Local Headlines Archives for 2021-01

USDA offering home repair grants in rural communities

New Fairfield officials are alerting residents to a grant program from the USDA.  The Rural Home Repair Program is offering grants to eligible individuals over the age of 62  to remove health and safety hazards in their home.  The agency is also offering loans to low income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize homes. 

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Two Sandy Hook parents speak out against congressional committee appointment

Two parents whose sons were killed at Sandy Hook School have issued a statement expressing opposition to the appointment of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene to the House Education and Labor Committee. 

Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley cite her previous statements that the shooting was a staged event and berating a teenage survivor of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school shooting while he lobbied in Washington DC. 

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, a former Teacher of the Year and member of the Education Committee, sent a letter to her colleagues asked that Greene not be seated.  Hayes says her conduct is antithetical to the work of the Committee, and that House Democrats and Republicans have a moral responsibility to bring forth healthy debate and work towards solutions. 

Hayes says Greene’s words and actions disqualify her from that privilege.

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Ice safety reminders being offered by local firefighters

New Fairfield firefighters are offering some ice safety tips including to never go out alone, and have a friend able to rescue you or go for help if you fall through the ice.  Pets should be kept on a leash.  If a pet falls through the ice, New Fairfield Volunteer Fire department urged people not to attempt to rescue the pet, but instead go for help.  New ice is usually stronger than old ice.  As ice ages, the bond between the crystals decays, making it weaker, even if melting has not occurred.  Beware of ice covered with snow.  Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but can also insulate it to keep it from freezing. Snow can also hide cracks, weak and open ice.

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Congresswoman introduces bill to support school staff amid continuing pandemic

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has reintroduced a bill from last session.  The Save Education Jobs Act would establish an Education Jobs Fund to stabilize the education workforce, delivering up to $261 billion to states and school districts over 10 years. 90 percent of the funding from this bill would go towards saving the jobs of teachers, school leaders, school psychologists, social workers, nurses, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, librarians, and others from budget cuts because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Local school districts can also use this funding to hire more teachers to meet their increased need during the unprecedented transition to hybrid or distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The remaining ten percent of the funding could be used to support teacher professional development, support educators, and provide mental health services, preventing further erosion of the workforce.

The bill also includes a provision to safeguard and promote equity, by ensuring continued funding for high poverty school districts.

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36 additional zebra mussels found in Candlewood Lake

Since the beginning of the deep drawdown, the Candlewood Lake Authority has been searching for additional Zebra Mussels on the exposed shoreline.  Some 36 invasive zebra mussels have been found. Because of the physical distance between the mussels, using physical barriers like mats, or small localized chemical applications are not possible to control the mussels.

CLA officials say zebra mussels cannot survive when exposed to the air for a long period of time -- especially in the cold air.  While it's not a guarantee that they will all be killed by the drawdown, CLA says it is the best lake-wide management tool right now. 

The organization is working with the towns, local legislators, and DEEP to try to increase oversight and education for all invasive species, including zebra mussels, at all of the ramps on Candlewood.

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Brookfield firefighters offer reminders about frigid weather precautions

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is warning that the frigid temperatures could not only cause health problems, but issues in the home.  They cautioned that if people do have to go out, be prepared and dress appropriately.  Residents are also urged to keep an eye of pipes in non-insulted walls or crawl spaces as they could freeze.  Any secondary heat sources should be kept away from combustible items in the house and outside vents should be kept clear and not frozen shut, to ensure CO or other products of combustion are able to exit.

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New Milford moves to web-based electronic bidding system

The Town of New Milford is transitioning from a paper-based bid solicitation process to a fully automated web-based electronic bidding and vendor management system.  The new e-Procurement Portal will allow prospective vendors to register to receive notifications of future opportunities, submit questions and submit bids and proposals online.  The New Milford Purchasing Office is seeking local firms to become part of the Town’s network of vendors.  Mayor Pete Bass says there is no charge to register.

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Easton Police investigate safe, jewelry theft from home

Easton Police are investigating a smash and grab robbery fro ma home on Tuckahoe Road.  Police say the suspects entered through a smashed rear door on Sunday between 5 and 6pm.  A large amount of unique and expensive jewelry was taken. The thieves threw a safe out of the office window to the ground and carried it to a vehicle waiting on the road.  Photos taken from surveillance footage has been posted to the Easton Police Facebook page.  Anyone with information or other video is asked to contact Detective Lyman directly at 203-638-0595.

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Groups file suit against Siting Council decision on Kent cell tower

The nonprofit Planned Development Alliance of Northwest Connecticut, and homeowners group Spectacle Ridge Association have filed an appeal of the Connecticut Siting Council's approval of a cell tower in Kent.  The groups said in court filings last week that the proposed infrastructure is monstrous and would ruin scenic views.  A 150 foot to 175 foot cell tower has been approved for either 93 Richards Road or 38 Bald Hill Road.  A Change-dot-org petition has garnered more than 13-hundred signatures aimed at stopping the construction.  The tower would be visible from all of Lake Waramaug and elsewhere.

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New Fairfield firefighters urge caution on frozen lakes, streams

Lakes, ponds, streams and rivers throughout New Fairfield have begun to freeze over.  But the New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department says as the temperature continues to fluctuate above and below freezing, ice conditions are uncertain. 

They urged people looking to start skating, hockey games, ice fishing and other winter sports to use recreational skating areas instead of lakes and reservoirs.  The strength and thickness of ice on natural bodies of water should be known before any activity takes place. 

The firefighters are offering some safety tips including to never go out alone, and have a friend able to rescue you or go for help if you fall through the ice. 

Pets should be kept on a leash.  If a pet falls through the ice, New Fairfield Volunteer Fire department urged people not to attempt to rescue the pet, but instead go for help.  New ice is usually stronger than old ice.  As ice ages, the bond between the crystals decays, making it weaker, even if melting has not occurred. 

Beware of ice covered with snow.  Snow can insulate ice and keep it strong, but can also insulate it to keep it from freezing. Snow can also hide cracks, weak and open ice.

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Gov. unmoved by Danbury Superintendent request to move teachers up vaccination priority list

Danbury's Superintendent of Schools wants teachers and staff in communities like Danbury to be vaccinated sooner rather than later, given that the City has experienced rapid COVID-19 spread. School buildings only just reopened for the first time in 10 months.  But Governor Ned Lamont was not swayed.

He said he gets calls every day from different groups that ought to be at the front of the line.  But he's remaining focused on the most vulnerable populations, 75 and 65 years old, noting that an advisory committee is going to have to figure out the essential workers from there.  Lamont added that teachers will be near the front of that group.

Four COVID-19 cases among Danbury students and staff led 70 people to quarantine since last Monday when some students started back up in a hybrid model.

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Wilton High School Principal urges parents to take ownership of what happens in their homes

Wilton contact tracers have determined the number of positive cases connected to a weekend gathering of high schoolers earlier this month now stands at 25.   Principal Robert O'Donnell says without swift containment, cooperation and contact tracing, the cases easily could have been double that or more.  

Officials learned that protocols on gathering size limits due to the pandemic, mask-wearing and social distancing were not followed at the January 15th gathering.  There were two other parties on that Saturday with some students from Friday's gathering attending one or both.

In addition to 16 Wilton High School students, one Middlebrook and one Cider Mill student who did not attend but had direct contact with attendees tested positive.  Four others who are not of school age who did not attend but had direct contact with attendees and tested positive and there is one pending test. 

O'Donnell urged parents to take ownership of what happens in their own homes and what students engage in amid the ongoing pandemic. He said parents never know if a student might be ill, if a student is asymptomatic.

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Danbury Health Department says patients can't get COVID-19 from vaccine

A number of questions have come into local health departments and municipalities about the COVID-19 vaccine.  Danbury Health Department officials say one prominent question is if someone could catch COVID from the vaccine.  The answer is no.  The two vaccines approved for use in the United States do not use a live virus. The shots from Pfizer and Moderna have been developed using mRNA technology.  The technology has been used and studied for decades.  Scientists take part virus’s code, which tells cells what to build, and coat them in a lipid so they can enter the body’s cell.  The immune system then produces antibodies and activates T-cells to destroy the spike proteins created by the messenger-RNA.

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Ridgefield buys face shields for student use at lunchtime

The number of COVID-19 cases among the Ridgefield school community is continuing to fall. Superintendent Susie Da Silva said in a letter to parents this week that elementary students will return to in-person learning on Monday.  More than 3,000 face shields have been ordered for all students in kindergarten through eighth grade.  Da Silva says they did a test run with some students at lunchtime when kids have their masks off, and they were used appropriately.  If in-school exposure occurs, the classroom or the building will move to remote learning.

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Ridgefield Tax Collector to hold extra hours for tax payments

The Ridgefield Tax Collector's office will be open Saturday from 9am to noon for 3rd Quarter Real Estate, Personal Property, and Supplemental Motor Vehicle Taxes.  The office will have extended hours on Monday as well.  The special hours are 8:30am to 7pm.  Monday is the last day to pay without penalty.  It's also the last day to apply for the deferral program, authorized under a gubernatorial executive order to help eligible taxpayers suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19.  The Tax Deferral Program is available by application, with documentation submitted to the Tax Collector by no later than February 1st.

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Newtown Board of Ed holds hearing on proposed budget

The Newtown Board of Education held a public hearing last night about a proposed budget.  Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue proposed an $81 million budget, a 3-percent increase over the current year.  The proposal would eliminate 11 teacher positions in the upper grades.  But 15 teachers would be hired at the elementary and middle school levels, along with special education teachers.  Newtown is projecting a slight enrollment increase for the 2021-22 year.  The Newtown of Board of Education is scheduled to vote on February 2nd to send a budget to the Board of Finance and Legislative Council. 

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Danbury lawmaker looks to take on internet data caps

Danbury State Representative David Arconti has heard from a number of constituents who are concerned and having issues with data caps on internet service.  As the pandemic continues and people are working and learning remotely, he called the cap from providers unconscionable.  Arconti, who chairs the Energy and Technology Committee, plans to introduce legislation to address data caps.  This comes as some Connecticut residents and business owners have again reported higher than normal Eversource bills.  The utility noted that delivery rates were frozen last summer, but state regulators previously approved a supply rate increase, which took effect January 1st.

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More than 2 dozen COVID-19 cases tied to Wilton gathering

Wilton contact tracers have determined the number of positive cases connected to a weekend gathering of high schoolers earlier this month stands at 25.   First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says without swift containment, cooperation and contact tracing, the cases easily could have been double that or more.  With both the school outbreak and one at a home fore retired nuns, Vanderslice noted that the town saw the fast speed at which coronavirus can spread.  Previous gatherings and the one earlier case at The School Sisters of Notre Dame didn't spread as quickly and Vanderslice says they don't have answers for why these two new situations were different. 

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Danbury Police search for man missing more than a week

The Danbury Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in locating a man who hasn't been seen for more than a week.  57 year old Todd Smith was last seen on January 16th in the area of 93 Mill Plain Road.  Anyone who thinks they have seen Todd, or has information on his whereabouts is asked to contact Lt. Carroccio at (203) 797-4665 or Danbury PD at (203) 797-4611.

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Nonprofit opens grant application pool of funds for restaurants

Ridgefield Emergency Management officials are alerting restaurant owners to a new pool of emergency financial relief grants.  The Connecticut Restaurant Relief Fund, a nonprofit organization, is now accepting applications for $5,000 grants for restaurants.  The Connecticut Hospitality Educational Foundation, the nonprofit entity of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, created the Fund in response to the pandemic.

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Bethel High School students organize 4th annual Kindness Day campaign

Bethel Kindness Day will be a little different this year with students still learning in a hybrid model at the High School.  The theme for February 26th is "You Can't Mask Kindness". 

Seniors Erin Lowenadler and Ashlynn Ehrhard say there were events each day for a week leading up to Kindness Day over the past few years.  The Kindness Club will host events during an advisory session on Monday and Thursday. the 22nd and 25th.  Students will write things they are thankful for, and they'll be posted around the school.  Students will put on two versions of the annual assembly, on that Tuesday and Friday 23rd and 26th. 

Once again a student has designed a tshirt, with all proceeds this year being donated to Ann's Place.  Last year, Bethel High School Kindness Club raised $8,000 for Bethel Social Services through Kindness Day events.   Kindness shirts will be mailed out through January 31st.

https://www.customink.com/fundraising/bethel-kindness-day-2021?fbclid=IwAR0h8keBFloFmq13jZQZzB-ADODrdCLxPQ_EKol6xoE2iyuNUJzMXgY54ns

The students are also holding a donation drive for Bethel Health Care, until February 19th.  They are asking for items such as sudoku, puzzles, room decor, painting sets, shampoo, body wash and lotion.  They hope to bring joy to the long term residents who have been separated from their loved ones due to the pandemic.  Donations can be placed by students in the designated boxes at each school, at the main office.

 

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Danbury Library to use state grant for contactless self-serve kiosks

Danbury Library has received a $55,000 grant to help reopening efforts.  The state dedicated $2.5 million of federal coronavirus relief funds to 65 public libraries across Connecticut to make health and safety improvements and offer more services to residents amid the ongoing pandemic. 

The grants were based on size and the number of residents they serve each year.  The funds are anticipated to be largely used to purchase personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, signage, and furniture.

Danbury Library will use the grant to improve and expand the contactless, self-service experience for patrons.  Danbury will purchase new self-service kiosks so patrons can have a contactless means to check out and return items and sign up for any one of the many programs and classes offered.

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Stony Hill firefighters bring in company to clean carcinogens from trucks

A practice started last year as a practical way to further protect firefighter from the carcinogens that may get tracked into fire trucks from turnout gear is underway once again in Bethel.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says SERVPRO of Danbury/Ridgefield was at the firehouse this week to do an annual deep clean of apparatus interiors.  January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month.  A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study found that firefighters face a 9% higher risk of cancer than the general public and a 14% higher chance of dying from cancer.

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Stony Hill firefighters bring in company to clean carcinogens from trucks

A practice started last year as a practical way to further protect firefighter from the carcinogens that may get tracked into fire trucks from turnout gear is underway once again in Bethel.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says SERVPRO of Danbury/Ridgefield was at the firehouse this week to do an annual deep clean of apparatus interiors.  January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month.  A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study found that firefighters face a 9% higher risk of cancer than the general public and a 14% higher chance of dying from cancer.

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Redding officials caution little notice to be given for municipal vaccine appointments

Redding has a list of those who pre-registered into the town's database for COVID-19 vaccination, and a list provided by the Human Services Department of those who do not have internet service. 

Redding is partnered with Bethel and the first clinics will be serving both towns at the Bethel Track and Field Center behind the High School. The Redding Health Department is in the process of systematically calling residents to set up appointments for those in the 75 and older  group for the Bethel clinics.  The number of appointments will be based on vaccine supply, which is largely out of municipal control. 

The Health Director cautioned that calls to residents to set up appointments might come just 2 days before the clinic to assure supply is in hand.

Redding is training and vaccinating volunteers to safely operate local clinics at the Redding Community Center, likely starting in mid-February.

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Virtual town meeting tonight in Sherman on funding for generators

A virtual town meeting is being held in Sherman tonight.  Residents are being called on to approve funding for two new generators.  The $48,000 would purchase equipment for Mallory Town Hall and for the public works building.  Town Hall does not currently have a generator and First Selectman Don Lowe said during a recent Board meeting that losing power creates many problems.  A broken generator, which is currently in the public works garage, is more than three decades old.Funding for the generators would come from the town’s capital and non-recurring account and be reimbursed by a Connecticut LOCIP grant.  The town meeting is being held via zoom, starting at 6:30pm.

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Fine for not voting proposed by local lawmaker

More than two dozen bills about voting have been introduced in Connecticut this legislative session, some aimed at encouraging easier participation, others to put more checks on the system.  Redding state Senator Will Haskell proposed a  compulsory-voting bill, with a $20 fine for registered voters who don't cast ballots.  He acknowledged that it's not likely to go anywhere, but wants it to start the conversation on how to encourage voting.  He believes that if mandatory voting became law, it would make accessibility to the polls or ballots easier.  House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora called the proposal a tone-deaf absurdity and a reverse poll tax.

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Redding Health Director urges vigilance against COVID-19 vaccine scams

Redding Health Director Doug Hartline is warning residents to be aware of scams surrounding COVID-19 vaccines.  He says it's likely that scammers will take advantage of the situation and try to extract personal information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and other financial information from vulnerable individuals.  Hartline noted that vaccines are being administered free of charge.  Municipalities, the state and other providers will not ask for a fee or payment information to secure an appointment to be vaccinated. 

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COVID-19 cases still common in Greater Danbury area, but lower than last month

Danbury reported 52 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.  The number of cases appear to once again be on a decline, from a second peak in mid-December.  But City health officials called on people not to become complacent and to take preventative measures.

Since last Thursday, there have been 38 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says there are currently 82 active cases in Town.  The infection rate is currently 65 cases per 100,000 people, well into the state's "red zone" designation threshold.

New Milford has recorded 55 new COVID-19 cases since Friday.  Litchfield County hospitalizations only rose by 1 from Friday.  Mayor Pete Bass urged residents who are elderly or have an underlying condition to only go out when necessary.

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Final day to apply for Ridgefield tax deferral program coming up

The last day to apply for a property tax deferral program in Ridgefield is February 1st.  The program aims to assist eligible Ridgefield taxpayers suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19.  Documentation approved by the Tax Collector for the January tax quarter extends a grace period on payments, which can be made anytime within three months from each bill’s due date without interest charges or penalties. If accepted into the program, the new last day to pay without penalty is April 1st. 

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Newtown Boy Scout inspired project with Police Department

A Newtown Boy Scout has inspired a project with the Police Department.  Ross Salvo was born with disabilities and passed in 2018 at age 12.  His parents were involved in Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Pat as a paramedic and Diane as an EMT.  In order to keep his legacy and love for EMS alive, his family learned that the Police Department needed Automatic External Defibrillators.  Working with Blair Balmforth, Danbury Hospitals Regional EMS Coordinator and Manager of Emergency Management, they learned it was a complicated process. They had to petition the state to get a certificate of need.  All Newtown Police officers are trained as First Responders to be able to use AEDs.  Some $27,000 in donations were raised to purchase 13 refurbished AED unit, one for each patrol car as well as the supervisor’s cars.  Funding is available to make sure that these units will be properly supplied and maintained. 

