Local Headlines Archives for 2020-11

Redding officials caution of probable power outages with Monday storm

Hazardous winds, thunderstorms and heavy rain has local emergency responders on alert. Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton had warned residents to be prepared for the possibility of power outages.  Eversource briefed Redding on its preparedness activities in anticipation of storm related outages. Restoration crews are staged in the area, though she cautioned that strong winds are expected to continue into tomorrow which may limit ability to immediately and safely conduct restoration activities in some areas.

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Zoom introduces new feature recommended by Congresswoman

Zoom has released two new security features including one recommended by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.  There's now a "Suspend Participant Activities" button. In a time when more people rely on virtual meetings, Hayes says increased security is crucial.  The recommendation was made to Zoom leadership following an incident during a constituent town hall with Newtown residents. The meeting was hijacked by participants calling her the N word, with at least one person told her to “shut up and pick your cotton" and flooded the chat with racial epithets.

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NY Troopers to hold car seat installation clinic

New York State Police will be hosting a child passenger safety seat event by appointment only on Tuesday December 8th.  The inspection and installation event will take place at Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department on Route 6 from 3pm to 7pm.  Child safety seat technicians will be on hand to assist with the installation, and answer any questions.  People seeking an appointment should contact Sergeant Anderson at (845) 677-7331 or via email at ktraffic@troopers.ny.gov

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Two drivers injured in weekend crash in Danbury

Two people sustained injuries in a car accident this weekend in Danbury.  Police responded to the area of White Turkey Road Ext. and Riverview Drive late Saturday night.  The preliminary investigation shows that a 2019 VW Jetta traveling north on White Turkey attempted to make a left turn, crossing into the opposing lane striking a driver headed southbound. Both drivers were transported to Danbury Hospital.  This collision is under investigation.  Any witness or person with information is asked to contact Sgt. Rory DeRocco or PO Jason Lyder at (203) 797-2157.

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MTA to hold hearings on fares, tolls

The MTA has started the biennial process to review fares and tolls.  Commuters can register by 5pm to speak and give feedback about fare proposals at the first public Zoom hearings. Registration for each meeting will close when 240 minutes of public comments are scheduled or at 5pm the day before the hearing is scheduled, whichever comes first.  The hearings start tomorrow.  There are also hearings on Thursday at 10am, next Monday and Wednesday at 5:30pm and two for the following week.  Other ways to comment are electronically, by phone, and in writing.  Comments will be accepted until December 21st.  646-252-6777, between 6am and 10pm or https://new.mta.info/transparency/fares-and-tolls-2020.

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Danbury Police Department orders body cameras

The Danbury Police Department had a tentative deal with a vendor last December to get body cameras, but Chief Patrick Ridenhour says the vendor could not meet the terms when the funding was approved. The previous vendor was acquiring a new company and changing models, sending Danbury back to the drawing board.  Ridenhour says they have selected a new vendor and he hopes to have them in by the end of the year.  The newly passed police accountability bill requires body and in-car cameras.  Danbury does have some cameras in their patrol cars, but Ridenhour says they do have to get some new ones.  He notes that from a budgetary standpoint, that doesn't have to be fully implemented until July 2022.  As for training and other provisions in the bill, Ridenhour says the Danbury Police Department is up to date and sent to meet all implementation dates.

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DMV extends deadlines as branches experience long lines

There have been some long lines at the Danbury Department of Motor Vehicles, even for people who have an appointment.  That's been seen at DMV branches across the state and hasn't gone unnoticed by Connecticut officials.  The DMV has been authorized to extend deadlines for Connecticut residents with expiring credentials.  Anyone with a license, learners permit, commercial drivers license or ID card that expired to will expire between March 1st 2020 and December 31st 2020, it's valid for a year after the expiration date printed on the credential.  For a license, permit or ID expiring between January and March 31st, it's extended through December 31st. 

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Danbury Mayor dons chicken suit in fundraising effort to fight food insecurity

A chicken and a unicorn ran down West Street in Danbury Friday afternoon.  Mayor Mark Boughton and his public relations coordinator, Taylor O'Brien, donned the costumes as part of an effort to address food insecurity. 

(Video Courtesy Union Savings Bank)

They're raising funds for the Feeding Our Neighbors Challenge to benefit 14 area food banks in the Danbury Food Collaborative.  The challenge, started with $45,000 from three local financial institutions, has brought in more than $83,000.  Boughton raised about $5,600 while O'Brien brought in $6,600.

The “Feeding Our Neighbors Community Challenge” has a goal of raising $100,000 by the end of the year. 

It was launched after comedian John Oliver donated $25,000 to the Connecticut Food Bank as part of a back-and-forth with Boughton.

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Danbury Music Centre to hold virtual viewing of The Nutcracker

One Greater Danbury area tradition will continue this holiday season, though it will look different because of the pandemic.  The Danbury Music Centre will present a virtual performance of their 2019 Nutcracker on December 12th.  The virtual presentation will featured behind-the-scenes interviews with the conductor, costume designer and past stars.  Mayor Mark Boughton, who has a cameo as Mother Ginger, is among the slated guests.  The special features will start at 5:30pm, followed by the ballet at 6.  Donations to view the production begin at $10, with a special VIP pre-show party live via Zoom at 5pm for contributors of $100 or more.  Funding will go toward future Danbury Music Centre productions.

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Another positive COVID-19 tests among Ridgefield school community

Another positive COVID-19 test has been identified in the East Ridge Middle School community in Ridgefield.  Head of nursing services Aaron Crook said in an email over the weekend that the individual was in the building while they were potentially infectious to others on November 23rd.  That put 43 students and 9 staff members into a two week quarantine.  In total, the Ridgefield Public School District has had 38 known cases of COVID-19. That means some 907 students and staff have been in quarantine due to potential exposures in school, on the bus, and at athletic events. Four of those community members tested positive.

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State Police investigating fatal crash in Southbury

State Police are investigating a fatal motorcycle accident that happened in Southbury on Friday evening.  Police say a dump truck traveling eastbound on Kettletown Road and a motorcycle headed south on Route 67 collided at the intersection.  The crossing is not far from I-84.  52-year old Mark Kibby of North Granby was ejected from the motorcycle and transported to St Mary's Hospital with serious life-threatening injuries.  He was later pronounced dead.  A 52-year-old Holmes, New York man, the driver of the dump truck, was not injured. 

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National Guard members help out at Danbury COVID-19 testing sites

The Connecticut Institute for Communities is getting some help at their COVID-19 testing site.  Starting with the time slot on Saturday, members of the Connecticut National Guard were on hand to help with administrative work.  The guard members will be at the Greater Danbury Community Health Center through December 7th to enter test orders into the computer system.  A National Guard member is also helping at the Community Health Center’s site.  This comes as there are long lines of people waiting to be tested amid a second wave of infection.  Testing is available at 120 Main Street from 1pm to 4pm today.

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Broadway's Hamilton lends support to Regional Hospice's expansion effort

Regional Hospice is expanding to best serve babies and children with terminal illness, and their loved ones.  The North Star in Danbury will be the only residential hospice in the Northeast, and one of only five in the country.  It will cater to the complex needs of children at the end of life. 

A virtual event benefiting children's hospice programming and the North Star expansion is being held on December 3rd.  The evening will feature Miguel Cervantes, Broadway's Hamilton.  He will perform an original work in memory of his late daughter, Adelaide.  Cervantes and his wife, Kelly, a national health advocate and activist, are commemorating the life of their daughter, who died in hospice last year, just before her 4th birthday.

Cervantes will be singing his song “‘Til the Calm Comes,” with piano accompaniment by Tamar Greene, who played the role of George Washington alongside Cervantes in the New York production of Hamilton. Cervantes had played the title role of Alexander Hamilton for three years in Chicago before taking over the role on Broadway.

The event is free, though registration is required online makingthebestofeveryday.org or by calling 203-456-8208 or 203-702-7400.

A component of the expansion plan in Danbury is to enhance the Special Patient Fund, the nonprofit program that subsidizes over $1 million in care costs annually, including respite care, for families in need.  A temporary stay at the North Star residential hospice will provide children with the comforts of home, coupled with round the clock specialized clinical care.  Respite care is not often covered by insurance. Subsidized by the Special Patient Fund, parents are given a break from caretaking to focus on reconnecting as a family.

The Wish Upon the North Star event includes a silent auction featuring a cooking class with the Iron Chef and restaurateur, Ming Tsai; a Zoom call with TikTok sensation Mark Anastasio; and a romantic Italian villa get-away, among a range of other unique items and experiences. Rising star, singer-songwriter Jon Davis will also perform his moving song “One Wish,” written to benefit the North Star.

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COVID-19 testing today in Danbury

The Connecticut Institute for Communities is running COVID-19 testing at their 120 Main Street location from 9am to 1pm, in the back parking lot.  No symptoms or doctor referral is needed.  There is no fee for COVID-19 tested at the Community Health Center.  Danbury Police cautioned drivers to avoid the side streets around the facility though as there could be long lines of cars waiting for their turn at the testing site.

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Danbury Library holding first-ever Virtual Holiday Market

Danbury Library is holding their first-ever Virtual Holiday Market, today through January 1st. A curated collection of Connecticut artists and craftspeople will be featured on the Library’s website, highlighting the importance of shopping local and supporting small businesses this holiday season.

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New Fairfield's annual Holiday Light Parade is tonight

New Fairfield’s annual Holiday Light Parade will take place tonight, though it will be different this year due to COVID-19.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the 9th annual event begins at 5:15pm.  The parade route has been extended since there will be no viewing in the center of town this year.  The procession of vehicles will start at Memorial Field, make its way up Brush Hill Road to Gillotti Road, past the schools and onto Route 39 before turning right and proceeding around Ball Pond, down Warwick Road to Route 37, ending at the Senior Center.

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Retired police officer killed in a car crash in Easton on Tuesday

A retired police officer was killed in a car crash in Easton on Tuesday.  Police say 84-year old Kenneth Lowman of Monroe was pronounced dead at the hospital on Tuesday night.  He served 22 years as an officer with the Stamford Police Department.  Police say a Jeep was headed north on Route 59 around 5pm and crossed the center line, sideswiping a car.  The Jeep continued north in the southbound lane and hit another vehicle.  The Easton fire department extricated two passengers from their vehicles and they are being treated at the hospital for serious injuries. The investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the accident.

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Ridgefield Turkey Trot organizers look forward to next year

The Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield says Tom the Turkey got into some trouble yesterday without the Turkey Trot to keep him occupied.  The turkey mascot ended up in the lock up.  Police let him out though, on written promise to appear at next year’s 40th Turkey Trot celebration.  This year's road race, like others, was called off due to the spike in COVID-19 cases.

(Photo: Boys & Girls Club)

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Danbury Police in home stretch of 'No Shave November' fundraiser

There is less than a week until November ends, and the Danbury Police Department is in second place in their No Shave November fundraising effort.  They have raised the second most money, behind Stamford Police, in the charity event benefiting  Circle of Care. The non-profit organization is dedicated to providing financial and emotional support for families of children with cancer.

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Bethel welcomes three new police officers

The Bethel Police Department has welcomed three new members.  Officers Gavin Lavallee, Michael Perrone, and Gary Sorrentino recently graduated from the Connecticut Municipal Police Academy. While their experience was far from traditional due to the ongoing public health emergency, Bethel Police officials say their hard work and dedication ensured their success. All three officers have started in the Department's Field Training Program.

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Mayor to don chicken suit today to raise money to fight food insecurity

A chicken will be running down through CityCenter Danbury today.  Mayor Mark Boughton will don the costume as part of an effort to address food insecurity.  He's been raising funds for the Feeding Our Neighbors Challenge to benefit 14 area food banks in the Danbury Food Collaborative.  The United Way says Boughton and his public relations coordinator, Taylor O'Brien, will race from City Hall to Danbury Library.  O'Brien will be dressed in unicorn costume.  The challenge, started with 45-thousand from 3 local financial institutions, has brought in a total 81-thousand dollars.  Boughton raised about 54-hundred dollars while O'Brien brought in 66-hundred dollars. The “Feeding Our Neighbors Community Challenge” has a goal of raising 100-thousand dollars.  It was launched after comedian John Oliver donated 25-thousand dollars to the Connecticut Food Bank as part of a back-and-forth with Boughton.

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Danbury schools part of a rapid COVID-19 testing pilot program

The Danbury School District will now be part of a pilot program testing students and staff for coronavirus.  Rapid tests will be available at the school-based health centers for students and staff with symptoms.  The program will be in place at the high school and Broadview and Rogers Park middle schools.  The BinaxNOW rapid antigen test program is being implemented by the state as part of a pilot program to avoid having to close entire school buildings when there's suspected COVID-19 cases.  This is for students or staff who develop symptoms while in the building, but families are asked to not send their children to school if they're exhibiting symptoms.  While Danbury is on distance learning, parents can make an appointment for a drive thru test for their child. 

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More than 100 turn out at Kent COVID-19 test event

Kent had big turnout at the town's COVID-19 testing on Monday, despite some windy and rainy conditions.  First Selectman Jean Speck says 102 Kent residents and those from surrounding towns got a PCR test.  As of Wednesday, the RVNA had notified everyone who tested positive--and only one Kent resident tested positive.  The town has had 15 COVID-19 cases this month alone.  The Kent Public Works Department set up and took down the tents, cones and signage in the less-than-cooperative weather. 

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Local police offering Black Friday shopping safety tips

Local and state police are offering some reminders for people who are out searching for deals today as the gift giving season kicks off.  Danbury Police suggest keeping parked vehicles locked, with valuables kept out of sight.  Shoppers should pay attention when entering and exiting vehicles--and if someone looks suspicious, don't park nearby and alert security.  Shoppers are urged not to carry so may bags out to your vehicle that you become an easy target to someone who may want to assault or rob you. Keep at least one hand free at all times.

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Newtown Police Department holds first roll call at new facility

The Newtown Police Department held its first roll call at their new facility.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal attended the roll call to wish the best to the officers and civilian staff.  The department will remain closed to the public for the next two weeks to allow members to get police records and evidence divisions moved to the new building and set up.  Spokesman Lt  Aaron Bahamonde says this was a 5 year project that has been talked about for the past 20 years.  He noted that to finally have this roll call was special and exciting.  The Department thanked residents for their support in funding the new facility.

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Local town downgraded from state's COVID-19 red zone

Among all of the red alert towns, there are some municipalities in the state that have little COVID-19 infection.  Many of the towns are in the northwest corner.  Bridgewater has never risen to the orange or red level, having always been under 5 cases reported at any one time.  Roxbury was in the red zone last week, but has been downgraded.  It's now in the gray zone with neighboring Bridgewater.  Several other towns were also downgraded out of the red zone--the towns of Ashford, Guilford, North Stonington, Pomfret, and Preston.

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Metro North Danbury Branch now operating with Positive Train Control

The President of Metro-North Railroad says roll-out of Positive Train Control is nearly completed and is expected to be complete on time by the end of the year, despite the unprecedented and catastrophic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the finances of the railroads’ parent organization, the MTA.  

East of the Hudson River, installation of PTC equipment along the wayside is complete and all trains on the Harlem Line, Hudson Line, and Danbury Branch are operating with Positive Train Control. On the New Haven Line and the New Canaan Branch, the railroad has completed testing the PTC software for the line’s M8 electric cars and is obtaining the safety certification that will allow M8 trains to enter PTC operations at the end of the month.

The Waterbury Branch in Connecticut is exempt from the federal PTC mandate due to the small number of trains. Connecticut has opted to have a new cab signal system installed on the Branch though to improve overall safety, and PTC will be implemented as an overlay to the new signal system by the end of 2021.  

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Easton Police participating in Click It or Ticket enforcement

Easton Police are participating in the Click It or Ticket enforcement effort that gets underway today.  Many area police departments are part of the statewide mobilization to remind motorists and passengers to always wear a seatbelt. The campaign runs through Thursday December 3rd. Officers will be out enforcing seat belt laws in an effort to keep more people safe on the roads.

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Putnam County Sheriff teams up with Toys For Tots

The holidays are just around the corner. And this year, Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley says with its challenges, means more gifts for kids are needed. His office is once again teaming up with the US Marine Corps for their Toys For Tots campaign.  Area residents can donate a new unwrapped toy to the collection bin located at the Sheriff's Department.

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Bethel's Brotherhood-In-Action Program distributes food to families in need

Volunteers from Bethel’s Brotherhood-In-Action Program are helping families to fight food insecurity this Thanksgiving.  They were able to distribute 386 boxes of food supplies, at 60 pounds per box, to 162 area families in time for the holiday.  Greater Danbury area fire departments also held food drives last weekend to help with donations to local food pantries.

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Danbury Animal Control telephone lines down temporarily

Danbury Animal Control telephone lines are temporarily out of service. Until further notice, all calls for service should be placed directly through the police departments main line at 203-797-4611 and animal control will be dispatched appropriately. Non-emergent complaints and correspondence can still be done through Facebook Messenger, which is checked daily. 

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Fare collection returns to HART buses

HARTransit has made some upgrades to their buses in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  Barriers  were installed on the buses to create a safe boundary between drivers and passengers. With this safety measure in place, fare collection has returned.  To encourage using passes as opposed to cash during the pandemic, 30-day passes will be offered at a reduced rate. Also, ticket books will be issued to replace punch passes.  To order by mail or online log onto hartransit.com/fares-and-passes.

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Kent Fire Department annual Parade of Lights called off

Kent Volunteer Fire Department says the annual Parade of Lights will not be held this year because of safety concerns due to the pandemic.  The firefighters says it was a tough decision, but the safety of residents is their first concern.  The Stuff a Truck event to collect unwrapped toys to help families in need will not be held either.  Residents can donate directly to the fund online.

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Special Olympics Connecticut recognizing Bethel Public School District

Special Olympics Connecticut is congratulating the Bethel Public School District.  Bethel is the only town in Connecticut with elementary, middle and high schools that have received national recognition for outstanding Unified Sports programs and school-wide activities to promote inclusion.

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Broadway's Hamilton lends support to Regional Hospice's expansion effort

Regional Hospice is expanding to best serve babies and children with terminal illness, and their loved ones.  The North Star in Danbury will be the only residential hospice in the Northeast, and one of only five in the country.  It will cater to the complex needs of children at the end of life. 

A virtual event benefiting children's hospice programming and the North Star expansion is being held on December 3rd.  The evening will feature Miguel Cervantes, Broadway's Hamilton.  He will perform an original work in memory of his late daughter, Adelaide.  Cervantes and his wife, Kelly, a national health advocate and activist, are commemorating the life of their daughter, who died in hospice last year, just before her 4th birthday.

Cervantes will be singing his song “‘Til the Calm Comes,” with piano accompaniment by Tamar Greene, who played the role of George Washington alongside Cervantes in the New York production of Hamilton. Cervantes had played the title role of Alexander Hamilton for three years in Chicago before taking over the role on Broadway.

The event is free, though registration is required online makingthebestofeveryday.org or by calling 203-456-8208 or 203-702-7400.

