For the month of April, through Wednesday, there have been 801 positive COVID-19 tests among Danbury residents. The average daily case rate is 28.6. For the first half of this week there were just 54 cases, which is the same as some single days earlier this month.
Bethel's rate of new COVID-19 infections has fallen for the third week in a row, now standing at 4.4 percent. First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says residents still need to take care to help get the town's number lower. The state's overall rate is now below 2-percent, the lowest since last October. About 47-percent of all Bethel adults 16 and older have received at least one vaccine. In the 65-74 age group, over 91% have received the first dose.
Bridgewater, Kent, Washington and Warren are now in the state's gray alert level for lowest amount of community spread of COVID-19. State officials say the color is slowly draining from the map, with Ridgefield and Easton bumped down from red to the orange level. Most of the Greater Danbury area remains at the highest level, the red zone. Weston is in the yellow, below orange and red.
Bethel Emergency Management officials are cautioning that the wind advisory today could mean gusts near 55 miles an hour and the chance of sporadic power outages. Residents are urged to be prepared by charging cell phones and other electronic devices.
The New Milford Fire Marshal is cautioning that the Forest Fire Danger Level for today is HIGH. That means outdoor burning is not allowed and burn permits issued by Fire Marshal offices are not valid today.
Danbury High School will hold two outdoor, in-person commencement ceremonies for seniors. The students will be divided by the cohorts used for the hybrid model of learning. Half will graduate June 10th at 2pm and the other half at 5pm. Each student can bring four guests, who must sit three feet apart in masks in the stands. The ceremony will also be livestreamed. There will also be a prom this year for seniors. It's expected to be held at the Amber Room on May 28th. The three middle schools in Danbury will graduate June 9th at the high school. The rain date is the following day.
Greater Danbury area police departments are wrapping up a month-long enforcement effort aimed at keeping the roadways safe. The U Drive U Text U Pay campaign started at the beginning of the month with stepped up patrols. Police were on the look out for distracted drivers, those using mobile devices behind the wheel.
A New Milford man has been arrested by Danbury Police over alleged drug sales. An investigation began months ago after multiple complaints were made about 58-year old Gerald Hall reportedly selling illicit drugs in the City. Danbury Police, along with investigators from New Milford and Brookfield, set up surveillance of his Danbury Road home yesterday. Hall's vehicle was in the driveway in the evening and search warrants were carried out. He was found in possession of a substantial quantity of cocaine, prescription opioids, and U.S. currency. Hall was charged with two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and three counts each of possession of a controlled substance, Intent to Sell, Intent to Sell Within 1500 feet of a School and possession within 1500 feet of a school.
In the last two weeks, there have been 21 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield. Although New Fairfield continues to have a COVID infection rate and test positivity rate above State averages, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the numbers are improving. The infection rate has decreased to 15.4 cases per 100,000 people, nearly enough to move the town out of the state's Red Alert Zone, the highest level for COVID spread. New Fairfield's test positivity rate has dropped to 4.4 percent. The case rate represents an average daily rate of infection calculated over two weeks, per 100-thousand population. This week’s reported rate for New Fairfield is based on 21 cases in Week 1 and 9 cases in Week 2. State data indicates that approximately 50% of New Fairfield residents have been vaccinated.
An updated bottle bill has been passed out of the legislature's Environment Committee. Kent Representative Maria Horn says the modernization of Connecticut’s bottle redemption program was one of the most challenging bills they worked on. If approved, the measure would increase the redemption value from 5 to 10 cents per container and increase the handling rate paid to redemption centers. Both rates were set nearly 40 years ago. The proposal also expands the types of bottles and cans included in the program. Newly included are wine and liquor bottles, but Horn says because package stores often do not have adequate floor space to hold redeemed containers this is not a mandate. The committee is instead requiring the interested stakeholders--package stores, and wine and liquor distributors for example--to meet and come up with a plan to address the shared goal of getting these containers out of single-stream recycling, and off of roadsides and parks.
The Danbury Board of Education is considering a lease of a former school in Brookfield in order to accommodate all students for in-person learning in the fall. A workshop will be planned to discuss the use of St. Joseph Catholic Academy in Brookfield for at least 200 kindergarten students in 11 classes. The school closed last year due to declining enrollment and is currently being used as the town's COVID-19 vaccine clinic. Danbury could tap federal pandemic relief money to cover some of the reopening costs, including the lease and furniture. 5 school buses, more staffing and supplies would also be needed. Current guidance calls for students to be seated at least 3 feet apart.
The Ridgefield Police Department is accepting applications from both entry level and certified police officers. Applicants must complete written and oral exams, physical fitness test, psychological assessment, drug screening, stress and eye tests, polygraph and background checks. Applications are due by June 1st. Department officials are touting a competitive wage and benefit package which includes 13 paid holidays, Defined Contribution Pension Plan, paid vacation days, medical/dental/vision insurance, shift differential, and tuition assistance. Applications can be found at PoliceApp.com. The Ridgefield Police Department is an equal opportunity employer. Female and minority candidates, as well as military veterans, are encouraged to apply.
The daughter of a Bethel Police Detective is now cancer free. Maddie O'Farrell was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, but after extensive treatments, including multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, the now-14 year old is cancer free. Bethel Police say intensive therapy, a tenacious attitude, and the love of those around her help Maddie make incredible strides.
To show continued support of Circle of Care, a virtual 5k will be held on May 1st and 2nd to raise funds for families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer. As an ambassador for Circle of Care, and their 2021 5k Champion, Maddie is leading a team.
To join Maddie’s team, or to show support through a donation, search for Team Strength, Password: Andrew12
Detective Frank O'Farrell has been with the Department for more than a decade and served in the Army Reserves for 25 years. The Bronze Star recipient was deployed to Iraq twice and recently served a year-long deployment in Somalia, Africa.
A bill aimed at helping welfare recipients with liens on their properties and to steer more funding to communities with non-taxable property cleared the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 28-7. The legislation, which already passed in the House of Representatives.
New Milford Senator Craig Miner raised concerns about another provision in the bill that would boost state funding for Connecticut cities by making changes to the payment in lieu of taxes program for property exempt from local property taxes, such as hospitals, colleges and state-owned properties. He noted how an agreement has not yet been reached on how to balance the next two-year state budget.
The concept, first proposed by Senate President Martin Looney, creates three tiers of municipalities for new, minimum state PILOT grants. The General Assembly would need to appropriate at least $143 million in additional state revenue every year to fully implement the new plan, something some Republicans questioned would actually happen.
There was bipartisan support for a provision in the bill that would end the requirement forcing welfare recipients to pay back a portion of the government aid they received if they receive through a lien placed on their property. When the bill passed the House, Lamont said the legislation “removes a barrier to financial success” by repealing liens on the property of public assistance recipients and ultimately giving all families across Connecticut “a fair shot at success.”
Several Greater Danbury area high schools have been ranked in the top 50 of the Best High Schools in Connecticut, according to US News and World Report.
Wilton is 6th best in Connecticut, and ranked 446 nationally.
Ridgefield is ranked 8th in Connecticut and 469th nationally. The school has a graduation rate of 99%. The Advanced Placement exam participation rate at Ridgefield High School is 68%, with 61% passing at least one AP exam.
Joel Barlow High School ranks 16th best in the state. Newtown High School is number 21. The AP participation rate at Newtown High is 58% with 44% passing at least one exam. Pomperaug Regional High School rounds out the top 25 high schools in the state. Brookfield places 30th. The AP participation rate at Brookfield High School is 66% with 47% passing at least one AP exam.
Masuk High School in Monroe is 35th best in Connecticut rankings. New Milford High School places 43rd. The AP participation rate at New Milford High is 62%.
Bethel High School is 47th in Connecticut, and 2194 nationally. The publication found that Bethel High School students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement coursework and exams, with the AP participation rate at 53%.
New Fairfield High School ranks 58th.
Danbury High School is ranked 93rd best high schools in the state. Nationally, DHS is ranked 4,559. The Advanced Placement exam participation rate at Danbury High School is 51% and 21% passed at least 1 AP exam. The graduation rate is 83%. The total minority enrollment is 65%, and 59% of students are economically disadvantaged.
Schools are ranked on their performance on state-required tests, graduation and how well they prepare students for college.
Energy Committee co-chair Danbury state Representative David Arconti has issued a statement about PURA's ruling yesterday into Eversource response to Tropical Storm Isaias. Arconti says the decision to hold utility companies accountable is a validation of what customers and elected officials have been saying all along--they failed to inform customer, allocation necessary resource and to protect public safety. PURA will be holding public hearings in the comping weeks as they continue their process before final penalties are announced.
Over 200 pounds of unused and unwanted, expired medications were collected in New Milford this week. The Police Department, Senior Center, New Milford CAN, and New Milford TRIAD hosted the Drug Take Back Day as part of the DEA's nationwide event to prevent prescription drug abuse and misuse.
Several people were injured in a Brookfield car crash on Tuesday night. Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to Laurel Hill Road and North Mountain Road around 9:15pm. Paramedics transported several injured people to the hospital. Emergency responders were on scene for just under an hour. Fire officials says this was the first response of the “on call” paramedic which provides coverage from 6pm to 8am when the second staffed ambulance is off line.
More restaurants have signed up for an initiative to convince people to get their COVID-19 vaccines. Elmer's Diner in Danbury is among the dozens of establishments that will be offering a free drink with food purchase and proof of vaccination. The Connecticut Restaurant Association is partnering with the State for the Connecticut Drinks On Us campaign. Participating Connecticut restaurants will offer complimentary drinks to patrons May 19th through the end of the month. A list of pre-set alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks will be established by each participating restaurant.
Also participating are:
Buffalo Wild Wings, Danbury
Little Pub, Wilton
Nouveau Monde, Sandy Hook
Red Rooster Pub, Newtown
A Ridgefield cyclist was injured yesterday afternoon in a hit-and-run crash. New Canaan Police say the man sustained abrasions and other unknown injuries. He was transported to Norwalk Hospital for treatment. The vehicle and the 56-year-old cyclist were both heading northbound. Police say based on witness statements a possible suspect vehicle is a gray colored older model sedan or SUV with New York license plates possibly beginning with GHE.
Connecticut regulators on Wednesday criticized the state’s two largest electricity distributors and said they are considering fines over what they called the companies’ failures in their preparation and response last August to Tropical Storm Isaias, which left hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the dark for days.
Isaias knocked down scores of trees and utility wires, causing more than 740,000 outages at its peak and a total of more than 1.3 million outages to Eversource and United Illuminating customers. Many customers and local officials expressed anger and frustration at the companies’ power restoration efforts, which took more than a week in some places.
The focus of a series of hearings began with Eversource’s storm response in a cluster of Fairfield County towns, including Bethel, New Fairfield, Newtown, Ridgefield, and New Canaan. The Bethel police station had to work off generator power for days.
Eversource and United Illuminated have defended their responses to the storm.
The state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority on Wednesday issued a unanimous ruling that orders the companies and their affiliates to improve how they respond to major storms. The orders include increasing the number of line workers and other responders who restore power and clear blocked roads, and improving communications with customers.
During a meeting via video conference, the agency also ordered management audits of the two companies by independent firms, and officials said they are now considering fining the companies. How much the fines would be is not yet clear.
The ruling also reduced the companies’ profits. A dollar amount for the profit reductions has not been calculated.
PURA will require Eversource and UI to modify their rates in a pending or future rate proceeding to reflect a downward adjustment of 0.90% and 0.15%, respectively, in their allowed rate of return on equity.
“Unfortunately we find ourselves with much more than a public image problem on our hands,” said Marissa Gillett, chair of the regulatory agency, known as PURA. “Our public utilities, and Eversource in particular, have failed us and continue to fail us by putting shareholders above the rights and goods of the system of Connecticut.”
PURA said United Illuminating, which serves 340,000 customers in southwestern Connecticut, did a better job responding to Isaias than Eversource, which serves nearly 1.3 million customers in the rest of the state.
Regulators said orders they imposed on the two companies after storms in 2011 and 2012 that also caused hundreds of thousands of power outages that took days to restore were not sufficient to improve the utilities’ responses to future storms.
Both companies have the right to appeal PURA’s decision to Superior Court. It was not clear if they would do so. Officials from both companies said they were reviewing the ruling.
Eversource spokesperson Tricia Modifica said the company stands by its response to Isaias, but acknowledged “there are many areas for improvement that we are already addressing.”
“Our thousands of employees showed skill and dedication in restoring power to customers as quickly as possible,” Modifica said in a statement. “Today’s decision deserves careful consideration and review and we are committed to moving forward in the best interest of our customers.”
Ed Crowder, a spokesperson for United Illuminating, said company officials were disappointed in PURA’s ruling, because regulators imposed a penalty despite finding the company generally met performance standards.
“We are mindful of the deficiencies cited by PURA, and are well aware of the difficulties that extended outages cause for our customers,” Crowder said in a statement. “However, we believe the facts clearly support that UI faithfully followed its Emergency Response Plan, and met the overall targets therein.”
A former Joel Barlow High School athletic director allegedly engaged in inappropriate conduct with a student in the 1970s.
During the Region 9 Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, it was announced that an honoraria related to Pamela Goodpaster would be removed by the Easton, Redding and Region 9 district. Superintendent Rydell Harrison says the award, named for the former Barlow teacher, coach and athletic director, is given to a student that left an indelible mark on the school community. The announcement was made ahead of the award being presented this year.
Harrison says Region 9 has reported the information to the appropriate authorities, but given the passage of time does not expect any further action. He declined to comment further about the specific allegations in November and how they came to light, citing privacy concerns.
Police though say a person reached out to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference claiming to have had a relationship with Goodpaster in May 1976. Goodpaster was inducted into CIAC's Hall of Honor in 2017.
Sherman residents are being asked to weigh in on a proposed budget on Saturday. The $5 million municipal plan and the $9.38 million for the schools represent a 1.13 percent increase in spending. The mill rate will decrease though due to a $4 million surplus in the general fund. A portion of that will be used to offset the new spending increases. If approved on Saturday, Sherman residents would see a 2 percent tax decrease next fiscal year.
Nearly 800 pounds of trash was collected around Redding during a Spring clean up last weekend. During the annual Rid Litter Day, volunteers collected 780-pounds of roadside garbage to build Mt Trashmore on the town green. The Redding Garden Club and New Pond Farm hosted tables on the Green while others shared recycling information with the public. The Earth Day event in past years has collected a similar amount of litter.
The New Milford Public School District is making plans for end of year events. Seniors will be able to take part in a prom on May 8th at the Amber Room. A car parade will again be held in place of a more traditional commencement ceremony. Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo said during Tuesday's Board of Education meeting that prom will be an outdoor event in a tent, with no outside or younger student guests allowed. The graduation car parade will take place rain or shine on June 19. A senior picnic will be held at Harrybrooke Park on May 27th with a rain date of June 3rd. A planned trip to Six Flags was also approved.
The New Milford COVID-19 vaccine clinics at Pettibone Community Center is offering walk in service for people without appointments. Health Director Lisa Morrisey says they continue to get booked quickly, but have had end of day doses available. Volunteers vaccinate almost 30 people every 10 minutes. She says it feels like coming in seeing neighbors and friends and is the first social opportunity they've had in 15 months.
New Milford has both Pfizer and Moderna, so 16 and 17 year olds will need parental consent to receive a shot. People are not required to show ID, but ask that people bring ID to make sure everyone is old enough to receive the vaccine.
Now that more people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, there are questions about what regulations need to be followed. Morrisey says people are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after their second dose. The town has seen cases of young people who've gotten their first shot and then test positive for COVID-19.
In discussions with the School Superintendent, Morrisey says it's like teens and young adults ditch the masks and then there's positive cases. She urged everyone to wait 14 days before getting into some of those riskier social activities. Until then, she says it's still a good idea to be outdoors, socially distanced, and wear a mask.
The New Milford Public Works site at Scoville Street is closed to the public. The FEMA regulated piles of wood from Tropical Storm Isaias clean up will be chipped and disposed of beginning today. This is one of the regulations from FEMA for reimbursement. Residents are asked, as a safety precaution, to not go any further than the Ambulance Facility and its parking areas.
The Women's Center of Greater Danbury is marking Denim Day today. The movement has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual harassment and assault. Denim Day began in the 90s after the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction, believing the victim must have helped the accused remove her tight jeans, implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim.
Beginning Monday, the Redding Highway Department will be reclaiming and paving Newtown Turnpike from Cross Highway to Black Rock Turnpike. This will take approximately two weeks and is weather dependent. During this time the construction area will be open for local traffic only - all others should seek alternate route.
The 2021 application for a Service Academy nomination from 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is now available on her website. All completed packets must be received by the district office in Waterbury no later than October 21st. The Congressional Delegation will be hosting a Military Service Academy Night on Tuesday to explain the process to students and provide them an opportunity to ask questions. A representative from each of the military academies will be present as well. Interested students of any age are welcome to attend this event. To register, click here: https://bit.ly/2ROuj1b
New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is alerting residents that the Historic Homes Rehabilitation Tax Credit program is open. The program is designed to encourage new homeownership and to assist existing homeowners in maintaining or rehabilitating their property. The program provides a 30% tax credit, up to $30,000 per dwelling unit, for the rehabilitation of one to four family buildings. After completion of rehabilitation work, one unit must be owner-occupied for a period of five years. The building must be listed on the National or State Register of Historic Places. All proposed work must be reviewed and approved by the SHPO prior to the start of construction.
The home of a missing Southbury man is being treated as a crime scene. 63-year-old Mark Gasso was last seen April 16th. News 12 Connecticut reports that state police have searched the woods near Gasso’s home as well as Lake Zoar. Workers who visited his home reportedly found his wallet, along with the shower running and the TV on. Anyone with information about the 5-foot-11, bald white man is asked to contact Connecticut State Police Troop A at 203-267-2200.
The Connecticut Senate has passed legislation that ends the state's long-standing religious exemption from immunization requirements for schools. The bill cleared the Senate on Tuesday night on a 22-14 vote after about nine hours of debate.
It previously passed the House of Representatives. It now awaits Gov. Ned Lamont's signature. The Democrat has said he will sign it into law. Connecticut would then become the sixth state to end its religious exemption. The state’s medical exemption would remain in place.
Proponents contend the legislation, which was amended in the House of Representatives to grandfather in any students with an existing religious exemption beginning with kindergarteners, is needed to prevent a potential outbreak. They cited a slow and steady increase in the number of religious exemptions for childhood vaccinations and declining vaccination rates in some schools.
According to the state Department of Public Health, the number of children claiming a non-medical exemption increased from 7,042 in the 2017-18 school year to 8,328 in 2019-20.
“When you see a clear pattern, it is important to be ahead of the curve and then make sure that we are able to address that,” said Sen. Saud Anwar, D-South Windsor, a medical doctor who specializes in lung diseases and treated COVID-19 patients and the vice chairman of the Public Health Committee. The vast majority of families have their children vaccinated in Connecticut.
The debate, which comes less than a week after the state Department of Public Health confirmed a second case of measles in a child living in Fairfield County, was expected to be lengthy, especially given the dozens of possible amendments that Republican opponents have filed. Debate in the House of Representatives, where the same bill passed 90-53, lasted more than 16 hours.
State Capitol police said about 2,000 to 3,000 protesters gathered Tuesday outside for the Senate session — the second large-scale protest this session against efforts to end the exemption.
Many opponents argue the bill is unnecessary, discriminatory and an infringement on their religious liberties and parental rights. Some who gathered outside held signs with slogans such as “Defend Religious Liberty” and “Coercion is not consent,” and chanted “kill the bill.”
At times during the Senate debate, those chants and shouts from the crowd could be heard inside the marble and granite Capitol building, which is closed to the public because of COVID-19 safety protocols.
Some Republican senators on Tuesday urged their colleagues to listen to the concerns of the opponents, which include both parents with fears about vaccine safety and religious liberty advocates. Some of the bill’s opponents recently sent petitions to the senators that were signed by constituents who demanded they vote against the legislation.
