Local Headlines Archives for 2021-09

UPDATED: Danbury officials recommend approval of parking ordinance changes, kiosks

A committee of the whole Danbury City Council has met to discuss parking ordinance revisions and new technology for the Parking Authority.  No residents spoke during the public hearing held immediately before the meeting.  The quasi-municipal agency is getting kiosks for the Patriot and Bardo garages and a new mobile app.  Right now the two parking garages only deal in cash, but they will get new kiosks and an app for people to pay for parking. 

The gates will be removed and instead of paying attendants, license plate information can be entered into the kiosk or app.  A camera will recognize a permit holder's license plate so they won't have to enter their information.  Multi-space kiosk will also replace some street meters. 

The Danbury Parking Authority says the current equipment is outdated, but Patriot Garage could become 24-7 with the new technology.  Gate attendants would go from taking tickets and payment to patrolling and doing security.  Authority Executive Director Debbie Pacific said they will be asking that employees become parking enforcement officers. 

Funding for the new technology was included in the budget.  

The Committee of the Whole is recommending that the City Council approve the proposed changes.

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Ridgefield firefighters replace firehouse kitchen twice due to flooding

The firehouse in Ridgefield flooded during Tropical Storm Ida and the Day Room/kitchen has to be completely ripped out to be replaced.  Ridgefield Professional Firefighters say the finishing touches had just been done this past week with installation of new cabinets, carpeting and hook up of stove, dishwasher, sink.  With the heavy rains this past weekend, they again had flooding in the kitchen.  Everything has been ripped out to be replaced for the second time in about a month.

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AARP honors local lawmaker

AARP is honoring a local lawmaker for his efforts to help ensure all Connecticut residents have access to affordable utilities.  State House Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee Danbury Representative David Arconti was recognized for his leadership work.  Arconti was presented with the 2019 AARP Legislative Achievement Award for his efforts supporting legislation to rein in the cost of utilities for ratepayers.  The pandemic delayed the distribution of awards.

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Water Witch Hose mourns loss of longtime member

Water Witch Hose Fire Company of New Milford is mourning the loss of veteran member Richard Squires Sr.  He served the department for 64 years and is father to Chief Richard Squires Jr.  Three of his grandchildren are firefighters with Water Witch and Gaylordsville. 

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New Milford Board of Ed appoints interim Principal

A New Milford school principal has stepped down to take a position in another district.  The Board of Education met this week to appoint an interim leader for Schaghticoke Middle School to replace Chris Longo.  He served for 5 years and will be replaced, on an interim basis, by Robert Tremaglio. Tremaglio is a former principal of Trumbull High School and Bunnell High School in Stratford.

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Opposition to proposed homeless shelter voiced during Danbury Zoning hearing

The Danbury Zoning Commission has continued a public hearing on a proposal to turn the former Super 8 motel into a homeless shelter, operated by a Stambord-based nonprofit.  The hearing lasted about five hours Tuesday night.  The homeless population has been housed at 3 Lake Avenue since the start of the pandemic under Governor Lamont's emergency order about congregate settings. 

About 60 people per night are currently housed there, though at the height of the pandemic it was 275 people.  Pacific House says 114 have been moved into permanent housing.  There is staff on site 24/7 and each person gets a case manager to provide supportive services.  There is a 9pm curfew. 

Seperate entrances are proposed for the emergency shelter and the supportive units.  Pacific House works with substance abuse providers, Catholic Charities, Dorothy Day, ARC and others.  The average stay is 90 days, but the goal is to get it to 60 or even 30 days. 

The Commission chair read letters from state housing officials in support of the zoning changes, and from a member of a former Danbury task force on homelessness.  Mayor Joe Cavo and Probate Court Judge Dianne Yamin were in favor.  Three others also provided statements in support. 

The Commission chair read letters in opposition, including about 30 who signed form letters and 25 others opposed.  About a dozen people spoke in opposition.  Several residents were critical that the police report of responses to the area did not include Lake Avenue, Mill Plain Road and Mill Ridge Road. 

Their concerns included that the location is near a school, an adult boutique, a liquor store and the highway.  Some were careful to note that it wasn't meant to imply that all homeless individuals have criminal records or substance use issues, but wanted it considered.  A resident shared videos of people trespassing in homeowners yards, picnicking next to the I-84 ramp, and alleged prostitution. 

Retired Danbury Police Detective Rachel Halas claims that police and fire are changing the code for calls to read "wellness visits" and that the report of responses was misleading because not every visit results in a report.  She asked the Zoning Commission to ask for records of "calls for service" in order to get a more complete picture of public safety and quality of life issues. 

One neighbor said the national sex offender registry already lists someone as living at 3 Lake Avenue.  Another neighbor noted that just because the shelter offers services, it doesn't mean they're used, because the services are not required as terms of staying at the shelter.

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Hearing continued into proposed expansion of Bethel Target

A public hearing into a proposed expansion of the Target store on Stony Hill Road has been continued by the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission.  During the hearing Tuesday some neighbors expressed concerns with the application, and issues with the store in general.  Most involved delivery noise during overnight hours. 

The company is looking to add storage area for items people order online but pick up in store, add more curbside pick up parking spaces, and a Starbucks inside the store. 

The applicant's attorney said relocating the drive-up spaces would reduce pedestrian traffic at the main entrance, and allow employees to deliver orders directly from the new storage and fulfillment area. 

The Planning and Zoning Commission did not vote Tuesday.  Their next meeting is scheduled for October 12th.

Target proposes to expand its existing 123,000 square foot store by 13,000 square feet because they need larger fulfillment and inventory replenishment areas.  The store’s current stock room holds about 50% of the replenishment stock product needed to operate efficiently so Target currently leases an offsite facility.  The addition will also be used for a new employee lounge area and training conference room area. 

8 existing contactless Drive Up parking stalls in the existing parking area will be relocated and 16 more stalls will be added.

Target also proposes a minor floor reconfiguration to provide space for a Starbucks coffee bar adjacent to a reconfigured snack bar. The café/snack bar was a part of the original store approval from 2004, but the 25 seat facility was closed last year due to the pandemic.  The area was converted to a fulfillment storage function.

With the proposed expansion, Target plans to reinstitute the snack bar use, and add a Starbucks.

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Businessman's human trafficking convictions overturned

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Supreme Court overturned on Wednesday the convictions of a businessman charged in an alleged human trafficking ring that prosecutors said preyed on young men who were mentally ill and intellectually disabled.

Justices ruled 7-0 that prosecutors did not prove Bruce Bemer knew the young men he paid for sex acts were victims of human trafficking.

Bemer, 67, of Glastonbury, who owns the New London-Waterford Speedbowl racetrack and other companies, was convicted by a jury in 2019 of four counts of patronizing a prostitute and one count of accessory to trafficking in persons. A judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison, but he remained free pending his appeal.

While Bemer admitted patronizing prostitutes, which is a misdemeanor, he was charged under a section of the law that makes it a felony to pay someone for sex knowing the person is a human trafficking victim.

Prosecutors said another man charged in the case, Robert King, of Danbury, found the young men at drug rehabs, group homes and other places and brought them to Bemer for sex acts. King, police said, gave the men drugs and took them to other men for sex acts so they could earn money to pay him back for the drugs.

King was convicted and sentenced to more than four years in prison. A third man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison.

Police said they identified at least 15 victims of the trafficking ring but believed there could be dozens more.

Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III said Wednesday that he was reviewing the Supreme Court’s ruling, but was “disappointed given the behavior that was shown to the jury.”

Brendon Levesque, a lawyer for Bemer, said the defense position had always been that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the charges.

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New Milford seeks to ban pot use on town property

A discussion about recreational cannabis in New Milford has been held by the Town Council.  Zoning is working on refining regulations in light of the new state law allowing use and sales.  New Milford's Attorney says there's no consensus among the Connecticut Association of Municipal Attornies on the issue.  He's not recommending a moratorium though.  The Town Council can create an ordinance to prohibit use on town property.  They agreed to have an ordinance drafted to prohibit marijuana use on town property and in town buildings where cigarette use is prohibited.  A public hearing will be held before the New Milford Town Council's next meeting on October 12th, at 6:30pm.

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Ridgefield homeowner has property surveyed for Revolutionary War artifacts

Researchers are continuing their work on the Battle of Ridgefield Project.  A North Salem Road homeowner recently asked that their property be included in the survey because the historic home is near the location where the British army stopped to rest and feed their men, not far from the First Engagement between British forces and American troops.  Dr. Kevin McBride and Dr. David Naumec used metal detectors in the yard, looking for lead, brass, and iron objects that may be related to the battle. After a day working  archeologists dug upwards of 100 objects, only three of which appeared to be battle-related.  They were a  brass musket trigger guard fragment, a portion of an early iron frying pan known as a “spider,” and a pewter button.  The location of those artifacts was logged and the items were removed for conservation and analysis.  Dozens of battlefield surveys are planned in the coming year as the Historical Society obtains additional landholder permissions and applies for a second round of National Park Service funding to conduct a systematic archeological study of the April 27, 1777 Battle of Ridgefield. A typical battlefield survey of a private home includes hours of scanning the landscape with metal detectors. 

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Mark Twain Library hosts 'Conversations: Truth, Myth & Democracy'

The Redding League of Women Voters and Mark Twain Library are hosting the third installment of a series titled “Conversations: Truth, Myth & Democracy.”   Two noted social and political thinkers, Dr. Yuval Levin of the American Enterprise Institute and Dr. William Galston of the Brookings Institution, will participate in a discussion moderated by Western Connecticut State University professor Dr. Daniel Barrett.  They will examine the causes and consequences of a divided America and explore how a revival of some of the principles of political tradition can contribute to solving national challenges.  Registration is required for tonight's free virtual program.  The webinar waiting room will open at 7:15pm and the program begins at 7:30pm.  There will be time for questions during the webinar.  The LWV says one goal of this series is to help promote education, informed dialogue and civil discourse.  Easton Public Library, Newtown’s C.H. Booth Library, Ridgefield Library, Weston Public Library, The League of Women Voters of Ridgefield and the League of Women Voters of Northern Fairfield County back the series.     

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Bridge repairs planned on I-84 in Danbury

Nighttime roadwork is planned by the state Department of Transportation next month on I-84.  Bridge deck repairs will be made on the eastbound Exit 3 on-ramp to Route 7.  The project will start on October 12th and continue through the 14th, from 10:30pm to 4am.  There will be a detour using I-84 eastbound to Exit 4 to Route 7.  Drivers are asked to plan accordingly, use caution and slow down for work zones.

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Mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic in New Fairfield this week

The Griffin Health State Department of Public Health Mobile COVID-19 Vaccination Team is back in New Fairfield to provide vaccinations at St. Edward's Church.  The clinic is from Noon to 6:30 PM.  The yellow minivan will be back in New Fairfield on Saturday in the High School cafeteria from 9AM to 5PM.  Pfizer, Moderna and J&J will be available. The clinic will vaccinate anyone over the age of 12, however those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Vaccination will be  provided free of charge.  Boosters will be available consistent with CDC and state guidance.

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Bethel Fire & EMS recognizes local EMS during annual ride

Bethel Fire & EMS provided a brief rest stop for members of the 2021 National EMS Memorial Bike Ride last week.  The ride, held annually to recognize medical first responders who have been injured or have died in the line of duty, was traveling Boston to Washington, DC.  Bethel Fire officials say this past year has been remarkably challenging for EMS providers nation-wide, and are proud of the local EMTs and the hard work they put in to provide the best possible care for the community. 

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Local lawmaker opposes executive power extension

The state Senate has approved an extension to Governor Lamont's executive powers on a vote of 18 to 15.  State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, voted against the sixth extension, through February 15th.  He believes it's time for the co-equal branch of government to take its power back.  Hwang encouraged everyone to get vaccinated, but called for transparent strategies.  He recounted growing up under One Party “Emergency Martial Law” in Taiwan, saying there were some cautionary parallels between his experience then and the direction that this extended state of emergency is taking.

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Newtown lifts mask mandate for the vaccinated, Danbury to keep it for foreseeable future

Newtown has lifted the mask mandate for vaccinated individuals indoors as the case rate per 100,000 dropped over the last four weeks from 17.2 to 7.7.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal previously said one goal was to have the town move out of the state Department of Public Health's Red Zone.  Newtown is now in the Yellow Zone.  The Newtown Legislative Council will not have to take up the matter when they meet next week. 

Danbury led the way in local municipalities putting a mask mandate in place for public spaces regardless of vaccination status.  Mayor Joe Cavo asked surrounding towns to follow suit, and Bethel, Brookfield, Newtown, Redding and Ridgefield did.  Since then, a few other towns updated their metrics for getting rid of the requirement and Ridgefield lifted it in that town.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi cited the town's low infection rate at 8.3 cases per 100,000 population. 

Mayor Joe Cavo doesn't have specific benchmarks for when the City will lift the mandate, but would like to see infections drop to the early summer levels before the Delta variant started circulating. 

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker announced Friday that  he is looking to have the rate of infections to fall below 10 per 100,000 population, and the positivity rate to drop below 2-percent.  Bethel is at 10.1 cases and 3.3 percent. 

Brookfield plans to keep its mask mandate in place until the case rate falls below 10 and the positivity rate is under 3 percent. 

Cavo acknowledged receiving emails from residents and businesses about the low infection rate, questioning why the mandate is still in place.  He believes face coverings indoors is what's keeping the numbers low.  In other parts of the state, the numbers are much higher which Cavo believes is because those municipalities don't have a mask mandate. 

He and Health Director Kara Prunty hold nearly daily discussions and are waiting to see what the numbers do now that school is back in session and the colder weather has people moving social gatherings indoors.  If the plateau in cases means Delta has moved on, the City could roll back the mandate.  But Cavo says he wants to be as cautious as possible so that the health system isn't inundated with new cases.

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Report: Jet was going slower than usual before fatal crash

A small jet that crashed into a building in Connecticut, killing four people earlier this month, was going slower than usual as it took off from an airport runway, while witnesses saw a puff of smoke and noticed the aircraft was having trouble gaining altitude, according to a preliminary investigation report released Tuesday.

The report by the National Transportation Safety Board also said the plane’s parking brake was found to be on, although it was not clear when it was activated.

The report did not say what may have caused the Sept. 2 crash in Farmington, which remains under investigation.

The twin-engine Cessna 560XL was to have flown from Robertson Airport in Plainville to Dare County Regional Airport in Manteo, North Carolina. But it crashed into a manufacturing building shortly after takeoff and burst into flames, authorities said.

Killed were a Boston couple who were both doctors, Courtney Haviland, 33, her husband, William Shrauner, 32, and the two pilots, William O’Leary, 55, of Bristol, and Mark Morrow, 57, of Danbury. Four people on the ground were injured, including one who was seriously hurt. Haviland and Shrauner left behind a toddler-age son, and Haviland was pregnant at the time of the crash, according to relatives.

As the twin-engine Cessna 560XL was accelerating on the runway at Robertson Airport in Plainville, one witness noticed it was going slower than usual, the report said. The flight data recorder showed it took the plane 17 seconds to accelerate from 20 knots to 100 knots, compared with 11.5 seconds and 12 seconds during its previous two flights, investigators said.

A witness saw a puff of blue-colored smoke from the jet’s rear, and another witness believed something was wrong because the nose landing gear was still on the ground near the mid-point of the runway, the report said.

A third witness saw the plane leave the runway in a level position and its nose pitched up, but it was not climbing, investigators said.

“The airplane then impacted a powerline pole, which caused a small explosion near the right engine followed by a shower of softball-size sparks,” the report said. “After hitting the pole, the noise of the engine went from normal sounding to a much more grinding, metallic sound.”

The jet then hit a grassy area next to the Trumpf Inc. manufacturing building, about 850 feet (259 meters) north of the utility pole. It then struck the building, causing a fire that consumed most of the aircraft, the report said.

Investigators who examined the plane after the crash noticed the parking brake was on, and skid marks were found on the runway. But the flight data recorder did not record the parking brake valve position, which was not monitored by the takeoff warning system, the report said.

NTSB officials say the final report, which would include the likely causes of the crash, could take a year or more to complete.

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Danbury man charged with multiple child exploitation offenses

A Danbury man has been charged with multiple child exploitation offenses.  35-year old Wayne Marcell has been detained since his arrest on state charges in June.  A 14-year old who met a Texas man on an online video chat platform moved in with him, and four weeks later allegedly began communicating with Marcell.  He allegedly paid an individual $2,000 to drive the teen from Texas to Illinois as he drove from Connecticut to pick up the girl.  He allegedly brought her to his Danbury home, engaged in multiple illicit sexual acts, and took photos and videos of the sexual abuse.  The Texas man has been charged in that state.  Marcell faces a mandatory minimum prison term of 5 years and a maximum of 30 years on the various charges. 

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Bethel Baseball Association recovers stolen funds

The Bethel Baseball Association has recovered $25,000 in connection with criminal case against former President and Treasurer, Kurt Dyer.  Bethel Police began an investigation in early 2019 into financial inconsistencies throughout Dyer's leadership tenure. Police say fraudulent purchases were made at places like BJ’s Wholesale, Sam’s Club, Big Y and Staples. 

The group plans to use the recovered funds to keep league fees low, and fund ongoing improvements at Mitchell Park. The association’s current treasurer, Scott Beverly, says their mission is to provide a fun, safe and educational environment for the youth --and this will continue with the help of new financial accounting policies. 

The park improvements may include scoreboard and press box maintenance, creation of designated warm-up pitching locations, creation of an annual high school baseball scholarship, team equipment purchases and a donation to Bethel HS Booster Club to support the new turf field initiative.

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Thefts under investigation in Newtown, Southbury

Newtown Police are investigating the burglary of a vehicle parked at the Eversource property on the Barnabas Road.  Police say someone entered a pick up truck between 7am Friday and shortly after 7am Monday, and stole a GPS device. 

Anyone with information or saw something suspicious in the area is asked to contact Newtown Police. 

Southbury Police are investigating a larceny at the WHEELS gas station on Southford Road.  A purse was stolen out of a vehicle Thursday shortly before 2pm when the owner was pumping gas.  Two men wearing face masks fled the scene, heading southbound on Route 67 toward Oxford, in a stolen Audi with Connecticut license plates. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Southbury Police.

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Nuvance facilities to require COVID-19 vaccine or negative test for entry

Nuvance Health is putting new policies in place starting next week.  Effective next Tuesday, Danbury and New Milford hospital visitors must provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours in order to enter their facilities.   This includes inpatient, Emergency Department, Nuvance Health Medical Practices, and ambulatory services.  Masks are required. Special Populations and visitors with extenuating circumstances may be asked to provide documentation, but it's not required in order to visit for these groups.  Nuvance is permitting one support person per day for patients not suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. Patients with suspected or confirmed COVID will be permitted visitation only for extenuating circumstances and special patient populations.

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Area lawmaker votes against extension of Gov. Lamont's executive authority

Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan was among 10 Democrats to join all House Republicans in opposing extension of Governor Lamont's executive authority for a 6th time during the pandemic.  The measure though was approved 80 to 60.  Allie-Brennan says his vote now, and in July, was not a reflection of Governor Lamont, but rather about re-establishing the balance of power between three equal branches of government.

Dozens of parents, many angry about Governor Lamont’s executive order requiring face masks be worn in schools, rallied outside the state Capitol during yesterday's special session.  Earlier in the day, some attempted to enter the state Capitol building without masks but were told to leave if they didn’t wear face coverings.

There are 18 fewer people in Connecticut hospitals being treated for COVID-19 than on Friday.  75.8 percent of the 264 patients are not fully vaccinated.  Yesterday's daily test positivity rate was 2-point-23 percent.

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New Milford to apply for state grant for riverfront revitalization project

The New Milford Town Council has agreed to apply for grant funding to do an environmental study of Hidden Treasurers.  The state Department of Economic and Community Development is authorized to extend financial assistance to various projects and New Milford officials authorized applying for $199,000 for the riverfront revitalization project along West Street.

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ATV crash in Maine claims life of Connecticut man

MADRID, Maine (AP) The Maine Warden Service says an ATV crash has claimed the life of a Connecticut man. Officials say 47-year-old Sebastian Constantini of Oxford, Connecticut, lost control of the vehicle and was thrown in Madrid (MA'-drid) Township. Wardens say he was not wearing a helmet and suffered injuries to his head and neck. His brother, who was riding another ATV, attempted to render first aid while a third ATV operator went for help. But an ambulance crew was unable to save Constantini, who died at the scene.

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Danbury Mayoral candidates discuss education

The National Education Association has made an endorsement for a Danbury Mayoral candidate for the firs time in over 10 years.  NEA Danbury is backing Democratic Councilman Roberto Alves.  The union said in their announcement that as a parent of two children attending Danbury Public Schools, Alves knows how underfunding the schools for over a decade has impacted the community and children.

Meanwhile Republican candidate Dean Esposito has released a statement about education and the pandemic.  He plans to continue to advocate for a Public Charter School in downtown Danbury.  A private donor has proposed building the school, and State funding could be used to operate it.

