Local Headlines Archives for 2021-11

Traffic delays expected in CityCenter Danbury due to Mayoral swearing in

Danbury Mayor-Elect Dean Esposito will take the oath of office tonight.  A prayer service at the First Congregational Church of Danbury for all Danbury elected officials and then a procession from City Hall concludes at the Palace Theater. 

The procession will leave from City Hall at the corner of Deer Hill Avenue and West Street and use the right lane, toward Main Street.  Police will be escorting the group across Main Street.  Drivers are asked to use caution in the area and expect some delays.  There will also be a brief closure of Main Street as the procession moves across toward the Palace Theater.  

The swearing in will begin at 6pm, with state Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Mark Boughton serving as the Master of Ceremonies. Probate Judge Dianne Yamin will swear Esposito into office, and Chief Legal Officer Robert Yamin will swear in all other elected officials. 

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Danbury Trojans youth football team headed to the Nationals

The Danbury Trojans youth football team is headed to the Nationals. This is the first time in over 20 years that the 12U team has been eligible to compete in the Pop-Warner Football National Championship.  The undefeated team outscored opponents 320-56 and will face off against 7 of the best teams in the nation for the right to claim the title of national champs.  Mayor Joe Cavo helped secure a $2,500 grant for the team from the  Danbury Education Foundation.  21 athletes will be traveling to Florida to participate.  The Danbury Athletic Youth Organization has raised more than $17,000 toward their $45,000 GoFundMe goal with 161 donations. 

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COVID-19 Booster shot clinics held in Danbury

The Connecticut Institute for Communities is offering COVID-19 booster shots of Pfizer and Moderna in Danbury. The Pfizer booster clinics are Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, Moderna on Tuesday and Thursdays at 132 Main Street.  The hours all week are 9:45am to 12:30pm and 2pm to 5pm. 

The Community Health Center of Danbury is holding walk in COVID-19 booster clinics, with all three brands available.  The doses will be administered by CHS staff at 118 Memorial Drive in the Patrick Waldron Building Tuesdays through Saturdays.  The hours Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are 2pm to 7pm, Wednesdays 11:30am to 2:30pm and Fridays noon to 6pm.

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Local fire departments warn of fundraising scams

Some local volunteer fire departments are warning about a scam trend starting to spread in Connecticut.  A company called Trenddy Tee also goes by the name GearLaunch has been sending spam text messages with a link to a website that is selling shirts with area fire department logos or patches. Brookfield and Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Companies are warning that these scams are not affiliated with local fire department nor do they benefit them.

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Lt. Gov. to tour Easton farms

Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, state Department of Agriculture Commissioner Brian Hurlburt, Representative Anne Hughes and other local elected officials are touring different farms in Easton today. The tour is meant to showcase the state’s agricultural diversity, including small, women-operated businesses.  This comes on the heels of Small Business Saturday and the elected officials hope to highlight holiday shopping opportunities. There are over 5,500 farms spread across the state.  Connecticut’s agricultural industry contributes approximately $4 billion to the state’s economy each year.  First Selectman David Bindelglass will lead the state delegation on a tour of Shaggy Coos Farm, Silverman’s Farm, Maple Row Farm, and Easton Grows, LLC.

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Ridgefield Police welcomes new officer

The Ridgefield Police Department has welcomed a new officer, Brian Kay of New York. He was sworn in yesterday at a ceremony held at police headquarters. Kay was one of the top scorers after passing a written test, physical assessment, police board interview, police commission oral board, background check, polygraph exam, psychological evaluation and medical exam. Kay will continue his formal training at the New Haven Police Academy starting tomorrow.

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Conn. House, Senate districts redrawn using new Census data

The state House and Senate districts have been redrawn, but the bipartisan committee of eight legislative leaders and one former lawmaker needs more time on Congressional district boundaries.  Some changes were made at the state level to accommodate population growth in Fairfield County.  The Reapportionment Commission faces a deadline of today, but received U.S. Census data late due to the pandemic. 

The biggest change is that the Eastern Connecticut lost a district due to population shifts.  The 42nd House District was in the Ledyard area, but is now in Wilton.

A part of Newtown is no longer in the 112th House District, but northern Newtown is now part of the 107th with Brookfield.  All of Redding is now in the 135th District.  Most of New Milford remains in the 67th, but portions are in the 108th with New Fairfield and the 69th with Roxbury. 

Kent Representative Maria Horn says the 64th District gained the Town of Washington.  Goshen, which was divided in the 2011 redistricting, has been reunited into the 64th.  

When it comes to state Seante districts, the goal is to have between 95,000 and 105,000 residents.  Most of Bethel is now included in the 28th Senate district with Newtown, Easton and Fairfield.  That changed the 24th Senate District to include Danbury, southern New Fairifled and half of Ridgefield.  The Stony Hill section of Bethel and southern Brookfield have moved into the 32nd district, currently represented by Republican Eric Berthel of Watertown.  The 32nd moved south, losing portions of Warren and Washington to the 30th. 

In Litchfield County, the 30th Senate District, the largest geographically in the state, which borders New York and Massachusetts, grew to the east, and now includes all of Torrington. The district is represented by Republican Craig Miner.

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Danbury Sgt dies of cancer at age 45

The Danbury Police Department is mourning one of their own.  Sgt David Cooney passed away Sunday night at the age of 45 after a long battle with cancer.  He was a 20-year veteran of the department.   His most recent assignment was supervisor of the Crime Scene Unit, administrator for the department’s records management system, and liaison to several external agencies.  Cooney was also past President of the police union.  Police said in a statement that he's been a member of the Police family since birth.  His father, Captain Dennis Cooney, served for 21 years before succumbing to a fatal heart attack while on duty in 1994.  The statement notes that Cooney was highly respected by those who knew him and will be remembered for his dedicated service to the department and the city, and for his great sense of humor.

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Thefts from cars reported in New Fairfield, Wilton

More crimes of opportunity are being reported in New Fairfield and in Wilton.  The New Fairfield Resident State Trooper's Office says a car was broken into over the holiday weekend.  In Wilton, there's been a 31-percent year to year increase in thefts from vehicles.  68 victims have reported this type of incident.  Wilton Police say all sections of town have been targeted and noted that there are some proven methods to avoid lost of property.  That includes locking unoccupied cars, removing valuables and not leaving keys inside cars.  Police in each town ask residents to report any suspicious activity to the police immediately.

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Jones wants Sandy Hook 'hoax' case jury to hear his defenses

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Bethel schedules more COVID-19 vaccine booster clinics as cases rise

Following several weeks of declining numbers, the rates of new COVID-19 infections and positive tests in Bethel are again on the rise with the arrival of colder weather and more indoor activities. The rate of new infections per 100,000 population stands at 9, and test positivity has climbed to 2.7 percent.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says both measures are about double from the previous report. At this time, about 70% of Bethel residents have started COVID vaccinations and 65% are fully vaccinated.

With the emergence of the new COVID Omicron variant, detected in parts of South Africa and Europe, Knickerbocker urged residents to continue to follow all safety protocols, such as masking and social distancing when in indoor public spaces.  Considering the expected increase in holiday season get-togethers, he also advised residents to get vaccinated. 

The Bethel Health Department has scheduled two additional Moderna booster clinics, today, November 30th and next Tuesday, December 7th.  The clinic hours are 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm in the General Purpose Room at Bethel Town Hall. 

Walk-in are welcome, but anyone who would prefer an appointment, can scheduled in advance by calling the health department COVID information line at 203-794-8530. That number is staffed from 8am to noon Monday through Friday. All booster shots are free of charge.

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Bear seriously injured in hit & run accident euthanized by state DEEP

A report Sunday morning from a motorist of what originally appeared to be an injured dog that was struck by a vehicle and lying in the area of Route 109 in New Milford turned out to be a bear.  Regional Animal Control says the call-taking officer contacted police, who noted that they received reports of an injured bear between Wellington and Chatfield Drive. 

When the animal control officer arrived, she found that the animal lying on the side of the road was in fact a yearling-sized black bear with serious, grave injuries.  The bear was bleeding from both its mouth and other areas of its body and was unable to lift its head and torso off the ground. 

State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection officers responded an euthanized the animal to prevent further suffering.  The driver was not on scene. 

Regional Animal Control officials say because bears or any other injured large animal in or alongside roadways can present a traffic safety issue, it is best to immediately contact your local police department or Troop A to advise of the situation.

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Brookfield firefighters offer reminder about fire lane rules

As more people are out and about doing holiday shopping, Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is offering a friendly reminder about fire lanes in front of stores.  They're meant for fire and EMS vehicles during emergencies. Motorists are asked not to park there as it might impede their response and could end with a ticket.

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Area fire departments quickly selling Christmas trees in fundraisers

Brewster Volunteer Fire Department has started their annual Christmas tree sales, with the trees arriving this weekend from Quebec.  They also have wreaths at  headquarters on North Main Street Monday trough Fridays 4pm to 8 and on weekends 10am to 8pm.  Sherman Volunteer Fire Department as of yesterday morning only had about half of their trees left.  The Balsam Firs come from Maine and firefighters can deliver within Sherman.

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New Milford road races raises money for Harrybrooke Park, JDRF

New Milford State Representative Bill Buckee and other volunteers have hosted the Run Santa Run 5k.  The funds raised from the 11th annual road race benefit Harrybrooke Park, with a portion of the proceeds given to JDRF to help find a cure for Juvenile Diabetes. New Milford also held its annual tree lighting over the weekend with the New Milford Chamber of Commerce and the United Methodist Men’s Club.  This was their 55th year of putting up the trees on the Green.

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Danbury starting a State-Mandated property Revaluation to update real estate assessments

The City of Danbury is starting a State-Mandated property Revaluation to update real estate assessments for the October 2022 Grand List.  The City has contracted with eQuality Valuation Services to assist the Assessor with the project. 

Mailers will be sent to all residential properties in December, which will list details such as style of house, room count, and special features.  

Danbury officials say the accuracy of the data is vital to the integrity and uniformity of the assessments and are offering residents different options for providing information for their property.  Residents can submit the data mailer online using the ID Code on the letter, complete the form and make any necessary changes--returning the form to eQuality directly or completing the form and returning it to the Assessor’s Office. 

City officials say the preferred method is online. 

In addition to verifying data, residents can update the photo associated with their property by emailing a picture of the front of the home, with no people or ads displayed, to equalitydanbury@gmail.com.  Name and address should be included. 

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Dryer fire under investigating in Brookfield

A dryer fire is under investigating in Brookfield.  Firefighters were called to Arrowhead Road yesterday evening by an automatic fire alarm.  The homeowner called 911 to report a fire in the basement and arriving firefighters saw smoke coming from the eaves.  The flames were quickly extinguished, but there was heavy smoke condition through out the structure which required ventilation. The Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company responded to the scene, Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company provided station coverage.  There were no injuries reported.

 

 

 

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Ridgefield reports high price for sale as winter approaches

With the first dusting of snow over the weekend, some area towns are planning for the winter.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says salt is coming in at a very high price this year due to limited supplies due to COVID. The Town budgeted for around $75 dollars but the price came in at $98. Before COVID, Ridgefield was conducting studies on salt use to possibly cut back on the amount.  Town officials say they have a good amount to start the season, but wanted to order immediately in case there are delays in getting it to Ridgefield.  The Board of Selectmen earmarked the difference from the town road aid account.

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Conn. continuing work to find partner school districts for Danbury's Open Choice pilot

Danbury School officials continue to work on plans for dealing with overcrowding in the buildings as enrollment grows.  The state earlier this year approved a pilot program call Open Choices for the Danbury and Norwalk districts.  This would allow city students to attend classes in neighboring towns.  Superintendent Kevin Walston told the Board of Ed last week that the state is still working on some things as no neighboring districts have agreed to partner with the City yet.  The state budget includes funding in the next two fiscal years enabling 50 Danbury students to participate in the first year, though it is dependent on how many seats in neighboring towns would be available.

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Data shows rise in COVID deaths in Connecticut nursing homes

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A dozen nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in Connecticut over a recent two week period, which is the largest number since mid-August, new data released Friday showed.

There were 125 positive cases of COVID-19 among residents between Nov. 10 and Nov. 23, with 12 deaths, according to state Department of Health data. Sixty-seven staff also tested positive during the same period. Five of those deaths occurred at Candlewood Valley Health and Rehabilitation Center in New Milford, which reported 36 positive cases among its 105 residents and eight positive cases among its staff.

A message was left seeking comment with the facility’s administrator.

The last time there were more than a dozen nursing deaths reported during a two-week period was between Aug. 18 and Aug. 31. At that time there were 16 deaths from COVID-19 among nursing home residents, 111 positive cases among residents and 94 cases among staff.

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut has grown by 267.4, an increase of 70.8%, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health recently announced it had begun issuing civil penalties that totaled more $19 million to 101 long-term care facilities across the state for not complying with Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order mandating staff be vaccinated. The affected facilities include nursing homes, assisted living services agencies, managed residential communities, residential care homes, chronic disease hospitals, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani called the facilities’ failure to report their vaccination compliance with Lamont’s order unacceptable.

“With the holidays and colder weather approaching, we expect cases of COVID-19 to rise in the community, which increases the chances that COVID-19 cases will rise in long-term care settings,” she said in a statement.

Representatives from the industry, however, have questioned the state’s figures, saying more analysis is needed to determine the extent of noncompliance. They predicted there will be high levels of staff vaccination when the final numbers are tallied.

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Report: Connecticut camps with complaints often unpunished

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, which licenses youth summer camps across the state, is often unable to substantiate complaints from camp staff and parents that can range from children being left unattended to instances of inappropriate touching, according to a review of state records.

Many of the cases are closed without the agency taking action, according documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request by Hearst Connecticut Media Group. Hearst reviewed 112 complaints against summer camps filed with the state office between 2015 and 2020. In most instances, camps are required to sign onto a plan for fixing any license violations and preventing a similar problem from recurring.

Debra Johnson, director of the Office of Early Childhood licensing division, said investigators follow guidelines that provide only a narrow scope for what wrongdoing they can look for. With no formal, written guidelines for substantiating a claim, she told Hearst that investigators make decisions on a “case-by-case basis,” using their own judgment. Johnson said the agency’s main focus is enforce state licensing requirements.

The office licenses more than 400 camps in Connecticut.

Hearst’s review did not find any instance when a camp’s license was suspended or revoked. There were four consent orders or formal disciplinary agreements reached with camps which Johnson said “may or may not have included a condition of probation.”

In some cases, other authorities, including the police or the Department of Children and Families, may be notified about complaints at camps.

“But we are very focused, and we only have the authority to cite a violation of our regulations. So that’s where our focus is,” Johnson said.

This summer, Camp Shane, a children’s weight-loss camp in Kent, voluntarily surrendered its license following a joint investigation by the Office of Early Childhood and the Department of Children and Families that stemmed from “concerns about health, safety and well-being of children enrolled at the summer youth camp.”

The agencies determined the camp falsified medication administration training documents and had issues with missing campers, among other problems. The owner called the violations minor and said he closed the camp due to staffing issues.

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Danbury needs a Plan B for serving the homeless population

Concerns are being raised over the future of services for the homeless in Danbury given the objections heard by the Zoning Commission on a proposal to officially turn the former Super 8 motel into a shelter.  Councilman Bob Taborsak questioned if the City has a Plan B for serving the homeless.  Health and Human Services Director Kara Prunty says the New Street Shelter is still operating, but will have fewer beds due to distancing guidelines.  The City does have time to come up with a plan.  The Govenror's executive order on congregate settings and the pandemic was continued to mid-February. 

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Towering musical theater master Stephen Sondheim dies at 91

NEW YORK (AP) — Stephen Sondheim, the songwriter who reshaped the American musical theater in the second half of the 20th century with his intelligent, intricately rhymed lyrics, his use of evocative melodies and his willingness to tackle unusual subjects, has died. He was 91.

Sondheim’s death was announced by Rick Miramontez, president of DKC/O&M. Sondheim’s Texas-based attorney, Rick Pappas, told The New York Times the composer died Friday at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut.

Sondheim influenced several generations of theater songwriters, particularly with such landmark musicals as “Company,” “Follies” and “Sweeney Todd,” which are considered among his best work. His most famous ballad, “Send in the Clowns,” has been recorded hundreds of times, including by Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins.

The artist refused to repeat himself, finding inspiration for his shows in such diverse subjects as an Ingmar Bergman movie (“A Little Night Music”), the opening of Japan to the West (“Pacific Overtures”), French painter Georges Seurat (“Sunday in the Park With George”), Grimm’s fairy tales (“Into the Woods”) and even the killers of American presidents (“Assassins”), among others.

Tributes quickly flooded social media as performers and writers alike saluted a giant of the theater. “We shall be singing your songs forever,” wrote Lea Salonga. Aaron Tveit wrote: “We are so lucky to have what you’ve given the world.”

“The theater has lost one of its greatest geniuses and the world has lost one of its greatest and most original writers. Sadly, there is now a giant in the sky,” producer Cameron Mackintosh wrote in tribute. Music supervisor, arranger and orchestrator Alex Lacamoire tweeted: “For those of us who love new musical theater: we live in a world that Sondheim built.”

Six of Sondheim’s musicals won Tony Awards for best score, and he also received a Pulitzer Prize (“Sunday in the Park”), an Academy Award (for the song “Sooner or Later” from the film “Dick Tracy”), five Olivier Awards and the Presidential Medal of Honor. In 2008, he received a Tony Award for lifetime achievement.

