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Local Headlines Archives for 2021-05

Congresswoman introduces Caring for Survivors Act

The families of service members who died in the line of duty, and disabled veterans who died from a service-connected condition, receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits monthly.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has introduced the Caring for Survivors Act of 2021, a bill that will expand eligibility and increase payments for DIC benefits for survivors. 

Hayes says they owe it to the brave men and women to take care of their families and get them the support they need.

This bill would increase the monthly benefit to $300 per recipient and reduce the time frame a veteran must be disabled in order to qualify, allowing more survivors to become eligible for benefits.  The proposal was endorsed by the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Gold Star Wives, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Putnam County Sheriff, Carmel Police step up DWI patrols

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office and Carmel Police have stepped up DWI patrols this Memorial Day.  The high visibility campaign started on Friday and will end tomorrow.  Memorial Day is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year and marks the unofficial start of the summer.  Sheriff Robert Langley says the highly visible and highly publicized effort aims to further reduce incidences of drunk and impaired driving.  He urged people out marking the holiday to make a difference and have a plan.  The Sheriff's Department has a mobile app with that name so people will always be able to find a safe ride home.

Area legislator touts passage of bill studying cancer relief benefits for firefighter

The state Senate has passed a bill championed by an area legislator.  Danbury Senator Julie Kushner says the proposal will study cancer relief benefits for firefighters in Connecticut.  Kushner says the state needs to better examine the outstanding needs of firefighters given the sacrifices they make for residents safety. 

She notes that firefighters who inhale smoke and dangerous chemicals in the act of saving others' lives are more susceptible to cancers.

The bill creates a task force to examine the adequacy of the current firefighters cancer relief program and the possibility of providing additional resources including workers' compensation and other benefits to firefighters diagnosed with cancer acquired as a result of occupational exposure to noxious fumes or poisonous gases.  Their report will be due to the General Assembly by the end of the year. 

A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety focused on firefighter cancer concluded that firefighters face a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnoses and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths compared to the general population of the United States. 

Conn. State Police beef up enforcement for holiday weekend

As Connecticut emerges from COVID-19 restrictions, State Police expect a greater number of vehicles to be back on the roads and highways this Memorial Day.  The weekend is the traditional start to summer and activities related to beaches, backyards and BBQs. State Troopers are standing by to ensure that the roadways are free of hazardous drivers, and conducting extra roving DUI patrols.  State Police urge drivers to plan for traffic delays as more people venture out this holiday weekend.  They're also reminding people about the “Move Over” law, which requires motorists approaching stationary emergency vehicles to immediately slow to a speed below the posted speed limit and, if traveling in the lane adjacent to an emergency vehicle, to move over one lane, unless it is unreasonable or unsafe to do so.

Danbury lawmaker touts passage of fuel cell electricity generation project bill

A local lawmaker is touting House passage of a bill that will allow utility companies to solicit fuel cell electricity generation projects.  Danbury State Representative David Arconti, House chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, says that will strengthen the power grid, create high-tech manufacturing jobs and positively impact the economy.  The bill passed unanimously and was sent to the Senate for their consideration.  Provisions in the bill require the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to evaluate submitted project proposals consistent with ratemaking principles and authorizes PURA to approve projects including giving commercial or industrial electric or gas customers on-site generation to increase power quality or resilience, provide back-up power and or reduce energy costs.  The 2021 Legislative Session ends June 9th.

Monroe Police warn of home improvement scams

The Monroe Police Department is warning residents of a home improvement scam.  They urge people to be aware of chimney repair scams that often begin with an unsolicited phone call offering a great deal. If the victim is interested in their services, the scammer will go to the victims house for an inspection and find a number of "additional issues." 

They will then try to scare the victim into agreeing to costly or unnecessary repairs by citing fire hazards, carbon monoxide dangers, loose bricks and more. Monroe Police officials say they often do the "repairs" without seeking permits and its shoddy or unnecessary work. 

The victims usually have to call a legitimate company to fix the work that scammers did. 

With home improvement season, Monroe Police are also warning residents of driveway paving scams.  The scammer will show up unsolicited with dump trucks, rollers and spray equipment offering a great deal, but most cases there is no site preparation, the material is applied very thin, and they often use "cold patch" which is designed to be used as a temporary repair job for pot holes. 

Once the job is done they will try to inflate the price by telling the victims they had to use more materials than they anticipated. 

Monroe Police called on homeowners not to agree to work on the spot that they weren't seeking to have done in the first place, and to check the track record of a company before employing them.

Redding to host Memorial Day ceremony today

The Town of Redding is hosting a Memorial Day ceremony this afternoon.  It will be about 15 to 20 minutes long and take place on the Center Green by the WWI Memorial Stone.  There is no parade this year.  The service starts a noon sharp and will feature a prayer, TAPS and remarks.  People should social distance and wear a mask, per the Redding Health Department.

Brookfield Lions Club hosting Memorial Day parade tomorrow

The Brookfield Lions Club is hosting a Memorial Day parade tomorrow from 2pm to 3pm.  The route will start at Brookfield High School and travel along Route 25 to Center Elementary School. Shuttles will be running from the elementary school from 12:30 to 1:45, as there is no parking allowed at the high school.

Seasonal travel counselor sought for Danbury Welcome Center

Connecticut Welcome Centers have officially reopened. The centers operate seasonally, mid-May through October each year. They are staffed with tourism personnel who promote things to see and do.  Literature is also available.  The state Office of Tourism is still recruiting for seasonal travel counselors to work at the Danbury location. Any potential candidate is asked to contact Rosemary Bove at

Most Danbury area towns drop into lowest COVID alert zone

A majority of Greater Danbury area towns are in the grey zone for having 5 or fewer COVID-19 cases over two weeks. 

Danbury and New Fairfield remain in the yellow zone, for having 5 to 9 cases over two weeks, per 100,000 population.  Danbury reported 46 cases in week 1 and 23 cases in week 2 of the reporting, for an average of 5.8 per 100,000 population.  New Fairfield reported 10 and 4 cases, making the average 7.2 per 100,000 population. 

Statewide, three more COVID-associated deaths were reported since Wednesday.  There was one additional hospitalization reported yesterday.  The test positivity rate was just over 1-percent.  Out of nearly 15,000 tests, 157 came back positive.  

The yellow minivans offering COVID-19 vaccines will be back at Danbury Library.  The state Department of Public Health/Griffin Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be holding a walk-up clinic until 6pm.  No appointment is needed.

Man charged with unlawful discharge of firearm in Sherman fight

A Darien man has been arrested in Sherman a fight at a home on Anderson Road last night.  State Police received a 911 call shortly after 6pm and determined that 31-year old Jordan Reed was carrying a pistol without a permit.  He was charged for that offense, as well as unlawful discharge of a firearm, breach of peace, and reckless endangerment.  Reed was released on bond and will be arraigned at June 10th.

Local lawmaker opposes Clean Slate Act

A local lawmaker, who is a former Probation Officer, opposed the Clean Slate Bill when it came up for a vote in the state House yesterday.  New Fairfield Representative Patrick Callahan says the bill fails to protect the victims of various crimes such as purposefully abandoning a child, bigotry, or carrying a gun on school grounds.  The bill effectively erases criminal history from individuals who were previously incarcerated, aiming to reintegrated them with society.  Callahan says there is a mechanism in place, through the Board of Pardons and Paroles, for criminals to petition for an erasure of their criminal records after they have paid their debt to society.  He says this bill takes away the peace of mind and rights of the victims of these crimes.  He added that a better route to take would be to streamline the application process to the Board of Pardons and Paroles.


New Milford man identified as driver in hit-and-run crash in Sherman

The driver of a hit and run accident in Sherman has been identified and charged.  The Resident State Trooper responded to Route 39 South on Wednesday morning, shortly before 6am, about the crash.  The driver of the evading vehicle was identified as 27-year old Samuel Gioia of New Milford.  There was an active warrant for failure to appear in court.  Gioia was located and placed under arrest for that charge.  He posted bond and was issued a court date in Torrington of June 23rd.  He was charged with Evading and Failure to maintain proper lane, and was released on bond.

Driver blames distraction by animal in car for two-vehicle crash

A two-car crash partially closed Berkshire Road in Newtown late Tuesday morning.  A man headed east lost control while rounding the corner near Zoar, telling emergency responders than an animal in the vehicle caused a distraction.  That pick up truck hut the drivers site of a Dodge Caravan traveling west.  No one was transported to the hospital.  The road was closed for about an hour.  Both vehicles were towed from the scene.

Truck driver cited for domino crash on I-84 in Newtown

A  six-vehicle crash on I-84 Wednesday evening has resulted in charges for a tractor-trailer driver.  State Police say the 29-year-old truck driver was at fault and issued an infraction for following too closely.  The trucker rear ended a Porsche around 7:30pm westbound just past exit 10 as the car slowed in the construction zone.  The impact led to a domino collision into 4 vehicles in front of the Porsche.  All 6 vehicles were towed from the scene, and five people were transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Riding mower caught fire in Newtown while in use by homeowner

A Newtown homeowner was using a riding mower Monday when it caught on fire. The homeowner was able to climb off the mower and clear from it without injury.  Sandy Hook and Hook & Ladder responded to the scene.  Once the flames were extinguished, the homeowner hooked a chain to it and, using his truck, pulled the mower away from the area that had been ablaze. Firefighters then did additional overhaul and full wetdown.

Summer Enrichment Grants awarded by Conn.

The State Department of Education has awarded summer Enrichment Grants to nearly all applicants that applied.  235 grantees will receive a total of $8.6 million , which will serve over 96,000 students statewide.  Expansion Grants, ranging from $2,500 to $25,000, will expand existing enrichment opportunities and increase access for children who might otherwise not have access to summer camp or programming. These grants are geared towards local organizations to either serve more children, subsidize enrollment costs, or both.

Additionally, priority was given to providers that can quickly scale programming to serve more students and/or make their programming more financially accessible to students from low-income communities. Expansion Grant recipients will serve over 40,000 students in regions across the state.

After School Arts Program, Inc. (ASAP!) Warren Woods Washington Depot $18,600

Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield - Main Clubhouse Ridgefield $25,000
Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield Teen Center Ridgefield $25,000

Newtown Community Center Newtown Community Center Newtown $24,870
Newtown Parks and Recreation Treadwell Park Newtown $15,000

Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut YMCA Camp Greenknoll Brookfield $25,000
Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut YMCA Children's Center Brookfield $25,000

The New Milford Youth Agency Sarah Noble School New Milford $25,000

Danbury Zoning Commission signs off on rehabilitation hospital

The Danbury Zoning Commission has signed off on a rehabilitation hospital to be located on the City's westside.  Encompass Health is looking to construct the 36 million dollar, 100-thousand-square-foot facility near the front gate of The Summit, located in the residential development called The Reserve.  The Danbury Planning Department has to review design plans.  Encompass Health plans to buy 13 acres on Reserve Road and build into the hillside, with two retaining walls.  The Alabama-based company says Connecticut is one of the most under-bedded for inpatient rehab hospitals in the country.  The state Department of Health still must issue a certificate of need.  Encompass Health told City officials that this facility would serve people who have suffered strokes, heart attacks, and neurological ailments, offering physical rehabilitation, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

Veterans Memorial Park in Carmel reopens for the season

The Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park in Carmel will open for the season on Memorial Day Weekend.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the 200-plus acre park is open for hiking, fishing, and picnicking.  Swimming is also allowed at the only public county-owned lake in Putnam.  Last year, in response to the pandemic, the park opened late in the season, limited capacity and had strict rules on group activities.

Starting Saturday, the park will be open from 10am to 7pm every day through Labor Day.  The beach opens at 10:30am and the rules have been eased. 

The Park has several tributes to those who have served in the armed services including an M-60 Tank, a Cobra-318 Helicopter and several memorials.  On Sunday, the New York Riders motorcycle group will dedicate a new memorial to fallen veterans, the Battlefield Cross. The ceremony begins at 6pm at the park.

Parking is $8 a day, or $40 for a season’s pass for county residents and $85 for a season’s pass for non-county residents. There are discounts for seniors. Parking is free for veterans.

New Fairfield Town Hall will fully reopen to the public

New Fairfield Town Hall will fully reopen to the public on Tuesday.  Hours will be 8:30am to 5pm Monday through Thursday and 8:30am to noon on Friday.  Unvaccinated people will be required to wear masks in the building.  Those who are vaccinated may choose not to wear a mask.  Due to the small office spaces in Town Hall, social distancing is required and New Fairfield officials recommend that everyone wear a mask.  All services that have been available online during the pandemic will continue to be available online.  The New Fairfield Town Clerk’s Office requires appointments for Notarizing, Marriage Licenses, and certified copies of Birth Certificates and Death Certificates.  Limited space will be available at the Title Searchers’ Computers, and an appointment is needed.

Ridgefield woman advocates for AEDs required in gyms

Members of the Ridgefield state legislative delegation are touting a bill that's been approved by the Senate and awaits action in the House.  The measure would, among other things, require gyms and health clubs to have AEDs on site.  It was approved on a vote of 33 to 2.  Senator Will Haskell says this stemmed from a constituent request.  Suzanne Brennan reached out about the death of her husband due to a cardiac incident while at the gym.  Although a defibrillator would likely have saved his life, there was no such device at the gym.  Haskell says AEDs are already required in schools and at golf courses.  The measure was co-sponsored by Newtown Representative Mitch Bolinsky.

Gov signs bill prohibiting deceptive advertising by so-called limited pregnancy service

Governor Lamont has signed a bill into law that prohibits deceptive advertising by so-called limited pregnancy services centers that is intended to mislead the public on reproductive healthcare services.  Ridgefield Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo shared a story on the House floor during debate on the bill about a personal decision she made as an 18-year old. 

She and her boyfriend, now her husband the father of her two children, found themselves with an unwanted pregnancy.  She told her colleagues that the clinic had legal rules to follow in challenging her choice and pushed to reconsider.  Berger-Girvalo says she felt intimidated and did not feel like she could advocate for herself and make a complaint. 

Almost 30 years later, Berger-Girvalo says sharing this story still invokes some of the anxiety she felt then.

The legislation gives the Connecticut Attorney General the authority to seek a court order to stop the deceptive practices. Prior to bringing court action, the center must be notified of the pending order and have up to ten days to comply. If ultimately found to be in violation, the court can order the center to pay for and disseminate appropriate corrective advertising, and the center can also receive civil penalties and be charged by the state for attorney’s fees. 

The legislation goes into effect on July 1st.

Two cars reported stolen in Redding

Two cars have been reported stolen in Redding.  Police are investigating the thefts of the vehicles from two different homes in the area of Picketts Ridge Road.  Redding Police are reminding residents to lock unoccupied vehicles and suggested securing any keyless fobs in a farady type bag, which can block a wireless signal that could be used to activate the key fob technology and unlock cars.  Anyone with information about the latest thefts is asked to contact Officer Lopiano (203.938.3400).

Two car crash in Brookfield under investigation

A two car crash in Brookfield is under investigation.  Police, firefighters and EMS responded to the intersection of Route 7 and Industrial Park Drive shortly after 8pm.  One vehicle t-boned another, injuring two people.  Both were transported to Danbury Hospital for evaluation.  Emergency responders were on the scene for about half an hour.  The accident is being investigated by the Brookfield Police Department.

State House passes bill backed by local lawmaker on licensed hairdressers

The state House has passed a bill with overwhelming bipartisan support that was backed by a local lawmaker. 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.  The bill. which was sent to the Senate for further action, allows hairdressers to remove hair from the face or neck using manual or mechanical means. 

Gov. signs Conn. Parentage Act

Governor Lamont has signed a bill into law championed by a local legislator.  The Connecticut Parentage Act is aimed at modernizing state law by changing provisions that discriminate against LGBTQ couples.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says a married same-sex couple who use assisted reproduction currently need to do lengthy, expensive, and intrusive second-parent adoptions for their children to have legal ties to both parents.  He says this change will not only make it easier on couples, but will reduce the burden on DCF and the courts. 

Friends of the New Fairfield Library to host Spring Book Sale

The Friends of the New Fairfield Library are hosting their Spring Book Sale this year.  Most of the Book Sale will be upstairs while the Children's Book Sale will be downstairs.  Donations of clean, good condition books, DVDs and CDs will be accepted until June 1st.  The Friends can not accept encyclopedias, textbooks, magazines, cassettes or outdated, yellowed items because space is limited. 

West Conn to offer master's degree in Human Nutrition

West Conn will offer a master’s degree in Human Nutrition in the fall, an expansion of the fast-growing Health Promotion & Exercise Sciences program.  The graduate degree program can serve students with a background in varying fields, including public and community health, psychology, education and other professions. West Conn students will be able to finish the 38-credit program in two years if they enroll full-time. A part-time schedule will also be offered.

Grandmother arrested for manslaughter in 1-year old's suspicious death

Danbury Police investigating the suspicious death of a one-year old child have arrested his grandmother.  Police were called to Danbury Hospital on March 17th for the untimely passing of a child and the circumstances were deemed suspicious.  The investigation findings implicated Cora Brandon to be complicit in his death.  The 60-year old was charged Wednesday Manslaughter, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and 5 counts of Risk of Injury to a Minor.  She was held on a half a million dollars court set bond.  The investigation is ongoing and the Superior Court sealed the arrest warrant affidavit.  No further details are being released at this time.

Danbury Public Works releases list of streets to be milled, paved

Danbury City Councilman Farley Santos says after long advocating for the Department of Public Works to release a list of streets to be paved in upcoming seasons, a proposed list of projects to be completed this year has been made public.  Danbury plans to pave 12 miles of roadway, and the first 7 phases have been released.  Crews are out on Long Ridge Road and West Redding Road.  Up next would be Riverview Drive, Hillandale Road and East Gate Road among others. Some of the milling work will be done in the evenings.

Appeal filed in track & field athlete suit over CIAC policy

An appeal has been filed after a federal judge dismissed the case of four track and field athletes seeking  to end a Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference policy allowing transgender athletes to compete in girls sports. 

The dismissal was made a month ago and the appeal was filed yesterday on behalf of Alanna Smith of Danbury, Immaculate student Ashley Nicoletti, and two others who have since graduated. 

CIAC maintained that their policy reflects the federal guidance in place at the time it was adopted.  The students sought in February 2020, in part, to bar two transgender athletes from competing in the spring season, but the pandemic preempted the season. 

The suit was filed against CIAC, the Boards of Ed of the four plaintiffs and the two Boards of Ed representing the transgender athletes.  The transgender athletes and two of the plaintiffs have since graduated.  Also part of the suit were Selina Soule of Glastonbury and Chelsea Mitchell of Canton.

Public input session continues tonight in Danbury Superintendent search

The first of two public input sessions have been held by the Danbury Board of Education as members search for a new Superintendent of Schools.  About a dozen people participated in the Zoom meeting yesterday morning. 

Danbury residents have another chance to weigh in tonight at 6pm via Zoom.  Danbury residents are being asked what they think are the most important qualities for the next leader of the school district.  Feedback yesterday included that the next Superintendent advocate for equity, diversity and creating an inclusive environment for students and employees.

Superintendent Dr Sal Pascarella is retiring at the end of next month after 15 years on the job. 

The Zoom details are:
Meeting ID: 844 0661 3337
Passcode: 164430
Dial by your location: +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)

Local firefighters part of Conn. Fire Academy Recruit Class graduating today

The Connecticut Fire Academy Recruit Class 67 is graduating today.  The class of 38 firefighters, representing 19 departments, will participate in an outdoor ceremony this afternoon at the Connecticut Fire Academy in Windsor Locks.  There are firefighters from Danbury, Ridgefield and Patterson, New York participating. 

Due to the pandemic, this class began with 5 weeks of remote learning covering many topics before coming to the Academy for daily skills training. 

The graduation ceremony was originally scheduled for yesterday, but was pushed back so the recruits could attend the line-of-duty-death funeral for Ricardo Torres, Jr of the New Haven Fire Department. 

The over 700 hours of training consists of theory backed with extensive skill development. Graduating recruits will be nationally certified to the level of Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2, Hazardous Materials Awareness, Operations, and WMD. Additional course components include training in Confined Space Rescue, CPR Defibrillator and Technical Rescue and numerous other certificates for specialized training.

Connecticut fires prison guard over anti-Muslim meme

Connecticut’s prison system has fired a guard after an Islamic group complained about an anti-Muslim meme he posted on social media years ago.

In a termination letter dated Tuesday and obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request, Garner Correctional Institution warden Amoda Hannah told Officer Anthony Marlak that his use of social media had “undermined the public’s confidence in your ability to function in your position.”  The high security prisn is located in Newtown.

