in the state.

Chapman doesn't think total repeal of the police accountability bill is feasible and acknowledged that having more training for officer isn't a bad portion of the bill.  She wants to look at qualified immunity.  She called it an added cost to the town to insure officers.  Chapman thinks it's a backdoor way to defund the police because of unfunded mandates.  Kushner met with a number of Police Chiefs and police union members about the accountability bill passed in special session.  If there are changes that are needed, there will be an opportunity in the next session to accomplish that.  She wants a bill that works for everyone and believes the measure was done in good faith.

On the utility accountability bill, Kushner says she was pleased with the bill that passed in special session.  She is glad that PURA will have more authority over rate increases.  Kushner was outspoken about the Eversource response to the region after the August tropical storm.  Chapman wants to find a way to make electricity more affordable because it's not a luxury.  She says lawmakers need to be more aware of the laws they pass so it doesn't boomerang back on ratepayers, citing the Eversource reasoning behind the summer rate hike that they were required to contract to buy power from the Millstone Power Station.  Chapman also wants to cap executive pay and hold utilities accountable when there's long response time to storms.

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Bethel identified as COVID-19 'orange community'

Bethel has been identified as an orange community based on the number of cases, meaning Bethel's rate of COVID-19 infection has risen above 10 new cases per day per 100,000 population.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker called it a troubling trend. Through contact tracing, health officials know the main sources of these increases in infection transmissions.  They include gatherings where people have become less diligent about distancing and mask-wearing, sporting events, and within families.  If the rate of infections continues to rise, Knickerbocker says the result may be that some restrictions that had recently been relaxed will need to be put back in place.  He says this virus does not care how much we trust our closest friends and family--if one person gets it, they will transmit it quickly to the rest of the group.

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Danbury, New Milford Hospitals limiting visitation due to COVID-19 spike in region

There has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in the Greater Danbury communities. Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital are limiting visitation out of an abundance of caution, to safeguard patients and staff.  Effective today, no visitors are allowed for any inpatients at Danbury Hospital or New Milford Hospital unless extenuating circumstances apply. Sharon Adams, President of the hospitals, says together everyone can reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19 throughout the community.  She reminded people to wear a mask in public, limit group gatherings with non-household members, wash hands frequently throughout the day, and stay home if not feeling well.  Adams also encouraged people to get tested if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19.

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Ridgefield Social Services: deadline for Eversource COVID-19 payment plan approaches

Ridgefield Social Services Department is reminding people about the upcoming deadline for Eversource's COVID-19 payment plan.  The deadline is November 1st.  Anyone who is having  trouble paying their energy bill during this time, missed payments or have a past due balance can arrange to set up a plan in order to prevent service interruption.  There is no down payment, no interest.  People will have up to 24 months to pay off the balance.  Additional financial assistance is available for low-income households.  Eversource customers can log into their accounts to check eligibility and select a plan up to 19 months.

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Newtown partners with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The town of Newtown has partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on an event being held next Thursday, November 5th.  Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in Connecticut.  The organization says at times life can be hard, with or without a pandemic.  They have an educational program called Talk Saves Lives, which covers the scope of this leading cause of death, what research has found to be the common risk factors, warning signs for suicide, and strategies that can help save lives. Registration is required.  There will be two presentations, both at 6:30pm.  In addition to Thursday, there's one on the 19th.  A Zoom link will be sent via email prior to the presentation time.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal and Superintendent of Schools Lorrie Rodrigue will deliver opening remarks.  Each presentation is limited to 50 people.  There will be a Q&A session at the end of each presentation.

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Newtown delays return of upper grades, Ridgefield elementary COVID case possible

The Newtown School District has delayed the return of upper grades to a full schedule until after Thanksgiving due to a rise in COVID-19 cases. 

In a letter to parents, Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue said the Monday date for students in grades 7 through 12 to return to class full-time would be delayed until the end of the month.  Upper grades will remain on a hybrid schedule.  Kindergarten through 6th grade, who began attending class full-time in the beginning of the month, are not impacted by the delay because it's easier to contain them in groups. 

Meanwhile, a suspected case of coronavirus has been detected in a Ridgefield elementary school.  A potential case at Branchville Elementary School was identified yesterday.  Some students were sent home as a precaution, but due to cohorting it wasn't necessary to close the school.

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Two Kent restaurants investigated for COVID-19 protocol violations

Once restaurants and businesses reopened in Connecticut, officials urged consumers to be careful, and if they see violations of coronavirus protocols, to report it to local health officials.  The Torrington Area Health District says two Kent businesses were found to be in violation.  The Newstimes reports that an investigation was launched into Cozzy’s Pizzeria and Kent Pizza Garden after complaints were filed in June and October, respectively.  Violations included an employee not wearing a mask, lack of COVID regulation signs and non-single use containers.  During subsequent inspections to Cozzy's, no more complaints were found. A second inspection at Kent Pizza Garden found the same violations, but the restaurant closed for a deep clean and complied with all other requests that day.

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Danbury Fire Marshal to give away smoke alarm batteries

This is the time of year that Greater Danbury area fire departments remind residents to change Smoke Alarm batteries.  Sunday at 2am is when the clocks change for Daylight Saving Time.  The Danbury Fire Marshal's Office will be giving away free 9 volt batteries on Saturday at Fire headquarters from 9am to 1pm. This is a drive-thru pickup in the south parking lot and masks required.

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New Milford Registrars don't expect long wait if there are Election Day lines

The New Milford Registrars of Voters are addressing some questions about the absentee ballot drop box. They say the box is cemented to the ground and is locked so there's no cause for concern about ballot thefts. They also note that there are cameras positioned toward the drop box. Some of the concern stemmed from arson of ballot boxes in Boston.  There have been long lines of people in New York, voters waiting several hours to cast a ballot.  On Election Day in Connecticut, the Registrars don't foresee that happening.  They say from the time someone enters a polling location, to the time they leave, it shouldn't take more than half an hour--even if there's a line.

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Bethel Town Clerk already received back most absentee ballots

To date, the Bethel Town Clerk has issued about 4,100 absentee ballots.  Most have been returned, with 756 still out.  The Bethel Town Clerk asked that people return their absentee ballot as soon as possible, as they must be received by 8pm on Tuesday in order to be counted.  A drop box is located at the main entrance to the Municipal Center.  In Bethel, all polling places will be open on Election Day.  Town officials have received many calls from residents asking if they will be able to vote in their usual location on Tuesday.  Polls will be open from 6am to 8pm.  Strict safety and cleaning protocols will be in place to protect poll workers as well as those voting. All voters are asked to wear a mask and maintain proper social distancing while inside the building.

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New Fairfield can't collect absentee ballots at poll locations Tuesday

For Tuesday's election, New Fairfield will have all of the usual polling locations open.  All absentee ballots received by the Town Clerk’s Office by the close of polls on Election Day will be counted.  Any New Fairfield resident who received an absentee ballot but have not returned it to the Town Clerk’s Office may vote in person.  Residents are asked not bring the absentee ballot to the polling places though.  Absentee ballots cannot be collected at the polls.

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City Councilman looks to unseat state lawmaker in 138th House District

Two men are vying to represent the 138th state House district, which includes parts of Danbury, New Fairfield and Ridgefield.  Incumbent Democrat Ken Gucker is being challenged by Republican City Councilman Emile Buzaid. 

Gucker says he was disappointed the last session was cut short, because he was working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle on Bryan Cody's Law which would have dealt with opioid addiction.  Buzaid says his priorities, if elected, include rolling back the police accountability bill.

Gucker says everyone is in it together in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.  He thinks Governor Lamont has done a decent job and wants to see the state continue having one of the lowest infection rates in the nation.  Buzaid says health is every important, but the state's economic health needs to be taken into account.  He says the cure shouldn't be worse than the disease. 

The candidates agree for the most part about making utilities more ratepayer friendly.  Gucker says he wants to see a cap on executive pay.  He called the delivery charge increase this summer insulting considering the storm response that followed.  Buzaid says what happened this summer was unacceptable.  He called for fines levied by the state on the power company.

On the police accountability bill, Gucker says there was middle ground considering the police weren't happy and others thought it didn't go far enough.  He says the police unions have focused on the qualified immunity portion.  He touted the portion that expanded psychological help for officers, training and funding for body cameras.  Buzaid says there are too many unintended consequences.  He says it will cost municipalities more in training costs and to buy equipment with the ban on getting old military infrastructure.

Gucker wants to expand voting opportunity for residents.  He was disappointed that the Senate didn't vote with enough of a majority to put a constitutional change on the ballot that would eventually open up early voting.  Buzaid says he'd be open to no-excuse absentee balloting.  He says voting should be taken seriously, but can be opened up so residents can cast a ballot in a timely manner.

When it comes to affordable housing and the state's 8-30g law, Gucker says a developer shouldn't be able to ignore local zoning laws.  He wants neighbors to have a say on what the community looks like.  But he says more than 10-percent of 8-30g developments isn't enough incentive to increase affordable housing.  Right now he says it's a windfall for developers and suggested the minimum be 30-percent of all units.  Buzaid says municipalities should maintain control over what's happening, because every municipality is different.  But he says there should be more affordable housing in the state.

On fixing the state's fiscal picture, Gucker touted the growing Rainy Day Fund and paying off pension liability. But he called for the state to invest in infrastructure like updating decades old computer systems for the Labor Department and Motor Vehicles.  Having been in business for over 50 years, Buzaid says the state should only spend what it takes in.  He says more efficient disbursement of funds is needed because the tax rate is too high.

Both candidates oppose tolls and agree that money designated for transportation projects should be used for those designated projects.  Gucker says there was a lot of misinformation on both sides of the issue

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Danbury COVID positivity metrics nearly double in a week

The City of Danbury now meets the red alert metrics for both the municipality and the schools.  The positivity test rate has doubled from last week from 3-percent to 5.7 percent.

The Community Health Center is collaborating with the City of Danbury to offer free COVID-19 testing at Price Rite's side parking lot on Main Street tomorrow.  Testing will be done from 9am to noon. Testing will also be held on Sunday at City Hall from 10am to 1pm.

Danbury officials are reminding residents about a form available on the City's website to report COVID-19 regulation violations confidentially.  Mayor Mark Boughton says it's helpful when people send photos on social media, but should also provide more details using the form.  The Health Department is following up to ensure proper protocols are followed. 

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

For the court orders to shut non-compliant businesses down, Boughton says they will physically put a chain across the door.  While he believes the response is heavy handed and doesn't like doing it, Boughton says they have visited multiple times and the behavior hasn't changed.

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Police to patrol Deer Hill Ave on Halloween,

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is urging restaurants and other establishments not to hold Halloween parties and happy hours this year.  He also encouraged one-way trick or treating by leaving candy outside homes and using the honor system. 

Boughton says there will be police on Deer Hill Avenue on Halloween checking to see if people are residents of the street.  Traditionally thousands of trick or treaters turn out in the area, but that's being discouraged this year. 

Boughton says if someone doesn't live there, they will be turned away.

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Ridgefield First Selectman discouraging traditional Halloween activities

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi is strongly discouraging traditional Halloween activities, such as trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating, indoor haunted houses, costume parties, or any other social gatherings for Halloween.  The Spooktacular Drive-Thru Halloween Event hosted by the police department is full to capacity with reservations.  Anyone attending must remain in their vehicles.  Marconi asked that people continue practicing COVID-19 protocols like wearing facemasks, social distancing and good hand hygiene.  He added that it's important for businesses and nonprofits to continue to post Covid-19 safety guidelines as a reminder.

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Eversource tp replace existing transmission structures in Newtown, Monroe

Eversource will be replacing existing transmission structures in Newtown and Monroe.  The utility says this is being done as part of routine efforts to deliver reliable energy through maintenance efforts.  The line structure replacement project includes replacing the existing, aged and damaged wood transmission structures with new steel ones.  They will also install new communication and grounding wire on top of the existing structures.  That is meant to enable communication between Eversource substations.  All of the work will take place within the existing right of way between the Sandy Hook Substation and the Stevenson Substation.  Preliminary work will be done next month and in December, structure replacement is slated for January, and line installation will be done in January and February.  The project should be complete by Spring. 

 

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Brookfield Senior Center collecting Thanksgiving menu items for Food Pantry

Brookfield Senior Center will be collecting Thanksgiving menu items to donate to the Brookfield Food Pantry, like canned pumpkin, stuffing mix and turkey gravy. Turkeys cannot be accepted.  Residents can drop donation at the collection table, located at the door to the right of Town Hall's front entrance, on November 20th.  Last year, Brookfield Social Services helped to feed over 160 residents - 110 children and 50 adults - during the holiday.

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CT reopens Temporary Rental Assistance program

The Connecticut Housing Finance Authority has reopened their Temporary Rental Assistance program.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the state created the program to respond to housing issues associated with COVID-19.  New requests for assistance may now be submitted. In order to determine if families meet qualifications, Threshold Eligibility information may be submitted in one of two ways.  A questionnaire can be completed online, or there is a phone number to speak with a representative to walk you through the questionnaire, and submit it live while you are on the phone.  www.chfa.org/trhap/ or 1-860-785-311, Monday through Friday, between 8am and 5pm. 

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Family displaced by a fire in Danbury

A family has been displaced by a fire in Danbury.  The blaze was reported on Driftway Road early yesterday morning.  Firefighters from New Fairfield also responded while Ridgefield provided station coverage.  Eversource also responded to the scene.  No injuries were reported, but the family was checked at the scene for smoke inhalation.  The Red Cross is assisting 3 adults and 2 children. The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Danbury Fire Marshal’s Office.

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New York State Police hosting child passenger safety seat clinic

New York State Police will be hosting a child passenger safety seat event next month in Mahopac.  Child safety seat technicians will be on hand to assist with the installation of seats and answer any questions.  An appointment will be necessary for the event.  Appointments will be available on November 4th from 3pm to 7pm.  The clinic will be held at the Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department on Route 6.  Appointments can be made by contacting Sergeant Anderson at (845) 677-7334 or via email at ktraffic@troopers.ny.gov

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Bethel Fire Department launches veteran fundraiser

Veteran's Day is fast approaching, and the Bethel Fire Department has members who have honorably served in the military.  As a salute to them, they're selling a limited edition Bethel Fire Department Veteran's T-shirt.  A portion of the proceeds will go to Mission22, an organization dedicated to supporting service men and women once they return home, and lowering the veteran suicide rate.  Shirts are $25 and can be reserved by emailing us at memberdirector@bvfdinc.com.  A link to an online store to pick up orders is expected soon.

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Brookfield firefighters caution drivers to slick roads with wet leaves

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is cautioning drivers to slick roadways over the next 24 hours with heavy rain and leaves in the street. They asked that drivers give ample space between you and the car in front of you as stopping distances may be longer with wet leaves.

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Commemorative Suffragist 'I Voted' stickers in Conn. this year

2 million Commemorative Suffragist 'I Voted' stickers have been distributed to Connecticut's 169 cities and towns.  The project was initiated by Wilton resident Pamela Hovland, a graphic designer and Yale University faculty member.  The Secretary of the State's Office has also made digital versions of the stickers available.  Hovland worked with Newtown resident Julie Hughes, who works in Wilton Library’s history room, and Peggy Reeves, a member of the Wilton League of Women Voters who is a consultant for the secretary of the state’s office.

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Danbury steps up enforcement of COVID-19 regulations at businesses

There's been a lot of arguing and vitriol on Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton's Facebook page lately when he announced COVID-19 numbers for the City.  That's why, starting next week, the statistics will only be posted to the City's website. 

Boughton says he knows people want to get back to normal, but in order for that to happen people have to follow the state's guidance.  He knows it's tiring and tedious to wear a mask, but notes that people aren't wearing the masks as vigilantly as they used to. 

Boughton also reminded people to properly dispose of their masks, and not litter the streets with the medical waste.

On Sunday there were five Danbury residents diagnosed with COVID, 45 on Monday and 21 yesterday.  That's the highest daily number since the spring.  Over the course of the previous week, 163 new cases were reported. 

Boughton acknowledged that the school's distance learning decision came late, but says they wanted to wait until the last minute to see if the numbers would trend back down.  17 staff members also had to quarantine.  He says it might have been better if the district put out word on Wednesday that the numbers were starting to spike up.  Boughton says more communication is always better than less communication. 

A new date to return has not been set.

Acting Health Director Kara Prunty is stepping up enforcement of state regulations in businesses, potentially issuing injunctions and temporary restraining orders so they don't open.  Boughton says the Department is working on one closure notice and if the business doesn't comply, the City will take the establishment to court and get an order to make them close.  He says this is being done because they're a menace to the public health of the City. 

He added that enforcement action is never the first step and businesses are given advice, warnings and other chances to voluntarily comply with COVID-19 prevention measures.

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After two decades, the 111th House district to get new state representative

After two decades, the 111th House district of Ridgefield will get a new state representative.  John Frey, who was first elected in 1998, is not seeking reelection in November.  Republican Selectman Bob Hebert and Democrat Aimee Berger-Girvalo recently took part in a League of Women Voters debate. 

Hebert chaired the Ridgefield Housing Authority, is a member of CERT, coached hockey, softball and baseball, and spent 10 years on Wall Street.  He owns and manages a private equity fund.  Berger-Girvalo was operations manager for Hard Rock Cafe International and Gap, and worked as an instructional para-educator in Ridgefield Public Schools, and as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist, providing in-home and in-school behavioral and educational services to children on the Autism Spectrum.

On the 8-30g affordable housing statute, Hebert says there is some merit to the law, but the 10 percent minimum unit requirement is unachievable in Ridgefield.  He says the town has done good a job in getting affordable units, but not all of the homes are deed restricted and therefore do not qualify.  Hebert called for keeping zoning decisions local.  Berger-Girvalo says the law does a great job in serving big developers and real estate investors and doesn't help bring those who work in the community to live in the community.  She says seniors are very concerned about how they will be able to age in place.

The police accountability bill was addressed.  Berger-Girvalo says she supports the local police department and called for everyone to take a breath and get this right.  She maintains that the most important piece is bringing communities to the table.  Berger-Girvalo says officers can still objectively perform in good faith.  Hebert says additional and ongoing training and police body cameras are good things.  But he says the way the bill was done in Special Session with limited public input, didn't leave time to analyze the implications of the bill. 

Hebert says there's no silver bullet to correct the state's fiscal woes.  He says there's been decades of unchallenged spending.  He called for a reduction in state mandates and a rollback of unfunded mandates on municipalities.  Hebert wants to put sunset rules on some financial-related laws so they don't stay on the books for a long period of time.  Berger-Girvalo says there is no easy answer, but the state can't look at just short-term solutions.  She wants to close tax loopholes and says there are a lot of 1-percenters in the state who are not contributing in the way that working class people are contributing.  Berger-Girvalo suggested cost sharing, opportunities for consolidating and bringing in new revenue through new industries.

The candidates were asked about whether the state legislature should try again to implement no-excuse absentee voting.  Berger-Girvalo says she supports any legislation that secures voting rights.  Hebert agreed that he would support voting laws that ensure every eligible individual has an easy way to vote.

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Bethel First Selectman adds 4th item to pandemic reminder list

In addition to the now routine reminders to people to wear a mask, socially distance and practice good hand hygiene, a local elected official is adding a 4th reminder to that list. Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker is calling on people to stay home if feeling ill.  He says the days of “toughing out” a cold or “sweating it out” at the gym need to be a thing of the past. One of the reasons for the increase in COVID-19 cases that Bethel is seeing today is from people who thought they were experiencing nothing more than a cold or a seasonal allergy and continued about their daily business. It turned out to be COVID-19, allowing the virus to gain a foothold in their family and start to spread.

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New Fairfield encourages one-way trick-or-treating

As COVID-19 infection numbers continue to trend upwards in New Fairfield, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco asked that residents follow State Department of Public Health guidelines for Halloween activities.  The town's Health Director asks that people participate in “one-way” trick or treating by preparing grab and go goodie bags to be place outside the home for Trick or Treaters, and wash hands for at least 20 seconds before and after preparing the bags.

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Annual Halloween Walk in Ridgefield cancelled, Spooktacular Drive-Thru still on

The annual Halloween Walk in Ridgefield has been cancelled. The Spooktacular Drive-Thru Halloween Event at the Lounsbury House will still take place on Halloween from 10am to 2pm, sponsored by the Ridgefield Police Department and the Ridgefield Theater Barn. The event is open to Ridgefield residents only and requires pre-registration.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says it's important to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19.  He asked that people keep wearing a mask, in all public spaces whether on sidewalks, in common areas, while shopping or at sporting events.  With the holidays, families look to have gatherings, but Marconi says that increases the chance of spreading COVID.  He asked that residents consider themselves and others in the community by rethinking holiday plans.

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Nuvance Health CEO expects second COVID-19 peak in mid-January

The next surge of coronavirus in Connecticut will be more manageable, according to one local doctor.  Nuvance Health CEO Dr John Murphy says the next peak is expected in mid-January, but he notes that health care workers have learned to treat the disease.  Now when patients arrive, they’re given anti-coagulant medication early as they're at a higher risk of potentially fatal blood clotting.

He says the percentage of people testing positive back in March, April and May who were under age 18 was 4 percent, now it's a quarter of everyone testing positive.  Murphy added that the average person admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 in May and June stayed about two weeks, and now it's just under 7 days.  He says they also have fewer comorbidities.

Murphy noted that with he holidays coming, there is a tendency for people to gather, potentially with out-of-state visitors.  He warned of a second peak in mid-January.  Murphy says the prediction is based on six different models after the second wave in the fall and winter.  Murphy says the state is in for a “tough winter.”