The Danbury Citywide PTO is hosting a Mayoral debate next month.  The debate is Wednesday, October 6 at 6pm.  It will be held in-person in the Danbury High School auditorium.  Masks are required.  Several Board of Education candidates will also be at the debate. 

So far there are two mayoral debates planned.  The other is being hosted by the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce on October 13th.  That event is virtual, via Zoom at 7pm.  Registration is required.

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Himes introduces bill to create universal, portable retirement and investment accounts

A local lawmaker has introduced a bill in Congress that would create universal, portable retirement and investment accounts.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes says this will move the nation's retirement system into the 21st century.  The  Portable Retirement and Investment Account Act will provide more workers with access to flexible, portable benefits such as retirement savings that will carry with them from gig to gig.  Under the proposal, every American will receive a PRIA at the same time they receive a Social Security Number. PRIAs will be administered by an independent board and managed by selected financial institutions.  He noted that the options workers currently can access differs significantly based on their area of employment,  and part-time workers are often ineligible.  The Federal Reserve calculates that half of Americans have not saved enough to retire at their current standard of living.  According to the 2020 Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households by the Federal Reserve, around 35% of Americans work outside of traditional full-time jobs, in the gig economy.

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State lawmaker gets perfect score from CBIA

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association has released their ‘2021 State House Voting Records’ annual report.  Brookfield State Representative Stephen Harding was awarded a 100% score by the organization for his votes on a series of key bills that would either positively or negatively impact Connecticut's economic competitiveness and business climate.  Those issues included the Truck tax, extending the manufacturing apprenticeship tax credit, issues with workers' compensation, and incentivizing the adoption of cybersecurity standards among others.  Harding was one of only 25 state representatives who received a perfect score from the association.

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Car fire near Danbury condo quickly extinguished

A car fire near a Danbury condo was quickly extinguished yesterday.  Firefighters responded to the Fairview condos on West Wooster Street in the afternoon and found a vehicle on fire, a safe distance from the building.  The flames were extinguished, and damage was kept to the engine compartment. The Danbury Fire Marshal’s office was requested to the scene and is investigating the cause of the fire. No injuries were reported.

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Danbury offers no cost COVID-19 testing

The Danbury Health Department has teamed up with a health care provider for free COVID testing 6 days a week, either at the PAL Building or the War Memorial.  The Danbury Public School District is working to alert staff about where they can get tested for free if they haven't provided proof of COVID vaccination.  Anyone can filter by 'no cost test locations' on the state's 211 website.  Some Danbury School staff are covered by Cigna, and district officials say it's not clear if the insurance company will continue to cover surveillance testing after the middle of October.  That's testing for asymptomatic people who have not been exposed to COVID by an identified close contact. 

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Portion of Ridgefield Rail Trail closed for repairs

A portion of the Ridgefield Rail Trail is closed today through Friday.  Repair work is being done in the area of 140 Ivy Hill Road.  Trail users are asked to stay clear of the workers and their equipment and to plan their activities using alternate routes.  The 2.3 mile trail opened in 2000 and follows a portion of the abandoned railway that originally ran from Branchville to the center of Ridgefield. It was built by Eversource, formerly Connecticut Light & Power.  It stemmed from a state Department of Energy and Environment Protection mandated cleanup of arsenic used by the railroad to control weeds.

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Danbury Planning Commission recommends approval of homeless shelter application

The Danbury Planning Commission has given a positive referral of an application to allow the former Super 8 Motel be turned into a homeless shelter with wrap around services.  The Zoning Commission is holding a virtual public hearing on the application tonight.  Planning Commission chair Arnold Finaldi wrote to the Zoning Commission that  proposed amendment represents a combined and collaborative effort by the State and the petitioner to create a use under a new non-congregate model that safely addresses the housing and support of persons experiencing homelessness brought to the forefront as a result of the global pandemic.  Planning recommended to Zoning that they consider requiring the site be limited to one principal use.  Zoners have received dozens of letter in opposition to the application to have the Stamford-based nonprofit Pacific House run the 86-room shelter at 3 Lake Avenue Extension.  The hearing is at 7:30pm, via Zoom.

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Predicted bus driver walk-out didn't impact Greater Danbury area routes

The predicted bus driver walkout over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline Monday did not come to fruition in the Greater Danbury area.  Several local Superintendents, including in Brookfield, had sent letters home over the weekend warning that there could be alternate routes set up and longer routes if drivers called out.  Brookfield was short a few drivers, but routes ran as usual.  Some parents chose to drive their kids to school themselves.  In Bethel, Danbury, Newtown, New Milford, Sherman and Region 12 there were no driver walkouts.  First Student worked with drivers to comply with the vaccine mandate and the bus company did not seen any large interruptions to service because of it, but noted there is a nationwide need for school bus drivers.  The only real problem area was Region 15 in Southbury.  Five drivers were out yesterday, a couple for reasons other than the mandate.  Four bus routes were altered yesterday.

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Danbury school officials outline COVID-19 testing requirements for unvaccinated staff

As of Wednesday 70-percent of Danbury school staff were vaccinated, but district officials believe that number would be closer to 80 percent vaccinated by today.  There will be several hundred employees that need weekly testing.  Staff who receive religious and medical exemptions for producing vaccine proof, are not exempt  from testing. 

Danbury doesn't have testing in house, but staff can get rapid or PCR tests on their.  The district will not accept home tests.  Danbury Public Schools has created a Google form for staff to fill out with name, contact information, confirmation of a test taken within 72 hours and place to upload the result. 

Anyone who gets an inconclusive test or didn't get their result on time will have to remain home on administrative leave, without pay. 

For this first week, staff can submit the results by this Friday.  A testing schedule will kick in next week, with staff required to submit their results no later than 4pm Tuesdays.

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Ridgefield Police identify driver killed in weekend crash

The Ridgefield Police Department has identified the driver killed in an early morning car accident on Route 7 Saturday.  Police say 25-year old Nicholas Vega of Danbury was pronounced dead at the hospital.  His passenger, a 21-year-old Stamford resident, and the driver of the southbound vehicle, a 71-year-old Bethel resident, were also hospitalized.  Ridgefield Police say the investigation is ongoing.

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Monroe Fire Marshal inducted into State Firefighters Association Hall of Fame

The Monroe Fire Marshal has been inducted into the Connecticut State Firefighters Association Hall of Fame.  Bill Davin is also President of the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department and served as Chief for nearly 20 years.  He has been actively volunteering since 1973, was past President of Fairfield County Fire Chiefs Association and was a founding member of Monroe Volunteer EMS in 1977.

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New Fairfield advances Marjorie Reservoir Trail project

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen has approved creation of a Margerie Reservoir Trail Advisory Committee,  The group will work with Danbury to start the project, with the help of a $484,000 state grant.  Danbury must approve the charter establishing the committee as well.  Each municipality will then have to name committee members.

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Kitchen fire at Heritage Village quickly extinguished

A fire at Heritage Village in Southbury was quickly extinguished on Friday afternoon.  Southbury Fire responded around 2:30pm and confirmed a growing kitchen fire. Chief Warren kept the fire at bay with a dry chem extinguisher and first arriving crews completely extinguished the flames and searched for possibly extension.  Department officials say the quick actions prevented additional property damage from occurring.

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Danbury Officer set to return to work after two years of paid leave

A Danbury Police Officer who has been on paid administrative leave for more than two years is set to return to work.  The Newstimes reports that Alexander Relyea is expected to be back on the job next month.  The officer was cleared in two shootings.  He wounded a Bristol man in July 2019 who refused commands to drop the knives as he approached officers pursuing him after he fled the scene of an altercation at MCCA.   Relyea was also exonerated for the fatal shooting of Paul Arbitelle during a confrontation at the Glen Apartments in December 2018.  Arbietlle was also armed with a knife.  According to the published report, Relyea wouldn’t immediately return to active patrol duty.  He would be briefed on the department’s new policies, procedures and training.  The 35 year old joined the Danbury Police Department in 2014.

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Ridgefield lifts mandatory mask mandate for vaccinated individuals

Ridgefield has lifted the mandatory mask mandate for vaccinated individuals.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the positive COVID-19 cases remain low at 8.3 per 100,000 residents.   That figure is based on the 30 day average, substantially different from the 7 day rolling average.  Marconi says they've heard from a lot of people on both sides of the issue.  He the decision was supported by a majority of the COVID Task Force which monitors numbers daily and meets weekly to discuss policy changes.  State mandates require all unvaccinated people to continue to wear masks indoors. The state and federal governments have specific settings where masks are required by all such as: healthcare facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, schools, and childcare.  Marconi urged that anyone who has a comorbidity to continue to wear a mask. 

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One person was killed in Ridgefield car accident

One person was killed in a car accident in Ridgefield over the weekend.  Two vehicles were involved in the crash on Danbury Road near the intersection with Route 35 on Saturday.  Police responded shortly after 1:30am and determined that a northbound driver crossed into the southbound lane and hit another vehicle.  The drivers, and a passenger in the northbound car all had to be extricated and were transported to the hospital.  The driver of the northbound car was later pronounced dead.  Police have not released the names of those involved in the crash.

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Public hearing planned on proposed homeless shelter

A public hearing is being held tomorrow night in Danbury about turning the former Super 8 motel into a homeless shelter.  The Zoning Commission is holding the hearing on an application which would have the non-profit Pacific House provide wrap around services and be the shelter provider for the City.  Neighbors have created a “Protect our Children” website and petition against the proposal.  The homeless population has been housed at the Lake Avenue facility since the start of the pandemic when a gubernatorial executive order called for more room for congregate settings.  The public hearing is at 7:30pm tomorrow, via Zoom.  The proposal is to have 48 supportive housing units, with 38 rooms for emergency beds.  Up to 172 people would be served in emergency situations, which would include winter weather events.  Existing zoning regulations limit shelters to 20 beds per lot.

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School districts prepare in case of bus driver shortages

The Western Connecticut Superintendents Association has issued a letter for local school districts to send home to parents about the potential for school bus driver shortages.  Today is the deadline for school staff and contractors to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine under a gubernatorial executive order. 

The letter said the majority of All Star’s drivers have already complied with the governor’s order ahead of Monday’s deadline.  But other district use Student Transportation of America.  If there are bus shortages this week, parents will be notified via email of routes without a driver, and any alternative plans.  Those could include rescheduled time for later pick up after other routes. 

Students late to school due to bus issues will not be marked tardy.

Brookfield's Superintendent sent a letter to parents over the weekend about the possible interruption.  John Barile said about 300 bus drivers across the state may not meet the Governor’s Executive Order.  He says All Star Transportation is experiencing a reduction in the number of its drivers, including substitute drivers, but Brookfield has been able to manage so far.  The Brookfield School Director of Business Operations has worked with the bus company to monitor contracted service providers to comply with today's deadline.

Danbury Superintendent Kevin Walston is tracking buses every day to see where there are issues with kids arriving to school and home late, sometimes after 4pm.  Dozens of families have emailed district officials about the school bus routes, which prompted the daily monitoring.  Danbury is paying staff to supervise kids after school because of the late buses. 

Two new bus drivers were hired last week, adding two more buses. 

During the Board of Ed meeting Wednesday, member Joe DaSilva noted that the app parents use to track the buses shuts off at 4pm.  Walston responded that he wasn't aware of that and would check with the bus company.

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Connecticut schools brace for potential driver shortage

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — School districts around Connecticut are holding their breath as more than 200 school bus driver could walk off the job in response to a vaccination mandate that goes into effect Monday.

That could worsen an already problematic driver shortage that is affecting school districts in the state and around the country. School superintendents are warning parents that buses may experience significant delays, and are suggesting parents drive their kids to school, the New Haven Register reported.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order going into effect Monday also covers state employees, K-12 teachers and day care workers. A Lamont spokesperson said that state agencies are seeking to qualify new drivers, and the Department of Transportation is considering using some CT Transit and regional-service vehicles to fill gaps.

Last week, state officials urged employees to upload their vaccination status, applicable weekly testing results or medical and religious exemption requests by midnight on Sunday to a third-party app.

In a letter to acting Commissioner of Education Charlene Russell-Tucker last week, the Connecticut School Transportation Association, which represents school bus drivers, warned of a “catastrophe” on Sept. 27 and asserted that 227 of 1,558 unvaccinated drivers would refuse to follow the mandate.

The state’s education department is expediting requests for background checks and training for potential new drivers, the Register reported.

Not all school districts are convinced their transit systems will be disrupted. Transit officials in Danbury and New Haven, as well as in Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington, told the newspaper they don’t believe a rumored job action will adversely affect them.

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22nd annual Southbury Celebration community event cancelled

The 22nd annual Southbury Celebration community event scheduled for October 9th has been cancelled.  The family event is cosponsored by the town and Southbury Training School.  First Selectman Jeff Manville says the day typically attracts thousands of people, including kids who aren’t able to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  While COVID cases in Southbury are leveling off, town officials don't want to risk a spread in the schools. 

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Local lawmaker calls for session on juvenile justice reform

Connecticut lawmakers will be in special session next week to decide on a request from the Governor to extend his pandemic-related emergency powers. Some legislators wanted the session expanded to also address juvenile crime. Newtown state Representative Mitch Bolinsky says proposals to reform juvenile justice laws include over a dozen specific statutory and policy changes.  They are centered on prevention, accountability, and rehabilitation.

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'Love Letters' to be performed as fundraiser for a new library in Brookfield

A fundraiser is being held by Brookfield Library Foundation to help replace the outdated and cramped facility. Broadway is coming to Brookfield with a three-performance production of “Love Letters,” the play of love and missed opportunities that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.  Performances will take place October 1st, 2nd and 3rd.  Brookfield residents Gwen Arment and Steve Belida are Broadway actors and producers who offered to stage the play as a fundraiser for the Brookfield Library Foundation.  The performances, which will be staged at the Brookfield Theatre for the Arts next to the library, will include an opening night performance on Friday at 7:30pm.  The Saturday performance will start at 7:30pm. The Sunday matinee begins at 2pm. Tickets are available at Brookfieldtheatre.org.

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Amy Schumer to be awarded Pudd'nhead Prize for Outstanding Humor in Redding

The Mark Twain Library in Redding will honor comedian and actress Amy Schumer at its eighth annual Pudd’nhead Prize for Outstanding Humor.  The award was created in 2014 by comedian and Redding resident Michael Ian Black, inspired by one of Twain’s stories, “The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson.”  The festival is a fundraiser for the library’s budget, as the Town of Redding only funds about 60-percent of the library's operating budget.  The show will be held tonight, though it already sold out.  Starting on October 2nd anyone will be able to stream the show on the library’s website for a minimum $25 donation. 

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State Police find dog missing since family's car stolen from service plaza

It took a few months, but Connecticut State Police Detectives were able to locate a family dog that went missing in February, when the family's vehicle was stolen from the northbound Fairfield Service Plaza on Interstate 95 following a major snowstorm.  The car was recovered a short time later, but Cindy was missing. Detectives from the State Police Western District Major Crime Squad assumed the investigation and on Wdnesday conducted surveillance operations in Waterbury.  They recovered the dog without incident. Cindy was transported to a local animal hospital for evaluation and remains in the custody of State Police and Waterbury Animal Control until she can be reunited with her family.  Arrests are pending.

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Local official gives targets for lifting mask mandate in Greater Danbury

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker has been fielding a number of questions about when the town's indoor mask mandate will be lifted.  He says local health officials and the area town leaders are looking to the rate of new infections to fall below 10 per 100,000 population, and the positivity rate to drop below 2-percent. 

Knickerbocker says the numbers seem to have stabilized and he is hopeful cases will drop over the next few weeks.  Danbury, Bethel, Brookfield, Redding and Ridgefield issued the mandate on August 16th.  Newtown followed suit shortly after. 

The order in Newtown is in effect through October 6th, when the Legislative Council next meets.  But First Selectman Dan Rosenthal noted that the mandate could be lifted sooner if COVID-19 cases declined.  Newtown was in the state's Red Zone for COVID-19 community spread when the mandate was put in place, but is now in the Yellow Zone.  Red is for towns with 15 or more cases per 100,000 population.  Newtown now has 7.7 cases per 100,000. 

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel's COVID-19 infection rate has remained virtually flat from last reporting period at 3.3-percent, with 10.1 cases per 100,000 population.  Brookfield is at 4.7 percent infection rate, up from 4 percent the week before. 

Danbury's COVID-19 test positivity rate has dropped again from the last reporting period to 3.3-percent from 4-percent.  115 cases have been reported to the state between September 5th and 18th.  That's 9.7 cases per 100,000 population. 

New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rate over the last two weeks reported has declined significantly from 6.8 percent to 3.9 percent.  New Fairfield is hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinics twice a week throughout the month of September. 

New Milford's rate also dipped from the previous week to 2.4 percent while Newtown's rate held steady at 3.1 percent.  Redding's COVID-19 infection rate has climbed a bit over the last two weeks reported to 3.7-percent.  Ridgefield's rate declined from 3-percent to 2.6. 

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Mahoac Falls firefighters, Sheriff Deputies do dive team drill with EMS

Members of the Putnam County Sheriff's Department and Mahoac Falls firefighters recently took part in a dive team drill.  Members ran basic patterns in the shallow waters of Lake Mahopac. They also simulated diver-related emergency medical symptoms so EMS crews could practice their diver assessments and proper care.  The goals of the drill were to train for worst case scenarios and evaluate the areas in need of improvement.

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Kent to update Plan of Conservation and Development

Kent officials are looking to update the town's Plan of Conservation and Development.  A survey has been opened for residents to weigh in on the future of the town.  The online survey will be open through October 3rd for public input.  Copies of the survey area also available in the Town Hall lobby, library and Senior Center.

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Greater Danbury area towns moving through state COVID spread alert levels

81 municipalities are currently in the red zone, the highest of the state’s four alert levels for COVID-19 community spread, including Brookfield with 18.1 cases per 100,000.  New Fairfield moved down from Red to Orange joining Bethel and Redding in the 2nd highest level for community spread.  Newtown, Danbury and New Milford all have indoor mask rules, to some extent, and have dropped down to the yellow zone. 

Governor Ned Lamont noted that six or seven months ago Danbury was in bad shape, but now is in a better place.  Danbury has 9.7 cases per 100,000 population.  There were 115 cases in the last two weeks reported. 

Also yellow are Ridgefield, Southbury, and Wilton.  In the grey are Bridgewater, Sherman, Roxbury and Washington, the lowest alert level.

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DOL overpaid pandemic unemployment benefits, request repayment

The state Department of Labor is being called on to waive unemployment compensation overpayments that are being billed to workers.  Danbury Senator Julie Kushner says there were inadvertent errors, but they've learned a lot since the start of the pandemic.  She gave another example of PPP loans.  She called it a well intentioned program, but there was fraud and mistakes there too.  Kushner says there are many new ways people qualified for unemployment, and just many more who were eligible for compensation and the resources weren't set up to handle the volume.

Kushner says people receiving clawback letters can request a waiver, in addition to any other formal appeal process that is available. She noted that for instances of fraudulent claims of unemployment or identity theft, they have no mercy for those folks and backs Department of Labor’s efforts to recover those payments.

A DOL spokeswoman said overpayments not related to fraud stemmed from delays by employers who may have disputed a claim after benefits had already been paid. DOL says there are some cases where applicants made filing errors or the agency made a mistake.

Redding Representative Anne Hughes says some people had complex filings, for example people with two jobs, and many approvals took months before they saw a penny.  DOL is auditing the filings to determine if the lump sum was based on an accurate formula, and then if continued weekly payments were accurate or not.

House Speaker Matt says they may take up legislation requiring the state to cover the cost, which is estimated to be $6 million to $10 million.  Connecticut had 30,000 overpayment cases.  In the 18 months of this pandemic, DOL paid out $9.7 billion in state and federal unemployment benefits, compared to about $900 million in a typical 18-month period.

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DOT postpones Route 7 roadwork in New Milford

The state Department of Transportation has rescheduled roadwork on Route 7 that was supposed to take place this weekend.  The drainage repair work will now be done on Saturday, October 2nd.  Motorists can expect a road closure at Everwood Drive. Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will be used to guide motorists around the work zone.  The detour will take motorists to Route 37, 39N, 55, and back to Route 7. The schedule for this project is set to begin at 6am on the 2nd until completion the next day.

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Stand Down event today for veterans, National Guard, active duty military members

The state Department of Veterans Affairs annual Veterans Stand Down event wraps up today. The outreach initiative has been held for nearly three decades.  This year combined two days of online benefits presentations and a day with five regional in-person Veteran resource access sites, including Danbury. Informational sessions covered a variety of topics including housing and homeless services, State labor/employment and vocational resources, caregiver support, legal assistance, education resources and others.  Five in–person service locations throughout the State, including at the Danbury War Memorial, will take place from 8am-2pm.  They will be staffed by representatives of the regional Vet Centers, CT Bar Association, the DVA and Veteran Service Organizations, along with community based providers. Veterans can get benefits information, pro-bono legal services and free COVID-19 testing, vaccines and flu shots.