“The type of speech posted threatens the safety of staff and inmates who are Muslim,” Hannah wrote. “Your actions violate the standard of conduct for correctional employees and will not be condoned or tolerated.”

The Connecticut Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations had called for the firing of Marlak in January, citing a meme he posted on Facebook in 2018, depicting five apparently Muslim men hanging from nooses with the caption, “Islamic Wind Chimes.”

“This decision sends exactly the right message that prejudice and bigotry has no place in the Department of Correction,” said Farhan Memon, the chapter’s chairman. “Marlak’s comments were unacceptable because they suggested that he could be a danger to Muslim inmates.”

Marlak’s Facebook page, under the alias Tony Mint, had a profile that read “I am the prototype, infidel, veteran, boss. Stand back and I will handle it. Now walk away.”

Reached at his auto detailing business Wednesday, Marlak said he had been cleared of any wrongdoing two years ago following a departmental investigation and said his life has been turned upside down by the renewed accusations.

“I’m an honorably discharged veteran of the United States military,” he said. “I’ve been threatened and had people come and try to hurt me with weapons at my family’s place of business and now my life has been destroyed. All I know is that I did nothing wrong, I’m going to clear my name and this should never, ever have turned into what it’s turned into.”

During an interview with Correction Department officials following a confrontation with a Muslim correction officer this past summer, Marlak acknowledged reposting the wind-chime meme in 2018, when he was using a different alias, Anthony David. He said it was targeting ISIS and not Muslims in general.

“It was ISIS — dead ISIS hangin’ from nooses, OK?” he said. “In the military, any red-blooded American, like I’ve told a bunch of people, we just — we don’t like ISIS. They do bad things to our people and I’m anti-ISIS. Not anti-Muslim.”

Marlak was given a five-day suspension in December for his part in the confrontation and for making inappropriate remarks toward the other guard.

New Fairfield officials update proposed noise ordinance

The proposed New Fairfield noise ordinance has once again been revised.  Town officials have been working on draft language since last summer.  While most complaints have been about large, late-night parties, there are also complaints about noise on the islands of Candlewood Lake. 

First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says police do respond to the complaints, but have said the town needs a noise ordinance.  The proposal uses the term plainly audible as the enforcement standard, which is something that surrounding towns have in their local laws on noise.  Other municipalities have found that a certain decibel standard has been difficult to enforce. 

The proposal specifies between motor vehicle, watercraft, and lawn care equipment. 

The most prevalent comments have been about the time frames being too tight.  They have been changed to 6:30am to sunset, or 7:30pm whichever is later.  Another change made clear about not making excessive noise for longer than 15 minutes.  It now specifies that it's within a 24 hour period, not taking a pause and continuing for another 15 minutes.  Noise on land would be plainly audible from 100 feet from the edge of the property rather than from the source. 

A provision was added that variances should not be unreasonably denied, and that denial can be appealed to the Board of Selectmen.  Another provision was added to allow the playing of music at commercial establishments, within certain time frames.

Yellow minivans in Danbury offering COVID19 vaccines

The state Department of Public Health/Griffin Health will have two Mobile Vaccination Teams in Danbury today holding walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics.  One of those yellow minivans will be at the Danbury Ice Arena until 4pm.  Another will be at Sacred Heart Church on Cottage Street from 3pm to 7pm.  No appointment is needed.

Danbury Police hold somber Memorial Ceremony

Due to the pandemic, the Danbury Police Department held a private gathering for the 2021 Police Memorial Ceremony. This year, Danbury Police  honored its Officers who died in the line of duty with a short vehicle procession, memorial wreath placing, and brief remarks from Chief Patrick Ridenhour and Mayor Joe Cavo.  The remembrance was recorded and the video can be viewed here:

Sight line issues in New Milford addressed by Public Works crews

New Milford officials have noticed sight line issues along certain roadways with tall grass.  The Public Works Department will have crews out today working on Routes 109 and 202 trimming down that brush.  A tree crew will also be working on Patriot's Way.

Congressman's Insider Trading Prohibition bill gains House approval

A bill introduced by 4th District Congressman Jim Himes has been passed by the U.S. House, with overwhelming bipartisan support.  The Insider Trading Prohibition Act eliminates the ambiguities that have existed in the case-by-case evolution of the law in this area.  Himes says corporate insiders who wrongfully obtain inside information and misuse it weaken the fairness, integrity, and safety of the nation’s capital markets.  

Brookfield seeks bids for Phase 3 of streetscape project

A mandatory pre-bid visit is being held in Brookfield today for the next phase of the Streetscape project.  The town is accepting construction bids for the third phase until June 8th. 

There are five phases of the downtown revitalization project. 

The one going out to bid will connect sidewalks from Federal Road at Old Route 7 down to Laurel Hill Road.  Sidewalks will also be added to both sides of Old Route 7.  The project requires the construction to match the look of Phase 1, with granite curbing, brick pavers, and sidewalk lights. 

Residents approved funding for Phase 4 of the streetscape project in February and design work has started.  Public Information sessions will be scheduled for residents to weigh in on the designs. 

State Police investigating weekend hit & run crash on I-84

A hit and run crash on I-84 in Danbury is being investigated by State Police.  Troopers responded to the westbound side of the highway Sunday around 9pm, near the exit 8 on-ramp.  A Honda traveling in the left lane reportedly sideswiped a vehicle in the right lane, causing damage.  The Honda spun out of control, went off the roadway and crashed into a metal beam guide rail in the median.  State Police say the driver got out of the wrecked car, into a blue Infinity, and fled the scene.  The two people in the car that was sideswiped were uninjured.  The disabled vehicle was registered to a Hartford man.  Anyone who has information on the hit-and-run is urged to call Trooper Bret Pikul at 203-267-2200.

New Milford plans to scale back COVID-19 vaccine clinics

New Milford is planning to phase out COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the Pettibone Community Center.  Health Director Lisa Morrissey told the Town Council this week that barely 200 people are coming through the door, whereas during the height of administration, about 1200 doses were given on a single day.  Clinics are currently held three days a week, but will be scaled back to one or two nights, with shorter hours.  The Town Council met in person for the first time since the pandemic shifted everything to virtual gatherings.  Morrissey noted that if the FDA approves vaccines for younger children, or there's a need for booster shots they can ramp back up. 

Former nurse sentenced for stealing fentanyl

A former nurse at a Yale fertility clinic has been sentenced for stealing fentanyl that was intended for patients.  49-year old Donna Monticone was ordered to three years of supervised release, four weekends of incarceration, and three months of home confinement for tampering with a consumer product.  The Oxford woman began stealing fentanyl in June for her own use by using “a syringe to withdraw the narcotics from the vials,” and then injecting saline to appear that nothing was missing, according to the plea agreement.  Monticone was formerly in charge of inventory at the Yale Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility clinic in Orange.  Of the fentanyl given to patients at the clinic from June to October 2020, approximately 75% was adulterated with saline. Manticone acknowledged during a plea hearing that she knew that the drugs were intended to alleviate the pain of patients.

Revised Sherman school budget proposal heads to voters

A revised school budget has been approved to send to the voters in Sherman.  The original $9.38 million budget failed during a referendum earlier this month.  There was no spending increase included in the plan.  The budget was revised down by about $61,000 to $9.32 million.  A $25,000 reduction in benefits, nearly $18,000 cut from high school special education about about $26,000 in post-secondary education funding reduction make up the bulk of the changes.  A referendum has been scheduled for June 5th from 8am to 8pm in Charter Hall meeting room.

Senate passes sports betting, gambling bill; sends to Lamont

A long-awaited gambling expansion bill cleared the Connecticut Senate late Tuesday, moving the state closer toward finally legalizing sports betting and online wagering after years of debate and failed negotiations with the state’s two federally recognized tribal nations.

The legislation passed on a bipartisan 28 to 6 vote shortly before midnight. It includes an agreement Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont reached in March with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, the owners and operators of Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun in southeastern Connecticut. The same bill was approved by the House of Representatives last week and now awaits Lamont’s expected signature.

It allows the governor to amend the state’s compacts with the tribes that govern gambling, enabling both to offer sports betting, online gambling and online fantasy sports in return for providing the state a share of the revenues. Those amended compacts will still need to be approved by the U.S. Department of Interior, which proponents hope can be done quickly and in time for the NFL season, helping Connecticut catch up to neighboring states that have already allowed sports wagering.

“A little over three years ago the Supreme Court cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting,” said state Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague. “Since that timeframe, more than half of the country has already taken action to legalize this.”

The legislation also allows the quasi-public Connecticut Lottery Corporation to offer online sports wagering and retail sports betting at 15 locations, including ones specifically located in Hartford and Bridgeport.

For internet gambling, the state’s tax rate on gross revenues will be 18% for the first five years and then 20% for the next five years, with an option to continue for another five years. The tax rate on sports betting and fantasy contests will be 13.75%.

State Sen. Tony Hwang, R-Fairfield, who has consistently opposed gambling expansion legislation, warned that allowing online gambling and sports betting will only exacerbate the state’s gambling addiction problem, especially with a younger generation that has grown up using smart phone technology. He urged his fellow lawmakers to further increase funding for gambling awareness and treatment and conduct a thorough study of how expanded gambling has impacted the state.

“I hope that we don’t come back here 10, 15 years and say, ‘Boy, did we make a mistake? Did we unleash a scourge of addiction and problem gambling onto our future generations?’” he asked. “I hope I’m wrong.”

Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Killingly, said she’s also concerned about problem gambling, but decided to support the bill to help Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, two major employers in eastern Connecticut that have been facing growing competition for years and were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced them to close for two-and-a-half months.

“They’re key, important economic partners,” she said of the tribal nations. “Their employees are my constituents, who I’m charged to represent.”

As in the House, senators whose districts include or are located near East Windsor, criticized the deal for preventing the tribes from building a planned satellite casino in the town to compete with the MGM casino in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts. The legislation bars the off-reservation tribal casino from being built during the first 10 years of this new agreement with the state.

The Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association has also raised concerns about the bill, warning that thousands of Connecticut residents who play fantasy sports for money using online companies could be sidelined for the upcoming NFL season if legislation as currently written becomes law. The group said the legislation prevents fantasy sports companies from continuing to operate in Connecticut after July 1 and until the state sets up a licensing system and these firms are ultimately approved for a license.

Asked about the industry’s criticism, Paul Mounds, Lamont’s chief of staff who led the negotiations on the gambling agreement, said Monday the legislation will ultimately ensure fantasy sports can be legally played in the state.

“We look forward to having continuous conversations with entities in the daily fantasy space as Connecticut looks to solidify and finalize the legalization of daily fantasy sports in the state of Connecticut,” he said.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, said he looked forward to the legislation passing in the Senate. Butler has been urging the General Assembly for years to pass legislation that legalizes sports betting and internet gambling in Connecticut.

“As we have said, gaming is more than a business for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation,” he said in a written statement. “It is the way we support our government, educate our children, underwrite youth programs, and take care of our elders. Tonight’s vote will be another milestone in what has been a long journey.”

Pandemic laid-off worker bill passes Senate

The Connecticut Senate on Tuesday passed legislation requiring employers to recall certain workers who were laid off during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and afterward in order of seniority.

The bill, which passed on a 19-15 vote, now awaits action in the House of Representatives.

Under the proposed legislation, private-sector employers with at least 15 employees must notify laid-off employees in the janitorial and maintenance, food service and hospitality industries in writing about positions they’re qualified to fill that become available. Workers with the most seniority would get preference for the open job and would have no less than five days to accept or decline the offer.

Sen. Julie Kushner, D-Danbury, co-chair of the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, said the legislation will help ensure that businesses don’t try to “save the bottom line a bit” as they emerge from the pandemic and hire less senior employees to fill open jobs.

Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, a restaurant owner, said while he understands the thought behind the bill, he said it’s too intrusive on small businesses. He also noted the legislation applies to people laid off after March 10, 2020, and before Dec. 31, 2024, which is more than three years away.

Redding Heritage Center resumes indoor, outdoor classes and programs

Most classes and programs have resumed in-person, both indoors and outdoors, at Redding Heritage Center.  Participants in outdoor classes and programs are not required to wear masks. However, if it is difficult to keep distant or if the outdoor space is crowded, participants should wear a mask. Participants who have been fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks indoors if they can keep their distance. Those who have not been fully vaccinated are still required to wear masks.  This policy is based on a vaccine honor system.

Ridgefield to host virtual CERT training

The Ridgefield Office of Emergency Management will be hosting a CERT class beginning June 2nd.  It will be held via Zoom twice weekly through June 21st.   CERT, community emergency response team, is a support organization, most recently activated to help pandemic-related event.  Those interested should contact to sign up.

Danbury Hospital updates visitation policy

Danbury Hospital is again updating their visitation policy.  Cancer patient support persons will be allowed during appointments starting today.  Birth center patient support persons may now leave and return as needed.  No visitors are allowed for non-medical purposes such as going to the café or gift shop. Cafeterias remain closed to visitors at this time.  Vendors are restricted to only essential ones confirmed by their receiving department.  Nuvance Health says the visitation policy will be reevaluated regularly and removed as soon as conditions allow.

Easton Police raising funds to benefit K9 officer

Today is the last day for a fundraiser benefiting Easton Police K9 TJ.  The Easton Police K-9 Unit operates solely on the donations of others. Funds raised through this t-shirt sale campaign will help the department in purchasing a high quality diet for TJ, necessary veterinary care and his monthly maintenance training. The t-shirts and hoodies sport an image of the K9.  TJ has been a police dog since 2017 with Officer Tamra French. They currently work the evening shift in Easton.  TJ is trained to track suspects, lost hikers, missing children and adults, locate various illegal drugs and can also locate evidence of a crime, search a building for a suspect and keep his partner safe.

Ridgefield Allies hosting twilight vigil tonight

Ridgefield Allies is hosting a twilight vigil tonight to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.  The remembrance is also being billed by the group as an opportunity for the public to stand in solidarity with victims of racial injustice.  The vigil is at the Ballard Park gazebo at 8pm.  Ridgefield Allies is a community organization founded last spring in the aftermath of the killings of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbrey and others.

Redding plans Connecticut Trails Day Celebration Hike

Redding's Connecticut Trails Day Celebration Hike is on June 5th, at the Ground Pine Sanctuary from 9 am to 11 am.  The 2 mile hike will cross an intermittent stream and skirt a vernal pool in succession forest. There will be an option for experienced hikers to extend the hike to 3 miles with via loop of the adjoining Mahony Preserve. Ground Pine Sanctuary is considered moderate and is appropriate for families.  No dogs are allowed on the hike.  This event is being held rain or shine.  Pre-registration is required. 

Ridgefield Police Memorial Ceremony set for Thursday

The Ridgefield Police Department will be holding its Annual Memorial Ceremony this week. The Thursday service at The Lounsbury House on Main Street starts at 10am.  At the event, Ridgefield Police will honor and pay tribute to the deceased members of the department. The event is open to the public.

Local official named President of Connecticut Police Chiefs Association

Danbury Chief Patrick Ridenhour has been named President of the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.  The position change takes effect next month.  Ridenhour will be the first African American to lead the organization, which is dedicated to ensuring that all are treated equally before the law. The group's mission statement also says they are dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of state residents and aiding other government bodies in the administration of justice.  The Police Chiefs Association is studying methods that will keep Connecticut law enforcement in the forefront of public safety issues.

Danbury man arrested on drug related offenses

A Danbury man has been arrested on drug related offenses.  Danbury Police started an investigation into 47-year old Derrick "Country" Wiggins after receiving multiple neighbor complaints about illicit sales, including from the location he was arrested yesterday on Mill Ridge Road. 

As he parked and exited his vehicle, people that were loitering in the area approached him.  When the surveillance team moved in to execute court-ordered search warrants, Wiggins attempted to flee and was seen discarding drugs.  He was taken into custody after a short struggle. 

Police then went to his High Ridge Road home and found a significant quantity of heroin, crack cocaine, money, and drug paraphernalia.  As a convicted felon with eight prior convictions for selling illicit drugs, he was held for a cash bond.

Wiggins was charged with two counts each of possession of a Controlled Substance, possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a Controlled Substance With Intent to Sell Within 1500’ School, and possession of a Controlled Substance Within 1500’ School.  He was also charged with interfering with the duties of a Police Officer and operating a motor vehicle without a license.  

Virtual public comment session set for Danbury Superintendent search

Two virtual public comment sessions will be held this week in Danbury as the City searches for a new Superintendent of Schools.  The Board of Education and consultant Ray & Associates will host the Zoom meetings tomorrow at 11am and Thursday at 6pm.  Dr Sal Pascarella is retiring July 1st, after 15 years on the job. Applications are being accepted through June 9th for the position.  The Board of Ed for now is conducting an internal and regional search, rather than a more expensive national search.

The Zoom details for Wednesday are:
Meeting ID: 879 0037 5524
Passcode: 454423
Dial by your location :+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)

The Zoom details for Thursday are:
Meeting ID: 844 0661 3337
Passcode: 164430
Dial by your location: +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)

New Milford schools update mask policy

The New Milford Superintendent of Schools is sharing information from the State Department of Education about mask policies in schools.  In New Milford, masks continue to be required in school settings when students are indoors. However, when it comes to recess and PE outdoors, masks are only required in certain scenarios.  Alishia DiCorpo says the policy will be updated so that students and staff will no longer be required to wear masks outdoors unless they are in close contact while stationary and/or when students are in a line arriving and/or leaving recess or PE.  Good hand hygiene should be emphasized before and after outdoor activities.  DiCorpo thanked parents for their support in implementing the mitigation measures over the course of the year.

Danbury officials seek to crackdown on illegal ATV, motorcycling on City streets

Two men have been arrested by Danbury Police illegally riding motorcycles or ATVs and City officials are calling for a crackdown.  Mayor Joe Cavo told the Newstimes that he plans to reappoint an old committee that had looked at creating an ordinance with tougher penalties for those who drive ATVs, mini bikes and similar unregistered vehicles on City streets.  He called it a health, safety and welfare issue for the public.  Cavo headed the former ad hoc committee, but wasn't able to get ordinances from other municipalities.  Police say in the incidents over the weekend, an 18 year old and a 24-year old were observed riding wheelies and charged with reckless driving, riding without a motorcycle endorsement, and operating an unregistered motor vehicle. The 24-year-old was also charged with driving with a suspended license.  ATVs are prohibited from being ridden on the street except to cross public roads.

Bethel closes up COVID-19 vaccine clinic

The Bethel COVID-19 vaccination clinic has closed.  The local vaccine administration started on January 20th.  More than 6,800 doses were given.  Some 3,400 people completed two doses of Moderna.  Organizers thanked greeters, screeners, registrars, paper organizers, computer support, planners, managers, post vaccine care takers and vaccinators for all of their work over these last few months.  They were all volunteers who spent 13 Saturdays on this effort.

Downed power line sparks brush fire in Brookfield

Live power lines came down in Brookfield yesterday morning and caused a brush fire.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to Grays Bridge Road in the area of Sandcut Road shortly after 6am.  Power was secured by Eversource and firefighters then extinguished the blaze. Brookfield Police remained on scene for several hours assisting with traffic as repairs were made.

Monroe to end drive-thru COVID testing, vaccination clinics to continue

Monroe’s two-week rolling COVID-19 case rate has dropped to an average of just over 1 new case per day.  The Monroe Health Department and Emergency Management team was able to incorporate Monroe students age 12 and over during last week’s vaccination clinic. 

The town is continuing vaccination clinics for adults 18 and over on Wednesdays.  Appointments may be made through VAMS, but are no longer necessary. Walk-ins are accepted from 9am to noon.  

Monroe will have a drive-through test clinic on Wednesday, from 10am to 2pm at the Stevenson Fire Station. Due to the significant reduction in demand for testing since mid-April, this will be the town's last scheduled drive-through test clinic. 

Testing continues to be offered at both urgent care centers in Monroe.

Boat, trailer dumped on the side of Route 58 in Easton

A boat and trailer were dumped on the side of Route 58 in Easton last week near the Fairfield town line.  The incident happened some time between midnight and 9am last Monday, the 17th.  The trailer did not have a license plate and there were no identifying marks on the boat. Anyone in the area and saw this boat being left on the side of the road is asked to call Easton Police at 203-268-4111.

Memorial Day ceremony held in Bethel

The town of Bethel held a Memorial Day ceremony this weekend.  The ceremony is traditionally held after a parade, typically the weekend before Memorial Day, but this year that event was called off.  Planning starts in February and at that time organizers say the COVID-related conditions in the state were unknown.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company members gathered for the annual Memorial Day ceremony yesterday  It was held at the Veterans Memorial Monument on the grounds of the Municipal Center.