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Redding Board of Finance recommends increasing first responder tax break

The Redding Board of Finance has unanimously approved a recommendation to increase tax breaks for volunteer first responders.  The Board of Selectmen will next take up the idea to benefit volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel.  The current abatement is a maximum of $1,000, but it would be doubled to $2,000 under the proposal.  Volunteers need to meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for the abatement on personal property such as a home or vehicle.  The metrics take into account years of service, the number of weekly drills or training, call response and special committees. First Selectman Julia Pemberton says this could help the three fire companies recruit new members, which they've struggled with over the years.

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Lawsuit: Priest raped boy on day of his sister's wedding

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — A Catholic priest raped a 9-year-old altar boy on the day of his sister’s wedding that the the priest officiated, according to a new lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport.

The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Bridgeport, charges that the diocese knew or should have known that the Rev. Kiernan Ahearn was unfit to be around children but continued to assign him duties that involved children.

“Unfortunately, we continue to witness the carnage of the Catholic Church’s decades-long tolerance of pedophiles in its ranks,” attorney Joel Faxon, who represents the plaintiff in the lawsuit, told the Connecticut Post. “This particular criminal, Ahearn, was circulated through the Bridgeport Diocese and others in New York — attacking children all along the way.”

Ahearn, who died in 1997, served as parochial vicar at St. Mary Church in Bethel, Connecticut, from 1991 to 1993. He was arrested in Massachusetts in 1993 for contributing to the delinquency of a minor after he was found in a motel with a 16-year-old boy. He was convicted and sentenced to two years of probation.

According to the lawsuit, Ahearn repeatedly sexually assaulted the former altar boy at St. Mary when the boy was between the ages of 7 and 10. During one “particularly egregious act of sexual assault” in 1992, Ahearn raped the boy his sister’s wedding day, the lawsuit charges.

Diocese spokesperson Brian Wallace told the newspaper on Monday that the diocese had not been formally served with a complaint related to Ahearn, who was on the diocese’s published list of former clergy members credibly accused of abuse.

Wallace said the diocese “ remains committed to working with survivors of sexual abuse and their families.”

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Union claims Board of Ed family members got COVID vaccine early

School officials in part of western Connecticut are taking some heat after COVID-19 vaccines were given to more than 300 education workers at a clinic that also allegedly provided doses to family members of some board of education members, union officials said.

Only those 75 or older, health care workers and those in congregate living centers such as nursing homes are supposed to be getting the vaccine in Connecticut.

The clinic was held at Pomperaug High School in Southbury and was organized by the Pomperaug Health District. It included teachers and staff from District 14, District 15 and Oxford schools.

School officials declined to confirm the union’s assertion that some family members were included in the vaccinations, citing medical privacy laws.

They said the clinic was planned before the governor’s age restriction was put in place and was allowed to go forward to prevent vaccines from being wasted.

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Bethel woman charged for deliberately leaving 3-year old alone

A Bethel woman has been charged with reckless endangerment for deliberately leaving her 3-year-old daughter alone.  The Newstimes reports that Police responded to Grassy Plain Street last week on a report of a child walking down the sidewalk with no shoes on.  Police contacted Graciela Rojas-Amon and determined that the child was left unattended for a short period of time which resulted in the child leaving the residence.  The 44-year old is set to be arraigned on Friday.

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Brookfield lines up volunteers, fridges for COVID vaccine distribution

Brookfield has more than a dozen volunteers willing to help with COVID-19 vaccine distribution when the state gets enough doses for municipalities to start running clinics. 

First Selectman Steve Dunn says the town has robust security on internet connections and firewalls.  The only people with access to pre-registration forms, which include age and health conditions, is the Health Director people who report to him and the administrative assistant entering the data into the database.  That personal information is HIPAA protected. 

Dunn is confident that the information will be secure and noted that the town is not collecting social security numbers. 

Brookfield bought two specialty refrigerators, with constant temperature monitoring and reporting.  Dunn says they are equipped with a system that will warn if if the temperature changes.  They cost $5500 and the town did receive a grant. 

Brookfield has experience running a vaccine clinic.  With H1N1 Brookfield gave out 6,000 vaccinations in two weeks.

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Newtown seeks volunteers to serve on boards, commissions

Newtown is seeking residents to volunteer to fill an alternate position on the Commission on Aging, open to any registered voter.  The Newtown Public Building & Site Commission is seeking an alternate position.  Any Democrat or voter registered with a party other than Republican is eligible.  There cannot be two alternate members of the same party.

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Seasonal Ice Rink at Redding Community Center now open

The seasonal Ice Rink at Redding Community Center is now open for residents.  With light snow expected today, shovels will be at the rink.  Residents are encouraged to call the Park and Recreation Cancellation Line before heading to the rink.  In addition to the regular rules in place each year, there are COVID-19 restrictions.  The maximum capacity is 10 and people must stay 6 feet away from each other.  Masks are required unless it is just one family at the rink.

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WestCOG makes transportation a legislative priority

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments, a regional planning agency from Sherman to Stamford, held it's monthly meeting. Federal transportation funding is a 2021 legislative priority for this region.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says she is dedicated to supporting them.  She added that it was nice to see Danbury's new mayor, Joe Cavo, welcomed to the group.

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Hikers told to forgo entire Appalachian Trail due to virus

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Hikers are being told by the agency that oversees the Appalachian Trail to postpone plans to cover the nearly 2,200-mile distance this year due to COVID-19.  The trail runs through 14 states from Georgia to Maine, including a stretch in Kent.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy made the suggestion because it feels the pandemic makes long-distance hikes unsafe, the Asheville Citizen Times reported Monday.

Morgan Sommerville, regional director for the conservancy, said that as long as the pandemic continues, while vaccines aren’t widely available and there’s been no all-clear signs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the conservancy is recommending against long-distance hikes.

Sommerville said some 2,000 thru-hikers have already registered. Those hikers come through the 71 miles of trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and reach western North Carolina trail towns like Franklin and Hot Springs, in March and April, when they gather in large numbers to rest, mend gear and resupply.

They also stay at shelters in close quarters along the trail. The shelters don’t allow for the CDC’s COVID-safety guidelines, which include maintaining social distance of at least 6 feet from those who don’t live in the same household and washing hands often with soap and water.

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Catalytic converters stolen from Southbury-owned town buses

Southbury Police are investigating the theft of parts from town-owned buses.  Police say catalytic converters were cut out and stolen from four Southbury Senior Center buses sometime between Friday afternoon and Monday morning.  The buses were parked on South Main Street.  They're used to provide transportation for residents 60 and up to medical appointments, grocery stores and municipal offices.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Southbury Police Officer Duane Manville at 203-264-5912.

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More COVID-19 variant cases prompt warning from Ridgefield First Selectman

With the roll out of the vaccine and the continued COVID fatigue, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says he knows everyone is impatient to return to a normal life. But with the new variant of the virus threatening, he says this is the time to dig heels in and take extra precautions.  COVID-19 vaccines being administered by RVNAhealth in partnership with the Town are intended for State residents only and the VAMS scheduling system indicates that in order to avoid user misunderstanding.  Patients will be asked to sign an affidavit attesting to eligibility to receive the vaccine when arriving for the appointment.  Second appointments will be made before leaving the first vaccination appointment location via smart phone. Volunteers will be on hand to help.

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High call volume into Bethel COVID-19 vaccine appointment line

There's been high call volume into the Bethel line set up to pre-registered for COVID vaccine appointments.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the town's clinic will begin operating next week.  This is separate from the VAMS sign up program. While the Bethel clinic is accepting pre-registrations for residents 65 and up; those in the 75 and over age group will receive the first call-backs for appointments. Knickerbocker recommended that residents in the 75 and up age group register with both the Town and VAMS, and accept the first appointment that's offered.

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Danbury hires interim Fire Chief

Danbury has hired an interim Fire Chief.  Kevin Ford will begin a six-month term today.  He comes to Danbury from the City of Yonkers where he has served for 26 years, having retired as Chief of Operations last year.  Ford is certified in all hazard emergency response.  Mayor Joe Cavo says Ford is a seasoned public servant with several years of leadership and management experience.  He noted that the City is in the process of hiring a Fire Chief after the departure of Chief TJ Wiedl in July 2020 and Acting Chief Mark Omasta earlier this month. Due to the pandemic, the selection and hiring process for this position has been delayed.

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Ridgefield Police warn of computer hacking scam

Ridgefield Police are warning of a computer hacking scam.  A victim reported getting what looked like a virus alert that took over the entire browser page recently and made to look like it came from Microsoft.  The victim called the number given and a purported support person said was a scam and that they probably had a virus.  The victim opted for the $500 fee to have the virus removed so the supposed "Microsoft Tech" was given access to the computer.  The victim then called their antivirus tech support and was told that the phone number listed on the pop up was a scam number and their computer had most likely been hacked into. They were advised to contact their local police department to report the incident.

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City Council committee meets about special assignment of Police officer

A group of Danbury City Council members will be holding a meeting tonight about a special assignment opportunity for the Police Department.  The Committee is looking into a grant application to accept partial salary reimbursement for an officer now assigned to the Connecticut Intelligence Center's Regional Intelligence Liaison Officer Program. 12 officers applied and Chief Patrick Ridenhour says they narrowed the field to four.  The state staff made the final selection.  That officer began training in September.  The grant application was on the Council's October agenda.  Tonight's ad hoc committee meeting is at 5pm and will be livestreamed on the City' YouTube page.  The state is offering 60-thousand dollar reimbursement via a federal grant.

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NY man has pleads guilty to federal tax offense

A New York man has pleaded guilty to a federal tax offense.  58-year old James Guerra worked as an accountant for the owner of several restaurants in Connecticut and New York, including Pinocchio Pizza locations in Wilton and Pound Ridge.  The U-S Attorney's office alleges that Guerra knew that Bruno DeFabio had a practice of paying his employees in cash and that the owner was failing to collect required withholding taxes from his employees.  The revenue was not deposited into the restaurants' operating bank accounts, and taxes were not payed to the IRS.  Guerra reviewed and approved DiFabio’s quarterly tax returns.  He pleaded guilty to one count of willful failure to collect and pay over withholding taxes, and offense that carries a maximum of five years in prison.  A sentencing date is not scheduled.  Guerra is released pending sentencing.

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Danbury reporting about half December's COVID caseload for Jan. to date

Danbury is on track to have fewer COVID-19 positive cases this month than the two previous months.  As of Thursday, there have been 765 cases reported.  In all of December, Danbury experienced more than 1500 positive COVID-19 cases.  In November, there were more than 1600 reported in Danbury.  Both of those months were significantly higher than during the first peak this Spring.  The next highest total positive cases in Danbury was recorded in April at more than 1100.

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Bronx woman charged in Sherman for alleged identity theft crimes

A Bronx woman has been arrested by the Sherman Resident State Trooper following a year long criminal identity theft investigation.  Troopers from Troop A in Southbury reported to the Orange County Sheriff's Office in New York on Friday to complete an extradition of 47-year old Jenniffer Lyn Nieman. 

She was charged with several counts five counts of 3rd degree identity theft, one count each of 1st and 2nd degree identity theft, four counts of criminal impersonation, two counts each of forgery in the 2nd and 3rd degrees, and one count each of 1st, 2nd and 5th degree larceny.  The charges stem from six incidents between October 5th through 14th of 2019. 

She was arraigned at Danbury Superior Court.

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Home for retired nuns closed to visitors due to outbreak

The School Sisters of Notre Dame property in Wilton has been ordered closed by the town's health director.  30 residents and members of the staff have tested positive for COVID-19 prompting the order to close the facility to visitors and the public.  The property is home to over 70 retired nuns.  Prior to this outbreak, only one resident had tested positive early in the pandemic.  A state Department of Health COVID-19 Response Team will be at the site today, at the request of Wilton’s health director.  15 residents recently received vaccinations as allowed under Phase 1B.  The remaining residents and staff were scheduled to be vaccinated today by Visiting Nurse and Hospice of Fairfield County. As a non-licensed facility, residents and staff were not eligible to be vaccinated under Phase 1A.

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Sandy Hook mom calls out GA. Congresswoman for school shooting hoax claim

A woman whose son was killed on 12-14 is calling out a new member of Congress for an old Facebook comment that agreed the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings, 9/11 and the assassination attempt on President Reagan's were staged.  Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Green also wrote that Democrats wanted school shootings so they could implement gun control.  Nicole Hockley invited Greene to Newtown to see her son’s ashes and his “bullet-hole riddled sweatshirt.”  Greene's spokesman said she does not still believe the school shootings were staged.

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WCSU get clinical experience during time of fewer placement opportunities

West Conn nursing students have been volunteering since December at four Nuvance locations.  Their responsibilities have included administering COVID-19 vaccines, checking in individuals, monitoring for allergic reactions immediately after vaccination, and providing information about followup protocols.  With the decrease in clinical placement opportunities during the pandemic, West Conn's Nursing Department Chair says this has provided much-needed experience for students.

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Vaccinated people still need to quarantine if ID'd as close contact to COVID-19 positive patient

There are a lot of questions from people about what happens after they are vaccinated against COVID-19, especially with the slow rollout of doses.  Putnam County Health officials say if you are identified as a close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, you still need to quarantine.  Even though the vaccine is proving effective at keeping someone from becoming ill, scientists do not yet know if a vaccinated person can spread COVID-19 while asymptomatic.  If the CDC updates guidance regarding quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated individuals, Putnam County Department of Health will share that information. 

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Regional planning agency pushes state to expand broadband services

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments, a regional planning agency, has been pressing the State to take a more active role with internet and cable providers and expand broadband services.  At a recent meeting with first selectmen of towns from Sherman to Stamford, the Governor said he will recommend broadband expansion initiatives as part of this legislative session.  Wilton First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice was part of a WestCOG Task Force which developed recently released recommendations to prepare for and facilitate 5G expansion.  She says the Board of Selectmen is also actively encouraging mobile communication companies to make additional infrastructure investments in Wilton to not only improve cell coverage, but offer more choices for internet services. 

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Fire causes damage in Danbury Starbucks

A fire in an outlet was quickly extinguished on Friday.  Danbury Firefighters were dispatched to Starbucks on Mill Plain Road and found a small fire that was being contained by the sprinkler system activation but required one hose line to be stretched to completely extinguish the fire. The incident was held with a 1st alarm assignment and no injuries were reported. Smoke made its way into adjacent units but was ventilated and the fire damage was held to Starbucks. The Health Department was requested to the scene and the Danbury Fire Marshal's office is investigating the cause, which has yet to be determined.

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Bethel Police investigate purse theft from YMCA

Bethel Police Department is investigating a purse theft from October.  They posted photos on their Facebook page on Friday of a potential suspect.  The individual pictured is believed to have been involved in a purse theft that occurred on October 20th at the YMCA. Anyone with information about the woman or the white 4-door sedan is asked to contact Bethel Police Detective Matthew DiRago at mdirago@bethelpd.com.

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WCSU ramps up COVID-19 testing for Spring semester

West Conn students are returning to campus this week.  Spokesman Paul Steinmetz says residential students were required to receive a negative PCR test seven days before returning to campus ahead of the start of classes tomorrow.  All classes will be held virtually for the first week.  Grab-and-go meals will be available as students are asked to mainly stay in their dorm rooms.  West Conn will test residential students five days after they arrive.  All spring athletes and residential students will be required to be tested weekly.  Commuter students can be tested as well.  WestConn had 22 cases among residential students and staff and 29 among commuter students during the entire fall semester.

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Brookfield High Schoolers get early dismissal on Wednesdays

There's a new teacher union agreement in Brookfield, which means the High School will dismiss hybrid and remote students early on Wednesdays. The Brookfield Board of Education finalized the agreement last week.  They say this will give teachers more time to prepare their lessons for remote and in-person learning.  Kindergarten through 8th graders are learning in full in-person models and will not be impacted by the new agreement.  Brookfield students returned for hybrid and in-person learning this month, following an extended period of remote learning after the holidays.

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Municipalities buy fridges for vaccine storage

Greater Danbury area municipalities are getting ready to launch COVID-19 vaccine clinics for eligible residents.  Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker previously said there were some challenges they would have to overcome because of the kind of vaccine that will eventually be supplied.

Knickerbocker says the town had to order a refrigeration system that's certified and inspected.  He previously spoke with Senator Chris Murphy about the feds picking up the cost.  The new COVID relief bill has $8 billion for vaccine distribution.  Murphy says they got an estimate from state and local heath directors, so the latest package should cover the national cost of vaccine distribution.

Before mixing, the Pfizer vaccine may be stored in the refrigerator between 36 and 46 degrees for up to 5 days.  Vaccine may be stored in an ultra-cold freezer between -112 and -76 degrees until the expiration date. 

Knickerbocker says he's grateful for the work that Congress has done to date, but notes that there's still a long road ahead and municipalities are looking at significant expenses.

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Redding residents petition Selectmen for new playground

Some Redding residents have sent a petition to the Board of Selectmen, calling for a new playground in town.  The petition asks for an exploratory committee be formed to look into the idea of allocating unspent funds from 2020 toward a playground project to be approved by town vote in May.  The committee seeks to include members of parks and recreation, zoning, and the community.  First Selectman Julia Pemberton says talk of where funding would come from is premature, but believes looking into the community needs is appropriate.

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Putnam County continues COVID vaccinations for essential personnel

The Putnam County Department of Health vaccinated another 203 essential workers on Thursday.  The County has about 6000 residents who work in education, and another 2600 residents work in law enforcement, firefighting or other protective service occupations eligible for vaccination. 

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Metro North improved on-time performance in 2020

With far fewer commuters, Metro-North crews were able to get a lot of infrastructure work done.  They installed more than 49,700 new cross ties, 1600 bridge timbers and 36 new switches.  Metro North officials say they cut the number of delays caused by signal or switch failures by two thirds. Metro North has expanded a program that shuts down continuous segments of track to allow multiple work groups uninterrupted access to maintain and improve the system. Productivity increased and officials say as a result, 97.9 percent of trains to operate on time in 2020.  That's the highest level since Metro-North was founded in 1983.

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Parent information forum to be held for DHS community ahead of return to classrooms

A Parent Information Session is being held next week in preparation for welcoming back 2000 Danbury High school students.  The information night on Monday is geared toward those students coming into the building for hybrid learning.  A Zoom link will be provided via email on Monday, ahead of the 7pm forum.  In order to cover as many topics of interest, the Danbury Public School District posted a form on their Facebook page for parents to fill out.  Any general information question can also be entered there.

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Ridgefield to set up hotline to help navigate VMAS

A number of people have said they are finding the COVID-19 vaccine sign up portal through the CDC Vaccine Administration Management System, which the state Department of Public Health is using in most cases, difficult to navigate.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says a video outlining a step by step process for VAMS signups will be posted on the town website by early next week.  The state has also set up a hotline to have volunteers make appointments in VAMS for people over the phone.  The 211 call center can also help answer questions about vaccine appointments.

