Local Headlines Archives for 2021-10

SAT prompts changes to Bethel High School calendar

The Bethel Board of Education has approved changes to the Academic Calendar that only affects Bethel High School.  The SAT must be given on March 23rd.  In order to make that happen, March 16th parent/teacher conferences will not happen.  BHS will have a full day.  Grades K-8 remain on an early dismissal schedule for conferences.  March 23rd will be an early dismissal for BHS ONLY.

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Community Action Agency of Western Connecticut opens new offices

The Community Action Agency of Western Connecticut has opened new offices on Triangle Street in Danbury.  The group operated out of a Victorian house on North Street and is now located in 12,000 square feet near the DMV.  The organization has a food pantry, offers case management and energy assistance.  They also run language and life skills classes.  They serve families in need from 25 towns stretching from Westport to Salisbury.  They also have offices in Norwalk and Stamford.  CAAWC was launched in the mid-1960s and has a staff of up to 70 during the cold weather season.  They also operate the Early Action Learning Center on Balmforth Avenue in Danbury.

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Bethel teacher recognized by Connecticut Council for the Social Studies

The Connecticut Council for the Social Studies awards committee has announced that a Bethel High School teacher is their 2021 recipient of the Excellence in Social Studies Education Award for the secondary level.  Jennifer Trainor was selected in part due to her dedicated efforts as advisor to both the Model UN and Mock Trial clubs. Her nominator notes, she “not only provides the highest level of instruction for her students, [but] she ensures she meets their social-emotional needs as well.”  Trainor recently received the staff kindness award from students.   In alignment with the National Council for the Social Studies, their mission is to advocate and build capacity for high-quality social studies by providing leadership, services, and support to educators.

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Nuvance Health recognized for stroke services

Nuvance Health’s hospitals have received American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Get with the Guidelines quality awards for stroke services. The recognitions demonstrate each hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines.

Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of serious disability for adults. 

Danbury Hospital was recognized for performance of 12 consecutive months while Putnam Hospital was recognized 24 consecutive months or more. In addition to achieving GWTG stroke care standards, VBMC, Norwalk Hospital, Danbury Hospital and Sharon Hospital have earned Primary Stroke Center certifications from the Joint Commission.

Varying levels and types of GWTG recognitions depend on the time period being evaluated and capabilities available at each hospital:
·       Bronze recognizes performance of 90 consecutive days.
·       Silver recognizes performance of 12 consecutive months.
·       Gold recognizes performance of 24 consecutive months or more.

New York
·       Vassar Brothers Medical Center (VBMC): GWTG Stroke Gold Plus with Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll
·       Putnam Hospital: GWTG Stroke Gold Plus
·       Northern Dutchess Hospital: GWTG Stroke Silver Plus

Connecticut
·       Norwalk Hospital: GWTG Stroke Gold Plus with Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite
·       Danbury Hospital: GWTG Stroke Silver Plus
·       Sharon Hospital: GWTG Stroke Silver Plus

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Food collection drive in Bethel this weekend

A food collection drive is being held in Bethel this weekend.  The organization Brotherhood In Action is collecting non-perishable food items for their Thanksgiving delivery.  They will distribute food baskets to 134 Bethel households this Thanksgiving.  Donors are asked to check the expiration date on items before dropping them off, and remain in their vehicle during the drop off.  The collection on Saturday is from 9am to noon.  People can enter the lot of Bethel United Methodist Church from 141 Greenwood Avenue and exit onto School Street. 

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Weekly COVID-19 data for Greater Danbury area released by DPH

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel's infection rate held relatively steady from last week at 2.1 percent.  Brookfield's rate went up a fraction to to 2.7 percent. Danbury has 6.6 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, with a positivity rate of 2 percent.  Newtown's infection rate dropped about a half a percentage point to 1.9 percent.  New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rate held relatively steady from last week at 2.6 percent.  New Milford's rate dropped about half a percentage point to 3.9 percent.  Redding's positivity rate dipped a bit to 3.6  percent.   

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Some Town Clerk Offices to open tomorrow for absentee voting

Absentee balloting is available for Connecticut residents who cannot vote in person for one of the several reasons, including COVID-19.  The Redding Town Clerk's office will be open for absentee balloting tomorrow from 9am to 11.  A voter can apply in person for an absentee ballot at the Town Clerk’s Office and vote at that time.   An application must first be completed before a ballot is issued.  Voters can complete the application at the Town Clerk's Office or download and complete it beforehand.

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Sandy Hook victim's family marks birthday with donation

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — The parents of one of the 26 people killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting continued an annual tradition Thursday by donating $20,000 from their foundation to the Greater Waterbury YMCA.

The money from the CMAK Sandy Hook Memorial Foundation goes to the YMCA’s school readiness program and honors what would have been Chase Kowalski’s 16th birthday on Sunday.

The program provides tuition assistance for early learning programs to about 200 families each year. It has received $180,000 from the foundation over the past nine years.

“Chase had a speech delay that made it difficult for him to communicate with the students in his preschool class,” his mother, Rebecca Kowalski said. “His teachers worked very hard to help him overcome his challenges. The preschool experience and the opportunity to play with new friends gave him greater confidence in his speech. This donation honors our amazing son and gives back to the children who need scholarships at the beginning of their educational journey.”

Chase Kowalski was among 20 first graders who were shot and killed, along with six educators, at the Newtown, Connecticut, school on Dec. 14, 2012.

The Kowalski’s foundation also has established the Race4Chase Kids’ Triathlon Program with the help of the YMCA. The six-week summer program, which has expanded to 29 camps in three states, is designed to boost fitness and self-esteem in children. About 700 kids in Connecticut, Rhode Island and South Carolina participated this year in the program, which culminates in a USA Triathlon-sanctioned children’s race.

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Savings Bank of Danbury looks to expand footprint on Main Street

Savings Bank of Danbury is looking to expand in the City.   The bank has proposed construction of a new, 35,000 square foot office building at the corner of Main and White Streets, buying the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut Escape to the Arts facility and the former Tuxedo Junction building from the City.

The new building will house the bank’s non-branch, back office operations. Savings Bank of Danbury will continue to use its location at 220 Main Street as its headquarters. CEO Martin Morgado says they've been looking for the right location for this proposed expansion for some time.  He added that the new location will enable them to consolidate operations and provide dynamic meeting space and operations facilities.  

The Y and Tuxedo buildings would be demolished and replaced with a new four-story structure. 

Morgado hopes to gain all necessary approvals and have the new building opened by the end of 2023. 

Savings Bank of Danbury is the oldest continuously operating business in the City, dating back to 1849. The last significant building project in Danbury for the bank was in 1999 with the construction of their location at 35 West Street. At that time, the Bank had 65 employees and $362 million in assets. Today, Savings Bank of Danbury has over 200 employees and $1.4 billion in assets.

The Tuxedo Junction building, which has been vacant since 2015, was purchased by the City in 2017 for about $395,000.  The proposal will be on the City Council's agenda for their meeting on Thursday.  An ad hoc committee will be formed to examine the idea.

The Bank plans to open a location in Norwalk later this fall.

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Funeral services set for two West Conn students killed in Colchester car accident

Funeral services have been set for the two West Conn students killed in a car accident one week ago in Colchester.  A wake for 18-year old Tyler Graham will be held at St. Andrew Church in Colchester today from 4pm to 8.  His funeral is scheduled for tomorrow from 11am to noon.  The wake for 18-year old Jacob Chapman is at Aurora McCarthy Funeral Home Monday from 3pm to 7.  A private burial for family-only will follow.  The freshmen were members of the men’s lacrosse program. 

A third student-athlete 19-year old Trey Massaro, of Massachusetts, sustained serious injuries but is expected to recover. 

WestConn Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Ryan Cavanagh said in a statement that the loss is immeasurable and the team will never forget the boys smiles.  He added that they are praying for a full and speedy recovery for Trey and that the team stands ready to support him and his family.  

West Conn Athletics Director Lori Mazza says their thoughts and prayers go out to the Chapman and Graham families, calling the boys great teammates, friends, brothers and sons.  Mazza says they will support Massaro in whatever he needs during this time and look forward to the day of his return.

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State DOT on board with Danbury plans on how to alleviate Main Street flooding

The state Department of Transportation is on board with plans drawn up by the City of Danbury to address flooding on Main Street.  Mayor Joe Cavo met with state officials yesterday.  The DOT will put a pump where the Department of Public Works installed one temporarily, so they will be ready for the next big storm. 

After an investigation, it was determined that about 100 feet of a nearby culvert collapsed because of tree roots.  The storm drain just beyond it is wide open, where the water was pumped to.  Cavo says that operation didn't cause any problems down stream. The DOT is working on Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola’s design plan for a new pipe, with surveyors on site recently.

The idea of pumping water off West Street in Danbury to clear the roadway like the City recently did on Main Street won't work as a solution. 

Cavo says it's not a blocked culvert, it's the dam that's problematic.  He's working on bringing in the Army Corps of Engineers to talk about a study.  If part of the dam is removed, they want to determine if that would alleviate flooding. 

Cavo says they have to be careful not to just move the problem elsewhere and flood people downstream. He thinks if some of the obstruction could be removed by Kingswood, West Street flooding could be resolved. But Cavo added that it won’t happen until long after he’s mayor.  He isn’t running for re-election next week. He’s seeking his old Council seat.

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State updates COVID-19 case rates for Greater Danbury area

Danbury's COVID-19 test positivity rate has ticked up slightly since the last reporting period and is at 2-percent.   78 cases have been reported to the state between October 10th and 23rd.  That's 6.6 cases per 100,000 population. 

Color on the state's COVID-19 community spread map is coming back into the Greater Danbury area.  While Newtown dropped down from Orange, the 2nd highest level, to Yellow, other towns in the region are seeing a rise in cases. 

Sherman has moved up into the Red Zone when it comes to the state Department of Public Health's levels of COVID-19 community spread.  It's based on cases per 100,000 population, so with 11 COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks in the small town, that is equivalent to 21.6 cases per 100,000 population. 

Redding is in the orange zone for a second week in a row for having between 10 and 14 cases per 100,000.  Brookfield and New Fairfield also moved up to Orange from Yellow.  New Milford experienced a slight drop and is out of the Red Zone, and down to Orange.  Other greater Danbury area towns are in the yellow zone with 5 to 9 cases per 100,000 population.

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Hearing into proposed homeless shelter continued to next month

The Danbury Zoning Commission has continued a public hearing into a proposal to formally turn the former Super 8 motel into a homeless shelter, operated by the Stamford-based nonprofit Pacific House.  The applicant asked for more time to gather answers to questions that were raised during the previous 7 hour hearing.  The continuance was granted this week to November 9th.  The Commission will then have until November 30th, just before a new commission is sworn in.

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Candlewood Lake Authority asks residents not to rake leaves into water

The Candlewood Lake Authority is offering a reminder for shoreline residents this autumn.  Leaves contain nutrients that, if they fall into the lake, can help fuel algae growth next summer.  CLA asks that leaves aren't raked into the water, but instead, bag them and dispose of them through composting or normal trash collection.

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Easton Police collecting for Toys for Tots

The Easton Police Department is an official collection site for Toys for Tots.  People can drop off new, unwrapped toys to the lobby until December 4th for children in the area who are in need this holiday season.  The Easton Police Toys for Tots Stuff-a-Cruiser event is on December 4th from 8am-2pm in the Easton Library parking lot.

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Area fire departments prepare for Halloween events

The Kent Volunteer Fire House will be open for trick-or-treaters this year.  Kids are invited to the firehouse on Sunday night.  Bethel Fire Department is getting ready for their drive thru Halloween event.  Inflatables are now up and on display at Fire Headquarters' front lawn on South Street.  The Not-so-spooky drive thru firehouse truckroom will also feature firefighters and EMTs in costume.  The event Sunday is 4pm to 6pm.

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More than 100 firearms turned in to Newtown Police during buyback program

More than 100 firearms were turned in to Newtown Police earlier this month during the inaugural statewide gun buyback program.  This large-scale initiative on October 16th was an anonymous event for people to turn over unwanted guns to be properly disposed of.  Police say they were mostly old shotguns, rifles, and handguns.  4 met the state’s definition of assault weapons, which were logged and then disposed of.

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Local lawmaker recognized by the Connecticut EMS Councils

Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner has been recognized by the Connecticut EMS Councils as their Legislator of the Year.  She thanked these essential workers for risking their lives and the lives of their families during this pandemic. Over the last year, the 22-thousand Connecticut emergency medical service personnel responded to 779-thousand calls.  Kushner helped to enact Workers Compensation protection for these workers when they suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Injuries. 

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Newtown First Selectman running unopposed, affiliates with SAM party

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal is running unopposed in next week's municipal election, but will serve his third term under a new party.  He ran and won twice as a Democrat, but is on the ballot under the SAM party line.  Rosenthal previously said that running with Serve America Movement did not stem from any disagreement or lack of support from the Democratic Party, but rather as part of his vision of the office of the first selectman being non-partisan. 

Rosenthal says Newtown has done fairly well when it comes to COVID-19, not to say that it's been easy.  But he says the business community and residents have been resilient in the face of that challenge.  He wants to turn his attention to allocating the American Rescue Plan Act funding.  He expects that work to start in earnest once a new Board of Selectmen, Legislative Council and Board of Finance are seated.

Rosenthal says one of his priorities will be to continue his effort to build road funding into the operating budget and addressing road infrastructure.  Newtown may include some drainage projects into the Capital Improvement Plan, if they qualify under ARPA. 

The future of the Fairfield Hills campus has been discussed for the last couple of decades, and ramped up in 2019 and 2020.  Residents approved consideration of mixed use development at the site on the ballot last November.  Rosenthal says Planning and Zoning have since updated language to allow for that, and expects to see projects there over the next year or so.  Developers have submitted proposals to redevelop two buildings and will do community engagement soon.

Rosenthal will keep in touch with the Department of Transportation about two project currently underway on state roads through Newtown.  One is the work that just started at Exit 11 and Wasserman Way, which becomes a bottleneck several times a day.  The whole project will take a couple of years an involves a new ramp and turning lanes.  He says the bridge construction creates problems in town when there are accidents on that span. Rosenthal looks forward to that project being wrapped up.

Newtown does have a plan for replacing fire trucks, with Hawleyville Fire getting a new tanker.  That was purchased a couple of years ago. Rosenthal says Sandy Hook has a couple of apparatus purchases on the horizon.  He notes there are some building infrastructure needs for a couple of the departments, but they are further out in the Capital Plan.

Rosenthal touted completion of the new police station, calling it long over due.  The work also included a new dispatch center.  Over the next years Newtown is finishing emergency communications upgrades. He says this conversion to a digital signal should serve the town well.

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United Way collecting donations to provide Thanksgiving dinners to Danbury families in need

For the second year in a row, United Way of Western Connecticut is collecting donations to provide complete, fully cooked Thanksgiving dinners to Danbury families in need.   The beneficiary families are being identified by Danbury Public Schools.  Called the Thanksgiving Pay-It-Forward Campaign, this effort is one of many by the United Way to address food insecurity since the pandemic began. 

The Amber Room is cooking traditional family feasts for customers to pick up by on November 24th, the day before Thanksgiving.  Contributions are being collected through November 19th for the purchase of Thanksgiving dinners for struggling families. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, United Way of Western Connecticut has enrolled more than 500 families in its Healthy Savings program, which has provided $130,000 in free, fresh produce and deep grocery discounts each week to participants. It has also helped to distribute more than 130,000 pounds of food to more than 3,000 people at Danbury High School on Saturdays during August, September, and October, in partnership with Connecticut Foodshare, Walnut Hill Community Pantry, and the City of Danbury.

A contribution of $175 will sponsor a meal for 6 to 10 people. Donations can be made online or by texting AMBERROOM to 71777 (message and data rates may apply).

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Red-tailed hawk saved by Metro-North engineer released back into the wild

A red-tailed hawk that had been saved by a quick-thinking Metro-North locomotive engineer and pair of MTA police officers has been released back into the wild.  The hawk was released Thursday at Brinckerhoff Nature Preserve in Redding.  The Metro North engineer was operating a Danbury Branch train full of passengers on May 11th when he spotted a large bird on the tracks.  He slowed the train to a stop within a foot of the animal.  MTA Police then responded to remove the juvenile hawk, which was transferred to Stamford Animal Control.  The hawk was then taken to South Wilton Veterinary Group for x-rays that revealed a fracture in the ulna of the hawk’s left wing. Doctors believed surgery would not be required and that the fracture would heal naturally. The hawk was then transferred to Christine’s Critters in Weston, to begin its rehabilitation.  The hawk spent the past five months at Christine’s Critters healing and maturing.

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GOP candidates pull out of Newtown PTA candidate forum

A candidate forum in Newtown that was supposed to be held tonight by the PTA will feature fewer candidates.  Only two Democratic Board of Ed candidates will be in attendance at the forum. 

The three Republican candidates for Board of Education sent a letter to the PTA saying they would not attend.  The local Republican Town Committee cited election conditions in Newtown that they say are so negative that maintaining a fair, balanced, and safe environment at public events is exceedingly difficult.  The letter continues that while security may be provided at the event, they don't want to put their candidates in a “potentially hostile situation that could be avoided.” 

They referenced public participation at Board of Education meetings, saying comments have disparaged candidates.  The current Board of Education Chair said in a Facebook post say Board meetings over the last year have drawn many more public comments than in past years, noting that the issues can be very contentious, and board members often hear sharp criticism.

The forum is at Newtown High School, in the auditorium, from 7pm to 8:30pm.

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National Summit on School Safety hosted by Sandy Hook organization

A National Summit on School Safety is being held this week by an organization founded by the parents of two children killed on 12-14.  The annual event, held over three days, is being put on by Safe and Sound Schools, the nonprofit started by Michele Gay and Alissa Parker.  The keynote speaker will by the former principal of Columbine High School.  Participants will learn about “school threat assessment and management, planning for physical safety and security, trauma informed drills, and positive school climate culture among other topics.  Scarlett Lewis, founder of the nonprofit Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement named for her son who was killed on 12-14, will speak about “Social Emotional Learning: Ensuring Safety From the Inside Out.” 

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New Fairfield Police offering safety reminders for Halloween

It may have been a couple of years since kids have been out trick-or-treating so State and New Fairfield Police are offering some safety reminders for Halloween.  Kids should wear bright and reflective costumes to be visible to drivers.  Reflective tape can be added to trick-or-treat bags to increase visibility.  Parents should remind their kids never to enter a house or car for a treat, to go out in a group that includes an adult, and not to eat any treats until an adult has inspected them.  Before Halloween night, police remind residents to clear walkways of any obstacles that could hamper visits from costumed youngsters.

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COVID-19 booster shots available in Danbury

The Danbury Health Department is sending out information about COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.  The Community Health Center at 118 Memorial Drive can administer boosters of any of the three brands Tuesdays through Saturdays.  CHC hours are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 2pm to 7pm, Wednesdays 11:30am to 2:30pm and Fridays noon to 6pm.

The Connecticut Institute for Communities offers Pfizer Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays or Moderna on Tuesdays and Fridays 9:45am to noon and 2pm to 5pm.

Two CVS and three Walgreens locations in the City are taking appointments for Pfizer, while two CVS locations in the City have Moderna.

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New Milford Police wrapping up distracted driving enforcement campaign

The New Milford Police Department is wrapping up a distracted driving enforcement campaign.  Officers are out in force looking for violations.  The Phone in one Hand Ticket in the Other initiative runs through Halloween.  At the start of this month, an update to the fines for distracted driving took effect.  The first violation is now $200, a second offense will result in a $375 fine and third or subsequent violations will cost $625.  The fines increased by $50, $75 and $125 respectively.

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National Guard members leave for nearly year-long deployment

More than 70 Connecticut National Guard members have left for a nearly year-long deployment.  The Danbury-based 142nd Area Support Medical Company departed Sunday to support Operation Atlantic Resolve.  They'll provide medical support to U.S. and allied troops.  The unit will report to Texas for premobilization training before traveling to Poland.  The is the first time the unit has deployed in about 10 years and will be the first overseas deployment for many members.  Governor Ned Lamont says the men and women of the Connecticut National Guard have been providing support to the state throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and to have them now deploying overseas to provide medical support to our international partners shows the dedication and professionalism that they carry themselves with.

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Brookfield Library Art Gallery new display titled Celebrating Local Quilters

The Brookfield Library Art Gallery has a new display up titled Celebrating Local Quilters: Quilts Across the Spectrum of Styles and Techniques.  The exhibition of local quilts will be on view from November 3rd to December 29th. The exhibition brings together more than 20 quilts from 12 local quilters. The public is invited to meet the quilters on November 13th from 3pm to 5pm in the art gallery, located in the Library's Community Room.  The gallery is open during the Library’s regular operating hours. Patrons are asked to check-in at the circulation desk. Masks are required. A virtual version of the exhibition will be available on the Brookfield Library’s website starting November 1st.

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Bethel Police participates in 59th Annual Fairfield County Detective Conference

Two members of the Bethel Police Department have completed the 59th Annual Fairfield County Detective Conference Detective School.  Detective Matthew DiRago and Officer Thomas Butkier took part in the two-week labor-intensive course in criminal investigations.  Awards are presented for 1st and 2nd place ranking in the class as well as for best notebook.  DiRago not only won best notebook, but also ranked # 1 in the class.

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Fire in the electrical panel of Monroe house quickly extinguished

The Monroe, Stevenson and Stepney Fire Departments responded to a reported structure fire yesterday morning at a Greenwood Lane house.  They found a fire in the electrical panel in the basement level of the single family home. Damage was confined to the electrical panel and a minor smoke condition in the lower level of the structure.  16 firefighters checked for extension and secured the property until Eversource arrived.  The Monroe Fire Marshal estimates the damage to the structure at 75-hundred dollars. The property owners were allowed to remain in the structure.

