Local Headlines Archives for 2021-06

Single-use plastic bags to be banned in Conn. starting tomorrow, fee sunsetting

A ban on single-use plastic bags will take effect in Connecticut on Thursday.  As a result, the single-use plastic bag fee will sunset as of today.  State Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Mark Boughton is providing retailers and taxpayers details about the changes.  Stores may continue to use other bags, such as paper or reusable bags, but must collect and remit sales tax on these sales.

The General Assembly enacted the 10-cent fee in August of 2019.  The fee was aimed at changing people's behavior, and Boughton says it worked.  The state predicted taking in $10 million to $12 million over the two years the fee has been in effect, but it's been in the area of $4.4 million. 

Boughton says he notices fewer plastic bag littering Danbury so the fee made a difference in something that has a half-life of thousands of years.  He says it's been good to take something out of the waste stream that's been a problem. 

Retailers must report the plastic bag fee on their Connecticut Sales and Use Tax Return forms.  Depending of whether the retailer is a monthly, quarterly, or annual filer, that will dictate the due date on which retailers must report and remit any fees that are collected through June 30th. 

According to a DRS bulletin, any retailer that improperly collects or any customer who mistakenly pays the plastic bag fee after Wednesday would be eligible to seek a refund from DRS.

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Redding Police investigating who painted over Black Lives Matter sign

Redding Police are investigating a vandalism case in town.  Police received a report of someone painting red, white and blue over a Black Lives Matter sign on Lamp Post Drive.  Police have deemed it “criminal mischief,” and the investigation remains open.  The report was made last Monday and Chief Mark O’Donnell says this is the first of that nature.  He notes that over the last couple of months Joe Biden and Donald Trump signs have been taken.  A couple of months ago, a Trump flag was burned.

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New Fairifeld home under construction destroyed by fire

A home under construction in New Fairfield has been destroyed by a fire.  Smoke could be seen coming from a structure on Vaughn’s Neck on Candlewood Lake around 8 o'clock yesterday morning.  Brookfield firefighters provided mutual aid to New Fairfield and were on scene at Old Road for nearly two hours. 

(Photo: BVFC)

The area was only really accessible by boat.  Fire and rescue boats from New Fairfield, Brookfield and Sherman responded. 

The single-family home was unattended at the time of the blaze.  A nearby neighbor called in the fire.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though the New Fairfield Fire Marshal has determined that it was accidental in nature.

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Bethel opens cooling centers as heat wave continues

Cooling centers are again being opened by Greater Danbury area towns as the heat wave continues.  Bethel's Municipal Center is open 8am to 4:30 today and 8 to 6 tomorrow for residents to cool off.  The library is also open during normal business hours.  Bethel Emergency Management officials are offering some tips to stay cool including running errands early, drinking plenty of water and avoiding strenuous activities.  People should wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and avoid alcohol and caffeine.  Exposure to direct sunlight or long periods in the sun should be avoided, especially between the hours of noon and 4 pm, which are the hottest hours during the day.

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Health providers to close some COVID-19 vaccination, testing sites

Today is the final day that the mass COVID-19 vaccination sites will be open in Connecticut.  The Community Health Center is closing the clinic at the mall at the end of business today.  There were just a few cars spotted at the drive thru site yesterday afternoon.  The Connecticut Institute for Communities will no longer offer COVID testing at its Danbury site after today, but will still administer vaccines. CIC Health, which had a drive up COVID test site in Danbury near the mall, closed that location and their others over the weekend. Connecticut is also ending its phone assistance line for people looking to get vaccinated.  Unvaccinated people looking for an appointment can now call 211, the state’s confidential helpline for health and human services run by United Way.  The vaccine hotline, also created by the United Way, helped fill 185-thousand appointments.

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Lake Lillinonah being chemically treated for invasive weeds

Roxbury officials are alerting people that Lake Lillinonah is being chemically treated for invasive weeds today.  Those within in the treatment area should not use the water for irrigation or drinking until Saturday.  The treated area should not be used for livestock watering until tomorrow.  There are no restrictions on swimming, fishing or boating.  The treatment has been used in the past to help control Eurasian watermilfoil.

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Some Conn. cities could have to designate pot smoking areas

Possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana by adults in Connecticut becomes legal tomorrow.  While municipalities can chose whether they want to allow sales of marijuana by licensed vendors in their borders, there are other decisions some will have to make. 

The bill signed by the Governor this month included a provision requiring 19 cities, those with over 50,000 residents, to designate a location in the municipality where public consumption is allowed--if they regulate use.  If Danbury limits public use of pot, an outdoor area would have to be designated.  The law doesn't define what that space should be. 

The Zoning Commission is set to meet next month about a proposed temporary moratorium on applications, petitions and issuance of permits related to cannabis establishments. 

Activities deemed harmful to public health, including smoking, can already be regulated on municipally-owned property. The marijuana bill broadens this to include property that a municipality controls but does not own.

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New Milford Fire Official warns of water dangers

With the heat, more people are trying to cool off, but New Milford officials are cautioning to use only approved recreation areas of water bodies.  After years of drowning deaths and near drownings, New Milford worked with First Light to have signs put up along popular parts of the Housatonic River warning that swimming is now allowed and of the dangers of the water.  Water Witch Hose Fire Chief Richard Squires says this year, it seems the new area of interest for recreation on the river is the low head dam off West Street. He notes that a couple of years ago kayakers went over the dam in the same area.  While it looks peaceful, it's a dangerous area.  Squires says a lot of accidents have also happened up near Bulls Bridge, similarly the river looks calm on the top but poses dangers.  In the most recent recovery effort, Squires notes that the divers noticed the change in the river because of rain up north.

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Danbury appoints new principals for two elementary schools

The Danbury Public School District has appointed new principals of two elementary schools.  Michelle Tarsi will take the helm at Mill Ridge Primary, and Ellen Paolino will lead Hayestown Elementary.  Tarsi has served as the interim principal at Mill Ridge for the past year. Prior to that, she worked in a leadership capacity as assistant principal at Park Avenue School, in addition to working as a district numeracy coach and summer school administrator. She also taught at Park Avenue School for 14 years. Paolino has served as principal of the Walsh School in Waterbury for the past seven years and as the interim principal of Rotella Interdistrict Magnet School prior to that. Both principals will begin their new positions Thursday.

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New Milford Police investigate hit & run, flower damage cases

The New Milford Police Department is investigating an evading crash that occurred in the parking lot of the Dollar Tree on Route 7. The suspect vehicle was described as being a painter style work van with red and black paint on the passenger side and an out of state registration, possibly a Florida plate.  The vehicle sustained moderate to heavy front end damage.  Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact New Milford Police.  Officers are also looking for the public's help in identifying a woman who damaged flowers outside Ruth Chase Flowers on Church Street.  Photos from each incident can be viewed on the New Milford Police Department Facebook page.

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State Trooper accused of DUI in Bethel has court appearance pushed back

A Connecticut state trooper who allegedly drove under the influence in Bethel has had his court appearance date changed.  33-year old Andrew Murphy, assigned to Troop A in Southbury, was due in court yesterday, but the new date is August 17th.  He was charged earlier this month with operating under the influence, disobeying the signal of an officer and interfering with an officer.  Murphy was off-duty and in his personal vehicle when he was spotted by a local officer off-balance in the 7-Eleven parking lot.  He allegedly drove off despite being ordered not to.  Murphy has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

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Danbury Farmers Market opens for the season

The Danbury Farmers Market has officially opened for the season.  The farmers market is open on Fridays throughout the summer from 10am to 2pm at the Danbury Railway Museum.  To keep vendors and shoppers safe, masks are being required.  Hand sanitizer will also be available for use at the market.  SNAP, formerly know as Food Stamps, can be used at the market and matches an unlimited amount per market to buy nutritious food.  Veterans will be provided $10 in market produce coins.  ID is required.

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Cooling Centers opened around Greater Danbury area

Cooling Centers are being opened around the Greater Danbury area as the state enters a second day of extreme heat. 

Newtown Emergency Management and the Health District are offering information to prevent people from becoming victims of the heat during these days of extreme high temperatures.  The Newtown Municipal Center is open as a cooling center during the week 7am to 5pm and CH Booth Library is open today, tomorrow and Thursday 9:30am to 7pm.  Residents are asked to call the Newtown Community Center to be sure the timing of their visit can be properly accommodated. 

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal encouraged residents to check on elderly or frail neighbors to be sure they're doing ok during this weather.  The local health district notes that heat-related illness has some common symptoms to watch for, including headache, cramps, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, mental confusion, dry or red spotted skin and weakness.

New Milford opened Town Hall's Loretta Brickely Room to the public yesterday.  Brookfield library, senior center and Greenknoll YMCA are open as cooling centers during normal business hours. 

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Danbury Schools name interim Superintendent

The Danbury Public School District has named an interim superintendent until the Board of Education appoints a successor superintendent or takes further action. 

Kevin Walston has served as the district’s assistant superintendent for school and district development for the past three years.  District officials say Walston has made significant contributions to the district, including launching the “Portrait of a Graduate” initiative to ensure that all graduates are prepared for jobs, career or higher education.

He began his educational career as a teacher before transitioning into building leadership positions with Global Partnership Schools, including as the principal of Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport.  After serving next as the district-wide director of instructional leadership in the Waterbury Public Schools, Walston took on the role of assistant superintendent of administration in New Jersey, where his broad responsibilities include the oversight and evaluation of building principals. 

Walston earned a Bachelor of Arts from City University of New York, Lehman College. He also has a master’s degree in School Administration and Supervision and a professional diploma in School District Administration from The College of New Rochelle.  

Walston will assume his new role July 1.

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New Danbury Fire Chief sworn in

The new chief of the Danbury Fire Department has been sworn into office.  Fire Chief Richard Thode took the oath of office yesterday at City Hall.  Mayor Joe Cavo noted that he brings many years of experience in the career and volunteer fire service.  His last day as chief of the Bridgeport Fire Department was about a week ago. He began his career in Ridgefield and is currently an adjunct instructor for the county's Fire School. Thode has received countless awards and citations for exceptional service, including Bridgeport's highest award for bravery for his solo rescue of an elderly woman from a house fire during a blizzard. 

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Danbury restaurant to close for 1 day to serve liquor license suspension

A Danbury establishment will be closed for one day next month to serve a liquor permit suspension for failing to comply with COVID-related regulations.  The state Department of Consumer Protection's liquor control division says the owners of La Kabañita paid the $1,000 fine, but will serve the one-day suspension on July 13th.  Danbury Police had referred the matter to the agency last December after finding the restaurant serving customers past the curfew in effect then and serving drinks without food.  The manager was also reportedly not wearing a mask during the compliance check. 

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Special Town Meeting in Bethel about open space preservation purchase

A special town meeting is being held in Bethel tonight about preserving more than 7.5 acres of land that had once been proposed as the site of a controversial housing development.  47 Shelley Road borders both Bethel’s Franc Preserve and Newtown Forest Association’s Brunot Preserve. 

The Inland Wetland Commission rejected the plans, but approved them after a lawsuit.  The Planning and Zoning Commission then rejected the application.  Planning & Zoning Director Beth Cavagna says the Planning and Zoning Commission has entered into an agreement with Shelley Woods LLC and Oak Woods LLC as part of a settlement of a lawsuit over decisions made by the Commission. 

Tim Draper owns the vacant lot and proposed a multi-unit development in 2019 under the state’s 8-30g statute.  If a certain percentage is set aside as affordable housing, developers are able to bypass zoning laws, with certain exceptions. 

If approved, the Franc Preserve trail system will be expanded to 2.6 miles.  If rejected at tonight's meeting, Draper plans to seek approvals for his housing plans.  Bethel residents are being asked to spend up to $300,000 from the General Fund, with an additional $200,000 coming form the Planning and Zoning’s open space fund.  Bethel officials will also apply for grants to help offset the costs. 

The town meeting is at 7pm in the general purpose room of the Municipal Center.

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Newtown Board of Ed updates mask policy for adults for new school year

The Newtown Board of Education has decided that unvaccinated adults who work with students will be required to wear masks in the fall.  Unvaccinated volunteers will also be asked to wear a mask when working with kids.  The Return to School plan was unanimously adopted by the Board and was sent to the state education department for review.  All districts in the state are required to submit their post-pandemic plans.  Desk shields will be taken down, lunches will be served in the cafeteria, and social distancing will be encouraged according to guidance from the health department.  According to the Newtown plan, digital and blended learning “will remain an integral part of instruction, when appropriate.”  Extracurriculars, music and art programs will be conducted according to updated guidelines.  Middle and High School sports will still follow CIAC guidelines.

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Danbury Police investigating serious crash on Padanaram Rd

Danbury Police are investigating a serious motor vehicle accident that occurred on Thursday night.  Police responded to a collision shortly before 10:30pm in the area of Padanaram Road and Jeanette Street. An Audi was headed north on Padanaram while the Suzuki was headed south and they collided.  A preliminary investigation showed that one of the parties crossed over the double yellow line into the oncoming lane of travel. Both operators were transported to Danbury Hospital for injuries sustained in the collision.  Anyone who witnessed this collision or has information related to the incident is asked to please contact Sgt. Rory DeRocco or Officer Jason Lyder at (203) 797-2157.

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Mutual aid helps extinguish Southbury house fire

A fire on Friday afternoon in Southbury took a large effort to extinguish.  Firefighters responded to Luther Drive and found a well involved residential blaze. Units made a strong initial push and after much effort were able to control the blaze. Additional units from Sandy Hook, Middlebury, and Oxford responded.  The Southbury Ladies Auxiliary provided firefighters with refreshments. No injuries were reported.

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Volunteer firefighters from New Milford train together with Bridgewater

Water Witch Hose Company of New Milford recently participated in a a training session with Mutual aid departments. Together with members of Bridgewater, Gaylordsville, Northville; the volunteer firefighters trained on tactics in forcible entry, propane containment, ventilation and search. New Milford Ambulance and CERT also joined to train on firefighter rehab.

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Nuvance endorsing mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for employees

Nuvance Health is endorsing mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for its hospitals’ employees and clinicians.  The Connecticut Hospitals Association previously called for a statewide policy to require it.  The health network includes Danbury, New Milford, Sharon and Norwalk hospitals.  Nuvance spokeswoman Andrea Rynn says they will share timing and other details as they are finalized in the coming weeks.

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Tunnel to Towers 5k held in Bethel

A Tunnel to Towers 5k was held in Bethel this weekend.  The organization was formed to honor first responders who lost their lives on 9/11 and raise money for their families.  The 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack will be marked this September.  The 5k race in Bethel saw runners make a loop throughout town, starting and ending at the high school.  Guest speakers from the FDNY delivered remarks.  The New York City Tunnel to Towers run traces the steps of fallen firefighter Stephen Siller from the foot of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center.  During the event in Bethel, two Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company lieutenants were acknowledged for their work at Ground Zero after 9/11.  They are Lt. David Bunting and Lt. Doug Evanuska.

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New Fairfield to open cooling centers as Heat Advisory takes effect

A Heat Advisory is in effect for the area.  New Fairfield Library will be open today from 10am to 5pm and on tomorrow from 10 to 7 as a cooling center.  The Senior Center will be open today and tomorrow from 9 to 4 for cooling.  Hot temperatures and high humidity may cause heat illnesses to occur.  Seniors and those with chronic health problems or mental health conditions are at an increased risk. Homes without air conditioning can be much hotter than outdoor temperatures. New Fairfield officials urged residents to check on vulnerable friends, family members and neighbors.  To reduce risk during outdoor work, OSHA recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location.

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Racist, anti-semetic graffiti found on abandoned truck and boat in Newtown

Newtown Police are investigating racist and anti-semetic graffiti painted on what appeared to be an abandoned truck and boat. 

Police responded to Hawleyville Road Friday on a report from several passing motorists.  The Highway Department painted over and covered the graffiti that appeared overnight. Newtown Police Chief James Viadero called the vandalism reprehensible and says these types of incidents will not be tolerated.  He added that those responsible will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law if apprehended. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Newtown Police Department, all calls will be kept confidential. 

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says the hateful and disgusting act has no place in Town, adding that the best way to stop these acts is to make an example of those responsible.

