Local Headlines

Color draining from COVID alert map in Conn.

The color is draining from the COVID-infection map.  55 of 169 towns and cities in Connecticut are currently in the red zone alert level, the highest of the state’s four alert levels.  Sherman and Newtown remain in the red.  Moving into Orange is Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Milford, Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton.  In the Yellow zone are New Fairfield and Easton.  The grey zone includes Weston, Bridgewater, Roxbury, Washington, Warren and Kent among others in the northwest corner.

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Head on crash in Danbury closes road for nearly 4 hours

A serious collision in Danbury last night closed Lake Avenue Extension for nearly 4 hours.  Emergency responders were called to the area of the Maron hotel around 7:30pm and found that a pickup truck and a small SUV collided head on.  The driver of the pickup truck sustained minor injuries.  The SUV rolled over, pinning the driver in the wreckage.  It took firefighters about 20 minutes to stabilize the vehicle and extricate the driver using the Jaws of Life tool.  The patient was transported to the hospital.  The accident remains under investigation. Lake Avenue Extension was closed for about 3-and-a-half hours.

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Aquarion donates 15 Water Rescue Bags to Easton Police

Aquarion Water Company has donated 15 MARSARS Water Rescue Bags to the Easton Police Department.  The donation was prompted by a cold water rescue of a resident and dog who fell through the ice of the pond in front of Helen Keller Middle School in December.  Chief Richard Doyle says the officer entered freezing cold water up to his chest and a rescue bag would have proven invaluable.  All officers are receiving training on the use of the bags and the equipment will be placed in every car in the Easton Police Department fleet.

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Virtual public hearing tonight in Kent on the budget

A virtual public hearing is being held tonight in Kent about the budget.  The Board of Finance  will present proposed itemized expenditures for the coming fiscal year and then take comment.  The budget is 13-point-36 million dollars, including capital projects and holds the mill rate flat.  The Zoom meeting is at 7pm.  The Annual Town Budget Meeting will be May 21st at 7pm.

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Danbury moves out of COVID alert Red Zone

As of yesterday, more than 1.4 million people in Connecticut have been fully vaccinated. Governor Ned Lamont expects 70-percent of adults will have had their first dose as of today, well ahead of President Biden’s goal of July 4th.  Lamont also gave a special shout out to Danbury.

Lamont says the Hat City has been red hot in terms of infections for some months, but the City has moved into the orange zone, the second highest level for community spread of the disease.  Lamont calls this an example of progress and shows that vaccinations work.

The yellow minivans acting as mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be in Danbury for the entire month.  The Griffin Van will be at the Danbury Police Activities League building on Hayestown Road today between 10am and 4:30pm.  No appointments necessary.   Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish will be hosting a clinic every Wednesday between 3pm and 7pm.  The Griffin van will be visiting the Ecuadorian Civic Center every Saturday from 1 to 7pm at 20 West Street.

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Danbury City Council approves budget on party-line vote

With a party line vote, the Danbury City Council has approved a budget for the coming fiscal year.  In a vote of 11 to 10, the $267 million tax and spending plan passed with all Democrats opposed.  Most cited a need for more funding for the schools. 

The Board of Education asked for $4 million dollars more than what was included in the budget.  The district will receive 137 million dollars from the City, $1.25 million more than this year.  There's also little more than $5 million in federal grants coming to the schools and a $3.5 million surplus from a prior year headed to the district. 

Councilman Duane Perkins proposed an amendment to use up to $4.3 million in the fund balance to meet the Board's full request.  City Finance Director David St Hilaire said some money is already coming from there, and if the fund balance gets too low, rating agencies could look poorly on the Danbury as it borrows for the career academy and wastewater treatment plant. 

The tax rate and sewer and water rates are holding steady next year.  The Council also approved $3 million in capital projects, including paving and boiler replacements.

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Artificial Field Turf Replacement getting underway soon in Danbury

Artificial Field Turf Replacement is getting underway soon in Danbury.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says designs have been completed of artificial turf replacements and improvements of Kaplanis, Perry and Danbury High School fields. Shaw Sports Turf was selected for the work.  Kaplanis and Perry Fields will be done this spring with a mid-June completion.  Plans call for starting the DHS field replacement around June 15th, with a September completion planned.  Construction Services has been in communication with the Board of Ed and DHS Principal Dan Donovan on the project schedule. Replacement and improvements costs for the three fields is being funded through the SNAPP 2020 Bond.