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Recommendations for waste management made to state lawmakers

The Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management, a joint initiative between 74 municipalities and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, has finalized recommendations for local and statewide waste reduction options to address the state’s waste crisis.   

The committee was tasked with finding ways to reduce and manage the amount of in-state waste produced to provide system reliability, environmental sustainability, and fiscal predictability, in a manner that lessens impacts on environmental justice communities that host a disproportionate share of the state’s waste disposal infrastructure. 

Co-chair Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says these forward-looking initiatives will reduce the costs of disposal now borne by taxpayers, improve recycling efficiencies and help protect our environment.

He says these recommendations and action items come at a critical time in Connecticut’s waste management sector, with the MIRA Resource Recovery facility facing potential closure and regional landfill capacity forecasted to decline by 40% by the mid-2020s.  If nothing is done, DEEP says residents and municipal leaders can expect tipping fees to increase at the remaining in-state waste-to-energy facilities, along with rates for out-of-state landfilling.  Landfilling also exposes business and towns to unpredictable cost increases as they compete for transportation and landfill capacity as well as potential long-term liability if a landfill has a release or is otherwise a source of pollution in the future.

CCSMM recommendations include:

Supporting Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs for packaging and difficult-to-recycle materials such as tires and gas cylinders, which would relieve municipalities’ cost burdens for collecting and managing these products.
Implementing Unit-Based Pricing (UBP), a policy that meters trash similar to that of a utility and reduces waste drastically and immediately upon implementation.  
Supporting collection of food waste and other organic waste by strengthening the commercial organics diversion law, municipality hosted anaerobic digester, establishing community compost sites, and implementing residential food scrap collection programs.
Modernizing the bottle bill.
Requiring that products be made from a certain percentage of recyclables to boost markets for recycling commodities, and lower municipal recycling costs over time.
Banning food serviceware with PFAS from being sold in Connecticut.
Creating and promoting recycling at public spaces and municipal buildings.

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Municipal leaders look into municipal-owned fiber

Wilton First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says she and other area town leaders are looking into municipal-owned fiber.  They are meeting with municipalities and counties across the country that offer this type of internet or provide municipal-owned fiber to service providers.  After learning more, Vanderslice says they hope to engage state leaders.  While the idea previously seemed like a long shot, she says the collective experience of residents during the pandemic put the concept in a new light.

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Congresswoman votes against waiver for Secretary of Defense nominee

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes voted against a waiver to appoint General Lloyd Austin as President Biden’s Secretary of Defense.  The position must be filled by a civilian, or someone out of active duty service for at least 7 years.  Hayes says while she has tremendous respect for General Austin’s lifetime of service to the country, experience and qualifications, she was wary of waiving the requirement.  Austin retired from the military in 2016. Only two exceptions have been previously granted, the most recent in 2017 to James Mattis.  Hayes says she would be open to considering amending the rule, but believes Congress should refrain from making these types of exceptions.

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Ridgefield Town Tree Committee has vacancies

The Ridgefield Town Tree Committee has some vacancies.  The Conservation Commission may appoint four of the members and the Board of Selectman appoints three members. Tree Committee meetings take place on the third Wednesday of the month.  Their mission is to encourage Ridgefield to commit community effort and resources to preserving and improving trees and greenscape. The Tree Committee advises and consults with the Tree Warden on matters pertaining to alterations or revisions to the Forestry Management Plan; policies concerning selection, planting, maintenance, and removal of trees, shrubs and other plants within town; and the development of community education programs.

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20 Wilton high schoolers exposed to COVID at weekend parties

20 Wilton High School students were directly exposed to the COVID-19 Virus at several parties and gatherings over the weekend of January 15th. 

The Wilton Health Department received an alert Tuesday night that there was a confirmed cases and staff began contact tracing.  The town's Health Director says some contact tracers are facing resistance from various persons affiliated with these gatherings, slowing efforts to identify all persons involved. 

Given the size of these groups, and the ongoing tracing, Wilton High School building is being closed for all activities for 14 days.  The building will reopen on February 3rd. 

People identified as close contacts have been ordered to quarantine.  Parents are also advised to quarantine for 14 days from the date of the gathering.

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New Fairfield vaccination clinic expected to open Feb. 2

Over the course of the past week there have been 30 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield.  The infection rate is currently 65 cases per 100,000 people.

New Fairfield’s vaccination clinic is expected to be open on February 2, contingent on vaccine availability. Clinic appointments will become available on VAMS next week.  At this time only those individuals over the age of 75 are eligible for COVID vaccination. 

Vaccine is in short supply, and the New Fairfield Health Director has been informed that the State’s weekly allocation of 46,000 doses from the federal government will be less than expected for the foreseeable future.

The town is still enrolling licensed medical professionals to volunteer in upcoming clinics.  Anyone eligible is asked to  email nfvolunteers@newfairfield.org with name, credentials and availability.

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New Fairfield school goes remote amid staff shortage

Meeting House Hill School in New Fairfield will be closed today and Monday due to staff absences and a substitute shortage.  Students will participate in remote learning, with the elementary school slated to reopen on Tuesday.  Superintendent Pat Cosentino says all other schools will be open fully in-person.  In a letter to parents, Cosentino said members of Meeting House and the middle and high schools tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.

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New Milford officials call on Gov. to end executive order on referendum voting

New Milford state Representative Bill Buckbee has sent a letter to Governor Ned Lamont urging him to amend an executive order preventing local town hall meeting votes.  The executive order suspended referendums ahead of municipal budget votes last May due to the pandemic.  It may be a moot point as the executive authority is set to expire on February 9th.  It's unclear if the legislature would vote a second time to empower his ability to extend old or issue new executive orders related to the public health emergency. Residents were able to cast ballots in person for the primary and November election, but haven't been able to gather in larger scale to vote on other matters.  Mayor Pete Bass asked Buckbee to advocate for the order to be ended, noting that residents will again not have the ability to weigh in in person on a budget.

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Two people charged for alleged defacing of Sandy Hook tribute mural

Two people who allegedly defaced a mural that paid tribute to the 26 children and educators killed at Sandy Hook School have been arrested.  Southington police say the back of a detached garage on Summer Street was vandalized.  A mural is painted there in remembrance of the victims. 

21-year-old Gina Lombardi confessed to partially vandalizing the memorial, confirming 20-year-old Lorenzo Cavallo was also responsible for adding additional graffiti.  They were charged with criminal mischief and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief. 

The cost to repair the mural was estimated at $2,500.

WTNH reports that Lombardi was apologetic when being interviewed by police, stating she did not know the significance of the mural and was not intentionally defacing the memorial. Lombardi stated that she was frustrated with law enforcement over an incident in Plainville, felt helpless and had a bad knee jerk reaction.

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Redding police investigating attempted motor vehicle, residential break-ins

The Redding Police Department is attempting to identify a suspect for attempted motor vehicle and residential break-ins.  The incidents were reported overnight Saturday into Sunday.  A surveillance photo of the suspect appears to show a male pointing to himself.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Vadas at the Redding Police Department (203) 938-3400, Case Numbers 21-695 and 21-712.

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Bethel official to lead panel on reducing waste, increasing recycling

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says Connecticut is facing a "silent crisis" in waste management and recycling. The state's waste-to-energy incinerator plants, which currently burn close to 88% of all trash in the state, are aging out.  Knickerbocker says that's leaving towns and cities with rising costs of trucking materials to out-of-state land fills. 

In 2018, China stopped accepting plastics and other recyclable materials from the U.S., causing the market for recycled materials to plummet. Unless this state takes action, Knickerbocker says costs to taxpayers will continue to rise, and more trash will again end up in landfills, adding that that would be very bad for the environment. 

Earlier this summer, Bethel signed on to the Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management, along with over 70 other municipalities.  The task force is researching new ideas on reducing waste and increasing recycling. Bethel has taken a leadership role in the group's work.

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Danbury Police seek motorist who fled scene after crash into bank building

Danbury Police are asking for the public's help in identifying the driver of a truck who crashed into a bank building earlier this month.  On January 7th, around 10pm, an older model white pickup truck struck the rear of Webster Bank at 301 Main Street.  The vehicle crashed through the building causing extensive damage, then left the scene before being reported. Still images captured the accident which are posted to the Department's Facebook page. Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Daniel.

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Local lawmaker to hold virtual COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall

A virtual COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall is being hosted by Newtown state Senator Tony Hwang tonight.  He says there are many confusing aspects of changing eligibility so members of Governor Lamont’s Vaccine Distribution Task Force will share the current guidelines.  They'll also discuss the science behind the two different approved vaccine formulas and estimates on when the inoculation rate will change Connecticut’s reopening plans.  The informational forum will be live streamed on Hwang's Facebook page starting at 7pm.  

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Ridgefield sets up hotline for COVID-19 vaccine related questions

The COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Yanity Gym is limited and Ridgefield residents are urged to take available appointments at nearby locations such as Nuvance-Danbury Hospital, when they are offered.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says Danbury Hospital receives many more doses and can handle a greater number of vaccinations. 

When the town can hold a clinic, appointments for the week will be released on Monday afternoons to be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.  They are subject to the number of doses received.  Clinic times and dates may vary depending on vaccine doses available and weather conditions.

The town of Ridgefield has set up a Help Line to answer questions about COVID-19 vaccines.  Marconi says it's currently open for messages only at 203-431-2718. Someone will call back with answers. He notes that the line will be answered live soon, but asked for patience as Ridgefield trains volunteers.

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Stadium stands being reopened in Wilton

The Stadium stands are being reopened in Wilton this week.  First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice is reminding residents though that the stands were not designed to maintain the vibration associated with individuals running on the steps.  The vibration causes the screws to loosen and possibly create a dangerous situation.  Residents are encouraged to walk the stairs, but not run on them.

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Man charged with pinning officer during US Capitol attack

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man seen in a widely viewed video pinning an officer into a doorway during the attack on the U.S. Capitol has been charged with assaulting police officers, federal authorities said Wednesday.

Patrick McCaughey III, 23, of Ridgefield, was arrested Tuesday in South Salem, New York, on charges including assaulting, resisting or impeding officers, violent entry or disorderly conduct, and entering a restricted building or grounds.

A federal magistrate judge in New York ordered McCaughey detained without bail Wednesday afternoon, saying his actions were disturbing and he presented a threat to the community. McCaughey’s case is being transferred to Washington and he is detained pending proceedings there early next month.

Federal authorities said McCaughey struck several police officers with a clear, plastic riot shield inside the Capitol. Authorities said he also used the shield to pin Officer Daniel Hodges of the Metropolitan Police Department against a doorway; a video shows Hodges writhing in pain and another rioter beating Hodges after ripping off the officer’s gas mask. Hodges survived.

Police asked for the public’s help in identifying the attackers and released photos of a man later identified as McCaughey seen in the Capitol during the violence on Jan. 6. A witness came forward identifying McCaughey as the person in the photos.

“What this case is really about is a man who on Jan. 6 of this year struck at the heart of American Democracy, that is the U.S. Capitol, both literally and figuratively, as part of a mob that was apparently attempting to overturn a legitimate election,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Gianforte said during Wednesday’s court hearing, which was held by video conference.

In a statement, acting District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin called the attack on Hodges vicious and “quintessentially un-American.”

McCaughey’s public defender, Jason Ser, asked for bail to be set at $150,000, saying his client was not as “maniacal and dangerous” as federal prosecutors were portraying him. Ser said other people were pushing McCaughey, and other parts of the video show McCaughey trying to help Hodges by lowering the officer’s face shield and telling another officer that Hodges was injured.

McCaughey, who has both U.S. and German citizenship, is unemployed and lives with his mother in Ridgefield, an affluent town along the New York border, Ser said. He was arrested at his father’s second home, where he was quarantining.

“The image I think that’s being fostered here, created here, by focusing only on parts of the video certainly I think do a disservice to Mr. McCaughey,” Ser said. “The government is emphasizing two and a half minutes of out of essentially 23 years of Mr. McCaughey’s life.”

McCaughey is a high school graduate who got good grades, made the honor roll and has no criminal record, Ser said.

More than 150 rioters at the U.S. Capitol have been arrested. The attack came as Congress met to certify the results of the presidential election. But an angry mob coming from President Donald Trump’s rally near the White House broke into the Capitol, forcing members of Congress to flee. Five people died during the riot, including one Capitol Police officer.

Federal authorities said McCaughey and other rioters pushed officers defending the Capitol back. A deputy U.S. marshal said in arrest documents that McCaughey pushed Hodges in a doorway with the riot shield as other rioters shoved McCaughey forward, putting a lot of force on Hodges. McCaughey told Hodges to “just go home dude,” the marshal said.

After another rioter assaulted Hodges, McCaughey motioned to other officers that Hodges was injured, the deputy said, and McCaughey later started hitting other officers with the plastic shield.

At one point during the Capitol attack, McCaughey told another person, “I’m not doing anything. I’m just a regular person like everybody else,” the marshal said, citing a cellphone video. McCaughey then said, “This is our building.”

Another man arrested in New York City early Wednesday as part of the riot roundup was ordered held without bail after prosecutors argued he is a danger to the community.

The government cited a photo on social media that suggested Samuel Fisher had stashed firearms in a vehicle he took to Washington for the pro-Trump protest. Court papers said he also posted a photo of himself at the Capitol entrance and later wrote online, “seeing cops literally run . . . was the coolest thing ive ever seen in my life.”

At a bail hearing, a prosecutor said that firearms, bullet-proof vests and ammunition were found at the Manhattan residence where he was arrested on Wednesday. Fisher’s lawyer said there was no proof he ever took weapons to Washington and that he was ever actually inside the Capitol.

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Trump pardons Connecticut man convicted of health care fraud

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man who pleaded guilty in a 1998 health care fraud case was granted a full pardon by Donald Trump, the White House announced early Wednesday.

Glen Moss was among dozens of people Trump pardoned during the final hours of his administration.

In a statement, the Trump White House said Moss has become a “vital member of his community” and has been “committed to numerous philanthropic efforts at the national level, including St Jude’s Hospital for Children, Breast Cancer Awareness, and the Colon Cancer Foundation. Within his community, he has contributed to Danbury Hospital and Ann’s Place, a community-based cancer support center.”

But Shannon Cobb, the president and chief executive officer of Ann’s Place, said they have no record of Moss’ contribution.

“We have no Glen Moss in our system at all,” she said. “I don’t know where they got that information.”

Moss pleaded guilty to a tax charge after he acknowledged conspiring to pay kickbacks to obtain referrals for his employer, Analytical Diagnostics Lab of Brooklyn, N.Y. He admitted that he earned close to $500,000 in 1992, but claimed a taxable income of just over $2,000.

The arrest was part of “Operation Overdraw,” a three-year federal investigation into medical fraud among doctors and medical supply companies.

Attempts to reach Moss were not successful. Phone numbers listed for him in Brookfield, Connecticut, were no longer in service.

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Car strikes tree, rolls over in Bethel driveway

A car hit a tree and rolled over in a driveway in Bethel Tuesday evening, sending two people to the hospital.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company responded to Old Hawleyville Road just after 5pm on a report of a vehicle going off the roadway.  The occupants were able to self extricate.  Both were transported to Danbury Hospital, one with a traumatic arm injury. The accident remains under investigation by Bethel Police.  Anyone who witnessed the crash, or the actions of the involved blue BMW M6 prior to the crash, is asked to contact Officer Iadarola.

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Hearing tonight on proposed Route 37 improvement study

A virtual public meeting is being held tonight about improving Route 37 from Danbury into New Fairfield.  The City of Danbury and Town of New Fairfield are developing a corridor study with the help of the Western Connecticut Council of Governments, the regional planning agency for the Greater Danbury area.  The study is about the length of Route 37 between I-84 Exit 6 in Danbury to just north of Route 39 in New Fairfield.  It aims to find solutions to alleviate traffic congestion, improve pedestrian mobility, and to promote healthy and environmentally friendly modes of transportation.  The purpose of tonight's meeting is to introduce and update the public about the study recommendations and gather feedback on proposed design concepts for the corridor.  The meeting is from 6:30pm to 8pm.  https://westcog.org/transportation/studies/dnfcs/

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Putnam County leader decries lack of vaccine doses

More than 30,700 Putnam County residents are eligible under New York state rules to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the state has allocated just 200 vaccines to the health department this week for essential workers and 200 doses to a pharmacy to administer to senior citizens. 

Odell says it should be easier and faster to get COVID-19 vaccine, but the hard truth is that a lot of the most vulnerable residents are having to wait too long to be vaccinated. 

Right now, there are only three options for vaccination in Putnam County, one through Department of Health, which is running clinics in Carmel and Philipstown but only for eligible essential workers.  Putnam Hospital Center is only authorized to vaccinate healthcare professionals.  A pharmacy in Cold Spring is authorized for senior citizen vaccinations only.

Putnam County has almost 18,000 residents aged 65 or older, and an estimated 2,600 residents work in law enforcement, firefighting or other protective service occupations.  Another 6,200 or so residents work in education and libraries, which the Census lumps together. Then there are 3,900 healthcare practitioners, technologists and technicians.  There's also nursing home and group home staff and residents. 

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Ridgefield asks ineligible Phase 1b residents to cancel vaccination appointments

As the Town of Ridgefield continues the vaccination program, residents are reminded that only those who are 75 and older in Phase 1b are allowed to be vaccinated at this time. Those who make appointments will be asked to sign an affidavit attesting to their eligibility to receive the vaccine when they arrive for their appointment.  The Governor has asked that those who have mistakenly made appointments after Friday, but do not fall into the current category of eligibility, to cancel and reschedule when their category is allowed.  The vaccination clinic at Yanity Gym is by appointment only.  The Town of Ridgefield has an eligibility form on their website, but that's not a registration form.  Residents must follow VAMS instructions to receive an invitation to register.

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Former Danbury Mayor's Commissioner nomination advances

The General Assembly’s Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee has officially signed off on former Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, a Republican, to lead the state Department of Revenue Services.  The across-the-aisle pick from a Democratic governor was commended by the committee.

He was asked about his last job, and noted the last official tie is leading a steering committee for the planned Danbury Career Academy.  While Boughton says he has disengaged himself from local government, he is answering the phone on questions of long standing issues.  He expects that to go on for a while as he served the City in the top spot for almost about 20 years.