The state has seen a steady uptick in cases of COVID-19 recently, but the average of those testing positive is 2.2 percent.

He notes that many more individuals are wearing masks. Even if you are going to get sick, Murphy says it is likely you get less severely ill because the size of the viral exposure is significantly reduced by wearing a mask.

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28th state Senate District candidates square off in repeat of 2018 contest

The candidates vying for the 28th state Senate District seat are looking to represent Newtown and other southern Fairfield County towns.  Republican incumbent Tony Hwang is being challenged by Democrat Michelle McCabe, who unsuccessfully challenged him two years ago.  They recently took part in a candidate forum hosted by the Newtown Bee. 

Hwang says there are ways to make Connecticut affordable for seniors to retire here, and attractive for young people to move to the state.  Hwang says people are moving away from urban centers and business recruitment needs to happen.  But he says the key is to attract workforce talent.  McCabe Connecticut is not friendly to businesses because of the permitting process.  She says it needs to be streamlined, with a renewed focus on a skilled workforce.  She also advocated for a public-private partnership with student loan forgiveness.

When it comes to getting the state's fiscal house in order, Hwang says Connecticut has the highest unfunded pension liability in the country, per capita. He wants to find a way to pay down that debt while honoring the commitment that past legislatures have made.  He notes that the other critical factor is helping small businesses.  McCabe agreed that workforce development is important and called for benefits reform.

The pair also addressed the pandemic.  Hwang says the public health concern, but the economic fallout was devastating.  He says any decision needs to rely on the science, but there has to be a plan to take progressive steps to reopen.  He called for a bipartisan collaboration on the work ahead.  McCabe says the state should help businesses to prepare to pivot.  She notes that a lot has been learned since March and that should be applied to building an infrastructure to help businesses.

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Ridgefield Police investigate three business break ins

Three breaking and entering incidents have been reported in Ridgefield.  Police say burglars forced entry by breaking a door window and unlocking the door of three businesses--two on Main Street and one on West Lane.  The incidents happened in the early morning hours Sunday into Monday.  The cash registers at two businesses were removed and cash was taken from the other business.  Police say anywhere from 100 to 200 dollars was taken from each.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Ryan at 203-431-2794 or the department’s tip line at 203-431-234.

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New Fairfield to hold in person registration

Today is the last day to register to vote in Connecticut before Election Day.  New Fairfield will have in person registration from 9am to 8pm.  Residents are asked to wear a mask and go to the window just to the right of the front door at Town Hall.  Anyone who wants to register should bring a form of identification and a pen.  There will be a limited registration session in New Fairfield on Monday, November 2nd from 9AM to 5PM for those who turned 18 years of age, became a US citizen or moved to Connecticut after today's date.  This session is also available to members of the armed services who were discharged in the past year.  Election Day Registration will be available at New Fairfield Town Hall from 6am to 8pm on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd.

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REdding Registrar holds registration session

The Redding Registrar of Voters will be holding a registration session today from 9am to 8pm, by appointment only.  In order to register to vote, residents must have proof of residency and proof of citizenship such as a driver’s license, passport, birth certificate or social security card.  Mail in registrations postmarked after the 27th and online registrations will not be processed.  Those turning 18 years old after tomorrow, but before November 3rd, may apply at the Registrar’s office on a daily basis until the opening of the next limited session on November 2nd, from 9am to 5pm.

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Newtown Police investigating two more Zoom hacks

A virtual assembly of Newtown High School freshmen and their advisers was Zoom bombed.  Newtown Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue said in a letter to parents over the weekend that hackers used the n-word and other hate speech.  She called incidents like these not only disruptive, but highly offensive to students and staff.  The Newtown Non-Profit Council also experienced Zoom bombing last week, again with racist hate speech.  Newtown Police Chief James Viadero says these latest incidents, coupled with the Newtown constituent meeting featuring Congresswoman Jahana Hayes are an apparent coordinated hack.  All three are under investigation. 

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Danbury bar owner arrested again for violating public health emergency policies

A Danbury bar has been cited for a third time for violating public health emergency orders.  35-year old Erika Fajardo-Sumba, owner of La Costeñita Bar & Restaurant on Ives Street, was arrested on Friday on a warrant from a June 30 licensed business inspection.  Danbury Police say officers went to inspect the Ives Street establishment but were denied access.  Police say the doors were locked and the employees turned the lights off, but they could see people drinking inside the bar.  That's a violation of Governor Lamont’s coronavirus pandemic restrictions.  Police also referred the matter to state liquor control.  Fajardo-Sumba was also charged twice over Fourth of July weekend for “multiple violations” including employees not wearing masks, tables too close together, lack of partitions at the bar, and people drinking without food being ordered at the bar. 

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Brewster Fire Department responds to first chimney fire of the season

The Brewster Fire Department responded to the first chimney fire of the season last night.  No injuries were reported and damage was kept to a minimum.  The Brewster Fire Department recommends chimneys be inspected and cleaned annually by a certified chimney sweep before lighting your first fire of the season. The reason to clean a chimney is to not only remove a build up of soot and creosote, but also debris such as twigs, leaves, birds nests and whatever else may have found its way into the chimney.

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Bethel's COVID-19 case load is beginning to rise

Bethel’s COVID-19 case load is beginning to rise. While still not near the level to threaten business closures, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says this is not where the town should be.  Since last week’s reporting period, Bethel’s daily case rate climbed to 6.9 new cases per 100,000residents, up from 4.9 the week before.Knickerbocker says practically anyone you come in contact with, unless they have been quarantined for the proper amount of time, has the potential to have contracted the virus unknowingly, and can spread it to you unknowingly.

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Redding Police locate 'trespasser'

The Redding Police Department responded to a reported four-legged trespasser on a property this weekend. The suspect in question was a horse.  Officer Livingston was able to quickly find and locate the animal, which was safely escorted home.

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Monroe firefighters to host drive up Trick or Treat event

This Halloween, Monroe Volunteer Fire Department is inviting parents to bring the kids to their drive up Trick or Treat event at the Route 110 fire station.  Families will be handed a pre-packaged treat bag. Kids dressed as a firefighter get a special bonus.  The event is on Halloween from 6:30pm to 8pm, while supplies last.

The Monroe Volunteer Fire Department has created a 13-minute video for children that gives them a virtual tour of the fire truck and equipment.  They also provide age-appropriate fire safety tips. Hosted by over a dozen of our volunteer firefighters, the fire company says its a great way to wrap up Fire Prevention month while they've had to put off school and daycare center visits.
https://youtu.be/RklQKD0tZwI

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Hazard buoys to be removed from Candlewood Lake

The Candlewood Lake Authority is removing the hazard buoys from the water.  Anyone who is still out on Candlewood is asked to use cautioning while navigating the waters during the off seasons.

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Brookfield firefighters remove Marine 25 from service for the winter

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Candlewood Company has wrapped up the first boating season of the new Marine 25 vessel.  It was taken out of the water for its yearly maintenance and to be put in storage until next spring.  Fire company officials say this year has been the busiest year on the lake in recent memory and say accepting delivery of the new Marine 25 last year was very fortunate.  This year covered the gamut of fires, water rescues, and dive calls with the Brookfield Police Department.  Their smaller boat, Marine 24 which is housed at Candlewood Company, stays in service all year. During the winter months, Candlewood Company firefighters continue to train on ice rescue tactics for emergencies that occur on Candlewood Lake and Lake Lillinonah year round.

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Danbury cracks down on house parties, trick-or-treating

Danbury is cracking down on house parties.  The State has clarified that under Phase 3, private house parties whether they are indoor or outdoor, are limited to 25 people.  The City has had a large number of house parties reported this past weekend. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says the police and Health Departments will be conducting enforcement action as needed. 

When it comes to Halloween, police could be in one neighborhood.  Deer Hill Avenue, a popular trick or treating location, is not open for trick or treating this year.  The neighborhood approached City officials and the Police Department and asked for assistance in discouraging trick or treating. Given the thousands of people who usually turn up, Boughton says its a smart move because there's no way for social distancing. 

Homeowners are encouraged to use a bowl or box to place candy outside - avoiding face to face contact with trick-or-treaters if they plan to participate in the traditional activity.  Handing out candy at the door is considered a high risk activity for transmission of coronavirus.  Anyone who plans to skip Halloween is urged to leave the outside light off, and ask that people respect homeowners decisions.

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Ridgefield middle schools have distance learning today

Ridgefield middle schools will have distance learning today because of four positive COVID-19 tests at the two middle schools.  There is one positive case among the Scotts Ridge Middle School community and two at East Ridge Middle School. Contact tracing is being done for the 4th case, out of Scotts Ridge.  Remote learning is set only for today as the school district consults with the local Department of Health.  A decision about in-person classes tomorrow will be announced today.

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Danbury man charged for alleged assault of woman in Bethel

A Danbury man allegedly broke into a Bethel woman's home and attacked her. Police charged 62-year old Jose Espinal last week.  Police say the victim found her male acquaintance in her bedroom when she came out of the bathroom Tuesday.  Police say the victim had injuries to her face and head.  She told officers that Espinal struck her in the head, choked her, and she lost consciousness.  When she came to, Espinal was gone.  He was later found involved in a car accident in Trumbull and hospitalized.  Espinal was charged with burglary, home invasion, strangulation, assault and criminal attempt to commit assault.

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Ridgefield Police seek to hire Connecticut certified police officers

The Ridgefield Police Department is accepting applications from Connecticut certified police officers for the position of patrol officer. Candidates must have at least 2 years of continuous service with their current Connecticut department, and in good standing with their current department.  Applications will be accepted through December 21st.   The salary starts at 67,000 and the cap is about $98,000.  Salary step will be based on years of experience as Certified police officer. Applicants must complete staff interviews, background investigation, drug screening, medical and psychological exams, and polygraph and physical agility tests.

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Bethel schools look to add professional development time for teachers

More professional development time is being built into the Bethel school district calendar.  Superintendent Dr Christine Carver says the amount of change this particular year and the ability to learn while implementing these complex coronavirus-related systems requires time for professional learning and planning.  She says the time that teachers currently have is not adequate to keep up with the pace of expectations. Carver is asking that the Bethel Board of Education consider adjustments in the calendar to a "conference schedule" early dismissal, giving teachers two opportunities for extra planning a month.  This will bolster professional learning days. The proposed additional early release dates are all Wednesdays so if the district goes back to a hybrid schedule, it will have no effect on family planning.  The proposed dates are 11/11/20; 12/2/20 & 12/16/20; 1/6/2021 & 1/20/21; 2/3/21 & 2/24/21; 3/3/21 & 3/17/21 and 4/7/21. 

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4th Congressional District candidates face off in debate

The candidates in the 4th Congressional District have met for their lone in person debate of this campaign.  Democratic incumbent Jim Himes is seeking a 7th term and is being challenged by a political newcomer.  Republican Jonathan Riddle, who works in financial consulting and wealth management.  The debate was by the League of Women Voters of Connecticut.

The debate started off with the topic of the Affordable Care Act. 

Himes, who voted for the ACA, said while he would defend it relentlessly, it isn't perfect.  He added that it's more vital today as most people get their insurance form an employer, but in the last 8 months some 20 million Americans have stopped having an employer.  Riddle says the ACA has some good points, but is a massive failure.  He says the exchanges eliminated competition and called for competition between states to drive down prices.  Himes says the ACA needs to be enhanced, not repealed.  Riddle says it should be replaced, not repealed.

Response to the COVID-19 pandemic was also addressed.  Himes touted his support for the bipartisan stimulus bill in March and noted that the House has passed two other stimulus packages, neither of which have come up for a vote in the Senate.  Riddle called on Congress to do more and stop dragging their feet.  He said the $3.2 trillion bill aims to save bankrupt states like California and New York and Illinois and Connecticut, making coronavirus the issue of the fiscal irresponsibility of these states. 

The candidates also differed on immigration, but agree on some aspects.  They both say the system is broken and that Dreamers should be provided with a path to citizenship.  When it comes to building a border wall, Himes opposed it and Riddle supports it.  Himes became emotional when talking about separating families at the border.  Riddle pointed out that the program was started by President Obama.

They agreed on the need for more funding to repair roads and bridges.  Riddle says the train and highway systems are falling apart. He called it unacceptable that new trains were purchased, but no one thought to upgrade the tracks.  He called for high speed rail throughout the region.  Himes touted federal funds to fix the century-old Walk Bridge.  He says all of the funding he was able to secure hasn't been enough.  Himes says he would have supported President Trump's pledge to get an infrastructure bill passed and remains on the top of his priority list.

The pair had some agreement on gun laws, but departed from each other elsewhere on the issue. Riddle says there are strong enough gun laws on the books, but they're not being enforced properly.  Himes says it's not about enforcement, it's about a lack of consistent laws.  Himes called for universal background checks, limits on certain types of guns and standards for safe storage.  Riddle fully automatic weapons aren't on the streets legally.  He agrees about the need for universal background checks and closing the gunshow loopholes.

The 4th Congressional District encompasses Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, Norwalk, Oxford, Redding, Ridgefield, part of Shelton, Stamford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

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Danbury cancels plans to move to hybrid learning in schools

All in-person classes across the Danbury Public School district have been postponed and the district is continuing with remote learning.  The city experienced 96 COVID-19 cases in a three day span.

At the K-5 level, this means students will continue with their current teacher and their distance learning schedule they have been in since September. At the 6-12 level, students will begin their revised bell schedule as posted in PowerSchool.

Due to school closures, the SAT’s will be cancelled on Tuesday, October 27th.

Breakfast and lunch for students will continue to be available for pick-up on Monday-Friday at all schools from 12 pm - 2 pm.

Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella says they are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and working with the Mayor, Department of Public Health and medical advisors. 

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National Prescription Drug Take Back Day today

The Drug Enforcement Administration National Prescription Drug Take Back Day from 10 am to 2 pm.  Greater Danbury area police departments say the day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating people about the potential for abuse of medications.  A drop box is located in the main lobby of the Danbury, Ridgefield and Wilton Police Departments, which are accessible  24/7 - 365 days of the year to dispose of unused medications.

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Public hearing on proposed Brookfield water line postponed

The Brookfield Board of Finance Informational Public Hearing on the proposed Candlewood Lake Road Waterline next week has been rescheduled to Wednesday, November 4th at 7pm.  It will also be a virtual meeting.  The proposed water line will run from the intersection of Nabby Road to 100 Candlewood Lake Road.  Details of the project and projected costs will be discussed, followed by public comment. The current plan is to install the water line within the next 12 months.

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Southbury Police mark National Teen Driver Safety Week

Now in its 13th year, National Teen Driver Safety Week is dedicated to raising awareness and seeking solutions to prevent teen injuries and deaths on the road. Southbury Police say this grassroots movement is about addressing the number one cause of death for teens in the U.S. – car crashes. According to the UConn Crash Data Repository, the number of teen-related fatal crashes in the first six months of 2020 has more than doubled when compared with the same time frame for 2019.

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Car goes through Brewster business in crash

No one was injured in Brewster when a car went through a building yesterday afternoon.  Brewster Fire Department and EMS responded to the Dunkin Donuts on Route 22 for a report of a car into the store. Firefighters arrived to find a vehicle completely inside the business. 

(Photo: Brewster FD)

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First Responder Memorial unveiled in Ridgefield

There were a lot of emergency responders on Main Street at Bailey Avenue this week.  They were attending the unveiling of The Town Of Ridgefield's First Responder Memorial.  The memorial was the idea of local scout Shreyas Nandon as his Eagle Project.  He was heavily involved in the process of planning, securing funds, and construction of the monument.  Some funds were donated by the Ridgefield Professional Firefighters Local 1739. 

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Ridgefield PBA collecting suits for veterans

The Ridgefield Police Benevolent Association is once again collecting gently used formal wear that will be distributed to veterans looking for jobs.  The PBA has partnered with Village Cleaners and Save a Suit for the collection. All donations are tax deductible. This is the 3rd year of the collaboration.  The drive will run through November 6th.

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Connecticut has 19 communities with 'red alert' virus levels

Eight more communities, many in southeastern Connecticut, were identified Thursday by state public health authorities as “red alert towns” after their daily rates of new COVID-19 infections surpassed 15 per 100,000 people since last week.

There are now 19 cities and towns on the weekly list that now have the option of rolling back the state’s third phase of reopening. Residents there are also being urged to wear masks, socially distance, frequently wash their hands, stay home if they’re over 65, cancel gatherings and events with nonrelatives, and get tested regularly, even if they’re healthy.

While concerned with these localized spikes, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said there are signs of improvement since state and local health officials began ramping up testing and contact tracing in the region several weeks ago.

For example, the rate of infection in New London was 46.9 infections per 100,000 people in last week’s update and is now down to 43.7, while Norwich was 50 per 100,000 people and is now 40.7.

“So when we bring in the rapid response, over a period of time, I think we are able to get this contained,” Lamont said.

Both communities, however, still have the highest rates in the state.

Two other southeastern Connecticut communities, East Lyme and Preston, were removed from the list, while Groton, Lisbon, Waterford, Plainfield and Salem were added. In other parts of the state, East Hartford, Norwalk, Fairfield, Prospect and Waterbury were identified as red alert communities.

Besides Norwich and New London, Sprague, Windham, Canterbury, Griswold and Montville in eastern Connecticut remained on the list, as well as Hartford and Danbury.

As of Thursday, the statewide positive rate was 2.3%, with 232 people in the hospital, an increase of 19 since Wednesday. Lamont noted that is far fewer than during the height of the pandemic in Connecticut, when there were about 2,000 hospitalizations.

Besides having more hospital capacity now, Lamont noted, patients are spending less time in the hospital and are less likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit.

Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer, said a quarter of Connecticut’s hospital beds are unused right now, without taking steps such as canceling elective procedures. Also about half of the state’s roughly 1,000 ICU beds are being used.

There have been 4,569 COVID-related deaths in Connecticut, an increase of two since Wednesday.

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Former Redding state Rep. seeks to take back seat from Democratic incumbent

A familiar name is looking to unseat a freshman state lawmaker representing Easton, Redding and Weston.  Democratic incumbent Anne Hughes is being challenged by Republican John Shaban, who held the position through 2017, but opted not to run for a 4th term as he ran for Congress.  The pair recently addressed the issues during a League of Women Voters forum. 

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hughes says the state has done well in ramping up testing, giving guidance to schools and acquiring PPE.  Shaban says there's been conflicting information on the calendar and rules for reopening.

On transportation funding and infrastructure improvements, Hughes says investments are needed.  She called for truck tolling, with the money dedicated to the Special Transportation Fund.  Hughes also wants more bang for the federal buck.  Shaban sent 6 years on the finance committee and says the Special Transportation Fund dollars were moved time and again.  He says the lockbox was a step in the right direction, but the money can get raided before making it to the STF.  He called for a watchdog to perform oversight duties.

The candidates also discussed Eversource and United Illuminating storm response.  Shaban says it's like deja vu from when he was in office with storms at that time.  He touted a bill passed then that imposed fines for failure to prepare for storms, that utilities were following for years.  Hughes says the Take Back Our Grid Act took huge steps forward to make utilities accountable to ratepayers first, over shareholders.  But she called it a first step.

The pair also addressed the police accountability bill. Hughes called racial justice a concern and called for policies that approach issues from an equitable lens.  Shaban joined the Black and Latino caucus to pass a racial profiling bill that gathered information about traffic stops across the state.  He proposed sentence reforms and drug courts to treat those arrests differently. 

The state's fiscal situation was also discussed.  Shaban says spending is out of control despite record tax increases.  He doesn't think the state needs as many state workers as are currently employed and believes many functions can be privatized.  Shaban opposes rate and rule changes on an annual basis saying it's unfair to businesses.  Hughes says Connecticut is finally paying down the debt of long term pension liabilities and relying on more state employees than ever for unprecedented work.

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New COVID-19 cases in Danbury stem from church, gym

While COVID-19 cases had been trending down in Danbury since being placed on the so-called red alert list, the City experienced 37 new cases on Thursday.  There were no new COVID-associated deaths reported yesterday. Mayor Mark Boughton says contact tracing shows infections from people traveling to church in New York, family gatherings, and one gym that is closed and undergoing a deep cleaning.  Boughton said he doesn't know which church, and people commenting on the announcement identified the War Memorial Fitness Center as the other impacted location.  The Danbury School District plans to move to a hybrid model on Monday as planned.  Boughton says the infection rate doesn't meet the red alert level for schools.

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More Ridgefield High School students, teachers ordered to quarantine

9 more Ridgefield High School students and 1 teacher have been quarantined due to a new COVID-19 case.  The district's health and safety compliance liaison and coordinator of nursing services, Aaron Crook, says the person participated in the PSATs at Ridgefield High on Saturday.  Crook says they know where the individual was exposed and this case of COVID-19 is unrelated to a previous case.  There was a potential exposure of the players on the girls soccer team at an away game.  Previously, 52 students and four faculty members were asked to quarantine. Ridgefield High School was open as scheduled yesterday with all activities also on schedule.

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Water Witch Hose receives grant to help better respond to hazardous materials incidents

Water Witch Hose fire company of New Milford is one of just two recipients of a $10,000 grant.  134 fire departments nationwide applied for the funding from CHEMTREC.  A fire company in Tennessee was the other recipient of the National Volunteer Fire Council HELP Award.  The funds are intended to help the fire departments enhance their response capabilities and increase local preparedness to hazardous materials incidents.  To be eligible for the award, departments must bee all or mostly volunteer, serve a population of 25,000 or less and have an annual revenue of less than 250-thousand dollars.  The application essay must describe the equipment, resources, and/or training the department would purchase or attend to increase their response capabilities for hazardous materials incidents.