Truck hauling hay catches fire in Bethel

A truck with hay on fire in the back, near a home, was reported in Bethel this weekend.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company and Bethel Fire responded Saturday afternoon and found that the truck was able to dump the burning hay along the approximately 200-foot long driveway.  The flames were not endangering any buildings.  The fire was quickly extinguished.  A piece of machinery used to shred bales of hay and spread it was destroyed.

West Redding Fire names winner of the 2021 Provider of the Year

West Redding Fire Department has announced the winner of the 2021 Provider of the Year, Danielle Simson. She was recognized for her contributions as Ambulance Lieutenant, her significant contributions to developing the EMS training program, and managing the COVID-19 PPE program. The fire department says Simson is one of their top EMS responders. The award was announced as part of the Nuvance Health/Danbury Hospital annual EMS Appreciation event honoring EMS responders throughout Region 5. 

Parking enforcement starts again in Ridgefield

Parking enforcement has started up again in Ridgefield.  When the pandemic restrictions started in March of 2020, Ridgefield stopped all downtown parking enforcement.  Now that most stores have reopened, people have returned to their office and restaurants are serving customers in person, the lack of parking is once again a problem downtown.  The town's retail, restaurant and service businesses are calling for convenient parking for their customers. Without enforcement, the town says many employees are again parking all day in the downtown lots, taking up spaces that are needed for customers.  Tickets will be issued for parking in excess of posted time limits and other violations.  There is an all-day parking lot on Governor Street.  Those with permits are reminded to park in the area assigned to their permit.  New 6-month permits will be available in June for the July through December period.

Dog Licensing begins June 1st in Bethel

Dog Licensing begins June 1st and the Bethel Town Clerk is asking residents to wait for the renewal form and return envelope being mailed out.  The office is licensing remotely by drop box or mail.  The drop box is located at the entrance to the Municipal Center by the gazebo and gyms. A license will then be mailed out.  The fee for a spayed or neutered dog is $8.  A non-spayed or non-neutered dog is $19. A current rabies certificate is required. A new certificate is only required if the rabies certificate has expired.  Residents are also asked to provide a current phone number, if needed, in order to help police and animal control if the dog gets loose or lost.

Danbury needs hundreds of new housing units over next decade to meet population demand

A task force of Danbury officials have received a report that the  city needs at least 330 new homes and 425 new apartments over the next decade to keep pace with a projected 6 percent increase in population.  Danbury's population has grown by 13-percent over the past decade. 

Consultant RKG Associates presented the data to the task force considering a 10-year master plan last week.  The organization believes demand for both rental and owner households will continue well into the future.  58 percent of Danbury homes are owner occupied, and 42 percent are renter occupied. 

The median gross rent increased by 23 percent over the last 10 years to more than $1,400 per month.  The median value of owner-occupied housing in Danbury declined 12 percent over the last decade. 

The task force will work throughout the summer with another briefing on the City's latest socio-economic data.  Danbury officials will seek public comment on the growth and preserving community character plan, which is located online at

Danbury Board of Ed meets with search firm looking for next Superintendent

The Danbury Board of Education has met with a search firm helping to identify the next Superintendent.  Dr Sal Pascarella is retiring July 1st, after 15 years on the job.  Ray & Associates is hoping to find a permanent replacement, but if a suitable candidate is not found in that timeframe, an interim will be hired.  Applications are being accepted through June 9th for the position with a salary range of $250,000 to $275,000, with a comprehensive benefits package.  The job listing notes that the salary will be determined by proven experience, qualifications and meeting Board criteria.  The Board of Ed for now is conducting an internal and regional search, rather than a more expensive national search.

Bill backed by local lawmaker on unemployment experience account signed into law

A bill has been signed by the Governor that removes COVID-19 related layoffs from the unemployment experience account.  Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner says the measure seeks to limit further fiscal issues amid an already difficult economy.

As the unemployment experience rate depends on the amount of benefits former employees received in the three previous years, Kushner says the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on unemployment could serve to cause further financial damage to businesses already struggling with economic downturn.  For regular employers, their experience period will disregard benefit charges and taxable wages during the 2019-2021 time period when applicable.

From March 13th to June 15th 2020, Connecticut received more than 600,000 new unemployment claims, with as much as $884 million paid out in unemployment benefits during that time.

Area legislator backs Gov.'s proposed no-tax-increase budget

A 26-member coalition calling themselves the Moderate House Democratic Caucus are applauding Governor Lamont’s stance on No Tax Increases for the current biennial budget as budget negotiations begin. Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says a responsible approach to the state budget is part of why they were elected, and this is as opportunity to keep that promise.  The caucus says Connecticut should take advantage of higher than expected consensus revenue, a healthy rainy day fund, and its strong financial position to pass a budget that does not include tax increases.

Local lawmaker seeks to build on Take Back Our Grid Act progress

Building on the Take Back Our Grid Act, a local lawmaker is touting a piece of legislation aimed at protecting Connecticut electric customers.  Danbury Representative David Arconti led House passage of the bill meant to bring consumer protections and more piece of mind to ratepayers when trying to better understand their electric choices. 

It mandates provisions in new electric supplier contracts and prohibit the assignment or transfer of customers without their approval.  Arconti says the bill also eliminates early termination fees and closes variable rate legacy provisions. 

The proposal was sent to the Senate for further action. 

Arconti also touted a recent decision by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority meant to help consumers following the agency's investigation into Tropical Storm Isaias response.  PURA ordered and ORE reduction, a cut to allowable profit margin.  Arconti says that would reduce their distribution rates.  A $30 million civil penalty was also ordered.  It can not be made up for in rate hikes down the road because it's not recoverable that way under state statute. 

PURA proposed the penalty be returned in the form of a bill credit to ratepayers. 

PURA is still working on implementing the full Take Back Our Grid Act.  That bill would hold Electric Distribution Companies Legally Liable through compensation to customers for lost food and medicine during prolonged outages, requires minimum in-state staffing, the burying of power lines, and proposes rate increases tied to corporate profits.  It would also bring more electric options to consumers and decentralize the grid.

Danbury Army Reservist, Conn. DVA Commissioner, promoted to Lt. Col.

State Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi, who serves as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army Reserves, has been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. A ceremony was held last weekend at the 352nd Civil Affairs Command headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland. 

Saadi says he was humbled to receive the promotion and thankful to his mentors.  Saadi is the Chief International Law Officer for Governance in the Function Specialty Team of the 352 CACOM.  While his wife Valerie and their twins Sabrina and Jacob were not able to attend the ceremony, they celebrated his promotion upon his return home. 

Governor Lamont congratulated the Commissioner on his promotion, saying he's proud to have a dedicated and celebrated publican servant on his team.  The longtime Danbury resident and former twenty-year member of the Danbury City Council, has served as DVA Commissioner since October 2017.

He also served as Chief of Staff and General Counsel under former state Veterans Affairs Commissioner Sean Connolly and was a Connecticut Assistant Attorney General and Special Prosecutor.  Before his assignment with the 352nd CACOM Saadi served as Chief of National Security Law for the 412th Theater Engineer Command after completing an active-duty mobilization at Watervliet Arsenalin New York.  Saadi has also served as the Chief Legal Officer for the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion and with the 4th Legal Operations Detachment.

Bethel fire officials remind resients to keep hydrants clear of tall brush

Bethel Fire officials usually make this plea in the winter when snowbanks are high, but are also calling on residents to make sure fire hydrants are clear this summer.  Whether it’s tall grasses, shrubs, or anything else, firefighters say a hidden hydrant is a useless hydrant.  Anyone with a hydrant on their property is asked to keep it visible year round.

Friends of Franc Preserve, Bethel Land Trust establishing Wildflower Meadow

The Friends of the Franc Preserve and the Bethel Land Trust are asking for volunteers to help establish a Wildflower Meadow.  People are needed to rake the area, sow the seeds and spread straw over the 7,500 to 9,000 square feet.  Hours today and tomorrow are 10am to noon and noon to 2pm.  The organizations has a limited supply of rakes so volunteers are asked to bring their own garden rake and gloves. Refreshments will be provided.

Sherman EMT recognized by Nuvance Health

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department is congratulating Jack Fitzpatrick for being recognized with the Christopher Blackwell Award at the Nuvance Health EMS appreciation dinner.  The award is named for a New Fairfield native who was a member of the FDNY and died on 9/11.  Fitzpatrick joined the fire service as a Junior Member in 2018 and quickly trained to become an EMT.  He is in the final stages of his Firefighter 1 training.  

Library creates story walk based on local celebrity's children's book

The Mark Twain Library has installed a "StoryWalk" on the Parade Path.  The StoryWalk is based on comedian and Redding resident Michael Ian Black's book called "A Pig Parade Is A Terrible Idea". Town officials say this is perfect for young children and caregivers to stroll along the path and read a story.

Area legislator touts sports betting bill passage

State Representative Tony Scott, whose district includes part of Newtown, is touting passage of a bill legalizing and regulating sports betting and other forms of online wagering in Connecticut. He hopes the Senate also passed the bill so Connecticut can compete on a level playing field nationally.  The bill formalizes negotiations between the state of Connecticut, the state's two tribal nations and the Connecticut Lottery to update the state's gaming laws allowing fans to place bets on sporting events, as well as participate in other forms of online wagering.  Scott is a member of the Public Safety Committee, and was pleased they were able to find balance with regulations that protect consumers without placing too many limitations on the service.

Greater Danbury area moves into yellow, grey COVID alert zones

There are only 8 municipalities in the state's red zone for the highest level of community spread of COVID-19.  The Greater Danbury area towns are now in the yellow and grey zones, having 9 or fewer cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks reported. 

Danbury had 48 and 45 cases in the last two weeks, making for an average of 7.8.  Most area municipalities are in the yellow zone, including Danbury, averaging 6 to 8 cases per 100,000 population.  The highest average caseload is in New Fairfield with 8.2 cases per 100,000.  To put that in perspective, there were 6 and 10 cases reported in each of the last two weeks. 

The local towns in the grey zone, the lowest level had no COVID-19 cases reported in the last two weeks and includes Ridgefield, Sherman, Kent, Warren, Washington, Bethlhem, Bridgewater, Roxbury, Southbury, Oxford, Easton, Weston, and Wilton.

Lamont is again pushing the so-called invincible age cohort, 25 to 35 year olds, to get their COVID-19 vaccine, using the lure of a free drink at participating restaurants.  In a PSA for the Connecticut Drinks On Us initiative, Lamont urges people to get the jab or get stuck with the tab.

Connecticut's test positivity rate for COVID-19 yesterday stood at .93 percent.  A year ago it was 9 percent.  Yesterday, out of more than 22,000 tests, 206 came back positive.  There are four fewer people seeking COVID treatment making the inpatient total 141 statewide.  Connecticut also reported four more COVID-associated fatalities yesterday.

Henry Abbott Tech Mechanical Drafting class to host 'HATS4HEARTS'

The Henry Abbott Tech Mechanical Drafting class of 2021 is hosting an event called "HATS4HEARTS".  The event will take place at the school on Hayestown Avenue Saturday from 10am to 2pm.  There will be informational booths about mental health awareness and self care.  Resources at the event include the Women's Center-Greater Danbury about sexual/physical abuse, NUVANCE psychologists, Henry Abbott school counseling and School Base Health Centers.  Participants will be able to make their own hygiene supply baskets, do arts & crafts, play games and eat food from local restaurants.  All resources, food, and information are free to those who register online.  The event is hosted by by the Danbury CHICK-fil-A Leadership Academy.  Participating restaurants also include Texas Roadhouse, Elmer's Diner, Sal's Pizza, and John's Pizza.

Ridgefield is first Conn. town designated as a Cultural District

Governor Ned Lamont was in Ridgefield this afternoon to celebrate the approval by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of the Arts designating the town as a Cultural District. 

Ridgefield is the first municipality to receive such a designation. 

Cultural Districts are walkable areas of a city or town that feature numerous cultural facilities, activities  or assets.  Ridgefield’s Cultural District encompasses downtown Ridgefield and surrounding areas that stretch from Keeler Tavern in the south portion through Ballard Park and the Ridgefield Library in the north, and a half-mile to the east to the Ridgefield Theater Barn and Guild of Artists. 

A requirement of the program is the city or town must establish a Cultural District Commission that manages all aspects of the district. It includes many cultural attractions, including the Pride Arts Center, Conservatory of Dance, Prospector Theater, Scott House, ACT of CT, and the Ridgefield Playhouse.  

DECD’s Director of Arts, Preservation and Museums Liz Shapiro says this program recognizes the essential role that local arts and cultural resources play in the building healthy communities over the long-term.  She applauded Ridgefield for taking the initiative to establish the district and ensuring that arts and culture are at the heart of their planning efforts moving forward. 

Mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Danbury today

A yellow minivan administering COVID-19 vaccines will make two stops in Danbury today.  The state Department of Public Health Griffin Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be holding walk-up clinics at Victory Christian Center on Eden Drive from 9am to 3pm and at One Kennedy Flats Apartments from 4pm to 8pm. No appointment is needed.

Gov. to tour Ridgefield Boy's & Girls Club

Governor Ned Lamont is joining Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo and other members of the Ridgefield legislative delegation this afternoon to tour the town's Boys & Girls Club Teen Center.  They are getting an inside look of the facility's extension project, which looks to double program space needed at the center. Berger-Girvalo has filed a state bonding request of $2.5 million for the project.

Ocean State Job Lot opens in Danbury Square shopping center

Ocean State Job Lot has opened in the Danbury Square shopping center on Backus Avenue.  The discount closeout retailer is located in the building formerly occupied by Toys ‘R Us, which closed in 2018. Nearly 50 full- and part-time associates have been hired. With the Danbury location opening, the Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation plans to donate thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment to the city’s police and fire departments.

Biill co-sponsored by local lawmaker signed by Gov.

A bill co-sponsored by a local lawmaker has been signed by the Governor.  Danbury Representative Ken Gucker backed a measure that's now law.  It requires the DEEP Commissioner to submit a report to the General Assembly about the amount of revenue collected from the Aquatic Invasive Species fees, and the number, value and purpose of any grants to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations awarded from the Connecticut Lakes, Rivers and Ponds Preservation account.  The DMV Commissioner must give DEEP any information necessary to file the report, which could include any recommendations from DEEP on additional means for funding projects to control or eradicate aquatic invasive species by municipalities and lake authorities.

Accountant for owner of several pizza restaurants sentenced for federal tax offenses

An accountant for the owner of several pizza restaurants has been sentenced for federal tax offenses.  59-year old James Guerra of Dix Hills, New York was ordered to three years probation, with the first two months in home confinement.  He must also perform 100 hours of community service. 

Guerra worked for the owner of Pinocchio Pizza in Wilton and in Pound Ridge among other establishments.  Bruno DiFabio and his businesses reportedly took cash from the registered to pay employees, and didn't deposited it into the operating bank accounts. Although Guerra was aware that the Ridgefield man was failing to collect required withholding taxes from his employees and, in turn, not paying over these taxes to the IRS, he reviewed and approved DiFabio’s quarterly tax returns. 

DiFabio, known as “Lord of the Pies” and for appearing on “Chopped” and other TV shows, was sentenced to 30 days of imprisonment and ordered to pay $816,954 in restitution.  His business partner, Steven Cioffi, was sentenced to 30 days of imprisonment and ordered to pay $122,177.59 in restitution.  Their bookkeeper, Idalecia Lopes Santos, was sentenced to three years of probation.

Addition planned for Danbury Fire's Engine Company 26 building

Danbury is looking to build an addition to the Fire Department's Engine Company 26 building on Kenosia Avenue.  The Fire Department plans to construct a 7,000 square foot  pre-engineered metal building for department equipment and apparatus. 

The building will have four, drive-thru bays. One bay will include a truck lift for maintenance.  The building also will have a small parts and hand equipment storage area with a mezzanine. 

A Mandatory Pre-Bid Conference will be held on Thursday, May 27th at 10am at the site, followed by a mandatory site inspection for Contractors intending to bid on the project. The last day that questions will be accepted and responded to is 10am on June 1st. 

Bids are due to the City's Purchasing Agent's Office by 10am on June 10th. 

Danbury officials say the City reserves the right to accept or reject any or all bids and to award the contract to the bidder deemed to be for its best interest.  This is a State assisted contract, subject to State set-aside and contract compliance requirements.

Danbury seeks to develop city-owned parking lot off Main Street

Danbury is looking to develop a city owned parking lot.  A bid notice has been sent out for the site at the corner of Liberty and Delay streets.  The property, just under half an acre, is right near Main Street in CityCenter. 

The sidewalks around the property are part of the City's streetscape project, which recently started. 

The most recent study identified the parcel as suitable for a multi-story building containing a mix of uses with ground floor commercial use that would help activate the public right-of-way. The parcel was included in both the 1990 and 2019 Plan of Development. 

The Downtown Revitalization Overlay Zone offers incentives, such as an expedited permit process, reduced permit fees and decreased utility connection costs. 

The city is looking for purchasers who can “execute a high-quality, financially-feasible project that advances the city’s vision” for the site and downtown.  Bids are due to the City by 2pm on July 14th. A committee will be formed to review the proposals and interview developers, who may be asked to present their plan publicly to City Council or a subcommittee.

Newtown Police investigate driver's claim of motorist with a gun

A possible road rage incident in Newtown is under investigation.  Police received a report from an older man Wednesday evening about another driver waving a gun at him as they drove down South Main Street.  The complainant's car had a large dent in the driver's side rear bumper.  Newtown Police were able to track down the other driver, who was cooperative and did not have a gun.  Spokesman Lt. Aaron Bahamonde says officers are conducting an investigation into the complaint and need help identifying the driver who initially called to complain.  Police are seeking further information from him and are not receiving the cooperation needed to conduct the investigation.

Annual Town Budget Meeting in Kent in-person and virtual

The Annual Town Budget Meeting is being held in Kent tonight.  It will be a hybrid meeting, with two options to participate.  The in-person attendees will gather in the large meeting room of town hall, while a Zoom virtual session runs concurrently.  The proposed operating budget is little more than $4 million, there's $4.6 million proposed by the Board of Ed and the town's share of the Region 1 school budget is $2.5 million.  First Selectman Jean Speck says the decision to offer a virtual portion was made after receiving feedback that not everyone is ready to attend in-person meetings yet.  She believes it's a positive effort to get the widest participation as possible in town government.  If more than one resident in a household is eligible to vote, they must be logged into the Zoom meeting with separate devices. Only one poll vote is allowed per device.  The meeting is at 7pm.

New Milford hosts second annual G.O.A.T. Days

The Town of New Milford is holding their second annual G.O.A.T. Days.  The Greatest of All Towns celebration this weekend is at Young's field and will feature one of the state’s mobile vaccine vans.  Both Pfizer and the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be stocked.  Children 12 to 17 must get Pfizer if they're being vaccinated.  No appointment is needed.  Second dose Pfizer shots will be offered appointments at Pettibone Community Center on June 13th.  The weekend long event, from 10am to 5pm each day, will also feature local food trucks and activities.

Bridgewater residents vote to retain ownership of Grange

A town meeting in Bridgewater has decided the future of Grange Hall.  The town and the Bridgewater Preservation Association have been at a stalemate over whether to renovated or tear down the historic landmark.  Residents voted to retain ownership.  First Selectman Curtis Read wants to turn the property into a community center.  Bridgewater was awarded a $100,000 STEAP grant to demolish the building and draw up construction plans.  The Bridgewater Preservation Association offered to buy the building from the town for $1 to protect the historic character of the town and retain Bridgewater's streetscape and ‘sense of place.’”  The building has been condemned and structural engineers have recommended it be taken down.  The town's plan call for digging out oil contamination, cleaning the site, putting in new septic, and constructing a one-story building.

Connecticut House approves sports betting deal with tribes

The state House of Representatives approved a long-awaited gambling agreement Thursday that Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont reached in March with the state’s two federally recognized Native American tribes, moving the state closer to legalizing sports and online gambling.

The legislation, which passed on a 122 to 21 vote and now awaits action in the Senate, directs the governor to amend the state’s compacts with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes that govern gambling, allowing both to offer sports betting, online gambling and online fantasy contests in return for providing the state a share of the revenue generated.

If the legislation passes in the Senate, as expected, the amended compacts will ultimately need federal approval.

“This bill that we see tonight is the culmination of many, many years of work heading in many directions in Connecticut,” said Kent Rep. Maria Horn, co-chair of the General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee.

The agreement allows the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to also offer online sports wagering and retail sports betting at 15 locations, including ones specifically located in Hartford and Bridgeport.

For internet gambling, the state’s tax rate on gross revenues will be 18% for the first five years and then 20% for the next five years, with an option to continue for another five years. The tax rate on sports betting and fantasy contests will be 13.75%.

Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, said in a statement he was pleased state lawmakers were finally voting on a sports betting and internet gambling deal, something he has been urging the General Assembly to pass for years.

“For our Tribe, gaming is about much more than business; it is a means by which we rebuild our nation, educate our children, and take care of our elders,” he said. “Passage of this legislation will enable us to do just that, and more, for generations to come.”

James Gessner Jr., chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, said in a statement that modernizing the gambling industry this way will help Connecticut “keep pace” with neighboring states, protect Connecticut jobs and generate tax revenues that benefit the state, municipalities and the tribes.

“This is not just a regional issue — it will have a statewide impact as Connecticut works to meet critical needs as it recovers from the pandemic,” he said.

Not everyone is pleased with the legislation. State lawmakers from the East Windsor area voted against the agreement, which prevents the tribes from building a planned satellite casino in the town to compete with the MGM casino in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts. The legislation prevents the off-reservation tribal casino from being built during the first 10 years of this new agreement with the state.

“This is built on a broken deal and I will not be supporting it here,” said Rep. Tom Delnicki, R-South Windsor.

Meanwhile, Sportech, the state-licensed parimutel operator, questioned the constitutionality of the agreement and expressed hope that it can reach a separate agreement with the state. Paul Mounds, the governor’s chief of staff noted the deal allows the lottery to sublicense the sports betting operations to Sportech.

Tree clearing starts in Danbury for new Caraluzzi's location

Work is starting on the long-approved Caraluzzi's grocery and liquor store in Danbury.  The Planning and Zoning Commissions signed off on the Mill Plain Road location several years ago, with the applications considered as far back as 2014. 

There was a court challenge to the liquor store, but the judicial system sided with the City's decision to allow it.  The market owners renovated their Bethel location while that was ongoing. 

Tree clearing started at the 102 Mill Plain Road property today. 

According to the information released at the time of the application, the intention is to build a shopping center anchored by a Caraluzzi’s Danbury Market and a Caraluzzi’s Wine and Spirit Super Store, bringing an estimated 160 new full and part-time jobs to Danbury. The shopping center could also include space for one or two smaller tenants. No potential opening date has been determined.

Mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Danbury today

Two yellow minivans administering COVID-19 vaccines will be in Danbury today.  The state Department of Public Health Griffin Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be holding walk-up clinics at Wooster Manor from 9am to 3pm and at the Harambee Center on West Street from noon to 6pm. No appointment is needed.

Newtown Police to host Police Explorer Open House

The Newtown Police Department is holding a Police Explorer Open House next Wednesday, the 26th.  This is for young people aged 13 to 21 interested in joining the Explorer Cadets. The open house will be at the new police station at 191 South Main Street from 6pm to 8pm.  All are welcome, not just Newtown residents.

Car vs. motorcycle accident in Bethel under investigation

The Bethel Police Department is investigating a car versus motorcycle accident.  The crash happened yesterday morning, shortly after 7:30am on Grassy Plain Street near Grassy Plain Terrace.  Anyone who witnessed the accident or has information about the crash is asked to contact Officer Morris at 203-744-7900. 

Monroe Police warn of home improvement scams

Monroe Police are warning that Spring time is Home Improvement Scam time.  There are several types of scams, typically targeting elderly or vulnerable victims, with door-to-door solicitation in residential neighborhoods.  One of the most common is the Roof Repair Scam, where people will tell potential victims that they're working in the neighborhood, or that they have left over material from a different job, and noticed their roof needs repair.  Monroe Police say these scammers will use fake IDs and offer a deal too good to be true if money is paid up front.  Anyone soliciting in Monroe needs to have a permit granted by the police department so residents can call about a suspicious solicitation and officer can determine if it's valid or a scam. 

Easton Police receive increase in black bear sighting reports

Easton Police have seen an increase in black bear sightings over the last few weeks.  They note that black bears frequent the area and normally pass through unnoticed. Bird feeders and garbage cans though can attract bears so the best practice is to take in any bird feeders and store garbage cans inside from late March through November.

New Milford officials field calls from businesses on reopening guidance

The New Milford Health Department has been fielding a number of calls from businesses in recent days about the latest round of reopening orders.  Given the CDC guidance that only unvaccinated people have to wear masks indoors in public places, Director Lisa Morrissey says the most frequent question has been how do they know if someone's been vaccinated. 

Establishments can ask patrons to voluntarily answer or show their COVID-19 vaccine card, but they can't mandate people respond or prove inoculation.  Morrissey notes that business owners do have the right to refuse service to people who don't comply with the rules they put in place for their establishment.  State officials have compared it to the old "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" adage.

Patience and kindness are being called in this new phase of the COVID pandemic.  Morrissey and Mayor Pete Bass are asking everyone to be respectful of people's decision to mask or not mask where it's a choice, as it's an individual decision.  She also notes there are some people with religious objections to vaccines, those who were advised by a doctors not to get the shot and others who aren't 14 days past their second dose.

3 juveniles arrested for allegedly posting nude photos of other youths online

Monroe Police have arrested three juveniles for allegedly posting nude and semi-nude photos of other youths on Instagram. One teen was charged with possession of child pornography, risk of injury to a minor, harassment and threatening. Two others were charged with harassment and conspiracy to commit harassment.

Monroe Police told the Connecticut Post that they were able to identify the juvenile who was operating the page and posting the content, and the two who were providing content such as photos and commentary.  It’s unclear how the photos were obtained. 

The first complaint was made about the posts in January, because it also identified where the youth lived.  Jockey Hollow Middle School administrators are also investigating racially charged content on the Instagram account.

The superintendent says they are teaching students about digital citizenship and responsible use of technology, and hosting parent sessions on internet safety and responsible social media use.

Fundraiser launched to support Danbury Police Lt. suffering COVID complications

A fundraiser has been started to help the family of a Danbury Police Lieutenant who is hospitalized in critical condition as he battles COVID-19.  Lt. Vincent Daniello, the community relations coordinator and star of viral department recruitment videos, developed life threatening complications from COVID-19 in mid-February.  By late March, he was airlifted from Danbury Hospital to Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston.  He remains in the ICU on a machine that does the work of his lungs, called ECMO.  The fundraiser was set up to assist Daniello and his family with all related expenses.  The goal is $50,000, and by this morning 244 people donated nearly 3/4 of that amount.

Putnam County drops COVID-related business restrictions

Putnam County officials are marking a return to normal. County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the fully vaccinated can remove their masks in public settings; and restaurants, gyms and other businesses can open to full capacity for customers who are vaccinated.  Odell says the hard work of residents, the isolation, closures, distancing and vaccination effort, has paid off. 

She was among a bipartisan group of county executives who had urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to adopt the CDC’s guidelines.  As New York continues to see active cases, hospitalizations and deaths steadily dropping--and more people receiving vaccinations, they said the common-sense guidance should be followed.

Private businesses in Putnam County can follow the CDC guidelines or maintain their own mask requirements for the fully vaccinated. New York state will no longer impose capacity or social distancing limits on restaurants, if they ask customers for proof of vaccination, such as the Excelsior pass or vaccination card. Otherwise, Odell says social distancing requirements apply. 

Employees of Putnam County who are vaccinated can return to work unmasked. Those who have not yet been vaccinated must wear a mask. Anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 must still isolate themselves and present proof of a negative COVID test before returning to work. 

As of Tuesday, 62.7 percent of all Putnam residents over the age of 15 have had at least one dose of the vaccine and 45.1 percent have been fully vaccinated.

Redding to return to in-person meetings

With mask mandates, capacity limits and other COVID-related restrictions lifted in Connecticut, the Redding Board of Selectmen plans to resume in-person meetings.  The first will be on June 3rd, though in-person attendance is not mandatory as it will be a hybrid meeting with a virtual component.  First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton has said live streaming town meetings has boosted community participation. 

Annual town meeting is being held in Bridgewater tonight

The annual town meeting is being held in Bridgewater tonight. 

Residents are also being called on to revise the Volunteer Fire Department Tax Abatement Program Ordinance and the town's Bidding Ordinance.  The meeting is also being held to elect one member to the Regional School District 12 Board of Education for a four year term beginning July 1st. 

Bridgewater officials are also seeking approval of a $60,000 appropriation from the Richard T. Harris Fund for tennis court resurfacing on Sarah Sanford Road.  Nearly $49,000 from that fund could be used for construction of a pickle ball court and an ADA compliant sidewalk to access both tennis and pickle ball courts, if approved tonight.  The Bridgewater Board of Selectmen is calling for approval to negotiate the sale of land and buildings located at 11 Main Street South to the Bridgewater Preservation Association.

The meeting is at 6pm, with voter verification beginning at 5pm.

Sherman announces road closures for Memorial Day parade

Sherman will once again be holding a Memorial Day Parade, complete with Veterans, fire trucks, antique cars, marching bands, community groups and others.  The parade will be step off on May 30th at 1pm from Sunny Lane at Route 39, proceeding to the center of town, turning right at the school and left at the library.  The parade ends at Veteran's Field with a brief ceremony.  Route 39 North will be closed to through traffic at approximately 12:30.  At 1pm, both routes 37 and 39 in the center of town will be closed until roughly 1:30.  

Firefighters rescue cat from tree in Bethel

Stony Hill and Bethel Fire & EMS rescued a cat from a tree top yesterday afternoon.  Firefighters were called to Durant Avenue about the cat, who was placed in the care of Bethel Animal Control, waiting to be claimed by its owner, who was not immediately known.  Fire officials later said the owner had been located.

Chip sealing has begun in New Milford

Chip sealing has begun in New Milford.  The Public Works Department called on motorists to drive slowly as the vehicles will press the stone into the road to aid in preservation. In a couple of weeks, sweepers will remove any stone that hasn't been secured to the emulsion. The road work is being done on Wildlife Drive, Dawns Road, Heacock Lane and elsewhere.

Mayor's Chief of Staff seeks Danbury GOP mayoral nomination

Danbury Mayor Joe Cavo has decided not to seek election to a term of his own in November to lead the City.  He's opted to seek election to an At-Large seat on the City Council.  Prior to stepping up to the role of Mayor in December, Cavo was City Council President.  He took over for Mark Boughton, who joined the Lamont administration as Commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services.

Mayoral Chief of Staff Dean Esposito has announced his intention to seek the GOP nomination to hold the top spot in Danbury.  The Hat City native had been living in Brookfield the last several years, but he and his wife have downsized in Danbury since their children have left house.  

Esposito previously served as a City Councilman and Town Clerk.  He ran as a Democrat against Boughton for Mayor in 2005.  Prior to being Boughton's Chief of Staff, Esposito was Community Services Coordinator.

Esposito was elected as City Councilman for five terms, appointed to Town Clerk in 2003. In 2006, Mayor Boughton named Esposito as the Director of Consumer Protection and Sealer of Weights. Esposito was then appointed to the position of Community Services Coordinator for the Boughton Administration, and ultimately promoted to Chief of Staff, a role he continues for current Mayor Joseph Cavo. Esposito's father Donald was elected to serve as a state representative for Danbury’s 110th District.

Esposito is a distant cousin of Democrat John Esposito junior, a City Councilman who is seeking his party's nomination for Mayor.  The Danbury Democratic Town Committee however is throwing their support behind Councilman Roberto Alves.  There could be a three-way primary for the party, with political newcomer Sedeaka Lawrence also announcing a run for Mayor.

Public Health officials to keep close eye on COVID infections as state reopens

Connecticut Public Health officials plan to pay closer attention to COVID infection and hospitalization rates over the next few weeks as business restrictions end today. 

Governor Ned Lamont doesn't anticipate needing to rollback the reopening if there are spikes.  But he notes that it's easier to get stricter on a broader basis than town by town.  When there were flare ups in places like Danbury, the state brought in more testing and then vaccines.  But he says the state is in a different place now with a loose set of rules.  Lamont says he's confident businesses will come up with rules as they see fit for employees and customers.

In Danbury, 26 percent of the population, per 100,000 still needs to be vaccinated for the City to reach 80-percent inoculation.  To get to every eligible Danbury resident vaccinated, 43-percent have to get a shot. 

Lamont says the infection rates were low last July, August and September but then the numbers climbed back up.  He anticipates a small spike this fall again, but says if the state can get 80 percent of residents vaccinated by then, it won't be bad.

92-percent of Connecticut residents over 65 are vaccinated.  81-percent between ages 55 and 64, some 69-percent of 45 to 54 year olds are vaccinated.  35 to 44 year olds have a 62-percent vaccination rate, 53-percent for 25 to 34 year olds and 48 percent of 18 to 24 year olds are vaccinated.  52 percent of 16 to 18 have received at least 1 dose.  Kids 12 to 15 have a 12-percent vaccination rate in the first four days of eligibility.

With the new mask rules going into effect today in Connecticut, there have been questions about whether businesses or others can ask for proof of COVID vaccination or if that's a violation of HIPAA or other privacy laws.  Governor Lamont COO Josh Geballe says he's not concerned about that being an issue because people have the choice not to answer or shop somewhere else.  He noted that it's not different than the old 'No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service' adage.  He believes vaccines are an important part of keeping people safe right now.

New Milford, Brookfield residents approve budgets

New Milford residents have approved a budget

The referendum sought approval of a $39.3 million municipal budget 919 in favor, 320 opposed and $65.8 million for the schools, 844 for and 400 against.  The overall spending plan is about $1.5 million more than the current year.  Spending is down on the town side, but the Board of Education budget is proposed to be higher. 

The New Milford mill rate will be 27.97.  The town funded the full allocation requested by the Candlewood Lake Authority, which is a significant increase over the current year. 

About 1,700 Brookfield residents voted in favor of a new budget. The Selectmen sought a spending plan for the coming fiscal year that increases the tax rate by 1.63 percent. 

The spending plan includes $28.1 million for the town and $46.9 million for the schools.  The school budget passed 1,170 to 645, while the town side was approved 1,234 to 578.  Health insurance costs for teachers were significantly lower than originally anticipated.  Spending on the overall budget is up about 5 percent from the current year. 

Part of the increase is debt service due to the new school bond. 

COVID infection rate drops significantly in New Fairfield, vaccinations lag

The COVID-19 case rate in New Fairfield has decreased significantly over the past few weeks to 7 cases per 100,000 population.  The test positivity rate has also decreased to 2-percent.  The vaccination rate in Town is 54-percent overall, with 100 percent of those over 65, 64-percent of those 45 to 64 and half of those 15 to 44 having received a first dose of vaccine, as reported by the State Department of Public Health. 

New Fairfield's vaccination rate is among the lowest in the area, and First Selectman Pat Del Monaco encourage all who are eligible to get vaccinated.

Vaccinated people will not be required to wear masks indoors, however unvaccinated people must continue to wear masks when indoors in public settings.  Businesses may choose to require universal masking considering their facility, business or customer needs.

Bethel municipal center drops most visitor restrictions

While the Bethel Municipal Center has remained open throughout the pandemic, it has been on a “by appointment” only schedule.  With COVID restrictions lifted today, walk ins, with some exceptions, will once again be accepted. 

Many departments have experienced significant increases in work during the last 14 months and First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says they've been creative in using existing resources and staff to create a safe and effective work environment.  Outdoor drop boxes for paperwork and payments will remain.  Expanded online permitting programs are also staying. 

Masks will no longer be required indoors for fully vaccinated individuals. 

Effective today, the Bethel Building, Planning & Zoning and Health Departments will offer “counter hours” for walk-in visits as well as times set aside by appointment only.  Residents will need appointments for assessment reviews, land recordings, title searches, marriage licenses and notary services. 

The Bethel Senior Center will have a limited reopening in June.  The Probate Court remains closed to the public, with all hearings continuing to be held virtually until further notice.

Mass vaccination site to remain open in Danbury

With widespread COVID-19 vaccine availability and less demand, many municipal clinics are wrapping up second dose appointments this month.  The Community Health Center mass vaccination drive thru site at the Danbury Mall will stay up for the foreseeable future.  Now that children 12 and up are eligible and approved for the Pfizer vaccine, there's still steady enough demand to remain open.  The site is run in partnership with Nuvance Health.  Organizers are tracking volume to see when it might need to be downsized, possibly temporarily if there need to be booster shots administered.  To get to every eligible Danbury resident vaccinated, 43-percent of residents have to get a shot.

Mayor's Chief of Staff seeks GOP mayoral nomination

Danbury Mayor Joe Cavo has decided not to seek election to a term of his own in November to lead the City.  He's opted to seek election to an At-Large Seat on the City Council.  Prior to stepping up to the role of Mayor in December, Cavo was City Council President.  He took over for Mark Boughton, who joined the Lamont administration as Commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services.

Mayoral Chief of Staff Dean Esposito has announced his intention to seek the GOP nomination to hold the top spot in Danbury.  The Hat City native had been living in Brookfield the last several years, but he and his wife have downsized in Danbury since their children have left house.  

Esposito previously served as a City Councilman and Town Clerk.  He ran as a Democrat against Boughton for Mayor in 2005.  Prior to being Boughton's Chief of Staff, Esposito was Community Services Coordinator.

Charles Grodin, 'Midnight Run,' 'Heartbreak Kid,' star, dies

Charles Grodin, the droll, offbeat actor and writer who scored as a caddish newlywed in “The Heartbreak Kid” and later had roles ranging from Robert De Niro’s counterpart in the comic thriller “Midnight Run” to the bedeviled father in the “Beethoven” comedies, has died. He was 86.

Grodin died Tuesday in Wilton, Connecticut, from bone marrow cancer, his son, Nicholas Grodin, said.

Known for his dead-pan style and everyday looks, Grodin also appeared in “Dave,” “The Woman in Red,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Heaven Can Wait.” On Broadway, he starred with Ellen Burstyn in the long-running 1970s comedy “Same Time, Next Year,” and he found many other outlets for his talents.

With bone-dry understatement, Grodin could steal entire scenes with just a look. His commitment, whether acting across De Niro or Miss Piggy, was unsurpassed. In his many late-night appearances, he once brought a lawyer with him to threaten David Letterman for defamation. (The lawyer instead took a shine to Letterman.) Hosting “Saturday Night Live,” he pretended to not understand live television, ruining all the sketches. Steve Martin, who co-starred with Grodin in 1984′s “The Lonely Guy,” remembered him as “one of the funniest people I ever met.”

In the 1990s, Grodin made his mark as a liberal commentator on radio and TV. He also wrote plays and television scripts, winning an Emmy for his work on a 1997 Paul Simon special, and wrote several books humorously ruminating on his ups and downs in show business.

Actors, he wrote, should “think not so much about getting ahead as becoming as good as you can be, so you’re ready when you do get an opportunity. I did that, so I didn’t suffer from the frustration of all the rejections. They just gave me more time.” He spelled out that advice in his first book, “It Would Be So Nice If You Weren’t Here,” published in 1989.

Grodin became a star in the 1970s, but might have broken through years earlier: He auditioned for the title role in Mike Nichols’ 1967 classic “The Graduate,” but the part went instead to Dustin Hoffman.

Grodin did have a small role in “Rosemary’s Baby” and was part of the large cast of Nichols’ adaptation of “Catch-22″ before he gained wide notice in the 1972 Elaine May comedy “The Heartbreak Kid.”

He starred as a Jewish newlywed who abandons his comically neurotic bride to pursue a beautiful, wealthy blonde played by Cybill Shepherd. The movie was a hit and Grodin received high praise. He commented: “After seeing the movie, a lot of people would approach me with the idea of punching me in the nose.”

“I thought the character in ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ was a despicable guy, but I play it with full sincerity,” Grodin told the A.V. Club in 2009. “My job isn’t to judge it. If it wasn’t for Elaine May, I probably would never have had that movie career.”

In the next few years, Grodin played in a lavish 1976 film remake of “King Kong” as the greedy showman who brings the big ape to New York. He was Warren Beatty’s devious lawyer in “Heaven Can Wait,” and Gene Wilder’s friend in “The Woman in Red” (Less successfully, he appeared in May’s 1987 adventure comedy “Ishtar,” a notorious flop). His turn in 1981’s “The Great Muppet Caper” was typically dedicated as a thief wooing Miss Piggy.

In 1988′s “Midnight Run,” Grodin was a bail-jumping accountant who took millions from a mobster and De Niro was the bounty hunter trying to bring him cross-country to Los Angeles. They’re being chased by police, another bounty hunter and the Mob, and because Grodin is afraid of flying, they are forced to go by car, bus, even boxcar.

Grodin and De Niro improvised in many scenes in the film, revered as among the greatest buddy comedies. Often Grodin was genuinely trying to amuse his more intimidating co-star. One line he threw at De Niro: “You ever had sex with an animal, Jack?”