A component of the expansion plan in Danbury is to enhance the Special Patient Fund, the nonprofit program that subsidizes over $1 million in care costs annually, including respite care, for families in need.  A temporary stay at the North Star residential hospice will provide children with the comforts of home, coupled with round the clock specialized clinical care.  Respite care is not often covered by insurance. Subsidized by the Special Patient Fund, parents are given a break from caretaking to focus on reconnecting as a family.

The Wish Upon the North Star event includes a silent auction featuring a cooking class with the Iron Chef and restaurateur, Ming Tsai; a Zoom call with TikTok sensation Mark Anastasio; and a romantic Italian villa get-away, among a range of other unique items and experiences. Rising star, singer-songwriter Jon Davis will also perform his moving song “One Wish,” written to benefit the North Star.

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Couple charged with falsely reporting assault in order to obtain visa, benefits

A couple has been charged by Danbury Police with lying to police in order to obtain visas.  Danbury Police charged 53-year old Adriana Lima-Curvina and 41-year old Andre Dos Santos last Tuesday with falsely reporting an incident, attempted larceny, and false statement.  She was also charged with interfering with the duties of an officer. 

An investigation was launched in January into the Naugatuck couple's report of being assaulted during an armed robbery at a shopping plaza in Danbury.  Detectives learned that Lima-Curvina and Dos Santos applied for U Nonimmigrant Status and benefits from the Office of Victim’s Advocate for injuries they sustained during the alleged incident. 

Police say the couple lied about the robbery in order to obtain U Visas and benefits. 

The U Visa is for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.  If the U visa is approved, the applicant receives a four-year work permit.  After the recipient has the U visa for three years, they can apply for lawful permanent residence.

Lima-Curvina and Dos Santos are being held on $50,000 court ordered bonds.

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Ridgefield to add drive through COVID-19 test site next week

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi expects to add a drive through COVID-19 test site in town by the end of next week.  As emergency management officials work through the logistics, he says information on the site location, how to sign up and the process will be available early next week. In the meantime, he urged residents to wear a mask, social distance and practice good hand hygiene. Marconi says statistics prove that states with mask wearing mandates have a lower average positivity rate than those without.

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COVID-19 testing at one Danbury location changes hours due to holiday

The Connecticut Institute for Communities has different hours this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  They are offering COVID-19 testing at their 120 Main Street location today from 1pm to 4pm.  There is no testing tomorrow or Friday.  Staff will be back at work on Saturday at 9am and conducting tests until 1pm.  All testing is done in the back parking lot.  No symptoms or doctor referral is needed.  There is no fee for COVID-19 tested at the Community Health Center.  Danbury Police cautioned drivers to avoid the side streets around the facility though as there could be long lines of cars waiting for their turn at the testing site.

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Putnam County law enforcement stepping up DWI patrols

Law Enforcement agencies in Putnam County are participating in a special enforcement effort to crack down on impaired driving this holiday weekend.  This traditionally is one of the busiest travel times of the year, and Sheriff Robert Langley says more people on the roadways means the potential for more crashes. In a combined effort to stop impaired driving, prevent injuries and save lives law enforcement officers across New York State will take to the roads today through Sunday.  Research shows that high-visibility enforcement can reduce impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent.  The Statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign will also target the Holiday Season in December.

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Virtual holiday lighting festival in Ridgefield this year

A virtual holiday lighting festival is being held in Ridgefield this year, in lieu of the annual downtown countdown on Friday, November 27th.   Although there will be no in-person activities, First Selectman Rudy Marconi says several groups are coming together for the time-honored lighting tradition.  Ira Joe Fisher will serve as Master of Ceremonies.  ACT, the Ridgefield High School Choir, the Ridgefield High School Orchestra, the Prospector, the Theatre Barn, the Ridgefield Chorale, and other will have a role in the virtual presentation, hosted by Downtown Ridgefield, The Ridgefield Chamber and the Town.  The event can be viewed on Facebook or Vimeo.  Marconi says a special email address that goes straight into Santa’s mailbox has been set up for anyone wishing to send a letter.  That email is Santa@RidgefieldCT.org.  

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Danbury firefighters offer Thanksgiving safety tips

The Danbury Fire Department is reminding residents that kitchen safety is important, especially on Thanksgiving Day when there is a lot of activity going on.  Some of the safety tips the department is highlighting include being home when cooking the turkey, keeping an eye on food cooked on the stove top and making sure smoke alarms are working.  The Danbury Fire Department also urged parents to keep kids away from the stove, from knives and from matches.  They also cautioned that the steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.  Homeowners should also be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.

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New Milford families in need getting Thanksgiving meals

The United Way, Women’s Club of New Milford, Social Services, Senior Center, Knights of Columbus, and other volunteers came together to feed families in need this weekend.  They coordinated donations for Operation Thanksgiving, which is helping over 275 New Milford families and Seniors in need this Thanksgiving.

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Benefit held for Community Culinary School of Northwestern Connecticut

Over 150 runners from Connecticut and New York recently took part in a fundraiser for the Community Culinary School of Northwestern Connecticut.  The event was hosted by New Milford Fitness and Aquatic Club.  The 5K and 10K races were held at Litchfield Crossings, New Milford’s largest shopping center. All event proceeds went to the Community Culinary School, an organization that has prepared over 16,000 meals to feed the New Milford community during the Pandemic.

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Wilton Social Services to deliver Thanksgiving meals to families in need

On Thanksgiving Day, volunteers will deliver dinner to Wilton residents who are alone or otherwise would not have a meal.  The dinners, organized by Wilton Social Services, are possible due to the generosity of residents.  First Selectman Lynn Vanderslice says this is just one example of the many kind and generous acts by residents and businesses throughout the pandemic.   

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New Fairfield to improve Town Hall, reach out to businesses amid second COVID wave

New Fairfield officials have made moves to put a new state grant to work right away.  The town was awarded $128,000 in the form of a STEAP grant for ventilation for both Town Hall and the Annex.  Currently, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the buildings are running fans and opening windows. The balance of this project costs about $96,000.

The full amount is coming from the town so they can sign the contract and get the work done as soon as possible.  Once the grant is received, the grant money will go back to the general fund.

The Selectmen are looking at ways to help small businesses in town during second round of COVID.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says there is a possibility of deferring taxes for small businesses or possibly establishing a tax abatement committee in town.  Since it's not a Charter town, the Board discussed what options would be open to them. 

Members suggested reaching out to small businesses to make sure they apply for all currently available state and federal grants.

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Only creche, menorah apply to be displayed in Bethel for the holidays

Only two applications have been proposed for holiday displays in Bethel this year.  Both are sponsored by Bethel United Methodist Church and Tim Martin for P.T. Barnum Square.  He proposed the traditional creche, which has been displayed for years, and a menorah, which was put up for the first time last year. 

Both are proposed to be displayed from today through January 7th. 

The Bethel Board of Selectmen adopted regulations last year calling for applications to be entered into a lottery if there are too many seeking the same parcel of land. 

The holiday displays are allowed on P.T. Barnum Square between the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through January 7th.  A Bethel resident or organization can apply.  The application period is October 1st to November 7th.  Displays can only take up a third of the total square footage of the property.  Applicants must have insurance.  Applications can be rejected for public safety concerns.

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker had proposed at the Board's meeting last week that they move the start date to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  He said that would leave more room for people gathering for the tree lighting, typically held the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Since it's a virtual event this year, the Selectmen decided to hold off on changing the regulation. 

Selectman Rich Straiton said he still hopes to move tree lighting to municipal center in future years. 

The regulation and application process came up after a resident submitted a proposal to hang a banner, wishing a happy holidays from 'your friendly atheist neighbors' on P.T. Barnum Square, at the same time as a creche.  

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More students arelearning from home for the next couple of weeks

More students are learning from home for the next couple of weeks.  School districts in Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, Newtown, and Easton, Redding and Region 9 all moved to full distance learning for all students.  Danbury has been on distance learning since the Spring.  Ridgefield High School students are doing distance learning through Thanksgiving break.  Several districts cited staffing issues as more educators are in quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure.  Most of the districts expect to move back to at least a hybrid model of learning on December 7th.  New Milford is on hybrid, but will go remote the week after Thanksgiving.

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500 Lake Trout stocked in Squantz, other waters in 'bonus fishery' event

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recently stocked close to 500 Lake Trout in select waters around the state.  The “bonus fishery” happened last week at Squantz Pond and elsewhere.  The trout average between 24 to 36 inches long and weigh between 5 to 7 pounds.  There is no expectation that these fish will holdover for years or that they will reproduce. The stocking was done to provide Connecticut anglers with a specialty fishery, enhancing late season and winter fishing opportunities.  The fish come from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Berkshire National Fish Hatchery out of New Marlborough, Massachusetts, where they raise Lake Trout for restoration efforts in the Lower Great Lakes.  The standard statewide regulation of 5 trout per day applies to all stocked Lake Trout. The lone exception is in Squantz Pond during the month of March, when there is a 16” minimum length daily creel limit of 1 trout.

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Brookfield Board of Finance signs off on water line installation

The Brookfield Board of Finance has approved $1.69 million for a water line installation.  The line will run from Nabby Road to Huckleberry Hill Elementary School.  The Board of Selectmen will work with the Finance members on assessments, how much each property owner will be expected to pay to cover capital costs, following another public hearing.  The line was proposed to address chlorides and sodium found in some well sites tested in that area after residents said they had salty wells.  29 homes and the Huckleberry Hill Elementary School property would be impacted by the new line. 

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Newtown Turkey Trot will look different this year

It's a couple of days to Thanksgiving and the Newtown Turkey Trot will look different this year.  People can still sign up for the road race, which is being done any time over the course of the 4 day weekend at participant's 5k course of choice.  The benefit is for C.H. Booth Library. Hundreds of people have already signed up, from Cape Cod to California, and all ages, from 1 to 92.  People can participate individually or as a team, and post photos and race times on the Turkey Trot website.  The event will kickoff with a live stream on FaceBook at 8AM on Thanksgiving Day.  https://www.newtownturkeytrot.com/

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Danbury lawmaker to host video chat with hospital ER doc

Like the rest of the country, the Greater Danbury area region is going through a major spike in COVID-19 infections.  Tonight, state Senator Julie Kushner will be speaking with Dr. Patrick Broderick of Danbury Hospital's Emergency Medicine department to talk about how to limit community spread and what steps to take if you think that you may have been in contact with an infected person.  She notes that Danbury Hospital serves a broad geographic area and hopes people even outside the district can benefit from his insights on the status of the virus and the best way to curb community spread. He will also share information about the vaccine.  The Facebook live video starts at 6pm.

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Tribal leaders back bill on teaching Native American history

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Leaders of American Indian tribes in Connecticut voiced their support Monday for proposed state legislation that would require the teaching of Native American history in public schools.

The tribal leaders issued a statement with state Sen. Cathy Osten, a Sprague Democrat, in support of the bill she plans to introduce within the next several weeks. The legislation would require all public schools to include Native American studies in their social studies curricula, with a focus on the tribes that lived in what is now Connecticut.

“We fully support this bill, which will assist in public re-education that includes an accurate portrayal of the First Nations People in Connecticut,” said Katherine Sebastian Dring, chairwoman of the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation. “The Pequots were not destroyed, we survived. Truth may lead to positive change if we work together for a good life for all nations.”

Joining Dring in the statement were leaders of the other four state-recognized tribes: Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation; Beth Regan, vice chair of the Mohegan Tribal Nation’s council of elders; Leon Brown of the Golden Hill Paugussett Indian Nation; and Richard Velky, chief of the Kent-based Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.

Osten and other lawmakers introduced a similar bill earlier this year that drew concerns from state Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona, teachers’ unions and municipal leaders. The bill died as the coronavirus shut down much of the legislative session.

Cardona said in March that while it is important to teach about Native Americans, the bill would be an unfunded mandate for school districts that are still working to implement other courses lawmakers and the governor have required them to teach.

New state laws passed in the past two years require schools to teach African American and Latino studies, as well as courses on the Holocaust and other genocides. Many schools have had curriculum on these subjects already in place, but the laws solidify their teachings.

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Bethel schools switch to full remote learning

Bethel schools switched to full remote learning for the next two weeks because of staffing issues.  In consultation with the Department of Public Health, through contact tracing, Superintendent Christine Carver says the main source of transmissions is still as a result of  social gatherings and  within families. 

She notes that some staff have quarantined because they have a direct exposure in the community or their children are direct exposures, and just one has a compounding effect.  Bethel, like other towns in the state, does not have the substitute pool that they had in a traditional school year.  

Carver hopes that by being on distance learning through the week after Thanksgiving, all of the current staffing issues will be resolved. 

All meals continue to be free of charge to all, regardless of income, for students and their siblings age 18 and under.  Breakfast and lunch continue to be provided at the back of the High School between 11 am and 1 pm today and tomorrow, with families receiving 3 days worth of meals on Wednesday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  Regular daily meal service pickup will resume on November 30th.

During this temporary distance learning period, the Bethel Public Schools school nurses will be in their offices during the regular school day hours. Nurses should be notified if any of the following circumstances exist: a child tests for COVID-19;  child has been asked to quarantine due to COVID-19; and/or, child has traveled to any state on the Connecticut Advisory list.  The nurse will provide information on required paperwork, return to school guidance and available resources.

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Danbury firefighters rescue owl from netting at golf course

An owl stuck in netting at Richter Park Golf Course in Danbury was freed over the weekend by firefighters.  An off-duty Connecticut State Police trooper alerted firefighters about the situation early yesterday morning.  Firefighters used ladders to free the owl's talon, which was stuck about 25 feet off the ground, from the netting.  The bird was cornered into a crate, brought to the ground and checked out.  Firefighters removed netting from the talon and the owl flew off when the crate was opened.

(Photo: DFD)

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Brookfield School District creates dashboard of COVID-19 cases, isolation

Brookfield Public Schools has created a new dashboard with information on reported COVID-19 cases.  The details include the number of staff who test positive and are in isolation, students who test positive and are in isolation, staff who are quarantining after being a close contact and students who are quarantining after being a close contact.   The data will be updated weekly.  Brookfield is considered a red alert town by the state’s metrics.  Brookfield schools, due to having a rate of over 25 cases per 100,000 residents have gone into full remote mode.

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Volunteer fire companies in Bethel, Newtown collect food for pantries

The five volunteers fire companies in Newtown held a massive food drive at several locations over the weekend.  This was their 18th year and it was again a success.  Fire company officials say COVID didn’t stop residents from coming out to support their efforts to fill the fire truck.  They were able to donate 177 boxes of food, 77 turkeys and over $3,100 in cash and gift cards to FAITH food pantry.

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company held a food drive over the weekend to benefit the Brotherhood-In-Action of Bethel Food Pantry.  They filled a uHaul truck with food and raised approximately $1,000. These donations will benefit local families in need this holiday season.  Dennis Janofsky from Quality Gem provided the uHaul.

(Photo: SHVFD)

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Monroe schools move to full distance learning

Monroe's two week case rate is now averaging approximately 7.5 cases per day, which equals an average of 38.9 per 100,000 population. A Monroe resident, in their 90s, has passed from COVID-19.  All Monroe Public Schools have moved to full remote learning through December 11th.  The decision was driven by guidance from the State Department of Education and Department of Public Health, based on the current 14-day case rate, as well as numerous school staff having to remain home due to childcare issues or having to quarantine - due to being a close contact with someone either at, or outside of, school who has tested positive.

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Nuvance Health seeks volunteers for plasma trials to fight COVID-19

Nuvance Health has been selected by Johns Hopkins University to be part of COVID plasma trials.  There are two trials underway at Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals and Vassar Brothers Medical Center.  This trial will help determine whether antibodies from people who have recovered from COVID-19 can help people who have either been recently exposed, or who have been recently diagnosed and have symptoms, avoid getting very sick or catching the disease. 

One trial is for people who tested for COVID-19 no more than 5 days ago and were positively diagnosed, who still have symptoms but haven’t been hospitalized. People who were  in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 no more than 3 days ago, who don’t have any symptoms are also included.  The other is for people who have needed hospitalization. 

Participants will be compensated.  Enrollment is being done by contacting Johns Hopkins at 888-506-1199 or visiting CovidPlasmaTrial.org and filling out a questionnaire.  People can also call 203-739-7411 and speak with a screener.

This is the first U.S. multi-center, double-blind, randomized clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of convalescent blood plasma as an outpatient therapy.  If this option is deemed effective, Dr. Joann Petrini of Nuvance Health says it would be one of the lower-cost options for treating and/or preventing coronavirus illness worldwide, compared to vaccines, which might be too costly for some populations and countries.

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Work starts on major study of the Revolutionary War-era Battle of Ridgefield

Work has begun on a major study of the Revolutionary War-era Battle of Ridgefield.  An advisory group has been formed to oversee the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program grant obtained this year by the Ridgefield Historical Society. The two-year grant aims to deepen understanding of the Ridgefield events that were part of General Tryon’s raid on Danbury.  T

he impetus for this new study was the discovery a year ago of skeletons that may be the remains of soldiers who fell in the battle. Analysis of the skeletons has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, but preliminary assessments suggested young men who were hastily buried in the 18th Century. 

Another goal of the grant is to build community consensus for preservation related to the Battle. 

Researchers will provide a final report to the Historical Society, including a preliminary assessment of the battlefield boundaries, and recommendations for additional research or archaeological surveys.  The advisory group will be responsible for hiring historical researchers to arrive at the best understanding of what occurred on April 27, 1777, as Tryon’s troops marched through the town on their return to ships off Westport.

Another subcommittee will come up with a plan for publicizing the project’s work and discoveries across a variety of platforms.  The two-year grant is anticipated as the beginning of a multi-year project to document and protect the site of Connecticut’s only inland battle during the Revolutionary War, one in which General Benedict Arnold was a hero for the Patriots.

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Ridgefield COVID-19 cases double from last week

COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Ridgefield.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi reports that Ridgefield is averaging nine cases a day.  Just a week and a half ago, Ridgefield was at 3.5 cases a day and now that's more than doubled.  11 cases were reported on Friday alone.  He asked that people avoid others not in their immediate household as many people do not show symptoms and do not know they are contagious.  Meanwhile Veterans Park Elementary School announced its first COVID-19 case on Saturday, and another positive case was reported at the High School.  Officials said they cannot rule out in-school transmission for the high school case.  The elementary community member was in school for several days before knowing they were contagious. 57 students and 10 staff at Veterans Park are quarantining for 14 days.  There's also a presumed positive case, and the two individuals are connected outside of the school building. 

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New Fairfield gets overwhelming response to COVID-19 vaccination request

Since last Monday, there have been 28 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield and there are currently 33 active cases in town.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says these numbers are higher than any New Fairfield experienced in the spring, and is calling on residents to again help flatten the curve.  She says safety measures not only protect the community, but lessen the strain on health care workers and hospitals.  New Fairfield has had an overwhelming response to a request for contact information from those with underlying health conditions awaiting a vaccine.  While critical to any mass vaccination event, Del Monaco says they did not anticipate the volume of responses, and cannot continue to process information in the same manner.  She asked that residents hold submissions until this week when a streamlined online process will be open to report information.  Anyone who already reported contact information to the Social Services Director, it will be recorded. 

