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Local Headlines Archives for 2021-03

State Police ID driver of Tuesday's rollover truck crash

State Police have identified the truck driver who was uninjured in a highway rollover that closed I-84 eastbound from the morning until the evening commute.  Troopers say 53-year old Heriberto Martin-cabrera of North Carolina lost control and struck the concrete barrier in the right shoulder.  The cargo load fell off and damaged an exit sign.  The trucker was issued a ticket for failure to maintain the proper lane of travel and operating with an unsecured load.  The truck was completely destroyed by fire and its remains were towed from the scene.

(Photo: Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue)

Stark differences in municipal vaccination rates in Greater Danbury

Bridgewater and Southbury have reported the highest percentage of their town's population receiving at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while Danbury is reporting the lowest rate in the region.  Local officials have attributed this, in part, to the age of the population in the municipalities.  Danbury just over 20-percent of the population partially vaccinated where as Bridgewater and Southbury are at about 42-percent each.

WestCOG accepting comments on Hazard Mitigation Plan for Greater Danbury area

Today is the final day to submit comment on a Hazard Mitigation Plan for the Greater Danbury area.  Western Connecticut Council of Governments, the regional planning agency spanning Sherman to Stamford, has released a draft Multi-Jurisdictional plan for the 18 communities.  The Hazard Mitigation Plan will help municipal officials understand risks and take steps to reduce natural hazard impacts.  Comments can be submitted to WestCOG via email and the draft can be viewed on the organization's website.

Truck driver uninjured in fiery highway rollover

A truck driver was uninjured in a rollover accident on I-84 in Newtown yesterday morning that closed the highway until the evening commute. The eastbound side of the highway was closed from around 7:30am until 5pm. The Westbound side around the Rochambeau Bridge reopened earlier, around 1pm.  The truck was carrying wood, which spilled all over the highway.  Two Good Samaritans pulled the driver to safety before the truck caught fire.  A diesel spill required extensive cleanup.  A bridge inspector also responded to the scene. 

Local lawmaker applauds extension of outdoor dining activity

The State Senate has voted unanimously to extend outdoor dining activity at restaurants through March 31, 2022. 

Danbury Senator Julie Kushner says expanded outdoor dining was clearly a bright spot when considering the hardships and restrictions that came with this public health crisis.  While this was helpful to restaurants throughout her district, Kushner believes this could potential help in revitalizing Danbury’s downtown, and lead to many positive changes.  

Local zoning officials can allow or expand outdoor dining through an expedited approval process by granting permits without significant paperwork such as site surveys or traffic studies, outside of information that could impact public health, safety or the environment. Any applications filed would be responded to within ten days of receipt, and any appeals process after a potential rejection would need to be filed within a week. 

In the future, the legislation could be expanded to enable permanent expanded outdoor dining in its current state.

Danbury man allegedly threatens businessman using hate speech, impersonates cop

A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly threatening a local business owner, using derogatory ethnic remarks and hate speech.  Police received a complaint Monday from a businessman saying Austin Merritt Nolan accused him of dumping debris in Easton.  The victim denied the accusation, but Nolan allegedly threaten the individual with severe physical injury and destroying his business equipment. 

During the phone call, when asked who he was, he reportedly provided a name stated that he was a Danbury Police Officer. 

When officers later contacted Nolan by phone, he was belligerent and used foul language and derogatory comments about police officers.  Nolan was located at a local hotel where he was charged with Threatening, Harassment, Intimidation Based on Bigotry or Biased, Impersonation of a Police Officer, and Breach of Peace

Brookfield Police acquire body cameras for all members

Every Brookfield Police officer is now equipped with a body-worn camera.  All sworn personnel have received online and in house training on the use and functionality of the cameras, which were delivered in January. 

The Brookfield Police Department has been using in-car dash cams since the early 90s.  The state’s police accountability legislation requires all officers to wear body cameras and have in-dash cameras by July 1, 2022. 

Brookfield Police say the body cameras offer transparency and accountability by building trust and confidence between police and the community.  Officials hope the cameras will help deescalate situations and improve interactions.  After an incident occurs, the Department plans to use the footage as a training opportunity to improve and update best practices. 

The $220,000 cost will be spread out over 5 years as a recurring operating expense.  A state grant will cover 30 percent of the full cost.

New Fairfield official critical of eased gathering, business restrictions

Connecticut's daily test positivity rate has jumped to 5.26 percent.  Hospitalizations across the state have climbed back over 500 for the first time in about a month. Connecticut is behind only New Jersey and New York for the number of COVID-19 cases in the country. 

New Fairfield is in the top 5 municipalities in Connecticut for COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 residents. 

Selectman Kim Hanson says the town is not doing as well as it should in terms of not transmitting the disease.  He notes that cases keep increasing and urged residents to try as individuals to buckle down on masking and distancing to get the community as a whole through the ongoing public health emergency. 

Hanson, a Republican, says he was not happy Democratic Governor Lamont eased some restrictions March 19th on gathering size nd business guidelines.  She says sometimes fewer executive orders are great, but right now, in New Fairfield, Hanson says there's very high transmission. 

He remains concerned about cooperation with contact tracers and small social gatherings.

New Milford secures additional J&J COVID-19 vaccine doses

New Milford has received 400 more doses of Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine than expected from the state.  A special clinic is being planned for Saturday for essential and front-line workers over the age of 18.  It will be held at the Pettibone Community Center after the regularly scheduled 2nd dose clinic.  Health Director Lisa Morrissey told the Newstimes that based on demand, the special clinics will continue April 10th.  Appointments for next week will be loaded to the town’s online portal on Friday.  Morrissey also says an anonymous donor gifted New Milford with a Pfizer-capable freezer, and the state gave the town a smaller portable unit, anticipating warm weather vaccine administration.  The town planned to buy an ultra-cold freezer, but it's on backorder and there's no planned delivery date.

Danbury Police Union sending support to member with COVID-19 complications

On Saturday night, members of the Danbury Police Union stood together outside Danbury Hospital to show support for a fellow member.  Lt Vincent Daniello was airlifted for continuing, specialized care of complications from COVID-19.  On Monday night, the union asked that others light a candle and say a prayer to strengthen Daniello's spirit on his road to recovery.  He was the driving force behind, and star of, two viral recruitment videos for the Danbury Police Department.

I-84 closed in both directions at Rochambeau Bridge

I-84 is closed in both directions around the Rochambeau Bridge.  A tractor-trailer overturned on the highway between Newtown and Southbury shortly before 7:30 this morning. 

The truck was carrying wood, which spilled all over the highway.  State Police say the driver wasn't hurt.  Danbury resident Carlos Ruiz, who also drives a truck, witnessed the accident.  He and Brayan Grullon jumped on the cab of the vehicle to help pull the driver to safety before the truck caught fire.  After calling 911, he recorded video from the scene.  

(Video Courtesy: Carlos Ruiz *caution language*)

There's a significant diesel spill which will require extensive clean up efforts.  Ruiz says they saw fluid spilling like a waterfall and jumped to action.  A woman at the accident site witnessed the Good Samaritans in action and said they acted heroically to get the driver to safety.

Sandy Hook firefighters along with the assistance of Newtown Hook & Ladder extinguished the blaze. Southbury Fire was also called to the scene.

(Photo: Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue)

Conn. first in nation to have FEMA mobile vaccine van clinics

Staff inside the new mobile COVID-19 vaccination unit from the Federal Emergency Management Agency began administering doses Monday in Bridgeport, the first of a 60-day effort to reach as many people as possible living in Connecticut’s socially vulnerable neighborhoods and to improve vaccination rates in targeted municipalities.

About 200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were expected to be administered at Beardsley Zoo. The state’s largest city, Bridgeport currently has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Connecticut. Officials plan to ramp up that amount to about 400 doses a day, ultimately vaccinating about 3,400 people in Bridgeport over the next 10 days as the mobile unit visits five locations, including a public housing community.

Ultimately, the FEMA van is expected to visit 17 different locations in Connecticut over the 60-day period. After Bridgeport, it’s next scheduled to be parked at the New Haven Green. Other communities include Danbury, East Hartford, Hartford, Killingly, Meriden, Middletown, New Britain, New London, North Canaan, Norwalk, Norwich, Stamford, Waterbury, Windham and Winsted.

Hartford Healthcare, UConn Health, Griffin Health and Trinity Health of New England will provide staffing for the FEMA mobile unit while the Connecticut National Guard and municipal employees will provide non-clinical staffing. The unit is equipped to administer all three FDA-approved vaccines.

U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn. said the state’s congressional delegation, which submitted the grant request application for the mobile unit through a competitive process, plans to seek a second van to come to Connecticut for another 60 days.

Hayes said the van will be able to serve urban communities where there are language barriers as well as rural farming communities where the nearest health care facility is many miles away. At the same time, she predicted it will “help restore confidence” because families will be able to get vaccinated together.

Hearing to be held on proposed cancer treatment center in Danbury

The state Office of Health Strategy is holding a public hearing on Thursday about a proposed cancer treatment center in Danbury.  The $80 million facility seeks to use a novel type of radiation to kill more tumor cells and less healthy tissue.  The hearing is to determine whether the proposal from Danbury Proton is needed in Connecticut.  Spokesman Drew Crandall says similar centers in Boston and New York City are turning patients away because they can't handle the caseload.  This facility would be located on Wooster Heights Road.  The state Office of Health Strategy deemed the application complete.  Once the hearing is complete, the OHS will make a decision.  Danbury's land use commissions would next consider the application.  Another proton therapy center has been proposed in Wallingford, a partnership between Hartford HealthCare and the Yale New Haven Health System. 

A Danbury dog park is closed for repairs

One of Danbury's dog parks will be temporarily closed for repairs.  The new park at Marjorie Reservoir is closed today and tomorrow for fencing repairs.  Mayor Joe Cavo thanked residents for their patience as the City works to maintain a safe environment for everyone's furry friends.  The 2.5 acre park has been open for about a year.  The City's other dog park is located on Miry Brook Road near the airport and remains open.

Part of Still River Greenway in Brookfield remains closed for maintenance

Part of the Still River Greenway in Brookfield remains closed for routine maintenance.  The popular walking path was closed last week so work could be done on the pedestrian bridge.  Today is the last day of the March expected closures.  There is no access to the bridge from either direction while work is in progress.  If entering the Greenway from the northern section, the Town Center District, Brookfield residents should be prepared to turn around before the bridge, or consider using only the southern section of the Greenway.  Parking for the southern section is available in the lot next to the Brookfield Police Department or at Brookfield Town Hall.  Additional weekday closures of the pedestrian bridge will take place the week of April 5-9, weather permitting.

Danbury creates site for comment on City's Master Plan

A new website has been launched by Danbury officials to collect public comment on the City's master plan.  City Planning Director Sharon Calitro says there will be a number of opportunities for residents to comment on the plan as it's updated this year and next.  The 10 year plan includes priorities and schedule for decisions about housing, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, city facilities, open space, and natural resources. Municipalities are required by the state to  update their master plans every decade. Calitro views this as a vision for the future and wants the public to weigh in to help the City develop goals and recommendations to address Danbury’s needs.

Local lawmaker wants Conn. to allow Tesla sales

Redding state Senator Will Haskell has been named the Senate Chairman of the Transportation Committee.  He says it's time for Connecticut to invest in green infrastructure, create good-paying jobs and help people get where they need to go.  Haskell notes that Connecticut laws do not allow electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla to sell their cars directly to consumers because the state requires car manufacturers to sell through car dealerships.  He says that restricts choice and sends many potential electric-vehicle buyers into other states to make the purchase.  He has introduced a bill to amend state statutes to allow electric vehicle manufacturers with sustainable business models and electric-only production to sell their cars in Connecticut.

Bethel COVID-19 rate ticks up

Bethel's rate of new COVID-19 infections drop down to a low of 3-percent three weeks ago, but then climb back to 4.6 percent the following week and now 5.9 percent last week.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says medical experts attribute much of the rise to the presence of several of the more infectious variants of the virus now spreading in the state. Even as the governor continues to ease restrictions on gathering sizes and business activities, Knickerbocker urged residents to still be careful, practice social distancing and wearing masks.

Longtime DHS head football coach remembered

The City is mourning the loss of Eugene Edwards who died on Saturday.  "Gus," as he was affectionately known, was the longtime head football coach at Danbury High, leading teams from the late 60s into the 80s.  Edwards also served as a guidance counselor and being remembered as instrumental in many post-high school graduates' athletic and academic careers.  Coach Eugene "Gus" Edwards was 87.  Graveside Service will be held on April 5 at 11am at Mountain View Cemetery in New Fairfield. Those attending are required to wear face covering and observe social distancing protocol.  The funeral home has a link to a livestream.

Brookfield Police Dive Team completes ice diving certification

Members of the Brookfield Police Dive Team have completed a rigorous two-day ice diving certification course.  Company officials say the certification is dangerous and challenging both physically and mentally, and Brookfield is the only police dive team in the area with this certification, enabling them to be operational 365 days a year. 

Increase in COVID-19 cases reported in Brookfield

Brookfield remains in the COVID alert Red Zone.  In the last two weeks reported, there have been 85 new cases of the virus in Brookfield.  The rate per 100,000 residents is 35.7, up from 27.7 last week. The positivity rate for Brookfield is now 5.9 percent up from 4.6 percent last week. This is a 28-percent increase across the board from last week and is the second week in a row that cases have increased.

Hearing by Danbury Zoning Commission closed on proposed change for controversial senior living project

The Danbury Zoning Commission has closed a public hearing on a legislative change that could pave the way for a controversial senior living project.  BRT Sconset wants Zoning Regulations amended to add Cluster Active Adult Development to two single family dwelling zones. 

Developer Dan Bertram has proposed a 100-unit age-restricted apartment building just north of Danbury High School on Clapboard Ridge Road.  If the Danbury Zoners allow the change for the age-restricted development, opponents say there would be nothing to prevent other developers from proposing multi-family residences leading to so-called zone creep.  Those against the plan say development firms could buy up small single-family lots to make a qualifying property, gradually eroding a neighborhood’s integrity. 

A 15-acre luxury home development with 37 single-family homes approved before the Great Recession was never completed.  The updated proposed $10 million age-restricted apartments would sit on properties totaling at least 10 acres.

New Fairfield has 5th highest COVID-19 infection rate of all Conn. municipalities

There have been 58 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield over the course of the past week.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says New Fairfield continues to have an infection rate and test positivity rate well above State averages.  The infection rate has increased to 42 cases per 100,000 people and test positivity is 7.4 percent, making New Fairfield the 5th highest infection rate out of 169 Towns in the state.  Even though some COVID restrictions have been relaxed in Connecticut, Del Monaco urged residents to continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing.  State data indicates that nearly 29-percent of New Fairfield residents have been vaccinated, including 83% of residents over the age of 65 and close to 100% of residents over the age of 75. 

Three people arrested on drug, risk of injury charges

Three people have been arrested on drug related charges in Danbury.  On Friday, 31-year old Christopher West of Danbury was arrested following an investigation into resident complaints about illegal drug sales in the City. 

Police set up surveillance of West at his home and followed him to a nearby street where an alleged drug sale was observed. Medesia Danzy was charged with two counts of possession and released. 

When officers went to search his home, West's wife Tanisha West ignored requests for compliance and violently resisted, kicking one of the investigators and attempting to bite another. The couple's 5-year old daughter was home at the time.  31-year old Tanisha West was arrested for assault on an officer, risk of injury to a child, interfering with a search and 5 drug possession charges.

Christopher West was charged with risk of injury, 6 counts of possession of a controlled substance and 4 counts of possession with intent to sell.

Candlelight vigil is planned tonight outside Danbury Hospital

A candlelight vigil is planned tonight outside Danbury Hospital to honor pandemic victims and sacrifices made during the ongoing public health emergency.  AFT Connecticut, a union which includes nurses, is holding the vigil.  They will also be collecting nonperishable food items outside of the hospital, which will be donated to local food pantries for their continued support of families experiencing ongoing hardships related to the pandemic.  The first COVID-19 patient in Connecticut was a Wilton resident who sought medical care at Danbury Hospital.  Tonight's vigil and food drive is at 6pm.

Bridgewater officials remind residents of tax deadline

In response to a gubernatorial Executive Order, Bridgewater offered a low-interest tax relief program. This allowed any taxpayer who paid the January installment amount due after February 1st to be charged a quarter percent per month interest from the original due date.  The last day to take advantage of this lower interest will be this Wednesday. Any January installment amount due remaining unpaid will then be charged interest back to January 1st at the statutory 1.5-percent per month.  The minimum interest charge is $2. Proof of on time delivery requires a U.S. postmark or in-office delivery.  Payments may also be made online at 

Driver hospitalized following crash into utility pole

One person was transported to the hospital following a Friday morning car accident in Newtown involving a utility pole.  Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue responded to Riverside Road shortly before 7am on a report of a snapped pole with a transformer on it. Wires were reportedly sparking at the time. A police officer on the scene reported that the 40-year-old male driver was reporting chest pain. The vehicle was towed from the scene.

Danbury Public Schools to remain hybrid through end of school year

Danbury Superintendent of Schools Dr Sal Pascarella has announced to the Board of Ed that the district will remain in a hybrid learning model for the foreseeable future.  Danbury administrators were working to bring more students back full time next month, but Pascarella says space limitations and other challenges made this too difficult.  District officials now turn their attention to plans for summer-school programs and to reopen for every student in the fall.  School health coordinators say most educators will get their second dose this Friday and Saturday.  That means they will no longer need to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus.