“Are we not listening to the people?” asked Sen. Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown. He contends parents, not the state of Connecticut, should decide whether their child should be vaccinated. “All you need to do is look outside this building today and look at the gathering of people who have exercised their constitutional right to gather peacefully, to have their voices be heard.”
A couple Democratic senators also voiced their opposition to the bill. Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, spoke about how she refused a swine flu vaccine while serving in the military in 1977, pregnant with her daughter.
“I can’t support this bill when I had the opportunity to say no,” said Osten, who argued parents have the right to make decisions on behalf of their children.
But Anwar said compromises to the legislation were made to address concerns raised by the parents, including grandfathering those with existing exemptions and broadening eligibility for medical exemptions.
“We listened to those families and that compromise allowed us to be able to get to this point,” he said.
The legislation, which includes public and private schools, higher education, day care and child care centers, would take effect with the 2022-23 school year. If the bill becomes law, critics have said they intend to challenge it in court.
The Danbury Health & Human Services Department is hosting a virtual Neighbor Night on Thursday. The topic will be policing in the community. Residents are invited to share questions and perspective with local police chiefs about policing protocols. Participating departments include Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield and West Conn. United Way of Western Connecticut and Danbury Works are also sponsoring the forum. The webinar will be held on the Zoom platform Thursday at 7pm. Registration is required. https://zoom.us/.../tJYof--qpz8uE9xDON26CcmhgEDZUPUspOoj
With low voter turnout, Newtown residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year. About 9-percent of residents cast ballots yesterday on the combined 123-million dollar budget. There's a .3 percent decrease in the mill rate. All three capital projects were also approved. Those were funding for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial, emergency radio system upgrades and gas boiler and LED lighting at Reed Intermediate School. The municipal budget passed on a vote of 1196 to 521 while the school budget was approved by 1081 votes to 640. The emergency responder communications and school infrastructure passed by similar margins. The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial passed 963 - 748.
The first-of-its-kind mobile vaccination unit from FEMA will serve as a pop-up clinic in Danbury throughout the week. Mobile vaccination opportunities in Danbury this week include today and Friday from 8am to 4pm at Danbury Ice Arena, and at Danbury Library tomorrow and Friday from noon to 6pm. The FEMA van will visit socially vulnerable communities affected by COVID-19 throughout April and May. All individuals 16 and over are now eligible for the vaccine. No appointment is necessary.
There will be a return to in person meetings in New Milford. The Town Council will hold its first in-person meeting in over a year on May 24th, in a location to be determined. Governor Lamont is lifting nearly all COVID-19 restrictions on May 19th, with his executive powers expiring on May 20th. Face masks must continue to be worn indoors. The New Milford Town Council plans to continue livestreaming of the meetings on Youtube and Facebook, with closed captioning, for those who can't attend in person. Residents will have to sign up in person to speak. At their meeting this week. some Council members expressed concern about the size of the E. Paul Martin room and the ventilation in Town Hall. Mayor Pete Bass says an energy audit is looking into the ventilation system. He is reaching out to school officials about meeting in one of the auditoriums.
The Brookfield Senior Center has officially re-opened. Visitors are asked to wear a mask at all times inside the building. Staff will be adding more in-person and outside events to begin the slow and steady move back to normal. For the time being, many events will have limited capacity. The Brookfield Senior Center requires advance registration for all events and appointments due to contract tracing requirements. There are still no drop-ins allowed for in-person events. While indoor visits are limited, the patio and outdoor space are available for use.
The Brewster Fire Department is cautioning residents that there's a ban on residential brush burning through May 14th. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced the prohibition to reduce wildfire risk in an effort to protect lives and property. The annual statewide residential brush burning ban comes at a time when most wildfires occur.
Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in New York State. Wildfires can spread easily and be further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation.
In 2020, DEC Forest Rangers extinguished 192 wildfires that burned a total of more than 1,122 acres. In addition, local fire departments, many of which are volunteer, all too often have to leave their jobs and families to respond to wildfires caused by illegal debris fires.
The state House has approved the nomination of a Brookfield woman to serve on the State Board of Education. The Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee previously confirmed Bonnie Burr to the part-time, unpaid position. Burr holds a BA from UConn and received her MA from West Conn. She currently works at UConn, managing the 4H program.
A car fire was quickly extinguished yesterday in Bethel. Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company responded to Old Hawleyville Road at Route 6 shortly before 6pm. The flames were quickly extinguished and held to just the engine compartment.
The Ridgefield Historical Society is promoting a couple of webinars about the Battle of Ridgefield. On Tuesday at 6:30pm, an update will be presented on the National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program grant. The Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center is hosting the Zoom discussion, taking place on the anniversary of the 1777 battle. On Thursday at 7pm, a presentation by Ed Hynes will cover the time from when the British land at Compo Beach, march through Redding to Danbury, and return to the shore through Ridgefield and Wilton. Registration is required for both webinars.
Newtown Police are investigating a hit and run accident. Police say the crash happened on Wasserman Way last Wednesday, around 5:20pm. A Jeep Wrangler struck the rear bumper of a Toyota Tundra turning into the park-and-ride lot off Exit 10. Police say the Jeep driver continued west on Berkshire Road without stopping. Anyone with information is asked to call the Newtown Police Department at 203-426-5841.
Three project funding questions are on the Newtown Budget ballot today during the referendum on the tax and spending plan for the coming fiscal year.
One asks for approval that would allow upgrades to the current Public Safety communication system which is at “End of Life” for First Responders. Newtown officials says an entire system replacement is needed to ensure critical response and support while providing emergency services to residents.
The present system is 18 years old and key components could fail during normal daily use, which can result in temporary and major costly repairs. This is not an expansion of the town’s existing First Responder communications system, it replaces the current aging system, greatly reducing the risk of catastrophic system failure.
The upgrade replaces outdated infrastructures and base stations from circuits to IP based networked systems, new control sites and enhanced coverage for responders. This will provide improved reliability and survivability of the system.
Newtown residents are voting on a $123 million municipal and school budget today.
The tax rate would decrease slightly, .3 percent. The Newtown Legislative Council voted to use a surplus in the fund balance to prevent an increase next year. The municipal portion of the plan, $43.5 million, represents a 1.3 percent increase in spending. The $79.9 million school plan includes the same spending increase.
There are several other questions on the referendum ballot. One is a $5 million allocation for emergency radio system upgrades and another is $1.5 million for Reed Intermediate School boiler and lighting replacement.
There's also a question about $3.7 million dollars for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial. First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says after the December 14th remembrance each year, the central water feature will be winterized. The town will not maintain the paths and the site through the winter months, but open it back up in the Spring.
Connecticut is teaming with restaurants to offer an incentive for state residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Lamont said that between May 19-31 hundreds, if not thousands, of participating establishments will offer a free alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink to anyone showing proof of vaccination.
Food purchase will be required, limit of one drink per person. Each individual restaurant will determine which drinks are "on them."
Only a handful of restaurants were listed on the state website promoting CT Drinks On Us at the initial announcement time. Governor Ned Lamont says the promotion is timed for when business restrictions are being lifted across the state.
There are several walk in COVID-19 vaccine clinics being held in Danbury this week.
Today, in addition to the FEMA mobile unit, the Danbury Sports Dome will be open 9am to 4pm for walk-in vaccinations. Tomorrow, the Danbury Ice Arena will be open 8am to 4pm for walk ins with Moderna. On Thursday and Friday, vaccinations will be happening at Danbury Library from noon to 6pm.
The state has more than 50 locations offering walk-up vaccinations. People also will now be told which locations are providing which brand of vaccine so consumers can choose between the newly re-instated Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine or the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna shots.
140 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel, CT 06801
Walk-up Hours: Monday-Friday 10 AM-5 PM, Saturdays 10 AM-4 PM
Brookfield Health Department
St. Joseph’s School, 5 Obtuse Hill Road, Brookfield, CT
Walk-up Hours: Monday 4/26 9:00 AM-12:30 PM and 4:00 PM-6:45 PM; Wednesday 4/28 9 AM-12:30 PM and 4:00 PM-6:45 PM; Friday, 4/30 9:00 AM-12:30 PM; Tuesday 5/4 9:00 AM-12:30 PM and 4:00 PM-6:45 PM; Thursday 5/6 9:00 AM-12:30 PM and 4:00 PM-6:45 PM
Costco Pharmacy Brookfield
200 Federal Road, Brookfield, 06804
Walk-up Hours: Monday-Friday 10 AM-7 OM, Saturday 9:30 AM-6 PM, Sunday 10 AM-6 PM
Greater Danbury Community Health Center
132 Main Street, Danbury, CT
Walk-up Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:30 AM-12:30 PM and 2:00 PM-3:30 PM
Community Health Center, Inc. (Danbury Fair Mall)
7 Backus Avenue, Danbury, CT
Walk-up Hours: Seven days a week, 9AM-3PM
New Fairfield Department of Health Clinic
New Fairfield Senior Center, 33 Route 37, New Fairfield, CT
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 5:30 PM-7:15 PM, from 4/27-5/20 (except Thursday 4/29)
Saturdays 11:00 a.m.-12:45 p.m., 5/1-5/15
The FEMA mobile COVID-19 vaccination van will be in Danbury today from noon to 6pm. The mobile unit is stocked with Pfizer shots and will be at the train station on Patriot Drive.
Tomorrow FEMA will be outside PriceRite on Main Street, Thursday at Danbury Sports Dome and Friday at the Danbury Ice Arena.
State Treasurer Shawn Wooden will visit the site this afternoon to thank FEMA, the Connecticut National Guard, the Danbury delegation, city leaders and healthcare partners for working to ensure members of high-risk communities, including communities of color get vaccinated. The FEMA Mobile Vaccination Unit has been deployed to Connecticut to target communities based on the social vulnerability index.
Wooden, who is Black, says the virus has had a disproportionate and devastating effect on communities of color, and recent data illustrates how Connecticut is still not hitting its equity allocation goals. Wooden will be joined by State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan and the Region 5 Coordinator for state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
New Milford is offering free wood chips and firewood to residents from the Town Wood Chips Yard. Highway Department foreman Michael Boucher says the piles of chips and wood are what New Milford collected from Tropical Storm Isaisas cleanup and from the many smaller wind storms over the past year. The town is awaiting a company to come in and remove it, but until then it is free for any town resident that wants it. The yard is located on Scoville Street behind the Ambulance barn.
A list broker has pleaded guilty to causing nearly $10 million in losses to consumers across the country. 74-year old Norman Newman of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was part of a conspiracy to supply lists of potential victims to those conducting fraudulent mass-mailing schemes.
From 2005 to 2016, Newman worked as a list broker and senior vice president at Danbury-based Macromark Inc., a direct mail services firm.
Macromark pleaded guilty to facilitating elder fraud schemes in September 2020. The conspiracy resulted in at least $9.5 million in losses to consumers.
The fraudulent mass mailer clients sent out deceptive letters that appeared to be personalized, when, in actuality, the same letters were sent to thousands of consumers on the mailing lists that Newman provided. Fraudsters paid commissions to the Danbury firm for brokering the sale of lists of potential victims. Newman then received a percentage of the commissions.
Newman is scheduled to be sentenced on July 14 and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The state Department of Transportation has scheduled ramp closures of Exit 9 and Exit 10 on I-84 east and westbound in Newtown. The closures will begin on Sunday, May 2, and last through Thursday, May 6. Only one ramp is to be closed at a time and only during overnight hours, from 8PM closures to 5AM re-openings. The closures and detours are necessary to facilitate construction activities, and all work is weather dependent. The ramp closures are associated with the rehabilitation of bridges on or over I-84 east and westbound as well as safety improvements on I-84 east and westbound in Newtown. Motorists are advised to remain alert, drive cautiously and maintain a safe speed when driving in this vicinity.
I-84 Westbound Exit 9 Detour:
Westbound Exit 9 off-ramp: Take exit 8 and follow signs to I-84 EB to detour.
Westbound Exit 9 on-ramp: Follow Route 25 to Route 6 to detour.
I-84 Westbound Exit 10 Detour:
Westbound Exit 10 off-ramp: Take exit 9 and follow signs to Route 25 to Route 6 to detour.
Westbound Exit 10 on-ramp: Follow detour Route 6 to Route 25 to I-84 WB.
I-84 Eastbound Exit 9 Detour:
Eastbound Exit 9 off-ramp: Take exit 11 follow Route 6 detour.
Eastbound Exit 9 on-ramp: Follow Route 25 to Route 34 detour to exit 11.
I-84 Eastbound Exit 10 Detour:
Eastbound Exit 10 off-ramp: Take exit 11 follow Route 6 detour.
Eastbound Exit 10 on-ramp: Follow Route 6 to Route 34 detour to exit 11.
The former IT Director for the Town of New Milford has been convicted on two computer crime charges. The Newstimes reports that 53-year old Kendrick Protzmann was ordered to pay a two-thousand dollar fine and the remaining counts were dropped. Protzmann, who was accused of hacking town officials’ emails, was originally charged with 41 felony and 8 misdemeanor counts of computer crime. An investigation was launched after current and former residents’ personal information ended up online. The reported hacking took place in 2019, after Protzmann was no longer employed by the town. He served as information technology director from 2002 until being placed on paid administrative leave. His access into the email archive system was not revoked during that time.
Some drivers have not been stopping for school buses in New Milford. Police Chief Spencer Cerruto reminded motorists that they must stop when a bus has its red lights flashing whether it is on the same side of the road, or the opposite side of the roadway. Drivers are not required to stop if the bus is traveling in the opposite direction, but there's a median or other physical barrier separating the roadway. Bus drivers have reported incidents on Route 7 by the Willow Springs condos and on Pumpkin Hill Road. New Milford Police will be out watching for violations now that school is back to 5 days a week.
The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company chiefs vehicle was struck while operating at a call for Fire and EMS on Friday while its emergency lights were activated in a driveway of a local business. Fire company officials remind motorists that when apparatus or SUVs have warning lights on blocking a road or driveway, it is to protect the scene. They ask that people not drive around the vehicles, cones or barricades and follow the instructions of emergency personnel.
(Photo: BVFD Facebook)
A car became entangled in live power lines in Monroe Saturday night. Stepney Fire Department responded to the crash on Main Street around 9pm and found a car with 5 people in it under power lines, all alert and not injured. There was a second vehicle that was not entangled in wires found off the road near a home and into a fence. The party was extricated and treated by EMS. The other car was instructed to back up and was free from any danger. Main Street was closed for 11 hours while crews replaced the utility pole.
Members of the Bethel Fire Department grabbed their vests and trash pickers this weekend to help clean up around town for Earth Day. Members picked up trash along South Street, Depot Place, Greenwood Avenue, and the waterway near Durant. A group of Stony Hill Volunteers participated in “Trashapalooza” this weekend as well.
The state Department of Consumer Protection temporarily suspended the liquor license of a Danbury bar and restaurant this month. The Liquor Control Commission suspended the license of La Costenita Bar Restaurant from April 14th through 17th. The Ives Street establishment was cited for violation of a statute prohibiting "disturbances, brawls, unlawful conduct or gambling" on the premises. The owner paid a $1,000 fine. According to state records, La Costenita violated a COVID-19 executive order in June and July. An officer responding to a fight in the area noticed people being served alcohol with no food, maskless employees and no protective barriers. On 3 subsequent visits, officers found a lack of PPE and safety barriers.
The New Fairifeld Board of Finance has rescheduled its final budget markup to May 5th. Town officials are looking for more details about federal grant funding, and want to give residents more time to make their voices heard. The proposed municipal budget is about $12.9 million, a nearly 5 percent increase, while the proposed Board of Ed budget is $45.4 million, almost a 4 percent increase over the current year. If no changes are made, the mil rate would increase 3.6 percent. New Fairfield officials attribute the hike to increased debt service for the two recent school projects.
The first phase of traffic congestion easing on Federal Road in Brookfield will start this Spring. The state Department of Transportation has sent a project authorization letter to Brookfield officials about safety improvements along Route 202.
The DOT will begin by moving all of the light poles between BJs and Ramen House. Next Spring, the DOT will start adding turn lanes by Chik-fil-A and elsewhere. Traffic lights are planned at several intersections, and a through-road will be created near the YMCA.
The DOT and Brookfield entered into an agreement for construction back in 2013.
The project includes intersection improvements between the Shop Rite plaza and Costco. The work involves widening, constructing sidewalks, providing bus passenger shelters and paving Route 202 from Costco to the existing southern Old New Milford Road intersection. Plans also call for aligning the southern Old New Milford Road intersection and converting the northern Old New Milford Road intersection. That portion of the project requires construction of a stone garden for erosion control.
When the work is completed, Brookfield will be responsible for all maintenance, repairs and snow and ice removal from sidewalks, bus shelters and the garden. 80-percent of the funding comes from the federal government, with 20-percent paid for by the state.
Fireworks are believed to have caused a brush fire in Brookfield Friday night. Firefighters responded to Gurski Farm open space behind the High School shortly before 7:30pm. A brush truck and all-terrain vehicle responded to the woods. The fire covered an area of about 1.5 acres. It took little more than an hour to extinguish the fire. No injuries were reported. Brookfield Police say two females and a male were seen fleeing the area. The forest fire danger level on Friday was high and during high danger days, burn permits are not valid and there's no burning allowed. Brookfield Firefighters also warned that many fireworks in Connecticut are illegal.
The Ridgefield Mass Vaccination Clinic is offering a final round of first doses at Yanity Gym this week on April 29 and 30 and appointments have been posted on VAMS. Those 18 and over wishing to receive the Moderna Vaccine can schedule an appointment, but walk-ins will be accepted on a first come first served basis.
Organizers say however, for planning purposes, it is helpful to call or email to get your name on a list.
Second doses will continue at the clinic through May with the anticipation that the mass vaccination clinic will shut down at Yanity on May 27. All second doses originally scheduled at Yanity will be honored.
Those wishing to get their First Dose vaccines at Yanity Gym during the month of May can do so, if appointments allow, but will need to get their Second Doses elsewhere.
With so many Ridgefielders already vaccinated, First Selectman Rudy Marconi says it's time to return Yanity to the town as a recreational facility.
New York state is once again offering the single-dose Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says from homebound residents to college students nearing the end of their semesters, rolling up their sleeves for a single-dose has helped to keep individuals safe as well as contributed to the overall vaccination rates in the county. She added that they are glad the processes in place to ensure vaccine safety worked and can keep Putnam healthy and moving in the right direction. According to the New York State Vaccine Tracker, 48% of Putnam County residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Putnam is slightly ahead of the statewide average of 44%.
While some towns in Litchfield County have decided to go forward with traditional summer events, other towns are making the decision to forego them for one more year. Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the decision to cancel the Ridgefield annual Memorial Day Parade and Fourth of July Fire works event was made after careful consideration of the Federal, State and CDC COVID Guidelines for the safety of all participants. He says they are looking forward to having an excellent Memorial Day Parade and Fourth of July Fire works event next year.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to prevent transgender athletes from competing in girls high school sports in Connecticut.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which oversees scholastic sports in the state, allows high school athletes to compete in sports according to their gender identity. The lawsuit was filed a year ago by cisgender runners who argued they were deprived of wins, state titles and athletic opportunities by being forced to compete against two transgender sprinters.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny dismissed the lawsuit on procedural grounds, saying in the ruling released Sunday that there was no dispute to resolve because the two transgender athletes have graduated and the plaintiffs could not identify other female transgender athletes.
The lawsuit had been closely watched since the Trump administration’s Justice Department and the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights had sided with the plaintiffs. But the Biden administration withdrew that support in February.
Conservative lawmakers in more than 20 states have introduced legislation to ban or limit transgender athletes from competing on teams or sports that align with their gender identity. Laws banning transgender women and girls from participating in organized sports have been signed in Idaho, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Arguments in the Connecticut lawsuit centered around Title IX, the federal law that requires equal opportunities for women and girls in education, including sports.