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Newtown Health District holding COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Saturday

The Newtown Health District is having a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic on Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm.  The clinic will be at the Newtown Community Center, for adults 18 years and up.  The Moderna vaccine is being administered.  People can schedule their own appointment by visiting the town's website and clicking on the link that says Schedule Here.  The May 8th date will be available.  People need to provide an email or cell phone number and confirmation will be sent.  The second dose appointment, for 4 weeks later, will be scheduled while at this clinic.

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Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off day tomorrow in Newtown

A Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off day is being held this Saturday, May 8th at the Newtown Public Works complex on Turkey Hill Road.  It's open to all Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority Region towns from 9am to 2pm.  Participants must remain in their vehicle at all times, with items placed at the back of the car.  Windows should remain rolled up, even when showing a license for proof of residency.  Workers will remove all contents and will be in PPE.  HRRA says the wait times vary from 10 to 30 minutes depending on the volume of cars.

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Pizza chef Bruno DiFabio gets prison time for tax evasion

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — Bruno DiFabio, a celebrity pizza chef who owns restaurants in Connecticut and New York, was sentenced to 30 days in prison Thursday for tax evasion.

DiFabio, 51, known as “Lord of the Pies” and for appearing on “Chopped” and other TV shows, was sentenced in federal court in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was ordered to report to prison on July 12 and remains free on $100,000 bail.

Federal prosecutors said DiFabio, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, schemed with others to hide income from the restaurants, resulting in a more than $800,000 loss in tax revenue to the federal government. He pleaded guilty in 2018 to conspiracy to file false income tax returns and false payroll tax returns.

“Everything is true,” he said in court, according to a Hearst Connecticut Media report. “I engaged in negligent behavior and I’m not proud of it. I did this fully knowing that I was doing something illegal and I minimized the extent of it. And I allowed it to go on as I became more successful in business and I opened up more restaurants.

“I did this out of arrogance and I am very sorry and I do understand the impacts of my behavior,” he said.

DiFabio’s business partner in some of the restaurants, Steven Cioffi, also pleaded guilty in the scheme and was sentenced last week to 30 days in prison. Two other people — an accountant and a bookkeeper for the restaurants — also pleaded guilty.

DiFabio has owned several restaurants in wealthy suburbs north of New York City and in southwestern Connecticut, including Pinocchio Pizza locations in Pound Ridge, New York, and the Connecticut towns of New Canaan and Wilton.

Prosecutors said he has paid about $125,000 in restitution and has agreed to provide additional assets to make full restitution.

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Connecticut trooper avoids jail in alleged drunken crash

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut state police sergeant charged with drunken driving after an off-duty 2019 crash that injured a woman and her 19-year-old daughter agreed to a plea deal Thursday that will allow him to avoid jail and have the charge erased if he completes the state’s alcohol education program.

Sgt. John McDonald pleaded no contest to two counts of reckless endangerment and a judge approved his application for the program during a hearing in Middletown Superior Court, Hearst Connecticut Media reported.

McDonald must serve two years of probation, complete 100 hours of community service and attend at least one drunken driving victim impact panel. If he successfully completes the alcohol education program, the driving under the influence charge will be erased.

McDonald apologized during the hearing. He remains on administrative duty pending the completion of an internal affairs investigation.

Authorities said McDonald consumed at least eight alcoholic drinks during a retirement party in Oxford for a colleague before the crash in Southbury. He was driving more than 70 mph, ran a stop sign and crashed into another vehicle, injuring Lisa Conroy and her daughter Madison Conroy, who was then 19, officials said.

The Conroys are suing McDonald and the state over the crash.

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Recount of Sherman school budget ballots confirms tie vote

A recount has confirmed a tie vote in the Sherman school budget for the coming fiscal year.  Yesterday's recount found that 147 residents vote for and 147 voted against the plan on Saturday.  The Sherman Board of Selectmen has scheduled a special meeting tomorrow, which will lead to a second referendum.  The Selectmen will hear from the Board of Ed on any proposed changes to the budget.  The $5 million municipal budget was overwhelmingly approved and is not subject to changes or a second vote.