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Ridgefield Police participate in DEA Drug Takeback Day

The Ridgefield Police Department is participating in the DEA's Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.  Prescription drugs that languish in medicine cabinets create a public health and safety concern because they are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.  Potentially dangerous, unused and unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter medications will be collected at the Ridgefield Police Department from 10am to 2pm. The Drive-Thru will be set up so people will not have to exit their vehicles. This service is free and completely anonymous. All medications that are collected as part of this initiative are taken to an incineration facility by Officers of the for destruction. Ridgefield Police say a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, to include the family medicine cabinet.  There is a drug take-back box located in the front lobby of Police Headquarters available 24 hours a day/365 days of the year and is also completely anonymous.

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Putnam County movie theaters allowed to reopen today

Putnam County movie theaters will be among those allowed to reopen today as restrictions in most of New York are lifted. County Executive MaryEllen Odell says restaurants, gyms and other businesses that cater to the public are open, so it didn’t make sense to keep movie theaters closed.  She recognizes that people are feeling Covid fatigue and says they should be trusted to make the right decisions to stay safe.  Theaters must limit capacity to 25 percent with no more than 50 people per screen; patrons must wear masks except when seated and eating or drinking; theaters must assign seating and even groups of friends will have to socially distance; air filtration systems and ventilation will have to meet state standards; and additional staff will be required to ensure rules are followed.

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Easton Police investigate political sign thefts, street spraypainting

The Easton Police Department is investigating numerous reports of theft of political signs, and vandalism with political messages painted on the streets.  Officials are asking the people responsible to stop because it's taking time and valuable resources away from the police department, and the availability for officers to serve the community.  Chief Richard Doyle says this behavior also puts a strain on the Public Works Department in both time and money trying to remove the acts of vandalism. Anyone caught will be arrested and charged with Criminal Mischief.

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New Fairfield Library Board of Trustees has a vacancy.

The New Fairfield Library Board of Trustees has a vacancy. The six elected volunteers help the appoint a qualified Library Director, advocate in support of the library, are involved in planning and development activities,   fundraise, and oversee expenditure of monies granted for library use.  Anyone interested  in volunteering  on the New Fairfield Library Board should send a letter of interest to the New Fairfield Board of Selectmen, who will fill the vacancy.

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State Senate candidate works to address food insecurity

24th state Senate district candidate Susan Chapman has been working with Walnut Hill Community Church on food distribution since the pandemic began in order to help address food insecurity.  The Republican former New Fairfield First Selectman yesterday secured a $50,000 donation for a refrigerated truck to rescue food along the Route 7 corridor for distribution.  Food rescue involves collecting items that otherwise would have gone to waste from restaurants and grocers, and distributing it to hunger relief agencies.

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Incumbent picks up endorsements in 24th Senate district

24th state Senate district incumbent Julie Kushner has picked up a new round of endorsements.  The Danbury Democrat is being backed by the Realtors, and now The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. Kushner received a 96% on their Environmental Scorecard and serves as Vice-Chair of the Environment Committee.

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Southbury zoners clear way for breweries, wineries, distilleries

The Southbury Zoning Commission has approved amendments to regulations clearning the way for breweries, wineries, distilleries and similar businesses.   A special exception permit will allow farm breweries, farm wineries and farm distilleries are permitted in all zones. Definitions were also added for “brewery, “distillery,” “microbrewery,” “microdistillery,” “microwinery” and “restaurant-brewery.”  Those are only allowed in certain zones.

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106th state House district race in Newtown features 2018 rematch

In a 2018 rematch, Newtown residents will see familiar names on the ballot when they cast a vote for the 106th House district.  Republican incumbent Representative Mitch Bolinsky is again being challenged by Democrat Rebekah Harriman-Stites. 

They recently participated in a candidate forum hosted by the Newtown Bee and discussed several issues.  The focus was on how to make Newtown a more livable community for its aging residents, the recently approved police accountability bill and the future of development at the Fairfield Hills campus. 

Bolisnky is seeking a 5th term in office.   Harriman-Stites is on the Board of Education, co-founded the Everwonder Children's Museum and is a social worker. 

Fairfield Hills issues are on the local ballot, and not really under the purview of the state.  Harriman-Stites says she would like to see any housing proposal before support it.  Bolinsky says proposals from developers should be entertained.  Both say there should be some limits on density.

Bolinsky says the police accountability bill was quickly cobbled together and done in a punitive way.  He relayed conversations with officers he says are retiring.  He says without public safety, there cannot be a thriving community.  Bolisnky called defunding the police an absurd concept.  Harriman-Stites responded that the bill does not defund the police.  She notes that there are many police officers in her family and she has great respect for the role they play in society.  But Harriman-Stites say the bill came from a cultural crisis around racial equality.

Newtown has an aging population.  Bolinsky says the Friends of Newtown Seniors has been doing admirable work to make it a senior-friendly community.  He wants to help people age in place, whether it's housing costs or improved public transportation.  Bolinsky called for controls on retirement and social security income taxes.  Harriman-Stites says the Board of Ed and parent groups were working to bring seniors and school children together for learning and community building, and noted that the work of the senior center is admirable.  She called for property tax reforms.

Both candidates agree that cost of prescription drugs is too high and support the public option introduced by state Comptroller Kevin Lembo.  The each touted his work in saving the state money on health care and prescription costs.  Bolinsky co-sponsored the bill, which stalled in the pandemic-shortened session.  Harriman-Stites says she knows about health care costs, noting that it forced her to sell her business and the cost for her non-profit went up 8-percent this year.

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Brookfield schools have over a dozen confirmed positive, direct contact with positive COVID cases

While Brookfield Superintendent of Schools John Barile said in a letter to parents on Tuesday that there was no identified in-school transmission of COVID-19, First Selectman Steve Dunn said in an update yesterday that the schools have over 14 instances of either confirmed cases of COVID or staff and students who had direct contact with a positive person across the three schools. 

Dunn says it was that increase over the weekend and Monday that precipitated the schools going back to remote learning until after November 3rd. 

Excluding the cases reported in the schools this week, which are being confirmed, Brookfield has had 238 cases to date.  There was one additional death last month, which brings total COVID-associated deaths in Brookfield to 9.

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2 members of Redding Elementary School community test positive for COVID-19

The Redding Health Department was notified Tuesday of two members of the Redding Elementary School community that tested positive for COVID-19. They have been instructed to remain home in isolation for 10 days. The cases were contained to two classrooms in one wing of the building. Anyone who is considered a possible close contact of those tested positive --within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes of a confirmed case--have been notified.  State Department of Public Health advised quarantine protocols have been put in place.  The Redding Health Department says COVID-19 is spread mainly via person-to-person contact through contaminated air droplets from coughing and sneezing by an infected person.  Non-essential travel and social gatherings should be avoided.

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Amazon's new delivery station in Danbury officially opens for business this week

Amazon’s new delivery station in Danbury will officially open for business this week and welcome associates inside the 148-thousand square-foot building to celebrate its Day One of operation. 

The delivery station on Old Sherman Turnpike will create more than 100 full and part-time associate jobs, all paying at least $15 per hour.  The company will also employ hundreds of drivers for Amazon’s Delivery Service Partners and Amazon Flex drivers.

 

(Photo: Amazon)

To coincide with the Danbury opening, Amazon fulfilled $10,000 worth of wish list items for the Women's Center of Greater Danbury including laptops, printers, televisions, mattresses, bedding, school supplies, backpacks, and personal care products.  Amazon also hosted a food truck lunch for Women's Center employees and volunteers to acknowledge the work they do to support women and children in need and foster equality and empowerment for all. 

Packages are shipped to a delivery station from neighboring Amazon Fulfillment and Sortation Centers, loaded into delivery vehicles and delivered to customers.  Since 2010, Amazon has created more than 8,500 jobs in Connecticut and invested more than $2.1 billion across the state, including infrastructure and compensation.

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AG wants reimbursements for poor response to power outage

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s attorney general asked regulators Wednesday to order reimbursements for utility customers who lost food and medicine during August’s dayslong power outage in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias.

Attorney General William Tong spoke as the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority opened several days of hearings as it investigates how electric utilities Eversource and United Illuminating responded to the storm, which left hundreds of thousands of state residents in the dark, many for over a week.

“Families were already struggling to pay for groceries,” Tong said. “They watched their food and prescriptions spoil. Many lost water, creating unsanitary conditions and I think all of us can thank God that this did not happen in winter.”

Municipal officials criticized Eversource for failing to send crews to many affected cities and towns for days. They said the power company did not answer or return calls needed to coordinate the restoration effort with local crews trying to clear roads and remove downed trees, most of which were entangled in power lines.

“This is worse than irresponsible, this is worse than negligent,” said Stamford Mayor David Martin, a Democrat. “Eversource made deliberate decisions that jeopardized the life-safety of Stamford residents.”

Only a handful of members of the public spoke during the Zoom call, including Barbara Geddis Wooten, of Wilton, who said her family was trapped without power and therefore a well pump for over a week, while their street was blocked by fallen trees.

“We had no water for drinking. We had no water for bathing. We had no water for cooking,” she said.

She asked PURA to force Eversource to give customers three free months of electricity, reimburse them for lost food and revoke recent rate hikes.

Earlier this month, Gov. Ned Lamont signed legislation designed to ensure that the power companies’ earnings and profits are tied to good performance. It also allows for customers to be reimbursed for spoiled food amid extensive service disruptions. But Tong said that law likely can’t be applied retroactively.

Eversource CEO Jim Judge told state legislators in August that the the company was well-prepared for the storm. He said Eversource has made numerous improvements over the years that have resulted in improved service and reliability.

Company spokesperson Mitch Gross, said Wednesday that Eversource understands the hardships its customers endured during Isaias and welcomes the feedback.

“Every major storm poses unique challenges for our customers and provides us with the invaluable opportunity to examine our emergency response processes and procedures,” he said.

The public will be given another chance to speak when the hearing resumes Thursday morning. Marissa Gillett, PURA’s chair, said the regulators also are taking written testimony and have already heard from nearly 1,000 utility customers.

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Tractor trailer crashes through Newtown restaurant

A tractor trailer struck a Newtown restaurant early yesterday morning.  King's Restaurant will be closed after the original section of the building was moved by the force of the crash and broke away from the addition.  The driver had to be extricated, but was able to walk around before being taken to the hospital.  The driver was identified as Jorge Delgado-Cardenas.  The accident on Wednesday happened around 1am.  About 100 gallons of fuel spilled and an environmental clean up service responded.  The cause of the accident is under investigation.  There is a history of crashes at this spot on Route 25, with two just last year. 

(Photo: Fairfield County Fire & EMS Facebook)

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AARP recognizes Sandy Hook father

AARP is recognizing a man who co-founded a national nonprofit after losing his son on 12-14.  Mark Barden has been named one of five Purpose Prize award winners.  The Sandy Hook Promise co-founder was awarded a $50,000 prize for using “the power of life experience to build a better future.”  Barden says the only way he can tell the story of the loss of his son Daniel is by trying to bring some good out of the tragedy and prevent other families from living through this pain.  The CEO of AARP Jo Ann Jenkins commended this year’s Purpose Prize winners and fellows for  showing how everyone's own life experiences can be used to find creative and innovative solutions to help others and make a difference in communities across the country.

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Aquarion cleaning water mains in Chimney Heights system

Aquarion is cleaning water mains in the Chimney Heights system over three weeks in Bethel.  Customers may notice discoloration from now through November 6th.  This is due to the temporary disturbance of the flow, which stirs up naturally occurring minerals that settle in the mains.  Aquarion says this is done periodically to improve water quality.  Customers should store water in their refrigerators for drinking and cooking, and refrain from washing laundry if water is discolored. 

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Local high schools participating in Student Mock Election

The 2020 Connecticut Student Mock Election, a nonpartisan, educational program designed to encourage youth to become active voters once they are old enough to vote, is underway.  59 high schools will cast their ballot during the virtual mock election which is being held by the state Department of Education.  Bethel, Brookfield and Newtown signed up by Friday's deadline.  Commissioner Miguel Cardona says this provides districts with a civics lesson that goes above and beyond the textbook. Students who are interested in participating will each receive a unique PIN which will allow them to cast their ballot. 

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Sherman approves running utilities on old town property

Sherman residents approved a developer running a conduit of wires on town property.  During Saturday's virtual town meeting, residents signed off on the utility easement between 22 Cedar Lane and lakeside land, through an old road.  The town property hasn't been used for years.  The electrical conduit was requested in order to power infrastructure at the lake, like a dock and landing. 

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Conn. creates program to assist small businesses impacted by COVID-19

Connecticut is making $50 million in federal coronavirus relief funds available to small businesses that have been impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic, providing one-time grants of $5,000 to 10,000 employers.

Half the $50 million will be allocated to businesses located in economically distressed communities in Connecticut, both urban and rural.

“So many of our small businesses have been struggling for months to protect their businesses, their livelihoods as well as our employees,” said Glendowlyn Thames, deputy commissioner at the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development. “This has not been lost on this administration. Small businesses are truly our heart and soul of the economy and our communities.”

The grants will be targeted to businesses with no more than $1.5 million in annualized payroll expenses or fewer than 20 employees. They must be able to demonstrate a 20% or more revenue loss as of Sept. 20, compared to Sept. 20, 2019.

DECD estimates it will begin accepting online applications the week of November 9, and all of the funds are anticipated to be disbursed by December 30. Information on eligibility requirements, upcoming webinars, and other aspects of the program will be published on the state’s business portal at business.ct.gov.

Thames said about 50,000 businesses, which employ 350,000 people across Connecticut, could potentially be eligible. Many of those were unable to access funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

This is the second large-scale effort by the state of Connecticut to help small businesses. During the early days of the pandemic, DECD created an emergency loan program from scratch, which ultimately funded 2,123 one-year, no-interest loans, averaging $19,705 a piece.

Because of the massive flood of applications, officials decided to cap loan amounts at $37,500 — half of the $75,000 originally promised when the program was launched in March — to help twice the number of businesses.

State Rep. Caroline Simmons, D-Stamford, co-chairperson of the General Assembly’s Commerce Committee, said it’s important for the state to now offer small businesses a grant program instead of more loans because they can’t afford to take on more debt.

Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, said while the funding announced Tuesday is welcome, it “falls clearly short of what other states are doing.”

The maximum grant per business in Rhode Island is $30,000; $20,000 in New Jersey; $100,000 in Delaware; $350,000 in New Hampshire; and $100,000 in Vermont. In Massachusetts, $100 million in federal coronavirus relief funds have been set aside but the final grant amounts have not yet been determined.

“We hope this is just a first step to match what other states are doing to keep small businesses open,” said Dolch, noting that most states are allowing businesses with up to 50 full-time employees or more to apply for grant funding.

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Seasoned politicians seek to represent Northwest corner's 30th state Senate district

A former Mayor is looking to unseat a long time state lawmaker in the 30th Senate district, which includes Brookfield and New Milford.  Republican incumbent Craig Miner is facing a challenge from Democrat David Gronbach. 

Response to the conoravirus pandemic will likely take up a lot of time during the next General Assembly session. 

Miner says it's not just a physical health risk, it's a mental health risk, an economic risk and an overall troubling circumstance.  He says a lot of the work he's been doing is helping people cut the red tape in getting unemployment benefits.  Miner says the state has not done a good job when it comes to controlling the virus in nursing homes.  He did support the idea of a COVID positive return unit. 

Gronbach says testing is the key to give people confidence they can go to work safely.  He also wants better track and trace capability and expanded access to health care. He agrees with a lot of the measures that Governor Lamont has taken in response to the pandemic.  

Despite fewer commuters, there will be required infrastructure improvements in the state. 

Miner says there's been a reduction in the gas tax as more people are working from home and the Special Transportation Fund is on the brink of insolvency.  He recommends the federal government recognize that the pandemic has caused a problem in the state's ability to raise it's portion of funding.  Miner says the state should look at privatization for running passenger service into New Milford.  He doesn't think there's enough rail ridership to have the extension be self-sustaining. 

Gronbach says the pandemic has flipped commuting on its head.  He doesn't want to expand I-84 because it will only encourage more drivers to crowd onto the highway.  He wants to instead expand infrastructure so people can work from home more efficiently.  Gronbach opposes tolls for passenger cars, but could get on board with truck tolling.

When it comes to affordable house, Gronbach wanted to make a distinction from Section 8 housing.  He notes that affordable housing has income limits and is often times seniors, single parents, teachers and the like.  He touted several affordable housing options that opened in New Milford, but says they were successful because they fit with the character of the surrounding community.  He says there is room for improvement in the 8-30g law. 

Miner says many communities have done well in developing affordable housing, for seniors and others.  But he says the infrastructure cost is a problem.  He says the state has sent bond dollars as an incentive to build more affordable housing.  He doesn't agree with withholding state funding, as proposed in the past, for education.  He called for workforce housing so that nurses, teachers, police and firefighters can live in communities where they work.

A bill was passed in special session to hold utilities accountable through performance-based rates. 

Miner says there needs to be more staff in Connecticut and doesn't believe there was enough oversight of the out of state crews who came in for the last big storm.  He supports the measure that prevents a company from charging ratepayers for failures in response to big storms.  Miner believes Eversource has grown too large and was unresponsive to municipal leaders. 

Gronbach was critical of Miner for opposing a bill in 2012 that would have set the standard of 2 days without power before rebates kick in, and capped executive pay.  Miner says the bill didn't prevent the utility from recovering funds on the backs of ratepayers.  Gronbach agreed that there needs to be minimum staffing.  He called for power lines to be buried because most roads will need maintenance over the next 10 years anyway.  Gronbach says when they are redone, Eversource should be required to bury the lines at the same time.  If that was done 10 years ago, he says the job would have been half way done by now.

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Danbury Police investigating indecent exposure complaint

Danbury Police are investigating an indecent exposure complaint.  A teenage girl reported being approached last Wednesday evening in the parking lot of Berkshire Shopping Center on Newtown Road.  A driver asked the girl a question, which directed her attention to him and she realized he was exposing himself to her.  The description of the operator is limited, but the vehicle is described as a white, Hyundai, hatchback with New York registration.  Danbury Police are asking for assistance in identifying the vehicle, pictured on the department's Facebook page, the operator, or anyone that might have witnessed the incident. Anyone with information can contact the investigating officer, Scott Sasso, at s.sasso@danbury-ct.gov.

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Brookfield moves to remote learning through Nov. 5

Brookfield Public Schools transition to full remote teaching and learning beginning today, with the intention of returning to the Hybrid Model on November 5th.  Superintendent John Barile said in a letter to parents that the Brookfield Public Health Director advised this move following a review of the newly evolving regional public health trend data.  While the District plans to return to full in person learning for Kindergarten through Grade 8 on November 9th, the district will evaluate the health data and announce any changes to this plan should the need arise.  There is no identified in-school transmission at this time and the schools remain inaccessible to the public.  Faculty, staff and students have their devices with them as Wednesday is a planned remote learning day.

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PURA holds public hearings into storm response

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is holding three public hearings this week about  Eversource and United Illuminating’s responses to Tropical Storm Isaias.  All of the hearings will be held via Zoom.  They are at 11 o'clock this morning, at 9am tomorrow and 9am on Friday.  After registering, residents will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.  PURA will also be accepting written comments until the close of the hearings.  Those interested in providing comments in writing can email testimony to pura.information@ct.gov and reference Docket Number 20-08-03 in the subject line.

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New Milford holds meeting on proposed sidewalk project

New Milford will hold a virtual public involvement meeting tonight about the proposed Route 7 and Aspetuck Avenue Pedestrian Improvement Project. The Zoom meeting will begin at 6:30 PM.

The project includes over 7,000 feet of sidewalk, ramps, and pedestrian bridge.  Conceptual design has been completed by New Milford and the preliminary design is slated to begin under the Transportation Alternatives Program overseen by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.  The project is funded through Federal Highway Administration’s Transportation Alternatives Program, paying 80-percent of reimbursable costs.  The local portion of $458,000 is the remaining 20 percent.  This applies to design, right of way, and construction costs. 

Construction is slated for summer 2022. 

There have been pedestrian crashes in the past three years on a dozen streets, including two fatalities.  There were multiple pedestrian crashes on Kent Road, Danbury Road, Bridge Street and Railroad Street.

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Danbury school principal earns national recognition

A Danbury school principal has earned a national recognition.  South Street Elementary Principal Carmen Vargas-Guevara is one of 10 educators in the country this year to receive the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership.  South Street Elementary was   recently named a National Blue Ribbon School for progress in closing achievement gaps.  Vargas-Guevara will be honored during the National Blue Ribbon Schools virtual awards ceremony on November 12th.  She has been principal since 2017. The U.S. Department of Education says the award recognizes school leaders “who are committed to education as a powerful and liberating force in people’s lives.”

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More political signs damaged, defaced or stolen in Bridgewater

Many political signs were damaged, defaced or stolen again over the past few nights in Bridgewater. Signs supported both Democratic and Republican candidates running for national and state offices.  First Selectman Curtis Read says these incidents are a violation of 1st Amendment rights, punishable by law and called them disappointing for all citizens. Bridgewater’s Republican and Democratic Town Committees have offered a reward of $1,000 leading to an arrest of people responsible. Read says some residents have installed security measures at the advice of local police officers.  Any incidents should be reported to the Bridgewater Police or the First Selectman’s office.