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Danbury man charged for failing to update address with police as required

During an unrelated investigation, Danbury Police Investigators learned that a City man changed his address and failed to notify the police.  23-year old Jeffry Bispo was placed on the state weapon registry stemming from a previous felony conviction involving the use of a deadly weapon. One of the conditions related to the sentence requires him to notify the police when he changes address.  On Friday, investigators located Bispo in Danbury, and he was arrested without incident.  He was subsequently processed and held on a 250-thousand dollar bond.

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Blighted properties in New Milford, Redding receive Brownfields grants

Two local municipalities are among those sharing in more than $19 million in state grants to help with the costs of assessing and remediating 31 blighted properties to put them back into productive use. 

New Milford is receiving $199,000 for environmental assessment and investigation work on West Street.  The town will explore the development of the site as a public park and the potential restoration of the ruins of the Ruggles/Stilson Mills and Hydro-electric Plant.  Redding will use $200,000 to assess the former Gilbert and Bennett Manufacturing Company site for redevelopment. 

The grants are from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Brownfield Remediation Program. The funding from the state is expected to leverage approximately $156 million in private funding and help in the investigation and clean-up of approximately 418 acres of land.

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Region 9 Superintendent resigns weeks after agreeing to new contract

Within weeks of agreeing to a new contract, the Redding-Easton-Region 9 Superintendent has resigned.  Rydell Harrison has led the school system for 10 months, being hired in August 2020.  Harrison decided to pursue opportunities outside of a traditional K-12 setting that will allow him to fully engage in improving outcomes for all students without the heavy burdens of district administration.  He garnered national attention in February with a viral snow day song, but local attention this January when he commented on the riots at the U.S. Capitol in a post on his personal Facebook page.  That led to a discussion of diversity, equity and inclusion.  The Boards of Education will discuss the process of appointing a new superintendent at a special meeting on Wednesday.

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Danbury Zoners deny medical pot drive thru, approve Adrenaline Park liquor license

The Danbury Zoning Commission has denied a drive-thru application from a medical marijuana dispensary, but approved a liquor license for an entertainment venue.  Zoning officials say the drive thru denial had nothing to do with the recently approved recreational marijuana law, but more about past decisions on drive thru windows.  They said the City could be consistent.  Bethel-based D&B Wellness plans to move into a former bank building on Mill Plain Road.  Meanwhile, Xtreme Play Adrenaline Park will get a liquor license.  The virtual reality-themed “extreme play” arena opened 10 weeks ago in a former fitness center on Mill Plain Road.  The indoor amusement park will be allowed to serve alcohol in the second-floor cafe, away from most of the attractions on the first floor.  The approval by the Zoning Commission was unanimous.

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An Act Concerning Animal Welfare approved

An Act Concerning Animal Welfare has been approved unanimously by the state House and Senate.  It does a number of things, including updating the terminology of guide dog to service animal, creates conforming language for definition of poultry and requires regional animal control facilities meet municipal standards for pounds.  The measure also requires that animals imported to Connecticut be examined by a vet within 48 hours.  The State Agricultural Commissioner could set up an appeal process so owners could reduce the quarantine time their animal has to undergo.  It also updates funding for the feral cat program and the reimbursement paid to participating vets.  The bill awaits Governor Lamont's signature.

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New Milford officials offer reminders about fireworks safety

It's that time of year when area police departments start to receive nuisance complaints of people setting off fireworks in their neighborhoods.  New Milford Police Chief Spenser Cerruto is reminding residents that the state only allows sparklers and fountains for sale.  Only people 16 and older are allowed to use sparklers and fountains.  Fountains/sparklers cannot be larger than 100 grams each.

People are also being reminded never to use sparklers and fountains if under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

New Milford Fire Marshal Kevin Reynolds urged people to keep a water source close by.  For children under the age of five, officials say a safer alternatives like glow sticks, confetti poppers, or streamers will prevent injuries.  Sparklers burn at about 2,000 degrees, can melt some metals and can quickly ignite clothing. 

Reynolds says people should only light one device at a time and keep a safe distance from houses as well and other flammable material.

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Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce to host virtual jobs fair

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce is hosting a virtual jobs fair tomorrow.  Job seekers will be able to meet online with multiple local businesses in various industries at their online booths, and talk with them in real-time about job opportunities.  People must register and will have the option to upload a PDF resume.  The Chamber offered some tips for success including business casual attire being strongly encouraged, even in this virtual environment.  Job seekers should also have an updated, electronic copy of a resume ready to upload for employers, and be prepared with questions to see if an employer is a good fit.  The job fair is from 10am to 2pm on Tuesday the 22nd.

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Bill to protect kids at ice cream trucks signed by Gov. Lamont

A local lawmaker has co-sponsored a bill now signed into law by the Governor that is meant to protect kids participating in a summer tradition.  The measure, co-sponsored by Danbury Representative David Arconti, is about ice cream trucks and increasing the visibility to other drivers, warning drivers that children may be present and limiting the location and conditions for vending. 

It requires these trucks be outfitted with stop signs and red flashing lights.  Drivers would be required to stop before proceeding slowly past the truck, yielding the right-of-way to any pedestrian. 

The bill takes effect at the start of next month. 

First violations will result in a warning, until October.  Then it's an infraction, and for a subsequent offense, a fine of no more than $100 will be levied.  

The new law prohibits ice cream trucks from stopping on roads with a speed limit higher than 25 miles per hour, where visibility is obstructed and near schools within one hour of regular class times without local school board approval.

 

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Local lawmaker touts bill aimed at curbing car thefts

A local lawmaker is touting a bill he says is aimed at taking steps to fight the rise in car thefts.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says the measure, signed by the Governor last week, makes it a crime to entice a minor into committing a crime.  He says this was included in an overall law enforcement bill as lawmakers heard that adults are recruiting minors to steal cars for them.

Allie-Brennan says another bill sent to the Governor for his signature requires the Judicial Branch to study ways to decrease time between a child’s arrest and court appearance, as well as ways to reduce juvenile recidivism.  He says it's essential to make sure minors face consequences, or are given the necessary services, in order to reduce these types of crime. 

The bill also orders the Judicial Branch to collect data on juvenile detentions and report to the General Assembly so legislators can get at the root of the problem and end these crimes.

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Local land trust to create Weston/Wilton Forest Block with open space grant

The Town of Wilton will use a more than $157,000 grant to preserve 11.5 acres of land.  The Aspetuck Land Trust is looking to create a 705-acre contiguous forest known as the Weston/Wilton Forest Block.  A recreational trail system through the properties will be created, with the central trailhead at the Fromson Strassler property being acquired with assistance this state grant. The forest block will be connected to the Norwalk River Valley Trail at the Cannondale Station in Wilton. Hiking trails in the forest block will also be linked to Huntington State Park in Redding via Georgetown Road. There are intermittent watercourse and seepage wetlands on the property that contribute to the headwaters of the West Branch of the Saugatuck River. The intermittent stream channel and bordering vegetated wetlands provide habitat for amphibians.

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Bethel Board of Ed wins CABE award

The Bethel Board of Education has once again won the CABE Board of Distinction Award – Level II. The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education Board Recognition Awards are designed to recognize effective leadership through the use of good practices.  Bethel Superintendent Dr Christine Carver says the award will be presented at the 2021 CABE/CAPSS Conference in November.  She thanked the Board for their hard work and dedication to the families and children of Bethel Public Schools and their commitment and support to fulfilling the mission of the Bethel Public Schools.

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Eversource reminding of payment plan options as summer AC season starts

As COVID-19 pandemic restrictions ease significantly and people adjust to a new “normal,” Eversource non-residential customers are once again subject to utility service disconnections for non-payment.  Suspension of the program ended Tuesday.  Residential electric and natural gas customers remain protected from service disconnections.  Eversource is reminding customers there are payment plans available to help, especially as residential customers use up to 35-percent more energy in the summer months.  All customers are eligible for the COVID-19 payment plan that allows them to pay a past-due balance over a period of up to 24 months with no interest charges and no down payment. Enrollment has been extended to July 20.

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Bill signed giving protection to breastfeeding in the workplace

A bill co-sponsored by Danbury state Senator Julie Kushner has been signed into law by Governor Lamont.  The measure specifies certain parameters for a room or other location in the workplace that accommodates employee breastfeeding.  Starting October 1st, provided there is no undue hardship, the location should be free from intrusion and shielded from the public, include or be situated near a refrigerator to store breast milk, and include access to an electrical outlet.

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Bill granting all adoptees in Conn. access to birth certificates signed

Governor Lamont has signed a bill into law co-sponsored by two local lawmakers.  Redding Representative Anne Hughes and Amiee Berger-Girvalo of Ridgefield backed the bill granting all adoptees in Connecticut access to their birth certificates.  Previously state law allowed access to original birth certificates for people, 18 years and older, whose adoptions were finalized after October 1983. That’s when the state adoption form was changed and a clause added, warning that birth parents’ identities could be disclosed. Proponents noted that commercial DNA testing services have made it difficult to protect the privacy of birth parents.

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ARC to hold annual Interfaith Peace Camp

The Danbury-based Association of Religious Communities is holding their annual Interfaith Peace Camp this year.  It will take place the first week of August for children ages 8 to 11.  ARC officials say each day campers learn “What Peace means” to a different world religion.  They'll visit a Church, Mosque, Synagogue, Buddhist Community and Native American Grounds at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center.

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Mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Danbury today

COVID-19 vaccines are coming to Danbury's downtown this afternoon.  The state Department of Public Health Griffin Health mobile team will have a yellow mini van at Kennedy Flays from 4pm to 8pm.  No appointment is needed for the walk up clinic.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has released its weekly COVID-19 Alert Map.  All but one of the 169 municipalities are in the grey zone for having fewer than 5 cases in the last two weeks reported.  Bolton had 5 cases over two weeks and is in the yellow zone.

Out of about 11,000 COVID-19 tests reported in Connecticut yesterday, 35 came back positive making the daily positivity rate .3 percent.  1 COVID-associated fatality was reported, and there are 13  fewer people being treated for COVID in Connecticut hospitals.  The inpatient total yesterday was 37.

1.98 million Connecticut residents are fully vaccinated.  94-percent of those over the age of 65 have received at least one dose.  Younger Connecticut residents are catching up to those 65 and older when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations.  84-percent of 55 to 64 year olds have received at least one dose. 73-percent of 45 to 54 year olds and 69-percent of 35 to 44 year olds have gotten one shot.

16 and 17 year olds continue to have higher vaccination rates than 18 to 34 year olds.  About 41-percent of 12 to 15 year olds have received at least one dose of a vaccine to date.

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Grants awarded to help connect Hidden Valley Preserve to Mount Tom State Park

The Steep Rock Association has been awarded a couple of open space grants to expand its 676-acre Hidden Valley Preserve.  $166,500 will be used to protect 31 acres of Bantam Preserve and the Shepaug Forest Block Important Bird Area in the Town of Washington. 

$376,000 will protect 65 acres of Cook Preserve in Washington directly contiguous to the Steep Rock Association’s Bronson Fields parcel.  A section of the dismantled Shepaug Valley Railroad runs through the site creating a flat, easily accessible hiking trail for the public. Much of the site contains USDA Prime and Statewide Important Farmland Soils.

The goal is to connect Hidden Valley Preserve to Mount Tom State Park and Wyantenock State Forest north to the blue-blazed Mattatuck Trail. The Steep Rock Association plans to install a 2.1-mile spur trail from the existing Mount Tom State Park trail system.

Steep Rock Association has also been awarded $193,500 in state open space preservation grant money to protect 73 acres adjacent to Mount Tom State Park.  The property contains 7 acres of wetland soils and 52 acres of core forest. It also protects two GAA-drinking water wells at nearby Rumsey Hall School. Approximately 1,480 acres of protected open space exist within, or interest, a 1-mile buffer of the property and it is located within the 13,000-acre Shepaug Forest Block Important Bird Area.

The property forms the uphill border of Romford Road which directly borders the Shepaug River. It is largely mountainous and contains four subpeaks (990’, 1040’, 1060’, 1090’). Forest types include Central Appalachian Dry Oak-Pine Forest, North-Central Interior and Appalachian Rich Swamp.

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Aspetuck Land Trust to preserve open space along Mill River in Easton

The Aspetuck Land Trust has been awarded a $188,000 state grant to preserve 18.7 acres of open space along Mill River in Easton.  The property would be incorporated into the Warner Angler Preserve, more than quadrupling its current area. The property has 3,300 linear feet of riverine bank and the opposing riverbank is dedicated Easton Open Space. The acquisition allows for access to fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing in a Class 1 Wild Trout Management Area.

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Conn. State Colleges now prohibited from charging enrolled students a graduation fee

Beginning July 1st, West Conn, Eastern, Central and Southern Connecticut State Universities will be prohibited from charging enrolled students a graduation fee.  The provision in the budget implementer bill also applies to UConn, Charter Oak State College and the state’s community-technical colleges. The Board of Regents and UConn Board of Trustees must jointly establish an annual “Fee-Free Day,” when they cannot charge an application fee to any high school student who applies for admission to a public college or university and has already completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA form.

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Danbury zoners urged to consider more housing around mall

The master plan for the City of Danbury is updated every decade.  During a zoom meeting this week, discussion about the Plan of Conservation and Development focused on zoning to encourage economic growth and to preserve the city’s open space. 

Consultant Francisco Gomes suggested they look at rezoning the area around the mall and downtown to allow housing, noting a decent amount of surface parking.

Connecticut Post Mall in Milford has proposed a plan that includes 500 apartments and 450,000 square feet of commercial and office space.  Some other malls across the country are beginning to redevelop to incorporate housing on the site and Gomes things this will be one of the big ideas Danbury is likely to address. He added that leaders needed to figure out if there is anything the city should be doing to support the future of this site. He notes that the mall may be able to continue as it is, but the trends nationally would suggest that they need to adapt in some way.

A few city elected officials questioned what, if anything, they could do to encourage a more uniform look in downtown.  Planning Director Sharon Calitro says the balance between progress and conservation had to be struck in the city’s historic Main Street district, and they have been careful to craft regulations about a height restrictions.  But she acknowledged the City might have to do something to incentivize people to density downtown.

Despite two parking garages downtown, more space may be needed.  A transit-oriented development study highlighted the need and the City put out a request for proposals for a municipal parking lot on Liberty Street.  That could lead to a multi-story building with shops on the ground floor.

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Ridgefield Conservation Commission receives state open space grant

Several local municipalities are sharing in $6.2 million in state funding to protect and preserve open space lands.  The grants come from the state’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program and the Urban Green and Community Garden Program to help local governments, land trusts, and water companies in purchasing land to protect as open space.

Ridgefield Conservation Commission will use $42,000 to acquire 13.8 acres known as Bear Mountain Open Space.  The parcel will connect a 3-acre property of town-owned open space to the 386-acre Hemlock Hills open space preserve. It will also help the town of Ridgefield reach its goal of protecting 30% of the town’s land mass as protected open space.

The property is mostly wooded and contains native tree and shrub species including American beech, black birch, hickory, blueberry, and mountain laurel. It is part of the Still River Watershed. The property predominantly consists of a steeper forested slope that drains into Miry Brook. The public will be able to access the property through a proposed trail that ascends and runs along the northern peak of Bear Mountain affording views of Danbury and northern Fairfield County.

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Ridgefield Police see increase in accidents in 2021

With the warmer weather, Ridgefield Police have witnessed an increase of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.  With that they have all witnessed erratic driving and near-miss accidents. Ridgefield Police have already responded to over 199 motor vehicle accidents since January 1st, including one fatality.  A number of the accidents involved injuries.  The Ridgefield Police Department is asking all drivers and pedestrians to obey all traffic laws.

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Retailers prohibited from banning cash sales under new law

A bill has been signed into law by Governor Lamont that prohibits retailers offering consumer goods and services from refusing to accept cash as a form of payment.  New Milford Representative Bill Buckbee and Danbury Representative Ken Gucker were among the co-sponsors of the bill.  Retailers also can't charge a higher price to customers who pay cash than those using another form of payment.  This does not apply to the rental of consumer goods, services or accommodations for which collateral or security is typically required.

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35th Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics today

The 35th Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Connecticut kicked off Wednesday.  More than 1,500 law enforcement officers are participating in the event that runs until today.  Day three, today, will move through the Greater Danbury area, with routes from New Milford to Bethany, Ridgefield and Wilton, and New Haven to Monroe.  Officers from municipal departments, correction facilities, military police and other areas will pass the Torch with its “Flame of Hope” at each town line. 