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Brookfield Parks and Rec office closed this week as a precaution due to illness

In the last two weeks, Brookfield has reported 67 new cases of coronavirus. That moves the rate per 100,000 residents up to 28.1 from 22.3 last week.  Total cases in Brookfield are now reported as 367 since the start of the pandemic.  The positivity rate in Brookfield is now 5.9%, up from 4.8% reported the week before.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says transmission continues to be a result of social gatherings, family gatherings and larger group gatherings at restaurants, where masks are not worn and social distancing is violated.  An employee in the Brookfield Parks and Rec office has become ill. The employee was tested for the virus and the test was negative. However, in an abundance of caution, all employees in the office are quarantining and the office will remain closed this week.

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 C.H. Booth Library looking for member to join the Board of Trustees

With the rapid explosion of information technology, and when so many are quarantined, libraries are at a crossroads.   C.H. Booth Library in Newtown is looking for a member of the public to join the Board of Trustees to help with the greatly expand level of services for patrons.  They are looking to recruit someone who has experience with construction projects or facilities management, and the ability to identify and address needs of all of the community’s demographic groups.  Newtown Library Board meetings are held on the second Tuesday of the month via Zoom or at Booth Library at 25 Main Street. Trustees are assigned to committees that meet regularly.  The library board is charged with providing oversight and direction for the library, and its guiding principle is to ensure that the library continues to be an important academic, cultural, and social force in Newtown.  To find out more about joining the Board, contact Director Douglas Lord at dlord@chboothlibrary.org or 203-426-1561.

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Kent Town Hall to host COVID-19 testing today

Over the last two weeks, Kent, like all other Greater Danbury area towns, has seen an increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the community.  There are 11 cases so far this month. There was an expectation of an increase in the weeks after Halloween, and First Selectman Jean Speck says she is concerned about these last eight weeks of the year.  Kent is hosting a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site this Monday, in the parking lot at Town Hall from 10am to 2pm.  This is a PCR test and you will receive results in approximately 48 hours.  There is a link for residents to register for either the morning or afternoon session, though testing is on a first-come-first-served basis.  Kent's town website also has a COVID-19 Testing Consent Form that should be completed and brought to the testing site.

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COVID-19 testing at Danbury High School today

Free COVID-19 testing is available this Saturday at Danbury High School from 10am to 2pm.  Health Department officials say testing is a crucial aspect of containing the virus in Danbury. Free, optional flu vaccines will also be available until noon.

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Danbury Labor Market Area was the only one of the 6 to lose jobs in October

Connecticut's unemployment rate is down for a third consecutive month. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the unemployment rate at 6.1 percent, down from 7.8 percent in September.  State Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby says Connecticut's economists estimate the real unemployment rate is closer to 11-percent, down from 12 to 13 percent last month.

The Danbury Labor Market Area was the only one of the 6 to lose jobs in October.  Danbury lost 500 jobs in the last Bureau of Labor Statistics report.  The New Haven Labor Market Area grew the most, by 4,200 positions.  The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area was next adding 3,300 positions.

A falling unemployment rate is generally good economic news, but state Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby says the federal unemployment figures are artificially low.  He expects the U.S. Department of Labor to notify the state shortly that the High Extended Benefits period has ended. In turn, over the next few weeks the state agency will notify the claimants who will begin to lose benefits.

Restaurants in Connecticut have gained more than 70% of the jobs lost over the past seven months. Acting Director of Research Patrick Flaherty at the state Labor Department Patrick Flaherty says the industry was among the hardest hit during the pandemic. But he says it's a stark contrast to the retail industry, which even pre-pandemic was challenged by online shopping.

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Bethel Fire & EMS will host annual Christmas tree sale this year

Bethel Fire & EMS will host their annual Christmas tree sale this year.  They hope this long-standing holiday tradition restores some normalcy to the year.  Tree sales will begin Friday the 27th and run until the over 200 trees are gone.  They cost 45 dollars and are available in various sizes.  Bethel firefighters are selling the trees Mondays through Fridays 5pm to 8pm and on the weekends from 10am to 8pm.

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Kent again collecting jackets for Coats for Connecticut

The weather has already begun to turn colder. Two years ago, Kent First Selectman Jean Speck asked friends to collect jackets for Coats for Connecticut.  Her goal was 50 coats collected in four days, but ended up 167 being donated.  She hopes to beat that number this year.  There are two drop-off locations, the rear entrance of the Kent Town Hall and one in front of Bain Real Estate on North Main Street.  The deadline is November 25th.

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New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department setting up winter wonderland behind town hall

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department is setting up a winter wonderland behind town hall.  Residents are asked to sign up for a timeslot to drive by and see Santa.  Reservations are required online for the event on November 28th.  Also that day, the 9th annual Holiday Light Parade will take place along a new extended route.  That event will start at 5:15pm.  More details can be found on the New Fairfield Parks and Rec site.

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Kent offered to state as host of new COVID-19 testing site in Northwest corner

As more rural communities get placed on the state's red alert list for having high community spread of COVID-19, Kent First Selectman Jean Speck says it's become obvious that there's a shortage of testing sites in the Northwest corner.  On statewide calls with both the Governor and the Department of Public Health Commissioner, Speck asked for more testing sites within a reasonable distance of rural towns. The Commissioner reported that they are looking to add some sites in the coming weeks and she offered Kent as an option.

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Redding's positive COVID-19 cases continue to increase

Redding’s positive COVID-19 cases continued to increase this week.  When this second wave began, the town had 86 cases total. From mid October to today, Redding has recorded 57 new cases.  Individual cases have been reported in the school community, and Joel Barlow has gone to all remote learning until December 9th. There is no evidence to date though of community spread within Redding schools.  This is Redding’s second full week in the Red, along with 100 other municipalities in Connecticut.

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Sherman State Trooper investigates neighbor dispute, mailbox vandalism

A Sherman man has been arrested following a dispute among neighbors.  The Resident State Trooper was dispatched to Anderson Road Extension Sunday afternoon and came upon a verbal argument.  40-year old Scott Rodger was determined to be the aggressor.  He was charged with disorderly conduct and ordered to appear in court on January 5th.

In the overnight hours last night into this morning, several mail boxes in Sherman were damaged or vandalized.  Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to contact the Sherman Resident Trooper via email Shermanresidenttrooper@gmail.com.

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Former WCSU provots appointed as interim leader of CSCU system

The Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education has appointed an interim president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities.  Jane McBride Gates will start in the new year and fill the spot role until a permanent replacement can be found.  Mark Ojakian is retiring at the end of the year as the system moves toward consolidating the state’s 12 community colleges into one.  Gates served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at West Conn and previously held leadership roles at Savannah State University in Georgia and Arkansas State University.

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Final Bethel Community Food Pantry day of 2020 scheduled

The last Bethel Community Food Pantry day for this year is being held on Tuesday, December 1.  The organization is continuing with the drive up for prepacked bags. This system will continue through January pantries on Tuesdays the 5th and 19th.  The hours are between 2 and 4pm.  Bethel Community Food Pantry hopes to resume regular shopping in February or March.  They are still doing check in for current clients and registration for new people.

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Police: Steam 'pressure event' killed workers at VA hospital

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Two workers who died at a Connecticut Veterans Affairs hospital last week were killed by the rapid release of hot water vapor during maintenance work on the steam system, state police said Thursday.

The investigation continues, and state police did not offer an explanation for the cause of the accident at the VA campus in West Haven on Nov. 13.

The accident killed a VA maintenance worker, Euel Sims, 60, a Navy veteran from Milford, and a private contractor, Joseph O’Donnell, 36, of Danbury. Three other workers were injured, officials said.

Alfred Montoya Jr., director of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, said last week that Sims and O’Donnell, a welder and pipefitter, were in the basement of the small outer building and had just finished routine maintenance on a leaky pipe when they died. He said the accident happened as the pipe was being refilled with steam.

In releasing preliminary findings of the investigation, state police said the episode initially described as an explosion was a “pressure event” within the steam system.

“This event caused super-heated water vapor to rapidly fill the room and building,” police said. “The two occupants working on the system were not able to evacuate the room and suffered fatal injuries. There was no apparent criminal aspect.”

The building where the men were killed houses the hospital’s labor shops, such as carpentry and plumbing, a hospital spokesperson said.

The state police Fire & Explosion Investigative Unit is leading the investigation, with help from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Explosives and Firearms.

U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both Connecticut Democrats, are among those calling for the federal government to approve major renovations to the VA campus. Officials said the hospital was built in the 1950s and underwent a renovation in the 1990s, but has decaying infrastructure and is on a list of aging VA facilities that need to be replaced.

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1 in 4 Danbury residents have COVID-19 in some parts of City

There were 125 positive COVID test results returned in Danbury yesterday.  Mayor Mark Boughton says that's just one day's total. Danbury's positivity rate is around 10 percent, though in some pockets, it's up to 25-percent.  Boughton emphasized that that means one in four people in some areas of the City are currently infected with COVID-19.  Danbury is on pace to see a November with the most coronavirus cases of any month since the pandemic began. 

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Bethel looks to hire Part Time Public Health Nurse

Bethel is looking to hire a Part Time Public Health Nurse.  This employee would be the lead COVID-19 Vaccinator for the towns of Bethel and Redding.  Applicants must be able to set up and oversee mass vaccination clinics for COVID-19 and seasonal influenza.

A Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from a program approved by the National League for Nursing or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education is required.  The position calls for someone with at least four years’ experience in Public Health nursing; or any equivalent combination of training and experience.  This person must have current State of Connecticut License as a Registered Nurse and a valid Connecticut driver’s license or ability to obtain one. 

The job pays $40 an hour, with no benefits but flexible hours, for a 24 month period. Resumes may be sent to Bethel Director of Health Laura Vasile.

 

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Putnam County Sheriff calls NY gathering restrictions unenforceable

While not encouraging large gatherings this Thanksgiving, Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley says he's uncertain what the correct number for safety would be.  He encouraged families to make the determination on their own based on if the home is large enough, if the guests at lower risk of contracting COVID-19, where are they travelling from, and if they likely have been exposed to coronavirus.  New York's Governor has limited non-essential indoor gatherings at a private residence to 10 people.  Rather than issuing orders, which Langley says are, at best, impossible to enforce, and, at worst, unconstitutional, the Governor should encourage residents to be cautious, use good judgment in weighing risk factors, and protect the vulnerable.  As Sheriff, Langley sees a better use for resources than to disrupt families celebrating this Thanksgiving.

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Random voting precincts selected to have Nov. 3 election results audited

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has randomly selected voting precincts to have results audited following the November 3 election. Five percent of the polling places that use optical scan machines are subject to the audit. Those hand counted ballots will be matched against vote totals from optical scan machines.  There were 743 polling locations so 38 primary and 11 alternate locations were chosen at random.  The races to be audited will be selected locally by the Town Clerk.  One of the primary locations is Reed Intermediate School in Newtown.  Alternate locations include Huckleberry Hill School in Brookfield, and three schools in Danbury--Westside Middle School Academy, Pembroke School Gym and Danbury High School Gym.

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Zebra Mussels detected in Candlewood Lake

Zebra Mussels have been detected in Candlewood Lake.  A dock was removed from the waters last week and it had 6 to 12 live Zebra Mussels attached to it.  The invasive species were attached to the foam on the dock and were not forming colonies.

This is the first time in over 8 years that the dock was removed so the Candlewood Lake Authority says it's unknown how long these mussels have been in the water, and when they attached to the dock. The dock will not be returned to the lake.  During the deep drawdown this winter, CLA will comb the shoreline in that area for any signs of colonization. 

Neighboring docks did not have any visible signs of zebra mussels, and no other docks removed from anywhere in the lake thus far had any signs of attached zebra mussels.

CLA will resume additional dives to search for mussels this upcoming spring. None of CLA's increased monitoring this summer revealed any signs of wide-spread zebra mussel colonization in the lake.

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Redding adds COVID-19 information pages to town website

Two new pages have been added to the Town of Redding's website.  Both now provide information on the COVID-19 Pandemic and to Redding specific information.  Details include prevention measures, testing and state resources.  The daily summary is updated Mondays through Fridays as the state does not provide data over the weekend.  Redding's health official, Doug Hartline, also provides updates by email to those who are subscribed to town mailers.  There was a discrepancy in the number of cases reported at the Board of Selectmen's meeting.  4 cases were reported in the morning, which was shared at the meeting.  An additional 8 cases were reported later in the day.  That brings Redding's total case count to 133, up from 121 reported out on Friday.

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Danbury holding COVID-19 testing, flu shot clinic Saturday

The Danbury Department of Health & Human Services is holding Free COVID-19 testing this Saturday from 10am to 2pm at Danbury High School. Also available are no cost flu shots between 10am and 12pm. No drivers' license or health insurance is necessary.

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Wilton official predicts 'hockey stick' increase in COVID-19 cases in Conn.

Wilton First Selectman Lynn Vanderslice isn't as optimistic as Governor Lamont when it comes to the COVID-19 situation in the state.  She says looking at the numbers, it appears Connecticut is on track to have a hockey stick like increase in cases.  She believes the question is no longer if things will return to Phase 1, but when and for how long.  Vanderslice says while recent news on vaccines is wonderful, it's still many months before there will be widespread access.  She called on residents to do their part to minimize the spread and the negative impact the spread is having on students, families and businesses. 

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Danbury Planners get revised proposal for restaurant at mall parking lot

The Danbury Planning Comission has scheduled a public hearing for next month about one of the restaurants proposed for the mall parking lot.  The Commission has received an application for a revised Special Exception and Site Plan to amend previous approval of Trip Generation over 500 Vehicles Per Day.  It calls for adding a fast food restaurant with drive through, to the previously approved Shake Shack.  The virtual Public Hearing is scheduled for December 2nd.

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Congresswoman touts mental health bill to help veterans

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says a new report by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs shows suicide rates among veterans in Connecticut increased while fewer veterans reached out to the VA for help.  But she says legislation she introduced to strengthen mental health care for veterans was signed into law by the President recently. The bipartisan VA Mental Health Staffing Act and provisions from the VA Mental Health Counseling Act were included in the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act.

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27 new COVID-19 cases reported in Redding from just last Friday

COVID-19 cases continue to rise rapidly throughout the State and in Redding. 3 new positive results were reported to the Town's health department yesterday bringing Redding's case count to 139, an increase of 27 in Redding from just last Friday. Individuals who have general questions can call 2-1-1 for assistance. The hotline is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance. This is intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms are strongly urged to contact their medical provider.

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Avielle Foundation becoming part of the National Mental Health Innovation Center

The Avielle Foundation is closing in Newtown and becoming part of the National Mental Health Innovation Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.  The organization was started seven years ago by Jennifer Hensel and the late Jeremy Richman in honor of their daughter Avielle, who was killed on 12-14. 

The Avielle Foundation was working to advance the field of preventing violence by funding research, educational programs and events, and by training the next generation of scientists.  Work will transition to building compassion and preventing violence through neuroscience research, community engagement and education.

The Avielle Initiative will leverage the resources and staff of NMHIC and the University of Colorado to continue expanding the mission of the foundation and creating new resources to build compassion and prevent violence while keeping the legacy and memory alive of Avielle and Jeremy Richman. 

NMHIC will leverage innovative and science-based technology to create resources for researchers, clinicians, organizations and individuals that improve the quality of clinical care, build empathy, and empower people to improve their own wellbeing. The initiative will also create ways to connect people in order to promote health, prevent illness, and eliminate barriers to access and support.  The second component is the establishment of an endowment to fund the Jeremy Richman Brain Health Internship and Fellowship, named in honor of the co-founder. The program will help shape the careers of young scientists interested in increasing our understanding of brain health to inform the development of products and programs focused on building compassion and preventing violence.

The paid internship will be awarded annually to a high school or undergraduate student. The fellowship will be awarded to an individual starting the post-doctoral phase of their research career. NMHIC will start accepting applications for the internship and fellowship this spring.

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Candlewood Lake Authority withdraws emergency funding request for new patrol vessels

The Candlewood Lake Authority has withdrawn its request to the 5 towns surrounding the lake for emergency funding to purchase two new patrol boats.  First Light has made a donation of $100,000 for this purpose.  The New Fairfield Fire Department has also offered one of their used boats that may be able to be used as a patrol vessel.

CLA plans to come back to the towns during the regular budget process next year to purchase a patrol boat.  The total cost of two patrol boats was estimated at $300,000. 

The New Milford Town Council had approved $60,000 for the boats.  Brookfield tabled a vote on this matter until it was decided where to take the funds from.  The CLA approved $50,000 for the boats contingent on a match from the Towns. 

New Fairfield Selectman Khris Hall says there's no way they could have let the CLA go into next summer without patrol vessels.

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3 people arrested in Bethel for alleged larceny, drug crimes

Two Bethel residents and one from Danbury have been arrested in Bethel on larceny charges.  Police tell the Newstimes that a stolen SUV was spotted by officers on Greenwood Avenue Tuesday afternoon.  The vehicle was also believed to have been used in car break-ins throughout the Greater Danbury area. 

25-year old Jary Perdomo and 24-year old Natali Morfa-Fermin, of Bethel, and 24-year old Frederico Mateo-Ogando of Danbury were also charged with possession and intent to sell crimes.  Bethel Police say items in the vehicle will likely lead to arrests for other break-ins in multiple jurisdictions. 

The three were charged with conspiracy to commit larceny, possession of a controlled substance, possession of less than half an ounce of cannabis, possession with intent to sell, and conspiracy to commit possession with intent to sell.  The Bethel residents were also charged with use/possession of drug paraphernalia.  Mateo was charged with use of drug paraphernalia. 

Mateo-Ogando and Perdomo are being held on bond while Morfa-Fermin was released on bond.

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WestConn cancels all winter athletic competitions

WestConn has cancelled all winter athletic competitions. 

Both the athletic department and the University have taken steps to mitigate the possible spread of COVID-19 on both of its campuses, including prohibiting intercollegiate competition, but say the community spread changed things.  WestConn men's and women's basketball and men's and women's swimming and diving athletic teams will not participate in intercollegiate competition for the 2020-21 season. 

The university is developing plans for the spring semester, which is slated to begin on January 26th.  Winter sport student-athletes will have the opportunity to participate in training and development activities upon return to campus in late January, including in-person practices and instruction, strength and conditioning training, student-athlete development programming, and leadership activities.

Director of Athletics and Recreation Lori R. Mazza says winter student athletes are being asked to make additional sacrifices for the health and safety of themselves and the community that surrounds them.

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Ridgefield COVID-19 cases rise 96-percent from Friday

Ridgefield COVID-19 cases have risen 96-percent since Friday, firmly putting the town well into the Red Level. Since Thursday, 38 new cases have been reported, raising the daily new case rate to 28 cases per 100,000 residents. 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi urged all Ridgefielders to avoid gathering and reconsider Thanksgiving Day plans.  He says people could be asymptomatic spreaders and reminded residents to wear a mask and socially distance from others. 