Danbury Police arrest man for alleged sex assaults

Danbury Police have arrested a 33-year old man on several counts of sexual assault and impairing the morals of a minor. Police received a complaint in November 2019 about the abuse of a 12-year old girl. The suspect was identified as Jaun Perez-Barbahona. Detectives learned that the offenses spanned several years. An 11-year-old female was also identified as an additional victim. Several attempts to locate Perez-Barbahona were unsuccessful and Immigration and Customs Enforcement later confirmed he fled the country days after the initial complaint was made. A warrant for his arrest was granted last April. Earlier this month Danbury Police received a notice from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol that Perez-Barbahona was being detained in Texas. On Friday, Danbury Police took custody of Perez-Barbahona and transported him back to Connecticut, where he is currently being held on a court set bond of $250,000. He face 3 counts of Sexual Assault 1st Degree, 3 counts of Sexual Assault 4th Degree, 7 counts of Risk of Injury: Sexual Contact, and 7 counts of Risk of Injury: Impairing the Morals of a Minor.

Danbury City Council to hold three committee meetings tomorrow

A group of Danbury City Council members will meet virtually tomorrow night to review governmental entities slated for termination.  The review committee will meet at 6pm.  Among the entities slated to end June 30th, unless re-established, are the Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Danbury Aquifer Protection Agency, Fair Rent Commission, Board of Ethics, and The Charles Ives Authority for the Performing Arts.  There are also groups slated to sunset in 2022, 2023 and 2025.

The Danbury City Council is also holding an ad hoc committee meeting tomorrow night about a lease of property on Airport Road.  Jay Earl owns property on Kenosia Avenue which adjoins the Leased Premises. Jay Earl intends to convey the property to an LLC. As the holder of title, he has the right to assign the Lease to each successor holder with the prior written consent of the City.  The virtual meeting tomorrow is 6:30pm.

An Ad-Hoc Committee is meeting tomorrow night about accepting a private road.  Some Flintlock Drive residents have signed a petition seeking to have their properties connected to City utilities via assessment method.  The virtual committee meeting is at 7pm.

Danbury lawmaker has reminder to people on unemployment

Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner is offering a reminder to people who became unemployed at the start of the pandemic last year and are still on unemployment.  Those individuals will need to re-file to continue to receive benefits. Each unemployment claim is valid for 52 weeks, which means that thousands of residents who first filed last March will need to file again this month.

Ridgefield Social Services creates video to help navigate VAMS

As more people become eligible for COVID-19 vaccine appointments in Connecticut, there are still some older residents who have been unable to find conveniently located appointments.  There have also been some frustration with the VAMS portal. Ridgefield Social Services has created a new video to help guide residents through the Vaccine Administration Management System.  The video can be found on the town's Facebook page.

Virtual public hearing in Bethel on proposed budget

A virtual public hearing has been scheduled in Bethel to discuss the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  The hearing is set for 7pm via Zoom.  The Board of Finance cut $660,000 from the proposed plan, which would keep the spending increase to 1.9 percent.  The budget calls for $49-million for the schools and $32.8 million  on the municipal side.  The Board of Education asked for little more than a 3-percent increase, but most of the spending cut came to their plan, bringing the increase to 2.25 percent.  The municipal budget includes $350,000 for school building maintenance, $5.8 million in debt service and $26.7 million for town operations.  Some of the proposed cuts came from the Parks and Rec Department budget, assuming there will still be COVID-19 restrictions.

Connecticut recognized for commemorative Suffragist 'I Voted' Stickers

Connecticut’s commemorative Suffragist “I Voted” Stickers were named a 2020 Clearinghouse Award winner by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission for their depiction of Connecticut women who fought for women’s suffrage and voting rights. The project was initiated by Wilton resident Pamela Hovland, a graphic designer and faculty member at Yale University.  She spent months researching and writing about the suffrage movement.  Secretary of the State Denise Merrill says the project was started to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which ultimately gave women the right to vote.  The Commission received a record-breaking 137 submissions, more than tripling the 2019 totals.  The awards are for best practices in election administration and innovative efforts of election officials.

Historical Society selects firm to conduct research into Battle of Ridgefield

The Ridgefield Historical Society has selected Heritage Consultants LLC of Newington to conduct research into the Battle of Ridgefield.  The firm's principals have extensive experience with historical sites in Connecticut. 

The Ridgefield Historical Society was awarded a National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program grant for the study following the discovery of several Revolutionary War era skeletons beneath a home being renovated.  Heritage Consultants’ work will include historical research of relevant military, Colonial and Revolutionary War documents, interviews with knowledgeable individuals, local informants and landowners; review of secondary sources related to Battle events; historical archeological research; military terrain analysis; Global Positioning Systems and Geographic Information Systems applications; and windshield and walkover surveys of the Battlefield Study and Core Areas. 

A final report is due by the end of December. 

The Battle of Ridgefield took place in April 1777 when William Tryon and soldiers were on their way back to ships off Westport after the British had destroyed Continental Army supplies in Danbury. Led by Benedict Arnold, the American forces were overrun by the British. 

Dr. Kevin McBride, David George and Dr. David Naumec are the leads on the project. Dr. McBride has more than 40 years’ experience in Colonial and Native history and the archeology of southern New England; he has directed 14 NPS ABPP projects in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Mr. George has 30 years’ experience in southern New England archaeology; he has focused on Connecticut in the late prehistoric, Contact Period, and early historic periods. He also has been involved in researching and excavating at Revolutionary War-era residences and at Fort Griswold in Groton. Dr. Naumec has 20 years’ experience in Colonial and American history and specializes in African and Native American history, American military history and Connecticut history. He has served as military historian and field coordinator on 14 NPS ABPP projects with Dr. McBride.

Bridgewater First Selectman has message about vaccine hesitancy

As of last Thursday, Bridgewater had 32-percent of the town's entire population partially vaccinated against COVID-19 with a first dose administered.  But First Selectman Curtis Read had a message for those who have not yet scheduled an appointment.  He said in a message posted to the town's website that there is resistance by a large percentage of men and others who think they are exercising their personal freedom or protecting themselves from unknown health effects.  Read encouraged those with reservations to reconsider and follow the advice of health experts.  He notes that countries without effective vaccination roll-outs are experiencing a “third wave” or worse, like Italy, hospitals that are overwhelmed again. Read ended by saying that the community can only get over the finish line to “herd immunity” if enough people follow the advice of all living past U.S. Presidents.

Fence put up at site of future school in Brookfield

Construction equipment is now on site at the Brookfield property home to a future pre-kindergarten-through-fifth-grade school.  The town is preparing for the building of the new Candlewood Lake Elementary School.  Ground breaking is not expected until later in the Spring, but a perimeter fence has been put up around the site of the school to replace Huckleberry Hill and Center schools.  5th graders will be moved out of the portable classrooms outside Whisconier Middle School into the new school.  The building is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2022 school year.  Brookfield residents approved little more than 78-million dollars for the project, with $16.7 million to be reimbursed by the state.  Families were surveyed on a possible name for the new building, with the Board of Education making the final decision. 

Conn. Congressional delegation tout House passage of Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has voted for the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.  She says it builds upon the progress forged over the two-and-a-half decades since this legislation was first passed. 

Hayes noted that since then, the rate of domestic violence in America has fallen by half.  But 1 in 3 women still experience domestic violence. 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes is touting the inclusion of a version of the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act in the reauthorization of VAWA.  The measure he introduced expands the definition of “intimate partner” to include dating relationships and also prevent people subject to emergency or temporary protective orders from possessing guns.

Lori Jackson was a 32 years old Oxford resident murdered by her estranged husband who legally obtained a firearm even though he was subject to a temporary restraining order.

New Fairfield makes progress in vaccinating residents against COVID-19

The infection rate for COVID 19 in New Fairfield continues to rise and First Selectman Pat Del Monaco encouraged everyone to continue to wear a mask and to practice social distancing.  Approximately 20-percent of New Fairfield residents have been vaccinated.  New Fairfield continues to make progress in COVID-19 vaccine administration.  Selectman Khris Hall noted that 500 doses of the vaccine were given last week. This includes 200 second doses of the Moderna shot, 200 first doses of the Moderna shot and 100 shots of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

New York State Police St. Patrick's Day DWI enforcement efforts continuing 

New York State Police are continuing St. Patrick’s Day DWI enforcement efforts through Sunday.  Troopers are reminding drivers who get behind the wheel after drinking face jail time, loss of license, higher insurance rate and a fine.  New York State Police say drunk driving kills more than 10,000 people each year in this country, and 1 person every 52 minutes dies of an alcohol related crash and every one of those deaths is preventable.

Fund Our Future Speak-Out in Danbury rescheduled to next week

An event dubbed Fund Our Future Speak-Out was supposed to take place in Danbury this week, but has been postponed due to inclement weather.  People will gather next week to call for a state budget that creates fairness and opportunities in schools and communities.  This is an effort by Recovery For All, a coalition of community, faith, and labor organizations seeking to reduce income inequality and ensure that Connecticut’s economic recovery is shared by all.

Two Newtown residents test positive for COVID-19 variant first found in California

108 of Connecticut's 169 municipalities are in the state's Red Alert Zone for high community spread of COVID-19.  Most of the Greater Danbury area is reporting more than 15 cases per 100,000 population.  Bridgewater, Kent and Warren are in the lowest alert zone.

Connecticut has stepped up genomic testing of COVID-19 results.

A Norwalk resident has been identified as the first case in Connecticut of a COVID-19 variant first detected in California. Three positive results of another California variant were also detected in two Newtown residents and one from Griswold.  A Guilford resident tested positive for the state's first case of a strain first found in Brazil. 

There have been a total now of 283 cases detected of the so-called U.K. variant and 7 cases of the South African strain, including one each in Danbury and New Milford.

Local burn permits suspended today due to forest fire danger

The Forest Fire Danger Level for today is High.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection corrected the rating given the forecasted high afternoon wind gusts.  Greater Danbury area fire officials caution that any brush burning permits are not valid today because of the rating.

Neighbors alert firefighters to Newtown house fire

A neighbor called 911 on Monday evening to report a possible structure fire in Newtown.  Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire Department responded to the single-story ranch home on Botsford Hill Road. Another neighbor reportedly went toward the house with a garden hose while help was being summoned.  Hook & Ladder and Hawleyville were then added to the call, as was at least one fire marshal. Botsford Fire Rescue Chief Andrew White was first to the scene and found that the siding on the northwest corner of the unoccupied house was burning.

No people, animals injured in Monroe barn fire

Shortly after midnight Thursday Monroe, Stevenson and Stepney Volunteer Fire were called to lower Barn Hill Road for a barn fire. The 4-stall, 2-story barn and surrounding storage piles were heavily involved in flames with a significant fire load inside. Monroe and Shelton crews had to work for three hours to fully extinguish the fire.  No one was injured and no animals were involved. EMS and police provided support on scene.   The cause appears unintentional and is under investigation by the fire marshal.

Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield awarded Arts Projects grant

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield has been awarded a $20,000 Arts Projects grant from the National Endowments for the Arts.  The money will be used to fund the production costs for their exhibit “52 Women Artists: Revisiting a Feminist Milestone.” The Aldrich will restage their 1972 exhibition Twenty-Six Contemporary Women Artists juxtaposed with works by contemporary artists.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes says supporting museums and artists during this pandemic is crucial to preserving  Southwest Connecticut’s culture and local economy.  He noted that The Aldrich’s exhibit is important in recognizing female artists who are underrepresented in many artistic fields. 

Hate crime charge added in state Capitol spitting incident

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut prosecutors have added hate crime and other charges against a white woman who spat on a Black woman during protests at the state Capitol in January, Hartford State’s Attorney Sharmese Walcott announced Thursday.

Yuliya Gilshteyn, 44, of New Fairfield, was initially charged with breach of peace. The new charges include deprivation of rights under the state’s hate crime law, attempted assault, reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a child. She acknowledges what she did was wrong but denies it was a hate crime, her lawyer said.

The spitting occurred during large protests outside the state Capitol on Jan. 6, the same day as the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Video shows Gilshteyn, who opposes mandatory childhood vaccinations, spitting on Keren Prescott, who was among Black Lives Matter activists. Several groups rallied for various causes that day, the first of the new legislative session.

Walcott said the charges were upgraded after investigators reviewed video and talked to witnesses.

“The follow-up investigation ... confirmed that what occurred in Hartford on January 6, 2021 was much more than a breach of peace,” Walcott said in a statement. “An assault launched against a person on account of their race as they are exercising their First Amendment right and freedom cannot be tolerated.”

Gilshteyn’s lawyer, Ioannis Kaloidis, denied there was a hate crime.

“This was not racially motivated,” Kaloidis said in a phone interview Thursday. “This was an unfortunate incident. My client feels horrible. It was a reaction. It was a heated environment. It was wrong for her to do, but it was not based on race.”

Kaloidis declined to say why Gilshteyn spat on Prescott, saying the answer will likely be given during court proceedings.

Gilshteyn is free on a promise to appear in court. Her next court date is May 19.

Prescott, founder of the social justice group Power Up CT, told The Associated Press on Thursday evening that she felt some sense of justice in prosecutors filing the hate crime charge.

“If we don’t put a name to what this stuff is, how the hell are we going to fix it?” she asked. “How can we move to unity? How can we move to liberation? How can we move toward justice if we’re not even going to acknowledge these types of acts for what they are?”

Prescott said she and a friend were shouting “Black Lives Matter” and other slogans at the protests when Gilshteyn told her all lives matter and an argument ensued. Prescott said she also told Gilshteyn to back up because she wasn’t wearing a mask amid the coronavirus pandemic. Gilshteyn then spit at her face, hitting her glasses and mask, Prescott said.

“She walked past white people in order to get to me to spit on me, white people who were also yelling Black Lives Matter,’” Prescott said. “She didn’t go to them and spit in their face and say, ‘all lives matter.’ No. She came to Black woman and spat in my face, a Black woman who was yelling for racism to be declared a public health crisis, a Black woman who was out there yelling for Black lives to matter. That’s who she spat on.

Prescott said it left her shaken and upset, and she found it difficult and sad that she had to explain it to her three children.

Extensive tree trimming planned in Wilton, Ridgefield by Eversource

As part of its comprehensive vegetation management plan for this year, Eversource will be trimming trees along more than 42-hundred miles of overhead distribution lines around the state.  Among the 126 communities where tree trimming will be performed, some of the most extensive work is scheduled to be done in Wilton along more than 131 miles of roads. Other communities where tree work will be completed include Ridgefield, Canterbury, and Stamford. Eversource notifies customers in advance if work is necessary on their property.  The energy company reminds customers that homeowners are responsible for tree maintenance on their own property. That includes keeping branches away from the lower-voltage service wires connecting their homes and businesses to the main utility lines on the street. Eversource strongly recommends customers contact a professional tree service to perform this work.

Police: Teen armed with hatchet injures female juvenile

WATERTOWN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut teenager armed with a hatchet severely wounded a girl he was obsessed with at her home and was arrested after fleeing the scene by jumping out of a second-story window, police said Thursday.

Police in Watertown responded to the home at about 4 p.m. Wednesday and found the victim with serious injuries to her head, legs and hands, apparently inflicted by an edged weapon, authorities said. She was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive, authorities said.

Police said at a news conference Thursday that the teenage boy appeared to be obsessed with the victim and the attack was not random.

A relative of the victim called 911 and another chased the suspect, who jumped out a second-story window and ran away, authorities said.

Police said the suspect was a 16-year-old Watertown boy, who told officers his location when they called him on the phone. He was charged with attempted murder, home invasion and other crimes. His name was not released because of juvenile offender laws.

Authorities said they found a hatchet, large kitchen knife, machete, duct tape and binoculars at the scene when they arrested the teen, who was detained pending juvenile court proceedings.

New Fairfield/Sherman Vaccination Clinic adds appointments

The New Fairfield/Sherman Vaccination Clinic has added a number of slots into VAMS for COVID-19 vaccination appointments in clinics on Saturdays, March 20th and 27th, and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday of next week.  These appointments are available today for those over the age of 45 or for those who are medical first responders: work in education, childcare, or healthcare and can show proof of such employment.  In all cases, people must live or work in Connecticut to receive a vaccination from this clinic.

Nuvance to transition vaccine administration out of hospital settings

As COVID-19 vaccines eligibility expands and vaccinations continue over the next several months, Nuvance Health is going to administer more doses to eligible individuals outside of the hospital setting.  Today is the last day for the Danbury Hospital Clinic.  Starting Monday, vaccines will be administered at the Danbury Fair Mall drive-through site, including scheduled second doses for anyone vaccinated at Danbury Hospital through today.  The last day for first doses at the New Milford Hospital Clinic will be next Friday and second doses will be administered through April 23rd. Moving forward, Nuvance Health will continue partnering with the New Milford Health Department to administer vaccines at community sites.  Nuvance Health Medical Practice is administering vaccines at Danbury Primary Care with plans to expand to other practices based on available supply.

Ridgefield awarded state Open Space grant

Ridgefield has been awarded a state Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition grant.  $42,000 is coming to the town from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  The money will be used to add more area to Bear Mountain preserve.  The money will partially pay for about 14 acres adjacent to Hemlock Hills, allowing Ridgefield to connect a three-acre parcel of town-owned space to the 386-acre Hemlock Hills lot in the Bear Mountain area.  Nearly 26-percent of Ridgefield is considered open space and the Conservation Commission has a goal to protect 30-percent of Ridgefield's overall land as open space.

New Milford announces plans for full return to in-person learning

New Milford School District officials have announced plans for all students to come back into the classroom full time.  Middle and High Schoolers will come back for full in-person learning on April 26th.  In the meantime, they will have a half-day of in-person instruction each Wednesday, with the two cohorts rotating every week.  New Milford Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo said in a newsletter to families that about 85-percent of students are expected to be back for full in-person learning.  Pre-K- through- second-grade students returned at the start of the month, and 3rd through 5th graders returned on Monday.  Parents can still chose a remote or hybrid schedule. All New Milford Schools will be on remote learning for the week after Spring Break, April 19 through April 23.