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Schools will be allowed to use snow days for distance learning

Often times, medical professionals are recommending COVID tests as a "rule out" based on symptoms. At the recommendation of the Department of Public Health, the Bethel Public School District will only be accepting PCR test results for students.  Superintendent Dr Christine Carver said in her recent newsletter that this test is the most accurate in determining positive cases. Documentation, regardless of results, must be received and reviewed by the school nurse before returning to in-person learning. The State Board of Education has passed a resolution allowing for districts to use “snow days” as distance learning days for this school year.  Carver says the resolution specified that the state Department of Education must pass guidelines for the use of those days. Once that's done, she will inform families of how the Bethel school district will implement the guidance.

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Danbury recorded 16 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday

Danbury recorded 16 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday.  There were no new deaths.  On Sunday, the City had 20 new confirmed coronavirus cases, six reported on Saturday and 27 on Friday. One death was reported on Friday, the second in little over a week. The last coronavrisu related death in Danury was in June.  Danbury will remain under Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan even though communities under so-called “red alert” are allowed to roll back to phase two.  Mayor Mark Boughton says it will be a last resort. 

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Political newcomer challenges youngest state Senator in race for 26th District

The youngest member of the state Senate is being challenged in his bid for reelection.  Democrat Will Haskell is facing Republican Kim Healy in the race for the 26th district, which covers Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton among other municipalities.  During a League of Women Voters debate, the pair addressed a number of topics.

On the state's fiscal picture, Haskell touted the work to bolster the state's rainy day fund.  But Healy says there's mounting deficits in the next few years.  The CPA and auditor with PriceWaterhouse says every line item should be on the table for cuts in order to get the house in order.

The police accountability bill was also raised.  Haskell says the officers he knows do exceptional work, but there is a problem in other parts of Connecticut.  He supports implicit bias training, transparency in officer records and body cameras.  Haskell wants to address the criminal justice system next. 

Healy says the issue won't be solved overnight and says no one disputes that George Floyd was murdered.  She noted that her father was with the NYPD and her stepmother is a woman of color.  As for where there are issues in other parts of the state, Healy says those should be addressed locally.

Utility reform was also addressed.  Haskell says the grid is neither affordable nor reliable.  He touted the bill passed in special session that takes into account customer service, on the ground line crews, grid hardening, sustainability and executive compensation. 

Healy says the huge increases before the storm hit needs to be addressed.  She called for an independent consumer advocate as part of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and for breaking up monopolies.

Haskell was the only member of the Greater Danbury area delegation to back the idea of tolls.  He says every other state around Connecticut asks out of state drivers and trucks to contribute to the upkeep of the roads.  He notes that right now 100 percent is paid for by Connecticut residents.  Haskell says a user fee coupled with trimming the fat at the DOT are the way to go. 

Healy opposes tolling.  She says the funds meant to go into the Special Transportation Fund lockbox isn't a constitutional lockbox so money still gets diverted.  She called for a public-private partnership to pay for infrastructure improvements, noting that Connecticut pays 5 times more per mile for road construction than any other state in the country. Haskell disputed that figure, saying the study treated 12 lane highways the same as a one lane country road.

As for the pandemic, Haskell acknowledged that Connecticut struggled early on, especially in nursing homes.  But he says there's an optimism now about this state that's contagious because of how Connecticut has done to contain the virus.  He urged people to keep up with physical distancing and wearing masks.  He touted local districts having the autonomy to make decisions about how and when to bring students back to school, using state manufacturers for masks and ventilators, and extended grants to businesses. 

Healy says schools have made good decisions on how to protect kids.  She wants to better engage seniors while protecting those with medical comorbidities.

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Danbury Police investigating bank robbery, reward offered

Danbury Police are investigating a bank robbery and a reward is being offered.  Shortly before 11am yesterday officers responded to People's United Bank on Lake Ave Extension for a reported robbery. The bank is located inside of the Stop & Shop.  A lone white male described as approximately 5'6" with a thin built, wearing a dark grey baseball hat, grey sweatshirt and grey pants approached the teller.  He indicated that he had a weapon and demanded money.  The man left the store with an undisclosed amount of money  in a blue Hyundai.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Tom Collins 203-797-4667 or the anonymous TIPS Line 203-790-8477.  Danbury Police believe this individual is responsible for several other bank robberies recently. The Connecticut Bankers Reward Association is offering a $3,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual.

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Bethel High School adding more in person learning days

Bethel High School is adding more in person learning days.  The school is on a hybrid model, with half the students in on Mondays and Tuesday, and the other half on Thursdays and Fridays.  Everyone is distance learning on the opposite days plus Wednesdays.  Now cohort A and B will attend in-person on alternate Wednesdays.  Often times, medical professionals are recommending COVID tests as a rule out based on symptoms. At the recommendation of the Department of Public Health, the Bethel Public School District will only be accepting PCR test results for students.  Superintendent Christine Carver says this test is the most accurate in determining positive cases. Documentation, regardless of results, must be received and reviewed by the school nurse before returning to in-person learning.

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Operation Thanksgiving launches in New Milford

United Way of Western Connecticut is partnering with the Woman’s Club of Greater New Milford to collect food and monetary donations.  Called Operation Thanksgiving, they hope to help families who are struggling this year to pay their bills and put food on their tables. 

A drop-off food collection day will be held at the New Milford Bandstand on November 7th from 10 am to 3 pm.  Cash or checks made out to the Woman’s Club of Greater New Milford will also be accepted. 

United Way Community Impact Coordinator Katy Francis says approximately 250 families will benefit from this event.  This event was formerly called Stuff the Gazebo.  Last year’s Thanksgiving food donation drive collected enough food for more than 200 Greater New Milford families to have a full meal on Thanksgiving day. 

The need is anticipated to be greater this year, as many families lost jobs or wages during the pandemic, and many families’ food budgets have been stretched by having children at home more days of the week.


Non-Perishable Food Items Being Collected:
Pie Crust Mix*
Canned Pie Filling*
Canned Yams*
Cranberry Sauce*
Cream Soups*
Canned/Jarred Gravy
Stuffing Mix
Boxed Mashed Potatoes
Canned Veggies


* Most needed

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New Fairfield COVID-19 infections back up to June levels

As of yesterday, there were 6 confirmed active cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield. 4 of the 6 cases are unrelated to the private event reported on Friday, which led to the schools going to remote learning this week.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the town has not seen an active case rate this high since June, and as is happening statewide and nationwide, New Fairfield is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases.  She asked that people remember to wear a mask. Practice social distancing. Wash hands. Avoid gatherings with people outside of your own household.  Contact tracing data gathered nationwide indicates that small gatherings of family and friends are currently the most common source of COVID infection.

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United Way awards grant to New Milford Youth Agency for childcare

When New Milford Schools made the decision to return to school this fall under the “hybrid” model, The United Way says it left many working parents in a difficult child-care bind.  The New Milford Youth Agency offered an affordable option for families needing child care on the days their children were not in school, providing care for as little as $5 per hour. But two children in a family needing 15 hours of care, still added up to $150 a week in unanticipated costs.  United Way of Western Connecticut recognized the need for scholarships for hardworking, struggling New Milford families and provided a $6,500 mini grant to the New Milford Youth Agency, so that some children could receive scholarships to attend their program at a lower cost.  The United Way was able to fund about 1,300 hours of child care.

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Newtown Police investigating hit and run accident

Newtown Police are looking for the driver involved in a hit-and-run on Friday.  Police responded to the intersection of Main Street and Church Hill Road around 4:15 pm.  Two vehicles entered the intersection at the same time.  A 62-year old Stratford man was headed southbound while the SUV was headed west and attempting to turn onto Main Street.  The passenger’s side front corner struck the front of the Nissan Altima, causing moderate damage and taking off the Altima’s bumper.  Police say the evading vehicle sustained damage to its right front area.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Newtown police.

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Sign at John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant only erected temporarily, for now

There's a new tourist attraction in Danbury, but visitors may want to wear a mask and not just as a coronavirus precaution. 

The ribbon has officially been cut on the John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant. 

The comedian secretly visited the City last week to accept the dubious honor and fulfill his end of the bargain.  He donated to teacher projects on Donors Chose, Connecticut Food Bank and ALS Connecticut. 

The sign was put up temporarily for the ceremony by HBO, but Mayor Mark Boughton says it's not formally installed by the Danbury Department of Public Works. and people will have to wait to see it in person.

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Southbury organizing Halloween drive-thru

Southbury families are invited to drive down Main Street South on Halloween from 3 to 5:30pm for a unique Halloween experience. Costumed characters will be spaced out between Pomperaug Elementary School and the Police Department in front of festive themed displays waving to people driving by.  The event is organized by the Southbury Volunteer Firemen's Association, Ladies Auxiliary, Southbury Parks and Recreation, and Southbury Police.  Candy will not be distributed this year.  In order to make it a safe event, participants are asked not to stop and park or walk along Main Street South.

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Registrars to test voting tabulators in Bethel

The Bethel Registrars of Voters will be testing the ballot tabulators tomorrow.   Candidates and the public are invited to observe the process to test the machines to be used in the November 3rd election.  The testing will start at 10am tomorrow in the general purpose room of the Bethel Municipal Center.  If necessary, the testing will continue on Wednesday at 10am.

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Bethel schools try new meal distribution plan for distance learners

The Bethel School District is trying out a new way to distribute free meals to kids participating in remote learning.  The food services crew is out back of Bethel High School on Saturday mornings.  Parents who have students distance learning can register for meal pick up on Fridays at 8am and then receive 5 breakfasts and 5 lunches for the week.

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Danbury High School named Teacher of the Year

Danbury High School teacher Soraya Bilbao has been named the City's teacher of the year for 2020.  Her extensive background includes working with numerous nonprofit organizations, including Americorps. She also spent three years volunteering with the Peace Corps., teaching English to village children from the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific. When she joined DHS to teach English as a second language in 2013, her outreach continued as an advisor for the Fight Child Hunger Club and supporting the youth-led advocacy group CT Students for a Dream. Assistant Superintendent Kevin Walston, who was on the selecting committee, said that Bilbao launched the Spanish Advanced Placement/Independent Study Program for students learning English as a second language, in addition to helping secure funding to implement the Building Bridges to College program.

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John Oliver visits Danbury for sewer plant renaming, ribbon cutting

John Oliver paid a visit to Danbury last week.  Mayor Mark Boughton was coy at the Chamber of Commerce annual meeting when he said the comedian would cut the ribbon on the newly renamed wastewater treatment facility, but that the details were still being worked out. 

The City Council voted on Oct. 8 to give the plant the honorary name of The John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant.  Decked out in gloves, a plastic bag over his shirt and a bubble on his head, Oliver announced the visit on his show last night. 

(Photos: HBO, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver)

He commended the City Council, residents and banks for stepping up to name the facility, and donating to food banks.

Boughton came up with the idea after the comedian slammed Danbury over the summer at random as part of a joke. Oliver offered $55,000 to Donor's Choose teacher projects, the Connecticut Food Bank and ALS.  Local banks offered to match the money, for the United Way's Danbury Food Collaborative.  They also launched a donation page for others to contribute as well. 

Oliver said he visited the City "home of the Danbury Railway Museum, their self-proclaimed world’s tallest Uncle Sam and, now, the single greatest sewage plant in the continental United States.”  Boughton cut the ribbon and Oliver cheered. He said the sewage plant represented everything the country needs most right now.  "This place takes the worst that humanity can produce, and transforms it into something that we can live with.  And now more than ever, there’s something inspirational in that, because at the end of this awful, awful year, what could be more important than evidence that, if we want to, we can come together, overcome our differences and sort our [expletive] out,” he said.

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New Milford Police investigating thefts from cars

The New Milford Police Department is seeking the public's assistance in identifying the man caught in surveillance photos.  This individual has been seen on security cameras going through vehicles in the Fordyce Road / Fordyce Court / Mill Lane / Meredith Lane area on Wednesday evening overnight into Thursday.  Photos can be viewed on the New Milford Police Facebook page.  Anyone with any information as to the identity of the subject is asked to contact Officer Petersen 860-355-3133.

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New Fairfield Schools on remote learning for week as COVID precaution

A private out of state event prompted an early dismissal of New Fairfield schools Friday.  At least 6 staff and 4 students attended the event where 4 people tested positive for COVID-19.  Superintendent Pat Cosentino says none of the positive tests were of New Fairfield residents or in the schools, but it was a precaution to close so contact tracing could be done.  The schools were closed for Columbus Day and no students were in the buildings Tuesday because it was a professional development day.  All New Fairfield students and staff were sent home with Chromebooks and supplies as schools will be closed this week.  Cosentino says she is deeply disappointed to be on remote learning for a week, but there is still a pandemic and asked everyone to be flexible.  Cosentino says this situation is a reminder that this is an interdependent community and people must remain vigilant to stay healthy.

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Bethel Police investigating hit and run crash

The Bethel Police Department is releasing more information about a hit and run accident earlier this month that they're trying to solve.  On October 4th, around 7:30pm, officers responded to a motor vehicle crash on Greenwood Avenue in the area of its intersection with Seeley Street. The crash occurred when a westbound vehicle struck the rear of a vehicle parked along the side of the road. The offending vehicle then fled the scene but was later determined to be a light green 2017 or 2018 Subaru Forester that included some chrome accent trim. The evading vehicle is expected to have significant damage to its front end, concentrated more heavily on its passenger side. Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Iadarola at 203-744-7900 ext. 687, or by emailing miadarola@bethelpd.com.

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35 Ridgefield High School students, staff asked to quarantine

A Ridgefield High School community member has tested positive for COVID-19.  A group of RHS students were exposed to another individual outside of the school district.  About 35 students and staff have been asked to quarantine. Ridgefield High School Principal Jake Greenwood said since contact tracing is complete and deep cleaning has begun, the school reopened Saturday for PSATs and athletic events.  Superintendent of Schools Susie Da Silva says while the community experienced a challenging day, it provided the opportunity to reflect on the past few months and the planning and thoughtfulness of the educators, as well as the many stakeholders that contributed to the Reopening Plan.

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Redding man arrested for alleged embezzlement from employer

A Redding man has turned himself into police on a warrant charging him with larceny and other crimes.  Wilton Police say Raymond Sanzone was also charged with 14 counts each of identity theft and forgery.  He was released after posting a $150,000 bond.  The investigation stems from an initial complaint made in February by a local employer who reported that Sanzone worked for their company and was believed to be responsible for embezzling funds.  Multiple search warrants were served on the his bank accounts.  It was discovered that between 2018 and this year, he embezzled approximately $212,000 from the employer.

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Bethel begins curbside pick up of leaf bags today

The Town of Bethel will begin curbside pick up of leaf bags today.  The collection will continue on a schedule through December 11th.  Residents are asked not to rake leaves into the streets, as this will cause storm drain clogging and localized flooding.  All leaves must be neatly bagged in paper bags, without tape. No plastic bags will be picked up nor will bags filled with debris other than leaves be accepted at the transfer station.  All leaf bags should be placed on the curbside the night before, unless inclement weather is expected. Leaves placed after the scheduled pick-up date will be collected on the next rotation. There will be NO special pick up bags on demand.  Bethel Public Works officials say there may be delays due to weather and Town projects.  In addition to the curbside pick up, Bethel residents are encouraged to bring their bagged leaves to the transfer station at no extra cost while the program is in effect.  Household garbage will not be accepted with the leaves.

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Sherman scout troops hosting Pumpkin Chuckin' event

Sherman scout troops are hosting a Pumpkin Chuckin’ event this afternoon at Volunteer Park.  The all-girl Boy Scout Troop 148 and all-boy Boy Scout Troop 48 will build contraptions and compete to see whose device can launch a pumpkin the farthest.  The event is from noon to 4pm and any youth aged 11 to 17 interested in scouting is invited to attend.  Face masks and social distancing will be required.

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Southbury firefighters making plans for Santa visits

Last year Southbury Fire Department helped Santa deliver presents throughout town, but COVID-19 has changed things a bit.  Fire Chief Brian Warren says they've come up a plan for Santa to visit children early, while keeping everyone safe.  The big man won't be able to hand out gifts or get out of the fire truck, but will take pictures with families by the truck.  Visits will take place December 13th, beginning at 11am to families that have emailed santasvfafire@gmail.com

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Local officials remind residents of Halloween safety advice from CDC

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says COVID-19 has put a damper on some of the usual Halloween activities this year. But he says it’s still possible for kids to enjoy the holiday.  He repeated CDC recommendations of carving or decorating pumpkins, having a Halloween scavenger hunt, a virtual costume contest or a movie night with the family.  Moderate risk activities include participating in one-way trick or treating where individually wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance. Anyone preparing goodie bags to be placed outside, instead of the traditional handing out of candy, should practice proper hand hygiene.  Anyone hosting a costume party, should hold it outside. A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask and should not be worn over a protective mask because it can be harder to breathe.  Anyone visiting pumpkin patches or orchards should use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wear a mask and social distance.

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Danbury Library hosts fifth annual Western Connecticut UFO Conference

Danbury Library is hosting the fifth annual Western Connecticut UFO Conference. The two-day event will welcome back renowned research scientist Linda Zimmerman, the award-winning author of over thirty books, and other speakers.  She will present her findings on the Danbury Hudson Valley Sightings, and how that phenomena challenge the perception of UFOs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s conference will be held online via Zoom. A complete schedule for the free conference can be found on the library's website. 

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Candlewood Company firefighters to collect donations this weekend

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company was not able to go door-to-door to collect donations for their Fund Drive this year due to COVID-19. They know there are people who prefer to donate in person and have arranged for firefighters to be at the Candlewood Fire House on Bayview Drive this weekend.  Firefighters will collect donations from residents from 9am to 1pm on Saturday and Sunday.  Company officials say they understand the hardship some people have faced lately, and hope everyone stays safe and healthy, but those that can donate were encouraged to do so.

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Historical marker placed outside Bridgewater Town Hall

In 2019, the Burnham Library and the Bridgewater Historical Society collaborated to honor the Bridgewater Center Historic District.  The organizations applied for a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation for markers to commemorate national historic designations. The grant was approved in December, and the marker was installed on September 8th.  The district extends north-south along Main Street from Warner Road to the end of the Center Cemetery.  The marker can be found in front of Bridgewater Town Hall.

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Newtown Community Center to host pandemic version of haunted house

The Newtown Community Center will host a Halloween Drive Thru in a pandemic-take on a haunted house.  The 10 minute drive thru ends with a surprise for each vehicle.  The goal is to provide a Halloween experience and to honor the spirit of Halloween for kids and families, in a safe way.   The event will run two consecutive Fridays from 7 pm- 9pm and Halloween from 2pm- 7pm.  Participants must pre-register for the Drive Thru on the Community Center's website. The suggested donation is $5 per vehicle.  The Newtown Community Center will also host a Pumpkin Painting Party on Saturday, October 17th from 1- 3 pm and Haunted Gingerbread House making on Sunday, October 18th from 1-3 pm. Each event will be held outside and registration is required.

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DOT to do work on Route 7 in New Milford

The state Department of Transportation will be placing a thin surface treatment on Route 7 in New Milford,  The work will start this Sunday night around 6:30 PM and is expected to last through 6 AM. There will be two lanes of traffic flow maintained at all times during the overnight work. The construction area will be from the Dodd Road intersection to approximately just north of Still River Drive. The Traffic Control Pattern will start the northbound lanes and return.

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107th state House district candidates debate

The candidates looking to represent Brookfield, the Stony Hill section of Bethel and a portion of Danbury have debated the issues.  107th state House district incumbent Republican Steve Harding and Democratic challenger Kerri Columbo appeared in person, though Brookfield Town Hall was closed to the public, who were able to stream the debate. 

They differed on tolls.  Columbo supports tolls on Interstate 95 because surrounding states have them on that roadway.  She says 40-percent of tolls would be paid for by out of state drivers and would lead to needed infrastructure repairs.  Harding says it wouldn't end with just one highway and called it a regressive tax. He wants a way to ensure money from the Special Transportation Fund stays in that fund.

Among the topics discussed last night was the police accountability bill recently signed into law.  Harding said reforms and more training were needed, but police are inhibited from protecting themselves and the public.  He opposed a portion of the bill regarding consent searches.  Police in Connecticut cannot ask drivers to search their car if they’ve been stopped solely for a motor vehicle violation. They may only conduct such searches if they have probable cause or receive unsolicited consent.  Columbo supports the intent of the measure. She touted the portions that included money for body cameras and dashboard cameras.

Affordable housing was another topic.  Harding has been a vocal opponent of the 8-30g affordable housing statute.  He says it's

a law that allows greedy developers to come in and usurp a town's zoning regulations.  He gave the example of a 6-story proposal for Federal Road, noting that the all volunteer fire department doesn't have ladders to reach the top floor.  In that case, the zoning commission could deny the application because it would have impacted safety.  Columbo says there's a need for housing that teachers, police and firefighters can afford, where seniors can age in place and young people can start families.  She notes that the 8-30g law came about because municipalities wouldn't make the move out of the goodness of their hearts.

On the pandemic, the pair agree that Governor Lamont has done a decent job in his handling of coronavirus.  Harding says the state should work with health experts on regulations that can be implemented and enforced, but also to help businesses.  He noted that this is a consumer-based nation and if if businesses can't be open or fully open, they will close permanently.  Columbo wants a statewide Preparedness Task Force to be able to handle future outbreaks and other new diseases.  She called for a panel of scientists so the state can take a proactive approach to public health.

When it comes to Candlewood Lake, Harding says he supports an invasive species stamp.  A user-fee-based approach would enable municipalities and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to prevent and respond to infestations of aquatic invasive species.  Harding wants to be able to use funds from the Community Investment Act for lakes.  Columbo says they are on the same page when it comes to protecting the environment.  She called for better coordination of safety operations saying there currently are no clear guidelines on who can do what when it comes to noise regulations and other enforcement matters.