Sondheim’s music and lyrics gave his shows a dark, dramatic edge, whereas before him, the dominant tone of musicals was frothy and comic. He was sometimes criticized as a composer of unhummable songs, a badge that didn’t bother Sondheim. Frank Sinatra, who had a hit with Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” once complained: “He could make me a lot happier if he’d write more songs for saloon singers like me.”

To theater fans, Sondheim’s sophistication and brilliance made him an icon. A Broadway theater was named after him. A New York magazine cover asked “Is Sondheim God?” The Guardian newspaper once offered this question: “Is Stephen Sondheim the Shakespeare of musical theatre?”

A supreme wordsmith — and an avid player of word games — Sondheim’s joy of language shone through. “The opposite of left is right/The opposite of right is wrong/So anyone who’s left is wrong, right?” he wrote in “Anyone Can Whistle.” In “Company,” he penned the lines: “Good things get better/Bad gets worse/Wait — I think I meant that in reverse.”

He offered the three principles necessary for a songwriter in his first volume of collected lyrics — Content Dictates Form, Less Is More, and God Is in the Details. All these truisms, he wrote, were “in the service of Clarity, without which nothing else matters.” Together they led to stunning lines like: “It’s a very short road from the pinch and the punch to the paunch and the pouch and the pension.”

Taught by no less a genius than Oscar Hammerstein, Sondheim pushed the musical into a darker, richer and more intellectual place. “If you think of a theater lyric as a short story, as I do, then every line has the weight of a paragraph,” he wrote in his 2010 book, “Finishing the Hat,” the first volume of his collection of lyrics and comments.

Early in his career, Sondheim wrote the lyrics for two shows considered to be classics of the American stage, “West Side Story” (1957) and “Gypsy” (1959). “West Side Story,” with music by Leonard Bernstein, transplanted Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” to the streets and gangs of modern-day New York. “Gypsy,” with music by Jule Styne, told the backstage story of the ultimate stage mother and the daughter who grew up to be Gypsy Rose Lee.

It was not until 1962 that Sondheim wrote both music and lyrics for a Broadway show, and it turned out to be a smash — the bawdy “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” starring Zero Mostel as a wily slave in ancient Rome yearning to be free.

Yet his next show, “Anyone Can Whistle” (1964), flopped, running only nine performances but achieving cult status after its cast recording was released. Sondheim’s 1965 lyric collaboration with composer Richard Rodgers — “Do I Hear a Waltz?” — also turned out to be problematic. The musical, based on the play “The Time of the Cuckoo,” ran for six months but was an unhappy experience for both men, who did not get along.

It was “Company,” which opened on Broadway in April 1970, that cemented Sondheim’s reputation. The episodic adventures of a bachelor (played by Dean Jones) with an inability to commit to a relationship was hailed as capturing the obsessive nature of striving, self-centered New Yorkers. The show, produced and directed by Hal Prince, won Sondheim his first Tony for best score. “The Ladies Who Lunch” became a standard for Elaine Stritch.

The following year, Sondheim wrote the score for “Follies,” a look at the shattered hopes and disappointed dreams of women who had appeared in lavish Ziegfeld-style revues. The music and lyrics paid homage to great composers of the past such as Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and the Gershwins.

In 1973, “A Little Night Music,” starring Glynis Johns and Len Cariou, opened. Based on Bergman’s “Smiles of a Summer Night,” this rueful romance of middle-age lovers contains the song “Send in the Clowns,” which gained popularity outside the show. A revival in 2009 starred Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones was nominated for a best revival Tony.

“Pacific Overtures,” with a book by John Weidman, followed in 1976. The musical, also produced and directed by Prince, was not a financial success, but it demonstrated Sondheim’s commitment to offbeat material, filtering its tale of the westernization of Japan through a hybrid American-Kabuki style.

In 1979, Sondheim and Prince collaborated on what many believe to be Sondheim’s masterpiece, the bloody yet often darkly funny “Sweeney Todd.” An ambitious work, it starred Cariou in the title role as a murderous barber whose customers end up in meat pies baked by Todd’s willing accomplice, played by Angela Lansbury.

The Sondheim-Prince partnership collapsed two years later, after “Merrily We Roll Along,” a musical that traced a friendship backward from its characters’ compromised middle age to their idealistic youth. The show, based on a play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, only ran two weeks on Broadway. But again, as with “Anyone Can Whistle,” its original cast recording helped “Merrily We Roll Along” to become a favorite among musical-theater buffs.

“Sunday in the Park,” written with James Lapine, may be Sondheim’s most personal show. A tale of uncompromising artistic creation, it told the story of artist Georges Seurat, played by Mandy Patinkin. The painter submerges everything in his life, including his relationship with his model (Bernadette Peters), for his art.) It was most recently revived on Broadway in 2017 with Jake Gyllenhaal.)

Three years after “Sunday” debuted, Sondheim collaborated again with Lapine, this time on the fairy-tale musical “Into the Woods.” The show starred Peters as a glamorous witch and dealt primarily with the turbulent relationships between parents and children, using such famous fairy-tale characters as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel. It was most recently revived in the summer of 2012 in Central Park by The Public Theater.

“Assassins” opened off-Broadway in 1991 and it looked at the men and women who wanted to kill presidents, from John Wilkes Booth to John Hinckley. The show received mostly negative reviews in its original incarnation, but many of those critics reversed themselves 13 years later when the show was done on Broadway and won a Tony for best musical revival.

“Passion” was another severe look at obsession, this time a desperate woman, played by Donna Murphy, in love with a handsome soldier. Despite winning the best-musical Tony in 1994, the show barely managed a six-month run.

A new version of “The Frogs,” with additional songs by Sondheim and a revised book by Nathan Lane (who also starred in the production), played Lincoln Center during the summer of 2004. The show, based on the Aristophanes comedy, originally had been done 20 years earlier in the Yale University swimming pool.

One of his more troubled shows was “Road Show,” which reunited Sondheim and Weidman and spent years being worked on. This tale of the Mizner brothers, whose get-rich schemes in the early part of the 20th century finally made it to the Public Theater in 2008 after going through several different titles, directors and casts.

He had been working on a new musical with “Venus in Fur” playwright David Ives, who called his collaborator a genius. “Not only are his musicals brilliant, but I can’t think of another theater person who has so chronicled a whole age so eloquently,” Ives said in 2013. “He is the spirit of the age in a certain way.”

Sondheim was born March 22, 1930, into a wealthy family, the only son of dress manufacturer Herbert Sondheim and Helen Fox Sondheim. At 10, his parents divorced and Sondheim’s mother bought a house in Doylestown, Pa., where one of their Bucks County neighbors was lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, whose son, James, was Sondheim’s roommate at boarding school. It was Oscar Hammerstein who became the young man’s professional mentor and a good friend.

He had a solitary childhood, one that involved verbal abuse from his chilly mother. He received a letter in his 40s from her telling him that she regretted giving birth to him. He continued to support her financially and to see her occasionally but didn’t attend her funeral.

Sondheim attended Williams College in Massachusetts, where he majored in music. After graduation, he received a two-year fellowship to study with avant-garde composer Milton Babbitt.

One of Sondheim’s first jobs was writing scripts for the television show “Topper,” which ran for two years (1953-1955). At the same time, Sondheim wrote his first musical, “Saturday Night,” the story of a group of young people in Brooklyn in 1920s. It was to have opened on Broadway in 1955, but its producer died just as the musical was about to go into production, and the show was scrapped. “Saturday Night” finally made it to London’s Bridewell Theatre in 1997 and in New York off-Broadway in 2000.

Sondheim wrote infrequently for the movies. He collaborated with actor Anthony Perkins on the script for the 1973 murder mystery “The Last of Sheila,” and besides his work on “Dick Tracy” (1990), wrote scores for such movies as Alain Resnais’ “Stavisky” (1974) and Warren Beatty’s “Reds” (1981).

Over the years, there have been many Broadway revivals of Sondheim shows, especially “Gypsy,” which had reincarnations starring Angela Lansbury (1974), Tyne Daly (1989) and Peters (2003). But there also were productions of “A Funny Thing,” one with Phil Silvers in 1972 and another starring Nathan Lane in 1996; “Into the Woods” with Vanessa Williams in 2002; and even of Sondheim’s less successful shows such as “Assassins” and “Pacific Overtures,” both in 2004. “Sweeney Todd” has been produced in opera houses around the world. A reimagined “West Side Story” opened on Broadway in 2020 and this year an off-Broadway “Assassins” opened off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company and a scrambled “Company” opened on Broadway with the gender of the protagonist switched. A film version of “West Side Story” is to open this December directed by Steven Spielberg.

Sondheim’s songs have been used extensively in revues, the best-known being “Side by Side by Sondheim” (1976) on Broadway and “Putting It Together,” off-Broadway with Julie Andrews in 1992 and on Broadway with Carol Burnett in 1999. The New York Philharmonic put on a star-studded “Company” in 2011 with Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Colbert. Tunes from his musicals have lately popped up everywhere from “Marriage Story” to “The Morning Show.”

An HBO documentary directed by Lapine, “Six by Sondheim,” aired in 2013 and revealed that he liked to compose lying down and sometimes enjoyed a cocktail to loosen up as he wrote. He even revealed that he really only fell in love after reaching 60, first with the dramatist Peter Jones and then in his last years with Jeff Romley.

“Every so often someone comes along that fundamentally shifts an entire art form. Stephen Sondheim was one of those. As millions mourn his passing I also want to express my gratitude for all he has given to me and so many more,” singer and actor Hugh Jackman wrote via Twitter.

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Danbury Judge elected by peers as President-elect of the National College of Probate Judges

Danbury Probate Court Judge Dianne Yamin has been elected by her peers as President-elect of the National College of Probate Judges.  The selection came at the group's fall conference on November 11th. 

Yamin has been Danbury Probate Judge since 1990.

During the conference, judges from across the nation discussed the effects of the pandemic on court processes and on conservator jurisdiction of increases in the size of the older population.  They also talked about the increased incidence of mental illness cases and the opioid epidemic.  Yamin says judges must be responsive to the changing environmental factors in their jurisdictions and benefit from sharing best practices. 

The National College of Probate Judges is the only national organization exclusively dedicated to improving probate law and probate courts. 

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Redding hosts annual tree lighting, food drive

Redding's Annual Tree Lighting will be held on December 4th at 2pm.  Redding Park and Recreation is partnering with Scout Troop 306 and Redding Lions Club for the community day on the Redding Green.  The Redding and Newtown Police Departments are looking to fight hunger this holiday season.  They have teamed up for a food drive on December 12th at the Newtown Big Y and are calling on residents to help fill police cruisers with non-perishable food items.

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Workshop set in Danbury on updating Plan of Conservation and Development

The City of Danbury is hosting an in-person public workshop to hear from the public on how the City should manage growth, make investments, and improve the quality of life for its residents.  The workshop is part of the public engagement process for updating the City’s Plan of Conservation and Development, which is done each decade.  The workshop is December 2nd from 6pm to 8 at the Palace Theater.

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New Fairfield firefighters put out brush fire

New Fairfield 911 received multiple reports of a brush fire Wednesday on Douglas Lane.  Firefighters spotted the smoke and confirmed a working brush fire. The flames were quickly knocked down and only land was affected by the blaze. Firefighters were challenged by a steep hill, but were able to overcome that obstacle. There is no cause for the fire that is being released at this time.  Firefighters urged residents to be careful with outside fires, and to keep a hose nearby in case the fire becomes uncontained.

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Greater Danbury area Police offer advice for Black Friday shoppers

Greater Danbury area Police are offering some advice for Black Friday to protect shoppers while out and about.  Their primary recommendation is to keep parked vehicles locked and remove all items of value, partly because there's been an uptick in thefts from vehicles recently.  Police say shoppers should keep at least one hand free at all times and not to carry so many bags that you become an easy target for someone who may want to assault or rob you.  Anyone who sees someone who looks suspicious in the parking lot, should not park by that person and inform security or Police of their presence.

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Precincts selected at random for Election Day audit

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has randomly selected voting precincts to have results audited following the municipal election. Five percent of the polling precincts are subject to the audit.  The ballots will be matched against the vote totals from the optical scan machines.  Among the precincts chosen at random was the Newtown Middle School Gym.  Southbury Community Center District 3 was selected as an alternate to be audited.  Merrill says this process is one of the strongest protections Connecticut has in order to ensure that the results accurately reflect the votes cast.

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Public Health Department updates Danbury area COVID-19 data

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel has had 25 cases of COVID-19 in the last two weeks, Brookfield reported 35 and Danbury experienced 89.  There were 11 COVID cases in New Fairfield, 82 in New Milford and 27 in Newtown.  Redding reported 17 cases in the last two weeks while Ridgefield had 41.

The state department of Public Health is reporting that Bethel has a COVID-19 infection rate of 2.7 percent.  Danbury is similar at 2.8 percent.  The rate is based on population per 100,000.  Brookfield's COVID-19 infection rate over the last two weeks is 4.1 percent. New Fairfield's is 5.7 percent while New Milford is at 5.9 percent.  Newtown's COVID-19 infection rate ticked up a bit to 2 percent.  Redding has seen a spike in cases and the infection rate is 4.3 percent.  Ridgefield's positivity rate is 2 percent. 

The state's latest daily COVID-19 test positivity rate is 3.72 percent.  841 positive confirmed or probable cases were detected out of about 22,000 tests. 

There were 18 more patients in the hospital with COVID.  The inpatient total is 300.  31 people have died in Connecticut over the past week from causes related to COVID-19. 

As for breakthrough infections, 22,621 cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated persons in Connecticut have been identified, a .93 percent breakthrough rate.

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COVID-19 cases increase in Danbury area

Many more Connecticut municipalities are reporting higher cases of COVID-19.  The state's color coded community spread map shows a few Greater Danbury area towns in the Red, with 15 or more cases per 100,000 population.  That includes New Milford, Southbury, Bridgewater, Roxbury and Woodbury.  In the Orange zone with 10 to 15 cases per 100,000 population over two weeks are Brookfield, Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton.  The Yellow zone, with 5 to 10 cases per 100,000 population include Danbury, Bethel, Newtown, New Fairfield and Weston.  In the Grey, with fewer than 5 cases, are Sherman, Kent and Washington.

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New American Dream Foundation to deliver holiday meal to Danbury seniors

The New American Dream Foundation COVID-19 Hot Meal Program will be delivering a special holiday meal to Danbury seniors and families this Thanksgiving Saturday.  Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the program has served children, families, and seniors in Danbury with over 30,000 meals purchased at cost from The Amber Room. 

A UConn report found that 10.9 percent of older adults in Danbury are food insecure.  According to the United Way, in parts of the city, food insecurity among older adults is as high as 30 percent, likely increasing due to the pandemic. 

On Saturday, between 11:30 am and noon, 650 meals will be delivered to seniors residing at, Palace View, Kimberly Place, Danbury Towers, Augustana Homes, Putnam Towers, Glen Apartments, Crosby Manor, and Danbury Commons.  As part of the special Holiday Meal delivery, members of the National Charity League Nutmeg chapter have also prepared handmade greeting cards to be delivered with each meal. Anyone interested in volunteering or donating can find more details at thenewamericandreamfoundation.org

Foundation Vice-President Emanuela Palmares says they not only provide a warm meal, but safe human contact to the most vulnerable seniors in the community.  She says their excitement to say hello to our volunteers is what drives them to continue the monthly meal delivery program. 

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84 stolen vehicles recovered over two-months by local police coalition

84 stolen vehicles have been recovered over a two-month period as a result of local police departments working together in a collaboration dubbed Operation Wingspan.  Newtown Police Chief James Viadeo says 11 of those were recovered while being used in the commission of another crime.  The $5 million operation, using state funds, involved Newtown, Bridgeport, Fairfield, Westport, Monroe, Trumbull, and Stratford along with the FBI. 

The departments have arrested 38 adults and seven juveniles, seized 12 guns, and recovered narcotics.  Monroe Chief John Salvatore says one of the guns was later traced to a shooting. 

The police chiefs say the same technology that makes driving a modern car more convenient also makes it easier to steal.  Their efforts will continue through the end of the year and Viadero says they're asking the state if they want to extend the funding. 

The coalition is based in the recently opened Bridgeport Police Fusion Center.  A couple of town police officers joined nearly a dozen from Bridgeport to monitor about 12-hundred cameras around the Ciuy and pool their information from license plate readers.

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Brookfield Police report uptick in stolen cars, thefts from vehicles

There has been a significant uptick in stolen vehicles and thefts from cars throughout Brookfield over the past week.  Brookfield Police say several vehicles have been stolen and numerous unlocked cars have been entered and items removed. Police say there are a few simple acts that can stop these nighttime thieves, including locking doors, removing keys and placing them in a secure area.  Valuables should not be left in vehicles and anything suspicious should be reported to Police.

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No injuries in Bethel, Brookfield rollovers

No injuries were reported in a rollover accident in Bethel yesterday afternoon.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company responded to Walnut Hill Road and found the sole occupant uninjured.  In Brookfield yesterday morning, firefighters responded to a rollover accident on Huckleberry Hill Road. There were no injuries reported.  On Tuesday night though, two drivers were injured in a  Brookfield crash.  The accident happened in the area of Whisconier and Pocono roads.  The crash also resulted in a large fluid spill in the area. Crews remained at the scene for roughly 45 minutes until the crash site was cleared and the spill was handled.

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New Milford man arrested for alleged drug sales

New Milford Police have arrested a local man on drug related charges.  Police say 53-year old Robert Rotella was charged on Tuesday after an investigation by local Police and the statewide narcotics task force.  He was found in possession of cocaine, fentanyl, Xanax and oxycodone.  Rotella was charged with operating a drug factory, possession with intent to sell and 4 counts of possession of a controlled substance. He is due in court on December 8th.