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Sandy Hook denier's request to intervene in wrongful death case denied

A Sandy Hook denier's request to intervene in the wrongful death lawsuit brought by nine families against Remington has been rejected by a Connecticut judge.  The Wisconsin man, who in a separate case was ordered to pay the father of a victim for claiming the child’s death certificate was a fake, was trying to bolster his appeal in Wisconsin.  Attorneys for both the families and Remington objected to the intervention.  Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled that the interests alleged were insufficient to allow the man to be brought in as a party, and that he had no standing in her court.

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Ridgefield residents approve lease renewal for Henny Penny Farm

Ridgefield residents have signed off on a lease to operate Henny Penny Farm on town-owned land on Ridgebury Road.  A special Town Meeting was held Wednesday night.  Whitney Freeman was approved to have up to 85 sheep graze on the 16-acre farm, designated as conservation land, to aid in soil regeneration.  3 llamas are also allowed.  Some neighbors previously raised concerns to the Conservation Commission about the seemingly commercial nature of the farm and noise from tractors.   A new provision in the lease stipulates that Freeman contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture to suggest changes to her grazing practices if a species of special concern is subject to impact.

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Bethel having trouble getting certain items for school lunches from suppliers

The Bethel Public School District is having trouble getting certain items for school lunches from suppliers.  The district is short on some produce and chicken tenders, and can't get gluten free chicken tenders.  Food Services Director Amanda Riley says they are trying their best and thanked families for their patience.  Riley announced in a Facebook video menu changes yesterday for Bethel High School due to staff shortages; they're down four  people in the food services department.  Federal programs are allowing all students to get free breakfast and lunch for the entire school year.

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Regional Animal Control gives update on 19 animals rescued from Sherman fire

Regional Animal Control has given an update on the 19 animals found on a Sherman property where the home collapsed due to a fire.  The 18 dogs and 1 chicken were found living in very tough, outdoor chained and caged situations. Three cats perished in the fire. Though none of the animals removed from the scene presented immediate, emergency life-threatening injuries or ailments, these animals will need a significant amount of veterinary care. This matter still currently stands as under investigation. Anyone looking to make contributions toward their care are asked to send donations to Animal Welfare Society, Inc. in New Milford, by calling 860-354-1350. A separate account has been set up by them specifically for their care.

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Southbury Police to resume fingerprinting next week

The Town of Southbury will resume fingerprinting next week.  Southbury Police thanked people for their patience as they worked with the State as Connecticut transitioned to a new system for fingerprinting. The instructions for the new system can be found on the Southbury Police Deparment website, as there have been some changes in the process.   Fingerprinting for employment, pistol permits, and other needs is performed for Southbury residents only, and is done at no cost. Fingerprints are taken on Wednesdays (7:30-9:10am and 3:30-5:10pm) and Saturdays (7:30-10:50am) by appointment only.

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NY State Police investigating home burglary in North Salem

New York State Police are attempting to identify suspects in a home burglary in North Salem.  Troopers are looking for two people who used a motorcycle to get away.  The white man and white woman were caught on surveillance photos, now posted to the New York State Police Facebook page.  Anyone with information about the identity or location of the subjects is asked to contact the Somers barracks at (914) 769-2600 and refer to case# 10330966.

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New Milford Police to host Bicycle Safety Rodeo for kids

New Milford Police are hosting a Bicycle Safety Rodeo for kids this weekend.  Chief Spencer Cerruto is inviting kids to bring their bikes on Saturday to Church Street where an officer will be teaching bicycle safety, rules of the road, and proper helmet usage.  Kids can then take part in a bicycle cone course next to Town Hall and the Mayor's Bicycle Parade.  The event at 2:15pm coincides with the New Milford Apple Festival and Bicycle Parade at 3pm.  No sign up is required.

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WestConn receives donation of letters written as correspondence during Civil War

WestConn has received a donation of about 130 letters written as correspondence during the American Civil War. Alumna Carol Lieto donated the letters, penned by her great-great-grandfather Joseph Dobbs Bishop. Bishop was a Danbury soldier during the Civil War, serving as the chief musician in the 23rd Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. Alongside Bishop’s letters, the collection includes his enlistment papers, music book, schedules and photographs. West Conn Archivist and Special Collections Librarian Brian Stevens will co-teach a class with Professor of Writing Dr. Edward Hagan, studying the wartime letters of notable Danbury residents. Only a few of the records have currently been digitized. Stevens hoped for the entire collection to be available online by the end of next semester.  The Bishop collection is primarily available for in-person viewing at the archives, located in the basement of the Haas Library on WCSU’s Midtown campus. To make an appointment, there is an online form on the archives’ website.

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Easton Police install new permanent Medication Disposal Box

Easton Police have installed a new Medication Disposal Box in the lobby of the police department on Morehouse Road.  They're now a permanent drug take back site, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Easton Police say the best way to dispose of most types of old, unwanted, or expired medicines--both prescription and over the counter--is to drop the medicine off at a drug take back site.  The collected medications are permanently disposed of by incineration at an EPA approved location.  Easton Police will continue to participate in the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Drug Take Back Day, coming up October 23 from 10am to 2pm.  That collection will take place at Samuel Staples Elementary School.  Chief Richard Doyle says it's important to raise awareness about the serious dangers of keeping unused medications in the home, especially when it comes to opioid pain medications falling into the wrong hands.

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Conservative Caucus holds hearing on upcoming vaccine mandate

Teachers, school bus drivers, and health care workers were among the dozens of people who testified before a group of state legislators Wednesday, arguing they unfairly face the possibility of losing their jobs because state and federal mandates require them to get vaccinated or tested regularly for COVID-19.

Some said they’re willing to risk their jobs rather than get the shot.

“I may lose my job next week, but my choice and every parent’s choice for what we put in our bodies is more important than my job,” said Linda Machorro, a veteran elementary school teacher in the Danbury Public Schools.

Some people who appeared before the General Assembly’s Conservative Caucus, which organized the hearing, said they’ve been shunned at work and experienced discrimination because of their resistance to getting the shot.

Some questioned why vaccinated workers weren’t also required to get tested regularly while others complained about having to answer invasive questions about their medical histories and religious beliefs in order to obtain an exemption.

Ashley Madore, one of several school bus drivers in Bristol who attended the hearing, said people who kept working during the pandemic are now scoffed at by politicians and others because of their personal concerns about the vaccine and their reluctance to get tested weekly.

“Those of us who were once heroes are now nothing because we believe in the right to choice,” she said.

An executive order signed by the governor requires staff at childcare facilities and pre-K-12 schools statewide to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27. Those who don’t get vaccinated due to certain exemptions will have to get tested weekly. State hospital and long-term care employees will not have the option of testing in lieu of vaccination.

“Every action Gov. Lamont has taken in response to the pandemic has been aimed at reducing the spread of the virus,” said Max Reiss, a spokesperson for Lamont.

Last month, President Joe Biden ordered all employers with more than 100 workers to require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly. Also, he required workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid to be fully vaccinated.

Wednesday’s hearing at the Legislative Office Building marked the first such in-person public event since last year. Most members of the Conservative Caucus, people who testified and many who sat inside the hearing room did not wear face masks. The executive director of the Office of Legislative Management issued a rule on Aug. 2 requiring vaccinated and unvaccinated people entering the complex to wear face coverings when in common areas.

House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, accused the legislators of “putting Capitol Police, members of the public, staff and elected officials at risk” and urged House Republican leaders to “take action against these elected officials who blatantly and purposefully broke our building’s public health policy.”

House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, called Ritter’s statement “hyperbolic” and “inaccurate given the guidance legislators received from Capitol Police” on Wednesday.

“This manufactured controversy is the latest evidence of his party’s desire to conduct as much business as possible outside the public eye,” he said in a statement. “Make no mistake, Democrats want to keep the Capitol closed and continue the charade that virtual government is serving residents well.”

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WCSU reports few COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated students, staff

94 percent of residential students at WestConn are vaccinated against COVID-19.  82-percent of commuter students are vaccinated and 83-percent of faculty and staff are vaccinated. 

During the week of September 13th, 130 tests were done on students, faculty, and staff who are not vaccinated or have not provided their vaccination status.  No positive cases were reported.  The break down was tests for 34 students living on campus, 72 commuters and 24 faculty members.  Testing is done weekly. 

There's also self-reporting of students, faculty, and staff who received testing conducted off campus.  One residential student, one commuter student and one faculty member reported positive tests.

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Jericho Partnership in need of food pantry donations

Jericho Partnership is in need of donations for its food pantry.  Donations can be dropped off at their location at 22 Maple Avenue, with the best days Wednesday and Thursdays.  Jericho Partnership says their pantry is completely out of certain items, including pasta and sauce, rice, cereal and canned green beans, carrots and corn.  Their pantry is running low on peanut butter and jelly, beans, soup and Tuna/Spam.  The organization also has diapers available for parents in need, but are out of size 4 and 5 diapers.  Jericho Partnership is still serving nearly 100 families in need every week.

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State Police seek hit & run driver in Newtown

State Police are looking for a hit and run driver who caused damage to a car on I-84 in Newtown.  State Police responded to an accident Monday afternoon near westbound exit 9 and determined that one vehicle slowed for traffic, and a Massachusetts man behind him failed to stop in time.  No injuries were reported, but the Lexus fled the scene.  State Police were able to identify the other driver, but the investigation remains ongoing.

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Local lawmaker proposes update to free meals program for students

A local lawmaker has introduced a bill to make several improvements to direct certification for free meals without the need for household applications.  The School Modernization and Efficient Access to Lunches for Students Act, also known as the School MEALS Act, was proposed by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. She says food insecurity among children is morally reprehensible and must be addressed.  She wants to prevent hunger from reaching the astronomical levels seen during the height of the pandemic when many parents were out of work. Although Congress responded by strengthening nutrition programs, Hayes says 1 in 5 Connecticut children still experienced food insecurity.  Hayes, a former teacher, says she's seen the impact of hunger on student learning and wants children to have the confidence of knowing where their next meal is coming from.  In 2020, Hayes says child hunger climbed by six percent in Connecticut.

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DEEP accepting proposals for Connecticut's Recreational Trails Program

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is now accepting proposals for Connecticut’s Recreational Trails Program.  It provides funding for projects that add to or enhance the state’s 2,000 miles of multi-use trails and bike paths that connect cities to the outdoors, provide opportunities for green commuting.   Grant funds can be used for planning and design of new trails, maintenance or restoration of existing trails or land acquisition.  Money could also be put toward educational programs to promote safety and environmental protection related to recreational trails. Recent grant recipients include the Town of Redding, which received $300,000 for construction of their first section of the Norwalk River Valley Trail. The design for the trail is complete and was paid for via private community donations. Applications for the current grant round will be accepted through November 1st.

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Properties approved for annual Ridgefield deer hunt

Ridgefield officials have approved the parcels of land to be included in this year's town-backed deer hunt.  The Conservation Commission approved the hunt parameters, including for the Golf Course.  The Board of Selectmen also signed off.  

Huntmaster Stefano Zandri discussed the number of kills the committee had last year and what they expect for this coming year.  Deer Committee members killed 43 of the 67 deer killed in Ridgefield last year. 

The 166-acre Ridgefield Golf Course will be open for archery with limited muzzleloader hunting.  The 20 acres between Old Trolley and Shadow Lake, the 16 care Peaceable Refuge and 10 acres of Turtle Ridge Court are for just archery.  Sarah Bishop is 39 acres and was approved for archery and firearms, but after resident concerns that was scaled back to just archery. 

The Deer Committee is asked by Conservation Committee each year to pick five of 15 authorized properties and these are the final five.  The group wants to generate 15 new properties next year to give the original ones a rest.  Zandri says they hope to get back on properties that haven't been hunted in six or seven years to see what's going on there.  Zandri says back in the day there were upwards of 40 deer spotted in any given area, now they're only seeing a handful so the hunt is doing what it was meant to do. 

Accurate signage at the hunt locations was reviewed by the commission.  Notification of abutting and nearby neighbors before the hunting season opens is necessary.  Hunting stands and related structures need to be removed immediately after the hunt is concluded.

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Drawdown of Candlewood Lake and Squantz Pond planned by FirstLight

A drawdown of Candlewood Lake and Squantz Pond is planned by FirstLight.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Candlewood Lake Authority approved the drawdown season to begin December 1st.  It will run until the opening of fishing season in April 2022.  Water levels will fluctuate throughout the season and will drop to minimum pond levels to expose invasive Eurasian Water Milfoil to freezing temperatures, which helps to reduce the annual proliferation of the plant during the recreational season.  Exact dates and associated lake levels were not released as they are based on certain weather conditions. Homeowners are encouraged to remove their structures, boatlifts, and docks from Candlewood Lake prior to the winter season to prevent ice damage along the shoreline. All work planned to occur along the shoreline requires prior permitting from FirstLight.

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FirstLight releases scheduled drawdown calendar for Lakes Zoar, Lillinonah

FirstLight has released the scheduled drawdown calendar for area water bodies.  Lake Lillinonah at the Shepaug Dam will be lowered from the normal summer operating range beginning October 27th in order for FirstLight to conduct its maintenance and inspection activities.  The drawdown will target an elevation of 191-feet, minimum pond level, and return to normal operating elevations on November 8th.

All work planned to occur along the shoreline requires prior permitting from FirstLight. 

Beginning on October 15th, FirstLight will conduct a fall drawdown of Lake Zoar at the Stevenson Dam to conduct its maintenance and inspection activities. The normal summer operating range is from 103 to 100 feet and the drawdown will target an elevation of 98.5. The drawdown will lower lake levels to minimum pond levels and return to normal operating elevations on October 27th.

All homeowners are encouraged to remove structures, boatlifts, and docks to prevent ice or flood damage from occurring during the winter months.

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Mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic in New Fairfield this week

The Griffin Health-state Department of Public Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be back in New Fairfield this afternoon to provide COVID-19 vaccinations.  The yellow minivan will be at St. Edward's Church from noon to 7pm and on Saturday at the New Fairfield Middle School entrance from 9am to 5pm.  

Pfizer, Moderna and J&J will be available. The clinic will vaccinate anyone over the age of 12, however those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Boosters are currently available for immunocompromised individuals. 

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new COVID-19 cases has increased in Connecticut by 79.6 percent, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins.  Nearly 14,000 COVID-19 tests were reported to the Connecticut Department of Public Health yesterday.  About 400 came back confirming new or probable cases.  The daily test positivity rate yesterday was 2.83 percent.

There were 15 fewer people in Connecticut hospitals yesterday seeking treatment for COVID-19 than there were on Monday.  The inpatient total is 294 statewide.  74.8 percent of those hospitalized are not fully vaccinated.

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Monroe firefighters free child's finger from school table

Monroe Firefighters and other first responders had an active several days over the weekend through yesterday morning, including a rescue call to free a child with a finger stuck in a table at school.  A two vehicle crash on Teller Road yesterday required the removal of doors and the roof to extricate an injured driver.  There was also a single vehicle rollover crash through a fence and into a driveway on lower Elm Street.  A deliver ban went off the road on upper Elm Street and into a tree.  Firefighters also investigated an odor of smoke in a Knapp Street home and responded to two fire alarm activations.

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Father/son duo from Newtown featured on a reality show

A father/son duo from Newtown were featured on a reality show last night.  Jim and Sasha Allen auditioned for The Voice season 21. Jim is a singer-songwriter and 19-year old Sasha is pursuing his dream of being a performer.  All of the coaches turned their chairs nd the pair chose to join Ariana Grande's team for the next round.  During their introduction, they told the story about how Sasha came out as trans, and Jim said it's a parent's job to listen, even when it's hard to understand.

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Brookfield Board of Ed ends meeting early over anti-mask interruptions

The last regular meeting of the Brookfield Board of Education ended abruptly last week as emotions boiled over on mask mandates, vaccines, quarantine and assistance for special ed students.  One woman who didn't sign up to speak took the microphone, turned her back on the Board of rallied the audience. 

The September 15th meeting video cuts off as Board members walked out, and resumes in the middle of the woman's comments.  Then other parents started speaking over one another.  Vice Chair Bob Belden tried to regain control of the meeting, but parents continuing yelling their frustrations. 

The board implemented a 7pm cutoff for public speaking sign-ups to combat some of the issues that came up during previous meetings.  A Brookfield Board of Ed video was briefly taken down by YouTube in July after it was flagged for “medical misinformation” as parents spoke out during public comment sessions. 

One parent was critical of the Board for saying their hands are tied.  The state mask mandate expires at the end of the month, though the Govenror is seeking an extension through February.  Boards of Ed can't make different rules on masking.  Municipalities are authorized to mandate masks in indoor public places, but schools still fall under state and federal purview.

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Wilton residents speak out in favor of redistricting to spilt from Norwalk

A group of Connecticut lawmakers has wrapped up public hearings on redistricting efforts based on new census data.  The committee received 70 total written comments, 18 about separating Wilton and Norwalk.  A few were generic comments asking that no changes be made to state House and Senate along with Congressional borders.  In-person hearings were held in three locations and an hour and a half virtual hearing was held. 

Nearly all of the virtual public hearing speakers, 17 of the 25, were from Wilton or Norwalk. Former Representative and Senator Toni Boucher says Wilton has grown by 2-percent, with nearly the total population needed for its own seat.  Former Representative Gail Lavielle says cities and towns have different priorities and needs.

The Waterbury Registrar asked for precise details and addresses of where district lines end noting that there are multiple state representative and senate seats, but also two congressional districts in Waterbury.  A Darient resident, one from Greenwich and one from Hartford also weighed in. 

A member of the Princeton University Gerrymandering Project also testified, though as a Connecticut resident and not on behalf of Princeton.  Ryan Scala is a public policy graduate student at UConn, part of the PGP which works with state partners and performs nonpartisan analysis to try and eliminate gerrymandering nationwide.  He told the committee that one metric used to gauge if a map is gerrymandered or not is if “communities of interest” or COIs are split. COIs are groups that could be similar racially, economically, geographically or other factor. 

He was critical of the current congressional map because it splits the Naugatuck Valley, Farmington Valley, and Litchfield Hills, diluting the influence voters in these regions should have.  Scala also noted that the current state Senate map splits the Litchfield Hills into three districts, when the region can be put into one Senate district, and Senate District 28 takes Fairfield, which part of the Gold Coast, and combines it with Newtown, which is a very different area of the state.

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Bill to address hunger among college students introduced by local lawmaker

A bill to address hunger among college students has been introduced by a local lawmaker.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes proposed the Closing the College Hunger Gap Act to eliminate food insecurity among young adults.  The bill directs the Secretary of Education to notify college students of their eligibility for SNAP,  the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, using FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid information. 

Prior to the pandemic, nearly a quarter of students at UConn reported concerns of food insecurity and around 30 percent reported skipping meals to save money. 18 percent of the student body at Connecticut State Colleges and Universities reported housing instability or homelessness. 

Hayes says college student hunger soared during COVID-19.  After the start of the pandemic, 38 percent of students said they regularly missed meals because they were less hungry or stressed, and 36 percent of students reported knowing someone who has dropped out due to food insecurity during the pandemic. 

A recent Government Accountability Office study showed that over two million at-risk students whom were potentially eligible for SNAP benefits did not report receiving benefits in recent years.

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Sandy Hook families suing Remington find agreement with company over conspiracy theorist

Remington and 9 Sandy Hook families suing the company have found themselves on the same side of an issue in their case.  Both sides are trying to prevent a Wisconsin man from trying to intervene in the case.  James Fetzer previously was ordered to pay 450-thousand dollars to the father of one of the children killed on 12-14 after claiming the child’s death certificate was a fake.  Remington says if the man's motion is granted it would present a distraction from the merits of the parties’ claims and defenses in this litigation, fueling baseless conspiracy theories.  The attorney for the families, Josh Koskoff, agrees saying the Sandy Hook denier's motion to intervene fails would have absolutely no bearing on the Wisconsin matter and only enable the petitioner to repeat these lies in a new venue.

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Cyclist killed in New Milford accident

A cyclist has been struck and killed in New Milford.  Police, firefighters and EMTs responded to Danbury Road shortly after 9pm on Sunday on a report of a crash. Police say 34-year-old Jeffrey Castro had been riding north in the right northbound lane of Route 7 when he was struck from behind by a vehicle also traveling north. He was pronounced dead at the scene.  Anyone with further information about the accident is asked to contact New Milford police.

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19 animals removed from Sherman home following fatal fire

19 animals, mostly dogs, were removed from a Sherman home following a fatal fire.  Officials are now looking to find homes for the animals.  The identity of the person who was killed at the Route 55 West property Sunday in the house fire has not yet been released.  An autopsy was expected to be completed yesterday by the state medical examiner’s office.  Regional and state animal control have taken custody of the dogs, who were not harmed in the blaze.  But Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read chairs Regional Animal Control and says some are in very rough shape. He said they dogs were tied up outside in the yard and some are very skinny.