Marconi says the recent increase in cases is not yet reflected in the state data which lags Ridgefield specific data.  Connecticut averages data on a two-week basis, but the Ridgefield analysis reflects a one-week average.  Ridgefield also includes congregate settings such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, while the state does not. Marconi says Ridgefield does a deeper dive so the Town can anticipate where things are headed and respond accordingly

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More changes to learning models at Greater Danbury area schools

The New Milford School District is having difficulty maintaining adequate staffing at the middle school for the remainder of this week.  Schaghticoke Middle School moved to remote learning for today and tomorrow.

Interim Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo says she will continue to collaborate with the local health department in order to carefully review data for the schools and town, as well as the available school staffing levels, in order to make an informed decision for next week.  She hopes to be able to return back/remain in the hybrid learning model on Monday.  DiCorpo plans to send a communication out to families over the weekend to allow time to make arrangements.

The Newtown School District will switch to online learning on Monday due to staff quarantines.  Cases at Newtown High School and within the Community Partnerships Program in the Department of Special Education resulted in the quarantining of another 24 adults. The number of educators in Newtown who are self isolating is up to 95. 

Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue says while there's no evidence of in-school transmission, the decision to transition to full remote learning is driven by the pattern of rapidly increasing community spread. All Newtown students will participate in distance learning from Monday through December 4th.

Bethel Middle School students are moving to distance learning through Thanksgiving break due to staff shortages.  A member of the Bethel middle and high schools tested positive and district officials say exposure was limited to one staff member and a small number of students.  Superintendent Christine Carver says the middle school exposure affected only a cohort, but it has a significant impact due to the nature of the exposure and other staff members that were already on quarantine. 

Bethel plans to return to the hybrid model on November 30th.  Bethel High School will remain on hybrid, which it has been on all academic year.

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Southbury Police reminding drivers about pedestrian right-of-way

The Southbury Police Department is reminding drivers about the rules of the road when it comes to pedestrians.  There is a cross walk on Main Street, in front of the Senior Center, which is not controlled by a police officer or traffic control signal.  Drivers are reminded to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk when the light on the designated sign is flashing.  Southbury Police posted a video to social media of someone waiting at the crosswalk with a driver stopping in one direction, but several others traveling the opposite way not stopping.  Violators could be fined 270-dollars.

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CH Booth Library launching 'Words on Wheels'

CH Booth Library is launching a program called Words on Wheels.  The home delivery program is a way to get items circulated to Newtown residents who can't get to the library.  Staff can lend a book, an audio title on CD, a music CD, a large print book, or a children's book to residents who fill out an interest form.

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Some Region 1 students in quarantine

Two elementary school students in the Kent Center School community have had close contact with a part-time caregiver who tested positive for COVID-19. The affected person is symptom free, has never been in the school building and has had no contact with any other staff or students. The two impacted will remain at home in quarantine according to the direction provided by the Torrington Area Health District and the Region One Medical Advisor. A Housatonic Valley Regional High School student in Region 1 has tested positive for COVID-19. Contract tracing indicates that the affected person has not been in school since last week and had no close contact with any staff or students. The positive patient will remain at home in quarantine.

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Local lawmaker approved to continue leading Energy Committee

Danbury State Representative David Arconti will continue to serve as House Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee.  In recent months Connecticut residents have seen significant rate increases in their electric bills and have experienced consistently poor storm performance by utility companies. Under Arconti’s leadership, the state adopted the “Take Back Our Grid Act” during a special session of the legislature.  He will begin serving his 5th legislative term in the General Assembly representing the 109th District when the legislature convenes in January.

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Danbury Mayor reminds residents of COVID violation complaint form

While there are staff members from the Danbury Health Department, Police and Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team working on weekends to ensure COVID-19 regulation compliance, Mayor Mark Boughton has a word of warning.  He says it's not always practical to send someone to inspect right away when he gets complaints via social media.  He urged people to fill out the official form on the City's website.

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

If the violation happens on a weekend, then on Monday they can open an investigation and add the establishment to the list of places to do a random spot check. 

Boughton says there are more than 60 restaurants to inspect.

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Car fire in Danbury Hospital parking garage quickly extinguished

A car fire in a parking garage in Danbury was quickly extinguished yesterday.  Firefighters responded to one of the parking garage structures at Danbury Hospital during the early afternoon on a report of flames coming from the 2nd floor.  They found two cars well involved in a fire.  Hospital staff pulled the fire alarm to warn occupants.  Multiple cars were damaged by the fire.  No injuries were reported and the structure was not affected by the blaze.  The cause is under investigation by the Danbury Fire Marshals office.  The incident never hindered hospital operations. 

(Photo: DFD)

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New Fairfield officials preparing for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

The Town of New Fairfield is working with state and regional officials to prepare for administering COVID-19 vaccines when they become available. 

First Selectman Pat Del Monaco notes that the vaccine will most likely be available in a phased approach, with emphasis first to critical workers like those in healthcare, first responders, teachers, and the like, as well as to those with underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.  In anticipation of a vaccine becoming available early next year, New Fairfield is updating the town's list of residents who may fall into the first phase or who will need special attention in the vaccination program. 


Cancer
Chronic kidney disease
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher but < 40 kg/m2)
Severe Obesity (BMI = 40 kg/m2)
Sickle cell disease
Smoking
Type 2 diabetes mellitus


The CDC states that adults of any age with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19:
Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
Cystic fibrosis
Hypertension or high blood pressure
Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
Liver disease
Overweight (BMI > 25 kg/m2, but < 30 kg/m2)
Pregnancy
Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
Type 1 diabetes mellitus

To make sure New Fairfield has the right number of vaccines at the right time and have made the right arrangements for residents to be vaccinated, contact Cindy White, Director of Social Services at 203-312-5669 or cwhite@newfairfield.org.

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More changes for Greater Danbury area schools because of COVID-19

More changes are coming to Greater Danbury area schools because of COVID-19 cases.  Two more positive tests have been reported in Bethel.  The High School will go to remote learning on Wednesdays.  Superintendent Christine Carver said in a letter to parents that a few staff members, a small number of students in cohort B and some students who ride the bus were quarantined.  In Brookfield, all schools will move to remote learning starting today.  Superintendent John Barile wrote in an email to families that distance learning will be in place through December 4th, with a hybrid model starting December 7th.  Another positive test has been returned in the Ridgefield High School community.  District officials say there was no significant exposure and that contact tracing was not necessary as a result because the individual was not infectious while they were in the Ridgefield High School building.  Due to other cases, some 170 students are in quarantine.

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Festive lights switched on early along Main Street in Ridgefield

Festive lights have been switched on early along Main Street in Ridgefield.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says it's been a difficult year for residents young and old.  The tree lights -- sponsored by contributions from the Holiday Trust Fund, and the downtown Ridgefield Association –are a popular Ridgefield tradition. Most years, the lights are switched on formally on the Friday evening after Thanksgiving while hundreds gather to participate in a ceremony, listen to seasonal music and welcome Santa.  Marconi says there are changes this year, made to keep everyone safe. He says they decided to get the lights on as soon as possible as a reflection of the community’s spirit and as a special gift to the kids who have been doing a great job dealing with school and social restrictions.

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OH man suspected in CT bank robberies arrested in NY

An Ohio man suspected in bank robberies across Fairfield County has been arrested for similar crimes in New Jersey.  The FBI says 23-year old Tyler O'Toole was charged Saturday in Queens, New York with five counts of bank robbery and two counts of attempted bank robbery.  O'Toole is wanted for bank robberies in Danbury, Fairfield, Norwalk, Westport, and Shelton.  He has not yet been charged for those crimes.  O’Toole was released in August on federal charges and placed on home detention with electronic location monitoring.  He reportedly removed monitoring device, stole his mother's car and robbed or attempted to rob several New Jersey banks the next month. The FBI says O'Toole is a suspect in more than a dozen robberies in Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

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Danbury Library closes building, moves to only curbside pick ups

Danbury Library is no longer accepting appointments for computer use and has once again closed the building to in-person browsing.  Due to the increased number of COVID-19 cases within the Danbury community, and with guidance from the Mayor’s office and Health Department, the library decided to temporarily close their doors to the public.  Curbside pickup, online programming, and other forms of virtual engagement will continue as planned.  Holds can be placed through the online catalog and picked up Monday through Friday from 10am-6pm in designated parking spots in the library parking lot.  Patrons are asked to return holds through the external book drop and not hand them to staff delivering new materials.

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New Milford residents reminded not to park on street during snow storms

Before the first flakes fly this winter, New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is reminding residents about street parking protocols during snow storms.  He says the most efficient way to plow the streets is to not have them blocked by obstacles.  If Department of Public Works staff get word that there are cars parked on the roads, Bass says they will alert police.  Officers will then contact homeowners to move their cars to make way for the plow.  If a vehicle is not moved and is a safety issue, police will be asked for the car to be towed.  Bass says it could be a safety issue on hills, where the plow drivers might not see a vehicle in the lane of travel.

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Danbury Library offers free headphones to City students

Any Danbury Public School K-12 student has the opportunity to get  a brand-new pair of free headphones.  The Friends of the Danbury Library is offering the gift to any student who either already has a Danbury Library card, or gets a new one.  Library officials say the recognize that distance learning is hard, and it's even harder with the common distractions that can happen at home.  They hope these headphones can help Danbury students focus, get their work done, and can make things easier for them.

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Wilton official reminds parents not to send kids to school if there's COVID in the household

Wilton Health Director Barry Bogle is reminding residents that if one member of the household has tested positive for COVID-19, everyone in the household is required to remain in quarantine.  Families are asked not to send children to school or extra-curricular activities if there is a positive test in the household.  Cider Mill school, which houses grades 3 to 5, has been moved to full remote learning.  No new student cases were the result of in-person learning.

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New Milford Police investigating shoplifting incident

The New Milford Police Department is investigating a shoplifting incident at Stop & Shop on Danbury Road.  The theft happened Saturday night, at about 5pm.  New Milford Police say the subjects may also be involved in other shopliftings in the area.  Photos of the suspects can be viewed on the department's Facebook page.  Anyone with information as to the identity of the subjects is asked to contact Officer Petersen 860-355-3133.

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State Police seek hit & run driver in Sherman

State police are looking for a hit-and-run driver who crashed into a stone wall near the Sherman Volunteer firehouse.  The accident happened on Thursday morning in the parking lot of Webster Bank at Sherman Fire Department.  The Hyundai SUV was traveling eastbound when it took a corner too closely and struck a stone wall.  The crash caused minor property damage.  The gray vehicle sustained damage to the front left side and undercarriage.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Trooper Dennis Keane at 203-267-2240.

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More COVID-19 cases reported in New Fairfield

Since Friday, there have been 18 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco is urging residents to keep up with safety protocols.  She asked that everyone who is able to, to wear a mask, practice social distancing, work from home and not gather with people outside of your household.  Del Monaco acknowledged that the last part is hard, but notes that being in the hospital or losing a loved one is harder. Any New Fairfield resident with a college student coming home for the holidays, state guidance is that the student quarantine for 14 days either before they come home or after they arrive home.  Students should be tested, using a PCR test before and after coming home.  Students should not quarantine with elderly or at risk family members and students should not attend parties or reunions upon returning home.

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Newtown fire companies host 'Fill The Fire Truck' for FAITH Food Pantry Saturday

There will be a food drive in Newtown this weekend.  All of the town's fire companies are joining together for this year's Fill The Fire Truck for FAITH Food Pantry.  The collection will take place on November 21st from 9am to 2pm. 

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company, Newtown Hook & Ladder, and Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company will be staged outside Big Y on Queen Street.  Botsford Fire Rescue and Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Company will collect at their respective stations that day.  They typically collect at Stop & Shop in Sand Hill Plaza, but that was changed due to the pandemic. 

Firefighters will be wearing face masks during the collections. 

Tables will set up for donations, which members will then sort by product type. They're specifically looking for includes coffee, cereal, laundry detergent, pasta, sauce, chili, soup, personal hygiene items (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razors, lotions, toilet paper, paper towels), and all the fixings for a holiday meal.

Fill The Fire Truck is being held rain or shine.

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Wilton officials offer Thanksgiving advice

Wilton officials are offering some advice to residents who plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with people outside of their household this year so that the gathering can be as safe as possible.  Among other things, the CDC suggests dining outside.  If you can’t, dine indoors with the windows open.  Separate tables for each household should be set up to maintain 6 feet of distance.  Hosts should explain expectations everyone prior to the gathering.

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Ball Pond firefighters take Narcan training online

Members of the Ball Pond Volunteer Fire Company in New Fairfield took part in a Narcan Training Webinar last week on how to identify an overdose, and how to administer Narcan. The webinar was led by Kathy Hanley, who has been the Prevention Coordinator with the Housatonic Valley Coalition Against Substance Abuse, the Regional Behavioral Health Action Organization of Region 5, since December of 2015.  She interfaces with 26 Local Prevention Councils in the 43-town service area providing technical assistance and resources.  Hanley is also certified as an instructor/trainer of the suicide prevention program QPR- Question, Persuade, Refer, and in Mental Health First Aid and Dialogue Education.

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Eversource outage reporting hotline issues resolved

When people tried to report power outages Sunday night, they may have had problems doing so.  Eversource says intermittent issues Sunday night related to their outage reporting system have been resolved.  Greater Danbury area residents reported similar problems in August after Tropical Storm Isaias roared though.  Eversource President of Regional Electric Operations Craig Hallstrom says the combination of heavy rain saturating the ground and high winds that hit the state caused trees already weakened by the prolonged drought to come down, taking power lines with them and leaving thousands of customers without power especially in the western part of the state.

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Homes, car damaged by falling trees in Bethel

Two homes in Bethel suffered minor damage from fallen trees during last night's storm. One vehicle was hit by tree.  Bethel Emergency Management officials say there were no injuries reported. Fire and Police responded to multiple calls after the storm.  There are about a dozen roads fully or partially blocked by trees, all of which have been reported to Eversource.  Officials ask residents not to attempt to clear or cut trees that have wires in them.

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Redding Police respond to calls of roads blocked by downed trees

The Redding Police Department is urging motorists to use caution while traveling around town today. There have been several calls for trees and wires down, along with wires or transformers on fire. Several roads are either blocked or have debris on them from the storm. Patrol units are assessing streets as quickly as possible.  Among the closures this morning are Gallows Hill Road, Black Rock Turnpike and Good Ridge Road.  Some are passable by car only, including Redding Road, Picketts Ridge Road and George Hull Hill Road.

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New Milford firefighters, Arts Commission work on Christmas Carol Sing, Parade of Lights

Water Witch Hose firefighters of New Milford are working to preserve a favorite holiday tradition in town. The volunteer fire company is teaming up with the New Milford Commission of the Arts to deliver the Christmas Carol Sing and Parade of Lights.  There will be social distancing protocols built into the reworked event.  They will be using an by using an AM/FM transmitter to broadcast the Carols from the bandstand onto car stereos throughout downtown. Families are encouraged to find a parking space, tune in, and sing along from their cars, parked around the green. Caroling will begin at 7pm on Saturday December 5th and the parade of lights will follow at 7:30.

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HAZMAT incident closed Rt 6 in Bethel/Danbury over weekend

There was a HAZMAT incident on Saturday near the Bethel-Danbury town line. A truck was leaking diesel fluid at Route 6 and Mountainview Terrace, near the gas stations.  The road was closed and drivers headed to Danbury from Bethel were detoured at Target to turn around.  A sand truck and the health department responded.  The driver of the box truck was transported by ambulance to the hospital for evaluation. 

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Bethel Boy Scout chose Franc Preserve for Eagle Scout Service Project

A Bethel Boy Scout chose the Franc Preserve for his Eagle Scout Service Project. Ryan Tenezaca planned, organized, and executed a wetland walkway that terminates with a view of the marsh and an interpretive sign about the vital role of wetlands in the ecosystem.  The trail includes elevated walkways and birdhouses. Troop 71 boy scouts assisted Ryan, and also helped The Bethel Land Trust move the old trail map kiosk to the Shelley Road entrance in preparation for a new kiosk being built at the Preserve’s main entrance.

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Strong winds knock out power to thousands

Due to power outages and blocked roads there are 2 hour delays for the school districts in Bethel, Newtown, and Litchfield.  There's a closure for Joel Barlow High School.

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company staffed the fire house last night in anticipation of requests for service due to the storm.  After the tornado warning expired, there was still is a severe thunderstorm warning. There are multiple trees down around Brookfield and fire officials asked that residents be aware of their surroundings. 

Eversource was reporting 35,000 outages across the state at the height of the storm.

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Rumble strips to be installed on Route 7 in Brookfield

Rumble strips are being installed on Route 7 in Brookfield beginning later this week.  The Connecticut Department of Transportation says the project consists of milling the existing pavement surface to add a shoulder rumble strip on Friday and Saturday, between 7pm and 5am.  Motorists can expect lane closures on Route 7 from Silvermine Road to Federal Road. Truck mounted lights, Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will be used to guide motorists through the work zone.  Drivers are asked to remain alert, drive cautiously, and maintain a safe speed when moving around the work zone.  Modifications or extensions to this schedule may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions.

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Feeding Our Neighbors Challenge extended

A fundraiser to benefit Danbury food pantries has raised more than $70,000, but is still short of its $100,000 goal. The Feeding Our Neighbors Challenge will benefit food pantries that are members of the Danbury Food Collaborative. 

United Way of Western Connecticut provides backbone support to this collaborative and is handling administration and distribution of the funds to the member pantries. The deadline for the Feeding Our Neighbors Challenge fundraising effort has been extended to November 26th. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, when many lower-income workers lost their jobs, the United Way says Danbury’s food pantries have been inundated with more clients seeking food.  The challenges in obtaining enough food have been especially difficult for families with school-age children, who often eat many meals at school. With distance learning, children are home all day, putting a stress on the family food budgets.

Local food pantries that will benefit from donations to the “Feeding Our Neighbors Community Challenge” are:

• Association of Religious Communities (ARC)

• Bethel Food Pantry

• Brookfield Social Services

• Camella's Cupboard

• Catholic Charities - Morning Glory Breakfast Program

• Community Action Agency of Western CT

• Daily Bread Food Pantry

• Hillside Food Outreach

• Interfaith AIDS Ministry

• Jericho Partnership

• The Salvation Army

• Victory Christian Center

• Purple Heart Ministries

• Walnut Hill Community Food Pantry

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New Fairfield High School on distance learning due to positive COVID-19 test

The New Fairfield High School building will be closed today and tomorrow after a person in the school community tested positive for COVID-19.  Superintendent Pat Cosentino said in a letter to parents that out of an abundance of caution, anyone who had the potential for close contact lasting 15 minutes or more with the individual was notified by end of day Friday.  Cosentino said the virus was contracted outside of school, through what she described as “family contact.”  New Fairfield Middle School is also on remote learning after a member of that school’s community tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Middle school students and staff are expected to return to in-person learning next Thursday.