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New State Police Sgt. assigned to New Fairfield Police Department

A new State Police Sgt. has been assigned to the New Fairfield Police Department. Sergeant Nick Ieraci will supervise 6 Resident State Troopers, 5 town Police Officers and 2 full time School Resource Officers.  He has been on the force for nearly 14 years and was recently promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He was a Wallingford Police Officer for 3 years before he became a Trooper.  Ieraci replaced Sgt Adam Wagnblas, the longest standing police supervisor in New Fairfield.  He is credited with 17 years of leading the police department and retired after 27 years of State service.

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Women's Center renamed The Center for Empowerment and Education

The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury has announced that the organization will be renamed The Center for Empowerment and Education. The new name is accompanied by a new identity that officials say better reflects The Center’s commitment to saving and rebuilding lives and building stronger communities. 

President and CEO Pat Zachman says the words “empowerment” and “education” are the two key pillars that guide everything The Center does to end violence in the 13-community service area. Beyond offering emergency and transitional shelter for individuals in crisis, The Center also provides crisis intervention, counseling, advocacy, education and referral services.  

A new facility for women and children in transition will open soon, an effort to provide support to even more people in crisis.

Officials say the rebrand reflects the inclusivity of their mission and services that improve lives, strengthen families, and prevent violence through education.  In describing the importance of the rebrand, Zachman says the new name is vital to underscore that they serve everyone in need of support, including women, men, and children.

After 46 years of growth that addressed the changing needs of the community, she says this new identity direction expresses the Center's commitment to a wide geographic area and greatly diversified programs and services.  Communities served by The Center are Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, and Washington. 

Each year, the Center serves over 30,000 individuals from area communities with confidential services that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and are provided at no-cost.

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Danbury officials address flooding around Main, West streets

West Street in Danbury wasn't closed from flooding yesterday until later in the evening.  The Public Works Department recently cleaned out debris and sediment from the Still River, and did some work on the embankment to prevent the river from rising above its banks onto the road. 

West Street was closed last night in the area of the railroad overpass and remained closed into this morning.

Danbury officials may have come up with a plan to alleviate flooding on Main Street.  The street was closed Monday night into yesterday afternoon because of water over the roadway.  Mayor Joe Cavo, who recently retired as Superintendent of Apparatus for the Fire Department, proposed using a pump to clear the flooding.  The Public Works Department started that work around 11am yesterday in the area of Elmwood Place. 

Cavo says an investigation after the last flooding determined that it stems from a culvert, likely constructed in the 1920s. Tree roots are blocking the pipes.  Danbury has designed a project to install a new pipe, but wants the state Department of Transportation to take on the work since Main Street is technically Route 53. 

The state would need to obtain an easement from a private property owner. 

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New Milford Town Council votes to use ARPA funds to repair dam

A public hearing has been held in New Milford about using some federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to repair the Reservoir Dam #4.  The New Milford Town Council voted unanimously in favor of the idea. 

About 50 people attended the hearing and spoke in favor of the repairs, rather than removal. 

The 17-foot dam dates back to around 1900, when Town Farm Brook was stopped to create a recreational area.  A valve, installed around 1918, won’t shut.  There are disjointed overflow pipes, water seeps through parts of the wall and there are mortar issues on the spillway.  Repairs are estimated to cost around $1.2 million.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has classified the dam as a significant hazard, the second highest hazard classification.

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Danbury man been charged for January voyeurism incident at mall

A Danbury man has been charged for a January voyeurism incident at the mall.  Danbury Police arrested 47-year old Edvin Menendez-Maldonado on Thursday for allegedly trying to record a female shopper in a changing room at Old Navy. 

The victim told police she was trying on dresses, noticed a cell phone on the floor face down and notified a store employee.  According to the warrant, the employee looked through a hole where the shopper said the phone had been and saw the camera portion facing her.  They opened the door of the next fitting room and found the man who then fled. 

Police reviewed surveillance footage and were able to obtain a warrant.  He was arraigned and held for an appearance in court on the 12th. 

Menendez-Maldonado was arrested on similar charges in February 2020 for allegedly attempting to record an 11-year-old girl in a changing room at a different store in the mall.

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Foodshare ending drive-thru emergency food distribution this month

Foodshare is ending its drive-thru emergency food distribution sites at the end of the month, including at Danbury High School.  The distribution was started at the beginning of the pandemic to address food insecurity as food pantries were overwhelmed with need.  The Danbury location is open on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm, in a partnership with the United Way of Western Connecticut and Walnut Hill Community Food Pantry.  Foodshare has provided over 14 million meals through these sites since April 2020.

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Driver rescued from pond in Easton

A driver was rescued from a pond in Easton on Monday night off Banks Road.  The volunteer fire department was about to start a training session, when they received the emergency call.  Police, Fire and EMS helped the driver out of the car and through the waist deep water.  The car was about 30 feet from shore.  Firefighters then had to suit up in cold water rescue suits and help the tow driver hook up to the car. The driver was transported to the hospital for evaluation.  He reportedly hit a vehicle on Route 136 and fled the scene, but the other driver followed him and the Sandy Hook resident lost control on a curve and crashed. The driver was charged with evading responsibility and passing in a no passing zone.

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Danbury Zoners hold hearing on liquor permit for Golf Lounge 18 mall location

The Danbury Zoning Commission is opening a public hearing tonight into Golf Lounge 18, which wants to move into the former Red Robin restaurant space at the Danbury Mall.  The virtual golf entertainment chain is asking for a Special Permit for a Cafe Liquor License. 

The Zoom meeting will also be streamed on the Commission's YouTube page. 

In addition to the interior mall entry, the location has an exterior entrance by the parking garage.  There are hourly rental fees, but monthly and annual memberships are also offered by the company.  Patrons can use their own clubs or ones on site.  

The company could hire up to 10 staff in Danbury. 

Bays are set up with technology that allows golfers to simulate a round on virtual renderings of courses, projected onto screens.  The same technology is used by the Dick’s Sporting Goods store at the mall so buyers can try out clubs before making a purchase. 

Golf Lounge 18 has two other Connecticut locations: in Orange and Fairfield.

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Today is last day to register to vote in Tuesday's election

Today is the last day to register to vote in advance of Tuesday’s municipal elections.  Mailed in registrations must be postmarked by today.  Residents can also sign up at their local town hall. Connecticut residents can sign up online at myvote.ct.gov/register.  Online registration is open until 11:59PM  

The Bridgewater Registrars of Voters will conduct the last regular voters registration today.  Applicants may appear in person until 8pm in the Registrar of Voters Office in Bridgewater Town Hall.   

The Bethel Town Clerk’s office will be open on Saturday from 9am to Noon for absentee ballot voting. Residents are asked to download the application and complete it before coming to vote absentee.

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Monroe officials looking into parental interest in COVID vaccine clinic for kids

COVID-19 case rates in Monroe have remained fairly steady, currently averaging approximately 2.5 new cases per day.  The town has placed vaccine orders with the State, in anticipation of running booster clinics for eligible groups starting in a couple of weeks. Monroe officials also anticipate final authorization for a Pfizer vaccine for kids age 5 to 11.  While the vaccine will likely be available through multiple sources, including some pediatrician offices, the town is working with Monroe Public Schools to determine parental interest in conducting a Town-sponsored clinic.

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Controversy over social media posts on scheduling New Milford Mayoral debate

There's a dust up in New Milford's Mayoral race about the candidates debating.  The Ted Hine for Mayor Facebook page posted yesterday morning that it seems there will not be a debate, and called on residents to message the Democrat with any questions.  Republican incumbent Pete Bass later posted on his Facebook page that His campaign offered the Hine campaign manager, Joe Baker, the ability to choose the moderator. He selected the League of Women Voters, but they were only free on October 28th. Baker then reportedly asked for different days because Hine scheduled a “Town Hall” meeting for the 28th.  Bass claims the Hine campaign never responded to an offer that the Chamber of Commerce host a debate on different dates.

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Danbury man arrested for alleged sexual, physical assault

A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly sexually and physically assaulting a woman.  Police say 41-year old Daniel Hernandez-Castellanos was arrested last week on charges including sexual assault, threatening and assault.  A woman filed a complaint that said the man, who was known to her, showed up unannounced an assaulted her last month.  According to the warrant, Hernandez-Castellanos allegedly threatened her if she told anyone about the abuse.  He was arraigned and was held on $200,000 bond for a court appearance on Monday.

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Danbury Zoning Commission won't take up homeless shelter hearing tonight

While the Danbury Zoning Commission had been set to continue a public hearing tonight on the proposal to officially turn the former Super 8 motel into a homeless shelter, they won't have discussion at their meeting.  The applicant's attorney requested a continuance until the November 9th meeting.  There will be no testimony tonight on zoning regulations to define a new use of transitional shelter for the homeless.  The previous hearing lasted about five hours.  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. 

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Flooding, power outages a possibility with nor'easter

Part of Route 53 in Danbury was closed due to flooding last night.  The road closed at Elmwood Place around 10:45pm and there is still water over a portion of the road this morning.  This comes as a strong Nor'easter is set to bring heavy rain and strong winds to the state today. Rainfall totals from last night through this morning could range from three to six inches.

Redding officials are cautioning residents to the possibility of flooding and power outages from the storm moving through the region.   First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton says high winds and significant rainfall may translate to downed trees and wires, and loss of power.  

Eversource is estimating that 125,000 customers in Connecticut could lose power in today's storm based on the current projections.  Eversource has contacted REdding and provided information on resources available for restoration. Crews are assembled in state, both from Eversource and contracted crews.

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22-year old Hartford woman struck, killed by truck on I-84 in Newtown

A 22-year old Hartford woman was struck by a truck and killed on the highway in Newtown yesterday.  State Police say Samantha Figueroa's car broke down in the left lane near Exit 13 eastbound around 3:30am.  She was reportedly standing in the left lane and trying to flag down passing vehicles when she and her car were struck by a Mack truck.  The woman was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.  The highway was closed for more than 6 hours.  State police are asking that any witnesses to the crash contact Trooper Loughman at Troop A in Southbury at 203-267-2200.

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New Fairfield First Selectman running unopposed for third term

New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco is running unopposed for a third term leading the town.  New Fairfield is in the process of building two new schools, something she says is long over due.  Del Monaco wants to focus on the near term in continued economic recovery and bringing people back to the center of town.  She notes that an Economic and Community Development Commission has been established over the last 4 years to take on some of that work.  Del Monaco also touted improved safety in schools with SROs, school resource officers, funded for each building.

The last two years have been focused on public health.  Del Monaco notes that they're continuing to monitor the COVID-19 case rate and will provide vaccine clinics as long as there is a need.  A mobile clinic is held twice weekly, on Wednesday at St Edwards and on Saturdays at New Fairfield High School.  She says they're starting to see more community events being held as cases remain low. 

New Fairfield officials are in the process of organizing a sewer study, revitalizing downtown and updating infrastructure.  A committee is considering allocations for those items and others from the town's share of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funding.  The group meets monthly. 

Initial discussions have been held about requirements under the Police Accountability Bill.  The town is working on ordering body and dash cameras.  Del Monaco is also working with the state on safety at Squantz Pond State Park.  She says those discussions take place every spring. 

One issue that's become more prominent as weather events increase in severity is power outages.  Del Monaco says the town has increased the budget for tree removal continuously.  She says this will ensure they're identifying trees on town property and rights of way that may pose an issue during storms.

Residents this year rejected a proposed noise ordinance.  Del Monaco believes there is a need for more noise control, but says they would likely only revisit the matter if the Board of Selectmen receives a petition for it.  She says it's up to the residents and has tried to listen to community interest.  The proposal was brought to a vote because of the many complaints New Fairfield officials received.

Del Monaco notes that the Zoning Commission is holding a series of public hearings on recreational marijuana facilities to find out where residents stand on the issue.

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Danbury man arrested for allegedly breaking into a woman's home

A Danbury man has been arrested for allegedly breaking into a woman's home and assaulting her.  41-year old Apolinar Vazquez was arrested last week on charges of assault, burglary, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, threatening, and unlawful restraint.  Police say the victim found Vasquez, who was known to her, in her home and asked him to leave, but he fought with her.  Vazquez allegedly held a large cooking knife to the victim’s neck and threatened to kill her, as well as himself.  He remains held on bond and is due in court on the 12th.

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Redding Police investigating fatal single-vehicle crash

Redding Police are investigating a fatal single-vehicle crash.  Police responded to Sport Hill Road Friday afternoon on a report of a car that crashed into a tree.  The accident happened on a sharp curve, about a quarter-mile north of Bridle Road.  The driver was the only occupant and had to be extricated from the vehicle.  Police are awaiting autopsy results before releasing further details.

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Sherman car larceny suspect arrested

A larceny suspect has been arrested in Sherman.  State Police served an active warrant on 18-year old Anthony Berrios for a car larceny that happened July 12th.  He was charged with Larceny, Simple Trespass and six counts of Credit Card Theft.  He was arraigned and remains held on #100,000 bond.  Berrios is due back in court on November 29th.

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Ridgefield Fire named an EMS Silver Achievement Award Recipient

Ridgefield Fire has been named an EMS Silver Achievement Award Recipient by the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline.  Ridgefield was recognized for implementing specific quality improvement measures to treat patients who suffer severe heart attacks.  Program participants apply for the award recognition by demonstrating how their organization has committed to improving quality care for STEMI patients, people who experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction.  Chief Jerry Myers says the Ridgefield Fire Department is honored to be recognized for dedication to providing optimal care for heart attack patients.  He says the program puts proven knowledge and guidelines to work on a daily basis so patients have the best possible chance of survival.

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Redding recognizes Oct. as Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The Town of Redding held a ceremony late last week recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness month.  In the last year, 40 cases of victims of domestic violence from Redding were referred to the Womens Center of Greater Danbury.  The Women's Center also provides educational programs in Redding schools as dating violence is an issue among teens.  The Redding social services Director, Angelica Fontanez, also serves as a resource for residents.  The Womens Center has a crisis hotline and 2-1-1 can also provide assistance and direction.

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Newtown Police hold Department's Awards ceremony

Several Newtown Police officers were recognized during the Department's Awards ceremony.  Officers were cited for lifesaving efforts, completing extensive and complex investigations, community service above and beyond and several other extraordinary efforts.  These individuals were nominated by peers and supervisors, who felt their efforts deserved special recognition. 

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Pedestrian struck by car on I-84 in Newtown

A pedestrian was struck by a vehicle in Newtown early this morning.  The accident closed part of I-84.  The pedestrian was struck around 4am.  The eastbound side is closed between exits 11 and 13.  It's unclear how long the highway will be closed for.  Authorities did not release any further details about the incident.

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Vigil held in remembrance of two West Conn students killed in car accident

A vigil has been held in remembrance of two West Conn students killed in a car accident in Colchester on Friday. Friends and family gathered to remember 18-year-old Jacob Chapman and 18-year-old Tyler Graham

State Police said two vehicles were traveling westbound on Route 354 in Colchester when one of the vehicles tried to pass the other, left the roadway and collided with a metal guardrail and multiple trees.  

Chapman, who was driving, was pronounced dead at the hospital and his passenger, Graham, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Another passenger, 19-year-old Trey Massaro, also a West Conn Lacrosse player, sustained serious injuries. 

West Conn President Dr. John Clark says the Counseling Center has met with players and coaches.  Clark says counseling will be provided to students in Litchfield Hall, where the three lacrosse team members lived on campus, as well as any student in need.  

Chapman was a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management degree and Graham was a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management Information Systems degree.  Massaro is a first-year student pursuing a B.S. in Justice and Law Administration-Law Enforcement.

Clark says they plan on having a memorial for Jacob and Tyler on campus soon.  Plans are still being developed. 

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Public hearing in Bethel on proposed affordable housing development

A public hearing is being held in Bethel tomorrow by the Planning and Zoning Commission on a proposed affordable housing development at 64 Wooster Street.  The virtual hearing is at 7pm via Zoom. 

The applicant, David Pijnenburgh, would use the state 8-30(g) affordable housing law to create 9 units, with 2 designated as affordable housing.  The three-quarter acre property currently has a home with three rental units and a garage.  There's a parking area at the rear of the existing structure.  The proposal is to construct a new building to the west of the existing one and provide four new one-bedroom rental residential units under 8-30g. Two one-bedroom apartments will be constructed in the existing garage.

Under state statute, at least 15-percent of the units must be affordable for 40 years to families earning 60-percent or less of the median income for the Bethel area, or the State median income, whichever is less.  At least 15-percent must be designated for the same time frame for families earning 80-percent or less. 

Two existing units in the Complex will contain three bedrooms, seven new units will contain one bedroom each.  

17 parking spaces will be provided, with a new one-way driveway into the site to the south of the existing structure.

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Bethel First Selectman running unopposed for 7th term

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker is running unopposed for another term leading the town.  He notes that the town is growing rapidly, by 9.5 percent since the last census.  The town is in the process of modernizing town government operations and technology.  Bethel plans to use some federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to do more with less.  Bethel is working on an online permitting system, which is 70-percent complete.  Officials are working on website enhancements that will allow more to be done remotely, and internal record keeping to reduce paper and staff time to reduce overtime.

ARPA funding will also be used to make much needed improvements at Town Hall and the High School.  Some parts of the municipal center, like the general purpose room, have never had air conditioning.  Plans call for renovating the locker rooms, which date back to the 1950s, for when the building is used as the town's emergency shelter.  The front entrance improvements include renovating restrooms that are currently closed off.

Knickerbocker says he's excited about a Sustainability Committee being established.  Bethel was one of the leading towns in setting up renewable energy, including a municipal solar farm and installing electric car chargers.  He wants to expand the initiative to other areas including recreational open space and land conservation and management. 

When it comes to adult use of recreational cannabis, Bethel regulations don't currently allow for a dispensary to locate to the town.  The moratorium was passed after a medical marijuana dispensary located in Bethel.  The facility has since moved to Danbury.  Knickerbocker doesn't object to a new dispensary in Bethel, but doesn't think there's any interest in it.

There are only two candidates for the three-member Board of Selectmen, so Democratic incumbent Richard Straiton and Republican Bryan Terzian will be seated. Bethel incumbent Town Clerk Lisa Bergh has been cross endorsed to retain her seat.  Democratic incumbent Treasurer Pat Smithwick is being challenged by outgoing Selectman Paul Szatkowski.

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Hit and run accident under investigation in Newtown

A hit and run accident is under investigation in Newtown.  Police are looking for a landscaping vehicle reportedly struck an SUV in the opposite lane and did not stop.  The driver of the Cadillac reported to police that around 1pm on Thursday they were headed south on South Main Street, by Sand Hill Plaza, when a northbound vehicle crossed over the center line and struck their mirror.  Any witnesses or anyone with information is requested to contact Newtown Police.

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Brookfield offering Booster Shot clinics

Brookfield has a COVID-19 case rate for the past two weeks of 9-point-3 per 100-thousand population, the same as the week before. The positivity rate is 2-point-3 percent.  Brookfield will be offering Booster Shot clinics at Town Hall starting tomorrow. They will be held on Tuesdays from 10am to 1pm and Thursdays from 3pm to 6pm. There will be no clinics held on Nov 2nd, Election Day, 11th Veterans Day or the 24th. Clinics will be held as long as there is demand, and into December.  Both Moderna and J and J will be administered. Appointments can be made through the VAMS portal. Walk ins will be accepted, but Brookfield officials cautioned that they might not have boosters available if the appointment schedule is full.  Proof of primary vaccination must be provided. Brookfield is not offering Pfizer because of lack of cold storage capabilities, but that booster dose is the same dosage as the primary series. The booster for Moderna is half the dose of the primary series.

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Redding hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinic Monday

Redding is hosting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic Monday from 11am to 2pm at the Community Center. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson will be available for first and second doses, and boosters. No appointment is needed.  Redding has Vax Van clinics scheduled for every Sunday through November 21st at the Redding Community Center from 1pm to 4pm.  Both the FDA and CDC support individuals to receive a booster dose that is a different vaccine type than they originally received for their primary series if they choose.

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Newtown receives grant for National Diabetes Prevention Program

The Town of Newtown has received a grant from the state Department of Health to deliver a National Diabetes Prevention Program. This grant funds Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Life-Style Programs for the residents of Newtown, Bridgewater and Roxbury who are at risk of Type 2 Diabetes.   According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects over 34 million people; Another 88 million Americans have prediabetes, yet only about 10 percent are aware they have it.  The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is facilitated by a trained Lifestyle Coach,, providing a supportive environment where participants work together in a small group to learn about behavior changes that can improve overall health.  A virtual information session is being held tomorrow at 6:30pm via Zoom. 

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Two WCSU students killed in car crash identified

Three members of the WestConn Men’s Lacrosse Team were involved in a deadly traffic accident Friday afternoon.  State Police said two vehicles were traveling westbound on Route 354 in Colchester when one of the vehicles tried to pass the other, left the roadway and collided with a metal guardrail and multiple trees.  The driver, 18-year-old Jacob Chapman, and one of the passengers, 18-year-old Tyler Graham, were killed. Another passenger, 19-year-old Trey Massaro, was airlifted to the hospital.  West Conn President Dr. John Clark says the Counseling Center has met with players and coaches of the lacrosse team and counseling will be provided to students in Litchfield Hall, where the three team members lived on campus, as well as any student in need.  Clark says the University will also do all it can to support their families in this very difficult time. 

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Monument being dedicated in Danbury today to Beirut/Lebanon Veterans

A memorial monument is being dedicated in Danbury today to Beirut/Lebanon Veterans.  State Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi says Mayor Joe Cavo and federal VA Health Care Systems Director Al Montoya will join the Danbury Veterans Council and Danbury Veterans Affairs Office Director Danny Hayes at the dedication ceremony. 

The monument was installed last year, but due to COVID-19 the dedication was delayed.  The Danbury Police Honor Guard and Immaculate High School choir will be on hand.  There will be an unveiling, remarks and wreath laying, starting at 11am in front of the Danbury War Memorial building. 

The ceremony is being held on the 38th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut which killed 220 U.S. Marines, 18 U.S. Navy Sailors and 3 U.S.  Soldiers.  Another 183 U.S. Service personnel were wounded in the attack.  Saadi says that was the single largest day loss of life for the U.S. Marine Corp since Iwo Jima and single largest day loss of life for the U.S. Military since the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. 