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Bethel Police name 2020 Officer of the Year

The Bethel Police Department has named their 2020 Officer of the Year. Officer Gregory Ammon transferred to Bethel in 2018 from the New Haven Police Department.  He is one of Bethel's Field Training Officers.  Department officials say  he has spent most of his career on the midnight shift, historically looked at as uneventful, but not for Ammon.  He has been actively patrolling Bethel and made numerous arrests while suspects are actively burglarizing motor vehicles, a crime Bethel officials say could easily go unsolved. Ammon’s proactive patrol tactics has led to information that has solved crime sprees that span all of Fairfield County and, oftentimes, other areas of Connecticut. His attention to detail and investigative strengths were touted by the Department in the Officer of the Year announcement.

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Nuvance Health updates visitation policies for Danbury, New Milford hospitals

Nuvance Health has updated their visitation policies for Danbury and New Milford Hospitals.  1 support person will be allowed per day for patients not suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. This includes inpatient, Emergency Department, medical practices and ambulatory services.  Masks required.  Maternity policy remains unchanged, with patients allowed 2 support persons, including a trained doula.  This includes during labor, delivery, and postpartum care.  The designated and non-rotating support persons and/or a trained doula must remain the same for the course of the admission. Overnight visitation may be limited for operational safety and capacity concerns. Support persons must limit their departures and returns to the patient to only outings essential for health and welfare.

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New pedestrian law takes effect in Conn. next month

Newtown Police Department is alerting motorists to new pedestrian rules taking effect next month.  The new law, effective October 1st, is meant to help improve communication between pedestrians and drivers and make crossing the street safer for everyone.  Drivers must yield at crosswalks that don’t have traffic lights or a crossing guard if a pedestrian steps to the curb at a crosswalk’s entrance and indicates intent to cross by raising a hand or arm to oncoming traffic. Extension of any body part, cane or walking stick into the crosswalk entrance also indicates intent to cross.

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Chip sealing, bridge repairs underway in Redding

Chip sealing will be done today and tomorrow on Pinetree, Long Ridge, Guardhouse and Great Pasture Roads.  Drivers are cautioned to be prepared for delays and detours.  Pine Tree and Great Pasture will be closed during the process.  The Redding Highway Department is continuing roadwork on Station Road.  The street is closed to traffic through Friday at the new wooden bridge to complete the staining of the bridge and install the wearing surface. This weekend, Friday night through Monday morning, the Redding Highway Department will be installing a new surface on the Poverty Hollow bridge which will be closed for the weekend. 

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1 killed in Sherman house fire

One person has been killed in a house fire in Sherman.  Firefighters responded to Route 55 West shortly before 6:30pm on Sunday on a report of a fire, with someone trapped in the basement.  Two occupants were able to escape, but one party was unaccounted for. 

The fire was eventually extinguished but the structure sustained catastrophic damage and collapsed.  Heavy equipment was used to search for the missing occupant.  A body was eventually located in the debris and removed from the scene by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner where an autopsy will be conducted. 

The identity of the victim is not being released at this time. 

The Sherman Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene and conducted an initial investigation as to the origin and cause of the fire before requesting assistance from the Connecticut State Police Fire & Explosion Investigation Unit.  The fire remains under investigation, though there is no indication that there is any criminal aspect.  

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department received mutual aid from Gaylordsville, Water Witch Hose Company, Kent, New Fairfield, Pawling and Dover.  Detectives from the Connecticut State Police Major Crime Squad assisted with the investigation. 

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Bethel now accepting applications from small businesses for grant program

The town of Bethel is now accepting applications from small businesses for a new grant program.  The Small Business Assistance Program is open to Bethel businesses with 25 or fewer employees adversely impacted by the COVID pandemic. Applications for grants of up to $5,000 will be accepted through October 22nd.  The Economic Development Commission created the program using American Rescue Pprogram Act funds and will allow Bethel to support up to 70 small businesses.  Economic Development Director Janice Chrzescijanek says businesses continue to deal with some of the same challenges from last year with the continued uncertainty of the pandemic.  The application can be found on the town’s website at: https://www.bethel-ct.gov/ content/117/8612/33274.aspx.

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Free community Narcan training in Bethel today

Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan is partnering with Apex Community Care to co-host an event to distribute free naloxone in an effort to help community members prevent fatal opioid overdoses. The free community Narcan training will be held Tuesday, Sept. 21, outside Molten Java on Greenwood Avenue from 4:30pm to 5:30pm.  Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a fast-acting and easy-to-administer nasal spray that can restore breathing and reduce potentially fatal effects of opioid overdoses.   A family member, bystander, first responder or medical provider can administer naloxone.  According to the state Department of Public Health, there were 1,372 confirmed drug overdose deaths for 2020, with an increase of 14.3% compared to 2019. As of the middle of March 2021, there were 250 confirmed drug overdose deaths for 2021.

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Youtuber files federal lawsuit against Danbury over library incident

A federal lawsuit has been filed against the City of Danbury, four police officers, the police chief and library director over a video recording incident at Danbury Library in June.  Hearst Connecticut Media reports that YouTuber SeanPaul Reyes claims his First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated.  Reyes is preparing another lawsuit related to his arrest at Danbury City Hall in July.  The four Danbury police involved were reprimanded for violating various department policies after an internal investigation.  The complaint filed Thursday says the plaintiff seeks redress for municipal police employees’ decision to harass him while he was peacefully filming inside the Danbury Public Library.  Officials previously said that libraries are “limited public forums” and administrators may implement reasonable rules to ensure that the facility is used for its intended purposes.  The library’s code of conduct, revised the day after the incident, now states that patrons must get permission from the library director to film or photograph.

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Traffic control signal equipment to be replaced in Wilton by DOT

Traffic control signal equipment is being replaced by the state Department of Transportation to meet current Department standards at 11 locations, including in Wilton.  Intersectins on Route 33 at Belden Hill Road and Lovers Lane, and on Route 106 at Horseshoe Road and Range Road will be replaced.  Pedestrian control features, including accessible pushbuttons and sidewalk ramps, will be upgraded in an effort to improve accessibility and pedestrian safety. The Department will coordinate with Wilton during the design phase.  The DOT says an informational meeting or formal public hearing will not be necessary.  The design plans for this project are expected to be completed in January 2023 with a tentative date for construction of March 2023.

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Danbury upgrades Emergency Notification System

Danbury has upgraded the City's Emergency Notification System.  Residents are being encouraged to sign up for DanburyALERT on the City's website.  Even people who have received alerts in the past are asked to create a new account on the Everbridge platform to ensure the City has the most accurate contact information to send location-specific notifications.  Residents can choose to receive alerts via email, text, or phone.  Spanish and Portuguese speakers will also be able to opt-in to alerts in their preferred language.

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New Fairfield to purchase police body, dash cameras

New Fairfield is looking to purchase 7 body cameras and 9 dash cams for the Police Department.  The town has two more cruisers than officers, but the state requires that back up vehicles be equipped and ready to go. 

Selectman Khris Hall questioned why the town is not looking to buy back up body cameras.  It was noted that New Fairfield doesn't usually have all 7 officers out at one time or on a particular shift.  The video would be downloaded at the end of each shift so the cameras don't need to be assigned to a particular officer. 

New Fairfield in the process of upgrading police station infrastructure and one of the reasons is because the internet capability is not close to what is needed to support body cam footage.  There is also no outdoor wireless, which is needed to automatically upload footage as cars return from service. 

New Fairfield schools, town, and library are all one one system with an internal network allowing technicians to access devices without having to go to the devices. Police and Fire would be brought onto that system through these upgrades.  New Fairfield officials note that technology deliveries are all coming in as 'To Be Determined' because of microchip and metal shortages.

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Newtown moves out of Red Zone for COVID spread

Newtown has moved out of the state's Red alert zone for COVID-19 spread into Orange as cases start to decline.   First Selectman Dan Rosenthal's emergency order requiring masks to be worn indoors in public places regardless of vaccine status is in place through October 6th. The Legislative Council will discuss the matter at their meeting on that date.  When they authorized the emergency order, Rosenthal noted that if cases go down, the order could end earlier. 

Rosenthal expects people to be civil with one another during this time, and doesn't anticipate businesses getting into fights with patrons over mask wearing.   If a business is blatantly not enforcing the requirement or there's no attempt by employees to masks up, the health district will have conversations first, rather than taking a heavy handed approach.

The governor's executive order early in the pandemic allowed municipalities to appoint a representative, like the police or fire marshal, to conduct enforcement with public health emergency declarations. But Rosenthal says he doesn't want to turn Newtown into a police-state because it's not conducive to recovery.

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Danbury to temporarily shut down West Lake Water Treatment Plant

Danbury will temporarily shut down the West Lake Water Treatment Plant tomorrow night.  The 9pm closure is being done to replace a valve, with the work expected to be completed by 9am Wednesday.  The Margerie Water Treatment Plant will provide water to all customers during the shut down.  City officials cautioned that some customers may experience discolored water overnight tomorrow due to changes in normal flow direction in some parts of the water system.  Those customers are asked to run the cold water tap until it clears, postpone washing clothes and limit use of hot water until the cold water clears.  Once the valve replacement work is complete, the water department will do hydrant flushing to alleviate any discolored water.

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Annual American Dream Awards Gala honors COVID-19 warriors

The 7th Annual American Dream Awards Gala has been held in Danbury, this year honoring COVID-19 Warriors. 

The organization's Hot Meal Program inspired the theme.  Since the start of the pandemic, the program has served children, families, and seniors in Danbury with over 23,000 meals purchased at cost from The Amber Room Colonnade, where the gala was held.

The award ceremony featured six categories selected by The New American Dream Foundation in partnership with the City of Danbury.  Ticket sales were directed to The New American Dream Foundation Hot Meal Program and Mission Health Day – a day of free health screenings and other community services for the uninsured and the income challenged, hosted by Nuvance Health.

COVID WARRIOR – awarded to an individual that has led the fight against COVID-19 in our community. Honoree: Former Mayor Mark Boughton 

COMMUNITY WARRIOR – an institution that has invested in the battle against the virus. Honoree: Union Savings Bank and Union Savings Bank Foundation

HEALTH CARE WARRIOR – an individual or an institution on the front lines in the battle against the virus. Honoree: Nuvance Health and Dr. John Murphy

EDUCATION WARRIOR – an individual or an institution that has gone above and beyond to support students.  Honoree: Park Avenue Elementary School & Principal David Krafick

SENIOR'S WARRIOR – an individual that has gone above and beyond to support seniors. Honoree: Anne Roby and Larry Dodd

YOUNG WARRIOR – an individual under 16 years old that sprang into action. Honoree: Frankie DeMunda 

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COVID-19 vaccine clinic scheduled at Bethel High School Track and Field Center

A COVID-19 vaccine clinic is being held at the Bethel High School Track and Field Center Friday, September 24th.  The clinic from noon to 2pm is open to anyone in the community, with no appointment needed.  Pfizer, Moderna and J & J will all be available for first, second and qualifying booster doses.  Parents will need to give written parental consent for students af 12 and older who want the Pfizer vaccine.  Bethel school officials have a form for parents to fill out.  The district will then send the written consent form, which will be due by Wednesday, September 22 to the health office or school nurse. 

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Local lawmaker opposes health insurance rate increases

A local lawmaker is speaking out against recent approvals by the Connecticut Insurance Department to hike health insurance rates, on average, 5.6 percent for the individual market.  Stenator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, called it infuriating.  The ranking member of the legislature's Insurance Committee, says a plan was proposed last session to rein in cost drivers and reduce premiums for all families by up to 30%, but it never came up for a vote.  The Insurance Department also approved an increase of 6.7 percent for the small group market.  Hwang says he will continue to push for action on health care reform.  The legislature isn't back in session until February.

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Lake Zoar Authority Marine Patrol gives update on Ida response

The Lake Zoar Authority Marine Patrol has given an update to the Authority about their work after the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped several inches of water on Connecticut.  Marine Patrol officers were able to remove some debris, and high currents at the Shepaug damn helped to flush garbage out. But the Stevenson damn flood gates were closed, and the water backed up over the weekend of September 4th.  Patrol officers again worked to remove logs and parts of docks with nails. The I-84 construction zone in Newtown under the Rochembeau Bridge was an area with high currents, and the “no wake zone” floats blew down to the Stevenson damn. They were manually retrieved and returned.  The floats now say “channel closed,” as a steel beam is erected across the channel. One patrol boat is now docked in Newtown, so there is one boat north and one south of the construction site at all times. The channel   was closed all of last week.

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Field surface at Danbury High School track and field facility complete

The field surface at the Danbury High School track and field facility has been completed.   DHS Athletic Director Chip Salvestrini says the facility rivals those at some top universities.  Danbury Superintendent of Construction Services Tom Hughes says the track was certified by the NCAA so it's a college-certified track.  The  specialized top-of-the-line turf field has filament shaped like a lightning bolt and cost $985,000.  The eight-lane facility, which was completed in 2019, earned the title of “distinguished facility” by the American Sports Builders Association.  The association will name an “Outdoor Track Facility of the Year,” among its other awards, in December.  Fields tend to last about a decade.  This is the school’s third field since 2001.

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Target seeks to expand in Bethel, add Starbucks and more curbside parking

Target is looking to expand in Bethel.  The Planning and Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing on September 28th at 7pm via Zoom.  The company is looking to add storage area for items people order online but pick up in store, add more curbside pick up parking spaces, and a Starbucks inside the store.

Target has requested a text amendment change and a modification of parking requirements. Target proposes to expand its existing 123,000 square foot store by 13,000 square feet because they need larger fulfillment and inventory replenishment areas.  The store’s current stock room holds about 50% of the replenishment stock product needed to operate efficiently so Target currently leases an offsite facility.  The addition will also be used for a new employee lounge area and training conference room area. 

8 existing contactless Drive Up parking stalls in the existing parking area will be relocated and 16 more stalls will serve guests who chose curbside pick up.

Target also proposes a minor floor reconfiguration to provide space for a Starbucks coffee bar adjacent to a reconfigured snack bar. The café/snack bar was a part of the original store approval from 2004, but the 25 seat facility was closed last year due to the pandemic.  The area was converted to a fulfillment storage function.

With the proposed expansion, Target plans to reinstitute the snack bar use, and add a Starbucks.

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Bethel man sentenced for alleged sex assaults of two minors

A Bethel man has been sentenced for alleged sex assaults of two minors.  46-year old Santos Cardona was ordered to 40 years in prison, be suspended after 15 years served, with 35 years of probation. He pleaded guilty to two counts of Sexual Assault in connection with assaults involving two minors in Bethel between May of 2015 and May of 2020. After his release from prison, Cardona will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and will not be permitted to have unsupervised contact with minors under the age of 18. This case was investigated by the Bethel Police Department and prosecuted by the Danbury State’s Attorney’s Office.

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New Fairfield still in Red Zone, Newtown drops to Orange

84 municipalities are currently in the red zone, the highest of the state’s four alert levels for COVID-19 community spread, including New Fairfield.  New Fairfield has 25 active COVID cases, 21 among unvaccinated and 4 breakthrough cases.  Newtown moved out of the Red and is now Orange.  Bethel moved up from yellow to Orange.  Newtown was a 15.1 cases on average last week and is down to 10 cases per 100,000.  Bethel is at 10.8 cases.  Most of the Greater Danbury area is orange, except for Ridgefield which is in the yellow zone with 8.3 cases per 100,000 population.

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House fire in Danbury displaces family of 3

A house fire in Danbury has displaced one adult and two children.  The American Red Cross is helping the Union Circle family to meet their immediate needs. The Red Cross also provided a recovery envelope containing information helpful to families recovering from a fire, including tips on cleanup; notification of important contacts; and dealing with damaged items. The Red Cross is also providing comfort kits containing personal care items such as toothbrushes, deodorant and other items.  Those affected will connect with Red Cross caseworkers in the coming days to work on a longer-term recovery plan.

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Woodbury is looking to install floodgates

Woodbury is looking to install floodgates at roads in the area that usually flood.  This comes on the heels of the line of duty death of State Police Sergeant Brian Mohl, who was swept away by the waters of the Pomperaug River earlier this month.  Woodbury’s Emergency Management Director says one area they're looking at is Jack’s Bridge Road and Jusdson Avenue.  Posts for the gates would be installed behind guardrails so drivers couldn't go around them.  Woodbury officials have asked the state Department of Transportation to pay for the infrastructure for Washington Road, which is Route 47, and Sycamore Avenue, which is Route 317.  The town also plans to apply to FEMA for a grant.

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New Fairfield official calls for enforcement of indoor mask mandate

New Fairifeld has one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the area, at 21 cases per 100,000 population, well over the 15 case threshold to be considered in the state Department of Public Health's red zone for community spread.  While most of the towns Greater Danbury area towns are over 70 percent fully vaccinated, New Fairfield is still lagging at nearly 65 percent. 

At this point, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the town's vaccination numbers are increasing at 1 percent per week, not the kind of progress she wants to see.  As of last week, all New Fairfield residents 65 years and older were fully vaccinated.  That compares to 49 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds, nearly 73 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, 58 percent of 25- to 44-year-olds and 66 percent of 45- to 64-year-olds. 

Griffin Hospital and the state Department of Public Health’s mobile vaccination team mobile clinics are being held twice a week in New Fairfield.  On Wednesdays, the yellow minivan is stationed at St. Edward Church from noon to 7pm and in the middle and high school parking lot Saturdays from 9am to 5pm.

Republican Selectman Kim Hanson remains concerned about the lack of compliance with the indoor mask mandate in public places, regardless of vaccine status.  Hanson says he understands it's difficult for business owners to enforce the mandate on patrons, but doesn't think it’s hard for them to enforce the mandate on themselves and their own employees.  Hanson wants warnings to be issued, with follow-up spot checks for those businesses out of compliance.  If they're in violation again, he wants the business automatically shut down for 24 hours. 

Hanson acknowledged that it's a drastic move, but says this is a drastic situation.

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New Fairfield Day is taking place tomorrow

New Fairfield Day is taking place tomorrow.  The annual showcase of local businesses and organizations was canceled last year because of the pandemic.  The Parks and Rec event is from noon to 6pm on Memorial Field.  Face masks will be required regardless of vaccination status.  Among the groups participating are scout troops, the New Fairfield Veterans Association, Lions Club and Friends of New Fairfield Library.  There will be live music, a New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department truck showcase, and local restaurants offering for for sale.  As part of New Fairfield Day, the  Senior Center will hold an art show and sale from 10am to 3pm.  The Griffin Hospital/state Department of Public Health’s mobile vaccination team will be providing free COVID-19 vaccines at the fair.  The rain date is September 19th.

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Jane Powell, Hollywood golden-age musicals star, dies at 92

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jane Powell, who starred in Hollywood golden age musicals, has died. A longtime friend said that Powell died Thursday in Wilton, Connecticut, of natural causes. Powell sang with Howard Keel in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and danced with Fred Astaire in "Royal Wedding," among other 20th-century films. Powell performed virtually her whole life, starting at age 5 as a singing prodigy on radio in Portland, Oregon. She made her first movie at 16 and graduated from teenage roles to costarring in lavish musical productions through the mid-1950s. Jane Powell was 92 years old when she died at her longtime home in Connecticut.

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Brookfield Selectmen seek to buy state land for pocket park, approve regional Hazard Mitigation Plan

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has referred the purchase of state land to the Planning Commission.  A $500 application fee was approved to start the appraisal process for an island that will become a pocket park.  Leases for state land start at a minimum of $75 per month. 

The design was originally included in Phase 3 of the overall Streetscape project but was delayed when the state required Brookfield to buy the land.  It will include benches, bike racks, and an art installation.  Selectman Harry Shaker thinks the park is a good idea, but voted against the motion saying he didn’t want to put money down when he was still confused about the plan. 

The Board also approved a Multi-Jurisdiction Hazard Mitigation Plan UpdateThe previous version was adopted in Brookfield in 2014.  FEMA Region 1 has completed its review of the plan and the Western Connecticut Council of Governments has received conditional approval pending adoption by each individual municipality in the region. 

Adoption of this plan will make Brookfield eligible for funding to alleviate the impact of future natural hazards.  The plan also allows regional towns to work together in a coordinated effort.

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Local Police Officers honored by MADD

Southbury Police Officers Matthew Ezzo and Deondre Pierce have been honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.   National MADD President Alex Otte was the keynote speaker at their annual recognition ceremony this week.  Southbury Police Department officials thanked the officers for their tireless work to remove impaired drivers from the roads. Monroe Police Sergeant Mike Johnson has been honored by MADD. Johnson was recognized for his education efforts and his DRE enforcement actions.