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Zoning Commission rejects application for homeless shelter in Danbury

The Danbury Zoning Commission has rejected an application for a regulation change that would have paved the way for the former Super 8 motel in Danbury officially being changed into a homeless shelter.  The vote against was 6 to 3.  The three were Commissioners Kelly, Masi and Melillo. 

Commission member Candace Fay says the shelter changes the character of the neighborhood.  She and others opposed to the application cited safety and other concerns.  Some members also expressed concern that the application could be viewed as spot zoning, which is illegal.  Only three other properties in Danbury would fit the proposed regulation. 

The application was for an 86 room facility with supportive services.  Pacific House planned to provide 48 supportive housing units, with the rest of the rooms for emergency beds.  The state worked with the Stamford-based nonprofit to use $4.63 million in federal funds to purchase the property.  Had the Commission approved the application, Pacific House would next needed to have applied to the Planning Commission for a Special Permit.

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New Fairfield Holiday Light Parade this weekend

The 10th Annual New Fairfield Holiday Light Parade will take place on Saturday, with a rain/snow date of Sunday.  The parade will start at 5:15 at the intersection of Saw Mill Road and Route 37, proceeding up Brush Hill Road past Town Hall, and ending at Brush Drive. The Town Tree on Memorial Field will be lit following the parade.  Santa's Wonderland will be located in front of the Senior Center located at 33 Route 37.  Santa will be accepting letters from children during the drive through.  No reservations required.

 

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Bethel FD Christmas Tree sale set to begin

Some reports are that there could be a Christmas tree shortage this year, but Bethel Fire Department has been planning for this.  Last week a handful of members drove over 600 miles to bring home 225 trees for their annual fundraiser.  Area residents can begin purchasing the New England-grown trees on Friday.  They are $45 each, with trees ranging from 6 feet to 9 feet, and firefighters can help families shorten them if needed.

 

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Friends of the Danbury Library hosting weekend bag sale

The Friends of the Danbury Library are hosting a Thanksgiving weekend bag sale at the Friends Little Red House Book Store Friday and Saturday.  The hours are from 10am to 3pm at 15 Main Street. Items include pre-owned children and adult books, CDs, and DVDs.  The fundraiser for the library costs $10.  Attendees will receive a Friends cloth bag to fill with items, excluding rare and collectibles.

 

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Basketball courts being built at Rogers Park

Years ago the City of Danbury approved funding in the budget for basketball courts, but no location was ever found.  Now Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the $200,000 will be used to create a court at Rogers Park.  It will be a full regulation size court.  Over the years the Department identified potential locations, but environmental testing showed that none of them would be acceptable locations.  He notes that every square inch of the park is utilized, except one area where there used to be bathhouses for when there was a pool at the park.  An old sewer and an abandoned water main needed to be removed.  Iadarola says they did the design in-house and shoe-horned it in.  This was the only spot left to be able to fit a full sized court with seating around it.  It is handicap accessible.

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Grant to help bring Revolutionary War soldier stories to life

A grant will help make the stories of the soldiers who spent time at Putnam Park in Redding during the Revolutionary War more accessible.  The American Battlefield Protection Program at the National Park Service has awarded a 46-thousand-241 dollar grant to expand access to Revolutionary war history.  The funding is going to the CRIS, the Connecticut Radio Information System, which provides audio access to people who are blind or print challenged.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes touted the grant award.  Redding served as the winter encampment for three brigades of the Continental Army, under General Israel Putnam, during the winter of 1778-79.

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Danbury Zoning Commission rejects application for homeless shelter regulation changes

After more than 20 hours of testimony and 741 documents, the Danbury Zoning Commission has denied an application for a regulation change that would have allowed a homeless shelter on Lake Avenue Extension.  Pacific House recently bought the building and took over operations from the City.  The homeless population has been housed at the former Super 8 since the start of the pandemic.  The shelter will be allowed to continue operations under the Governor's executive orders on congregate settings, which expires in February.  The Commission voted 6-to-3 against the application.

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Sherman firefighters respond to report of car in pond

A sinking vehicle has been pulled from a pond in Sherman.  The Volunteer Fire Department was called to Schimpf Pon at Volunteer Park on Sunday afternoon.  It was unknown if the half-submerged minivan was occupied.  Firefighters donned dry suits and entered the water to search for potential victims.  No occupants were found in the vehicle.  The driver was later located and evaluated before being transported to New Milford Hospital.  Gaylordsville Volunteer Fire responded with mutual aid.  Crews cleared the scene about 2 and a half hours later. 

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Bethel Firefighters caution of Thanksgiving cooking dangers

Bethel Fire & EMS is warning that frying pans can catch fire.  They say it's a natural reaction to reach for a pot of water, but grease fires and water do not mix.  This holiday season, as residents spend more time in the kitchen,  people are urged to be confident with how to safely smother a grease fire to avoid a dangerous situation.  Bethel and Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Companies have created safety videos, posted to their Facebook page.

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New Fairfield firefighters offer cooking safety tips

The last two nights the New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department had been called to extinguish chimney fires. With the colder weather setting in, fire officials are reminding residents to get chimneys cleaned prior to use each year.  The New Fairfield Fire Marshal is also offering some Thanksgiving cooking safety tips.  Those include staying in the kitchen to keep an eye on the food, keeping children away from the stove and away from knives.  Fire officials note that the steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.

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Danbury City Council members recommend sale of Tuxedo Junction building

A group of Danbury City Council members are recommending that the former Tuxedo Junction building, which the City owns, be sold to Savings Bank of Danbury.  The bank is looking to construct a 35,000 square foot office building at the corner of Main and White Streets, also buying the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut Escape to the Arts facility. 

The facility would house the bank’s non-branch, back office operations.  The Y and Tuxedo buildings would be demolished and replaced with a new four story structure.  

The Tuxedo Junction building, which has been vacant since 2015, was purchased by the City in 2017 for about $395,000. According to Vision Appraisal, it's worth $606,000. 

If the ad hoc committee's recommendation is approved by the full City Council, the proposed disposition of the property would go to a public hearing.  The sale would need two thirds vote of the Council.  Negotiations on the sale price are expected after an official appraisal is completed. 

Councilman Ben Chianese opposed the sale of the Tuxedo Junction building, though supports the corner of White and Main Streets being developed by Savings Bank of Danbury. He wants the City to put the municipally owned parcel out to bid again.  But Mayor Joe Cavo says the building needs $600,000 to $1 million worth of work in order for it to be occupied by a tenant.  Danbury officials say the building has fallen into disrepair since the City took ownership. 

Former Mayor Mark Boughton attended the ad hoc committee meeting and noted that he is providing free consulting services to Savings Bank of Danbury. 

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.  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.

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Man reported missing in Stamford found dead in Redding

A man reported missing last week in Stamford has been found dead in Redding.  On Friday Redding Police located an unoccupied vehicle at the West Redding Train Station belonging to the man reported missing Thursday.  While processing the vehicle, Stamford Police located a note. 

A multi-agency area search involving drones and K9 units was carried out, but the operator was not located. 

Stamford Police continued their investigation and conducted another large scale area search with State Police yesterday.  A deceased male was located in a wooded area off Sidecut Road and Simpaug Turnpike and his body was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.  Redding Police say this is an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Stamford Police Department. 

Stamford Police identified the missing man as 28-year old Shin Maeno.  There are no signs of foul play.

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Danbury seeks bids for High School Science Lab improvements

The City of Danbury is looking for Architectural Services for Danbury High School Science Lab Improvements.  Bids are due to the City by December 16th.

The proposed project involves the improvement of 14 science labs, associated prep room and storage spaces located on levels 4 and 5 in the C-wing of Danbury High School. The selected firm will be required to coordinate with the Danbury School Administration and Board of Education to develop Education Specifications based on the curriculum in order to program the new science lab spaces. Design work will be inclusive of architectural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, interior design, and code compliance. Demolition of existing spaces will involve hazardous materials abatement. 

The City intends for the construction to be completed in its entirety when school is out of session during the summer months of 2023.

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Two area towns hosting tree lighting ceremonies this weekend

Two area towns are hosting tree lighting ceremonies this weekend.  Brookfield is kicking off Saturday's festivities at the Town Center at 4:45pm with refreshments and then the lighting of the tree.  There will also be a fire truck ‘Parade of Lights’ around 5:20pm. St. Marguerite’s choir will also sing carols.  The events were virtual last year.  New Milford is hosting its 55th annual tree lighting ceremony in person once again.  After a virtual tree lighting last year, the festivities will kick off at the Village Green Saturday night.  The Greater New Milford Chamber of Commerce hosts the event beginning at 5:30pm.  The Men’s Club of the New Milford United Methodist Church sets up trees on the green annually.  A Facebook Live stream will also be available.

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Some COVID-19 vaccination, testing sites in Danbury closed for holiday

Some COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites in Danbury will be closed on various days this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday.  The 5-11-year-old pediatric vaccination clinic today at 132 Main Street will be closed.  The SEMA4 COVID-19 Testing Site at 35 Hayestown Road will be closed tomorrow and Friday.

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NY STOP-DWI High Visibility Engagement Campaign kicks off today

Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley and Putnam County police agencies will participate in special efforts to bring awareness to the dangers of impaired driving this long holiday weekend.  Langley says millions will hit the roads eager to spend time with family and friends, making it one of the busiest travel times of the year.  He noted that more people on the roadways means the potential for more vehicle crashes. In a combined effort to bring awareness to the dangers of impaired driving, prevent injuries and save lives law enforcement officers across New York State and STOP-DWI programs will be participating in special engagement efforts. The statewide STOP-DWI High Visibility Engagement Campaign starts today and will end on Sunday.  The initiative includes a mobile app called “Have a Plan” and helps people find a safe ride home.

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Redding health officials offer seasonal flu reminders

Redding health officials are offering some reminders as people head inside for the cold weather.  Health Officer Doug Hartline says both COVID-19 and seasonal flu have symptoms are similar, and both can spread to others and cause serious illness.  Anyone who has any of these symptoms should stay home until fever free for 72 hours, symptoms are improving and it's been at least 7 days since symptoms started. Hartline says staying home helps prevent the spread.  Measures to help prevent the spread of COVID and flu includes washing hands often, and avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

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Mobile pediatric COVID-19 vaccine clinics scheduled in Danbury, New Milford

There are mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics for young children scheduled in Grearer Danbury area towns this week.  The Griffin Hospital-State Department of Public Health yellow minivans will administer Pfizer pediatric vaccines to children 5 to 11.  The vans will be in Danubry today at Mill Ridge Primary School and Morris Street Elementary from 4pm to 7pm.  Clinics are being held tomorrow in Danbury at Broadview and Westside Middle School from noon to 3pm.  The vans will be in New Milford on Saturday at John Pettibone Community Center from 7:30am to 2pm.

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Dorothy Day shelter issue transferred back to Danbury court

The case of Dorothy Day Hospitality House versus the City of Danbury has been transferred from Hartford Superior Court back to the Judicial District of Danbury.  A remote status conference is scheduled for December 1st. 

In March a court ruled in favor of the City that Dorothy Day must cease operations as a homeless shelter.  This stems from a cease and desist order issued by the City's Zoning Enforcement Officer in 2016. 

The issue dates back to 1984 when Dorothy Day applied for renewal of emergency accessory use to their soup kitchen.  The one year renewal was granted, but no further applications were filed over the course of the next 30 years. 

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Vaccine mandate compliance high among school, state workers

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — New data released Monday shows most K-12 school employees and state employees who were mandated to get vaccinated or else tested for COVID-19 are complying with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s executive order.

A survey of public and private school workers released by the state’s Department of Education indicates more than 90% of K-12 school employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Out of 163 public school districts, charter schools in Bridgeport and New Haven run by Achievement First had the lowest staff vaccination rates, at 77% and 78% respectively. Meanwhile, 73 districts had a vaccination rate that exceeded 95%.

Among private schools, a handful had much lower staff vaccination rates, including 7% at Heritage Baptist Academy in Wallingford; 25% at Laurel Oaks Adventist School in Hamden; and 37% at Faith Preparatory School in New Milford.

Lamont signed an executive order in August requiring all preK-12 school staff statewide and certain state employees to get vaccinated. Those who don’t due to certain exemptions were required to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.

As of Monday, 95% of executive branch state employees were complying with the governor’s edict. The overall vaccination rate among those workers is 84%, an increase from nearly 81% on Oct. 22.

Of the 5% of workers not in compliance, 31 have been terminated; 35 have been placed on unpaid leave; and 42 are in the process of being put on unpaid leave due to their refusal to comply. Among the affected state agencies, the Department of Correction has the largest rate of non-compliance, at 12%, or 634 employees. The agency also has the lowest vaccination rate, at 65%.

About 32,000 employees who work in executive branch agencies are impacted by the order, which does not apply to the legislative or judicial branches. Those branches of state government, however, have implemented similar rules.

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Newtown Police to step up seat belt enforcement for Thanksgiving

Newtown Police Department is offering a few words of caution this Thanksgiving Holiday.  Connecticut’s law enforcement agencies will be out in force to promote safe driving and increase the protection of all motorists. Law enforcement officials are enforcing the State Occupant Protection laws and issuing citations to those who are unbuckled.

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Ridgefield Tree Lighting, Holiday Stroll back this year

Ridgefield's Annual Tree Lighting will be on Friday, at 6 PM in front of Town Hall.  The event is sponsored by the Holiday Trust Fund and Downtown Ridgefield.  The Holiday Stroll is back in Ridgefield this year and will take place on December 3rd and 4th.  This is the 21st annual event featuring musical performances, strolling carolers, and Toy Soldiers.  But there will not be horse-drawn carriage rides this year.

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Kent Santa Fund seeks donations

The Kent Santa Fund, which operates anonymously, assists local children under the age of 16 during the holiday season.  COVID-19 has caused changes to operations and instead of community and business members shopping for and donating gifts, families will be given gift cards so they can prioritize their needs.  New this year will be “Santa’s Workshop" where participating parents can shop for their children and kids can pick up a gift for their siblings and/or best friends. Monetary donations can be made payable and mailed to the “Kent Santa Fund”, P.O. Box 678, Kent, CT 06757. Checks can also be delivered to the attention of Joyce Kearns at Kent Town Hall by placing them in the white drop box next to the front door of Town Hall. Gifts should be dropped off at Town Hall in the Selectmen's office, Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. from now until Friday, December 17, 2021.

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Hearing continues tonight on proposed homeless shelter in Danbury

The hearing is continuing in Danbury on the proposal to turn the former Super 8 motel into a homeless shelter.  The meeting was supposed to be held on Thursday, but notice of Tuesday's hearing adjournment wasn't properly made delaying the next session.  At the meeting last Tuesday, Zoning Commission members rejected last-minute revisions, which would have made substantial changes to the application. 

The applicant is seeking to have zoning regulations amended to allow a shelter in the CA-80 zone, an arterial commercial district that includes the Super 8 property at 3 Lake Avenue Extension.  Neighbors oppose the shelter location citing concerns for safety and quality of life. 

There are 741 exhibits connected with the application.  More than 20 hours of hearing into the proposal has been heard. 

The proposed revision would have required shelter applicants to include a “detailed plan” for safety and security, as well as form a neighborhood crime watch program with law enforcement and nearby property owners.   Had the Commission accepted the proposed changes, City Attorney Dan Casagrande cautioned that the opponents could appeal and the courts would “nullify” the entire zoning process.  If that were to happen he says that would be a more substantial waste of time and resources that this would impose for the commission, the applicants, the opponents and the public. 

Casagrande, who has 30 years advising Danbury’s land use commissions, believes this is the most controversial application he's seen.  The Zoning Commission was on the ballot earlier this month and current member terms expire December 1st.

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Bipartisan state lawmaker coalition urging DOT to prioritize funding for Danbury Branch

A bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers is urging the Department of Transportation to prioritize funding for two major improvements to the Danbury Branch of Metro North.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan and Bill Buckbee of New Milford are leading the group and say they want dedicated funding for the electrification between the South Norwalk and Danbury Stations as well as extending passenger rail service from Danbury to New Milford. 

The bipartisan federal infrastructure bill signed by the President last week is sending more than $5.38 billion to Connecticut.  The state would also be eligible to compete for more than $100 billion of federal transportation grants. 

Allie-Brennan says the vision for improving the state’s infrastructure must include electrification and extension because the general public for years has cited the need for upgrades.  He says these long needed upgrades will secure the economic vitality of the region while benefiting home values, relieving road congestion, and reducing the carbon footprint. 

Buckbee notes that it's been more than 50 years that commuter rail ran through New Milford and now that the resources are available to connect more travelers to quality public transportation. 

Opening in 1852, the Danbury Branch Line still uses diesel powered trains that push train cars to Norwalk to catch the New Haven main line and pull train cars to Danbury.

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Swearing in ceremony events planned in Danbury for new Mayor

Danbury Mayor-Elect Dean Esposito will take the oath of office next Tuesday, the 30th.  The swearing in ceremonies will begin at 4:30pm with a prayer service at the First Congregational Church of Danbury for all Danbury elected officials, presided by Danbury clergy of various faiths. 

A procession from Danbury City Hall will start around 5:10pm and conclude at the Palace Theater. It will include Celtic Cross Pipes and Drums, Danbury Police and Fire Department, Honor Guard, Elected Officials, the Mayor-Elect and his family. 

The swearing in will begin at 6pm at the Palace Theater, with state Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Mark Boughton serving as the Master of Ceremonies. Probate Judge Dianne Yamin will swear Esposito into office, and Chief Legal Officer Robert Yamin will swear in all other elected officials.  The ceremony will be followed by a reception in the lobby. 