The Beirut Veterans Memorial is inscribed with the names of the 8 Connecticut residents killed in bombing and two service members who lost their lives in Lebanon in 1958 and 1985.

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Rx Drug Take Back Day today

Greater Danbury area Police Departments are participating in the  Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.  Most will have drop off boxes in their lobbies from 10am to 2pm, no questions asked.  The collection is held nationwide twice a year.  In April, about 44-hundred law enforcement agencies participated.  420 tons, about 839-thousand pounds of  expired, unused or unwanted over-the-counter and prescription medications were collected.

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Sen. Blumenthal visits Ridgefield for launch of composting initiative

Senator Richard Blumenthal was in Ridgefield yesterday to celebrate a $2 million grant for Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  HRRA will launch a local composting system aimed at improving local food waste management and reducing the carbon footprint. This will be the first municipality-based self-sustaining closed loop system to manage food waste while utilizing the end-product for community and agricultural use.  Blumenthal says only five percent of food is composted in the U-S and as a result, uneaten food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste.  Blumenthal says 160 billion pounds of food goes to waste every year in the U.S.

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Nuvance lost over $300 million in net patient revenue due to COVID

According to reports to the state, outpatient emergency room volume at Danbury Hospital declined 20 percent in fiscal year 2020.  An audit by Ernst & Young for Nuvance Health found that the system, which includes 7 hospitals, lost over $300 million in net patient revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic in fiscal year 2020 and faces a net loss of more than $130 million last fiscal year. The system also experienced price increases in and use of medical supplies, particularly personal protective equipment. Nuvance President and CEO Dr John Murphy earned more than $14 million in salary and fringe benefits last year, including a contractually obligated payment based on his years of service and employment agreement.

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Two WCSU students killed in car crash

Three members of the WestConn Men’s Lacrosse Team were involved in a deadly traffic accident Friday afternoon.  Two students died in the accident. A third was airlifted from the scene to a hospital. West Conn President Dr. John Clark did not yet have information on his condition and the school was withholding the names of all three for the time being.  The Counseling Center has met with players and coaches of the lacrosse team and counseling will be provided to students in Litchfield Hall, where the three team members lived on campus, as well as any student in need.  Clark says the University will also do all it can to support their families in this very difficult time. 

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Danbury area COVID-19 test positivity rate higher than state rate

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel's infection rate dipped down a bit from last week to 2-percent.  Brookfield's rate went up a fraction to to 2.3 percent.  Newtown's infection rate is 2.4 percent 

Danbury has 6.4 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, with a positivity rate of 1.8 percent.  Redding's current case rate per 100,000 is 13.3 and the positivity rate is 3.8 percent.  New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rate held steady from last week at 2.5 percent.   New Milford's rate increased about a percentage point to 4.5 percent.  Ridgefield's infection rate decreased from 2.3 percent last week to 1.8 percent this week. 

The state's daily COVID-19 test positivity rate yesterday was 1.67 percent.  410 positive confirmed or probable cases were detected out of more than 24,000 tests.  There 2 fewer patients in the hospital with COVID yesterday.  The inpatient total is 224. 

14 people have died in Connecticut over the past week from causes related to COVID-19. 

As of yesterday, 16,760 cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated persons in Connecticut have been identified, a .7 percent breakthrough rate.  

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Stony Hill Volunteer Fire holding open house, fire safety day

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company is holding an open house and fire safety day on Sunday from 11am to 1pm.  Residents are urged to check out the station and meet the local fire & EMS volunteers. 

The weekly free food distribution event at Danbury High School is back tomorrow.  The United Way and its partners will be on hand 10am to 1pm.  Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines will also be administered. 

All three brands of COVID-19 vaccines will be available at Rogers Park from 2pm to 7pm tomorrow.

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Danbury DTC to host Unity Rally

Senator Richard Blumenthal, Governor Ned Lamont, and Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz will be in Danbury tomorrow for the Democratic Town Committee's Unity Rally.  The event outside City Hall is from 9:30am to 11.  Also in attendance will be State Representatives Raghib Allie-Brennan, Ken Gucker, Dave Arconti, and Bob Godfrey.  All Danbury residents are invited to attend.

 

 

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Bridgewater Fall Bulky Drop-off Day underway

In Bridgewater, the Fall Bulky Drop-off Day is underway.  Large dumpsters will be at the Town Garage on Hut Hill Road, where Bridgewater residents may drop off bulky household items through Friday from 7:30AM to 3PM, and on Saturday Oct 23 from 9AM to 12:30 PM.  No household garbage, hazardous waste, construction debris, or concrete will be accepted.  Several items are accepted year round at the Town Garage and should not be put out for pickup, such as tires, appliances and electronics.  Bridgewater residents may bring those items to the garage.  Tires are accepted for a fee.  One free pickup truck load or two carloads per household is being provided. Additional pickup loads will cost $25 per household.  1-3 ton truckloads will cost $50 per additional load, with a maximum of 3 total loads per household.

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New Milford Mayor challenged by descendant of one of town's founding families

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is seeking a 3rd term in office.  The Republican is being challenged by Democrat Ted Hine.

Bass is looking to continue some long term projects and keep moving New Milford Forward. Bass is touting the completion of 62 miles of road paving, nearing the completion of the library renovation and expansion project, and that crime is down again.  He notes that New Milford has saved millions on health insurance and the town is working on school roof replacements.  He's most proud of riverfront revitalization.  Young's Field will remain a greenspace, but Bass says there will be an expanded skate park, tennis court, playgrounds, and a bandshell.  A proposed splash pad will double as an ice skating rink.

Hine is a lifelong resident and comes from one of the oldest families in the town.  Hine worked GE Capital before retiring in 2018 and served on several nonprofit boards.  He says a lot of industry has been lost in the town over the years and New Milford has an aging population.  He wants to take on affordable housing issues, update zoning regulations and improve broadband infrastructure.

When it comes to the continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Hine says he wants to look at the analysis from the Long-term Recovery Commitee, which was required by the state of every municipality.  Bass sees a continued need to hold vaccine clinics in the near-term.  He's proud of the 72-percent vaccination rate among town residents.  The town is looking into how to spend the federal American Rescue Plan Act allocation New Milford received.  Some of that money has been approved.  Bass says money went to a business loans and grants program, foreclosure rental assistance, funding for nonprofit and arts organization, and new refrigeration for the Food Bank.  The Town Council also approved fire packs for the Fire Marshal, software to tie in all fire departments, an electronic speed sign and a police deescalation simulator--one of the first in the area to offer that technology.  New Milford also created new position of Family Crisis Domestric Violence Advocate, one of the first in the state.

Hine says traffic around New Milford is an issue and should be addressed through a Master Plan.  Bass says sidewalks will be installed along Route 7, down from Canterbury School to downtown, Grove Street and Route 202.  When streets flooded after Hurricane Ida, Hine said it showed the need for a plan to address the long standing issue.  Bass says he's worked with First Light to drawdown the Housatonic River before storms hit so they can take a proactive approach to prevent flooding before it happens.

Bass says he's waiting on the Zoning Commision to weigh in on where cannabis facilities could be located, if the Town Council chooses to go that route, but they are also looking at an ordinance to prohibit recreational use on town property.  Hine called it a prudent action that the Town Council prohibited the use of marijuana on town property, but was shocked to find out that the town hasn't restricted tobacco smoking on town property.

When Bass first ran for office, he was critical of the proposed cost to John Pettibone School into a Community Center being very different than initial estimates.  He notes that there's a lot of use there now, and has been helpful as a vaccination site.  He wants to look at what the future of the clinic will look like and if it will be a long-term use.  Hine says he supports the designation remaining.  He says it proved a critical resource to getting through the current public health crisis. He notes that moving Social Services, Parks & Rec and other departments into a centralized locations, they were able to better serve New Milford.  He wants the town to start maintaining the property properly and called for an oversight committee to figure out how to finish the build out and fill the empty space.  Hine called for a plan for the future of East Street School.  Bass says the Board of Ed administration building is still East Street, and the town is waiting for them to turn it back over to the town.

Hine says town employees are telling him that they're voices aren't being heard and are afraid to speak out.  With his corporate experience, Hine says he would listen to employees because they know what the issues are, and what the solutions are.  Bass says he's proud of how town employees have risen to the occasion of serving the public throughout the pandemic. 

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New Milford moves into state Red Zone for COVID-19 community spread

Danbury's COVID-19 test positivity rate has held relatively steady since the last reporting period and is at 1.8 percent.  76 cases have been reported to the state between October 3rd and 16th.  That's 6.4 cases per 100,000 population. 

New Milford has moved up into the Red Zone when it comes to the state Department of Public Health's levels of COVID-19 community spread with 16.5 cases per 100,000 population.

Newtown remains in the Orange Zone for having between 10 and 14 cases per 100.000.  There were 45 cases reported in the last two weeks.  Redding moved up to Orange from Yellow, with 13.3 cases per 100,000.  Ridgefield dropped down into the yellow zone with 8 cases per 100,000. 

Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, and Wilton are all in the Yellow zone with 5 to 9 cases per 100-thousand.  Sherman, Kent and the Region 12 towns are in the grey zone, for having fewer than 5 cases over the last two weeks reported. 

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U.S. Senate considers Conn. appropriations funding

Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal are touting the inclusion of nearly $95 million for Connecticut in six bills posted by the Senate Appropriations Committee. These bills are not yet final, and funding will only be made available when these appropriations bills are passed by Congress and signed into law. 

Among the items that could be funded are two waste water treatment projects in Bethel using $2.24 million.  Some $1.72 million has been earmarked for low-income senior housing renovations at Butter Brook Apartments in New Milford.  The Wilton public safety communication system could use $983,000 for upgrades.

Several non-profit organizations would get funding, including $650,000 for Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, $1.2 million for the United Way of Western CT to serve low-income families, $50,000 for the Danbury-based American Dream Foundation to serve meals to low-income seniors and $48,000 for Oddfellows Community Playhouse Youth Theater, serving at-risk youth in New Milford.

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National Drug Take Back Day is Saturday

National Drug Take Back Day is Saturday.  The Danbury Police Department is participating from 10am to 2pm. A drop box is located in the front lobby. Drop boxes are also located in the Bethel and Brookfield Police Departments.  Police urge people to scratch out all identifying information on the prescription drug container to make it unreadable, to protect identity and privacy of personal health information. Over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, medication samples, medications for household pets, medicated lotions or ointments are all being accepted.  Items not being accepted include needles or other sharps, hazardous waste, thermometers, and personal care products.

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Former Danbury man sentenced for ID theft, fraud scheme

A former Danbury man has been sentenced for a scheme to use stolen identities to lease and purchase 13 vehicles and motorcycles.  57-year old Domingo St Hilaire Rosario was ordered to 65 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay nearly $204,000 in restitution. 

Rosario and two others reportedly conspired to use stolen identities to obtain vehicles and motorcycles at dealerships in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey.  Rosario arranged for the purchase or lease in the name of an identity theft victim and then a co-conspirator impersonated the victim at the dealership to complete the paperwork, using fraudulent documents and photo ID he provided to them.  Rosario intended to sell or export the vehicles.

Some of the vehicles were recovered by law enforcement and returned to the dealers. 

Rosario was stopped by New Jersey State Police in 2018 driving a Chevrolet Silverado obtained through the scheme from dealership in Vernon, Connecticut.  After that encounter, he fled to the Dominican Republic.  He was extradited in May 2020, and is detained.

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Voter registration session scheduled in Bethel

The Bethel Registrars of Voters will hold a Registration Session in their office at the Municipal Center on October 26th.  The hours will be 9am to 8pm.  All mail-in voter registrations must be received or postmarked by this date. Online registration will remain open until 11:59pm on the 26th at govote.ct.gov.

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Danbury Health officials warn of Salmonella outbreak linked to onions

The Danbury Health Department is alerting residents to a large Salmonella outbreak in 37 states.  The CDC says it's been caused by fresh whole onions and urged everyone to throw away any unlabeled onions they have at home.  Four people in Connecticut have reported illness.  The alert says people should not eat, sell, or serve red, white, or yellow onions imported from Mexico and distributed across the U.S. by ProSource Inc. If it's unclear if an onion is from ProSource, people are encouraged not to buy or eat it.

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BHS student named an American Theatre Wing winner for songwriting

A Bethel High School Junior is among a dozen students to be named by the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Theatre Wing as a winner of the 2021 Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge.  Ethan Smith has been involved with music since he was four years old, when he began taking piano lessons.  He’s participated in many theatre productions in and out of Bethel, and started writing songs around 2018. 

His winning song was titled Some People Just Die. 

The song description says Ty, a Black young adult, sings to himself as he walks to the store late at night. Normally an optimistic person, Ty laments that he feels powerless to stop the injustices he sees. Now in its fifth year, the Challenge seeks to cultivate the next generation of musical theater songwriters from among the country’s high school students through mentorships with professional musical theater artists.

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Hayes testifies in support of Caring for Survivors Act

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes appeared before the Veterans Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee yesterday to advocate for her bipartisan bill, the Caring for Survivors Act of 2021.  She says the measure would ensure surviving spouses get the benefits their loved ones have earned. The bill expands eligibility and increases payments for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits for survivors.

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NY, Conn. police to host Rx Take Back Day sites

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is being held on October 23rd. Although Redding Police are not hosting an official DEA collection site at the police department, they always have a collection box for unused/expired prescriptions available to residents daily.

Easton Police will be among the departments taking part in the collection event next month.  Residents can drop off unused prescription and over the counter medication from 10am-2pm in the front loop at Samuel Staples Elementary School. 

The Prevention Council of Putnam is encouraging people to take part in a prescription drug take back day on Saturday.  A drive up collection event is being held at Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in Carmel on Saturday.  The Council says this is an easy way to dispose of unwanted or expired medications to keep them out of the hands of kids, and out of waterways. 

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Newtown Parks & Rec scarecrow contest underway

Newtown Parks and Recreation and Newtown Economic and Community Development are hosting their 2nd Annual Scarecrow Contest using Fairfield Hills lamp posts.  Individuals, families, businesses, sports teams and organizations are participating, for a fee, by building a unique scarecrow.  They can be placed on the lamp posts through Monday.  The community will then vote next week on their favorite.  A winner of the family pool/beach membership will be announced on the 30th.

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Danbury Fraternal Order of Police makes endorsement in Mayoral race

The Danbury Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed Republican Dean Esposito to be the next Mayor of Danbury. This is the first time the organization has made an endorsement in a Danbury Mayoral campaign.  Esposito has served as Chief of Staff to former Mayor Mark Bought and is currently serving in the same role under Joe Cavo.  Danbury has consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in Connecticut over the years.  In a written statement on the endorsement, Esposito says he'll ensure Danbury Police are equipped with the training and technology required to serve and protect the Danbury community.  He is one of the two candidates vying for the City's top spot.  Democrat Robert Alves is also seeking the open seat.

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Danbury officials look into regulations to prohibit ATVs on City property

A Danbury City Council Committee has been re-established to look into laws about prohibiting All Terraine Vehicles on City property.  The issue was proposed in August 2016.  Mayor Joe Cavo says the committee waited for direction and never got off the ground, but this was one of the issues he wanted to see addressed when he took office at the end of 2020. 

The Common Council adopted provisions in 2003 dealing with ATVs to prevent damage to parks and public property.  In 2016, the General Assembly passed a bill giving municipalities expanded ability to regulate dirt bikes and mini-motorcycles.  Under the proposal in the City at that time, violations could result in a $1,000 fine for a first offense, $1,500 for a second violation and $2,000 for third and subsequent violations. Any ATV would also be subject to seizure and forfeiture to the City. 

Police Sgt. Mike Sturdevant told the committee at their meeting Monday that he reviewed of the call management system and found that between September 1st and October 14th, 47 incidents were document.  That accounted for both resident complaints and issues spotted by officers.  He says dealing with ATVs consume a lot of police efforts.  He notes that Rogers Park is a big problem area. 

Sturdevant added that officers are limited in their ability to stop users because of the state pursuit policy.  They can not pursue ATVs.  Sturdevant says the users know that and taunt the officers.  They can track these vehicles to where they are parked, including at gas stations. 

He's meeting with New Haven officials today to address this issue because that City recently adopted legislation and says it's working well.

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Redding Planning & Zoning take no action on proposed Blight Ordinance

There's been a stall on the proposed Redding Blight Ordinance. The Redding Planning and Zoning Commission declined to recommend back to the Selectmen and declined to move the blight ordinance forward as written.  That decision followed a two hour discussion with residents on the proposal.  The Redding Board of Selectmen will not take the matter back up before next month's election.  The health Director or Officer would be among those allowed to determine that the condition of the building, structure or parcel of land poses a serious or immediate danger to the safety, health or general welfare of the community.  The Blight Prevention Board and the Building Official would also be authorized.

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DanburyWORKS to host Job Fair

DanburyWORKS is hosting a Job Fair next week.  It's open to Greater Danbury area residents and will take place on Wednesday from 4pm to 7pm at the Danury Police Department Community Room.  The organization says this is an opportunity for those who are unemployed or looking to make a career change, to learn about various local employment opportunities. 

The Community Action Agency of Western Connecticut, Danbury Police, Danbury Public Schools, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, Nuvance Health, Salvation Army, Starbucks, United Way of Western Connecticut, and WERACE will be on hand for the open house event.

Those in attendance are encouraged to bring a resume. DanburyWORKS is a community collaborative focused on improving the economic health of low-income families in the greater Danbury area.

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Bethel officials ask for more details on fire equipment needs

The Bethel Board of Finance has taken up discussion about funding to purchase the Stony Hill Fire Department Quint Apparatus.  The compact apparatus has the equipment capability of a ladder truck and the water-pumping ability of a fire engine.  Additional information was needed to determine if the town capital non-recurring fund has a sufficient balance, or if the town will need to borrow.  They asked the Fire Commission assess the near term capital needs and priorities of the fire departments so the Board of Finance can make a fully informed and prudent financial determination. The commission was established earlier this year.   Board members say a typical long term apparatus replacement plan would be helpful in making this financial determination.

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Application for drive-thru near exit 10 denied

An application for a drive-thru in Newtown has been denied by the Planning and Zoning Commission.  The applicant was looking to make changes to the Mobil gas station/convenience store on Church Hill Road near Exit 10, so a Dunkin Donuts could have had a drive thru.  They ultimately decided the proposed text amendment change was too broad.  Three public hearings were held on the matter.  The proposal included Department of Transportation specifications that called for a “Do Not Enter” sign at the exit facing the road and a “Left Turn Only sign.” A request was made to have more than the minimum parking requirements.  Attorneys for the applicant noted tat the 11 designated parking spaces would have been enough for staff and patrons.  Drive-thrus are allowed in the Exit 10 overlay zone.  Commission members argued that a Dunkin Donuts drive thru would be another business within the Mobil convenience store and that regulations prohibit a second use.

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Ridgefield Police participating in DEA Rx Take Back Day

The Ridgefield Police Department is participating in the prescription drug take-back initiative this weekend to promote the proper disposal of medications. Ridgefield Police say prescription drugs that languish in medicine cabinets create a public health and safety concern because they are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse.  On Saturday, from 10am to 2pm, unused and unwanted prescriptions and over-the-counter medications will be collected at the Ridgefield Police Department. The Drive-Thru Take Back will be set up. This service is free and completely anonymous. All collected medication will be taken to an incineration facility by Officers for destruction.  There is a drug take-back box located in the front lobby of Ridgefield Police Headquarters, available 24 hours a day/365 days of the year and is also completely anonymous.

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Box truck driver cited for multi-vehicle crash on Route 7

A teenage box truck driver has been cited for a crash that temporarily closed Route 7 in New Milford yesterday afternoon.  Police responded to a multi-vehicle collision near Still River Drive.  The 19-year old from Bridgeport traveled onto the northbound shoulder of Route 7 where he lost control and turned sharply across both lanes of travel, striking a northbound utility van.  The van was pushed into oncoming southbound traffic, hitting a pickup truck and minivan.  A first responder en route to another call, around 11:30, reported the accident.  The minivan driver was transported to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.  Route 7 was closed for about an hour and a half.  The crash remains under investigation.

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Filming of Netflix movie prompts rumours of search for fugitive in Kent

Kent Emergency Management officials are clearing up a report circulating online Monday of a possible search for a fugitive in Kent, in the area of the Appalachian Trail. There was no fugitive and no search.  It was a film crew producing an upcoming Netflix movie.  Law enforcement was in the area for traffic control.  Kent officials say there is no reason for alarm, but do remind residents to stay vigilant and if something seems suspicious, to call 911.

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Sherman firefighters respond to smoke, CO alarm

Elevated levels of carbon monoxide were found in a Sherman home yesterday morning when firefighters responded to a report of smoke in the house and an odor of gas.  Sherman Volunteer Fire Department arrived around 9:30am and determined that the smoke and CO were coming from a flue pipe that was separated from the furnace and the chimney. 

New Fairfield firefighters helped to ventilate the home using a high powered fan. 

The residents reported being woken up by the smoke detector around 2 am, but couldn't see a fire and didn't get cell service so they decided not to call 911 and returned to sleep.   They woke up around 9am to a haze throughout the home and had black soot coming from their noses. 

All occupants were evaluated by EMS and declined transport to the hospital. 

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department is reminding residents to have their heating systems inspected annually prior to cold weather. 

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is a byproduct of combustion and high levels within a house can have deadly consequences.  Whenever a CO detector sounds, Fire officials say residents should immediately evacuate and call 911, no matter the time of day, because it's not a condition that can wait until morning.  

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DEEP provides update on Candlewood Lake Pumpout Boat usage

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Candlewood Lake Pumpout Boat removed 4,545 gallons of concentrated sewage waste from recreational vessels this summer.  DEEP thanked boaters for doing their part and using the pumpout vessel service to help keep Candlewood Lake clean and healthy.