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Lake Zoar Marine Patrol provide updates on recent enforcement action

During the month of August, The Lake Zoar Authority Marine Patrol took 52 enforcement actions, including three no wake zone violations at the I-84 bridge construction zone in Newtown.  Several were issued for lack of Personal Floatation Devices, some for lack of a safe boating certificate, and others for no lights.  The scheduled patrols have ended for the 2021 season. There will be remaining patrols as needed, while weather and budget still permit.  The Marine Patrol responded to a report that there was a jumper at the Stevenson damn on Sunday, September 5th. The claim was unfounded, as officers reviewed camera footage from FirstLight at Rocky River, there were no reported missing people, and no one was found in Lake Housatonic. 

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Weight-loss camp operating in Kent voluntarily surrenders license

A weight-loss camp operating in Kent that abruptly closed this summer has voluntarily surrendered its license to state officials.  The Office of Early Childhood and the state Department of Children and Families launched a joint investigation into Camp Shane in July.  The camp opened in June without a state license, which was approved just days before it then closed.  Hearst Connecticut Media reports that the Office of Early Childhood has since closed its investigation.  Violations and issues with documentation of policies and medical oversight had previously been identified when Camp Shane operated at The Rectory School in Pomfret.  It moved to the South Kent School this year.

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Temporary moratorium enacted in Ridgefield on retail cannabis permits

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission has voted to put a one-year moratorium in place on permits and applications for cannabis businesses as they look into the state law that would allow these establishments.  Only four people spoke during the public hearing part of the meeting. 

Commissioner John Katz says more information needs to be given to and discussion heard from residents.  Commissioner Joseph Dowdell opposed the pause saying Ridgefield could be missing out on economic opportunities.  Commissioner Robert Hendrick says there is a state social equity board that needs to give approval to any permit. 

The Commission can lift the moratorium at any time.  It covers 11 types of recreational cannabis-related business including producers, cultivators, retailers, manufacturers, delivery services and transporters.

One of the few people who attended the hearing was First Selectman Rudy Marconi backed a moratorium because of the short timeframe to institute a referendum by this Election Day. He says residents could potentially vote in May during the annual budget referendum.  The Board of Selectmen plans to continue discussing the matter, including holding public hearings.

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Phone outages for police, schools, hospitals resolved

Phone outages for some police departments, schools and hospitals in the Greater Danbury area appears to be resolved.  A Fronteir outage prompted New Milford, Wilton and West Conn Police to set up alternate phone lines for non emergencies, or remind residents that anyone in need of immediate assistance was still able to dial 911.  The phones for the Brookfield Public School District were also affected yesterday.  Nuvance Health set up alternate phone lines to contact Danbury, New Milford and Norwalk Hospitals.  The issue also impacted their medical practices phone lines.  But Nuvance says they were fully open and keeping patient appointments.  Frontier said there was a fiber issue, leading to a loss of service statewide.

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New Milford Health Department receives outpatient clinic licensure

The New Milford Health Department has received its official outpatient clinic licensure from the state Department of Public Health and can now expand local health services.  New Milford plans to operate an outpatient clinic at the John Pettibone Community Center, expanding from COVID-19 vaccines to flu shots and health screenings for diabetes, vision, and cholesterol.   Health Director Lisa Morrissey expects to ramp up services this month and next.  A waiver will also allow New Milford to perform rapid tests for COVID-19 at their drive-thru site, not just PCR tests. 

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Danbury woman announces plan to seek 5th Congressional District GOP nomination

Another Republican has announced their intention to run for Congress in the 5th District next year.  51-year old Michelle Botelho of Danbury is a political newcomer who describes herself as a conservative whose values stem from her immigrant parents’ work ethic and her Christian faith.  The mother of two college-age kids is a paralegal and a tutor in Danbury public schools. The other Republican who has announced plans for a 2022 run is former state Senator George Logan of Ansonia, which is outside the 5th District.  The Constitution only requires that members of Congress live in the state they represent, not the district.  Logan said he would buy a house once redistricting is finalized and the district lines are drawn.  Two-term Democrat Jahana Hayes is seeking a 3rd term.

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Fingerprinting Services fully restored at Easton Police Department

Fingerprinting Services are fully restored in Connecticut.  Many Greater Danbury area police departments require an appointment for fingerprinting services.  Connecticut updated the statewide fingerprinting system, a process that took several weeks and prompted area police department to temporarily suspend public fingerprinting.  People needing fingerprinting include educators, Department of Public Health long term healthcare employees and new pistol permit applicants among others.  Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation sent a letter to Connecticut's Public Safety Commissioner saying that retailers are  frustrated by the lack of adequate coordination and planning.  The organization called the roll-out of the upgraded system wholly inadequate, producing extended outages.  NSSF called the timing of this upgrade ill advised because the record number of gun sales throughout the state.

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Bridgewater considering ban on recreational cannabis establishments

Bridgewater is the latest Greater Danbury area town to consider whether or not to allow retail cannabis sales within its borders.  The Bridgewater Planning & Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on Thursday at 6pm on proposed regulations amendments to prohibit all cannabis establishments.  When the General Assembly approved legalized recreational marijuana, they left it up to each municipality to decide how they would handle future sales.

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New Milford, WCSU Police and Nuvance report phone line issues

The New Milford Police Department experiencing phone issues.  Temporary numbers have been put in place for routine phone calls 860-457-4188 or 860-355-3134.  In the event of an emergency or anyone in need of immediate assistance, can still call 911. 

The West Conn Police Department’s telephone system has been affected by an issue with an external line. The dispatch center can only receive calls from campus phones.  Any student or visitor with an emergency is asked to call 911. University staff is investigating. 

Danbury Hospital is reporting phone outages.  Nuvance Health received numerous reports since yesterday that there is an outage for incoming calls to Danbury and Norwalk phone numbers.  They are working with the vendor to resolve the issue, but in the meantime have set up alternate main phone numbers for the hospitals experiencing the outage.  The number to call to reach Danbury Hospital is 203-749-9200. 

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Two feature filmes to shoot in New Milford

Two feature films will be using New Milford as a backdrop.  The New Milford Film Commission has partnered with Story Plant Entertainment Company to film two movies in town.  The producers they have offered a $25,000 scholarship to the Commission, to be granted to a local filmmaker and film student.  The Thursday Night Club, a family-oriented movie, will be filming early next year.  Mayor Pete Bass did not disclose the name of the other film.

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Municipalities continue to examine future of cannabis sales

The New Fairfield Zoning Commission has held the first of several planned public hearings about regulation of adult use of cannabis.  Three people spoke during the hearing at the Commission's meeting earlier this month.  The group decided to leave the hearing open, saying they want to get more community input on whether or not retail sales should be allowed.  The New Fairfield Zoning Commission's next meeting is scheduled for Octboer 6th.  Bridgewater is considering a moratorium retail cannabis sales within its borders.  The Planning & Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing tomorrow at 6pm on proposed regulations amendments.

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Vaccine van returns to New Fairfield

The yellow COVID-19 vaccine minivan is back in New Fairfield this afternoon.  The Griffin Health, State Department of Public Health mobile team will provide Pfizer, Moderna and J&J shots at St. Edward's Church until 7PM.  The mobile clinic will also be in New Fairfield on Saturday, at  New Fairfield Fair Day behind Town Hall from 9am to 5pm.  The clinic will vaccinate anyone over the age of 12, however those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Vaccination will be  provided free of charge.  Boosters are currently available for immunocompromised individuals.

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Redding incumbent First Selectman fights off Democratic primary challenge

Redding First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton has fought off a primary challenge and will be the Democratic candidate to lead the town in the November Municipal Election.  According to unofficial results from the Secretary of the State's Office, Pemberton received 565 votes while challenger Mike D'Agostino received 201.  The Region 9 Board of Ed member was seeking to unseat the 4 term incumbent who was endorsed by the Redding Democratic Town Committee.  Pemberton will next face Republican former state Representative John Shaban in the First Selectman's race in a couple of months.  Pemberton ran unopposed in the last two municipal elections.

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Waterbury man arrested for alleged drug sales in Danbury

A Waterbury man has been arrested by Danbury Police on drug related charges. Police received resident complaints about 29-year old Jesiel Ferreira DaSilva allegedly selling illegal narcotics throughout the area.  DaSilva was observed by police meeting with suspected buyers in obscure residential neighborhoods, for very short times before driving away, consistent with drug trafficking.  Investigators located DaSilva Monday meeting with people.  During one interaction, police approached and the suspected buyer quickly got out of DaSilva's car.  Illegal narcotics were in plain view.  Police found hallucinogens, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, fentanyl and several thousand dollars cash.  DaSilva was charged with 6 counts of possession with intent to sell, 5 counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, possession with intent to sell within 1500' of a school and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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Newtown woman charged with workers comp fraud

A Newtown woman has been arrested for allegedly illegally collecting Workers’ Compensation benefits while employed as a Supervisor of Pupil Personnel Services for the New Fairfield Board of Education.  41-year old Ann Marie Cordisco was charged yesterday with Fraudulent Claim or Receipt of Benefits, Larceny by Defrauding a Public Community and Perjury.  According to the arrest warrant affidavit, in September 2018 Cordisco was injured while exiting a school bus, claiming she sustained injuries to her left foot, ankle and knee. Cordisco was placed on Temporary Total Disability and began receiving wage replacement monies totaling nearly $58,000 over six months.  Surveillance videos and documentation showed activities that were not consistent with Cordisco’s claimed injuries.  Cordisco was released on bond and is due in Court on the 23rd.

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Sandy Hook Promise launches new PSA in 'Know The Signs' campaign

Sandy Hook Promise has released another PSA aimed at raising awareness about the signs that could lead to gun violence.  This one features survivors of school shootings performing a rendition of the Katy Perry song, “Teenage Dream.”

In the video, the teens and young adults are shown with short sentences below their name, school and shooting date.  One is paralyzed from a bullet to his spine, one has a bullet still lodged in his heart, while another had two friends killed next to her as they huddled in a closet.  Photos and x-rays of their gunshot wounds are displayed as they sing lyrics like “you and I will be young forever,” and "don't  ever look back, don’t ever look back.". 

Sandy Hook Promise says  the United States recorded its 481st mass shooting this year, on September 5, and its 20th mass murder of four or more people during a shooting in Lakeland, Florida. 

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Drainage Repair work planned on Route 7 in New Milford

The state Department of Transportation is planning Drainage Repair work on Route 7 in New Milford. The work will be done in the area of Route 7 at Everwood Drive, starting on the 25th at 6am.  The project is expected to be completed by the end of that weekend.  The rain date is October 2nd and 3rd.  Route 7 will be closed at Everwood Drive during the work.  Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will be used to guide motorists around the work zone.  A detour will be set up taking motorists to Route 37, Route 39N, Route 55, and back to Route 7.

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Danbury Public School enrollment on pace to surpass 12,000 students

Danbury Public School enrollment is on pace to surpass 12,000 students.  At the start of the school year there was paperwork pending for 327 students, which would put the total over that figure.  Superintendent Kevin Walston expects there could be some new families enrolling during this first month of school as well.  Kindergarten and 1st grade are the growth areas, but Walston says the middle school enrollment continues to grow.  He says more space is needed at that grade level regardless of social distancing guidelines.  Danbury recently completed an annex for classrooms at Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School, rented a former Catholic school building in Brookfield for Kindergarteners, and plans to construct a career academy for middle and high school students.  Projections from a demographer about the high end of enrollment are that the Danbury Public School District could reach a peak of about 12,425 students in 2024-25.  The low end would be 12,260 students the year before that time.

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Ridgefield Amateur Hockey Association merges with Danbury Hat Tricks

The Ridgefield Amateur Hockey Association has merged with the Danbury Hat Tricks.  The Ridgefield program has five divisions starting at 5 years old and going through high school. 

Danbury Hat Tricks president Herm Sorcher says the partnership with the Ridgefield Lions gives them a chance to combine to build something that could take the youth hockey programs to the next level.  The new partnership will include camps, clinics, professional youth coaches and player-family experiences with professional players from the Federal Prospects Hockey League.  In theory, a hockey player could start the program at age 5 and stay with it into the pros.

The “Mites” are for ages 5 to 8; the “Squirts” are up to age 10; “Peewees” up to age 12; and the “Bantams” up to age 14. The “Midgets” include high school-age players.

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Two cars reportedly stolen from Ridgefield homes

Two cars were reportedly stolen from Ridgefield homes early Sunday morning.  Ridgefield Police say the 2012 and 2018 vehicles were stolen from homes in the Circle Drive and North Salem Road areas.  Neither of the vehicles were locked at the time they were stolen. While most of the past stolen vehicles have been recovered after a short time, Ridgefield Police continue to urge all residents to be diligent with securing cars and removing personal effects overnight.  Anyone with information about the two recent motor vehicle thefts is asked to contact the Ridgefield Police Department.

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Scammers claiming to be from Putnam County Sheriff's Office in fraud scheme

Scammers are claiming to be members of the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in an ongoing scheme to defraud, according to Sheriff Robert Langley.  His office has received complaints about criminals calling citizens and telling them that they are under the threat of arrest for tickets not being paid, failure to appear in court, and various other reasons. The scammers then ask residents for money in order to alleviate their pending threat of arrest.  Neither the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office nor any other police agency would ever ask for money over the phone for any reason. Any resident who receives a call from someone asking for money from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office or any other police agency, should hang up and call the Sheriff's Office (845) 225-4300 to report the call.

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Democratic Primary today in Redding for First Selectman

Redding residents registered with the Democratic party are being called on to vote in a Primary today for First Selectman. Incumbent Julia Pemberton is seeking a 5th term. She is being challenged by Region 9 Board of Ed member Mike D'Agostino. He says the biggest issue that prompted him to get into the race was the long stall on developing the former Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill site.  Pemberton has said the delay with redevelopment has been a court case of liens on the property.  Polls are open at Redding Community Center for registered Democrats until 8pm.

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Redding officials warn of start to fall archery hunting seasons for deer, turkey

The 2021 fall archery hunting seasons for deer and turkey open tomorrow on state and private land.  Bow hunters will be out in Redding through a town sponsored hunt on town-owned open space.  Redding officials say this long standing program is highly regulated, with hunters assigned a piece of land.  Town officials say they have not had any reported issues with the hunt, but are alerting trail users that the season is set to begin.  Fall archery hunting season for deer and wild turkey goes to the end of December on private lands and state land bowhunting only areas.

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30 year Ridgefield Police Department veteran to retire

A member of the Ridgefield Police Department is retiring after nearly 30 years on the job.  Major Stephen Brown  began his career with the Ridgefield Police Department in 1993.  He started the Citizen Police Academy and the department's participation in the Special Olympics Torch Run, was a member of the department’s road racing team, expanded the department’s physical fitness program, and was the recipient of the Exceptional Service Award in 2000.  In addition to being in command of the Department in the absence of the Chief, Major Brown oversaw the commanders of the Uniform, Detective, Professional Standards, and Communications Divisions.  During his tenure, Brown moved through the ranks as Patrol Officer, Detective, Lieutenant, Captain of the Division of Professional Standards, Detective Division Commander, and Uniform Division Commander prior to being promoted to the rank of Major in 2011.  Brown investigated internal affairs complaints, coordinated hiring, examines FOI requests, supervises all scheduling, writes grant proposals, and assists in payroll and budgeting.

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Bethel to use federal COIVD funding for Small Business Assistance Grant Program

Bethel will use some federal American Rescue Plan Act money to create a financial assistance program for local small businesses to help in the wake of the pandemic.   The Board of Selectmen voted to allocate $350,000 toward the creation of the Small Business Assistance Program.  Companies in Bethel with 25 or fewer employees will be able to apply for one time funding, up to $5,000 in grant funding.  The Economic and Development Commission will be required to provide the Board of Selectmen with monthly progress summaries.  Only about 45 percent of Bethel businesses reported receiving COVID-related financial assistance, most in the form of loans.  EDC officials say some small businesses chose not to take part in the federal Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs due to future financial concerns because they could not take on more debt.  The EDC surveyed businesses in town and found that they're having difficulty filling positions and need to add responsibilities for COVID response. 
 

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New Milford Police to host Citizens Police Academy, Car Seat Clinic

The New Milford Police Department is launching a new Citizens Police Academy. The program provides an understanding and awareness of police operations, and is an effort to build partnerships and open channels of communication with the community.  The academy starts on Octboer 6th.  Applications must be submitted to the New Milford Police Department by September 27th.

New Milford and Brookfield Police will be conducting a joint Child Safety Seat Clinic later this month. No appointment is needed for the inspection and installation event on the 25th at Faith Church.  The clinic starts at 9am and will run until 2pm.

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Danbury City Council approves Police, Fire Department promotions

The Danbury City Council has approved the promotion of a new Assistant Fire Chief.  William Lounsbury has worked for the Danbury Fire Department for 30 years. He had been serving as acting assistant chief since last month.  Two deputy fire chiefs who were serving in acting roles, were officially confirmed to those positions on Thursday as well, Jaime Schiller and Robert Forbes.  The Danbury City Council also promoted two Lieutenants to Fire Captain, and two firefighters to Lieutenants.  Two Danbury Police Officers, Matthew Malone and Brian Peloso, were promoted to Sergeants.

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Fire in Southbury home contained to 1 room

A structure fire in Southbury was quickly extinguished over the weekend.  Southbury firefighters responded to Overton Farm Road shortly before 9pm on Saturday and confirmed smoke showing. Southbury crews, along with a crew from Oxford, were able to contain the flames to one bedroom. Sandy Hook and Middlebury provided station coverage during the response.

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Redding Democrats to vote in Primary for First Selectman tomorrow

Today is the deadline for in-person registration for Redding residents to participate in tomorrow's Democratic primary for First Selectman.  The deadline has already passed for people looking to switch parties.  The cut off is noon today to register, according to the Secretary of the State's office.  Incumbent Julia Pemberton is facing a challenge from Region 9 Board of Education member Mike D'Agostino.  Voting tomorrow will take place at the Redding Community Center from 6am to 8pm.  Pemberton is seeking a 5th term leading the town.  She and D'Agastino both say the Gilbert & Bennet Wire Mill redevelopment is a priority.

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Navigable channel on Zoar under Rochambeau Bridge closed this week

The Lake Zoar Authority Marine Patrol is alerting boaters that the channel on Zoar will be closed Monday through Friday.  This is part of the ongoing Rochambeau Bridge reconstruction project.  The navigable channel between some of the bridge’s pillars will temporarily be closed to marine traffic.  During the closure, structural steel is being erected over the channel.  If the steel is in place prior to Friday, the channel will be reopened earlier.  The two bridges that carry Interstate 84 over the Housatonic River are being fully rehabilitated. Currently, the eastern bridge is open, the western bridge is being renovated.  

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Connecticut National Guard troops heading to Poland

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — More than 70 members of the Connecticut National Guard are heading to Poland as part of ongoing U.S. military preparedness exercises with European allies.

A send-off ceremony was held Sunday at the state armory in Hartford for the Danbury-based 142nd Area Support Medical Co., which will be supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve over the next year by providing medical care.

“This has been an incredibly busy two years for the 142nd and I cannot overstate the complexity of preparing for a deployment while facing the virus, combating it, and supporting their communities,” Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, adjutant general of the Connecticut National Guard, said in a statement.

Atlantic Resolve has rotated U.S. troops across more than a dozen countries in Europe since 2014 in efforts to increase readiness and coordination with NATO and European allies, according to the military. Approximately 7,000 American troops are deployed in the effort at any given time, officials say.

Gov. Ned Lamont said the National Guard has been provided key support in the state during the coronavirus pandemic and thanked the troops heading to Poland for their dedication and professionalism.

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Danbury promotes Health Director

The Danbury City Council has approved the appointment of a new Health Director.  Kara Prunty, who has been serving in the acting position, was officially confirmed at the Council's meeting on Thursday.  Prunty had to complete her master of public health degree before officially taking on the position she held for the past 17 months.  She holds master of public administration from the Rockefeller School of Public Administration at the University Albany and multiple certifications through the state health department and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Mayor Joe Cavo says during her tenure with the city, Prunty has established herself as a leader and her calm and knowledgeable guidance is one of the driving forces of Danbury’s success in dealing with this pandemic.

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Two people injured in motorcycle accident involving bear

Two people have been injured in a motorcycle accident involving a bear.  Connecticut State Police responded to the crash on Saturday afternoon in the town of Washington, near Roxbury Road.  Troopers determined that the motorcyclist swerved to avoid a bear and sustained minor injuries.  A passenger sustained moderate injuries.   Route 199 was closed during the investigation.  The Washington Fire Department also responded.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection reported that the bear was no longer near the scene when they arrived.

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Stand Down event to be held for veterans, National Guard, active duty military members

The state Department of Veterans Affairs will hold its annual Veterans Stand Down event September 22nd through 24th. The outreach initiative has been held for nearly three decades.  This year will combine two days of online benefits presentations and a day with five regional in-person Veteran resource access sites, including Danbury. The three-day event will start with a kickoff ceremony at 9am on September 22nd at the DVA Rocky Hill Campus, broadcast via social media.  Informational sessions will cover a variety of topics including housing and homeless services, State labor/employment and vocational resources, caregiver support, legal assistance, education resources and others.  On day three, Friday, September 24th, there will be five in–person service locations throughout the State, including at the Danbury War Memorial.  The local Stand Down event will be open from 8am-2pm and staffed by representatives of the regional Vet Centers, CT Bar Association, the DVA and Veteran Service Organizations, along with community based providers. Veterans can get benefits information, pro-bono legal services and free COVID-19 testing, vaccines and flu shots.