He was also asked if he intends to use this job as a jumping off point for another run at governor.  His response was 'been there, done that" and he accepted the nomination to get out of running for office all the time.  Boughton added that he also wants to try to help the state in a different manner.

Boughton noted that it's important taxpayers are looking at somebody that can handle the problem in a fair manner and not have to worry about politics.  He pledged to listen a lot, empower problem solving, and support a work environment that values inclusion and different perspectives.

Senate President Martin Looney said it's important to have a seasoned and experienced government manager in charge of DRS.

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Wilton Senior Center creates video to walk people through vaccine sing up system

Wilton Senior Center has created a video aimed at helping walk people through the COVID-19 vaccine registration and sign up system.  It is a multi-step process which starts with entering name, email and date of birth.  Activities Coordinator Stephanie Rowe points out that the email must be typed in all lowercase letters. 

After hitting submit, eventually an email will arrive from the State Department of Public Health confirming eligibility.  Next, on the VAMS system, confirm you haven't registered before and choose state and county.  There is two-factor authentication, with the CDC sending out a one-time passcode. 

That will lead to a page to create a password to create an account.  VAMS will ask for name, date of birth, gender, address, phone number and race.  With that last category, you have to click the arrow in between two boxes to confirm your selection.  You can include an emergency contact. The next page asks about medical history, with check boxes, and you can include medications in an open field. 

Insurance information is optional to input.  If you do include it, don't put hyphens or dashes. 

That will then bring up a page to review information before a page with the clinic sites and a calendar.

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Brookfield officials urge residents to check spam folder for VAMS emails

Area residents are being cautioned that it could take some time to get confirmation emails back when registering with the CDC Vaccine Administration Management System, VAMS, and then in getting an appointment.  Brookfield officials say people should also check all email addresses they have for the invite to register, in case a health care provider has already entered the data.  For Brookfield officials still unable to locate an invitation to the CDC-VAMS appointment, they can add their name to the town website with a unique email address. Confirmation emails could come from several addresses, including 
vams@cdc.gov, noreply@mail.vams.cdc.gov, VAMSHelp@cdc.gov, and people should check their spam folders.

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'Kill-A-Watt' kits available at local libraries

Eversource customers in Bethel, Brookfield, and Danbury can check out a “Kill-A-Watt” kit from the local library.  State Representative Steve Harding says this will help residents learn more about three types of electric use: plug, lighting, and mechanical.  The device measures and records the amount of electricity consumed.  The kit comes with a booklet that gives tips on reducing energy consumption and costs.  In addition to public libraries in Bethel, Brookfield and Danbury, the kits are on hand at Long Ridge Library.  

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More COVID-19 cases reported in Ridgefield school community

On Monday, Ridgefield school officials said two COVID-19 cases were identified at Farmingville Elementary School.  One person was quarantining after exposure on January 11th and Health and safety compliance liaison Aaron Crook says in-school transmission cannot be ruled out in this case.  But he said there is also a potential source of infection from outside of the school building which is the more likely source of infection.  One of the people who tested positive was last in the Farmingville building January 13th. Crook says two cases were also recorded at Ridgefield High School. 

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Rochambeau Bridge construction to last through Feb.

Loud construction work taking place on the Rochambeau Bridge in Newtown and Southbury will continue for several more weeks.  As part of the I-84 bridge replacement project, crews are stripping the deck of the westbound bridge, while traffic is routed in both directions to the eastbound lanes.  The concrete crushing noise has drawn complaints from area residents.  It's slated to continue through the third week of February 6am to 6pm during the week.  The $53 million project has it's own website where the DOT provides updates and contact information.  That can be found at RochambeauBridge.com.

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New Fairfield Economic Development Commission looks to rebrand town, redesign seal

The New Fairfield Economic Development Commission is looking into changing the town seal.  The design was approved by the town in 1968.  During last week's Board of Selectmen meeting, Commission chair Myke Furhman said they're looking into the possibility from a marketing standpoint to rebrand the town.  He recommended that the Board consider the idea.  In 1963, then-town clerk Arthur Mulligan proposed the idea of creating a town seal for New Fairfield.  The current seal includes a horseshoe, arrowhead, anvil, plowshare, carriage, boat and water, a Native American man as well as NF.

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New Milford Public Works removes steel plates off Cherniske Road bridge

New Milford Public Works crews are removing steel plates off Cherniske Road bridge today.  They're also going to be setting up permanent detour signs.  The road was closed on Friday after a recent shift in the abutment.  The department started monitoring it over the summer.  Public Works is partnering with engineers to expedite the bridge replacement. 

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Brookfield student wins Sen. Murphy's MLK essay contest

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Senator Chris Murphy announced the 15 winners of his fifth annual Essay Contest. This year, Murphy received close to 2,800 entries from elementary, middle, and high school students from across Connecticut reflecting on Dr. King’s dream and their own aspirations.  3 winners from each congressional district was selected.  Samhita Shirsat, of Brookfield High School, wrote about dreams only being the first steps in achieving a change and striving to create a world where equality is normalized.  Murphy says the essays he received from students continue to give him hope for the future and to realize King's dream for justice and equality in America.

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Danbury schools distribute meals to remote, in-person students

The Danbury Public School District will continue to distribute lunch and breakfast at a drive up for those in remote learning, whether all-distance learners or on the remote day of a hybrid schedule.  Distribution will be done at Danbury High School and Broadview Middle School. The student does not need to be present to receive meals. The parent or guardian may pick up meals for their child outside of the designated school location Monday through Friday from 9am-11am.  Students will be offered breakfast and lunch during in-person learning. For the elementary grades, breakfast will be offered upon entry and eaten in the classroom. Lunch will be eaten in school.  For middle schoolers, who start back next Monday, breakfast will also be provided upon arrival and lunch will be distributed as a “grab and go” meal to take home.

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House fire in Sherman quickly extinguished

A house fire in Sherman brought in mutual aid from three surrounding towns.  Sherman Fire Department responded to Mary Bee Lane last night.  They called in 1 engine and 2 tankers from New Fairfield, along with back up from New Milford and Kent fire departments.  The fire was quickly extinguished.

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Danbury, Region 1 projects on school grant priority list

The School Construction Project Priority List Review Committee has met to review the 2021 priority list.  There are 15 projects slated for funding.  Among them is the Ellsworth Avenue School Annex in Danbury. 

The total estimated cost is $9,6 million, with nearly 64-percent state reimbursement.  Danbury would receive a $6.1 million grant to go toward the work at the City-owned Osborne Street facility.  It's adjacent to Ellsworth Ave School and is meant to alleviate severe overcrowding. 

The annex would house kindergarten students and provide a permanent home to pre-k students, some of who are currently learning in leased space.  The students will enter Ellsworth through a new connecting corridor allowing students access to core spaces, such as the media center, cafeteria and gym.  The proposed work calls for 7 classrooms with age-appropriate bathrooms, office space and a reception area.  The second floor will include meeting space for the Early Childhood staff. 

Additional parking spaces will accommodate the added staff.  Hazardous material in the Annex will be abated, and a fire suppression system will be added.  A new elevator will connect the first and second floors, making the facility ADA-compliant. 

Another project is partial state reimbursement for Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Region 1.  The new commercial equipment would serve the expanding Farm-to-Table program.  Industry approved machinery and safety equipment would be purchased, along with equipment necessary for the school's existing greenhouse. 

The project cost is just shy of $320,000.  The state will provide 80-percent reimbursement, with a $255,000 grant.  Region 1 plans to fund the kitchen alterations themselves and is not requesting a school construction grant for that purpose. The district's request for equipment to support the Agricultural Education Program has been programmatically approved by the state Department of Education.

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Ridgefield librarians offer assistance in navigating VAMS sign ups

The process to receive a COVID-19 vaccine could be cumbersome.  People have to register through the CDC Vaccine Administration System, or VAMS, if they haven't been contacted by a doctor, municipality or other entity.  The state Department of Public Health has a link to do so on their website.  Then VAMS will verify registration and follow up with scheduling information.  Ridgefield Library staff is offering to help older residents who may be unfamiliar with computers and don't yet have an email address, which is required.  The librarians routinely help the public navigate government websites for things like unemployment, taxes and insurance.  They also help people set up email addresses every day.  Anyone needing assistance can contact the Ridgefield Adult Services Librarian (by phone at 203-438-2282 x12004 -Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 10am-1pm or email at ReferenceDesk@ridgefieldlibrary.org.

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Some Danbury school students returning to the classroom

Some Danbury school students are returning to the classroom for the first time in nearly a year. 

Elementary school students start back today, while middle school students return on Monday, and High Schoolers on February 1st.  Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella asked parents for patience during the first week or two back to in person learning. Staff will be working to adjust to their new demands and students will be working to learn new systems and routines with new COVID guidelines in place.  The district plans to review all procedures in order to improve delivery of instruction to students in this new model.

Students should bring a fully charged laptop and charger to school each day they are in attendance. 

Students will be offered breakfast and lunch during in-person learning. For the elementary grades, breakfast will be offered upon entry and eaten in the classroom. Lunch will be eaten in school. For the secondary grades, breakfast will also be provided upon arrival and lunch will be distributed as a “grab and go” meal to take home.

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Transgender athletes look to changing of White House guard

Transgender athletes are getting an ally in the White House next week as they seek to participate as their identified gender in high school and college sports — although state legislatures, Congress and the courts are all expected to have their say this year, too.

Attorneys on both sides say they expect President-elect Joe Biden’s Department of Education will switch sides in two key legal battles — one in Connecticut, the other in Idaho — that could go a long way in determining whether transgender athletes are treated by the sex on their birth certificates or by how they identify.

Debate is also expected in statehouses. Last year, bills to restrict transgender athletes’ participation to their gender assigned at birth were brought up in 17 states, although only one, Idaho’s, became law.

It may ultimately fall to Congress to clarify once and for all whether Title IX, the civil rights law that guarantees equal opportunities for women and girls in education, protects or bars the participation of transgender females in women’s sports, said Elizabeth Sharrow, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Massachusetts.

“I think if they do that, lawmakers at the state level can propose laws, but it doesn’t mean those proposals are going to be taken seriously in the legislative bodies they serve in or that if the state passes those laws anyway that they would necessarily be considered legitimate,” she said. “The courts will sort that out.”

During his campaign, Biden committed to restoring transgender students’ access to sports, bathrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity.

“States that like Idaho attempt to bar trans girls from girls sports, regardless of age of transition, medical intervention or anything else, with a new federal administration, will now be risking lawsuits by the federal government, Justice Department intervention and the loss of federal funding,” said Chase Strangio, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy director for transgender justice.

In Idaho, a law signed in March became the nation’s first to prohibit transgender students who identify as female from playing on female teams sponsored by public schools, colleges and universities. The law was supported by President Donald Trump’s administration but blocked from implementation by a federal judge while a legal challenge by ACLU proceeds.

“Allowing males to enter our sports isn’t fair,” Madison Kenyon, a cross-country runner at Idaho State, said in a statement Friday. “It changes everything because it eliminates the connection between an athlete’s effort and her success. Idaho’s law helps make sure that, when women like me work hard, that hard work pays off, and we have a shot at winning.”

In Connecticut, the Trump administration intervened in support of a lawsuit filed by several non-transgender girls in Connecticut who were seeking to block a state policy that allows transgender athletes to compete in line with their identity. The plaintiffs argued transgender female runners had an unfair physical advantage.

But the two transgender runners at the center of that case said in court filings that being able to run against girls was central to their well-being.

“Running has been so important for my identity, my growth as a person, and my ability to survive in a world that discriminates against me,” Andraya Yearwood wrote to the court. “I am thankful that I live in Connecticut where I can be treated as a girl in all aspects of life and not face discrimination at school.”

Neither of the two closely watched cases is expected to be decided for months. A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 26 on a request to dismiss the Connecticut lawsuit.

The ACLU and the Christian nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, which is fighting in Connecticut and Idaho to bar the participation of trans athletes, expect Biden’s administration to declare that Title IX also protects transgender girls from discrimination.

Opponents say Title IX protects cisgender girls and allowing trans girls to participate against them is a violation of the statute.

“I think that is extremely concerning for the future of women’s sports and would reverse nearly 50 years of gains for women under Title IX,” said Christiana Holcomb, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom.

In states that have adopted policies on transgender participation high school sports, approaches have varied.

Currently, 14 states and the District of Columbia have policies similar to Connecticut’s, according to Transathlete.com. Fourteen others allow transgender participation with certain conditions, such as hormone treatments or other proof the athlete is transitioning, according to the organization.

Opponents of bans are encouraged by Biden’s victory and a 2020 Supreme Court decision that found that transgender people are protected from discrimination in employment.

“It’s possible that the Connecticut case could evaporate under a new administration that doesn’t want to press it,” said Erin Buzuvis, a professor at the Western New England School of Law who specializes in gender and discrimination in education and athletics.

“The Idaho situation is different because it is a state law that is being challenged under the equal protection doctrine,” Buzuvis said. “That could set some sort of national standard about what kind of policies states are allowed to have or prohibited to have. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the case would say, ‘Here is the one policy that all states must have.’”

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Putnam County vaccination clinics could be added with little notice

The Putnam County Department of Health held its third point-of-dispensing clinic, and administered 308 vaccines to newly eligible residents and others who work in the County. This new group included police, fire fighters and school districts.  The Putnam County health department expects to schedule a future clinic soon, however none are scheduled at this time.  One could be set up quickly, as the health department only learns from New York State how much vaccine they will receive, and what new groups, if any, are eligible for a first dose, with less than one week’s notice. When a County clinic is scheduled, a link will be sent directly to specific organizations or shared on the health department website.

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Health care providers may have entered residents into VAMS system already

Brookfield Officials say some resident's names may have already been entered into the CDC Vaccine Administration Management system, or VAMS.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says they have learned that entities, such as Nuvance have entered many of the email addresses that they have on file, without the residents knowledge.  Brookfield residents should still receive an email from VAMS regardless of which entity put their data into the system.  Brookfield will be uploading additional names received through the town's pre-registration form into the VAMS website today for anyone who is in priority group 1b and is aged 75 years and older. 

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Winter weather heating reminders from New Fairfield firefighters

Some colder weather is expected to move into the region this weekend.  New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department is offering some winter safety tips.  They urge residents to keep  flammable materials at least three feet away from furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and space heaters.  29-percent of fires that spread past the object of origin happened because the heat source was too close to things that can burn.  New Fairfield firefighters remind people not to use an oven or stovetop to heat the home.  Kitchen ovens were never designed for heating.

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Danbury City employees using Sara Alert app to monitor COVID-19 symptoms

Danbury City employees have been using the Sara Alert app to monitor COVID-19 symptoms.  The police department is now part of the employee pool using the app.  Acting Health Director Kara Prunty says they're monitoring it as best as possible, but have had some technical issues.  The app was originally designed to be for contact tracing.  The city used it before getting the state contact system.  If the Danbury Health Department gets a notification through Sara Alert that an employee answers yes to a symptom, they will follow up to go through the employee's symptoms.  City employees are not supposed to come into work if they answer yes.  Punty says the point is to be self-screening in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

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Car vs pole crash closes Newtown roadway

The car accident in Newtown on Wasserman Way involving a utility pole has caused some power outages.  That includes the Fairfield Hills campus, where town hall and the community center are located.  The High School Pool and Community Center Pool are both currently closed.   Wasserman Way remains closed at Trades Lane because of the crash, which happened shortly before 7am.  Eversource is estimating the time of restoration as 4:30pm.

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Ridgefield's annual MLK Jr. Day celebration is virtual today

Today is the 25th anniversary of Ridgefield’s MLK Jr. Day celebration, honoring the legacy of the civil rights leader.  The Spirit of Dr. King Award is presented each year to a Ridgefield resident for their outstanding commitment to community service and selflessness.  This year's honoree is Mark Robinson, a member of the Youth Commission who founded the celebration.  The virtual event will include remarks by United States Senator Richard Blumenthal and performances by The Ridgefield Chorale, KEYS students and others.  Actress Kimberly Wilson, who has also been a part of the entertainment every year, will also take part.  Robinson served 12 years on the state’s Martin Luther King Holiday Commission from 2000 to 2012.

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Brookfield Police Officer retires

Brookfield Police Officer Eric Birdseye has retired after 30 Years of service.  Department officials say  Eric is a decorated officer, having earned commendations and awards for his bravery, life saving skills and investigative work.  Brookfield Police wished the U-S Navy Veteran “Fair Winds and Following Seas” as he prepared for retirement.  He could continue to serve the community as a special officer in his retirement.

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Women's Bi-Partisan Legislative Caucus holds meeting on COVID relief

The Connecticut Women’s Bi-Partisan Legislative Caucus has held a virtual town hall meeting about COVID-19 relief and small businesses.  Danbury Senator Julie Kushner says the forum on Friday featured business advisors from the Women’s Business Development Council.  They gave a run-down of the latest federal relief bill, provided guidance about PPP loans, and answered questions from attendees.

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Drive able to get out of rolled over car in marsh

A vehicle went off a roadway in Redding lat Saturday night and ended up on its side in a marsh.  West Redding and Redding Fire companies responded to Route 7 in th the area of Empire Fence for the reported single vehicle rollover around 10:30pm.  First responders found that the occupant was able to self extricate, and reported no injuries. The vehicle was removed from the marsh and the roadway was reopened.

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Nuvance Health asks people not to call them for COVID-19 vaccine appointments

Nuvance Health officials are asking people not to call them for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.  Nuvance is not scheduling appointments or creating wait lists for those who are not eligible.  The health system says they will let patients know when they are able to offer vaccines to them. Nuvance asked patients to help them by not contacting Danbury and New Milford hospitals or Nuvance medical offices to ask about vaccines.  Nuvance Health is using the CDC Vaccine Administration Management System, or VAMS.  Appointment can not be scheduled directly at Nuvance Health, though their locations are listed in VAMS and available for those who schedule an appointment through that system.

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New Milford schools to reopen in hybrid model tomorrow

New Milford Public School officials have reviewed local coronavirus data from the Department of Public Health for New Milford as well as the number of positive cases reported from the week. After reviewing the data, the Superintendent determined that all New Milford Public Schools will open in the Hybrid model beginning on Tuesday.

Mayor Pete Bass says the State and New Milford are working on completing the first vaccinations of the 1A phase . New Milford will be holding a clinic to address those 1A participants that have not been vaccinated or have a appointment in the VAMS system. As 1B begins registering those 75years and over, New Milford asked Seniors to fill out the registration form on the Town website.  Bass says they will continue a partnership with the VNA on the 1B Phase.