Hatchet wielding teen arrested for home invasion, attempted murder

A 16-year old allegedly wielding a hatchet has been arrested for a home invasion Watertown and injuring a juvenile.  Police responded to a home on Morris Town Line Highway Wednesday afternoon and learned that the suspect fled into the woods. 

Family members were alerted to the intrusion and intervened in the assault before chasing the Watertown teen, who jumped out of a second story window.  The suspect and assailant were known to each other, though not close friends.  

The victim sustained serious but non-life threatening injuries to the head, legs and hands. 

Officers were able to make phone contact with the suspect who made his location known.  Investigators recovered a hatchet, large kitchen knife and a machete along with duct tape and binoculars. The juvenile was charged with criminal attempt at murder, home invasion, assault, reckless endangerment, stalking, risk of injury to a minor and burglary. 

The suspect targeted this juvenile specifically and this was not a random crime.  Based on his age, no further information will be released on the juvenile suspect.

State Police warn of attempted package theft in Bethlehem

There was an attempted incident of package theft in Bethlehem yesterday.  State Police say FedEx delivered a package to a residential address around 4pm and then a man arrived and tried to retrieve the package unsuccessfully. The vehicle used in this incident was a newer model, dark blue Dodge Challenger with a red stripe on the hood and roof, bearing New York license plates.  Troopers urge anyone who sees something to say something.  Connecticut State Police say interstate criminal organizations and their members commonly mail packages to residential addresses and wait nearby to retrieve them before a homeowner is even aware of the unexpected delivery.  

Southbury resident puts out wood stove fire with extinguisher

A Southbury resident called 911 Tuesday night to report that flames shot out of the stove pipe of their wood stove.  Firefighters responded to Chain Trail for the chimney fire, which the homeowner extinguished using their dry chem fire extinguisher.  Arriving units found heavy charring around the stove pipe and thoroughly wet it down.  With the amount of damage crews found, Southbury fire officials say there's little doubt the fire would have been much worse had it not been for the preparation of the home owners.

U.S. House votes to eliminate deadline for ERA ratification

A resolution to facilitate the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment has been approved by the U-S House.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes called it an historic day for women.  The resolution removes an arbitrary time limit previously set by Congress for the States to ratify the ERA, affirming women’s equality in the Constitution.  As the 28th Amendment, the ERA would create an explicit prohibition against sex discrimination in the nation’s foundational document.

Girl Scouts plan to sell 4 camps in Conn.

The Girl Scouts of Connecticut plans to sell 4 camps in order to fund improvements at other facilities in the state.  The sites include Camp Candlewood in New Fairfield  A facility in Milford is also slated for closure.  Operations at Camp Laurel in Lebanon would be moved  to the Yankee Trails camp in Tolland and the site sold off.  Camp Carlson in Bristol is a deed-restricted property not owned by the Girl Scouts of Connecticut, but currently not being used.

New age group eligible in Conn. for COVID-19 vaccines appointments tomorrow

There are multiple websites where Connecticut residents can check for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. The two pharmacy chains, CVS and Walgreens, allow people to make appointments directly through their websites.

The Vaccine Administration Management System, VAMS portal, has appointments listed for municipal clinics, Nuvance, Mall drive thru and others. includes the form to pre-register for access to the system. 

Some heath systems though have their own sign up portals.

Yale New Haven Health

Hartford Health Care Network

Stamford Health Network

Middlesex Health Network

People looking for appointments through VAMS must first fill out a pre-registration form.  An email will be sent to you from the CDC/DPH to create an account. When you log onto VAMS for the first time it will ask if you've registered before and you must click 'no' because the form that was previously filled out was only a pre-registration form confirming eligibility.  Then you can search for and book an appointment here

Nuvance official explains science behind three approved COVID-19 vaccines

The Newtown Chamber of Commerce recently held a virtual roundtable discussion with Nuvance Health President and CEO Dr John Murphy.  He discussed the differences between the three COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use in the United States.  The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses and storage in colder temperatures than the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine because they use different technology. 

Pfizer and Moderna use a fairly novel vaccine approach, although the mRNA technology has been available and studied for about 30 years.  Murphy says it uses the sequence of the virus.  It's plugged into RNA, a series of blueprints delivered into a cell, the cell then knows it's time to make a spike protein.  When the spike protein gets released by the cell, the body makes a robust production of antibodies so if the real virus appears with the real spikes, the body will recognize it as foreign and eliminate it. 

Murphy notes that both are remarkably effective, and put it in context of an annual flu vaccine.  The flu vaccine is typically 50-percent to 60-percent effective in any given year.  Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are 95-percent effective against mild, moderate and severe forms of COVID-19.  He notes it's 100-percent effective against severe disease, the kind that would land someone in a hospital or could be fatal.  

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is similar to a flu vaccine, where the virus doesn't have the ability to reproduce when it's introduced into the body.  Murphy says the virus is not infectious, but codes for the spike protein.  J&J is 100-percent effective against severe illness and death.

Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly selling drugs from hotel

A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly selling drugs in the City.  An investigation was launched weeks ago into multiple resident complaints about sales from Quality Inn on Federal Road. 

Police set up surveillance yesterday afternoon and followed 51-year old Christopher Carolina to a Triangle Street condo complex.  He was seen entering a car driven by 28-year old Sage Lundgren, but officers stopped the pair as they were in the middle of an illegal drug transaction.  Police gained entry into a hotel room rented by Carolina and an adult female, where they seized several grams of crack cocaine, a quantity of heroin, drug paraphernalia and U.S. currency. 

Carolina was charged with two counts each of possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to sell.  He was also charged with Criminal Attempt to Sell a Controlled Substance. 

Lundgren was charged with Criminal Attempt to Possess a Controlled Substance.

Stop & Shop to start offering J&J COVID-19 vaccine

Starting tomorrow, Connecticut residents 45 to 54 will be eligible to start signing up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the state is expected to receive additional doses in the next few weeks and asked residents making appointments through the Vaccine Administration Management System to have patience.  Starting today, certain Stop & Shop locations will be offering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in their pharmacies. More details are expected to be posted to their website today with details and which locations will be doing the vaccinations.

United Way of Western Conn. hires new staff members to better address food insecurity

The United Way of Western Connecticut has hired two new staff members to better address food insecurity in the 15 towns it serves. The new hires will work with community, state-wide, and national partners to ensure so-called ALICE, Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, families have access to healthy food. 

The two roles are the organization’s Food Policy Manager and the  Community Impact Program and Operations Coordinator.  The jobs cover the Healthy Savings program, the Age Well Community Council’s Ambassador Program and coordinating with the Danbury Food Collaborative.  The collaborative was launched in 2013 to better coordinate food resources in the city by bringing together food pantries and congregate meal providers to streamline food collection and distribution.

Tida Infahsaeng will now serve as the organization’s Food Policy Manager. In this position, she will develop and implement the strategic direction of food security programs, looking at the “big picture” across the region to ensure United Way is addressing food needs into the future. She will also oversee the implementation and growth of the innovative Healthy Savings program, which provides clients with up to $10 of free produce and discounts on other healthy food items in participating grocery stores. 

Farah Ahmad fills the position of Community Impact Program and Operations Coordinator. In this role, she will serve as the main point of contact for community food related inquiries, benefits, and programs, while also leading community food drives and emergency meal distribution. She will also manage all aspects of the Age Well Community Council’s Ambassador Program, which provides outreach in the Danbury area to older adults who may be facing food insecurity. The Emergency Food and Shelter Program process for the Stamford community will also be part of her responsibilities.

Ridgefield Conservation Commission looking to hire paid summer workers

The Ridgefield Conservation Commission is looking to hire paid summer workers. The positions are for a period of 8 to 10 weeks starting June 1st.   Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license. Officials say knowledge of town open spaces and trails is a plus and experience with mowing, weed whacking, and light carpentry is desired.  Some of the tasks include clearing tree blowdowns, repainting blazes that mark the trails, installing signs at trailheads so that they can be easily found by new hikers, removing invasive plants and building small bridges to ease difficult stream crossings.  Applications can be sent to Ridgefield Human Resources at Town Hall by April 30th.

Brookfield to move COVID-19 vaccine clinic when eligibility open to all

Brookfield will be opening an expanded COVID-19 vaccine clinic the same week when eligibility opens to all Connecticut residents above the age of 16.  Brookfield will move from the senior center to St. Joseph Catholic Academy on April 6th.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says the clinic will have alternating days of operation, with the first week open on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and the next week on Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  If the doses are made available from the state, the clinic could vaccinate 400 to 600 people a day. Residents though are encouraged to sign up for an appointment at any clinic where they can.  Brookfield clinic volunteers are not taking names for a waitlist and will manage end of day doses by having the clinic administrator contact those who qualify directly.  Dunn cautioned that this would be “rare.”

Car fire reported near home at  Candlewood Trailer Park in Danbury

A car fire near a home at  Candlewood Trailer Park in Danbury was quickly extinguished Tuesday morning.  Firefighters responded to the scene and made a quick attack of the flames, stopping the blaze from effecting the home . No injuries were reported during the incident. The Danbury Fire Marshal’s office was on scene and is investigating the cause of the fire.

Fire Commission has been created in Bethel

A Fire Commission has been created in Bethel. The Board of Selectmen gave final approval to the 5 member group on Tuesday. 

The advisory board is meant to bring the two volunteer companies together for budgeting purposes, recommending purchases and long term planning.  The commission must also ensure vehicle maintenance and repair records are properly retained. 

The Chiefs of the Bethel and Stony Hill Fire Departments support the commission. 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the town has never really budgeted long term for replacing worn out fire trucks and ambulances and need to plan for such purchases in advance.  Under the ordinance approved at the Board of Selectmen meeting this week, the Bethel Volunteer Fire Department and Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Department become “constituent units” of the town.  For many years, they operated completely independently from town government.

Members of the Commission will be appointed by the Board of Selectmen to serve four-year terms.  A representative from each fire department will serve in an advisory capacity.

Danbury reports COVID statistics for first half of March

For the first two weeks of March, the City of Danbury reported just shy of 350 COVID-19 cases.  There were about 20 cases reported a day in the first week of the month, with a spike on March 8th of 52 cases and March 12th with 47 cases.  Last week, the positive coronavirus cases have been significantly higher, averaging about 30 cases a day.

Kent officials warn of caller ID phone scam

The Kent Office of Emergency Management is receiving reports from residents of a scam alert phone call that showed the caller ID as “The Town of Kent”.  Surrounding communities have reported the same phone scam where the ID is spoofed.  Officials say people should use caution when answering unsolicited phone calls and not release any personal information.

New Fairfield to reopen to the public

New Fairfield Library is reopening to the public starting on Monday.  The new modified hours of operation will be Monday through Saturday from 10am to 2pm, with later hours also on Monday and Wednesday from 4pm to 7pm.  Masks are required at all times while in the building and social distancing will be enforced.

Two new officers sworn in for Wilton Police Department

Two new officers have been sworn in for the Wilton Police Department.  Kevin Maloney and Matthew Collins both formerly worked for the NYPD.  Both will be attending a three week training academy as well as a three month field training program before being certified as Connecticut Police Officers.  Maloney was an officer with the NYPD for over 27 years retiring at the rank of Lieutenant.  Collins worked for the NYPD since 2017.

Monroe Police Department creates Safe Exchange Zone

The Monroe Police Department has created a Safe Exchange Zone outside the department’s main entrance facing Church Street.  The area, marked with a sign indicating it's under video surveillance, is monitored by police security cameras 24 hours a day. Residents are encouraged to use this area for sales and purchases via sites like Craigslist, EBay, and others. If someone is not willing to come to the police department, Monroe Police also note that it;s likely not a legitimate transaction.  Monroe Police suggest not going to transactions alone, making sure someone is aware of the date and time the transaction will happen, and try to complete the transaction in daylight hours.  Police say people should not go into someone else’s house and do not allow them into yours.

New York Police increase DWI patrols during St. Patrick's Day weekend

New York State Police have increased patrols to combat drunk, impaired and reckless driving during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.  This special traffic enforcement detail, started yesterday and runs through Sunday.  Drivers can expect to encounter additional DWI patrols and a number of sobriety checkpoints during the enforcement period.  New York State Police will also be ticketing districted drivers who are using handheld electronic devices, and will also conduct underage drinking and unlawful sales to minors details during the campaign.  During last year’s St. Patrick’s Day impaired driving enforcement, Troopers arrested 203 people for DWI, issued 372 tickets for distracted driving and 12,279 tickets in total.

Newtown Legislative Council holding Public Hearing tonight on proposed budget

The Newtown Legislative Council is holding a Public Hearing tonight on the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal has proposed a nearly $44-million municipal budget, a little more than 2 percent increase over the current year.  There's money for road paving, debt service, increased benefits costs, and raises for municipal employees and police. The Board of Ed proposed an $80.6 million budget, a 2.58 percent increase.  The Board of Finance trimmed $140,000 from the proposed education spending plan and about $38,000 from the town side.  If approved as is, the budget would result in a .59 percent tax increase.  The Legislative Council virtual public hearing tonight is at 7pm.  A referendum is planned for April 27th.

Redding Board of Finance to hold hearing on proposed budget

The Redding Boards of Selectmen and Education are requesting slight increases in spending in their proposed budgets for the coming fiscal year.  The Selectmen are seeking a 3.45 percent hike, with nearly all of that to account for raises.  The overall municipal, Redding schools and Region 9 increases would equal 1.2 percent.  The Redding Board of Ed's proposal is $23.2 million, with most of the increase attributed to special education cost increases.  The town's contribution to the Region 9 budget was reduced by about $600,000 because of fewer students attending Joel Barlow High School compared to those from Easton.  The two towns split the cost based on student enrollment.  The Redding Board of Finance is holding a public hearing on March 18th.

Danbury to build floating dock for new Emergency Services boat

The City of Danbury is looking to build a floating dock for its new Emergency Services Boat. A bid notice has gone out for materials only for construction of two 8-foot wide by 20-foot long dock sections. The dock sections are to be of galvanized steel truss construction and serviced by a 4-foot wide by 15-foot long aluminum gangway with handrail. The dock is to be anchored to a sea wall by means of a 15-foot long stiff-arm system.  Bids must contain all parts and hardware to construct this dock configuration and mounting system, excluding only the wood decking. Prices quoted should include off-loading at delivery site.  Bids are due to the City by April 6th.

March decalred Red Cross Month in Danbury

Danbury Mayor Joe Cavo has issued a proclamation naming March as Red Cross Month.  Locally, 27 Danbury area Red Cross volunteers supported the community with Farmers2Families food distribution, assisted with Tropical Storm Isaias and helped with various pandemic response efforts called upon by the city. Western Connecticut volunteers have supported local families in other ways too. Last year in Danbury, the Red Cross with community partners have helped about 2800 people. They installed 45 smoke alarms in 35 homes, educated 80 people about home fire safety and connected 35 veteran families.  The organization also organized 70 blood drives and collected 1900 pints of blood and trained nearly 350 people in lifesaving skills.

Danbury provides updateon work needed for Council Chamber renovation

The City of Danbury has received several questions from potential bidders about alterations sought for Council Chambers in City Hall.  The current desk, meant to seat 21 members plus the Mayor was considered close quarters even by pre-pandemic standards so the City wants to add a second desk in front of it to allow for social distancing.  That means some floor-mounted chairs in the audience area will be to be removed.  The 29 seats being removed will be stored in the basement.  City Hall is technically closed to the public, but contractors will have access to the building Mondays through Fridays 7am to 6pm for the project.

Conn. lawmakers seek to examine aquatic invasive species' effects on lakes

The legislature's Environment Committee has unanimously passed a bill onto the House for further consideration about aquatic invasive species' effects on lakes, and related funding. The measure requires the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection to submit a report to lawmakers on the amount of revenue collected from the Aquatic Invasive Species fees, and the value and purpose of any grants to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations awarded from the Connecticut Lakes, Rivers and Ponds Preservation account.  The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles must send information to DEEP's Commissioner about the monies collected at the DMV through a fee on license renewals that pays for the stamp.  The final report can include any recommendations  on additional means for funding projects to control or eradicate aquatic invasive species by municipalities and lake authorities.

Brush fire in Southbury extnguished before reaching farm equipment, homes

There was another brush fire in Southbury yesterday afternoon.  Firefighters responded to the area of Ewald Park shortly after 4pm.  The quickly spreading brush fire was in a wooded area behind a home on Old Field Road.  Firefighters quickly doused the flames and had the fire under control in 15 minutes, before it could spread to nearby vehicles, farm equipment and homes.  Crews remained on scene for another 45 minutes conducting overhaul of the area, extinguishing hot spots.  About 19 acres of land in Southbury burned in a brush fire on Friday.

DOT announces detour for bridge replacement project in Southbury

The state Department of Transportation has scheduled a closure and detour of Bucks Hill Road over I-84 in Southbury to facilitate ongoing construction activities associated with the replacement of a bridge carrying Bucks Hill over the highway. The road closure and detour are scheduled to start on Monday at 7am, continuing for several months.  The detour and closure are expected to last through November 22nd.  Traffic will be directed with signage using Old Waterbury Road, Munn Road and Route 188.  The 9-point-78 million dollars is scheduled to be completed by mid-November.

Monroe Board of Finance to hold hearing on proposed budget

The Monroe Town Council has passed their proposed budget unanimously, making some small adjustments to the budget First Selectman Ken Kellogg presented in February.  The town is projecting likely reductions in estimated health insurance costs.  The Monroe Board of Finance will address this during their deliberations.  Kellogg notes that there is significant federal funding expected in municipal coffers through the American Rescue Plan.  But he says the federal legislation specifically prohibits use of the funding for tax cuts.  He hopes to find a way to use of these funds to make budgetary adjustments that will help residents. Specific rules have yet to be issued by the U.S. Treasury Department.  The Monroe Board of Finance will hold a Public Hearing on the budget this Thursday at 6pm. Instructions for remote participation will be posted on the agenda on the Town website.