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Eleven communities, including Danbury on "high alert"

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Nearly a dozen of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns were listed Thursday as “high alert” communities for COVID-19 infections. All but two are located in the southeastern part of the state.

Last Thursday, there were only two on the list: Norwich and New London. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said it appears there has been a regional spread of infections. Besides Norwich and New London, nearby Canterbury, East Lyme, Griswold, Montville, Preston, Sprague and Windham now have a rate of infection of more than 15 cases diagnosed daily for every 100,000 people.

Hartford and Danbury are also considered to be “high alert” communities, as of Thursday. Lamont’s office is recommending that individuals living in these communities limit trips outside home and avoid gatherings with non-family members. Also, they’re recommending communities cancel public events and limit gathering points; organized groups postpone indoor events; and schools consider more distance learning.

Lamont recently signed an executive order that allows local officials to postpone the state’s third phase of reopening, which includes larger indoor dining capacity at restaurants.

“These are things that the town can do to mitigate the spread, to try and contain the spread, as we see flare-ups around the state and bigger around the entire region,” Lamont said during his COVID-19 briefing. “We’re not like Wisconsin with a 22% infection rate, but do we have areas with 5, 6, 7% infections rates and we do want to try and contain that as best we can.”

Statewide on Thursday, the infection rate was 1.3%, with three more COVID-associated deaths, for a total of 4,540. There were three more hospitalizations since Wednesday, for a total of 191.

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Nuvance CEO addresses Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce

The keynote speaker at yesterday's Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce annual meeting was Nuvance Health president and CEO Dr. John Murphy.  He told the virtual audience that the idea is to “checkmate” coronavirus so it can’t move around the population further.  He addressed a question on most people's minds--a vaccine.  Murphy says there are possible ones in phase three trials, but the likelihood was slim that one would be ready for use “right around the corner.”  He noted that the production of a vaccine has been fast tracked compared to how long it took to create Ebola and polio vaccines from the time they were first identified. 

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3 businesses damaged in fire in downtown Bethel

A structure fire in an upholstery shop in Bethel also resulted in water and smoke damage to two other businesses.  Firefighters responded to Greenwood Avenue around 11:45am yesterday and found heavy fire in the ceiling in the upstairs unit. Mutual aid responded to scene including Danbury, Brookfield, and West Redding.  All crews made quick work of the stubborn fire.  There were no injuries and the cause is under investigation by the Bethel Fire Marshal.  Bethel Upholstery shares the building with a graphic shop and a wellness center and all three were damaged. 

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New Milford interim school superintendent resigning

The New Milford Board of Education has sent out word that the district's interim superintendent is resigning.  Paul Smotas is set to leave at the end of the month to go back to North Carolina and attend to personal family matters.  He took over in August after the previous superintendent resigned after serving for a year.  Smotas previously assumed the role after the former leader of the school system, Kerry Parker, left for a different position in Colorado.  This comes on the heels of New Milford High School principal Greg Shugrue announcing that he is leaving to become the school system’s interim human resources director at the beginning of November.  The Board of Ed has started the search for the next superintendent.

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Hospitals open clinical trials for people with advanced-stage cancer

Danbury and Norwalk hospitals have opened two new clinical trials for people with advanced-stage cancer that have a KRAS G12C mutation. The Danbury Hospital clinical trial is for patients with advanced metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. The Norwalk Hospital clinical trial is for patients with certain types of solid tumors, such as advanced colorectal cancer.  They are the only sites in Fairfield County offering these clinical trials.  Officials say this can provide a new treatment for patients who otherwise might be out of options because of the advanced-stage of their cancer.  Danbury and Norwalk hospitals are currently enrolling patients into the clinical trials through the Oncology Research Department.  The clinical trials are studying a new drug called AMG 510. Early evidence shows that AMG 510 blocks KRAS G12C, a variant of KRAS. KRAS is a key enzyme in the growth of many cancers. A patient will know if their cancer has a KRAS G12C mutation after a tumor specimen undergoes genomic profiling, which the patient’s oncologist will order. Danbury and Norwalk hospitals encourage any cancer patient with a KRAS G12C mutation to contact the hospitals about the clinical trials.

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Comedian John Oliver will visit Danbury sewer plant

Comedian John Oliver will visit Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton announced during the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting yesterday that the details are still being worked out, but Oliver will cut the ribbon on the renamed John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant.  The event will not be open to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions.  The City Council signed off on the name change last week after some debate.  This all started with a random joke knocking the City, while giving a backhanded compliment about the railway museum, hearthstone castle and low crime.  It's resulted in a clever back-and-forth, and over $100,000 in donations to teacher requests on donor's chose, Connecticut Food Bank, ALS, and the Danbury Food Collaborative.

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Sherman holds virtual Annual Town Meeting Saturday

The town of Sherman will host a virtual Annual Town Meeting on Saturday.  Residents will be asked to weigh in on whether a developer can run a conduit of wires through an old road.  Lakeview Property Inc has asked for a utility easement to run electrical conduit between 22 Cedar Lane and a nearby parcel of land.  The developer needs permission from the town to run power down to the lake area for a dock and other infrastructure.  First Selectman Don Lowe says the request will not have an impact on the town owned land. The Annual Town Meeting will be held via Zoom, beginning at 10am.

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Brookfield state House candidates to debate

The Brookfield Chamber of Commerce is hosting a debate tonight for the 107th state House candidates.  The district includes Brookfield the Stony Hill section of Bethel and a portion of Danbury.  Republican incumbent Stephen Harding and Democratic challenger Kerri Colombo will discuss legislative and local issues.  Due to the pandemic, the debate will be closed, but it will be live-streamed from Brookfield Town Hall at 7pm and later posted to YouTube.

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Drive thru flu shot clinic in Brewster also a Point of Dispensing drill

Monday's drive thru flu shot clinic in Brewster will also serve as a Point of Dispensing drill.  The Putnam County Department of Health says it will be a simulated test of Putnam’s local emergency response system with the ability to dispense medication smoothly and efficiently.  The New York State Department of Health requires local health departments to perform yearly drills to maintain their preparedness capabilities. Many metrics are monitored to assure the drill meets necessary objectives, including the “through-put” number, or how many residents receive their vaccine in a specified period of time. Utilizing an online pre-registration system was a necessary component of this state-mandated exercise.

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Two men who each represented 2nd state House District vying for the seat

Two men with experience representing the 2nd state House district are vying to hold the position for the next two years.  Incumbent Democratic Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan is being challenged by Republican former Representative Dan Carter.  They covered a range of topics in a forum recently hosted by the Newtown Bee. 

On the issue of utility accountability, Allie-Brennan says Carter voted against a bill when he was in office that would have reined in Eversource executive compensation and created new protections for consumers during long outages.  Carter says opposition to the proposed bull was bipartisan because it could have hurt ratepayers. 

On police accountability, Allie-Brennan says the way officers engage with people of color has been in the forefront of the national conscious.  He called it the hardest vote he's had to take because he supports law enforcement and first responders.  But he says the reforms mean the small number of bad actors can't discredit the good work done by the majority of police officers. 

Carter acknowledged the distrust in officer seen in places across the country, and says there's room for reform.  He added that there needs to be more money for training because there are many officers today who haven't been in the military and rely on tasers and escalate the use of force.  Carter opposes portions of the bill.  He says they can almost be fired at random and the only appeal is to the state board that fire them.  He also opposed consent searches, crediting them for getting drugs and guns off the streets.

The pair also addressed vaccines.  Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a big debate at the state Capitol over a bill that would ban religious exemptions for vaccines when children attend public school.  The Department of Public Health has estimated that as many as 7,800 children were granted a religious exemption during the 2018-19 school year.  There were 134 Connecticut schools at which fewer than 95% of students were vaccinated against the measles that year. The 95% threshold is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to maintain herd immunity. 

Allie-Brennan says he believes in science, but notes that some proposals were too broad.  He wants to strengthen the medical exemption rather than forcing families to invoke the religious exemption. 

Carter says he too believes in science, but would prefer to go the route of educating people rather than mandating them to do something.  He was critical of the state Department of Public Health data counting children as unvaccinated if they were missing one vaccination.

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic itself, the pair were asked what if any advice they would give to Governor Lamont on what the state should be doing.  Allie-Brennan says he's been helping constituents address Department of Labor issues and talking with small businesses about their needs during the different phases of the shut down.  He touted the lifeline of extending unemployment benefits.

Carter, who worked with former gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski to hand out free masks across the state, says the Governor has not done an awful job. He wishes the Governor involved the legislature more, especially lately, and that lawmakers stepped up to make their voices heard.  Carter doesn't believe Republicans would have done much to curtail his executive powers, but it would have shown the power of the people were involved.

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5th District congressional challenger issues statement about Zoom bombing

5th Congressional District challenger, Republican David X Sullivan is calling on the Newtown and Wolcott Police Departments to investigate racist and abusive speech targeted at Democratic incumbent Jahana Hayes during a Monday Zoom Town Hall.  The former federal prosecutor says the incident may be a crime under Connecticut law.  Sullivan says he's pleased that Zoom already reached out to Hayes and has offered to investigate the incident.  He added that the cowardly person must be located and held accountable for the unacceptable speech.  Sullivan noted that he stood by Hayes this summer when she reported racist and discriminatory policing on both Capitol Hill, where she serves as a Member of the U.S. Congress, and in Waterbury.  Sullivan wrapped up his comments by saying no one can turn a blind eye to the cries of racial injustice. 

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'Mission Health Day' in Danbury now 'Healthy Danbury Day'

Mission Health Day in Danbury has been re-designed this year into Healthy Danbury Day.  The goal is to help community members in need during the Coronavirus pandemic by providing essential health services and information about available social services. The Danbury Health and Human Services Department, along with Connecticut Institute For Communities and Danbury Hospital, will provide free COVID-19 testing, flu vaccinations and personal care packages on Saturday at Rogers Park Middle School. Participants do not need to provide insurance or a driver’s license to receive the free services. The drive-thru event will take place from 9am to 1pm. CIFC medical staff will provide nasal swab testing, while the Danbury Health Department and Nuvance will administer flu vaccinations.

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Putnam County Department of Health Drive-Thru flu clinic moved to Monday

Due to the forecast, the Putnam County Department of Health's “Drive-Thru” flu clinic tomorrow has been rescheduled to the planned rain date of Monday from 1 to 6:30pm. The health department will provide vaccines at it's office on Geneva Road in Brewster. Individuals who already have a scheduled appointment for Friday can keep that same appointment time on Monday. A new email confirmation for the rain date will be sent. If that time is not convenient on Monday, cancellations should be made via the Monday confirmation email. Appointments are still available for rescheduling and new registrants.  Putnam County Sheriff’s Department staff will be onsite to assist with security and traffic control, and the Civil Air Patrol will help with crowd flow.  Short sleeves are required to streamline vaccine administration and participants must wait 15 minutes post-injections.

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Newtown police station construction on schedule

The Newtown Police Commission has gotten an update on construction of the new police station.  Construction is on schedule, possibly a little ahead.  The certificate of occupancy is expected to be in hand by early next month. Police Chief James Viadero plans to most staff into the building at 191 South Main Street soon after the CO is issued.  The Newtown Emergency Communications Center dispatch will be the last to move out of the current police headquarters at 3 Main Street.  A formal ribbon cutting has yet to be scheduled.

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Roxbury couple allegedly sped at neighbor, dog

A Roxbury couple is facing charges for allegedly speeding toward a neighbor and his dog.  Police say 57-year old William Petruno and 54-year old Katherine Petruno were involved in an ongoing dispute with a neighbor.  The victim said he was walking on Hemlock Road on October 3rd when each of the neighbors allegedly drove their vehicles at a high rate of speed towards him.  William was charged with reckless driving while Katherine was charged with breach of peace.  They were released on bond for arraignment on November 18th.

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Ridgefield Police investigate liquor store robbery

Ridgefield Police say someone who shoplifted at a local liquor store, then was spotted at an armed robbery in Branford.  Police responded to the liquor store, which they did not name, on Monday afternoon on a report that two people in full face masks and gloves stole 500-dollars in merchandise.  They fled in a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee with Ohio plates.  Police tried to stop the vehicle in Wilton but were unable to.  The vehicle was reportedly used in an armed robbery in Branford later in the day.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Ridgefield Police Department’s detective bureau at 203-431-2794, or the department’s tip line at 203-431-2345.

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PURA to hold public hearings on Eversource storm response

Monroe was granted intervenor status in the PURA investigation regarding the Eversource response to Tropical Storm Isaias.  Town officials continue to collect statements from residents and businesses, receiving over 70 reports so far.  All will be submitted to PURA, but there are 3 opportunities for any member of the public to speak directly to PURA during public hearings.  All will be conducted via Zoom and people must register in advance.  They are next Wednesday at 11am, next Thursday at 9am and next Friday at 9am.

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Newtown First Selectman issues statement on racist zoom bombing

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal has issued a statement about the zoom bombing of a constituent meeting with residents held by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.  He says the act of overt racism left him feeling uncomfortable and angry.  Rosenthal noted that after a vandalism incident at Congregation Adeth Israel last summer, it's best not to reference what was said or posted because it's catnip to the hateful.  But he says failure to response creates space for acts of hate to grow and multiply.  Rosenthal added that if no one speaks out when racism happens to a high profile individual, who will speak out when it happens to neighbors, friends or children.  He noted that politics may sharply divide, but common decency should unite. 

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Redding League of Women Voters hosts candidate forum

The League of Women Voters of Redding is hosting a 2020 state candidates virtual debate tonight.  The event will be held on the zoom streaming platform.  Candidates for the 2nd and 135th House districts along with the 26th Senate district will participate.  Democratic incumbents Raghib Allie-Brennan, Anne Hughes and Will Haskell are being challenged by Republicans Dan Carter, John Shaban and Kim Healy, respectively.  Carter and Shaban previously held the House seats they are looking to recapture.  The debate is 7 to 8:15pm.

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Contingency fund tapped to cover train station budget deficit in Danbury

A lease agreement has been approved between Danbury and the state for the Metro North Railroad station.  All revenue received by the Danbury Parking Authority from permits and parking meters are turned over to the City and used to offset the maintenance costs of the station.  The projected revenue is about $23,400.  Finance Director David St Hilaire says there has been a downward trend in revenue from parking and permit fees over the last decade, with revenue peaking in fiscal year 2011 at $36,000 and declining to $21,700 in fiscal year 2020.  St Hilaire says COVID-19 has accelerated the negative trend, which is expected to continue in fiscal year 2021.  The current administrative fee arrangement with the Danbury Parking Authority will continue, with a fund transfer from the contingency account to cover the deficit. 

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Brotherhood-In-Action of Bethel holding drive-through food drive

Brotherhood-In-Action of Bethel is holding a drive-through food drive on October 31st, from 9AM to noon.  The organization hopes to build on the success of the summer food drive.  Brotherhood In Action added delivery dates this year so they need to collect more items in order to meet the community need.  Donors are asked to enter the parking lot from the Greenwood Avenue entrance to the right of the Bethel United Methodist Church.  Drivers will be directed to queue up, allowing volunteers to unload food donations in an orderly fashion. Donors are asked to remain in the car to limit the possibility of unnecessary social interaction and just direct the volunteers which doors or trunk to access.  Drivers will exit the parking lot via School Street.  All non-perishable goods are required. Canned goods, packaged goods, pastas, rices, everything is in short supply.

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Donor site set up to address food insecurity in Danbury

Local financial institutions have officially launched their fundraising effort to address food insecurity.  After comedian John Oliver pledged $55,000 to teachers, Connecticut Food Bank and ALS, three banks put together seed money to benefit United Way’s Danbury Food Collaborative.  Union Savings Bank, Savings Bank of Danbury and Newtown Savings Bank put up $45,000 and opened a website for donors to also contribute.  Their goal is to raise $100,000.  Mayor Mark Boughton says two people have also already donated $500 each for tours he will lead of the sewer plant.  The bank leaders say the coronavirus pandemic has increased demand for food in the area, with some pantries serving three times as many households as they were before.  More than 24 agencies in the area are part of the Danbury Food Collaborative, including 14 food pantries and congregate meal programs.

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Non-profit withdraws violation complaint against FirstLight Connecticut Housatonic

A non-profit organization has withdrawn an application of a violation complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission against FirstLight Connecticut Housatonic.  American Whitewater alleged 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 said at the time of the initial filing that 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.

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Man's body found in submerged car

A man’s body has been found in a submerged vehicle at the Jackson Cove town park in Oxford.  Connecticut State Police responded to a 911 call around 12:30am yesterday.  Firefighters and the Newtown dive team also responded.  The vehicle was found about 50 feet from shore in about 12 feet of water near the boat launching ramp on the Housatonic River.  His identity has not yet been released.  State Police have classified the incident as an untimely death investigation.

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Waste reduction organization gets interim reports soon

Connecticut is looking to the future of waste reduction and sustainable materials management. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Town of Bethel, along with other towns, are joining together to form the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the 69 municipalities will explore ways to reduce the amount of waste that is generated in the state, improve reuse, recycling, organics collection, and other innovative solutions.  Knickerbocker along with the Durham First Selectman and DEEP Commissioner are the tri-chairs of the group.  The 69 participating towns also include Bethlehem, Brookfield, Kent, New Fairfield, Newtown, Oxford, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Washington, and Weston.  The kickoff meeting was held last month with working groups meeting through next month.  A full group meeting will be called in order to hear mid-term reports from those groups.  At the end of November, the working groups will finalize their options and recommended solutions.  The organization will meet in December to review the results. 

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No furloughs, layoffs in Danbury employee contract extension

The Danbury City Council has signed off on an extension of collective bargaining agreement with the Danbury Municipal Employees' Association union.  Council Minority Leader Paul Rotello had some questions about the agreement, extending current language on terms and conditions of employment through June 2023.  Mayor Mark Boughton says due to the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no wage increases for the first fiscal year of the agreement, unless the City's economic circumstances substantially improve.  The contract calls for a 2-percent raise in year two and a 2-and-a-half percent wage increase in year 3 of the agreement.  Rotello questioned language in the contract that calls for no layoffs or furloughs.  Boughton says this is the same agreement the Council approves every year.  He notes that the provision applies to that specific year.  Boughton added that they can transfer employees from one department to another, if they're in the union, if help is needed in one place and not another.

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Rep. Hayes' online campaign event disrupted by racist slurs

U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, the first Black woman to represent Connecticut in Congress, said Tuesday she was rattled after an online campaign event was disrupted by people calling her racist slurs.

Hayes, a Democrat seeking reelection to a second term representing a district in northwestern Connecticut, posted an essay that described the incident as “six minutes of vile, disgusting, dare I say deplorable, hate” apparently involving multiple people.

Hayes’ Republican opponent, David X. Sullivan, condemned the incident.

“It is appalling that a bigoted coward would direct insults at Congresswoman Hayes, interfere and disrupt a legitimate campaign activity, and besmirch the reputation of the good people of the 5th District of Connecticut,” Sullivan posted on Twitter.

Hayes said she was hosting a virtual meeting on Monday night when she was interrupted several times by people calling her slurs. On Twitter, she posted a screenshot of the racist comments posted in the Zoom session’s chat.

“Many will question why I would post something so raw and offensive? It is because I realized in that moment that I am not ok. I am not ok that this happened. I am not ok, that this is not the first time this has happened in my life or that I’ve had to explain that this happens,” Hayes wrote in the essay.

In response to Hayes’ post, a representative from Zoom asked for details of the meeting and said on Twitter: “We are deeply upset to hear about this and we take the privacy of Zoom Meetings very seriously.”

Hayes said in the essay the incident was being reported. The status of any investigation was unclear. Barbara Ellis, Hayes’ campaign manager, said Tuesday afternoon she had not yet learned whether the people who interrupted the call have been identified.

After the disrupters were removed from the meeting, Hayes said in her essay she apologized to the remaining participants and finished talking about her legislative work and her campaign. But she acknowledged being rattled.

“Black women are expected to press on, to ignore this behavior; to not talk explicitly about it because it is uncomfortable, divisive or does not reflect the sentiments of most people,” she wrote. “I have watched other women weather this storm and fend off these types of attacks and wonder if in their quiet places they have felt what I am feeling right now.”

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New Milford Fire Marshall lifts ban on burn permits

New Milford Fire Marshall Kevin Reynolds has lifted the ban on burn permits.  They can once again be used and issued.  There are certain requirements that people will need to follow, including checking the state web site forest fire Danger Report.  There is no burning if the danger is High,Very High or extreme.

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Southbury Police investigating shoplifting incident

Southbury Police are investigating a couple of crimes in town.  On Wednesday, two women were believed to be involved in a larceny at Ulta Beauty on Main Street North.  A photo of the women has been posted to the Department's Facebook page and police are asking the public for help identifying them.  This morning, Southbury Police asked for help identifying a man caught on surveillance video at a local gas station.  The man is believed to live in the Waterbury area. 

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Brookfield firefighters to present visibility training at New Haven Fire School

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company held zero visibility training in their newly renovated training room at Fire headquarters this week. With the help of a smoke machine, they turned the entire room into a thick layer of fog that lights can’t cut through.  They focused on getting the fire hose through the room, search and rapid intervention.  They will be doing these operations at the New Haven Fire School on Sunday in a live fire training event.

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Newtown Parks and Rec hosting Halloween events

The Newtown Parks and Rec Department is hosting an event later this month for Halloween.  There will be stations with spooky activities for families of all ages.  Games including Dracula Says and socially distanced Chutes and Ladders.  There will be a costume contest with categories like Family Look Alike, Scariest, Cutest, Most Creative, Funniest and  Best Overall.  The winners will get a pumpkin, just in time for Halloween to decorate.  All participants must register for the event on the 24th, and there is a limit of 100 people.  Masks must be worn.  Registration closes on October 23rd at noon.  The event the next day will be 11am to 1pm at Dickinson Town Park multipurpose field.  The fee is $5.