New Milford Police officers are running from the town green, down Route 7 and meeting up with Brookfield Police.  Officers from that department will head south on Federal Road to meet up with Danbury Police officers, who will take custody of the torch and run it to Bethel. 

The Brookfield leg is about 6.5 miles.  Drivers are asked to proceed with caution while there are runners on Federal Road, starting around 8:30am. 

Bethel Police will pick up the torch from Danbury around 10:30am on Route 53, Grassy Plain Street.  The run will continue onto Route 302 into Newtown.  

The goal is to promote awareness of Special Olympics, its year-round sports and health programs and inspire inclusion for people of all abilities. The final leg will end with the Opening Ceremony for the Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Sports Series at Fairfield University.

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Local police raise funds for Special Olympics CT

The Ridgefield Police Department has raised thousands of dollars for Special Olympics Connecticut during two recent Tip A Cop events. 

One was held at the end of May and officers took in just over $4,500 for Special Olympics.  On Tuesday, officers raised more than $3,600 for the organization that provides year-round sports training and competitions for over 12,000 athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and Unified Sports partners (individuals without intellectual disabilities who are the athletes’ teammates).

Bethel Police are holding a Tip-A-Cop event to support Connecticut Special Olympics.  Bethel officers will be at Dunkin' Donuts on Grassy Plain Street today from 7am to 10am.

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Sherman, Brookfield christen new CLA patrol boat

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department and Brookfield's Candlewood Company have christened of the new Candlewood Lake Authority patrol boat.  Sherman firefighters say they look forward to working closely with these two agencies to help keep the waters safe this summer.  Brookfield fire officials say this is a big change for the CLA because it's their first aluminum purpose-built patrol boat, needed even more because of the increased activity from last year.

(Photo: Candlewood Company)

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New Milford Police caution drivers to slow traffic Friday due to Torch Run

Members of the New Milford Police Union will be participating in the 35th annual Special Olympics Torch Run tomorrow.  The New Milford portion of the Torch Run will begin at 7:30 am from the Green and will travel southbound on Route 7 to the Brookfield town line.  The Torch will be handed off to the Brookfield Police Department. 

Drivers are cautioned to expect slower traffic along Route 7 tomorrow morning during the Law Enforcement Torch Run. 

It's the largest public awareness vehicle and grass-roots fundraiser for Special Olympics.  The Final Leg will take place during the Opening Ceremony for the Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Sports Series at Fairfield University tomorrow evening. 

The New Milford Police Department is thanking local businesses and organizations that took part in their Adopt-A-Mile Fundraiser for last year and this.  New Milford came in first place for 2020. 

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Local lawmaker touts passage of recreational marijuana bill

Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan has voted with the slim majority in the Connecticut House to approve adult use of recreational marijuana.  He says Connecticut cannot exist as an island of prohibition when neighboring states have legalized cannabis, making it only a short drive away.  Allie-Brennan says the bill aims to right the wrongs of the past and help those most disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs.  The bill erases convictions related to possession of less than 4 oz. of marijuana, for offenses occurring between 2015 and 2021 and erases convictions related to possession of any amount of marijuana for offenses occurring between 2000-2015.

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New Fairfield Water Pollution Control Authority holding Water Test Day

The New Fairfield Water Pollution Control Authority will once again offer Water Test Day.  The kit comes with a 50 dollar fee.  Residents can pick up the test kit, collect a sample using the written instructions, and return it WPCA table located at Stop & Shop.  Test results will be mailed back.  Kits will be available at Stop & Shop on Saturday, from 8am to noon or at the Land Use Office in Town Hall tomorrow from 9am to noon.

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New Fairfield resident tests positive for tick-borne Powassan virus

Two Connecticut residents, including one from New Fairfield, have tested positive for Powassan virus.  In the announcement Tuesday, the state Department of Public Health says these are the first cases of the infection this year. 

Powassan virus is spread to people through the bite of an infected tick black-legged, or ‘deer’ tick. It takes one week to one month after the bite of an infected tick to develop symptoms, and the virus can be transmitted in as little as 15 minutes after the tick first attaches. 

There were only 10 cases of the illness from 2016 through 2020.  Two of the infections were fatal. 

In the cases this year, both patients are between 50 to 79 years of age, and became ill during the third week of April. Both were hospitalized with central nervous system disease and have been discharged and are recovering. 

Acting Commissioner Dr Deidre Gifford says this emphasizes the need to take actions to prevent tick bites while ticks are most active, from now through the late fall.  Using insect repellent, avoiding areas where ticks are likely, and checking carefully for ticks after being outside can reduce the chance of being infected with this virus.

While most people infected with POWV likely experience no symptoms or a mild flu-like illness, some people will develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system. About 1 out of 10 cases of severe illness are fatal and approximately half of survivors experience long term health problems. Severe cases may begin with fever, vomiting, headache, or weakness and rapidly progress to confusion, loss of coordination, difficulty speaking, or seizures. There is not a vaccine or a specific treatment for POWV associated illness.

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DEEP to hand out life jacks on Candlewood Lake to boaters without the protective device

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Environmental Conservation Police are going to be donating life jackets to individuals on Candlewood Lake who are without one. 

DEEP says more than 90% of drowning related boating fatalities may have been avoided by wearing a life jacket. Already this season, three people have died on Connecticut water bodies while operating paddlecrafts, and in all three incidents, a life jacket was not worn. 

New, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets of various sizes have been donated to DEEP by the Emily Catherine Fedorko Foundation, named for a 16-year old who lost her life in 2014, during a water tubing accident on Long Island Sound.  The DEEP Boating Division recently hosted a statewide Life Jacket Drive, collecting new and gently used life jackets at Squantz Cove State Boat Launch in New Fairfield and two other locations.

All life jackets collected were washed and will be used for future life jacket loaner programs, outreach events, and giveaways.   

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Self-pour alcohol machines approved in Conn.

A bill that a Danbury lawmaker has pushed for for years has finally been approved during the recently completed regular General Assembly session and signed into law by Governor Ned Lamont.  The measure allows for self-pour alcohol machines. 

Danbury Representative David Arconti says the idea was first brought to him by the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce on behalf of businesses that were intrigued by the idea. 

An employee of the establishment would check for ID, the patron would pay for a certain number of ounces and be handed a pour pass card.  They can then get their allotted amount from the self-pour machines, which are already legal in 45 other states.

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2nd FEMA vaccination unit wraps up operation in Conn.

The second Connecticut FEMA Mobile Vaccination Unit has ended operations.  The unit went into service May 7th, following the eleven city tour of the first FEMA mobile unit, and ended operations yesterday.  Among the cities where FEMA vaccinated people against COVID-19 was Danbury. 

Connecticut National Guard members and municipal partners provided non-critical staffing. 

The unit administered more than 4,000 second doses of the Pfizer vaccine and coordinated outreach to high-risk and vulnerable residents. FEMA Acting Region 1 Administrator and Federal Coordinating Officer Paul Ford says the joint effort allowed residents who could not reach a Community Vaccination Center get vaccinated.

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4 Newtown stores sold cigarettes, vapes to underage patrons in compliance checks

A compliance check of local business which sell tobacco and vape products has been carried out by Newtown Police.  Officers found that a third of those checked sold to underage customers.  4 of 12 businesses sold to members of the Danbury Police Cadet program, all under age 21, who were used in the operation.

Newtown Police note that it's against Connecticut State law to sell or deliver tobacco or E-cigarette products to individuals under 21 years of age.  Merchants are encouraged to have their employees ask for identification of anyone attempting to buy tobacco products who appear to be under the age of 27.   Newtown Police say it's another layer of security and the staff should feel comfortable in asking. 

According to the CDC nicotine can be harmful to the adolescent brain which continues to develop until about age 25. 

Newtown Parent Connection sponsored the compliance checks.  Brand Cigars on South Main Street, Mobil and Wheels on Church Hill Road sold vaping products.  Wheels further on Church Hill Road sold cigarettes.  In three of the cases, Police say the cadets were not asked for identification.

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Danbury leads Conn. in jobs recovery from pandemic losses

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce has hosted a virtual economic forecast presentation featuring a noted economist.  Donald Klepper-Smith told those on the Zoom meeting that the Danbury area is leading the recovery from the COVID-19 recession.  The Danbury Labor Market area has the strongest job growth in the state.  He predicted that unemployment will continue to drop, and employment will continue to grow by 200 jobs each month.  The market includes Bethel, Brookfield, Bridgewater, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, and Sherman.  At the height of the pandemic the Danbury area was down 17,000 jobs, but has gained 10,000 since last April. Danbury has a 6.6 percent unemployment rate.  The state is at 7.6 percent while the national unemployment rate is 5.7 percent.

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Local lawmaker upset over defunding of schools with Native American mascots, nicknames

An area legislator is continuing to speak out against a provision in the budget implementation bill approved by the state Senate yesterday and sent to the House that would withhold money from schools with Native American mascots.  The funding is from the state’s 25% share of slot machine revenues generated at the two casinos owned by the federally recognized tribes.  

Senator Craig Miner, whose district includes Regional School District 6, was angry Democrats did not tell him about the change. The towns making up the district, Warren, Morris and Goshen, are dubbed the “Warriors.”  Miner is the top Senate Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

In addition, Miner is concerned that the towns are now put in the untenable position of having to negotiate with a sovereign group, which has different factions and a dispute amongst themselves over who is the leader.  He's also unsure how broadly recognized the Schaghticoke tribe is by the General Assembly.

The section was amended on Tuesday to give municipalities until June 30, 2023, to make the change.  Given this change, Miner wanted provision removed so a resolution could be discussed next year during a public hearing.

The measure applies to any name, symbol or image that depicts, refers to or is associated with a state or federally recognized Native American tribe or a Native American individual, custom or tradition, as a mascot, nickname or logo of schools, intramural or interscholastic athletic teams.  There is an exception if they receive permission to use it.

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Open Choices Pilot Program expanded to Danbury, Norwalk in budget bill

Some legislative leaders are touting part of the budget implementer bill that will help children in this area, beginning in the 2022-23 school year.  It allows for expansion of the Open Choices Pilot Program for Danbury and Norwalk.  Students from those cities will be able to attend schools in neighboring districts to help address increasing enrollment in Danbury and Norwalk while student population in nearby towns are declining. 

Supporters of the program testified that this will also help make suburban schools more diverse. 

In the first year, 50 students from Danbury can go to New Fairfield, Brookfield, Bethel, Ridgefield or Redding schools.  50 from Norwalk will be able to attend nearby schools in Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, Weston and Westport.  The budget includes $275,000 in the 2022-23 fiscal year and $900,000 in 2023-24 to establish the program in Danbury and Norwalk. 

The state pays for the cost of busing students while the host and receiving districts split school funding from the state. Additional, individualized education costs are paid for by the sending district, meaning either Danbury or Norwalk.  A per-pupil grant follows each student to the host district. Depending on how many students are accepted, the grant ranges from $3,000 to $8,000 per child. 

The program is in place in 42 other districts. 

Region 9 Superintendent Rydell Harrison says Easton has been hosting Bridgeport students for more than 20 years.  He says the district has seen a benefit to adding to the diversity of thinking in the classroom.  The students matriculate to Joel Barlow High School.  Redding does not currently host students, but wants to accept those from Danbury into the program. 

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the Open Choice program could also be beneficial to Ridgefield, where schools have lost racial and socioeconomic diversity.

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Newtown animal control rescues raccoons from storm drain

A mother raccoon was hit by a car in Newtown and Animal Control says two of the baby raccoon were left behind.  They ended up stuck down in a storm drain.  Animal control and others spent nearly 6 hours on the rescue. The baby raccoons were saved after many attempts and are currently doing well in a rehab facility.

   

(Photos: Newtown Animal Control)

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Redding First Selectwoman touts increase in state aid

Redding will receive an additional $56,216 dollars in State aid to municipalities in the next fiscal year.  First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton noted that it's an 8.10-percent increase in state aid for a total aid package of $367,326.  As one of the wealthier municipalities in Connecticut, Pemberton says aid to Redding was slashed over the last several years due to the State's financial woes.  She noted that Redding residents filed 3900 income tax returns in 2019 and paid $ 37.859 million in state income tax.

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Bethel schools schedule final distance meal pick ups

Due to updated State guidance on June meal service availability, the last day for distance meal pick-up in Bethel will be Tuesday, June 22 between 11am and 1pm at the back of Bethel High School.  Any parent looking to pick up meals for the last week of June, the final Saturday meal pick up will be this Saturday from 10:30am to 11:30 at the back of Bethel High School.  Saturday pick up requires a meal order form be filled out by today.  Meals will be provided frozen and will include breakfast and lunch.

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Local lawmaker: Budget implementer bill full of 'rats'

Newtown Senator Tony Hwang has voted against the budget implementer, a 837 page bill with nearly 25,000 lines of information.  He called it a broken and arrogant legislative process with “rats” inserted into it. Hwang says rank and file members were afforded less than a few hours to review the extensive document ahead of yesterday's special session. He notes that it contains measures that never saw a proper public hearing, that were never considered by a legislative committee, or were purposely not addressed by one chamber or the other.

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Community open house tonight in Bethel on new school construction projects

The Bethel Public School District is hosting a community open house for the new school construction projects.  The new Johnson and Rockwell Schools will be open to the community tonight from 5pm to 6:30pm.  Residents are invited to start at either school at any time during the open house.  Masks are still required in the school buildings.  A state grant covers 45 percent of eligible costs for the combined $65.8 million projects.  Johnson School was built in 1980 to house grades 4 and 5.  Rockwell School, which was built in 1971, was renovated in 1977.  Rockwell is one of two schools in Bethel for kindergarten through third graders.  Both schools had problems in heating and cooling, and after renovations the buildings will be climate controlled.

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Danbury reports low COVID-19 positive test results

There have been several days this month where Danbury has reported zero positive COVID-19 cases.  For the month of June, through Sunday, the City health department reported 27 positive tests returned.  There have been 3 days with no positive cases.  Health officials though called on residents to continue taking preventative measures against coronavirus like washing hands frequently and practicing social distancing. 

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Medical Examiner rules in death of fisherman drowned in Housatonic

The death of one of the two fishermen who went missing in the Housatonic River last week has been deemed an accidental drowning.  The state medical examiner’s office has ruled the death of 23-year-old Johnny Sanchez as accidental.  The Chief Medical Examiner says the formal identification of the other man is still pending, though authorities have said he was 35-year old Wilson Pacheco.  The pair were fishing on Bleachery Dam in New Milford last Wednesday night when one fell into the river. The other tried to rescue him, but both were swept away by the current.  The body of Sanchez was found Friday morning, Pacheco was found Saturday.

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Danbury Planners hold hearing on restaurant proposed for Newtown Road

The Danbury Planning Commission is holding a public hearing tonight on a restaurant proposed for Newtown Road.  A Jersey Mike’s is proposed for the shopping plaza anchored by Stop & Shop.  A traffic consultant for the City has suggested the applicant pay for crosswalk improvements so people can easily go on foot between the two strip malls.  The applicant's traffic consultant hasn't seen a demonstrated need for a crosswalk, and believes that would fall under the state's purview as Newtown Road is technically a state road.  The planning commission meeting is at 7:30pm.

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Sherman teen injured in single car accident in New Fairfield

The New Fairfield Resident State Trooper is investigating a serious accident that injured a teen.  Emergency responders were called to Route 39 shortly before 9:30pm Monday.  The Honda Civic was heavily damaged and the driver was trapped inside.  Route 39 was closed to traffic as firefighters extricated the 17-year old.  The Sherman teen was the sole occupant.  Police say the driver lost control as he headed northbound, left the road way, struck trees and came to an uncontrolled stop against a utility pole. The teen was transported to Danbury Hospital with serious injuries.

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Washington Depot man killed in Southbury crash

A Washington Depot man was killed in a car accident in Southbury on Friday.  State Police say 71-year old William Ball was pronounced dead at the hospital.  The accident happened around 10am on Route 172.  State Police say an 81-year-old Roxbury man crossed over the centerline into the northbound lane and collided head on with Ball’s pick up truck  The other driver sustained minor injuries.  The crash remains under investigation.

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Towns face losing funds if tribal team mascots don't change

Connecticut schools that still use Native American nicknames and mascots could take a financial hit if they continue to use those images without written consent from a state- or federally-recognized tribe in their region, under a provision tucked into a massive budget implementation bill that cleared the state Senate on Tuesday.