“I moved a little more toward drama and he moved a little toward comedy,” Grodin said at the time. “And we met on a very good ground.”

“Beethoven” brought him success in the family-animal comedy genre in 1992. Asked why he took up such a role, he told The Associated Press he was happy to get the work.

“I’m not that much in demand,” Grodin replied. “It’s not like I have this stack of wonderful offers. I’m just delighted they wanted me.”

Amid his film gigs, Grodin became a familiar face on late-night TV, perfecting a character who would confront Johnny Carson or others with a fake aggressiveness that made audiences cringe and laugh at the same time.

“It’s all a joke,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 1995. “It’s just a thing. It was a choice to do that.”

His biggest stage success, by far, was “Same Time, Next Year,” which opened on Broadway in 1975 and ran nearly 3½ years. He and Burstyn were two people who — though each happily married — meet in the same hotel once a year for an extramarital fling. Beyond the humor, the play won praise for deftly tracing the changes in their lives, and in society, from the 1950s to the ’70s. Critic Clive Barnes called Grodin’s character “a monument to male insecurity, gorgeously inept.”

After 1994′s “My Summer Story,” Grodin largely abandoned acting. From 1995 to 1998, he hosted a talk show on CNBC cable network. He moved to MSNBC and then to CBS’ “60 Minutes II.”

In his 2002 book, “I Like It Better When You’re Funny,” he said too many TV programmers’ believe that viewers are best served “if we hear only from lifelong journalists.” He argued that “people outside of Washington and in professions other than journalism” also deserved a soapbox.

He returned to the big screen in 2006 as Zach Braff’s know-it-all father-in-law in “The Ex.” More recent credits include the films “An Imperfect Murder” and “The Comedian” and the TV series “Louie.”

Grodin was born Charles Grodinsky in Pittsburgh in 1935, son of a wholesale dry goods seller who died when Charles was 18. He played basketball and later described himself as “a rough kid, always getting kicked out of class.”

He studied at the University of Miami and the Pittsburgh Playhouse, worked in summer theater and then struggled in New York, working nights as a cab driver, postal clerk and watchman while studying acting during the day.

In 1962 Grodin made his Broadway debut and received good notices in “Tchin Tchin,” a three-character play starring Anthony Quinn. He followed with “Absence of a Cello” in 1964.

He co-wrote and directed a short-lived 1966 off-Broadway show called “Hooray! It’s a Glorious Day ... and all that.” That same year, he made his movie debut in a low-budget flop called “Sex and the College Girl.”

In 1969, Grodin demonstrated his early interest in politics by helping write and direct “Songs of America,” a TV special starring Simon and Garfunkel that incorporated civil rights and antiwar messages. But the original sponsor pulled out and Simon later called the little-noticed effort “a tragedy.”

Simon returned with a special in 1977 that spoofed show business and featured Grodin as the show’s bumbling producer. Grodin and his co-writers won Emmys.

Grodin and his first wife, Julia Ferguson, had a daughter, comedian Marion Grodin. The marriage ended in divorce. He and his second wife, Elissa Durwood, had a son, Nicholas.

Cupola on top of Bethel Town Hall in need of repair

The cupola on top of Bethel Town Hall is in need of repair.  The town has hired a roofing contractor to fix it, along with a few other roof repairs that are needed on the municipal center.  Materials were delivered this morning. 

In order to access the roof and cupola, the contractor will be using a lift truck, parked in front of the building.  The lift will be moved in place once they're ready to access the roof.  Construction is expected to take a few weeks, but First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it should have little impact on entry and exit to and from the building. There will be no change to current entrance procedures as the main entrance is already closed off.

The General Purpose Room Entrance will remain open. 

The ballot drop box and correspondence drop box are also staying where they are, but if the contractor needs to move them or the public cannot access them due to the equipment notice will be given.

Former Danbury Mayor endorses Democratic Gov. for re-election

Former Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is endorsing his new boss for re-election. The one-time Republican gubernatorial hopeful is endorsing Democrat Ned Lamont for reelection. Boughton, who was appointed by Lamont to be Commissioner of Revenue Services in December, made the announcement on This Week in Connecticut.  Boughton says he's still a Republican but thinks Lamont has done a great job and earned his re-election.

Easton Police investigating thefts from unlocked cars

The Easton Police Department received numerous reports of vehicles being entered Monday morning.  Personal property was reported removed from the unlocked cars.  A Fair Oak Drive resident called police around 1am to report a male in their driveway entering their vehicles. The male ran off to a waiting vehicle.  Shortly before 5:30am, a Birch Drive resident called to report two males walking through her property towards Asmara Way. Police responded to both incidents but were unable to locate the persons.  Easton Police urged everyone to remove valuables and lock unoccupied cars.

Southbury Volunteer Firemen's Association looking to hire Administrative Assistant

Southbury Volunteer Firemen’s Association is looking to hire an Administrative Assistant.  The job is 30 hours per week, with infrequent flex up to 35 hours, plus Monday evenings 6:30pm to 8:30pm.  Applicants must have experience with Word, and Excel. Typical duties include phone and message management, handling mail, generating reports, publishing incident reporting of fire statistics, assisting the Fire Chief with report details, and maintaining confidential health and personnel records.  Candidates must pass a drug screen, and background check.  The office is located at 461 Main Street South in Southbury. Call 203-262-0615 or email to apply. 

Brookfield budget referendum today

Brookfield residents are voting on a proposed budget today. The Selectmen have proposed a budget for the coming fiscal year that would increase the tax rate by 1.63 percent. 

The spending plan includes $28.1 million for the town and $46.9 million for the schools.  Health insurance costs for teachers were significantly lower than originally anticipated.  Spending on the overall budget is up about 5 percent from the current year.  Part of the increase is debt service due to the new school bond. 

District 2 voters will cast ballots at the high school, but District 1 residents will be voting this year at St Marguerite Bourgeoys Church Parish Hall due to construction of a new school on the Huckleberry Hill site.  The school will not be available as a polling location until the new building, called Candlewood Lake Elementary School, is completed. 

District 1 voters will cast ballots at 138 Candlewood Lake Road. 

Special Town Meeting in Bethel about water system improvement plan

A Special Town Meeting is being held in Bethel tonight about the town's water system improvement plan.  The meeting will be held in-person.  Eligible residents will be asked if $796,655 dollars should be used for various water main replacements.  This phase of the project would be on School, Rector and Pleasant streets, and Fleetwood Park. 

While town funding is being requested, there would be no cost to taxpayers since the  public utilities budget is separate.  The town meeting is needed because Bethel is applying for grants to cover part of the cost. 

If approved, work could start next month and is anticipated to be completed in three to four months.  During the work, water would be temporarily shut off in those neighborhoods, but a robocall would alert residents in advance. 

Tonight's meeting is at 6:30pm in the Municipal Center general purpose room.

New Milford budget referendum today

New Milford residents are voting on a budget today.  The referendum is seeking approval of a $39.3 million municipal budget and $65.8 million for the schools.  The overall spending plan is about $1.5 million more than the current year.  Spending is down on the town side, but the Board of Education budget is proposed to be higher.  The proposed New Milford mill rate would be 27.97.  The town has proposed funding the full allocation requested by the Candlewood Lake Authority, which is a significant increase over the current year.  All 7 polling locations are open until 8pm.

Lawmakers propose changes to Lamont's plans for COVID funds

onnecticut legislators recommended changes on Monday to Gov. Ned Lamont’s spending proposal for more than $2.8 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding, including using more of the money to help replenish the state’s hard-hit unemployment trust fund and boost funding for the tourism industry and struggling nursing homes.

Members of the Democratic-controlled Appropriations Committee voted unanimously for the retooled plan, despite some Republicans wanting more of the historic financial assistance from Washington spent on paying down the $725 million the state had to borrow from the federal government during the pandemic to ensure unemployment claims were covered.

Such loans are typically repaid by an increased tax on employers. While Lamont’s plan dedicated $50 million from the state’s share of the $1.9 trillion federal COVID relief legislation, known as the American Rescue Plan, the committee increased that amount on Monday to $310 million.

“Anything we can do to take the edge off of that additional tax is going to be helpful,” said New Milford Sen. Craig Miner, the top GOP senator on the committee. “But again, if the budget was in my hands, I think I’d be trying to move toward a doubling of that,” arguing it would ultimately lead to more residents keeping their jobs.

He suggested focusing less of the federal COVID money on the tourism industry. The committee, unlike Lamont, set aside $40 million for a statewide marketing campaign to pitch Connecticut as a tourist destination to additional markets, including Canada. Both Lamont and the committee agreed to dedicate $45 million to help the hospitality industry, which was hit hard by the pandemic. The committee also devoted $20 million to help support local events, such as fairs and concerts, while Lamont had set aside nearly $6.4 million.

Proponents noted that tourism, which includes everything from hotels to attractions, is important for helping to rejuvenate the state’s economy.

“We need to make Connecticut good for Connecticut people and for people to come from outside of the state,” said Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, the committee’s co-chairman.

The committee’s plan for the federal money, which accounts for about $165 million in additional aid the state recently learned it’s receiving, was sent Monday to the top two Democratic leaders of the House and Senate. While the full General Assembly must ultimately vote on the final allocation of the funds, it’s unclear if it will be wrapped into a final two-year state budget agreement or passed as a separate piece of legislation.

The committee’s plan would spend more than $1.6 billion of the money on balancing the new two-year budget, replacing state revenue lost during the height of the pandemic. Lamont’s plan proposed spending more than $1.7 billion.

Southbury Animal Control warn against pets left in cars even for short time

With temperatures soaring this week, Southbury Animal Control is offering a reminder to be cautious of animals and vehicles.  Their aim is to prevent a quick stop at the store from becoming an emergency visit to the vet. 

Even on mild days, with temperatures in low 70 degrees, the interior of a parked car can quickly reach 100 degrees.  On warmer 85-plus-degree days, Southbury Animal Control says cars can reach 115 degrees within 10 to 20 minutes, even if a window is left open or the car is parked in the shade. 

To report a pet left in a vehicle, contact 203-262-0613 or the non-emergency phone number of the Southbury Police Department at 203-264-5912.  

Dogs, like humans, can suffer from heatstroke and heat exhaustion.  But dogs are unable to sweat the way that humans do and panting is a dog’s primary function of cooling themselves off.  

Symptoms include excessive panting, drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhea, mental dullness or loss of consciousness, uncoordinated movement, and full collapse. It is essential that a dog displaying these symptoms get to a vet immediately, as these are life threatening conditions.  

Danbury awarded grant for COVID-19 outreach to vulnerable communities

The Danbury Department of Health and Human Services has been awarded a grant from the state to do COVID-19 outreach.  Most of the $977,000 will be used to promote vaccinations.  8 people will be working to get in touch with those living in underserved communities and to vulnerable populations about updates, new clinics and other information.  Danbury is teaming up with community partners for a collaboration on vaccine rollout to people without internet access and those who English is their second language.  About 30 percent of the City's population is fully vaccinated and another 46 percent have received at least one dose as of May 10, the latest data reported by the state Department of Public Health.

Southbury Police rescue snake from a home, relocate it

Southbury Police rescued a snake from a home in town over the weekend and released it back into its natural habitat.  The Northern Black Racer is one of two large, black snakes found in Connecticut. 

The fairly large snake can measure in length from 33 to 65 inches. 

The northern black racer prefers open, lightly wooded habitats. These include meadows, fields, powerline rights-of-way, roadsides, and transitional zones between forests and fields. This snake thrives in areas that are mowed or occasionally cleared, and will avoid heavily forested habitats.  Racers are beneficial to humans by controlling rodents, especially when they occur in or near agricultural fields. It has a solid black, cylindrical body with a bluish belly and white chin.

The scales are smooth, giving the snake a “matte” appearance. The head, which is not much wider than the body, is small for this larger-sized snake.  It is considered an important species in the state as its population is declining due to loss of habitat through succession, fragmentation, and development.

Sherman Resident State Trooper to step up traffic enforcement

As a result of several complaints of dangerous and erratic driving in Sherman on Route 37 near Durgy Lane and Leach Hollow Road, the Resident Troopers Office will be conducting increased traffic enforcement in these areas. State Police say they're working with First Selectman Don Lowe to create safe roadways throughout Sherman.

Safe e-commerce zone established in New Fairfield

Safe Meet Up signs have been put up in the parking lot of the New Fairfield Police station.  The New Fairfield Economic Development Commission worked with various town departments to arrange for this e-commerce zone.  Next time a resident buys or sells something on sites like Craiglist or Facebook Marketplace they can meet at the police station for maximum safety in such a transaction.

Mask mandate expected to change in Conn. Wednesday

Ridgefield Parks and Recreation still requires wearing masks. While the CDC has altered its guidance on vaccinated people wearing masks, the State, for now, still has an executive order requiring all individuals to wear face coverings indoors.  That is expected to change on Wednesday when other COVID-related mandates are dropped in Connecticut.  The CDC does still recommend indoor mask wearing in certain circumstances.  The state Department of Public Health is working on guidance for indoor events.

Shepaug Valley School PTO celebrating Class of 2021

Congratulatory lawn sign are being sold as a fundraiser by the Shepaug Valley School PTO to celebrate the Class of 2021 as they graduate from Region 12.  Lawn signs will be available for pick-up at Shepaug Valley School in Washington on the 29th, between 10am and 1pm. Each lawn sign is $5 and includes the metal frame. Online orders will be accepted through this Sunday at 5PM.

Court upholds sanction of veterinarian over rabies shots

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut appeals court on Friday upheld state sanctions against a veterinarian for giving half doses of rabies vaccines to smaller dogs, a practice he says is safer but state officials say is dangerous.

A three-judge panel of the Appellate Court, the state’s second-highest court, unanimously dismissed an appeal of the sanctions by John Robb, a veterinarian who now practices in Newtown. A message seeking comment was left for Robb on Friday.

In 2017, the Connecticut Board of Veterinary Medicine placed Robb’s license on probation for 25 years, banned him from administering rabies vaccines to animals during the entire probationary period and ordered Robb’s practice to be supervised and undergo random audits.

The board found Robb failed to follow state mandates by giving dogs under 50 pounds a half dose of the rabies vaccine instead of the full dose that is supposed to be administered per the manufacturer’s directions. The board also said Robb failed to get consent from dog owners to give the half doses instead of the full ones.

The board said giving half doses of the vaccine to dogs endangered their lives and the lives of people around them by giving them less protection against rabies, which is potentially fatal to humans.

Officials said the violations occurred from July 2010 through February 2012 when Robb was working at the Banfield Pet Hospital in Stamford.

In court documents, Robb said he was following his Hippocratic oath to not harm animals in his care. He said full doses of the vaccine can cause serious side effects and potentially death for smaller dogs. He said the half doses gave the smaller dogs immunity from rabies and none of the dogs in his care were harmed because of that.

Robb appealed the sanctions to a trial court, which upheld the board. Robb then appealed to the Appellate Court. It wasn’t immediately clear if he planned to appeal again to the state Supreme Court.

Candlewood Lake Authority requests significant funding increase

The five towns surrounding Candlewood Lake are being asked to pay more for increased patrols on the water.  The Candlewood Lake Authority is seeking a more than 60-percent increase in their budget.  The five towns paid about $86,000 this year, but the CLA is asking for $139,000 this year.  They say this is in anticipation of a busy summer based on new vessel registrations, boating certificates, boating education classes and inquiries about dock space.  The Danbury City Council signed off on flat funding in Mayor Joe Cavo's budget.  Brookfield's budget vote is tomorrow, and town officials are seeking resident's input on a slightly lower request.  New Milford officials have proposed the full increase, with a budget referendum set for tomorrow.  Sherman has approved the full allocation while New Fairfield’s Board of Finance approved the full increase, with the Annual Town Meeting set for later this month.

WCSU hosts commencement ceremonies

Commencement ceremonies were held this weekend for both the West Conn class od 2020 and 2021.  Some 870 students participated in 4 ceremonies held Saturday and Sunday on the west side campus.  Each student was allowed two guests.  Social distancing and mask mandates were in place for the ceremonies outside the athletic complex on the Westside campus. The President’s Medal was presented on Sunday to Sam and Alice Hyman. Alice, a community volunteer and former Danbury Hospital employee, died in November 2019. Her husband and daughter accepted the award on her behalf. Sam was honored for his long service to civil rights in the state.  West Conn officials say the couple was active in raising money to eventually name the School of Visual and Performing Arts after Marian Anderson.

In-person town meeting set in New Fairfield on proposed budget

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen has set an in-person town meeting date for the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  The gathering will be held May 27th at 7pm.  The New Fairfield Board of Finance signed off on a $58.2 million plan, which would increase taxes 2.98 percent.  The school budget would be $45.3 million and the town budget would be $12.9 million for the coming year.  The Finance Board trimmed $224,000 from the proposed municipal budget and $1 million from the plan presented by the Board of Education.  The leading factor in the tax rate increase is debt service coming up for the two new schools.  Just .17 of the nearly 3 percent increase is to cover payroll, non-payroll, medical, and capital and non-recurring increases. 

Dogs rescued from Ridgefield house fire, rescued pigeon dies

No people were injured in a Ridgefield house fire, but a pet pigeon died.  Firefighters responded to North Salem Road Friday morning on a report from a neighbor about smoke coming from the house next door.  Firefighters extinguished the kitchen fire and searched the home because it was unclear if anyone was there at the time.  Several dogs were unresponsive, trapped inside the smoke-filled house, and pulled to safety. They were given oxygen and taken to a nearby animal hospital for further treatment.  Three of the five dogs suffered carbon monoxide poisoning but were released.  The other two remain in an intensive care unit.  Structural damage was limited to the kitchen, but the home needs to be restored to a livable condition. The fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the blaze.

Boaters asked to be on lookout for zebra mussels

It could be another busy summer on Candlewood Lake as people take staycations again this year.  The Candlewood Lake Authority is calling on everyone to help preserve and protect the water by caring for the islands and shoreline.  CLA is also watching for more evidence of zebra mussels after more than 70 were identified last year.  They are collaborating with FirstLight to assess how impactful this winter’s deep drawdown was in battling the invasive species.  Candlewood Lake Stewards will be posted at some of the public boat launches certain days of the week to bring awareness of prevention strategies to boaters

Local lawmaker touts House passage of Connecticut Parentage Act

The state House has passed the Connecticut Parentage Act.  The proposal is aimed at modernizing state law by changing provisions that discriminate against LGBTQ couples.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says a married same-sex couple who use assisted reproduction currently need to do lengthy, expensive, and intrusive second-parent adoptions for their children to have legal ties to both parents. 

He says this change will not only make it easier on couples, but will reduce the burden on DCF and the courts.  If passed by the Senate and signed into law, parents won't need to make a court appearance that requires time off from work.  Allie-Brennan added that there would not be a humiliating home study nor invasive questionnaires. 

The Connecticut Parentage Act is based on the Uniform Parentage Act of 2017, a model act drafted by the Uniform Law Commission, a nonpartisan organization of state legislators, judges, scholars and lawyers that drafts model laws on various state-law topics.  Connecticut is currently the only state in New England that does not provide the security of a legal parent-child relationship to children of an unmarried, non-biological parent.

Candlewood Lake Authority expects busy summer season

The summer could be another very busy one on Candlewood Lake. The Candlewood Lake Authority asked that boaters be responsible and courteous of others on and around the lake, and be sure everyone has a flotation device before heading out to the water.  They also urged boaters to keep sound from their vessel to a level that does not disrupt others.

WCSU graduation this weekend at West side campus

Heavier than normal traffic is to be expected on Lake Avenue in Danbury this weekend as West Conn hosts three commencement ceremonies.  Each of the ceremonies will be combined events for both undergraduates and graduate students of the respective schools. 

The Ancell School of Business graduation ceremony is set for 10am.  The Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences commencement will be held at 3pm.  The School of Professional Studies and the School of Visual and Performing Arts ceremonies are set for Sunday at 10am. 

Students should arrive no later than one hour prior to the start of their ceremony, in the Feldman Arena of the O’Neill Center where they will line up.  For guests, the doors to the Westside Athletic Complex will open one hour prior to the start of the ceremony. 

Each ceremony will run approximately 90 minutes. 

Due to COVID restrictions only one representative from each academic department will be present, the representative will be chosen by the faculty of the academic department.  Graduates will receive two guest tickets. No additional tickets will be given to ensure distancing is maintained. Tickets are non-transferrable and required for entry into the Westside Athletic Complex. 

Graduates, guests and staff are required to wear a mask, and are encouraged to maintain distancing.