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Bethel Finance Board gets more time to set mill rate

The Bethel mill rate for the coming fiscal year could change, even though the Board of Finance has adopted the rate for real, personal and motor vehicle property.  The Board of Selectmen held a Special Meeting on Tuesday to delay the final setting of the rate to May 24th.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the town Charter calls for the rate to be set no later than 15 days after the referendum, but there's an issue pending.  Bethel will receive $5.7 million dollars over two years and the town is expecting guidance from U.S. Treasury Department on what those funds can and can not be used for.  The Governor issued order allowing Boards of Selectmen to alter the budget timeline to accommodate unknown factors, such as this.  The Selectmen wanted to give the Finance Board time to evaluate income money and possibly soften the blow to taxpayers and reduce the increase.  The $81.9 million budget approved recently calls for a 1.9 percent mill rate increase.  The May 24 meeting is scheduled for 7pm via Zoom.

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New Milford taking COVID vaccine pre-registrations for 12-15 year olds

The New Milford Department of Health is taking advanced registration for 12 to 15 year olds looking to make an appointment for a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.  The form must be filled out by a parent or guardian.  Once FDA approval is received, parents will receive an email notification to make an appointment.  Any child with severe reactions to immunizations should first consult with a physician before registering for a COVID-19 vaccine.  A child may be denied a vaccination at the time of the appointment if any of the medical information has changed since the form was completed or if they are not at least 12 years old the day of the appointment. The New Milford clinic is held at the Pettibone Community Center.

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Route 133 milling, paving to start tomorrow

The state Department of Transportation will start a paving project in Brookfield on Friday.  The milling and resurfacing project will be performed on Route 133.  Milling work is expected to be completed next Wednesday. The resurfacing part of this project is scheduled for June 1st through June 4th. Motorists can expect delays and one lane of alternating traffic between 7am and 4pm Monday through Friday.

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Ridgefield man allegedly in riot at Capitol released on bond

A Ridgefield man arrested for his alleged role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th has been released on bond as his court case remains pending.  Patrick McCaughey the 3rd is accused of crushing a Metropolitan police officer in a door frame with a riot shield and striking another officer with a riot shield. 

The 23-year old will be returned to his mother’s Ridgefield home where she will act as his custodian.  His attorney secured release on a lien for the full equity of a New Canaan property owned by his grandmother. 

He was initially held on bond after prosecutors argued he was a flight risk as a dual citizen of the U.S. and Germany.  Conditions of his release include GPS monitoring, surrendering his passports, and not being able to possess weapons. 

He was charged with assaulting an officer, assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon and obstructing an official proceeding among other offenses. 

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Brookfield sees first COVID-19 decline in three months

The Brookfield Health Department has seen the first downturn in COVID-19 caseloads in over three months. Rates of disease reached as high as 8.9 percent last month, three times the state average. Brookfield volunteers have provided well over 6,000 vaccinations at the Senior Center, and more recently at St. Joseph’s School. The department continues to offer vaccines both by appointment and end-of-the-day walk-ins.  No serious complications have been reported by clinic staff.

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Danbury administers over 15,000 COVID-19 vaccines

The Danbury Health Department has administered 15,810 vaccines since the start of the clinic at Rogers Park Middle School in late December, and administered over 5,400 doses in the last month alone.  As of April 26th, Danbury has experienced 12,698 positive COVID-19 cases.  Since the start of the pandemic, the City has also reported 191 COVID-associated deaths.  Danbury is still considered to be in the Red Zone for high community spread of coronavirus. The City’s infection rate is 5.1 percent and the 14-day running average is 28.7 cases per 100,000 population.

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Row of Honor to again line shore of Lake Gleneida in Carmel

As Putnam County plans the upcoming Row of Honor to line the shore of Lake Gleneida in Carmel, County Executive MaryEllen Odell thanked the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for keeping the centerpiece of Carmel in pristine condition.  DEP owns Lake Gleneida and the surrounding shoreline, which are part of the city’s vast reservoir system.  The twice-yearly Row of Honor is a salute to veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  There will be at least 550 flags this year representing memorials to veterans, the most since the tradition was started nearly a decade ago.  The flags are sold for $100 to those who want to recognize a veteran.  The county and the Putnam County Joint Veterans Council are planning for the return of the Vietnam Travelling Memorial Wall, which will come to Putnam for a fifth time in the fall of 2022. 