Danbury man led police in a foot chase after alleged home invasion

A Danbury man who led police in a foot chase has been arrested on home invasion and other charges.  Danbury Police say 19-year old Levin Placencia and several other men forced their way into a Laurel Gardens apartment, next to the police station on Main Street.  They allegedly assaulted an adult resident and damaged property. 

The suspects were forced from the residence as police arrived. 

One of the responding officers temporarily stopped two involved males, who fled before taking them into custody. One of the two, Placencia, was captured on Robinson Avenue after violently resisting arrest.  Police say it appears Placencia is known to the resident of the apartment he forced his way into, but the motive in unclear at this time.  The investigation continues into the others involved in the break in. 

The resident sustained minor injuries and refused medical treatment. 

In addition to home invasion, Placencia was charged with assault, risk of injury to a child, criminal mischief, interfering with an officer, breach of peace, and disorderly conduct.

Judge grants request to Dorothy Day for time to enter talks with Danbury

A state judge has granted a request from the operators of Dorothy Day Hospitality House for more time before filing a petition to review a court ruling that found the City of Danbury was correct in issuing a cease and desist order for their homeless shelter on Spring Street.  Dorothy Day asked for the 20-day extension so they can meet with the mayor to discuss options in the near future.  Attorneys say the result may remove the need for a petition. The City agreed to the requested extension.  The discussions are needed because of pandemic-related changes to how congregate settings operate.  The nonprofit Pacific House is also negotiating with the Super 8 Motel to buy the  property and officially turn it into a homeless shelter with wrap around services.  The Lake Avenue location has been housing the homeless population since the pandemic began.

CIFC to participate in new federal program expanding vaccine access

Connecticut Institute For Communities has been invited to participate in a new federal program expanding vaccine access for disproportionately affected populations.  The program will make additional vaccines available, allocated by the federal government to the Greater Danbury Community Health Center, above and beyond those allocated through the state.  

The Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services considered centers already serving affected groups, including low-income and minority patients, people experiencing homelessness, public housing residents, migrant workers, and those speaking English as a second language, among others.

Of the initial group of invitees, the Danbury facility is 1 of only 700 in the entire country, out of the total number of Federally Qualified Health Centers, about 1400, which were eligible for the program.  Recent data from late February/early March shows approximately 40% distribution among underserved groups by the Greater Danbury Community Health Center.

Most of Danbury Library to reopen to the public Monday

Most of Danbury Library will reopen to the public on March 22nd.  The Main Floor and newly renovated Junior Library will fully reopen for browsing with no appointment required.  The Music, Movies, and Language Center will also be accessible to the public for browsing.  Public restrooms, meeting space, study pods, and sitting areas are not available.  Computer use will still require an appointment and will be limited to one hour per patron per day.  Curbside pickup will also be available.  Visitors are required to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth and practice social distancing while inside the building. 

Ridgefield Vaccination Clinic to operate Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

The Ridgefield Vaccination Clinic held in concert with RVNAhealth at Yanity Gym will run this week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.   Appointments can be made through the Vaccine Administration Management System, if available.  Anyone having problems signing up through VAMS can contact Town Helpline volunteers between 9am and 4pm daily by calling 203-431-2718.  In order to make an appointment, Connecticut residents must be of eligible age or occupation and bring proof of eligibility.  If this is the second vaccination, people should bring the first shot record card. 

Absentee Ballots available for April 13th Special Election in Newtown, Monroe

Absentee Ballots are now available for April 13th Special Election in Newtown's voting district 3-2.  This is for the 112th District state House seat vacated by JP Sredzinski.  The district also includes Monroe.  The election is only for eligible registered voters.  Any Newtown resident coming in person to pick up a ballot, is asked to download and fill out an application prior to coming in. Photo ID is required.  Official Ballot Drop Boxes are located at the North and South Entrances of the Municipal Center.  They are available 24/7 and checked several times per day.  Ballots can also be mailed to the Town Clerk's Office.

Conn. lawmakers consider ban on so-called Big 6 animal possession, import

Connecticut lawmakers are again considering a bill that bans the import, sale and possession of African elephants, lions, leopards, giraffes, and black and white rhinoceros.  The Environment Committee passed the so-called Big 6 bill onto the legislature for further consideration on a vote of 24 to 8.  Those voting against advancing the proposal were New Milford Senator Craig Miner and New Fairfield Representative Patrick Callahan.  The measure was co-sponsored by Newtown Representative Mitch Bolisnky, Redding Representative Anne Hughes and others.

There are some exceptions to the possession part of the bill. 

Any specimen of a big six African species located or possessed within the state prior to October 1st, and the legal owner obtained a certificate of possession from DEEP within 180 days of the effective date, is exempt.  If one is part of a temporary or permanent collection of a museum, educational or scientific institution, and then not sold, traded, bartered or distributed to any other party, it's also exempt.  There's also an exemption if it is distributed directly to a legal beneficiary of a trust or to a legal heir provided it was located or possessed by the decedent prior to the effective date, the beneficiary or heir does not subsequently sell or trade it to another person, and the beneficiary or heir obtains a certificate.

Any violation would be a felony, penalized with a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 2 years imprisonment. 

The bill does not apply to ivory, live animals in zoological institutions or a circus, or any animal in a motion picture, television or digital media production.

From 2005-2015, 59 trophy hunting permits were issued to Connecticut residents by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so people could hunt and kill leopards for their trophies. Six additional permits were provided to Connecticut residents to kill African elephants in Botswana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. And from 2005-2016, Connecticut residents killed 39 lions and one giraffe and imported their trophies.  According to the Associated Press, the Connecticut communities that have been issued the most permits for trophy hunting are: Greenwich, North Haven, Norwalk, Berlin, Stamford, Westport, Weston, Easton, Southington and Middletown.

Local lawmaker concerned with effort to phase out single-use food containers

Some Connecticut lawmakers and the state’s restaurant association are raising concerns about the General Assembly’s latest effort to phase out single-use food containers, noting that many restaurants continue to rely heavily on their takeout orders due to the pandemic.

Rep. Stephen Harding, R-Brookfield, the top House Republican on the Environment Committee, said while the legislation would not bar restaurants from using expanded polystyrene containers until 2023, he still believes it makes sense to wait on passing the bill.

“My biggest concern here is implementing legislation that would put further costs and mandates on these restaurants just as they’re trying to open their doors once again and trying to make some level of profit,” said Harding, noting the uncertainty of when the pandemic will finally be over.

“This could last longer than we all expect, unfortunately,” Harding said. He urged lawmakers to wait on passing the bill until “we’re on the other side of this pandemic,” possibly during the next session. Harding pledged to support the bill at that time.

The Connecticut Restaurant Association has raised similar concerns.

Sen. Christine Cohen, D-Guilford, the committee’s top Senate Democrat and the owner of a bagel restaurant, said lawmakers purposely waited until July 1, 2023, to ban the use of expanded polystyrene containers because of the financial challenges restaurants have faced during the pandemic.

But she noted the material is “incredibly harmful” to the environment and must be addressed.

“There is currently no recycling available for these expanded polystyrene products,” she said. “Therefore it lives forever more in our environment.”

With mostly Democratic support, the bill advanced to the House of Representatives for further action.

The legislation would also require school districts to come up with a plan by July 1, 2022, to discontinue using expanded polystyrene trays in cafeterias and require restaurants by Jan. 1, 2022, to only provide plastic straws if a customer requests one, with an exception for people with disabilities.

Trump flag set on fire in Redding

Home surveillance video has captured footage of a person appearing to set fire to a Trump flag in Redding on Friday morning.  Redding Police are investigating what they called an incident of vandalism.  They shared the video to Facebook, which shows a person using a long stick or pole to light the flag on fire on Pine Tree Road.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Redding Police Department at 203-938-3400.

Redding police investigating motor vehicle break in

The Redding Police Department is attempting to identify a suspect for breaking in a motor vehicle on Redding Road in the Georgetown area during the overnight Saturday into Sunday.  Ring home surveillance footage has been posted to the department's Facebook page.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Redding Police Department at 203-938-3400.

Bench stolen from end of Easton driveway

A bench was stolen from the end of an Easton driveway on Saturday.  An Everett Road resident saw what appeared to be a white male wearing jeans and a black jacket exit a black Jeep Grand Cherokee and place the bench inside the back of the vehicle. The man appeared to have dark hair worn in a pony tail.  Video footage can be viewed on the Easton Police Facebook page.  Anyone who recognizes the individual or the vehicle is asked to call the Easton Police Department at 203-268-4111.

South African COVID-19 variant identified among individuals from Danbury, New Milford

The state Department of Public Health announced Friday it has learned of four more cases of the B.1.351 COVID variant, commonly known as the South African variant. Identified among individuals from Ansonia, Danbury, Greenwich and New Milford, this variant has now been confirmed in a total of six cases in Connecticut.

Meanwhile, DPH reported 93 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant commonly known as the UK variant, bringing the total to 174 confirmed cases. This latest group of infected individuals live in communities scattered across Connecticut, with the largest number of new cases — 16 — identified in Waterbury. 

Previously, 7 cases were identified in Oxford, 2 in Seymour, 2 in Southbury, and 1 in Wilton.

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new COVID-19 cases has decreased by 337.7, a decrease of 32.6%, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins. As of Friday, there were 381 people hospitalized, a decline of one since Thursday. New Haven County had the largest number, at 167 patients.

The number of COVID-associated deaths increased by four to 7,765.

No injuries reported in Danbury apartment fire

A fire in a Main Street apartment building in Danbury was quickly brought under control last night.  Firefighters responded to the 4-story building around 5:30pm and found fire on the 3rd floor with smoke throughout the building.

(Photo: DFD)

A 2nd alarm was struck due to the size of the building and the occupancy. Crews were able to safely extinguish the fire while evacuating occupants. 

The fire was found to be in a utility room adjacent to one unit that was unoccupied at the time. Building management and maintenance were on scene and worked with crews to mitigate the damage while the lingering smoke was removed with ventilation fans. The Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause.

There were no injuries reported.

Brush fire stopped before spreading to New Milford businesses

A brush fire in New Milford this weekend was extinguished before it reached a nearby business.  Firefighters responded to Danbury Road Saturday and found a fast moving grass fire that was climbing the hill along the Walmart parking lot and headed for the Ski Haus property.  Water Witch Hose sent several engines to the scene and were able to make quick work of containing the flames and protecting the adjacent buildings.  Northville and Brookfield provided extra tankers.  Throughout the Spring forest fire season, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection sends daily advisories on forest fire danger levels--classified at low, moderate, high, very high or extreme. In an average year approximately 500 acres of Connecticut woodland are burned by forest fires.

Fire outside Bethel home quickly extinguished

Stony Hill & Bethel firefighters were alerted to a reported house fire on Evergreen Drive yesterday afternoon.  Firefighters responded shortly after 3pm and found smoke showing from the side of the house. A small fire was located on the exterior of the home and was extending to the brush around it. The flames were quickly extinguished. There were no injuries and the cause is under investigation by the Bethel Emergency Management & Fire Marshal office.

Brookfield COVID-19 caseload declining, but still high

Brookfield remains in the state Department of Public Health COVID alert Red Zone.  In the last two weeks reported, Brookfield has had 53 new cases of the virus. This is down from the prior reported total of 59.  The rate per 100-thousand residents is 22-point-3. The positivity rate for Brookfield is now 3-point-6%, down from 4-point-4%.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says trends overall have been moving in the right direction for over 9 weeks now.  Brookfield is working on the vaccine clinics to be held at St. Joes.  The plan is still to start in April and have some night hours and Saturdays. Clinics will be held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday one week and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday the following week. More detail will be sent out when plans are completed.

Bethel asks residents to call to take name off vaccine wait list if vaccine secured elsewhere

There are now many websites for people to try to find a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, including through two pharmacy chains, VAMS, different hospital systems and local municipalities.  Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker acknowledged that some residents are registering through multiple outlets, but he made a request for people who put their name on the town's wait list.  Those who get an appointment and receive a shot before getting a call from the town are asked to call the Bethel vaccine line to take their name off the list.  He says this will make the volunteer's job of scheduling more efficient and allow them to reach more people.  That line is 203-794-8523.

Committee formed to evaluate volunteer firefighter tax abatement

An ad hoc committee has been formed among the Danbury City Council to consider a tax abatement for members of the City's volunteer fire companies.   It's a program in place in some surrounding towns, which only have volunteer firefighters.  Democratic Councilman Frank Salvatore Jr says training and other requirements have increased since he became a volunteer fireman in the 1980s, when all that was required was a physical from a doctor.  The proposal would exclude elected officials from getting the tax break.  An ad hoc committee was formed in 2007, but never recommended an ordinance.  Mayor Joe Cavo re-appointed members to that committee, but has concerns about eligibility, management and the spirit of volunteerism.  Cavo, before retirement, worked for the career Fire Department. Danbury has 80 to 100 volunteer firefighters in 12 companies, but they are consolidating due to a shortage of volunteers. Danbury volunteers must meet physical requirements, be certified annually, and complete quarterly training sessions with career staff and weekly sessions with their own companies. The city covers these costs.

19 acres burned in Southbury wildfire

More than 19 acres burned in a Southbury wildfire on Friday.  More than 100 firefighters responded to River Road.  Firefighters encountered steep terrain in many places, and had to go deep into the woods to reach many hotspots.  They were able to keep the fire from reaching any residences.  Connecticut traditionally experiences high forest fire danger in the Spring from mid-March through May. High winds during this time dry surface fuels and can drive fire to spread quickly.  State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection staff were at the site to monitor conditions and assist local fire personnel as needed.  DEEP's Division of Forestry constantly monitors the danger of forest fire to help protect Connecticut's 1.8 million acres of forested land. Sandy Hook's two tankers joined a tanker shuttle in Southbury that included tankers from Oxford, Roxbury, Stony Hill, West Redding, Woodbridge, Woodbury.  Sandy Hook'sbrush truck joined similar apparatus from Southbury, Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Brookfield, Danbury (2 trucks sent), Derby, New Fairfield, Orange, Oxford, and Prospect.

Area fire departments offer Daylight Saving Time reminder

On Sunday we “spring ahead” to Daylight Saving Time. 

Danbury Fire Department is using this event to remind people to change the batteries in their Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms.  By ensuring that the batteries in these life-saving tools are fresh, fire officials say residents can double the chances of surviving a home fire.  They add that the cost of replacing the batteries in these detectors is a small price to pay for a family’s safety. 

The New Fairfield Fire Marshal's Office says for those with a 10-year sealed battery, people should test the detectors.

Greater Danbury area restaurants receive pandemic-related grants

Several Greater Danbury area restaurants were selected to receive a grant through the Connecticut Restaurant Relief Fund.  92 restaurants were selected by the DoorDash Main Street Strong effort to receive $5,000 grants, administered by the Connecticut Hospitality Educational Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Connecticut Restaurant Association. The funds will be used to cover operating costs during this challenging time, including rent, payroll, purchasing PPE, expanding outdoor dining capacity, and other expenses.
Taproot, Bethel
Notch 8, Bethel
Painted Pony Restaurant, Bethlehem
Del Primo Ristorante & Bar, Brookfield
Two Steps Downtown Grille, Danbury
Gallo, Ridgefield
The Ancient Mariner, Ridgefield

Redding Community Center hosting St. Patrick's Day Drive Through event

The Redding Community Center is hosting a St. Patrick's Day Drive Through event on Wednesday from 11am to noon.  A bagpiper will be on hand and treats will be handed out.  Redding officials say they missing seeing residents gathering and asked that those interested in attending the event RSVP online. 

Dorothy Day operator asks for extension on homeless shelter ruling

The operators of Dorothy Day Hospitality House have asked for more time before filing a petition to review a court ruling that found the City of Danbury was correct in issuing a cease and desist order for their homeless shelter on Spring Street. 

Dorothy Day asked for the 20-day extension so they can meet with the mayor to discuss options in the near future.  Attorneys say the result may remove the need for a petition. The City agreed to the requested extension.  The discussions are needed because of pandemic-related changes to how congregate settings operate. 

The nonprofit Pacific House is also negotiating with the Super 8 Motel to buy the property and officially turn it into a homeless shelter with wrap around services.  The Lake Avenue location has been housing the homeless population since the pandemic began.

26 iPhones stolen from Walmart in New Milford

More than two dozen iPhones were stolen from a New Milford store last week.  Police are releasing more details about the theft of 26 iPhones from Walmart on Danbury Road.  The incident happened last Wednesday around 6:30pm.  Two men left the store in what appeared to be a white, newer model Ford Fusion. No license plate was obtained from the video footage.  Photos of the suspect and car can be viewed on the New Milford Police Facebook page.  Anyone who recognizes or has information about this incident is asked to contact Officer Stephen's at 860-355-3133.

Greater Danbury area towns move back into COVID Red Zone

Some of the Greater Danbury area towns that had their COVID-19 alert level lowered last week are back in the Red zone.  Roxbury went from Grey, the lowest level, to the highest. Woodbury bounced up from the second lowest alert level of yellow and Newtown, Monroe, Redding, and Southbury edged out of orange to red.

Danbury schools to survey parents on how to spend pandemic relief funding

Danbury Schools will be receiving funds from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief package.  Administrators want to hear from the community on how to spend the funds by learning what is important to their family and what are the biggest student needs. Three Listening Forums will be held next week.  One on Tuesday at 10am, one at 7pm in Spanish and one on Thursday at 7pm.  They will be hosted on the Zoom platform, but there is also a link to the survey also on the Danbury Public School District website

Two people hospitalized in a two car crash in Newtown

Two people were hospitalized following a two car crash in Newtown on Wednesday.  Emergency responders were called to Berkshire Road near Old Mill Road around 10am.  One elderly female reported head and neck pain and a hand laceration, and a younger female reported general pain.  Firefighters assisted with patient care, and with removing crash debris from the roadway. Both vehicles were towed.  Berkshire was closed in the area of the crash for nearly an hour.