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Mobile COVID-19 vaccine van in New Fairfield today, Saturday

The Griffin Health/state Department of Public Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be back to provide vaccinations in New Fairfield today at St. Edward's Church until 6:30pm and on Saturday in the New Fairfield 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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Hearing in Ridgefield on Waste Water Treatment Facility Decommissioning Project

A public hearing is being held in Ridgefield tonight about the Route 7 Pump Station, Force Main and Waste Water Treatment Facility Decommissioning Project.  The hearing will be followed by a Town Meeting. 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says consolidating the two wastewater treatment facilities will address the aging infrastructure in a cost effective way.  It will also help the town meeting new state Depratment of Energy and Environmental Protection permit requirements.  A pump station will be constructed at the existing Route 7 pump station, a 3-mile long pressure pipeline will also be built to convey the collected wastewater to the South Street plant. 

The project low bid was $8.3 million, about 40-percent higher than the estimated $5.8 million cost as a result of the impact of the pandemic on building materials, equipment, and labor.  The Ridgefield Water Pollution Control Authority worked to get the project funding gap down to $2.9 million dollars.  Ridgefield will use federal American Rescue Plan Act funding in lieu of increased sewer user charges or increasing the mill rate. 

The current low bidder’s bid holding period ends in November after which rebidding would likely be required.  Marconi notes that DEEP will provide between $900,000 and $1.5 million in grant funding. 

The hearing and meeting start at 7:30pm and will be held at Veterans Park Elementary School auditorium.

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Approval given to Target to add curbside pick up spaces, Starbucks, storage room

Target in Bethel has been given the OK to move forward with plans to increase the storage area for items people order online but pick up in store, add more curbside pick up parking spaces, and locate a Starbucks in a renovated snack bar area.  The Planning and Zoning Commission signed off on the maximum commercial floor area limitation changes. 

The Commission noted that the special permit will allow Target to go from the existing 613 parking spaces to 578. 

Partial in-store remodel, including renovation of existing accessory snack bar/cafe area, and 24 new  drive-up parking stalls were approved effective October 30th and 31st.

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.

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Brookfield, Danbury Police K9s part of online contest for financial grants

A company that specializes in Trauma Cleaning and Biohazard Removal is hosting an online contest to provide financial grants to Police K9s.  Aftermath has the police dogs listed by region, and Brookfield and Danbury are both listed in the Northeast Region.  Brookfield Police say their K9 Unit was nominated by Cornell Memorial Home & Brookfield Funeral Home for a grant, which would be used to fund training and equipment. People can vote online, multiple times, but only once per 24 hour period, through October 26th. Argo, handled by Sgt Jeff Osuch is a Belgian Malinois born in the USA.  He is 6 years old and has been serving as a Brookfield police K9 since 2016.  Major, handled by Officer Joe Kyek, was born in the Slovak Republic and is also 6 years old.  Major joined the Brookfield Police Department in November of 2017.

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month being marked in Redding Thursday

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is being marked in Redding on Thursday.  A small ceremony will be held in the gazebo on the Redding Town Green at 9:45am Thursday.  There will be brief remarks and the reading of a proclamation by the First Selectwoman.  Those in attendance are being asked to wear purple in honor of the day.  Purple Thursday is a national day of action each October to raise awareness about domestic violence and a way for people to show their commitment to promoting healthy relationships. 

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Concerns raised in New Milford over absentee ballot applications

Concerns are being raised in New Milford over absentee ballot applications with a scanned signature of a Democratic Town Committee member.  The Newstimes reports that Joe Baker checked with the Town Clerk’s Office and was told with his reproduced signature was acceptable.  According to state statute, anyone who helps a voter fill out the application is required to provide a ‘wet’ or handwritten signature.  He sent out 5-thousand applications.  A spokesperson for the Secretary of the State's Office says there was a miscommunication with a contractor.  In a letter to the State Elections Enfrocement Commission, it was explained that imprecise language led campaigns to believe that it was permissible to use a reproduced signature.  Any Connecticut resident may vote by absentee ballot again this year citing the pandemic as the excuse.  Connecticut doesn't have no-excuse absentee voting.

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DOT starts Exit 11 improvements

The state Department of Transportation this week started work on a project to improve traffic in Newtown in the area of exit 11.  The proposed improvements on the highway ramps and on Route 34 at Wasserman Way and at Toddy Hill Road will also improve safety by providing auxiliary turning lanes, realign intersections, create better sight lines and add sidewalks.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says that's important for students who walk to the nearby High School.  Route 34 will be widened to accommodate a westbound bypass width shoulder for the high school driveway.  Sidewalks are also  proposed in the area by the commuter lot.  The 25 million dollar project is expected to take 2-and-a-half years to complete. 

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Ridgefield awarded grant for food scrap collection, composting

The State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the RecycleCT Foundation have awarded grants to municipalities and organizations.  This is the first year of the Lee Sawyer Community Waste Reduction & Recycling Grant program, which supports waste reduction and reuse in addition to recycling and composting efforts.  33 applications were received. 

Among those awarded funding is the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority.  $14,250 will be used by Ridgefield to expand the town's food scrap collection, composting-on site at the transfer station, educating residents on home composting, and creating options for residents seeking to divert food scraps.  Easton has been awarded $3,190 for printing to provide recycling education.

The grant program is intended to fund projects that reduce or eliminate solid waste at its source, promote sustainable reuse of existing materials, promote recycling of materials not currently being captured, or increase diversion of Connecticut’s mandatory and non-mandatory recyclables and organics from incineration or landfill. Projects should help communities build lasting capacity to either reduce waste, reuse/divert materials from the waste stream, or increase public awareness of waste reduction and recycling. 

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Newtown Police to participate in DEA Drug Takeback Day

The Newtown Police Department and other law enforcement agencies nationwide are partnering with the DEA for the annual Drug Take Back Day on Saturday.  Residents can bring their expired, unwanted,and unused prescription medications to the Newtown Police Department at 191 South Main Street Saturday from 10am to 2pm. 

They will collect tablets, capsules, patches and other solid forms of prescription drugs. Liquids (including intravenous solutions), syringes, and other sharps, and illegal drugs will not be accepted. This service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

The Drug Take Back Days are conducted twice a year in April and October.

The Newtown Police Department currently does not have a Drug Drop Box in their lobby. Since July 2018, pharmacies in Connecticut have been authorized to dispose of prescription medications. Some pharmacies in Connecticut have installed Drug Drop Boxes. Currently no Newtown pharmacies have Drug Drop Boxes but the local pharmacies will assist customers with the safe disposal of medications.

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Congresswoman meets with domestic violence victim advocates

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes recently met with the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  They talked about how Congress can support efforts to educate, raise awareness and provide support to those affected by domestic violence.  She noted that survivors shared stories of how access to services during a crisis was critical to begin the healing process and rebuild their lives.

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Monroe firefighter training drill involves smoke machine

Monroe residents are being alerted to firefighter training that may result in smoke.  The volunteers were out last night on Monroe Turnpike training at a residential home near a gas station.  They were not training with live fire, but use theatrical smoke from a machine.  Any glow that's seen during training is caused by a flare, flashlight, or other light source as a marker for the  simulated fire.

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Debris, sediment removed from Still River at West Street to alleviate flooding

Work is being done to remove debris and sediment from two areas in Danbury where there is routine flooding.  Following Tropical Storm Ida, the Department of Public Works updated their plans with the state Department of Transportation.  The Construction Services team, with an on-call bridge consultant, inspected the two critical bridges at West Street and Eagle Road once the flood stage receded. 

They worked with the City Engineer to start an emergency plan to remove debris and sediment impacting West Street.  Dead trees fall into the river and cause a blockage, so some trees still standing were taken down as a preventative move. 

Crews tried to make additional capacity in the brook by removing 550 yards of material.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says there's a dam which controls the water elevation to that bridge.  He says lowering the water level by removing sediment didn't make much of a difference because it's totally controlled by the dam. 

The West Street bridge was built in 1925 and Iadarola says probably due for a complete replacement at some point. 

There's a steel plate in the sidewalk, which was installed as the City tries to figure out how to keep the river from coming up over the roadway.  Iadarola says he thinks they have a solution, but didn't elaborate.  They will continue looking at other bridge structures impacted by Ida flooding. Construction Services is performing the work using in-house resources. 

Next up will be work to try to alleviate flooding at Shelter Rock and Eagle roads.

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Hearing continued into proposed mixed use development at former Stony Hill Inn property

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission is considering an application for a mixed use development at the former Stony Hill Inn property.  At their meeting last week, members continued a public hearing into plans from Upstream Properties LLC to build residential and commercial buildings between the Copper Square townhouses and Mountain Laurel Plaza. 

This is part of a proposed new overlay district option, which could be applicable to the Route 6 business zone.  The proposed zoning change would increase permissible residential unit density. 10 units per acre are currently allowed on parcels at least 5 acres in size, but the proposed change would allow up to 20 units.

3 apartment buildings, two 5,000-square-foot commercial buildings and a pocket park are part of the proposal from Upstream Properties being called Grand Stony Hill Village.

The public hearing on Upstream Properties’ application will continue during the commission’s next meeting a week from today.

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Excavation work starts Newtown at site of Sandy Hook Permenant Memorial

Excavation work has started in Newtown at the site of the Sandy Hook Permenant Memorial. The Public Building and Site Commission received an update at their last meeting from the Construction manager.  Tree clearing, erosion control and installation of a temporary fence and PVC pipe started as well.  Excavation was done for the water feature.  The rebar and concrete is the next step. 

Crews are working with Eversource on the location of a transformer.  Aquarion is bringing a water line down Riverside Road.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says it would have been more expensive to use the nearest line to the firehouse because they would have had to wait for Eversource approvals for electrical at the right of way. 

Lighting was also discussed.  There will be up lighting on the central Sycamore tree, and general lighting at the main water feature. 

A permanent entry gate that can be closed and locked was added.  The site, like Newtown town parks, will be closed after dusk and in winters, after the 12-14 anniversary. 

The Commission approved $3,839 for a permanent entry gate, $77,324 for concrete unit pavers, a $59,830 reduction for reduced site lighting of Bollard lights, $16,121 for a new water line connection and $16,389 for a new electrical line.  According to an update from SWA, a donation of granite cobblestone pavers could replace the currently planned concrete pavers in the loop around the water feature.

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Brookfield High School Principal taking temporary leave of absence

The Brookfield High School Principal is taking a temporary leave of absence.  In an email to parents yesterday, Marc Balanda said the leave would be effective immediately, for personal reasons.  The assistant principal will serve as acting principal during Balanda’s time off.  Balanda has served as principal since 2015, and previously served as assistant principal at New Milford High School.  Superintendent John Barile notes that the leave of absence was not disciplinary in nature.

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Meet the Candidates forum to be hosted by Brookfield Youth Commission

A Meet the Candidates forum is being held tonight by the Brookfield Youth Commission.  The event will feature candidates for First Selectman, Selectman, Board of Finance, and Board of Education. The event is at 7pm in the Brookfield High School auditorium.  All attendees are required to wear a face mask and will socially distance by sitting in alternating rows.

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Ridgefield School District COVID-19 testing program to start next week

The Ridgefield School District COVID-19 testing program will start on Monday and continue on Tuesday.  The voluntary screening program will include 400 families who have opted-in.  The state Departments of Education and Health are offering the screenings using federal funds.  Each district is assigned a vendor for the weekly testing.   Transformative Healthcare will visit each Ridgefield school.  The program is designed for children who are ineligible to receive the vaccine due to age, so it's only open to pre-K through 6th graders.  The goal is to catch positive cases before school-based transmission. Parents must sign a consent form and the vendor will notify the district and the child’s parents via text and email of a positive test.

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Complaint filed against Brookfield staff member associated with the High School Cheer Team

A complaint has been filed by a Brookfield parent, claiming some children were subjected to mental and emotional abuse by a school staff member.  Brookfield Superintendent John Barile released a statement noting that a complaint was received about a staff member associated with the Brookfield High School Cheer Team concerning student well-being.  Barile said the district launched an investigation and take all such allegations seriously.  Witnesses are being interviewed this week.

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Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company looking to recruit new members

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says their recruitment lawn signs are being removed from their spots and carelessly tossed around.  The all volunteer organization has been going out on more calls as the town of Bethel grows, so they're looking for new members to help the department grow as well. No experience is necessary and all training is provided. Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says they can take members as young as age 16, calling it an opportunity for high school students who need community service hours, and those looking to go into the medical field upon graduation.

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Redding Police to host Halloween Decoration Contest

The Redding Police Department has noticed some spooky decorations around town and decided to host a Halloween Decoration Contest on their new Instagram page.  Any Redding resident can send them a direct message and include a picture of the decorations, by 3pm on the 25th.  Redding Police will post all photos submitted and allow voting through the comment section until the 30th.  The winner will be announced at 3 PM on Halloween.  The winner will receive a $25 gift card to Pignone's Redding Ridge Market.

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Two area police departments swear in new officers

The Newtown Police Department has a new officer on the job.  Barry Hyvarinen was sworn in on Friday.  The 30 year old spent the last six years as a patrol officer in his home city, Fitchburg, Massachusetts. He was a Field Training Officer in his previous department.  Over the next few months Officer Hvyarinen will attend an accelerated lateral police certification course, and then an internal field training program before being cleared for patrol.

The Ridgefield Police Department has welcomed a new officer. Garrett Vasquez of Danbury was sworn in Friday at a ceremony held at police headquarters. Officer Vasquez is a lateral transfer from the Bethel Police Department.  He has started his Field Training Program, which will continue for the coming weeks.

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Danbury Schools welcome two new leaders for Finance Department

Danbury Public Schools has appointed two new members to head its Finance Department. John Spang is the district’s Chief Financial Officer while Eduardo Miranda leads as Deputy Director. Spang is the former Director of Finance and School Business Operations for the Town of Preston and Preston Public Schools. Miranda is a former Associate Dean of Campus Administration at Capital Community College in Hartford.

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Volunteers at Tarrywile Park recognized by state lawmakers

Volunteers who have helped with maintenance at Tarrywile Park have been honored by the state legislative delegation.  Danbury state Representative Ken Gucker says proclamations were issued in recognition of 25 years of volunteer service by 4 Winds Farm.  There have been over 90-thousand visits to Tarrywile Park in the last year or so. 

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Pedestrian struck, injured in hit & run crash in Bethel

A pedestrian was hit by a vehicle in Bethel on Saturday night and police are searching for the driver. 

The crash happened shortly after 9:30pm near the Metro North railroad tracks.  Two pedestrians were crossing Greenwood Avenue from north to south when an eastbound vehicle struck the second pedestrian in the roadway. The pedestrian was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment.

Anyone who witnessed this crash is asked to contact Bethel Police. 

Bethel Police are also looking to identify the driver of a Budget Box truck. The vehicle was involved in a hit and run on October 8th on Grassy Plain Street at Mansfield Street.

 

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Brookfield lifts mask mandate for vaccinated people indoors in public places

Brookfield has lifted its mask mandate for vaccinated individuals indoors in public places.  The restriction was dropped effective over the weekend.  The case rate fell from 14.3 per 100,000 population to 9.3 cases two weeks later.  The infection rate two weeks ago was 3.6 percent, but as of Thursday was down to 2-percent.  The rescinding of the mask mandate doesn't change other rules that the Governor has put in place. The unvaccinated must still wear masks in public places, and the rule for masking in schools has not changed.

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Monument to be dedicated in Danbury to Beirut/Lebanon Veterans

A memorial monument is being dedicated in Danbury to Beirut/Lebanon Veterans.  State Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi, the Danbury Veterans Council and Danbury Veterans Affairs Office  Director Danny Hayes will hold a dedication ceremony on October 23rd at 11am in front of the Danbury War Memorial building.  The ceremony is being held on the 38th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut which killed 220 U.S. Marines, 18 U.S. Navy Sailors and 3 U.S.  Soldiers.  Another 183 U.S. Service personnel were wounded in the attack.  The Beirut Veterans Memorial is inscribed with the names of the 8 Connecticut residents killed in bombing and two service members who lost their lives in Lebanon in 1958 and 1985.

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Bethel officials sign off on police software system upgrades

The Bethel Board of Finance has approved $125,500 for the police department so they can upgrade computer-aided dispatch and records management system software.  With the current system, which is about 15 years old, officers can only write accident reports up at the station.  The Board of Selectmen previously signed off on the request.  Bethel is the only police department in the Northeast to use this vendor, so they're looking to use NexGen, which nearly every other Connecticut municipality uses.  System upgrades are done automatically and free as part of the service agreement.  Bethel Police currently hand write tickets and mail it to the state to be included in the computer system, but with the new software, an e-ticket can be generated at the scene.  This will also meet a new state requirement going into effect. A town meeting is not be required for the funding because it was included in the capital budget approved by residents in the last budget referendum.

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BBethel residents will be asked to approve more Parks & Rec funding

The Bethel Parks and Rec Department is seeing an increased demand for programming this year compared to last year.  The Board of Finacne last week signed off on 100-thousand dollars for the department to bolster enrollment.  That was the same amount that the Board of Finance cut ahead of a budget being approved this year.  That move was made because services weren't rendered during the pandemic, with the caveat that the funding would be found if demand for services was at pre-pandemic levels.  A town meeting will need to be held for residents to approve the $100,000 for the Parks and Recreation programming budget.

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Newtown Police step up efforts to stop distracted drivers

Throughout this month Newtown Police have been increasing efforts to cut down on distracted driving.  This coincides with an increase in fines for texting and driving in Connecticut.  The first violation is now $200, a second offense will result in a $375 fine and third or subsequent violations will cost $625.  The fines increased by $50, $75 and $125 respectively.  Over the past decade, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on the nation’s roads. Newtown Police Sgt Jeff Silver says people make a conscious decision when they pick up their phones while driving and they are putting lives in danger.  He added that there are enough distractions and dangers while driving, calling it irresponsible to be introducing more by choice. 

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Danbury Schools realize $2.8 million surplus

The Danbury Public School District is sending about 2-percent of their budget back into the City's reserve fund.  The district saved about $2.8 million, in part because of remote learning, but also due to lower insurance costs.  The schools can used that money as a contingency for technology, special education, and insurance if needed. 

Superintendent Kevin Walston says fewer staff members went to medical appointments during the pandemic, which resulted in $3.4 million of the line item not being used.  Transportation costs were down in the 19-20 and 20-21 school years because field trips, after school activities and sporting events didn't happen.  That totaled about $630,000. 

Special education costs for out-of-district placements saved Danbury about $340,000.  Fewer substitute teachers were needed because of hybrid and remote instruction, coupled with a statewide substitute shortage, which led to $483,000 remaining in that line item. 

But it wasn't all savings. 

When Danbury moved remote, an additional $520,000 was needed for technology that the district hasn't budgeted for.  Some grants were awarded to offset the costs.  Due to increased cleaning of the school buildings, custodial salaries went over budget by more than $244,000.

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Local lawmaker tours DOT construction site in Newtown

A local lawmaker has toured a DOT construction site in Newtown.  State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan visited the Rochambeau Bridge project site. Construction is slated to be completed at the end of 2023.  The bridges carrying I-84 over the Housatonic River were found to be structurally deficient and had a non-redundant design. Allie-Brennan says that means if one component fails, the entire bridge would be subject to fail. The new bridges are based on current design standards where redundancy is built in to prevent failure of the entire structure. The crossing was dedicated in 1954 to the French General Rochambeau, who crossed the Housatonic while leading the French army en route to Victory at Yorktown - the last major battle of the American revolution.

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Sherman Senior Center marks Fire Prevention Month

October is fire prevention month.  The Sherman Senior Center hosted the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department, the Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Resident Trooper’s Office as part of a safety presentation this week.  Firefighters discussed the importance of maintaining fire safety vigilance, including changing smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries twice a year and ensuring they are in working order by pressing the test button.  The volunteers will provide assistance to any senior or disabled resident in Sherman, by appointment.

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Bridgewater First Selectman opposes scenic road designation

A virtual information session has been held about a state Department of Transportation proposal to designate part of Route 133 as a scenic road.  Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read opposes the plan because of a lack of public input, loss of local control and increased tourist traffic.  Read acknowledged that the road is a state route, but it's resident and town owned property that make it scenic. The proposal would extend from Brookfield, across the Lake Lillinonah bridge and past the boat launch, north through Bridgewater.  The designation would include the fairgrounds and downtown of the Village Center.  The designation would then cross to Route 67 in New Milford, across Veterans’ Bridge on Route 202.

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Greater Danbury area has low COVID-19 infection rate

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel's rate has held steady from last week at 2.2-percent.  Brookfield's rate went up a fraction to to 2-percent.

Danbury has 5.7 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, with a positivity rate of 1.5-percent.  Redding's current case rate per 100,000 is 7.8 and the positivity rate is 2.1 percent.  Each municipality lifted the mask mandate for vaccinated individuals in indoor public places as of today.

New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rate declined a fraction from last week to 2.5-percent.  New Milford's rate increased more than a percentage point to 3.7 percent.  Ridgefield's infection rate ticked down a bit to 2. 3 percent. 

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Public Information Session in Ridgefield on construction at sewer plant

A Public Information Session is being held in Ridgefield tomorrow about construction at the sewer plant.  There's a proposal to use some American Rescue Plan Act funds to partially fund the construction of a sewer forced main from Route 7 District two to South Street District one sewer plant.  The allocation would be about $2.9 million.  The information meeting hosted by the Water Pollution Control Authoruity is tomorrow at 10am in the large conference room at Ridgefield Town Hall.

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Some Danbury school staff placed on leave

15 or 16 Danbury Public School District employees have been placed on unpaid administrative leave for not being in compliance with a vaccine mandate.  The announcement at the Board of Ed meeting this week also noted that the majority of school staff have met the Governor's mandate that all educators be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or test weekly.  About 90-percent are vaccinated.  170 employees are tested weekly, with no positive cases reported this week.  District officials say the number of those getting tested will decrease as more staffers get a second dose of a vaccine. 

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Danbury drops mask mandate, Mayor warns it could return

Danbury is lifting the mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals indoors in public places, effective Friday.  Mayor Joe Cavo says the City is in a place where the requirement can be relaxed, but noted that if cases start to rise again it could be reinstated. 