Municipalities face the prospect of losing their allotment of revenue from the Mashantucket Pequot/Mohegan Fund, an account that’s funded with the state’s 25% share of slot machine revenues generated at the two casinos owned and operated by the federally recognized Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes.

The provision was included in the budget bill by state Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, the co-chairman of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee.

Meeting in a special legislative session, the Democratic-controlled Senate on Tuesday passed the budget-related bill with the provision on a vote of 23-7. The bill now awaits action in the House of Representatives, which is scheduled to meet on Wednesday in special session.

Most of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns receive a grant from the Mashantucket Pequot/Mohegan Fund, with extra money earmarked for communities located near the tribes’ Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casinos. The amounts are based on a formula that involves a number of factors, including the value of untaxable property within the community. Payments are made three times a year and can total as much as $5 million or more for the larger cities.

During the state’s last two-year budget, about $103 million in grants was distributed from the fund.

Republican legislators, the minority party in the General Assembly, said they were surprised to see the provision included in the massive bill, which they didn’t receive until Tuesday morning. Sen. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, whose district includes Regional School District #6, dubbed the “Warriors,” was angry Democrats did not tell him about the change. Miner is the top Senate Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

“Just because you’re in the majority doesn’t mean you should act this way,” Miner said.

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Pop up COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Danbury today

The Connecticut Institute for Communities is hosting a pop up COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Danbury this afternoon.  100 doses are available for people 12 and over at 42 Lake Avenue extension today from 2pm to 6pm.  12 to 18 year olds need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  The City Health Department is hosting a number of pop up clinics because the Rogers Park distribution site was closed recently, as demand dropped off and pharmacies had wide availability.

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Benches to be added to lawn by Brookfield horse sculptures

Benches will be coming to the area surrounding the Horse Sculptures at Brookfield Municipal Center.  Friends of the Arts of Brookfield is looking to purchase 3 five-foot polished granite benches, to be placed about 20 feet from the statues.  The benches will be functional and they have no back. The Board of Selectmen voted to accept the donation on municipal property at their meeting this month.  The town will help with installation of the benches.

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411th Civil Affairs Battalion holds Change of Command ceremony

A Danbury-based reserve group of the U.S. Army has a new commander.  The 411th Civil Affairs Battalion held a Change of Command ceremony over the weekend.  Lt. Col. Robert Beat was welcomed to Danbury and the group honored Lt. Col. Cecil Piazza for three years of dedicated service.  State Veteran’s Affairs Commissioner Thomas Saadi, formerly assigned to the 411th, was on hand to recognize the outgoing commander.

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Brookfield Farmers Market to reopen Friday

Brookfield’s farmers market will officially open for business this week.  The market behind the town hall operates on Fridays, through October 22, from 3pm to 6pm.  21 vendors will be on site this year, including 6 new ones.  Local farms are offering products ranging from meats and dairy to jams and baked goods.

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City of Danbury raises rainbow flag in honor of Pride Month

The City of Danbury has raised a rainbow flag in honor of Pride Month.  The flag will only be displayed for the day, as is customary for cultural flag raisings outside City Hall.  But local social justice organizations asked for inclusion after learning the event would be taking place.  The Danbury Area Justice Network and Action Together Connecticut call on Mayor Joe Cavo last week to make details of the planned event known to the public.  The groups provide services for the LGBTQIA+ community. 

The organizations also asked for a formal declaration issued by the Mayor to designate the month of June as Pride Month in the City of Danbury. 

Cavo told the Newstimes that cultural organizations usually request to hold flag raisings weeks or months in advance, and had already arranged for the city to raise the Pride flag when he received an email from the organizations. 

Danbury Area Justice Network founder Will Love emailed some City Council members asking if Danbury would be marking Pride Month, and none were aware of anything.  Councilman Frank Salvatore emailed Cavo about the June 15th event, but Love says there was no response back with details.  Love says they hadn't requested a flag raising in past years because they didn't think it was a possibility.  Love doesn't know what prompted the flag raising this year, but notes that things like Pride, Juneteenth and Black History Month are starting to be front and center in people's minds. 

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Newtown Police suggest no action to reduce crashes at flag pole intersection

The Newtown Police Commission has received an update on accidents around the flagpole.  The 100-foot steel pole has stood in the middle of Main Street for 145 years and the intersection with Church Hill Road and West Street is one of the top three spots for accidents. 

Captain Christopher Vanghele says the best option for safety, after a five year study of the crashes, may be to do nothing.  Potential solutions considered ranged from installing a traffic light to building a traffic circle.  Vanghele estimated that accidents at the flagpole may be reduced as much as 55 percent with a traffic light, but traffic backups would increase. He noted that the new light may also cause accidents when it's first operational.

He noted that speed is not a major factor, there have been no serious accidents and no pedestrians hit.  Most are due to driver error and not road design. 

Only 10 accidents in the last 4.5 years involved the actual flagpole.  27-percent of crashes involved cars coming off Church Hill Road and being struck by northbound Main Street traffic.  22-percent of the accidents were people following too closely. 

Even though 86 crashes happened at the flagpole intersection since 2017, the average works out to 1.6 accidents per month in a place with average monthly volume of 450,000 vehicles. 

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Ridgefield First Selectman delivers State of The Town address

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi has delivered his State of The Town address.  He start off by thanking health workers and volunteers, recognizing those who lost their lives to COVID, and noting that Ridgefield had a zero percent positivity rate as of last week. 

He told the crowd on Thursday that the town has largely made it through the pandemic, but there is work to be done, noting that it can be accomplished with federal pandemic relief money.  

The Boards of Selectmen, Finance and Education met last night to discuss how to allocate the anticipated $7.3 million coming to Ridgefield from the American Rescue Plan.  Marconi predicted a population increase of 300 to 400, some with school-aged children, because of new home sales during the pandemic. 

Up next for Ridgefield would be the Branchville downtown project.  Marconi hopes by next spring to have shovels in the ground on upgraded sidewalks, decorative street lamps and crosswalks.  He also unveiled a possible new public safety administration building.  The town's Police and Fire Departments would move to Old Quarry Road, if the idea comes to fruition.

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Mass COVID-19 vaccine sites to close June 30

Mass COVID-19 vaccination sites across the state will close at the end of the month.  The Community Health Center announced that the sites in Danbury, Middletown, Stamford, and East Hartford will close on June 30th.  The organization will still offer in-clinic or pop-up vaccine locations after that date.  The first vaccine dose will be determined by the state and federal allocations provided to CHC.  Appointments can still be scheduled online through the Vaccine Administration Management System or by calling 211.  Walk-ins are accepted.  Anyone scheduling over the phone will also reserve a second dose appointment at that same time.  Those using the online VAMS Portal should return to VAMS to schedule a second dose.  The vaccine is widely available at pharmacy locations. The Community Health Center also has a location at 8 Delay Street in Danbury, open Mondays through Fridays 8:50am to 4:10pm.  The drive thru site at the mall is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 8:30am to 4pm.

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Lightning struck tree, sparking fire in Brookfield

Lightning struck a tree in Brookfield yesterday morning, sparking a fire.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to a report of smoke from a hillside in the back of Meadow Brook Manor around 8am.  A drone from the Danbury Fire Department was special called to assist. A large tree was located, on fire, after a lightning strike.  Firefighters stretched a long hose to the tree to extinguish the flames.  The response took about an hour.

(Photo: BVFC)

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Brookfield creates group to prioritize projects for federal pandemic relief funding

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has created a 9-member Ad-Hoc Committee about how to use American Rescue Plan Act federal pandemic relief funding.  Brookfield is slated to receive about 4$.97 million.  The Boards of Finance and Education, Parks & Rec, Municipal Building Committee and Economic Development Commission will nominate members to the committee, which will also include members of the public.  The group would be in charge of creating plans, ranking and prioritizing the pluses and minuses of the projects, and addressing long-term effects of the pandemic.  First Selectman Steve Dunn expects to have the committee formed by the July Board of Selectmen meeting.

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Newtown Police mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Newtown Police Department says officers are committed to the prevention of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of the elderly population.  Longtime advocate for the elderly, Officer Maryhelen McCarthy notes that elderly victims, especially those over 80, have a difficult time coming forward to report their abuse and need for help.  She urged people to look out for the older members of the community and report suspected abuse.  The Newtown Police Department works closely with the wellness center in coming up with a safety plan and a long term resolution to help keep everyone safe.  Older people throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation.   Often times the abuser is a caregiver. 

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Bill headed to Gov. on risk protection orders and disqualifiers for firearm permits

The state Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill on risk protection orders and disqualifiers for firearm permits.  The bill would expand Connecticut’s gun seizure law to allow relatives and medical professionals to ask judges to order people’s guns to be taken away from them. 

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

The bill also eliminates the one-year limit on gun seizure orders, instead allowing them to remain in effect until the person whose guns were seized can prove they are no longer a danger to themselves or others. 

Connecticut’s red flag law has been used more than 2,000 times in the state and was the foundation for similar laws in Washington, D.C. and 19 states.

Several people who testified told stories of loved ones dying from gun violence. Jennifer Lawlor, of Bethel, said her 25-year-old daughter, Emily Todd, was shot to death in 2018 by a man she had known for only 18 days, after having told a Bridgeport police dispatcher during a 911 call a week earlier that he was threatening to kill himself and she believed he had a gun. Todd, who was found shot to death in Bridgeport, also told authorities she feared Brandon Roberts would kill her for talking to the police, Lawlor said. She blamed police for not doing enough to find Roberts and seize his guns before her daughter was killed.

“We simply can no longer have a system that’s dependent solely on the response of a 911 dispatcher and a police department as the only resource someone has when they’re in a crisis,” Lawlor said.

“Family members are often the first to recognize when their loved one is in crisis, so it is crucial they have a way to directly petition the court to temporarily remove guns from those who could be a risk to themselves or others.”

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Hit & run accident in Bethel under investigation

A hit and run accident is being investigated in Bethel.  Police say a car sideswiped an unoccupied vehicle parked along the side of Linda Lane.  The driver was headed southbound in the area of number 31 on Wednesday, around 5pm.  Police say it was later determined that the black 2018-2020 Nissan Murano SUV/Crossover was driven by a woman and has noticeable damage to its front end passenger side. Any person with information regarding this impact, including the involved party, is asked to contact Officer Fekieta at 203-744-7900 ext 691.

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Greater Danbury area celebrates high school Classes of 2021

In order to celebrate the New Fairfield Class of 2021, a senior car parade is being held around town tomorrow night.  The car parade is at 7pm and motorist are advised to expect heavier than normal volume in the center of town.  Residents are encouraged to decorate the town in Red and Blue. 

Danbury High School graduation has been held.  Citations were presented by the state legislative delegation to the Valedictorian and a surprise citation for retiring Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella. 

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is honoring the 2021 graduating class of Brookfield High School.  During the graduation parade along Route 25 on Saturday a banner was flown between two apparatus to “salute” the graduates.

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Brookfield firefighters do 'virtual final inspection' of new engine

The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company truck committee is doing a ‘virtual final inspection’ of the new engine.  Pierce has turned the drawings into reality, but COVID has restricted traveling, so the company has been offering virtual inspections for fire departments to do their final inspections. Pierce has sent numerous pictures and videos of all the parts and functions of the truck which can be reviewed as a group against specifications and drawings. The truck will be delivered to Brookfield soon so the firefighters can start tool mounting and compartment configurations before putting the new E-21 into service.

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Newtown state delegation, VFW, Scouts host collection for worn flags

The Newtown state legislative delegation held a collection in recent weeks for residents to dispose of their worn American flags in a dignified and respectful way.  The U.S. Flag Code specifies that old American flags no longer in service must be properly disposed, and the collection was done in conjunction with VFW Post #308.  The collection leading up to Flag Day was done at the library and municipal center, but residents can drop flags in any condition off at the VFW Post on Tinkerfield Road throughout the year.  Newtown Representatives Mitch Bolinsky and Tony Scott co-hosted an in-person collection of flags for retirement Saturday, with the Scouts of Troop 270 , in front of the Library.

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Federal Road access point to Still River Greenway closes for 4 weeks

The Federal Road access point to the Still River Greenway in Brookfield is closed for 4 weeks due to nearby construction.  The Brookfield Parks and Recreation Department says the Greenway can still be accessed at either the Silvermine Road Trailhead next to the Police Department or via the Town Hall Trailhead, behind the Kids Kingdom Playground.  If the Still River Greenway lot is full, there is parking in the Public Area of the Police Department or in the Town Hall Parking Lot.  But residents are asked not to park blocking in other parking spaces.  Pedestrians are encouraged to use the sidewalks in the parking lots.

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Arrest warrant unsealed detailing charges for suspicious death of 1-year old

The arrest warrant for a Danbury woman charged in the death of her grandson has been unsealed. 60-year old Cora Brandon was arrested at the end of last month for the March 17th untimely death of the 1-year-old.  An autopsy found nothing suspicious, but toxicology results later revealed he had fentanyl and xylazine in his blood. Xylazine can be used as a sedative, among other uses.  According to the warrant, Five milligrams of undigested fentanyl had also been found in the baby’s stomach.  Arresting documents revealed that the boy's mother dropped her son off before work after he got vaccines earlier that morning.  When her mother said the boy was unresponsive, she picked him up and went to the hospital.  Police seized a glassine bag from a vacuum dust collection canister.  A cut straw found in the sofa where the baby had been sleeping tested positive for fentanyl.

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Bodies of fishermen reported missing in Housatonic River recovered

The bodies of two fishermen reported missing on the Housatonic River have been recovered in New Milford. Police say 23-year-old Johnny Sanchez and 35-year-old Wilson Pacheco were fishing on Bleachery Dam on Wednesday night when one of the men fell into the river. The other man tried to rescue him, but both were swept away by the current. 

The search was temporarily suspended Wednesday night and was unsuccessful on Thursday. 

Sanchez’s body was found Friday morning in the river between the dam and Addis Park,about a mile south of where the men were reported to have gone in the river.  A boater discovered Pacheco’s body on Saturday morning and it was retrieved by police. 

Both men had lived at the same address in Danbury.

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Danbury woman arrested again for allegedly illegally selling alcohol, cigarettes from home

A Danbury woman has been arrested for allegedly illegally selling cigarettes without a license.  A search warrant was obtained about 66-year old Vera Lucia Ribeiro-Menezes operating an illegal business from her Foster Street apartment. 

A lot of foot and vehicle traffic attracted the attention of police.  The apartment is directly across the street from Head Start of Northern Fairfield County, an elderly housing complex and is part of a neighborhood comprised of multifamily dwellings. 

Over the past three years, including this incident, Ribeiro-Menezes has been arrested six different times for illegally selling cigarettes and/or alcohol.  She was also charged Friday with criminal attempt to Dispense Alcohol without a Permit.

In 2018, police seized thousands of dollars in U.S. currency and a large quantity of alcohol and cigarettes.  A 2020 seizure resulted in several thousand dollars, a large quantity of alcohol, cigarettes and a small quantity of marijuana.  Friday's seizure was consistent with past findings, as alcohol, cigarettes and thousands of dollars were seized.

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Newtown Police explain why Code Red was sent about recent attempted car thefts

Newtown's Police Chief is explaining why a Code Red was sent out last week about attempted car thefts. Chief James Viadero says the issuance of the code red was not a common practice, but done in this case because of the brazenness of the attempts, and out of concern for public safety involving similar incidents that had transpired in adjoining communities. 

There were three attempts to enter cars parked in private driveways, during daylight hours, and similar to incidents in Easton, Weston, and Bethel.  All 4 911 dispatch centers received similar information about the suspected individuals. 

Viadero says there was the potential of violence if confronted, so the alert was issued.  He acknowledged that the text of the alert needed to be more defined, giving particular locations of the attempts, not just limiting the information to the descriptors of the parties and vehicle.

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Eversource replacing gas line under Danbury street

Eversource Gas will be replacing a segment of the old gas main in Danbury.  The work starts today on West Street between New Street and Harmony Street. To minimize the impact to traffic, the City has limited the hours of construction work to 6pm through 6am.  West Street will be reopened to four travel lanes at 6 each morning.  During the nighttime work, one travel lane in each direction will be open and Danbury Police will direct traffic. On street parking will be limited during construction but Eversource will provide access to all adjacent properties at all times.