Second COVID-19 testing site on Danbury's west side opens

A second COVID-19 testing site on Danbury's west side is now open.  The Drive-Through Testing Site is in the commuter lot of 10 Miry Brook Road.  This testing site is open by appointment only.  Appointments can be made online at  This is a state sponsored site, so the COVID-19 PCR tests are free to all residents; no insurance is required. Results are expected in 24 to 36 hours.  Connecticut Institute for Communities has a testing site at 12 Boughton Street.  The Community Health Center hosts testing at West Conn's westside campus.

Putnam County Executive hails commonsense rule change on vaccinator restrictions

Vaccine eligibility and access are expanding in New York.  All those 60 and older are eligible.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says public-facing government and nonprofit employees and building workers will be added March 17th to the growing list of essential workers who are eligible for the vaccines.  The state’s rule changes also now allow local health departments to vaccinate any New Yorker who is eligible.  Odell says commonsense has finally prevailed and the complicated restrictions that limited which providers could vaccinate which groups of residents were lifted.  She says this will make it so much easier for the public to understand where they can go to get a shot.  Supply is still short, and Odell continues to call for more vaccine to be allocated to Putnam and the region.

Sherman Resident State Trooper warning of COVID-19 Medicare scam

The Sherman Resident State Trooper is warning of a senior Medicare Fraud. 

A COVID-19 Vaccine Email Survey that may appear to be coming from Pfizer or Moderna is not legitimate.  The email has been sent to people asking them to take a survey in exchange for a reward.  The Sherman Resident State Trooper says this is not a legitimate email and called on people not to open emails or click links unless they're from a trusted sender. 

Police say scammers have unfortunately used the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine as an opportunity to obtain sensitive information. 

There is no charge for the vaccine.  Insurance plans, medical facilities and other providers cannot charge recipients of the vaccine any fees including the administration fee.  People can not pay to add their name on a list to get a vaccine. 

No one from a vaccine distribution site or health care payer, like a private insurance company, will call you asking for Social Security number, credit card or bank account information to sign up for the vaccine.

Greater Danbury Police remind of 911 text capability amid Verizon outage

Many Greater Danbury area Police Departments cautioned yesterday that there was a problem completing some calls for service.  There was an issue with Verizon subscribers for several hours yesterday afternoon.  The Danbury Police Department call center was fully up and running and noted that they were able to accepting texts to 911 if a Verizon subscriber needed immediate assistance.    Newtown Police reminded residents about the availability of texting 911 if needed in the future to be put in contact with emergency services.  Characters are limited though, so people will have to be brief, if possible, in the message. Ridgefield Police had noted it was a problem across the state and urged users to call from a landline in the meantime.  Wilton Police said their Internet Services Division was working with Verizon to resolve the issue.

Breach of security cameras at Sandy Hook School reported

There was a breach of security cameras at Sandy Hook School and other Newtown buildings this week.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says cameras aren't the only form of security in the system, but called the breach disappointing.  Schools Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue says additional security measures have been added to the cloud-based security camera system. 

The California startup announced that hackers attacked a server used by their support team to perform bulk maintenance operations on customer cameras, gaining access to video and image data from a limited number of cameras.  The hackers obtained credentials that allowed them to bypass two-factor authentication.  

Verkada clients include hospitals, jails, nonprofits and Newtown police headquarters.  The FBI is investigating.

Man who died in Washington barn fire identified

The state Chief Medical Examiner has identified the man who died in a barn fire in the town of Washington last month.  Officials say 58-year old Gene A. Tompkins died of smoke inhalation and ruled his death accidental.  His body was found inside a burning barn on Blackville Road February 27th.  The barn was a converted living space.  The Washington Fire Marshal’s Office and Connecticut State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit determined that the fire had originated inside the barn, but could not identify the ignition source.  There was no indication that the fire was intentionally set or was criminal in nature.

Bethel High School Cyber Patriot Team places first in their division

The Bethel High School Cyber Patriot Team placed first in their division this year.  The National Youth Cyber Education Program created by the Air Force Association has a goal of inspiring Kindergarten through 12th grade students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.  The competition, the nation's largest cyber defense competition, puts high school and middle school students in charge of securing virtual networks.

Easton Police Chase 5K to benefit DARE postponed

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Easton Police Department has decided to postpone the 2021 Easton Police Chase 5K to benefit DARE until the Fall.  They are looking at dates in mid-September, pending the availability of timers.  Police Departments across the region teach Drug Abuse Resistance Education in the schools.

Interim Principal named for middle school in New Milford

The New Milford Board of Education has named an interim principal for Schaghticoke Middle School.  During a special meeting this week, Michael Rafferty was named to the position, which started immediately.  Rafferty most recently served as principal at Old Saybrook Middle School for 22 years.  He retired in 2013 but then held various interim positions throughout Connecticut.

Hundreds of bags of drugs seized by Police at Brookfield home

Hundreds of bags of heroin and fentanyl have been seized from a Brookfield home.  Danbury Police launched an investigation weeks ago into 34-year old Christopher  Rosini after receive complaints that he was selling illicit drugs in Danbury and Brookfield. 

Yesterday morning, officers followed Rosini as he drove around the City.  They stopped him on Augusta Drive and seized his car.  Investigators went to his Tody Lane home in Brookfield and found the drugs, along with assorted controlled prescription drugs, drug paraphernalia and a substantial amount of U.S. currency. 

Rosini was booked on a dozen drug related charges, illegal Possession of Large Capacity Magazine, and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.  He was held on $100,000 bond and is due in court on the 31st. 

The drug charges are 5 counts each of possession of a Controlled Substance and possession with Intent to Sell as well as one count each of possession of less than half an ounce of Marijuana.

Goats seized from Redding home amid complained of injuries, general care issues

Several goats have been seized from a Redding home after neighbors complained about injured goats and general care issues.  State Department of Agriculture officials removed the goats yesterday from the Cross Highway home.  They were evaluated and moved into a trailer for transportation to a state rescue and rehabilitation facility in Niantic. 

The goats will be treated by a veterinarian and will remain in state custody and care until the case is adjudicated in the court system. 

Complaints to the Department of Agriculture against property owner Nancy Burton date back to 2017 about roaming goats and the number of goats on the property.  Local and state animal control officers made multiple visits to the property in attempts to assess and resolve the situation. The animal welfare concerns include mobility issues due to untrimmed hooves, excessive manure, lack of sufficient water, and structures in poor condition that did not provide adequate protection from the weather. 

A complaint against the Redding Zoning Board of Appeals was supposed to have a status conference yesterday.  9 goats are allowed on Redding properties, but any additional ones need Board approval.  In 2019, Burton filed a complaint against the town and First Selectwoman. 

Millions in federal funds coming to Greater Danbury area schools

Millions of dollars in the new federal “American Rescue Plan” is coming to Greater Danbury area schools.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says the pandemic has caused unprecedented learning losses, exacerbated disparities and led to a rise in mental health issues. 

Some of the funding can be put to use right away for things like PPE for students and staff, reducing class sizes, additional transportation and updating ventilation systems.  But she says some money can be allocated later for comprehensive afterschool and summer learning programs.  Hayes says they took intentional steps to address kids returning from what is most likely the biggest interruption in their academic experience. 

The measure includes $130 billion for education, with 20-percent earmarked to address learning loss.  While it can't necessarily be measured today, Hayes says they know is happening to some extent.  She says they wanted to be prepared on the front end to address the fallout.

Federal “American Rescue Plan” stimulus bill funding:

Grand total $9,886,765
Per Capital $501

Grand total $6,236,691
Per Capital $366

Grand total $71,277,747
Per Capital $841

New Fairfield
Grand total $7,968,204
Per Capital $574

New Milford
Grand total $18,917,252
Per Capital $702

Grand total $10,002,447
Per Capital $360

Grand total $3,143,575
Per Capital $344

Grand total $8,791,595
Per Capital $351

Danbury Health Department employing vaccinators from all fields

The City of Danbury Health Department is running a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Rogers Park Middle School.  Acting Health Director Kara Prunty says they've been fully booked since opening.  She says the volunteer pool is diverse, noting that one of the vaccinators is a dentist.  Prunty says the City is pulling from anywhere they can get, as long as they have taken the required training, but the clinic could always use more vaccinators.  The City has paid and volunteer openings at the clinic.  An application is available on the City website for LPNs and RNs.  The City is also taking volunteers for other non-licensed tasks.

Bethel schools field questions about travel planning for April Break

Bethel Public Schools officials have received a number of questions about travel planning over April Break.  The district follows the State of Connecticut Travel Advisory.   The current guidance is that travel in the U-S, except New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, is to present a negative COVID test administered 72 hours prior to leaving the state or upon return to Connecticut to be admitted back to school.  That guidance is anticipated to be updated next Friday.  Governor Ned Lamont has said that the general mandate will become a recommendation.  At this point, Bethel School officials say they do not know how it will be updated or how closely it will align to the new CDC guidance for the return to school.  

New officer sworn in for Redding Police Department

The Redding Police Department has sworn in a new member.  Officer Brandon Lopiano took the oath of office on Monday and replaces Sgt Chris McManus who retired in January. Officer Lopiano is a lateral transfer from the UCONN Police Department. He is a National Guardsman and a third generation police officer.  Lopiano will be field training with the department for the next 8 to 10 weeks.

Monroe Police receive complaints of Social Security phone scam

Monroe Police recently received several complaints of a Social Security scam.  The scammer tries to convince you that there is an issue with your Social Security Number that requires some form of payment to resolve.  The Social Security Administration will not call to solicit payment and they won't demand payment by gift cards. Monroe Police say the easy remedy to this type of scam call is to hang up the phone, or at the least not talk to them longer than you have to and don't give out any personal information.

New Milford takes delivery of new, fuel efficient DPW truck

New Milford has taken delivery of the first of three new Department of Public Works trucks with the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant the town received.  By using the grant, Mayor Pete Bass says New Milford was able to save more than $108,000 and also take three used, older model trucks off the road.  He notes that the new trucks will also save the town money on fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

Congresswoman supports the Protecting the Right to Organize Act

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has voted to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act.  She called it a bold proposal that strengthens the right of workers to organize and collectively bargain. An amendment introduced by Hayes last session to protect new, voluntarily recognized unions from premature decertification campaigns was included in text of this bill.  She says a non-unionized workforce means lower wages, worsened working conditions, and reduced benefits, adding that workers are at higher risk of exploitation and without tools to advocate for themselves in the workplace.

Redding gets title for former Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mill property

Redding officials have received the title to the former Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mill property in the Georgetown section of town.  Redding was locked in a multi-year olegal battle over millions of dollars in unpaid taxes and stalled development at the brownfield site.  The title was transferred to Redding last month.  First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton has already applied to the state’s Municipal Brownfield Liability Protection Program and has been accepted, protecting the town from liability for the cleanup of the contaminated property.   Redding could apply for an assessment grant to determine the scope of the clean up.  The current remediation plan dates back to 2005.  A $14.5 million general obligation bond issued by the Georgetown Special Taxing District remains in place.  Redding is not obligated to repay that debt because of the foreclosure, but Pemberton says that complicates any transfer of the property to a for-profit developer.

Stolen car found on fire in Newtown

A car reported stolen out of Hartford was found on fire in Newtown last night.  Police say a vehicle fire was reported on Echo Valley Road and officers later determined that it was the subject of a crime report.  Newtown Police are reminding residents to remove car keys from vehicles, lock car doors and report any suspicious persons or vehicles in their neighborhood to police.  Department officials say officers are diligently patrolling the surrounding areas and ask for assistance in protecting the community.

Brookfield firefighters extinguish basement fire

A basement fire in Brookfield was quickly extinguished on Monday.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company and EMS were dispatched to an address on Stony Hill Road around 9am.  Firefighters found a working basement fire in a single family home. Crews stretched a hand line off of the truck and quickly extinguished the flames.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company provided mutual aid.  No injuries were reported and firefighters cleared the scene in under two hours.  The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Brookfield Fire Marshal’s office.

Danbury Public Schools seek to expand in-classroom hours

With more teachers being vaccinated against COVID-19, school districts are planning for when all students can return to the classroom.  Danbury Superintendent Sal Pascarella said in a letter to families that the public schools will remain  on a hybrid schedule for the foreseeable future.  Right now no students are in the classroom on Wednesdays, but starting next week the two cohorts will alternate attending in-person classes on Wednesdays.  Pascarella says the administration will continue to look for opportunities to further increase the number of days for in-person learning, so long as it is safe to do so.  Elementary school students in Danbury will increase the length of in-person school days, except Wednesdays so staff can have planning time.

New Fairfield has 13th highest COVID-19 infection rate of all Conn. municipalities

New Fairfield continues to have a COVID-19 infection rate and test positivity rate well above State averages.  New Fairfield has the 13th highest infection rate out of 169 municipalities.  As a result, parks and the Library will remain closed until March 19th.   The town's infection rate has increased to 30 cases per 100,000 people and test positivity remains at 6.1 percent.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco reminded residents to continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing and avoid gathering with people outside of the household.

Bethel no longer drawing water from two older reservoirs due to increase storage capacity

Due to new water storage capacity, Bethel is no longer drawing water from its two older reservoirs.  100 percent of the town's water needs are supplied by wells.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says this delivers much cleaner water and substantially reduces the need for chemical sanitizing treatments. 

The Chestnut Ridge water tank was certified for service by the state Department of Public Health and began delivering water to Bethel homes in December.  Knickerbocker says the Bethel Water Department is delivering water that exceeds all government safety standards, and at a cost that ranks in the bottom third of all water suppliers in Connecticut. 

The Chestnut Ridge water tank, combined with the new Eureka tank, constructed in 2016, gives Bethel a total storage capacity of over 1.2 million gallons.  None of the costs for the upgrades are paid through Bethel tax dollars and have no direct impact on the town budget. The capital improvement program is paid solely through rates paid by water customers.  Financing is provided through grants and low-interest loans from the Connecticut Department of Public Health. 

The new tanks are part of Bethel's 20-year capital improvement program to upgrade the town's public water system.  The water department has invested over $12 million dollars in upgrades, replacing over 15,000 feet of water mains, replacing pumping stations at Hoyt's Hill and South Street, installing generators at several pump stations to ensure consistent service during power outages, and installing a new pumping system at Briarcliff Manor.

New glass collection container built at Kent Transfer Station

Oak Ridge is nearing completion of the Kent Transfer Station's new glass collection container.  This will allow the town to enter into the glass pilot program the municipality is participating in through Housatonic Resource Recovery Authority.  Informational signs are up and staff have been handing out materials about the program and what glass is accepted. 

First Selectman Jean Speck called this a big, positive step for recycling efforts in the community. 

Once the container becomes full, it is hauled to Urban Mining in Beacon Falls to be processed into a material used as a filler in the making of concrete. Using 100% of the glass collected, it can replace up to 50% of the cement used in making concrete, reduces embodied C02 emissions on a nearly ton-for-ton basis, and creates a more durable concrete that is more resistant to the effects of winter maintenance materials like salt.  Because it is processed locally, Speck says it reduces transportation emissions, and supports Kent's commitment to The Connecticut Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management.

Kent was an early signer last summer to the DEEP initiative, which is focused on reducing the amount of waste that is generated in the state, improve reuse, recycling, organics collection, and to explore innovative solutions to reducing waste.

Danbury zoners continue hearing on controversial senior living development proposal

The Danbury Zoning Commission is holding a meeting tonight, and one of the items on their agenda is a controversial senior living project.  BRT Sconset wants Zoning Regulations amended to add Cluster Active Adult Development to two zones calling for single family dwellings. 

The meeting and continuation of the public hearing will be held via Zoom at 7:30pm. 

Developer Dan Bertram has proposed a 100-unit age-restricted apartment building just north of Danbury High School on Clapboard Ridge Road.  If the Danbury Zoners allow the change for the age-restricted development, opponents say there would be nothing to prevent other developers from proposing multi-family residences leading to so-called zone creep.  Those against the plan say development firms could buy up small single-family lots to make a qualifying property, gradually eroding a neighborhood’s integrity. 

The 15-acre luxury home development with 37 homes approved before the Great Recession was never completed.  The proposed $10 million age-restricted apartment building would sit on properties totalling at least 10 acres.

Easton woman gives birth in ambulance en route to hospital

An Easton woman gave birth yesterday in the back of an ambulance.  Easton EMS received a 911 call yesterday morning from the expecting mother.  Police helped EMS load her safely into the ambulance while the fire fighters prepared the ambulance for transport.  With contractions minutes apart, the ambulance picked up the paramedic en route to the hospital, but before they reached their destination a baby boy made his appearance in the world.  EMS officials say it was a huge moral booster for the staff that has seen so much suffering  over that last few months.

Danbury vaccinates 1,000 educators

The City of Danbury Health Department successfully vaccinated over a thousand Danbury child care professionals, school teachers and administrators on Friday and Saturday.  Acting Health Director Kara Prunty thanked staff, nurses, doctors, Police, EMS, volunteers and the Danbury school system for coordinating the effort.  These doses were administered in addition to the regularly scheduled clinics throughout the week.

Brief hearing held in Trooper DUI accident case

A brief court hearing was held yesterday in the drunk driving case against a state trooper accused of injuring a woman and her daughter in a Southbury crash. 

Prosecutors in the case against Sgt John McDonald asked the judge for a continuance at the request of an attorney for the victims.  McDonald has not entered a plea on charges of DUI, assault with a motor vehicle, reckless driving and failure to obey a stop sign. 

The case was continued to May 6th. 

McDonald is accused of running a stop sign after leaving a colleague’s retirement party, where he was seen drinking prior to the crash.  McDonald was not given a Breathalyzer test at the scene before being taken to a hospital, which he left before staff could take blood tests. 