Putnam County vaccination rate above NY state average

The New York State Department of Public Health has broken down vaccination data by zip code.  60.7 percent of Carmel residents and 60.8 percent of Brewster residents over age 15 are vaccinated.  The data is only doses administered that are reported to the State, not directly to the CDC like from Veterans Health.  As of Wednesday, Putnam County's overall vaccination rate for the population over age 15 was 61.5 percent, though 15 year olds weren't yet eligible for the vaccine.  That compares to New York State's 57.6 percent vaccination rate. 

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department holding boot drive

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department will be holding a boot drive on Sunday.  Firefighters will be positioned at the intersection of Routes 37 and 39 in front of the Sherman School from 9am to 1pm, soliciting donations.  Drivers are asked to proceed through the area with caution. 

Danbury area towns move out of COVID alert Red Zone

26 of 169 towns and cities in Connecticut, including Sherman, are currently in the red zone alert level for the highest level of community spread of COVID-19.  With 9 cases over the last two weeks reported, the infection rate works out to 17.7 per 100,000 population.  The threshold to be in the red zone is anything above 15 cases per 100,000. 

New Milford and Danbury are at the orange level while the rest of the Greater Danbury area is in the yellow.  Danbury reported 119 cases in the last two weeks, which works out to 10 cases per 100,000, the lowest end of the orange zone.  New Milford saw 44 cases per 100,000, which is 11.7 positive results. 

Towns including Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Kent, Roxbury, Southbury, Warren, Washington, Weston and Woodbury are in the gray zone, the lowest level.  None of those municipalities had positive cases reported in the last two weeks.

Brookfield Lions Club is hosting shred day, food drive

The Brookfield Lions Club is hosting a shred day on Saturday.  They will also hold a non-perishable food drive to benefit the Brookfield Food Pantry.  Donations and documents can be brought to Brookfield Town Hall from 9am to 1pm.  A secure, reputable shredding company will handle the documents. A donation of $10 per box is accepted to support the many Lions’ local charities.

Mall mass vaccination site adds appointments for adolescents

Bethel School Superintendent Dr Christine Carver has been field inquiries from parents about appointments at the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at the Danbury Mall filling up.  More appointment slots for students ages 12 to 17 have now been added.  Registration links for the Bethel Public School Clinic can be accessed in a letter sent home to parents.  At the event, parents will complete the pre-vaccination questionnaire and be given the Emergency Use Authorization information on the Pfizer vaccine.  Parents and guardians should bring their children back for their second dose at the same time as their first dose, three weeks later.  First dose clinics are being held next Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Mailer sent out critical of Region 9 Superintendent personal Facebook post

Redding First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton is rallying behind District 9 School Superintendent Rydell Harrison after flyers critical of an old social media post showed up in residents mailboxes, and in response to the district considering how to teach critical race theory. 

The mailer, according to The Newstimes, says his post from after the January 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol included socially threatening language and claims parents shouldn’t fear their child is being politically influenced or victimized by one-sided partisanship. 

Shortly after the post Harrison apologized to the Board of Ed and said his intention was not to be divisive, noting that his post offended some. 

The mailer was sent by a group called Nonpartisan Action for a Better Redding.  They say Harrison should have sent a letter to the town Republican party directly. In the post, Harrison said “Please search your soul and ask if your words, your silence, actions or inactions helped in any way pave the way for Confederate flags to be waved in our nation’s capitol," saying former President Trump wasn't the only one responsible for the incident. 

“If you re-tweeted his foolishness, shouted ‘lock her up,’ jumped on board with his ‘sleepy Joe’ narrative countered with All Lives Matter, ignored the normalization of racism and sexism and co-signed unfounded conspiracy theories or chose to stand back and stand by, don’t act surprised,” the post reads. “You are a co-conspirator who has sided with domestic terrorism. Our young people need each one of us to do better. Decency must be the first step towards being great.”

Danbury Board of Ed signs off Brookfield school lease, 8-period day at DHS

The Danbury Board of Education is signed off on a reopening plan for the 2021-22 school year this fall.  The plan includes a proposed $5.98 million lease of St Joseph Catholic Academy building in Brookfield. 

The district would purchase additional furniture and hire 37 employees.  About 240 kindergarteners from the City's three elementary schools would be bused to the neighboring town. 

Part of the plan to reopen full time also includes moving high school students to an eight-period day to reduce class sizes.  Heated tents would be purchased and set up in order to extend the DHS cafeteria, and potentially Broadview Middle School's cafeteria.

The district is exploring how to use distance learning technology, possibly in the form of virtual after-school programs or in lieu of snow days. Superintendent Sal Pascarella says the state has yet to weigh in on whether that later option would be allowed.

Another busy summer expected on Candlewood Lake

The summer could be another very busy one on Candlewood Lake. The state is reporting new vessel registrations have increased dramatically over last year.  There is also a sizable increase in safe boating certificates and boating education class registrations.  The Candlewood Lake Authority says there is unprecedented demand for people looking for dock space. In the off-season, the CLA Marine Patrol was expanded and will have additional patrols out this summer.  CLA officials asked that boaters be responsible and courteous of others on and around the lake, and be sure everyone has a flotation device before heading out to the water.  They also urged boaters to keep sound from their vessel to a level that does not disrupt others.

Putnam County Department of Health starting to vaccinate pre-teens

The Putnam County Department of Health is starting to vaccinate children 12 to 15 years of age, based on expanded authorization of the Pfizer vaccine. Minors must have proof of age as well as verbal or written consent from a parent or legal guardian.

To best meet the needs of parents, the local Department of Health encouraged community members to share their input through a short online survey.

The survey asks if parents are interested in having their pre-teen vaccinated, whether the Brewster or Garrison Department of Health location is more convenient, or if they would prefer to get the shot at a pharmacy, mass vaccination site or their pediatrician's office.  Parents are also asked what days and times would be most convenient

Greater Danbury Community Health Center to offer Pfizer vaccine starting next week

The Greater Danbury Community Health Center will begin offering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine next week.  Appointments will be open to adolescents and teens as well. Previous patients of the center are asked to call should call 203-456-1411 for an appointment, while new patients will need to reserve a time slot through the Vaccine Administration Management System.  Clinics will be held at 132 Main Street in Danbury from 2pm to 4:45pm on Monday Tuesday and Thursday, and the following week on Monday and Tuesday. The clinic is closed for Memorial Day.  In June the health center will offer the Pfizer vaccine by walkup on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 4:45pm.

New Fairfield Board of Finance signs off on proposed budget

The New Fairfield Board of Finance has signed off on a $58.2 million budget for the coming fiscal year.  The plan includes a tax increase of 2.98 percent.  If approved in a referendum, the mill rate would increase to about 31.49.  The school budget would be $45.3 million and the town budget would be $12.9 million for the coming year.  The Finance Board trimmed $224,000 from the proposed municipal budget and $1 million from the plan presented by the Board of Education.  The leading factor in the tax rate increase is debt service coming up for the two new schools.  Just .17 of the nearly 3 percent increase is to cover payroll, non-payroll, medical, and capital and non-recurring increases. 

Protest held at WCSU over Board of Regents proposed contract

A protest was held at West Conn yesterday where dozens of people expressed opposition to the faculty contract the Board of Regents has proposed.  The faculty union held protests at several other schools where faculty are subject to the contract negotiations.  A giant inflatable skunk joined protestors at the midtown campus, with a sign that said “Regents’ proposals stink.”  Opponents says the plan would limit the amount of time professors have with students, but the Board says some union requests would increase time away from classrooms for research and sabbaticals.  Coming out of the pandemic, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system says it's imperative to hold down expenses and not increase tuition costs for students.  They put a freeze on tuition and most fees for next year.

Pfizer vaccine offered without appointment at Danbury mobile clinic

The Connecticut Department of Public Health and Griffin Health mobile vaccine vans continue to tour Danbury this month.  Today, a yellow minivan will hold a clinic outside the PriceRite on Main Street from 2pm to 6pm.   Pfizer vaccines are readily available and appointments are not needed.  Kids 12 to 17, with parental permission, can be vaccinated against COVID-19 at this clinic.  Danbury Health Department is looking for businesses and event organizers who want to host the yellow vans for future clinics.  Organization are asked to reach out to Veasna Roeun at 203-797-4625 or

Conn. House approves bill protecting restaurants from third party delivery services

COVID-19 has increased reliance on third party delivery sources.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says that increased use has exposed some possible concerns.  He voted for a bill yesterday that makes clarifications to ensure small, local restaurants have a voice and their brand is protected.  The bill aims to have companies like GrubHub, UberEats, or DoorDash not falsely suggest a relationship with a restaurant or take orders without first obtaining the restaurant’s written consent.  The bill passed in the house with just two votes in opposition.

Multiple fires extinguished in Bethel, Brookfield Wednesday

A fire severely damaged a Bethel home that was under construction and renovation.  No one was home when the fire broke out in the house on Route 302 near the Newtown line.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says smoke was coming from the house and firefighters arrived to find a well-involved fire. 

(Photo: SHVFC)

Mutual aid tankers were requested from Brookfield, West Redding, Dodgingtown and Newtown Hook & Ladder because there are no fire hydrants on that side of Route 302. The tankers hauled in water from a static water source near Saint Mary’s Church.  The fire was brought under control within 30 minutes. 

There were no injuries and the cause is under investigation by the Bethel Fire Marshal office. 

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to a number of calls yesterday, including a small truck fire and spill on Federal Road in the morning. 

(Photo: BVFD)

Firefighters were then dispatched to a reported structure fire on Hop Brook Road.  Smoke was showing when they arrived, but the kitchen fire was quickly extinguished.  One person was evaluated by paramedics at the scene, and no injuries were reported.  While Brookfield was providing mutual aid in Bethel, Water Witch Hose of New Milford responded to an odor investigation on Short Oak Drive.

Ground broken on Danbury's Downtown Streetscape Renaissance Project

Danbury officials have broken ground on the Downtown Streetscape Renaissance Project.  New sidewalks and landscaping were designed to help improve infrastructure and spark investment in the downtown corridor. The Department of Planning & Zoning was awarded a $2 million grant from the 2017 Responsible Growth and Transit-Oriented Development Program to help fund construction.

Zoning Commission approves special permit for new brewery in Danbury

The Danbury Zoning Commission has approved a special permit for a new brewery.  Quirk Works Brewery and Blendery is looking to locate in a building on Triangle Street, including a 34-seat tasting room.  Plans call for employing about a dozen people.  This would be the second brewery in Danbury.  Zoners found that there is plenty of parking as the brewery and tasting room hours mostly would not overlap with the hours of the offices also in the building.

Conn. House approves update to Red Flag Law

Connecticut enacted the nation's first “Red Flag” law in 1999.  The Risk Warrant or a Risk Protection Order temporarily removes firearms from a person who may pose a danger to themselves or others.  The state House yesterday updated the law to allow family members and medical providers to initiate an investigation. Currently, two police officers or a prosecutor are required in order to seek a warrant to seize firearms.

Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan commended town resident Jenn Lawlor and her family for their during the public hearing process. Her daughter, 25-year old Emily Todd, was killed in Bridgeport in 2018 by a man she met through an online dating app, but had called off the relationship.

The bill would add a provision allowing the risk warrants to prevent someone from purchasing weapons. Currently, the law only considers firearms that are already in a person’s possession. The proposal also changes the duration of the risk warrants, making them persistent until the affected person applies to have the order vacated by a court. Under current law, the order lasts for one year with no ability to extend it or terminate it early.

A judge still has to deem the person an imminent risk; the gun owner is still guaranteed a hearing within 14 days. They can also go back to the judge in 180 days.

Easton Police honor officers, dispatchers, civilian

The Easton Police Department held an awards ceremony on Monday to honor three police officers, two dispatchers and one civilian for their exemplary actions involving two different incidents.  Most of those recognized were cited for their life saving attempts involving a three car crash near Bethel.  One officer was honored for rescuing a man and his dog from an icy pond in December.

Dispatchers Tara Candee and Andrew Tisdale were issued a Chief’s Letter of Recognition for their actions and professionalism. On November 24, 2020 at 5pm the Easton Police Department began receiving numerous 911 calls reporting a serious motor vehicle accident on Route 59 and Judd Road. Both dispatchers were responsible for dispatching numerous Easton Police, Fire and EMS as well as handling mutual aid requests from surrounding communities.

As a result of this same incident Sergeant Arthur Belile and Police Officer Donald Kinahan were issued a Unit Citation for their life saving attempts under exceedingly difficult conditions. There were three cars involved in the accident where motorists were trapped in two different vehicles. Sgt. Belile and P.O. Kinahan removed one operator and performed emergency first aid in attempt to save an individual’s life.

A Civilian Award was also issued to Mr. Eric Willinger.  The Newtown resident was passing by the scene moments after the accident. He began life saving measures to an individual who had suffered serious injuries. Willinger continued to assist once Easton Police arrived.  Willinger was recognized for his selfless actions under dangerous conditions.

An Award of Merit was issued to Police Officer Anthony Telesco in recognition of his prompt action. On December 18, 2020, Telesco was on patrol in the area of Helen Keller Middle School. A citizen reported to him that his dog was having trouble exiting the partially frozen pond in front of H.K.M.S. He immediately called for the Easton Fire Department to respond. Prior to their arrival the citizen entered the water to attempt a rescue of his dog. The citizen quickly became overwhelmed by the cold water and began to show signs of distress. P.O. Telesco entered the water which rose to his chest. He, along with the assistance of the Easton Fire Department removed the citizen and his dog from the pond.

Redding Health Department sends out links for 12-15 year old vaccine appointments

The Redding Health Department has sent out information to parents about registering children aged 12 to 15 for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at the Danbury mall mass vaccination site.  Health Director Doug Hartline says families can used the Vaccine Administration Management System, or VAMS portal, along with the Vaccination Appointment Assist phone Line, but a customized registration link has also been created. 

Given the anticipated demand at the opening of this age group, Hartline says they cannot guarantee same day registrations/walk-ins. 

If parents register through the customized link, they will be asked to electronically give consent.  Parents are strongly encouraged to also attend the clinic with their child as they will have to complete a pre-vaccination questionnaire. 

The clinics through the customized links are today through Tuesday, with second dose appointments for exactly three weeks later.

Mobile vaccinations slow in Conn.

The state Department of Public Health partnership with Griffin Health to have 35 yellow minivans tour Connecticut offering COVID-19 vaccines has been slow to roll out, and the vaccination rates have decreased in recent weeks.  The minivan will be at Danbury Library from 11am to 5pm and outside PriceRite on Main Street tomorrow from 2pm to 6pm. 

The Danbury minivan has the Pfizer vaccine so kids as young as 12, with parental permission, can now get vaccinated at these stops. 

According to the Department, the first week of April saw more than 2,300 shots administered, but last week it was just about 1,000 doses.  The vans are part of a $33 million outreach program designed to reach residents in areas identified by the CDC as “socially vulnerable.”  50 zip codes in Connecticut fit that description including part of Danbury. 

The Department has said the vans administered 9,376 doses from April 7 to May 8.

Danbury Farmers' Market awarded grant

The CityCenter Danbury Farmers’ Market has been awarded a $13,250 grant from the Fairfield County's Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Resiliency Fund.  The money will be used to make fresh produce accessible to people who might otherwise not have access to healthy food options.  The Danbury Farmers’ Market will run every Friday from June 25th through October 29th 10am to 2pm, at the Danbury Railway Museum.  Funding will also enable a pilot market produce delivery system for about 150 families in the school's Extended Learning Program who cannot access the market.

Local lawmaker backs bill restoring benefits to certain veterans less-than-honorably discharged

A local lawmaker is touting a bill approved in the House last week.  Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan  says the Act Redefining "Veteran" and Establishing a Qualified Condition Review Board will provide state benefits to veterans who were less-than-honorably discharged due solely to their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  He notes that estimates found over 100,000 American veterans received less-than-honorable discharges from the service for their sexual orientation between World War II and the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell".  He says all those who served deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and deserve the benefits they earned.  He commended Steve Kennedy with the Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of American Connecticut  Chapter and Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi among others for their work on this bill. 

Newtown Police reinstating Child Safety Seat Program

The Newtown Police Department will be reinstating their Child Safety Seat Program.  Specially trained officers will assist caregivers once a month with installing and checking car seats.  Newtown residents can contact the dispatch center to make an appointment (203) 426-5841.  The occupants should be limited to only the driver and child at the time of the appointment.  State law requires a rear-facing seat until 2 years of age and 30 pounds.  A forward facing seat in a 5 point harness is required until at least 5 years old and 40 pounds.  A booster seat should be used until 8 years old and 60 pounds.

General Assembly extends Gov. Executive Authority

With just one Democrat crossing the aisle to join all Republicans in opposition, the state House has passed a bill extending Governor Lamont's public health and civil preparedness emergency declarations.  The Senate approved the measure yesterday.  The authority was set to expire next Thursday, but the measure gives him the ability to issue pandemic-related executive orders through July 20th. 

Most business restrictions are ending on Wednesday. 

Opponents said they would have preferred to redefine the authority rather than extend it.  Wilton Representative Tom O'Dea says there should be a dimmer switch as opposed to a light switch on the executive orders.  He was also critical of legislative leaders, saying they should have met long before the start of session on these executive orders.   

Lamont has said he would continue the mandate on indoor mask wearing, for the foreseeable future. 

Lawmakers also voted unanimously for a separate, bipartisan bill that would allow top legislative leaders to reject any executive orders passed by the governor.  The measure, sent to the Senate, creates a super commission to examine the underlying state statutes about public health and civil preparedness emergencies.  Those statutes could then be revised next spring when the part-time legislature is back in session. 

Danbury Zoning Commission approves revisions to Summit Master Plan

The Danbury Zoning Commission has approved changes to regulations that would allow for the Career Academy to be built.  Plans for the $99-million middle and high school call for renovating part of the old Matrix Center on the City's west side. 

The Summit developers were also given more flexibility to lease out the 1.2 million-square foot building.  The zoning change allows a secondary school in the Planned Neighborhood Development zone. 

The City's Plan of Conservation and Development gives developers incentives to retrofit buildings to include a City-owned and operated public school.  Developers would only have to build a minimum of 175 housing units, rather than the normally required 250-unit minimum in that zone.  The Summit planned to build 400 apartments, but three of the six residential “pods” will be used for the school.  The commission amended the Summit’s master plan to give developers more than 950,000 square feet of non-residential space, an increase of about 7,900 square feet.

Volunteers sought for annual Candlewood Lake Clean Up

The annual Candlewood Lake Clean-Up is set for Saturday the 22nd.  Candlewood Lake Authority is still looking for volunteers to be boat captains.  Clean-up crews will pick up their bags and supplies at New Fairfield Town Park via boat between 8am and 10am, and then depart to collect debris from the shoreline of the lake. Each boat captain will be assigned a section of the lake to clean up. There will be giveaways for volunteers at the drop-off at noon at New Fairfield Town Park.

New Milford conducts Phase 2 work of Riverwalk improvements

New Milford is in the process of building a sidewalk that connects the current end of the Riverwalk on Youngsfield Road up Patriots Way and into the downtown. Mayor Pete Bass says this will provide walking or jogging connectivity from the downtown to the River.  Tree trimming work and parking lot paving will also be done as part of Phase Two.  Phase Three work includes putting down a stone dust trail in Native Meadows to connect to the Veterans Bridge sidewalks.  This will lead to connectivity from Native Meadows to the downtown.

Danbury to open Town Park, Spray Parks this summer

Danbury plans to open up recreational opportunities that weren't available last summer because of the pandemic.  The City is looking to hire lifeguards, spray park attendants, gate ticket attendants and swim program directors.  Opportunities are full time or part time with flexible schedules. Must be 16 years or older to apply.  Applications can be found on the City of Danbury webpage.

Memorial Day ceremonies planned in Danbury, Redding

Memorial Day ceremonies are being planned in some towns this year in place of parades. 

A ceremony in Redding will be about 15 to 20 minutes and take place on the Center Green by the WWI Memorial Stone.  No parade will be held this year.  The ceremony will start at noon sharp and include a prayer, TAPS and remarks.  Attendees are asked to social distance and wear a mask at the large outdoor gathering, per the Redding Health Department. 

The Danbury Memorial Day Parade will not be held this year.  In its place, the Veterans Council will be having a ceremony at the Rose Garden on Memorial Drive in Rogers Park at 10am on Monday, May 31st. Masks are recommended, and attendees are asked to practice social distancing during the ceremony.  There will be a flyover between approximately 9:45 and 10am.

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company adds on-call paramedic

The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company has a revamped EMS staffing system. The fire department has added an on-call paramedic from 6pm to 8am, allowing them to have two paramedics available to serve residents 24 hours a day.  Along with adding the on-call staffing, they have also restructured the EMS side with some changes.  Wayne Woodtke has been hired as the Deputy Chief of EMS.  James Whiteside, is Paramedic Supervisor and has been with Brookfield for many years. 