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Putnam County celebrates 209th birthday

Saturday marked the 209th birthday of Putnam County.  The theme of celebrations focused on the presence of the American Flag in local history.   The outdoor exhibit on the steps of the Historic Courthouse includes images from county-wide collections.  Panels feature images from every town and village thanks to the Historian’s Collection, Putnam History Museum, Southeast Museum, as well as the Carmel, Kent, Patterson and Putnam Valley historical societies. People were then encouraged to walk down to Lake Gleneida and see the Row of Honor.  The twice-yearly Row of Honor is a salute to veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  There are at least 550 flags, representing memorials to veterans. This is the largest number of flags since the tradition was started nearly a decade ago.  They are sold for $100 to those who want to recognize a veteran. Putnam County Day is an annual event that typically includes a ceremony, historic presentations, and awards for outstanding people, projects and publications that enrich and record Putnam County’s history.  Next weekend is New York State’s Path Through History weekend.

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Conn. to phase out PFAS from firefighting foam

PFAS continues to be used in class B firefighting foam, but Connecticut lawmakers are looking to reduce the use of this chemical.  The Senate and House have approved a bill phasing it out, but the House made changes and sent it back to the Senate on the final day of the legislative session.  It was approved later in the Senate again.

Brookfield Representative Steve Harding and Senator Craig Miner introduced the amendment to note that "intentionally introduced" means deliberately utilized regulated metal or PFAS in the formulation of a package or packaging component.

PFAS is used in nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, products that resist grease, water and oil, food packaging and food service ware. According to the Center for Disease Control, PFAS are strongly linked to certain forms of cancer, liver damage, hormone disruption, increases in cholesterol, thyroid disruption, asthma, reproductive disorders including infertility, low birth weight, and decreased response to vaccines. 

In terms of the firefighting foam, DEEP will provide takeback for municipalities.

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Bridge in Brookfield named for former Gov. Rell

The bridge carrying Route 7 northbound over Grays Bridge Road and the Still River in Brookfield is being renamed.  The infrastructure will be designated as the "Governor M. Jodi Rell Bridge" under a transportation bill approved in the final hours of the General Assembly session this week.  Brookfield Representative Steve Harding noted that the former 107th District House member is still a resident of the town and worked tirelessly to make something happen that many people didn't think was possible.  He notes that she was able to cut the ribbon the Super 7 expansion northbound into New Milford.  Harding called it fitting that the bridge going northbound will be named in her honor.

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Danbury reports low COVID-19 positive test results

The Danbury Department of Public Health is reporting very low numbers of positive COVID-19 tests.  Last Saturday there were no reported cases.  For June, through Wednesday, the City reported just 23 positive cases. 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has released its weekly COVID-19 Alert Map. No municipalities are in the red zone, the highest of the state’s four levels for community spread.  Most have fewer than 5 cases in the last two weeks reported, but 5 municipalities had between 5 and 9 cases during that time.

The Department has identified new COVID-19 variants among Connecticut residents.  The variant first detected in India has been reported in 35 cases in Connecticut.  The most prominent remains the U.K. variant, with a total of nearly 3,200 cases detected to date.  About 1,200 cases of the New York variant have been identified among Connecticut residents.

1.9 million Connecticut residents are fully vaccinated.  94-percent of those over the age of 65 have received at least one dose.  16 and 17 year olds continue to have higher vaccination rates than 18 to 34 year olds.  About 38-percent of 12 to 15 year olds, the latest group eligible to receive a shot, have received at least one dose of a vaccine to date.

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New Milford to host Flag Retirement Ceremony

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the town will host a proper Flag Retirement Ceremony for worn and tattered US Flags.  Anyone with a Flag that needs to be disposed of can drop it off at Town Hall across from the Mayor's office or at the VFW.  The ceremony is set for June 18th at 6pm at Clatter Valley Park.

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Area fire departments get training from Metro North on emergency response involving tracks

Members of the Bethel Fire Department hosted a special training this week put on by the Metro North Railroad Fire Department to learn about how to handle emergencies safely on the tracks.  Of all of the MTA rail lines in Connecticut, the Danbury extension has the most roadway crossings at 36.  Firefighters from nearby departments and agencies also attended the training session to learn this safety information.

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Today marks 209th birthday of Putnam County

Today marks the 209th birthday of Putnam County.  The annual observation of Putnam County Day at the Historic Courthouse has been canceled again this year due to COVID-related restrictions.  A virtual celebration and outdoor exhibit on the steps of the Historic Courthouse has been put on display for the occasion. The Historian’s Office has been working with museums, schools and Carmel’s Boy and Girl Scouts to assemble a video program and an outdoor exhibit which focus on the presence of the American Flag in local history.

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Health officials warn of lead poisoning from certain ceramicware

The state Department of Public Health has issued a warning about several cases of lead poisoning from ceramicware pots sold at CTown Supermarkets.  Two children and an adult have gotten lead poisoning.  There are CTowns in Danbury, Stratford, Meriden, New Haven, South Norwalk, Hartford, East Hartford and New Britain.  The products are not intended to be used for food contact and cooking and are only to be used for decorative purposes--and must be labeled as being only for decorative use.

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Redding Zoners push off discussion of proposed firehouse project

A proposal to demolish an existing firehouse and construct a new on in Redding has been tabled by the Zoning Commission.  They met this week for a public hearing about the site plan approval for Black Rock Turnpike, but put the discussion on hold until their next meeting. 

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.  A structural engineer has determined 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.

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New Fairfield Police rescues child accidentially locked in car

A New Fairfield Police Officer has rescued a child from a car after her parent accidentally locked the key inside.  The officer was called to the scene around noon on Wednesday and arrived within minutes.  He was able to safely open the vehicle. The mother expressed her gratitude for getting the child out safely and, afterward, the officer showed off his police cruiser for the child.

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Local lawmaker touts funding for Danbury approved by General Assembly

Danbury will be receiving more state funding in the two-year budget approved by the General Assembly this week. Danbury Representative David Arconti says the City's delegation secured $5 million more in education funding, and $7.5 million more in municipal aid to repair roads and infrastructure. Danbury PAL will be receiving a $140,000 grant under a state bonding bill approved in the final hours of the session.  Arconti says the new budget supports small businesses, economic growth, education, and does not include any tax increases.

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Himes visits Ridgefield to learn about pandemic recovery program effects

4th District Congressman Jim Himes was in Ridgefield yesterday.  He stopped by A Contemporary Theatre of CT to see how the organization is using Paycheck Protection Program to continue operations as the state comes out of the pandemic. Himes also heard how CARES Act dollars have helped keep their doors open and received an update on the Shuttered Venues grant application process. Himes also took a walking tour of Ridgefield businesses yesterday.  He was joined by First Selectman Rudy Marconi downtown to visit businesses that have benefited from federal assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Danbury Police Chief to lead Connecticut Chief's Association

Danbury Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour has become the first African American to lead the Connecticut Police Chief’s Association.  The new role took effect yesterday.  The organization 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.  Outgoing President, Stonginton Chief Darren Stewart says Ridenhour has played key roles in developing new training and working with lawmakers.

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Internal Affairs Investigation launched into video of Danbury Police response to incident

An internal affairs investigation has been launched by Danbury Police into a disturbance complaint Wednesday at Danbury Library. 

A library security guard is seen asking a person to leave because he was taking video, which is against library policy.  The man says he's working on a story and exercising his First Amendment rights.  Danbury Police were then called to respond.

The man refuses to show police his ID and was told that he could be arrested for trespassing.  Eventually, the man provided ID and left, being told the citation would be sent in the mail. 

Chief Patrick Ridenhour says it's fortunate that there were no arrests or injuries, but he is concerned about how the incident was handled by the responding officers and supervisor.  The Internal Affairs Division will review any applicable laws, analysis of the video as well as footage from recently purchased body cameras.

Once the investigation is complete, Ridenhour says they will take the appropriate action based on the findings.

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Train derails in Danbury, sinkhole under tracks in Bethel

Two incidents involving train tracks caused traffic problems in the area yesterday. 

In Danbury, International Drive was closed between Federal Road and the Eagle Road overpass in the afternoon due to a derailed train car.  Three train cars carrying garbage from a processing center jumped the tracks, but remained upright.  There were no spills or injuries. 

(Photo: DFD)

In Bethel, a sinkhole was discovered under the Metro North grade crossing on Greenwood Avenue.  The road will be closed through the weekend as engineers replace track, ties and grade crossing plates.

Southbound buses depart 25 minutes earlier than normal train schedules from Danbury and 20 minutes earlier from Bethel to make the train connection at Redding station.  Northbound buses will arrive at Bethel and Danbury 15 minutes earlier than train times.

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DEEP bans alcohol at six state recreation areas

Alcohol has been banned at six state recreation areas, effective immediately. 

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection reimposed the temporary ban at Lake Waramaug State Park, Wadsworth Falls State Park, and George Waldo State Park/upper section of Paugussett State Forest in Southbury. 

The ban on alcohol is in effect until August 25th. 

In recent summers, including last year, these locations have experienced increased crowds and alcohol consumption, which led to increased incidents of misconduct, unruly behavior, property damage, trespass, and complaints by other visitors and the surrounding communities.  The ban will help DEEP law enforcement dissuade inappropriate use of and reduce negative behaviors in recreational areas.

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State bond money approved to help pay for Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial

In the waning hours of the Legislative Session, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed a state bonding package that funds a number of projects including the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial.  A $2.6 million grant was approved for the project, which Newtown residents recently signed off on, with a $3.7 million budget.  Representative Mitch Bolinsky applauded the move saying he was truly touched that the Governor and the Speaker of the House thought of Newtown and acted to help have a place of beauty intended to recall, honor and continue the process of healing.

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Bethel Board authorizes funding to preserve open space

The Bethel Board of Finance has approved allocating $300,000 toward the purchase of land on Shelly Road as open space.  The Bethel Land Trust says the parcel is a mix of mature hardwood forest and wetlands.  It borders both the Franc Preserve and Newtown’s Brunot Preserve.  The construction of two apartment buildings was proposed for the property, which extends close to the Franc Preserve’s red trail.  The proposal was made to have the Town of Bethel purchase the land to protect it and enhance the Franc Preserve.  $200,000 from Bethel's open space fund will also be used to complete the purchase.

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Bill clears Senate updating domestic violence laws

The state Senate has passed a bill that would update Connecticut's domestic violence laws.  Redding Senator Will Haskell says the measure preventing domestic abuse would allow more favorable and fair treatment of survivors in need of a restraining order. If signed into law by the governor, Connecticut would join at least 17 other states that already incorporate more than just physical violence into the criteria necessary for issuing a restraining order.  Haskell says this legislation because it creates a safer and more modern restraining order process, allowing survivors to email the forms needed to serve a restraining order on the alleged abuser. Currently, the forms must be physically delivered by the applicant to the courthouse. The bill also allows survivors the option of testifying remotely in court proceedings -- and not in presence of their alleged abuser—if they have a hearing for a restraining order, a protective order, or a standing criminal protective order.

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Sinkhole discovered under railroad crossing in Bethel

A sinkhole was discovered under the railroad track eastbound lane of the grade crossing in Bethel.  Greenwood Avenue in Bethel is closed between Library Place and Blackman Avenue while Metro North makes repairs to the railroad crossing. Drivers should use South Street as a detour.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says this will be an extended closure, likely through the weekend.  The repair requires the removal and replacement of about 30 yards of track, ties and grade crossing platforms.  Metro North is running substitute bus service between Danbury and Redding, with train service running between Redding and South Norwalk as normal.

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COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Danbury Library today

The state Department of Public Health-Griffin Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be holding a walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Danbury today.

No appointment is needed for the 2nd dose Pfizer shot or the one-dose Johnson and Johnson shot at Danbury Library until 5:45pm.  People can get the 1st dose of Pfizer, but appointments for the second dose will need to be made at another location. 

Connecticut's daily COVID-19 test positivity rate is .81 percent.  Out of more than 13,000 antigen and molecular tests reported to the Department of Public Health, 108 came back positive.  The number of people seeking hospital treatment for COVID-19 climbed up a bit yesterday, by four.  There are 76 people hospitalized. 

The state reported two new COVID-associated fatalities yesterday.

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Local lawmaker critical of highway use fee for trucks

A local lawmaker is critical of the highway use fee on tractor trailers, approved in the final hours of the legislative session yesterday.  Brookfield Representative Steve Harding says there was significant opposition to the measure to tax trucks based upon their weight and distance traveled.  He was disappointed that an amendment failed, which would have moved several transportation-related return revenue streams from the General Fund back to the Special Transportation Fund.  Another failed amendment would have given an exemption to any truck used for retail or wholesale food delivery, agricultural commodities, or farm supplies.

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New Milford Hospital marks 100 years of service

New Milford Hospital is marking a century of service.  The community hospital was established after the Spanish Flu pandemic and has been located at their current Elm Street location for nearly all of the last 100 years.  The hospital celebrated its 100th birthday on Wednesday with a cake cutting ceremony led by Mayor Pete Bass, and an ice cream social for staff.  New Milford is part of Nuvance Health, a seven-hospital network.

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Greenwood Ave closed due to Metro North track work

Greenwood Avenue in Bethel is closed between Library Place and Blackman Avenue while Metro North makes repairs to the railroad crossing.  Drivers should use South Street as a detour.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says this will be an extended closure, likely through the weekend. Substitute bus service will be provided between Danbury and Redding due to the track condition requiring attention.  Metro North says train service between Redding and South Norwalk is operating. 

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Search continues for two men who fell into Housatonic in New Milford

Two men fell into the Housatonic River in New Milford last night. Search and rescue crews responded to a 911 call around 8:30pm reporting that a 23-year-old and 36-year-old fell into the Housatonic River behind the West Cove Marina on West Street.  Searchers continue their efforts to locate the men until around 1am.  Crews will return this morning to continue the search.

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Newtown named 'Safest City in Connecticut'

The 20 safest cities in Connecticut have been named by Safewise home security and several in the region have made the list. 

The Safest City in Connecticut for 2021 is Newtown.  Police spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde says they would like to take the credit, but the truth is that it’s the strength and kindness of the community, that makes officers jobs keeping the community safe successful. 

Ranked number 2 on the list is Ridgefield. 

Newtown and Ridgefield swapped places this year. Newton dropped its property crime incidents from 4.4 per 1,000 people to 2.1.  Newtown reported only one robbery in the last year and five aggravated assaults.  Ridgefield saw only one incident of violent crime in the last year. 

New Milford is ranked 8th and Danbury places 19th on the list.  New Milford and Danbury hold the same spots from last year. 

Though Danbury had the most violent crime in the last year, its year-over-year violent crime rate dropped from 1.5 to 1.1. 

Connecticut sees a violent crime rate well below national and regional averages yet 38% of survey respondents said it was their top concern.  Level of concern with crime in Connecticut changes from year to year. This year, package theft is the biggest concern in Connecticut.  22% of survey respondents experienced package theft. 

Safewise uses FBI crime data for the rankings, relying on information that cities across the country report through the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting program.  Safewise looked at the number of reported violent crimes (aggravated assault, murder, rape, and robbery) in each city and the number of reported property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft). Arson is excluded from the FBI’s property crime rates.

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Peer Navigator Pilot program approved to address opioid crisis

Final legislative approval has been given to a bill proposed by a local lawmaker.  New Milford Representative Bill Buckbee pushed to create a statewide ‘peer navigator’ program, emulating New Milford’s successful community navigator program.

The bill establishes a PILOT program to allow for five new peer navigators to facilitate engagement between providers of treatment services, improve treatment retention rates, and increase the capacity of the community to support those in crisis. 

According to Buckbee, the state saw a stark 20% increase of overdose incidences over the last year. However, New Milford’s local statistics trended in the opposite direction by a decrease of 20% – a statistic attributed to local collaboration and efforts to connect those struggling with addiction to life saving services.

Buckbee’s advocacy on the issue stems from his support of Brian Cody’s Law, which was proposed to take a fresh and more comprehensive approach to America’s battle with opioid dependencies. 

Danbury Senator Julie Kushner became emotional when discussing the bill on Tuesday, noting that this is something that touches every family.  She said it should be approved for all those whose lives have been lost, and for those they can still save.