Cavo says he's certain by masking up two months ago had a huge impact on keeping the caseload down.  He added that the biggest prevention tool is for people to get vaccinated, adding that the percentage is continuing to climb though not as quickly as he'd like it to. 

Cavo thanked residents for their cooperation in masking up, acknowledging that it wasn't easy for everyone to comply. 

Danbury establishment can continue the use of masks and facial coverings, on their own, for staff and visitors.  He notes that if requested, the City Health Department will be available to assist in facilitating an implementation plan.  He reiterated his support of the choice of fully vaccinated residents and visitors who want to continue wearing a mask in public settings where they might feel at-risk or cannot social distance themselves.  

Danbury Public Schools and private schools in Danbury are not subject to City regulations, but rather state rules. Masks are required in schools under an order from the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health outlining conditions and environments subject to the exemption provided in Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 12A. The order also requires healthcare facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, and childcare settings to require face-covering masks.

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Redding lifts mask mandate for the fully vaccinated

Redding has lifted the mask mandate for the fully vaccinated in indoor public places.  Health Officer Doug Hartline says the daily rate of COVID-19 cases has declined regionally and in Redding they have dropped below 10 per 100,000 for three weeks in a row.  The  current daily case rate is 7.8 per 100,000.  State mandates continue to require masks in schools and for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public spaces. Face coverings though are now optional for fully vaccinated individuals.  Hartline says it's still recommended that Redding residents, and especially for those at higher risk of severe COVID-19, continue mask wearing when indoors in public areas, and when distancing cannot be maintained.  He also asked for cooperation when visiting Redding establishments and locations that have chosen to maintain the full mask policy for the safety of their staff and customers.

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Danbury COVID-19 cases continue to decline

Danbury's COVID-19 test positivity rate has dropped again from the last reporting period to 1.5 percent from 1.8 percent.   68 cases have been reported to the state between September 26th and October 9th.  That's 5.7 cases per 100,000 population. 

Newtown remains in the Orange Zone when it comes to the state Department of Public Health's levels of COVID-19 community spread.  There were 50 cases reported in the last two weeks.  Ridgefield and New Milford are also in the orange zone with 37 and 55 cases.  Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, and Redding are all in the yellow zone with 5 to 9 cases per 100,000.  Sherman, Kent and the Region 12 towns are in the grey zone, for having fewer than 5 cases over the last two weeks reported.  40 of 169 municipalities are in the Red Zone, the highest level of cases.

A mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic is coming to Bethel today.  The State Department of Public Health-Griffin Hospital yellow minivan will be at Bethel High School Track and Field Center from noon to 2pm.  Walk-ins are welcome.  This clinic offers J & J, Moderna and Pfizer.

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Gun Buyback, Gun Safe Giveaway Day planned

A Connecticut Statewide Gun Buyback and Gun Safe Giveaway Day is being held in several locations this coming weekend, including in Newtown.  A group of public safety organizations are backing the events on Saturday at the Newtown Police Department from 10am to 2pm. 

The anonymous buy back does not require identification and no questions will be asked.  Guns must be transported to the buyback location in the trunk of the car.  Gift cards will be given to anyone who turns in an operable firearm.  Any ammunition must be delivered in a separate bag. 

A limited supply of biometric gun safes will be provided free of charge to those with a valid gun permit.  

All participants must wear a mask and comply with all social distancing guidelines.  Guilford Police, Hartford Police, Norwalk Police, and Waterbury Police are also participating. 

The groups include Newtown Action Alliance Foundation, Ethan Miller Song Foundation, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Saint Francis Hospital, Connecticut Against Gun Violence Education Fund, Swords to Plowshares Northeast, Wilton Quaker Meeting, Connecticut Violence Intervention Program, Mothers United Against Violence, and Tears for Triumph, Violent Crime Survivors.

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Nursing schools see applications rise, despite COVID burnout

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Nurses around the U.S. are getting burned out by the COVID-19 crisis and quitting, yet applications to nursing schools are rising, driven by what educators say are young people who see the global emergency as an opportunity and a challenge.

Among them is University of Connecticut sophomore Brianna Monte, a 19-year-old from Mahopac, New York, who had been considering majoring in education but decided on nursing after watching nurses care for her 84-year-grandmother, who was diagnosed last year with COVID-19 and also had cancer.

“They were switching out their protective gear in between every patient, running like crazy trying to make sure all of their patients were attended to,” she said. “I had that moment of clarity that made me want to jump right in to health care and join the workers on the front line.”

Nationally, enrollment in bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral nursing programs increased 5.6% in 2020 from the year before to just over 250,000 students, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Figures for the current 2021-22 school year won’t be available until January, but administrators say they have continued to see a spike in interest.

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New Milford Town Council signs off on repairs and upgrades to Reservior Dam

The New Milford Town Council has approved the use of some American Rescue Plan Act dollars.  Funding will be used to make repairs and upgrades to the Reservior Dam.  Public Works Director Jack Healy says with all the significant rains recently, he's noticed some sloughing.  The Reservoir property can be used for town water use, if needed, and is a destination for recreational use.  Once the renovations are completed, officials expect the dam to last another 50 to 100 years.  Some Council members though asked for information about tearing down the Dam and having the area without it.  The Department of Public Woks will provide that information at the next New Milford Town Council meeting.

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Grievance filed against Nuvance over vaccine exemption rejections

Just weeks after Nuvance Health issued a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, a class action complaint was filed against the system.  Hearst Connecticut Media reports that the grievance was filed over the denial of many religious exemption requests.  Connecticut Health Care Associates union represents about 16-hundred workers at Danbury, New Milford, and Norwalk hospitals.  The union claims Nuvance violated the non-discrimination clause of the employee contract.  Grievances, filed between the union and an employer, are considered class action if there are more than two employees involved.  There is no test out option to the vaccine mandate.  About 2-percent of Nuvance Health employees have been placed on unpaid suspension for not being in compliance with the vaccine mandate.  All medical staff, volunteers, students and contractors needed to get at least one dose by October 1st.  Nuvance also operates Sharon, Putnam and Northern Dutchess Hospitals and Vassar Brothers Medical Center.

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Danbury to lift indoor mask mandate for the vaccinated

Danbury is lifting the mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals indoors in public places, effective tomorrow.  Mayor Joe Cavo says Danbury establishment can continue the use of masks and facial coverings, on their own, for staff and visitors.  He notes that if requested, the City Health Department will be available to assist in facilitating an implementation plan.  He reiterated his support of the choice of fully vaccinated residents and visitors who want to continue wearing a mask in public settings where they might feel at-risk or cannot social distance themselves.

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Lions Club dedicates Rowan Street Playground

The Danbury Lions Club has dedicated a playground in the City.  The Lions Club Rowan Street Playground was rededicated last month to the many members of the club whose perseverance, spirit and foresight initiated the playground projects.  This coincided with the 100th Anniversary of Lions Clubs International. 

Lions Club charities donated some trees and a sign.  

During the event there was food and entertainment, along with some speeches, including from Pastor Lewis of Mount Pleasant AME Zion Church on Rowan Street. 

The original Lions Playground located on Osborne Street was constructed as a community project in 1928.  It was operated by the Lions Club of Danbury until 1951 when the City assumed responsibility for it.  Danbury Hospital purchased the land and relocated the playground to Ellsworth Avenue in 2000 where it remained until 2005 when it was moved to its’ current location on Rowan Street.

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Nuvance facilities receive American Heart Association Quality Achievement Awards

Nuvance Health’s Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk and Vassar Brothers facilities have received American Heart Association Quality Achievement Awards.  They were recognized for implementing specific quality improvement measures to treat patients who suffer severe heart attacks and for their commitment to managing heart failure patients.

Danbury Hospital and its New Milford campus also received American Heart Association Get with the Guidelines awards. Danbury Hospital earned the Heart Failure Gold Plus with Honor Roll and New Milford received the Heart Failure Silver Plus with Honor Roll. Both facilities also received the Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll.  Danbury and Norwalk hospitals and Vassar Brothers Medical Center earned awards by meeting specific criteria and standards of performance for quick and appropriate treatment through emergency procedures to re-establish blood flow to blocked arteries in heart attack patients coming into the hospital directly or by transfer from another facility.  

Both Danbury Hospital and Vassar Brothers Medical Center earned the 2021 Mission: Lifeline Gold Plus STEMI Receiving Center Achievement Award and Norwalk Hospital the 2021 Mission: Lifeline Gold STEMI Receiving Center Achievement Award.

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Brookfield firefighters selling address signs to help with response to emergencies

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is hoping residents will take part in a new initiative to better identify addresses in town.  During an emergency, seconds count and fire company officials says the thing that helps most is being able to identify the house number quickly.  Large two sided reflective mailbox signs, which are customizable and assembled by Brookfield firefighters, are being sold through their website.  They are offering pick-up or delivery.

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Danbury Mayoral candidates face off in Chamber debate

There's an open race for Danbury Mayor for the first time in two decades.  Democratic City Councilman Roberto Alves and Republican Mayoral Chief of Staff Dean Esposito met in a virtual debate last night. 

Top priorities for managing the pandemic were addressed by each candidate.  Esposito says the City's Health Department has done a good job of establishing testing and vaccine sites.  He says it should be addressed on many fronts including economic and education.  Alves says there's been an impact on residents not only financially, but emotionally.  He also touted the job done by the Health Department.  Alves says allocating ARPA funds will be a way to manage the pandemic going forward.

Downtown Danbury and its future were also addressed.  Alves says the same ideas haven't been working to enhance CityCenter.  He says the perception of safety downtown needs to be addressed.  He's advocating for more community policing to get people more comfortable visiting the area.  Esposito touted the new sidewalks, lighting and beautification of downtown.  He's also advocating for enhancing the rail system to move people between Danbury and New York City.  Esposito says a facade grant program will help business owners to spruce up CityCenter.  He claims Alves voted against the sidewalk package.  Alves rebutted that his vote against the $62 million bond was due to a lack of details over which roads would be paved.

The candidates addressed the trend of Danbury being the fastest growing City in the state, and how to address responsible residential development. Esposito says workforce housing is key in the downtown area as a way to bring in more residents, without overburdening the school system.  Alves says Danbury doesn't have a problem encouraging developers to build housing, rather a problem keeping up with emergency services facilities and schools.  He says housing is here, but the City needs to give people something to do once they move to or live in Danbury. 

Each were asked about how they would promote commercial development growth.  Alves says at the end of the day it's about facilitating jobs and creating a task force of current businesses to figure out how to incentivize others to locate to Danbury.  Esposito says he would build on the work already under way.

Education funding has been a hot button issue in the City.  Esposito says giving a budget, within reason, to meet the needs of students is important, but the state needs to step up.  He says the educators are providing excellent services, but keeping a level budget each year is key.  Esposito again touted the idea of a public Charter School coming to the City.  Alves agreed that the state needs to do more, but acknowledged that Danbury is now getting $2.5 million more in PILOT funding, Payment In Lieu Of Taxes, because Danbury is an Alliance District.  Esposito noted that there is a surplus that was returned to the City, but Alves contended that it was because the students weren't in the buildings full time due to the pandemic.

Low crime rates and quality of life issues were discussed.  Alves says car thefts are up and there have been a few homicides and shootings that need to be addressed.  He wants more investment in after school programs and more resources for the police department.  Alves says FBI statistics show Danbury should have dozens of more officers.  He noted that an increase in the force would help them better address the proliferation of dirt bikes and ATVs, speeding issues and noise complaints.  Esposito says the Police Chief has indicated that the police force is adequate. 

Each was asked about what they hear from constituents about priorities for infrastructure investment.  Alves says there's the pothole issue, but also aging water mains.  He also wants to push the state to expedite the I-84 widening project.  Esposito says Danbury has taken great strides, including bridge repair.  He says each road needs to be evaluated to decide which should be paved each year.  Esosito agreed that the City needs to work with the state on I-84.

They took part in a lighting round and agreed on sports teams, Yankees and Jets, and that their favorite meal is any meal with family.  As for asked favorite drink, Alves likes sparkling water while Esposito said he likes water, but a Bud is good after a long day.  On pizza toppings, Alves said pepperoni and Esposito chose buffalo chicken.  Favorite vacation spot for Alves was the Cape while Esposito visits his son, who lives in St. Thomas.  Their favorite streaming shows were also different.  Esposito likes Law & Order and Alves said he's addicted to Ted Lasso.

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Danbury Police receive emergency kits for all three K9s

The Danbury Police Department has received emergency kits for all three K9s: Dirk, Cael, and Gunner.  The kits were put together by Liz Cavo, wife of Mayor Joe Cavo.  Each of the officers who handle the K9s now have these Trauma Kits, oxygen masks, and Narcan.  The kits provide components to treat life-threatening injuries in a tactical environment, away from veterinary care.  The items include a K9 tourniquet, muzzle, and other items.  Liz, who has a background as a trauma nurse, reached out to the Police Department to learn what resources were available for the dogs and then set out to create individual backpacks for each handler to keep on hand.

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Aquarion recognizes Steep Rock Association with Environmental Champion Award

Aquarion Water Company has announced the winners of its 2021 Environmental Champion Awards.  For over a decade, volunteers who are trying to preserve the state’s air, water, and wildlife communities have been recognized.  The nonprofit honored this year is Steep Rock Association in Washington Depot.  The nationally-accredited land trust was founded nearly a century ago.  The Steep Rock Association has preserved 5300 acres, helping to protect habitats for fish, plants, and wildlife, wetlands, and forests.  The organization also undertakes extensive scientific studies to improve their understanding of the protected lands’ ecology and inform their management decisions. In Steep Rock Preserve alone, the organization’s largest holding, they've completed six investigations specific to habitat types and 18 different studies of flora and fauna.  The findings are then applied to prioritize stewardship projects that will conserve natural resources, enhance habitat, protect wildlife, and promote biodiversity.

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COVID-19 testing available again in Kent

Free COVID-19 testing will once again be available at the Town of Kent Transfer Station.  The drive thru testing will be open to all, no appointment needed.  It is a PCR test, with results available in 24 to 48 hours.  Insurance is not required.  There will be a priority lane for First Responders.  Testing is done on Mondays and Thursday from 4pm to 7pm, until further notice.  The Kent Transfer Station is located on Maple Street.

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United Way seeks volunteers for Danbury food distribution

The United Way of Western Connecticut is in need of volunteers for the weekly food distribution in Danbury.  The drive thru food event has been going on for a couple of months now on Saturdays at the High School.  The initiative has distributed 128-thousand pounds of food to those in need since August.  This food distribution is not limited to Danbury residents. It is a free program and no registration or documentation is required.  The boxes are handed out from 10am to 1pm, but volunteers are also needed before and after the event.  Sign up can be done through the United Way website.

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Man sustains injuries at New Milford workplace

A man sustained injuries in a New Milford workplace Tuesday morning.  Police say the man suffered second-degree burns on his legs, lower chest and hands after his clothing caught fire outside of Neeltran Inc on Pickett District Road.  The employee was cleaning copper leads as part of making transformers.  The Fire Marshal says alcohol and water is used to clean the special coating on the copper end of the transformer, but it has to be heated very hot.  The man was transported to the Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital for treatment.

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Ribbon cut on medical marijuana facility in Danbury

The Botanist Danbury officially opened this morning. The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce cut the ribbon at the Mill Plain Road facility, former Compassionate Care Center of Connecticut.  The medical marijuana dispensary opened to patients at the end of September.  A zoning amendment allows only two dispensaries in Danbury.  Acreage Holdings relocated from the Stony Hill section of Bethel when they outgrew their space and is considering adding recreational marijuana, but Danbury has established a temporary moratorium on such sales.  There are 18 licensed dispensaries in Connecticut

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Healthy Danbury Day to take place this weekend

Healthy Danbury Day is being held on Saturday by the the Danbury Department of Health & Human Services.  The event will feature COVID-19 vaccines and testing.  Flu shots will also be administered, available at no cost to the patient.  The Health Day takes place at Rogers Park Middle School Saturday from 10am to 2pm.  No appointment is need for the drive-thru event.

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Scenic designation for Route 133 pursued

An informational meeting was held last night by the state Department of Transportation about adding a Scenic Road designation to Route 133.  Afer the virtual presentation, Bridgewater residents were invited to make comments and ask questions.  There are a many Properties along this route that have been listed on the National Register of Historical Places.

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Wilton Police to offer tours of HQ in bid for new building

Wilton Police are opening the police station for tours on Saturday.  The Police-Town Hall building Committee is hosting the tours as they study deficiencies and needs of police headquarters.  They are planning to recommend a new station in front of the current building.  The Board of Selectmen could then send the matter to the voters early next year.  The committee encouraged residents to take the tour to see the challenges first hand.  Tours on Saturday are 9am to noon.

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Three-way race for First Seletman in Brookfield

There's a three way race for First Selectman in Brookfield.  The candidates met for a debate late night hosted by the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce.  The event was livestreamed on the town's YouTube page, with no residents in attendance in person.

Democratic incumbent Steve Dunn is seeking a 4th term.  Republican Tara Carr is a political newcomer who served in the Army for 25 years.  The mother of four moved her family to Brookfield in 2019.  Petitioning candidate Austin Monteiro owned and ran a gym in Danbury for about 10 years and currently owns a coaching and consulting business.  He lives with a long term girlfriend and her two school-aged children.

The candidates were asked about development of the Four Corners area and what will the Town center District look like in five years.  Monteiro says the redevelopment project should not have been done in an area where the ground is contaminated, and around something more exciting than gas stations.  He called for more affordable housing, but in a better location.  Dunn says no matter how persuasive, elected officials can't tell developers when and how quickly they can build, but they can leverage zoning requirements for how they can develop.  He noted that it's a situation of the chicken and the egg, development will come once the streetscape project is complete.  Carr says the project has been a mess and a series of missed opportunities.  She opposes 8-30(g) affordable housing and thinks there shouldn't be development for the sake of development.  But Carr wants to see incentivized housing for seniors and places for families to downsize.

They also addressed the ongoing pandemic.  Dunn touted efforts to set up vaccination clinics.  He says sometimes tough decisions will have to be made, but the safety of the community was a priority, noting that he hopes to lift the mask mandate will be lifted soon.  Dunn noted that Brookfield has received 14 grants to address the pandemic, above and beyond ARPA funding.  Carr says there's been one death of a Connecticut child under the age of 9 and doesn't believe masking is necessary.  She says the ARPA money should be used now, not sitting in the bank.  Monteiro says there's a bigger health problem in the country and not being addressed-obesity and mental health.  He believes people should focus on building up their health to battle the next pandemic.

The candidates were asked how to improve library and police services.  Carr says she would prioritize a new police station.  She called the current facility inadequate and believes it's in a state of disrepair.  Carr noted that it lacks of facilities for female officers and needs better technology.  Monteiro has family ties to police in Danbury, and wants to focus on giving them more support.  He called for a task force with neighboring towns on car thefts, noting that his car was stolen in late August.  Dunn says the Board of Selectmen has funded new requests for police and fire over the years, including a temporary shed to house equipment.  Dunn doesn't believe in defunding the police, say it's not an answer to issues in Brookfield noting that the town doesn't have the problems that cities have.  He supports a new library facility and believes it was turned down because the town was also building a new school and didn't want to commit to two projects.  Dunn noted that Brookfield is applying for a grant to build an addition to for an Emergency Communications Center, but noted that there's a limit to how much debt any one town can take on before jeopardizing bond ratings.

Taxes and budgeting were addressed by the candidates.  Carr says the money in the budget reserve fund should go back to the taxpayers and believes tax increases are not needed.  She believes taxes will have to go up for four years because of the debt bubble and says her hands will be tied.  Monteiro says the First Selectman's salary is too high and he would return $30,000 to the budget reserve.  Dunn says the town has been able to get low interest rates on bond because of the fiscal management.

 

Other infrastructure projects were discussed. Monteiro says the town needs another cell tower.  Carr says she would look for efficiencies in road paving.  Dunn says when he took office they were paying $350,000 cash and $1.15 million in borrowing, but now it's 1.350 million cash and borrowing $150,000.

Blight was an issue.  Carr says there's 40 properties cited under a new ordinance in 6 years, but nothing has been done.  Monteiro says a homeless man is living in a house with no roof by the Four Corners and that needs to be addressed.  Dunn notes that the old blight rule only said health and safety issues could prompt change, but the new ordinance says if someone is lowering the value of a neighbor's property that's considered blight.  He notes that two properties have been condemned and ordered condemned.  One is by the bowling alley, one where a tree fell through it, the other is at 20 Station Road.

There were some areas of agreement, including about expanding the Still River Greenway and adding a skate park.

On the Greenway, Carr says it's a good recreational venue that will improve the health of residents.  But she says there should be a cohesive plan, which addresses easement issues.  She called the crisscrossing of Federal Road a safety issue.  Monteiro says it should be a community-based decision.  Dunn says he along with Danbury and New Milford have submitted a tri-town application for a grant being issued by the federal government.  But he notes there are condos that sit right along side the river making it a challenge to find a path forward.

Monteiro supports the idea of a skate park in town and wants to add a Little League field in town.  He added that exercise stations should be added to the Greenway.  Dunn backs the skate park idea, but says it would be difficult to build on wetlands so doesn't think it should go near the Greenway.  He added that Brookfield needs more recreational opportunities and a community center.  He's suggested that the old Center School be used for a library and Parks & Rec.  He says kids could then use the gym there.  Carr suggested looking for a grant for a skate park, but would prioritize needs of the town.  She was critical of the new school project meaning a field would be going away and proposed plans that would have used two fields by Town Hall for a new library. 

Carr was critical of the boys locker room project stalling with currently only port-o-potties, no legitimate concession stand and bathrooms at Whisconier Middle School needing attention.  Monteiro agreed that work has to be done to fix up the school. 