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Brookfield Senior Center hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinics

Brookfield will hold two COVID-19 clinics at the Senior Center at the end of this week.  There are no walk ins and phone appointments could not be made for these clinics.  They were listed online through the state and CDC VAMS system.  There were a limited number of appointments based on limited doses received in town.  The VAMS system is first come-first served and anyone in the State can book an appointment at any clinic that has available time slots. The day before appointments, patients will receive a reminder and a medical screening survey via email.  This must be completed before the appointment, or the patient will have to reschedule. 

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Most Bethel Schools staff members want COVID-19 vaccine

According to the latest Bethel School District newsletter, more than three-quarters of school staff members have said they want the COVID-19 vaccine.  Superintendent Christine Carver says the Health Department and district hope to begin vaccinating school staff by the end of this month or early next, though it does depend on the availability of doses.  This clinic will be open to those from the public schools and St. Mary’s School.  Carver noted that as the pandemic continues, any staff who has received both vaccine doses and is exposed to COVID, will still have to quarantine.  She says this is because it has not been determined if vaccinated individuals can still spread the virus if they are exposures. 

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Redding Human Services Department to aid in vaccine appointment scheduling

Redding now has a COVID-19 vaccination pre-registration link on the Town website.  Redding residents 65 and older may pre-register and will then receive an email to schedule vaccine appointments.  Those age 75 and up are currently prioritized for vaccination.  The email from CDC VAMS will ask to set a time and preferred vaccination site location.  Those who are 75 and up and who do not have internet access can call the Redding Human Services Department at 203-938-9725 to register.  COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the Redding Community Center will require an appointment.  Health Director Doug Hartline says the greatest limitation has to do with supply chain matters, which are largely out of municipal control. All clinic operations are dependent on vaccine supply.

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Turf field replacement projects in Danbury moving forward

Turf field replacement projects in Danbury are moving forward.  Construction Services, using Danbury Department of Public Works resources and on-Call Sports Facility Consultant JJA Sports, are in the process of designing the artificial turf replacements and improvements of Kaplanis, Perry and Danbury High School Fields.  Plans call for Kaplanis and Perry Field to be replaced this upcoming construction season, and the DHS field construction in 2022. These three capital projects have been funded through the SNAPP 2020 Bond.

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Danbury City Council accepts open space land donation

The Danbury City Council recently accepted an open space donation.  7.38 acres of natural habitat on Augusta Drive and 1.82 acres of wetlands abutting the Still River on Newtown Road are both in Commerce Park.  Melvyn J. Powers and Mary P. Land want to donate the property to the City for open space, passive recreation.   The Seymour Powers Trust owns the parcels. The late Seymour Powers was a philanthropist who created Commerce Park in the early 1960s.  Seymour Powers worked with former Danbury Environmental Director Jack Kozuchowski for over 7 years to create the Still River Greenway, which included the clean up of the Still River to make it clean enough to be used by the public for fishing.

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Lab doing COVID tests in Kent working to get results out quicker

The state backed COVID testing site at the Kent Transfer Station has tested almost 1500 people so far from the northwest region and elsewhere. The lab vendor had some issues with getting results out, but First Selectman Jean Speck says the company is working on fixing the issue.  The testing site will be in place through at least February.

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Conn. recognized for meeting COVID-19 vaccination benchmarks

It's likely the first part of phase 1b of COVID vaccinations will last for many weeks.  Kent First Selectman Jean Speck says the mantra they're passing along is "please be patient".  The state gets about 50,000 doses of vaccine a week, with a one-time bonus of 44,000 next week because Connecticut met federal benchmarks for getting people vaccinated.

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Bethel High Kindness Day set for February 26th

The Bethel High Kindness Club is once again organizing Kindness Day.  The theme for February 26th is "You Can't Mask Kindness".  Students are raising money for Ann's Place, which provides support and resources to people living with cancer.  Kindness shirts have been designed for the cause and will be mailed out through January 31st. The link is below:

https://www.customink.com/fundraising/bethel-kindness-day-2021?fbclid=IwAR0h8keBFloFmq13jZQZzB-ADODrdCLxPQ_EKol6xoE2iyuNUJzMXgY54ns

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Organization considered calling off coat drive at DTC offices due to unrest

Action Together Connecticut is holding a winter coat drive to benefit Dorothy Day Hospitality House.  The Danbury Democratic Town Committee offered their Main Street offices as a drop off location, but due to political unrest, organizers thought about canceling.  Danbury Police have patrols going by to ensure safety.  Action Together organizers say two officers have stopped in to check on them.  Donations can be dropped off 11am to 4pm.

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Winter coat drive in Danbury to benefit Dorothy Day Hospitality House

Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan is working with the organization Action Together Connecticut for a winter coat drive.  Donations can be dropped off at the Danbury Democratic Town Committee headquarters on Main Street from 5:30pm to 7pm tonight.  Collections will also take place tomorrow from 11am to 4pm and Sunday from noon to 6pm.  In addition to new or gently used coats, they're also accepting snowpants, hats and mittens.  All donations must have working zippers and buttons, and no stains or tears.  Items will be donated to Dorothy Day Hospitality House. The Danbury homeless community is in need of large and extra large winter coats.

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Bethel honored as CIAC Michael's Cup Recipient

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference has recognized Bethel High School as one of 16 member schools to be recognized as Michael’s Cup Recipient.  The award is for outstanding contribution to the class act program, student participation in school climate and community service.  It was created in the early 1980s and transitioned in 2008 directly to CIAC oversight of the program.  Participating schools are asked to submit information via a survey, and a mathematical formula is used to analyze the data.

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Congresswoman offers reminder about stimulus payments

Economic Impact Payments are currently being distributed.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes reminded constituents that the IRS has a tracker on their website for people to check the status of the payment.  Anyone eligible who does not receive yjr payment by today can request payment when filing 2020 taxes.

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COVID-19 testing sessions in New Milford, Kent

There will be COVID-19 PCR testing in New Milford today.  Testing is first come first serve at Pettibone Community Center from 3pm-7pm.  On January 30th, another testing session will be held from 3pm-7pm, but will take place at New Milford High School.  This is also on a first come, first serve basis.

Monday is the Martin Luther King Day holiday and while many municipal functions will be closed, there will still be COVID-19 testing at the Kent site.  Testing is available from 3pm to 7pm.  The state has alerted Kent officials that the northwest regional site will be open through at least the end of February.

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Danbury seek contractor for Library story corner, sensory room

More improvements are coming to Danbury Library.  Now that new shelving has been installed in the Junior section, the City is looking to hire a contractor to create a formal story corner and sensory room on the library’s second floor.  The sensory room would be the first of its kind in a Connecticut library.  The project is being funded with a $100,000 state grant and $100,000 from the Library Board.  Currently, only curbside pick up is available for materials as the building remains closed to the public due to the pandemic.

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New Milford Library renovations on schedule

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the Library renovation project is progressing on schedule.  Existing space is being renovated, and an addition is being constructed.  A second floor is being added to the 1977 addition.  The project includes a new facade and entrance, a new makerspace, and ADA accessibility.  There is still about a years worth of work to be completed.  Residents approved $6.5 million for the project, the state awarded a $1 million grant and another $1 million has been committed by the library Board of Trustees.  The library remains operating during the construction.

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Waterbury man killed in Ridgefield crash

A Waterbury man was killed in an accident in Ridgefield early yesterday morning.  Ridgefield Police responded to Route 7 near Stonehenge Road shortly after 4am and determined that two vehicles collided head on.  Both drivers had to be extricated from their vehicles.  20-year old Jose Miguel Guillen-Hernandez was pronounced dead at the scene.  44-year old Karol Mora of Ridgefield was transported to the hospital for evaluation.  Route 7 was closed until about 10am.  The investigation is ongoing.  Ridgefield Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the accident to contact Capt. Shawn Platt or Lt. Brian Durling at (203) 438-6531.

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16 school districts selected for FASFA Completion Challenge

One fallout of the pandemic is that completion rates for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form in Connecticut is down 16-percent compared to last year.  State Education officials say FASFA is an important step in the path to postsecondary education and associated with higher rates of college enrollment. 

Governor Lamont launched a FASFA Completion Challenge in December to boost completion rates among high school seniors.  Rates have improved by 7-percent since then.  Now, Danbury and 15 other school districts have been asked to join the FAFSA Learning Cohort and compete for prizes through through the Challenge. 

Lamont says the goal is to help those districts in most need overcome the obstacles to completion. In September, Governor Lamont will publicly recognize four school districts who have demonstrated the greatest percentage point growth in high school FAFSA completions, compared to the Class of 2020. 

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Newtown Police Chief reappointed to Police oversight council

Newtown's Police Chief has been reappointed to a the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Council.  POST is a division of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.  It oversees training and certification of police officers, as well as a mandatory police department accreditation program. 

Over the summer, Governor Lamont signed a bill into law which refreshed the membership of the council effective January 1st. 

James Viadero served as an officer in Bridgeport from 1985 to 2014, as the police chief of Middlebury from 2014 to 2015, and has been the police chief of Newtown since 2016. He has served on the POST Council since 2018.

In addition to the appointments made by the governor, other members of the council include appointees of legislative leaders, as well as several ex-officio members, including Commissioner Rovella, Commanding Officer of the Connecticut State Police Academy Lieutenant Mark Davison, Chief State’s Attorney Rich Colangelo, and FBI Special Agent in Charge David Sundberg.

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Greater Danbury Chamber holds webinar on PPP, federal loans

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce will host a free webinar this afternoon to discuss the Second Stimulus.  The Chamber will talk about how to apply for increased amounts on Economic Injury Disaster Loans, applying for the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program, the PPP forgiveness process and how to simplify the process.  Panelists will talk about mistakes they’ve seen and how they managed those mistakes.  It is an interactive webinar and Chamber officials urged attendees to be prepared with questions.  Registration is required for the 1pm webinar.

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Bethel, Redding expect COVID vaccines in Feb.

The towns of Bethel and Redding are combining resources to establish a local COVID-19 vaccine clinic, which is expected to open by the first week of February. Bethel is accepting advanced registrations now for eligible residents.  People age 75 and older will be placed on a waiting list and contacted to schedule an appointment when vaccines become available.  Supplies are very limited and First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says they don't know exactly when appointments will be scheduled.  Residents can register by telephone through the Bethel Vaccine Infoline at 203-794-8523. The line is staffed from 8am to 4pm Monday through Thursday, and 8am to Noon on Friday.  Bethel Senior Center staff is also ready to help seniors with the form.

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New Fairfield Food Pantry seeks donations

Food Collection is ongoing for the New Fairfield Emergency Food Pantry.  Officials say the need is still strong, and asked that residents consider buying a few things from their list if possible, though all non-perishables are accepted.  The items the pantry is most in need of include canned or cupped fruits and Apple Sauce, cleaning supplies and wipes, and rice mixes.  They're also in need of Parmalat milk, boxed, non-refrigerated.  Food is collected Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays between 9am and 11am in the church parking lot at 20 Gillotti Road.  Distribution is for anyone who needs food on Thursdays from 3pm to 4pm, or a new option of Saturdays from 11am to noon. 

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Body cameras delivered to Danbury Police Department

The 115 body cameras have arrived in Danbury, and next month the vendor will begin training members of the Police Department on how to use them.  Chief Patrick Ridenhour says he hopes they'll be on the streets in the next month or two. 

The Department is working to finalize a policy on when they need to be on and when they don't. 

The newly passed police accountability bill requires body and in-car cameras. Ridenhour says Danbury has cameras in patrol cars, but they are getting new ones.  The dash cams have been in place for at least a decade, but they're failing and past their usefulness.  The company that was originally used is no longer in business, so they’re not serviceable anymore. 

Ridenhour says the plan is for the new in-dash and body cameras to interact with each other for a seamless system. 

The Danbury Police Department had a tentative deal with a vendor last December to get body cameras, but 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. 

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Danbury continues to report high COVID-19 caseload

So far this week the City of Danbury has recorded 228 positive COVID-19 test results.  There were 89 returned on Monday, 94 on Tuesday and 45 yesterday.  Last week the City reported 334 positive COVID-19 cases.

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Local official says vaccine demand will outpace supply for months

The State is expected to expand Phase 1b to include all individuals over the age of 65, increasing the number of people to be vaccinated in Phase 1b to over 1,000,000.  New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco aimed to temper expectations though, noting that Connecticut is only allocated 44-thousand doses of vaccine per week by the federal government.  Even if the vaccine allocation increases, she says Phase 1b will likely continue for several months. The State is expected to vaccinate those eligible in Phase 1b in waves, beginning with the roughly 270,000 individuals over the age of 75. 

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Individual emails needed to make online COVID-19 vaccine appointments

Kent First Selectman Jean Speck is urging residents 75 and older to fill out a short form to register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.  The Torrington Area Health Department will then send out an email which will allow them to make a reservation to get vaccinated.  Each person registering must have a unique email address, for example if a couple is looking to get vaccinated in the first part of Phase 1b, they cannot used one shared email address.  Speck says for seniors who do not have a computer, a hotline phone number is expected to be released today to register to be vaccinated.

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Wooden badge from outside old Bethel Police station refurbished

Since the mid-1970's, a large wooden badge greeted visitors of the former Bethel Police Headquarters on Plumtrees Road.  The badge had been a gift to now-retired Captain James O'Hara. Over time, the paint faded, but the badge kept its meaning to the Department and was brought to the new station on Judd Avenue during the move.   The Department said in a statement that the badge was recently renovated by Records Supervisor Maria Wallenta and is now displayed in the Bethel Police training classroom.

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Meadow Ridge retirement community in Redding under new management

The Meadow Ridge retirement community in Redding is under new management.  Partial ownership of the facility was recently acquired by  Massachusetts-based Benchmark Senior Living.  The original developers still possess an ownership majority.  Benchmark has taken over operations of the community, which has 415 apartments spread over 136 acres in Redding.  They include independent living, assisted living and nursing units.

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Volunteer steering committee formed for proposed Danbury Career Academy

A volunteer steering committee has been formed for the proposed Danbury Career Academy.  Mayor Joe Cavo says former Mayor Mark Boughton, who has been actively involved in each developmental stage of this project, will chair the group. 

Cavo says the Career Academy will make a great addition to Danbury's public schools.  He says it will be an opportunity for students to find careers they may not otherwise be exposed to. 

The City of Danbury will ask residents to vote on the funding for this project via a referendum planned for June. The project, estimated at $93 million, would be reimbursed by the State at 80%. 

Cavo added that the plan with the Summit and the State’s reimbursement allows Danbury to gain critical infrastructure without hurting the pockets of taxpayers.  Developers plan to have businesses and 400 apartments at the former Union Carbide world headquarters and Matrix Center as well.  The Summit developers promised to pay $13 million over 15 years to cover the cost of any additional students the apartments could bring to the city.

The Danbury Board of Education is working on the curriculum development for the proposed academy.  Initial plans call for about 40 classrooms for 1,100 students in grades 6 through 12. 

Steering committee members:

Dr. Sal Pascarella, Superintendent of Danbury Public Schools

Antonio Iadarola, Public Works Director

Courtney LeBorious, DPS Director of Finance and Operations

David St. Hilaire, Director of Finance

Sharon Calitro, Director of Planning

Dean Esposito, Chief of Staff to the Mayor

Fred Visconti, City Council Member

Dan Petrovich, Engineer for the City of Danbury

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Danbury Health Department launches form for COVID-19 vaccine registration

The Danbury Department of Health and Human Services is following the COVID-19 vaccine distribution guidance developed by the State Department of Public Health. In an effort to provide residents 75 and older with the best possible access, they're requesting they fill out a survey.  City officials warned that respondents must attest, under penalty of False Statement, that they qualify for vaccination under Phase 1B.  The information in this form is confidential and will not be shared.  Anyone with questions or concerns, is urged to contact the City at (203) 797-4510 or email healthdept@danbury-ct.gov.

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Newtown officials caution vaccine supplies will be limited

Now that more details are being provided by the state, municipalities are getting registration rolls together of people eligible to make an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Town of Newtown is working with the state on getting the vaccine to residents in a phased approach in accordance with the CDC recommended strategy.  A Pre-Registration Form has been put on the town of Newtown's website.  All responses are confidential and will only be used in an effort to vaccinate residents in a safe and effective manner. 

Newtown officials cautioned that vaccine allocations will be limited for several weeks.  The State and other providers may also send out registration and appointment opportunities and residents should avail themselves to them as well. 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ABQF5pikpPS1RcKc0IgyupNNYN3WavcPQX0dB1s_GZA/viewform?edit_requested=true&fbclid=IwAR2qIuB0fyvIHHoBTW2SNMkoZZuDDPqwLpBI38x4fRMGTD5NfQVhqcjgvU8

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Advanced COVID-19 vaccine registration for ages 75 and older in Ridgefield

Advanced COVID-19 vaccine registration for ages 75 and older is available on the Ridgefield town website.  Eligible residents are asked to fill out the survey and the state will then send out notification to those who are qualified.  Information will then need to be entered into the Vaccine Administration Management System, or VAMS, portal.  Available times and locations for the vaccine will then be displayed.  For those who wish to sign up by phone, the Governor expects to announce how that process will work late today.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the town has had a significant uptick in cases this week so all residents are urged to be extra vigilant and to follow CDC protocols of wearing a mask, distancing and sanitizing.

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Zebra Mussel found on boat hoist removed from Lattins Cove area of Candlewood

A single Zebra Mussel has been found attached to a boat hoist that was removed from the Lattins Cove area of Candlewood Lake on Sunday.  The hoist, docks, and shoreline in the area have been searched thoroughly and Candlewood Lake Authority says there were no indications of additional mussels.

This is the third instance of zebra mussels being found in Candlewood Lake in the last 12 months.

CLA says Zebra mussels can be extremely disruptive to the ecosystems in which they invade. Their population can grow rapidly, and quickly cover hard surfaces like docks, ladders, boats props and hulls, and hoists. Their sharp shells present a potential safety hazard to swimmers without proper footwear. They can also quickly take habitat from native mussels important to the lake's food chain.

CLA will be searching the shoreline of critical areas, including areas where mussels have been found, to search for any additional signs that might have been missed.

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Danbury's Acting Fire Chief retires

Yesterday was Acting Fire Chief Mark Omasta's last day with the Danbury Fire Department after 36 years.  A socially distanced "Flag Ceremony" was held yesterday afternoon at Fire Headquarters.  Omasta began his firefighting career as a Volunteer with Citizens Hose Co. No 6 in 1984. He then went on to be a career firefighter with the Town of Wilton, before returning to Danbury in 1985. 