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Danbury to upgrade sidewalks along Blamforth Ave

A nearly half a million dollars will be spent to upgrade sidewalks in part of Danbury.  According to an announcement on the City website, Danbury will spend $450,000 to improve the area along Balmforth Avenue.  Handicapped ramps and code-complaint pedestrian control signals are planned, along with new crosswalks at the intersection with Osborne Street.  A federal Community Development Block Grant will cover the cost.  A Danbury-based company has been selected to complete the work between Osborne and North streets.  Tree stumps must be removed. The existing concrete sidewalks and driveway aprons will be demolished and replaced. Traffic flow may be affected once work begins.

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New Milford High School seniors to have tradditional commencement

New Milford High School seniors will get a traditional commencement after all.  The initial plan called for a second year of a car parade to celebrate the graduates, but students petitioned administrators for an in-person ceremony.  The outdoor ceremony will be held on June 19th at 11am on the football field. Last year, graduates paraded from Sarah Noble Intermediate School to the high school and walked the sidewalk to receive their diplomas.  The decision to hold a more traditional graduation follows an outdoor prom where no major issues arose.

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Trucker ticketed for crash that closed highway during morning commute

A truck driver was issued a ticket for the crash that closed I-84 on Tuesday morning in Newtown.  A 67-year-old Stamford man headed eastbound shortly before 8:30am attempted to avoid slowed traffic, went over the grass median and onto the westbound side of the highway. 

An SUV then crashed head on into the rear side of the tractor-trailer’s cab.  The 63-year old woman was transported to Danbury Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. 

Another SUV avoided collided into the wreck, but came to an uncontrolled rest in the grass median.  The 34-year-old Sandy Hook man was uninjured. 

The truck driver was uninjured, and charged with reckless operation of a motor vehicle and failure to maintain lane. About 30 gallons of fuel, and some motor oil, transmission fluid and antifreeze spilled and needed to be cleaned up.

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Teacher union calls for AC upgrades amid heat wave, pandemic

With the first heat wave of 2021 in the books, some schools had to go to early dismissal this week.  Danbury schools dismissed early Monday through Wednesday because most of the buildings aren't air conditioned and the heat index was high.  New Fairfield also had dismissed students early at the start of the week.  The Connecticut Education Association now wants federal coronavirus relief funds to be used to install, maintain and repair heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.  CEA is the union representing the majority of teachers in the state.

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DOT truck strikes pedestrian in Washington

A state Department of Transportation pickup truck struck and seriously injured a New Preston man Monday night.  State Police say the crash happened at Route 202 and Flirtation Avenue in Washington shortly before 10pm when a 19-year-old entered the travel portion of the roadway from the right shoulder.  The man was transported to Danbury Hospital.  No charges have been filed.

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Bridgewater tax bills sent out

The Town of Bridgewater Tax Collector says tax bills were mailed on Friday.  Payments become due on July 1st and are payable without interest penalty until August 2nd. No payments will be posted before July 1st, with online lookup available at that date.  Online payments will not be accepted until July 1st.

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Candlewood Company firefighters to hold donation drive

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company is not going door-to-door this year to collect donations for their annual Fund Drive.  As there are some residents who prefer to donate in person, the volunteer firefighters wanted to given them an opportunity to still contribute.  The firefighters are going to be at the Candlewood Fire House on Bayview Drive this weekend to collect donations from 9am to 1pm on both days.  They will also send out traditional mailers, but are reminding residents that they can also donate online at CandlewoodFire.com

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Congressional Arts Competition winner announced

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has announced the 2021 Congressional Arts Competition winner. Anna Goodwin, from Nonnewaug High School - Region 14. was selected for her piece, “Allegro.”  The drawing was done in colored pencil. A total of four pieces were selected to be displayed in the Capitol Tunnel, the Connecticut and D.C. offices, and the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury for one year.

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2021 Easton Police Chase to benefit DARE is on

The 2021 Easton Police Chase to benefit DARE is happening.  The 5K course at Samuel Staples Elementary on September 18th is certified, and will have CHIP timing.  Long sleeve tech t-shirts will be provided and a kids fun run will be held.  Anyone who registered for the 2020 race that was postponed due to COVID restrictions has been automatically deferred to this year's race.

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Putnam County Department of Health to end COVID vaccine clinics this month

Six months of mass COVID vaccine clinics by the Putnam County Department of Health will be coming to an end on June 22nd. The single dose J & J vaccine will be administered for anyone 18 and older at their remaining clinics. 

Vaccination rates in Putnam continue to be about 4 percentage points above the New York state average, with 59 percent of Putnam residents of all ages having received at least one dose. 

Meanwhile COVID case numbers continue to decline; fewer tests are being performed; less contact tracing is being conducted; and fewer contacts need to quarantine.  The pandemic has not ended, but County officials say to a large degree, it has been tamed. 

More than 20,000 vaccines were administered at 74 point-of-dispensing clinics.

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Danbury manufacturer agrees to pay EPA fine for chemical discharge

A Danbury manufacturing company has agreed to pay a settlement to the Environmental Protection Agency after chemicals were discharged into the Sympaug Brook.  Emhart Teknologies will pay a fine of more than $29,600 for allegedly allowing coolant from cutting tools to be discharged into the water. 

The EPA says this incident and the enforcement action serves as a reminder to companies about the importance of evaluating sources of potential spills at their facilities and having adequate prevention measures in place.

Regulators allege that Emhart pumped about 1800 gallons of used coolant from a storage tank into storm basins. About 630 gallons of diluted coolant made it into the stream. 

The EPA says the coolant contained oil and toxic metals from brass machining work, and created a fish kill from where the discharge entered the brook to Still River.

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Sherman Selectmen approve funding for school playground replacements

The Sherman Board of Selectmen has held a special meeting about funding for the Sherman School’s playgrounds.  The Selectmen agreed to an expenditure of up to $300,000 to repair and replace the playgrounds.  The Board of Ed has proposed demolishing and replacing the Sherman School’s lower playground and making repairs to its pirate ship playground.  That board reduced costs by about $100,000.  School officials have called the current equipment a safety issue. Donations from community members have offset costs by about $25,000.  A date for the town meeting has not yet been set.

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Hawk found shot with arrow released back into the wild

A red-tailed hawk that was found in Newtown shot by an arrow has been released from a sanctuary for birds of prey.  The arrow was lodge through the hawk's leg and abdomen in mid-April.  He underwent surgery at South Wilton Veterinary Group and was taken to Weston-based Christine's Critters for rehabilitation. When the hawk was healthy enough for the bigger flight cage, he healed quickly.  He was released at a wildlife preserve on Great Hill Road.

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Danbury Police Lt has transferred to rehab hospital as COVID fight continues

A Danbury Police Lt has been transferred to a rehab hospital as he continues to recover from COVID-19.  Lt Vincent Daniello has been in a hospital for 100 days, starting in Danbury where he was put on a ventilator after bacterial pneumonia attacked his already COVID-pneumonia damaged lungs.  On a fundraising page to support his family with medical bills, an update says he was airlifted to Brigham Hospital in Boston and had to go through the grueling process of learning to stand up and to start to walk again  while on machines and IV’s. Daniello was transferred to Spaulding Hospital for Rehabilitation for PT and OT, while remaining on oxygen. https://www.freefunder.com/campaign/vinnies-covid-fight-fund

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Local lawmaker questions highway use fee proposed on trucks

Shortly after 9 p.m., the House voted 88 to 59 in favor of Lamont’s proposed mileage-based “highway use” fee on tractor-trailers, where the weight of the trucks determines the rate paid. Modeled after programs in New York and Oregon, the tax is projected to generate $90 million annually to help shore up the state’s financially troubled transportation fund.

“What are we doing? These truck drivers busted their tails in the last year to support us,” asked Rep. William Buckbee, R-New Milford. He and other Republicans predicted the fee — which Democrats predicted would be about $10 per tractor trailer traveling across the state — would be harmful to in-state trucking companies and ultimately become an additional cost for Connecticut taxpayers.

But proponents said it’s only fair to charge a user fee for the tractor trailers, given the damage they cause to Connecticut’s roads as they deliver goods throughout the Northeast.

“We seem dedicated to giving a free ride to the people of New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts,” said Rep. Steve Meskers, D-Greenwich.

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Attorney is suspect in fatal shooting of man at law office

LITCHFIELD, Conn. (AP) — A 39-year-old man was fatally shot in the parking lot of a Connecticut law office and a partner in the law firm has been named as the subject of the homicide investigation.

The shooting happened just before 5 p.m. Monday outside the Litchfield office of Cramer & Anderson LLP, which is located across the town green from several restaurants that were busy at the time.

State police said they responded to numerous 911 calls, including one from the shooter, and found Matthew Bromley dead in the parking lot. He had been shot once in the head, police said.

Trooper Josue Dorelus, a state police spokesperson, told The Hartford Courant that an argument preceded the shooting and police are trying to determine whether the shot was fired in self-defense.

“The subject of the investigation, identified as attorney Robert Fisher, remained on scene and spoke with State Police,” the department said in a brief news release Tuesday afternoon.

Cramer & Anderson, in a statement described the shooting as a “tragic incident” involving Fisher, a partner at the firm, who handles mostly probate, estate planning and land use matters, according to the firm’s website.

“Attorney Fisher will be on a leave of absence while the police investigation is carried out,” the law firm said.

State police said even though the shooting occurred in the center of Litchfield, there was no threat to the public.

No charges were immediately filed. It wasn’t clear whether Fisher had an attorney who could comment. A message was left at a phone number listed for him seeking comment.

Fisher, who lives in Goshen, is also a justice of the peace. He has been active in the Litchfield County Bar Association and has assisted bar association members with firearms training, the Republican-American of Waterbury reported.

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Congresswoman recognized for support of veterans

The office of 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is a Purple Heart Office.  This was awarded by the Connecticut Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in acknowledgment of dedication and support of Veterans.  Hers is the only Congressional office on the East Coast to have received this distinction and will soon appear on the Purple Heart Trail, a map to guide Veterans to places where they will be met with kindness and respect.

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Southbury Police Department welcomes new officer

Southbury Police Department is welcoming a new officer, Richard Volpe III .  He was sworn in Friday night and is the 23rd Member of the Southbury Police Department.  The Southbury native was an Emergency Dispatcher.  Volpe and other police recruits across Connecticut will go through POST’s program at the Connecticut Police Academy.  The basic training program is approximately 22 weeks long.  Recruits must complete a field and departmental training program consisting of a minimum of 400 additional hours.  Upon successful completion of all portions of the program, including the field and departmental training, the recruit officer is issued an initial certification as a police officer in the State of Connecticut.

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Local lawmaker touts bill expanding access to dental, vision care

Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan is touting a bill that will expand access to dental and vision care for kids.  The measure would allow children, stepchildren, and other dependent children to retain that care under their parents' policies until age 26 or until they are able to access their own coverage through an employer. Allie-Brennan says accessible dental and vision care is an essential component of preventing chronic conditions, but can be costly.  The bill now heads to the Governor's desk.

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Newtown, Easton Police investigating attempted car thefts

Newtown and Easton Police are investigating attempted car thefts. 

Newtown Police cautioned residents yesterday to be on the lookout for three individuals, possibly two males and one female driving a black Lincoln with no front plate and a chrome front grill.  They were attempting to enter unlocked vehicles to steal the car or the belongings inside. 

Individuals with the same description were attempting to steal vehicles in surrounding towns over the last two days. 

Easton Police on Sunday evening received a call from two separate locations about three suspects running back to their car when they spotted the homeowners.  All suspects were wearing face coverings.  No property was taken, and no weapons were displayed.

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Burglary from beach parking lot under investigation

A burglary from a beach parking lot in New Milford is under investigation.  Police responded to Candlewood Lake Road South on Memorial day for a report of cash and credit cards stolen from a wallet in the vehicle.  The suspect then used the victim's credit card at Walgreens on Federal Road in Danbury.  Surveillance photos have been posted to the New Milford Police Facebook page.  Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact Officer Petersen at 860-355-3133.

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New Fairfield residents approve budget

New Fairfield residents have approved a budget with very light turnout.  About 10-percent of eligible voters cast ballots Saturday.  978 people voted in person, and 23 voted by absentee ballot.  The municipal budget was approved in a vote of 578 to 422.  The Board of Ed budget also passed, on a vote of 542 to 458. 

The property tax will increase 2.98 percent, mostly because of debt service for the two new schools.  

The budget referendum is usually held in May, but the New Fairfield Board of Finance took extra time this year to make sure they had all the information they needed to keep the property tax increase as low was possible.  They waited to see what clarification there would be from the federal government on the use of federal relief funds in town budgets.  The federal funding could not be used to allay ongoing expenses not directly tied to COVID expenditures or lost revenues from COVID. 

Even though New Fairfield was eligible for over $1 million, the town will not be able to spend much of that under current federal guidelines.

 

 

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School budget approved in Sherman on second try

Sherman residents have approved a school budget on a second vote.  The revised $9.32 million spending plan was approved Saturday by a vote of 309 to 254.  The original plan, about $60,000 more than the new budget, failed last month due to a tie.  The Board of Ed sought feedback on the budget and many cited concern over a lack of transparency and the possible Sherman School building project.

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Catalytic converters stolen from school buses in New Milford

New Milford Police say nearly a dozen catalytic converters have been stolen from the town’s school bus depot.  11 exhaust emission control devices were stolen from handicap buses shortly after midnight on June 3rd.  Police say two suspects cut them off at the All-Star Transportation facility on Dodd Road and loaded them into a vehicle.  The suspects arrived in a a white “transport-style van” with a “carrying school children” sign on its roof.  Anyone with information is urged to call New Milford police at 860-355-3133.

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Blue-green algae closes Kettletown swim area

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has restarted its weekly water quality sampling at parks.  The swim area at the Kettletown State Park in Southbury was closed once again due to hazardous blue-green algae.  Swimming has not been allowed at the park for the last few years for this reason and once again the swim area will be closed through the end of the year.  DEEP will continue evaluating the water quality at Kettletown.  The campground is open.

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Danbury Foundation to distribute Care Boxes for the Community

The Danbury-based New American Dream Foundation is marking one year since kicking off their COVID-19 Hot Meal program with Care Boxes for the Community.  The Foundation says Unilever will help distribute boxes with essential items to families and seniors in the community. 

The over 10-pound boxes are filled with personal care and hygiene products, medical masks, hand sanitizers, and food items among others. 

They will be distributed at two events, one for seniors on Tuesday.  Pre-registration is required by calling the Danbury Senior Center. 

The Care Boxes for Children & Families will be distributed to any Danbury family on Wednesday at Morris Street School Family Resource Center.  The drive-through style event will be done on a first-come, first-served basis and registration is not required.  It's from 5pm to 6:30pm at 28 Morris Street. 

Since the start of the pandemic, the New American Dream Foundation has served over 18,000 meals to children, families, and seniors in Danbury. Foundation Vice President Emanuela Palmares says their hot meal program has bridged that gap between homebound seniors served by Meals-on-Wheels and those who can prepare their meals and find relief in receiving groceries. 

The program is ongoing.  Meals will be delivered on June 19th, July 10th and August 7th at several senior living facilities including Palace View, Kimberly Place, Danbury Towers, Bishop Curtis/Augustana Homes, Putnam Towers, Glen Apartments, Crosby Manor, and Danbury Commons.

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Bethel schools to offer free meals via Seamless Summer Option program

The Bethel Public Schools District will continue to offer free breakfast and lunch for all students, regardless of income, for the 2021-2022 school year through the Seamless Summer Option program through the USDA.  Seamless Summer has less paperwork, making it easier for schools to feed children during the traditional summer vacation periods.  Meals are reimbursed at the free rates for school lunches, school breakfasts, and afterschool snacks, which are slightly lower than the Summer Food Service Program rates.

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Danbury Health Department looks to vaccinate homebound population

The Danbury Health Department is using Vaccine Equity Partnerships Funding to vaccinate harder to reach populations.  The City's focus is on the homebound population, downtown Danbury, and ensuring clinic hours are available later in the day for people who are working. There will also be standing walk-in clinic hours at West Conn on Thursday afternoons for people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Native wildflower meadow being created at Franc Preserve

A native wildflower meadow is in the process of being created at the Franc Preserve in Bethel.  The Friends of the Franc Preserve and the Bethel Land Trust was working at the corner of Plumtrees Road and the Preserve’s entrance, but the Project has been placed on hold until they can secure a rototiller.  Organizers say the decline in wildflower meadows over the last 50 years has meant that this diverse and valuable ecosystem, which is home to so many species, is disappearing. They support bees, butterflies, bats and birds among others.  A new kiosk will be built onsite by volunteers from the Bethel Land Trust. The kiosk will contain information about the Preserve and the Preserve’s Trail Map.