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Brookfield looks to buy parcel from state for pocket park

Brookfield is looking to buy a small parcel of land from the state in order to create a pocket park in the area of Old Route 7 where the Hearth Restaurant used to be.  The parcel abuts the streetscape project area.  Brookfield wanted to include the proposal in Phase 3, but the state came back at the last minute and required Brookfield to purchase that island.  First Selectman Steve Dunn notes that the last time Brookfield bought a piece of property from the state it took almost two years and the town didn't want to hold off on the start of Phase 3, so the pocket park was taken out of the designs.  Brookfield will try to buy the parcel for $1.  Dunn says the state has no use for the 6,000 square feet land and reinstitute the idea of pocket park.  Plans call for a sculpture, landscaping and seating.

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Fairfield Hills campus buildings slated for demolition

Four buildings on the Fairfield Hills campus in Newtown are slated for demolition over the next decade, unless developers come forward with viable alternate plans.  The cost to tear down Plymouth Hall, Stamford Hall, Norwalk Hall and Cochran House is estimated at more than 10 million dollars.  The brick buildings are deteriorating and contain hazardous materials so they are not candidates for redevelopment.  Developers plan to use federal tax credits to build age-restricted housing in two other old buildings--Kent House and Shelton House.  Boston-based Winn Development also plans for some commercial uses in the structures.  The Planning and Zoning Commission still need to sign off on plans. Stratford House was redeveloped into the NewSylum Brewing Company.  One of the former psychiatric hospital's duplexes was converted into the headquarters of a non-profit.  The last building on the campus to be demolished was in 2016, to make way for the Community Center and Senior Center.

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Conn. marks 20 years since 9/11 terrorist attacks

The Redding Fire Department is remembering a local man who was killed 20 years ago responding with the FDNY to the World Trade Center.  42-year old Christopher Blackwell of Putnam Lake grew up in New Fairfield, and graduated from Immaculate High School. He was a veteran, having served with the US Air Force, and a 25 year member of New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Company A.  Blackwell also worked as a  paramedic providing advanced life support services for the Towns of Redding, Bethel, Newtown, Brookfield, New Fairfield and the City of Danbury.  Redding Fire officials remember him as always kind, confident and calm during the most stressful situation and called him the best of the best.  The highly decorated 20 year veteran of the FDNY received the Heroism and Community Service Medal in 1989, the Thomas Kennedy Medal in 1990, and the Medal of Valor in 1992. He was a member of the FEMA urban search and rescue team and taught heavy rescue skills to fire departments throughout the region and the country.

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Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Event today

A Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Event is being held today at Brookfield High School.  This is for residents of all towns in the Housatonic Resouerces Recovery Authority area.  Residents can drop off items like household chemicals, paint, old fuel and the like.  The collection is from 9am to 2pm.

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Food distribution event being held at DHS

Danbury High School is hosting another drive-thru food distribution event, open to any Connecticut resident, today.  People who drive up or walk up to 43 Clapboard Ridge Road between 10 am and 1 pm will receive a box of fresh produce.  The effort is coordinated by the United Way, Walnut Hill Food Pantry and Connecticut Food Share.

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CT United Ride to come through Greater Danbury area today

The Connecticut United Ride, a motorcycle ride paying tribute to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, will be passing through the Greater Danbury area today.  All adjacent intersections will be closed along the route from Sherwood Island State Park, through Wilton, Redding, Bethel, Newtown, Monroe, Trumbull, Fairfield and Bridgeport. 

The 60-mile ride, along a closed route, will have riders escorted by police.  They will proceed through intersections and stop lights without stopping. Motorists are required to wait for the entire motorcade to pass, until the last emergency vehicle passes. The event begins around 10:30 and ends around 1:15pm. 

Governor Lamont is directing U.S. and state flags in Connecticut to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset today, in remembrance of the nearly 3,000 people who were killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The state will illuminate the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven in red, white, and blue lights in recognition of the anniversary. Beacons capable of projecting light nearly six miles into the clear night sky will be lit.

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Two area towns move out of Conn. red zone for COVID-19 community spread

84 municipalities are currently in the red zone, the highest of the state’s four alert levels for COVID-19 community spread.  Newtown, New Fairfield, and Monroe remain in the red.  There were 59 cases in Newtown over the last two weeks and 41 in New Fairfield, but the calculation is scaled to population.  Newtown was a 15.1 cases on average, New Fairfield at 21.1 per 100,000 population. 

Sherman and Easton have moved down to the orange level, along with Brookfield, Danbury, New Milford, Washington, Bethlehem, Southbury and Wilton.  Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield and Woodbury are in the yellow zone.  Bridgewater, Roxbury and Weston are in the grey zone, the lowest alert level. 

The percent of 16 to 64 year olds in Connecticut who have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine has increased by 1 percent in the past week.  The 12 to 15 year old age group vaccination rate increased by 2-percent over the last week. 

22 additional COVID-related fatalities have been reported in Connecticut in the past week.  There are 354 people being treated for COVID in Connecticut hospitals, 74 percent of whom are not fully vaccinated.  Hospitalizations declined by 10 from Wednesday.  Yesterday's daily test positivity rate was 2.93 percent.

As of yesterday, 9,875 cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated persons in Connecticut have been identified.  That means .43 percent of the fully vaccinated population in Connecticut contracted the virus.  70 COVID-associated fatalities among the fully vaccinated have been reported, representing 7.1 percent of all COVID deaths since February.

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Dept. of Health releases COVID-19 infection rates for Danbury area

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel's COVID-19 infection rate has remained flat from last reporting period at 3-percent, with 9.7 cases per 100,000 population.  Brookfield is down to 3.7 percent from 4.2 percent infection rate the week before. 

Danbury's COVID-19 test positivity rate has increased just slightly from the last reporting period from 4 to 4.3-percent.  135 cases have been reported to the state between August 22nd and September 4th.  That's 11.4 cases per 100,000 population. 

New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rate over the last two weeks reported has increased from 6.1 percent to 7.6 percent.  New Milford's rate dipped half a percentage point from the previous week to 3.2 while Newtown's increased slightly to 3.7 percent.  Redding's COVID-19 infection rate has dropped a full percentage point to 2.6 percent over the last two weeks reported.

Ridgefield's rate is back on the decline.  After spiking more than a percentage point last week from the week before, the town is reporting a 3.1 percent infection rate.

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Area towns mark 20th anniversary of 9/11 attacks

The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department will hold a remembrance ceremony tomorrow to mark the 20th anniversary of the events of September 11th.   Those attending the ceremony at 9am are asked to park in the lot near the entrance to Charter Hall, the ceremony will be held at the September 11th bench.

The theme of New Fairfield's annual September 11th ceremony this year will be “Never Forget” and will be centered on students and youth.  In collaboration with New Fairfield Schools, the town honored those lost on 9/11 with students on the field at New Fairfield High School at 10am on Friday. 

A solemn observance will be held at the 9/11 memorial at the Senior Center on Saturday, at 5pm for those unable to attend on Friday.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says it's hard to believe that 20 years have gone by, and that all current students were born after that tragic day, and those in their twenties may have only a distant memory of the events of September 11, 2001.

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Newtown Legislative Council votes to keep mask mandate through Oct. 6

The Newtown Legislative Council has extended First Selectman Dan Rosenthal's emergency order requiring masks indoors in public places regardless of vaccine status.  The local state of emergency would have only lasted five days, but the Council voted 9 to 3 to keep the mandate in place until they revisit the order at their October 6th meeting.  Rosenthal can rescind the order before that time.  The mandate was put in place August 30th when Newtown was classified as being in the state Department of Public Health red zone for having more than 15 cases per 100-thousand population over the last two weeks.  Health District Director Donna Culbert told the Council that people have gotten lax in social distancing and minimizing exposure to crowds.

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Greater Danbury area towns to mark 20th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks

Saturday marks 20 years since the attacks on the Twin Towers.

Students, staff and Danbury city officials will gather at St. Joseph School this morning for a ceremony at 10 am on the school’s front lawn on Main Street. 

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company and Bethel Fire will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11th World Trade Center attacks.  A ceremony is planned for the front lawn of the Bethel Municipal Center starting at 7:30am and end around 8:15am on Saturday.  The Department says accommodations have been made with various local religious denominations in Bethel. 

A silent vigil will be held in Redding on the town green Saturday.  Faith leaders will hold a bell ringing ceremony in the Town Green Gazebo at the times the planes struck the World Trade Center towers at 8:46am and 9:03am. 

New Milford will hold a memorial ceremony on Saturday at the 9/11 monument in Patriots Way Plaza overlooking Young's Field.  People can gather starting at 8am with the service beginning at 8:46am, the time hijacked Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower.  Water Witch Hose Fire will toll the bell 9 times to open the ceremony and then 11 times at 8:46am.  New Milofrd Police, ambulance and Fire Departments will help VFW Post 1672 and the American Legion Ezra Woods Post 31 with the changing of the colors.  The National Anthem and God Bless America will be performed.  After the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation, local and state officials will offer brief memorials.  The service will close with piper Patrick Maguire playing Amazing Grace. 

A ceremony is being held in Kent on Saturday for residents to share reflections of the day that changed the country, honor those who were killed, and honor the first responders.  The ceremony begins at 8:30am at Kent Town Hall.

Ridgefield's service will be held at the 9/11 memorial monument at the Parks and Rec building at 6:30pm.     

Brookfield will host a candlelight vigil on Saturday night at the Town Hall Bandstand. The vigil will start at 7 pm and is hosted by the Brookfield Museum and Historical Society.    

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Danbury Water Department reports drinking water system standard violation

The Danbury Water Department says their system recently violated a drinking water standard. Although this was not considered an emergency, the department is alerting customers to the incident.  The City monitors water for turbidity or cloudiness to determine whether the water supply is being filtered effectively.  Water samples in July showed that just under 6-percent of measurements exceeded turbidity units.  The standard is no more than 5-percent of samples per month.  The algal bloom causing the turbidity problem was treated.  The water quality in the reservoir improved within a few days resulting in a return to normal turbidity levels.  The Danbury Water Department says there is no corrective action needed by customers such as boiling water.  Turbidity may indicate the presence of disease-causing organisms including bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea and associated headaches.  People with severely compromised immune systems, infants, and some elderly may be at increased risk of these health effects.

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Skateboarder injured in collision with car in New Milford

A car and a pedestrian collided in New Milford on Wednesday evening, seriously injuring the pedestrian.  A 23-year-old was riding his skateboard down Route 109 when he collided with a northbound vehicle.  The skateboarder was taken to Danbury Hospital with serious injuries to his right leg.  The driver was uninjured and declined medical treatment at the scene.  The skateboarder was given a verbal warning for reckless use of a highway by a pedestrian.

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Congresswoan hosts casework event in Danbury

A congress on your corner type event is coming to Danbury.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes will have a casework team at the Danbury Farmers Market from 10 am to 2 pm to share how her office can help constituents with federal agencies.  Typical questions that come up during these events include assistance obtaining a passport, locating a tax refund, and getting documentation from the VA.  Casworkers also provide information about applying for Social Security Disability and other federal programs.

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Connecticut trooper swept away in Ida flooding laid to rest

Hundreds of mourners, including law enforcement officers from across the nation, gathered at an outdoor music theater in Connecticut Thursday for the funeral of a state police trooper who was swept away in floodwaters from the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

Sgt. Brian Mohl, a 26-year veteran of the department, was working the overnight shift when he called for help around 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 2, saying his vehicle had become trapped in rising flood waters near the Pomperaug River in Woodbury.

Dive teams found his empty vehicle in the river just after daybreak. Sgt. Mohl, who was 50, was found an hour later further down the river.

“Sgt. Brian Mohl pursued what was good and right for decades along the highways and back roads of this state,” Rev. Michael Dolan, a state police chaplain, told mourners at the Xfinity Theater in Hartford. “In a moment, that pursuit concluded and we find ourselves here.”

Mohl was remembered as a hard working, blunt, straight-shooting trooper who loved the midnight shift. He also was eulogized as a kind and generous family man and friend, who had a nickname for everyone. He loved shopping in bulk at Costco in Brookfield, giving gifts and teasing those he loved.

His younger sister Laura Singh remembered how he would sneak around her house changing the toilet paper rolls in the bathrooms so that they pulled from underneath rather than over the top.

Another of his sisters, Frances Gordon, said her brother always seemed to be working.

“It’s not a surprise to me that his way of leaving us was via the job,” she said. “Service to the greater good, right?”

Mohl is survived by his wife, Susan, a 14-year-old son, two stepchildren and three grandchildren.

He is is the 25th Connecticut trooper to die in the line of duty since the agency was formed in 1903, the department said.

An honor guard fired a 21-gun salute and a bugler played taps as the funeral concluded, before a final call was transmitted across the state police radio system to thank Mohl for his service.

“Your brothers and sisters will take the watch from here,” it concluded.

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Redding Police recover stolen vehicle

Redding police have recovered a vehicle stolen from a town driveway this week.  During the overnight hours Tuesday into Wednesday the car was reportedly taken.  The keys were left inside.  Redding Police note that vehicles were also reported stolen in surrounding towns during that time.  The trend of cars being entered and vehicles being stolen has been an ongoing issue throughout the state.  Redding Police say the majority of these incidents occurring is cases where vehicles are being left unlocked and keys left inside the vehicle.

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Conn. State Police Trooper laid to rest

A Connecticut State Police Trooper is being laid to rest, a week after he and his cruiser were swept away in the floodwaters of the Pomperaug River in Woodbury.  Funeral services were held this morning for Sgt Brian Mohl at the Xfinity Theatre.  Thousands of law enforcement members, not only from Connecticut but from all over New England and the country, attended the service.  Honors included three rounds of volley fire, the playing of Taps and a presentation of flags to his family.  Trooper One, Trooper Two and New York State Police helicopter conducted a flyover.  Mohl is survived by his wife, Susan, and three children, his three brothers, his two sisters, and his parents. He was a member of the Connecticut State Police for nearly 27 years and was set to retire next year. Governor Lamont today is directing U.S. and state flags in Connecticut to return to full-staff at sunset.  Flags have been flying at half-staff statewide as a mark of respect for Mohl.

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Conn. regulated deer archery season starts Wednesday

Connecticut’s regulated deer archery season starts on Wednesday.  State Environmental Conservation Police are reminding hunters that the use of bait in Connecticut is limited to private property in zones 11 and 12 only--which includes all of Fairfield County.  It's illegal everywhere else, including Litchfield County.  Typical bait for deer include corn, grain, salt licks and food blocks. Generally with the food on the ground there will also be a game camera attached to a near by tree monitoring what animals visit the food.

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Danbury Water Department reports drinking water system standard violation

The Danbury Water Department is warning customers of a drinking water standard violation that occurred earlier this year.  Although not considered an emergency, water samples during July showed that turbidity measurements, or cloudiness, exceeded standards.  The violation did not require customers to take corrective action such as boiling water, but the Danbury Water Department noted that compromised immune systems, infants, and some elderly may be at increased risk of nausea, cramps, diarrhea and associated headaches.  The water quality in the reservoir improved within a few days resulting in a return to normal turbidity levels.

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Danbury to consider listing contaminated property as surplus

A committee of the Danbury City Council has met about listing a blighted property as surplus, becoming the owner through a foreclosure process.  The former Amphenol site behind police headquarters was acquired by the City two years ago, but the property is contaminated by arsenic, mercury and other chemicals. 

The three acres had been proposed as a site basketball courts, but even after an environmental cleanup it was determined that it could not be used for residential or recreational purposes.  Mayor Joe Cavo says the property is zoned for light-industrial use. 

He notes that the real estate market is changing rapidly and now is the time to get this property back into a tax paying situation with some form of development.  Cavo called it eyesore on Maple Avenue, which is continuing to deteriorate.  He wants it off the City's hands to improve the looks of downtown. 

Amphenol signed a document in 1997 that put them on the hook for clean up.  They just about completed that in 2014/2015 and were working their way to an environmental land use restriction, which means certain areas couldn't be disturbed.  When the City took the land through foreclosure, Amphenol was still on the hook for that, rather than the City.

The City Council will discuss the matter at their meeting tonight.

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New Milford facing school bus driver shortage

The New Milford Public School District is working to address a school bus driver shortage.  In a letter to families yesterday, Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo says they are working with All Star Transportation Company to address the shortages, but the transportation vendor has used all of their sub drivers and don't have additional buses. 

DiCorpo says they even called surrounding towns inquiring about support for these runs. She called out of state transportation companies to see if they could cover this week, but are unable to do so as they too are facing driver shortages. 

All-Star combined two high school routes to free up a driver.  High School Bus 27 students will go onto Bus 14 for the rest of the week and if needed on Monday as well.  All-Star is not able to cover Bus 12 (SNIS), Bus 16 (NMHS & SNIS), Bus 33 (SMS & SNIS) this afternoon.  All-Star is not able to cover Bus 12 (SNIS), Bus 16 (NMHS & SNIS) tomorrow afternoon.

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Connecticut United Ride to close roadways Saturday to honor 9/11 anniversary

On Saturday September 11th the Connecticut United Ride, a motorcycle ride paying tribute to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, will be passing through the Greater Danbury area.  The motorcade travels through Wilton, and access to sections of Route 33  and Route 7 will be restricted.  Adjacent streets on the east side of  Route 7, north of  the Route 7 and Westport Road intersection, will not  be able  to enter Route  7.  Adjacent  streets on the west side of Route 7 will  be  restricted to entering in a  southbound direction only. 

The ride will come through Redding northbound on Route 107 from Route 7 up to Route 58 into Bethel. The anticipated starting time is at around 11:30am.  Redding Police say motorists can expect road closures and traffic delays for 30 to 45 minutes in this area. 

The ride will enter Bethel at approximately noon, via Route 58 northbound from Redding.  The procession turns right onto Route 302 eastbound and travels into Newtown.  All adjacent intersections will be closed along the route as the procession passes, resulting in substantial delays as the procession can span up to a half hour.

The 60-mile ride is nonstop, rain or shine, along a closed route, with riders escorted by police and proceeding through intersections and stop lights without stopping. It will start at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, and pass through Wilton, Redding, Bethel, Newtown, Monroe, Trumbull, Fairfield and Bridgeport, arriving at Seaside Park about 1:15pm. 

Motorists are required to wait for the entire motorcade to pass, until the last emergency vehicle passes. Motorcyclists are not allowed to join the ride in progress, and those in the ride are discouraged from exiting the route.

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Court hearing scheduled today for a blight case in Danbury

A court hearing is scheduled today for a blight case in Danbury.  The City is looking to buy or take the property at 89 Wooster Heights Road, which is filled with piles of scrap metal and debris.  Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team Director Shawn Stillman says the property has been distressed for several years and created many complaints from residents and city officials. For the last two months UNIT has been working with an attorney for today's court date to discuss a ruling on the property and getting it cleaned up as soon as possible.  But Stillman says clean up will be a huge undertaking, but given the scope and cost of the project the extend of the effort is undetermined.

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Two Danbury residents arrested on drug related charges

Two Danbury residents have been arrested on drug related charges. Danbury Police launched an investigation into neighbor complaints of 26-year old Lucas Desouza, also known as Lucas Cole, selling drugs throughout the City. On Friday morning, investigators set up surveillance at an apartment complex on Saw Mill Road and carried out a search warrant.  Desouza was spotted entering his girlfriend's car and the home was searched.  Investigators seized a substantial quantity of prescription narcotics, fentanyl packaged for sale and several thousand dollars cash.  Desouza and his girlfriend, 27-year old Jamie Singh, were each charged with 4 counts of possession of a controlled substance, 4 counts of possession with intent to sell and 1 count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

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Driver crashes off roadway toward Candlewood Lake

A driver was injured in an accident in Brookfield last night.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to Candlewood Lake Road shortly after 5pm on a report of a vehicle crashing off the side of the road near the shore of the Lake.  The driver was able to get themselves out of the car, but sustained injuries and was transported to Danbury Hospital for evaluation.  Candlewood Lake Road was closed while firefighters removed the car.  The cause of the accident is under investigation.

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Danbury students, parents expressing concerns with packed hallways

Some Danbury students and their parents are expressing concerns with the packed hallways at the schools.  Superintendent Kevin Walston says the administration knows there's overcrowding at secondary schools and they can't adhere to 3-foot social distancing guidelines. The Facilities Team and Walston are walking the hallways in order to considering ways to adjust the flow of students. In the meantime, they're asking that students continue to practice essential mitigating strategies, primarily masking and hand washing.

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COVID-19 dashboards are back at school districts with new academic year underway

Greater Danbury area schools have relaunched their COVID-19 dashboards. 