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2-percent of Nuvance Health employees, unvaccinated, on unpaid suspension

About 2-percent of Nuvance Health employees have been placed on unpaid suspension for not being in compliance with the system's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.  All medical staff, volunteers, students and contractors needed to get at least one dose by October 1st.  There are medical and religious exemptions available.  Nuvance operates Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk and Sharon Hospitals in Connecticut, and Putnam and Northern Dutchess Hospitals and Vassar Brothers Medical Center in New York.   According to the policy, those in noncompliance will be terminated, but no timeframe was given for suspended employees to provide proof of vaccination before that occurs.  Nuvance spokeswoman Andrea Rynn said in a statement that while they regret a small minority have chosen to leave the organization rather than get vaccinated, Nuvance remains committed to delivering high-quality, safe care to patients.

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Chamber debate tonight for Danbury Mayoral candidates

There's an open race for Danbury Mayor for the first time in two decades.  The two men looking to lead the City will meet in a debate tonight hosted by the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce.  Democratic City Councilman Roberto Alves and Republican Mayoral Chief of Staff Dean Esposito are each vying for the top spot.  The hour long debate will be virtual, held via Zoom but also livestreamed on the Chamber's Facebook page.  The debate starts at 7pm.

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One car stolen, others rifled through in Southbury were all unlocked

One car was stolen and two others were rummaged through in Southbury recently.  Southbury Police say the theft and burglaries happened before 4am on Friday in a Stonegate Drive residential driveway.  Police said all three vehicles had been left unlocked with keys left inside them.  The stolen BMW was recovered several hours later in Waterbury.  Anyone with information about the crimes is asked to contact Southbury Police.

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Construction started on Redding Mile of Norwalk River Valley Trail

Construction has started again for the Redding Mile section of the Norwalk River Valley Trail.  The work is being done in the Picketts Ridge Road area and construction is expected to be substantially complete in eight weeks.  The 30 mile trail will connect Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk to Rogers Park in Danbury, passing through Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding.  8.2 miles are completed with 3.4 miles in progress.  The 10 foot wide paved and stone dust trail accommodates everyone and is handicap accessible.  A grant has been secured funding much of the "Redding Mile."

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Road construction projects under way in Danbury

Some road constructions projects are under way in Danbury as the City looks to finish more work before the winter season.  Danbury Public Works is working in the area around the CityCenter Green. While the roads won't be closed, there are travel restrictions on Ives Street, Railroad Place, National Place and Independence Way.  No on street parking is allowed during the work, which is expected to last another week or two.  There's also construction on the westside on Mill Ridge Road and Midfield Road. This construction will not result in road closings, but some alternating lanes.  Construction should last approximately 3 to 4 weeks.

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Danbury Community Health Team to host several flu clinics

The Danbury Community Health Team has several flu clinics scheduled through November, in which the flu shot is available at little to no cost.  The City Health and Human Services Department has administered 273 flu vaccines so far this season. The department has been responding to requests for routine childhood vaccinations, and been in contact with Danbury Public Schools to determine which students have not received required immunizations.

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Women's Center seeks candidates for several positions

The Women's Center is currently seeking candidates to be a full-time Family Violence Victim Advocate.  The primary role is to provide services to family violence crime victims who are involved in criminal and civil court cases. These services include providing support, information and advocacy designed to enhance the safety of victims from the time of arraignment throughout the court process.

The FVVA works in the court as part of the Family Violence Intervention Unit and provides immediate and ongoing services within the legal system and throughout the community, including local area police departments. 

A part time Residential Case Manager is also needed to provide support, advocacy, safety planning, counseling, educational services, and case management to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault who reside at the Women’s Center’s residential facility.  The part time work also is to ensure the safety and security of the residents and staff in the residential facility. 

The Women's Center is also looking to hire a part time Residential Counselor.  This candidate would provide support, advocacy, safety planning, and educational services to children and adults who come to the Women’s Center for non-shelter and shelter services through domestic violence, sexual assault and resource programs. 

More details can be found on the Career Opportunities page of their website.

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Local lawmaker praises 24-hour Domestic Violence hotline

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says systemic factors that create unsafe environments must be addressed.  He notes that abuse looks like many different things and is not always easy to identify.  Allie-Brennan touted Connecticut Safe Connect, a  24 hour Domestic Violence hotline.   All calls are free and anonymous to advocates, who can help victims and people looking to help those suffering domestic violence.  People can call or text 888-774-2900.

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State Police mourn passing of retired Sgt.

Connecticut State Police are mourning the passing of retired Sergeant Llewllyn “Llew” Rowe.  He passed away on September 7th after a battle with cancer. Rowe served as a park ranger for two years and as a patrolman for Newtown Police Department for four years, before joining the Connecticut State Police. During his 28-year career, Sgt. Rowe served as a SWAT team member, a K-9 handler, and as a training instructor at the State Police Academy and the State Police Firearms Training Unit. Following his retirement from the Connecticut State Police, Rowe became an instructor for the Department of Homeland Security.
 

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West Conn marks 50 years of the school's nursing program

West Conn is marking 50 years of the school's nursing program.  The first Nursing class graduated in 1970 with eight students. This 50+1 year milestone was celebrated during Homecoming Weekend Friday and Saturday. 

The WCSU Doctorate in Nursing Practice program will launch in fall 2022. This is a post-master’s program with tracks in Mental Health and Acute Care, Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist. 

When Danbury Hospital closed its nursing education program, its board of directors recommended that then-Western Connecticut State College fill the void using the hospital’s clinical facilities to create a collegiate program.  In 1964, the former home of Danbury High School on White Street was purchased by the state and renamed White Hall after Alexander White, a Danbury native. It served as the initial and ongoing home for the Nursing program. 

Today, nursing makes up the largest workforce in healthcare. 

West Conn was the first school in the United States to install an IBM Advanced Technology classroom in the Westside Classroom Building in 1988, which became widely used by the school’s Education and Nursing departments.  In 2000, the Department of Nursing extended the RN-BS program to include course offerings at the WCSU at Waterbury site, located on the campus of Naugatuck Valley Community College.

In August 2006, the Nursing department acquired two more Nursing labs in Higgins Hall. In 2020, the entire Department of Nursing faculty offices and Skills labs moved to the newly renovated second floor of White Hall. The Fundamentals Skills classroom and lab also were opened. The State Board of Nursing inspected the new labs and office in fall 2021.

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New Milford man charged for alleged stabbing

A New Milford man is facing an assault charge for allegedly stabbing someone over the weekend. Police responded to a call Sunday afternoon about an assault with a knife in the Nicholas Square area.  A 45-year old man sustained a severe laceration to his arm and was transported to the hospital for treatment.  Police say 37-year old Joshua Jackson of New Milford was also charged with disorderly conduct.  He is due in court today.

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Hearing in Redding tonight on proposed blight ordinance

The Redding Planning Commission will host an in-person public hearing tonight about a proposed Blight Ordinance.  A decision regarding the ordinance will not be made at the meeting.  The Planning Commission acts as an advisory group to the Board of Selectmen. If that Board moves forward with adopting the ordinance, a town vote will be held at a Special Town Meeting.  The public hearing Tuesday will be held at the Redding Community Center at 7:30pm. The proposed ordinance is on the Town website on the Land Use Page. The health Director or Officer would be among those allowed to determine that the condition of the building, structure or parcel of land poses a serious or immediate danger to the safety, health or general welfare of the community.  The Blight Prevention Board and the Building Official would also be authorized.

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Danbury surveys residents on future of the City

Danbury residents are being called on to weigh in on issues related to Danbury’s growth and help shape the future of the City.  The Plan of Conservation and Development Oversight Committee has released an online survey to obtain public input.  The municipal guide for managing growth and conserving resources must be updated every ten years. The POCD will address multiple issues related to stewardship of the City and provides a foundation for policy, capital investment, and zoning regulations. Residents, employees, students, and visitors can visit the survey webpage to share their ideas on housing, economic development, open space and environmental resources, historic and cultural resources, transportation and infrastructure, City facilities and services, and sustainability.   Surveymonkey.com/r/DanburyPOCD is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.   

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Bethel considers funding for police software system upgrade

The Bethel Board of Finance is slated to take up a request at their meeting tonight for funding for the police department.  The $125,500 would be used to upgrade computer-aided dispatch and records management system software.  With the current system, which is about 15 years old, officers can only write accident reports up at the station.  The Board of Selectmen signed off on the request.  Bethel is the only police department in the Northeast to use this vendor, so they're looking to use NexGen, which nearly every other Connecticut municipality uses.  System upgrades are done automatically and free as part of the service agreement.  Bethel Police currently hand write tickets and mail it to the state to be included in the computer system, but with the new software, an e-ticket can be generated at the scene.  This will also meet a new state requirement going into effect.

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Borough of Newtown Zoning Commission adopts cannabis-related regulations

The Borough of Newtown Zoning Commission has adopted cannabis-related regulations.  The text amendments add definitions for “cannabis” and “cannabis establishment,” and makes cannabis establishments a prohibited use.  Establishments include a producer, dispensary facility, cultivator, micro-cultivator, retailer, hybrid retailer, food and beverage manufacturer, product packager, delivery service or transporter.  The Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission found the proposed text amendments in the Borough to be consistent with the plans of conservation and development.  The Town of Newtown has prohibited cannabis establishments.  The changes were approved by Borough Zoning on a vote of 3 to 2.

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Brookfield planners asked to weigh in on pocket park land purchase

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen is asking the Planning Commission to weigh in on a plan to buy a parcel of land from the state to create a pocket park.  The town would have to pay a $500 application fee to the state for the land on the west side of Federal Road abutting Old Route 7.  This new proposed land purchase would increase the scope of the streetscape project to include landscaping and art sculpture for this park.  Officials expect the price from the state to be in the thousands of dollars range, not tens of thousands as Connecticut has no use for the property.  Even if Planning signs off, the town doesn't have to move forward with the project and will have the right of first refusal of the state offer. 

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Danbury schools still considering solar panels

Danbury is pushing pause on plans to install solar panels on several school roofs. Superintendent Kevin Walston told the Board of Ed that the state will only reimburse a portion of the cost if the roofs are five years or newer.  The Office of School Construction Grants and Review is still evaluating the City's application. 

A decision on moving forward with the King Street Intermediate installation was tabled by the Board of Ed but could be taken up at their meeting on Wednesday. 

Other project sites include Broadview, Rogers Park and Westside middle schools, Danbury High School and Danbury Library.  The overall cost is estimated at $13 million.  The state would have reimbursed $8 million on the school portion.  If the City can show that the project wouldn’t breach the warranty on their roofs, reimbursement could be approved.  Estimates are that the schools would save $700,000 annually in long-term energy costs. 

Board member Richard Jannelli expressed frustration with the consultant company for not warning the city about the reimbursement rules, and said it feels like everyone who worked on the project had their time wasted. 

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UniteCT bus to return to Danbury Thursday

The UniteCT Mobile Bus is coming back to Danbury on Thursday.  The bus travels across Connecticut to ensure everyone has access to technology to submit a UniteCT application for rent or utility payment relief.  The program, administered by the Department of Housing on behalf of the US Treasury, provides up to $15,000 rental and $1,500 electricity payment assistance to eligible households impacted by the pandemic.  Tenants and landlords can use the UniteCT Rent Relief software to submit their own sections of the application creating a unique case file for decision making evaluation.  The bus was in Danbury on Sunday and the Danbury stop on Thursday is from 10am to 3pm at Kennedy Park. 

 

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Sherman Volunteer Fire Department holds boot drive

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department held a boot drive over the weekend.  Members were at the intersection of Routes 37 and 39 in front of the school for their bi-annual boot drive yesterday.  Firefighters solicited voluntary donations from people passing through the area.  For those who missed them, or didn't have cash with, Sherman firefighters say donations can also be made via PayPal through a link on their website.

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Area legislator highlights new law during this Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding is highlighting a bill passed during the last legislative session which enhances protections for victims by expanding the definition of domestic violence to include coercive control.  He says this new law also provides victims with easier access to assistance programs, expands the “best interest of the child” factors in family relations matters to include the child’s physical and emotional health, and creates a grant program to provide free legal assistance to indigent restraining order applicants among others.

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1870s house in Ridgefield demolished

A house in Ridgefield, built in the 1870s, has been demolished without the proper permits.  The Ridgefield Press reports that the property owner submitted an application to the Building Department for a demolition permit last month for 8 and 10 New Street.  The structures were torn down before the the end of 30 days specified in the demolition ordinance.  Adopted in 2020, it requires that the Ridgefield Historic District Commission, the Ridgefield Historical Society and the town clerk be notified of intent be certified or registered mail.  The owner sent notification, but not by certified mail.  An assessment led to objection to the house’s demolition, triggering a 90 day delay in a permit being issued.  Plans for the New Street properties include an access-way for two single-family homes.  The ordinance carries a maximum fine of $500, but the town could take legal action.  It was first proposed after the Nehemiah Keeler House was demolished in 2009, despite efforts to try and preserve it.  The a Colonial saltbox was built within a decade of the founding of Ridgefield. 

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Danbury considers earlier school start times to alleviate bus delays

Danbury School officials are considering a number of ways to get students to and from school more efficiently.  Districts across the state and the country are contending with a bus driver shortage, which has caused students to arrive to school or home late. 

Student Transportation of America has enough vehicles, but not enough drivers to cover routes. The state is working to speed up the process for driver certification.

Superintdent Kevin Walston says one idea is to have the high school start 5 minutes earlier to alleviate the delays.  While times have gotten better during the first month of classes, Walston says they could still be better.  The idea would be to have high school students arrive at 6:55am instead of 7am so that instructional time could be bumped up by 10 minutes.  Middle School students would also start earlier. That would then trickle down to alleviate travel time for elementary bus routes. 

Walston says they would need to negotiate with the unions to allow this, because staff, like residents, also have family commitments and child care challenges.  

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Brookfield Chamber Debate changed to virtual only tomorrow

The Brookfield Chamber of Commerce debate tomorrow for the three people running for First Selectmen will no longer be held in person.  The debate among the three candidates will be live-streamed via YouTube.  The forum will not be open to the public as had been initially planned due to space considerations.  Republican nominee Tara Carr, petitioning candidate Austin Monteiro and Democratic incumbent Steve Dunn will make statements and answer questions on a variety of issues starting at 7pm.  Longtime Political Science Professor Scott Benjamin will moderate the forum.

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At least one more week of mask mandate in Brookfield

Brookfield officials are waiting at least one more week before lifting the mask mandate for vaccinated individuals in indoor public spaces.  The Health Director noted that the town has seen one week where the COVID-19 case rate was below 10 and infection rate below 3-percent.  If this week’s rates stay at the current level or drop further, Brookfield will then drop the mask mandate.  When the requirement was put in place, Brookfield had 18 cases per 100,000 population and a test positivity rate of 4.7 percent.  The report on Thursday from the state Department of Public Health showed Brookfield's case rate has fallen to 8, down from 14.3 the week before, and the positivity rate fell to 1.8 percent, down from 3.6.

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Newtown weighs using pandemic relief funding to offset school HVAC costs

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal suggested paying for some projects with the town's share of the American Rescue Plan Act funding, so that Newtown can bond less over the coming years.  During the recent Board of Selectmen meeting members heard from Newtown Finance Director Robert Tait about rules for using the pandemic relief funds.  Some qualifying projects include replacing the water distribution system at Fairfield Hills, replacing aging police cruiser cameras, and bringing wireless internet service to the community center and senior center.  $2.5 million could be used to offset the cost of ventilation and air conditioning upgrades at Hawley Elementary School.  A question about borrowing for the project is on the November ballot.  If the item is rejected at referendum, the money can be used for other projects.

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Kent establishes committee on pandemic relief fund spending

The town of Kent has been awarded $821,855 in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to be distributed from the federal government this year and next.  The money must be used to aid in recovery from COVID-19.  The Kent Board of Selectman has established a Needs Assessment Committee to determine how best to use the ARPA funds. The Committee includes First Selectman Jean Speck, the town's Treasurer, and 4 community volunteers.  During the first two meetings the group discussed needs of various groups of Kent residents.  Two surveys will be released by the group soon for taxpayers and business owners to weigh in on the allocation priorities.  The Committee will be organizing a series of focus groups to hear specific needs.

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Delayed sidewalk project at elderly housing complex in Brookfield to start soon

An affordable housing complex for elderly and disabled individuals in Brookfield is getting new sidewalks soon.  Brooks Quarry, a 35-unit complex, is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Some residents spoke out about the issue at the Board of Selectmen meeting last week, asking when the building inspector would give the go ahead fo the $156,000 project.  The work is expected to start today.  There were delays because a contractor pulled out of the project.  They also found that underground wires weren't buried as deep as necessary.  Catch basin issues that led to flooding over the summer required new permits.  The delays then led to cost increases.  During the public speaking portion of last week's Sleectmen meeting, one resident said a flyer was put up alerting them that they'd have to use their back doors while the concrete slabs were redone, to stock up on food and medications and stay indoors while the work was completed.

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Cleaning of Revolutionary War era bones continues

Because of the COVID shutdown, the cleaning of skeletal remains found in Ridgefield in late 2019 had been on hold.  The Yale University lab is opening back up, and undergraduate assistants and lab workers are back on the job.  The skeletons are believed to be Revolutionary War-era.  Dr. Gary Aronsen told the Ridgefield Historical Society that the work is proceeding slowly because many of the elements are encased in a thick and hard matrix, making cleaning difficult. The work is being largely done with toothpicks and small wooden implements and the bone conditions range from flaky and friable to more robust and easily separated from the surrounding matrix.  From what he’s seen so far, Aronsen says the elements are consistent with identification as large adult males with heavy muscle markings.  He notes that there have been some interesting indicators of pathology and injury but these cannot be fully interpreted until cleaning is completed.  Once cleaning and sorting is done, genetic and other analyses could provide a more nuanced overview of each individual’s life history.

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UniteCT Mobile Bus coming to Danbury tomorrow

The UniteCT Mobile Bus is coming to Danbury tomorrow.  The bus travels across Connecticut to ensure everyone has access to technology to submit a UniteCT application for rent or utility payment relief.  The program, administered by the Department of Housing on behalf of the US Treasury, provides up to $15,000 rental and $1,500 electricity payment assistance to eligible households impacted by the pandemic.  Tenants and landlords use the UniteCT Rent Relief software to submit their own sections of the application creating a unique case file for decision making evaluation. The Danbury stop tomorrow is from 10am to 3pm at 45 North Street.  Appointments can be made, but walk-ins will be accepted. 

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Vaccine van in Redding this weekend

The COVID-10 Vaccination Van is coming to Redding for the next two Sundays.  The van will be at the Redding Community Center this Sunday and next from 1pm to 4pm.  No appointment is needed.  The vaccine is free.  Healthcare workers will be administering first and second dose shots of Pfizer and Moderna, along with the single-dose Johnson and Johnson, as well as third doses for those who received Pfizer at least 6 months ago and are either considered immunocompromised, are 65 years and older and those 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions.  The clinic is for anyone 12 and older, though anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult guardian.

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Regional Household Hazardous Waste, Electronic Waste Drop-off Day in New Milford today

A Household Hazardous Waste and Electronic Waste Drop-off Event is being held Saturday.  The Housatonic Resources Revocery regional event is being held at John Pettoibone Community Center in New Milford from 9am to 3pm.  It's for residents of the towns of Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, Warren, Washington, Weston, and Wilton.  Residents dropping off items must remain in their vehicle at all times.  Items for disposal can be placed in the back of the vehicle and a worker will remove the contents.  Proof of residency is required.  Drivers will be directed to hold their license up to the window for verification.

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Road closure in New Fairfield for Walk fundraiser

On Sunday, Ball Pond Road East in New Fairfield will be closed on the South end at Gillotti Road and on the North end at Route 39 between 12:30 and 3:30 PM.  This is to accommodate the 1st Annual "Walk with Nicole" to raise money for the Nicole Vengalli-Ferrari Memorial Scholarship Fund.  Walkers will be starting the walk at the Ball Pond Boat Launch, proceeding on Sunswept Drive to Weldon Woods Road and returning on Ball Pond Road East.  Residents in the neighborhood are asked to use caution in the area, and those in the Sunswept neighborhood are asked to enter/leave the neighborhood via Meadowbrook Road during the event.  Parking for the fundraiser will be available at St. Edward's Church, and shuttle service will be provided by First Student to and from the event.

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State Dept. of Public Health updates COVID-19 caseloads for municipalities

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Brookfield's infection rate has dropped nearly 2 percentage points from last reporting period to 1.8-percent.  Bethel's rate has dipped a bit to 2.2-percent.  Danbury has 6.4 cases per 100,000 residents, with a positivity rate of 1.8-percent.  Ridgefield's infection rate ticked up a bit to 2.9-percent.  Newtown's rate increased a bit to 2.2-percent. New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rate over the last two weeks reported has held steady, New Milford's rate increased nearly a percentage point to 2.4-percent. 

The state's daily COVID-19 test positivity rate yesterday was 1.7-percent.  There was no change in the number of people being treated in the hospital for COVID-19.  The inpatient total yesterday was 230.

38 people died in Connecticut over the past week from causes related to COVID-19. 

As of yesterday, 14,419 cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated persons in Connecticut have been identified making for a .61 percent breakthrough rate.  Connecticut has the 2nd highest rate of population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, behind only Vermont. That state is at 69.8 percent, Connecticut is 69.2.  Rounding out the top 5 states are Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts.

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Food distribution initiative continues in Danbury on Saturdays in Oct.

The drive-thru food distribution at Danbury High School, hosted by United Way of Western Connecticut and Walnut Hill Community Pantry, provided 60,000 pounds of food to more than 3,000 families during three Saturday events in September. The initiative has distributed 128,000 pounds of food to those in need in just two months.  The distribution event is continuing every Saturday this month, 10am to 1pm, and is not limited to Danbury residents.  The program is free and no registration or documentation is required.

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Redding considers lifting mask mandate

Redding officials believe the town can soon consider lifting the mask mandate for vaccinated individuals indoors in public places.  The mandate was put in place in August due to a surge in the COVID Delta variant, done in coordination with neighboring towns.  Redding's current case rate per 100,000 is 6.3 and the positivity rate is 1.8 percent.  Bethel and New Fairfield dropped their mask mandates effective today.  Health Officer Doug Hartline says Redding is trending in the right direction, but there's more progress to be made. 