Defense attorney Joshua Block argued the CIAC policy doesn’t deny any girl a meaningful opportunity to participate in sports, but that overturning it would violate the Title IX rights of transgender girls.
“No court, no agency has ever defined a participation opportunity as winning an equal number of trophies,” he argued.
The plaintiffs argue that the rights of cisgender girls under Title IX are being violated in Connecticut by being forced to compete against what they term “biological males.”
One of the plaintiffs, Alanna Smith of Danbury, called the ruling disheartening. She says biology, not identity, is what matters on the field.
Plaintiff attorney Roger Brooks, from the Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that the law guarantees girls “equal quality” of competition, which he said is denied by having to race people with what he described as inherent physiological advantages.
The Alliance Defending Freedom said on Sunday that it will appeal the dismissal of the lawsuit.
Just under 40% of the inmates inside the federal prison complex in Danbury have refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine, according to federal officials.
The Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s Office disclosed the latest vaccination numbers in a court filing Friday as part of class-action lawsuit over an alleged failure to protect prisoners from the coronavirus inside the institution.
There are currently 756 inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution Danbury, according to federal Bureau of Prisons website.
Since the prison first began offering the vaccine to inmates in January, 296 have refused to take it, according to the filing from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. There are 327 inmates in the prison who have been fully inoculated and another 177 who have received their first dose, according to the filing.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office points out in its filing that there have been no positive tests for the coronavirus in the general population at FCI Danbury since February.
Messages were left Friday for lawyers representing the inmates in the lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Michael Shea last year found in favor of the inmates and ordered the prison’s administration to identify those with high-risk health conditions for possible transfer to home confinement or compassionate release.
He asked for the vaccination numbers as he continues to monitor the situation at the prison.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on the vaccination rollout, citing the ongoing legal case.
The government filing said FCI Danbury has received 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine since April 19. It said 11 doses were administered to staff members. The remaining 189 doses were offered to the inmate population.
Among those who received the vaccine in the last week, the third round in which it has been offered, were 23 inmates who had initially refused, but changed their minds, according to the filing. The refusal rate for this round of vaccine administration was approximately 45%, prosecutors said.
A rally was held over the weekend in Ridgefield about bills being considered by the Connecticut General Assembly on zoning matters. The grassroots CT 169 Strong organization hosted the rally at Ballard Park Saturday, attended by about 50 people.
Among the proposed bills they oppose is one called the Fair Share bill, arguing it would take away local zoning controls. The bill would assess the statewide need for affordable housing and establish and enforce affordable housing planning and zoning goals for each municipality. Former state representative John Frey contends that more affordable housing could be done without mandates.
A webinar will be held by the Ridgefield Affordable Housing Committee Thursday. Evonne Klein, former Governor Malloy's Housing Commissioner will be the guest speaker. There will be a Q&A session.
Registration is required for the 7pm webinar on Thursday.
Connecticut State Police have promoted 48 Troopers during a ceremony this week at State Police Headquarters. Many of those making the rank of Sergeant were former New Fairfield Resident Troopers.
Sergeant John Acampora was promoted from Trooper First Class and has been assigned to Troop A in Southbury. He most recently served as School Resource Officer at Henry Abbott Tech. During more than seven years as a Trooper, he has served as New Fairfield Resident Trooper and as Patrol Trooper at Troop A and Troop G in Bridgeport. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Quinnipiac University.
Sergeant Christopher Allegro was promoted from Trooper First Class and has been assigned to the Background Investigations Unit. A Trooper for 15 years, he most recently served as a detective in the Western District Major Crime Squad. He previously served as a Patrol Trooper at Troop A in Southbury and as a Resident Trooper in New Fairfield and has earned three Medals for Outstanding Service and five Unit Citations. In addition, he has received recognition from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI for his law enforcement work. He holds a B.A. from Assumption College.
Sergeant Matthew Bell was promoted from Trooper First Class and will serve at Troop G in Bridgeport. During his 18 years as a Trooper, he has served as Resident Trooper in Roxbury, Bridgewater and New Fairfield and Patrol Trooper at Troop A in Southbury. He has earned the agency’s Medal for Lifesaving, Medal for Meritorious Service and Unit Citation. He has a total of 23 years in the U.S. Coast Guard and earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Moravian College.
Sergeant Ryan Burke was promoted from Trooper First Class and will serve at Troop G in Bridgeport. A Trooper for seven years, Sgt. Burke has served as New Fairfield Resident Trooper, as a K-9 handler at Troop G and at Troop I in Bethany. He has earned the agency’s Medal for Lifesaving and Unit Citation, as well as the TFC Allan J. Tuskowski Excellence in Training Award and the Daniel Wasson K-9 Memorial Award. He was recognized by MADD twice. Sgt. Burke previously served two years with the New Milford Police Department and earned a Bachelor’s Degree at Central CT State University.
Sergeant John Kimball was promoted from Trooper First Class and has been transferred to the Internal Affairs Unit. During 23 years as a State Trooper, Sgt. Kimball was a Detective with the Western District Major Crime Squad for 12 years and previously served as a New Fairfield Resident Trooper and Patrol Trooper at Troop A in Southbury. He has earned the agency’s Medal for Outstanding Service twice, the Medal for Lifesaving and four Unit Citations, as well as recognition from MADD. A former police officer in the town of Orange, he holds a B.A. from the University of Hartford.
The Danbury City Council voted this week for a $99-million bond to create the Career Academy on the City's westside for middle and high school students. Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the pods will be at the former Matrix Center so there won't be steel or other fluctuating costs. In making the case for swift approval, Iadarola posed a rhetorical question about when can they take an existing building, renovate it as new, and eliminate all of the risk associated with coming out of the ground. He notes that 95-percent of the building is already built. The City is basically doing an interior retrofit, adding an elevator and purchasing furniture. A small addition being constructed.
The Southbury Resident Trooper's office and the Drug Enforcement Administration are giving the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous, expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Medications can be brought for disposal to the Southbury Police Department, Resident Trooper's office, on Main Street South from 10am to 2pm. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
The Danbury Police Department is also participating in Drug Take Back Day. Unused medicines can be dropped in the front lobby of the Danbury Police Department. Danbury Police say medicines in the home are a leading cause of accidental poisoning and flushed or trashed medicines can end up polluting the waters.
Wilton Police say the day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public. Wilton Police has a Medication Drop-Box in their main lobby, accessible 24/7 - 365 days of the year. Police officials say this confidential, free service ensures safe disposal of unused medication, protecting our environment and youth.
At this week's Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority meeting, 2021 Regional Recycling Billboard contest winners were recognized. Mayor Pete Bass touted the posters designed by New Milford students including Lilly Sterry of Northville Elementary, and Ryan Ma and Phebe Seppa from Schaghticoke Middle School with Honorable mentions. New Milford High School students Aurelia Sno, Ruby Hangac and Usabel Loria took 1st place while Mackenzie-Lee won 2nd place.
The Danbury Police Department Detective Bureau is attempting to identify a man wanted in connection to a residential burglary. The incident took place in the Great Plain Road area on April 16th. A photo of the man, who was riding an ATV at the time of the package theft, can be viewed on the Danbury Police Department Facebook page. Anyone with information regarding this man or the burglary is asked to contact Detective Kupchok at 203-797-2168 or call the anonymous tips line at 203-790-8477.
The Redding Police Department is investigating a residential burglary that occurred on Redding Road north of Meadow Ridge yesterday morning between the 8:30 and 9:30. A surveillance camera on a neighboring house was able to capture the suspect vehicle leaving the residence. The vehicle is believed to be a dark blue Nissan Altima or Sentra with chrome accents. Anyone that may have witnessed any activity in the area, has information or tips is asked to contact Officer Livingston at 203-938-3400 or email@example.com. Case # 21-4571.
Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz was in Danbury yesterday. She took a tour of the West Conn on-campus vaccine clinic with State Senator Julie Kushner and Representative Bob Godfrey. About 500 students signed up for appointments over two days, but the clinic was also accepting walk-ins. Some of the Resident Assistants were letting students who live in the dorms know about the availability.
The state made Pfizer doses available after scrapping plans to offer the single-dose Johnson and Johnson shot so the second dose can be administered before the end of the semester.
The Community Health Center organized the clinic and provided some staffing. Nursing students also volunteered to vaccinate fellow classmates, gaining practical knowledge as they work toward their degrees.
112 of 169 municipalities in Connecticut are currently in the red zone alert level, the highest level of COVID-19 infection. All of the Northwest corner from Kent to the state line are in the gray level, the state's lowest.
Connecticut continues to detect variants of COVID-19 in positive tests being analyzed for different strains. The most prevalent remains B.1.17, first detected in the UK with more than a thousand cases. The next largest variant group found in Connecticut is B.1.526, first detected in New York.
New Fairfield has been able to arrange for students 16 and over to be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine at the Danbury Mall tomorrow from 1pm to 2pm and Saturday, May 1st from 11am to 1:30pm. Details and links to appointments are included in a letter from Superintendent Schools Dr. Pat Cosentino. Connecticut currently ranks second in the nation for administering the most vaccines per capita. So far, 60% of all Connecticut residents over the age of 16 have received at least one dose, including 89 percent of those over the age of 65. More than 2.8 million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Connecticut, including 1.175 million second dose shots. The figure includes 107,000 J&J single dose vaccines administered before the pause.
Brookfield school officials have notified Whisconier Middle School families about asbestos found in an outer wall of the building. During the Board of Finance meeting this week, the anticipated repair and remediation costs were discussed. Asbestos was found about a month ago after some bricks fell off the facade, creating a safety hazard. The town expects cost of the wall demolition, asbestos removal and reconstruction to total $50,000. The school contingency fund, set aside in the budget for emergencies, will be able to cover the cost. The wall is not in an area that students generally walk in.
The Newtown Fire Marshal's Office has confirmed that lightning struck a tree, traveled through the roots and to a home in Sandy Hook on Wednesday, causing a fire. A Bradley Lane homeowner called 911 Wednesday afternoon about the blaze coming in the attached garage. The lightning splintered some branches. No injuries were reported but the homeowners were displaced due to smoke and other damage. The electrical panel in the garage was damaged and needs to be repaired.
A tornado did touch down in Kent on Wednesday. The National Weather Service confirmed that an EF-0 tornado struck in Bulls Bridge to southern Kent shortly before 3pm. The estimated peak wind gust was 85 miles an hour and cut a path of about a mile long and 30 yards wide.
The tornado damage was sporadic along Route 7 just north of Bulls Bridge and consisted mostly of downed tree limbs. A few trees were snapped and uprooted. One Spooner Hill Road homeowner lost part of a solid wood fence and a car tent canopy was blown away by the strong winds.
No damage to buildings was noted. There were no injuries and no fatalities. The tornado ended in a forested area east of Spooner Hill Road.
There was an EF-1 tornado in nearby Amenia, New York.
Storm Data from the 1950s through today shows the Litchfield County tornado to be earliest Connecticut tornado on record. The earliest prior was an F1 in Tolland County on April 26 1961. The earliest in Litchfield County was an F2 on May 12th 1959.
The Annual Town Meeting will be held in Ridgefield on Saturday. Residents will be able to view the meeting via livestream on the town website. Ridgefield residents are being asked to consider the $38.2 million municipal budget and the $102.26 million school budget for the coming fiscal year.
Debt service totals $9.78 million. Town road and infrastructure improvements total little more than a million dollars.
Other questions on the ballot will be $900,000 for Scott's Ridge and Tiger Hollow turf field replacements, $524,000 for police body and dash cameras and police/fire architectural building plans, and $1.35 million for school projects. That work includes LED lighting upgrades, network infrastructure upgrades, East Ridge Middle School auditorium improvements and a generator for that building. There's also proposed bonding for a Mac Truck, sidewalk improvements, construction of the Norwalk River Valley Trail, some of which will be reimbursed by grant money.
The annual town meeting on Saturday will be held outdoors at the Venus Complex on Governor Street under a tent. No pre-registration is required.
If approved, these items will be sent to a referendum vote on May 11th 6am to 8pm at Yanity Gym.
Danbury has updated recent COVID-19 positive case load among City residents. Since the beginning of April, through Wednesday, there have been 715 positive tests. The average is 34 a day. The highest single day total was April 1st, with 84 positive tests. This comes as vaccination efforts are ramping up. The mall drive thru site operated by the Community Health Center is now administering 1500 to 1700 shots a day. They're focusing this weekend on high schoolers. Danbury, Bethel, New Fairfield and other local districts sent out links to parents of 16 and 17 year olds to have them sign up for appointments. The clinics were also opened up to the parents, if they haven't already been vaccinated.
While returning from putting out a chimney fire on Route 58 in Bethel, Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company got a call about a dumpster fire next to a house on Sunny Acres. Mutual aid station coverage units from Brookfield and Danbury Volunteer companies were still in town and headed that way. Brookfield was first on scene and found a 30 yard dumpster on fire up against a house. The blaze was quickly extinguished and firefighters kept flames from spreading to the house. The cause is under investigation by the Bethel Fire Marshal office.
The State of Connecticut has announced changes for new Pistol Permit applicants. Bethel Police say any resident with a temporary pistol permit who had a scheduled appointment between now and the end of July, can obtain their new pistol permit at any time from the Middletown Headquarters. It can be picked up through Saturday, May 15th.
Bethel Police say it is the individual's responsibility to obtain a new permit with the appropriate time frame.
Effective May 20th, the 90-day extension on temporary permits will no longer be honored.
Effective Monday, May 17th the Headquarters location will be open without appointments to all new pistol permit applicants. The new hours at state police headquarters are 7am to 7pm Mondays through Fridays, and 8:30am to 2:30pm on Saturdays.
Even though New Milford Village Fair Days events were cancelled, other summer gatherings will happen this year. Mayor Pete Bass says New Milford will be holding a Memorial Day parade. He thanked American Legion Commander McBreairty and VFW Commander Delancy for leading the charge in setting up the parade. Bass says he's pleased they will be able to once again honor those brave men and women in the Armed Forces that gave the ultimate sacrifice. Bass also announced that 4th of July fireworks will happen this year.
Brookfield is planning to hold their COVID-19 vaccine clinic 3 days a week for 13 weeks. Town officials caution that they could cut it short if people stop signing up for vaccines.
Selectman Sue Slater noted that it's costing $370 a day to operate the clinic. First Selectman Steve Dunn says once the state moves to a walk-in basis rather than appointment-only, people will likely go to a mass vaccination site. At that point, Dunn says Brookfield will cut back on the number of days the local clinic is offer.
Once the town can't fill the number of appointments they have, Brookfield must cut back on the number of doses ordered from the state. If Brookfield has 100 doses, but only 10 people booked, the state would cut off their supply. He notes that's why they plan ahead of time to make sure there are enough people coming in for appointments.
Dunn says the town should get reimbursed for costs associated with the pandemic. He cautioned it could take up to two years to get that funding from FEMA, based on previous disaster declaration reimbursement. With a national emergency, Dunn added that unless FEMA loosens their rules it could be longer.
Danbury has updated COVID-19 positive caseload among City residents through most of this month. Since the beginning of April through Tuesday there have been 695 positive tests. The average is 35 a day. The highest single day total was April 1st, with 84 positive tests. There was no change in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Connecticut yesterday from Tuesday. The state did record 7 new COVID-associated fatalities. Connecticut's daily test positivity rate yesterday stood at 2.81 percent. 856 of more than 30,000 tests came back as positive.
The National Weather Service will be in Kent and Sharon today to determine whether a tornado touched down yesterday afternoon. They're inspecting damage along Route 7 in Kent. A section of the road near Kent Falls State Park was blocked by downed trees. A house fire in Newtown may have been caused by a lightning strike yesterday. All of the town's volunteer fire companies responded to the Sandy Hook section to but out the blaze. Brookfield firefighters also responded to the scene, along with a tanker truck from Stevenson Volunteer Fire Company. The Newtown Fire Marshal's office is investigating the exact cause.
There are still appointments available for Danbury High School 16-17-and-18 year olds to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at clinics this weekend. The district has partnered with the Community Health Center for the clinics at the Mall drive thru site. The invitation to be vaccinated has also now been expanded to DHS parents. The clinics are Saturday 8:30am to 1pm and Sunday noon to 4pm. Access to appointment reservations can be found here:.
April 24th link: Chc1.com/DanburyHighSchoolCOVACRegistration424
April 25th link: Chc1.com/DanburyHighSchoolCOVACRegistration425
On this Earth Day, 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has introduced the Clean Commute for Kids Act. The proposal would transition school bus fleets from diesel to zero-emissions. She says this is a first step to addressing climate change and its effects on public health. Hayes notes that school buses are the nation’s largest form of mass transportation and the sector emitting the highest level of greenhouse gases in the country. The bill would provide $25 billion over the next ten years to tackle this endeavor, prioritizing communities most under served and affected by air pollution. Hayes notes that not only will the proposal launch our nation forward as a climate leader, but it will protect the most vulnerable children from the ramifications of pollution-related diseases like asthma.
Danbury-based FuelCell Energy is celebrating Earth Day with an achievement of a significant clean power milestone. Their SureSource technology has delivered more than 12 million megawatt hours globally since its first commercial installation. SureSource plants are currently installed and operating on three continents, with many owned by leading utility companies and educational, commercial, and industrial enterprises. As an example, FuelCell Energy officials say they provide value beyond power to Pfizer, delivering on-site power reliability and steam for its Connecticut research and development campus.
The General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee failed to act on the aid-in-dying legislation by Tuesday's deadline meaning the proposal that would have enabled doctors to prescribe medication to a terminally ill patient to end their life will not go forward. The legislation would apply to mentally competent patients who have less than six months to live.
Redding state Senator Will Haskell says the bill was constructed to prevent any misuse and abuse, noting that nine other states and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation.
The Public Health Committee advanced the bill by a 24-9 vote.
The state’s division of criminal justice testified that the signer of a death certificate would be allowed to list the qualified patient’s underlying terminal illness as the cause of death as opposed to the medication used to end his or her life, effectively mandating the falsification of death certificates under certain circumstances. The division said that could cause issues in cases involving a potential murder prosecution if the cause of death is not accurately reported on a death certificate. Under the bill, a person would be guilty of murder if he or she willfully altered or forged a request for aid in dying or coerced someone to complete such a request.
Some severe weather moved through the Greater Danbury area yesterday afternoon. Winds gusted up to 40 miles an hour yesterday afternoon in Danbury. The City appears to have dodged the worst of the storm, which hit the Litchfield County area. Some towns reported small hail.
There are still scattered power outages reported this morning in Kent and New Milford.
Yesterday afternoon a tree came down on Route 302 in Bethel, closing the road between Route 58 and Taylor Road. The state DOT was called to the scene, later Bethel Police were able to direct traffic through one lane of travel and the road was fully reopened around 7:30pm.
It appears likely a microburst or weak tornado moved through Kent. The Kent Office of Emergency Management received an update from the town's Eversource representative that nearly all power restorations would be complete by early this morning. At the height of the storm over 76% of Kent Eversource customers were without power.
The Town of Bethel has made a final call for their COVID-19 vaccine clinic. The final first dose clinic, offering the Moderna vaccine, will be on Saturday. The clinic is open to all Connecticut residents aged 18 years and older and advance reservations are required by 4 o'clock this afternoon. The clinic will remain in operation during the month of May to ensure all those who received first doses this week will also receive their second dose. The follow up appointment will be scheduled when the first shot is administered.
A smaller Memorial Day parade than typical was held in Sherman last year, but it will march on this May. The Sherman Veterans Association and Sherman Volunteer Fire Department will host a parade on May 30th. Veterans, antique cars, horses, tractors, local dignitaries and a marching band will step off at 1pm and make their way from Route 39 North onto Route 37 South and ending at Veteran’s Field. The Grand Marshal will be Sherman emergency management director Jim Reilly, who will be honored for his work throughout the pandemic.
A several years long legal case involving the Town of Brookfield and its former controller has been settled. A state Superior Court judge has ruled with Brookfield in a pension dispute.