52-year old Lisa Conroy suffered an eye injury and 19-year-old Madison Conroy sustained injuries to her arm and wrist. 

There is an ongoing state police internal affairs investigation into the party.

'Tough year' for 1st Conn. resident diagnosed with COVID-19

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Chris Tillett says he is still coping with health problems one year after become the first Connecticut resident to be diagnosed with COVID-19, but the experience has brought a new optimism to life.

The former Wilton resident tested positive for COVID-19 on March 8, 2020, and spent three weeks at Danbury Hospital, including 10 days in a coma and on a ventilator. He was 45 at the time, with a wife and 4-month-old twin boys. Doctors used experimental treatments, including anti-malaria and anti-HIV drugs, in efforts to save his life.

He got sick after returning from a professional conference in California.

“This has been a tough year,” Tillett, who now lives in Virginia, told WVIT-TV. “I’m enjoying little aspects of life. Even when things go bad, I just choose to laugh at it now instead of letting it get me angry and upset, and like what is that gonna do for me, right? So I’ve just found, yes, definitely a new lease on life.”

Tillett told Connecticut Public Radio he continues to experience muscle pain, stiffness and swelling in his legs. He also had to begin taking blood pressure medication, and may have to for the rest of his life. He said red spots still cover his feet, a common lingering symptom of the virus.

Exactly one year after Tillett tested positive, more than 285,000 state residents have contracted the virus and more than 7,700 have died. Nationally, nearly 29 million people have become infected and 525,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Those are numbers Tillett says hurts him to see.

“It’s devastating,” he said. “And I unfortunately, I see individuals that they’re like, ‘Well, I had it and it went away and it’s not that big of a deal.’ And my thing is this: It’s not a death sentence to get this, but look at the lasting effects that I have.”

He said he and his family moved to Virginia to be closer to family.

“That was one of the main reasons why I moved here,” Tillett said. “I don’t know what it’s doing to me in the long term.”

He’s not eligible to get a vaccine yet, but plans to when he does qualify.

Blumenthal visits Danbury vaccination clinic

Senator Richard Blumenthal was in Danbury yesterday and visited the mass vaccination site at the mall.  Blumenthal says COVID-19  and its variants will spread and create new mutants and variants unless everyone is made safe through vaccination.  He said the outreach will help bridge the unacceptable disparities in health care in communities of color. 

Providers hope to hold mobile and pop-up clinics, but doses aren't available to do so at this time. 

The mall clinic largely distributes the Moderna vaccine.  As of next Friday, Danbury Hospital is moving their clinic to the mall operation so any patient who received their first dose of Pfizer at the Hospital will get their second dose of Pfizer at the mall.

Mass vaccination site ramps up appointments in Danbury

Danbury Mall has started hosting more regular COVID-19 vaccine clinics, which are led by the Community Health Center.  The federally qualified health center is partnering with Nuvance and the National Guard for the operation.  Guard members check appointments as drivers pull up near the former Sears auto center, flag their vehicle, and eventually direct them to the other side of the parking garage near Lord and Taylor. 

Community Health Center Vice President Amy Taylor says clinicians administer the shot and have people pull up for 15 to 30 minutes of observation.  Danbury has allocated City EMS members to the site in case there's a medical emergency. 

Although the clinic is a drive-up, patients may walk up if they don't have a car but have an appointment. 

Nuvance and the Community Health Center are collaborating with anti-poverty agencies, faith communities and the hospital clergy to identify patients.  The mass vaccination site will soon host all appointments that Danbury Hospital would have held. 

Nuvance Health making changes to visitation policies

Nuvance Health is making some changes to visitation policies at their hospitals as the number of COVID-19 cases in the community continues to decline.  Nuvance is also moving the Danbury Hospital COVID-19 vaccine clinic out of the hospital to the mass vaccination site at the Danbury Mall.  Starting today, Danbury Hospital in-patients without suspected or confirmed COVID disease will be allowed one support person at the hospital.  The duration of visits may not exceed four hours during visitation hours.  Patients in the ER or those with suspected or confirmed COVID disease will not be permitted a support person unless the patient is under age 21, a maternity patient or if extenuating circumstances apply.  Last week, New Milford Hospital, Norwalk Hospital, Sharon Hospital and Putnam Hospital all made this change.  To ensure a healthy and safe environment for patients, staff, and visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nuvance Health has implemented various visitation policy.

Bridgewater purchases parking lot from church

The Town of Bridgewater has purchased a two acre parcel of land from the Bridgewater Congregational Church. The property was formerly used as a parking lot for church functions. It will now be expanded, re-graded and paved to serve as a municipal parking lot. The $50,000 cost and additional funds needed for improvements and a sidewalk to the corner of Center Street will be reimbursed almost entirely by a grant secured from the Connecticut Local Capital Improvement, or LOCIP, Fund. There are plans to establish a walking path through the new town property to an area behind Town Hall.

Third candidate enters race for 112th House District Special Election

Another candidate has entered the race for a Special Election to the state House.  Former Newtown Selectman William Furrier has been endorsed by the state Independent Party in the the 112th District.  The chemical engineer is seeking to represent Monroe and part of Newtown following the resignation of JP Sredzinski, a four-term Republican.  Furrier said in a statement that the Party represents a new and important nonpartisan approach to government.  Monroe Republican Town Councilman Tony Scott and Monroe Democratic Board of Education member Nick Kapoor are also in the running.  The special election will be held on April 13th.

No injuries in rollover car accident in Danbury

No injuries were reported in a rollover car accident in Danbury this weekend.  Firefighters responded to Clapboard Ridge Road Sunday morning on a report of a single vehicle accident and found a small SUV on its side with the driver still entrapped.  Firefighters stabilized the vehicle, removed the windshield and helped the lone occupant out of the car.  EMS professionals gave the driver a thorough check, and finding no injuries, the operator signed a release from care. A wrecker cleared the totaled SUV from the scene, and the Danbury Police re-opened the road to traffic.

Newtown officials propose spending plan for upcoming fiscal year

Newtown officials are considering a $124.6 million budget for the coming fiscal year.  The municipal and school plan includes a 2.45 percent spending increase over the current fiscal year.  The tax rate will increase by 1-percent, partially offset by a growth in the town's tax base.  The proposal includes 2 percent raises for union and non-union town workers.  Teachers will receive a 1 percent raise plus step movement. Other school staff will receive 2 percent raises.  Other increases are attributed to debt service and more money for road repairs.  The Legislative Council will have hold public hearing and deliberations this month.  The budget will then go to a referendum on April 27.

New cell tower proposed in Sherman

Homeland Towers and AT&T are seeking approval for a new cell tower in Sherman. 

The proposed location is on Coote Hill Road.  The Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission decided that the area has a history of runoff and erosion problems, but were unable to make a recommendation on the proposed plan because of a lack of information on sediments and erosion control, water management and site access mitigation plans. 

An application has not yet been filed with the Connecticut Siting Council showing Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need.  The 200 foot tower gained some resident support at a November public hearing, but also drew concerns about preserving the rural aesthetic of the area. 

The Newstimes reports that 73-year old Pepper Jones owns the road, but not all of the lots along the street.  Jones sign an agreement with Homeland last year to receive financial contribution for the road’s maintenance, but has hired attorney Neil Marcus because of those concerns.  The one-time payment would be made once the project is approved and constructed.

Explosion reported in Ridgefield was vehicle fire

A reported explosion in Ridgefield on Saturday morning turned out to be a service truck on fire in a Danbury Road parking lot.  Police and firefighters responded to the scene shortly before 9am to extinguish the blaze and perform traffic control.  The driver received minor injuries and was transported to the hospital. The Ridgefield Fire Marshall responded to the scene and will be conducting the investigation into the cause.

State releases data on municipal COVID-19 vaccination rates

About 17.64 percent of Ridgefield residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.  The state Department of Public Health estimates that nearly 91-percent of Ridgefield residents 75 and older have received at least one dose. Around 76 percent of residents between 65 and 74 have received at least one dose.  Ridgefield had 4,402 first doses administered as of March 1.

In New Milford 87 percent of people over the age of 75 have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.  51 percent of people between the age of 65 to 74 years old have received their first dose.  Overall, 16% of New Milford has received their first dose.  

State data indicates that close to 15 percent of New Fairfield residents have been vaccinated, including 48 percent of residents over the age of 65 and close to 100 percent of residents over the age of 75.  While the state is easing some COVID-19 gathering restrictions, town officials say the infection rate in New Fairfield remains above the state average and encouraged people to take precautions to keep the community safe.

Wilton man marks 1 year since COVID-19 diagnosis, first in Conn.

Saturday marked the one year anniversary of the first Connecticut associated COVID-19 diagnosis, a Nuvance employee who worked at Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals.  Today is the one year mark for the first known Connecticut resident to contract the virus.  At the time, state health officials said a  man from Wilton, Chris Tillett, most likely became infected during a business trip to California.  He was first treated as if he had the flu, but then Tillett was in a medically induced coma.  Tillett told NBC that he is still dealing with lasting effects and will likely have to be on blood pressure medicine for the rest of his life.

Proposed expansion of gun seizure law sparks debate

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A proposal to expand Connecticut’s gun seizure law to allow relatives and medical professionals to ask judges to order people’s guns to be taken away from them drew spirited testimony by supporters and opponents before a legislative committee Friday.

Connecticut’s 1999 “red flag” law was the first in the country to allow judges to order someone’s guns seized upon evidence and probable cause they are a danger to themselves or others. It allows only prosecutors and police to ask a judge to issue a “risk warrant” to temporarily seize a person’s guns, after an investigation and if they believe there is probable cause.

The bill would add relatives, household members, intimate partners and medical professionals, such as physicians and psychiatrists, to the list of people who would be allowed to request a risk warrant from a judge. It also would eliminate the one-year limit on gun seizure orders, instead allowing them to remain in effect until the person whose guns were seized can prove they are no longer a danger to themselves or others.

During a Judiciary Committee hearing held by video conference, supporters of the bill said it would save more lives and avoid cases where families seek law enforcement help but police do not act. Opponents said it would open the door for gun seizures to be ordered based on the word of people with an ax to grind, including spurned lovers, and without the law enforcement investigation required under the current law.

Several people who testified told stories of loved ones dying from gun violence.

Jennifer Lawlor, of Bethel, said her 25-year-old daughter, Emily Todd, was shot to death in 2018 by a man she had known for only 18 days, after having told a Bridgeport police dispatcher during a 911 call a week earlier that he was threatening to kill himself and she believed he had a gun.

Todd, who was found shot to death in Bridgeport, also told authorities she feared Brandon Roberts would kill her for talking to the police, Lawlor said. She blamed police for not doing enough to find Roberts and seize his guns before her daughter was killed.

“We simply can no longer have a system that’s dependent solely on the response of a 911 dispatcher and a police department as the only resource someone has when they’re in a crisis,” Lawlor said. “Family members are often the first to recognize when their loved one is in crisis, so it is crucial they have a way to directly petition the court to temporarily remove guns from those who could be a risk to themselves or others.”

A message seeking comment was left for a spokesperson for Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim on Friday. Roberts has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges that remain pending.

Connecticut’s red flag law has been used more than 2,000 times in the state and was the foundation for similar laws in 19 other states and Washington, said Jeremy Stein, executive director of the Connecticut Against Gun Violence advocacy group. He favors expanding it.

“It has been widely studied and recognized as an effective means to prevent suicide by gun and is responsible for saving countless lives,” Stein said.

Gun rights supporters said they oppose the bill and the existing law works as is.

Holly Sullivan, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said she’s worried women who own guns would not seek mental health services in fear of having that treatment used in requests to have their guns seized.

Dr. Walter Kupson, of Middlebury, said he was concerned about the number of people who would be able to request a gun seizure under the new bill, and the potential for lies and abuses of the system.

“My fear is all it would take would be one word from a spurned partner to the judge whose going on one side without any evidence,” he said.

Other opponents questioned whether the changes to the law would deprive people of their constitutional rights by allowing gun seizures without an investigation or probable cause finding by law enforcement, as are required under the current law.

The expanded law would continue to require a judge to find probable cause before issuing a gun seizure warrant. Someone whose guns are seized also is entitled to a court hearing within 14 days to see if the seizure order should continue. If the order is continued, the person could petition the court in 180 days to cancel the seizure order, and would have to prove they are not a danger to themselves or others.

It’s not clear when the Judiciary Committee will vote on the bill.

Virtual public hearing in Bethel on proposed Fire Commission ordinance

A virtual public hearing is being held tonight by the Bethel Board of Selectmen on a proposed ordinance to create a Fire Commission.  There would be 5 voting members appointed by the Board of Selectmen, including a member of the Board.  The Fire Departments will be represented in a non-voting capacity by one ex-officio member for each of the individual Departments. 

The Commission will serve as an advisory board to the Selectmen, reviewing and making recommendations on purchases, capital expenditures and operational funding for the Fire Departments.  The Commission will be responsible for long-term capital budget planning with a future horizon of at least ten years, annual operational budget planning, and ensuring vehicle maintenance and repair records are retained according to law. 

The Fire Departments will be required to provide monthly expense reports to the Town Finance Department.  Quarterly status reports of vehicle maintenance and repairs must be submitted to the Commission.  They must also submit an annual report to the Commission with a summary of all call volumes and types of calls; budget, accounting expense overview and reimbursements in regards to Town funds; membership summary; immediate future goals, long term goals; and any other information requested by the Commission to aid the Commission in fulfilling its duties. 

Tonight's hearing is at 7pm via zoom.

FirstLight seeks long term permit from FERC for Brookfield restaurant on Candlewood

FirstLight has submitted a request to permit Down the Hatch restaurant's existing historical uses on Candlewood Lake to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  The Non-Project Use Application is for the Brookfield restaurant, which has been at its current location since 1946.  Because the existing uses have been continuously operated and maintain since before the Commission took jurisdiction, FirstLight is proposing to issue a long term permit.  The docks and other uses were constructed several decades ago without permission from FirstLight’s predecessors as a place for boaters to tie up when dining at the restaurant and as a place for viewing the lake.  The existing historical shoreline will not be altered and no new activities are expected.  FirstLight has also negotiated a long term license with the adjoining commercial land owner for execution once approval has been granted by FERC.  The Town of Brookfield has confirmed that Down the Hatch maintains all the necessary permits to operate the business.  This facility historically had maintained up to 50 slips to allow for access to the restaurant from the water. The current owner has agreed to maintain no more than 36 boat slips into the future as part of seeking FERC's approval for all of its existing historical uses.

Hospital reaches settlement over ADA non-compliance allegations

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has reached a settlement agreement with Danbury Hospital, which owns and operates Morganti Wound Care Center to resolve allegations the center was not operating in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

A patient who uses a wheelchair alleged that he was denied full and equal access to the services provided by Morganti Wound Care Center based on his disability, when he attempted to receive medical treatment.  Specifically, he alleged that he was told he must reschedule his appointment because they did not have the equipment or training necessary to transfer him from his wheelchair to the examination table.

Danbury Hospital is taking steps to ensure that each of its outpatient facilities has and will maintain access to a Hoyer lift, and has implemented other practices to transfer a patient onto examination tables, or other equipment, safely.  Danbury Hospital has also agreed to compensate the complainant in the amount of $10,000.

Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle noted that Danbury Hospital was cooperative with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and is committed to addressing the issues raised by the ADA investigation without litigation.

Brookfield to move COVID vaccine clinic in April

Brookfield plans to expand the town's COVID-19 vaccine clinics in early April to 6 days a week, and move them to St. Josephs School. Once Brookfield receives more doses than are currently allocated, they will host clinics on Monday through Saturday.  Brookfield is not collecting names for an “end of day” waiting list. Teachers and childcare workers will be vaccinated in separate clinics and are notified directly by the schools.  First Selectman Steve Dunn says there is currently insufficient allocation of vaccine to support all those eligible to immediately receive the vaccine – patience will be required.

Educators in Greater Danbury area take part in dedicated COVID-19 vaccine clinics

COVID-19 vaccine clinics were held throughout the weekend to start administering shots to educators in the Greater Danbury area.  The Danbury Health Department vaccinated 900 public school educators on Friday and Saturday.  Educator clinics will continue this week and plans call for all Public School teachers in the City to receive their first dose by the end of the week.  Smaller-scale clinics are planned for educators at private schools in Danbury.  New Milford has dedicated clinics for educators, which will then be opened up to residents in nearby towns.  The Connecticut Institute for Communities' Greater Danbury Community Health Center held a clinic in Newtown on Saturday to vaccinate educators.  Eligible Newtown teachers and education staff were enrolled through the district.

Greater Danbury area towns move out of COVID Red Zone

When it comes to the state's COVID ALERT map. there's bene a lot of change from the week before.  In the Greater Danbury area, towns with the lowest infection level, fewer than 5 cases per 100,000 population are Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Roxbury, Morris and Warren.  Yellow zone towns, fewer than 10 cases include Woodbury. Those in the orange zone, between 10 and 14 cases per 100,000 are Newtown, Monroe, Redding, Ridgefield, Southbury, and Washington.  The rest of the Greater Danbury area remains in the red zone, the highest alert level, with more than 15 cases per 100,000 population.

Danbury continues contact tracing efforts

The Danbury Health Department COVID-19 vaccine clinic has administered over 4,500 doses.  Acting Director Kara Prunty says contact tracing efforts have not slowed, and the community health team contacted 26-hundred cases and contacts last month.  The COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Rogers Park Middle School in Danbury is now being held on Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30 PM to 7PM and Wednesdays 9 AM to 5 PM.  City officials say community health workers have done countless hours of outreach scheduling appointments and notifying individuals of their eligibility to receive the vaccine.

Households not necessarily called together to make vaccine appointments

Redding Health officials have received a few questions about how residents who pre-register with the town for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment are being contacted.  Some have received an email about scheduling, but their age-eligible spouse did not.  If someone else in the household also qualifies under the current phase of the vaccine rollout, they can only register at the same time.  They are not necessarily called to schedule appointments at the same time.