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New Milford, Bethel police investigating larcenies

New Milford Police are investigating a theft from a local business.  Police say a man broke into JD Hair Salon on Route 7 on Monday night, shortly before 9pm and stole cash out of the register.  Police are asking that anyone who recognizes the man in photos of the suspect posted to their Facebook page to contact the Department.

Bethel Police are investigating a string of larcenies.  The department has posted a photo of the man to their Facebook page.  He is a suspect in numerous larcenies at both Bethel and Newtown grocery stores.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Morris at 203-744-7900.

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Danbury considering allowing use of drive thru at medical marijuana dispensary

When the Danbury Planning Commission meets tonight, they'll consider a referral related to the petition of D&B Wellness, the medical marijuana facility looking to relocate to the City's westside.  Zoning regulations could be amended allow a drive-thru window for a medical marijuana dispensary.  The Zoning Commission public hearing is slated for June 8th, though the date is subject to change.  D&B Wellness is looking to move from their currently location on Garella Road in Bethel, to Mill Plain Road in Danbury.  They would take over a former bank building, which mostly recently was home to a yoga studio.  Wednesday's Planning Commission meeting will be virtual and held at 7:30pm.

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Region 12 school budget approved in all three towns

The Region 12 school budget has been approved by residents in Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington.  The $23.18 million plan includes $14 million for salaries.  The major factors driving the increase are contracted salary increases, increased supplies costs, capital improvements at The Burnham School and Shepaug Valley School, and an increase in debt service costs due to new borrowing for facility repairs. 

Bridgewater 147 Yes, 34 No
Roxbury 181 Yes, 84 No
Washington 164 Yes, 41 No

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Brookfield firefighters present company awards

The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company held its annual meeting and elections Tuesday night.  Awards were also presented as the annual awards banquet was cancelled this year due to COVID.  The Department also honored outgoing Captain Andrew Docktor who was a line officer for over 25 years. Firefighter Matthew Fry was voted in as a full member after a year of probation.

Awards for 2021
45 Years of Service-  Michael DePaoli
30 Years of Service-  Andrew Ellis and Michael Gravius

Annual awards
“Willis Ballard Engineer of the Year” 
  Rob Pers ENGINE 5
“Douglas Lyall EMS Provider of the Year”
Katherine Hanson EMS 52
“Wayne Gravius FF of the Year”
Bill Doyle
Special award
“Norman Ellis Honorary Chief”
Andrew Docktor

 

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Technical issue postpones Danbury City Council vote on budget

A technical issue has prompted a delay in the Danbury budget vote.  The City Council was set to vote during their virtual meeting last night using the Zoom platform, but the meeting could not be connected to the public Youtube stream for City residents to watch.  The budget vote will take place tomorrow night.  Earlier in the evening, dozens of people rallied outside City Hall calling on Danbury officials to provide more funding for the school district.  The $267-million proposed budget included about $1 million more in education funding than the current year, plus federal pandemic grants, but was $4 million less than the Board of Education requested.   Mayor Joe Cavo's proposal would have held property taxes, sewer and water rates flat.

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Redding residents approved budget, three capital expenditures

Redding residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year, plus three capital expenditures.  During the referendum yesterday, 843 residents approved of the $23-million Redding Board of Ed budget, $12.67 million for the town's share of the Region 9 school budget, and $15.37 million for the municipal operating budget.  277 people opposed.  The Region 9 budget was approved in Easton and Redding by a combined vote of 2,150 to 997. 

In Redding, $100,000 was approved for construction of a pavilion and playground at the community center, funded by a state grant. 

$145,000 was approved for repairs to the Boardwalk at Lonetown March, replacement of Town Hall hearing room windows and roof, as well as paint for the exterior of Town Hall.  That money is coming from the Capital Fund Surplus.

The same margin of approval was also given to $342,000 for exterior paint for the community center, building repairs at Lonetown Farmhouse, mechanics bay slab at the Highway Department, sweeper refurbishment, a combination backhoe/loader and a server for police vehicle cameras.  The projects are to be funded by the Debt Reserve Fund.

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