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Redding League of Women Voters hosts municipal candidate debate

The Redding League of Women Voters has held a municipal candidate debate.  Democratic incumbent First Selectman Julia Pemberton and Republican challenger John Shaban fielded questions on a number of topics.  Shaban is a former state legislator and an environmental lawyer.  Pemberton is seeking a fifth term. 

The biggest discussion of the night centered on the former Gilbert and Bennett Wire Mill site. 

Shaban says not a single brick has been laid in Georgetown in 10 years and the town needs to reengage with developers.  He says they need to tackle the bond debt to restructure it, buy it out, or extinguish it.  Shaban added that a mixed-use, vital, quaint community center is still viable.  Pemberton says redevelopment was essentially a dead ball when she took office 8 years ago.  She noted that there's a quarter million dollars in revenue there now that the old developer was collecting that the town could have had all along.  Shaban says the lawsuit about the bond priority had nothing to do with what could and should be built there.  He believes the town could have taken on the sale, clean up and development of the 60 acre site 5 acres at a time.

They also addressed how to work with Eversource to better respond to storms and what needs to be done to protect the community from COVID-19.  Both agree that vaccines are important, especially to protect the youth who aren't currently eligible for vaccination. 

As for Eversource, Pemberton noted that Redding was the 2nd municipality to file a motion against the utility in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaias.  But she says the state hasn't done enough. Pemberton added that she stays at the Emergency Communications Center until the last person has their power back after a storm.  Shaban says big storms in 2012 prompted the legislature to take action, and then 2016 and 2018 storms led to other changes.  Shaban says he would demand responsiveness from the utilities now so that they're proactive, not reactive.

The Selectmen candidates Democratic Selectman Peg O’Donnell and Republican Michael Thompson, both incumbents fielded a different set of questions, including about speeding, expanding Park & Rec offerings and getting the Gilbert & Bennett project restarted.

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New Fairfield, Bethel drop mask mandates for vaccinated individuals in indoor public places

New Fairfield and Bethel are the latest Greater Danbury area towns to drop mask mandates for vaccinated individuals in indoor public places.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the COVID-19 cases rate has dropped below 10 cases per 100,000 population for two week in a row.  The mandate has been dropped effective today. 

But the state still requires masks in schools and for unvaccinated individuals in indoor public spaces.  New Fairfield's current case rate is 9.3 per 100,000 population, with 7 active cases in Town.  The vaccination rate remains among the lowest in the area at 67 percent. 

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says it's now optional for people to wear masks if they've received a COVID-19 vaccine, though he did encourage people visiting town hall to wear a face covering. Knickerbocker previously said he would lift the mandate when the case rate dropped below 10 per 100,000 population for two weeks in a row. 

Ridgefield and Newtown previously dropped their mask orders for the vaccinated.  Brookfield has put metrics out for when it will end there.  Redding says the order will likely be dropped soon.  Danbury, with a case rate of 6.4 per 100,000 and a test positivity of 1.8 percent, didn't put metrics in place for when the mandate would be lifted in the City.

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Danbury area COVID-19 case rates continue to decline

Danbury's COVID-19 test positivity rate has dropped again from the last reporting period to 1.8 percent from  2.4 percent.  76 cases have been reported to the state between September 19th and October 2nd.  That's 6.4 cases per 100,000 population. 

There's been a big drop in the number of municipalities in the state Department of Public Health's Red Alert Zone for COVID-19 community spread.  It went from 57 last week to 37 this week, all in eastern Connecticut. 

Brookfield has dropped down from Orange to Yellow when it comes to the state Department of Public Health's levels of COVID-19 community spread,  while Newtown went in the opposite direction and moved from Yellow to Orange.  Ridgefield remains in the Orange zone. 

 

Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford and Redding are all in the Yellow zone with 5 to 9 cases per 100,000.  Sherman, Kent and the Region 12 towns are in the grey zone, for having fewer than 5 cases over the last two weeks reported.

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Brookfield Board of Ed moves public comment to end of meeting after outbursts

The Brookfield Board of Education has held their first meeting since abruptly adjourning when parents shouted over one another and Board members over mask mandates and vaccines.  During the meeting on Wednesday night, the Board announced that the public speaking portion would be moved from the top of the agenda to the end.  The chairman also repeated that the board has no jurisdiction on the mask mandate, noting that there is no appropriate discussion for the board regarding the matter.  One resident did speak about masking and vaccines.  The Board of Ed plans to continue to hold public comment at the end of meetings for the time being so they can still attend to regular business.

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Money taken from Southbury grocery store returned to shopper who dropped it

Money has been returned that was taken when a grocery store shopper dropped an envelop of cash in Southbury .  Police say the money was turned in over the weekend and will be returned to the rightful owner, who declined to press charges. 

A ShopRite customer dropped an envelope, with a weeks worth of income, the weekend before.  His name was on the envelope.  A woman picked it up, counted the money, pocketed it and threw the envelope out in a nearby trash can. 

After asking for the public's help in identifying the woman, Southbury Police say people also asked about how to help the victim and they collected grocery store gift cards and accepted donations via Venmo.  Police say the monetary donations and the gift cards will be returned.

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Most enforcement on Lake Zoar in Sept. over lack of PFD

The Lake Zoar Authority Marine Patrol made 41 enforcement actions last month, with 90% for people not having a personal floatation device, and others for lack of boat registration. There was one person in the restricted area of the Shepaug Dam.  8 vessels were towed short distances. Due to the I-84 bridge construction in Newtown, parts of the channel were closed but the channel was still navigable. There were no infractions for ignoring the no wake zone at the bridge.

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Redding League of Women Voters hosting Municipal Candidates Debate tonight

The Redding League of Women Voters is hosting a Municipal Candidates Debate tonight.  The event will be held at the Redding Community Center, but also streamed on Facebook Live from 7pm to 8:45.  The forum will feature Democratic incumbent First Selectman Julia Pemberton and Republican challenger John Shaban.  They will be joined by Selectmen candidates Margaret O’Donnell (D) and Michael Thompson (R), both incumbents.  Three Board of Finance candidates and three for the Region 9 Board of Ed will also take part. Questions for the candidates are encouraged and can be submitted during the debate, or in advance to ReddingDebate@gmail.com. Questions will be screened by three volunteers (Democrat, Republican, and unaffiliated) for clarity and relevance.

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Guiderail repair work on I-84 in Danbury tonight

The state Department of Transportation will be conducting guiderail repair on I-84 Westbound overnight tonight.  The work is being done between Exits 2 and 4 from 7pm to 3am.  Motorists can expect alternating left and right lane closures. Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will be used to guide drivers around the work zone.  Motorists are asked to maintain a safe speed when driving in this vicinity.

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Driver fleeing accident halts train service

A driver fleeing the scene of a hit and run accident temporarily stopped train service in Bethel last Wednesday.  Bethel Police say a motorist got into a crash on Greenwood Avenue around 8pm and drove off.   The evading vehicle was located in Danbury, disabled at the Great Pasture Road railroad crossing.  The Newstimes reports that the 33-year old man was charged with driving under the influence, failure to drive right and possession of narcotics and drug paraphernalia.  Train service was halted so the vehicle could be removed from the tracks.

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Danbury Citwide PTO hosts Meet the Candidates Forum

The Danbury Citwide PTO has hosted a Meet the Candidates Forum.  Democratic City Councilman Roberto Alves and Republican mayoral Chief of Staff Dean Esposito are each seeking to lead the City and fielded questions along side 8 Board of Ed candidates. 

The pair agree that HVAC and air quality improvements are needed in the school buildings.  When asked if they would support metal detectors at the high school, if there's community support for such an idea, each said they would. 

The mayoral candidates differed on how to address overcrowding and budgeting.  Esposito supports a proposed Charter School.  Alves called for using $2.5 million Danbury is receiving from the state through a retooled PILOT calculation.   The funding pool isn't designated by the state for a particular use, but the City is getting the additional money because Danbury is an Alliance District. 

Esposito drew a negative reaction from the audience when he said the City has never cut the budget, and increased it every year.  He noted that the number the Board of Education asks for is one thing, but under state law municipalities can't cut the school budget.  They have to allocate at least the same amount as the year before.  As a Councilman, Alves voted against the budget saying it wasn't enough.  He acknowledged that the City has increased the dollar amount, but noted that the value of a dollar is not the same as even five years ago.  ALves says Danbury hasn't kept up with inflation.

All of the candidates were given the option to answer the questions, including one about masks mandates in schools.  Alves answered that he supports masks, citing them as a reason for low COVID-19 infection rates.  Esposito chose not to answer the question.  Several Board of Ed members also opted not to weigh in.

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UniteCT Mobile Bus coming to Danbury to help with rental assistance applications

The UniteCT Mobile Bus is coming to Danbury this weekend.  The bus travels across Connecticut to ensure everyone has access to technology to submit a UniteCT application.  The program, administered by the Department of Housing on behalf of the U.S. Treasury, provides up to $15,000 rental and $1,500 electricity payment assistance to eligible households impacted by the pandemic.  Tenants and landlords use the UniteCT Rent Relief software to submit their own sections of the application creating a unique case file for decision making evaluation.  On the bus, applicants will be able to use a computer to fill out forms. There is no current end date of the program.  The Danbury stop is planned for Sunday from 10am to 3pm at 45 North Street.  Appointments can be made, but walk-ins will be accepted. 

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Congresswoman introduces bill to collect data on school shootings

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says gun violence prevention is a top concern for her, noting that in 2018 and 2019, there were 24 and 25 school shootings respectively.  Hayes has introduced the School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act to provide the framework to obtain the data needed to be pro-active.  By analyzing the history of school shootings, Hayes says they can identify shooting and fatality statistics; shooter and victim demographics, shooter motivations; the firearms and ammunition acquired and used; and maintain a database.  She hopes this will help get to the core of why this phenomenon continues to occur.  

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Police investigating report of shots fired in Danbury

Danbury Police are investigating a report of shots fired over the weekend on Ives Street.  Video of a man pulling out a handgun and pointing it in the air, and firing has been circulating on social media.  Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour says the incident is under investigation.  He did not provide any further details.

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Man in possession of 6,500 packets of fentanyl arrested in Danbury

A Danbury man has been arrested on a variety of drug related charges.  Police received complaints about illicit narcotic sales and 31-year old Ive James became a person of interest.  A search warrant was carried out at his Ives Street home yesterday afternoon.  He was apprehended without incident.  James was found in possession of more than 6,500 packets of fentanyl, drug paraphernalia, an ounce of crack and several thousand dollars.  He was charged with two counts each of possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to sell, as well as one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

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State to pay for COVID-19 testing for employees opting not to be vaccinated

Governor Ned Lamont visited Bethel yesterday.  He  delivered remarks at an event celebrating Manufacturing Month hosted by WorkspaceCT, a newly opened joint venture between two of Connecticut’s six regional education service centers.  While there, he noted that the state is prepared to pay for weekly COVID-19 tests for several thousand eligible state employees who choose not to be vaccinated.  The state previously said it would only pay for four weeks of initial testing.  Lamont said yesterday that free testing will be part of an agreement he expects in the coming days with the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition about his vaccine-or test mandate for the 32,000 executive branch employees.  About 5,500 workers chose the testing option.  4 percent of the workforce, about 1,200 employees, are not in compliance.

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Brookfield to apply for grant for Streetscape Phase 6

Brookfield will apply for a state grant to pay for the next phase of the streetscape project.  During the Board of Selectmen meeting Monday, members agreed to sign a letter of support for a more than $3 million grant.  Brookfield would cover 6-percent, about $205,000.  The 6th phase would extend the Still River Greenway to the north.  Granite curbing would be installed Laurel Hill Road and Station Road, including around 4,000 feet of sidewalk and two retaining walls.  If Brookfield is approved for a state Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program grant, all phases of the project would total $14.7 million, with Brookfield only contributing about $3 million total.  Residents will have to sign off on the design plans if the grant is awarded and the proposal moves forward.  Brookfield must also have six abutting property owners approve the sidewalk installation

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Danbury to apply for grant to add lane to White Street

The state Department of Transportation is accepting grant applications from municipalities for projects that are intended to improve local traffic corridors.  Danbury Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola has received authorization from the City Council to apply for a $3 million grant for White Street, between Meadow and Cross streets, which would cover 100-percent of the cost.  The 1900 feet includes five intersections.  This would be an extension of a project that is currently being designed for improvements to White Street at Locust Avenue.  An additional westbound lane would be added to alleviate traffic congestion.  The goal is to provide continuous and improved sidewalks for safe pedestrian mobility, crosswalks where needed, and shared lanes for bicycle traffic.  Iadarola says as part of the work they'll reorganize transit bus stops and improve signage.  The deadline to apply for grant funding is tomorrow.

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Danbury Districtwide PTO hosting candidates forum

The Danbury Public School Districtwide PTO is hosting a candidates forum tonight.  Democrat Roberto Alves and Republican Dean Esposito will be joined at the forum by 3 Democrat and 5 Republican Board of Education candidates.  The forum is at 6pm in the Danbury High School auditorium.  Masks are required.  The forum will be streamed on Hatters TV.  The PTO says they will have headsets available onsite for translation into Spanish or Portuguese.

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Minimum age requirement for Elderly Tax Freeze Program lowered

A local legislator is highlighting a new law that took effect at the start of this month.  Brookfield Representative Steve Harding says a bill approved during the regular General Assembly session expands property tax relief for seniors.  Prior to the passage of the measure, the minimum age requirement to qualify for the Elderly Tax Freeze Program was 70, it has now been lowered to 65.  As part of the Elderly Tax Freeze Program, towns may hold property taxes on a home whose owner-occupant or his or her spouse meets the minimum age requirement and has been a state resident for at least one year. The freeze continues for a surviving spouse who is at least age 62 when the homeowner dies. Homeowners must also meet the state’s Circuit Breaker Program income limits, currently, 45-thousand-800 dollars for a married couple and 37-thousand-600 for an individual.

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Congresswoman introduces bill to ensure federal broadband programs remain active

After 18 months of this pandemic, 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says it's clear that access to the internet is essential.  But she says outdated federal law puts access in jeopardy, threatening the funding for critical programs to make the internet accessible in high need schools and communities and those living in rural areas. She introduced the Preventing Disruptions to Universal Services Funds Act to ensure that federal broadband programs remain active through the remainder of this crisis decreasing the digital divide.  In April 2020, Pew Research Center reported 40 percent of children used public Wi-Fi to complete schoolwork due to lack of internet access.

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Wilton, New Milford mark start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  It was launched nationwide in October 1987 as a way to connect and unite individuals and organizations while raising awareness for those issues. 

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says over the past 30 years, much progress has been made to support domestic violence victims and survivors, to hold abusers accountable, and to create and update legislation to further those goals.  He highlighted the work of the Women's Center of Greater Danbury providing services in the Northern Fairfield and Southern Litchfield county areas. 

Wilton First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice has issued a proclamation recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

Domestic Violence Crisis Center Executive Director Suzanne Adam made remarks during an event outside Town Hall yesterday and spoke about shining a light on the issues around domestic violence and how the community can get involved. Other speakers included State Representative Stephanie Thomas and Wilton Police Captain Rob Cipolla.  Members of the Wilton Domestic violence Task Force along with other community supporters attended the program.

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Connecticut Humane Society takes in two dogs rescued from Sherman house fire

The Connecticut Humane Society has taken in two more hounds rescued from the property of a house fire in Sherman last month.  The organization also made a donation of both canned and dry food to the Regional Animal Control shelter.  Officials say the dogs in their care will receive state-of-the-art veterinary services and sterilization, before being placed in their new forever-homes.  18 dogs were found at the Route 55 West property living in very tough, outdoor chained and caged situations. 

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Gov. visits Bethel for Manufacturing Day Event

Governor Ned Lamont was in Bethel this morning to take part in a Manufacturing Day Event. He delivered remarks at an event celebrating Manufacturing Month hosted by WorkspaceCT, a newly opened joint venture between two of Connecticut’s six regional education service centers.  Cooperative Education Services serves the southwest region and EdAdvance serves the northwest region. They are working to promote the success of school districts and their communities.  The 5-acre site features a former factory that resembles a large, red barn and offers 32,000 square feet of rooms fully furnished for a wide variety of educational opportunities and purposes.  The facility spaces include a theater with stage; music and recording booths; woodworking shop; virtual reality suite; commercial kitchen; costume shop; makerspace; labs; and multiple areas for studying, reading or meeting.

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Chamber hears from CECD Commissioner at annual meeting

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce has held their annual meeting.  During the virtual event yesterday, state Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman gave an update on Connecticut's business recovery from the pandemic. 

He says the state needs to focus on blockchain and cryptocurrency.  He called it a big growth area for Fairfield County.  Lehman says health care is another growth area, including life sciences and biotech where Connecticut is a leader in patents.  He says Connecticut needs to do a better job commercializing those ideas and turning them into jobs.

He is watching what will happen with the infrastructure package in Congress.  Metro North ridership is around 40 to 45 percent of what it was pre-pandemic.  Lehman says broadband and transportation are critical for the state's new hybrid economy. He says Connecticut needs to continue to improve broadband services.

Lehman also touched on the Community Challenge Initiative, a push to encourage public-private partnerships in places like Danbury when it comes to housing, mixed use development and workforce innovation.  Lehman says this will increase the live-ability of municipalities and make the state more attractive to new businesses and residents.

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Man sought for alleged theft of medical equipment from Danbury Hospital

A man allegedly stole $275,000 worth of medical equipment from Danbury Hospital.  Police are looking for a man who wore blue scrubs and a surgical mask when he entered the hospital through a public entry September 12th, shortly before 1pm.  The man entered the scope storage room in the endoscopy unit and was caught on surveillance video placing four high value medical scopes in a duffel bag.  He then left the hospital in a gray Dodge Charger with New York plates.  Anyone who may recognize the man is asked to contact police.

 

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Absentee ballots corrected in Newtown

The Newtown Town Clerk is looking to clear up some misinformation circulating on social media about absentee ballots, saying no incorrect ballots are in the community.  The Town Clerk did acknowledge that two absentee ballots were issued with a misprint to voters who came into the office shortly after opening on Friday.  Both voters and the registrars were notified immediately and the situation was rectified that morning.  No misprinted ballots were mailed out.  New ballots have been ordered and the old ones have been destroyed.  Correct absentee ballots were sent out Monday, in accordance with statutory regulations stating that absentee ballots are to be processed within 48 hours. Debbie Aurelia Halstead says this situation was handled swiftly and professionally and the integrity of the ballots have been addressed on every level.

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Travel, sporting events, family gatherings leading to Danbury COVID-19 cases

63% of the Danbury population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 71% have received at least one dose of a vaccine.  Health Director Kara Prunty says contact tracers have determined that travel, sporting events, and family gatherings are the three highest trends of COVID-19 transmission in the City.

Free COVID-19 tests are still available in Danbury, no appointment or insurance needed, at 118 Memorial Drive Mondays and Wednesdays from 3 to 7pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm, and at 35 Hayestown Road Tuesdays and Fridays 10am to 2pm, and Thursdays from 3pm to 7. 

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being provided on Thursday at Rogers Park from 2pm to 7, and on Friday from 10am to 2pm.  On Saturday, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson will be administered at Danbury High School from 10am to 1pm.  Pfizer and Moderna will be provided at Rogers Park on Saturday from 2pm to 7pm.

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Independently-owned movie theater returning to downtown Bethel

An independently-owned movie theater will be returning to downtown Bethel.  Jamie and Frank Lockwood have purchased Bethel Cinema and plan to reopen the space as Greenwood Features.  The four-screen theater closed last April amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic strife.  Frank Lockwood co-founded Reverie Brewing in Newtown, and Jaimie Lockwood is in charge of coordinating the company’s events.  They plan to sell their product at the concession stand, among other items.  There was no timeframe for when the theater would open.

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Danbury Police Lt to become Berlin Chief

A Danbury Police Lieutenant is leaving the force to become Chief of a Connecticut department.  Matthew McNally has been selected by the Berlin Police Commission as their next chief, to fill the role left vacant since a July 30th retirement.  He will begin November 1st.  McNally is a 37-year veteran of the Danbury Police Department, who previously served as patrolman, detective, sergeant and a patrol division commander.  He also ran the Community Affairs and Crime Scene Investigation units.  McNally is an adjunct professor at Western Connecticut State University and Goodwin College.

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Kent continues vaccine progress

Connecticut continues to have one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country at 69.1 percent. In Kent, 86.1 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated. By age group, 18 to 24 year olds and every Kent residents over 65 are fully vaccinated.  12 to 17 year olds are nearly 79-percent vaccinated, 25 to 44 year olds are 81.4 percent vaccinated and 45 to 64 year olds are 70.3 percent vaccinated.  Third, or "booster" doses of Pfizer are now available to individuals aged 65 years and older, first responders, residents in long-term care settings, and those who have moderately to severely compromised immune systems.

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Woman sentenced for intentionally hitting man with car in Patterson

A woman has been sentenced for attempted assault after video surveillance captured her intentionally swerving her car at her sister's boyfriend in Patterson.  Heather Licari was convicted in July and sentenced last week to 4 years in State Prison followed by 5 years of supervised release.  District Attorney Robert Tendy says Licari struck the victim head-on while he was walking down his driveway in December 2019, which tossed the man into the air and onto an adjacent front lawn. She then quickly drove away from the scene.  Licari, who has an extensive criminal history and on Probation in Dutchess County at the time, was apprehended later that day by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigations.  The victim sustained serious injuries, requiring surgery.

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Ridgefield Social Services seeks donations for 'food-less pantry' program

Ridgefield Social Services continues to serve those in the community who experience food insecurity.  While the "physical food pantry" has been closed, the agency has distributed over $250,000 in grocery store gift cards to Ridgefield residents since March of 2020. By providing gift cards, department officials say they have been able to offer clients better choices, healthier options, independence and more dignity in the process.  Ridgefield Social Services is seeking donation to help support the Ridgefield Food "less" pantry with an online donation, check or gift cards dropped off at Ridgefield Town Hall.