Reservations are required due to limited space. To register, visit http://Danburyinauguration.eventbrite.com.

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Housatonic Railroad to make repairs to Still River Railroad crossing

There could be some traffic delays in New Milford today.  Housatonic Railroad will be doing repairs on the Still River Railroad crossing from 8am to 3pm.  Mayor Pete Bass says this will cause delays and drivers are asked to consider an alternate route and plan accordingly.  Depending on the weather, the tentative completion date is third week of December.

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Area towns ramp up COVID-19 vaccine clinics

COVID numbers continue to improve in Bethel. As of Thursday’s weekly report from the Department of Public Health, Bethel is now experiencing fewer than 5 new cases per 100,000 population and the COVID test positivity rate is down to 1.3 percent.  But First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker encourage everyone to get a booster vaccine as soon as possible to help protect the community.  He says this will help reduce the likelihood of infection, especially at this time of year when colder weather results in more indoor activities and close exposure to other people. 

Today's booster clinic is from 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm.  There's also a clinic with the same hours next Tuesday the 30th.  Vaccines are administered in the General Purpose Room by appointment, but also on a first-come, first served basis.  Residents can reserve a specific time by calling the health department hotline at 203-794-8530. 

A COVID Vax Van clinic is scheduled at the Redding Community Center for Sunday December 5th from 1pm to 4pm.  This is for people ages 12 and older. All 3 brands of vaccine will be available for first and second doses, and boosters. No appointment will be needed.  ReEdding Health Officer Doug Hartline says it's strongly advised that all Redding residents continue to wear a mask when indoors in public areas, and when distancing cannot be maintained. State mandates require masks be worn in schools, daycare centers and healthcare facilities. All unvaccinated individuals are required to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. Bandanas and gators are not considered acceptable masks.

The Griffin Health state Department of Public Health Mobile COVID Vaccination Team will be back in New Fairfield tomorrow to provide vaccinations in at St. Edward's Church from Noon to 6:30pm.  Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there is no Saturday Van this week.  Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccine will be available at the clinic tomorrow.  This is for anyone over the age of 12, but those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Vaccination will be provided free of charge. 

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COVID-19 vaccine clinics set in Danbury, Bethel

Mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics are being held in Danbury today for children.  The clinics are being held by Griffin Hospital and nurses will be administering pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations at King Street Elementary School and Park Ave Elementary School from 4pm to 7pm.  More information about vaccination center hours and pediatric vaccinations can be found on the Griffin Health website.

The Town Of Bethel is continuing to offer Moderna COVID-19 vaccine boosters at the Municipal Center. Vaccines are administered in the General Purpose Room. Walk-in’s are welcome without an appointment on a first-come, first served basis.  Residents can reserve a specific time by calling the health department hotline at 203-794-8530 Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 12:30pm.  The booster clinic is tomorrow from 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm.  There's also a clinic with the same hours next Tuesday the 30th.

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Sherman COVID-19 infections drop, rates in New Milford rise

Sherman has dropped back down into the state Department of Public Heath's grey zone when it comes to community spread of COVID-19.  The town spent three weeks at the highest level, in the Red Zone, based on cases per 100,000 population.  New Milford and Bridgewater are in the Red Zone with more than 15 cases per 100,000 in the past two weeks.  The Bridgwater cases could be tied to the town's Veterans Day event, as the town put out an alert noting that one person in attendance tested positive the following day. 

Kent, Brookfield and Southbury are in the Orange, with 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 in the last two weeks.  The rest of the Greater Danbury area municipalities are in the Yellow zone, for having 5 to 9 cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks. 

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Brookfield's infection rate is 3.2 percent. Danbury has 6.3 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, with a positivity rate of 2.2 percent.  Newtown and Ridgefield's infection rates are 1.6 percent.  New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rate is 2.4 percent.  New Milford's rate is 5.2 percent.  Redding's positivity rate is 2.7  percent.   

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Danbury robotics team places in recent competition

The Danbury High School robotics team 5150 recently competed in its third competition of the season.  Two of its four robots placed third and fifth of 42 area teams competing at Ridgefield High School.  Students are given control of the process of creating the robots for the competition.  Danbury's afterschool program is led by Advisor Erik Savoyski.  The team qualified robots for the VEX Robotics world championships for almost 10 years.

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Attorney Bob Yamin reappointed as Danbury Corporation Counsel

Danbury Mayor-Elect Dean Esposito has re-appointed Attorney Bob Yamin to serve as the City's Corporation Counsel and Chief Legal Officer. Yamin has served as Corporation Counsel and Director of Legal Services for the City since 2001. In that role he is assisted by Attorneys Dianne Yamin and Ray Yamin. Three in-house staff attorneys also work in the office: Deputy Corporation Counsel and Managing Attorney Les Pinter, Attorney Robin Edwards, and Attorney Dianne Rosemark. The Office of the Corporation Counsel manages the broad and complex legal function of the Government. The office advises the Mayor, City Council, and all city departments, agencies and boards of their legal rights and responsibilities. 

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Newtown Police celebrate 50 years of service

A ceremony has been held at the Newtown Police Department to celebrate the Department's 50th year anniversary as an organized Police Department.  The Newtown Police Department was incorporated on September 21st 1971 with 13 officers.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal presented Chief of Police James Viadero with a commemorative plaque in appreciation for the past 50 years of public service to the citizens of Newtown by the Department.  After a short ceremony, all were invited inside the new police Department building for a tour the new facility.

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Ridgefield Police seeks to hire new officers

The Ridgefield Police Department is looking to hire entry level and certified officers.  Applicants must meet all requirements established by Police Officer Standards and Training Council, and the Ridgefield Police Department.  The selection process will include Written Examination, Oral Board Examination, Police Commission Oral Board Interview, and Fitness Test.  There will also be a polygraph, psych exam, drug screening and stress test.  Applications can be found online.  Female and minority candidates, as well as military veterans, are encouraged to apply.

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New Milford school volunteers required to get COVID tests, be vaccinated

The New Milford Board of Education is requiring volunteers in the schools to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test when working in-person with students.  The 5 to 4 vote requires volunteers to meet the same requirements as school staff.  Last week New Milford reported 18 active COVID-19 cases among students in the district.  The vote came about two hours into the meeting.  Speeches both for and against the proposed policy were made in the lead up to the vote.

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Federal Road improvement work starts with utility relocation

Construction has started in Brookfield to make improvements to a heavily traveled area of Federal Road.  The work started along 500 foot length of State Route 202, where Ramen House restaurant was once located. The contractor, Burns Construction, is relocating an underground gas line operated by Eversource.  When completed, Burns will move to the Chic-Fil-A and ShopRite intersection where a similar task will be undertaken during overnight hours.  Over the next five months other contractors will be relocating utility poles and other underground utilities. Starting in April, roadway construction begins.  This project is fully funded by the state DOT and includes 53-hundred feet of roadway improvements on Federal Road, and 800 feet of improvements on Old New Milford Road. Improvements include sidewalks, additional turning lanes, new traffic signals and bus shelters. Construction is scheduled for completion in November 2023. 

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Danbury philanthropist, Subway cofounder, dies at 90

A Danbury philanthropist who co-founded the Subway sandwich chain has died at the age of 90.  Peter Buck studied nuclear physics at Columbia University, where he obtained masters and doctoral degrees. He work for General Electric and Nuclear Energy Services.  Forbes has long ranked Buck among Connecticut’s wealthiest residents.  The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation listed assets of $577 million and made numerous gifts to nonprofits in Danbury.  Danbury Hospital has also been one beneficiary of his charitable donations with a $30 million gift to build a new patient-care building for the hospital. Subway is the world’s largest chain by locations, and trails only Starbucks and McDonald’s for global revenue.  Buck's $1,000 investment in a family friend’s Connecticut sandwich shop in 1965 provided the genesis for what is now the world’s largest restaurant chain.

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Ridgefield to use ARPA funds to offset sewer plant construction costs

Ridgefield residents have agreed to use $2.9 million of the town's federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to offset the cost of a waste water treatment plant project. A new force-main sewer line will be constructed connecting the District 2 plant on Route 7 to District 1 on South Street, along with a pump station, so that the District 2 plant can be decommissioned.  Ridgefield residents approved $48 million for the work in 2018, but the bids came in at a higher estimate, in part due to supply chain issues.  The Water Pollution Control Authority will use $500,000 from their accounts to also narrow the gap.  Ridgefield officials also plan to apply for state grant funding for the work to make nitrogen and phosphorus removal upgrades at District 1, meeting new state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection regulations.

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Connecticut Paid Leave program to accept applications starting next month

The number of employers registering with the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority has exceeded expectations.  Employers started collecting a state-mandated deduction from their employees’ paychecks to help pay for the paid family and medical leave program.

Authority CEO Andrea Barton Reeves says 121,000 businesses are remitting the one half of 1 percent from employee wages.  The trust fund has collected $216 million.  The fund will start paying out benefits in January.

Under the state’s new family medical leave program, qualified employees can begin receiving benefits on January 1st .  This is for up to 12 weeks of replacement wages for workers who take extended time off for personal illness, or to care for a family member or loved one. Qualifying reasons also include birth, serving as an organ or bone marrow donor and incidence of family violence.  An additional two weeks can be available for complications from pregnancy.

Employers of one or more people are responsible for withholding the deductions and remitting to the state.

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Town meeting in Ridgefield on land donation postponed

A Special Town Meeting in Ridgefield scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed.  The meeting was to be about a proposed donation of more than 7 acres of land on Route 7 for open space.  The Conservation Commission reached out to the property owner to ask permission to develop some of the land and was told no.  The property owner does not want the land to be used for commercial purposes, so it will remain open space if accepted.  The Board of Selectmen has discussed the  possibility of using a small section of the land as a picnic area for customers from the Route 7 Ice Cream Shop.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the area is accident prone and moving customers further from the roadway would be a safety benefit.  The Town Meeting is now slated for December 8th.

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Brookfield committee to hold ARPA public input session

Brookfield residents are being called on to weigh in on how the town uses its share of the American Rescue Plan Act.  An ARPA Ad-Hoc Committee Public Forum is scheduled for Wednesday at 7pm in Brookfield Town Hall Meeting Room 133.  The committee will discuss allowable uses of the federal pandemic relief funds, and the charge of the Ad-Hoc Committee.

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Brookfield High School seniors revived Sustainability Youth Council

Five Brookfield High School seniors have revived the Brookfield Sustainability Youth Council.   Their advisor is Community Development Specialist Greg Dembowski.  The students are Alexa Dattner, Maahi Dhote, Gregory Friedman, Shruti Kelkar and Jackson Sharpe.  Dattner starting the high school’s environmental club last year and spearheaded efforts to bring the youth council back.  They meet three times a week with a goal of having Brookfield earn a special certification through the state’s SustainableCT initiative.  The voluntary program encourages sustainable practices.  Certification lasts three years. Municipalities can select from a range of actions to take to move up to various levels.  The former Youth Council filed town assets with the state to achieve “bronze” status in 2019.  In order to move up to Silver, Brookfield must earn 400 “points” and achieve three equity goals.  After tallying up the points Brookfield already has, the youth plan to make recommendations on new action to take.  They're talking with department heads about existing practices and reaching out to community partners.

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245th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Ridgefield being planned

The 245th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Ridgefield is being planned for the end of April.  Ridgefield is looking into using some American Rescue Plan Act funding for the upcoming reenactment.  The events will cost about $ 50,000, including the stipend for the actors, police overtime and a Musket Ball dinner at the Lounsbury House. 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi says ARPA could possibly be used because the event could be classified as economic development as many people are expected to visit Ridgefield for the reenactment.

The events will coincide with the burial of the skeletal remains from soldiers recently recovered in Ridgefield near the battle site.  There will be encampments at Ballard Park, Jesse Lee, and the Lounsbury House.  The Connecticut 5th Regiment will put on the reenactment, with 100 participants on each side of the battle.  The skeletal remains will be buried Sunday May 1st in a location designated by the Graveyard Restoration Committee.  Jowdy Kane Funeral Home is making period coffins and there will be a horse drawn buggy.  

The skeletons are believed to belong to Revolutionary War soldiers and were unearthed when a homeowner started a renovation project.

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Area municipalities get advice on ARPA project eligibility

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments, the regional planning agency for municipalities spanning from Sherman to Stamford, has hired someone to review all ARPA applications if a town wants to allocate the federal pandemic relief funds.  The consultant will work with the U-S Treasury Department to research each designation to see if it fits with rules stipulated in the American Rescue Plan Act.

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Bethel Police prepare for annual holiday toy drive

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the Bethel Police Department is looking further ahead on the calendar.  Their annual holiday Toy Drive will be held on December 4th from 10am to 3pm in front of the Toy Room on Greenwood Avenue.  Bethel Police have also teamed up with Byrd’s Books to help support Bethel Social Services and The Center for Empowerment and Education, formerly The Danbury Women’s Center.  Bethel Polcie will be accepting toy donations for children of all ages.

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State updates COVID-19 infection rates for Greater Danbury area towns

The state Department of Public Health's COVID-19 community spread map is missing some information from the Greater Danbury area this week.  The City of Danbury's Health Department is reporting a handful of cases in the last week, but there is no data included on the state side.  The same for Bethel and Redding.   

In Orange, with 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 in the last two weeks are New Fairfield and New Milford.   In the Yellow zone, for having 5 to 9 cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks are Brookfield, Ridgefield and Newtown. 

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Brookfield's rate dipped to 2.1 percent. The town reported 18 cases in the last two weeks.  New Milford's COVID-19 infection rate climbed half a percentage point to 5.1 percent with 50 cases in the last two weeks. 

New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rate climbed nearly a percentage point from last week to 4.2 percent.  There have been 23 cases reported in the last two weeks, with 7 active cases in town.  Newtown's COVID-19 infection rate ticked up a bit to 1.6 percent with 20 cases in the last two weeks. 

Ridgefield's positivity rate is 1.3 percent.  20 cases were also reported there between October 24th and November 6th.

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State Police expect to make arrests soon in Oxford shoplifting case

State Police have provided an update of the brazen shopfitting incident that happened Tuesday in Oxford. 

A group of four is accused of stealing $1,600 worth of items, which police believe might be sold on social media and in communities.  State Police have developed leads to identify two suspects and expect arrests soon.  State Police say some of the group might be connected to similar crimes in Connecticut and elsewhere.

The tan minivan was located by investigating officers in New Haven. That vehicle was towed back to Troop A in Southbury and will be processed pending the approval of a search warrant.

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New Fairfield Fire Marshal gets battery donation for smoke detectors

The New Fairfield Fire Marshal's Office has received a donation from the Connecticut Fire Academy and Energizer of a supply of replacement batteries for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.  Residents are urged to contact the office if they need batteries. If families haven't already checked smoke alarms when the clocks changed, the fire marshal says now is the time to do so.

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Putnam County Sheriff Deputy recognized by NY Gov.

A Putnam County Sheriff's Deputy has been recognized by New York Governor Kathy Hochul.  Kevin Osika received a Certificate of Exceptional Valor for saving a man's life in 2018.  He was among 20 nominees for the Governor's Police Officer of the Year Award for 2019. In May 2018, Deputy Osika responded to a call for a man walking toward the edge of High Bridge on I-84 in Southeast. He cautiously approached the man, who appeared ready to jump, from behind and grabbed him. As traffic raced by, the man struggled to break free but the Deputy was able to restrain him until he could be transported for help.

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Ridgefield Rec Center receives noise complaint about pickleball

The Ridgefield Rec Center recently had a noise complaint about the pickleball court that was set up in the parking lot at Martin Park. The First Selectman met with the Police Commission, who investigated the location and noise levels. The start time has now been moved from 8:30am to 9:30am.

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Danbury sending data to FEMA about West Street flooding

A steel plate is in the sidewalk along West Street in Danbury near the railroad overpass so the Department of Public Works can monitor and evaluate how the river is backing up to an existing pipe, causing roadway flooding.  Director Antonio Iadarola says there's a 12-inch pipe allowing the water into the river, but the recent dredging resolved some of the flooding during minor rain storms. 

Iadarola says one problem with fixing the flooding is that there's a dam involved, which means the Army Corps of Engineers would have to be involved. There's also an enormous amount of utilities along West Street.  The major interceptor coming in from the westside runs under that bridge.  The old interceptor was abandoned in place.  There are three sets of underground conduits with communications equipment from the 1920s and power lines along both sides of the gutter. 

Iadarola is looking to see if there's a way to install a pipe to mitigate some of the flooding.  He wants to use the old interceptor, built in the 1918 era.  The factory that used to operate nearby utilized a lot of water, but the water elevation is no longer being lowered since the factory isn't in operation.  Iadarola says the channel is bone dry now. 

A surveyor recently took measurements of the last flood to submit to FEMA.  But Iadarola cautioned that it won't resolve the issue entirely.  It would only accommodate smaller storms, like a 5 year or 10 year storm. 

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Danbury signs off on lease change to move Head Start classrooms to Old Jail

The Danbury City Council has approved an updated lease for the Connecticut Institute for Communities so it can relocate some Head Start classrooms.  Four classrooms will be moving out of Laurel Gardens on Main Street into space CIFIC already leases at the Old Jail facility.  The Woman Infant and Children Nutrition Program office, also operated by CIFC, will be renovated.  The renovations require new child bathrooms, but could be done in a way to cause no permanent alteration of the building.  Temporary partitions would also be added.  The build out would be done at CIFC's cost and the organization would pay all of the utilities.  CIFIC will also take care of grounds maintenance like mowing and plowing, as well as garbage hauling and playground maintenance.