Mobile COVID-19 vaccine vans in Danbury this week

Connecticut is keeping the mass COVID-19 vaccination sites open for a while longer, but the state is moving a focus to the mobile vans.  The FEMA unit, the first deployment in the nation, remains in Connecticut.  The second FEMA mobile COVID-19 vaccination unit is starting to tour Connecticut this week, following in the path of the first clinics in order to administer 2nd dose vaccines. 

Governor Lamont COO Josh Geballe says they're still working to get the full fleet of 35 yellow minivans out for mobile clinics across the state. 

Griffin Health and the state Department of Public Health operate the vans, and will be offering Pfizer vaccines in Danbury today at Sacred Heart Church on Cottage Street 3pm to 7pm.  No appointment needed for residents 16 and older.  The yellow minivan will be at Danbury Library Thursday from 11am to 5pm and outside PriceRite on Main Street Friday from 2pm to 6pm.

Three towns submit grant application to extend Still River Greenway

Three area towns have submitted an application for funding to extend the Still River Greenway.  Brookfield is applying to the Western Connecticut Council of Governments for $150,000 to connect Danbury and New Milford into the 1.6 mile pathway. 

Each municipality would be responsible for a $5,000 local match. 

The overall corridor study would cover not only existing construction, but full design expansion throughout the three towns.  WestCOG will select three applications for regional projects by mid-June to forward to the state Department of Transportation. 

In making the case for funding, Brookfield officials say that greenways greatly enhance businesses location on or near them.  The Still River Greenway has spurred privately funded development, including high density housing, medical and retail, since opening in 2016.  New Milford is also looking to create a fluid line to the downtown area.  The goal is to have a 13-mile trail following the Housatonic River to the Brookfield border.

The greenway has been and continues to be one of the most used greenways in the state according to the UConn Ct Trail Census. 

Ridgefield residents approve budget, capital spending

With very low voter turnout in Ridgefield yesterday, the budget and capital spending were all approved.  Just 6.9 percent of eligible town residents cast ballots, with about five dozen cast by absentee. 

According to unofficial tallies, the $38.3 million dollar municipal operating budget was approved by about 1100 to 200 votes.  The $102.3 million for the schools was approved by a slightly smaller margin of 977 to 339. 

The question about $1 million for for improvements gained the highest approval. Ridgefield residents also approved money for Scott's Ridge and Tiger Hollow turf field replacements, police body and dash cameras and various school projects.  That work includes LED lighting upgrades, network infrastructure upgrades, East Ridge Middle School auditorium improvements and a generator for that building. 

New Milford gears up to vaccinate 12-15 years olds against COVID-19

New Milford is on track to start vaccinating 12 to 15 year olds against COVID-19 this weekend.  The local health department will be able to administer shots to up to 1,000 children at the clinic on Saturday at Pettibone Community Center.  Health Director Lisa Morrissey says her office has reached out to surrounding towns and about a dozen are partnering with them to book appointments.  New Milford was gifted with two ultra-cold Pfizer freezers in March, allowing the town to offer the mRNA shots, and store doses for other local clinics like New Fairfield and Pomperaug. Pfizer is also being offered at the Community Health Center clinic at the Danbury Fair mall mass vaccination site and mobile vans in Danbury this week.  The Connecticut Institute For Communities will have Pfizer available next week.

Eversource replacing gas line under Danbury street

Road paving season has started in Danbury. 

The Public Works Department is out on Long Ridge Road now to address long standing pothole issues.  Director Antonio Iadarola told the City Council at their meeting on Thursday that this was the first road he promised would be done when funding was approved in the fall.  The scenic road needed extensive approvals for any roadwork because of the designation.

Eversource needs to replace the gas main on Old Shelter Rock Road in Danbury and that will mean detours for drivers.  The work is being done from the intersection with Skyline Drive to the intersection at Woodside Avenue. 

This section of road is too narrow for construction equipment and motorists to safely use at the same time so the road will be closed starting today.  The work is expected to last for approximately two weeks. The construction will be performed only on weekdays between 7am and 3:30pm.  The detour and road closure signs were installed Monday to direct drivers to use alternate routes.

Aquarion continues repair of waterline in New Milford

Aquarion is continuing repair work on a waterline that broke over the weekend in New Milford.  The company is cutting into Wellsville Avenue today and doing a water pipe tap at the Pleasant Street intersection.  The work is being performed 7am to 4pm.  Today through Friday the utility will be laying pipe under the road surface.  Drivers are cautioned to expect delays around Railroad Street and plan accordingly.  Bridge Street is opened for traffic, but drivers are urged to use caution as the area was dug up for the water main break is unpaved.  The state Department of Transportation will be scheduling asphalt replacement of the area.

Sherman Board of Ed trims proposed budget

About $60,000 has been cut from the Sherman Board of Education's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  The referendum earlier this month ended with a tie vote on that part of the spending plan.  The $5 million municipal budget was overwhelmingly approved and will not be part of a second referendum.  A virtual town meeting on the now $9.32 million proposed school budget will be held May 22nd at 10am.  An in-person referendum will then be held on June 5th from 8am to 8pm in the Charter Hall meeting room.  The changes including a more than $25,000 reduction in benefits, a $43,000 cut to special education and the addition of $9,000 for a Tri-State Consortium visit to connect to the district's strategic plan.

Zoning changes up for hearing in Danbury on Career Academy, proposed brewery

A public hearing is being held in Danbury tonight by the Zoning Commission about the master plan for the Summit.  The City is considering zoning changes to allow for a combined middle and high school on the westside at the site of the former Matrix Center, part of a housing development by SC Ridge. 

The Danbury Zoning Commission is also holding a public hearing tonight about a proposed brewery and tap room.  Quirk Works Brewing and Blendery is looking to open a brewery at 78 Triangle Street.  Rick Cipriani has extensive experience in the craft brewing industry, brewery operation and beverage distribution.  Plans call for about 2,500 square feet to be used as the brewery/warehouse and 1,100 square feet as a tasting room. 

There are 114 parking spaces on site.  Current tenants require 70 spaces.  Traffic engineers anticipate 74 trips associated with the tasting room, mostly in non-peak traffic hours.  The hearing is about a Special Permit for a brewery in the IL-40 Zone. 

The meeting starts at 7:30pm.

Yellow minivans in Danbury this week offering COVID19 vaccines

The state Department of Public Health mobile COVID-19 vaccination unit will be in Danbury this afternoon.  The van will be at Abbey Woods apartments on Abbey Lane from 2pm to 7pm.  The mobile clinic will be offering Pfizer vaccines.  No appointment needed for residents 16 and older.  A mobile van will be at Sacred Heart Church on Cottage Street tomorrow 3pm to 7pm, at Danbury Library on Thursday from 11am to 5pm and outside PriceRite on Main Street Friday from 2pm to 6pm.

Aquarion continues making repairs to New Milford waterline

Repairs continue today in New Milford where a water main broke over the weekend.  Aquarion Water will be be working on Wellsville Avenue through today saw cutting the road so infrastructure repairs can be made later in the week.  Yesterday, the water company conducted fire flow testing on several roads including Bridge, East and Grove streets among others. 

Home damaged by fire, occupants sustain smoke inhalation

Brewster Fire Department is providing more details about a house fire that happened Thursday night.  Firefighters responded to Paddock Lane off Tonetta Lake Road and requested mutual aid from Lake Carmel and Putnam Lake, as well as additional EMS units for residents with smoke inhalation.  The garage, which was attached to the house, was fully engulfed and flames spread into the home. The fire was knocked down in about 30 minutes. The garage was totally destroyed, damage to the home was held to a minimum. The occupants were transported to Westchester Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Ridgefield budget referendum today

Ridgefield residents are going to the polls today to vote on a budget for the coming fiscal year.  A $38.2 million municipal budget and $102.26 million school budget have been proposed for the coming fiscal year. 

Debt service totals $9.78 million.  Town road and infrastructure improvements total little more than $1 million. 

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.

Polls are open until 8pm at Yanity Gym.

Cause of death determined for missing man found in Danbury retention pond

The state Medical Examiner has released details about the death of a man found submerged in a Mill Plain Road pond last month in Danbury.  Todd Henry Smith died from an accidental drowning.  He had last been seen alive in mid-January in the 90 block of Mill Plain Road and his body was discovered in a retention pond near the entrance to the Westwood Village Condominiums on April 8th.  According to his obituary, Smith moved to Connecticut from Colorado with his family at a very early age and loved riding his bicycle.  His family plans to hold a memorial service in Tennessee at a later date.

Former Danbury man pleads guilty to fraud, identity theft charges

A former Danbury man has pleaded guilty to fraud and identity theft charges.  57-year old Domingo St Hilaire Rosario and two others are accused of conspiring to use stolen identities to obtain vehicles and motorcycles at dealerships in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey. 

As part of the scheme, Rosario allegedly arranged for the purchase or lease in the name of an identity theft victim.  Rosario supplied his co-conspirators with fraudulent identification documents so they could complete the paperwork.  He intended to sell or export the vehicles. The three acquired at least 13 vehicles and attempted to acquire at least two more.  Some of the vehicles were recovered by law enforcement and returned to the dealers. 

Following a July 2018 traffic stop, he fled to the Dominican Republic and was extradited in May 2020 after a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging him.  Sentencing is set for September 8, 2021. 

Rosario has agreed to pay $220,589.19 in restitution.

Public hearing set on new firehouse proposed in Redding

A public hearing is being held by the Redding Zoning Commission on May 12th about tearing down a firehouse, and building a new one.  The Redding fire district is looking to demolish the Redding Ridge fire station on Black Rock Turnpike and replace it with a new facility.  The Conservation Commission has signed off on plans.  The current firehouse was built in 1927 for a horse-drawn wagon fire company, with additions and renovations over the decades creating 8,000 square feet of space.  A structural engineer has found that the foundation is falling apart and it would have cost more to renovate the existing facility than to build from new.  Plans call for 15,000 square feet in a farmhouse-style building with modern amenities.  Larger training and administrative spaces would be located on the second floor, along with overnight suites.  The lower level would serve as a storage area  and supplementary training section.

UNIT orders Danbury Housing Authority to clean up Eden Dr blight

The Danbury Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team has presented a series of blight orders to property in the City.  One was an order to clean up an area along Eden Drive which is routinely used for illegal dumping of garbage. Danbury Housing Authority owns this property and UNIT says it's imperative that they maintain it and keep it clean. In addition to the cleanup, UNIT recommend signage, as well as cameras for added security.

Connecticut Whale sold, bolstering women's hockey league

The six-team National Women’s Hockey League added a third private owner Monday by approving the sale of the Connecticut Whale.

The group of investors is led by Tobin Kelly, a mergers and acquisitions specialist with strong hockey ties.

The Whale are based in Danbury and were owned and operated by W Hockey Partners, which took control of the NWHL’s original four franchises for the purpose of selling the teams to private interests last year. The teams were previously operated by the league.

The push for private ownership comes in bid to increase the financial base for a league that was established in 2015 and the first to pay female hockey players a salary. Last month, the NWHL announced it was doubling the salary cap to $300,000 a team based on projections it is making strides in achieving financial stability entering its seventh season.

“Tobin’s commitment to supporting our athletes, building community partnerships and enhancing the fan experience represents another significant milestone,” NWHL Commissioner Tyler Tumminia said in a statement.

Kelly is from Needham, Massachusetts, and oversees numerous organizations in various roles. He is the founder of Arc Hockey, an equipment and apparel company, and established New Hampshire’s Youth Pond Hockey Festival, which is described as being the largest outdoor youth tournament in the United States.

Kelly has also coached girls hockey teams at the youth and high school levels.

“Finalizing the purchase of the Whale with my co-investors is the culmination of a dream that I have held for decades,” said Kelly, whose ownership group is called Shared Hockey Enterprises. “All of us who have established SHE are excited to continue the amazing growth made by the NWHL and to fulfill the NWHL’s goal of providing the opportunity for elite women athletes to earn a living wage playing the sport they love.”

The Metropolitan Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps and Buffalo Beauts remain under control of W Hockey Partners. The Boston Pride are owned by Miles Arnone, who also has a stake in the Johanna Neilson Boynton-led BTM ownership group of the Toronto Six, who were established last year.

BTM plans to add a team in Montreal for the 2022-23 season.

WCSU to hold three commencement ceremonies

Three commencement ceremonies will be held this weekend by West Conn.  Each of the ceremonies will be combined events for both undergraduates and graduate students of the respective schools. 

The Ancell School of Business graduation ceremony is set for Saturday at 10am.  The Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences commencement will be held at 3pm.  The School of Professional Studies and the School of Visual and Performing Arts ceremonies are set for Sunday at 10am. 

Students should arrive no later than one hour prior to the start of their ceremony, in the Feldman Arena of the O’Neill Center where they will line up.  For guests, the doors to the Westside Athletic Complex will open one hour prior to the start of the ceremony. 

Each ceremony will run approximately 90 minutes. 

Due to COVID restrictions only one representative from each academic department will be present, the representative will be chosen by the faculty of the academic department.  Graduates will receive two guest tickets. No additional tickets will be given to ensure distancing is maintained. Tickets are non-transferrable and required for entry into the Westside Athletic Complex. 

Graduates, guests and staff are required to wear a mask, and are encouraged to maintain distancing.

DPH mobile vaccination van in Danbury today

The state Department of Public Health mobile COVID-19 vaccination unit will be in Danbury this afternoon.  The van will be at Abbey Woods apartments on Abbey Lane from 3pm to 7pm.  The mobile clinic will be offering Pfizer vaccines.  No appointment needed for residents 16 and older.

Bridgewater Food Pantry seeking donations

Bridgewater Food Pantry is seeking donations as food insecurity continues to be an issue during this ongoing public health emergency.  There are certain items that are specifically needed including coffee, sugar, canned fruit and canned chicken.  Some non-food items are needed including dishwasher soap, bleach, paper towels, plastic wrap, trash bags, laundry detergent, disinfectant wipes, Aspirin (Tylenol), and bandaids.  Items may be dropped off at Town Hall and at Burnham Library.

Nonprofit purchases Danbury motel for use as homeless shelter

A non-profit organization that provides wrap-around services for the homeless has closed on the Super 8 motel in Danbury.  The facility has been used as a homeless shelter since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  It's an emergency shelter, and includes meals.  Case management is focused on housing. 

The state confirmed the purchase price of $4.63 million.  Danbury was not part of the negotiations between the Super 8 motel and Pacific House, but applied for an up to  $11 million Community Development Block Grant last year from the state Department of Housing to help with the purchase.  The money for the grant comes to the state from the federal government. 

There are 80 beds approved for emergency use at the motel, but with two people per room and some rooms set aside for COVID compliance and isolation.  

The organization houses 105 tenants in 15 buildings in Stamford and 2 buildings in Norwalk. 

Brookfield, Kent plan Memorial Day parades

The Brookfield Memorial Day Parade and Salute to Veterans will go on as planned this year.  The event May 30th at 2pm is being organized by the Brookfield Lions Club.  A shuttle bus from Center School will run from 12:30 to 1:45pm.  There is no parking at Brookfield High School.  Kent’s traditional Memorial Day Parade will take place on May 31st. Andy Ocif, who has been the Parade Marshall for almost 20 years, is retiring as the Legion Adjutant, this year.

Emergency Broadband Benefit applications open this week

The Bethel Public School District is working to build consumer awareness about the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a new Federal Communications Commission program.  The temporary benefit will help to lower the cost of broadband service for eligible households during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.  The program provides a discount of up to a $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider.  There are income eligibility requirements for the program, but families could be eligible if they experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 2020.  Emergency Broadband Benefit enrollment will open on May 12th. Eligible households can enroll through a participating broadband provider or directly with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) using an online or mail-in application. 

Kent officials warn of SNAP benefits phone scam

Kent Social Services was notified by a resident of a scam call that she received recently. The caller Identified themselves as an agent of the office of the Kent Social Services Director. The caller stated the name resident and that the call was about their SNAP food stamp    benefits.  Anyone receiving such a call is urged not to provide any personal information because it's a scam.  The SNAP program is administered by the State Department of Social Services not by a municipal social services office.  Anyone receiving such a call is asked to contact either Kent Social Services or Kent’s resident State Trooper to report it.

Pomperaug District Department of Health to add COVID vaccine clinics for kids

Pomperaug District Department of Health in Southbury is planning to add more COVID-19 vaccine clinics once Pfizer receives emergency use authorization from the FDA for administration of the shot to 12 to 15 year olds.  Currently only two more clinics have been scheduled by the district, and those are second dose clinics for 16 to 18 year olds at Pomperaug and Oxford High Schools.  The district was winding down because of widespread vaccine availability elsewhere.  Two more clinics will be added at the high schools three weeks after these mid-May doses are given so children can receive their second dose close to home.  Appointments are needed for the 12 to 15 year-olds once they have official approval for the vaccine.

Water main break causes issues in New Milford

Aquarian water crews were onsite for a major water main break on Railroad Street in New Milford yesterday.  The break happened by the train tracks.  Mayor Pete Bass says it was a lengthy repair, but water was resorted to the Downtown Businesses so anyone with a reservation for Mother’s Day at a local restaurant would still be able to go out. Traffic was detoured during the work and Bass notified the School Superintendent of the break to alert the school bus company and school administration of possible travel delays for the busses this morning.  Aquarion, a private company, owns the water lines and are looking to do some capital replacements of waterlines this summer including Wellsville Avenue.

Joel Barlow teacher on administrative leave

A Joel Barlow High School teacher has been arrested on breach of peace and public indecency charges.  29-year old Charles Schaub is on administrative leave.  The Newstimes reports that he is accused of exposing himself to three females in a Southbury shopping plaza.  Police responded to the plaza on a report of a naked man getting out of his car in front of the women.  His car was found and police say Schaub was not wearing pants.  Schaub will remain on leave until the district has completed an internal review of the matter and local authorities have completed their review.

Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Day in Newtown today

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

Car seat check event returns to Easton

A two-day car seat check event is being held by Easton Police.  Appointments are required as there are a limited number of spots available on Monday and Tuesday.  Appointments can be scheduled by calling Easton Police.  Participants are asked to allow time to fill out registration paperwork.

Giving Garden at Eriksen Farm Open Space seeks volunteers

The Giving Garden at the Eriksen Farm Open Space on Nabby Road in Brookfield has been growing organic veggies for local food pantries and   soup kitchens since 2010.  Volunteers are needed to help on Planting Day Sunday, June 6th and for a shift over the summer.  Those interested are asked to contact Donna Katsuranis at Mentors are on hand five days per week to guide volunteers of all levels of experience.

Proposed cell tower in Kent approved by Siting Commission

The cell tower proposed in Kent on Richard Road has been approved by the Connecticut Siting Council.  The application is currently going through the judicial appeal process though, filed by a local citizen action group.

Color draining from COVID alert map in Conn.

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

Head on crash in Danbury closes road for nearly 4 hours

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

Aquarion donates 15 Water Rescue Bags to Easton Police

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

Virtual public hearing tonight in Kent on the budget

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

Danbury moves out of COVID alert Red Zone

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

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

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

Danbury City Council approves budget on party-line vote

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

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

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

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

Artificial Field Turf Replacement getting underway soon in Danbury

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

Newtown Health District holding COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Saturday

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

Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off day tomorrow in Newtown

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

Pizza chef Bruno DiFabio gets prison time for tax evasion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecticut trooper avoids jail in alleged drunken crash

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recount of Sherman school budget ballots confirms tie vote

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

Bethel Finance Board gets more time to set mill rate

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

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

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

Route 133 milling, paving to start tomorrow

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

Ridgefield man allegedly in riot at Capitol released on bond

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

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

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

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

Brookfield sees first COVID-19 decline in three months

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

Danbury administers over 15,000 COVID-19 vaccines

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

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

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

New Milford, Bethel police investigating larcenies

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

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

Danbury considering allowing use of drive thru at medical marijuana dispensary

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

Region 12 school budget approved in all three towns

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

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

Brookfield firefighters present company awards

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

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

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


Technical issue postpones Danbury City Council vote on budget

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

Redding residents approved budget, three capital expenditures

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

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

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

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

Bridgewater Country Fair canceled for second year due to pandemic

The Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department has decided to not hold the 2021 Bridgewater Country Fair.  

Officials say safety of members, volunteers and the community is the number one priority.  As the last self-sustaining department in the State, the Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department is losing out for the second year on the fundraiser that generates 90-percent of their budget.  The firefighters don't take tax dollars to operate apparatus, pay for training, maintain property and recruit new members.  