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Free face masks distributed today at HART depot in Danbury

Free face masks will be distributed today to Connecticut rail and bus passengers at various locations around the state.  The state Department of Transportation says under an executive order issued by Governor Lamont, masks are required on all buses and trains. The face mask distribution is being done ahead of the normally busy holiday travel season. Among the locations for the distribution today is Housatonic Area Regional Transit HART depot in Danbury at 3 Kennedy Avenue.  The distribution times are from 7am to 9 and 3pm to 5.

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Danbury Westerners to make $80k in improvements to Rogers Park

The Danbury Westerners play their home games at the Rogers Park baseball field.  Over the past year, the City recently completed significant improvements.  The Westerners have been fundraising to make additional needed modifications to the facility and are making a donation to the City to cover the associated costs.  The scope of the work includes a new electronic scoreboard, raising the height of outfield fences, adding safety fencing down both the first and third base lines, and fencing for home and away pitching cages.  The work will be done in phases, though there is not time frame at this point.  The estimated value of the modification is $80,000.

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Connecticut Institute for Communities offering free drive through COVID-19 testing

The Connecticut Institute for Communities is offering free drive through COVID-19 testing for the Greater Danbury area.  Tests are offered on a first-come/first served basis and a doctor's order is not required. The next test availability periods are today 9am to 1pm, Monday 1pm to 4 and Wednesday 1 to 4pm.  CIFC has 7 additional testing dates open in November.  The facility is located at 120 Main Street in Danbury.

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Kent Santa Fund to be revamped this year due to pandemic

The Kent Santa Fund assists local children, under the age of 16, during the holiday season.  Community and business members shop and donate gifts without knowing the participants. Like everything else, there will be changes this year due to the pandemic.  In lieu of gifts, the Kent Santa Fund will be providing gift cards to families so they can prioritize their needs during the holidays.  Donations can be made payable and mailed to Kent Santa Fund, P.O. Box 678, Kent, Ct 06757. Checks can also be delivered to the attention of Joyce Kearns at Kent Town Hall and placed in the white drop box next to the front door of Town Hall.  Any questions can be directed to Kearns at 860.927.4627 or adminassist@townofkentct.org.

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NYFS to host 35th annual Home for the Holidays event

HOME for the HOLIDAYS, Newtown Youth & Family Services annual event, will be held for the 35th year. 

They are looking for local businesses to participate by donating to the Festival of Trees and/or the Secret Stocking Silent Auction.  All proceeds go to NYFS, specifically mental health, Autism programming and community programs.  The non-profit youth service bureau and mental health clinic for children, teens, adults and seniors has operated in the community for over three decades.  Each year over 50 trees, wreaths, centerpieces or holiday gift baskets are decorated and donated by local individuals, businesses, and organizations.

For more information and how to participate, visit http://bit.ly/FOT_donate and http://bit.ly/SA_NYFS or, for a complete Holiday Festival guide visit:
www.NewtownYouthAndFamilyServices.org.

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Bethel Fire Department urges residents to have large house numbers, clearly visible

The Bethel Fire Department is looking to help homeowners help them in case of an emergency.  The Department is selling 2-sided, blue, reflective address signs featuring 4" reflective numbering.  These signs, when mounted adjacent to the driveway, make finding a home in an emergency much easier.  Fire officials say having a properly visible address sign can save crucial time when calling for fire, police, and EMS response.  Signs are $15 each, can be oriented horizontally or vertically, and are assembled in town by the volunteer fire department members.  Local orders will be delivered at no charge; non-Bethel orders must be picked up, or delivered to a Bethel address.  They says the goal is to have every address in Bethel outfitted with one of these address signs.

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Danbury Public Schools continue with distance learning until mid-January

The Danbury Public School District will continue with distance learning until mid-January.  Superintendent Sal Pascarella says they continue to work with local health officials and medical advisers on ways to begin in-person learning.  The current number of positive COVID-19 cases does not support bringing students into schools in the hybrid model at this time. Pascarella cautioned against domestic and international travel, and urged people to adhere to social distancing guidelines.  Pascarella says families needing child care should call 211.  He says the district is committed to the social emotional well-being of students and the critical importance of returning them to in-person learning as soon as it is safe to do so.

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Danbury, New Milford see increased COVID-19 caseloads

New Milford has recorded another 12 COVID-19 positive cases in the last 24 hours.  Mayor Pete Bass encouraged anyone who is elderly or has an underlying health condition to only go out if they have to.  Anyone exhibiting any symptoms of COVID 19 should do not go to work or school, and to get tested.

Danbury reported 118 new COVID-19 cases yesterday.  On Wednesday, the City had reports of 60 new cases.  There were 76 on Tuesday, 34 on Monday and 28 on Sunday.  Hospitalizations are rising statewide.

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New Milford Mayor urges small businesses to apply for state grant

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is reminding businesses about a new grant from the state.  Small businesses and nonprofits in Connecticut with a 2019 annualized payroll of less than $1.5 million or 20 or fewer employees can receive a one-time grant of $5,000. All funding will be disbursed by the end of December and will not require repayment.  The grant can be used for rent, payroll, utilities, inventory or complying with the Reopen Rules. The $50 million program, funded from Connecticut’s portion of the federal CARES Act, will provide aid to small businesses and nonprofits that continue to be negatively impacted by COVID-19.  The grant application will only be available for a limited time, closing by Thursday, November 19.  That is all dependent on demand. Bass encouraged entities to apply as soon as possible.

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Wilton First Selectman warns more restrictions could be implemented on walking trails

Wilton First Selectman Lynn Vanderslice is cautioning that it's residents’ behavior that will determine what actions the Town takes in response to the red alert COVID-19 status. This past weekend, she and others walked the Norwalk River Valley Trail, Wilton Center and other locations to observe behavior.  The result was Monday’s announcement that trail users, whether walking, running or biking, are required to stay right and in single file when passing alongside another user on the trail.  Masks are required when passing another individual, even when biking or running.  Vanderslice says they will continue to monitor and will restrict access, if these regulations aren’t followed. 

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Danbury hosting free pop up COVID-19 testing this weekend

The Danbury Department of Public Health is hosting another free pop up COVID-19 testing event this weekend.  There will be tests available at Hayestown Elementary School on Tamarack Avenue tomorrow from 10am to 2pm.  Providers will also be offering flu vaccines at the pop up event.  Acting Health Director Kara Prunty urged city residents to get a flu shot this year in order to prevent a so-called twindemic and not overwhelm the health care system.

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Danbury Library's roof getting redone

Danbury Library is having it's roof redone.  In order to accommodate the work, they've moved curbside pickup spaces against the wall in the parking lot. Construction will take about two weeks. The bookdrop and handicapped spaces remain unaffected.

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UPDATED: 2 dead in blast in VA hospital maintenance area

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — An explosion in a maintenance area of a Veterans Affairs hospital campus in Connecticut killed two people Friday, officials said.

“We received a report this morning that an explosion occurred at the West Haven campus of the VA Connecticut Healthcare System that resulted in two deaths in a non-patient care area,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement.

“Neither of the victims were VA patients and patient care was not affected. Emergency personnel are on the scene,” the statement said. “Our prayers are with the families of the victims of this explosion.”

The deaths occurred in a maintenance area, according to a law enforcement official who had been briefed on the matter but spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information.

State and federal investigators responded to the hospital campus, Brian Foley, a top aide to state Public Safety Commissioner James Rovella, said earlier in a text message. He cited “an explosion type incident” with “serious injuries.”

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking into what happened, spokesperson Jim Lally said.

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Danbury man arrested for alleged drug sales

A Danbury man has been arrested on a number of drug charges after neighbor complaints of illegal sales throughout the City.  35-year old Thomas William Beck was charged yesterday.  Investigators set up surveillance at his Mirijo Road home and saw Beck traveling throughout the area to engage in suspected drug transactions.

After stopping in a local shopping center parking lot, investigators carried out the search warrant.  Investigators seized more than two thousand dollars in cash and several ounces of illegal drugs, including marijuana, fentanyl, crack cocaine and heroin.  In addition to the drugs and money, Beck was found to be in possession of several scales and packaging material, all of which police say supported the complaints that he was selling illegal drugs.

Beck is currently on parole for a conviction related to violent criminal offenses.

Beck was charged with 5 counts of possession of a controlled substance, 4 counts of possession of drug Paraphernalia, 3 counts of possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell Within 1500’ school, 2 counts of possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell and 1 count each of possession of a Controlled Substance within 1500’ school, possession of < 1 kilo of Marijuana with Intent to Sell, possession of >1 oz. Opioid with Intent to Sell and Risk of Injury to a Child.

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Danbury man who embezzled $1 million from employer sentenced to prison

A Danbury man who embezzled more than $1 million from his employer has been sentenced to prison.  51-year old Anthony Teixeira was ordered to 41 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release.  He was employed by Joseph Merritt & Company when he presented sales orders, or test sales orders, to customers as though they were actually invoices.  Customers, believing they were paying the Hartford-based printing company, made payments into accounts that Teixeira controlled.  Teixeira also stole printing-related inventory from JMC inventory and sold it online, but manipulated invoices to deceive the system into thinking the company had sold the inventory.  The Judge ordered Teixeira to make full restitution.

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25% Wilton police, fire departments quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure

Some schools in the Greater Danbury area have had to do to remote learning because of a substitute teacher shortage and staff quarantines because of exposure to a positive COVID-19 patient.  Wilton First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says there's also an impact on public safety.  Recently, Wilton police and fire staffing was down 25 percent due to quarantining. 

Police and fire officers experiencing increasing required overtime to cover for those quarantined.  Those additional hours mean more opportunity for exposure for those officers, additional costs for the Town and potential burnout.  Vanderslice says the public safety departments didn’t experience this level of exposure during the spring, as most residents were staying home. 

Vanderslice says people can help reduce required responses by following the law and being smart about personal property.  With less cars on the road, motorists are driving faster, leading to calls for enforcement and accidents.  Police are still responding to thefts of or within unlocked cars.  Thieves continue to target Wilton because residents make it easy.

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Brookfield Police remind residents to lock unoccupied cars

The Brookfield Police Department says there has been an increase in motor vehicle thefts and thefts of property from unlocked cars.  Police are reminding residents to lock unoccupied cars and not leave valuables inside.  They say complacency is one's biggest weakness. Brookfield Police say crime knows no boundaries, and little steps can deter a criminal.  Brookfield Police also posted a video of a suspect who opened one car door, rummaged through the vehicle and then tried the handle of another car.  When the alarm went off, the suspect ran away.

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37th AMBYESE Conference to be held virtually this year

An annual conference aimed at preparing students for college is being held virtually this year.  The 37th AMBYESE Conference brings students together with professionals from various fields for relevant workshops. The Conference is free to participating high schools and is typically held each year at the UConn Stamford Campus.  The theme this year is COVID-19 and the impact on College Access and Student Learning.  Professionals from the medicine/healthcare, engineering, law, finance, marketing, and science fields among others are participating. There will be a special workshop regarding how students who rank in the top 5 to 10 percent of their class can apply for the highly competitive and world-renowned Pre-College Programs at The University of Notre Dame. The conference traditionally has drawn more than 200 college-bound high school students from New York and Connecticut.  Corporate partners include Linde, IBM, and PepsiCo. Among the participating high schools are Bethel, Danbury, Immaculate High School, Henry Abbott Tech, Masuk, Trumbull and Wooster School.

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Two more COVID-19 cases at Ridgefield High School identified

Two more COVID-19 cases at Ridgefield High School have been identified.  Contact tracers determined that one of the people was not in the building when infectious.  The other person was  potentially infectious when they were in the RHS building last Thursday and Friday.  The principal will issue a follow up once contact tracing has been completed.  Ridgefield school officials are working with Town Health Department Director Ed Briggs and the school's Medical Advisor about the latest case.  In the notification to parents, Ridgefield school leaders said the CDC has also updated guidance on mask wearing and now states that masks not only protect others from catching COVID-19 from an infected individual, but they also protect the mask wearer from contracting the virus.

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Nuvance Health looking to clear up myths about the flu shot

Nuvance Health is looking to clear up a couple of myths about the flu shot.  One is about the vaccine not working.  Health officials say different strains circulate with every flu season. Because the annual flu shot is created in advance, it can vary in terms of how effective it is in a given year. But even if it is not the perfect match, Nuvance says it has been proven to decrease how sick a person gets and how long the symptoms last. 

Another myth is that if someone gets a flu shot each year, their body won’t learn to fight off the virus on its own.  Health officials say vaccination involves giving the body killed germs to allow it to “practice” making the right kinds of antibodies against the germ.  They call it the best kind of immunity a person can have.

Health officials say people cannot get the flu from the vaccine. However, people  may experience side effects, such as a low-grade fever, body aches and headaches, as you make antibodies.   It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop so if someone does get influenza, they may have already been sick before fully vaccinated.  Another possibility is someone received a vaccine, and then caught a cold with similar symptoms.

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Vacancies for Justice of the Peace in Newtown to be filled

There are a couple of vacancies for the position of Justice of the Peace in Newtown.  A lottery will be held in the Town Clerk’s office at the Municipal Center tomorrow to draw two names from those applications received by the Town Clerk on or before November 1st.  The Justices of the Peace will serve for a term of January 4th through January of 2025.  The lottery will be held at 11am tomorrow for the unaffiliated positions.

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Ridgefield firefighters to offer a few more Santa stops

Due to COVID-19 restrictions this year, Ridgefield firefighters have had to dramatically scale back their annual Santa ride.  With a limited number of spots available, the event sold out quickly.  In an effort to accommodate more requests, Ridgefield firefighters are raffling off a few more stops.  Residents can purchase a raffle ticket  online at logosgreenwich.com/ridgefield.  All proceeds will be going to local charities as well as the Ridgefield Professional Firefighters Benevolent fund.    The drawing will take place on Friday, November 27th.

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New Milford records 13 more COVID-19 cases

New Milford has recorded 13 more COVID-19 cases yesterday than the town had the day before.  Since the pandemic began in March, New Milford has had about 500 confirmed cases.  Mayor Pete Bass says as the town continues to see a rise in the infection count, residents should continue to wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, and keep 6 feet of social distancing.

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Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company to host annual food drive

The Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company annual food drive to support the Brotherhood-In-Action of Bethel Food Pantry is coming up.  Firefighters will be outside the Big Y in Bethel on Saturday November 21st, from 8am to 4pm. This food drive largely helps the pantry restock their shelves after their thanksgiving deliveries.

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Easton Police again to host collection site for Toys For Tots

The Easton Police Department will again be an official collection site for Toys For Tots. 2020 has been a particularly difficult year, and this holiday season the need is greater than ever.  Easton Police are asking residents to consider donating a new, unwrapped toy to children from the area who are in need this holiday season. The Department's annual Stuff-a-Cruiser event will take place on Saturday December 5th from 8am-12pm in the Easton Library parking lot. This will be a drive-thru event because of the pandemic.

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Veterans Day ceremony held yesterday in Ridgefield

A Veterans Day ceremony was held yesterday in Ridgefield by American Legion Post 78, the Marine Veterans of Fairfield County and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  The commemoration took place at the Lounsbury House Veterans Memorial Garden.  The keynote speaker was Ridgefield Police Officer Matthew Seibert. He enlisted in the UConn Army ROTC in 2008 and was commissioned in the Connecticut Army National Guard in May of 2012.  He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2015 in support of Operation RESOLUTE SUPPORT with the 143rd Regional Support Group as the Battle Captain for the Theatre Headquarters’ Base Defense Operation Center.  Seibert joined the Ridgefield Police Department in 2013, has received specialized training in Crisis Intervention and has been previously assigned to the Detective Bureau.

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Wilton official cautions to read fine print on what patients are being tested for at some sites

When obtaining a COVID test, Wilton First Selectman Lynne Vandslice says everyone should read the fine print.  Her office has gotten some calls from people that at least one center is testing for many viruses, not just COVID.  To avoid billing surprises, she encouraged residents to confirm that the testing to be performed is as expected. Demand for testing is expected to be high during the second half of this month as college students return from affected states and others travel to and from affected states for Thanksgiving.  Vanderslice asked that families review the travel advisory if they plan to leave the state this month.  Both the CDC and the state Department of Public Health strongly recommend residents stay home and limit Thanksgiving celebrations to household members.

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One Bethel school goes remote learning as COVID-associated cases rise

One Bethel school will be on distance learning this week and then be hybrid through Thanksgiving break.  The changes are coming to Johnson Elementary School after multiple coronavirus cases were reported.  Superintendent Christine Carver said in a letter to families that there have been no additional exposures at school, but there are more cases associated with the school.  The district is working with the Department of Public Health on contact protocols to determine if there are any changes in patterns of transmission.  The latest positive test was reported Tuesday with 3 cases since last Thursday.  Berry and Rockwell elementary schools have full in-person learning, while the middle and high schools are on a hybrid model.

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DEEP signals potential roadblock for Candlewood Mountain solar project

There could be a hold on the proposed Candlewood Mountain solar project in New Milford.  A state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection analyst, Dawn McKay, wrote in a Natural Diversity Data Base request that going ahead with the project would result in the destruction and adverse modification of essential habitat for a particular threatened species.  McKay says  the loss of this particular meta-population will risk the extirpation of this species in Connecticut.  But DEEP says the determination the project not move forward is actually a biological opinion in one area of consideration of a stormwater permit application that has yet to come before the agency.  The name of the species was redacted.  Ameresco says the project would provide up to 20 megawatts of power, over 100 jobs and $2.7 million in money from taxes.  the grassroots opposition group Rescue Candlewood Mountain, and the Town of New Milford, claims there would be serious adverse consequences of allowing this project to move forward.

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Danbury school buildings remain closed until at least after Thanksgiving break

Danbury school buildings will remain closed until at least after Thanksgiving break.  Students will continue distance learning as coronavirus cases in the city rise through the roof.  That was the message from Superintendent Sal Pascarella During Tuesday's Board of Education meeting.  Medical advisers have said because of the infection rate, and challenges with contact tracing, it's unsafe to return now.  Pascarella says the goal is still to open and the situation would be reassessed after Thanksgiving.  Director of pupil personnel services Kelly Truchsess says a small number of students with the “most significant” special needs will be permitted to return on the hybrid model after Thanksgiving break.  Board member Rachel Chaleski acknowledged that in hindsight, the district could have started the year in school buildings based off what the September and mid-October numbers looked like compared to what they are now.

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Ridgefield Police Department updates Special Needs/Disabilities Program

The Ridgefield Police Department has updated their Special Needs/Disabilities Program. This program acts as a facilitator with a goal of offering assistance when someone with Alzheimers or Autism is involved in an incident. Participation is voluntary and authorizes the disclosure to, and use of, medical information by first responders. A form can be filled out with critical information that first responders can use during an emergency, when the person might not be able to communicate for themselves.  All information provided on the form is confidential and it is the individuals responsibility to update as needed.  The form can be found on the Department's page of the town's website.