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Danbury reports just a handful of COVID-9 cases to start November

Danbury's COVID-19 test positivity rate has ticked down slightly since the last reporting period and is at 1.4-percent.   25 cases have been reported to the state between October 31st and November 9th.   Sherman has moved  out of 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 just a single digit caseload of COVID-19 in the last two weeks in the small town pushed it up into Red.

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Court sides with Danbury on clean up of blighted property

The Danbury Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team says a court order has been returned on a heavily blighted property.  The ruling was made in favor of the City, ordering the owner of 89 Wooster Heights Road to clean the property within 30 days.  If it's not completed by then, Danubry will have the authority to do so at the owner’s expense, by placing a lien on the property.  UNIT Coordinator Shawn Stillman says the debris accumulation is high and could be quite expensive to remedy.  This is the culmination of a more than 4 year fight, including at one point the City asking the FAA to purchase the property near the airport.

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Zone change approved as developer seeks to build age-restricted apartments in Newtown

The Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a zone change for town-owned industrial land that would pave the way for a developer to build 170 age-restricted apartments for seniors.   Newtown has been trying to sell a 42-acre property on Commerce Road for two decades. 

Teton Capital Co. of Old Greenwich will develop eight acres, with the balance of the property preserved as open space.  The parcel is next to the 34-acre Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit founded in the memory of a girl killed on 12/14. 

The next step is for the developer to submit a detailed site plan so the land use agency can analyze issues such as traffic, safety and aesthetics.  Preliminary plans call for three- to four-story apartment buildings, with parking underneath in order to preserve as much of the open land as possible. 

A driveway from Commerce Road to both the development and the animal sanctuary will be created, with the developer and the nonprofit splitting the cost.

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Supply chain issues delay rok on new Brookfield school

Supply chain issues mean a delay in completion of the new Candlewood Lake Elementary School in Brookfield.  District officials say the project is three to four months behind as roofing material that was due to arrive this month, won't be delivered until February.  Without a roof, no interior work can start.  The goal now is to have students in new classrooms for the 23 24 academic year.  Crews broke ground in March on the $78.1 million 139,000 square foot school for pre-k through 5th graders.  When the building is open, Center School will close and Huckleberry Hill will be demolished.  Some Whisconier Middle School will also attend Candlewood Lake Elementary. 

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Hearing closed into land donation in Ridgefield

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has closed a public hearing into a donation of land at the corder of Ledges and Ridgebury Roads.  The Land Conservancy presented details about the donation at the Board's meeting earlier this month.  The .3 acres will be conveyed to the town for use by the Ridgefield High School Boys Cross Country Team to relieve the Land Conservancy of any liability associated with allowing the runners to use the property.  The donation was prompted to appease a property owner on Ledges Road who has complained that the routine run touches on his property.  This will also provide a safer route for the boys to travel on.

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Area police, WVSU honor veterans

West Conn has held several events to honor veterans.  They started with a “Lunch with a Vet” event sponsored by the Career Success Center.  A Ceremony at the Westside campus Alumni Pavilion was held today.  Members of the WestConn Veteran Affairs Office and Student Veterans Organization, as well as faculty, staff and students planted close to 5,000 flags in the Field of Flags on the Midtown campus last week. Danbury Fire Engine 23 drove by while that was underway and firefighters stopped to help.

A number of Greater Danbury area police departments are recognizing members who have served in the armed force. 

Danbury Officer Pederson was recognized as a guest of honor at the celebration this week of the United States Marine Corps' 246th birthday at the Danbury War Memorial. 

Southbury Police Officer Manville served in the Air Force, Cpl. Recupero in the Army, Officer Morrone with the Marines and Officer Critelli of in the Coast Guard.

The Newtown Police Department is honoring all veterans on Veterans Day.  Several officers are veterans and department officials thanked them for their continued dedication and service.  This year  Officer Hugo Rojas was added to their ranks.  He graduated Marine boot camp at Parris Island in 1994 and was later stationed in Okinawa, Japan where he was part of the 3rd Marine service support group.  Rojas completed his enlistment as a Corporal stationed at Marine Headquarters in Virginia. 

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Shoplifting incident in Oxford under investigation

 A shoplifting incident is under investigation by the Oxford Resident Trooper’s Office.  Market 32 personnel saw several people filling multiple shopping carts on Tuesday shortly after 6:30am.  They left without paying and quickly tossed the items into two awaiting vehicles parked in the fire lane. 

State Police say believe the vehicles were stolen. 

The Oxford Resident Trooper’s Office is aware of a video of the incident that has been circulating on social media and is working to obtain additional surveillance footage.  One person tosses a cart in front of one vehicle as it speeds off.  The person filming is heard making comments including “that’s why prices go up.”

A 911 call was never placed and the call came in through the routine phone line at the Oxford Resident Trooper’s Office about 10-minutes after the crime had already occurred. Had 911 been contacted in a timely manner, police say personnel would have been able to attempt to intercept those involved. Police are reminding residents to stay vigilant and not engage with people like this when a crime is occurring. 

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Local schools participate in state initative to have students decided on budget items

Voice4Change, a first-of-its-kind campaign administered by the Connecticut State Department of Education, will empower high school students to decide how American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief funds are spent.

A total of 43 districts encompassing 77 high schools across Connecticut have opted-in to participate, representing more than 55,000 students.  Brookfield, Masuk, Oxford, and Wilton High Schools are among those participating.

The goal for the initiative is to increase student engagement while fulfilling the Connecticut State Board of Education’s vision of ensuring students thrive in a global economy and civic life by challenging students to think critically and solve real-world problems. More that $1.5 million of relief funds the state set-aside will be invested to reimagine schools across Connecticut.

Students from the participating schools will submit proposals to the State Department of Education outlining how they propose to spend 20-thousand dollars in their school, aligned with the department’s priorities. Proposals deemed eligible will ultimately be voted on by their high school peers on March 11th, one year after the American Rescue Plan Act was passed.

The State Department of Education, students, and the school district will then work together to carry out the winning proposals in each school. Also reserved are five Commissioner Choice awards, which will be given to fulfill five innovative student proposals across the state that are not victorious in their elections.

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Blumenthal touts Infrastructure Bill in visit to Danbury Metro North station

Senator Ricchard Blumenthal was in Danbury yesterday morning to tout funding for the City included in the infrastructure bill, which is expected to be signed by the President on Monday.  Blumenthal says the federal package approved last week is going to benefit Danbury more than most other towns in the state because the City is poised for progress. 

He wants the DOT to prioritize funding for the I-84 widening project from exits 3 to 8, to improve the Metro North Danbury branch line and to get the old Maybrook Line to New York back up and running.  Currently, the I-84 project isn't slated to start until the mid 2030s, but this funding could move up that timeline.  The DOT study found that safety improvements for acceleration and deceleration lanes is needed from exits 1 through 11.  More lanes between exits 3 and 4 and 7 and 8 were also studied. 

Mayor Joe Cavo says the feasibility study of faster trains to New York using the Maybrook Line could be completed in a couple of months.  Blumenthal called the project transformative. 

Some funding in the infrastructure bill will go directly to the state Department of Transportation and Metro-North, but Connecticut will need to apply for other money in the form of competitive grants.

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Greater Danbury area towns mark Veterans Day

The Exchange Club of Danbury will hold its annual Veterans Day Recognition Dinner tonight. This recognition dinner has been an Exchange Club tradition since 1978 honoring area Veterans who, after completing their military service, have continued to serve other Veterans and community at large in various professional, volunteer and advocacy capacities. 

Three of the 4 honorees served in the Army and one in the Navy.  They are Ronald Agard, Leonard "Lenny" Esposito, Jean-Paul "Paul" Trudel and John Kennedy.

Danbury Exchange Club member and Connecticut Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Tom Saadi will serve as the master of ceremonies for the event.  Remarks and certificates of recognition will be presented.  Danbury Mayor Joseph Cavo, State Representative Robert Godfrey and area Legislators will be on hand.

A number of Greater Danbury area municipalities are holding ceremonies today in honor of Veterans Day.  The New Fairfield Veterans Association will host a ceremony at Veteran's Park at 11am. Ridgefield Town Hall will be closed today in recognition of Veterans Day.  A Ceremony will be held at 11am at the Lounsbury House.  A Veterans Day ceremony is being held on the Bethel Municipal Center front lawn at 11am.

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122 tons of free produce distributed in Danbury over three months

The food distribution at Danbury High School, hosted by United Way of Western Connecticut and Walnut Hill Community Pantry, served an estimated 12,200 households during its three-month long distribution. Connecticut Foodshare provided over 122 tons of produce to residents in need. 

United Way President Isabel Almeida says while the effort addressed an immediate need, the challenges of food insecurity among struggling families and seniors is not over.   

The United Way’s Healthy Savings program provides $10 of free, fresh produce each week at participating grocery stores, along with discounts on other healthy foods throughout the store.  A Guide to Accessing Food in Danbury, published by the Danbury Food Collaborative in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, provides information on all the food pantries and food providers throughout the City, including the days and hours they are open. 

The United Way also called on residents to consider donating to food pantries and food banks.

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Parade in Danbury set for Sunday for UFC Light Heavyweight champ

A parade is being held in Danbury on Sunday in honor of an adopted hometown sports champion.  UFC Light Heavyweight champ Glover Teixeira will be honored with a parade down Main Street.  The event will march from Rose Street at 1pm, in the right southbound lane, ending at 2pm in the War Memorial parking lot.  The 42-year-old won his title on October 30th.  He is the oldest, first-time, mixed martial arts champion in UFC history.  Teixeira came to the United States from Brazil and has since opened a gym in Danbury and Bethel to train other mixed martial arts fighters.

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Region 9 to hold COVID-19 vaccine clinics for kids during parent-teacher conferences

The Easton, Redding, Region 9 district will offer COVID-19 vaccines to children during parent-teacher conferences next week.  Clinics are being held for children aged 5 to 11 Tuesday  at Redding Elementary School and Thursday at Samuel Staples Elementary School.  The clinics, run by Griffin Health, will be held following early dismissal from 1pm to 6pm.  The Region 9 district Superintendent sent a survey to families to gauge interest in the clinics.  Children over 12 can get vaccinated this Sunday and next at the Redding Community Center. 

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Danbury Economic Development Director named Mayoral Chief of Staff

Danbury's economic development director has been named the next chief of staff to the Mayor. Dean Esposito named Roger Palanzo to the post yesterday.  Esposito will be sworn into office on November 30th at 6pm.  Palanzo has been Economic Development Director since January 2016.  Prior to that he served as the Constituent Services Coordinator in the Mayor’s office.  Esposito says Palanzo has been working to implement a strategic plan of smart and focused growth, with a proven track record in constituent services.

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COVID-19 booster clinics scheduled by Bethel

More COVID-19 booster clinics have been scheduled by the Town of Bethel.  Moderna boosters are being offered at the Municipal Center, by appointment, in the General Purpose Room.  The clinics are scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday, the 16th and 17th, as well as the following two Tuesdays, the 23rd and 30th.  The hours are 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm.  Appointments can be scheduled by calling the clinic hotline at 203-794-8530.  Those eligible for boosters are people over 65, adults at high risk of severe COVID-19 and adults with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to CoV-2.

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Congressman tours Gilbert and Bennet Wire Mill site

4th District Congressman Jim Himes visited Georgetown’s historic Wire Mill yesterday.  He was joined by state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes and Redding officials to hear an update on environmental challenges of the property, which the town is looking to re-develop. The Gilbert and Bennet Wire Mill dates back to the 1830s. The Town of Redding recently cleared a significant legal hurdle that may allow for future economic development.

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Local lawmaker warns of deadline for Child Tax Credit sign ups

Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner says the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which offers parents annual tax savings, requires signup by November 15th.  She notes that families who haven’t signed up and earn too little to have to file taxes will miss out on the tax relief.  It's $3,600 annually for children under 6 and $3,000 for kids between the ages of 6 and 17.  Signing up can be done online via GetCTC.org and is accessible in English and Spanish.

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Danbury seeks to avoid double digit price increase, supply chain issue with Fire Truck purchase

The Danbury Fire Department is looking to avoid supply chain issues and an expected double-digit manufacturers increase and buy a new fire apparatus from now.  Chief Richard Thode requested $881,000 for the rescue pumper.

Pierce Manufacturing is the largest fire apparatus manufacturer in the world and built all of the City's apparatus.  The company will have a double digit price increase in February.  They are also estimating that new orders for trucks placed in the Spring or Summer wouldn't be able to be delivered for a year to a year and a half. 

Danbury's oldest truck, a 2006, has over 12,000 engine hours and 110,000 miles.  The estimate for repairs came in at between $35,000 and $40,000.  Thode spoke with Pierce and learned that there's a truck in the early stages of construction, with the parts purchased months ago bypassing supply chain issues.  No one else has purchased the truck yet. 

Had the City Council not agreed to the spending request, Thode said that would have set the Department back two years. 

The Department's 2007 Pierce Rescue truck did not see the severe service the pumper did and is coming up for a complete refurbishment at a cost of $300,000.  By purchasing this new truck, the 2007 can be placed in Special Call status, prolonging its life. 

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Public hearing into proposed homeless shelter continued after 5 hours of testimony

Another five hour public hearing has been held about the application to officially turn the former Super 8 motel in Danbury into a homeless shelter.  The Danbury Zoning Commission also spent about an hour deciding if they should close the hearing or how to proceed, as new members who were elected last week will be seated on December 1st. 

Chairman Ted Haddad says they received 22 letters of support and 36 in opposition since the previous hearing.  The Commission still has to hear another round of those opposed, but he wants to cut off the letters sent in advance to be read into the record and only hear comments live via zoom.  Haddad noted that they would come in after the proponent's last opportunity to speak and he'd be faced with letting everyone in favor address the new letters and it doesn't stop. 

The next meeting will be on the 16th at 7pm, followed by another meeting on the 23rd. 

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Surplus funding for Town Green, police cameras approved in New Fairfield

New Fairfield residents have overwhelmingly supported using surplus funding for a number of items cut from the budget last year, and to create a Town Green.  The Special Town Meeting results were 157 in favor of the Resolution using $722,000 in expenditures from last year’s surplus, 35 opposed.  The money will go toward police cameras, additional paving, vinyl siding for Company A Firehouse, and purchase of 13 and 15 Route 37.  The property purchase could lead to creation of a town green.

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New Milford residents approve ARPA allocations

New Milford residents have approved funding for 16 items during a spcial town meeting.  The funding comes from a part of the town's share of the American Rescue Plan Act.  $3 million of the $7.9 million have now been allocated to help New Milford recover from effects of the pandemic. 

The funding includes a two year trial period of a new Domestic Violence & Family Advocate position, reservoir dam repairs, a freezer for the food bank and funding for various emergency personnell requests.  There is also money set aside for Foreclosure Rental Assistance and a business relief fund. 

New Milford small business owners can start applying next month.

Two year trial period of a new Domestic Violence & Family Advocate $200,000

New Milford Ambulance, Capital items $336,163

New Milford Fire Marshall fire packs $15,900

New Milford Fire Marshall software $75,000

New Milford Fire Marshall iPads $34,000

New Milford Fire Marshall radios $51,000

EMS Operations Manager, two year cost avoidance $180,000

New Milford Police Department, Public Safety $22,800

New Milford Police Department, de-escalator simulator $50,000

Arts Commission $125,000

Nonprofits $125,000

Reservoir Dam repairs $1,200,000

Commercial Grade Freezer for Food Bank $7,500

Foreclosure Rental Assistance, Hope Fund $100,000

Foreclosure Rental Assistance, Good Samaritan Fund $100,000

Business Loans/Grants $395,000

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Newtown officials sign off on funding for police cameras

Newtown officials have signed off on funding for police cameras.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says the cost is expected to increase substantially in the coming months and since many units need replacing, it's best to do it all at once.  Police Chief James Viadeo says some cameras are 10 years old, with the replacements expected to last as long.  Newtown had body cameras prior to the state Police Accountability bill, making the town ineligible for the grant program offered to departments with no pre-existing program.  The body cameras were paid for out of asset forfeiture funds.  The data terminals are expected to last 5 to 6 years.  Nearly $116,000 to replace the police vehicle mobile data terminals will come from the capital and non-recurring fund.

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Ridgefield Playhouse transformed as filming location for Netflix production

The Ridgefield Playhouse is being used as a filming location for a Netflix production.  The film based on a Stephen King novella has been set up at a number of Connectiut locations.   “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone,” is based on the novellas “If It Bleeds.”  The Ridgefield Playhouse was turned into a high school and will be used for six scenes.  The production also filmed scenes in Barkhamsted,Westport and Norwalk.  The plot description says when Mr. Harrigan dies, the teen who befriended and did odd jobs for him, puts his smart phone in his pocket before burial and when the lonely youth leaves his dead friend a message, he is shocked to get a return text.  The film is slated to be released in 2022.

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Man sentenced for woman's 2018 death on Candlewood Lake

A Connecticut man has been sentenced for his role in the death of a woman on Candlewood Lake in 2018.  Gary Morrone of Oakville was sentenced Monday to 364 days in jail, suspended after three months, and three years probation on a misdemeanor charge of negligent homicide.  38-year-old Wanda Tirado was thrown from a pontoon boat piloted by Morrone near Squantz Cove in New Fairfield and was injured by the boat’s propeller.  She later succumbed to her injuries at the hospital.  Police said there were inconsistencies in the 69-year old's description of the events leading to her death.  A Good Samaritan spotted him in the water and when Morrone was helped back onto his pontoon boat, he left the scene before Tirado was found face down in the water. The reckless boating and failure to report a boating accident charges were dropped by the state.