Raymond Bolek retired in 2002 after 27 years on the job and received $500 more a month in his stipend than he should have for 12 years. According to the court decision, a 2014 HR audit found that Bolek’s monthly benefits were calculated under a revised pension plan, not the one in place in 1994. He retired two years before he would have been eligible to receive full benefits.
Brookfield officials notified him of the error in July 2015 and asked him to repay more than $111,000. He did, but sued in 2016 to restore his stipend to the higher amount.
The court found that the town was not in breach of contract with Bolek’s pension plan, and that Bolek had not provided an adequate burden of proof to support his case.
First Selectman Steve Dunn told the Newstimes that they had to seek the reimbursement because IRS rules require overpayments made on behalf of the pension plan be pursued.
A Redding woman will be arraigned today on more than five dozen counts of animal cruelty. 71-year old Nancy Burton turned herself into Police on Friday on 65 charges of cruelty to animals, one for each goat seized from her property last month. The seizures were made after a warrant was carried out at her Cross Highway home on March 10th by state animal control officers investigating poor conditions. Investigators also found the carcasses of about 40 to 50 deceased goats on the property. Some of the goats were severely malnourished and had injuries to their hooves. The Redding Fire Marshal also condemned the home after finding a lack of running water and no working furnace. The roof had completely caved in on one of the rooms as well.
The Sherman Resident state Trooper is investigating a report of a person entering an unlocked car at a private home. State Police say a red Dodge caravan with a Connecticut license plate parked on Edmonds Road around 6pm last Thursday. The car was driven by a white male with glasses, approximately 5'-foot-7, with a thin build, approximately 35 to 40 years old, wearing a dark blue/gray sweatshirt and jacket with a hood. He was confronted by the homeowner, and ran back to his vehicle and drove north on Route 39 towards Route 55. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sherman Resident Trooper Shermanresidenttrooper@gmail.com, Phone: 860-354-3715.
Aquarion Water is beginning their water main project in New Milford on Wellsville Avenue. The contractor performing the work expects to begin cutting the road tomorrow. Typical working hours are between 7am and 5pm. The trenches will be filled daily. The fill will be compaction tested and paving will occur on Fridays. The New Milford Department of Public Works will be assisting with permits. The town will be installing drainage before the end of October so the road can be repaved next spring. Drivers are cautioned that there could be delays and are advised to take alternate routes.
Newtown is being recognized for voter turnout in November. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has presented an award to Newtown officials for the town winning the Democracy Cup in the Mid-Sized category. Newtown was also one of only three towns across the state that had over 90% turnout.
The Farm to Firehouse initiative in Ridgefield is taking shape and making progress. Firefighter Kindschi and Captain Cerulli assisted in making and setting up the garden beds. A local Girl Scout is working on her Gold Award Project and chose to construct a vegetable garden at Station #2. Her goal is to boost mental health through healthy eating and outdoor living. Fire officials say the goal is to help members with PTSD through healthy eating and outdoor living.
The Danbury City Council has voted to take advantage of a gubernatorial executive order and have the 21 members vote on a $99 million bond, rather than hold a referendum for all City residents to weigh in.
The money would be used for the proposed middle and high school Career Academy on the City's west side, with 80-percent reimbursement from the state.
In a normal year, residents would have been asked to go to the polls to sign off on the massive funding for the project. The executive order allowed municipalities to take public health and safety into account and cast a de facto vote. Some Council members objected to not going to referendum, noting that there were higher COVID-19 infection rates and no vaccinations when residents went to the polls for the November elections.
Superintendent Sal Pascarella touted the academy, calling it the first of its kind in Connecticut. He says it's a win for Danbury children as the district deals with growing enrollment, and a win for education as a whole as a model in the state.
The academy would be constructed at The Summit, a mixed-use development in the 1.2 million-square-foot former Union Carbide world headquarters, which was later the Matrix Center. Danbury must meet an October 1st deadline for state reimbursement.
Bethel residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year, with very low voter turnout. The $32.9 million municipal plan passed with 59-percent of the votes. The $49 million for the schools was approved with 58-percent of the vote. First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there was just 11.7 percent voter turnout yesterday. The tax and spending plan increases the mill rate 1.9 percent. One of the big drivers of the budget increase is debt service from previously approved projects coming online, specifically the Rockwell and Johnson renovations and the new Police Station.
One of the yellow mobile minivans from the state Department of Public Health will be in Danbury today. The van will be at the Harambee Center on West Street from noon to 6pm. The vans were slated to administer the one-dose Johnson & Johnson shots, but now are stocked with Pfizer or Moderna. Governor Lamont has compared them to an ice cream truck where people can walk up, get vaccinated and be on their way. Another van will come back to Danbury three or four weeks later to administer the second dose to those who receive a shot today.
A youthful offender has been arrested in New York for allegedly shooting near a vehicle in Patterson, striking the car. New York State Police from the Brewster barracks arrested an 18 year old for criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment, prohibited use of a weapon and Environmental Law violation Illegal Discharge of a Weapon. Troopers received a complaint on Friday from a driver on Route 22 saying they heard 3 or 4 loud pops. When they got home, damage which looked like bullet holes were found on the driver side of the car. The teen was target shooting with an unsafe “downrange” towards Route 22.
A couple of local COVID-19 vaccine clinics are now taking walk ins.
Starting today, the New Milford Clinic will be open to anyone, with or without an appointment, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5pm-7pm and Saturday from 7:30am to noon. For people looking to make an appointment, the link to the closed clinic can be found on the New Milford town website.
16 and 17 year olds need parental permission.
Ridgefield has extra appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine available this week at their mass vaccination site in Yanity Gym. The clinic tomorrow from 9am to 4pm is offering the Moderna vaccine. Residents can also call or email the Ridgefield public information office to schedule a time to come get vaccinated.
Hundreds of West Conn students have taken advantage of a COVID-19 vaccine clinic held on campus yesterday. Some 220 students made appointments to get the Pfizer shot on the midtown campus. A walk in clinic is planned for tomorrow, with some appointments booked for that time as well. The Community Health Center is running the clinics, with the help of West Conn nursing students. Some professional nurses and juniors and seniors in the nursing program are vaccinating students. West Conn changed plans last week after a paused on the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Second dose Pfizer shots will be administered during finals week.
The Danbury Spring Leaf Pick-Up program got under way this week. The courtesy service to help residents with yard clean up allowing free disposal of leaves will run through May 28th.
The Leaf Pick Up program is divided by I-84; Section A is to the south, zip code 06810, and section B is north, zip code 06811. Section A will be picked up the first week, Section B the second week, and residents are asked to place their bags curbside Sunday evenings.
Pick-up dates are subject to change throughout the program depending on weather and the Highway Department’s work schedule.
Leaves must be in paper bags, without tape. No plastic leaf bags will be collected. No large debris, grass, rock or dirt will be collected. Branches, cut into lengths no longer than 4 feet, no larger than 4 inches in diameter will be picked up separately. Branches must be bundled with twine in bundles no heavier than 35 pounds. No other brush or tree stumps will be collected.
Ferris Mulch accepts leaf bags as well as tree and organic yard debris, free for Danbury Citizens.
NEW YORK (AP) — Jim Steinman, the Grammy-winning composer who wrote Meat Loaf’s best-selling “Bat Out Of Hell” debut album as well as hits for Celine Dion, Air Supply and Bonnie Tyler, has died, his brother said. He was 73.
Bill Steinman told The Associated Press that his brother died Monday from kidney failure and was ill for some time. He said Jim Steinman died in Connecticut near his home in Ridgefield.
“I miss him a great deal already,” Bill Steinman said by phone Tuesday.
Jim Steinman was born on Nov. 1, 1947, in New York City. He got his start in musical theater and was known for writing and producing epic, operatic rock songs and power ballads throughout his prolific career.
Steinman was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012 and won album of the year at the 1997 Grammy Awards for producing songs on Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You,” which celebrated its 25th anniversary last month and featured the Steinman-penned power ballad “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.”
He wrote the music for Meat Loaf’s classic album “Bat Out of Hell,” released in 1977 and one of the top-selling albums of all-time. It has reached 14-time platinum status by the RIAA, which is equivalent to selling 14 million albums in the U.S. alone.
Steinman also wrote Meat Loaf’s 1993 album, “Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell,” another commercial and multi-platinum success that featured the international hit “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” He also worked on 2006′s “Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose,” which closed the “Bat Out of Hell” trilogy.
He also composed the rock musical “Bat Out of Hell: The Musical,” which premiered in 2017 at the Manchester Opera House in Manchester, England.
Steinman was responsible for Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” which topped the Billboard charts in 1983 and earned Tyler a Grammy nomination. When Tyler’s song was No. 1, another Steinman production — Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” — peaked at No. 2, giving Steinman the Top 2 spots on the chart.
“There is no other songwriter ever like him,” an emotional and teary-eyed Meat Loaf said at Steinman’s induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. “Here I go getting emotional...
“I can never repay him,” he continued. “He has been such an influence, in fact, the biggest influence on my life, and I learned so much from him that there would be no way I could ever repay Mr. Jim Steinman.”
Meat Loaf and Steinman joined forces again for Meat Loaf’s most recent album, 2016′s “Braver Than We Are.” The songs were written over a 50-year period, and include several originally intended for “Bat Out of Hell.”
Steinman’s only album was 1981’s “Bad for Good,” which featured “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through,“ a Top 40 hit that Meat Loaf later recorded with more success on the charts. “Bad for Good” also included the track “Left In the Dark,” which Barbra Streisand recorded for her 1984 “Emotion” album. Meat Loaf also recorded the song.
A local lawmaker is weighing in on the bill approved by the state House and sent to the Senate that would end the state’s religious exemption for immunization requirements for school.
Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan notes that this bill does not require students to be vaccinated for HPV, the flu or COVID-19. Allie-Brennan says he understands and respects parental rights and other personal liberties, but that his job is to protect the public health and prevent unnecessary deaths.
After meeting with constituents on both sides of the issue, Allie-Brennan co-introduced a bipartisan amendment that will extend the grandfather provision from seventh grade to kindergarten.
Required vaccines include measles, mumps and rubella; diphtheria; pertussis (whooping cough); tetanus; poliomyelitis; and haemophilus influenzae type B. The bill would expand and enhance the medical exemption process by creating a standardized certificate and providing clear and concise guidance to our health care providers.
There is Moderna Vaccine availability at the mass vaccination clinic at Yanity Gym for today and Thursday April 22 from 9-4. Walk-ins are welcome on a first come first served basis. The clinic is located at 60 Prospect St., Ridgefield--(follow the COVID testing signs and go to large arced building).
Alternatively, you can make an appointment by calling 203-431-2718 or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Ridgefield students have returned to full in-person learning for the first time since the pandemic began. As COVID-19 cases continued to decline, the district planned for a full return for grades 6 through 12. Elementary-aged students have attended classes in person since September. School officials looked at in-school transmission and factored in the oldest students being eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.
The Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center has been awarded the 2021 Award of Merit from the Connecticut League of History Organizations. The organization was recognized for its multi-program project initiative, SISTERS. The program includes public and school programs based on the original play of the same name. It's the story of a white woman, and a Black woman who lived at the a Hotel, now the site of the museum. The play was staged virtually for school and public audiences last year. The award will be presented today at CLHO’s Annual Business Meeting.
The Connecticut House of Representatives has approved a contentious bill that would end the state’s long-standing religious exemption from immunization requirements for schools, beginning with the 2022 school year. The state House has voted 90-53. Debate began shortly before 11am yesterday and ended around 3 o'clock this morning.
Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday he’s ready to sign the bill into law.
The legislation stems from an uptick in the number of families in Connecticut who have sought a religious exemption from a host of childhood vaccinations, ultimately lowering the vaccination rate in as many as 100 schools at one point to under 95%. Meanwhile, earlier this month, the Department of Public Health reported that an unvaccinated child from Fairfield County contracted measles while traveling internationally.
Roughly 7,600 children in grades K-12 currently have religious exemptions in Connecticut.
Kent Representative Maria Horn says the science is overwhelmingly clear that vaccines save lives. She understands that they don't work for all people, but for everyone who can they should be, in order to protect the vulnerable population. She noted that it's a difficult issue, and pushed for a stronger medical exemption. Horn says, if she were to conduct a poll, a majority of her constituents believe in the power of vaccinations.
Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky says the state should not force parents to get their children inoculated in order for them to attend public school. He says denying families that have made this alternate choice, half of one percent of the school population, feels wrong and segregationalist.
The strong feelings surrounding the issue were evident early in Monday’s House debate when lawmakers, on a bipartisan vote of 106-36, amended the bill to expand the number of children with existing religious exemptions who wouldn’t be affected. Instead of grandfathering the exemptions for children currently in 7th grade and older, the amended bill would grandfather children in kindergarten and older.
Bolinsky says it's wrong even though it would grandfather individuals enrolled in kindergarten or higher who submitted a religious exemption prior to the bill’s passage. He is concerned about one constituent family, with kids aged 2, 4, 7 and 9. He notes that half of the children will not be given the opportunity to have a public education.
This marks the third year in a row that lawmakers have considered removing the religious exemption for vaccinations. It’s been an emotionally charged debate. Both legislators who support and oppose the legislation have reported receiving hostile emails and social media posts over the issue.
This year, nearly 2,000 members of the public signed up in February to testify at an unprecedented 24-hour, virtual legislative hearing on the issue. Many, including parents concerned about the safety of vaccines, argued that stripping the exemption will infringe on their religious and parental rights and on their child’s right to a public education.
While proponents said the change was more fair to parents who’ve already sought exemptions for their children and help ensure those children aren’t pulled out of school, critics argued it was still discriminatory.
The legislation would take effect on Sept. 1, 2022.
Redding Representative Anne Hughes broke ranks with the Democrats and voted against it. Meanwhile Representative William Petit, a physician and ranking member of the Public Health Committee, voted in favor of the legislation.
Connecticut is currently one of 45 states with a religious exemption from childhood vaccinations. The medical exemption will remain in place available for families.
The Bethel budget referendum is being held today. Residents are voting on a $32.9 million municipal plan and $49 million for the schools. Polls are open until 8pm at all three polling places. All residents legally registered to vote in the Town of Bethel are eligible.
If approved, the tax and spending plan would increase the mill rate 1.9 percent.
There's a 2.33 percent increase in education funding a little less than a 1-percent increase in town spending. There's been a reduction in non-tax revenue, reduced program fees and interest income due to COVID-19, and low interest rates nation-wide. Debt service is increasing because of the Rockwell and Johnson renovations and the new Police Station.
Anyone casting a ballot in person is asked to wear a mask when inside the building and observe social distancing protocols while waiting in line. Poll volunteers will be sanitizing all surfaces and equipment during the day, but residents are encouraged to bring their own pen in order to to minimize contact with equipment and materials. A black felt-tipped marker will work best.
Danbury has been ranked as one of the 10 most Diverse Cities in America. Danbury came in 10th overall and is ranked 3rd when compared to only other small cities, those with fewer than 100,000 residents.
The findings by personal-finance website WalletHub determined the places in the U.S. with the most mixed demographics. The organization compared the profiles of more than 501 of the most populated cities across five major diversity categories: socioeconomic, cultural, economic, household and religious. WalletHub limited each state to no more than 10 cities each.
The top 5 overall most diverse cities were found to be Houston, Jersey City, New York, Dallas and LA.
Diversity in Danbury (1=Most Diverse; 250=Avg.):
18th – Income Diversity
126th – Educational-Attainment Diversity
78th – Racial & Ethnic Diversity
21st – Linguistic Diversity
138th – Birthplace Diversity
126th – Industry Diversity
142nd – Occupational Diversity
215th – Worker-Class Diversity
246th – Marital-Status Diversity
33rd – Age Diversity
Overall rankings for other Connecticut cities:
64. New Britain
113. New Haven
225. West Hartford
A Danbury woman was killed in a car crash in the Town of Washington over the weekend. State Police say 39-year old Sharon May Piech died en route to the hospital.
Emergency responders were called to the intersection of Litchfield Turnpike and Garland Road on a report of a multi-vehicle crash around 1:30pm Sunday. State Police say the Danbury woman was headed westbound when her car crossed into the opposite lane and sideswiped a vehicle, before crashing head-on with a pick up truck.
The 66-year old pick-up truck driver and three passengers, ages 65, 11 and 9, were transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of suspected minor injuries. The other driver and his passenger reported no injuries.
Connecticut State Police are urging anyone with information about the accident to call Trooper Steven Kieltyka at 860-626-7900.
The Center for Family Justice’s White Ribbon Campaign is hosting their 9th Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Event. Due to COVID-19, the walkathon will be held virtually throughout this month. Masuk School Resource Officer Larsen has been working with the Masuk Interact Club, and they have arranged for students to walk a mile during their gym classes on April 19th and 20th, to help support and raise awareness for this cause. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event focuses awareness on the impact and prevention of sexual violence on women and girls. “Team Masuk”, is raising funds to support The Center for Family Justice’s Camp HOPE America - Bridgeport, a summer camp and year-long mentoring program for young people ages 7-17 who have experienced the trauma of domestic or sexual violence.
State Representative Tony Scott has been sworn in for his first term, at the halfway point of the 2021 legislative session. The 112 District covers all of Monroe and part of Newtown. Scott was elected in a Special Election earlier this month to replace JP Sredzinski who resigned in February. Scott says he is concerned about the impact of new taxes on his district as the state's economy recovers from the pandemic. He says the cost of government should not be a burden on those it serves. The session is scheduled to run until June 9th.
A two-story building in New Fairfield sustained serious structural damage in a fire yesterday afternoon. Firefighters responded to a self-storage building on Dunham Drive shortly after 3pm. The call was initially believed to be a car fire, but emergency personnel were told that the building was involved. Firefighters held the flames in the original unit where the fire started. No injuries were reported and the New Fairfield Fire Marshal's Office is investigating. Mutual aid was provided by Danbury, Sherman, and Putnam Lake New York fire departments. A Danbury Fire Department truck was used to gain access to the roof and overhaul the exterior of the building. Tankers assisted with water supply.
A chimney fire in Bethel was quickly extinguished on Friday evening. Firefighters responded to Whitney Road on a report of the minor fire downtown. Bethel Fire & EMS officials say April isn't the traditional times for chimney fire season, but urged residents to keep up with safety precautions. They note this is especially important as brush fire season winds down. Residents should obtain a permit from the fire marshal's office and check the fire danger before burning brush.
While Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company was on the scene of a car accident on Friday, a vehicle made an illegal u-turn in the middle of Route 25 and struck a hazard cone. The cone was dragged underneath the car for over half a mile, before it dislodged itself. Brookfield Emergency responders called on motorists to be mindful of road closures, cones, signs and most importantly, the directions firefighters or police are giving at the scene.
There have been 33 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield over the past week. First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says although improving, New Fairfield continues to have a COVID infection rate and test positivity rate well above State averages. The infection rate has decreased to 24.7 cases per 100,000 people and the test positivity rate has dropped to 5.2 percent. The case rate represents an average daily rate of infection calculated over two weeks. State data indicates that 69-hundred New Fairfield residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19. That's about 50-percent of the town. As infection rates remain high in the region, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco urged residents to continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
About 51-percent of New Milford residents have been vaccinated against COVID-19. The latest data from the state indicates about 13,600 residents have gotten at least a first dose of a vaccine. Mayor Pete Bass says over 99-percent of New Milford residents over the age of 65 have been given their 1st dose. Brookfield and New Milford had been declared COVID-19 hotspots by the state, but now each town has seen their case rate cut nearly in half. New Milford had the 3rd highest infection rate in the state, but it's now 6th highest. Brookfield was the 5th highest when the town was declared a hot spot. Health Directors in each town attribute clusters of cases to youth sports teams.
Danbury has broken ground on a $5.5 million grease-to-diesel conversion facility. The first in the nation project is a partnership with UConn at the John Oliver Memorial Sewer Plant.
Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says they will harvest sewer grease from the waste stream and produce hundreds of thousands of gallons of biodiesel and heating fuel. A prefabricated 5,000-square-foot building will house the conversion technology allowing the City to produce its own fuel from fat that gets dumped down drains.
The result would be enough to run Danbury's fleet of trucks for a year and still have left over to sell. 90,000 gallons could be sold off to become a new revenue source for the City. UConn Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering professor emeritus Richard Parnas' patented reactor mixes refined brown grease with methanol to produce the biodiesel.
REA Resource Recovery Systems is another partner in the operation. They will submit a research paper to compete for a federal grant that would pay for photovoltaic technology to run the biodiesel plant on solar energy. Iadarola says that would take the treatment plant completely off the grid.
A virtual public comment session is being held by the Danbury City Council tonight about the proposed $99 million Career Academy at the former Matrix Center. The middle and high school would be part of a mixed use development at The Summit.
The virtual meeting is at 7pm. Comments submitted by residents before 5 o'clock tonight will be read into the record. Residents can email their name, address and statements to comments@Danbury-ct.gov.
The City Council will then meet virtually at 8pm to consider a vote on the project for June 15th. Under the Governor's executive orders, the Council can approve the borrowing bill on their own without further input from residents, but the Council will decide tonight whether to hold a referendum, as typically would be held, instead.
The FEMA mobile vaccination unit will be in Danbury next week. The clinics will be at the Danbury Train Station on Patriot Drive next Monday the 26th from 3:30pm to 8:30pm, and next Tuesday from noon to 6pm. These clinics are for Danbury residents 18 years and older. Due to limited supplies, vaccines will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis, though appointments are strongly encouraged. To schedule, call 877-918-2224. Danbury Residents must show photo ID or utility bill.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Senator Richard Blumenthal questioned the Federal Bureau of Prisons Director about the COVID-19 vaccination rate at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution. About 60 percent of staff and 43 percent of inmates have been vaccinated so far.
According to a report filed by FCI Danbury officials last week, about 40 percent of inmates have declined getting vaccinated. Director Michael Carvajal says 323 inmates and 162 FCI Danbury staff had been fully vaccinated.
Across, the Bureau of Prisons’s 122 facilities, vaccination acceptance rate is around 51 percent. In response to a question from Blumenthal, Carvajal said the bureau would be receptive to suggestions for ways to improve vaccine acceptance.
All Bureau staff have been offered one of the COVID-19 vaccines and by April 19, all inmates will be eligible for a vaccine.
In January, Senator Chris Murphy, Representative Jahana Hayes and Blumenthal sent a letter to then-Warden Easter asking about FCI Danbury’s medical staffing and capacity to provide medical care and treatment to incarcerated individuals who become ill due to COVID-19 or other underlying conditions. They were told “FCI Danbury medical staff are actively recruiting in an attempt to fill current vacant positions.” But now, Carvajal says they’re at 102% staffing. He says they’ve over hired correctional officers and there are three medical vacancies.
West Conn has quickly changed direction on COVID-19 vaccinations for students. The university was one of many in the state that planned to offer the Johnson & Johnson single dose shot to students before the end of the semester, but with the pause, the Pfizer vaccine will now be offered. Clinics will be held on Tuesday and Thursday on the midtown campus. Shots will be administered by the Community Health Center on a first-come, first-served registration basis. All students are eligible, regardless of their state of residency, as long as they have student ID or proof of registration, as well as a photo ID. The second shot of Pfizer will be offered to students the week of May 10th, finals week.
Bethel Police say distraction burglaries continue to be an ongoing threat throughout Connecticut. Several incidents over the past few months have included scammers posing as employees from various occupations such as state jobs, water supply businesses, and energy companies. Scammers pose as employees in order to “distract” victims and gain entry into their homes. Additionally, scammers have posed as energy or service providers over the phone and insist that the victim pay their outstanding bill. Bethel Police ask residents to be mindful of the potential for these incidents and call the Police Department should anyone observe or experience suspicious activity.
The proposed Southbury municipal budget is lower for the coming fiscal year than the plan currently in use. The $21.6 million town budget has been approved by the Boards of Selectmen and Finance. Southbury's portion of the Region 15 Board of Education budget is $49.8 million. That spending plan is a 2.58 percent increase over the current year. Residents will be voting on the $71.4 million on May 5th.
Many Connecticut municipalities have moved out of the state's COVID-19 alert Red Zone for high community transmission. But they're mainly in eastern and north western parts of the state. Bridgewater is back in the lowest alert level, the grey zone. COVID-19 cases spiked last week in the Naugatuck Valley, and in places like Brookfield and New Milford. While there were still elevated caseloads this week, average daily incidence by county saw a sharp decline in Litchfield County from the week before.
5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says the House has passed the Paycheck Fairness Act. The measure ensures all workers will get equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender. Hayes says allowing employers to self-police their wage practices would be counterproductive and they should be held accountable for discriminatory practices by someone other than themselves. Hayes added that as important contributors to the household and larger economy, women deserve equal pay. It is a family issue.
The Easton Police Department is once again holding their "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event. Due to pandemic restrictions, it will be a virtual event. This is part of the International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence. The Police Department has a team page where they are raising money for The Center for Family Justice, Inc. Camp HOPE America - Bridgeport. Donors can then do a Virtual Mile anytime in the month of April. A livestreamed event is planned for the 24th at 9am.
New Milford Police Cadets and the Police Department are working with the community to "Team up to Clean up!" on May 15th. People interested in volunteers from 8am-4pm to help pick up trash on the sides of the roads, rivers and parks should email Police Communications Supervisor Christine Walsh email@example.com with a specific location or a general request to help. New Milford Police will be using Young's Field as the base of operations.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is April 24th. The Bethlehem and Woodbury Resident State Trooper Offices will be open from 10am to 2pm as collection sites. Most Greater Danbury area Police Departments are participating in the effort. Details can be found on the DEA website takebackday.dea.gov.
Bethel School Superintendent Dr Christine Carver has fielded a number of requests from parents to have their children participate in distance learning next week. These are being made out of concern that others will travel during Spring Break. Bethe School District will allow in-person learners to participate in Distance Learning for the 7 day period after Spring Break. This will be the week of April 19th-23rd. Parents must contact their child's teacher and school to participate in this option.
Kent Food Bank is seeking donations to address continued food insecurity. Donations can be dropped at Kent Food Bank Thursdays 9am to noon and Fridays from 9am to 10am. The Food Bank is located lower level of Kent Community House. Specific items are being requested including juice, canned fruit, peanut butter, canned chicken, condiments, hearty soups, granola bars, soap, coffee, popcorn, triscuits, syrup, canned beans, paper towels, pasta and pasta sauce, and canned tomato products. Non perishable only.
A Guatemalan citizen has pleaded guilty in Connecticut to illegal reentry of a removed alien. Using the alias Edwin Galvez Lemus, the 36-year old was arrested by Monroe Police in December 2019 for assault on personnel, breach of peace, reckless endangerment, criminal trespass and running from police. According to court documents, two weeks after Juan Luis Monzon Monteroso first encountered Border Patrol in Florida, he left the country, but was found by Border Control in Texas two more times in 2011. He has been detained since his arrest in Connecticut. Monteroso faces a maximum term of imprisonment of two years when he is sentenced at a later date.
A garbage truck fire in Bethel was quickly doused by firefighters. Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company responded to Meckauer Park shortly after 8am and were told that the trash inside the truck was burning and that they driver had dumped the contents in the parking lot. The Bethel Public Works department brought in a backhoe to help open up the pile so firefighters could fully extinguish it. The refuse company brought in equipment and personnel to then clean up the trash.
While some towns have announced their final first dose COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be held this month, Brookfield plans to continue operations through mid-May. Tonight at 7pm Brookfield officials will be uploading new openings for appointments for Moderna first dose shots to the Vaccine Administration Management System.
The clinics at St Joseph's School will appear on VAMS for next Tuesday and Saturday, and May 12th. The clinic hours on the 20th are 9AM to 1PM, 4PM to 7PM, with a standby line starting at 6PM. Hours on Saturday, April 24th are 9AM to 1PM with a standby line starting at noon.
Standby lines are for any vaccine available due to extra doses drawn during the day or unfilled appointment cancellations. Having a space in the standby line is not a guarantee of vaccine availability.
A California man reported missing in Newtown has been found safe. Newtown Police issued a Silver Alert yesterday morning for 28-year old Zackery Thomas. He was spotted pulling into a Church Hill Road gas station, taking all of his life's personal belongings out of his van, and placing them behind the gas station. His cell phone, clothes, and other personnel items were left behind as he drove off. Newtown Police contacted his mother in California and father in Michigan, learning that Thomas suffers from depression and left California to visit his dad and then left there when he came to Connecticut. His parents didn't know why he would come to Newtown as he has no known connection with the area. He was located later in the day by Waterbury Police. The Newtown Police Department thanked Facebook followers for getting the message out there, and Waterbury Police for getting Thomas the help he needed.
Most of the public comments submitted to the Danbury City Council about the budget were about the education spending. During a virtual public hearing last night, some 39 comments were read into the record. 38 of them were about the school budget. Other comments were submitted, but didn't include names or addresses as required. Those comments will be kept on file, but were not read into the record.
Mayor Joe Cavo says one piece of the spending plan that's important is about money for non-profits. Last year was the only year the City didn't fund grant agencies, but with a non-profit taking over care of the homeless, the United Way will be able to pass along funding again. Pacific House is in negotiations to buy the Super 8 motel where the homeless has been housed since the start of the pandemic.
Cavo says he and others worked hard to get the non-profit allocation back in the budget to support various agencies and the work they do, especially during the public health emergency.
A Red Tailed Hawk found shot with an arrow in Newtown is being cared for by a local rehabilitation organization. The hawk was caught in the area of Boggs Hill Road and Palestine Road last week. Christine's Critters is caring for the bird and notified the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which is investigating the case. It's a federal offense to shoot hawks, which are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The hawk was treated at South Wilton Veterinary Group and then transferred back to Christine's Critters for at home care on pain meds, antibiotics, and fluid therapy.
Newtown residents are voting on a $123 million municipal and school budget on April 27th. The tax rate would decrease slightly, .3 percent. The Newtown Legislative Council voted to use a surplus in the fund balance to prevent an increase next year. The municipal portion of the plan, $43.5 million, represents a 1.3 percent increase in spending. The $79.9 million school plan includes the same spending increase. There are several other questions on the referendum ballot. One is a $5 million allocation for emergency radio system upgrades and another is $1.5 million for Reed Intermediate School boiler and lighting replacement. There's also a question about $3.7 million dollars for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial.
A special town meeting was held in Sherman this week where residents approved spending for capital items. During the Wednesday virtual gathering the Board of Selectmen put five requests, totaling $153,000, to voters. Most of the items were for the public works department, but there was also up to 10-thousand dollars approved for installation of 450 feet of guide rail on Hubbell Mountain Road. Sherman officials say there have been safety concerns after several accidents on that stretch of road. Residents also approved money for a new public works pick up truck, replacing a 21-year-old landscaping equipment trailer, replacing the nearly 26-year-old wood chipper, and a diesel mower/snow blower to replace the more-than-20-year-old mower.
Redding is planning to hold an annual Earth Day event. Residents are being called on to participate in Rid Litter Day and build Mt Trashmore on the Redding Town Green April 24th. Residents can pick up gloves, vest and trash bags to help rid Redding of roadside litter and the bring the trash back to the green. Anyone who already has a road they want to clean up should let town officials know, so they can keep a running list. A road can also be assigned to interested volunteers. A photo op will be held at 2:45pm, before volunteers load the trash into a dumpster, which will then be weighed. In past years Redding residents have collected close to a ton of trash.
A shredding and e-waste collection event is being held on Saturday in Redding. This is for residents only, with proof of residency required at the Redding Transfer station. People bringing their items for shredding or recycling must stay in their vehicle at all times. Workers will wear PPE to take the items from vehicles. Shredding has a 5 box limit. No xrays or binder clips and file hangers will be accepted at the collection, from 9am to noon. Items accepted for ewaste recycling include computers, tablets, monitors, printers, scanner, modem, stereo equipment, cell phones, microwaves and the like.
Absentee ballots are available for Bethel residents for the upcoming budget referendum. Applications must be completed and returned to the Town Clerk by appointment. Residents can use the Municipal Center entrance closest to the post office, ring the doorbell and an employee will take photo ID and issue a ballot. The ballot can be voted on immediately or taken home. Either way, it must be placed in the ballot drop box located outside at the front entrance of the Municipal Center, opposite the town's yellow correspondence drop box.
The Connecticut Education Association is recognizing a Danbury High School teacher. Kimberly D’Auria, a Family and Consumer Science teacher, has been awarded the Harvey Milk - Sylvia Rivera Award, a Human Rights and Civil Rights Awards. It's to honor union members who challenge discrimination related to gender identity and sexual orientation. D’Auria was nominated by DHS counselor Jean Carroll-Jones for her work to create a safe LGBTQ school environment.
Visible construction work has started at the old TJ Maxx in Candlewood Plaza in Brookfield. The space was approved as a grocery store by the Brookfield Zoning Commission back in October. There's speculation that it will be an Amazon Fresh store based off the anonymity request at that time. The leasing director for the plaza said the proposed grocery store client is extremely secretive, as a product of the company's foundation as a technology company. The facade was dictated to them by the client, and they worked with architects and a design team for nearly a month to adapt the existing conditions to their demands. At the time of the approval there was only one of these stores open in the country. When asked if there will be a lot of delivery vehicles, compared to other grocery stores, Zoners were told that there were no current plan for there to be deliveries from the store to customer's homes.
4th District Congressman Jim Himes agrees with President Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. He says the mission has evolved to be too broad, too unclear, and too costly. Himes says he has confidence in the intelligence community to ensure that a potential resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan will not threaten Americans. He notes that this war has cost the U.S. $2 trillion and nearly 2,400 American lives. Himes believes the country has achieved the initial goal to defeat those who attacked America on 9/11. But he says there is still a responsibility to protect Afghans who’ve helped military forces over the past two decades and the U.S. should prioritize clearing the backlog of translators and their families who are waiting for visas to leave Afghanistan.
A virtual workshop has been held to discuss progress on creating a Career Academy for middle and high school aged students in Danbury. The $99 million project would be reimbursed by the state at 80-percent, which is much higher than the typical 66-percent rate. Finance Director David St Hilaire says there will be a relatively small impact on the projected debt service over the next decade.
Former Mayor Mark Boughton is leading the Career Academy Steering Committee. An application must be submitted to the state by October 1st, but a draft was requested by September 1st.
The goal is to address overcrowding while providing more opportunity to study various careers. Plans eventually call for six academies within the school focused on professional health services; information, cybersecurity and technology; scientific innovation and medicine; global enterprise and economics; art, engineering and design; and communications and design.
Three pods at the Summit would be used, with another parcel at the former Union Carbide world headquarters used for a gymnasium.
The mixed-use development on the City's west side will seek a reduction in the number of apartments being constructed to make room for the school. Boughton and the developer previously came to an agreement for an annual fee of $550,000 to the City to offset the costs of any additional students from the apartments.
The Danbury Planning Commission will review the Summit’s revised plan next week. A zoning regulation change allowing a public, secondary school at the site will be considered by the Zoning Commission the following week, with a public hearing planned for May 11th.
The New Milford Health Department COVID-19 vaccine clinic at John Pettibone Community Center has reserved appointments for eligible New Milford High School students to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Students aged 16 and over are eligible.
The time slots April 21st from 4pm to 7pm, with the second dose on May 12th during the same hours, or first dose April 24th from 7:30am to 8:30am and the second dose on May 18th from 4pm to 5pm. The second dose appointments will be automatically scheduled during the first dose appointment.
Students that are over 18 can self-register through the town's website. Students who are 16 or 17 require the consent of a guardian. Students will be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose. Fully vaccinated individuals are not required to quarantine or to be tested even if exposed to a positive case of COVID-19.
With widening COVID-19 vaccine distribution and increased availability, Redding will be holding its final first dose vaccination clinic on April 23rd. Redding Health Officer Doug Hartline called it good news that the town is sensing the supply of vaccine starting to catch up with the demand. For those looking for a vaccination appointment there’s still time for Redding residents who are 18 and older to sign up on the town's website. Redding will still run second dose clinics after April 23rd for those who received their first dose in Redding. The final second dose clinic will be May 21. Second dose recipients early in the week their shot is due will receive a call and/or email to set up an appointment.
The Town of Bethel COVID-19 vaccine clinic has administered over 5,000 doses to residents and many others received their shot elsewhere. First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there's now widespread availability elsewhere, so the Bethel clinic will shut down in the next few weeks. Bethel will remain open for first dose appointments for those who call and make an appointment by Monday a 4pm. The clinic will remain open for 2nd doses for everyone who signs up by that time. Bethel offers the Moderna shot.
The Danbury Public School District has sent out a letter to the community calling attention to the differences in the budget the Board of Ed requested, and the one currently under consideration. District officials want the City to increase funding because an additional 750 students are expected over the next five years. There's a virtual public hearing on the $267 million budget tonight at 7pm. The Board of Ed is calling for another $4 million dllars. According to Mayor Joe Cavo's budget proposal, $137 million in city funding is boosted by little more than $5 million in federal grants and $3.5 million surplus from the prior year bringing the total to $146 million. The current year's city contribution was about $135 million for the schools. Residents may weigh in via email firstname.lastname@example.org with their full name, address, and comment. The subject matter should be included in the subject line of the email.
Danbury Hospital is among more than 40 sites in the US participating in a National Institute of Health trial to identify promising therapeutic treatments against COVID-19. The trial involves biological and drug treatments compared to a placebo group. Lenzilumab is a first-in-class recombinant monoclonal antibody that's being studied as a biological treatment. Remdesivir is a drug that's been used in treatment but is being studied further. The end date for the trial is December of this year.
A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot people and smashing a window at a new store on Backus Avenue on Tuesday. Police say Tod Sparks, a painting contractor, had a dispute with the general contractor for the new Ocean State Job Lots store. During the dispute, the 39-year old repeatedly threatened to shoot people and at one point smashed a window with a broomstick. He was charged with criminal mischief, breach of peace, disorderly conduct and threatening. Sparks was not found to be in possession of firearms when he was arrested.
Wilton Police say 3 cars were stolen last week and at least 3 others were entered. One stolen vehicle was later used in a larceny in Woodbridge. Another stolen vehicle was recovered with bullet holes in it. Wilton Police are reminding residents to lock unoccupied cars in order to help protect the community from offenders looking to commit additional property and violent crimes under the cloak of anonymity using someone else's vehicle.
The Redding Police Department is investigating a number of car break-ins that occurred on Redding Ridge over the past few days. Police ask residents to stay vigilant of suspicious activity and lock cars at night. Anyone in the Route 58 area with information that could assist Police in this investigation is asked to contact Sgt Peter Quinn at 203-938-3400.
Last year the Connecticut Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year the Danbury Police Department hopes to make up for that loss and raise even more for Special Olympics Connecticut. Danbury Police are calling on residents and businesses to help out through the “Adopt a Mile Fundraiser.” Contributions will help provide year round athletic training and competition for over 13,000 Special Olympic Connecticut athletes and unified partners throughout the state. The Torch Run begins on June 16th, passes through Danbury on June 18th, and finish later that evening. The three-day run will cover over 530 miles through 100 Connecticut cities and towns.
Ridgefield is looking to hire Firefighter/Paramedic or Firefighter/EMT for the career department. Applicants must be non-smokers, in good physical condition and of high moral character. Applications can be submitted to the town through May 7th. No previous firefighting experience is required. Ridgefield requires candidates to have successfully passed the Candidate Physical Ability Test and hold a paramedic license. Fire Fighter Recruit Graduates will be given extra consideration. This position may work rotating 24-hour shifts or rotating 12-hour day shifts.
Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is modifying their annual door-to-door fund drive, which was eliminated last year because of the pandemic. This year, they are relying on a fund drive letter for financial support from the community. Brookfield volunteer firefighters are taking COVID precautions again this year and asking for donations by mail or PayPal. Mailings will be going out soon to all households in Brookfield.
Clark Chapin has been nominated to serve as Connecticut State Auditor of Public Accounts, to compete the term of the late Rob Kane as the Republican auditor. The appointment will last through June 30th 2023.
Chapin served six terms in the House and two terms as State Senator representing multiple communities including Brookfield, Kent, Litchfield, Morris, New Milford, and Warren. After leaving the legislature, Chapin then served as the state executive director of the Connecticut USDA Farm Service Agency. In addition to serving in government, he has been a self-employed carpenter since 1988.
The former longtime New Milford resident currently lives in Ellington.
Connecticut has a Democratic and Republican auditor of public accounts, who jointly oversee a legislative agency tasked with providing independent and objective opinions and recommendations on the operations of state government and the state’s effectiveness in safeguarding resources. The nomination now goes before the Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee and is subject to approval by the full General Assembly.
A Monroe man has been arrested on a federal criminal complaint charging him with child exploitation offenses related to his alleged sexual abuse of three minor girls. 32-year old Hector Torres allegedly used Snapchat, FaceTime and text messaging to communicate with three girls, aged 11 and 12, to coerce them to send him naked pictures of themselves.
On multiple occasions in February, Torres allegedly picked up the girls in his car and brought them to a shopping plaza parking lot in Hartford, where they each engaged in sexual activity with Torres at his direction. There were at least three videos of Torres’s sexual abuse of the girls, one of which investigators show the right side of his face as well as distinctive tattoos on his hands.
Torres promised to give the girls money, sneakers, vaping supplies and/or food.
Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle noted that investigators are seeking to identify additional victims and encouraged victims, witnesses and anyone with helpful information to call 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).
A Monroe man has been arrested by Newtown Police for the second time in a month. The latest arrest of 27-year old Zachery Krajewski was made yesterday for engaging police in pursuit. This arrest stemmed from an incident in March when a Newtown Officer on patrol saw the man parked at a Queen Street business, and knew there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest from a previous incident in January. At that time, Krajewski also engaged police in a pursuit and had multiple other motor vehicle related charges. Newtown Police spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde says both pursuits were called off almost immediately, as Krajewski fled from police in a reckless manner, passing cars and driving in the opposite lane at a high rate of speed. The Monroe man was also charged for interfering with an officer, reckless operation, suspended license, and no insurance.
Bethel recently passed an ordinance creating a Fire Commission to oversee the operations of the town's two volunteer fire companies. Now Bethel officials are looking for volunteers to become commission members. Duties will include long-term planning for major equipment purchases, facility upgrades, operational coordination and review of operational budgets. The Board of Selectmen expect to begin making appointments in May, with the first meeting of the commission no later than the first week of June. Anyone interested in serving is asked to write or email contact information to the Board of Selectmen by the 26th. Applicants must be Bethel residents and registered electors in order to serve. Those interested should also detail background or experience pertinent to serving on the public safety commission, though previous experience is not required.
A Republican will continue to hold the 112th state House seat. Monroe Town Councilman Tony Scott won the Special election in part of Newtown and in Monroe for the seat previously held by 4-term Republican JP Sredzinski, who resigned in February. Scott won 53-percent of the vote in a three-way race with Monroe Board of Ed Democrat Nicholas Kappor and Independent former Newtown Selectman Bill Furrier. Sredzinski had run unopposed in 2020 and 2018.
The Redding Board of Finance has approved a $51.1 million budget to send to the voters. The plan includes a slight spending increase, which could hike the mill rate a bit. The proposal includes $15.5 million dollars on the town side, and $23-million for the Board of Education. If approved, the mill rate would increase from 32.84 to 33.04. That doesn't necessarily mean the increase will go into effect. The Board of Finance can't set the mill rate until after the budget is approved. The Annual Town Budget Meeting is April 21st at 3pm. A referendum will be held May 4th.
Danbury High School plans to survey students about what kind of graduation ceremony to hold. There are three options the Class of 2021 will be able to vote on.
One option is to have students on the field of the stadium, with no one in the stands, but a livestreamed ceremony. Another option is have graduates divided into three nights of ceremonies with each student allowed two guests. The other option is a drive-thru graduation, similar to last year's commencement, where students pick a time to get their diploma at a photo area in front of a stage. June 10th and 11th are possibilities, with rain dates of June 12th and 14th.
Outdoor graduations are currently limited by the state to the number that can be safely accommodated with social distancing. The stadium can hold 2,850 people at normal capacity, but would only hold 834-students with 6-feet of spacing.
The Danbury Democratic Town Committee has endorsed a mayoral candidate ahead of the Party’s nominating meeting in mid-July. At the regular April meeting Monday night, members voted by acclamation to endorse Roberto Alves. Committee Chair Andrea Gartner says Alves has raised $75,000 since he announced his candidacy in January and has the backing of Democratic members of the state legislative delegation.
She also cited a precedent set in 2019 during the last municipal election cycle when the party announced early. But at that time there was just one candidate who had come forward.
Two other Democrats are also seeking the party's nomination. Councilman John Esposito got into the race last week. He told the Newstimes that it's not right to endorse somebody so soon. Political newcomer Sedeaka Lawrence entered the race in February. He still plans to challenge Alves in a September primary.
The Danbury Republican Town Committee has not yet endorsed a candidate as no GOP has declared a mayoral run. Mayor Joe Cavo has not announced his intentions for the fall. The former Council President was appointed to lead the City in December when 10-term Mayor Mark Boughton resigned to become state Department of Revenue Services Commissioner.
Newtown Animal Control is investigating after 6 ducks appear to have been abandoned in a local pond. Animal control received a call from Old Mill Road residents saying that 6 white ducks were intentionally dumped in the area of Warner Pond. They are domestic ducks but no one in the area recognizes them. Newtown Animal Control says domestic ducks don't have the necessary skills to survive in the wild. They urged people not to buy or adopt a duck if families don't plan to keep it. Animal control members were out trying to trap the ducks and asked that if anyone recognizes them or has information to contact 203-426-6900.
A New Milford man has been arrested for illegal operation of a drug factory. Officers launched an investigation months ago into the distribution of crack cocaine from a Bel Air Drive home. Detectives, K9 Mattis, along with the Northwest Statewide Narcotics Taskforce, carried out a search warrant at the home of 40-year old David Crescenzo on Thursday. He was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and convicted felon in possession of firearm and ammunition. Crescenzo was held on a $250,000 bond.
Brewster firefighters responded to a rollover accident on Brewster Hill Road on Monday evening. The vehicle was on its side with the driver still inside. A quick thinking Putnam County Sheriff deputy positioned his vehicle to prevent the car from rolling onto its roof until firefighters could stabilize it. Members used a glass cutter to remove the windshield at which point the uninjured drives was able to get out on their own. Brewster Hill Road was closed during the rescue operation.
Metro North is making some service changes this month. The MTA is restoring train weekend/holiday service between Southeast and Wassaic stations starting this weekend. 9 trains will operate in each direction. Customers will need to change trains at Southeast for express trains to and from Grand Central. Due to the replacement of track switches north of Hartsdale station, a single-track operation is required between Scarsdale and North White Plains for approximately 4 months. Five AM and PM roundtrip trains between Grand Central Terminal and North White Plains will be truncated at Crestwood station and there will be minor schedule adjustments to 22 other trains.
Danbury-based Connecticut Institute for Communities has been awarded a $3-million federal grant. The funding will be used for COVID-19 vaccine outreach to the city’s most vulnerable families in traditionally underserved neighborhoods. A new vaccine center will target the hard-to-reach communities. They will also send out newsletters and direct mail. The federal money can also be used to hire staff and add mobile units. The $3 million award to CIFC is part of a larger $11 million allotment secured by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes for three other community health centers in Waterbury, Torrington and Plainville. The money was included in the American Rescue Plan passed in March.
Connecticut plans to allocate millions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief funds toward education programs designed to help make up for learning lost by the state’s schoolchildren during the pandemic.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday that $10.7 million of Connecticut’s federal pandemic recovery funding will pay for an initiative he’s calling the Learner Engagement and Attendance Program or LEAP, which will be a partnership between the state Department of Education and six regional state Education Service Centers.
Among other things, the program will send people directly into homes to work with families who have been struggling with absenteeism and remote learning in 15 particularly hard-hit school districts, including Danbury.
The money also will help fund summer camps and other educational experiences, which Lamont said the state will encourage students to attend before school resumes in the fall as a way to make up for lost time in the classroom.
“I want to make sure that we can provide that to kids at virtually no charge and no cost to every kid that wants to go,” Lamont said during an education roundtable in Meriden. “I want to put a youth corps together so that these kids have a friend, a mentor; that they get free access to museums and aquariums and libraries — all different ways that our kids can hit the ground running in September.”
Officials said the LEAP program will have three goals: to bridge students back to their school communities for the final months of the school year; to support enrollment in those summer programs and to facilitate a seamless transition back into the classroom for the 2021-22 school year.
State education officials said they used data collected through the state’s new attendance tracking system to identify the districts with the greatest need and allocate the LEAP funds to those areas.
The state last fall used relief dollars to distribute 141,000 laptops and 44,000 at-home internet connections for students in need.
U.S. Sen Richard Blumenthal told the roundtable that millions more in education money will be coming to the state in the next few months as part of the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan and he said local school districts will be able to decide how to spend those funds.
Lamont said the state will receive $1.1 billion in education money from that plan over the next three years.
5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says chronic absenteeism and disengagement continue to be barriers to success. She added that these problems have become exacerbated during this pandemic, especially in high need school districts. Hayes added that this new program by the state is an example of how the American Rescue Plan will help struggling schools and students around the country.
New Milford Police K9 Kira has passed away. The police dog retired from active duty in January, after 10 years of dedicated service. Kira succumbed to complications following surgery to remove a recently discovered tumor. The K9 was recently honored with a ceremony at New Milford Town Hall, including presentation of a Mayoral Proclamation. Handler Sgt. Lafond called it an honor to have been partnered with Kira, saying she was a member of the family. He added that Kira was able to be a loving pup with his wife and three kids, but also had an impressive career. Lafond thanked the staff at Candlewood Valley Animal Hospital for providing the utmost professional care and compassion during a difficult time.
Several Swastikas drawn in chalk on the asphalt in the rear of an Easton school have been discovered. The School Resource Officer along with Samuel Staples Elementary School staff conducted an investigation. On Friday the responsible individual was identified. A Hate and Bias Form was completed and filed with the State of Connecticut by the Easton Police Department. The Easton School Superintendent’s office and School Officials will be in charge of the follow up investigation. Easton Police say it's important that everyone understands that this symbol is a despicable reminder of hate, bias and has no place in a community which prides itself on being a welcoming, inclusive, and kind community.
A report of erratic driving has led to the arrest of three convicted felons.
Southbury Police received a call from State Police Troop A about an erratic driver, who was pulled over Sunday on Old Waterbury Road at the intersection with Buck's Hill. The driver was confrontational and more officer were called to the scene. A search of the car turned up a loaded Smith and Wesson Model 36 Revolver .38 special along with extra ammunition.
33-year old Vandrese Whitaker of Bethel was charged with resisting arrest, criminal possession of a firearm, weapon in a motor vehicle, refusing to be fingerprinted, and failure to drive right.
37-year old Kevin Davis of Danbury and 42-year old Joseph Caldwell of Bethel were charged with criminal possession of a firearm. Caldwell was also charged with having a weapon in a motor vehicle.
A COVID-19 vaccine clinic has been set up for Bethel High School students ages 16 and over. The School District has been working with the local Department of Health and the Community Health Center to offer Pfizer doses to those interested and age-eligible. The clinics will be held at the Danbury Mall on April 17th from 1:30 to 4 pm or April 25th from 10am to noon. Parents are urged to check their email for additional information and registration links. Pfizer is the only of the three vaccines with emergency use authorization in the U-S for 16 and 17 year olds.
Two fishermen have been rescued from the Housatonic River in New Milford. Water Witch Hose Company volunteer firefighters responded to the area near the Bleachery Dam early Sunday afternoon on a report of an overturned boat. The two fishermen were clinging to the vessel, just outside of the dam’s backwash. A third person was pulled from the water by a private vessel. No injuries were reported. Fire officials urge residents not to swim or fish in that area, saying the dangers that lie beneath the surface of this seemingly calm dam, is a backwash that has an unpredictable current and will trap even the strongest of swimmers. They noted that it is not a recreation area and not a good fishing spot.
The state Medical Examiner has identified the man found deceased in a retention pond in front of a Danbury condo complex. Officials say 57-year old Todd Smith, who was reported missing in mid-January, was last seen in the area where he was found dead Thursday night. Smith was last seen in the 90 block of Mill Plain Road. His body was discovered near the entrance to the Westwood Village Condominiums at 55 Mill Plain. The Medical Examiner says there were no apparent signs of trauma. The cause and manner of his death are still pending.
A report of a possible person in the water in Brewster this weekend turned out to be unfounded. Late Saturday afternoon the Brewster Fire Department was dispatched to the East Branch of the Croton River. The Mahopac Falls Fire Department Dive Team was also called to assist at the scene. A search of the area from land and water came up with negative results.
The Danbury Water Department is in their second week of hydrant flushing. There are 88 streets and 6 condo complexes on the list for this week. The annual maintenance is done to provide better water quality and fire protection. Customers may experience fluctuations in pressure and discolored water. If water id discolored, people should run the cold water tap until clear. The impacted area this week includes Virginia Avenue, White Street, Shelter Rock Road, Stadley Rough Road, and Great Plain Road.
The Danbury Budget Public Hearing has been scheduled for Thursday at 7pm. Residents will be able to weigh in on the proposal from Mayor Joe Cavo. The City Council will then further consider each line item in the plan, and vote at their meeting next month. The Danbury Public School district encouraged families to sign up for the hearing. Administrators say Danbury Public Schools struggle with overcrowding, lack of space, and lack of funding. The district has close to 12-thousand students, but the lowest per-pupil spending in the state.
At this month's Danbury City Council meeting, Mayor Joe Cavo announced plans for the next Director of the City's Health Department. Acting Director Kara Prunty is in line for the position, but must finish her degree. Connecticut requires health directors to be licensed physicians holding a degree in public health. Prunty has a master’s in public administration. The state typically requires health directors to be replaced within 60 days, but came to an agreement with Danbury officials to allow Prunty until September to finish her degree.
The Bethel High School Winter Guard has made it to the World Guard International Finals. They competed with over 70 schools from around the world in Semi-Finals and ended with a Superior Rating. This is the first time in the history of the Bethel Guard program the team has made it onto the finals. Superintendent Dr Christine Carver says this is an incredible accomplishment during normal circumstances, but particularly so this challenging season. Had this been a typical year, they would have been performing in front of over 10,000 people in University of Dayton Arena at WGI finals.
The Bethel Police Department is looking for local businesses to help support Special Olympics by sponsoring their leg of the torch run. Each year officers run to support the Special Olympics Connecticut. Businesses can “adopt 1 mile” markers for $100 or 6 markers for $500. Thank you signs will then be posted at each mile marker. Bethel Police are also selling 2021 torch run t-shirts. Officer Jason Broad is leading the fundraising effort.
An autopsy has been completed of the deceased male found on Mill Plain Road last week. The Chief Medical Examiner says there were no apparent signs of trauma found, but the exact cause of death is pending toxicology reports. The process of identifying the male is underway. Danbury Police spokesman Detective Lt Mark Williams says they are hopeful of being able to identify him within a few days. The body was found Thursday night submerged in a retention pond at the entrance to a condo complex.
An organization that provides waterskiing programs for the disabled, special needs and veterans is looking to move to a new location. FirstLight Power is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve a non-project use application from Leaps of Faith Adaptive Skiers.
The organization has been in operation on Lake Zoar for almost thirty years, becoming the leading adaptive waterskiing program in the northeast and a core adaptive and therapeutic sports resource for regional rehabilitation facilities. They also operate local programs for at risk youth.
Historically, the operation was run out of the founder’s home in Newtown, but outgrew that location. FirstLight helped them move downstream to a Newtown public park in 2017.
In 2019, Leaps of Faith and First Light entered discussions with the town of Southbury for use of an open parcel of land that was once a Town Park. The temporary permit from First Light expired last year, leading to this application to FERC for their long term operations.
FirstLight says the additional seasonal dock which will be placed in this area requires no significant land disturbing activities and therefore should have no effect on wetlands.
The Ridgefield Board of Education has made revisions to the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year in response to a 1.1 percent reduction from the Board of Finance. The spending plan is still 2.35 percent more than the current year. The new proposed school budget is $102.3 million . Some savings were found in health insurance expenses, along with other insurance reductions. Employee benefits also are lower than anticipated. Negotiations are underway on workers’ compensation and liability insurance costs. The referendum is set for May 11th.
New Fairfield plans to wind down the municipal vaccine clinic. After 10 weeks, with increased availability elsewhere, the town will close up by the middle of next month. New Fairfield administered 3,00 doses as of Thursday afternoon. Volunteers have found when calling people on the waitlist, they've already been vaccinated elsewhere. Despite a sharp drop in Johnson & Johnson doses due to a production issue, Connecticut public health officials still expect supply to outpace demand by the end of the month. According to the latest state report, at least 42 percent of New Fairfield residents had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.
A special election is being held tomorrow in part of Newtown and in Monroe for a state House seat. There are three candidates for the 112th District position. The candidates are Republican Monroe Town Councilman Tony Scott, Democratic Monroe Board of Ed member Nicholas Kapoor and former Newtown Selectman William Furrier, running for the Independent Party. Eligible Newtown residents are voting tomorrow at Reed Intermediate School, Monroe residents are voting at four polling locations. The Special Election is needed because 4-term Republican JP Sredzinski resigned in February, saying the demands of a new job were taking a toll on his family.
The Brookfield Assessor has a reminders for all commercial building owners. They should have received an income and expense form for the 2020 grand list in the mail. Anyone who hasn't is asked to print one from the Brookfield town website. Income and expense forms are due to the Assessor's office no later than June 1st, or there will be a 10% penalty. Apartment building owners must include a list of all residents and their apartment numbers
The Brookfield Residential Brush Yard will be opening on today for the season and will be open most Saturdays through December. Hours and additional information can be found on the town website. This year, Brookfield added a glass recycling container. It is located in the parking lot at the entrance of the brush yard and before the gated entrance, so it can be conveniently accessed by residents on a 24/7 basis.
The newest member of the Newtown Police Department has been sworn in. Officer Hugo Rojas. took the oath of office this week. He retired from the NYPD last year, and noted that he's looking forward to serving in the community where his children grew up.
A body was found in a retaining pond outside a Danbury condo complex last night. A concerned citizen notified Danbury Police around 7 o'clock last night about a possible body submerged at the entrance of 55 Mill Plain Road. Responding officers confirmed the report. Members of the Danbury Police Department Dive Team and the Danbury Fire Department helped to remove the body of the adult, white male. The state medical examiner has not yet determined the cause of death, but a preliminary investigation did not reveal apparent signs of trauma. The Danbury Police Detective Bureau is awaiting the results of a thorough examination to determine the male's identity and cause of death.
New Milford reported another 19 positive cases of COVID-19 yesterday. The town is one of about a dozen identified by the state as hot spots for infection. On Wednesday, there were 23 cases, 5 identified on Tuesday and 36 reported over the weekend.
For the month of April more than 130 New Milford residents have tested positive for COVID-19.
Mayor Pete Bass called on residents to continue to wear a mask, social distance and follow proper hand hygiene protocols.
The New Milford Health Department is booking appointments for April 17th for 16 and 17 year olds. A link to the clinic can be found on the town's website. Proof of age is required at the time of the appointment, whether it's a birth certificate, vaccination record, passport, or similar form of identification. A parent or guardian must be present.