Chamber declared March 'Restaurant Month'

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce has named March as Restaurant Month.  Over the next several weeks the Chamber will be partnering with the City of Danbury to highlight and promote local restaurants in the Greater Danbury area, encouraging residents to visit or get takeout.

Bethlehem home destroyed by a fire, SRO helped control flames

A Bethlehem home has been destroyed by a fire.  Early yesterday morning firefighters responded to Nonnewaug Road and found extremely heavy smoke on the first floor and in the basement.   Firefighter encountered zero visibility, high heat and heavy flames.  

It took 45 minutes to extinguish the blaze with an attack through the basement hatchway, stairwells and a first floor bedroom and bathroom. 

Bethlehem Ambulance evaluated the occupants, all of who made it out safely.  The house is uninhabitable.

The Bethlehem Elementary School Resource Officer, Mark Cattey, who is the East Litchfield Fire Chief responded from the school immediately and was able to shut all the doors and limit ventilation and control the fire spread.  Mutual aid was provided from Morris, Bantam, Washington, Woodbury, and Watertown with approximately 40 firefighters on scene. 

The fire has been determined to be accidental in origin. 

Redding health officials look to clear up vaccine confusion

There is apparently some confusion regarding the difference between the Vaccine Administration Management System and The Redding Health Department vaccine clinics.  Redding Scheduling Coordinator Kim Becker says residents can register for VAMS, get an account, and get an appointment at any location in the state.  Redding is acting as a Third Party Clinic and therefore is not in VAMS, like how pharmacy clinics are not listed on VAMS.  Residents who pre-register through the form on the town's website will be contacted by volunteers to set up an appointment in Redding.  Redding residents cannot register on the Bethel Town site even though the municipalities partnered for the clinics.  Doses are allocated for residents of each town, divided based on municipal population.

COVID-19 statistics in Danbury appear to be plateauing again

Danbury Health officials have updated the City's COVID-19 case numbers for the past week.  There were 20 positive tests Wednesday, 8 on Tuesday, 16 on Monday and 39 over the weekend.  That two day total nearly equals the number of cases from Friday, at 38.  COVID-19 statistics in Danbury appear to be starting to plateau again.  The City started to come down from the second peak in mid-to-late January.  During the 1st week of February, some 99 cases were reported.  The second week there were 78 positive COVID tests, and the 3rd week of the month had 59.  Last week, Danbury reported 57 COVID cases.  44 cases were reported Monday through Wednesday of this week.

Ridgefield Commission for Accessibility looking for new members

The Ridgefield Commission for Accessibility Is looking for new members.  The group provides advice to the Selectmen and other Ridgefield officials about the rights and needs of disabled citizens and reasonable accommodations to their special needs.  The group proactively advocates further improvements in current public facilities and accommodations to provide more independent and safe access throughout Ridgefield.  Anyone interested is asked to contact the selectmen via email

Newtown Police raise funds for Special Olympics through Penguin Plunge

The Newtown Police is once again partnering with Special Olympics Connecticut.  They are participating in a virtual Penguin Plunge fundraiser, though officers will physically take the plunge on March 27th in the chilly waters of Newtown.  Police officials say the pandemic has highlighted the importance of supporting others and coming together as a community.  The department is seeking donations to Special Olympics Connecticut online

Ridgefield firefighters review pump operations with newer members

Some on-duty Ridgefield firefighters took advantage of the warm weather earlier this week to review pump operations with newer members.  Skills were put to the test to have hydrant water hooked up and flowing prior to hose lines exhausting the tank water on the truck.  Ridgefield Fire Department engines carry about 750 gallons of water.  With two attack lines in operation, the tank will be emptied in about 2-and-a-half minutes.

Hearing set for proposal on firearms, risk protection orders

The legislature's Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing this morning to discuss a bill concerning firearms and risk protection orders.  Redding Senator Will Haskell says in situations where a person poses a risk of imminent personal injury to himself, herself or others, a judge would be allowed to issue an order prohibiting that person from acquiring or possessing firearms or ammunition.

Currently, the law only allows these protection orders to be issued against someone currently in possession of a gun, not someone seeking to acquire one. 

Under the proposed legislation, the protective order will continue to apply until the person can prove they no longer pose risk of injury to themselves or others. Family and household members including spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren, step-family members or in-laws would be able to file a complaint, as would people living with the individual, people sharing children with them, romantic partners or legal guardians.

Medical professionals including physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, psychologists and social workers would also be allowed to make such a report. 

The hearing is being held via zoom at 10am.  Testimony can be emailed to

Ridgefield residents vote to move budget meeting just for this year

A charter amendment has been approved in Ridgefield to give residents more time to vote on a town budget this year.  During a Special Town Meeting Wednesday, about two dozen residents, some in person and some virtually, voted to hold the annual budget meeting earlier than normal.  Instead of meeting on May 3rd to vote to send the budget to a referendum, Ridgefield residents will cast that vote on April 24th.  Ridgefield officials have proposed to hold the referendum on May 11th.

Danbury Planners sign off on medical marijuana facility

The Danbury Planning Commission has signed off on allowing a Bethel-based medical marijuana facility to move into a former bank building.  D&B Wellness was approved on Wednesday night for the move to the three-story building on Mill Plain Road. 

The company plans to renovate the interior of the building.  While the drive thru window will stay, there are no plans to dispense product from the window.  The building will become a pharmacy-style store, with the second floor reserved for support groups and other therapies. 

The Compassionate Care Center in Bethel will close once the move is complete.  D&B Wellness is one of 18 dispensaries in Connecticut licensed to sell medical marijuana.

Veterans of all ages eligible for COVID-19 vaccine through VA

Greater Danbury area officials are alerting veterans of all ages that the Connecticut Veteran Affairs Department is offering COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics to those who served.  Veterans must be enrolled for care with VA to receive the vaccine.  Depending on the location, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being administered.  The doses are available for veterans on a first come, first served basis. There is a clinic today at the West Haven Annex in Orange from noon to 4pm.  Mask and physical distancing are required. 

Saturday marks 1 year since first COVID-19 case with Connecticut ties

One year ago tomorrow Danbury and Norwalk officials gathered with state leaders at Danbury City Hall to announce that a Danbury Hospital employee who lives in Westchester County tested positive for coronavirus.  The individual was exposed to the virus while in their home by another individual who tested positive.  At the time, Governor Lamont said they had been expecting exposure of the virus for several weeks, because of outbreaks in New York.  There were still no confirmed cases among Connecticut residents at that point.  Health officials last year started urging people to follow basic but important steps like washing hands frequently, avoid shaking hands, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home when sick.  Nuvance Health officials had been preparing for an infection since mid-January by holding weekly meetings.  But they cautioned then that anyone who is ill should first call their primary care physician and not just show up at the ER so they weren't overwhelmed by the “worried well” looking for answers. 

New Milford launches vaccine clinic for school staff

The weekly shipment of COVID-19 vaccine doses that a municipality receives for clinics hosted by local health departments varies.  New Milford Health Director Lisa Morrissey says that's because the federal government, and in turn the state, are just shipping doses out as they are secured.  She says some times that means 50 doses, sometimes it's 500. 

Right now the clinic is for education staff only.  Morrissey says New Milford has a closed web portal, and when she finds out how many shots they'll be able to administer on Fridays, she contacts the Superintendent of Schools. Morrissey says staff will then follow a link to schedule an appointment.  These time slots are not on the Vaccine Administration Management System.  This is by invitation-only to make sure teachers can get into a clinic sooner rather than later. 

If New Milford's allotment from the state remains stable, the town will be done within 3 weeks.  Mayor Pete Bass says it took a big, multi-departmental lift to bring this type of operation into fruition.

First COVID-19 vaccine clinic held at Danbury mall

The first COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered at the Danbury Mall drive thru clinic hosted by the Community Health Center and Nuvance Health.  For the first day, there were only 300 appointments scheduled, but the plan calls for vaccinating up to 600 people per day.  There is an ability to nearly double that administration.  People who drove up to the site by the former Lord & Taylor received the Moderna vaccine. 

The National Guard was on site to direct traffic. 

A parking area has also been set aside for people to wait 15 minutes for observation to ensure there were no immediate side effects or reactions to the injection.  For people with certain medical histories and allergies, the wait time is 30 minutes. 

Nuvance plans to transition their operations to the mall after March 19th.  

31 Danbury Public School community members in precautionary quarantine

31 Danbury Public School community members are in a precautionary 10 day quarantine because of three positive cases. 

The Health and Nursing Services Coordinator has a message for families.  Kathy O'Dowd asks that if anyone in a household is sick, even with mild symptoms, to not send children to school. Anyone in this position is asked to contact the School Nurse for further guidance. 

There were two positive COVID-19 cases at Danbury High School with 13 close contacts, and a case at Stadley Rough School with 15 close contacts. 

On Monday there was one case each reported at the High School and West Side Middle School where there was no school contact.  Yesterday, a positive case was identified each at Rogers Park, Stadley Rough, and King Street Primary with no school contact.

New Milford to become regional COVID-19 vaccine hub

New Milford will eventually become a regional COVID-19 vaccine hub, as more doses become available.  Mayor Pete Bass says clinics will be open to the childcare providers in the surrounding community in the upcoming weeks. The state is shipping vaccines specifically for these kinds of providers so it won't take away from the town's capacity to vaccinate New Milford educators and early childhood providers.

UNIT removes 100 illegal signs from telephone poles in Danbury

Danbury Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team recently removed 100 illegal signs from telephone poles around the City.  UNIT members spotted the bright yellow vinyl signs promoting a business nailed to telephone poles, on street corners and elsewhere last month.  Within a week of spotting the proliferation, UNIT removed 100 signs and secured camera footage that could possibly identify who put them up.  State statute allows for a $50 ticket to be issued for each sign placed on a telephone pole. 

John Read Middle School gets new principal

The Redding Board of Education has signed off on a new principal for John Read Middle School.  Meghan Ward was unanimously appointed by the Board and is slated to take on the role on July 1st.  Ward, an assistant principal at Staples High School in Westport, is a Joel Barlow alumna.

Federal prosecutors: Inmates refuse inoculations

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — More than 200 inmates at the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut, have declined to get vaccinated against COVID-19, including numerous medically vulnerable prisoners who have been seeking release to home confinement due to concerns about the coronavirus, according to federal officials.

Federal prosecutors disclosed in a new court document filed Tuesday that nearly 550 of the approximately 800 inmates at the prison complex have been offered a COVID-19 vaccine and 336 have received at least the first of two doses. Another 212 inmates declined.

Some inmates may be worried or confused about the safety of the vaccines, or do not trust them, said Ariadne Ellsworth, a Yale Law School student and member of the legal team representing Danbury inmates who filed a class-action lawsuit accusing federal officials of not doing enough to protect them from the coronavirus.

“Our understanding is that, as more information has become available and individuals have had more opportunities to educate themselves about the vaccine, a number of class members who initially declined the vaccine have since informed the facility that they are now willing to take it,” Ellsworth said.

The Connecticut U.S. attorney’s office filed the new document as part of the class-action lawsuit, which was settled last July. The federal Bureau of Prisons agreed to promptly identify prisoners who are low security risks and are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 complication, and release them to home confinement.

Prison officials say inmates who decline vaccinations without a documented medical reason will not be given further consideration for home confinement. Officials say they are continuing to consider home confinement for inmates who accept vaccinations, up until the time they are fully inoculated, usually two weeks after receiving the second dose.

Asked about inmates refusing vaccinations, the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement Wednesday that it does not comment on pending legal matters and is not providing the number of federal prison staff and inmates nationwide who have declined the vaccines.

New Milford to vaccinate educators at Pettibone clinics

New Milford will be providing additional COVID 19 clinics at Pettibone Community Center.  The clinic will operate two to three days a week.  During this month though, they will vaccinate teachers, day care providers, and pre-K through 12 staff.  The clinic will also make appointments for those in Phase 1A who haven't yet received a shot.  That includes health care personnel, first responders, and residents and staff of congregate and long term care settings.  Later, appointments will be opened to the public through the Vaccine Administration Management System.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass called for patience, saying based on the number of doses the town will receive, it could take about three weeks to immunize all teachers.

Ridgefield officials present proposed budget with slight increase

The Ridgefield proposed budget is set to get further scrutiny from the Board of Finance.  The town is seeking $39.5 million while the school budget is $103 million.  The plan includes a 1.9 percent increase over the current year.  the Board of Education requested a 3.5 percent hike, but the proposal includes just a 3-percent increase.  Part of the budget driver on the municipal side was the combining of the police and fire dispatch centers.  The consolidation is aimed at cutting the delay in emergency response times through a better coordinated effort.  

Outdoor patios approved for Southbury Green

The Southbury Zoning Commission has approved construction of three outdoor patios for restaurants.  Additional lighting for nighttime use was also approved.  The Newstimes reports Chip’s Family Restaurant will use one and Lucas Local Oyster Bar will another.  The third was approved with no tenant attached.  It's adjacent to a proposed retail location, but could be used if a restaurant moves in the space instead.  Prior to the pandemic, the plan was to upgrade the sewage septic system at Southbury Green, but it was then amended to include the three outdoor spaces.

Bethel High Schoolers raise more than $5,800 through Kindness Day events

Bethel Kindness Day, led by high schoolers, raised thousands of dollars for a local organization.  The theme for last week's event was "You Can't Mask Kindness".  Students hosted events during advisory sessions, sold a student-designed tshirt, and took part in assemblies.  All of the tshirt sale proceeds this year were  donated to Ann's Place.  They raised more than $5,800 through Kindness Day events.  The students also held a donation drive for Bethel Health Care, collecting items such as puzzles, room decor, painting sets, men and womens shampoo, body wash and lotion. 

Danbury City Council presents proclamation to former Mayor

The Danbury City Council made a virtual presentation to former Mayor Mark Boughton at their meeting on Tuesday.  Council President Vinny DiGilio read from a proclamation that will be sent to the new state Department of Revenue Services Commissioner.  The Council also will give Boughton a framed name plate from the dais, which has been tradition for outgoing members.  Mayor Joe Cavo noted that a plaque will be placed in Council Chambers, along with one recognizing the longest serving Councilman John Esposito, who was elected to 14 terms.

Bipartisan Background Checks Act reintroduced in Congress

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes backs the reintroduction of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act.  She says gun safety is an issue that is deeply personal for her and noted that universal background checks are supported by over 90% of Americans.  She called it a a commonsense solution to a problem that effects every community across the country.  

H.R. 8 extends the requirement of background checks to unlicensed gun sellers, including those who sell guns online or at gun shows.  Federal law already requires licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks on gun purchasers and transferees. 

A man whose son was killed on 12-14 also applauded the move.  Mark Barden, co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, says while still grieving loved ones in the aftermath of their murder, he and others worked tirelessly to try to pass Universal Background Checks.  Eight years later, he again call on Congress to do their part to protect children from gun violence. 

Nurse pleads guilty to tampering with fentanyl vials intended for patients

A nurse has pleaded guilty to tampering with fentanyl vials intended for patients at a fertility clinic.  49-year old Donna Monticone of Oxford worked at the Yale Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility clinic, ordering and inventorying a variety of narcotics used by the clinic. 

Monticone was accused of stealing fentanyl for her own use and reinjected saline into vials so that it would appear as if none of the narcotics were missing.  Fentanyl is a component of a cohort of drugs used by Yale physicians during outpatient surgical procedures to anesthetize patients and protect them from feeling pain.  About 75 percent of the fentanyl given to patients at the clinic from June 2020 to October was adulterated with saline.  Some of the vials contained diluted fentanyl, while others contained no drug at all and contained just saline.

In November, Monticone brought approximately 175 vials of fentanyl that she had taken from the Yale REI clinic and discarded them in waste containers at the clinic. 

Sentencing is set for May 25th.  Monticone faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.  She was released on a $50,000 bond pending sentencing and has surrendered her nursing license.

Local lawmaker hosts roundtable on Paid Leave law

A freshman lawmaker is hosting an informational roundtable discussion tonight about the state's new Paid Family Medical Leave program. Ridgefield Representative Amiee Berger-Girvalo and Connecticut Paid Leave Authority CEO Andrea Barton Reeves will lead the virtual forum tonight on how the law applies to small businesses. Registration is required for the 5pm forum.

Stony Hill firefighters host two ceremonies

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company held a couple ceremonies this week.  Bethel First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker was in attendance to swear in line officers for 2021. Normally done in January, COVID and scheduling conflicts pushed this back to the March meeting.  Chief John Baker also presented Past Chief and current Safety Officer Tom Galliford with an award for his decades of dedication to the Stony Hill Fire Department and the Town of Bethel.

Court issues ruling in City of Danbury vs Dorothy Day homeless shelter permit case

A Connecticut court has ruled in favor of the City of Danbury and Dorothy Day Hospitality House must cease operations as a homeless shelter.  A judge ruled that the cease and desist order issued by the City's Zoning Enforcement Officer was properly made.  Dorothy Day appealed the August 2016 decision and the judge issued a ruling on Friday. 

The issue dates back to 1984 when Dorothy Day applied for renewal of emergency accessory use to their soup kitchen.  The one year renewal was granted, but no further applications were filed over the course of the next 30 years.  Before the cease and desist order was issued in 2016, the Zoning Enforcement Officer sent a notice in 2015 reminding Dorothy Day of its failure to obtain the required approvals, asking that it apply.  No application was filed. 

The original 1983 approval was given for temporary emergency interior alterations.  Dorothy Day argued that the condition of approval was illegal and asked the court not to consider the failure to renew an application after 1984.  The court though does not examine or determine legality of the permit, because the plaintiff failed to challenge the approval back in the 80s. 

In 1989 when amended zoning regulations permitted a homeless shelter as a right in that zone, Dorothy Day did nothing.   In 2014 when the regulation was changed to instead allow the use as a special exception, Dorothy Day did nothing. 