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Man charged for brandishing gun during argument in Bethel parking lot

A Connecticut man has been arrested for allegedly brandishing a gun during an argument in Bethel.  Police responded to the 7-Eleven on Stony Hill Road Monday night on a report of a man with a gun leaving after a dispute in the parking lot.  Police made contact with 21-year old Wilber Zayas of New Haven.  He admitted to having a gun, with no permit.  He was also in possession of a high capacity magazine.  Zayas was also charged with breach of peace and reckless endangerment.  He was released on bond for a court appearance on the 18th.

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New Fairfield officials address rumor of intended use for proposed land purchase

New Fairfield officials are clearing up misinformation on a proposed land purchase up for a special town meeting tonight.  Some people believe that if New Fairfield buys number 13 and 15 Route 37, they intend to put affordable housing on that property.  The goal of the purchase is to create a town green.  New Fairfield officials added that the land is a floodplain, making building any sizable structure impossible.  The soils are likely not suitable for the large septic system that would be required.  

The land could be used for picnic tables, walking trails, and potentially a band shell.   A playground, possibly using recertified equipment from Consolidated School, could also be located there.  Planning and funding for Town Green will take a few years to develop. 

The purchase price of $425,000 is below assessed value of the properties and was the result of several months of negotiations. Purchase of the property was approved unanimously by the Board of Selectmen on August 12th and unanimously approved by the Board of Finance on October 21.

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Danbury officials approve raises for career firefighters

The Danbury City Council has signed off on a revised union contact for career firefighters.  The agreement calls for 1.5 percent raises.  The previous contract held wages flat, with a stipulation that raises would be considered if the city’s financial situation during the pandemic improved.  The contact runs through June 30, 2024.  The raises would be retroactive to the start of the contract, July 2020 so employees who have retired or were promoted out of the bargaining unit will get raises.

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Life threatening injuries suspected in crash that closed I-84 Monday

Life threatening injures are suspected in a 4-vehicle crash on I-84 in Danbury yesterday afternoon.  State Police are looking for any witness to the collision that happened Westbound just before exit 1, around 2:15pm yesterday. 

Four vehicles were in the right lane when traffic began to slow for congestion.  A freightliner truck collided into the back of a car, which rolled down the right shoulder embankment and came to an uncontrolled rest against a tree.  The truck continued on the roadway, rear ending the two more vehicles in a chain reaction crash.

The truck driver, 54-year old Jon Parker of Maine, didn't suffer any apparent injury.  The drivers of the two other vehicles, didn't sustain injury either.  A passenger in one, an 80-year old New Jersey woman, was transported to Danbury Hospital with suspected minor injuries. 

There were three people in the SUV that left the roadway and rolled over.  The driver, a 32 year old Carmel man, and a passenger sustained minor injuries.  Another passenger, 41-year old Mahopac woman, sustained suspected serious injuries. 

I-84 was closed until about 8:45pm.

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Long serving Ridgefield Police Detective retires

The longest serving detective in the Ridgefield Police Department's history has retired.  Steven Papstein started his career in Ridgefield in 1989, serving in the Patrol Division for 7 years prior to his assignment in the Detective Division.  He was an Exceptional Service Award Recipient and named Town Employee of the Year in 2008.  During his 32 years, Papstein was a Motorcycle Officer, Firearms Instructor, Evidence Officer and Arson Investigator.

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Pacific House answers questions on homeless shelter plans ahead of continued hearing

The Danbury Zoning Commission will continue their public hearing tonight on an application from Pacific House to turn the former Super 8 motel into a homeless shelter with wraparound support services. 

One of the questions that came up during the first hearing was why Pacific House went ahead and bought the building before zoning approval was secured.  They said it wasn't necessary to wait due to the governor's executive order on congregate settings during the pandemic.  The applicant also said they are confident that the City Land Use agencies will grant approval. 

The applicant submitted a follow up report to questions raised during the 7 hour long hearing in September, including if preference is given to Danbury residents and how residents seeking shelter find this location.  The most recent addresses for the current shelter population included 21 in Danbury, 5 in New Milford, 2 fromin Wethersfield and 2 in Bethel.  There was one each from Bridgeport, Brookfield, Torrington, Fairfield, the Bronx, and Putnam.  They also reported people from Dorchester, Massachusetts; Mineral Well, Texas and Minnieapolis, Minnesota.  Any individual in Connecticut seeking shelter can contact the Coordinated Access Network (CAN) by calling 211. 

A question was raised about whether people crossing into the U.S. through the Southern border and those fleeing Afghanistan can be sheltered at 3 Lake Avenue.  If they are screened by CAN, regardless of citizenship status, they may be housed there.  But the Department of Housing is not aware of any such individual actually being housed in Danbury or any other similar facility in Connecticut.

The follow up report included about 90 form letters signed in support of the project.  The Zoning Commission separately received 22 letters in support since the hearing on September 28th. They also received 36 letters in opposition during that time.  Most of the letters submitted ahead of the first hearing were in opposition. 

Zoning Commission chair Ted Haddad requested that a new police report include not just Westville Avenue extension, but Westville Avenue and not just Abbott Street, but also Abbott Avenue.  He also requested police information for Lake Avenue and extension, Mill Ridge Drive and Road, Midfield Road, School Ridge Road, and High Ridge Road. 

Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour prepared the requested information using calls from mid-May through early October.  Out of more than 60 calls reviewed, Ridenhour says only one was connected to the shelter.  On May 23rd, a resident was reported to be in distress and located at O'Brien's Pub on Lake Avenue.  Ridenhour noted that it was not his role or the role of the police department to endorse or object to the proposal, but to review calls for service to determine whether or not it has impacted police resources.  Ridenhour stressed that the review was based solely on incidents reported to police.  He added that he can't confirm or refute any observations or perceptions reported in other forms. 

There were four specific requests that Ridenhour provided further detail about.  One was the location of the gas station in front of the motel.  While there were several calls for service, they ranged from motor vehicle stops to a couple of well-being checks.  Ridenhour says some may be connected to the shelter next door, but a check of 2019 calls showed there were a few more calls of a similar nature.  As for the McDonald's across the street, Ridenhour says there were several calls for service with at least two appearing to be related to residents of the shelter.  There were a similar number and nature of calls in 2019. 

As for the request for information about Mill Ridge Drive and Road, Midfield Road, School Ridge Road, and High Ridge Road, Ridenhour says there are numerous calls for service and historically the call volume on these streets has been significant.  Ridenhour did not do an analysis because it would be difficult to attribute any of the calls solely to the shelter.  On Midfield Road, there were only 5 police calls during the time period in question and none were related to residents of the shelter.

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Recount of ballots in Bethel doesn't change Election Day results in Finance, Police Commission races

Bethel has completed a hand recount of ballots from Election Day to determine the winners of a couple of close races. The outcome of the election did not change the close win of John Lennon for Board of Finance and of Patrick Morton for Police Commission.  The recount started at 10am and wrapped up shortly before 6pm. In the recanvass of the returns of the voting machines, absentee ballots and write-in ballots, 4,504 ballots were examined by teams of two from opposite parties to identify mismarked ballots that possibly were not read by the ballot tabulator to reflect the voter's intent. Such ballots were hand counted. 

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Highway crash closes I-84 in Danbury for more than 6 hours

Serious injuries were reported in an afternoon highway crash that closed I-84 in Danbury into the evening hours.  State Police say the crash between exits 2 and 1 westbound happened around 2:15pm.  The scene was cleared around 8:45pm.  Traffic was diverted off Exit 2 onto Route 6 during that time.  Traffic backed up well past exit 8 and coming off Route 7 from New Milford and Brookfield during the evening commute.

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Bethel officials consider mixed use development at former Stony Hill Inn property

The public hearing into a mixed use development at the former Stony Hill Inn property has been closed by the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission.  Upstream Properties LLC has applied to build residential and commercial buildings between the Copper Square townhouses and Mountain Laurel Plaza.  A resolution was drawn up for consideration at their meeting tonight.

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 hearing was also closed into a proposed affordable housing development at 64 Wooster Street.  The applicant 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.

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New Fairfield town meeting on allocating surplus funds

New Fairfield residents are being asked to vote tonight on using surplus funding to take care of items previously cut from the budget.  A special meeting is being held at 7pm at the Senior Center to consider using $722,000 in expenditures from last year’s surplus for police cameras, additional paving, vinyl siding for Company A Firehouse, and purchase of 13 and 15 Route 37. 

The surplus is due to fewer expenses from staff vacancies and lower utilities, coupled with higher revenue from real estate transaction and permitting fees from higher number than usual of newcomers.  In order to keep taxes in the last budget under a 3-percent increase, police cameras, paving, and siding were cut.  The property purchase could lead to creation of a town green.

The allocations are broken down as:

$2,268.14 to Fire Department Equipment Reserve Fund

$60,000.00 to Capital and Non-Recurring Fire Co. (CoA Vinyl Siding)

$110,000.00 to Capital and NonRecurring Police Cars and Equipment (Cameras)

$125,000.00 to Road Repair

$425,000.00 to Purchase property located at 13 & 15 Route 37.

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Two Danbury men arrested for alleged sexual assault of woman

Two Danbury men have been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman last weekend.  Police received a complaint from a woman who said she was assaulted at one of the men's home.  She was known to both men.  56-year old Cullen McKeown  and 34-year old Carlos Pineda were charged on October 31st and November 1st with sexual assault while Pineda was also charged with voyeurism with malice.  According to the investigation, the three were drinking and smoking marijuana when the woman started falling asleep. McKeown allegedly sexually assault her while Pineda took pictures and videos.  Pineda also allegedly sexually assaulted her that evening.

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New Fairfield puts one year moratorium on retail cannabis

The New Fairfield Zoning Commission has voted to put a one year moratorium in place on retail cannabis.  At least two public hearings were held on the issue.  Several people expressed concern about marijuana use among young people.  A couple of others spoke about the tax revenue that could come to New Fairifeld if these establishments were allowed.  Zoning Commission members voted for a one year ban to figure out what regulations should be crafted to either allow or prohibit retail cannabis.

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New Milford Town Council to hold first simulcast of meeting

The New Milford Town Council will hold its first simulcast of their meeting tonight.  There will also be a Special Town Meeting beginning at 6:30pm, followed by the regular Town Council meeting at 7pm.  The Special Town Meeting is for residents to vote on allocations from New Milford's share of the American Rescue Pla Act pandemic relief bill.  Both meetings will be broadcast on the Town of New Milford Facebook page Youtube page and via Zoom.  Information for joining the webinar can be found in the Town Council Meeting agenda.

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Recount held in Bethel today for Board of Finance, Police Commission races

A recount is being held today in Bethel on a few close races from Election Day.  The recanvass started at 10am of the returns of the voting machines, absentee ballots and write-in ballots.  The recount was automatically triggered by close votes for the Offices of Board of Finance and the Police Commission. 

In the recount, every one of the 4,504 ballots will be examined by teams of two from opposite parties to identify mismarked ballots that possibly were not read by the ballot tabulator to reflect the voter's intent. Such ballots will be hand counted. 

The public may observe the Recanvass process without conversing with or interfering with the work of the Recanvass Officials. The Head Moderator, Nancy Ryan, has the sole discretion to limit the distance from which the public may observe the process.

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Brookfield firefighters respond to 20 calls in 24 hour period

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to 20 fire and EMS calls for service in a 24 hour period from Friday afternoon into Satruday.  That included a two car crash with one of the vehicles rolling over.  There were no injuries reported in that accident. 

On Thursday, firefighters responded to Brookfield High School on an activated manual pull station. A follow up phone call reported an odor of smoke in the auditorium area. Investigation revealed that smoke from a neighboring chimney was pulled into the building via the HVAC system and open entrance doors.

Meanwhile, firefighters have done some work at Center Station.  The garage doors were painted and the parking lot was repaved. This station is where EMS operations are run out of and Engine 5 is housed.  All of the protective equipment for COVID-19 and shelter equipment for emergency management are stored there as well.  All of the recent infrastructure investments were paid for through donations as a result of their annual fund drive.

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New Fairfield considers land purchase to create Town Green

New Fairfield residents are being asked to vote tomorrow night on a proposal to buy property to create a Town Green.  A special meeting is being held at 7pm at the Senior Center to consider the appropriation.  Surplus money for other uses will also be discussed.

In making the case for the land purchase, New Fairfield officials say residents have been requesting more community activities.  The properties tie together other town-owned properties in the center of New Fairfield.  The land could be used for picnic tables, walking trails, and potentially a band shell.   A playground, possibly using recertified equipment from Consolidated School, could also be located there.  Planning and funding for Town Green will take a few years to develop. 

The purchase price of $425,000 is below assessed value of the properties and was the result of several months of negotiations. Purchase of the property was approved unanimously by the Board of Selectmen on August 12th and unanimously approved by the Board of Finance on October 21.

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65% of Danbury population fully vaccinated against COVID-19

The City of Danbury is in the state Department of Public Health's Yellow Zone for the amount of COVID-19 community spread.  Health Direcotr Kara Prunty says there are currently 5 COVID-19 related hospitalizations at local hospitals.  The City’s current infection rate is 1-point-7 percent and the 14-day running average is 5-point-1 cases per 100-thousand population.  Approximately 65% of the Danbury population is fully vaccinated and 72% have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 Vaccine.  As of October 25th, Danbury has recorded 13,572 positive COVID-19 cases and 197 associated deaths. The State of Connecticut has had 400,226 positive COVID-19 cases and 8,739 associated deaths.

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38th AMBYESE Annual Educational Conference this weekend

The 38th AMBYESE Annual Educational Conference is being held this weekend.  The virtual event is aimed at preparing students for college through interaction with professionals from many fields and relevant workshops to help students transition to college.  AMBYESE, which stands for Annual Multicultural Business Youth Educational Services Embarkment, prepares multicultural secondary school students for the challenges of a more diverse workforce in the 21st century. 

The Conference is free to participating high schools.  The theme this year is preparing for a successful transition from High school to college. The conference is on Saturday from 10am to 2pm.  https://www.ambyese.org/annual-educational-conference

Naval Officer Jaleesa Harrigan, who is from Bethel and an active member of the Alumni Association, will host the event. The organization's goal is to motivate students to strive for excellence academically by exposing them to career options in the corporate sector, and to facilitate their anxieties concerning “big business” by instilling in them a high level of self-esteem so they can learn about embarking on careers through highly successful multicultural role models. 

AMBYESE also hosts the YES I CAN or Youth Endeavoring to Succeed Program.  The purpose is to enhance the academic skills and career focus of college-bound high school students so as to improve their likelihood of admission to, and success in, college, and ultimately in life.

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Joel Barlow reopens after contamination of water storage tank with fuel oil

Joel Barlow High School will reopen today after being closed Thursday and Friday due to contamination of a water storage tank with fuel oil.  Superintendent Jason McKinnon says they bypassed the tanks and flushed and tested the water pipes.  The State Department of Health cleared the use of the system and reviewed the test results Saturday.  JHoe Barlow students will have to make up the lost days at some point in the future.  Bottled water will be provided throughout the school today for students and staff even though the system is cleared for use.  A preliminary investigation determined that a contractor accidentally poured about 20 gallons of fuel oil into the school’s 20-thousand gallon water-storage tank last Tuesday.

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Outgoing Newtown Legislative Council recommends new members consider ban on open carry

The Newtown Legislative Council could take up a proposal about open carry when they meet next month.  An ordinance review committee is considering a local ban.  A group of High School students spoke at the meeting, urging members not to allow open carry on town property.  Many of the students were in Sandy Hook Elementary when 20 children and 6 educators were killed in 2012.  The outgoing Legislative Council voted to recommend continued consideration of the ban when new members are sworn in.  The balance of power on the 12-member Legislative Council flipped last week from a 7-to-5 Democratic majority to a 9-to-3 Republican majority.  Some member say it's a state issue, while others are concerned about a potential costly lawsuit.

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34-acre market-rate apartment project in Bethel, Newtown floated

A developer of luxury apartments and modern rental communities is putting out feelers for a 34-acre market-rate apartment project in Bethel, straddling the Newtown town line.  A pre-application meeting was held by the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission on October 26th for 97 Stony Hill Road.  Continental Global Ventures presented a conceptual drawing showing 20 acres in Bethel and the balance in Newtown, with potential for moderately priced luxury apartments.  An attorney for the applicant requested feedback from the Commission about the viability of such a development before determining if this project would be brought in as a formal application.  Staff is continuing discussion with the potential applicant and the Commission will continue their discussion at the next meeting November 9th.  The land was once part of the Franc Farm, and includes a small house and a barn.  A total of 246 units could be part of the plan.  114 units would be located in four-story buildings on the Bethel side, with 132 units in three-story buildings on the Newtown side.  There would be one and two bedroom apartments.  None are proposed be set aside as affordable under the state's 8-30(g) housing law.

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New non-native invasive plant discovered in Kent

A new non-native invasive plant has been discovered in Connecticut.  Scientists from The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, working with a local horticulturist and landscape gardener, have discovered Goldencreeper (Thladiantha dubia Bunge) in Kent.  The invasive, also known as Manchu tuber gourd, is a member of the gourd family. It is native to Northeastern China, Korea, and Russia. It is believed to have been introduced into North America as an ornamental plant.  Goldencreeper is a serious threat to native plant diversity because it quickly outgrows native plants, and its twining and climbing growth habit. Goldencreeper reproduces and spreads mainly by persistent, fleshy, underground, potato-like tubers which make it extremely difficult to eradicate.  Currently, it is present in Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, and Wisconsin in the United States and in Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec provinces in Canada.  Connecticut residents are encouraged to report any new cases of its presence to CAES Associate Weed Scientist Dr. Jatinder S. Aulakh via email Jatinder.Aulakh@ct.gov or phone 860-683-4984.