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Absentee Ballots now available Municipal Election

Absentee Ballots are now available for the November 2nd Municipal Election.  Ballot applications along with a sample of what the ballot looks like are available on the Town of Bethel website. Unlike last year, applications will not be automatically mailed this year.  The Bethel Town Clerk says applications may be printed off of the website, completed and dropped off in either the town correspondence drop box, the ballot drop box both located at the main entrance to the Bethel Municipal Center or by mail or in person during regular business hours.  Parents can not complete their college student's application, nor transport their ballot.

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Easton Officer honored for winter pond rescue

Easton Police Officer Anthony Telesco has received a Meritorious Service Award.  It was presented to him by the Police Commissioners Association of Connecticut last week.  The award was a result of an incident which occurred in December 2020.  Telesco entered a pond and rescued a man and his dog which were struggling in the water after falling through the ice.

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Monroe reporting about 3 COVID-19 cases per day

Over the past month, COVID-19 case rates in Monroe have declined slowly, but steadily, currently averaging just over 3 new cases per day.  First Selectman Ken Kellogg asked residents to continue to consider the current CDC recommendation to wear a mask inside public spaces, especially when social distancing cannot be maintained and where children under 12 are present. Local businesses may continue to decide to require masks by everyone inside their facilities.  Monroe's town-sponsored vaccination clinics for those over 65 provided only Moderna, which has not been approved by the CDC and FDA for boosters.

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FBI releases crime data for 2020

The FBI has released crime data for 2020.  Violent crime includes homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. 

Violent crime in Redding and Newtown held steady from 2019, with single-digit offenses reported each year.  Property crimes nearly doubled in Redding and increased by a third in Newtown, and in Ridgefield.  Violent crimes went up in Ridgefield from 1 to 3 last year, compared to 2019. Violent crime in Bethel held steady from 2019, with 6 offenses reported each year. In Brookfield there was one few offense, at 3.  Property crimes dropped slightly in each town.  In New Milford violent crimes increased from 16 offenses to 20.  Property crimes held nearly steady from the year before. 

In addition to municipal and state police departments, they also collected data from universities.  West Conn had no violent crimes reported in 2020, compared to 1 in 2019.  There were 4 property crimes reported to West Conn Police last year, compared to 15 in 2019.

Violent crime in Danbury remained relatively flat last year, one less than 2019.  Danbury did experience four homicides last year though, a level not seen since 2006.  There were 98 violent crimes.  Robberies in Danbury rose to 40 in 2020, up 42 percent from the year before  Aggravated assault fell to 45, down 15 percent from 2019.  Overall property crime decreased in Danubry last year. 

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DOT considers tunnel in Danbury to straighten I-84

The state Department of Transportation is considering building a tunnel in Danbury to straighten Interstate 84 between Exits 2 and 4.  The project was highlighted in a tweet last week, amplified by one from former Mayor Mark Boughton.  The DOT says it's one option, but not considered viable. 

The project manager says nearly two dozen concepts have been examined.  The DOT Project website says cutting a tunnel under University Boulevard would not reduce congestion or improve mobility on the highway, recommending that this concept be dismissed from further consideration. 

This is part of long term plans to improve I-84 from the New York state line out to exit 8.

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Easton Fire Department promotes Fire Prevention Week

This is Fire Prevention Week.  Easton Volunteer Fire Department says the theme is “learn the sounds of fire safety.”  From beeps to the chirps, this year’s campaign works to better educate the public about the sounds smoke alarms make, what those sounds mean, and how to respond to them.   According to the latest National Fire Prevention Association “Smoke Alarms in the U.S.” report, working smoke alarms in the home reduce the risk of dying in a reported fire by more than half.  The campaign also addresses special considerations for the deaf and hard of hearing, along with information about carbon monoxide alarms. The difference between the sound of a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm is three beeps for smoke, four for CO.

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Utility relocations mostly complete for reconstruction project in Monroe

Over 90% of utility relocations are now complete for the Pepper Street reconstruction project in Monroe.  90-percent of the $7 million project is being paid for with federal and state grants. But it's been a challenge because of the extensive number of overhead and underground utilities that require relocation.  First Selectman Ken Kellogg says the utility companies are not bound by the project schedule.  There have also been delays because of  pandemic-related supply chain issues and staffing challenges. Significant roadwork and drainage improvements will resume this week and involved excavating and road widening.  New gravel, a base course of pavement, and new curbing will also be installed, which requires lane shifting during construction.  The balance of the road reconstruction, completion of the section of the multi-use Housatonic Valley Rail Trail, as well as the final top course of pavement, is projected for the spring.

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Mohegan Sun suspends betting on WNBA at new sportsbook

Mohegan Sun has suspended wagering on the WNBA after questions were raised over a potential conflict in taking bets on the Connecticut Sun, a team also owned by the Mohegan Tribe.  Kent State Representative Maria Horn, who co-chairs the legislative committee that oversees gambling, said the potential conflict may be addressed in the next legislative session, when permanent regulations are approved for the state’s three approved sportsbooks.  The issue came up after Governor Lamont opened the sportsbook Thursday, the first day of legalized sports betting in Connecticut, by placing a $50 bet on the Sun to win its playoff game with the Chicago Sky.  Mohegan President Jeff Hamilton says they're in the process of updating standard operating procedures. Horn says the emergency regulations bars Mohegan Sun employees, including those involved with the team, from placing bets at the sportsbook. They also prohibited anyone from betting on games involving UConn, Yale or any other university in the state.  Horn noted that this is a major expansion of gambling and she would be very surprised if they got everything right in the first bite.

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Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting today

The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce is hosting their Annual Meeting virtually this morning.  Board Chairman Cynthia Merkle will give an update on the state of the Chamber.  The keynote speaker is David Lehman, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.  The state agency oversees a wide range of programs promoting business growth, brownfield redevelopment, the arts, historic preservation and tourism. 

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School construction in Brookfield, New Fairfield prompts polling location changes

Residents in a couple of polling districts next month will have to cast ballots elsewhere due to school construction projects.  In Brookfield, District 1 will once again be unable to use the Huckleberry Hill site due to the construction of a new school, to be named Candlewood Lake Elementary.  The alternate location is St. Marguerite Parish Hall on Candlewood Lake Road.  In New Fairfield, Meeting House Hill School is under construction so residents of the 108th House District will cast ballots in the New Fairfield Middle School cafeteria on Gillotti Road.  All future elections at the site of the future Consolidated Early Learning Academy will be moved until construction is completed. 

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No injuries reported in Redding house fire

A house fire in Redding required mutual aid Friday night, but was contained to the room of origin. West Redding was dispatched to Marchant Road shortly before 8:30pm on a report of fire coming from the rear of the home.  Bethel Fire and EMS, along with Redding and Georgetown, responded to the scene.  All occupants and two dogs were safely outside when firefighters arrived.  Firefighters opened the two story cathedral ceiling and worked to protect the recently framed addition.  Fire officials say roof operations were limited due to a solar panel array. No injuries were reported.  Mutual aid was also provided by Miry Brook, Weston Volunteer and Easton Volunteer, and Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Departments. The West Redding Fire Marshall is investigating the cause.

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Southbury Police investigate theft at grocery store

Southbury Police are investigating a theft at Shoprite that happened over the weekend.  A shopper dropped an envelope with his name written on it on Saturday morning.  The envelope contained a weeks worth of income, but was picked up by a woman wearing a dark green and black camo jacket.  She counted the money, pocketed it and threw out the envelope in a nearby trash can.  The woman left in a grey or silver SUV.  Southbury Police say the victim doesn't want to pursue criminal charges if the money is returned.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Southbury Police.  Since posting about the theft, officers have fielded questions about how to help the victim.  The Police Department is accepting Shop Rite gift cards at the police station, with special attention to Ofc. Alfano.

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Conn. launches elder justice hotline

Connecticut recently launched a hotline designed to help adults who have been the victim of age-based discrimination in the workplace, scams, fraud, elder abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation.  Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding says people can fire a consumer-related complaint online with the Office of the Attorney General.  Anyone who has been or knows someone who has been a victim, can contact the Elder Abuse Hotline at (860) 808-5555.  

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Eversource COVID-19 Payment Program extended to Feb.

New Fairfield officials are alerting residents to an announcement from the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.  The renewal of Connecticut’s COVID-19 emergency measures through February 15th means that all ratepayers are still eligible for the COVID-19 Payment Program.  Customers actively enrolled in a COVID-19 Payment Program cannot have their utility service terminated for non-payment.

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Most Greater Danbury area school staff vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Greater Danbury area school districts have vaccination rates among staff members in the mid-90 percent range.  In Bethel and Brookfield about 95-percent of staffers each are vaccinated and the others have agreed to weekly testing.  Region 9 has 94-percent vaccination rates, with the unvaccinated agreeing to the testing mandate.  New Fairfield has about 96-percent of staff vaccinated, with 2 dozen employees testing weekly.  In Danbury, only 76-percent of school staff members are vaccinated.  Nearly 190 staff agreed to weekly testing.  At the last Danbury Board of Ed meeting, district officials outlined the timelines for compliance.  Staff can get tested on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday and must submit their results electronically by 4pm on Tuesday.

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New Milford Town Council considering ARPA allocations

The New Milford Town Council has received an update from the Mayor on American Rescue Plan Act funds coming to the town.  Mayor Pete Bass reviewed requests for the federal pandemic relief funds from various agencies. 

Over 700 people also responded to a survey about how to spend the town's allocation. 

He says the health department is requesting $240,000, the Senior Center asked for little more than $71,000 to return to its Advisory Council for the food served during the pandemic. and Fire Mashall wants $15,900 dollars. 

Requests were also made for money to set up a loan for capital repairs for people who lost jobs or hours due to the pandemic, to purchase generators for senior housing, money for the workforce housing fund, for economic development workforce training, broadband for the town and stipends for first responders and critical workers.  Other requests were money for a two year trial of a Domestic Violence Advocate for victims, infrastructure upgrades and waste water treatment investments such as connection fees for hooking into the sewer. 

Bass suggested haring from the public at the Board of Finance October 13th meeting.

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Violent crime in Danbury remains flat from 2019

The FBI has released crime data for 2020.  The information was gathered through the National Incident-Based Reporting System.  Violent crime in Danbury remained relatively flat last year, one less than 2019.  Danbury did experience four homicides last year though, a level not seen since 2006.  There were 98 violent crimes, including homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.  Robberies in Danbury rose to 40 in 2020, up 42 percent from the year before  Aggravated assault fell to 45, down 15 percent from 2019.  Overall property crime decreased in Danubry last year. 

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DHS grad appointed as district Assistant Director of Special Education

A Danbury High School graduated has been appointed as the school district's Assistant Director of Special Education.  Crystal Taft has worked in Danbury schools for 20 years.  Responsibilities in her new position include supporting the director in overseeing the department district wide.  Taft says educating and caring for students are a first priority, despite the many challenges of a large school district and very limited funding and resources.

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Ground breaking ceremony tomorrow in Redding for outdoor learning space

A ground breaking ceremony is planned tomorrow in Redding on an outdoor space for school children.  Project COOL, which stands for Create an Oasis for Outdoor Learning, will see an outdoor amphitheater constructed on the south side of John Read Middle School.  The outdoor learning space will have seating for 50 students and a small pavilion.  The school district says the goal is to blend the classroom with the environment, giving students more time in nature.  The pavilion will be a pre-engineered structure and the project will be completed in two phases.  The first is to clear a wooded area and level out the land.  The pavilion is not expected to be installed until next year due to material backorders.  About $32,000 of the $50,000 cost has been raised to date.

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Alex Jones loses lawsuits over Sandy Hook 'hoax' conspiracy

A Texas judge has found Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones liable for damages in three defamation lawsuits related to his claims that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax. Judge Maya Guerra Gamble in Austin entered default judgments against Jones and other defendants this week for failing to turn over documents to lawyers for the parents of two children killed in the shooting. Juries will now determine how much in damages he will have to pay. Jones and one of his lawyers criticized the ruling. Twenty children and six educators were killed in the 2012 shooting. Jones has since acknowledged that the massacre did occur.

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Rally held in Kent over protecting women's health, abortion rights

A rally was held in Kent over the weekend about protecting women’s health and abortion rights.  More than 300 people turned out on Saturday at Kent Town Hall, including Lt Gov Susan Bysiewicz.  Shje says it was an important location because of the legal history in Litchfield County when it comes to Roe v Wade. Catherine Roraback of North Canaan helped bring the case Griswold v Connecticut to the U.S. Supreme Court.  She noted that the case gave the Supreme Court the underpinning and the protection of privacy because it said married couples could use contraception, the basis for the right to privacy in Roe.  Kent state Representative Maria Horn and First Selectman Jean Speck also spoke at the event.  It was one of many rallies held across the country in response to the law that took effect in Texas last month.

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Regional Animal Control gives update on dogs rescued from Sherman fire

Regional Animal Control, which provides services in Bridgewater, Brookfield, New Milford, Roxbury, and Sherman have given an update on some of the dogs rescued from a Sherman house fire last month.  The New Fairfield/Sherman Animal Welfare Society and Animal Welfare Society Inc of New Milford have taken 7 of the 18 dogs.  Officials says a great deal of veterinary care, comfort and other accommodations have already been provided to these animals by the organizations.  The dogs were found living in very tough, outdoor chained and caged situations. Though none of the animals removed from the fire scene presented immediate, emergency life-threatening injuries, Regional Animal Control said they will need a significant amount of veterinary care.

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Paddlecraft ID Stickers are now available in Greater Danbury

Candlewood Lake Authority says paddlecraft ID Stickers are now available.  Recreational users can pick one up at Park and Recreation offices in Danbury, Brookfield, New Fairfield, New Milford and Sherman.  The stickers should be filled out with a permanent marker and adhered to a kayak, canoe or paddleboard in a visible location.

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Donation helps Brookfield Fire offset cost of upcoming EMT class

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company has received a $1500 donation from Responder Wellness to offset the cost of an upcoming EMT class.  The donation will not only help subsidize education and equipment to first responders, but fire company officials say the company has built a pathway to assist first responders in achieving mental and physical wellness through various program sponsorships.

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Parking capacity expansion proposed for state launch at Squantz Cove

Comments have been submitted to the state Department of Energy and Environtmantal Protection on proposed Squantz Cove state boat launch improvements on Candlewood Lake in New Fairfield.  One was overcrowding concerns by increasing parking by 25 spaces through parking lot improvements.  The listed parking capacity is 100 cars with trailers, but due to the gravel parking lot design with undesignated spaces, the facility did not always reach capacity and the listing was reduced to 75 spaces.  With the planned improvements, DEEP plans to return to a 100 space limit, with more controlled and improved traffic flow.  The renovated launch will be displacing many picnickers who may have used a portion of the park. 

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Municipalities draw closer to thresholds to remove indoor mask mandates

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel's COVID-19 infection rate has fallen about a percentage point from last reporting period to 2.4-percent, with 8.3 cases per 100,000 population.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker has said he's looking for a rate under 2-percent and 10 cases in order to lift the indoor mask mandate for vaccinated individuals. 

Brookfield's COVID-19 infection rate has dropped more than a percentage point from last reporting period to 3.6-percent, with 14.3 cases per 100,000 population.  First Selectman Steve Dunn has said he's looking for a rate under 3-percent and 10 cases in order to lift the indoor mask mandate for vaccinated individuals.

New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rate over the last two weeks reported has declined by more than a percent to 2.7-percent.  New Milford's rate also dipped from the previous week to 1.7-percent while Newtown's rate dropped more than a percent to 2-percent. 

Redding's COVID-19 infection rate has declined and the case rates declined enough for the town to drop into the Yellow zone from Orange.  In last two weeks reported, infections went from 3.7 to 2.8-percent.  Ridgefield's infection rate held steady at 2.6, but cases pushed the town from Yellow to Orange. 

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Ridgefield Police, Fire to host Annual Safety Day this weekend

The Ridgefield Police Benevolent Association, the Ridgefield Volunteer Fire Department and the Ridgefield Professional Firefighters Association will be holding their Annual Safety Day this weekend.  The family oriented event will take place in the parking lot of East Ridge Middle School on October 3rd from 10am to 2pm. 

Admission is free. 

At 11:30, the Eagle One Helicopter will be landing on the ball field for a demonstration.  A K-9 demonstration is planned by by Officer Murray and K-9 Loki at 12:15pm.  Fire and Police vehicles will be on display throughout the event. 

Appointments can be made for a child car seat inspection/installation clinic by calling the Ridgefield Police Department in advance.

BLAST (Lyme Disease Prevention Program), Ridgefield Police Benevolent Association, Ridgefield Fire Department, C.E.R.T (Community Emergency Response Team), Ridgefield Prevention Council, Firearm Safety and others will have information tables set up.

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Women's Center Virtual Safe Walk set for this weekend

The Women's Center of Greater Danbury has so far raised nearly $68,000 for the Virtual SafeWalk, taking place this weekend.  People are being called on to move any time anywhere today through Sunday and raise funds.  The SafeWalk event is meant to further their  mission to end domestic violence and raise funds to support  no cost, confidential programs and services. 

 

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COVID-19 cases drop in some Greater Danbury area towns, increase in others

Danbury's COVID-19 test positivity rate has dropped again from the last reporting period to  2.4 percent from 3.3-percent.  91 cases have been reported to the state between September 12th and 25th.  That's 7.7 cases per 100,000 population. 

There's been a big drop in the number of municipalities in the state Department of Public Health's Red Alert Zone for COVID-19 community spread.  It went from 81 last week to 57 this week. 

Brookfield has dropped down from Red to Orange, going from 18.1 cases per 100,000 to 14.3. New Fairfield dropped from Orange to Yellow, between 5 and 9 cases per 100,000.  New Fairfield has 8.7 cases per 100,000.  The town has made a concerted effort to get residents vaccinated, with mobile clinics held twice a week all last month. 

Ridgefield and Wilton moved up to Orange from Yellow, with 10 to 15 cases per 100,000. 

Bethel, Newtown and Redding are all in the Yellow zone.  Sherman, Kent and the Region 12 towns are in the Grey zone, for having fewer than 5 cases per 100,000 over the last two weeks reported.

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Conn. Supreme Court takes up case of crematory proposed in Bethel

The Connecticut Supreme Court has heard arguments in the case of Shawn McLoughlin versus the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission.  McLoughlin owns property in Clarke industrial park, Mono-Crete Step, and wanted to construct a crematory.  The issue is whether the Commission can deny a special permit application based on noncompliance with general standards, despite full compliance with technical requirements.  After holding public hearings, the commission denied the special permit application and McLoughlin appealed to the trial court, which dismissed the appeal on grounds that the commission's denial was supported by substantial evidence in the record.  The Appellate affirmed the trial court's judgment that the industrial park and surrounding area, and the welfare of the town, would be adversely affected by allowing the plaintiff to operate a crematory at the location.  One justice questioned the attorney for the Commission, saying he was trying to determine how this wasn't a NIMBY case, a not-in-my-backyard argument.  The justices did not issue an immediate ruling in the case. 

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Danbury residents can request replacement for lost COVID-19 vaccine card

The Danbury Health Department is making an option available for people who lose their vaccine cards, and need proof of inoculation status.  Vaccine record requests have been growing as employers require workers to get the shot. 

Health Director Kara Prunty says anyone who received a vaccine in Connecticut and needs a replacement card can log onto a state website to receive an electronic version of the card.  Residents can also call the City of Danbury Department of Health & Human Services request a replacement card.  Those can then be mailed to the patient's address, or picked up at City Hall. 

The state’s immunization database, CT WiZ, can be accessed online with name, date of birth, gender and the email address or phone number used at the time of the vaccination appointment.

The health care provider who administered the vaccine, such as a pharmacy or health center, will have the record,  But people can also log back into the VAMS portal, federal Vaccine Administration Management System, and click a link for a copy of their certificate. 

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DEEP responds to comments on proposed Squantz Cove boat launch changes

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has responded to public comments submitted about proposed improvements to the Candlewood Lake State boat launch at Squantz Cove in New Fairfield.  The draft design plan was released in March and a public information meeting was held that month.  Plans call for a fixed toilet building.  DEEP is considering the installation of gates for when the launch is filled to capacity.  DEEP is looking into removing the island in the turning area and adding another section for rigging boats to provide additional space for boaters to prep for launch. 75-percent of the renovations will be funded with federal dollars, with 25-percent state matching funds.  Once the design is complete, the permits will have to be obtained.  DEEP estimates this could take about six months.  There are no set timelines for the work, but during that time the launch will be closed for renovations due to liability.  The goal is to do construction during the off-season to minimize impacts to boating access.

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Danbury considers zoning change for part of Federal Road

The Danbury Zoning Commission has taken up a proposal to make changes to 4 properties on Federal Road near the Brookfield border.  An application is looking for a zone change from industrial to commercial.  Zoning Commission Chair Ted Haddad says there were unregistered vehicles, garbage and other bulky debris scattered throughout the 1-point-6 acre parcel of land.  One landlord responded during a hearing that he plans to clean up the site.  The properties are located at 21 to 39 Federal Road.  Planning Director Sharon Calitro supports the proposal to convert one of the last industrial parcels on northern Federal Road into commercial land.  In a report to the Planning and Zoning Commissions she said that over time the uses along the corridor have changed to a more retail nature.  One reason she supports the change is that it could provide more attractive and safer parking layouts.  The public hearing was closed on Wednesday night, but the commission did not issue a ruling.

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Southbury Zoning votes for moratorium on cannabis establishments

The Southbury Zoning Commission has voted unanimously for a moratorium on cannabis establishments.  The town opted for a 9 month ban, allowing the commission time to determine the best locations for retailers and create regulations.  Current regulations would allow cannabis retailers anywhere retailers are permitted, including sections of Main Street South, Heritage Road and Southford Road.  The Zoning Commission could amend the regulations.  Any proposed changes would have to go through the public hearing process.  The state law bases the number of cannabis retailers and micro-cultivators to one for every 25-thousand residents.

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