New York State Police conducted multiple Distracted Driving Enforcement Details on I-684, Route 6 and Route 9 in Putnam and Westchester Counties yesterday. During the details, a total of 62 tickets were issued for cell phone/texting infractions, speeding, and failing to move over for stopped emergency vehicles. Distracted driving was directly responsible for 23,000 deaths and over 1,000,000 injuries in the U.S. between 2012 and 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A couple whose son was among the first graders killed at Sandy Hook School in 2012 were at the White House yesterday for President Biden's announcement of executive actions aimed at stopping more gun deaths. Mark and Jackie Barden were among the crowd in the Rose Garden yesterday, and mentioned by Biden during his announcement, in which he called gun deaths in the U.S. an “international embarrassment.”
There are some COVID-19 infection hot spots in Connecticut, mostly in the Naugatuck Valley and a few towns in the Greater Danbury area. The highest rates are in Waterbury, Bethlehem, New Milford at 66.5 cases per 100,000 population, Wolcott and Brookfield with 60.9 cases per 100,000 population.
State Public Health officials are attributing some of the rates in municipalities like Bethlehem, as being just a handful of cases but in a town where there's low population artificially inflating the figure. Other hotspots include Derby, Seymour, Watertown and Torrington.
Governor Ned Lamont says much like when there was a spike in Danbury and the state brought in the testing calvary, they'll now bring in the vaccine forces to bring shots to the people.
Early Head Start is looking to move some children out of a housing complex in Danbury and into a facility that already has other classrooms operating. A committee of the City Council will look into the proposal from the Connecticut Institute for Communities.
The organization leases the Old Jail on Main Street and is looking to move out of Laurel Gardens. The Old Jail was constructed in 1872 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but needs some interior alterations. The Women’s Infants and Children Nutrition program could be relocated to other space to make way for new classrooms.
Laurel Gardens is a federally-funded housing community next to the police department. The Danbury Housing Authority is reportedly interested in revamping some of that community house.
The Early Head Start program launched in the early 1990s. CIFC runs 4 classes between the two facilities, in addition to four other Early Head Start classes at its Foster Street complex.
A Connecticut man has been arrested by New Milford Police for allegedly stealing from an elderly man who hired him to do landscaping last year. 47-year old John Newkirk of New Preston was charged Wednesday with larceny and burglary for crimes that happened on Christmas Eve.
He's also facing charges from Danbury Police from that day for forgery and conspiracy to commit larceny. The Republican American reports that Newkirk drove into a Newtown Road Chase Bank after a clerk declined to cash five stolen checks believing that the signatures were forged. Police allege the checks were among items missing from the home of an 80-year-old who suffers from physical infirmities.
The man was reportedly forced to move out of his home after trees and limbs came down in a storm, but that Newkirk continued to ask for work after he was told the man could no longer afford to hire him. After being contacted by his bank, the elderly man reportedly had a friend inspect the home and found it ransacked.
Police allege the items --$1,280 worth of carpentry tools, silverware, and electronics -- were found in Newkirk’s truck.
Lovers Leap State Park in New Milford was temporarily closed yesterday for a public safety incident. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says an adult woman was transported and admitted to New Milford Hospital. No further details were immediately released about the woman or the incident. DEEP Environmental Conservation officers and the New Milford Police responded to the park in the afternoon and it reopened to visitors shortly afterward. This comes on the heels of the death of a Danbury man who was hiking at the park with his family Sunday. 39-year-old Joao Lucas was last seen in the area of an overlook and his body was found in Lake Lillinonah.
Shortly before COVID-19 vaccinations began in January at the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut, officials held town hall meetings for inmates about the vaccines and put up informational posters around the facility.
Yet when vaccination time came, 212 of the nearly 550 inmates who were offered the shots refused to take them, according to federal prison officials, shining a light on prisoners’ skepticism of the vaccine that is permeating many correctional institutions in the country.
In Massachusetts, more than 5,500 state and county prisoners have refused the vaccines, compared with nearly 7,800 who have received the first of two doses, officials say.
Inmate advocates and researchers say prison systems need to do more to educate prisoners about the vaccines, as available data and surveys show that many inmates decline or express hesitancy about getting the shots. Efforts should include bringing in outside experts and trusted community members, especially people of color, not just passing out flyers and having talks by prison staff, they say.
“As a Black man, I ... think about the history of the medical racism and experimentation with Black and brown people in this country. That resonates with people who are incarcerated,” said John Hart, a senior research associate at the Vera Institute of Justice who studies prison conditions.
“They have to do a much better job of bringing in people who are more trustworthy, such as elders in the community or people of color who have a lot of credibility,” he said. “We won’t be able to get out of this pandemic without taking prison facilities very seriously and that includes correctional staff and incarcerated people.”
Black people make up disproportionately large percentages of both prison populations and patients with severe COVID-19 outcomes. In a survey of people in prisons and jails late last year by the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, 37% of Black respondents were willing to receive the vaccine, compared with 45% of all respondents.
Complicating matters has been that states were slow to make vaccinations available to prisoners. Inmates in 45 states and Washington, D.C., are now eligible for vaccines, but several weeks ago, only about half of states were offering prisoners shots, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. By the end of March, Arkansas and Florida had not yet begun vaccinating prisoners, while a few states say they have offered vaccinations to every adult in their prisons. Eight states have not reported how many prisoners have been vaccinated.
Nationwide, less than 20% of state and federal prisoners have been vaccinated, according to data collected by The Marshall Project and The Associated Press. That compares with about 40% of the general adult population that has received at least one shot, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And prison staff have also shown high rates of declining the vaccines, which has exacerbated inmate skepticism, advocates say.
The slow rollout of vaccines in prisons came despite the CDC and public health officials recommending prioritizing vaccinations for inmates and prison staff to protect them and their communities from the coronavirus.
U.S. prisons have been coronavirus hot spots. Nationwide, more than 390,000 incarcerated people and 107,000 staff members have contracted the coronavirus over the last year, according to data collected by the AP and The Marshall Project. About 3 in 10 prisoners have tested positive for the virus, a rate much higher than that of the general population. The infections have proved fatal for more than 2,500 prisoners and nearly 200 staff members.
Efforts to persuade inmates to get vaccinated have been uneven across the country, with some going to greater lengths than others. Inmates in some prisons say they are not receiving important education.
In North Carolina, state prison officials offered incentives to inmates to get vaccinated, including five days off their sentences, credits at canteens, extra visits from relatives and more phone privileges. Half the nearly 29,000 state prisoners have received vaccination shots so far during the ongoing vaccine rollout, said John Bull, a spokesperson for the state Department of Public Safety.
“We know that there’s lots of hesitancy out there, not just in our prisons but in the country at large,” Bull said. “The prison system here in North Carolina has been working very hard to get prisoners vaccinated.”
Massachusetts state prison officials said they put together a vaccine awareness campaign with input from former inmates and health experts. It included showing prisoners videos featuring pastors and even Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, according to the state Department of Correction.
Correction officials say about 70% of Massachusetts state inmates, not including county prisoners, have received their first shot of the vaccine.
But in Georgia, some prisoners told The Marshall Project in a survey that they received no information about the vaccine until they were asked to sign a form indicating whether they wanted to receive it. Prison officials said inmates did receive vaccine information from a CDC website.
An inmate at Danbury who refused the vaccine said he was taken to see a dental assistant who was asking prisoners if they would get shots as vaccinations were about to begin. When he asked her if she had any information about the vaccine, she said that she did not and that she wasn’t going to take it herself, he said.
“I felt nervous about not having any information, and I was concerned that the ... staff member administering the vaccine wasn’t willing to take it,” the inmate said in a court filing in a lawsuit by inmates over coronavirus protections at the prison. His name was not disclosed.
The inmate said he later changed his mind and decided to get vaccinated after getting more information from relatives in the medical field and seeing others in the prison get shots — showing how talking to trusted sources outside prison can ease misgivings about the vaccines.
“This is going to require a lot more intentional education,” said David McGuire, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. “Incarcerated people have much more limited access to information. They can’t just get on their computer and search some articles, and they also cannot just go to a doctor of their choosing and talk through the pros and cons.”
Redding Town Offices have reopened to the public by appointment only. Town officials encouraged residents to continue using online services however as emails and phone messages are checked on a regular basis throughout the day. Dog Licenses will be issued through the mail only. The Registrar of Voters are available by appointment only. The Redding Annual Budget Referendum will be held on May 4th at the Redding Community Center from 6am to 8pm. Absentee Ballots Applications will be available beginning April 22nd.
More details have been released about the FEMA Bus Schedule for COVID-19 vaccines in socially vulnerable areas. The country's first Mobile Vaccination Unit will be in Danbury on April 26th and 27th. The bus will be in the parking lot of 23 Keeler Street. A minimum of 250 people per day, including walk-in capability, will be able to receive the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, within the available supply. Appointments will be made through the local health department, though the schedule or location is subject to change. The Mobile Vaccine Unit will travel throughout Connecticut for 60 days to reach populations in 17 communities. Staffing for the unit will be provided by UConn Health, Griffin Health, Hartford Healthcare, and Trinity Health of New England.
Today is Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day. Advocates in Danbury are raising funds for a sensory room at Danbury Public Library designed to stimulate children with special needs. The space will be the first of its kind in a library in Connecticut. The area within the library's children's department, on the second floor, will be filled with particular objects and activities designed to stimulate children with special needs. The Library is going out to bid for a sensory room this spring. They hope to have the room completed by the end of the summer to begin then furnishing the room for future use. Organizers continue to collect donations towards the project to donate visit: https://www.gofundme.com/help-us-furnish-danbur-library039-s-sensory-room
The Town of Ridgefield vaccination clinic is marking a milestone. Over 10,000 COVID-19 vaccinations have been given out at the clinic since Early January. CERT team volunteers who manage clinic logistics applaud the dedicated volunteers, and the nurses as well as the 'behind the scenes' team that has made it all work. Officials note that they haven't crossed the finish line yet, but are making good progress.
Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue has decided not to hold one of their biggest fundraisers this year due to the ongoing public health emergency. The fire company voted after careful consideration not to have a LobsterFest 2021. The volunteers are planning for a few autumn events and thanked residents for their understanding and continued support.
It's another year of cancelled events in Danbury because of the pandemic. The Danbury Council of Veterans needed to make a decision last month on whether or not to hold a Memorial Day Parade. There will not be a Memorial Day parade in Danbury this year. At the time a decision needed to be made, due to the time needed to book bands and get everything organized, there were still high levels of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations being reported. Vaccinations also weren't up to levels where they are even today.
Road construction season is starting up once again. There have been a lot of questions about the stalled project on Newtown Road in Danbury. Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the state has a good contractor, and that it should be completed around the fall. But he says the state project brought back memories of the North Street work, which dragged on and drew a lot of complaints. The state is in the middle of a winter shut down, which happens with all of their contracts. Iadarola says the contractor is expected to gear up again at the end of this month. They're already establishing some survey work to kick off the next phase.
This is the second year that Clean City Danbury has been cancelled. Mayor Joe Cavo says they weren't comfortable with volunteers handling resident's trash and bulky item drop offs. The event has been modified. Cavo arranged for discounts on dumpsters for City residents from Oak Ridge and called on people to pitch in with neighbors to do some spring cleaning in the area around their property and nearby playgrounds and common areas. Interested communities can email Jonathan Barney at J.Barney@danbury-ct.gov to sign up for a coupon. The official annual Clean City Danbury Day will be held in the fall.
There's a third Democrat entering the race for Danbury Mayor. City Councilman John Esposito III has announced his intention to seek the party's nomination this summer. The 36-year-old was born and raised in Danbury and has been on the Council since 2015. Esposito says he would focus on improving the city’s infrastructure, recovering from the economic fallout of the pandemic, and addressing overcrowding and underfunding in the school system. The plumber with Carmine’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is married with two young children. He is the grandson of Danbury's longest-serving member of the Common Council. Republican Mayor Joe Cavo has not announced if he plans to seek a term of his own. Democratic City Councilman Roberto Alves and Democrat Sedeaka Lawrence are in the running. There hasn’t been a Democratic primary for mayor in Danbury since the 2001.
Danbury is joining the Autism Awareness Movement in a safe virtual online event for Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day. Danbury will commemorate today with a virtual flag-raising ceremony at 5 PM via a Facebook livestream. It will feature speakers, recognition of two Danbury special needs professionals, and a presentation of an Autism Awareness flag to the City to be flown during the month of April - National Autism Awareness Month. The event's goal is to spread awareness of early diagnosis and promote acceptance for all individuals and families affected by autism. Mayor Joe Cavo will make presentations to Kristen Hatcher Fontaine and Alicia Erohand for their efforts in creating the sensory wall project at Pembroke Elementary School. https://www.facebook.com/events/1331487027231857
98 New Milford Public School District staff members were absent on Monday, roughly 21 percent of their total staff. According to an email Tuesday night from Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo this was likely due to after-effects of a second dose of the COVID vaccine administered over the weekend. The CDC has found that side effects can be more intense than the ones experienced after the first shot. Symptoms can include fever, nausea, headache, chills, and tiredness. New Milford was able to pull together substitute staffing to keep the schools open on Monday, noting that not all staff absences were classroom teachers.
A Sherman man has been arrested for allegedly having a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag. The Transportation Security Administration did not identify the man who was stopped at Newark-Liberty International Airport checkpoint Tuesday. The TSA spotted the weapon on the X-ray, alerted police and confiscated the weapon. The Sherman man was arrested on weapons charges and faces a federal financial civil penalty. According to a statement, the TSA has found three handguns at Newark airport checkpoints this year.
The man who died Sunday at Lovers Leap State Park in New Milford has been identified by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. 39-year old João Paulo Lucas separated from his family while hiking an overlook and fell and drowned in the lake. Lucas was originally from Brazil, but lived in Danbury with his wife. A GoFundMe started to cover costs for the family has already raised more than $3,500 to cover burial costs. State officials note that the park has very steep terrain and hikers need to be aware of their surroundings.
The Danbury Public Works Department started road construction this week on Grand Street. Construction should last approximately 2 to 3 months. This will not result in road closings, but there is the possibility of travel restrictions during this work period. All traffic will be diverted one way, south, from Wooster Street to Wilson Street. During this period there will be no on-street parking.
Ridgefield Emergency Management officials are thanking volunteers who stepped forward to help at the vaccine clinic. The town has been running the clinic for more than two months and they were in need of reinforcements to give original volunteers some time off. With the call for help this week, dozen of people said they were willing to help. Ridgefield Emergency Management plans to reach out again if the town needs additional volunteers.
The Town of Redding is looking for lifeguards for Topstone Park. Applicants must be certified in "Waterfront" Lifeguarding and be at least 16 years old. The town is offering Waterfront Lifeguarding Class June 21st through July 1st. Anyone with questions is asked to contact the Redding Parka and Recreation Department.
No property tax increase and no hike in the sewer or water rates are proposed in the Danbury budget for the coming fiscal year. Mayor Joe Cavo presented his budget plan to the City Council at their monthly meeting last night.
The $267-million budget includes little more than $137-million for the schools. The proposal would increase overall spending by $5 million. It's also $12 million less than the Board of Ed requested. Education spending though comes in at $145.5 million when other sources, including federal grants, are included.
Some federal money from the CARES Act is included in the overall budget proposal, mainly for the schools. City officials are still waiting on word about how much and what kind of allocation can be made from the recently approved American Recovery Act.
If approved by the City Council, the City's mill rate would remain at 27.6, where it's been for the last couple of years. The Downtown Special Services District rate is proposed at 2.31 mills.
Cavo has also proposed $3 million dollars in capital improvement projects. That includes $1.25 million for paving, drainage and road improvements. There's $500,000 proposed for Fire Department facilities improvement and planning. The rest of the money would be used to replace generators, underground storage tanks and public services equipment.
Members of the Council will then go section by section through the budget before voting next month.
A Ridgefield man has been charged with conspiring to launder money for allegedly smuggling cosmetics in Iran while he served as president of a Long Island-based cosmetics manufacturer and supplier. Federal prosecutors allege in a 13-page indictment unsealed yesterday that 50-year old Michael Rose was involved in a scheme that spanned years to violate government sanctions on Iran. He was also charged with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and conspiring to commit bank fraud. The FBI alleges Rose intentionally disguised where his products were ultimately going, and allegedly lied about the prices of the products to limit his customs liability. Federal prosecutors said Rose exported more than $350,000 worth of cosmetics from the United States to an importer in Iran.
A Southbury teen has been killed in a single-car crash. Police responded to Roxbury Road near the Southbury Dog Park around 10:30 Monday night. It was determined that 17-year old Ryan Rutledge's vehicle went through a wire rope guardrail, down an embankment and into the Pomperaug River. The teen and a passenger were ejected from the Jeep. A 16-year-old Woodbury girl was transported to the hospital for treatment of serious injuries. Emergency responders say it appears the vehicle rolled over several times during the accident, which remains under investigation.
Bethel residents have voted to send a budget for the coming fiscal year to a referendum on April 20th. During the Annual Town Meeting earlier this week, residents weighed in on the 32-point-9 million dollar municipal tax and spending plan, and the 49-million dollars proposed for the schools. Bethel Action Committee Founder Billy Michael says the budget is a million dollar increase over the current fiscal year's budget and comes at a bad time because of the pandemic. Others say the 2-and-a-quarter increase for the schools is needed. Bethel residents will be able to cast budget ballots at their usual polling locations, but absentee ballots will be allowed with COVID as an excuse. Bethel residents looking to cast a ballot by mail need to first obtain an application from the Town Clerk, by appointment.
Many Greater Danbury area COVID-19 vaccine clinics are ramping up as the state gets more supply from the federal government. That includes Brookfield's municipal clinic. Doses are now being administered at St Joseph Catholic Academy, and there's a change in policy.
Previously there were no walk-ins allowed for end of day doses because it was a rare occasion. But officials say they expect to have between 5 and 20 doses available to administer to people who show up at the end of the clinic day. People without appointments can arrive at 5pm on weekdays and noon on Saturdays to see if there are extra doses.
About 100 volunteers will staff the clinic, which has varying hours. This week the site will be open for appointments Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, but next week it's Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Eventually, the clinic could vaccinate 15-hundred people a week. By the end of this week though, the town will be able to give 300 Moderna shots to people per day.
The COVID testing site at the Kent Transfer Station will continue to provide free testing every Monday from 3pm to 7pm through at least the end of April. Town officials thanked the Kent Emergency Management Citizen Emergency Response Team for continuing to provide traffic management for the site every week.
Danbury Public Library has launched a new app. Patrons can use it to browse the library’s catalog, online resources and manage their accounts. Renewals and holds on books, ebooks and other material can be made through the app. There is also a tab for upcoming events and a curbside pick-up feature to notify the library when they’re on their way to pick up items.
The Redding COVID-19 vaccine clinic is a Moderna provider so only open to people 18 and up. Parents looking to register their 16 and 17 year olds are encouraged to search the state's Vaccine Administration Management System portal for a clinic offering the Pfizer vaccine, the only of the three approved for emergency use in the U.S. for younger teens. For residents 18 and older who pre-register for the Redding clinic, a volunteer scheduler will contact people in the order in which they signed up. Redding only schedules appointments on the week of the clinic to make sure they receive the necessary quantity of vaccine from the state to administer. An appointment is required. Redding clinics are held at the Redding Community Center.
Ridgefield Emergency Management has put out an urgent call for vaccine clinic volunteers. Duties will include patient intake with front door check-in, computerized collection of paperwork and line management inside the building. Shifts are morning and afternoon, typically Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Ridgefield is in need of additional volunteers to help in the RVNA clinic at Yanity Gym as soon as this week. Interested volunteers can email name and and phone # to email@example.com.
Danbury Mayor Joe Cavo will present his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year to the City Council at their monthly meeting tonight. He is planning to hold the line on taxes and sewer and water rates. Members of the Council will then go section by section through the budget before voting next month.