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Students must meet certain conditions for Screen and Stay initiative

With the state offering schools the option to participate in the Screen and Stay initiative, there are certain conditions that must be met.  This is the program that would allow an unvaccinated, asymptomatic student to stay in the classroom rather than quarantining if they're identified as a close contact to someone who has COVID.  Students must be asymptomatic and have been wearing a mask during the potential exposure.  Bethel Superintendent Christine Carver says if exposure happened during extracurriculars or during sports, that may still result in a quarantine.  The Department of Health would also still require a quarantine because of exposure at a youth sporting event or social or family gathering.  Carver says the state initiative does require districts to provide alternate activities for those students, even though they can stay in school.  This is for things like chorus, band and gym class.  Those students can still go to those classes, but will be given other activities during the time when they typically would have quarantined as a result of an exposure.  Carver says this will be less disruptive to learning and to families work schedules and in the home.

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Eversource offering tips for keeping energy costs down this winter

Eversource is offering some tips for keeping energy costs down in the winter.  They include switching to LED lights, weatherizing the home by caulking and weather-stripping all doors and windows and insulate or increase the amount of insulation in the attic, basement and outside walls.  Eversource also suggests setting  programmable or smart thermostats as low as is comfortable when at home and awake and lower when sleeping or away from home.  A Home Energy Solutions home energy audit involved a certified technician checking for and doing on-the-spot improvements like replacing old lighting with LEDs, sealing up drafty doors and windows and closing air gaps around pipes. 

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Veteran's Day Ceremony planned in Kent for November 11th

A Veteran's Day Ceremony is planned in Kent for November 11th.   The American Legion Hall-Jennings Post 153 will hold a ceremony at the Kent Veteran's Memorial on Maple Street at 11am. Commander and Adjutant Brent Kallstrom will lead the ceremony, which will include an invocation and prayer by the Reverend John Heeckt of the First Congregational Church of Kent, a rifle salute by the Legion honor guard, the playing of Taps by piper Don Hicks, and other speakers. Father Douglas Worthington of St. Andrews Episcopal Church will close the ceremony with a prayer.

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Bethel state lawmakers hosting town hall event Monday

State Senator Will Haskell and Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan will be holding a town hall meeting in Bethel on Monday.  They'll be at the Senior Center at 6pm to discuss the 2021 Legislative Session and answer any questions constituents have. Masks and social distancing will be required.

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Monroe Police hosting holiday food drive

With Thanksgiving coming up, the Monroe Police Department will be hosting a Holiday Food Drive today at Village Square on Monroe Turnpike.  Officers will be out from 8am through 2pm collecting donations for the Monroe Food Pantry. 

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State Police Sgt involved in 2019 crash in Southbury resigns

A state police sergeant who injured a woman and her daughter in a 2019 car crash in Southbury has resigned.  Sgt. John McDonald submitted his letter of resignation to state police Thursday. 

He was the subject of two internal investigations, one for the crash and the other for his work with the time management system while on administrative duty.  Those investigations have now been temporarily suspended.  McDonald’s decertification will prevent him from working at other police agencies. 

The car crash followed an alleged night of drinking by McDonald at a retirement party for a fellow trooper at Black Hog Brewing Co. in Oxford.  Security footage showed McDonald consumed at least eight drinks in about a 3.5 hour timeframe. McDonald pleaded no contest to two counts of reckless endangerment and was sentenced to a suspended six-month prison term and two years of probation.

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Outgoing Danbury City Councilmen recognized by City

The current Danbury City Council has held their final meeting before new members, who were elected on Tuesday, are sworn in. Danbury's next Mayor, Republican Dean Esposito will take the oath of office at noon on December 1st.  He defeated Democrat Roberto Alves with 50.6 percent of the vote.  Esposito will have a supermajority on the City Council, with the GOP taking 14 of 21 seats.  Members who were not reelected or did not run for another term were presented with plaques last night.  Members offered kind words about their fellow councilmen who won't be seated next month.

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Caseworker on Your Corner event to be held in Newtown

A Caseworker on Your Corner event is being held for veterans by 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes in Newtown.  Workers from her office will be at the American Legion membership event on Saturday November 6th at the Newtown Senior Center.  Caseworkers will talk with veterans, those on active duty, in the reserves or National Guard.  Relatives of living or deceased veterans can also learn about survivor benefits.  The event is from noon to 2pm at 8 Simson Street on the Fairfield Hills campus.

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Weekly COVID-19 infection rates for Greater Danbury area released by state

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel's infection rate dropped down a bit from last week to 1.9 percent.  Brookfield's rate also dipped to 2.4 percent.  Danbury has 5.1 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, with a positivity rate of 1.7 percent.  Newtown's infection rate dropped about a half a percentage point to 1.3 percent.  New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rate climbed nearly a percentage point from last week to 3.5 percent.  New Milford's rate climbed half a percentage point to 4.4 percent.  Redding's positivity rate dropped significantly to 1 percent while Ridgefield stood at 1.4 percent.   

The state's daily COVID-19 test positivity rate yesterday was 2.25 percent.  431 positive confirmed or probable cases were detected out of about 19,000 tests. 

There were 6 fewer patients in the hospital with COVID yesterday compared to the day before. 

The inpatient total is 209. As for breakthrough infections, 19,474 cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated persons in Connecticut have been identified since February.  That's a .81 percent breakthrough rate.  25 people have died in Connecticut over the past week from causes related to COVID-19. 

Connecticut is 3rd in the nation for the percent of the population fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  Connecticut is 70.86 percent.  Vermont remains first, with 71.4-percent and Rhode Island at 71.16  percent.  Rounding out the top five are Maine and Massachusetts.

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Color draining from DPH COVID-19 community spread map in Greater Danbury area

Sherman remains in the Red Zone for a second week 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 9 COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks in the small town, that is equivalent to 17.7 cases.

Color on the state's COVID-19 community spread map is starting to drain again elsewhere in the Greater Danbury area. Much of the lower part of the region is in the grey zone for having fewer than 5 cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks, including Newtown, Ridgefield, Easton, Redding and Weston.  In the Yellow zone, for having 5 to 9 cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks are Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury and Southbury. 

In Orange, with 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 in the last two weeks are New Fairfield and New Milford.  New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco is concerned that the vaccination rate isn't increasing as quickly as surrounding towns.  New Fairfield was at 9.3 per 100,000 two weeks ago, 10.3 last week and 13.9 this week. 

68-percent of New Fairfield residents are vaccinated.  New Fairfield 12 to 17 year olds are at 55-percent vaccinated.  Del Monaco notes that the age group in other area towns are well above 70 percent and nearing 80 percent.  The 25 to 44 year olds are at 62-percent vaccinated, also considerably lower than other adult age groups in New Fairfield.

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Danbury COVID-19 rates continue to decline

Danbury's COVID-19 test positivity rate has ticked down slightly since the last reporting period and is at 1.7-percent.   60 cases have been reported to the state between October 17th and 30th.  That's 5.1 cases per 100,000 population.  Sherman remains in the Red Zone for a second week 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 9 COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks in the small town, that is equivalent to 17.7 cases.

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Two elementary schools in Danbury recognized by U.S. News & World Report

Two elementary schools in the Danbury Public Schools district have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as being among the top in Connecticut elementary and middle schools based on test scoring. Western Connecticut Academy of International Studies was listed as 58, while Great Plain School came in at 70.  A couple of other schools also placed high on the list, Westside Middle School Academy at 107th and King Street Intermediate School came in at 116. 

More than 102,000 preschool through high schools are ranked by U.S. News & World Report annually.  In Connecticut, 560 elementary and 288 middle schools were ranked.  The new rankings focus on math and reading proficiency or how well students perform on state assessments and performance.

The state assessment data used in the ranking are from the 2018-19 school year. 

At AIS, 72 percent of students scored at or above the proficient level for math and 77 scored at or above that level for reading.  Great Plain School students were at 67 percent at or above proficient in math and 77 percent in reading. 

At Westside Middle School Academy, 43 percent of students scored at or above the proficient level for math, and 58 percent scored at or above that level for reading. At King Street Intermediate School, 42 percent of students scored at or above the proficient level for math, and 50 percent scored at or above that level for reading.

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DEEP makes tentative decision about renewing a state permit for MannKind Corporation

The state Department of Enery and Environmental Proteciton has issued a notice of a tentative decision about renewing a state permit for discharges into the waters by Danbury-based MannKind Corporation.  DEEP determined that continuance of the existing system to treat the discharge would protect the waters of the state from pollution.  The Commissioner proposes to renew a permit for the discharge to the sanitary sewer. 

MannKind Corporation, located on Casper Street, presently discharges a maximum of 41.490 gallons per day of pharmaceutical and non-process wastewaters to the Danbury Water Pollution Control Facility from pharmaceutical operations primarily for inhalable insulin products, including solution preparation, pharmaceutical formulations, laboratory wastewater, reverse osmosis reject water, and process equipment cleaning, at a pharmaceutical manufacturer and research facility.

Through this permit renewal, MannKind Corporation has requested to increase their total maximum discharge to 49,390 gallons per day. Building 8, DSN 200-1, discharges pharmaceutical research wastewater and reverse osmosis backwash and reject wastewater. This maximum flow of 4,990 gallons per day has remained the same as the previous permit. These wastewaters are treated through a continuous pH neutralization system. 

Building 1, DSN 201-1, discharges pharmaceutical formulations process wastewater, reverse osmosis backwash and reject wastewater, quality control laboratory wastewater and solution preparations, process equipment cleaning wastewater, VC stills blowdown, and HVAC condensate. This permit renewal proposes an increase of the maximum flow for this DSN from 36,500 gallons per day to 44,400 gallons per day to accommodate increased production and an additional reverse osmosis system. These wastewaters are treated through a batch pH neutralization system and heat exchanger. 

Prior to making a final decision to approve or deny any application, the Commissioner will consider written comments on the application (APPLICATION NO. 201502444, PERMIT ID NO. SP0002395) from interested persons that are received by November 22nd.  Written comments should be emailed to Alexandra MacLaren at alexandra.maclaren@ct.gov.

The Commissioner may hold a public hearing prior to approving or denying an application if in the Commissioner's discretion the public interest will be best served thereby, and shall hold a hearing upon receipt of a petition signed by at least 25 persons. Notice of any public hearing shall be published at least 30 days prior to the hearing.

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Area towns schedule COVID-19 vaccine clinics for kids

COVID-19 vaccine clinics for kids are being scheduled in the Greater Danbury area.  New Fairfield will be providing two vaccination clinics in collaboration with Candlewood Drugs on Saturday, November 13th in the New Fairfield High School cafeteria and on Saturday, December 4th in the New Fairfield Middle School cafeteria.  Appointments are encouraged, but walk-ins will be accommodated for children ages 5 to 17 and their parents.  Appointments can be made by calling 203-240-0009.      

The Bethel Public Schools District is hosting a a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination clinic for students ages 5 to 11.  Within a matter of hours, close to 250 families signed up and the clinic on the 13th filled to capacity.  The school had to shut off registrations and is looking into scheduling additional clinics in partnership with the state Department of Health and Griffin Hospital at the Bethel High School Track and Field Center.  For families they did get an appointment, the second dose clinic will be held on Saturday, December 4th.   A parent must be present with their child. 

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Danbury officials consider proposal to move some Head Start classrooms to new location

A committee of the Danbury City Council is recommending relocating some Head Start classrooms.  The Connecticut Institute for Communities needs to move four classrooms from Laurel Gardens on Main Street and wants to use space in the Old Jail facility at the other end of Main Street. 

The Danbury Housing Authority has indicated that it wants its Laurel Garden space back so the facility can be improved and redeveloped.  CIFC already has a lease for part of the Old Jail building dating back to 2015 for one Early Childhood space.  Before 2015, CIFC held the lease solely for the Woman Infant and Children Nutrition Program.  The proposal is to convert the WIC program office, also operated by CIFC, and turn it into Head Start classroom space. 

Ad Hoc Committee chair Councilman Warren Levy couldn't find the original lease, but former CIFC CEO James Maloney says there is no new lease proposed; it's just an update to the use of the space in the existing lease.  Levy countered that it's a considerable expansion, going from one classroom to five.  Maloney clarified that they're not asking for additional space, just replacing the WIC offices with classrooms. 

The buildout would be done at CIFC's cost and the organization would pay a percent of utilities and other building expenses.  The renovations require new child bathrooms, but could be done in a way to cause no permanent alteration of the building.  Temporary partitions would also be added.  The lease would have to be submitted to Zoning because they've redesigned the proposed entrance, altering the swing of the doors so they don't conflict with each other. 

Head Start will have its own entrance so staff and attendees could be closed off from the general public using the main door of the building.

In a follow up meeting, the proposed lease has CIFIC taking on more of the utility cost sharing and taking on grounds maintenance like mowing and plowing, as well as garbage hauling and playground maintenance.  It was noted that children are not bussed to Head Start programs, rather they are dropped off by parents at staggered times.

The City Council will consider the change at their meeting tonight.

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Vigil held at WCSU in memory of two freshman killed in Colchester car accident

A vigil has been held in Danbury for two West Conn students killed last month in a car accident in Colchester. 

Hundreds of people gathered on the westside campus to remember 18-year olds Tyler Graham and Jacob Chapman.  After a moment of silence, West Conn President John Clark said this was a time to celebrate the energy they both brought to the university, and that they will be remembered during the 2025 commencement when they would have graduated. 

The lacrosse players were remembered by teammates as being special people, with the team captain saying they are still shocked and saddened.  A lacrosse scrimmage game among teammates was held after the ceremony in honor of Chapman and Graham.

Another student, 19-year-old Trey Massaro, was seriously injured but is recovering at home in Massachusetts. 

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Brookfield, New Milford partner for COVID-19 vaccine clinics for 5-11 year olds

Brookfield and New Milford have partnered on COVID-19 vaccine clinics for younger kids.  Pfizer vaccines will be administered on Tuesdays and Sundays at John Pettibone Community Center in New Milford.  The clinics are on the 6th and 13th from 7:30am to 11:30am and November 9th, 16th and 30th from 4pm to 7:30pm.  More information is available by calling the Department at (860)355-6035 or via E-mail at healthdept@newmilford.org.

The FDA and CDC gave final emergency use authorization approvals for Pfizer for children aged 5 to 11 this week.  The vaccine - one-third the dose for teens and adults - requires two shots three weeks apart.

Brookfield Health officials say approximately 40% of Children ages 5 to 11 may be silent carriers of the virus and show no symptoms. Yet, they can transmit the disease to parents and grandparents, Brookfield Health officials say they may become seriously ill, even when fully vaccinated.

Vaccinated children do NOT have to quarantine and can continue to participate in extracurricular activities, even if they have come into contact with a positive case.

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Bethel schedules Moderna booster clinics

The Town of Bethel has scheduled Moderna Booster Clinics in the Municipal Center General Purpose Room next week.  The clinics will be next Tuesday and Wednesday, the 9th and 10th, from 9am to 1pm.  People can call the Bethel COVID Booster Line at 203-794-8530 to make an appointment.  Eligible individuals are those 65 and older, people 18 to 64 at high risk of COVID-19 and those 18 to 64 with frequent institutional or occupational exposure to COVID.

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Recounts needed in a couple of Bethel down ballot races

There are a couple of automatic recounts planned in Bethel due to close vote tallies.  The unofficial results of the Inland Wetlands alternate race shows Democrat Danielle Monroe with an eight-vote lead over Republican Paul Improta.  Recounts are needed if there is a fewer than 20 vote difference or a half-percent margin.  The Police Commission race showed little difference between four candidates for three positions.  Democrat Patrick Morton and Republican incumbents Kevin Cleary, Richard Kolwicz and Anthony Rubino are vying for the three open commission seats.

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Putnam County Sheriff loses bid for reelection

There were a number of uncontested races in Putnam County, New York including Carmel Supervisor and Brewster Mayor.  In Patterson and Southeast residents approved increasing the annual contribution to the Patterson and Brewster libraries. 

The Sheriff's race was the biggest contest on the ballot.  Democratic incumbent Robert Langley lost his reelection bid to Republican challenger Kevin McConville, who won with 57-percent of the vote.  McConville ran twice before.  Lanley had a contentious few years battling the County Executive and Legislature over budget issues.

Patterson Library's Budget was last increased by public vote in 2016.  Residents approved a proposed budget increase for 2022 to sustain and expand programs, materials and services; meet rising costs; and comply with New York State mandated wage and benefit increases. The request for additional funding is $142,577, to the sum of $1,016,160 annually.  About 52 percent approved, 47 percent said no. 

The Town of Southeast annual contribution for the operating budget of the Brewster Public Library in the amount of 420-thousand dollars annually was approved.  Nearly 58-percent of voters said yes while about 42 percent said no.

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Danbury GOP holds Mayor's position, picks up City Council seats

With just about 25-percent voter turn out, Republican Dean Esposito has won the Danbury mayoral race.  He defeated Democrat Robert Alves by 171 votes.  Esposito, Chief of Staff to two Mayors will continue the 20-year Republican leadership of the City.  Alves phoned Esposito to concede the race late last night.  He said after the race that his team did everything they could to try to pull this one out, but came up short.

The Republican margin on the Danbury City Council has widened once again after moving to just a one-member majority.  The 11 to 10 City Council will be 14 to 7 after all seven at-large or city-wide seats went to the GOP. 