He held the ranks of Lieutenant, EMS Coordinator, Training Officer, and Assistant Fire Chief.  He's been the Acting Chief since the retirement of TJ Wiedl last June.  Omasta was recognized and named as the National Fire Safety Officer of the Year in 2012. 

Department officials say he was instrumental in the building of the new state of the art fire training facility, the rehabilitation of the burn building, storage addition at Engine 26, Headquarters and Engine 23 fitness area addition, the firefighter fitness program, and many new pieces of apparatus and equipment. 

Deputy Fire Chief Steve Williams will lead the department until the City hires a new chief.

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Danbury Police ID murder-suicide victims

Danbury Police have identified a couple found dead in October, believed to be the victims of a murder-suicide.  The Newstimes reports that a caregiver found 78-year olds  Edward and Angela Kowalczyk dead in their Sterling Woods condo three months ago.  Both sustained gunshot wounds to the head.  According to the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Edward’s death was ruled a suicide, while Angela’s was ruled a homicide.  Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour said in the published reports that the man and woman both were ailing and described the incident as “a mercy thing.”

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Panel recommends vaccine for 65 years and up, among others

Members of the state’s vaccine advisory group agreed Tuesday to recommend Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont expand who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the next phase of distribution to include people 65 and older, as well as younger people with at least one health condition that puts them at greater risk for contracting the disease.

Connecticut was already planning to allow people age 75 years and older to begin making appointments for vaccinations on Monday. These latest changes could mean hundreds of thousands of more people being added to Connecticut’s Phase 1B, the second phase of the state’s distribution plan.

Under the latest recommendations from the advisory group’s vaccine distribution subcommittee, the state Department of Public Health is also directed to come up with a phased-in distribution plan for this now larger group that is “based on risks of mortality, risk for severe illness” and that addresses issues of equity and the disparate impact of COVID-19 on certain communities, said Nichelle Mullins, the subcommittee co-chair and president and CEO of Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford.

Lamont voiced concern on Monday that expanding Phase 1B to more people could be counterproductive. It was a concern echoed by at least one member of the subcommittee, who worried people might get “false hope” of getting vaccinated quickly if the state doesn’t have enough doses.

“I think the size of the group should be looked at very carefully from the standpoint of vaccine availability and vaccine supply into Connecticut,” said Dr. Raymond Sullivan, director of health in Brookfield.

Dr. Deidre Gifford, the acting state Department of Public Health commissioner, said it appears the latest news from Washington indicates the state could begin receiving much more vaccine, although it’s unclear exactly how much more.

“We can’t predict with any kind of certainty right now how many doses, increased doses we will be seeing over the coming months,” she said. That’s why, Gifford added, it’s important the subcommittee has given Lamont and DPH “broad direction” on who the committee wants to see in this next phase of distribution.

“I think that that gives us the flexibility we need to scale up, based on the available doses while honoring the recommendations,” she said.

Connecticut has already distributed thousands of first doses, and some second doses, to people in Phase 1A, which includes residents of long-term care facilities, health care personnel and medical first responders. At a previous meeting, the subcommittee agreed to recommend that individuals 75 years and older, certain frontline workers and people living in congregate settings, such an inmates, receive doses in Phase 1B.

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Sen. Blumenthal visits Danbury Hospital COVID-19 vaccine clinic

Senator Richard Blumenthal visited Danbury Hospital yesterday to meet with nursing school students to discuss their role in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.  Blumenthal called the COVID-19 vaccine administration clinic a well oiled machine, with 400 to 500 doses given each day. 

Danbury Hospital staffers are in the process of receiving their second doses.  First responders were also taking part in the vaccination clinic. 

Students from West Conn and Sacred Heart are administering the vaccines, freeing up hospital staff to continue treating COVID and other patients. He noted that it's a win-win with the students getting practical experience. 

(Nuvance Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeff Nicastro, Sen. Blumenthal, Danbury Hospital President Sharon Adams, Nuvance Health CEO Dr. John Murphy)

Blumenthal expects the state to receive more than $205 million for COVID testing and contact tracing, in addition to $32 million for the initial stages of vaccination. 

The visit came as U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that the federal government will no longer hold back required second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, practically doubling supply.   Blumenthal says this will help to make sure as many people as possible receive the first dose.  He called on President-elect Joe Biden to use the Defense Production Act to speed up distribution of vaccine doses across the country.

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Bethel officials warn of COVID-19 vaccine scams

Bethel officials are warning residents of COVID-19 vaccine scams circulating.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says they don't have details yet about how the reservation system will work, that's coming later this week.  He alerted people to be aware that scammers are already making calls to elderly people asking for personal information.  When and if you do get a legitimate call to register, you will not be asked for a credit card or for your social security number and should not give that information to any unsolicited caller.  Anyone who gets such a call should hang up immediately and call Bethel Police.

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Bethel Fire Department elects new officers

The Bethel Fire Department has elected new officers.  The Bethel Fire Department praised Chief Scott Murphy for his dedication to the town and his leadership during a challenging year.  This special session was held to elect Chief Officers, Operational Line Officers, Executive Committee Officers, and Membership Committee members.  Chris McCollam has been elected Chief of Department for 2021.  During the meeting, members also joined First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker in recognizing a select group of Bethel and Stony Hill firefighters who went above and beyond in May 2020 during a severe motor vehicle accident. These members were awarded the Hurst Green Cross award.  Firefighter of the Year Dave Evanuksa, EMT of the Year Ray Kennedy, and Chiefs Award Bill McAllister were also recognized for their exemplary service for 2020.

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Redding developing database of those eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

The town of Redding has started developing a database for those who are eligible to sign up to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Sign up will be accessible on the Town of Redding website. Phase 1b and 1c residents will be asked to sign up in advance to be placed in the vaccine data base. To not miss the announcement of when it’s time to sign up to register in the data base, First Selectman Julia Pemberton called on residents to sign up for email notices and advisories from the town.  Anyone will be eventually able to attend any open COVID clinic. After January 18th, Redding officials plan to provide a list of alternate ways to sign up to be vaccinated.

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Two more arrests made in illegal gambling operation running out of bodegas

Police have arrested two more people for their alleged roles in an illegal gambling operation run out of bodegas in Connecticut. 

56-year old Vincente Encarnacion of Danbury was charged with illegal gambling, illegal possession of gambling records and illegally maintaining gambling premises.  According to the December 31st warrant, he allowed an employee used a laptop and printer in the store to illegally sell Dominican Lottery wagers, in exchange for half the profits. 

37-year old Tomas Garcia-Castillo of Waterbury was arrested last Wednesday for  illegal professional gambling, illegal possession of gambling devices and illegally maintaining gambling premises.  Details about those circumstances were not immediately released. 

Encarnacion is scheduled to be arraigned February 4th, Garcia-Castillo on February 10th. 

The Connecticut State Police’s Organized Crime Task Force previously arrested Danbury bodega owners Nilo Antonio Espinal and Cesar Jose Vasquez following raids on Torres Grocery on Wildman Street and Pollas Supermarket on Main Street.

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New Milford Police arrest two men suspected of selling drugs in town

New Milford Police have released more details about the arrest of two men last week on drug possession charges.  Police were initially called to investigate a physical altercation on Thursday.  A vehicle was identified as involved, and later located on Danbury Road.  Police K9 Kira alerted to narcotics in the vehicle. 

26-year old Micah Parris of Brookfield and 26-year old Brian Moran of Danbury were each charged with possession with intent to sell and 4 counts of possession of a controlled substance.  Moran was also charged with 3rd degree assault and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Officers located 7 grams of Cocaine, 27 Xanax pills, 3 Oxycontin pills, 23 THC Vape Cartridges, 1.5 ounces of Marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Both men are due in Torrington Superior Court on March 9th. 

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New Fairfield vaccination clinic expects doses delivered by early next month

Between Thursday and yesterday there have been 44 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield.  Information detailing Vaccine Registration for Phase 1b, including adults over the age of 75, will be available on Thursday. Limited vaccination appointments may be available as early as Monday, January 18 at some clinics around the State.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco expects the municipal clinic to receive vaccine in late January or early February. The Vaccine Advisory Committee is also expected to further define “frontline workers” this week.

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Ridgefield will provide a Tax Deferral Program due to coronavirus

The Town of Ridgefield will provide a Tax Deferral Program under Governor Lamont’s Executive Order issued in December.  This program aims to assist eligible Ridgefield taxpayers suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19. The Tax Deferral Program is available by application, with documentation submitted to the Tax Collector by no later than February 1st, for the January tax quarter. The program is an extended grace period on tax payments for the January 2021 tax bills so that payments made anytime within three months from each bill’s due date will not incur interest charges or penalties. If accepted into the program, the new last day to pay without penalty is April 1, 2021.  This only applies to any January installment.  The Low-Interest Program is available to everyone, not just those who qualify.

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Bethe Fire Department makes progress is getting homes to have visible numbers

Bethel Fire Department has so far sold 75 house number signs in their effort to have each Bethel address have a highly visible identifier.  Their goal is to sell at least 600 signs by the end of this year, partly as a fundraiser, but also to save time when responders are looking for a house during an emergency.  Signs are $15 each, delivered to in-town residents, assembled by Bethel Fire Department volunteers.

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United Way launches new hotline to help adults experiencing emotional crises

The Town of Redding is sharing information from the United Way about a new Adult Telephone Intervention and Options Network.  Working with the state Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, the ACTION line is for adults 18 and over experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis for which an immediate response may be required.  Staff worked with faith-based communities, law enforcement and community organizations to ensure that persons in distress and their loved ones have the resources they need within their local community.

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HRRA poster contest remains open

Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority is still conducting a poster contest this year.  Any Bethel student can participate in this Recycle Right themed, 14th Annual contest.  Entries can either be submitted at the Municipal Center front entrance or at Bethel Public Schools to be sent by interoffice mail to the Municipal Center.  The deadline for submission is Friday, January 22nd.

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Congresswoman calls for investigation into security lapse at Capitol

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has joined with some of her colleagues in calling for an independent commission to investigate the failures of Capitol Security.  She said while many capitol police officers showed courage in the face of an onslaught of rioters, the force was insufficiently prepared to protect the seat of government.  Hayes and others submitted 18 questions for the investigation to cover, with a commission making recommendations to improve security at the capitol complex. 

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Asbestos remediation is next phase of Hearthstone Castle project

Danbury Public Works officials are working on the next phases of cleaning up and stabilizing Hearthstone Castle.  The debris clean up was the first phase.  The roof and upper floors, over time, collapsed in to the basement and had to be cleared out using cranes and other heavy equipment. 

Department Director Antonio Iadarola says the walls are contaminated with asbestos containing fibers in the coat of finish on the inside of the walls.  An environmental assessment and structural analysis has been conducted. 

After the remediation is complete, Iadarola says they'll have a better idea about how much of the structure can remain and what to do with it.  Cleaning up the site cost $593,000, but additional money would likely needed for any future work.  The structure was constructed in 1897, but has not been occupied since it was acquired by the City in the 1980s.

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Putnam County prepares for next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations

The Putnam County Department of Health is preparing to expand COVID-19 vaccination distribution to those aged 75 and older, first responders, teachers and other essential workers who live or work in the county.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the rollout will still be slow because the supply is so very limited. Vaccinations in New York are by appointment only.  Anyone eligible will be given a list of local places to get a vaccination. https://am-i-eligible.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov/ 

Those eligible can also call the State COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline for an appointment: 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829).

Prior to receiving the vaccination, the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Form must be completed. This form can be completed online at https://forms.ny.gov/s3/vaccine and you will receive a submission ID. 

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In-school transmission can't be ruled out in Ridgefield COVID-19 case

A member of the Branchville Elementary School community has tested positive for COVID-19.  Ridgefield School District Health and Safety Compliance Liaison Aaron Crook says that person had last been in the building while potentially infectious to others on Friday. Two staff members were instructed to quarantine for 10 days as a result.  Another person at the school later tested positive and Crook says in-school transmission in this case cannot be ruled out.  A member of the Ridgefield High School community also tested positive and was last in the building January 4th and 5th.  As a result, 20 students and six staff members need to quarantine.  Two other positive RHS cases were not in the building while potentially infectious.

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New Milford schools move to shortened 10 day quarantine

New Milford Interim Superintendent of Schools Alisha DiCorpo is alerting parents to a change in quarantine requirements.  The state Department of Public Health last month, following a revised recommendation from the CDC, said quarantine can be shorter than 14 days.

After collaborating with the New Milford Health Department and Medical Advisor, the Schools decided to adopt these recommendations, which means most individuals will be able to return to school after 10 days of quarantine.  There are a number of steps to take even after 10 days to continue monitoring symptoms and mitigation strategies. 

A COVID-19 test must be a PCR test. The only exception is if an individual receives a positive antigen test, then they are assumed to be a true positive case.  If symptomatic, but not tested, students or staff must remain in self-isolation for 10 days from onset of symptoms. Students/staff can return to school earlier if a note is obtained from a health care provider with a specific, confirmed alternate diagnosis.

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Bethel student's drawing selected for Connecticut Fire Prevention Calendar

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company is recognizing a student who has been selected to have her artwork included in the 2021 Connecticut Fire Prevention Calendar. Nina Williamson,now a Middle School student, drew her winning design last year while a 5th grader at Johnson School.  The annual event is open to all 4th and 5th grade students across the state.  The goal of the contest is to make children, and through them their families, aware that preventing fires requires everyone to be alert every day to those acts, omissions and dangers which cause fire. Each year approximately 30,000 students participate in the program. 

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Southbury Animal Control confirms bobcat involved in attack had rabies

The Town of Southbury has experienced an uptick in confirmed rabid wildlife. 

Animal Control officials have confirmed that the bobcat attack on a pet and her two owners last week tested positive for Rabies. The dog was up to date on her Rabies vaccinations and the owners began their Rabies vaccination series.

The dog has been placed on a 45 day strict confinement and should make a recovery. If the pet had not had a Rabies vaccination, she may have been placed on a six month quarantine, or even been subject to mandated euthanasia as Rabies virus poses a public health and safety issue. 

Animal Control asks owners to make certain that all pets, indoor and outdoor, are up to date with their rabies vaccinations. Some common symptoms of rabies can be unprovoked aggression, difficulty walking, and excess salivation.

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Sherman firefighters respond to Kent to assist with trail rescue

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department took a drive up to Kent Saturday to assist with a trail rescue.  The injured party was being brought out just as firefighters arrived, but say it was a good opportunity to exercise the equipment and let the neighboring community know that Sherman is ready if needed.

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Ridgefield adds two firefighters to Wall of Fame

Ridgefield Professional Firefighters Union added two new members to their "Wall of Fame."  Both Mike Drake and Tim Nobes retired on December 1st.  Mike served the Town of Ridgefield for 40 years, while Tim served for 20 years.  Union leaders say both had a major role in shaping the future of the Ridgefield Professional Firefighters through their mentorship, training, and knowledge.

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Truck rolls over on I-84 landing on median

A tractor-trailer accident in the westbound lane of Interstate 84 closed two lanes of the highway in Danbury yesterday afternoon.  The accident was reported shortly before 4:30pm between exits 3 and 2. 

The state Department of Transportation said the left and center lanes of the westbound highway were closed.  The eastbound side was also effected as the truck was balanced on the median and hanging over the left shoulder of the roadway. 

The truck was the only vehicle involved in the rollover.  The driver sustained minor injuries. 

The scene was cleared around 10:30pm, about 6 hours after the crash was reported.

(Photo: DFD)

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Danbury schools host webinar for parents about how to help students succeed

The pandemic has caused school attendance to decline as teachers and administrators are relying on students to log into virtual classrooms from home.  The Danbury Public School District is hosting a webinar about the Importance of Attendance and Supporting Kids in School. 

The Parent-to-Parent conversation is called A Place at the Table, and sponsored by the state Department of Education.  Parents will have an opportunity tomorrow night to ask questions, share strategies and receive information about challenges in  keeping children connected to school and engaged in learning.  They will also cover expectations for students and how to be partners in their learning and success. 

Register for the 5:30-7pm event at http://ctserc.net/parentstable

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Conn. man arrested for allegedly stalking ex-girlfriend, shooting her car

A Norwalk man has been arrested by Wilton Police for stalking his ex-girlfriend and shooting at her car.  Officers responded to a Wilton home early Thursday morning on a report from the resident that she heard a gunshot outside.  She believed 33-year old Ian Murray was responsible. 

Officers canvased the area and found a pick up truck with no tail lights.  The vehicle was pulled over and Murray was found to be a passenger.  A search of the car turned up  4 grams of marijuana and a revolver. 

Murray was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a fire arm and ammunition, criminal use of a weapon, stalking, trespass, two counts of criminal mischief and two conspiracy counts.  He was also charged with failure to be fingerprinted or photographed, possession of marijuana, illegal possession of a weapoin in a motor vehicle and carrying a pistol without a permit. 

The driver, 34-year old Christopher Smeriglio was charged with Reckless Endangerment, illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, trespass and two conspiracy charges.  He was also cited for Improper Rear Marker Lamps.

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Brookfield reports increase in COVID-19 cases

In the last two weeks reported, ending on January 2nd, Brookfield has had 132 new cases of COVID-19. That moves the rate per 100,000 residents to 55.5. Positivity rate in Brookfield is now 10-percent, up from 9.3 percent the week before.  First Selectman Steve Dunn continued to urge everyone to wear masks, limit contact with others outside the household, practice social distance, wash hands often and go out only when necessary.  Brookfield Schools remain in full remote mode.  They plan to return to in school on January 19th.

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Non-profit seeks funds to buy meals for Danbury, Bethel seniors

At the most recent Age Well Connecticut Community Council meeting, Senior Center Director Susan Tomanio announced that meals they were receiving from the state are being discontinued.  This comes as funding is being prioritized for homebound seniors. 

In response ,the New American Dream Foundation was able to fund one meal a week from the Amber Room for the next 5 weeks for the 45 seniors at the senior center.  The group has now created a special donation option specific to this program via PayPal, with donors selecting "Emergency Meals | Danbury Senior Center" to direct the funding to this purpose. 

https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=9G45KAUAGCDE8 

The New American Dream Foundation has also been contacted by the Bethel Senior Center, which has suffered the same state budget cuts. There is also an option on that page for donors to direct meals to Bethel seniors.

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76 inmates at Danbury FCI gets COVID-19 vaccine

76 inmates at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution have been vaccinated against COVID-19.  A federal court judge said Friday that he's hopeful this will render moot the lawsuit filed by inmates seeking home confinement for those who are at risk for complications from COVID-19. U.S. Attorney David Nelson is representing Danbury Warden Diane Easter in the lawsuit and says 51 inmates at the minimum security prison declined to be vaccinated.  Close to 600 of Danbury FCI's approximately 800 inmates have been identified as having medical issues who are part of the class action lawsuit.