Danbury reported 13 cases since the first day of school last Monday.  19 close contacts were identified and 24 students or staff members are quarantined. Ridgefield has had four cases since last Monday, with 33 students in quarantine.  One case at Branchville Elementary School led to quarantine for 26 students.  According to the district’s dashboard, in-school transmission in one case could not be ruled out. 

In Newtown, 12 students and one staff member were required to isolate, according to the district's dashboard. 8 students and one staff member quarantined, with five students still quarantining.   New Milford reported two active cases, with 15 students in isolation or quarantine. 11 from Sarah Noble Intermediate School, though no case is reported there. 

In Brookfield, four students and one staff member tested positive as of Friday. 10 students were quarantined due to close contact. Contact tracing identified two additional cases over the weekend.  4 students from Easton, Redding, Region 9 tested positive during the first week of classes.  15 students are quarantined due to exposure. 

In Bethel, no cases have been reported during the first week of classes.

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New Milford securing Lynn Deming beach for the season

New Milford Park and Rec Maintainers will be securing Lynn Deming beach for the season.  They're cleaning bathrooms, securing the boathouse building, and storing lakefront items.  The park is still open for use. On the weekends, through the end of the month, New Milford will still be using park passes for entrance.

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4 yellow minivans in Greater Danbury area this afternoon offering COVID-19 vaccines

Four state Department of Public Health yellow minivans will be in the Greater Danbury area this afternoon offering COVID-19 vaccines.  The walk up clinics are being held in Danbury, New Fairfield and Newtown and administering Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.  The Newtown clinic is at St. Rose of Lima Church from 4pm to 8.  In New Fairfield, the van is at St. Edwards until 7pm.  The two Danbury clinics are at the High School from 3 to 7 and at Barbarie’s Grill at the mall from 3pm to 6.  Danbury Library is also holding a clinic offering all three vaccines from 2pm to 8pm.

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Cars stolen from Newtown recovered by Police

Over the past week Newtown Police have responded to several reports of vehicles being entered and items taken during the overnight hours.  There have also been several vehicles stolen.  Newtown Police say all of the recent stolen vehicles have been recovered, but residents are reminded to not leave keys in the car, and lock them even in home driveways.  Police called this a small step everyone can take to help protect personal property.  Sgt Jeff Silver says the suspects are typically entering unlocked vehicles and taking whatever they find of value.  If they locate the keys, they will take the car.  Silver noted that it's rare Newtown Police find a locked vehicle entered, especially at night in a driveway. 

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Kent hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinic

Connecticut continues to have one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, at 66.2 percent. In Kent, 77.2 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, including every Kent resident over the age of 65.  70-percent of those 45 to 64 are fully vaccinated, 75-percent of 12 to 17 year olds, 80-percent of 25 to 44 year olds and 95-percent of 18 to 24 year olds in Kent are fully vaccinated.  Kent will be hosting a free, walk-up COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at the Kent School Racquet Center on Skiff Mountain Road, from 2pm to 5pm today.  Residents are asked to bring a health insurance card and photo ID, though it is not necessary to have health insurance or ID to receive the vaccine. No one will be turned away.

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Danbury works to smooth out school bus transportation

Danbury Superintendent Kevin Walston says school bus transportation created a significant challenge for students and families during the first week of classes.  He says transportation mostly ran more smoothly than previous years, but recognize that there is still room for improvement. Walston notes that a number of parents emailed him suggestions.  Many parents have chosen to drop off and pick up their children from school, causing a significant amount of traffic that is impacting bus schedules.  He's working with Student Transportation-America (STA) and anticipates that traffic issues will improve. 

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Calling hours today for Sgt. who died in line of duty

Calling hours are being held this afternoon for a Connecticut State Police Trooper swept away in the floodwaters of the Pomperaug River in Woodbury during Ida.  Sgt Brian Mohl is being honored today before being laid to rest tomorrow.  An official Connecticut State Police procession will commence at a Funeral Home on School Street in Woodbury at 9:30am. This procession will depart directly from the funeral home escorting Mohl to the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford for services.  Calling hours are noon to 2 and 3pm to 6.  His funeral will be held at 9am tomorrow at Xfinity Theatre.  Burial will be private.  In a statement, his family thanked everyone for their thoughts and prayers, calling the loss immeasurable. 

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New Fairfield officials getting new cost estimate for Police body cameras

New Fairfield officials are getting a new cost estimate for Police body cameras and dash cams for police cruisers.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco also noted that a new Resident Trooper Sergeant is starting soon and the Board of Selectmen will wait for his input on the type of equipment the town should purchase.  There was a brief discussion at the Board's meeting about setting policies, and getting more information about the rules and regulations of these body cams along with the experience of surrounding towns.  Under state statute, municipalities are not required to have operational body cams until next July.  There is a 30-percent grant available from the state toward the purchase price, if a system is bought by the end of December.

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Danbury schools wrap up 2nd dose vaccine clinics

The Danbury Public School District is wrapping up second dose COVID-19 vaccine mobile clinics this week. People who received their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine at Danbury High School last month, will be able to get the follow up shot at DHS from 3pm to 7pm. People who received their first shot at Ellsworth Avenue School on the 17th are being called on to go to the 2nd dose clinic at Ellsworth Avenue on Thursday from 4pm to 8pm.

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Father dies while trying to save 2 children in Candlewood Lake

A man has died after being pulled from Candlewood Lake in New Milford.  Police say a father tried to save two children at the Candlewood Shores beach around 5pm yesterday.  Police received a call of a 6-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl having difficulty swimming, and that the boy's father tried to help them.  26-year old Victor Garcia of Norwalk was pulled from the water by another family member who performed CPR until EMTs arrived.  Garcia was transported to New Milford Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.  The children were treated and later released from Danbury Hospital.

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New Milford Police searching for driver who damaged paving equipment

New Milford Police are searching for the driver who damaged paving equipment in the area of South Kent Road and River View Road in Gaylordsville.  Police are seeking information for the owner or operator of what appeared to be a tan Ford F150 Extended Cab, with a matching color bed cover that did the damage between the afternoon of August 25th an the morning of the 26th.  The operator was described as being a white male with brown hair, possibly in his 30s wearing a weathered baseball hat and sunglasses. Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Deitz at 860-355-3133.

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Mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Danbury 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 clinic outside Barbarie's Grill at the mall from 3pm to 7pm.  Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be administered.  Anyone 12 and older is eligible to be vaccinated, though kids under 18 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

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Marine Patrol cautions of large debris in Lake Zoar from Ida

The Lake Zoar Authority Marine Patrol is asking that boaters use caution while on the water this week.  Large debris continues to flow south due to the heavy flooding last week. The Marine Patrol has been out removing large debris.  The channel on Lake Zoar will be closed today through through Friday, reopen for the weekend and then be closed again Monday through next Friday, September 17th.  This is part of the ongoing Rochambeau Bridge reconstruction project.  The navigable channel between some of the bridge’s pillars will temporarily be closed to marine traffic.  During the closure, structural steel is being erected over the channel.  If the steel is in place prior to next Friday, the channel will be reopened earlier.

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Items from the Danbury Fair are up for auction

More than 200 items from the Danbury Fair are up for auction after spending the last 4 decades at Magic Forest theme park in Lake George, New York.  The Danbury Fair had ended in 1981.  The auction lasts through October 1st and includes a Little Dutch Boy, a Danbury Mad Hatter and a 14-foot Statue of Liberty.   600 other pieces of historic theme park memorabilia are also up for auction collarcityauctionsonline.com.

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Newtown officials looking to sell old police station

Newtown officials are looking to sell the old police station.  The Board of Selectmen sent a recommendation to the Legislative Council that the 1 acre property be sold.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says a developer would need to invest some money into the 3 Main Street building, and while it's not a big property it does have some value.  The council is the one that can limit use, encumber the property to commercial or a single-family use.  The one-story, 22,000-square-foot structure was built in 1950.  Rosenthal says the town has had tire-kickers and folks locally interested in the property, and he hopes one of those comes to fruition, but there is no buyer at the moment.  It also housed the Parks and Rec Department and Social Service Department.  A new police station on South Main Street was opened in 2020.

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Mass drive-thru food distribution continues in Danbury this month

The mass drive-thru food distribution that took place in Danbury on Saturdays last month will continue this month.  The initiative is hosted by United Way of Western Connecticut and Walnut Hill Community Pantry, in partnership with Connecticut Foodshare, the City and Danbury Public Schools.  Free food distribution will take place this Saturday, on the 18th and the 25th from 10am to 1pm.  The events in August provided 68,000 pounds of food to more than 3,400 families in the greater Danbury area. This food distribution is not limited to Danbury residents. It is a free program and no registration or documentation is required. In addition to the food drive, the Danbury Health Department has organized mobile vaccination clinics from Griffin Health to provide COVID-19 vaccines during the event dates.

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Plane leaves runway at Danbury Airport, into grass

A plane left the runway at Danbury Municipal Aiport over the weekend and the cause is under investigation.  A small plane was landing Sunday afternoon when it traveled about 100 feet off the runway and into the grass.  The plane was coming in from Ocean City Municipal Airport in Maryland around 3pm.  The cause is undetermined at this time.  Officials says there were two people on board and neither were injured.  No massive damage to the aircraft was reported.  A tow company responded to move the plane off the grass.

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NWHL rebrands to Premier Hockey Federation entering 7th year

The National Women’s Hockey League is now the Premier Hockey Federation.  North America’s first women’s professional hockey league to pay players a salary is adopting the new title today as part of a rebranding to reflect sweeping changes made to its management structure, coupled with an influx of private ownership entering its seventh season.  They're billing the change “No Labels, No Limits”.  The PHF has teams based in Danbury, Boston; Toronto; Monmouth Junction, New Jersey; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Buffalo, New York. After expanding into Toronto last year, the PHF has announced it intends to add a seventh team, in Montreal, for the start of the 2022-23 season.  The new season opens on November 6th. The federation’s logo will be black and white and feature three stars forming the silhouette of a crown overtop the initials “PHF.” Initially, the league controlled all of its teams and was essentially run by a Commissioner from its New York headquarters.

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Probe continues in deadly Connecticut plane crash

Investigators continued to review evidence from a fatal plane crash in a Connecticut suburb left four people dead earlier this week, and a preliminary report on the accident is expected to be released within the next two weeks.  The Cessna took off from Robertson Airport in Plainville, a few miles away, Thursday morning and crashed into a manufacturing company building. The flight was headed to North Carolina.  Farmington police said the pilots aboard the small jet were Mark Morrow,  57, of Danbury and William O’Leary, 55, of Bristol. 33-year-old Courtney Haviland and her husband, 32-year-old William Shrauner, also died. The preliminary report will contain factual information about the plane, pilots, weather conditions and other factors, but a final report detailing the cause of the accident could take a year or more to complete.  Two employees at the manufacturing company suffered minor injuries.

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Connecticut trooper swept away in storm died of blunt trauma

A Connecticut State Police sergeant swept away with his vehicle during flooding set off by the remnants of Hurricane Ida died from blunt trauma, according to the state’s chief medical officer. 

Sgt. Brian Mohl, a 26-year veteran of the department, died Thursday after calling for help in Woodbury around 3:30am saying his vehicle was trapped in rising flood waters from the remnants of Hurricane Ida near the Pomperaug River in Woodbury.  The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Saturday that Mohl died as a result of “blunt trauma of the torso” and ruled the death an accident. 

Mohl is survived by his wife, Susan, and three children ranging in age from 14 to 28. A wake honoring Mohl’s life will be held tomorrow from noon to 6 pm at Xfinity Theatre in Hartford.  His funeral will be held at 9am Thursday at Xfinity Theatre. 

In a statement, his family thanked everyone for their thoughts and prayers, calling the loss immeasurable.  Even though Mohl was committed to his work, his family said he always found a way to put them first.  They've had an outpouring of support from the Connecticut State Police, the New York State Police, the law enforcement community and the community as a whole.

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Reforms implemented to address juvenile car thefts, repeat offenders

Some reforms have been implemented in Connecticut to address juvenile car thefts and repeat offenders.  Bethel state Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says starting this month new policies took effect to help police take serious offenders off the streets.  Police departments now have the ability to seek additional information 24/7 regarding a juvenile’s prior criminal history, including probation, pending cases and convictions.  Police will have discretion to seek additional information for when they deem it is necessary to do so.  The turnaround time for this information request between the police department and the Juvenile Probation office is estimated to be around 1 hour, effectively ending what people call “catch and release” of repeat offenders, as it will happen within the maximum time of 6 hours to hold a juvenile for detention. 

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Ballot-Order Lottery to be conducted this week in Bethel

A Ballot-Order Lottery will be conducted this week in Bethel by the Registrars of Voters for the Municipal Election.  The public is invited to attend the selection on Wednesday at 9am in Meeting Room A of the Municipal Center.  This is for multiple-opening offices where two or more candidates are selected for the same office and term, each major and minor party's candidates, and nominating-petition candidates.  After the nomination of candidates for a multiple-opening office by a major or minor party or nominating petition is finalized, both registrars together must hold a public lottery to determine the horizontal order of the names within the appropriate row on the election ballot.

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Final day today of Annual Mark Twain Library Book Fair in Redding

Today is the final day of the Annual Mark Twain Library Book Fair in Redding.  This is the 60th year od the event to benefit the library's services.  Over 65-thousand books were up for sale this weekend, with people being able to purchase a box full of books for $10.  The sale at the Redding Community Center on Lonetown Road today is from 9am to 4pm.

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Brookfield Health Department fields questions on school safety amid pandemic

The Brookfield Health Department has received a lot of questions about the safety of children in schools at the start of this academic year because of a considerable uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.   The Health Department says the picture has changed dramatically over the past month. Due to rising vaccination rates, Brookfield has reported no deaths from the Delta variant. Town officials urged eligible residents to get vaccinated, or if not possible, to get tested often.

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Danbury Volunteer Firefighter Tax Abatement ad hoc committee meets

The first meeting of the re-established Danbury Volunteer Firefighter Tax Abatement ad hoc committee has been held.  The City Council members are looking into whether Danbury should offer the incentive to members of the volunteer fire companies who live in the CIty.  It's a program in place in some surrounding towns, which only have volunteer firefighters. Danbury has 80 to 100 volunteer firefighters in 12 companies, but they are consolidating due to a shortage of volunteers. 

Democratic Councilman Frank Salvatore Jr says training and other requirements have increased since he became a volunteer fireman in the 1980s, when all that was required was a physical from a doctor.  The proposal would exclude elected officials from getting the tax break. 

An ad hoc committee was formed in 2007, but never recommended an ordinance. 

Danbury volunteers must meet physical requirements, be certified annually, and complete quarterly training sessions with career staff and weekly sessions with their own companies. The city covers these costs.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities created a guide in 2017 for volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention, when fewer than a dozen towns offered this, but it's grown significantly since then.  If the goal is recruitment, Councilman John Esposito questioned whether the abatement would be extended to the property tax on vehicles since most new volunteers would likely younger and don't own property. Danbury has 92 active volunteer firefighters, 73 live in Danbury; 14 fire police, all Danbury residents; and 12 ladies auxiliary, 8 of whom live in Danbury.

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Conn. AG calls on PURA to significantly reduce Eversource's rates

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong is calling on the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to significantly reduce Eversource’s rates.  PURA is evaluating electric companies’ rates to see if an interim reduction is appropriate. The rate review proceeding was authorized under the Take Back Our Grid Act.  Electricity costs in Connecticut are the highest in the continental United States.  Tong’s brief notes that since its last rate case in 2018, Eversource’s costs have decreased, but those reductions are not reflected in current rates. Tong says decreasing the utility's annual distribution revenue by between $65 million and $123 million per year would reduce Eversource’s rates to a range that is reasonable. A $100 million rate reduction would result in 4.54 percent distribution rate decrease and a 2.6 percent total bill decrease for ratepayers.

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Putnam County Sheriff steps up DWI patrols this holiday weekend

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department is participating in special efforts to bring awareness to the dangers of impaired driving.  A statewide STOP-DWI High Visibility Engagement Campaign started in New York late last month and will end on September 6th.  Sheriff Robert Langley says Labor Day Weekend and the end of Summer is one of the busiest travel times of the year.  He says the highly visible effort is aimed at reducing the incidence of drunk and impaired driving.

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Danbury pilot among 4 killed in Farmington plane crash

Four people who died in the crash of a small jet in Connecticut were identified Friday as a Boston couple who are both doctors, and two local pilots.

Police in Farmington said Courtney Haviland, 33, her husband, William Shrauner, 32, were passengers on the jet that crashed into a manufacturing company building Thursday morning shortly after takeoff from Robertson Airport in Plainville.

The pilots were William O’Leary, 55, of Bristol, and Mark Morrow, 57, of Danbury, Farmington police Lt. Tim McKenzie said.

“The Farmington Police Department extends their deepest condolences to the friends and family of the four passengers who died in this tragic crash,” McKenzie said in a statement.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were at the scene of the fiery crash Friday. The cause remains under investigation.

Haviland, who grew up in Farmington, was a fellow at Brown Pediatric Emergency Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island, working at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Shrauner was a cardiology fellow at Boston Medical Center. Both attended Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of our cardiology fellows, Dr. Will Shrauner, and his wife, Dr. Courtney Haviland,” Boston Medical Center said in a statement Friday. “Will ... was well known as an outstanding educator, physician, colleague and friend to many. Our thoughts and prayers are with Will and Courtney’s family and loved ones.”

The Cessna Citation 560X took off just before 10 a.m. on a flight headed to Dare County Regional Airport in Manteo, North Carolina, the Federal Aviation Administration said. McKenzie said there appeared to be some type of mechanical failure during takeoff.

The jet contacted the ground a short distance from the runway and crashed into a building at Trumpf Inc. The impact set off chemical fires inside the building. Two employees suffered minor injuries, officials said.

Burke Doar, senior vice president at Trumpf, said in a video posted on Twitter that company officials were assessing the damage Friday and trying to get production of machine tools and lasers for customers back on track.

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Gov. tours damage from Ida in Redding

Governor Ned Lamont visited Redding yesterday to view flood damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.  He started at the train station.  Metro North had suspended service on the Danbury branch line due to flooding and debris blocking the tracks.  About 25-percent of Redding was without power in the immediate aftermath of the storm due to downed trees on wires and a couple of utility pole fires.

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Himes bikes across Conn. to highlight infrastructure package improvements

4th District Congressman Jim Himes has taken a bike tour across Western Connecticut.  His goal was to highlight the cycling and pedestrian infrastructure improvements that are included in the Congressional bipartisan infrastructure package.  He also stopped at places with family activities heading into the Labor Day Weekend. 

One of his first stops was to Shaggy Coo’s Farm in Easton. He was  joined by local and state officials, including Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman and Connecticut Transportation Chairman State Representative Roland Lemar, State Representative Anne Hughes and State Senator Will Haskell. 

He then stopped briefly at Rocky Glen State Park in Sandy Hook with local and state officials to hear from DEEP Deputy Commissioner Mason Trumble about how families can enjoy the outdoors at Connecticut’s many state parks. Visitation at state parks has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Himes also visited Flanders Nature Center and Land Trust in Woodbury with the First Selectman.  The nature sanctuary serves as a teaching campus for children and adults to explore fields, meadows, forests, wetlands and more. 

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Brookfield Town Beach remains open through this weekend

The Brookfield Town Beach will remain open through this weekend, 10am to 6pm each day. The last day of the operating season is Labor Day. Brookfield residents who do not have season passes have the option of paying the daily guest fee at the gate of $10 per person, with no charge for residents under age 2 or over age 65.  People must bring proof of residency, such as a driver's license, to the gate.     

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Brookfield moves out of COVID-19 red zone

91 municipalities are currently in the red zone, the highest of the state’s four alert levels for COVID-19 community spread, one fewer than last week.  Brookfield has moved out of the red and is now orange.  With 30   cases in the last two weeks in Brookfield, that works out to 14.7 per 100,000 population.  15 cases is the threshold to be in the red.   Newtown, New Fairfield, and Sherman, along with Monroe and Easton remain in the red zone.  There were 67 cases in Newtown over the last two weeks, 37 in New Fairfield and 11 in Sherman, but the calculation is scaled to population.  Newtown was a 17.2 cases on average, New Fairfield at 19 and Sherman with 21.6 per 100,000 population.

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State reports new COVID-19 infection rates for area towns

Danbury's COVID-19 test positivity rate has increased to 4-percent from 3.1 percent in the last two weeks reported.  149 cases have been reported to the state between August 15th and 28th.  That's 12.6 cases per 100,000 population. 

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel's COVID-19 infection rate has increased slightly to 3-percent, after remaining relatively flat for the three previous reporting periods.  Brookfield is down to 4.2 percent from 5 percent infection rate the week before. 

Ridgefield's COVID-19 infection rate has spiked to 3.5 percent, from the 2.2 percent rate in the previous reporting period.  Redding has a a 3.6 percent COVID-19 infection rate over the last two weeks reported, the same as the previous reporting period. 