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I-84 closed by overturned tractor trailer

Interstate 84 in Danbury is closed between exits 3 and 4. The fire department is operating at a tractor trailer roll over with a potential hazardous materials leak. Crews were in the process around 7:30am of identifying and stopping the leak. Motorists are cautioned to expect extensive delays.  Initially only the right lane of travel was closed at 6:30am.

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Dozens of homeless individuals housed since pandemic began

46 homeless individuals have been provided housing since the shelters were closed and the population was provided accommodations at the Super 8 Motel early in the coronavirus pandemic.  Acting Health Director Kara Prunty says at least 6 individuals were housed in transitional or permanent housing in the last few days so there are now 31 individuals staying at the alternative shelter.  City Council member Bob Taborsak says the city has been doing a much better job of housing people the last number of months and commended the department for doing that. Pacific House, a Stamford non-profit, is looking to buy the Super 8 Motel to convert into a shelter with wrap around support services for the homeless. Right now the number of rooms is limited by state funding, but going forward there should be increased capacity.

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October 24th is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

October 24th is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.  Danbury Police are calling on residents to clean out medicine cabinets and drop off unused medicines in the front lobby of the police station on the 24th between 10am and 2pm.  Potentially dangerous, unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications that languish in medicine cabinets create a public health and safety concern because they are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.  The DEA says a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the family medicine cabinet.  The DEA says disposing of old prescriptions this way also prevents children and pets being accidentally poisoned, avoids health problems by taking expired medication and keeps medicine from entering waterways if flushed and contaminating drinking water.

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Danbury Library reopens building to the public

Danbury Library is reopening the building to the public today so patrons can browse new books and the main floor collection, or pick up holds.  The library will be open 10am to 6pm Monday through Friday.  Computer use, photocopying, faxing and browsing collections on the junior floor and lower level is available by appointment only.  Some services will remain unavailable.  WiFi hotspots are once again available for circulation. as the library assesses ways to circulate the other devices safely.  Danbury residents borrowing hotspots will be provided with a device loan agreement on an iPad that must be read in full and signed.  Digital devices are the only items that cannot be returned in the outside book drop. Patrons may return the device at the information desk on the main floor or call during curbside hours and a staff person will come out and retrieve the device.

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State Police investigating car thefts in Kent

The Kent Resident State Police Trooper is investigating the weekend theft of two vehicles.  The cars were unlocked with the keys in the vehicle overnight Saturday into Sunday in the Whatley Farm Road area, west on Route 341.  There is an increased police presence in Kent as they continue their investigation.  Trooper Andrew Fisher is asking all residents to be vigilant with personal property, lock vehicles, never leave valuables in cars and keep homes secure.  Anyone with information about the stolen vehicles is asked to contact Troop L in Litchfield 860-626-7900.

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Police identify driver who fled traffic stop, tossed drugs from vehicle

Police have identified the driver who fled a routine traffic stop in Southbury Saturday and say the passenger is still at large.  A Southbury officer tried to stop a car on Main Street South for not having a license plate on the front of it, and a registration check found it belonged to another vehicle. 

The driver, later determined to be 29-year old Gabriel Antonio Deleon of Waterbury, didn't stop and the occupants were seen tossing items out the window.  The items were later identified as heroin and crack cocaine. 

State Police helped to box the vehicle in, but both fled on foot.  A helicopter and police K9 were brought in to help with the search.  Deleon had a large amount of cash in small bills in his possession, and an active warrant for probation violation. 

Deleon was charged with engaging police in pursuit, resisting arrest, possession of a controlled substance, sale of narcotics, operating an unregistered motor vehicle, failure to display plates, driving without a license and improper use of a marker, license or registration.  He is scheduled to be arraigned today.

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Class at Johnson Elementary School in Bethel under quarantine

A class at Johnson Elementary School in Bethel is under quarantine after one person tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday. The person was last in school on Friday.  A few staff members have also been asked to quarantine.  District officials say there was thorough contact tracing and the town health department determined that the school can remain open.  Superintendent Christine Carver says they are monitoring health conditions of students and staff while implementing mitigation strategies included in the reopening plan.  Routine COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting procedures have been used, including in specified areas over the weekend.  She asked that families conduct daily health screenings for symptoms before sending students to school or any extracurricular programs.  About a fifth of students in Bethel are still participating in distance learning, even though some schools have moved to a hybrid model.

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Campaign event 'Zoom bombed' by racial epithets

A campaign event for Newtown residents held over Zoom was hijacked by participants calling the candidate the N word.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says at least one person flooded the chat with racial epithets and told her to “shut up and pick your cotton. Another participant simply repeated “Trump 2020”.  Hayes, the incumbent freshman Democrat, is being challenged by Republican David X. Sullivan, a retired assistant U.S. attorney.

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Jackknifed tractor trailer snarls morning commute

There was a jack knifed tractor trailer on the highway in the Southbury-Newtown area.  State Police say the left lane of I-84 westbound was blocked on the Newtown side of the Rochambeau Bridge.  The accident between exits 14 and 11 happened around 8:30am.  The accident is caused minor rubber necking delays headed eastbound.

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Mural relocated from former military museum to New Milford Town Hall

A mural  that depicts American soldiers from the 10th Mountain Infantry Division has been relocated to New Milford Town Hall.  When the U.S. Military Museum, formerly the Military Museum of Southern New England, closed its doors in 2017, many of the museum’s 10,000 artifacts were gifted to the Museum of American Armor in Bethpage, NY. 

The wall mural painted by WWII veteran Earl Norem, who lived in New Milford and was an illustrator for Marvel Comics, was left behind.  The mural shows the men returning from a reconnaissance patrol against a backdrop of the snowy peaks of the Apennines in northwest Italy during WWII. 

Norem saw military action in World War II with the 85th Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division. Famed skier Torger Tokle died on the battlefield and Norem was one of the men assigned to retrieve his body from the mountain. Norem received a battlefield promotion to Tech Sergeant during the assault on Mount Belvedere and he himself later was wounded going into the Po Valley, ending his military stint. Upon returning to the US, Norem embarked on an illustration career. 

Andrea Norem-Thompson of New Milford, who is Norem’s daughter, and Lee Teicholz contacted Mayor Pete Bass to see if the Town would be interested in the mural. The mural is now displayed on the 2nd floor outside of the E. Paul Martin Room in the hallway.

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Changes coming to Monroe now that Conn. is in Phase 3

While Monroe officials continue to encourage scheduling appointments for Town services online, Town Hall will be open for walk-in service starting tomorrow.  This coincides with the state moving into Phase 3 reopening last week.  The Edith Wheeler Memorial Library will be expanding hours and allowing walk-in access, subject to overall reduced capacity limitations.

Based on state guidelines, the Monroe Youth Commission will not be holding their annual Trick or Trunk event this year.  The Library’s annual Halloween parade for preschool children will be conducted as a drive-through event on Friday, October 30th, and employing all recommended safety precautions. Details and signup will be posted on the Monroe library's website.

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New Fairfield firefighters battle garage fire

New Fairfield firefighters battled a garage fire for nearly two hours on Friday.  Firefighters responded to a Frisbee Street home shortly before 3pm and were on scene until nearly 5pm.  The Putnam Lake Fire Department provided water from the Ball Pond boat launch.  No injuries were reported and the flames were contained to the garage, not spreading to the home.  The cause is under investigation by the New Fairfield Fire Marshall.

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Newtown Parks and Rec hosting Scarecrow contest

Newtown Parks and Recreation is inviting individuals, families, businesses, sports teams and organizations to participate in a Scarecrow contest.  It's being held at Fairfield Hills throughout the month.  Interested participants can send in an application to adopt a Fairfield Hills lamp post.  Residents who would just like to vote on favorites, can print out a ballot and put it in the ballot box located in the vestibule at 8 Simpson Street.

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New public safety building on the Danbury's Westside

Danbury has been offered a lease agreement for the use of a new public safety building on the City's Westside.  The Rizzo Corporation offered the City the opportunity to permanently locate an ambulance at Keystone Place on Wooster Heights Road, a soon-to-open senior living community. 

Emergency Management Director Matt Cassavechia says this will help provide rapid access to I-84 and Route 7, decrease response times to medical emergencies, and provide additional space for personnel and equipment.  Cassavechia says EMS westside deployment currently lacks a base station to house equipment and personnel often leading to excessive idling of vehicles and limited access of staff accommodations over extended periods throughout the shift. 

The terms of the lease agreement is $1 per year for 99 years. 

Mayor Mark Boughton estimated that it would have cost the City $500,000 to build the facility itself.  He says there's been rapid development in the area with Abbey Woods, Rivington by Toll Brothers and, soon, the Summit.   Keystone Place has 55 independent living, 63 assisted living and 22 memory care apartments.

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Bethel Police seek car theft suspects

Bethel Police are asking for the public's help in solving a series of car thefts.  4 vehicles were reported stolen Friday morning in the Chestnut Ridge Road area, while another was reported stolen from Dodgingtown Market in nearby Newtown around the same.  Bethel Police say a number of other cars were rummaged through.  All of the vehicles were left unlocked.  The ones that were stolen also had the keys inside.  Officer flooded the area, but the suspects could not be located.  Police urged residents to lock their cars and take their keys with them. Anyone with information or video footage is asked to contact Bethel Police at 203-744-7900.

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Bethel man arrested for fatal May crash

A Bethel man has been arrested for a fatal crash that happened in May.  66-year old Bradley Stock was charged on Friday for misconduct with a motor vehicle.  The crash happened on May 10th on Route 53 near Mansfield Street.  Both drivers were extricated fro from the vehicles, and one died three days later.  Bethel Police determined that Stock crossed the center line while passing another car headed northbound.  His vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed when it collided head-on with the vehicle in the southbound lane. Stock was released on bond for a court appearance on October 20th.

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Southbury, State Police seek suspect who fled traffic stop

A helicopter was used in the search for a suspect in Southbury over the weekend,  Police say a vehicle was stopped on I-84 westbound near exit 14 on Saturday, but the driver and passenger fled over the guardrail toward Main Street South.  Police gave chase on foot and the driver was located hiding in the nearby woods.  That person was taken into custody, though not publicly identified by police.  A police K9 and a helicopter searched for the passenger yesterday.  Southbury Police say the suspect was not a danger to the public, though urged anyone who saw anyone suspicious or very disheveled in the area to contact police.

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Vigil held to mourn 3 members of Wilton school community

A vigil was held this weekend in Wilton to mourn three members of the school community.  A custodian, Cesar Jimenez, a longtime plant manager for the Wilton school district, died suddenly on September 20th.  The next day, Wilton High School junior George DiRocco died from an apparent undetected heart condition. Last week a high school student died from an apparent suicide.  The vigil was held Saturday outside Our Lady of Fatima Church.  About 100 people attended the Service for Hope, organized by Wilton’s Interfaith Clergy Association.  Clergy members representing numerous faiths throughout the town offered remarks.

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Rep. Hayes tests negative for virus, 3 weeks after diagnosis

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes said a test Saturday showed no signs of the coronavirus in her body, nearly three weeks after she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Democrat, who represents Connecticut’s 5th District, has been documenting her battle against the disease on social media since revealing her positive test results on Sept. 20.

“Tossed and turned most of the night,” she posted on Sept. 21. “Breathing is so labored.”

Hayes said a follow-up COVID-19 test on Saturday came back negative. She said she also received a flu shot and made an appointment with the American Red Cross to donate plasma.

“We can all do our part to keep our community safe,” she tweeted Saturday in a post followed by three mask-wearing emojis and the hashtag ”#HealthyATHome.”

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No Halloween on Main Street in Newtown this year

Families who live on Main Street in Newtown traditionally have hundreds of trick-or-treaters come to their doors on Halloween, and go all out on decorations.  But town officials have heard health concerns and announced that there will not be Halloween on Main Street this year.  Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says there are other ways for families to enjoy the holiday and called on residents to coordinate festivities in their own neighborhoods, following CDC and state Department of Public Health guidelines.  There are several events planned by the town this month that Newtown residents are encouraged to attend.

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Multiple motor vehicles stolen in Bethel and Newtown today

Bethel Police have issued a public safety alert.  Starting shortly before 8am, multiple motor vehicles were stolen from homes and business parking lots in Bethel and Newtown. Police ask motorists to ensure cars are locked and that any key fob is a safe distance from the vehicles. Anyone with video surveillance footage of any potentially related activity, or sees observe any suspicious activity and persons is asked to contact the Bethel Police Department and not confront those persons.

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Redding Animal Control Officer on leave for health reasons

The Redding Animal Control Officer will be on leave due to a personal health matter.  In his absence, patrol officers of the Redding Police Department and/or the Bethel Animal Control Officer will handle the job. Residents can contact Redding Police Dispatch directly at 203-938-3400 for assistance.

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Bethel Police seek witnesses to hit & run involving pedestrian

Bethel Police are looking for anyone who witnessed a motor vehicle crash involving a pedestrian on Greenwood Avenue earlier this month.  The accident happened in the area of Caraluzzi’s around 3:30 pm on October 1. Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Iadarola at 203-744-7900 ext. 687 or miadarola@bethelpd.com

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Danbury boat launch to reopen for two weeks

The City of Danbury boat launch on Candlewood Lake will reopen today.  The facility will only be open for two weeks so residents can remove their boats from the water.  On October 26th, the City's boat launch will close again.

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Brookfield RTC to host Back the Blue Rally

The Brookfield Republican Town Committee is hosting a Back the Blue rally on Sunday.  The gathering is meant to show support for local law enforcement officers.  Speakers will include incumbent state Senator Craig Minor and Representative Steve Harding.  Connecticut Fraternal Order of Police President John Krupinsky will also deliver remarks.  The event on Sunday is from 1pm to 3pm at Brookfield Republican Town Committee headquarters at 49 Federal Road.

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Danbury City Council votes to rename sewer plant in honor of comedian

The Danbury City Council has voted to rename the Waste Water Treatment Plant for comedian John Oliver in order to leverage more than $100,000 in donations. 

Council Minority Leader Paul Rotello wanted to check on the impact of operations with City Attorney Les Pinter says this will be ceremonial and not impact grants or operations.  Pinter doubts anyone in a position to operate or fund the plant will care and believes everyone would recognize that this is a beneficial side action made in good faith. 

Mayor Mark Boughton noted that the police station is named for Florence Sullivan, but it's rarely referred to by the full name.  The same is true for fire headquarters on New Street.

Councilman Bob Taborsak abstained from voting on the idea.  Councilman John Esposito said he appreciated the humor, but opposed the name and would be a party pooper.

This all started when Oliver poked fun of Danbury, it's railway museum and  Hearthstone Castle

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10 car break-ins, one stolen vehicle investigated in Brewster area

Over the past weekend, New York State Police in Brewster investigated ten vehicle break-in incidents and one stolen vehicle.  These crimes were committed in the towns of Patterson, Southeast, and Carmel.  The majority of the vehicles were left unlock with valuables still inside.  Troopers are reminding residents to properly secure vehicles, even in your own driveway, at all time due to this increase in thefts.  Police say motorists should never leave a vehicle unattended while it is running and never leave valuables or personal identification in a vehicle.

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Grant awarded to study financing improvements to Danbury, New Canaan branches

A $400,000 federal grant from the Department of Transportation has been awarded to the Greater Danbury area regional planning group. The Western Connecticut Council of Governments will put the Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development or BUILD Grant to study the best method to finance improvements to the Metro-North Danbury and New Canaan Branch Lines.  West Cog Executive Director Francis Pickering says faster, more reliable passenger rail service is a key for the region but has been held back due to a lack of funds.  The project will consider a range of options, with involvement by all currently served on the branch line, as well as communities to which service may be extended including Brookfield and New Milford.

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3 Danbury firefighters promoted to Fire Lieutenants

Three Danbury firefighters have been appointed as Fire Lieutenants.  Firefighter Walter Arteaga has been with the department since 2003, and was a squad leader of the 101st Airborne Division.  Also promoted was Denis Rickard.  He joined the Department in 2007 and holds a Bachelor's degree in arson investigations.  The 3rd firefighter promoted to Lieutenant is Seth Ambruso.  He has been with the department since 2005 and is working on a degree in Fire technology.

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Sherman firefighters wrap up Fire Prevention Week

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department is wrapping up Fire Prevention Week by talking about outdoor fire safety. Intentional fires such as controlled burns or campfires require, in many cases, a burn permit from the town.  It's important to carefully examine the area where the fire is planned for, clearing an adequate area around the fire and have a water source available.  Any wind can cause an outdoor fire to spread quickly.  Gasoline engines require their own set of safety precautions.   Sherman firefighters say a lawn mower or other engine should never be left running where the exhaust is directed toward any combustibles such as dry leaves or grass.   Always store gasoline outside and never indoors near any ignition source such as a furnace or hot water heater.  It's always best to fill the tank when the engine and exhaust are cold and be sure to clean up any spilled gasoline before starting the engine.   If you do need to refill a tank after the engine has been running be sure to let it cool sufficiently as gasoline spilled onto a hot exhaust can cause a fire.

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New Fairfield not hosting Halloween event this year

Many have questions about Halloween and Trick or Treating this year.  New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says unfortunately restrictions on gathering size will prevent the municipality from hosting a town wide event this year.   Connecticut Guidance on Halloween activities states ”Traditional Halloween activities carry a high risk for spreading COVID-19, but that risk can be reduced significantly by organizing and participating in fun, lower or moderate risk alternatives.  The CDC Guidelines on holiday activities, including Halloween activities, have also been updated for this year.

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Danbury Police receive scam complaints involving fraudulent rental properties

The Danbury Police Department has recently received a significant increase in scam complaints involving fraudulent rental properties. Oftentimes, the perpetrator copies a legitimate online rental listing and reposts that listing to another website, like Craigslist and VRBO, with different contact information.  Danbury Police say there are signs that the rental listing could be fraudulent.  If the purported owner claims to be out of state and unable to meet or there are multiple listings of the same property--those are red flags.  Generally, Police say if the renter is asked to wire money, send via Western Union or a phone cash app that's a sign.  Renters should not put down a large security deposit before seeing the property.  Danbury Police suggest asking the landlord for references from past tenants and inspecting the interior, not just the exterior, of the property prior to paying.

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Danbury Library gives update to City officials about pandemic circulation

An update on the use of Library materials and services has been given to the Danbury City Council.  Danbury Library staff delivered 2,441 items to patrons via the curbside pickup service in August. Staff created 79 new library cards and answered 260 reference questions, both by phone and electronically. The library circulated 2,386 adult items and 588 children and teen items. 155 items were also checked out by patrons from other towns.  Danbury Library officials say the number for children and teen material will increase when the collection is unpacked from storage, where it was located while awaiting delivery of the junior floor shelving from the Connecticut State Construction Grant.  It was recently delivered and installed, with staff working on reshelving and reorganizing the items on the junior floor.

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New Milford Social Services receives donation for food bank distribution

During today's Food Bank distribution in New Milford, there will be more product available.  Mayor Pete Bass says the USDA and the state Department of Agriculture sent New Milford 50 cases of assorted vegetables, fruits, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, liquid eggs and hot dogs and scrapple.  The town also received 50 gallons of milk.  Social Services Director Ivana Butera and team will be distributing these, with the rest of the Food Bank's fresh produce, dairy and shelf stable food at the distribution.

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Redding Police to participate in No Shave November

Members of the Redding Police Department will once again put the razor down this month for a good cause.  Officers are  participating in No Shave November to raise money to support the mission of the Connecticut Cancer Foundation. The funds raised benefit their Cancer Patient Assistance Program, which helps patients with their basic needs such as rent or mortgage, utilities and food. Cancer becomes a financial burden to so many every day and Redding Police say patients families should never have to worry about going hungry or being evicted from their homes during treatment.  100-percent of donations go to Connecticut cancer patients.  The department raised 230 of their 500 dollar goal so far.

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Sherman firefighters remind residents to clean, service alternate heat sources

While the theme for fire prevention week this year is to Cook up Fire Safety in the Kitchen, Sherman Volunteer Fire Department says there are numerous other fire hazards around the house that can be easily mitigated.  Supplemental heating sources such as electric heaters must be a safe distance from any combustibles such as furniture or curtains.   Many people also turn to wood stoves, fireplaces and pellet stoves to help keep the house warm in the winter months.  Sherman firefighters reminded residents to be sure to have those serviced, both the unit itself and the chimney, before the heating season begins.   Blockages in the chimney from creosote buildup, other debris or animal nesting can create both a fire and carbon monoxide hazard.

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Town Clerk asks residents not to send in multiple absentee ballot applications

To date, the Bethel Town Clerk's office has issued over 3,200 Absentee Ballots with 624 having been received back so far. Lisa Bergh cautioned that her office has received two applications for some people though and asked that residents not submit multiple applications. She says this is a very large drain on office processing.  They issue and alphabetize every application and if a second one comes in, the system alerts employees.  The original application is pulled up to make sure a ballot--a single ballot--was issued. 

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Educators Rising Academy curriculum expanded to Danbury, 9 other districts

The state is expanding the Educators Rising Academy curriculum in ten school districts across Connecticut, giving high school students access to a program that encourages students early on to consider careers in education and diversities the pipelines the state’s teacher workforce.

Developed by teachers for teachers, with the support of the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, PDK International’s Educators Rising program emphasizes fundamental professional practices that are critical for the next generation of aspiring teachers to develop and take their first steps on the path to realizing their full potential.