The financial output of starting up the fair is a massive dollar amount.  They have decided this year to concentrate on the immediate needs of the department that they can control.   They hope to hold fundraising events this summer that will reflect the spirit of the fair so that those who love it can still get a piece of that tradition.

Danbury area to benefit from Acquatic Invasive Species Grants

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has awarded the inaugural round of grant funding through the Aquatic Invasive Species Grant Program.  $360,000 is going to 21 projects to reduce impacts of aquatic invasive species on inland waters in Connecticut.   

The Aquatic Invasive Species Grant Program was made possible in 2019 when the Connecticut General Assembly established an Aquatic Invasive Species Stamp fee applied to all registered boats using Connecticut waters, to provide a dedicated funding source for the “Connecticut Lakes, Rivers and Ponds Preservation Account." This account funds programs to protect the state’s lakes, ponds and rivers by addressing aquatic invasive species and cyanobacteria blooms.   

The Candlewood Lake Authority will receive more than $26,000 to put toward a new Lake Steward Program, offering voluntary invasive species boat inspections to boaters launching on Candlewood Lake.  J. Neil Stalter, Director of Ecology and Environmental Education for the Candlewood Lake Authority says CLA Lake Stewards will be posted at some of the public launches around Candlewood Lake on peak boating days during the summer of 2021, offering invasive species education, a few informative keepsakes, and inspections to help demonstrate to users how to look for invasive species on their own.

A West Conn professor, Dr. Edwin M. Wong, will use $ 3,200 on Beseck Lake, Candlewood Lake, and Lake Zoar to identify and quantify toxin genes from Cyanobacteria.  Ball Pond Advisory Committee in New Fairfield will use $2,900 for identification and monitoring of Cyanobacteria using plankton tows and fluorometry.

Friends of the Lake  will use $4,600 at Housatonic River Cove and Mouth of Still River in New Milford to remove Tapa Natans, Water Chestnut.  Housatonic Valley Association  will remove water chestnut from Lake Kenosia through the help of more than $25,000. Southbury Training School will eradicate Water Chestnut in Lake Stibbs in Southbury using a $4,000 grant.

"During my first year in the Connecticut General Assembly, I pushed hard for this legislation," said Representative Gucker. "Today, I am proud to celebrate the impact of this bill, particularly in our community. This grant program is a victory for my colleagues who supported this bill in its journey throughout the legislative process. Because of Public Act 19-190, the state now has the funds to help preserve and maintain the beauty of aquatic locations throughout Connecticut for future generations."

"Western Connecticut, dotted with lakes and ponds, is beautiful and attractive,” State Rep. Bob Godfrey said. “So it is our responsibility to keep its waters free from invasive species. I am grateful DEEP Commissioner Dykes has chosen Lake Kenosia, Lake Candlewood, and Ball Pond as part of Connecticut's Aquatic Invasive Species grant program."

Rep. Arconti said, "I am pleased to see this program working for its intended purpose and to see some of our local lakes benefiting from it. Keeping our lakes safe and free from invasive species is a top priority and I will continue to support efforts to keep these waterways clean."

“Lake Kenosia is one of the nicest places in my district to live near and visit. It is also one of Danbury’s most important natural resources. I am delighted that DEEP has included Lake Kenosia in the inaugural round of funding through the Aquatic Invasive Species Grant Program. Too many aquatic weeds clog swim areas, making the lake less desirable. I am confident this first step will help to protect the lake for future generations and I commend the Lake Kenosia Commission for their wise stewardship efforts over the years," said State Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan

"As the ranking member of the Environment committee I have been proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advocate for our local lakes,” Rep. Harding said. “This funding is a critical step in addressing preservation needs for this important resource in our community and I will continue to advocate for funding to support Lakes Candlewood and Lillinonah and the important pieces of legislation impacting these lakes."

Conn. Congressional delegation request funds for transportation projects

Members of Congress have submitted requests for federal funding for local transportation projects.  This is the first time in a decade earmarks, sometimes criticized as pork barrel spending, has been allowed. 

4th District Congressman Jim Himes requested $12 million to replace 5 bridge.  He is also seeking $1.8 million  to fund a majority of the cost for pedestrian and bicycle improvements around the Branchville Transit Station in Ridgefield. 

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes requested $7.4 million for improvements to Route 202 in Brookfield.

$3.3 million for intersection improvements to Route 39 in Danbury at Beckerle Street and East Gate was requested. Road.

Nearly $ 445,000 would be used to  improve walkability and non-motorist safety and mobility for the many school children in the center of town, older residents in the area, and adequate accessibility for all individuals at key locations in the center of Southbury. 

Hayes is also seeking $500,000 for the design and construction of a parking area at the Fairfield Hills campus in Newtown.  There's increased need for parking due to more of the historic abandoned buildings being rehabilitated.

Newtown, state police investigating hit and run accidents

Two hit and run accidents in the area are under investigation.  Newtown Police are searching for a driver who crashed into an ambulance on Botsford Hill Road near South Main Street Friday afternoon. 

The ambulance was responding to an emergency call around 2:15pm when it stopped to turn left onto South Main.  A box truck stopped, but a passenger vehicle tried to go around that vehicle and hit the right front corner of the ambulance, causing minor but discernible damage. 

State Police are looking for the driver of a cargo van that hit a Jeep on I-84 early Sunday morning.  The incident happened near Exit 1 westbound shortly before 5:20am, in the center lane.  A van tried to pass the Jeep Grand Cherokee on the right and sideswiped the passenger side. 

No injuries were reported.

Bethel Library closed Friday to prepare for full reopening

The Bethel Public Library is reopening the first and second floor on Monday, along with returning to regular hours Mondays through Saturdays.  In order to prepare for the reopening, Bethel Library will be closed on Friday.  There will be no phone or in-person services available, as staff will be relocating computers, moving furniture, and preparing spaces for public use. Virtual services will continue to be available. 

Starting on Monday, the business center will be reopened for faxing, scanning, and copying. 

Some services will take long to return.  Bethel Library staff are working on plans for in-person programming and use of meeting rooms.  Magazines and newspapers will not be available for inhouse use.

Everyone in the building, including children ages two and up, are required to wear a mask.  All library materials must be returned in the exterior book drop and quarantined for 48 hours before being handled by the staff or public. 

After Monday, Bethel Library will continue to offer Curbside Pickup, Bag of Books program, Virtual Bookshelves for browsing, and online chat, as well as all the E-Library services that became available during the shutdown.

Danbury Hospital changes ER visitation policy

Effective today, limited visitation is permitted in the Danbury Hospital Emergency Department. Patients without suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are allowed one screened support person.  Additionally, one support person is now permitted to accompany patients to medical practice offices and other outpatient and ambulatory settings, including pregnancy ultrasounds.  The following areas, due to space limitations, cannot accommodate a support person at this time except for extenuating circumstances: cancer care, dental services, lab, sleep disorders center, rehabilitation, imaging, and wound care.  Hospitalized patients without suspected or confirmed COVID disease will be allowed one single support person at the hospitals per day. The duration of visits may not exceed four hours during visitation hours at each hospital.

Danbury City Council to vote on budget tonight

The Danbury City Council will vote on a budget for the coming fiscal year.  Mayor Joe Cavo presented a no property tax increase spending plan last month.  There is no hike in the sewer or water rates proposed in the Danbury budget.  Residents have until 5 o'clock tonight to submit public comment on the budget via email.  Residents must include name, address and agenda item or title in the email to to guarantee the comment will be addressed at the meeting.

The $267 million budget includes little more than $137 million for the schools. The proposal would increase overall spending by 5 million dollars.  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. 

Mobile COVID-19 vaccine vans in Danbury throughout May

The yellow minivans acting as mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics will be in Danbury for the entire month.  The Griffin Van will be at the Danbury Police Activities League building on Hayestown Road today, Thursday and Friday between 10am and 4:30pm.  No appointments necessary. 

Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish will be hosting a clinic every Wednesday between 3pm and 7pm.  The Griffin van will be visiting the Ecuadorian Civic Center every Saturday from 1 to 7pm at 20 West Street.

Any business or organization interested in hosting a mobile clinic is asked to contact Veasna Roeun at the Danbury Health Department at 203-797-4625 or

Annual Town Meeting in Brookfield tonight

The Annual Town Meeting in Brookfield takes place at 7 o'clock tonight about the municipal and school budgets for the coming fiscal year.  Residents will also see a presentation about proposed capital projects.  A vote will be taken for a referendum date of May 18th.  Tonight's meeting will be held in the Brookfield High School auditorium. 

District 2 voters will cast ballots on May 18th at the high school, but District 1 residents will be voting this year at St Marguerite Bourgeoys Church Parish Hall due to construction of a new school on the Huckleberry Hill site.  The school will not be available as a polling location until the new building, called Candlewood Lake Elementary School, is completed.  District 1 voters will cast ballots at 138 Candlewood Lake Road. 

Absentee ballots can be mailed for a Referendum with less than 3 weeks notice due to a gubernatorial executive order. Due to the limited time between ballot availability and close of polls, absentee ballots will be mailed up to 4 days prior to the Referendum.

Rally outside Danbury City Hall tonight over education budget

A rally is being held tonight outside Danbury City Hall about the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  Various groups are behind the 6pm event, calling for more funding for the school district. 

The City Council will vote tonight on the overall proposed budget of $267 million.  It holds property taxes and sewer and water rates flat.  While the district sought more funding than the Mayor proposed, it does include a $1.25 million increase over the current year.  The budget also proposes to use millions in federal grant money and a multi-million dollar surplus from a prior year to increase funding. 

Danbury Defending Public Education, Community for Change, Danbury NAACP, CT Students for a Dream, Danbury Area Justice Network, NEA-Danbury Teachers' Union, Connecticut Education Association, Western Connecticut Area Labor Federal AFL-CIO, Greater Danbury Labor Council and Amalgamated Transit Union local 1622 are organizing the rally.

Danbury among 27 local health departments sharing federal funds for vaccine outreach

Danbury is among 27 local health departments in Connecticut selected by the state to share in more than $13 million from the federal government.  The grant money will be used to form partnerships between local health, community organizations, and vaccine providers to promote and increase vaccine equity. 

Earlier this month, the Connecticut Department of Public Health solicited applications from local health districts and departments for the grant funding. Each local health applicant was required to identify their community and provider partners and describe the activities that the partnerships would be undertaking to address vaccine equity in their coverage areas.  Contracts with each municipality or health department have not been finalized, so final grant amounts haven't been decided.

Community outreach activities will include: door-to-door canvassing, employer canvassing, outbound calling and texting, peer-to-peer training, public service announcement publication, train-the-trainer programs, and canvassing in immigrant communities. Grant money will also be used to support transportation services, homebound and homeless vaccinations, and fixed site and mobile vaccination programs.

Police investigating Bridgewater gas station robbery

State Police are investigating a gas station robbery in Bridgewater.  Troopers responded to the Mobil on New Milford Road West shortly after 10:30pm Saturday.  The store at the gas station has been forcibly entered.  No merchandise was taken.  No cash is kept overnight, so Troopers say no money was stolen either.  State Police recovered the suspect vehicle at the scene, but provided no further details.  The incident is pending further investigation.

Sherman school budget vote tie leads to recount

There was very low voter turnout on Saturday in Sherman for the budget vote, residents were evenly divided on the question of the school budget, so there needs to be a recount.  The $5 million municipal plan received 258 votes in favor, with 38 opposed.  But 147 Sherman residents voted in favor of and opposed to the $9.38 million school budget.  The combined proposed budget would have included a slight spending increase, but the mill rate would have gone down through use of surplus funding to offset the spending.  A date for the budget vote recount has not yet been set. 

Sherman Trooper investigates theft of unlocked car

The Sherman Resident Trooper is investigating a report of a stolen vehicle.  State Police responded to the area of Evans Hill Road to investigate a stolen Audi taken from a home between 8pm on Wednesday and 8am Thursday.  The car's doors were unlocked with the key inside.  The vehicle was located a short time later abandoned on a nearby road.   Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sherman Resident Trooper Office 860-354-3715 State Police reminded residents to lock their vehicles and to not leave any valuables inside of them.

Driver extricated from rollover crash in Danbury

A driver had to be extricated from a rollover crash in Danbury early yesterday morning.  Emergency responders were called to Shelter Rock Road just before 1am yesterday on a report of an accident near the school.  The van rolled over into a utility pole and the driver was stuck inside. Danbury Fire and EMS stabilized the van and then used the Jaws of Life tool to remove a door to gain access to the victim. The victim was conscious and alert.  The driver was transported to the hospital for treatment.  Eversource and Frontier crews were needed on scene to repair the broken pole and disrupted wires. The road was closed for most of the night.

Blumenthal visits Danbury restaurant, vaccine provider

Senator Richard Blumenthal was in Danbury today to announce a new no-appointment walkup vaccine clinic.  It's a partnership with the Connecticut Institute for Communities and lanches tomorrow.  Blumenthal first stopped in to La Mitad de Mundo Restaurant to highlight new federal assistance available this week. The Restaurant Revitalization Fund, established under the American Rescue Plan Act, will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million. Beginning today, restaurants owned by women, veterans, or minorities can apply for assistance.

Glitch in Danbury school employee health insurance savings accounts investigated

A payroll error caused money to be deposited and then removed from Danbury Public School District staff health insurance savings accounts.  The Newstimes reports that the district switched to a new payroll and accounting system in February and money was inadvertently transferred into employees’ health savings accounts and then withdrawn.  During the Board of Ed meeting Wednesday, teacher union leader Erin Daly said that could have serious tax implications.  The union and the administration has been working for months to fix the issue. 

Ridgefield launches Internet Satisfaction Survey

Greater Danbury area towns are looking to improve internet service.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says there's been complaints about slow and inconsistent internet service in the community, and municipal leaders are looking into new options for high-speed broadband.  He's heard from businesses along the Route 7 corridor that their service goes down, on average, once a week and in some cases is not considered broadband at all. 

He's calling on residents and business owners to complete an Internet Satisfaction Survey.  Marconi says the results will determine if the town should explore having a high-speed fiber network. 

He notes that internet service has been one of the hottest topics during the pandemic because the dramatic spike in residential internet use has put enormous strain on existing cable infrastructure and has created an inconsistent internet experience.  Marconi says access to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband service is critical for the economy, future growth, and quality-of-life. 

Ridgefield’s latest plan of Conservation and Development recommends high-speed fiber to be deployed to all corners of town. Fiber is considered the gold standard for connectivity, moving data at the speed of light, and is only limited by the capacity of attached electronics. 

The survey will close May 20th.

Conn. man dies of injuries sustained in Southeast crash

A multi-vehicle crash in Southeast last week turned fatal.  New York State police say one of the people involved in the crash died days later at the hospital.  Troopers responded to Route 22 last Monday and determined that 57-year old Ricardo Bregante of Carmel was headed north, passing to the right of vehicles on the shoulder.  He hit a car driven by 47-year old Christopher Hammill of Stamford, who was turning right from the northbound lane into the Gulf Station.  The collision caused Hammill's car to hit a vehicle in the gas station parking lot.  He was airlifted to Westchester Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries on Thursday.  Bregante and the other driver were treated at Danbury Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.  The investigation remains ongoing.

Oil spill in New Fairfield cleaned up

There was an oil spill in New Fairfield last week on Mountain Laurel Drive. 

First Selectman Pat Del Monaco provided an update on the clean up and remediation of the 800 gallon oil spill.  She says the rapid response by the New Fairfield Fire Department, Mitchell Oil and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection means the effects of the spill have been limited. 

Soil testing and removal continued until DEEP concluded that all soil that exceeds allowable limits for petroleum was removed.  Containment booms and absorbent pads were placed in Shortwoods Brook to capture any oil that entered the water.  Water sampling of the brook will continue to monitor any future migration of contaminants. 

By statute, DEEP is required to test all drinking water wells within 500 feet of the spill.  If a well falls within the 500 foot radius, residents were notified by DEEP’s contractor, GeoInsight, and the well will be tested quarterly for at least one year.  Due to the rapid response and spill location, DEEP does not expect to find widespread contamination of drinking water in the area.

New Fairfield-Sherman COVID-19 vaccine clinic to offer Johnson & Johnson shot

The New Fairfield/Sherman Vaccination Clinic will have 100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine available tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday this week.  The FDA and CDC recently cleared this one-dose vaccine for resumption of vaccinations.  Anyone looking for the one-dose shot will have access to book an appointment on the Vaccine Administration Management System portal.  The town will hold some slots open for walk-ins.  They will also likely have some extra doses of Moderna available this week.  For walk-ins, clinic hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 3:30-7:15, and Saturday 9- 12:45. Anyone calling the Senior Center (203-312-5665) can also be put on a standby list.

Joel Barlow plans prom, graduation for seniors

Joel Barlow High School will host prom and a graduation ceremony for senior this year, but both will look different than they have in the past.  Region 9 school district officials say the senior-only prom will take place on May 21st at Michael's at The Grove in Bethel.  Typically it was a junior- senior event, but not this year.  It will also serve as the senior banquet event, with the parent-teacher-student association raffle being held that night.  Graduation is slated for June 16th at Joel Barlow stadium.  Graduates can invite two guests to sit in the stands, socially distanced from other families.  Students will be required to wear masks and chairs will be spaced 3-feet apart on the field.  Redding and Easton school staff will be invited to commencement, as they have in past years.

General Assembly gives approval to bill about unemployment compensation experience account

The state Senate has given unanimous approval to a bill removing COVID-19 related layoffs from the unemployment compensation experience account.  Danbury Senator Julie Kushner says this means businesses won’t pay higher unemployment insurance rates for layoffs that occurred during the pandemic. New companies starting up will have their rates adjusted accordingly as well.  The measure previously cleared the House in a unanimous vote and has since been sent to the Governor's desk for his signature.

Officials wait to see if lifting COVID restrictions lead to surge of infections

Outdoor pandemic restrictions were lifted in Connecticut over the weekend, with nearly every COVID-related mandate ending in two and a half weeks.  While experts have said outdoors is safer than indoors, there are questions about what happens if there's a surge of infections like there was in Danbury, New Milford and Brookfield at various times during this health emergency.  Governor Ned Lamont has reinforcements would be brought in.

Months ago when there was a spike in Danbury, more testing and track and trace capability was brought to the City.  If there's a surge now, it will instead be a vaccination initiative.

Lamont says Connecticut is a small state so they haven't changed restrictions town by town.  He doesn't think those extra measures will be necessary, noting that 72 out of 169 municipalities are out of the Red Alert Zone, the state's highest level of COVID community spread.

Lamont says the success Connecticut has had with the vaccination program has been the driving factor to easing restrictions.  He says that's the most important thing to keep going forward.

Ground could be broken soon for Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial

Ground could be broken in a matter of months for the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial. Residents approved $3.7 million for the project on Tuesday. SWA designer Dan Affleck says they were pleased to be able to scale back the originally selected design to fit the proposed budget. The original plan came in at $10 million.

Affleck says the design still includes components identified by the Commission as being important to the project.  The biggest single expense is expected to be site preparation, clearing some of the field for the design.  There will be a reduction in plantings and the overall design was simplified and scaled back.  The central water element and the Sycamore, along with the stone work were retained. 

The sacred soil, saved from the demolition of the school, will be integrated into the design, with a description so visitors know the the history of the sacred soil. 

The goal is to open the memorial in time to mark the 10th anniversary of the shooting, which claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 educators.

Danbury Public School District making plans for full in-person learning this fall

The Danbury Public School District is making plans for how to accommodate full in person learning the fall, using the current COVID guidelines, which call for 3-feet of spacing.  One of the challenges will be lunch periods.  Tents will have to be set up at Danbury High School to extend the cafeteria because only 300 to 350 students can safely be accommodated inside.  Current enrollment at the school is about 10 times that amount, at approximately 3,300.  Danbury families have many questions about the reopening.  A video from the most recent Board of Education meeting has been posted to the District's Facebook page of Assistant Superintendent Kevin Walston discussing the plans.  A workshop with Board Of Ed members is being planned for next week.

Sherman budget vote today

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.

CDC adds new category of COVID variants

The CDC recently added a category of COVID variants called substitutions of therapeutic concern. These substitutions are present in several different variants and can make some antibody treatments less effective.  There were more than 700 cases identified in two strains identified as E484K and L452R.  The CDC now has three categories for COVID-19 variants: those of interest, of concern and of high consequence.  None of the high consequence strains have been identified in Connecticut through genomic testing.  The ones of concern include the ones first detected in the U-K, South Africa, Brazil and two in California.  The ones of interest are two first identified in New York, one in Brazil and one in Africa and Europe.


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