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UNIT to keep an eye on vacant property as cold weather sets in

A vacant building in Danbury that was possibly occupied by the homeless population has been secured.  The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team was carrying out routine checks and noted that a vacant building on State Street had belongings scattered around the property, mostly outside.  While the blighted condition was a concern, UNIT was also concerned with it getting colder that it could become a major safety problem. The property owner was contacted and within 24 hours, it was secured and cleaned up.  UNIT plans to continue to monitor the property and identify individuals that may need further assistance from social services.

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Veterans Affairs Commissioner seeks to increase mental health help for vets

Early on in the pandemic, the state Department of Veterans Affairs implemented very strict mitigation protocols.  Commissioner Tom Saadi says it turned out that those were also very appropriate measures.  They established COVID-19 isolation and recovery wings in the residential facility and skilled nursing facility.  The agency has developed a reasonable capacity to do regular testing as well. 

Saadi says the summer months saw very limited infections among veterans and staff, but as community spread is on the rise, their residents and patients are not immune.

There are many related impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and one is the effect on mental health. 

Saadi notes that many veteran service organization posts and halls have not reopened, and for those that have--people are still concerned about going to them.  He's a member of Danbury posts, and the percentage of attendance has been capped.  He says there have been virtual meetings and discussions online instead.  Saadi notes that it doesn't replace in person interactions, but is a temporary hold over until there are better therapeutics and a vaccine.

Those who have been in combat and have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injuries and other visible or invisible wounds have an increasing need for for mental health services.  The state DVA is working with the federal VA and other state agencies to address that.  But Saadi encouraged people to reach out to their veteran friends and family, not necessarily to talk about their service, but just to find out how they're doing.

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Multiple tractor trailers involved in morning crash on I-84

There was a tractor trailer accident this morning that involved multiple trucks. The accident was reported on I-84 eastbound between exits 8 and 9, shortly before 5:30am.  There was also a reported fuel spill that needed to be cleaned up.  The accident snarled the morning commute and closed various lanes for more than four hours.

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110 Wilton school community members quarantined

Greater Danbury area leaders are raising concerns about the increase in COVID-19 cases in the region.  Wilton First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says there were 7 new cases reported Tuesday, with patients ranging in age from 11 to 75 years old.  Statewide on Tuesday there were 9 new COVID-related fatalities, including one in Fairfield County. Wilton officials say there is no documented evidence of COVID-19 spreading from person to person within the schools. Positive members of the school community contacted coronavirus outside of the schools. But a large number of students and staff are required to be out of school and in quarantine because of exposure--the count stands at 110.  District officials say reducing the need to quarantine is critical if they are to be successful in maximizing in-person education.

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Free COVID-19 testing in Danbury gets updated hours, location

Danbury's two federally-qualified health centers providing free Covid-19 testing have recently changed hours or location.  The Connecticut Institute for Communities at 120 Main Street is open Mondays and Wednesdays 1 to 4pm, on Fridays from 8:30am to 10:30am and on Saturdays 9am to 1pm.  The Community Health Center testing is now located at West Conn's Westside Campus and is open 7 days a week from 8:30am to 4pm.  These locations do not require appointments.

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Danbury contact tracers still not getting cooperation in COVID-19 questioning

Despite the increased community spread of COVID-19, Danbury officials say contact tracing, coupled with testing, remains key to slowing the spread.  Acting Health Department Director Kara Prunty says they're seeing more asymptomatic positive tests returned now, compared to the first wave.  There's more testing than in the Spring, when it was limited to only people showing symptoms.  Hospitalizations are increasing statewide and in Danbury.  Mayor Mark Boughton says some people have been lying or afraid to share their information with contact tracers and wants residents to know they will not be judged on their answers.  The tracers just want to find out where they've been so they can warn others to get tested.

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Danbury woman arrested for illegally selling alcohol, cigarettes from home

A Danbury woman has been arrested for running an illegal business out of her home.  Danbury Police charged 65-year old Vera Lucia Ribeiro-Menezes for criminal attempt to sell cigarettes without a license, criminal attempt to sell liquor without a permit and a variety of drug offenses. 

Several thousand dollars, a large quantity of alcohol and cigarettes and a small quantity of marijuana was confiscated on Friday. The Foster Street resident has been arrested five times over the last two years for illegal cigarette and alcohol sales. 

The activity attracted a lot of foot and vehicle traffic to the area, directly across from Head Start of Northern Fairfield County and an elderly housing complex.  The neighborhood is comprised of multifamily dwellings.

Ribeiro-Menezes was also charged on Friday Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell Within 1500’ School, Sale of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.  A search warrant execution in 2018 resulted in similar offenses and the seizure of thousands of dollars in U.S. currency and a large quantity of alcohol and cigarettes.

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WCSU postpones Veterans Day ceremony

Every year, the West Conn Student Veterans Organization and Veterans Affairs Office honor veterans with both a Veterans Day Ceremony and a Field of Flags.  Each flag represents a service member killed in the line of duty since the War on Terror began on 9/11. As the first flags of the 10-thousand that were to be placed on the Midtown campus had been planted by volunteers, Danbury experienced a surge in Covid-19 cases, causing the installation to be paused. For the same reason, West Conn says the Veterans Day Ceremony today is postponed to spring.

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More hospitals limit visitors due to COVID-19 increases

Hospitals in New Haven and Hartford have become the latest in Connecticut to ban routine visits as coronavirus cases rise.  Hospitals in Norwalk, Danbury, New Milford and Sharon recently limited visitor access due to virus spikes in the region. Yale New Haven Hospital announced yesterday that visits will be limited to maternity patients, child patients, those at the end of life and other rare circumstances. Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford implemented similar visitor restrictions on Monday.  New data released by the state showed nearly 550 people were hospitalized Tuesday, 52 more than the day before. And nine more people died, pushing total virus-related deaths to more than 4,700 since the pandemic began.

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Ridgefield 'flirting very dangerously' with COVID-19 red alert level

Ridgefield officials say the town is flirting very dangerously with the most critical COVID response level and data shows that if residents continue on this trend over the next seven days, Ridgefield will be designated by the State as a red town.  Ridgefield is currently averaging four cases per day, occurring in all age groups, and dipped into the red zone three times in the last ten days.  The Ridgefield COVID Task Force is closely monitoring the situation.  As the holidays approach, First Selectman Rudy Marconi cautioned that the town could see an explosion with a large increase of infections and potential spreaders.  Marconi says being in the red can potentially roll Ridgefield back to Phase 2 and possibly Phase 1, however if people are vigilant, there is still a window to alter this trend.

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Sherman Volunteer Fire Department gets new apparatus

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department has taken delivery of a new apparatus.  Tanker 1 is a 3,000 gallon tanker-fire truck equipped with a 1,250 gallon per minute fire pump.  This replaces the Sherman Department's current tanker, which has reached the end of its service life.   In rural communities, such as Sherman, with no municipal water distribution systems, Department officials say the tanker is the single most critical piece of fire protection apparatus.   This truck allows firefighters to haul large quantities of water to the scene of a fire, when it is urgently needed.   This new truck has a more powerful motor suited for Sherman’s steep hills, among other improvements.  The  old tanker had minimal firefighting capacity beyond carrying water, where as this one also has pre-connected hoses, improved scene lighting, and ability to carry additional equipment.  All capital expenditure requests are funded 80%  through the town’s capital fund and the remaining 20% through the volunteer department's fundraising efforts.

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Former Southbury Resident Trooper promoted

Seven Connecticut State Troopers have been promoted to Major. All are State Police veterans with more than 150 years of cumulative experience as Patrol Troopers, Detectives, Instructors and Command Staff.  One of the men promoted is Michael O’Donnell, who is Commanding Officer of State Police Western District Headquarters. He most recently served as Acting Commanding Officer for the district and is part of the unit's Crime Squad. During 25 years as a Trooper, He has served as Troop L Commanding Officer and a Resident Trooper Sergeant for Southbury. He has earned a Medal for Meritorious Service as well as several Unit Citations. Major O’Donnell holds a B.A. from Quinnipiac University.

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Redding COVID-19 cases rise

Redding’s positive COVID cases previously averaged 3 per month in the summer, and last month cases rose to 12. Redding is now considered an orange alert community. At least 70% of Connecticut’s population now lives in either a red alert or orange alert community for COVID-19 infection. Redding health officials say the town is entering a dangerous phase and the only way to make progress is to dial back activity.

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Barn fire threatens two homes in Redding

The Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department had a busy day yesterday.  They extinguished a car fire on Route 7 in Wilton and then responded to a brush fire on Beeholm Road in Redding. Georgetown firefighters found a fully involved barn fire with the brush fire approaching two nearby homes. Mutual aid was activated from West Redding, Redding,  Ridgefield, Bethel, and Weston fire departments.  Crews stretched a line to knock down the barn fire and another line to stop the brush fire that was approaching one house. Other members used fire extinguishers and rakes to stop the spread of the brush fire that was approaching another house and starting to catch the back porch on fire. The barn was a total loss, but both houses were saved.

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7-11 proposes gas station for former Bennigan's site

The Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals has approved a location for sale of gasoline at the old Bennigan's site.  This is the second proposal in recent years for the long vacant property.  This one comes from 7-11.  In 2018 the site was approved as a Cumberland Farms gas station.  Attorney Amy Souchuns says plans were scrapped by Cumberland Farms before the pandemic, and now 7-11 is looking to locate to the acre and a half lot. While the wetlands permit was transferred in the spring, some 20 years ago legislature repealed a criteria for suitability for gas stations, but never replaced it with anything so the location approval couldn't be transferred automatically.  The applicant has proposed modest modifications and improvements to the 2018 site plan.  The proposed changes are before Danbury land use for administrative review.  They proposed greater set back of the pumps from the property lines.

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Greater Danbury area towns awarded STEAP grants

Several Greater Danbury area towns are sharing in more than $11 million of state funding for grants through the Small Town Economic Assistance Program.  94 municipalities will use the funding for infrastructure improvement projects. This is the first time since 2016 that the state has awarded STEAP funding.

The governor said that he reinstated the program in an effort to support Connecticut’s municipalities while implementing projects that will give a boost to the economy and help in their response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For this round of funding, he implemented a special COVID-19 provision to support towns with expenditures related to their ongoing response to the pandemic, including for new construction, expansion, renovation, or replacement of existing facilities.

Bethel: $128,205 in state funding has been approved for the replacement of the culvert and headwalls at Codfish Hill Road. This will be matched by $332,339 from the town.

Bethlehem: $128,205 in state funding has been approved for the purchase of self-contained breathing units for the fire department as part of its COVID-19 response. This will be matched by $21,582 from the town.

Bridgewater: $100,000 in state funding has been approved for Phase 2 of the Bridgewater Community Center, including the demolition and remediation of the existing structure to rebuild with salvaged materials. This will be matched by $50,000 from the town.

Brookfield: $128,205 in state funding has been approved to hire a design consultant related to the redesign of town hall. This will be matched by $29,785 from the town.

New Fairfield: $128,205 in state funding has been approved for COVID-related HVAC improvements at town hall. This will be matched by $27,695 from the town.

New Milford: $105,200 in state funding has been approved for the design and engineering of a new kitchen facility at the senior center. This will be matched by $26,300 from the town.

Newtown: $128,205 in state funding has been approved for the installation of a parking lot, pavilion, and kiosk at the Sandy Hook Heritage Park and Trail. This will be matched by $12,000 from the town.

Ridgefield: $128,205 in state funding has been approved for the expansion and renovation of the Boys & Girls Club. This will be matched by $2,600,000 from the town.

Roxbury: $128,205 in state funding has been approved for a new keycard entry system, audio, and visual technology upgrades at the town. This will be matched by $21,795 from the town.

Seymour: $128,205 in state funding has been approved for a new building for equipment storage and the replacement of the gasoline system at the Seymour Public Works facility. This will be matched by $155,487.75 from the town.

Sherman: $128,205 in state funding has been approved for structural repairs at the town-owned Happy Acres Farm barn. This will be matched by $196,000 from the town.

Southbury: $128,205 in state funding has been approved for the construction of a municipal fueling station. This will be matched by $510,000 from the town.

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Schaghticoke Middle School in New Milford moves to distance learning

Schaghticoke Middle School in New Milford will move to remote learning for the rest of this week and return to the hybrid learning model on November 16th.  That's because over the course of the school day yesterday, New Milford officials were notified that three people tested positive for coronavirus.  Through the contact tracing process, it was determined that there was no school transmission.  The individuals were last in school on October 30th and/or November 2nd. 

The New Milford Health Department, in partnership with the district, is conducting a thorough contact tracing protocol for each case. District officials have not received any reports of other students or staff members experiencing illnesses with symptoms resembling those of COVID-19. 

Any child identified as a “close contact” with any of these cases should have been contacted by the building principal or local health officials and provided with instructions on the appropriate steps to take.

 As regional issues increase, Interim Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo says they are having difficulty maintaining adequate staffing at the middle school for the remainder of this week.

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Danbury Library putting junior floor collection back in circulation

Danbury Library staff are putting the junior floor collection back in place for circulation.  The items were removed from the shelves to prepare for new ones to the installed.  The new shelving was purchased with funds awarded from the Connecticut State Construction Grant. The new shelves are in and staff is organizing the collection.  Library officials say this was a large undertaking, as there are approximately 38,000 items in the junior collection that had to be boxed and moved.

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Huckleberry Hill Elementary School community member tests positive for COVID-19

Huckleberry Hill Elementary School in Brookfield will remain open on the hybrid model despite a member of the school community testing positive for coronavirus.  Superintendent John Barile said in a message to the community yesterday that the person was last in school on Friday and was told to isolate at home for 14 days.  The Brookfield School District has not received any other reports of students or staff members experiencing illnesses with symptoms resembling those of COVID-19.

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Danbury resident gets warning about gathering restrictions, violations

A Danbury resident got a warning about gathering restrictions and other violations.  The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team received neighbor complaints about a home on Morton Street hosting an excessive get together of people for volleyball.  The reports were that vehicles were lined up and down the street, blocking driveways, there was noise late at night and other quality of life issues.  When UNIT went to inspect the property, they found it littered with garbage and a port-o-potty in the front yard.   UNIT reviewed city regulations with the owner and ordered him to clean up the property.  Corrective action has been taken and UNIT hasn't received any new complaints

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Brookfield classified as COVID-19 red zone by the State

Brookfield has been classified in the red zone by the State. There are now 120 towns and cities classified as red or orange. This is partly due to new cases being reported but is also due, in part, to changes in the way the State is tracking cases. First Selectman Steve Dunn says the State is now including antigen cases that came up positive and they are adding some cases to Brookfield’s total with people who work in Brookfield or are known to spend a significant amount of time in Brookfield.  Dunn is asking that everyone stay home as much as possible, wear a mask, social distance and wash hands frequently.  He added that the only way to stop the spike in cases is to work together as a community to keep each other safe.  The Brookfield schools have been reopened and will remain in hybrid mode.

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More homeless individuals housed by Danbury social services

8 more homeless individuals have been housed in Danbury over the course of the past month.  Acting City Health Director Kara Prunty told members of the City Council on Thursday that 54 individuals have been housed since the start of the pandemic.  There are currently 38 individuals staying at the Super 8 Motel, which is being run as an alternative shelter due to the pandemic.  Negotiations continue on plans for a Stamford-based non-profit to buy the motel and operate it as a permanent shelter.  Danbury expanded capacity to 45 rooms, and in some cases, two people stay in a room. The motel may also be used as a warming center during extreme cold weather days.

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New Fairfield firefighters respond to brush fire, conduct diver training

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department took advantage of the beautiful weather this weekend and got some extra training in.  Members took their Marine 17 vessel out on the waters for driver training.

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to a brush fire this weekend.  It was started by hot ashes dumped outside in dry leaves.  Firefighters reminded residents using fireplaces or wood burning stoves to dispose of ashes properly, in a metal container, as the embers can remain hot for days.

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Fire reported in basement of Danbury store

A fire was reported in the basement of a store in the North Street shopping Plaza in Danbury this morning.  Police temporarily blocked off the entrances from Hayestown and Padanaram Roads.  Scanner reports are that the fire started in a light fixture in the basement and Burlington was evacuated as a precaution.

Meanwhile Danbury Fire Department did some outdoor training this weekend and the topic was responses to Danbury Municipal Airport.  The Department's Aircraft Rescue Firefighters team spent the day learning about responses to the multiple fuel farms on the airport grounds. After the walk through of each site they discussed different scenarios.

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2 injured, 3 families displaced by Danbury fire

A firefighter and a Danbury resident sustained non-life threatening injuries in a fire on Saturday.  Firefighters responded to a house on Rowan Street in the afternoon and were faced with heavy smoke and fire conditions. The situation quickly escalated to a 3rd alarm summoning additional resources from within Danbury, police and Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company.   The occupants from three units were displaced and are being assisted by American Red Cross.  The Danbury Fire Marshals Office responded to the scene and has the fire deemed undetermined at this time.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company, Ball Pond Volunteer Fire Company, and Ridgefield Fire Department provided station coverage.

(Photo: DFD)

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4 people displaced by a fire in Newtown

Four people have been displaced by a fire in Newtown.  Dodgingtown and Hawleyville fire companies responded to Wedgewood Court Friday afternoon to a fire alarm sounding.  Heavy flames were showing from the garage and all other fire companies were called to the scene.  Bethel and Brookfield also responded with tankers.  The fire spread to the attic and across the house, engulfing it in flames.  Two vehicles in the driveway were also involved.  Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Crew transported one male from the scene.  Bridgewater, Southbury and Stepney fire departments provided station coverage.

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3 men plead to scuttling sailboats, motor boats in Long Island Sound

A Southbury man and two other Connecticut residents have pleaded guilty to the scuttling of several sailboats and motor boats in Long Island Sound.  71-year old John Magness, 70-year old Peter Albrecht of Norwalk and 60-year old Carlos Santos of Westbrook pleaded guilty to a federal charge obstruction of navigable waters by sinking a vessel. 

Magness owned Bluefish Cove Marina in Bridgeport, and while preparing to sell the property in 2018, he and Albrecht, an employee, engaged Santos to sink several abandoned vessels without a permit.  Magness agreed to forgive Santos’ unpaid dockage fees in exchange for his help.  At least 5 were scuttled between the Black Rock Harbor and the Pennfield Reef Lighthouse from October 2018 and April 2019. 

The charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of one year and a fine of up to $100,000.  They are released pending sentencing.

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Bethel First Selectman says COVID case increase due to change in state metrics

The number of new COVID-19 infections continue to rise in the Greater Danbury area.

Bethel's two-week rolling daily average of new cases climbed to 19.3.  But First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says part of the big jump is due to a change in metrics used by the state.  The figure now includes "probable" cases along with "confirmed" cases, which he says automatically inflates the numbers. But no matter the metric, he says it's clear that the so-called "second wave" has begun, which prompted new restrictions from the state.

Knickerbocker is highlighting the limit on private gatherings because the data continues to show that most transmissions are occurring when people get a little less disciplined with safety precautions around friends and family members as they socialize. 