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Danbury officials approve improvements to scenic road

The Danbury City Council has approved improving a portion of a street considered scenic.  The Planning Commission signed off on the improvements to Long Ridge Road.  A committee of the Council held a public hearing recently about the proposed modification. 

Residents testified about the condition of the road, which they say is full of potholes and dangerous for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.  They described flat tires, damaged struts, and bodily injuries. 

The City approved funding in May for road improvements, including to Long Ridge Road.  Danbury ordinances call for the City Council to approve any improvement to scenic roads in excess of routine maintenance.  The scenic portion is only from just south of Brushy Hill Road to Old Lantern Road. 

While the entire road is already paved, one of the requirements to be considered scenic is that it be unpaved.

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Danbury officials cut ribbon on Ellen Levy Animal Control Facility

Danbury officials have cut the ribbon on the Ellen Levy Animal Control Facility.  They say it will provide a safe and warm place for dogs while they wait to be adopted.  Public Works Department and Animal Control staff worked together to create the space with the dogs in mind.  Councilman Warren Levy made a $300,000 donation from the estate of his late wife, Ellen, to complete the building.

(Photo: City of Danbury)

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Danbury records over 100 COVID-19 cases in one day

Danbury reported 102 new COVID-19 cases in the CIty on Thursday.  It's expected this will be result in a high number of cases due to post-Christmas get together testing.   In the week of December 28th through January 3rd, Danbury recorded a total of 243 cases.  The week before was 249 cases, mid-December saw 262 in Danbury and the first full week of the month recorded 389 cases in the City.  The height of the 2nd wave in Danbury was the week of November 30th through December 6th when 467 cases were reported.

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Putnam County Sheriffs make 11 drug arrests in December

During the month of December, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Enforcement Unit made a total of 11 arrests.  The Street Crimes Unit made four arrests for criminal possession of a controlled substance, with 3 of those for the possession of heroin and 1 for suboxone.

The unit executed six search warrants; resulting in seven arrests for a variety of narcotics sales and possession charges while also recovering five illegally possessed firearms.

The investigations involved the sale of heroin in the Town of Carmel, the sale of cocaine and marijuana in the Town of Southeast, the sale of prescription medication in the Town of Patterson.  The DEA also helped to investigate sales of Cocaine and an illegal marijuana growing operation in the Town of Somers and Town of Kent.

The unit also investigated a person selling marijuana and had an illegal indoor marijuana grow operation in the Village of Brewster

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Brookfield firefighters bringing back birthday parades

The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is bringing back birthday parades, with some changes.  On the 2nd Saturday and 4th Sunday of the month, members will make a maximum of 10 stops each.  Requests will need to be emailed to BVFCBirthdays@gmail.com by the 1st of the month to allow for appropriate planning.  This is for Brookfield residents only.

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New Milford firefighters start vaccine process

Water Witch Hose Company of New Milford has started to vaccinate firefighters for COVID-19.  Their monthly meetings remain suspended and trainings remain virtual.  The volunteers continue to limit personnel on non-priority calls.  They are wearing PPE while riding together in the trucks.  Equipment and the firehouses are decontaminated regularly.

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Conn. Congressional delegation concerned about gas leaks at Danbury FCI

Two gas leaks at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution recently have raised questions from Connecticut's Congressional Delegation.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal are calling for an investigation into the November 13th and December 26th leaks. 

They say both led to security and health risks to staff and inmates, citing the recent steam heat explosion at the West Haven VA as an example of inadequately maintained infrastructure. 

Yankee Gas crews isolated the first  leak and issued a red tag indicating a safety concern requiring immediate repair.  The the leak last month, crews and firefighters were denied access due to poor communication at the facility.  They were let in the next day, but the heat and hot water had to be turned off to a portion of the camp area, resulting in 47 female inmates being relocated to visiting rooms. 

Blumenthal, Murphy, and Hayes are requesting that Warden Easter conduct an immediate assessment of the critical infrastructure at FCI Danbury to identify and remedy any emergent health and safety issues.  They say there were also reports that the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and sprinkler systems in the Camp have been malfunctioning or nonfunctional.

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Elderly driver uninjured during crash into Monroe home

An elderly Monroe man accidentally drove through his garage wall and into the basement Wednesday, striking the furnace. Firefighters responded to lower Wheeler Road and secured the electrical, water line and heating oil spill hazards.  The driver was not injured. Later firefighters handled a faulty electrical fixture that was creating smoke in a town-owned building.

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Bethel NJROTC collecting Christmas trees

The Cadets of the Bethel High School Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps will once again be picking up Christmas trees tomorrow.  The ROTC asks for a $10 donation, though any denomination is welcome.  Residents need to share their mailing address and phone number at checkout so the high schoolers know where to schedule the tree pick up.  While the donations do go through PayPal, the organization says Bethel residents can choose Donate With Debit or Credit Card.  The Duffy family has allowed the NJROTC access to their account though 100% of the donation will be given to Bethel NJROTC with the family covering any administrative costs.

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Two unlocked, running vehicles stolen in Southbury

Two vehicles were stolen Wednesday in Southbury, and the thefts are connected.  Southbury Police responded to the post office after a woman reported her car was missing.  The vehicle was left running with the doors unlocked when she went into the post office.  The car was driven about 4 miles away to a daycare center on Southford Road where a second vehicle was stolen.  That car was also left running with the doors unlocked.  The original stolen vehicle was located. Southbury Police are currently looking for a black 2016 Porsche Cayenne bearing Connecticut registration AU71871.  Officers reminded residents to shut off their vehicles, take the keys and lock their cars when they're unattended.  Anyone with information about yesterday's crimes is asked to contact Officer Markette at (203) 264-5912. All calls will be kept confidential.

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Putnam County administers first COVID-19 vaccine doses to workers in congregate settings

The Putnam County Department of Health vaccinated 251 people against COVID-19 yesterday during its first vaccination drive.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the clinic was not open to the public, but only by appointment to those living or working in facilities run by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Office of Mental Health, and Office of Addiction Services and Support. 

Groups of those pre-approved for vaccination lined up at a safe social distance outside the Carmel Friendship Center on Old Route 6 in Carmel waiting for their turn. After they received their shots, they were watched for 15 minutes to make sure they did not have an adverse reaction.

The health department ran the clinic with support from local law enforcement, EMS and volunteers.

Because of the limited vaccine supply, the state has given first priority to a broad group of healthcare workers and those in living in nursing homes or other congregate care.  The county health department received 600 Moderna vaccines from the state on Tuesday. It will hold a second clinic on Monday for the same population group at the Carmel Friendship Center on Old Route 6 in Carmel.

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Conn. Congressional delegation call for removal of President

Members of Connecticut Congressional delegation are calling for the removal of the President.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says the issue of impeachment is a gravely serious matter, not to be taken lightly, and could never have imagined that the matter would have to be discussed twice during her short time in Congress. 

Hayes says the President's public proclamation of love for the mob of insurrectionists, and his failure to act swiftly to provide support to law enforcement protecting the Capitol demonstrate an inability to lead the nation.  She says these acts cannot be ignored or further enabled with inaction in favor of political expediency. Hayes added that the fragile foundations of democracy and national security depend on action.

She called for the immediate removal of this President by invoking the 25th Amendment or ultimately impeachment.

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Bobcat attacks Southbury couple, dog

A bobcat attacked a Southbury couple and their dog this week.  Environmental officials say the bobcat attacked the dog Monday night and as the dog went back to the house, the animal followed it into the garage.  It then attacked a woman.  The man entered the garage to pull the bobcat off of his wife and the animal bit his arm.  The man reportedly beat the bobcat to death with a fireplace log.  The woman sustained injuries to her head and shoulders, and the dog suffered minor injuries.

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Former Danbury Health Director to take on that role in New Milford

New Milford has hired a new Health Director, who is familiar to the area.  Lisa Morrissey will take on the role, following the retirement of Mike Crespan next month.  Morrissey was the Health Director for Bridgeport, previously holding the position in Danbury.  She told CT Insider that she resigned from her post in Bridgeport independent of getting another job. 

When Morrissey took the job in Bridgeport, that City Council praised her resume.  There was some criticism though that she wouldn't be moving her family from Danbury to Bridgeport as required by the Charter. 

Morrissey was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early December and had to quarantine for two weeks.

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Kent moves out of Red Alert Zone

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has made the weekly update to the COVID-19 Alert Map.  164 of 169 towns and cities in Connecticut are currently in the red zone alert level, the highest of the state’s four alert levels.  The only municipalities in the state that are not in the red zone this week are Canaan, Colebrook, Kent, Union, and Warren, all of which are in the gray alert level. This comes after Wilton briefly moved out of the Red zone.   The case rate was 14.8 per 100,000 population.  The metric to be in the red is 15 cases per 100,000.

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New Police Officers take oath of office in Brookfield, Newtown

The newest member of the Newtown Police Department has been sworn in.  Police Officer Peter Wlasuk took the oath of office yesterday afternoon in the presence of his family, Newtown Police Commission members, and First Selectman Dan Rosenthal.  He will start the CT Police Academy tomorrow.  The Newtown High School graduate attended both UCONN and the University of Miami where he received his master’s degree in science.

Brookfield Police have a new officer in the ranks.  Travis Kullgren was sworn in yesterday.  Newtown Police Department Lt.David Kullgren pinned the badge on his son during the ceremony.  Travis started his path as a Newtown Police Explorer while in high school, and after graduation Travis joined the US Marine Corp where he served several overseas missions.  He will be starting the police academy tomorrow.

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Freshman state Representative takes oath of office

A freshman state lawmaker has been sworn into office.  Ridgefield Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo said she is both honored and excited to represent Ridgefield during this critical time.  She says families are facing challenges on so many fronts and is committed to hit the ground running in Hartford to advocate for her constituents.  Berger-Girvalo says her legislative priorities include COVID-19 relief, protecting local funding for Ridgefield, preserving reproductive freedom and voting rights, implementing common-sense gun regulation, expanding senior services and tax credits and investing in environmentally conscious jobs and renewables.  Berger-Girvalo will serve as a member on the Environment, Public Health, and Transportation Committees.

 

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Local lawmaker reacts to swearing in, protest at state capitol

Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan took the oath of office yesterday for a second term in office.  The swearing in ceremony, which is usually held indoors, was held outside of the Capitol Building due to COVID-19 concerns. At the same time, Allie-Brennan noted that there was a rally called “Storm the Capitol” made up of people protesting an array of issues from masks and vaccines to the election of Joe Biden.  He said he was grateful to the Connecticut Capitol Police who were able to protect the protestor’s First Amendment rights while allowing legislative leaders to conduct the swearing in ceremony without incident.  Allie-Brennan called it a stark contrast to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, terming it an act of insurrection designed to terrorize and stoke violence.

 

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Candlewood Lake Authority elects new chairperson

The Candlewood Lake Authority has unanimously elected a new chairperson.  Marianne Gaffey will lead the group, which also elected Joan Archer as vice-chairperson. Phyllis Schaer and Mark Toussaint stepped down, but remain active members. The CLA board also elected a new delegate from Sherman, Martin O’Connor, as secretary.  Brookfield delegate Bill Lohan will continue as treasurer. The Candlewood Lake Authority includes three representatives from each of the five towns surrounding the lake.

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Danbury Democrat announces plan to run for Mayor in November

A Danbury Democrat has announced his intention to run for Mayor in November. City Councilman At-Large Roberto Alves says like many communities, Danbury is at a turning point. 

The 37-year old father of two young children works at Cartus.  He works with a global team to create efficiencies for businesses, with a focus on customer service.  Shortly after becoming a U.S. citizen, Alves ran for City Council in 2017. He lost, but ran again two year later and won an at-large seat. 

He says there are important challenges that will affect the future of small businesses, families, and neighbors.  Alves added that too many Danbury families have suffered because leaders at all levels — from Washington down to the City-level — have failed them.  Alves says the City needs a leader who can take on these critical challenges, and that he's ready to build Danbury back better and to be more equitable for all.

Democratic Town Committee Chair Andrea Gartner says Alves steps up to the plate again and again.  She noted that through the pandemic he’s undertaken hosting food and toy drives, organizing food distributions, and educating the community on civic engagement also while serving as Councilman At-Large.

Vice-Chair Joe DaSilva Jr. says the energy, courage, and commitment Alves brings to working for the people of Danbury is unmatched.

"From asking the hard questions on the City Council to make sure our tax dollars are wisely spent to helping lead a food and toy drive at Christmas, Roberto is always willing to roll up his sleeves and do the hard work for the people of Danbury. As Mayor, he won't be afraid of the questions and won't ever stop fighting for the people of Danbury."

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Nearly all Danbury firefighters, some police receive COVID-19 vaccination

The City of Danbury received 300 doses of COVID-19 vaccine last week and 500 doses this week.  Acting Health Director Kara Prunty says some vials had extra doses.  The first phase includes first responders.  Prunty says almost the entire fire department has received the vaccine and for police, they're keeping it, for now, to those members who respond to 911 calls.

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Truck containing 1,800 gallons of home heating oil overturns in Brookfield

A truck containing around 1,800 gallons of home heating oil overturned in Brookfield early yesterday evening.  Firefighters, hazardous material and environmental protection teams responded to Candlewood Lake Road near Pleasant Rise shortly before 5pm.  Fire officials say the accident resulted in minor injuries, but the driver did not need to be extricated.  None of the product inside the truck was released. Candlewood Lake Road was closed between Huckleberry Hill and Elbow Hill roads during the response.

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6 more COVID-19 cases in Ridgefield High School community

6 more COVID-19 cases have been reported in the Ridgefield High School community.  In a letter to parents yesterday, district officials said the individuals were not in the R-H-S building during a period of time when they were infectious to others.  Health and safety compliance liaison Aaron Crook says no contact tracing is needed.  The town's health director and public schools’ medical adviser have been notified about the cases.

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Danbury City Council confirms new member, President

A local business owner has been confirmed to fill the vacant seat on the Danbury City Council.  Michael Henry was nominated by the Republican Town Committee to replace Joe Cavo in the 3rd ward.  Cavo was sworn in as Mayor last month. 

Henry was administered the oath of office on Monday, with the expectation that the Council would approve of his nomination.  Henry was elected in 2019 as an alternate on the Zoning Commission and ran unsuccessfully against State Representative David Arconti in the 109th House district in November.

The City Council also voted for a new president to replace Cavo.  Republican majority leader Vinny DiGilio, who has been on council for eight years, was elected to the position.  He was voted into the role 11 to 10, along party lines.  Democratic minority leader Paul Rotello was also nominated. 

Despite the party line vote, members from both sides of the aisle later congratulated both DiGilio and Cavo on their new roles.

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Conn. Congressional members react to siege on D.C.

Congress has confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the presidential election winner, hours after violent protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Lawmakers resolved to work almost through the night to uphold the will of the voters. The Capitol was under siege for hours Wednesday, forcing lawmakers into hiding before being evacuated by police.

President Trump promised an "orderly transition" on Jan. 20. 

Senator Chris Murphy issued a statement on yesterday's breach of the United States Capitol complex.  He said while peaceful protests are deeply patriotic, insurrection is sedition. 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes, one of the few lawmakers on the floor at the time, echoed those remarks.  Himes says announcements were made to get to the floor, and that gas masks under the chairs should be put on as tear gas was deployed in the rotunda.

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes was told to shelter in her office, before being moved to an undisclosed location.  In nearly 15 years of teaching American history, Hayes says she could have never found the words to explain this act of sedition to her students.

Senator Richard Blumenthal says he was sickened by scenes of anarchist mobs swarming the Capitol, calling it an assault on the heart of our democracy. 

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Brookfield firefighters respond to gas leak at busy shopping center

There was a reported gas leak in Brookfield yesterday morning.  Firefighters responded to Candlewood Plaza Shopping Center for a report of an odor of gas.  The source was traced to heating units on the roof. The gas company responded and secured the leak.  Firefighters cleared the scene after about an hour.

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Unoccupied kayak found in the middle of Candlewood Lake

Water Witch Hose fire company of New Milford responded to a possible water rescue response yesterday morning.  Firefighters from Brookfield also responded to the area of the Lake Club for an unoccupied kayak in the middle of Candlewood.  Marine 24 launched with 2 members in exposure suits to investigate. It was determined that the kayak broke away from its mooring and there was no emergency.

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Danbury Fire Department has new Acting EMS/HazMat Coordinator

The Danbury Fire Department has a new Acting EMS/HazMat Coordinator.  Thomas Corbett began in the role last month.  It was vacant for about six months.  He said in a report presented to the City Council Tuesday night that there was a significant amount of responsibilities to be managed which included the Coordinator's role as the Danbury Fire Department’s Infectious Control Officer.

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New Fairfield officials warn of COVID stimulus scam

Another round of Stimulus is coming and New Fairfield officials are warning taxpayers of a COVID-related text scam to trick people into disclosing bank account information.  Anyone receiving a text that says further action is required to accept this payment into your account, with a link to accept payment should be aware it will lead to a fake phishing web address.

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Wilton moves out of Red Zone for COVID-19 infection level

The Town of Wilton has moved out of the Red Zone.  Case growth rates in the second half of December decreased enough for Wilton to move back to an orange alert community after an extended period as a red alert community.  Wilton is the only municipality in southwest Connecticut that is not in the red, one of only 7 towns not at the highest level of infection.  Wilton First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice says residents took note of the growth rate in October and November and adjusted accordingly.  Wilton has recorded 614 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  The current case rate is 14.8 per 100,000 population.  The metric to be in the red is 15 cases per 100,000.

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New Fairfield officials warn of scams related to pandemic

New Fairfield officials are warning of some scams related to the pandemic.  As vaccines start to be administered, people should be aware that Medicare will cover the COVID-19 vaccine, so there is no out of pocket cost.  If anyone asks for a Medicare Number or pay for access to the vaccine, it's a scam.  If a resident receives a call, text or email promising the vaccine, if personal or financial information is given, it's a red flag.  When towns start to gather that information, be sure to reach out first and not turn over the information to unsolicited communication.s  Another round of Stimulus is coming and IRS Security Summit partners warn taxpayers of a COVID-related text scam to trick people into disclosing bank account information.  Anyone receiving a text that says further action is required to accept this payment into your account, with a link to accept payment should be aware it will lead to a fake phishing web address.