The program, which includes curriculum, teacher training, and “Beginning to Teach” micro-credentials for students, is a centerpiece of a “grow your own” teacher recruitment strategy in a state where 60 percent of teachers work within 20 miles of where they attended high school. In-service teachers who aim to mentor and inspire high school students to teach in their own communities are critical to the program’s success.

The new cohort includes the school districts of Stamford, Hamden, Meriden, Hartford, New London, Danbury, New Haven, Waterbury, and Windsor. They will join the Consolidated School District of New Britain, which has been implementing the program for three years. The state plans to expand the program to the collegiate level so there will be a level of support and mentorship for students as they progress to postsecondary education, and has secured a commitment with Central Connecticut State University.

“This program is a much-needed catalyst for change and is a wonderful addition to our school communities,” Dr. Sal Pascarella, superintendent of Danbury Public Schools, said. “Danbury is one of the most diverse districts in the state and we can only benefit from this opportunity to encourage even more diversity among our teachers. While this will help to narrow that gap between minority students and educators, I believe that all students benefit from having diverse role models. Diversity should be the norm and programs such as this are the best ways to cultivate that growth.”

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Friends of the Danbury Library to host Mini Book Sale this weekend

The Friends of the Danbury Library will host a Mini Book Sale this weekend.  Masks and social distancing will be required for the event 9am to 2pm Saturday and Sunday.  Instead of the traditional larger book sale to benefit library programs and services at the Danbury Police Activities League Building, this mini sale will take place behind 15 Main Street.  The event is weather permitting. There are no rain dates. Attendees should park at South Street Elementary School.  Pre-owned adult and children’s books will be on sale for $3 or two for $5. Also available will be CDs, DVDs and collectibles.

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Flu shot clinic to be held

The state Department of Public Health is highly recommending the flu vaccination. There is a flu clinic from 4 to 7pm in Bethel at the Berry School gym.   It is free for all children under the age of 18.  A consent form will need to be filled out.

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Police unions endorse Republican in 26th State Senate race

Republican Kim Healy, who is running for the 26th State Senate District seat has been endorsed by all of the police unions in the district.  She is looking to unseat freshman Democratic Senator Will Haskell in the district which includes parts of Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield and Weston.  Haskell voted for the police accountability bill, which has prompted speculation about mass police retirements when it takes effect.  Healy says the bill doesn't remove bad officers from the job nor provide extra training for good officers.  She opposes the section which prohibits consent searches during traffic stops, which Healy says has been an essential tool in removing firearms from the streets.  She says touting gun control efforts while at the same time eliminating law enforcement's ability to remove illegal weapons is short-sighted at best.

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Danbury City Council to hold special meeting about sewer plant renaming

There will be a quick turn around on a Danbury City Council ad hoc committee meeting to look deeper into naming the waste water treatment plant after a comedian who pledged donations to teachers, Connecticut Food Bank and ALS. 

During their meeting last night, 4th ward Councilman Farley Santos urged his colleagues to support the John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant renaming.  More than 60 letters were read into the record during the public comment period, and dozens of others were sent to Council members.  He notes that they see the good coming from this at a time when organizations are in dire need due to the pandemic.

Councilman Bob Taborsak and other expressed concern about naming the facility after a person and after a non-Danbury resident.  Mayor Mark Boughton noted that it's just a resolution and can be changed by a future Council or future mayor.  Santos says if they don't take action and turn down the offer, it will make them look foolish and out of touch with their constituents.

Santos added that the sense of Danbury pride this has ignited is a much needed a boost during these dreary times.

Savings Bank of Danbury and Union Savings Bank have offered to match or exceed Oliver's $55,000 in donations with their share of the money going to the United Way's Danbury Food Collaborative. The ad hoc committee meeting tomorrow will be followed  by a special meeting of the entire council. 

The mayor has also pledged to give a personal tour of the sewer plant to anyone who donates at least $500 either to the banks’ fundraiser or directly to a Danbury food pantry. Donors should verify their contribution by contacting t.obrien@danbury-ct.gov.

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Firefighter briefly hospitalized, 7 residents displaced by Danbury blaze

A firefighter has been taken to the hospital for evaluation following a two-alarm house fire in Danbury.  Firefighters responded to Carriage Lane shortly after 8am yesterday.  Responding firefighters reported heavy smoke throughout the house.  Tankers from West Redding, Georgetown and Ridgefield responded with mutual aid due to the lack of hydrants in the area.  A medic was also called to the scene.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.  The 7 occupants were displaced and were assisted by American Red Cross Connecticut. The firefighter has since been released from the hospital.

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Extension filed to appeal court ruling over proposed crematory in Bethel

An extension to appeal an appellate court ruling has been filed by a business owner who wants to construct a crematory in Bethel.  The Appellate Court last month affirmed the decision of the state Superior Court and the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission rejecting the facility in 2015, according to the Newstimes.  Shawn McLoughlin is looking to construct the crematory on his property next to his concrete business, Mono-Crete Step.  The extension to appeal to the state Supreme Court would be 20 days.  The lower courts agreed that the local authority had the ability to reject the proposal because of the effect it could have on property values.  At the time of the proposal, several businesses threatened to leave the business park if the crematory was approved.

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Candlewood Lake Authority seeks funding to replace patrol boats

The Candlewood Lake Authority is asking the five towns that surround the lake for money in order to replace two of their four patrol boats.  The New Milford Town Council was told this week the Authority is seeking $60,000 from each town.  There's been increased traffic on Candlewood due to more people staying closer to home because of the pandemic and the CLA has had to tow more vessels, putting a strain on their resources.  There were more than 600 calls for service this season and 13 accidents reported.  CLA officials says that's nearly triple last year’s  number.  They made 67 public safety assists and responded to 20 disorderly conduct or breach of peace incidents.  Noise complaints are not included in those figures.  New Fairfield, New Milford and Sherman asked for more information.  The request will be presented to Brookfield and Danbury soon. 

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As activity moves indoors, Bethel First Selectman urges COVID precautions

Connecticut still leads the nation with one of the lowest rates of infection, but Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker cautioned that there have been minor upticks in the region.  With the cooler weather, he says it's natural that many outdoor activities are moving indoors.  He says this was a great summer for outdoor dining, family hikes and other activity, but now is the time to review how to keep the community safe.  Residents are reminded to wear masks indoors where others are present, maintain social distancing at all times, and follow good hand sanitizing practices.  Knickerbocker says the Bethel experience this summer shows that the community can enjoy local restaurants, retailers and businesses even if it has to be done with a mask on. 

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Sherman firefighters caution against leaving cooking unattended

This is National Fire Prevention week and the theme is Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.   Sherman Volunteer Fire Department says cooking is the number 1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen.  Sherman firefighters urged everyone to stay attentive when working in the kitchen so the sound of the smoke detector isn't the thing that jogs your memory that there was something on the stove. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors have details on the label that indicate when they were manufactured and when they should be replaced.   Many of them will start to make warning chirps when that time has passed.  It's a sound similar to when the battery needs to be replaced but putting in new batteries won't make the chirping stop.

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Brookfield firefighters offer fall water safety reminders

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is offering some reminders for people still taking to the water this fall.   From October 1st through May 31st, everyone in a canoe or kayak must wear a life jacket or personal flotation device.  There must be one aborad for each person, in the proper size and in good condition.  All children 12 and under must wear a Life Jacket.  In case of a capsize, Brookfield firefighters urge people to stay with the canoe or kayak, and if in a strong current, float down river feet first and toes up with the vessel ahead of you. They urged everyone to know the conditions before setting out and paddle within abilities.

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Hit and run accident in Newtown under investigation

A hit and run accident in Newtown is under investigation.  Connecticut State Police Troop A is investigating the evading motor vehicle accident on I-84 West, in the area of exit 11 around 7:45am yesterday.  State Police Troopers are asking for the public’s help in identifying the older model, dark gray, Toyota 4Runner which had 2 kayaks attached to its roof. The vehicle fled the scene with it’s rear bumper hanging off. Anyone with information is asked to contact Troop A - (203) 267-2240. All information will remain confidential.

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Greater Danbury area fire departments marking Fire Safety Week

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries.  The Danbury Fire Department is marking Fire Prevention Week this week, which has the theme of “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.”  Some safety tips they're reminding residents about include never leaving cooking unattended, keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — at least three feet away from your stovetop, and to be on alert. If you are sleepy, have consumed alcohol, or have taken medicine that makes you sleepy, don’t cook.

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department is offering reminders for residents during this Fire Prevention Week.  They urge everyone to have a family escape plan in case of a fire emergency.   A key point of that plan is an agreed upon meeting place that is a safe distance away from the house.   It could be the mailbox or a big rock in the yard, but it must be agreed on and understood by everyone.   If there is a fire it's important that everyone get out of the house and can be accounted for.  The most important question they ask when arriving on scene is whether everyone is safely out of the house.  If there is any doubt that there may still be someone inside then their approach to fighting the fire changes.  

Monroe Volunteer Fire Department is celebrating National Fire Prevention Week. With COVID-19 prohibiting firefighters from making fire prevention visits to the schools and hosting their annual open house, each day this week the department will release a short video on their Facebook page created and delivered by volunteer firefighters and directed toward adults and older children. 

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Danbury Fire Department to host drive-thru Fire Safety Event

In recognition of National Fire Safety Month, the Danbury Fire Department in partnership with State Farm Insurance Agent Maria Ordonez will be hosting a “drive-thru” Fire Safety Event Thursday from 3 to 5:30pm.  Children of all ages are invited to drive through with an adult and receive important fire safety material, information and activities.  Members of the Danbury Fire Marshal’s Office will hand out items at the Insurance Office at 9 Padanaram Road.  The event is touchless and will follow all appropriate CDC guidelines and protocols. Masks are required by all guests and participants.

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Women's Center Safe Walk raises nearly $70k

This year, the Women's Center of Greater Danbury's SafeWalk was a virtual event.  Participants did their own 4k over the weekend and wore purple to mark the occasion.  Donations were still raised for the event to benefit the Center's free and confidential programs.  About $70,000 was raised and donations are still being accepted.

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HRRA to host Recycling Public Education discussion

The Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority is hosting a Recycling Public Education discussion this week.  HRRA says managing waste and knowing what to recycle can be confusing so they will discuss the state's universal recycling guide and where garbage and recycling goes.  Jennifer Heaton-Jones, the Executive director of the regional governmental solid waste and recycling authority, will also talk about what China has to do with recycling in Connecticut, and how managing waste saves money and can affect taxes.  The one hour presentation will be followed by a half hour Q&A session.  The zoom meeting on October 7th will start at 6:30pm.  People can register on the HRRA website.

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Danbury Youth Baseball Association's free Sandlot program starting

The Danbury Youth Baseball Association's free Sandlot program will start on Monday.  Participants must sign a waiver and follow certain guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  The goal is to have a 3 week program.  Registration is not required for the sport at Rogers Park.  Ages 11 and 12 play Mondays, 9 and 10 year olds on Tuesdays, 7 and 8 on Wednesday and 5 and 6 year olds on Thursdays.  All of the events are at 5:30pm.

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5th Congressional candidates meet for first debate

The first of several debates for the candidates seeking to be the 5th District Representative in Congress has been held.  The debate was hosted by WestConn and moderated by the League of Women Voters.  Democratic incumbent Jahana Hayes is seeking a second term.  She is being challenged by former federal prosecutor David X. Sullivan of New Fairfield, and former Newtown Police Commissioner Bruce Walczak on the Independent line. 

They covered the topics of taxes, the future of the Supreme Court, police reforms and systemic racism, and the Affordable Care Act.  There were several questions related to the current public health crisis including whether they would support a national mask mandate and what the federal government's role should be in helping families.

When it comes to the Supreme Court, Walczak says the precedent the Republicans set during the Obama administration should be followed this year.  Hayes agreed that what's good for one administration should be good for all administrations.  Sullivan differed, saying that the vote outcome among Senators is known so the hearing in this case is almost pro forma.

On the topic of the Affordable Care Act, Sullivan said there needs to be changes.  He didn't directly address the case coming before the Supreme Court which could lead to it's repeal.  He says the law is flawed because healthy people and those who aren't are paying the same premium if they're the same age.  Sullivan noted that the President discussed an executive order to protect people with pre-existing conditions from being kicked off health insurance if Congress doesn't pass an ACA-alternative.  Walczak says both parties are at fault for not solving the problems.  He called health care a right and not a privilege.  Hayes cited changes by the House to repeal the so-called Cadillac tax and hearings aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs.

On a national mask mandate, Hayes says she doesn't support the idea.  She says the federal government should be making the investment in states so they can make sure if businesses are open, they have PPE and families can quarantine while not falling into debt.  Sullivan called mask protocols a state issue. 

Sullivan said multiple times that Hayes was a surrogate of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and voted with the Democratic party 100-percent of the time.  Hayes says her record reflects bipartisanship, with 11 bills being signed by the President.  Sullivan then added that he got into the race to fight a war against socialism and Marxism.

The pair have four debates set for this month.

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Waterbury man arrested for alleged drug sales in Danbury

A Waterbury man has been arrested for allegedly selling drugs throughout Danbury.  Police launched an investigation weeks ago into citizen complains about Ramell Crawford.  Members of the Danbury Police Special Investigations Division and the DEA Taskforce set up surveillance on Morningside Avenue in Waterbury yesterday morning and followed Crawford's BMW to Danbury.  He was taken into custody at the corner of Liberty Avenue and South Street.  Police searched his car and found a substantial quantity of illicit narcotics packaged for sale, drug paraphernalia and U.S. currency.  Police got a search warrant for his Waterbury home and seized several more items including a loaded pistol containing a prohibited large capacity magazine and additional narcotics.  Crawford was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, prohibited possession of large capacity magazine, and manufacture of a firearm without unique identification number.

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Ridgefield school community member tests positive for COVID-19

Ridgefield schools will not close despite someone in the school community testing positive for COVID-19.  In a letter to parents yesterday, Superintendent Susie Da Silva says the person was determined not to have been in a school when contagious.  The decision not to close buildings or to do contact tracing was made after consulting with the Ridgefield Health Director and the school's medical adviser.  The Superintendent forwarded a communication from Aaron Crook, COVID-19 Health and Safety Compliance Liaison and Coordinator of Nursing Services.  It cited the district's reopening plans calling for notification of the entire school community when there is a confirmed COVID-19 case.  The reopening plan never detailed the circumstances under which the notification had to be made. 

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Danbury announces plan for moving to hybrid learning

Danbury students will return to the classroom on October 26th, for the first time since March.  The district will move to a hybrid model for kindergarten through 12th graders, with preschoolers returning to the classroom the following week.  Danbury opened the new school year with distance learning due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the City.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella says their  medical team has determined the community is under the “moderate range” for community spread of the virus.  A larger number of students requested distance learning, so the hybrid model will allow the district to safely conduct in-school learning.  Families may revise their choice by contacting their children’s school by Wednesday.  The district and medical team will continue to monitor the spread of the virus and revise the learning model if necessary.

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Bethel officials remind residents about Nov. election procedures

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knicerkbocker is reminding residents about how the election will be run this year.  He says the polls will still be open for people who want to vote in person on November 3rd, between 6am and 8pm. Voters will be required to wear a mask and there will be strict cleaning and safety protocols in place.  Anyone uncomfortable showing up at a polling location can cast an absentee ballot, by filling out and returning an application for one.  The Bethel Town Clerk has processed over 2800 absentee ballot applications to date and sent out those ballots.  The US Postal Service has assured voters that they are well prepared to handle a high volume of mail at election time. Anyone with a concern though can use the secure ballot box bolted to the walkway near the front steps at the municipal center.  The heavy duty box is under 24-hour per day video surveillance and is triple-locked and checked multiple times per day by Town Clerk staff to ensure absentee ballots are kept in a secure location inside the vault in the clerk's office.

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New Milford makes exception to burn permit ban

New Milford Fire Marshall Kevin Reynolds is making an exception for the fire ban, which generally remains in effect for the town.  Residents may use a contained outdoor fire pit as long as there is a reliable water source at the fire pit, such as a garden hose.  The fire should be kept small and contained.  All other outdoor fires are prohibited.  Burn permits in New Milford are suspended until further notice due to the extreme dry conditions.  Residents are reminded not to burn leaves at any time.

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Brookfield Senior Center holding flu shot clinic

Brookfield Senior Center is holding a flu shot clinic.  It's being sponsored by Bethel VNA on October 19th from 1pm to 3pm.  Interested residents must sign up in advance for a time slot and complete paperwork before arriving.  Everyone must wait in their vehicle until appointment time and then wear a mask inside.  Meanwhile, Brookfield Senior Center officials are reminding residents about the upcoming open enrollment for Medicare D and Medicare Advantage Plans.  Enrollment is from October 15th until December 7th.  If no action is taken, current plans will roll over for 2021. 

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Danbury City Council asked to rename sewer plant after comedian

The Danbury City Council will be asked tomorrow night to rename the City's waste water treatment plant.  After comedian John Oliver and Mayor Mark Boughton got into a back and forth, including an offer of thousands of dollars in donations to teachers, food banks and ALS, the Council must sign off on the proposal to name the facility the John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant in order to get that money.

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Bethel Planning and Zoning continue hearing on proposed affordable housing projects

The Bethel  Planning and Zoning Commission has extended the hearing time to take comments on proposals for affordable housing projects on Good Hill and Shelley Roads.  Comments will be accepted at the meeting on October 20th.  The Inland Wetland Commission approved the work earlier this year.

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Redding Garden Club seeks participants for Halloween display

The Redding Garden Club plans to display homemade carved pumpkins on the town green from October 30th through November 1st.  LED lights will be provided.  Pumpkins can be dropped off at the Redding green between 4:30 and 7pm on the 30th and must be picked up after 8pm on November 1st.  Any pumpkin left behind will be discarded the next morning.

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Wilton Police mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The Wilton Police Department is marking Domestic Violence Awareness Month. One in four women and one in seven men in the United States have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, can be verbal, emotional, physical, financial, technological, or sexual. 

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Ridgefield firefighters train on new equipment

Ridgefield Professional Firefighters union says members are training on a new piece of equipment.  The 2020 Spartan/4 Guys Pumper Tanker truck will be in service soon.  The apparatus holds 2,500 gallons of water.  Fully loaded, it will weigh over 58,000 pounds.  This will be the 5th 4Guys piece to be placed in service in Ridgefield.

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New Milford lights up town hall red for fallen firefighters

This weekend New Milford turned the lights red at Town Hall in observance of National Firefighters Memorial Weekend.  Lighting Town Hall in Red for “Light the Night “ for Fallen Firefighters, Mayor Pete Bass said there were 103 firefighters who died in 2019 across the country and in previous years who were also remembered.  He thanked New Milford Firefighters for their selfless service to the community.

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Redding. HRRA discuss municipal recycling, waste disposal operations

The Redding Board of Selectmen recently discussed municipal recycling and waste disposal operations.  Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority Executive Director Jen Heaton Jones gave an update on current and future challenges to successful operations such as market conditions, capital infrastructure, and the like.  She reviewed the increasing costs of disposal and long-term challenges.  Heaton-Jones noted that there is a prevalence of incorrect recycling leading to contamination. Other challenges include generation of waste in excess of what the state can handle and due to the current market, not enough monetary return.  Options to achieve a reduction in waste and an increase in recycling were reviewed, including a pay-as-you-go system or a bag system.  Selectman Peg O’Donnell questioned if private haulers are required to follow the same rules as the transfer station. Heaton-Jones confirmed that they are and offered to educate residents on how to recycle properly.  Selectman Mike Thompson questioned ways to recycle more efficiently. Redding is currently in the Phase 1 pilot program in which glass is not included.  A guide to recycling will be posted on the HRRA website.

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5th District debate tonight

While still in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus, 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes will take part in a virtual debate tonight.  She is being challenged by Republican David X. Sullivan of New Fairfield.  The pair planned to be at the West Conn campus tonight for the live streamed event, but Hayes tested positive on September 20th.  She is being retested today, but may not have the results by tonight.  Hayes and Sullivan, a retired federal prosecutor, will be joined tonight by Independent candidate Bruce Walczak of Newtown.  The first of 4 debates between the two major party candidates is at 7pm and moderated by the League of Women Voters. The 90-minute debate, which will feature questions from moderators and viewers, will be live-streamed at http://www.wcsu.edu/live and on YouTube at www.youtube.com/channel/UC4VHdMke9a1wfp2aYuToudw.

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Box of food on top of a cooktop stove caused smoky conditions

A box of food on top of a cooktop stove caused smoky conditions inside a New Fairfield home over the weekend.  The Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to Curtis Avenue and reported no smoke our fire outside. Firefighters went inside and could smell a burning odor from an open basement door.  They found a plume of smoke coming up the stairs. Responders rushed into basement to find a box of food on fire.  The box was taken outside and no injuries were reported.  The fire department reminded residents to be careful bringing groceries home and putting items on a cooktop stove--accidentally hitting the power knob on for burner.

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Wilton High School student was gravely injured Friday

A Wilton High School student was gravely injured Friday and hospitalized, according to a letter from the Superintendent to the school community.  Kevin Smith wrote that he was unable to share additional details at this time but believe that many high school students and families may already be aware of the event and are naturally extremely upset.  Police responded to the woods off Pin Oak Lane Friday night on a report of a 15-year old who was in distress and possibly suicidal.  Police located the injured teen and transported him to the hospital.  School officials provided the 24-hour hotline number for Kids in Crisis, 203-661-1911. Counselors were available throughout the weekend. 