He believes Bethel residents have done a great job in keeping themselves and others safe when in public, and asking that they be just as diligent in their homes.  Until the vaccine is available, Knickerbocker says it's the only way to prevent the most vulnerable in society from the disease, as well as protect the fragile economy and keep schools open.

 

 

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Ridgefield moves from yellow to orange on the state's COVID alert list

Ridgefield recently moved from yellow to orange on the state's COVID alert level, and First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the town has inched uncomfortably close to red.  In order to help Ridgefield better understand how the state provided data affects the town’s response, Marconi has formed a task force of town officials and community members with relevant skill sets.  Information will be provided weekly beginning tomorrow.  Marconi is reminding residents and business owners about the new changes for Phase 2-point-1, which include lower capacity and gather sizes for both commercial venues and private homes.  Personal Services and Libraries will remain the same as Phase 3 rules.

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Redding Health Department receives complaints of people not wearing a mask

The Redding Health Department has received complaints of people not wearing a mask or not wearing a mask properly.  Health officials are reminding everyone indoors to wear a face covering over both the nose and mouth when in public, or anytime a person is within 6 feet, whether indoors or out. It is strongly advised all wear masks at outdoor sporting events.  But they noted that wearing a mask does not eliminate the need to maintain the distance of 6 feet apart from others.  In an office setting if working in a private room/area alone, a mask is not required.  Violations or concerns can be reported to the Redding Health Department or the Redding Police Department.

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Danbury holds COVID testing, flu vaccine clinic today

The City of Danbury is hosting COVID-19 testing today at the Brazilian Assembly of God at 6 Coalpit Hill Road from 9am to noon.  There's also testing at the Greater Danbury Community Health Center parking lot at 120 Main Street from 9am to 1pm.

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New Fairfield Economic Development Commission hears from state DECD leader

The New Fairfield Economic Development Commission held a zoom meeting yesterday for business owners.  The meeting started with a presentation by Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development Commissioner David Lehman.  The group then discussed topics specific to improving New Fairfield's downtown business district and local small businesses.  They talked about the Downtown Beautification Project, a "Shop New Fairfield" Weekend, and Holiday Window Decoration Contest.

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Redding to pave several roads Monday

The Redding Highway Dept and Tilcon will be paving several roads starting on Monday.  Paving will be done on Olmstead Road, Lenora Road and Starrs Ridge Road from 7am to 4:30pm Monday.  Residents can expect some delays.

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Monroe rolls back access to Town Hall, Library

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase significantly throughout Fairfield County.  Monroe is now averaging 3-and-a-half new cases per day, putting the town in the “RED” alert category.  Monroe also reported two more COVID-associated fatalities. Starting Monday, public access to Monroe Town Hall will again be by appointment only.  The Library will remain open, but with further limitations on overall capacity.  

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Eversource proposes supply side increase for winter energy rates

Eversource Energy submitted its proposed winter electricity prices to the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. If approved, the residential Generation Service Charge would increase to 8.391 cents per kilowatt-hour, up from the current 7.375 cents per kilowatt-hour. Customers in Connecticut who are signed up for the company’s Standard Service generation rate would see the increase on the supply side of their electric bill beginning January 1. 

Eversource says this is a direct pass-through cost to customers for the price of power generation, with no profit to the company. 

The new generation rate will be in effect through June 30th. The average residential customer using 700 kilowatt hours of electricity each month will see an increase of approximately $7.11 per month on the supply portion of their bill. 

Under the state law that deregulated electricity, energy companies like Eversource bid twice a year for power supplies, award contracts to low bidders, and pass along the costs to customers without marking them up.

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Drive-through COVID-19 testing site set up on WestConn's Westside campus

Starting today, a drive-through COVID-19 testing site will be set up on WestConn's Westside campus.  The Community Health Center of Danbury will operate the site in the commuter parking lot on the Westside campus on Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4pm.  Cars will enter the campus and line up in the right lane of University Boulevard to complete paperwork and wait for testing. There will be increased traffic on University Boulevard during these hours and the commuter parking lot will be closed until further notice. No appointment is needed and there is no cost or co-pay associated with this testing. All university students, staff and faculty who are currently not included in the regular WCSU testing protocol can participate.

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Putnam County hosting a free rabies vaccination clinic

The Putnam County Department of Health is hosting a free rabies vaccination clinic on Saturday.  The clinic at Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park in Carmel is from 10am to 2pm tomorrow and open to pets of all Putnam County residents.  People must bring proof of residency and proof of previous rabies vaccination for their pets.  Tags are not acceptable.  All dogs must be leashed and controlled.  Cats and ferrets must be in carriers. All animals must be supervised by an adult.  COVID-19 guidance must be followed including social/physical distancing and face coverings are required.

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More confirmed COVID-19 cases detected in New Fairfield

As of yesterday, there were 12 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield.  This total includes some cases that were on the list last week, and several new cases confirmed this week.  New Fairfield's average daily case rate per 100,000 residents has now increased to 14.4, which is within the “orange level” of the state COVID response framework.  The guidance encourages high risk individuals to stay home and stay safe, all residents to avoid large gatherings and to limit time with people outside of your household. The framework directs the Town will to scale back public events and activities.

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Bethel Registrars thanking residents for patience on Election Day

The Bethel Registrars of Voters are thanking residents for their patience on Election Day, and for turning out in droves.  Early in the morning on Tuesday voters flocked to the Municipal Center and found a long line, which had an hour wait-time. By 7:30am the wait-time was reduced to 20 minutes. At times during the day there was no wait, even after 7pm. The Registrars thanked the 7,000 Bethel voters who came to the polling places on Election Day and took their places on the social distanced floor markers while patiently waiting to check in.

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More municipalities upgraded to the state's red alert COVID list

More municipalities have been upgraded to the state's red alert list.  Joining Danbury is Brookfield and Bethel.  Danbury has been a red alert city for 4 weeks now due to the rising rate of COVID-19 cases.  The designation is for places averaging more than 15 new cases per day per 100,000 people.  Danbury recorded 56 positive results yesterday, 33 on Wednesday and 56 on Tuesday. 

The next step down on the state's list is orange alert.  The towns of New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Sherman and Southbury all meet that metric.

There are more positive COVID-19 cases identified in the Ridgefield School community.  A positive test at Scotland Elementary School is the latest.  The person was in the building Monday and Wednesday and considered to have been infectious.  The Ridgefield Health Department Director and the school Medical Advisor have started contact tracing.  Some fifth graders were sent home early yesterday. 

The Ridgefield school system’s COVID-19 data tracker shows that 28 students and 16 staff were asked to quarantine as a result of potential exposure.

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Danbury Mayor pledges to run down Main St in chicken suit if he loses fundraising challenge

Danbury officials are continuing to make pleas for people who can, to donate to a fundraiser that's going to benefit food banks in the City.  The challenge was kicked off by three local banks in response to the donation from comedian John Oliver to the Connecticut Food Bank.  The Feeding Our Neighbors challenge is raising funds for the Danbury Food Collaborative. 

There are some individual fundraisers on the site. 

Mayor Mark Boughton is one and says if he doesn't raise more than his communications director, he will run from the Library to 120 Main Street in a chicken suit.  If Taylor O'Brien raises less than the Mayor, she will do the same in an inflatable unicorn costume. 

The challenge within a challenge runs through Thanksgiving.

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Shoreline residents asked not to rake leaves into the water

The Candlewood Lake Authority is calling on shoreline residents not to rake leaves into the water.  The increase in nutrients could lead to green water and algae blooms next summer.  All plants use nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus to build themselves up and grow, and when they die, the dried up remains still contain those nutrients, even if they aren't green anymore.  CLA says when residents rake or dump dried up fallen leaves into the lake, they might as well be putting fertilizer in the lake.  Once in the water, the nutrients are almost impossible to remove.  The Lake Authority asked that residents consider either bagging leaves and disposing of them with garbage, or composting them for use in home plantings. Anyone who uses a yard management service is asked to let them know what to do with the leaves too.

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Graffiti cleaned from pedestrian walkway in Danbury

Graffiti has been cleaned from an unofficial pedestrian walkway in Danbury.  The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team routinely monitors reservoirs to ensure that they are kept clean and free of garbage and unwanted vandalism.  During a routine inspection last week, UNIT noted that the West Lake Reservoir bridge, commonly used by leisurely walkers, had been hit in various spots with graffiti. Within an hour, UNIT members covered it all with a fresh coat of paint.  UNIT does have a couple of hidden cameras placed around Danbury in anticipation of catching people in the act of this vandalism.

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Easton Police participating in No Shave November

It is No Shave November. The officers and staff of the Easton Police Department will be wearing special face masks throughout the month of November to raise money to support the Connecticut Cancer Foundation. Funds raised will benefit the Patient Assistance Program in support of basic needs: rent/mortgage, utilities, and food. https://secure.e2rm.com/p2p/fundraising/312225/team/928486

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Bethel Schools add new feature to COVID website

The Bethel Public School District has added a new feature to their COVID website.  It provides a dashboard of positive cases with staff and students who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the school year.  There is also a comparison to the overall population.  One section is school exposures, which all parents and staff are informed of, and another is positive cases where there was not any school exposure.  A non-school exposure could include any case on distance or hybrid learning.  

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Firefighters escape injury in partial collapse at Monroe condo fire

A fire in a condo unit under renovation has been extinguished in Monroe.  Firefighters responded to High Meadows condos on Highland Drive around 2:30 this morning.  Firefighters narrowly escape injury when they detected a partial collapse of the main floor into the basement.  Police helped alert and safely evacuate several senior citizens from adjoining units.  Firefighters ultimately entered through a small basement window in zero visibility to contain the flames to the one unit, with smoke damage reported to the adjoining units on either side.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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Former New Fairfield First Selectman continues work to battle food insecurity

Former New Fairfield First Selectman Susan Chapman says even though thew outcome of her state Senate race wasn't what she had hoped, there was some goo that came out of her campaign.  She was able to secure a refrigerated truck to help feed needy families in the Danbury area, and will be continuing her efforts to serve those most in need.  She is now focusing on her work with the Walnut Hill Community Church food pantry.  They have a stuff the truck event this Saturday, November 7th, at BJs in Brookfield from 9-3.

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Updated Election Night results from Greater Danbury area

Election Night Greater Danbury 2020

* denotes incumbent

Municipality/Position Affiliation Candidate
     
5th Congressional District Democrat Jahana Hayes* (188,592)
   Republican    David X. Sullivan (150,384)
  Independent  Bruce Walczak (150,384)
     
4th Congressional District Democrat Jim Himes* (205,289)
   Republican Jonathan Riddle (126,369)
  Independent  Brian Merlen (5,106)
     
24th State Senate District Democrat Julie Kushner* (22,460)
  Republican Susan Chapman (18,348)
     
26th State Senate District Democrat Will Haskell* (38,194)
  Republican Kim Healy (27189)
     
28th State Senate District Democrat Michelle McCabe (29,775)
    Republican Tony Hwang* (31,827)
     
30th State Senate District Democrat David Gronbach (24099)
    Republican Craig Miner* (28,653)
     
2nd District State Representative Democrat Raghib Allie-Brennan* (7,066)
    Republican Dan Carter (6145)
   
64th District State Representative Democrat Maria Horn* (7,144)
  Republican Brian OPhler (6,638)
     
67th District State Representative Democrat Hilary Ram (5,061)
  Republican Bill Buckbee* (7,810)
     
106th District State Representative   Democrat Rebekah Harriman-Stites (6,951)
  Republican Mitch Bolinsky* (7,332)
     
107th District State Representative Democrat Kerri Colombo (6,326)
  Republican Stephen Harding* (8,718)
     
108th District State Representative Democrat Dannette Onofrio (4,234)
   Republican Pat Callahan (6,003)
     
109th District State Representative Democrat David Arconti* (5,265)
  Republican Michael Henry (3,330)
     
110th District State Representative Democrat Bob Godfrey* (4,049)
  Republican Erin Domenech (1,858)
     
111th District State Representative Democrat Aimee Berger-Girvalo (8,044)
  Republican Bob Hebert (7,305)
     
112th District State Representative Republican JP Sredzinski (9,052)
     
135th District State Representative Democrat Anne Hughes* (8,661)
  Republican John Shaban (6,567)
     
138th District State Representative Democrat Ken Gucker* (6,383)
  Republican Emile Buzaid (5,615)
     


(vote tallies) Numbers are unofficial results which must be certified by the Secretary of the State's office.

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Newly built Newtown Police Station will open on Saturday

The newly built Newtown Police Station will open on Saturday.  The ribbon cutting is by invitation only due to social gathering restrictions.  But the town has invited residents to attend an open house and take a tour of the new Police Department and Emergency Communications Center afterward.  The facility is located at 191 South Main Street.  The ribbon cutting is at 11am and the open house is from noon to 2pm.  Newtown officials say it looks like the weather will cooperate, allowing for social distancing as people wait; small groups at a time will be admitted.  They apologize in advance if there is a wait.  Masks are required to enter the building.

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Two chimney fires reported in Bethel in less than a week

Bethel & Stony Hill volunteer firefighters have responded to two chimney fires since Halloween.  Anyone planning on using a fireplace or wood stove this season is asked to follow some safety steps to prevent a fire.  Department members asked that people have the chimney cleaned by a professional prior to using.  Use a metal bucket to dispose of ashes, because ashes can retain heat and embers for several days. They should never be disposed of in a paper or plastic bag or container.  Residents should be sure smoke detectors are less than 10 years old and are working. They are the number one defense in alerting occupants to a fire.

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Newtown voters ok adding limited mixed-use development to Fairfield Hills Master Plan

Newtown voters have endorsed considering limited mixed-use development to the Fairfield Hills Master Plan.  Commercial proposals could include a housing component, provided that the residential portion is limited to no more than two of the existing buildings, and that the renovation is consistent with the architectural vision for the property. First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says the referendum is not a de facto authorize housing at the former psychiatric hospital campus.  He notes that the town reserves the right to reject any residential development proposed if it is not approved by several local boards and agencies.

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Two New Fairfield schools on remote learning due to COVID-19

Two New Fairfield schools have moved to remote learning because of positive COVID-19 tests.  Superintendent Pat Cosentino says they've been notified that another member of the Meeting House Hill Elementary School community has tested positive, as has a member of the Consolidated School community.  Students and staff from both schools started distance learning yesterday.  They will stay with remote learning for at least this week, possibly until Monday, the 16th as the district conducts contact tracing.  Cosentino says all school buildings and classrooms will be sanitized and disinfected throughout the week to mitigate the spread of infection.  There's full, in person learning at New Fairfield’s middle and high schools.

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Putnam County Police Policy Review Panel established

The Putnam County Police Policy Review Panel has been established.  The group will review existing police procedures and consider recommendations for the future.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says this is a watershed moment to make Putnam a better place to live.  All Putnam County residents, particularly those in community and cultural diversity groups, faith-based groups, veteran’s organizations, schools and mental health consumers, were encouraged to apply.  The 21- member panel chaired by County Executive Odell includes Sheriff’s Department and local police officials, as well as legislative, county and municipal leaders. The panel was established in August in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203, which requires each of the 500 jurisdictions with police departments in New York State to develop a police reform plan by April 1.

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Danbury Police again participating in 'No Shave November' fundraiser

This November, officers from the Danbury Police Department will once again be participating in a “No Shave November” fundraising event. This year's effort will benefit the Circle of Care. The organization raises money to help families who have children diagnosed with cancer, to make it easier for families facing pediatric cancer in Connecticut.  Participating Danbury Police Officers will make a monetary donation towards the event and will not shave for the month.  They'll also be competing against other local police departments in an attempt to raise the most money. Each department is asking for their community’s assistance in that goal.

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Congressmembers for Greater Danbury to return to Washington, D.C.

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes will be returning to Washington, D.C. David Sullivan conceded the race this morning saying he was immensely grateful to the many people who supported his campaign, adding that he was proud to be an advocate for Republican principles.  While he was disappointed in the outcome, Sullivan says he respects the results and congratulated Hayes.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes declared victory about 45 minutes after the polls closed.  He thanked supporters at a post-election event and pledging to help “restitch our civic life,” referring to the acrimony in American politics. Himes faced a challenge from Republican Jonathan Riddle. 

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Former state Reps. lose bids to return to their districts

Three Republicans who used to be state representatives and were looking to make a comeback in their old districts were unable to unseat the Democratic incumbents. In the 2nd District Dan Carter lost to Raghib-Allie Brennan, in the 64th Brian Ohler was edged out by Maria Horn and in the 135th John Shaban lost to Anne Hughes.  Horn will serve a second term.  She says the door-knocking and personal events that drove the campaign in 2018 were replaced by phone and text banks, and many Zoom calls this year.  There is still some Absentee Ballot counting to be done, but it appears Democrats claim majorities of at least 98 to 53 in the state House and 24 to 12 in state Senate, up from a 91-60 split and 22-14 division.

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Record voter turnout in some towns during Election 2020

There was record voter turnout in Greater Danbury area towns for this election.  The Bethel Registrar of Voters said two hours before polls closed, about 83-percent of registered voters cast ballots.  By 4pm yesterday Bethel set a record 10,000 ballots cast. 

In Ridgefield, with only 1 hour left before the polls closed, more than 16,000 ballots had been cast.  For context, 14,000 total ballots were cast for president in Ridgefield in 2016.  The Town of Bridgewater also saw big voter turnout well before the polls closed. 

In Newtown, there was a nearly 89-percent voter turn out.

There were 88-percent of voters in Roxbury casting ballots Tuesday.  Kent and Cornwall appear on track to have the highest voter turn out in the state, each at about 90-percent of eligible voters casting ballots.  In Monroe, where the House race only had one candidate, there was 86-percent turnout.

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Member of Joel Barlow High School community tests positive for COVID-19

A member of the Joel Barlow High School community has tested positive for COVID-19.  The individual was last on campus on October 28.  A  short-term closure for all students and staff through Thursday, November 5th has been put in place.  The district is currently contact tracing in collaboration with the local health director to determine the level of exposure for students and staff.   During this short-term closure, Joel Barlow High School will switch to a Distance Learning Platform for all students. It is anticipated that school will resume for cohort B and cohort D students on Friday.  Staff and students exhibiting symptoms, or feeling ill, should call their medical provider to ask about testing.  A close contact is defined as any individual who spent at least 15 minutes within six feet of a confirmed case or had direct exposure to droplets of a positive case over the course of a 24 hour period.

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111th House District of Ridgefield has turned blue

The 111th House District of Ridgefield has turned blue.  There was an open race and Democrat Aimee Berger-Girvalo was able to flip the seat after long time Republican John Frey opted not to seek reelection.  Berger-Girvalo says she is honored that voters have put their faith in her to tackle the issues and to bring results back home.  Berger-Girvalo wants to focus on helping small businesses, improving schools, expanding and protecting access to healthcare, and uplifting working families.  She has managed multi-million dollar corporate businesses, including working as a General Manager for Gap Inc., and currently works in special education programs as an Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist.