New Fairfield is at 6.1 percent up from 5.4 percent in the previous week.  New Milford has a COVID-19 infection rate of 3.7 percent while Newtown's has increased from 3.5 to 4.4 percent.

Another 39 COVID-associated fatalities have been reported in Connecticut over the past week.  There are three fewer people hospitalized with COVID, bringing the inpatient total down to 357.  The daily test positivity rate yesterday was 2.99 percent. 

The state Department of Public Health is reporting a total of 8,617 cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated residents. Of the more than 2.2 million who have completed their vaccine series, .38 percent have contracted the virus. In the last week, a third of cases confirmed have been in vaccinated individuals.  65 COVID-19 related deaths have occurred among the breakthrough patients, representing 6.8 percent of all COVID-19 deaths since February.

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Rescue made of person clinging to capsized boat on Lake Zoar

A report of a capsized boat with someone clinging to it floating in Lake Zoar came in yesterday.  Stevenson Volunteer Fire Company fire boat responded to the area by the Waterview as the capsized vessel was heading towards the Stevenson Dam. Crews located the person walking in shallow water along side the vessel. Monroe Volunteer Fire Department assisted, along with Monroe and Oxford Police, the Lake Zoar Authority, and DEEP.  Current water conditions on Lake Zoar are considered dangerous due to extreme weather events. There are areas of high flooding with rapid currents and floating debris. The Lake Zoar Authority is asking people not to swim or boat in the lake today, until conditions improve.

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Fire destroys New Milford Town Councilman's home

A fire has destroyed the home of a New Milford Town Council member.  There were no injuries yesterday at Doug Skelly's Birchwood Lane home, but the house is considered a total loss.   The cause of the fire is under investigation.  Mutual aid was provided to Water Witch Hose by Northville, Gaylordsville and Brookfield fire departments.

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Danbury calls for Ida damage reports to bolster aid application to FEMA

Danbury is looking for help from residents and businesses impacted by Ida.  A form is being promoted by City officials for people to fill out to report any damages caused by the severe weather event.  Emergency Management officials say this information will assist the City in petitioning the State of Connecticut to declare a State of Emergency to FEMA.  They note though that filling out the form does not guarantee FEMA reimbursement. 

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New Milford continues to experience flooding from Ida

Route 202 in New Milford remains closed at Route 67, Route 7 and Bridge Street due to water over the road.

The New Milford School district is transitioning to a new Student Information System this year.  Some parents reported not receiving alerts about yesterday's school closing because of the new system update.  Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo encouraged parents to go to the district's homepage and sign up for the school messenger portal. 

Due to the excessive rainfall from the remnants of Ida, the Lynn Deming Park swim area in New Milford remains closed today, but plans call for it to reopen tomorrow.  The swim area was closed Thursday. 

Lake Lillinonah has been drawn down about 10 to 11 feet below typical operating levels in anticipation of the high flows in the Housatonic River. At this level, the Pond Brook and Route 133 "Steel Bridge" boat launches are not usable by trailered boats.

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Danbury area dries out from Ida remnants

Some Danbury residents had to be evacuated from their apartments early yesterday morning as a pond overflowed during Ida's rains.  20 people from the Glen apartments were moved to the War Memorial, where the City set up an emergency shelter. The apartment building for senior citizens and residents with disabilities is owned by the Danbury Housing Authority, which is working with the Red Cross to assist displaced residents. A car was stuck in the Still River in Danbury on Thursday morning after the remnants of Ida came through.  Danbury Police responded to an initial report of a car on the bridge on Casper Street with water up to its roof.   The Danbury Fire Department fire boat was called to check out the situation as a police helicopter made an aerial survey of the area.

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Conn. State Police mourn line of duty death of Sgt.

A well-respected veteran Connecticut State Trooper lost his life early yesterday morning as sweeping floodwaters from the Pomperaug River flooded a road in Woodbury. Hours after Troop L last heard from him, Sergeant Brian Mohl was found by search and rescue
teams in the waters of the river, swollen by the torrential rains of downgraded Hurricane Ida.

“It is with deep regret and sadness that I report that the State Police today lost a good man who dedicated more than a quarter century to protecting the citizens of Connecticut. Sgt. Mohl was committed to helping others, to keeping public safety his priority and to always assisting his fellow Troopers,” said Colonel Stavros Mellekas, Commanding Officer of the State Police.

“Every line of duty death is heartbreaking and the loss of Sgt. Mohl is no different. He was outside, in the middle of the night, in horrendous conditions, patrolling the Troop L area. He was doing a job he loved and he was taken much too soon,” Colonel Mellekas added.

Sergeant Mohl entered the State Police Training Academy on November 25, 1994, and graduated on June 1, 1995, with the 105th Training Troop. He was assigned to Troop A in Southbury and transferred to Troop L in Litchfield after being promoted to Sergeant in May 2000. He also served as Sergeant at Troop B in North Canaan, Troop G in Bridgeport and Troop H in Hartford before returning to Troop L in 2008.

Sgt. Mohl is the 25th Connecticut State Trooper to die in the line of duty.

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Ridgefield sends lease of town-owned land to Town Meeting

Ridgefield officials are referring a lease of town-owned land to a town meeting later this month.  A public hearing was held Wednesday night about the lease to operate Henny Penny Farm on Ridgebury Road.  The 16-acre parcel is designated as conservation land.  Whitney Freeman grazes a herd of roughly 70 sheep on the land.  The original lease only approved 30 sheep, but the new one would allow up to 85.  The land was expanded since the lease was signed from 10 acres to 16.  While most people spoke in favor of the lease renewal, some neighbors have expressed concern about the seemingly commercial nature of the farm. A new provision in the lease stipulates that Freeman contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture to suggest changes to her grazing practices if a species of special concern is subject to impact.  The town meeting will be held on September 22nd.

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Danbury woman arrested for allegedly taking charity donations from store counter jar

A Danbury woman has been arrested by the Putnam County Sheriff's office for allegedly removing money from a donation container on the counter of a Patterson store.  Deputies responded to Putnam Lake Market and Scotty’s Putnam Lake Wines & Liquors on a report of a possible panhandler causing a disturbance.  The woman, later determined to be 53-year old Katherine Shanahan, had already left.  Deputies reviewed surveillance footage and were able to locate her about an hour later.  Their investigation revealed that Shanahan had an outstanding bench warrant for failure to appear on charges of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance.  She was charged last week with Petit Larceny, arraigned and released for a court appearance on the 14th.  She was also arraigned on the Bench Warrant and is due in Southeast Town Court on the 21st.

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Remington seeks academic, attendance records of five children killed at Sandy Hook School

Remington is seeking the academic, attendance and disciplinary records of five children killed at Sandy Hook School as their families sue the gunmaker.  The subpoena also included requests for school records of four educators whose families are suing.  Lawyers for the 9 families are asking the courts to seal the confidential records.  Lead attorney Josh Koskoff says they got no explanation for why Remington subpoenaed the Newtown Public School District to obtain the kindergarten and first-grade records, saying they can't be of any assistance in estimating the catastrophic damages in this case.  Koskoff added that the only relevant part of their attendance records is that they were at their desks on December 14th 2012. The families sued Remington for wrongful death, claiming the company recklessly marketed a military-grade gun to civilians.  Remington has since been dissolved in bankruptcy court, and four insurance companies have taken over the former company’s defense.

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State Trooper swept away by floodwaters in Woodbury dies

State police have confirmed that a Police Trooper in Woodbury who was swept away by flood water this morning has died.  State police received a report just before 4am from an on duty Trooper in distress. The cruiser was found a short time later and then the Trooper was found around 8am.  Life-saving measures were taken before the Trooper was flown to Yale New Haven Hospital. The Trooper, who had more than 25 years of experience with state police, was assigned to Troop L.  Multiple aircraft and boats were involved in the investigation. 

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Greater Danbury emergency responders continue to evaluate Ida impact

Schaghticoke Road in Kent has washed out north of the intersection with Bulls Bridge Road where the water fall comes off the hill.  That prompted a road closure.  There are also trees down on wires on Schaghticoke near Macedonia Road, though it didn't cause a blockage.  Kent Emergency Management officials are asking that motorists leave extra time for travel throughout the day as additional flooding and road closures may occur.

In New Milford, some ball fields at Helen Marx Park are underwater.

The remnants of Ida packed a punch in Redding and some residents woke up to power outages around town. Trees, wires, and electrical fires were reported by Eversource as the causes. Drivers are reminded to assume any downed wires are live and to keep and eye out for downed wires and tree branches. About 25-percent of the town was without power this morning. Eversource crews from New Hampshire came into Connecticut last night to aid in the cleanup effort.

In Danbury, flooding was reported around several sides of the Mall complex.

Ridgefield was among the school districts to close today due to flooding issues along bus routes.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says Ridgefield residents experiencing water in their basements should use caution, and call the Ridgefield Fire Department non-emergency line (203-431-2724) for safety instructions on how to proceed, especially if water reaches electrical sources.

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Car reported stuck in Still River in Danbury by Triangle St

A car was reportedly stuck in the Still River in Danbury on Thursday morning after the remnants of Ida came through.  Danbury Police responded to an initial report of a car on the bridge on Casper Street with water up to its roof.  Casper crosses the river by Triangle Street.  The responding officer called for additional services to see if there were other cars in the water.  The Danbury Fire Department fire boat responded to check out the situation.  A police helicopter also took off from Danbury Airport to do an aerial survey of the area.  Scanner reports were that it was just the one vehicle.

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Trooper swept away by floodwater in Woodbury airlifted to hospital

State police have confirmed that a missing person in Woodbury was a Police Trooper.  State police received a report just before 4am from an on duty trooper in distress as his cruiser was swept away. The cruiser was found a short time later and then the Trooper was found.  Life-saving measures were taken. before the Trooper was flown to Yale New Haven Hospital. Multiple aircraft and boats are involved in the investigation.  The trooper, who has more than a decade of experience with state police, is assigned to Troop L.

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Flooding causes road closures throughout Greater Danbury area

Relentless rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ida have moved out, but not before the National Weather Service declared its first-ever set of flash flood emergencies in the region, an alert level that is reserved for "exceedingly rare situations."  Flooding has caused a number of streets to be closed in the Greater Danbury area this morning. 

Danbury Police ask that motorists not move any police barricades that are put up to block flooded roadways, as they are there to protect drivers from potentially getting stuck.

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to multiple incidents throughout town and are assisting other agencies. Police ask residents to stay off the roadways and not to drive through standing or moving water.  They provided mutual aid to Bridgewater, where a party was trapped in their house. Rescue boats also responded to assist.

The weather overnight caused the flooding of several streets leading to road closures throughout New Milford including sections of Route 7. It is anticipated that the water level of the Housatonic will continue to rise throughout the day today which may lead to additional road closures.  Mayor Pete Bass says the Housatonic could reach  two feet over flood stage.  When that happens flooding follows on Youngsfield Road, Spring Street, and a portion of Route 7 at Bridge Street. 

New Milford Police say the Housatonic River has flooded over Danbury Road just south of the Traffic ‘T’ at the intersection of Bridge Street. Traffic will need to use the Sunny Valley Road and Fort Hill Road Detours that have been setup to travel around the flooded area.  The Town of New Milford offered the Pettibone Community Center Parking lot as an area for car dealers in the impacted area to park their vehicles.

There were multiple calls in Danbury overnight for cars stuck in water.  One issue included about half a dozen cars stuck in the water at the underpass between exits 3 and 4 of I-84.  Some apartments on Memorial Drive reportedly needed to be evacuated due to rising water. Shelter was established at the War Memorial, though the City's plan for emergency sheltering now typically has the high school as the designated shelter. 

Danbury Police say flooding at West Street by the railroad overpass will prompt closures throughout the day.  As of 5am Thursday, Federal Road is closed between Nabby Road and Old Brookfield Road and Newtown Road is closed between the Exit 8 ramps and Whitney Road.

Over 4 inches of rain fell in Bethel by midnight, with one inch coming down in just 45 minutes.  Bethel Emergency Management says Plumtrees Road is closed at Maple Ave Extension and Route 53 by Sympaug Park are closed due to flooding.  The Bethel Department of Public Works and members of the Police Department are out patrolling for any hazards.

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Power outages reported due to Ida

Heavy rain with some thunder and lightning caused big power problems in Redding.  About 700 outages were reported as of 5am Thursday.  Emergency management officials says water logged tree limbs have been breaking off causing issues.   The two large outages were related to electrical fires on the pole.  Only about a dozen outages were reported by Eversource in Bethel.  There were 180 in  Brookfield, 345 in Danbury and 200 in New Fairfield as of this morning.  100 outages remained in New Milford, 300 in Newtown and 445 in Ridgefield.

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Metro North service suspended until further notice

Metro-North Railroad has suspended all trains on all lines for safety reasons due to mounting water.  Transit officials say this was a historic and challenging night for the region. Torrential rains caused massive amounts of water to flood roads, creating severe disruptions to service.  Some trains were stuck after up to six inches of rain fell within hours.  Metro North travel has been suspended until further notice on the Danbury Branch, the New Haven Line and the Harlem line out of Southeast.

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COVID-19 vaccination rates vary in Greater Danbury area

64 percent of the New Fairfield population has started the vaccination process, but that's lower than many Greater Danbury area towns.  That compares to Danbury's 68-percent, New Milford's 70 percent and 71-percent of Brookfield and Newtown residents with at least one shot.  Ridgefield has one of the highest vaccination rates in the area at 73 percent of the population starting the inoculation process. 

New Fairfield is scheduling the Griffin Health/State Department of Public Health mobile vaccination team weekly from mid-September through mid-December.  The clinics will be on Saturdays at the Middle School so they can take advantage of the covering by the entrance to the building, with the ability to move indoors when the weather is inclement.  They're also scheduling Wednesday vaccination clinics at St Edwards.  The van will be at Memorial Field of New Fairfield Day on September 18th.  In addition to first and second doses, the van is also administering booster shots for the immunocompromised.  The health care workers ask 4 to 5 questions to determine if someone qualifies. 

The vaccination rate among New Fairfield 12 to 17 year olds is 44 -percent.  18 to 24 year olds have a 71 percent vaccination rate in New Fairfield, which is likely because many colleges are requiring vaccination.  25 to 44 year olds are at 56 percent, 45 to 64 year olds at 65 percent and every New Fairfield resident over 65 years old is vaccinated.

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New Fairfield official calls for enforcement of indoor mask mandate

New Fairfield Selectman Kim Hanson is calling for enforcement of the town's mask mandate for indoor public places.  He says there's not one particular establishment where the requirement isn't being taken seriously, it's almost every place he goes.  Hanson says if it's enforced once, people will take it seriously. 

The municipal agent assigned to enforce local COVID-19 restrictions in New Fairfield is the fire marshal.  For those who don't want to wear a mask, Hanson urged them to remember when restaurants were shut down and businesses had restrictions on them at the start of the pandemic. 

If COVID-19 cases don't get under control, Hanson cautioned that things could go backwards, beyond a mask mandate.  He doesn't want to see the inconvenience, not to mention illnesses and deaths, that New Fairfield had. 

First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the mandate was put in place as the science has revealed that vaccinated people can be infected, but be asymptomatic.  She notes that those people can carry the same viral load in their nose and throat as an unvaccinated person so mask-wearing helps protect those around them. 

Del Monaco is reminding residents that children under 12 can’t be vaccinated, and that immunocompromised people and the elderly may not have mounted a strong response to the vaccine. 

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Area police caution drivers to potential flooding from Ida

There is a high risk for excessive rainfall from the remnants of Ida. Redding Police are cautioning that considerable to significant flash flooding may occur through tomorrow morning.  Greater Danbury area emergency management teams ask that motorists not move any barricades that are put up to block flooded roadways as they are there to protect drivers from potentially getting stuck.  Easton Police caution that trees may fall due to already saturated ground. Motorists are reminded to never cross a flooded roadway or attempt to drive over or under down trees or wires.

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New Milford marks International Overdose Awareness Day

New Milford has marked International Overdose Awareness Day.  New Milford created the position of Community Care Coordinator to provide assistance to those addicted, including services to help them combat the disease and give direct support to those addicted and their families.  Mayor Pete Bass called this a proactive approach that has helped in the reduction of overdoses in New Milford.  The town is also continuing to train Town Employees and residents for use of Naloxone which can prevent the loss of life due to overdose.

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Redding Police urge motorists to pay attention as new school year starts

Today was the first day of school for Redding students.  Police are stepping up patrols along bus routes and reminding drivers that there will be frequent stops as students board and disembark.  Drivers face a nearly $500 fine for failing to stop for a bus with red lights flashing and its stop sign extended.   This applies regardless of direction of travel.  Redding Police are asking parents to take time to talk with children about their safety, and the dangers of being in the roadway.  Kids are reminded to wait for the school bus at a safe distance from the road so that they are not in danger of being struck by passing vehicles. Children should never enter the roadway, even if their bus has stopped to pick them up, until they have made sure that traffic has stopped in both directions.

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Ridgefield panel hears from cannabis industry officials as retail sales considered

The Ridgefield Economic and Community Development Commission has led a discussion about retail cannabis.  During the virtual meeting Monday night, advocates and industry officials from other states weighed in on the pros and cons of retail sales. 

When Connecticut legalized recreational use of cannabis, it was left up to local leaders to determine how their communities would approach retail sales.  The gathering was held for the Commission and the community to better understand the economic drivers, tax revenue opportunities, and impact on commercial real estate. 

They also learned what other issues may be involved in oversight.  The ECDC will make a recommendation on the economic viability of retail cannabis to the Board of Selectmen.  

Massachusetts-based Canna Provisions CEO Meg Sanders participated.  She noted that allowing sales just for a revenue boost is not a reason.  Sanders says the industry has a cumulative impact on a community through competitive jobs and bringing in customers who stop at other places like restaurants, stores, hotels, and gas stations.  Sanders says dispensaries shouldn't be included in industrial zones, but rather in retail areas.  She added that issues like parking and traffic volume should be addressed up front, like any other application.

Co-owner Erik Williams noted that there's strong local control over zoning in Massachusetts, as in Connecticut.  He believes zoning boards should go through each applicant's business plan and traffic counts, and that the guidelines should apply like all other retailers.

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Danbury emergency managers caution against driving through flood waters

The City of Danbury emergency management team has issued a weather alert as the remnants of Hurricane Ida move into Connecticut.  Mayor Joe Cavo says heavy rainfall is expected into Thursday morning, which may result in some localized flooding. He cautioned that walking or driving through flood waters is extremely dangerous.  Anyone driving tonight or early tomorrow morning is asked to use extra caution and avoid driving through standing water.

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Sherman officials send out town-wide alert about COVID-19

Sherman officials have sent out a town-wide alert about COVID-19.  Over the last two weeks, 8 cases have been reported.  Due to its population, Sherman is in the state Department of Public Health's red zone, the highest level of community transmission.  Prior to these cases, there were none reported in Sherman for the last three months.  First Selectman Don Lowe is calling on residents to follow all health protocols, including social distancing, wearing face coverings indoors in public places and washing hands frequently.  The alert also encouraged residents to get a COVID-19 shot.  Only about 60-percent of Sherman is vaccinated.  A vaccination van will be in Sherman on the 18th from 9am to 5pm and return on October 9th for a second dose.  The clinic will be held at Charter Hall.

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Southbury considering temporary pause on cannabis establishments

Southbury is considering a temporary pause on cannabis establishments. First Selectman Jeff Manville says, like other municipalities in the state, they want to take a careful look at the new recreational marijuana law.  The Southbury Land Use Department has put together guidelines breaking down the new law, the effects on municipalities and the process that should be taken to come up with regulations.  It also includes a proposed 9 month moratorium on cannabis establishments to give Southbury the time to do research and produce regulations.  The guidance package can be found on the Southbury town website. 

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Deadline approaching for Danbury nonprofits to apply for City funding

Tomorrow is the last day for Danbury social service agencies to submit applications for grant funding through the City of Danbury and United Way of Western Connecticut.  The City urges those applying to demonstrate both their mission and their service results around Education, Health and Financial Stability.  The grant covers the current fiscal year.  Danbury officials say now more than ever, it's important that city funds be delivered to programs that can most effectively provide services to Danbury’s neediest residents.  The United Way administers a pool of funding in the City budget each year.  In the past, 28 agencies were funded through the City’s program. Completed applications and supporting documentation must be submitted on United Way’s grant software no later than noon on Thursday.

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Public hearing in Ridgefield tonight about Henny Penny Farm lease

A public hearing is being held by the Ridgefield Board of Selectmen tonight about the lease between the town and Henny Penny Farm.  The meeting is at 7:30pm in the Town Hall Large Conference Room.  The original five-year lease only approved 30 sheep, but the new one would allow up to 85.  Roughly 70 sheep currently graze on the 16-acre farm, designated as conservation land, owned by the town of Ridgefield.  A town meeting on the lease will be held September 22nd.

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