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Redding starts to vaccinate first responders

Connecticut is currently in Phase 1A of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. Redding fire, EMS, school nurses, and police are in the process of receiving their first dose, along with Meadow Ridge long-term care residents and health care workers. Most in phase 1A have received the Pfizer vaccine which requires a second dose 3 weeks after the first.

Sometime in January or February the Redding Health Department hopes phase 1A will round the bend and they can start to think about Phase 1B.  Final guidance on the next phase is expected later this week, though eligible residents will be some in the critical workforce and individuals 75 and older.

Phase 1C will likely include individuals 65 to 74, other essential workers, and persons aged 16 to 64 with medical conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19.  Predictions for Phase 2, the general public, vary from summer to fall.   Redding Health Department says timing depends on vaccine availability and how many take it.

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Brookfield Senior Center seeks volunteers to call elderly neighbors

Brookfield Senior Center and Department of Social Services are looking for some volunteers.  They run a Phone Friends Program during the winter months.  Brookfield Senior Center officials say they are concerned with the social isolation of older residents and have partnered with the Motion Picture & Television Fund Daily Caller Program to address this.  Volunteers are needed who are willing to commit to a weekly call with a senior.  Volunteers will receive training and be matched with a senior that shares similar interest.  Interested volunteers should contact Ellen Melville at the Brookfield Senior Center 203-775-5308 or emelville@brookfieldct.gov.  Any senior, or resident who knows a senior who would like to receive a weekly call and increase their social connectivity, should also contact that number.

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Sen. Murphy visits Bethel to discuss COVID-19 vaccine roll out

Bethel plans to open a COVID-19 vaccine clinic by the end of the month, one more residents become eligible under state guidelines. 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says 30 of 39 police officers and about half of volunteer firefighters and EMTs have registered to get vaccinated at Danbury Hospital.  The doses started being administered this week and he expects the numbers to climb. 

Senator Chris Murphy visited with town and health officials yesterday to discuss challenges of vaccine distribution.  Murphy says Bethel, in partnership with Redding, is ready for when the next phase starts.  He says the proximity to Danbury Hospital will help with the volume of vaccines. In addition to the town’s clinic, residents should be able to get the vaccine at locations like pharmacies.

State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan and Senators Will Haskell and Julie Kushner also attended the meeting.

(Photo: Will Haskell)

Murphy says vaccine providers are given little information about delivery, and not enough doses are being produced.  He says providers in Connecticut find out on a Friday how much vaccine they’re going to get on a Monday.  Murphy called on the incoming Biden administration to fix that so the state has better long-range planning on vaccine numbers.

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Blumenthal visits small businesses in Danbury to discuss PPP

Senator Richard Blumenthal was in Danbury yesterday.  He visited Mothership on Main to hear how the downtown Danbury eatery was surviving the financial fallout of the pandemic.  Blumenthal heard that a new round of federal COVID-19 relief for small businesses would make a difference. 

He called the Paycheck Protection Program a lifeline for small companies. 

Blumenthal noted that what they don't sell is given to people in the community who are food insecure.  He says that's reason alone the PPP is well worth the investment.

The CARES Act 2 is expected to bring as much as $9 billion to Connecticut.  About $3 billion will be loaned to small businesses to keep workers on the payroll.  He says this next round will be expedited, streamlined and targeted. 

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Danbury Housing Authority gets grant for Family Self-Sufficiency Program

A federal grant has been awarded to the Danbury Housing Authority.  $52,500 dollars will support the Family Self-Sufficiency Program.  It enables residents to earn income and reduce or eliminate their need for rental or welfare assistance.  The funding is part of a larger pool of money sent to Connecticut public housing authorities from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Participants in the program sign a five-year contract requiring the head of the household to set specific goals and achievements.  An interest-bearing escrow account is set up for residents to access when they complete the program, which can be used to pay educational expenses or make a down payment on a home.

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Sen. Blumenthal visits Danbury business to discuss COVID-19 relief

Senator Richard Blumenthal was in Danbury this morning.  He visited with the owner of Mothership on Main to talk about the unique challenges the baker faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recently passed relief package.  Blumenthal supported the recently passed COVID relief package includes bill includes $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program and extends PPP through March 31st.   

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State Trooper who responded to Sandy Hook School dies of COVID complications

Connecticut State Police have announce the untimely passing of retired Trooper First Class Patrick Dragon.  He passed away Saturday at Hartford Hospital from complications of COVID-19.  The 50-year old  was a first responder to the Sandy Hook School shooting in 2012.  He served as a Detective in the Eastern District Major Crime Squad and as a Detective in the Fire and Explosion Investigation Unit.  Dragon retired from the State Police in February  2018.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a memorial service is being planned for the Spring.

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Danbury Fire Department issues warning about dried out Christmas trees

Danbury Fire Department says it may be hard to let go of the festive holiday season, but note that there's a compelling reason to remove the Christmas tree as soon as possible. Nearly one-third of U.S. home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. The longer a natural tree is kept up after Christmas, fire officials say the more likely it is to dry out and ignite.

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Danbury UNIT responds to quality of life issues

During 2020, the Danbury Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team received 850 quality of life complaints.  There were 70 reported in December alone.  The top issue addressed by UNIT last month was garbage or debris.  About a dozen complaints each were filed about abandoned/unregistered vehicles and exterior/structural blight.  The other issues included unsafe living and unpermitted construction.

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Brookfield Fire Company breaks down 2020 response rates

The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to a total of  2,307 calls for service last year.  That was broken down to about 1,500 EMS calls and 725 for fire services.

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Bethel sets up hotline on COVID-19 vaccination process

The Town of Bethel, in conjunction with the Town of Redding has established guidelines for its own vaccination clinics.   The Bethel clinic will be at the Municipal Center while Redding's will be at the Community Center. 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says any person will likely be able to select any open COVID-19 clinic once their priority group is being vaccinated. The Bethel-Redding Vaccination Program will issue directions for each priority group as guidance is received from the State.  The Town will provide ongoing vaccination information and will list it on the Bethel website, as well as other community locations for this vaccine in an effort to keep everyone informed and aware of who can be vaccinated, as well as when and where.  COVID vaccinations are voluntary. 

Bethel also set up a Hotline to provide updated information on the vaccination process.  The phoneline, 203-794-8523, will be staffed Monday through Thursdays 8am to 4pm and on Friday from 8am to noon.

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Danbury Health Department creating Medical Reserve Corp

The Danbury Health Department is creating a Medical Reserve Corp in the City. The  applications have been submitted and interview scheduled. An MRC is made up of volunteers with medical and public health backgrounds, along with other members of the community, to strengthen public health, improve emergency response capabilities, and build community resilience. The MRC in Danbury would assist with vaccination clinics, mass dispensing operations, and other emergency response efforts.

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More than two dozen New Fairfield COVID cases reported in new year

There have been 27 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield so far this year.  Phase 1a of COVID vaccination is currently underway in Connecticut.  New Fairfield firefighters, police, EMTs and paramedics are now eligible to receive vaccine.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the town's Health Director has been working closely with the State, a working group of town staff and medical professionals to ensure that New Fairfield is well prepared to vaccinate residents as they become eligible in Phases 1B and 1C.  More details will be coming on how to register and set up an appointment for vaccination as soon as the information is provided by the State. 

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Brookfield Social Services seeks volunteers for food delivery

Hillside Food Outreach has been a resource for Brookfield Social Services during the pandemic. They deliver up to two weeks of nutritious groceries to residents who have tested positive with COVID-19 or who are quarantining due to close contacts, allowing them to remain quarantined without worries about nutritious food.  As the numbers in the region grow, Hillside’s ability to deliver food on a timely basis is limited to their volunteer capacity.  Anyone able to assist with contactless-deliveries, is asked to contact Hillside directly at 914-747-0095 or through their website.  Brookfield Social Services says residents should give their hometown and let Hillside know they are interested in delivering in Brookfield.

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Sen. Murphy to visit Bethel to discuss COVID-19 response

Senator Chris Murphy will be in Bethel this afternoon.  He plans to host a community conversation with Bethel elected officials and health leaders to discuss the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to critical groups in Connecticut. 

During the discussion, health care officials and state legislators are expected to tell Murphy about what the federal government can do to help Connecticut respond to the pandemic, and support vaccination of additional essential workers and other groups at high risk. Murphy authored legislation included in the Coronavirus Relief & Omnibus Agreement to help Connecticut and other states with direct funding for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, testing, contact tracing, and other mitigation efforts. 

Among those taking part in the community conversation will be Bethel's Director of Health, Director of Emergency Management Operations, the First Selectman, two state Senators and State Representative.

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Sherman officials agree to share in COVID-19 costs with New Fairfield

During a special Board of Selectmen meeting this weekend, Sherman officials have approved a COVID budget.  The Board met Saturday to vote on whether to contribute money into a fund set up by the town of New Fairfield for vaccinations and contact tracing through April. 

The Board of Selectmen will meet soon on appropriating funds from the capital and non-recurring budget. 

New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco said at the time that a joint budget for these services and initiatives would rely on Sherman contributing 20-percent.  Sherman First Selectman Don Lowe said this week that his town won't have to pay for things that they don’t need to be part of, like communications, two testing sessions, post-clinic cleaning services and more hours for the New Fairfield Emergency Management Director.  The towns would still share in the cost of $167,700 for vaccines and contact tracing.  Sherman's contribution would be about $35,000.   

Sherman and New Fairfield share a health director, Tim Simpkins, who said the COVID budget stemmed from weekly vaccination-planning meetings. Moderna vaccines will be held at police headquarters for security, and because they have a generator and refrigeration capability.

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Public hearing remains open for medical marijuana facility relocation

The public hearing for a proposed medical marijuana facility in Danbury has been left open by the Planning Commission.  During a hearing last month, attorney Neil Marcus spoke on behalf of D&B Wellness about plans for 105 Mill Plain Road.  They are looking to relocate the Compassionate Care Center from Garella Road in Bethel to the larger building off I-84.  The basement would be for staff use.  The second floor is unused, but is intended is for meetings.  Most of the downstairs offices will remain, as will the vault that was used by the previous tenant, a bank.  Some main floor offices will be cleared to give more room for distancing.  The drive thru window has been boarded up for years, and will continue to be closed.  The canopy may not be removed as D&B Wellness won't own the building.  Sale of product from the facility can't be done through the drive thru window and there's no intention to do so.  D&B Wellness opened as Fairfield County’s first medical marijuana dispensary six years ago.

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9 people displaced by fire on New Years Day in Danbury

9 people were displaced by fire on New Years Day in Danbury.  Firefighters responded to Smoke Hill Drive, on the border with New Fairfield, around 1:30am Friday.  A second alarm was sounded, bringing in a larger response.  The blaze was quickly extinguished.  The occupants were evaluated and cleared by Danbury Hospital Nuvance Health EMS.  Ball Pond Volunteer Fire Company and New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department Company A provided mutual aid tankers.  Miry Brook Volunteer Fire Company Engine 13 and King Street Volunteer Fire Company tankers were also needed for this non-hydranted response district. The Danbury Fire Marshals office is investigating the cause, which is undetermined at this time

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Man suspected in car theft caught on surveillance video

A man suspected in a car theft in New Milford was caught on surveillance video.  The New Milford Police Department is asking for the public's help with identifying the suspect in the larceny of a 2006 Blue GMC Pickup Truck from Carmen Hill Road #2. This occurred on Wednesday, sometime around 10 pm.  A photo of the suspect can be viewed on the New Milford Police Department Facebook page.  Anyone with information is asked to contact 860-355-3133 or the anonymous TIPS Line at 860-355-2000.

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COVID-19 testing sessions scheduled in New Milford

Additional COVID-19 test events have been set up in New Milford.  Working in partnership with the state, the town will host three additional testing dates this month.  People can get a COVID-19 test next Friday, the 8th, at New Milford High School from 3pm to 7pm.  There's also testing on the 15th at Pettibone Community Center and on the 30th at the high school.

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Applications opening for AIS, Westside Middle in Danbury

The Application for the Academy of International Studies school in Danbury is now open.  The deadline for parents to apply is January 19th.  The lottery will take place on January 21st and results will be mailed on the 31st.  The application can be found on the district website in English and Spanish.  The Application for Westside Middle School Academy in Danbury  will open on February 1st.

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Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company recaps 2020 call volume

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire & EMS responded to nearly 14,00 calls for service in 2020.  About a thousand of them were for EMS services while 366 were for fires.  To put the growth into perspective, in 2007 Stony Hill EMS did just 300 to 400 ambulance calls.

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Danbury's new Mayor issues message for New Year

Danbury Mayor Joe Cavo has issued a statement to mark the end of 2020 and the start of the new year.  He says there is no doubt that this past year has been one of the most difficult faced by the current generation.  He believes that Danbury residents determined and positive nature has and will continue to guide the community through to better days. The roll out of a vaccine has begun and Cavo expressed his gratitude to doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel for their continued compassion and care.  He also thanked the City's Health Department for their leadership over the past year.

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Weir Farm could change from National Historical Site to Park

A bill has been sent to the president that would change the designation of Weir Farm in Wilton and Ridgefield from a National Historical Site to a National Historical Park.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes says the change will better represent Weir’s complex cultural, natural and recreational offerings to the public. This status will also reflect the increased visitation, collaboration with partners, and public programming since the park’s original designation.  The area was designated as an historical site in 1990, making the farm Connecticut’s first national park.  The vast holdings include more than 15 buildings spread out over nearly 75 acres including a collection of American art, orchards and landscapes, trails, gardens, miles of stone walls, and Weir Pond.

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MTA investigates train striking pedestrian in Danbury

The MTA is continuing to investigate a person being struck by a train on New Year's Eve.  Metro-North Railroad reported a person was struck on the tracks in Danbury Thursday night, near Taylor and Wildman streets. Train service was suspended on the line until about 12:35am.  The victim was only identified as a 30-year-old man.  The MTA says he walked through the crossing as the gates were down, bells rung and the train operator sounded a horn.  The man was transported to the hospital in serious condition with severe leg injuries.

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Brookfield Public Works reminds residents of plow safety

With Winter in full swing, Brookfield Public Works officials are calling on residents to be cautious of the plows during storms and after as they clear the right of way. Snow and ice is thrown at great speeds and quantities and could be dangerous.  Parents are urged not to let children play in the snow banks near the road edge. During plowing it is inevitable that mailboxes will be damaged, although Public Works crews do their best to minimize it.  It's the Brookfield town policy that if the box was damaged by the snow being thrown from the plow – not because the plow ran off the road and hit the box -- the town is not liable. The detailed policy is on the town website.

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Dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases reported in Brookfield

The COVID-19 virus continues to spread rapidly across Brookfield, rising dramatically over the past 8 weeks.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says the positivity rate is now in the 10% range, and the number of cases per 100-thousand residents has surged from just over 22 cases in mid-December, to more than 73 last week.  He says much of this spike is driven by social gatherings where the rules for social distancing, wearing masks and limiting the number of people were not followed.  Dunn says clearly everyone can do much more to control this virus.  He called on residents to help themselves and their neighbors by being vigilant and following the rules.

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Danbury Public School District creates new Facebook page

The Danbury Public School District has created a new Facebook page.  The old profile hadn't been updated since the end of August, just ahead of the start to the new school year. 

Administrators of the site say they are working with the social media provider about posting a link on their old profile, but noted that once a site is closed or hacked nothing can be added to it. 

The district plans to update the page with events and celebrations from the District, keeping the community informed  about endeavors of Danbury Public schools. 

https://www.facebook.com/Danbury-Public-School-District-104438938171961/

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Bethel not creating COVID-19 vaccine waiting list

Bethel is taking a different approach to preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says other towns are moving in a direction contrary to state guidance.  He told his fellow Selectmen that they're making the situation a bit worse by offering to put people's names on a waiting list, creating some angst among citizens.

Knickerbocker says they are prepared to administer the vaccine, with the health department bringing qualified volunteers on board for that work.

The first doses the town receives will be administered to first responders.

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Danbury Health Department answers questions about allergic reactions to COVID vaccine

There are early reports of an allergic reaction to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in health care workers across the world as the first groups of people are administered doses of the vaccine.  That has raised some questions by the general public. 

Danbury's Acting Health Director, Kara Prunty, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration co-manage a program for vaccine safety.  The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System is used to collect any data on adverse events. 

She noted that there is a difference between a side effect and an adverse event.  A side effect is any health problem shown through studies, such as a fever, or unrelated health problems that occur whether the vaccine was administered or not.  An adverse event is a true reaction to the vaccine, such as common known effects and/or allergic reactions. 

Healthcare providers are required to report certain adverse events following the vaccine administration.

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Bethel again offers property tax deferment program

Bethel is offering qualified taxpayers the opportunity to delay payment of real estate, property and utility taxes, charges and assessments for 90 days.  The tax deferment program, authorized in one of Governor Lamont's executive orders, is open to residents, non-profits and businesses, including landlords. To qualify, taxpayers must attest that their income has decreased by at least 20% during the emergency period due to layoffs, furloughs, business closures or other factor related to COVID-19.  Tax bills due January 1st will each be eligible for the 90-day deferral.  There is an application that has to be filled out by February 1st, even if taxpayers haven't yet received the bill. 

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Local lawmaker wants to make voting in Conn. easier

With the relative success of Connecticut's expanded absentee balloting in the November election, a local lawmaker is looking to permanently make voting easier in the state. 

Ridgefield state Senator Will Haskell says the community responded to the temporary accessibility by voting at historic rates, setting new turnout records.  As the Vice-Chairman of the Government Administration and Elections Committee, he plans to introduce Early Voting, something 40 other states already offer. 

Haskell also called for the ability to request an absentee ballot online. By bringing elections into the 21st century, he says Connecticut can build a government that is more inclusive, more functional and more representative.

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Danbury student awarded scholarship from CCM

Two Connecticut students have been awarded scholarships from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.  During the virtual convention earlier this month, the Danbury and Southington students were each awarded a thousand dollar scholarships, sponsored by Post University. 

In an effort to engage young people with local government, CCM asked middle and high school students from to consider the topic of what is cool about local government.  Applicants could submit an essay, poem, photo, painting, video, multimedia project, or any other medium. 

CCM says both winners had a unique vision of local government.

Katherine Pano Lalvay, an eighth grader from the Broadview Middle School in Danbury, put together a slideshow about the City and what services and places she likes to go.  She also suggested what would make Danbury cooler, with activities like zip lining and arts and crafts, as well as making Danbury a cleaner, safer place for families. 

The Southington 9th grader created a dress featuring symbols of local government. 

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