On Saturday night someone removed a pride flag from a Bethel business, burned it, and placed it at their front door. Bethel Police are investigating the incident at Molten Java. Next to the flag was a banner that read “Kindness, community, strength...we’ll get through this together”. Bethel state Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says this act of hate, although heartbreaking, serves as an opportunity for a conversation about acceptance and kindness. He says it's the responsibility of everyone to ensure the community feels safe and called for residents to band together to instill values of anti-hate amongst the community.
Lt Governor Susan Bysiewicz got her second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine yesterday morning in Danbury. She also took a tour of the Community Health Center's mass vaccination drive thru site at the mall. The clinic yesterday began distributing doses to 1,000 people daily. Members of the Danbury state legislative delegation were on hand for the tour and Representative David Arconti got his first dose after Bysiewicz. The Community Health Center runs several clinics across the state and plans to administer 35,000 doses this week. The organization added 50 vaccinators Monday, with plans to add another 40 next week as they continue to ramp up.
Stony Hill and Bethel firefighters responded to a fast moving brush fire on a large property on Old Hawleyville Road yesterday afternoon. The fire was extinguished before it came up the hill and threatened the home. Stony Hill fire officials say the Fire Danger Warnings from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection should be taken seriously. The danger level yesterday was rated as very high. When there is a high, very high or extreme danger, burn permits from local fire marshals are not valid.
The Redding Police Department accident reconstruction team is currently investigating a two vehicle crash that occurred on Route 107 near Redding Elementary School at 9:16pm last night. Both operators were transported to Danbury Hospital with critical injuries. Lonetown Road was closed for several hours near Mohawk Trail due to the crash and investigation.
Another Democrat has entered the race for Mayor in Danbury. Sedeaka Lawrence is an immigrant and business owner who has lived in the City for about 5 years. Lawrence was born in Jamaica and immigrated to New York when he was 14. He has a master’s degree in finance with a concentration in accounting. He owns accounting firm Beyond Acquisitions and Sundae’s Touch, a home health aide agency based in New York. Lawrence wants to address school funding, affordable housing and support for senior citizens. Lawrence, like other candidates and current elected officials say Danbury is woefully underfunded by the state when it comes to education. Endorsements will be made by both political parties this summer.
A virtual Parent Forum is planned tonight in New Milford. Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo and Health Director Lisa Morrissey will host the meeting via Zoom from 5:30pm to 6:30pm. They will cover parental concerns and questions over rising COVID-19 case numbers in the area. There's been a recent spike in Litchfield County. DiCorpo notes that the district is not seeing transmission of COVID-19 in the schools and that the increase in cases is not due to reopening the schools to in person learning. Morrissey has pointed to youth sports and day care center clusters for much of the recent outbreak.
The Bethel Board of Education held a special meeting ahead of last night's annual town meeting to make cuts to the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. The Board of Finance trimmed $400,000 from the plan the Board of Ed presented last month. The bulk of the cuts were made to the central office budget. About $30,000 came from the high school, $25,000 from the middle school and $15,000 from each of the elementary schools. While school districts are expected to receive federal grant money to offset some costs associated with the ongoing public health emergency, there are limits on how those funds can be allocated. Some can be put toward addressing learning loss from this school year. Enhanced COVID-19 mitigation strategies are also priorities.
Two back-to-back town meetings are being held in Bethel next week. All registered voters in Bethel are invited to participate in Monday's meetings, which will be held at the new Bethel High School Track & Field Training Center.
The Special Town Meeting at 6:30pm is to consider a lease contract for solar power at Rockwell and Johnson schools and the track & field training center. At 7pm, Bethel officials will host the Annual Town Budget Meeting to consider and take action on the proposed municipal budgets.
These are both legal meetings of the town’s legislative body where binding votes on the proposals will be taken. In order to maintain proper social distancing, only registered voters will be admitted; non-voting observers will not be permitted to attend in person. Both meetings will be livestreamed, but voting can only be done in-person.
Face masks must be worn at all times while inside the building. Residents are asked to wear sneakers or soft-soled shoes to protect the surface of the facility.
A missing hiker has been found dead in Lover’s Leap State Park. Emergency personnel responded to the park in New Milford Sunday night. The man was reportedly hiking with a group and was last seen heading down from an overlook shortly before 4pm. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was notified around 6pm. The man’s identity was not immediately released. The state’s chief medical examiner will determine the cause and manner of death. DEEP Environmental Conservation Police are investigating the incident. New Milford Police, the Water Witch Fire Company and Newtown Underwater Search and Rescue assisted in the search.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — A plan to memorialize the 26 people killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting is nearing its final stages.
Residents in Newtown are scheduled to view a final presentation during a public forum Monday evening. They’ll vote on the $3.7 million project at the end of the month. The memorial was designed by SWA, a San Francisco-based architectural firm.
It would be located on a 5-acre stretch of forest near the school and consist of a nature walk to a reflection pool, with a sycamore tree growing in the center. A volunteer steering committee overseeing the selection included families who lost loved ones in the mass shooting.
“We’ve worked and worked and worked and we pray that we’re almost there,” committee member Alan Martin told the New Haven Register. Martin noted that the committee narrowed down the spot from 16 sites and slashed the initial costs.
If it’s approved, construction could begin this year with the goal of opening the site to the public by the 10-year anniversary of the shootings, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal told the newspaper.
“This project has been out in the public domain for many years now, so hopefully there is enough of an awareness about it for people to make an informed decision,” Rosenthal said.
Ridgefield is returning to previous lower levels of COVID-19 new case rates and test positivity. However, First Selectman Rudy Marconi says with school spring break, now is not the time to ease up on social distancing and mask wearing. The town's case rate of 25.8 per 100,000 is among the lowest rates in Fairfield County. But Ridgefield is experiencing higher fractions of new cases in ages 9 through 29. Marconi says he understands pandemic fatigue and even spring fever is here, but asks the community once again, to keep their eye on the goal.
The City of Danbury Water Department will be flushing fire hydrants beginning Monday. The entire process will take approximately nine weeks to complete. Annual flushing of the hydrants is necessary to provide better quality water and fire protection. Customers may experience fluctuations in pressure and/or discoloration of their water during hydrant flushing. If there is discolored water, run the cold tap until it clears. During periods of discoloration, postpone washing clothes and limit use of hot water until the cold water clears. The City website will be updated to provide a list of streets to be flushed in a given week.
New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is alerting business owners that the federal Paycheck Protection Program has been extended to May 31st. PPP provides forgivable loans to help eligible self-employed individuals, businesses and nonprofits keep their workforce employed during the pandemic. Any business that hasn't applied for funds may be eligible for a First-Draw loan. Those that have received a First-Draw loan may also be eligible for a Second-Draw loan. Borrowers may qualify for up to 100% forgiveness through an application process
The Pepper Street Improvement Project in Monroe is resuming full-time construction operations. Part of the project includes utility relocations. Residents are urged to use alternate routes when possible. Commercial traffic is asked to utilize the northern intersection of Pepper Street and Main Street/State Route 25 to access businesses on the northern end of the project. During construction, motorists may encounter multiple work zones that include single lane, alternating traffic along the route. The project is 90% funded through state and federal grants, and is currently scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.
The state has released weekly updates on COVID-19 stats broken down by municipality. For the week reported, Danbury had 484 positive COVID-19 cases. New Milford reported 238. There were over 100 positive tests in each of Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, Newtown, and Ridgefield. Redding reported just 37 positive cases.
Connecticut is 35th in the nation when it comes to fatalities per capita. Governor Ned Lamont attributed this week's statistic to the vaccine eligibility strategy.
Connecticut is however in the top 10 in terms of cases per capita. Lamont noted though that this state does 10 times more testing than the South.
A Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Event is being held today by the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority for the 12 towns in their region. There are restrictions on what items will be accepted at the Danbury Public Works facility on Newtown Road from 9am to 2pm. Details can be found on the HRRA website. Fuel containers will not be returned at this event. Residents are asked to remain in their vehicle at all times and there is no smoking on site.
West Conn is making a change to on campus transportation for the rest of the Spring semester. The O’Neill Center shuttle stop closed on Wednesday because of the O’Neill Center & VPAC Bloom Energy Fuel Cell installation. The stop will be closed through June 25th. Students are asked to use the Westside Campus Center shuttle stop instead.
Danbury Public School District is encouraging 11th graders to lend their voice to policy discussions on the state level. The Connecticut Board of Education has seated two seniors on their panel since 1998 and are currently seeking students to serve a one-year term, beginning July 1st. The students are appointed by the Governor. Applications are due to the state by the 27th. https://tinyurl.com/dzbysmd4.
The Bethel Public School district will offer free meals to students during Spring Break. Any family interested in meals for students and their younger siblings for the week of April 12th through 16th will be able to pick up 5 breakfasts and 5 lunches on April 10th. Distribution will be done behind Bethel High School between 10:30am and 11:30am that Saturday. The meals are provided at no charge and are available to all families regardless of income. Families should use the online link to order the meals by April 6th at 8am so food services can prepare the proper amount.
Danbury health officials have updated the COVID-19 positive case numbers for the month of March. 1,176 tests were returned. On Monday alone, there were 131 positive cases. Some 160 were reported on Saturday, but that was due to a delay in State system reporting. That figure includes people who tested positive in early and mid March, but never entered into the system.
In February there were just 312 positive COVID-19 tests reported in Danbury.
In January, the City reported 1,097, the 5th highest monthly total since the pandemic began. November (1,625), December (1,579) and April (1,127) of 2020 round out the top 5 months for positive COVID-19 cases in the City.
The Community Health Center is partnering with Danbury High School to make COVID-19 vaccines available to eligible students. 16 and 17 year olds must have permission of a parent or guardian. The high school will send out emails to age-eligible students about two Pfizer vaccine clinics to be held at the mall drive thru site. They will take place on Saturday the 24th 8:30am to 1pm and Sunday the 25th from noon to 4pm.
Over the course of the past week there have been 31 new COVID-19 cases reported in New Fairfield. The town continues to have a COVID infection rate and test positivity rate well above State averages. First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the infection rate has increased to 53 cases per 100,000 residents and the test positivity rate climbed to 8.4 percent. State data indicates that 33% of New Fairfield residents have been vaccinated. As infection rates continue to rise, Del Monaco urged residents to continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Greater Danbury area Police Departments are participating in a national high-visibility enforcement campaign. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The state launched the U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign yesterday. Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on the nation’s roads. In Connecticut in 2019, more than 6,600 crashes were attributed to distracted driving. Connecticut law prohibits the use of any hand-held mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who are 16 or 17 years of age are prohibited from using a cell phone or mobile device at any time, even with a hands-free accessory. Drivers who are ticketed are fined $150 for the first offense, $300 for the second offense, and $500 for the third and subsequent offenses.
Danbury Library will expand in-person services next week. Patrons can currently browse, pick up holds, and connect with staff inside the library Monday to Friday from 10am to 6pm. Computer use and personal laptop use is available by appointment only, but starting on Monday appointments will no longer be required. Lab computers will be available on a first come, first serve basis. One hour limits will still be in place. Faxing services remain unavailable.
After evidence of high levels of human trafficking was found in the nail salon trade, Connecticut required the licensure of nail technicians and estheticians. Bethel state Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says an unintended consequence was that licensed hairdressers across the state were stripped overnight of their ability to remove facial hair, something they were taught in beauty school and had part of their license for years. A constituent, Mary Straniti Thompson contacted Allie-Brennan about the impact on her Newtown salon and he introduced legislation to fix the issue. HB 6666 allows hairdressers to remove hair from the face or neck using manual or mechanical means. A public hearing on the bill was held on Monday.
Danbury State Representative David Arconti is reminding residents that the application period for Connecticut’s Renters’ Rebate Program begins today. State law provides a reimbursement program for Connecticut renters who are elderly or totally disabled, and whose incomes do not exceed certain limits. Renters' rebates can be up to $900 for married couples and $700 for single persons. The renters' rebate amount is based on a graduated income scale and the amount of rent and utility payment.
The Danbury Public School District is encouraging families to attend a webinar next week about Self-Care and Social Emotional Learning. The program is sponsored by the state Department of Education. District officials say managing in-person, hybrid and remote learning during the pandemic has been challenging for students but also for their families, noting that many caregivers are also juggling multiple priorities including employment changes. Attendees will learn practical skills to manage their emotions, model healthy coping strategies and help their children thrive. Registration is required for Tuesday's webinar, from 5:30pm to 6:30pm.
Newtown Police are investigating a car theft. A Philo Curtis Road resident reported to police that sometime overnight Tuesday into Wednesday someone stole their 1999 silver colored Honda CR-V from the driveway. Police are reminding residents to remove all valuables from their vehicles and make sure the doors are locked and keys removed from the unattended car. This includes while getting gas or running into the store.
Newtown Police have identified the driver and owner of a blue dump truck, which was the subject of an illegal dumping complaint on Sugar Lane. Police had posted a photo to Facebook and are now thanking residents for their assistance in identifying the owner. Police will be continuing the investigation.
The old Bennigan's Restaurants building on Federal Road in Danbury has been demolished. A 7-Eleven gas station being constructed on the site of the long closed restaurant. A 5,000 square foot convenience store and 12 gas pumps were approved for the property. The 66-hundred square foot site has been vacant since 2007, was in disrepair and the site of frequent illegal dumping. The gas station and store are expected to be open by the fall.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is expanding its remote non-resident parking fee system to more state parks beginning Thursday, and will resume in-person non-resident parking fee collection at several state parks beginning Memorial Day Weekend.
The remote non-resident parking fee system, piloted at a small number of state parks last fall, requires visitors with out-of-state registered vehicles to purchase a parking pass remotely through Reserve America, using a smart-phone and a credit card.
Signage is being added at those parks so that visitors are aware of the obligation, and to provide directions on how to purchase a parking pass. DEEP will continue to educate out-of-state visitors about the operation of this system, and failure to pay the required fee can result in the issuance of a $75 infraction fine.
Anyone in a Connecticut-registered vehicle can still park free of charge at all State Parks and Forests year-round through the Passport to the Parks program, a fee on renewals.
In 2020, due to COVID-19 prevention measures and staffing limitations, DEEP largely did not collect non-resident parking fees, except at three shoreline beaches.
Out-of-state parking fee collection will be in place online for Kent Falls through May 28th. Then Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend, the ticket booth will be operated by staff to collect parking fees. The remote payment system will remain active throughout this period to provide back-up if booth is closed, or visitors arrive after 4pm, and for visitors who only have credit cards, and no cash to pay at ticket booth. Remote collection will then be in place through October 31st. No parking fee charged to anyone between November and the end of March.
Squantz Pond will be open this year, but DEEP will be making a separate announcement about plans in the near future.
Redding has postponed tonight's Gilbert & Bennett meeting due to a conflict with the Mark Twain Library and League of Women Voters event scheduled for tonight. The meeting will instead be held next Thursday, April 8th, at 7pm on zoom. The community discussion is an update about the former wire mill property. Redding officials recently received the title to the site in the Georgetown section of town. First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton applied to the state’s Municipal Brownfield Liability Protection Program and the town has been accepted, protecting Redding from liability for the cleanup of the contaminated property. 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. The April 8th Zoom is at 7pm.
More than 100 additional pharmacies throughout Connecticut will begin offering COVID-19 vaccines over the next several days, adding to the growing list of locations where the state’s residents can be vaccinated. Appointments must be made in advance prior to receiving the vaccine at all locations statewide. The new pharmacies that are being added to Connecticut’s COVID-19 vaccination program include:
Big Y in Bethel,
Rite Aid in Brookfield and Bethel
Shoprite in Southbury
Bissell Health Mart in Ridgefield
Candlewood Drugs in New Fairfield
Health Complex Pharmacy: 55 Deforest Street, Watertown
Oxford Pharmacy: 100 Oxford Road, Oxford
Woodbury Drug: 682 Main Street South, Woodbury
A complete list of the pharmacies can be found here.
An Ohio man has been arrested by Newtown Police for Enticing a minor by computer. Two School Resource Officers traveled to Ohio on Monday to take custody of 34-year old Gregory Voltz on an outstanding warrant, also charging him with Risk of Injury to a child. Voltz was arraigned yesterday in Danbury Superior Court. Police launched their investigation after receiving a complaint from the parents of a child claiming that Voltz had engaged in sexual activity with their child using a social media app. A Newtown Police spokesman says the SRO did an outstanding job, in a very difficult investigation, which required multiple search warrants and computer forensics, to identify the true identity of the perpetrator.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A key legislative committee on Wednesday advanced Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s effort to have Connecticut formally adopt the regional Transportation and Climate Initiative Program, but the bill received pushback from Republicans and small business advocates who warn it could end up being another expense for motorists and business owners.
By a vote of 21-11, the General Assembly’s Environment Committee sent the legislation to the Senate for further action.
Under the bill, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection would adopt regulations for the program, which the leaders of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., have also signed onto, along with Lamont. A cap would be established on greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline and on-road diesel fuel. Wholesale fuel suppliers would then be required to purchase “allowances” at auction, beginning in 2023, to cover the cost of the pollution from those fuels.
It’s expected to add 5-to-9 cents-per-gallon of gasoline, or possibly more.
Advocates said the funds generated — an estimated $1 billion over 10 years — would be used to pay for clean transportation investments. At least half of the money would be invested in communities adversely impacted by air pollution.
But Republicans questioned whether that would actually happen, noting how other special funds have been raided in the past by the General Assembly for other purposes, leaving motorists to ultimately pick up the tab.
“Unfortunately I think it creates a level of cynicism among legislators on both sides of the aisle in terms of new revenue sources that we create going to areas of funding in legislation that we see diverted,” said Rep. Stephen Harding Jr., R-Brookfield, the top House Republican on the committee, who warned the legislation is really a “gas tax” of at least five cents on lawmakers’ constituents.
The National Federation of Independent Business warned the legislation will lead to higher transportation costs for business and become an “unwelcome burden” for business owners who are ’hanging on by a thread due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
But Our Transportation Future, a coalition of groups that supports modernizing the transportation system across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, praised Connecticut lawmakers for advancing the bill. They argued it will ultimately lead to more electric cars and trucks, vehicle charging infrastructure, reliable and safe mass transit, walkable and bikeable communities, and less congestion and pollution, especially in underserved parts of the state.
New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is alerting business owners that the loan limit for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan is being increased to a maximum of $500,000 starting next week. The lending limit increased from 6 months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $150,000 to up to 24 months of economic injury with a maximum loan amount of $500,000. Anyone with an existing loan won't have to submit a request for an increase at this time. The Small Business Administration will reach out directly via email and provide more details about how businesses can request an increase closer to the April 6th start date. Any new loan applications and any loans in process will automatically be considered for loans covering 24 months of economic injury up to a maximum of $500,000.
With eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines open to all Connecticut residents 16 and older, Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker has a word of caution about booking an appointment. The town's clinic is only supplied the Moderna vaccine, so Bethel is only accepting registration requests for residents 18 and older. Of the three vaccines currently approved in the United States, only the Pfizer vaccine has been cleared for use for those under 18. Parents of 16 and 17 year olds are advised to seek the Pfizer vaccine through the many clinics, hospitals and pharmacies throughout Connecticut that carry it. These outlets can be located using the "vaccine finder" link on the state website.
New Milford Public Schools will be placed on remote learning for the period of April 19-23, with all students at all schools returning in-person on April 26. District data shows that having a week of remote learning after a school vacation has been very successful as a mitigation strategy for New Milford Public Schools. It is anticipated that many families will be traveling and socializing during the April break. Superintendent DiCorpo says out-of-school socializing contributes to exposure and our community herd levels won't be at a protective level. For the health and safety of the school community, DiCorpo urged families to follow the travel guidelines that are in effect with the state, which is currently a suggestion rather than mandatory testing or quarantining.
The Danbury Police Department is investigating a residential burglary. During their response to the complain in the area of Mill Ridge Road, a dog was reported taken in the incident. The 1-year-old American Bully named “Godiva” was reportedly taken on Thursday. Anyone with information regarding this burglary or the whereabouts of the dog is asked to call the Detective Bureau anonymous tips line at 203-790-8477.