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Former Newtown man accused of 2 slayings returns to court

ROCKVILLE, Conn. (AP) — A former UConn student who avoided capture in several states for six days after being accused of killing two people in Connecticut was back in court Friday for a hearing in one of his two murder cases.

Peter Manfredonia, 23, was in Superior Court in Rockville on Friday, where a judge ordered some evidence in the case released back to the victim’s family.

Manfredonia is being held in lieu of $7 million bond. He is accused of killing 62-year-old Ted DeMers, a Willington carpenter, and severely injuring an 80-year-old man who came to DeMers’ aid in a sword attack on May 22.

Tolland State’s Attorney Matthew Gedansky received permission from Judge Kathleen McNamara to release the ATV DeMers was riding at the time he encountered Manfredonia.

Gedansky told the judge that it had secured forensic evidence from the vehicle, including DNA swabs and photographs. Manfredonia’s attorney, Michael Dolan, did not object.

McNamara continued the case to Nov. 20.

Manfredonia is due back Superior Court in Milford, on Oct. 29, where he faces a separate murder charge.

He is accused in that case of killing of 23-year-old Nicholas Eisele, an acquaintance from his hometown of Newtown, and for taking Eisele’s girlfriend against her will after fleeing from Willington to Derby. Eisele’s slaying occurred two days after the attack against DeMers.

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DECD seeks business feedback

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development is looking for feedback from the New Milford business community on the impact of COVID-19 on their operations.  In order to drive effective decisions and policies to support impacted businesses, DECD is hoping to learn more about the ways businesses have adjusted and what key services are necessary to ensure they continue operating.  Mayor Pete Bass is asking that a business owner or manager take a survey. Responses are due by October 7th. https://www.research.net/r/DECDbizsurveycomm

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Utility companies looking to get into the fuel cell business

Eversource and United Illuminating have awarded multiple projects, totaling 11.2 megawatts, to Danbury-based FuelCell Energy as part of the state-sponsored Shared Clean Energy Facility program. Each of the four FuelCell Energy power plants to be constructed will supply 2.8 megawatts of clean power to the Connecticut electric grid. The clean baseload power is enough to power about 3,000 homes, or a total of 12,000 homes taking into account all four FuelCell Energy platforms, with continuous clean energy.  The projects will be located in Danbury, Derby, New Britain, and East Hartford.  The next steps in developing these projects include working with the electric distribution utilities to finalize the power purchase agreements, obtaining siting approvals and interconnection agreements, and finalizing site engineering. These projects will provide clean baseload power, grid resiliency benefits and renewable energy credits to the Connecticut utilities under 20-year agreements.

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Danbury to pull back threatened lawsuit against Eversource

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says there's some good aspects to the recently approved Take Back Our Grid Act.  He says lawyers prepared a complaint against Eversource.  The City is not going to go through the expense of a lawsuit and will pull that back because the bill addressed a number of his concerns.  Boughton says this bill won't be retroactive, but is pleased going forward that people will be reimbursed for lost food and medicine from lengthy outages.

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Annual lake drawdowns to start this month

Annual lake drawdowns by FirstLight Power Resources will start this month. Lake Zoar will begin on the 23rd through November 2st at the Stevenson Dam. Next will be Lake Lillinonah through November 13th at Shepaug Dam, both for inspection and maintenance.  Candlewood Lake’s deep drawdown will start December 1st, until fishing season in April.  This drawdown also includes Squantz Pond to freeze the Eurasian watermilfoil, reducing the amount that appears in the summer. Shoreline homeowners are encouraged to remove structures, boatlifts, and docks to prevent ice or flood damage during the winter.

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Area fire departments mark Fire Prevention Month

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue is lighting up their station red this weekend in honor of this year's Light the Night for Fallen Firefighters ceremony.  Last year,  82 firefighters died in the line of duty in this country.  They and 21 firefighters who died in previous years, will be honored on Sunday at 10am during the 2020 National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Tribute To Fallen Firefighters. The national tribute will be broadcast at firehero.org Sunday morning.

October is Fire Prevention Month, chosen to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  The Danbury Fire Marshal’s Office is sharing tips in honor of the 300 lives lost during that fire.  They start off with not playing with matches, and include the old adage stop, drop and roll.  People are also encouraged not to hide, go outside.

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is reminding residents to check smoke detectors and fire escape plans in case of a fire emergency.  He raised a flag at Town Hall for Fire Prevention yesterday. 

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Brookfield earns Tree City USA recognition

Brookfield has earned the Tree City USA recognition for 2019 from the Arbor Day Foundation, National Association of State Foresters, and the USDA Forest Service. The town is one of 16 Connecticut communities to merit this accomplishment. First Selectman Steve Dunn says healthy community forests help make the state a better place to live by increasing the amount of shade, improving air quality, and creating a natural setting. As the smallest community in Connecticut named a Tree City, Dunn says Brookfield should be especially proud of this accomplishment.  He says the re-certification as a Tree City for the past 12 years has been an asset to programs hosted by the Conservation Commission and Brookfield, and has aided with various tree education events and community forestry projects.

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Police departments go pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

This October, Bethel Police Officers are wearing pink patches for Breast Cancer Awareness month.  The pink patch is an updated version of one of the original Bethel Police Department patches.  Putnam County Sheriff deputies are wearing pink patches to mark the international health campaign.  It's meant to raise awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure.

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Brookfield shifts recycling center to Danbury after New Milford outsources oversight

Brookfield's Recycling Facility has changed from New Milford to Danbury following the outsourcing of the site to a private vendor.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says Brookfield was not notified that this change was going to happen and only learned of it in the news.  Dunn says after meeting with the new operator in New Milford to discuss the changes, notification was sent the next day that they would no longer accept any Brookfield residents as customers.

Starting immediately, all Brookfield residents with permits can continue to recycle at the Oak Ridge facility in Danbury at 307 White Street. Dunn says he would have preferred to notify residents well ahead of any change, but the abrupt refusal to continue to service Brookfield residents caused the town to move quickly and establish a new relationship with Oak Ridge. 

Oak Ridge accepts every type of recycled product and fees are similar to the ones New Milford charges.  All residents who want to recycle at the Oak Ridge facility must have a permit issued by the Brookfield’s Public Works department. The fee is $10 annually and is free for those over age 62.

Residents can get full details of operating hours and materials accepted on the town web site under public works.

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COVID-19 test event to be held at Immaculate High School

A COVID-19 test event is being held in Danbury this weekend.  It will take place at Immaculate High School from 11am to 1pm.  There are separate hours for Immaculate families.  The school closed this week after one student in each of the two cohorts tested positive for coronavirus. 

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Ridgefield Police seek to hire part time dispatchers

The Ridgefield Police Department has openings for two part-time dispatchers. Applications can be found on the town's website.  The open positions are for a part-time Telecommunicator on Saturdays from 2:30 pm to 11pm, or on Sundays from 11:30 am to 8pm.  Candidates can apply for both or one of the positions. The deadline is November 2nd.

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Greater Danbury area school projects funded in special session

Several greater Danbury area schools will receive construction grants from the state.  The House and Senate approved funding for Danbury, Brookfield and New Fairfield.  Brookfield will use $16.7 million in state funding for the new pre-K through 5th grade facility to replace Huckleberry Hill and Center schools.  New Fairifeld is recieving $11.2 million for an expansion of Meeting House Hill School.

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Film about addiction to be shown in the Town of Washington

The Prevention Council of Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington is hosting a free film screening this weekend.  Sno Babies will be shown at  Washington's River Walk Pavilion on Saturday at 7pm.  Organizers say it's hard to watch, but the gripping story is about the grim realities of addiction and the triumph and challenges of recovery from substance use disorders.  Roxbury residents Michael Lombardi, a Shepaug graduate, actor and producer of Sno Babies, and Alan Kovacs, producer will be on hand at the showing.  Each facet of the Sno Babies project raises money for The Global Recovery Initiatives Foundation, the first and only national community foundation dedicated to funding support services for people in early recovery from substance use disorders.

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Ridgefield Inland Wetlands Board approves suction dredging of Rainbow Lake

The Ridgefield Inland Wetlands Board has approved suction dredging of Rainbow Lake.  The Ridgefield Lakes Association submitted plans to remove muck and leaves from 3 locations.  The sites identified are 65 Crescent Drive, the Ridgefield Lakes Association Beach, and 247 Mountain Road.  The private homeowner group, which relies on dues and voluntary contributions, must raise money for the proposed work.  Erosion and sedimentation controls for on-shore areas where the material removed would be dried out, along with water quality protections were included in the plans.

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9,000 absentee ballots to be mailed in Danbury, drop box added

Nearly 9,000 absentee ballots are being sent out to Danbury residents today.  The City received that many applications back and are fulfilling requests for ballots.  The Town Clerk says people should start receiving their ballots Monday or Tuesday.  People can still apply for an absentee ballot if they haven't already done so.  The City has added a 3rd drop box.  Ballots can be mailed back through the U-S Postal Service, or placed in drop boxes outside City Hall, King Street Fire House and now Broadview Middle School.  Final collection of absentee ballots from the drop boxes will be at 8pm on Election Day.

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Utility reform bill sparked by storm outages heads to Lamont

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Legislation that could ultimately base electric rates on a utility’s performance, the General Assembly’s initial response to thousands of frustrated Eversource customers left without power for about a week or more in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias, is headed to Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk.

Dubbed the “Take Back Our Grid Act,” lawmakers repeatedly called the legislation a “first step,” with some expressing concern about having a multi-state corporation as the state’s largest electric utility.

“It won’t be the final iteration of what happens or what we try and do, because this is complicated. We want to see rates stabilize. We want to see rates go down. And we want to see a better customer service experience for our constituents around the state of Connecticut,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk. “But we have to start somewhere.”

The bill passed the Senate on a 35-0 vote Thursday, a day after the House of Representatives approved the same legislation, 136-4. It’s one of nearly a dozen disparate bills, including legislation to give local election officials more time to begin processing large numbers of anticipated absentee ballots for the general election, that lawmakers were taking up during the General Assembly’s second special legislative session during the coronavirus pandemic.

The absentee ballot legislation will give cities and towns the option of opening the outer envelope of the absentee ballots and verifying the voter signed the inner envelope, beginning at 5 p.m. on Oct. 30. The inner envelope that contains the ballot may not be opened, however, until Election Day. The bill passed the Senate, 35-1, and now awaits Lamont’s signature.

While some Republican senators, the minority party in the legislature, suggested the utility reform legislation had been rushed and might not satisfy the concerns of ratepayers, they still voted for it. The General Assembly is up for reelection in November and many lawmakers acknowledged hearing from constituents upset by a lack of communication from Eversource following the August storm and long outages, which had come on the heels of a controversial rate increase during a pandemic.

Sen. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, said in some parts of Connecticut, including the northwestern communities he represents, the impact of Tropical Storm Isaias was equal or greater than any other storm that has hit the state. And he said every municipal leader and local public works official he spoke with said Eversource didn’t have enough staffing. He noted that in tiny Warren, “no one touched a wire or a branch for five days.”

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

The bill requires Connecticut regulators to begin the process of adopting a framework for a performance-based system for determining rates for electric distribution companies by 2022. It also raises the limit for civil penalties for electric distribution companies and gas companies that fail to comply with standards for emergency preparation or service restoration and requires customers to be credited $25 a day and reimbursed $250 in compensation for spoiled food and medication during lengthy outages of 96 consecutive hours after an emergency. That would have amounted to $19 million for the 255,000 customers left without power after four days, lawmakers said.

By early Thursday evening, the Senate approved four judicial nominations, including Appellate Judge Christine Keller, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s choice to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court, with scant debate.

Lawmakers also extended rules for hemp growers and manufacturers that were set to expire and clarified that condominium associations are eligible to apply for a supplemental loan program to cover certain expenses related to remediating crumbling foundations, a problem that has affected both condos and individual homes in eastern Connecticut.

Among other bills, senators authorized funding for school construction projects and updated public notification rules in economically distressed communities about power plants, landfills and similar projects. They were expected to approve a bill that streamlines a state law regulating the transfer of certain polluted properties and legislation that authorizes funding for school construction projects.

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Grants awarded to local health department, nonprofit

More than $1 million in grant funding has been awarded to health departments across the state.  The Connecticut Health Foundation has awarded the Danbury Health Department $125,000.  The City will use the grant to develop a team of community health workers to help with clinics for the flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine, when it becomes available.  The team will do contact tracing, community outreach and emergency response.  The Danbury-based New American Dream Foundation, which has been serving meals to students and seniors, received little more than $7,300. 

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Danbury reminds parents of spectator rules for fall sports

Yesterday was opening day of fall sports at Connecticut schools.  The Danbury district posted the rules and regulations for fan attendance at athletic contests.  The FCIAC rules are that all parents attending varsity athletic contests for soccer, field hockey, football and girls volleyball will be required to wear an FCIAC provided lanyard which identifies them by name, school and sport.  All parents attending with lanyards are required to wear masks at all times while anywhere on campus for athletic competitions.  Social distancing between parents is required.  No spectators are allowed at all Girls Swim and Dive meets due to limited off deck space which will be used to socially distance swimmers.  Parent seating for soccer, volleyball and field hockey will still be opposite the team benches.  For girls volleyball only home team parents with FCIAC lanyards will be allowed admission to the gym and total cannot exceed 25.

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New Milford will still host a trunk-or-treat event this Halloween

New Milford will still host a trunk-or-treat event this Halloween, but it will look a little different this year due to the pandemic.  The Parks and Rec Department says it will be a drive thru event at the John Pettibone Community Center from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.  Trunk-or-Treat took off following the 2011 October snow storm and traditionally involves residents decorating vehicles, with kids walking up to each car to collect candy. 

Due to social distancing requirements, participants will drive up to decorated vehicles and receive candy tossed into their trunk or into a bag held out the window.  Residents handing out candy must be in place by 5:15pm.  Everyone must register, though only one registration is needed per car.  

Trick-or-treating cars must enter Pickett District Road from the rotary on Still River Drive and use the Community Center entrance near Social Services and the Youth Agency.  Participants must remain in their vehicles; a volunteer will close each trunk upon exiting the lot. 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is urging families to avoid traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating this Halloween or having truck-or-treat events where candy is handed out from vehicles lined up in parking lots, identifying both as higher risk activities during the coronavirus pandemic.

https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Communications/Guidance/Connecticut-Halloween-Guidance

State officials are also urging people to avoid crowded indoor costume parties that exceed 25 people indoors or 150 people outdoors, large Halloween parades, indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming, and hayrides or tractor rides with people who aren’t in their household.

Those who do choose to hand out candy are urged to wear a face covering, remain 6 feet (2 meters) from the trick-or-treater and place the candy inside the child’s bag.

Dr. Deidre Gifford, the acting DPH commissioner, suggested that families still celebrate by doing activities outdoors, such as scavenger hunts with members of their household.

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Conn. Siting Council gets more time to render Kent cell tower decision

The Connecticut Siting Council has wrapped up public hearings on a proposed cell tower in Kent. The Siting Council requested an extension to their deadline to render a decision, which was due October 25th.  The new deadline has been pushed to January 25th.  Under Connecticut law, the Council may request an extension of up to 180 days beyond the statutory deadline, with consent of the applicant, which was granted.  Homeland Towers and New Cingular, AT&T, wants to install a tower at either 93 Richards Road or on Bald Hill Road. 

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Brookfield schools get more chromebooks, hotspots

The Brookfield school district  Director of Technology has led the district in adding 100 wireless access points throughout the four schools in busy public access areas. These access points can handle more communication at higher speeds. Approximately 300 Chromebooks were loaned to students last spring for remote learning. The majority were returned, cleaned, repaired and loaned out again at the beginning of this school year.  There was a significant delay though in the delivery of new Chromebooks, but Brookfield will be able to fulfill the needs of all 400 students at the elementary and middle schools.  That total does not include the Chromebooks already distributed to Brookfield High School students as part of the state's 1:1 program. Connecticut also awarded the district a grant to pay for one year of free Internet access for 40 families who indicated they do not have Internet access. The director also applied for HotSpots grants to aid in Internet connectivity, which the State agreed to fund for one year.

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Brookfield seeks residents' input on sculpture for pocket park

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen is looking for residents' input on a sculpture for a pocket park.  At the September Board of Selectmen meeting, the Brookfield Arts Commission presented their selection to be included in Phase 3 of the Streetscape plan.  Feedback from residents will be reviewed at the Board meeting on Monday.  Information about the sculpture and contacting the board with feedback is available on the town's website.

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Political signs stolen, removed

Kent First Selectman Jean Speck says there have been a number of calls recently from residents reporting political signs being removed from their property.  She says an important component that makes up the character of the community has always been one of fair play.  Speck has created a petition on change.org to pledge to never steal political signs: http://chng.it/4vhDHs6r

The state Department of Transportation has been mowing roadsides in Bridgewater.  First Selectman Curtis Read says crews have removed political signs and anything else in the state right of way.  Anyone who lives on 133 and has a missing political sign, he says it may be reclaimed at Town Hall.  Read asked that when residents replace it on their property, it's placed further back from the road. 

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says it has been reported that political signs are being stolen off of private properties.  He asked that residents respect those that choose to display their choice for political office and do not take signs off of private property.

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Two Immaculate High School students test positive for COVID-19

Two Immaculate High School students in Danbury have tested positive for COVID-19, and the school has moved to distance learning for the next two weeks.  The City health department recommended the temporary closure after 1 student in each cohort contracted coronavirus outside of school.  The school nurse sent a message to families on Monday about the positive result and said the person involved had not been in the building since September 23rd.  Immaculate is reviewing its protocols and expects to break lunch into three waves instead of two, in order to spread students out.  According to the schools reopening plan and social distancing guidelines, the dining hall can fit 100 students.

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40 West Conn students have been quarantined for weekend

40 West Conn students have been quarantined after three athletes were tested for COVID-19.  University officials say the athletes had symptoms, but received negative test results.  West Conn says the weekend quarantine of the athletes and the students they were in contact with was done as a precautionary measure as they awaited test results.  9 were midtown campus students, and were moved into Fairfield Hall.  The westside student dorms have bathrooms in each suite.  West Conn tests 25 percent of students at random each week, and plans are in the works to test 5 to 10 percent of commuter students. 

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Brookfield Social Services taking applications for heating assistance

Brookfield Social Services has begun taking applications for heating assistance. Individuals with income below $37,645 per year and couples below $49,228 per year and assets below $12,000 for renters and 15-thousand for homeowners, may qualify for heating assistance. Brookfield residents will need to provide current income, including Social Security, pensions, interest, and dividends and asset information along with an electric bill. Telephone applications will be taken to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection. A locked drop-box is located outside the Senior Center doors to drop off required documentation.

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Boarding, private schools in Kent set new rules to avoid COVID spread

Kent officials have met with the leaders of three boarding and private schools in town.  First Selectman Jean Speck says all have taken the COVID-19 prevention responsibility seriously.  They have discussed plans for how to control the spread of coronavirus and she called the discussions productive.  Almost 2,000 tests have been conducted in  Kent School, Marvelwood School, and South Kent School and only one student and one staff member were positive.  The independent schools created some basic guidelines top protect their campuses and the community at large.  The campuses are closed, meaning students will not be allowed into town.  No visitors, including parents are allowed on most campuses and students and faculty will continue to have regular COVID-19 testing.  The Kent School is permitting parents to visit students on a limited basis.

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Brookfield Town Hall re-opens to the public on Monday

Brookfield Town Hall, which has been open by appointment only, will re-open to the public on Monday. Visitors will be checked for COVID-19 related symptoms, and required to wear facemasks.  Residents are being asked to still conduct business online and over the phone when possible.  Anyone who must visit Town Hall should make an appointment. Walk-in visitors without appointments will be the last to be served. If an office has a visitor, additional visitors will be asked to wait in a meeting room.  There will be no walk-ins allowed at the Brookfield Town Clerk's office until after the election.  Applications for mail-in ballots and actual ballots may only be dropped off in the Official Ballot Drop Box located in front of Town Hall. No ballots will be accepted in person. Applications to apply for mail-in ballots will be available at the front desk.

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Anonymous complaint about farm stands leads to New Milford Town Council discussion

The New Milford Town Council has taken up a request for a zoning regulation change.  This stemmed from an anonymous complaint about a local farm stand and health concerns with meat and baked goods being sold. 

Mayor Pete Bass says he brought the Right to Farm ordinance up Monday night to correct what he said was misleading information circulating on Facebook. 

Farmer Joe Quaranta of Boardman Bridge Farmers Market wants the town to make it easier to have farm stands.  The issue was referred to the zoning commission.

Some Town Council members questioned who made the complaint and where the photos were taken.  Health Director Michael Crespan says they were purported to be screenshots of posts by the farm in question.  He added that the farm was closed when he went to investigate and could not confirm their validity.  He says this is all about food safety.  The health department has not issued any violations or orders to close.

Under state and federal regulations, meat and baked goods can not be sold at farm stands.  Farmers are allowed to sell their fruits and vegetables if they are sold as harvested. A commercial kitchen and other permits are required for prepared foods sold.  The sale of cheeses and meats require licenses.

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New Fairfield looking or CERT volunteers

New Fairfield is looking for additional members to volunteer their time to become a member of the Community Emergency Response Team. In 95% of emergencies, the victim, or a bystander provides the first assistance on the scene.  The CERT team responsibilities include identifying hazards in the home and workplace, assisting emergency responders, conducting light search and rescue, set up medical treatment areas, assisting at a shelter, supporting the EOC, non emergency community support and more. The training, materials and equipment will all be provided. CERT volunteers are trained to respond safely, responsibly and effectively in an emergency situation.  Training on various topics will be conducted via ZOOM.

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