The court found that Dorothy Day muddied the waters by arguing at a 2016 public hearing that a 1984 letter from Planning was unavailable, meaning renewal for the homeless shelter use was not required.  Minutes from a 1984 meeting show that the emergency housing shelter will be allowed for another year as a 'one year renewable accessory use' to the soup kitchen. 

Dorothy Day also argued that they could operate as a homeless shelter forever at 11 Spring Street under the doctrine of a nonconforming preexisting use.  The court determined that argument is flawed because Dorothy Day allowed the use with an approval to lapse in 1985 and the use became illegal at that point. 

Part of Danbury considered 'socially vulnerable' and will get vaccine supply boost

The state Department of Public Health has designated key areas by ZIP code to receive at least 25 percent of all new COVID-19 vaccines.  The CDC Social Vulnerability Index indicates that the 06810 zip code of Danbury would be eligible based on factors including poverty, employment, housing, access to transportation, and education among other variables.  The Health Department has been working with local entities to set up more clinics, including the new drive thru site at the Danbury Mall, which starts vaccinating age-eligible residents tomorrow.

Danbury seeks contractor for Council chambers redesign

The City of Danbury has put out a bid notice seeking minor alterations to City Hall Council Chambers.  The dais where the 21 members and Mayor sit was considered crowded even under pre-pandemic standards.  The chairs are tightly packed in the front of the room, and there's not much distance to the first row of chairs for the general public. 

The Council has been meeting virtually for about a year now. 

Plans call for adding a second desk in front of the original one in order to space out the members, and a new handicap ramp to get to the current elevated platform.  About 30 chairs in the auditorium space would be eliminated to make way for the changes. 

Bids are due to the City by March 25th.  The contractor is advised to visit the work site, take all measurements, note all conditions, and fully acquaint themselves with the conditions to fully understand the facility, difficulties and restrictions.

New Milford seeks volunteers for expanded COVID-19 vaccine clinic

As New Milford look to expand COVID-19 vaccine clinics, the town is in need of more volunteers.  Those who want to volunteer should be in good health, heave experience using a computer to enter data, have transportation and flexibility in scheduling.  Volunteers must be over the age of 18.  Clinicians are needed to administer vaccinations and act as observers of post-vaccinated individuals.  Anyone interested is asked to contact the volunteer hotline at 860-355-6059.

Sidewalk Installation Project in Bethel starting

A Sidewalk Installation Project along Wooster Street and Durant Avenue in Bethel is set to get started.  Adjacent property owners will receive further information in the mail.  The project will provide pedestrian access from nearby residential properties to the downtown area and train station.  Town officials say this will improve public safety and further enhance the walking loop to the downtown commercial center, municipal offices, post office, library and public transportation hubs. A 349-thousand dollar state grant through the Community Connectivity Grant Program will help cover construction costs.

74-unit apartment development in Sandy Hook under construction

A 74-unit apartment development in Sandy Hook is under construction.  The complex, called Farrell Communities, is being constructed off Washington Avenue, along a wooded area along the Pootatuck River.  20 percent of the units are being designated as affordable.  Farrell Building Company expects to start renting one- and two-bedroom apartments in two buildings at the end of next month.  Three other buildings are planned at the site.  The property will include 31 detached garages for rent, a clubhouse with meeting rooms, and a dog park.

22-year old driver killed in a single car crash in Newtown

A driver was killed in a single car crash in Newtown this weekend.  Emergency responders were dispatched to Toddy Hill Road near Quarry Ridge Road around 5am Sunday.  The driver was found unconscious inside the vehicle.  CPR was performed at the scene on 22-year old Brian Hensel before being transported to the Hospital with life threatening injuries.  He was pronounced dead at the hospital yesterday.  Police spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde says it's always a tragedy whenever a young person's life ends in a tragic accident such as this.  He added that officers did their best in providing first aid, but to have this outcome hurts.  Hensel was a student at Central Connecticut and Newtown Police have reached out to provide whatever support and comfort for his professors and classmates they can.

Southbury Police investigating larceny from Ulta Beautty

The Southbury Police Department is investigating a larceny that occurred at Ulta Beauty supply store on Saturday afternoon.  Employees reported that two black males, one wearing a red hooded sweatshirt with jeans and the other a black hooded sweatshirt with jeans, entered the store around 4:15pm and headed to the men’s fragrance section. They loaded items from the shelves into bags before running out of the store. The suspects were seen entering a white SUV, driven by another person, fleeing the scene. Anyone with new information regarding this incident is advised to contact Officer Pierce with the Southbury Police Department at 203-264-5912.

Congresswoman touts approval of Education Secretary nomination

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is touting final confirmation of Miguel Cardona as the 12th Secretary of Education.  The former Teacher of the Year says she's incredibly grateful to see this Department led by an educator who will focus on students.  A native of Connecticut’s 5th District, who grew up in public housing as an English language learner before spending two decades working in a public-school system, Hayes says Cardona is the right person, at the right time for this job.  She says it's imperative  the disparities that have been further exacerbated by this pandemic be re-examined.

Candidates announce plans for Special Election in 112th state House district

Two candidates have announced their intention to run for a state legislative seat in Monroe and part of Newtown, recently vacated by Republican JP Sredzinski.  The 112th House District special election is slated for April 13th.  The candidates are Republican Town Councilman Tony Scott and Democratic Board of Education member Nick Kapoor.  Sredzinski ran unopposed in 2020 and 2018. Scott has served on the Monroe Economic Development Commission and chaired Parks and Recreation before joining the Council.  Kapoor, Sacred Heart University graduate, interned for a state representative in Hartford and previously served on the Town Council.  Kapoor was appointed a commissioner on the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in 2017.

Bill to prevent Connecticut commuters from double-tax passes

A package of tax changes, including a plan to prevent 110,000 Connecticut commuters with out-of-state jobs from being double-taxed because they’ve been working at home during the pandemic, received final legislative approval on Monday.

The bill cleared the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 28-7. The legislation, which already passed in the House of Representatives, now awaits Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s signature.

Supporters of the bill, including senators in the western portion of the state, said it was unfair that many of their constituents who work in New York faced the prospect of having to pay both Connecticut and New York income tax when they were working from home during the pandemic. The issue also affects Connecticut residents who work in neighboring Massachusetts.

“These commuters have not benefited from New York services over the last year,” said Ridgefield Sen. Will Haskell, noting that many have “not stepped foot” in New York since many employers told workers to stay home. Haskell said it was “outrageous” for New York to interpret a so-called “convenience rule” as allowing the state to still collect personal income tax from these workers who had no choice but work from home.

“This is an opportunity, and in fact, I think we have an obligation to stand up to bullies, whether they be in New York or in Massachusetts,” Haskell said.

Under the bill, the state of Connecticut would provide those workers with a credit for income taxes owed to Connecticut during just the 2020 tax year, even though they worked remotely from home during the pandemic.

The underlying issue is ultimately expected to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Connecticut and other states have filed briefs in the case, which stems from New Hampshire filling suit against Massachusetts for collecting income taxes on residents who were working from home during the pandemic.

New Milford Sen. Craig Miner said Connecticut should do more, claiming “the biggest bully is in New York and he should be taken on,” without referencing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo by name. Last May, the Democrat said his state was “not in a position to provide any subsidies” given its budget deficit when he confirmed that out-of-state health care workers who came to New York to help with COVID-19 patients would be taxed.

Lamont is expected to sign the tax package into law.

Mass COVID-19 vaccination site opens at Danbury Mall

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site will open this week at the Danbury Mall.  The Community Health Center Inc will run the site, making it their 4th.  The Danbury location joins sites in East Hartford, Middletown, and Stamford.  The drive-through site will be open from noon to 4pm on Thursday.  There will be six lanes where drivers will pull up and receive a Moderna shot.  The site will then be open weekdays from 8:30am to 4pm.  The site, for now, will be making 600 appointments a day.  CHC staff, volunteers and the national guard will be running the clinics.

Kent vaccination site removed from the 211 search results

Kent First Selectman Jean Speck says there's been a lot of speculation around the recent removal of the High Watch COVID-19 vaccination site from the 211 vaccine site map search results.  She was told by the Department of Public Health that there is an open investigation with their Facilities Licensing Investigation Section, and they are on a pause as far as any new vaccination appointments, but are continuing with administering second doses to those who already had their first dose there.  Kent Station Pharmacy is in the process of becoming a vaccination site.

Putnam County to get increase in COVID-19 vaccine doses

County executives in New York were told Friday to submit requests for the amount of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine they could store at sub-zero temperatures and dispense within seven days to senior citizens without comorbidities. Putnam County requested 3,000 vaccine doses, but will receive a little less than half of that figure. 

A county’s allotment will depend upon its population. Putnam County does not yet know when doses might be delivered so have not scheduled a distribution clinic.  Putnam County has freezers that can store up to 6,000 doses of the vaccine at sub-zero temperatures and Executive MaryEllen Odell said she will offer space in its freezers to any neighboring counties that doesn’t have adequate cold storage capacity. 

The County has the capability to set up a POD to administer the vaccine within 48 hours of receiving it.  In addition to the professionals from the county health department, there's a vast pool of experienced volunteers who are ready to help vaccinate older residents. 

Local lawmaker supports bill to increase state funding to Danbury

Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner has voted in favor of legislation providing as much as $2.5 million in additional funding to the City. The legislation adjusted the way Connecticut's PILOT funds are dispersed.  The program, designed to make up for revenue lost due to property tax exemptions of state property, colleges and hospitals, was fully funded in 2000, but since has seen funding decline to less than 25 percent of funds necessary to reimburse towns.  The measure acknowledges the program is underfunded and creates a new tiered system.  Kushner notes that Danbury is entitled to as much as $10.8 million under PILOT, but receives less than $3 million of that.  The new three-tier system reassesses funding through PILOT considering towns’ grand list strength and educational program strength

Second Democrat considering run for Danbury Mayor

Another Democrat could be throwing his hat into the ring in the open race for Mayor of Danbury.  City Councilman John Esposito III is considering seeking the mayor’s office or an at-large seat on City Council.  He currently represents the 4th ward, but is not seeking reelection.  Esposito and his wife are looking to buy a bigger house for their family of 4, but haven't found one in the ward.  Esposito noted that he wants to continue to serve the City, as he completes his 3rd term on the Council this year.  Democrat Roberto Alves recently announced that he is running for mayor.  Republican Mayor Joe Cavo has not said if he will run. Cavo is finishing Mark Boughton’s term after the former mayor left to be the state’s tax commissioner. Democratic Board of Ed member Joe Britton plans to run for 4th ward Councilman alongside Democrat Farley Santos.  The pair have endorsed Alves for mayor.

State lawmakers seek funding to overhaul aging Danbury War Memorial

The Danbury delegation of state lawmakers is looking to secure a $2 million grant to overhaul the aging Danbury War Memorial.  It was constructed in 1951 as a tribute to World War II veterans.  The building needs new boilers, new heating and cooling, plumbing and fire-suppression systems to meet state codes.  The nonprofit that runs the facility says funding from the City only covers operating costs, and they can't afford the necessary upgrades.  In 2015, the War Memorial got a new roof, redesigned locker rooms and new flooring.  The facility is open as a gym, operates as an emergency shelter and a voting place.  The proposed bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Finance, Revenue and Bonding.

One person killed in Washington converted barn fire

One person was killed in a barn fire in the town of Washington.  Firefighters responded to Blackville Road shortly after 6pm on Saturday.  The building was a converted barn, being used as a living space.  The victim's body was found in the barn and transported to the state medical examiner's office for a positive identification.  There are no initial indications of wrongdoing, and no connection to a string of arson fires in the area at that time.  The cause of the fire remains undetermined.  Bantam and Northville fire departments provided mutual aid.  Firefighters were on scene for more than 4 hours.

Brookfield proposed budget sent to Board of Finance

The Brookfield budget process for the upcoming fiscal year is underway. The Board of Selectmen held numerous budget workshop meetings in February deliberating on the First Selectman's recommended budget.  The Selectmen will finalize it, then forward to the Board of Finance with a presentation tomorrow. The proposed date for the Capital Budget Special Town Meeting is Tuesday, March 30th at 7pm.  Residents will set the Referendum date at that time.

Library warning of scam fundraising email using their name

C.H. Booth Library in Newtown is reporting a scam fundraising email using their name.  While the library does do fundraising campaigns, most recently on Thursday as part of Fairfield County Giving Day, the one in the scam email was not theirs.  Library officials are looking into the issue and pursuing all possible courses of action.  They apologized for the inconvenience and thanked those residents who alerted them to the issue.  The Newtown Police is investigating this scam attempt, at this time it does not appear anyone has fallen victim.

Hearing in Bethel on Fire Commission postponed

The public hearing scheduled for tonight in Bethel to hear comments on the proposed Fire Commission ordinance has been changed due to an error in the publication date. The new hearing date is Monday, March 8th at 7pm via Zoom video conference.

Danbury PTO hosting meeting about proposed budget

The Danbury Public School District CityWide PTO is hosting a virtual meeting tonight on the proposed school budget.  A presentation will be made by the District's finance director.  The PTO will be having their regular monthly meeting at 6:30pm.  There will also be a Q&A session about school reopening during the meeting.  

Connecticut man attacked 4 ambulance facilities

A Torrington man who authorities say targeted at least four Connecticut EMS agencies with Molotov cocktails has been arrested in Pennsylvania, police said.

Richard White, 37, was arrested shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday after police obtained a warrant on third-degree arson and burglary charges.

Old Saybrook Police Chief Michael Spera said White threw a Molotov cocktail on the ground at an ambulance facility in Meriden on Saturday, then drove to Old Saybrook and threw a Molotov cocktail at an ambulance facility there. Police said White also set two fires at ambulance facility and nearby home in Roxbury.

There were no reports of injuries from the attacks.

White was expected to be extradited to Connecticut. 

White is an EMT for the state of Connecticut.  

State Police say there was an “intentionally set fire” to a home on Chalybes Road just after 6 p.m. CSP believes someone at the Roxbury home was connected to the suspect and was targeted. Old Saybrook Chief Spera told WTNH-TV they believe the residence was White’s childhood home.

Putnam County Health Department gets OK for expanded vaccine distribution

The Putnam County Department of Health will soon be allowed to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to senior citizens who have no comorbidities.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says New York state has also promised to significantly increase the county’s vaccine allotment.  For months, Odell has been calling for the state to loosen its policy and permit local health departments to vaccinate residents 65 years of age and older as a way to end the confusion that has surrounded the vaccine rollout.  Until now, senior citizens without comorbidities could only be inoculated at one of New York's mass vaccination sites or a scattering of private pharmacies. Local health departments were assigned to vaccinate only specific categories of essential workers, group home residents, those with disabilities and people of all ages with comorbidities.

Ridgefield official: Proof of eligibility required at COVID-19 vaccine appointments

Beginning today, the state will require verification to confirm eligibility at the time of the COVID-19 vaccination appointment. All individuals eligible due to age bracket should bring an ID or other documentation demonstrating date of birth.  Proof of Connecticut residency is required.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says if its a recent move/relocation documentation of residence ie; electric bill, tax form, etc. is required.  Congregate and education/childcare staff individuals should provide an employment ID badge, payroll stub, business card, letter from employer or other documentation.  Veterinarians living and working in the State are not identified as eligible healthcare personnel. Veterinarians are to be vaccinated in their appropriate age phase.

Brookfield COVID-19 vaccine clinics reported booked

In the last two weeks reported Brookfield has had 67 new cases of COVID-19. The rate per 100,000 population remains 29. The positivity rate for Brookfield is 5.2%, down from 5.3% the week before.  People 55 and over can now make appointments by phone or online.  Brookfield clinics are small and appointments are currently full.  The town doesn't anticipate cancellations and is not collecting names for an “end of day” waiting list. It is possible that there are a few appointments at the end of the day; but the clinic administrator will contact people the town is aware of who qualify. First Selectman Steve Dunn stressed that that is rare. Teachers and childcare workers will be vaccinated in separate clinics and will be notified directly by the schools.

DEEP plans improvements to Candlewood Lake State Boat Launch in Squantz Cove

Despite the cold winter days, the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection Boating Division is working to improve the Candlewood Lake State Boat Launch in Squantz Cove on Candlewood Lake in New Fairfield through a comprehensive redesign.  Without increasing capacity at the boat launch, DEEP is working to enhance the boater’s experience at the facility with Americans with Disability Act improvements, a revised traffic pattern, new courtesy docks, addition of a toilet building and lighting, and widening of the ramp to promote the safe and efficient launching and retrieval of vessels. DEEP will be sharing the draft plans on Thursday at 7pm in a virtual public information meeting. Public comments may be submitted following the presentation by email until March 18th to

Truck fire quickjly extinguished in Danbury

A truck fire in Danbury on Saturday was quickly extinguished.  Firefighters responded to the loading dock at Omaha Beef on Maple Avenue on a report of a blaze.  Manager Jason Street, who is also the Assistant Fire Chief of the Northville Fire Department, spotted the truck on fire in the enclosed loading dock, jumped in the company's forklift, elevated the rear of the burning truck and dragged it out of the building into the roadway. Danbury Fire Department units arrived quickly and extinguished the flames.  The Danbury Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause and origin.  Danbury Police  Department assisted with traffic control and towing the vehicle away. There were no injuries.

Special election to be held in Newtown, Monroe for State Rep.

A special election will be held in part of Newtown and in Monroe next month.  The election is needed to  fill a vacancy for state representative in the 112th Assembly District of the state House of Representatives.  The seat became vacant on February 17th following the resignation of Republican J.P. Sredzinski.  Under state law, the governor is required to issue a writ of special election within 10 days of a vacancy, and a special election must be held exactly 46 days after the writ has been issued.  The special election will be held Tuesday April 13th.


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