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Women's Center to hire a Campus Counselor/Advocate

The Women's Center is looking to hire a Campus Counselor/Advocate.  The role is to provide advocacy, support, counseling, crisis intervention, referrals, case management, education, and outreach.  Gender-based violence prevention is the primary focus of this position, but the expectation is that the advocate is also integrated into the overall gender equity work of the Women’s Center. This position aims to empower victims on safety and their right to self-determination.  The organization deals with domestic and dating violence, sexual violence, gender-based discrimination, harassment, and violence on local campuses.  Anyone interested in the position can read more about the required qualifications posted on the "Career Opportunities" page of the Women's Center website.

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Kent Recycling Pilot Program off to successful start

Kent First Selectwoman Jean Speck says the Transfer Station Glass Recycling Pilot Program is off to a very successful start. Transfer Station users have been quick to start separating out their glass and placing it in the new container.  Tops should be removed from all glass containers before being placed in the container. Metal and plastic caps go in the co-mingle, and corks go in the "CORX" mailbox.  Meanwhile Speck says  the trash and recycling bins out around Kent village are provided as a convenience to the public for garbage and recycling generated when patronizing the shops and businesses around town.  They are not intended to be used for residential garbage dumping.

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Limited hours this weekend at Danbury Town Park

There are limited hours this weekend at Danbury Town Park.  Director of Parks and Rec Nick Kaplanis says they have put out the swim area lines and buoys.  Hours are limited this weekend, 12 to 6.  He says they'll remain open from there through the rest of the summer.  The park reopened last weekend.  One of the three spray parks, the one at Rogers Park, is also welcoming visitors.  

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Trails Day events planned this weekend

A Trails Day event will be held in New Milford at the Young’s Field Riverwalk from 11am to 12:30pm Saturday.  The rain date for the educational walk is Sunday.  Participants will walk along the Housatonic River, across Veteran’s Bridge into Native Meadows Preserve, and learn about flora, fauna and plants.

Deer Pond Farm will host a nature walk at the sanctuary from 10am to noon on Sunday. Habitat enhancement areas will be highlighted along the 1.5-mile hike, including the sanctuary’s bird and pollinator garden, Fall Migration Rest Stop and Cathedral Trail Bird Ecotone. Plantings, invasive species management and Deer Pond Farm’s nest box program will also be discussed.

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Greater Danbury area drops to lowest level of COVID community spread zone

The Greater Danbury area is in the state's grey zone for having fewer than 5 COVID-19 cases per 100-thousand population. There are 21 municipalities, mostly in the central and Eastern parts of the state, still in the yellow.  Only one town is in the orange zone, Waterbury, and no towns are in the red. 

Monroe had only 1 new COVID-19 case in the past week, and the 2-week rolling case rate is now less than 5 cases per 100,000 population.  Monroe is holding vaccination clinics on June 9th and 16th. Adult walk-ins will be taken from 9am to noon. Due to the significant drop in demand, and continued availability elsewhere, Monroe will be suspending weekly vaccination clinics after the 16th.

Connecticut is making progress in getting residents at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.  93-percent of Connecticut residents over the age of 65 have received at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.  83-percent of 55 to 64 year olds and 72 percent of 45 to 54 year olds are partially vaccinated.  It then drops to 67-percent for 35 to 44 year olds. 

Younger Connecticut residents, 16 and 17 year olds, have a better partial vaccination rate than some of their older counterparts at 59-percent.  Those 25 to 34 year olds are at 57-percent while 53-percent of 18 to 24 year olds are partially vaccinated. 

The youngest eligible group, 12 to 15 year olds, are at 35-percent partially vaccinated. 

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Danbury Food Collaborative to hold drive-thru food drive this weekend

A Community Food Drive to benefit the Danbury Food Collaborative and its member pantries will be held in the parking lot of BJ’s Wholesale Club on Saturday, from 9 am to 3 pm. The shelves at local food pantries need to be restocked, as the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic left many people in need of food over the past year. While many families are starting to get back on their feet after job losses last March, the pantries are still struggling to recover from what was a year of unprecedented demand. It is a drive-through donation process. Volunteers will remove donations from the trunk of donors’ vehicles in BJ’s parking lot. Look for the Food Drive signs as you enter the parking lot. Those who prefer to make a monetary donation can visit the Danbury Food Collaborative website at www.uwwesternct.org/danburyfoodcollaborative.

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Elected officials visit Danbury company to learn more about clean energy technology

Senator Chris Murphy and 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes visited FuelCell Energy in Danbury this morning.  They took a tour of the facility, met with employees, and learned more about FuelCell’s electrolysis technology.  They also highlighted the importance of transitioning to clean energy and the clean energy jobs in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.  They were joined by Danbury state Senator Julie Kushner and State Representative David Arconti.

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Newtown Police warning of thefts from cars

Newtown Police are warning that lower Fairfield County has experienced a very recent uptick in car thefts and thefts from cars.  Spokesman Lt. Aaron Bahamonde says this is the time of year people are tempted to  leave their car windows open on a hot day or leave it running with the AC.  A Newtown resident recently reported that their work laptop was stolen from their unlocked car.  He urged people to lock unoccupied vehicles to save the headache of dealing with police, insurance companies and all other court issues. 

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Local lawmakers split on update to state's bottle bill

Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan is touting final legislative approval updating Connecticut's bottle deposit program to encourage residents to recycle.  He notes that the law has become outdated and return rates have dropped below 50-percent. 

The bill, awaiting the governor's signature, updates the types of beverage containers captured by the bottle program, such as containers for teas, juices, hard ciders, and hard seltzers--and increases the redemption rate on beverage containers from 5 to 10 cents starting January 2024.

Brookfield Representative Steve Harding, ranking Republican on the Environment Committee, says there are good parts of the updated bottle bill, but is concerned about infrastructure not being updated.  He says consumers would get charged for a 10-cent deposit and not have access to a redemption center or the time to return their bottles and cans.  He says it works out to an additional 60-cent tax on every individual buying a 12-pack of soda.

Harding later voted against the bill.

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New Milford Fire Marshal gets new vehicle

New Milford is updating the town's fleet of vehicles, replacing older, less fuel efficient ones that require more service and maintenance calls.  The New Milford Fire Marshal can now use a black 2021 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor to respond to fire hazards and blazes.  The vehicle was paid for with unused funds that would normally pay the deputy fire marshal salary.  The Office has been operating without a full-time deputy, only a part-time one.  The town is currently conducting interviews for the full-time position.

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Danbury sees increase again of motor vehicle thefts

Danbury is seeing an increase once again in reports of stolen motor vehicles.  Three were reported in each January and February, with 4 in March and 10 in April.  There was no May update to the City Council at their meeting this week. 

Some members questioned Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour about what is behind the trend, not only in Danbury but across the state.  Ridenhour says there are some that are doing it just for fun, but others are doing it for the money. 

Most of the cars end up in other locations in the state.  He says there's not a lot of damage being done to the vehicles because people are either leaving their keys inside, or leaving the cars unlocked.  Ridenhour notes that it's what makes car theft an easy crime and difficult to stop.  He could put an officer on every corner, but says if someone can just open the door and even drive off, they're none the wiser. 

He called on residents to target harden, creating a situation where a witness can know if someone is acting suspiciously.  He acknowledged that it's a person's property and no one else has a right to take it even if the windows are down and the keys are inside.  

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Danbury looks to hold in-person meetings starting in Aug.

Renovations are still underway in Danbury City Hall Council chambers.  Mayor Joe Cavo says they needed to rebid some parts of the project, but depending on COVID numbers, he expects they will hold in-person meetings again starting in August.  The old dais in the City Council meeting room had the 21 members and the Mayor sitting shoulder to shoulder, with no room for social distancing.  The redesign involves adding a second dais in front of the existing one, and removing a couple of rows of seating for the public.  A handicap accessible ramp to the upper dais is also being added.  Remote and hybrid meetings are allowed, by gubernatorial  executive order, through June 30th.  City officials expect Governor Lamont to issue an update as that date draws near.

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Connecticut's Trails Day this weekend

Connecticut’s Trails Day is being held this weekend.  The first weekend of June is dedicated to the nationwide hiking initiative.  Several hikes are scheduled this weekend in the Greater Danbury area.  The Norwalk River Valley Trail organization will sponsor a Saturday morning hike, starting in Danbury at Tarrywile Park. The approximately four-mile hike will start outside the Tarrywile Mansion at 9:30am, but will be canceled if it rains. A two-mile hike in Redding is being held Saturday morning at the Ground Pine Sanctuary off Sport Hill Road.  Hikers will cross rolling terrain in the sanctuary, an intermittent stream and a vernal pool.  The hike will take place rain or shine from 9am to 11am.

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Brookfield to conduct work at sewer pump station

For many Brookfield sewer customers on Federal Road north of the cornfield, this June 1 Benefit Assessment bill may be the last.  The 28-year financing for this district is retiring.  Similarly, for most Sandy Lane customers, this is the final of ten Benefit Assessment payments. Upon final payment, the Brookfield Water Pollution Control Authority will release outstanding property liens.  Brookfield will be doing an infrastructure upgrade at one of the town's 14 sewer pump stations that must be maintained and updated as growth around town occurs.  The work at the pump station on Route 133 at the cornfield will be done within the next few months. The Authority is looking into sewering the properties around the Brookfield Market and Craft Center.

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Greater Danbury area gets grants to address educational inequities

A collaboration of Fairfield County businesses has awarded $300,000 in grants to area nonprofits to deal with educational inequities exacerbated by the pandemic.  The money from the Fairfield County Business Collaborative for Education Equity, which includes companies such a Pitney Bowes, Bank of America and Xerox is targeted for education-related initiatives in the Greater Bridgeport, Danbury, Norwalk, and Stamford areas.  The group says the programs that will benefit focus on summer learning, kindergarten and college readiness, and food insecurity and its impact on education.

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Zoning proposal to turn motel into homeless shelter withdrawn

A zoning proposal from a nonprofit to turn the former Super 8 motel into a homeless shelter has been withdrawn.  But Danbury officials say despite strong public opposition, the plan is still moving forward.  The Zoning Board of Appeals has cancelled its June 10 meeting, and the public hearing on the proposal. 

An attorney for Pacific House argues that zoning approval isn't needed because hotels are allowed in the zone, and that hotels and shelters are similar in use because visitors are transient in both cases. 

The original application to the Zoning Board of Appeals included a report from the City's Planning Director noting that a shelter at that site would not be “inconsistent” with property designations outlined in the Plan of Conservation and Development.  But Sharon Calitro noted that the City has different definitions for hotels and shelters.

The homeless population has been housed at the hotel since the start of the pandemic, but the gubernatorial executive orders, as of now, are sent to end July 20th.

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Car strikes school bus in Bethel

A car hit a school bus in Bethel yesterday afternoon.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company responded to the intersection of Payne Road and Route 6 just before 3pm. There were no reported injuries.  The bus was stopped at the light on Payne Road when the car turned off Route 6 and got wedged under the side of the bus.  The 4 students on the bus were transferred to a different bus to continue their journey home.  Firefighters stood by and assisted Bethel Police with traffic control while the car was towed away.

(Photo: SHVFD)

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Danbury ends COVID-19 vaccination clinic tonight

The state Department of Public Health-Griffin Health yellow minivan is back in Danbury and will continue to park at various locations throughout the City this month.  The Mobile Vaccination Team is holding a walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the PAL Building on Hayestown Road from 2pm to 7pm.  No appointment is needed. 

Today is the final Danbury COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Rogers Park Middle School, 1pm to 7pm, run by the City's Health Department. 

Hospitalizations in Connecticut of people seeking treatment for COVID-19 continues to fall.  There were 16 fewer patients yesterday, bringing the total statewide to 85.  About a quarter of patients are in Fairfield County hospitals, a quarter in Hartford County and a quarter in New Haven County.  The others are scattered throughout the remaining 5 counties. 

Another three COVID-associated fatalities were recorded yesterday.  About 11,000 tests were reported yesterday, with 115 coming back as positive.  The daily test positivity rate was just under 1-percent. 

As of yesterday, Connecticut ranked 4th in the nation for having the most people fully vaccinated against COVID-19, at 53.74 percent.  Vermont leads with 56-percent, followed by Maine at nearly 55-percent.  Massachusetts just judged out Connecticut at 53.95 percent of residents fully vaccinated.

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Danbury Immunization Action Plan Program wraps up HPV campaign

The Danbury Immunization Action Plan Program, based out of Norwalk Health Department, has wrapped up its second successful HPV WIN/WIN/WIN campaign in the Danbury area. Any child who visited their doctor’s office to talk about the HPV anti-cancer vaccine or started or continued the series was entered in a drawing for an iPad. The Danbury IAP Program received over 265 entries. The City's Director of Community Health chose a winner last week.

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Ridgefield Post Office relocates mail handling operations to Danbury

The Ridgefield Post Office has relocated mail handling operations to Danbury.  All mail trucks and deliveries will originate out of the Kenosia Avenue location.  Ridgefield officials say the purpose is to improve delivery service.  The current retail function in Ridgefield will continue as is.  Residents will still be able to use the Ridgefield Post Office to mail, purchase stamps and conduct any other postal needs currently offered.

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PTO launches week-long celebration of Danbury High School Class of 2021

The Danbury Parent Teacher Organization has announced a week-long celebration of the Danbury High School Class of 2021.  Starting today, the PTO is encouraging members of the community to decorate the city in blue and orange.  They suggested  lights, banners, posters, balloons and streamers be put up through next Thursday, June 10th, when the seniors graduate.  Administrators determined that a car parade will be held once again, starting at 12:15pm, running from Rogers Park to Danbury High School.  The PTO encouraged people to watch along Main Street as they drive by.

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Probe of VA hospital worker deaths finds safety violations

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) —  A federal investigation of a hot steam accident that killed two workers at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Connecticut found workplace safety violations and concluded the deaths were preventable, according to a report released Wednesday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The workers had just finished repairing a steam pipe in a maintenance building on the West Haven VA campus on Nov. 13 when a fixture broke off the pipe, flooding the work area rapidly with steam, OSHA officials said. The accident happened as workers were refilling the pipe with steam, authorities said.

Killed were VA maintenance worker Euel Sims, 60, a Navy Veteran from Milford, and private contractor Joseph O’Donnell, 36, of Danbury. Three other workers were injured.

The OSHA investigation found nine workplace safety violations by the West Haven VA, including failing to have procedures and safety measures in place to protect workers from such a rapid release of steam. OSHA said it cannot fine another federal agency, but said it would have proposed a $621,218 penalty if the VA was a private employer.

OSHA also is proposing more than $38,000 in fines against Mulvaney Mechanical Inc., of Danbury, for four serious violations, including failing to adequately train employees on methods necessary to control energy releases. O’Donnell worked for Mulvaney.

“These fatalities could have been prevented if the employer had complied with safety standards that are designed to prevent the uncontrolled release of steam,” said Steven Biasi, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport, Connecticut. “Tragically, these well-known protective measures were not in place and two workers needlessly lost their lives.”

The VA said in a statement Wednesday that a VA board of inquiry investigated the accident and made recommendations for improvements, many of which have already been put in place.

“VA Connecticut will continue to work closely with OSHA and all relevant VA entities to address the issues identified in the report,” the VA said.

The entire VA health care system also has put in place principles that make safety the responsibility of all employees and empower employees at every level to immediately raise safety concerns, the VA said.

An employee of Mulvaney Mechanical, who declined to give his name, said the company had no comment on the report.

The VA and Mulvaney Mechanical have 15 days from receiving the violation notices to correct the violations, request a conference with OSHA officials or appeal the notices.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said OSHA’s report also highlights how the aging infrastructure at the West Haven VA is failing and needs urgent renovations and rebuilding. He said the failures have included burst pipes, insect infestations and other signs of infrastructure collapse. He said many VA facilities around the country have similar problems.

“Ultimately patching them with short-term fixes is more expensive than starting over,” he said in a statement. “My hope is Congress will come together in a positive and proactive bipartisan response to build back better at the VA.”