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Very little ballot reporting in 28th Senate District

Only 3 precincts have reported in the race for the 28th state senate district, which includes portions of Easton, Newtown, and Weston. This year’s race was a rematch between Republican incumbent Tony Hwang and Democratic challenger Michelle McCabe, who both ran in 2018 for the seat.  Hwang serves as the ranking member of the committees on housing, higher education, public safety and security, and transportation.  McCabe is the director of the Center for Food Equity and Economic Development with the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport.

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Election Night Greater Danbury 2020

Election Night Greater Danbury 2020

* denotes incumbent

Municipality/Position Affiliation Candidate
     
5th Congressional District Democrat Jahana Hayes* (170,120)
  143 of 156 precincts reporting Republican    David X. Sullivan (135,019)
  Independent  Bruce Walczak (4,280)
     
4th Congressional District Democrat Jim Himes* (182,640)
91% precincts reporting Republican Jonathan Riddle (112,337)
  Independent  Brian Merlen (4,459)
     
24th State Senate District Democrat Julie Kushner* (22,460)
  Republican Susan Chapman (18,348)
     
26th State Senate District Democrat Will Haskell* (37,937)
  Republican Kim Healy (26,978)
     
28th State Senate District Democrat Michelle McCabe
    3 of 20 precincts reporting Republican Tony Hwang*
     
30th State Senate District Democrat David Gronbach (16,980)
   22 of 29 precincts reporting Republican Craig Miner* (20,350)
     
2nd District State Representative Democrat Raghib Allie-Brennan* (6,721)
   8 of 10 precincts reporting Republican Dan Carter (5,819)
   
64th District State Representative Democrat Maria Horn* (7144)
  Republican Brian OPhler (6,638)
     
67th District State Representative Democrat Hilary Ram (5,002)
  Republican Bill Buckbee* (7,776)
     
106th District State Representative   Democrat Rebekah Harriman-Stites (6,951)
  Republican Mitch Bolinsky* (7,332)
     
107th District State Representative Democrat Kerri Colombo (6,326)
  Republican Stephen Harding* (8,718)
     
108th District State Representative Democrat Dannette Onofrio (3,021)
  3 of 5 precincts reporting Republican Pat Callahan (4,770)
     
109th District State Representative Democrat David Arconti* (5,265)
  Republican Michael Henry (3,330)
     
110th District State Representative Democrat Bob Godfrey* (4,049)
  Republican Erin Domenech (1,858)
     
111th District State Representative Democrat Aimee Berger-Girvalo (8,044)
  Republican Bob Hebert (7,305)
     
112th District State Representative Republican JP Sredzinski (9,052)
     
135th District State Representative Democrat Anne Hughes* (8,661)
  Republican John Shaban (6,567)
     
138th District State Representative Democrat Ken Gucker* (6,383)
  Republican Emile Buzaid (5,615)
     


(vote tallies) Numbers are unofficial results which must be certified by the Secretary of the State's office.

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Election 2020 Greater Danbury area state Senate races

Sample ballots for each town can be found on the Secretary of the State's website: https://portal.ct.gov/SOTS/Election-Services/Town-Ballots/2020-Town-Ballots

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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Election 2020 Greater Danbury area state House races

Sample ballots for each town can be found on the Secretary of the State's website: https://portal.ct.gov/SOTS/Election-Services/Town-Ballots/2020-Town-Ballots

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. 

A political newcomer is looking to unseat a two term incumbent in New Milford.  The 67th House seat is currently held by Republican Bill Buckbee.  Democrat Hilary Ram is a substitute teacher. 

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. 

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 for the livestreamed debate. 

There's an open state House seat in the 108th district of New Fairfield and parts of New Milford, Danbury and Sherman.  Republican Patrick Callahan and Democrat Dannette Onofrio are both vying for the position to succeed Richard Smith.

Danbury Republican Michael Henry is challenging Democratic incumbent David Arconti in the 109th House District. 

The 110th state House race is a repeat of the 2018 contest.  Longtime Democratic incumbent Bob Godfrey is being challenged again by Republican Erin Domenech. 

There is just one race in the Greater Danbury area where the incumbent does not face a challenger.  Republican House member JP Sredzinski represents the 112th district, which includes Monroe and part of Newtown. 

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 135th House seat through 2017, but opted not to run for a 4th term as he ran for Congress. 

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. 

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Two Congressional districts represent Greater Danbury area towns

The candidates in the 4th Congressional District met for just one in-person debate this campaign season.  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. 

Himes, who voted for the ACA, said while he would defend it relentlessly, it isn't perfect.  Riddle says the ACA has some good points, but is a massive failure.  Himes touted his support for the bipartisan stimulus bill passed in response to the pandemic 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. 

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.

The 5th District Congressional candidates met for several debates.  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. 

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110th State House race features 2018 rematch

The 110th state House race is a repeat of the 2018 contest.  Longtime Democratic incumbent Bob Godfrey is being challenged again by Republican Erin Domenech.  Godfrey touted millions of dollars secured during the last session for a new career academy to be built in Danbury, implementation of Paid Family Medical Leave and an increase in the minimum wage.  Domenech says change is needed, and called on the legislature to stay ahead of things rather than reactive to them.  Domenech touted her military family and volunteers for veteran causes. 

When it comes to the handling of the pandemic, Domenech says the Governor is ignoring the CDC in favor of his own experts.  But she notes that there's a lot that's being overlooked.  She wants the administration to be transparent about their decisions.  Domenech says people want to go to work and pay their bills, but that isn't happening right now.  She says there's something to being self sufficient and people don't want to rely on someone else to take care of them.  Domenech says there are some parents who are understandably concerned for their kids health, but notes there's another impact from the pandemic.  She says interacting with peers is part of the educational experience and is having an effect on kids mental health and self esteem. 

Godfrey says decisions should be led by science to deal with the disease itself.  He wants to expand affordable health care access.  He says there needs to be state funds for public schools to help them operate safely, when the infection rate is low enough to protect students and staff.  Godfrey says he's concerned with the state's response to infection in nursing homes.  He wants the legislature to investigate how the disease was able to spread so quickly among patients and staff.

Godfrey touted the utility accountability bill passed in special session.  He says the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority was empowered to do more and gather more information for utilities.  He called the storm response unconscionable.  Godfrey expects more bills to come before the legislature next year to further address the state's high cost to electricity.  Domenech says the bill might not have been needed if lawmakers voted a different way in 2018.  A bill was passed that mandated Eversource and United Illuminating, as of July 1, contract to buy power from the Millstone Power Station.  She says lawmakers should have noticed how the pandemic was impacting people's wallets and recalled that the rate increase was going to go into effect. 

The candidates agree that tolls should not be implemented.  Godfrey says the rainy day fund should not be used for infrastructure projects, because there should be funding in the budget for routine work.  Domenech also opposes tolls.  A problem she had with the bill was that information would be exempt from Freedom of Information laws on spending, and taxpayers deserve to know how money is being spent.  She says the Special Transportation Fund lockbox hasn't been maintained, and it should be. 

On the police accountability bill, Godfrey says a bipartisan working group drafted the legislation.  He says the Republicans have voted against the state police contracts, worked to end collective bargaining and fought against gun safety; all of which he says help police.  He says funding for body cameras, civilian review boards and limiting the use of chokeholds were goo things.  He expects the bill to be fine-tuned in the upcoming session.  Godfrey says he supports the police, except those who commit crimes like he supports protestors, except those who commit crimes.  Domenech says the Minneapolis City Council voted to defund police and now there's a spike in crime. She wants Connecticut residents to know they can walk out their door without fear and that's what the so-called police accountability bill will lead to  She notes that other parts of the country are seeing more police resign because of similar initiatives and that will lead to less public safety.  She called for a repeal of the bill.

When it comes to helping seniors, Godfrey says insurance coverage for telehealth visits is important.  He touted work to cap the price of insulin.  Domenech called it disheartening that people are leaving the state when they reach retirement age because their pensions are taxed. 

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Political newcomer looks to unseat New Milford state Representative

A political newcomer is looking to unseat a two term incumbent in New Milford.  The 67th House seat is currently held by Republican Bill Buckbee.  If reelected, Buckbee says he wants to focus on addiction and mental health services.  He also wants to reduce unfunded mandates, bolster economic recovery from the pandemic and work on environmental issues.  Buckbee is the executive director of the nonprofit Harrybrooke Park & Harden House Museum.  Democrat Hilary Ram is a substitute teacher.  Her priorities if elected include energy, education and healthcare.  She wants the state to transition to clean energy, create transparency for the education cost sharing formula and increase insurance coverage for mental health services.

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Business owner challenging Democratic incumbent in Danbury's 109th district

Danbury Republican Michael Henry is challenging Democratic incumbent David Arconti in the 109th House District.  Henry owns a roofing and a home improvement company.  He is an alternate member of Danbury’s Zoning Commission and a special police officer in the City.  If elected, Henry says his priorities would be to champion public safety officials, advocate for small businesses and preserve Candlewood Lake. Arconti says his priority in a new term is recovering the economy and jobs from the pandemic.  In his most recent term, Arconti touted utility accountability and electric reforms he shepherded through the legislature, and securing a grant for construction of a new career academy school.  Arconti's father is a retired Danbury Police Detective and his mother works for the Danbury School system.

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Fairfield Hills development on the ballot in Newtown

Most of the Greater Danbury area town ballots are straight forward, featuring only candidates. But in Newtown, residents are being asked whether the town should consider commercial proposals at the Fairfield Hills campus.  The ballot question clarifies that commercial proposals could include a housing component, provided that the residential portion is limited to no more than two of the existing buildings, and that the renovation is consistent with the architectural vision for the property. First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says the referendum would not de facto authorize housing at the former psychiatric hospital campus.  He notes that the town reserves the right to reject any residential development proposed if it is not approved by several local boards and agencies.

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112th House District Representative unchallenged in bid for new term

There is just one race in the Greater Danbury area where the incumbent does not face a challenger.  Republican House member JP Sredzinski represents the 112th district, which includes Monroe and part of Newtown.  He is superintendent of public safety dispatch and was a member of the Monroe Town Council.  He is seeking a fourth consecutive term in the legislature. Sredzinski says his top legislative priorities are making Connecticut more affordable, improving public safety, and improving the quality of life for residents.

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Woodbury Resident State Trooper sets up traffic pattern for Election Day

The Woodbury Resident State Police Trooper's Office says there will be a new traffic pattern in place for Election Day.  Voters can enter the polling place from the intersection of Route 6 and 317.  An officer will either be directing traffic at that intersection or controlling the light.  Voters are asked to keep socializing to a minimum in the lot so that parking spaces will become available for others to use.  Drivers leaving the parking lot must turn right at the bottom of the senior center driveway and exit out of the north side exit.  The north exit will be a right turn only to head northbound on Route 6.  Those needing to go southbound will have to either turn left onto Judson Avenue to Westside Road to Route 317 or turn right onto Mountain Road Right onto White Deer Rocks and then right onto Bacon Pond.  Anyone planning on running errands in Woodbury on Election Day is encouraged to avoid Route 6 in order to keep the congestion to a minimum. 

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Bethel Registrars confirm precautions taken to protect health of voters

The Bethel Registrars of Voters say poll workers will be wearing masks for the election. They ask that voters stay socially distanced while in the polling place. Voters will present their ID to the Checker through a plexiglass screen.  All of the regular Polling locations will be open on Election Day.

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Wilton Police set up school dismissal traffic pattern

Wilton Police continue to work with the schools to address an increase in vehicle volume at arrival and dismissal.  A new traffic pattern has been established on School Road by Kristine Lilly Way to assist with dismissal at Cider Mill.  The traffic pattern will be in effect from 1:45 to 2:30.   School Road is not closed during this time, but all vehicles entering from Route 7 will be detoured into the traffic pattern.  Any driver entering School Road for a destination other than Cider Mill School is advised to enter via Middlebrook Farm Road.

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Brookfield Public Works Department preparing for snow season

As the temperatures drop the Brookfield Public Works Department is preparing for snow season. They recently held a short training session on the most efficient application rates of chlorides for ice control, with both safety and the environment as a priority.  Crews are in the process of checking, testing and repairing equipment to be sure it is ready when the first flakes stick.

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Open race in 108th state House district

There's an open state House seat in the 108th district of New Fairfield and parts of New Milford, Danbury and Sherman.  Republican Patrick Callahan and Democrat Dannette Onofrio are both vying for the position to succeed Richard Smith.

Callahan is a WCSU graduate who coached sports at Immaculate High School and led the Candlewood Lake Authority.  He works for the Connecticut Judicial Department and chairs the Adult Probation Department of the Danbury Judicial District.  He's been in law enforcement for the last 27 years.

Onofrio is a business owner with a Masters degree in Public Administration.  She is an Adjunct Instructor in the Marist College School of Management and a volunteer with Western Connecticut SCORE.  She is running for office because of the pandemic's impact on business and health.

When it comes to Candlewood Lake, Callahan says there was a significant increase in people using the lake because the pandemic closed community pools.  He says there's no one patrolling the islands, which led to large crowds.  He wants town police officers to be enabled to enforce health and safety laws on the islands.  Callahan says the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was at the boat launches at 8am, but they need to be there earlier.  He notes that DEEP and the CLA are both working on tight budgets with staff shortages.  He notes that it was a good water quality year on the lake, despite the increased traffic.  He advocates for continued deep drawdown to kill milfoil and for vigilance to prevent the spread of zebra mussels. 

Onofrio started an environmental advisory committee and held a Watershed and Lake Symposium forum.  She says noise has been a big issues this year.  Onofrio touted a noise ordinance that was included in an Invasive Species Stamp bill approved by lawmakers last year.  She wants to help the towns purchase two new boats for the Candlewood Lake Authority so they can continue enforcement next summer. 

There were limitations at Squantz Pond this year due to the pandemic and there may be again next summer.  Onofrio says if there's not enough parking, there needs to be safety enforcement.  Callahan says signs are not enough to prevent parking on Route 39 and walking in.  He plans to advocate for legislation that will better control who goes into the state parks. 

Both oppose tolls. Callahan says residents are taxed too much, and pay too much for utilities.  Callahan wants to stem the exodus from Connecticut of seniors and new college graduates.  He called on the state to cut wasteful spending rather than adding expenses to taxpayers plates.  Onofrio supports a study to improve pedestrian and bike transportation between Danbury and New Fairfield along Route 37.  She believes highway improvements infrastructure upgrades are a way to put people back to work at a time where a lot of people are out of work.

Soon after the August tropical storm, Onofrio gave testimony to PURA about utility response. She called for a rate freeze for Eversource, and supports restitution for food and medicine after prolonged power outages.  Onofrio wants backup generators for facilities housing people with medical issues and for minimum staffing in Connecticut.  Callahan says the utility fee increase really caused problem for residents.  He testified before the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority about the situation this summer.  He wants to wait to see if the bill passed in special session actually holds the utilities accountable to the ratepayers.

On the police accountability bill, Callahan says the legislature shouldn't have made a knee jerk reaction to something that happened halfway across the country.  He wants the bill revisited because of qualified immunity and the ban on military surplus purchasing.  Onofrio says she has family and friends in the law enforcement field.  But she says there should be accountability to remove rogue cops from the streets.  Onofrio says it's not an 'either, or' situation.

If there's any advice to give to the Governor on the pandemic, Callahan says consumers and business owners shouldn't be punished with another round of closures.  He wants businesses and residents to follow safety measures currently in place and not overreact to slow upticks.  Onofrio says most people she's spoken to believe the state has done a good job handling the response to the pandemic. She wants to fight for affordable public health insurance options now that so many people are unemployed and no longer have access to insurance through work.  Onofrio says the district does have areas of connectivity lapses.  She wants to work to bring more reliable internet and phone service to the region.

Callahan says it's been a different year to campaign, not wanting to invade people's safe havens during this pandemic.  But he's held virtual events to get word out about this race.  Onofrio has made calls and gone door to door during the campaign.

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Bethel man arrested for alleged drug possession

A Bethel man has been arrested on drug charges after State Police Troopers investigated a routine motor vehicle violation.  31-year old Peter Wertz was in a Southbury commuter lot when Troopers noticed an improper use of a license plate.  They approached the car and saw drug paraphernalia in plaint sight.  Troopers uncovered 22 bundles of suspected heroin, 14 suspected Xanax Pills and 9 hypodermic needles.  Wertz was released on bond for a December 11th court appearance.  State Police noted that the commuter parking lot is located about 1,000 feet from the Troop A barracks.

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Meriden Police arrest woman for alleged car theft from Bethel

Bethel Police say their colleagues in Meriden have arrested a suspect for stealing a car from Starr Lane last month.  The vehicle was recovered by Meriden Police during their arrest of Julieka Medina last week.  Bethel Police are reminding residents to lock their vehicles at night and to take additional precautions such as placing key fobs in faraday bags or wrapping key fobs in aluminum foil. Since January of 2018, the Bethel Police Department has investigated 19 stolen motor vehicle complaints with the majority of the vehicles being recovered in Bridgeport, New Haven, and Waterbury.  A majority of the arrests have been of juveniles from these cities.  Bethel Police say changes in state laws has led to more juveniles stealing cars.  Officers on patrol have over the midnight shift have either located or encountered suspects in the act of stealing vehicles only to have the offenders engage them in pursuits. Since the Raise the Age legislation and changes in motor vehicle pursuit policies, car thefts in Bethel have significantly increased. From 2000-2011 the Bethel Police Department investigated a total of 16 stolen motor vehicle complaints. From 2015 to 2020, they have investigated 27 stolen motor vehicle complaints, 8 of which are from this year. 

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Danbury Police warn of traffic problems anticipated tomorrow

Danbury Police are warning of some traffic problems anticipated tomorrow.  Danbury Police say they are expecting increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic delays around the city’s multiple polling locations. There will be safety protocols in place at each polling station due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Danbury Police say they are committed to ensure that every voter can safely cast a ballot and asked for driver patience around the polls.

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Ridgefield Police Department's accreditation renewed

The Ridgefield Police Department's accreditation has been renewed.  Chief Jeff Kreitz and Accreditation Manager Sgt John Knoche accepted the Tier 3 Certificate of Accreditation from the state of Connecticut at the Police Officer Standards and Training Council at their meeting in Meriden. State accreditation is a process through which law enforcement agencies demonstrate excellence in management and service delivery by complying with the standards set by the state. The Ridgefield Police Department became a Tier 3 accredited agency in 2006 and this is the fourth time they have been re-accredited.

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Danbury's Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Study gets award

Danbury’s Downtown Transit-Oriented Development Study has been recognized by the New England Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism.  The City was honored with the 2020 Urbanism Award in the neighborhood/district/corridor category.  There were a record number of applications this year in this category.  The TOD study was completed in January of 2019 and has a goal of creating a more effective use of transit service and unlocking development opportunities within the downtown corridor.  CNU New England acknowledged that by focusing on downtown land use, transportation, public spaces, and the unique cultural and diverse community, Planning Director Sharon Calitro says Danbury has created and will continue to create a place where people want to live, work, and play.  The complete study is available on the City of Danbury website, https://www.danbury-ct.gov/government/departments/planning-zoning/tod/.

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