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Brother of boy 'possessed' resents retelling in 'Conjuring'

BROOKFIELD, Conn. (AP) — The brother of a boy who some thought was possessed by demons has told the Hartford Courant previously that he resents the retelling of his family’s trauma, which features as the plot in the new film “The Conjuring 3.”

Carl Glatzel, 55, left Connecticut because of the painful events that started when his brother, David, began having hallucinations and delusions as a boy, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

Arne Johnson, the boyfriend and later husband of Deborah Glatzel, Carl and David’s sister, alleged that a demon left the boy and entered him during an exorcism and caused him to murder his landlord, Alan Bono, in 1981. Johnson was convicted of manslaughter and served four years in prison.

A defense attorney tried to defend Johnson against the charges, saying the devil had made him do it. The judge did not permit the arguments, which were based on claims by a couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who said they were paranormal investigators. The couple feature as the main characters in the film franchise.

Carl Glatzel has said the Warrens exploited his family for monetary gain. He told The Associated Press in 2007 that his brother had suffered from mental illness as a child but has now recovered.

“It was living hell when we were kids,” Glatzel told the AP that year. “It was just a nightmare. I’m not going to go through that again. Neither is my brother.”

The case was made into a 1983 NBC television movie, “The Demon Murder Case,” and was the subject of a book “The Devil in Connecticut,” by Gerald Brittle.

Carl Glatzel sued Brittle and Lorraine Warren when the book was reprinted in 2006, though the case was dismissed. Brittle told the newspaper the book was taken out of print because of the lawsuit.

“I did it because I was fed up with the case, fed up with Carl Glatzel,” Brittle said. “It just wasn’t worth it to me. It had no bearing on the fact that the book was true.”

“The Conjuring 3” opens in theaters on June 4 and will be available on HBO Max for 31 days from theatrical release.

The newspaper could not reach Arne Johnson for comment. Deborah Johnson, Ed Warren and Lorraine Warren have died, the newspaper reported.

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Danbury Town Park, spray park open

The spray park at Rogers Park in Danbury opened on Monday.  Parks and Rec Director Nick Kaplanis says things are going well in the first week.  The City's two other spray parks are set to open June 19th. 

Last year the Danbury Town Park remained closed for the summer because of social distancing and a lack of lifeguards.  Mayor Joe Cavo says they do have a group of lifeguards coming out of certification class this weekend.  They will get their certificates on June 5th, and then be hired for the remainder of the summer. 

The Danbury Town Park did a soft open on Saturday for a few hours, with lifeguard rentals who came in to get the park ready to officially open Monday.  There's a program in Newtown where they train guards and the City was able to hire through that program to open for Memorial Day weekend. 

Cavo noted that despite the rainy and cold weather, kids were swimming Saturday and the water was not even 50 degrees.

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New Milford launches new alert system for residents

New Milford has launched a new alert system for residents.  The opt-in system will allow residents to be notified via voice or text.  Mayor Pete Bass says the town purchased an add-on to CT Alerts.  It will allow New Milford officials to send out information on everything from road closures to special events.  It will also be used for real-time updates in certain circumstances.  CT Alerts is a statewide notification system to disseminate essential information during emergency situations. Residents can sign up through a hyperlink, Bass mentioned at the Town Council meeting.

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Southbury teen charged for incident involving gun on Route 67

A Southbury teenager has been charged for an incident involving a gun on Route 67 in January.  Southbury Police say the 17-year old was arrested on a warrant charging him with stealing a firearm, conspiracy to commit weapons in a vehicle, conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to commit larceny.  The teen's name was not released because of age.  No other details involving the incident were released, except police say a 47-year-old Oxford man was the alleged victim.  The teen was remanded to custody and transported to the Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Center.

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Danbury School District recognized for music education program

Danbury Public Schools has been recognized as a 2021 “Best Communities for Music Education School District” for its commitment to and support of music education for the third year in a row.  The National Association of Music Merchants recently released a list of 686 school districts nationwide, recognized as 2021 Best Communities for Music Education. Danbury was one of 23 districts in Connecticut to receive this distinction.  Superintendent Dr. Sal Pascarella says music education is an important part of students’ learning experience, and the City is fortunate to have generous community partners who continue to provide the funding needed for instruments and education.  He added that Jill Russell-Benner, the DPS K-8 music department head, has been a tremendous asset in serving as the liaison between schools and nonprofit organizations.

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Congresswoman makes stops in Danbury

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes spent part of yesterday in Danbury.  She visited with the Daily Bread Food Pantry and thanked volunteers for the work they're doing to help fill a need made larger by the pandemic.  She also stooped by West Conn's Visual and Performing Arts Center on the westside campus.  She spoke to the group looking to rename the center to honor Marian Anderson, who made Danbury her permanent home for over 50 years.  Through her work singing everything from opera to spirituals, Hayes says Anderson broke color barriers at numerous locations ultimately making her a cultural ambassador to the world.

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Mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Danbury today

The state Department of Public Health-Griffin Health yellow minivan is back in Danbury and will continue to park at various locations throughout the City this month.  The Mobile Vaccination Team is holding a walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Sacred Heart Church on Cottage Street from 3pm to 7pm.  No appointment is needed.  Tomorrow is the final Danbury COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Rogers Park Middle School, run by the City's Health Department.

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Swearing in ceremony held for 4 Danbury firefighters

A swearing in ceremony was held at Danbury Fire Headquarters on New Street this morning for the four newest members of the department who graduated recently from the Connecticut Fire Academy.  These four probationary firefighters completed a rigorous 16 week Recruit Training Program with the added complications of remote and in person learning. Shane Daigneault, Ben Vitti, Troy Morin, and Martin Bailey were sworn in this morning.

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Brookfield Sewer Use bill includes rate increase

The Brookfield Water Pollution Control Authority is cautioning customers that the June 1 Sewer Use bill includes a rate increase. This is the first Use Rate increase since June 2017, and even though the rate is going up, rates are still below state average.  The Authority is also reminding sewer use customers that flushable wipes are not flushable and must be thrown in the garbage. These wipes do not break down when disposed of in the toilet or septic system. Clogged pipes in household plumbing and the sewer collection system are costly and result in sewer backups.

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Section of Still River Greenway in Brookfield closing temporarily

A section of the Still River Greenway in Brookfield is closing temporarily.  The portion in the business district will be closed for the construction of a driveway for the grocery store that is going to be built nearby. This project is to begin on June 14th and is expected to last two weeks. There will be ongoing traffic crossing the Greenway for construction and once completed there will be an intersection to allow access to the site.

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Danbury to close municipal vaccination clinic

The Danbury Department of Public Health is closing up the municipal COVID-19 vaccination clinic at  Rogers Park Middle School.  Demand for shots has fallen so tomorrow's administration from 1pm to 7pm will be the final day. 

Danbury plans to use a million dollar grant to hold more mobile clinics in various neighborhoods.  The Connecticut Institute for Communities is working with the City on this effort, hiring four outreach workers to connect with unvaccinated populations. 

According to the latest state data, 54.6 percent of Danbury residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 42.4 percent are fully vaccinated.  That's behind most of the region.  55 percent of Bethel, New Fairfield and Sherman residents are partially vaccinated while at least 60 percent of residents in New Milford, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Southbury, Roxbury and Washington have at least one dose. 

For now, the mass vaccination site at the Danbury Fair mall remains open.

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New Fire Chief confirmed in Danbury

A new fire chief has been confirmed by the Danbury City Council. Bridgeport Fire Chief Richard Thode will lead Danbury's career department. Thode began his career in Ridgefield and is currently an adjunct instructor for the county's Fire School. He also volunteers for the Bethel Emergency Medical Services Advisory and the Fire Apparatus Replacement Committee. Thode has received countless awards and citations for exceptional service, including Bridgeport's highest award for bravery for his solo rescue of an elderly woman from a house fire during a blizzard.  Thode’s last day as chief of the Bridgeport Fire Department is June 18.

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Danbury man arrested on a variety of drug offenses

A Danbury man has been arrested on a variety of drug offenses after police received complaints about illicit drug sales throughout the city.  Around noon yesterday Police set up surveillance of 32-year old Kirk Junior Walker and his Eden Drive home. 

Shortly after 1:30, Walker and his girlfriend were followed to Foster Street where he was detained. 

Walker was found to have cocaine, prescription narcotics, drug paraphernalia, a significant amount of money and several pounds of marijuana.  He was charged with three counts of possession, two counts each of possession with intent to sell and within 1500 feet of public housing, and one count each of possession of drug paraphernalia and risk of injury to a child. 

His girlfriend, 29-year old Desiree Scott was charged with Evading Responsibility and Failure to Drive Right.

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FERC signs off on continued use of restaurant on Candlewood

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has signed off on a request to approve the existing Down the Hatch restaurant facilities remain in FirstLight territory.  FERC approval was required as part of the license agreement.  The approval noted that the use of the lands must not endanger health, create a nuisance, or otherwise be incompatible with overall project recreational use.  It must protect the scenic, recreational, and other environmental values of Candlewood, and not unduly restrict public access to project waters.

Any party may file a request for rehearing of this order, but FERC officials say failure to file a request for rehearing constitutes acceptance of this order. 

The permittee has operated Down the Hatch since 1946.  It was initially operated as a hotdog stand. 

The boat docks have historically accommodated up to 50 watercraft at a time but the licensee is proposing to limit the amount of allowable boat docking space in the future to accommodate 36 watercraft at a time.

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Man sentenced for 2019 New Milford driveway stabbing

A 28-year old man has been sentenced for a stabbing in New Milford in 2019.  The Newstimes reports that Dion Bernier Junior was sentenced on Friday to 15 years in jail, suspended after three years, with five years probation for the assault charge and 18 months in jail for the evidence tampering charge.  The altercation on Grove Street nearly two years ago allegedly stemmed from a text message argument between Bernier and his victim.  Police said at the time that they found the victim walking around the driveway with what appeared to be a stab wound to his abdomen.

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Newtown Police dedicate training/community room in honor of fallen officer

The Newtown Police department has dedicated the training/community room of the new police station in the honor of one of their fallen officers.

Stephen Ketchum died in 2016 due to injuries associated with his response to the attacks on 9/11.  Ketchum joined the Newtown Police Department in 1989, and shortly thereafter he became a certified instructor and Field Training officer.

He was also an active member with his local fire department and spent several years as a School Resource Officer.  During the latter part of his career he became a founding member of the traffic division and the first motorcycle officer. 

Department officials say they see the community room becoming a landmark for future training of Police officers and a place for community gatherings as a reflection of Ketchum's dedication to service.

Bob Morris and Signarama in Danbury created the lettering and donated the labor.

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Car left running in garage sets off CO alarm, sprinkler

A car left running in a Newtown garage set off a sprinkler on Friday.  Newtown Hook and Ladder responded to Hawleyville to assist with a CO alarm and water flow alarm sounding.  Firefighters remained on scene for just over two hours venting the large structure which is broken up into multiple apartments.  No injuries were reported.  Fire company officials say a call like this shows the need for working CO alarms in every house and apartment.

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Danbury reports declining COVID-19 test positivity

Danbury is reporting lower COVID-19 numbers for the end of May.  Most days in the second half of the month had single digit case loads for positive tests.  During the first week of the month there were 174 cases, the second week had 69 and the third week of May just had 50 cases reported.

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Ridgefield closes down COVID-19 vaccine clinic

The town of Ridgefield Mass COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic held in partnership with RVNAhealth officially shut its doors on Thursday.  They administered over 12,000 vaccinations at the Yanity Gym location. Ridgefield had over 100 CERT and community volunteers who logged in approximately 15,000 hours in a townwide effort to fight the pandemic.

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Brookfield firefighters perform required annual equipment testing

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company participated in required annual equipment testing last week.  That included hose, appliance/nozzle , ground ladder and pump testing.  Waterway of the Hudson Valley was contracted as a third party evaluator to conduct the work. Several volunteers were also required to assist and over the two days spent nearly 20 hours on this effort. This testing is a mandate from NFPA and OSHA and is done to assure the equipment is serviceable and safe.

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Two dogs died, woman hospitlaized after Easton house fire

Two dogs died and a woman was hospitalized after a fire in Easton last Sunday night.  A Northwood Drive resident called shortly after 8pm to report smoke in the home.  The home sustained heavy smoke and fire damage.  One adult female was transported to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.  A local Veterinarian responded to the scene and pronounced the dogs deceased and removed them from the scene.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.  Mutual aid was provided by Long Hill, Stepney, Fairfield, Monroe, Weston, Botsford and Redding Ridge fire departments. 

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Juvenile charged with cyber crimes for racial epithets in Newtown High School virtual class

A juvenile has been arrested for computer crimes allegedly committed at Newtown High School last fall.  Newtown Police late Friday charged the local youth after a six month long police investigation.  A person accessed Google Classrooms and used racial epithets, in an abusive and disruptive manner.  The juvenile was charged with 3 counts each of ridicule on account of race, disorderly conduct and computer crimes.  School Resource Officer William Chapman led the investigation, which required the use of multiple search warrant applications and computer forensics.  Police spokesman Lt Aaron Bahamonde says computer crime investigations tend to be lengthy in time and complicated.

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Danbury Library offering extended business hours

Danbury Library will offer extended business hours starting on Tuesday. Weeknight hours are extended based on patron feedback and ensure that all City residents are able to use Library resources. The new hours will be Monday through Thursday 10am to 8pm, Fridays 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 2pm and closed on Sundays.  Danbury Library’s Technology Center will reopen for patron use beginning on Tuesday as well. Technology Center computers will be available with no appointment necessary, though computer use will remain limited to one-hour per patron, per day. Faxing services will resume at this time as well.  Danbury Library staff and visitors are required to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth and practice social distancing while inside the building. Meeting spaces and study pods remain closed. Danbury Library will be closed on Memorial Day.

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New Fairfield Budget Referendum set

New Fairfield’s Annual Budget Referendum will be held on Saturday, from 10am until 8pm.  Voting for both New Fairfield's 108th and 138th districts will take place at the Meeting House Hill School Gymnasium at 24 Gillotti Road. All registered voters in New Fairfield are qualified to vote.  Absentee Ballots are now available, for those who qualify, from the Town Clerk's Office.  Completed absentee ballot applications can be dropped in the town hall drop box or in the Town Clerk's Office. The $58.2 million plan would increase taxes 2.98 percent.  The school budget would be $45.3 million and the town budget is proposed as $12.9 million.   The leading factor in the tax rate increase is debt service coming up for the two new schools. 

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Putnam County seniors welcomed back to Friendship Centers

Putnam County seniors were welcomed back to Friendship Centers last Monday for the first time since March 13th 2020.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the centers in Carmel, Mahopac, Putnam Valley and Philipstown reopened after 14 months because more than 90 percent of the seniors are fully vaccinated, and COVID case numbers in the county remaining low. 

She acknowledged that it wasn't easy for seniors to stay home instead of going to lunch and programs with their friends, but got vaccinated as soon as it was possible. 

Vaccinated seniors do not need to wear masks at the Friendship Centers, but those who have not been vaccinated still need to do so, except when they are eating.  All seniors and drivers must wear masks on the Office of Senior Resources buses.  Hand sanitizers are at every table and the centers are still using individual condiment packages. 

Exercise classes have resumed and are held outside. When the weather requires, the classes will move indoors. Soon other recreational activities and crafts will be offered again. 

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Ridgefield to host annual Fireworks Show

The town of Ridgefield's Annual Fireworks will take place on Monday, July 5th with a rain date of July 6th at the Tiger Hollow Field at Ridgefield High School.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says this is a well-deserved reward for all the hard work the community has done in getting vaccinated and contributing to the lifting of COVID restrictions.  Marconi said that while excited for the return of the fireworks, he was disappointed that some traditions could not yet be restored due to the restrictions that were still in place during the planning periods. The Memorial Day Parade takes several months of planning and back in March there was no way to anticipate that the State would allow it to move forward.

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Danbury area marks Memorial Day

Danbury veteran organizations gathered yesterday to lay wreaths and commemorate Memorial Day with remarks at various monuments in the City dedicated to those who have served.  In New Milford, a larger ceremony was held on the Town Green.  New Milford VFW Commander Jim Delancy, American Legion Commander Jeffrey McBrearity and Mayor Pete Bass delivered remarks.  The town also hosted a parade, featuring veteran groups, Scouts, the Knights of Columbus, youth sports leagues, firefighters and employees of Nuvance Health. 

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