Mayor Joe Cavo, who chose not to run for a term of his own leading the City, was able to secure one of those seats.  He  will return to the Council where he served as its President for many years.  Alves gave up his at-large seat to run for Mayor.  4th Ward Democrat John Esposito switched parties after he failed to garner enough petition signatures to force a primary, but lost his GOP bid for the district.  The 7th ward will once again have split representation with one Democrat and one Republican winning.

There was a hand count of ballots in Danbury's 5th ward.  Some ballots were unable to go through the tabulator.  Data had to be hand entered into the form to be submitted to the Secretary of the State's Office. 

There was also a technical issue statewide with the reporting system.  A spokesperson for Denise Merrill's office said all of the results were tallied locally and entered in a safe and secure way, but that they weren't being displayed online. A third-party vendor that manages the reporting system is working to have the results on the site published by her office.  No other details on the issue or a timeline for fixing it were released.

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Republicans win in Newtown, Democrats in Ridgefield

There was an open race to lead the Town of Roxbury for the first time in more than 2 decades.  Democrat Patrick Roy was elected yesterday as First Selectman.  Current First Selectman Barbara Henry is retiring after 24 years of service.  There was high voter turn out in Roxbury compared to the surrounding area, with 58-percent participation.  Roy, a previous member of the Board of Finance, defeated Republican Bruce Tuomala, former economic development director for the City of Danbury.

In Newtown, Republicans regained seats, taking back majorities on a number of boards and commissions.  Voter turn out was little more than 34-percent.  The Board of Education picked up three GOP members.  Newtown residents approved funding for the Hawley School HVAC project by a nearly 2 to 1 margin.  The two Board of Selectmen candidates were unopposed.  Three Edmond Town Hall Board of Managers slots, two on the Zoning Board of Appeals, and one Planning & Zoning Commission seats also did not have contests.  Board of Finance member Christopher Gardener picked up a seat on the Legislative Council, current Selectman Jeff Capeci won a council seat and current Board of Education Chair Michelle Embree Ku ran for and won a council seat.

Nearly all of the Democratic party members on the ballot in Ridgefield won reelection yesterday.  15 out of 16 won seats on Boards and Commissions.  The only Ridgefield incumbent not to be reelected was Police Commissioner Ralph Money.  The top vote getter on that panel was Republican John Frey, who was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board earlier this year.  Frey, who served as state Representative for 22 years, was the top vote-getter among the police commissioner candidates.

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Danbury Republican Dean Esposito holds slim lead in Mayoral race

Republican Dean Esposito held just a 60-vote lead over Demcorat Roberto Alves as of 10pm Tuesday, with all voter precincts and absentee ballots accounted for. The numbers are considered unofficial results until certified by the Secretary of the State's Office.  If the count holds up, there could be an automated recount.  Alves phoned Esposito to concede the race.  Secretary Denise Merrill reported just over 25-percent voter turnout as of 7pm.  Esposito, who was chief of staff under former Mayor Mark Boughton and Joe Cavo, would win the first open election in the Hat City in 20 years if the numbers stand.

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Election Night Greater Danbury recap

Several incumbent municipal leaders have retained their seats, while a couple of races remain too close to call.  In Danbury, just a few dozen votes separate Republican Dean Esposito and Democrat Roberto Alves in the mayoral race as of 10pm.  The difference could trigger an automatic recount.

The Brookfield First Selectman race also remains close.  It's a three-way contest between Democratic incumbent Steve Dunn, Republican Tara Carr and petitioning candidate Austin Monteiro.  The Brookfield Democrats though posted on Facebook earlier in the evening that the votes were not in their favor this year, thanking Dunn and Sue Slater for their efforts over the last six years. 

Kent First Selectman Jean Speck was reelected to a second term.  She defeated her 2019 Republican challenger and two petitioning candidates.  New Milford Mayor Pete Bass also won reelection.  The Republican was greeted to chants of 'RePete' when he declared victory.  Redding First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton also secured another two-year term.  The Redding Democrats congratulated her and other candidates in social media posts.  Southbury Republican First Selectman Jeff Manville also defeated his competition to serve another term.

Democrat Patrick Roy won in Roxbury's open race.  Republican First Selectman Barbara Henry, who was in office for 24 years, didn’t seek reelection.  Roy defeated Bruce Tuomala, former Economic Development Director for the City of Danbury.

Several municipal leaders were unopposed in their bids for more time in office.  Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker, Curtis Read of Bridgewater, Dan Rosenthal of Newtown, New Fairfield's Pat Del Monaco and Sherman's Don Lowe were not challenged in the election today.

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Election Night Greater Danbury 2021 results

Election Night Greater Danbury 2021

BOLD = winner

* = incumbent

Vote tallies unofficial until certified by the Secretary of the State

 

TOWN/OFFICE CANDIDATE/PARTY TOTAL
     
Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker* (D)  
     
Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read* (D)  
     
Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn* (D) 2,669
  Tara Carr (R) 2,877
  Austin Monteiro (petitioning) 69
     
Kent First Selectman Jean Speck* (D) 466
  Ed Matson (R) 202
  Rufus de Rham (petitioning) 401
  James Rundall (petitioning) 47
     
Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal* (SAM)  
     
New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco* (D)  
     
New Milford Mayor Ted Hine (D) 1,570
      (with 86% reporting) Pete Bass* (R) 5,144
     
Redding First Selectman Julia Pemberton* (D) 1808
  John Shaban (R) 952
     
Sherman First Selectman Don Lowe* (D)  
     
Southbury First Selectman John Diehl (D) 1999
  (absentee ballot total not included) Jeff Manville* (R) 3232
     
     
     
 Danbury Mayor Roberto Alves (D) 7,023
  Dean Esposito (R) 7,194
     
Danbury Treasurer Daniel Jowdy* (R) 7997
  Henry Hall (D) 5716
     
Danbury Town Clerk Janice Giegler* (R) 7294
  Andrea Gartner (D) 6353
     
Danbury City Council at Large Michael Esposito* (R) 6747
     elect 7 Jason Eriquez (R) 6790
  Emile Buzaid* (R) 6999
  Colleen Stanley* (R) 6799
  Michael Halas (R) 6878
  Warren Levy* (R) 7294
  Joe Cavo (R) 7303
  Gary Simone (D) 5875
  Ellen VanDyke Bell (D) 5975
  William McAllister (D) 5636
  David Cardoso (D) 5700
  Robert Taborsak* (D) 6319
  Silvia Merlim (D) 5628
  Frank Salvatore Jr* (D) 6219
     
Danbury Ward 1 (Elect 2) Irving Fox* (R) 1189
  Michael Masi (R) 1168
  Dennis Perkins (D) 1001
  Chris Lewis (D) 915
     
Danbury Ward 2 (Elect 2) Vinny DiGilio* (R) 945
  Elmer Palma* (R) 999
  Bernard Gallo (D) 855
  Helena Abrantes (D) 842
     
Danbury Ward 3 (Elect 2) Michael Henry* (R) 1291
  Jack Knapp* (R) 1386
  Cheryl Duva (D) 1021
  Molly Anderson-Diker(D) 959
     
Danbury Ward 4 (Elect 2) John Esposito* (R) 566
  Veasna Roeun (R) 528
  Farley Santos* (D) 806
  Joseph Britton (D) 753
     
Danbury Ward 5 (Elect 2) Perry Price (R) 485
  Matthew Orr (R) 516
  Duane Perkins* (D) 844
  Fred Visconti* (D) 781
     
Danbury Ward 6 (Elect 2) Gregory Davis (R) 847
  Oseas Mello (R) 746
  Paul Rotello* (D) 1097
  Ben Chianese* (D) 1178
     
Danbury Ward 7 (Elect 2) Nancy Cammisa* (R) 819
  Albert Russo (R) 809
  Wilson Hernandez (D) 788
  Richard Molinaro* (D) 859
     
Danbury Board of Education  Theresa Buzaid (R) 7325
   elect 5 Mary Cronin (R) 6869
    no more than 3 from each party Ralph Pietrafesa (R) 5677
  Michelle Coelho (R) 7484
  Rachel Chaleski* (R) 6906
  Jean Rivot (D) 6105
  Joseph DaSilva Jr* (D) 7359
  Luisa Zagottis-Britton (D) 6232
     

 

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Polls open until 8pm in Greater Danbury municipal elections

In Danbury, elections officials say 9.2 percent of registered voters have cast ballots at polling locations across the City as of 11am.  There were several hundred absentee ballots delivered in advance of Election Day.

New Milford senior center is offering rides to older residents and those who are disabled and need help getting to the polls.  Those residents are encouraged to contact the New Milford Senior Center at 860-355-6075 to schedule a ride.  Polls close at 8pm.

New Fairfield Police are alerting residents voting at the Middle School today, those who live in the 108th state House District, that there's a new traffic pattern at the school.  Beacuse of construction. Meeting house voters will cast ballots at the Middle School and drivers should enter through the normal 54 Gillotti driveway.  Drivers will exit through the newly paved driveway between the high school and middle school parking lots.

In Bethel, several races at the top of the ticket have already been decided.  First Selecetman Matt Knickerbocker is unopposed.  There are only two other candidates for the three-member Board of Selectmen.  Democratic incumbent Richard Straiton and Republican Bryan Terzian will be seated. Bethel incumbent Town Clerk Lisa Bergh has been cross endorsed and will serve another two years.

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Newtown residents being asked about Hawley-Ventilation and HVAC renovation project

In addition to electing municipal officials in Newtown, residents are being asked if the $8 million special appropriation and bond authorization for the Hawley-Ventilation and HVAC renovation project should be approved.  The Boards of Selectmen and Finance signed off on $2.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act being used to offset the cost, but residents must approve the entire project amount. 

By filling in the YES bubble, residents will OK funding for the installation of new HVAC equipment in the 1921 and 1948 Sections of the building. The design plans include HVAC equipment, duct work, electrical service upgrade, piping modifications, building controls, ceiling and structural modifications. Also included is replacement of existing HVAC equipment in the 1997 Section of the building. The existing heating plant for the building shall remain in use and is designed to operate with the proposed equipment.  Filling in the NO bubble would reject the funding. 

By tapping part of the town's ARPA allocation, Newtown would ave about $125,000 in principle per year and $200,000 per year with interest.

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Polls open in Greater Danbury area for municipal elections

Polls are open in the Greater Danbury area for municipal elections.  Most municipalities have double sided ballots and town clerks are reminding residents to turn their ballot over to be sure to complete both sides.  Numerous boards and commissions are up for election today. 

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker will serve a 7th term as he is running unopposed.  Several other candidates at the top of the ticket also aren't facing competition.

Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read is also unopposed.

Brookfield First Selectman race features three candidates.  Democratic incumbent Steve Dunn, Republican Tara Carr and petitioning candidate Austin Monteiro squared off in a debate last month.

Danbury has an open race for Mayor for the first time in 20 years.  Republican Dean Esposito and Democrat Roberto Alves met in a candidates forum last month hosted by the Citywide PTO.  They also participated in a debate sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce

Kent residents are deciding between four candidates for First Selectman.

New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco will serve another term.

New Milford Republican incumbent Mayor Pete Bass is being challenged by Democrat Ted Hine, from one of the town's oldest families.

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal will serve another term, but with a different party.  He is running unopposed for the position and is on the ballot with SAM, Serve America Movement.

Redding Democratic incumbent First Selectwoman Julia Pemberton is facing a challenge from Republican former state Representative John Shaban.

Ridgefield residents are voting for a number of Boards and Commissions today, but not the Board of Selectmen.  That group is elected every four years.

Sherman First Selectman Don Lowe will serve another term as he run unopposed today.

Southbury Incumbent Republican First Selectman Jeff Manville is being challenged by Democrat John Diehl. 

Sample ballots for all Connecticut municipalities can be viewed on the Secretary of the State's website.  Only one town has a ballot question to decide, in addition to electing slates of candidates.  In Newtown, residents are being asked shall the 8 million dollar special appropriation and bond authorization for the Hawley-Ventilation and HVAC renovation project be approved.

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School construction prompts polling place changes in Brookfield, New Fairfield

Residents in parts of New Fairfield and Brookfield are voting in different locations than usual due to school construction projects.  In New Fairfield, registered voters in the 108th District who previously voted at Meeting House Hill School will vote in the Middle School Cafeteria.  There is a new traffic pattern on the school campus, with one-way traffic entering at the East driveway, near the soccer fields.  All vehicles will exit via the newly constructed driveway near the high school construction site.  In Brookfield, District 1 residents will be voting at St Marguerite Bourgeoys Church Parish Hall due to construction of a new school on the Huckleberry Hill site.  District 2 voters will still cast ballots at the high school.

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Transparency an issue in Southbury First Selectman race

Each of the men seeking to lead Southbury for the next two years has a list of top concerns they'd like to address.  Incumbent Republican Jeff Manville is seeking a 4th term.  He's being challenged by Democrat John Diehl. 

Manville says he wants to continue the financial stability that's been achieved during his previous terms.  He also sees Southbury’s Plan of Conservation and Development as a guide for future growth and development.  Diehl says he wants to focus on better transparency in government and on economic development. 

One of the big issues in the race is the Edgewood pool. 

Diehl accused Manville of lack of transparency, Manville believes Diehl doesn’t understand how local government works.  The PVC lining of of the pool at Ballantine Park needed to be repaired in 2017, but then other issues were discovered, raising cost estimates.  The Board of Selectmen went into executive session about buying the Edgewood Bath and Tennis Club in Middlebury because of its pool. They hired an engineer to do environmental study which determined the property has soil contamination.

Last October it was decided not to pursue the Edgewood property.  Last month the Board continued reviewing plans to upgrade the pool at Ballantine Park.  Diehl expressed concern about the $40,000 for the study, Manville says that money came out of a professional services line item.

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4 candidates in First Selectman race in Kent

There are four candidates for First Selectman in Kent.  Democratic incumbent Jean Speck is seeking a second term, and facing a challenge from Republican Ed Matson who ran and lost two years ago during the open race.  Also on the ballot are petitioning candidates Rufus de Rham and James Rundall. 

Speck says she wants to focus on the continued, complex recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and on creating a more sustainable Kent. Matson wants to focus on updating Kent Common Park and emergency services. The unaffiliated de Rham wants is chair of the Board of Assessment Appeals and has previously served on Planning and Zoning, Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Finance, and as selectman.  Rundall is also unaffiliated and has served with the the Kent Volunteer Fire Department for over 20 years.

Speck says she wants to focus on the continued, complex recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and on creating a more sustainable Kent.  She touted efforts on both fronts over the past two years such as bringing a state-backed testing site to Kent, and joining the Coalition for Sustainable Materials Management.  She also created the Citizen Emergency Response Team and is overseeing the transfer of data and documents to virtual storage.  Speck says the next task will be to form a Broadband Committee to make recommendations on capabilities, infrastructure and funding needs. 

Matson wants to focus on updating Kent Common Park and emergency services.  The Volunteer Fire Department member. who served as chief last year, says the town now has a paid service because of a volunteer shortage.  He added that Kent is paying a lot for ambulance services and should consider moving to an ambulance association full time. Matson says Emery Park should not be used for swimming and suggested either adding a water park or a pool at the common park. Matson served on the Board of Selectmen from 1999 to 2001.

If elected, de Rham wants to improve connectivity and called for more affordable housing.  The Board of Assessment Appeals chairman has previously served on Planning and Zoning, Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Finance, and as selectman.  The unaffiliated resident says the pandemic put a renewed focus on increasing fiber optics and cell service.  He notes that only 4-percent of housing in Kent is affordable, according to the state Department of Housing Affordable Housing Appeals list.

Rundall is also unaffiliated and has served with the the Kent Volunteer Fire Department for over 20 years. He called for upgrades on trucks, new equipment and training.  He also wants to improve the town's roads and sidewalks to make Kent more attractive for younger residents.  He also wants to prioritize playground improvements at Emory Park, off Route 341. His late grandfather was involved in building the park’s cement pond in the 1940s.  He worked in the water department for the city of Danbury for over eight years, was a pipe installer for transmission and distribution, was the utility mechanic for the water treatment plants, and in charge of the landfill.

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Danbury Mayoral candidates square off in open race

Polls are open in Connecticut.  While many Greater Danbury area First Selectmen are running unopposed today, there is an open race in Danbury for Mayor.  

There was a big focus by Democrat Roberto Alves and Republican Dean Esposito on education.  On the other end of the age spectrum, Esposito touted the SAVE program Seniors Adding Value Experience.  Alves wants to expand the program and wants to create a 3rd income threshold for another tax break.  

Recovery from the pandemic has taken up much of the focus for elected officials for the past 19 months.  Espositio says the city's health department has done a great job, but needs more assistance.  He has proposed a new location for the department.  Alves wants to focus on allocating the federal American Rescue Plan Act funding.

The issue of homelessness has also come up.  Esposito backs the plan to officially turn the former Super 8 motel into a homeless shelter.  Alves says public nuisance challenges need to be addressed and wants City officials to take more time to examine the matter.  The Danbury Zoning Commission was supposed to continue the public hearing before election day, but the applicant asked for more time to answer questions that came up during the previous 7 hour hearing.

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Man who allegedly supplied drugs in fatal overdose is arrested

A man who allegedly supplied drugs to a person who suffered a fatal overdose has been arrested by Danbury Police.  Luis Alberto “Spanish Savage” Peralta's arrest stemmed from a July 2020 investigation surrounding a drug overdose death.  Police believe Peralta had supplied the victim with cocaine and fentanyl.  The man, whose address was listed as City Streets, was charged Thursday with Possession of a Controlled substance and 2 counts of Sale of a Narcotic Substance.  Peralta was held on a $50,000 bond.

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Newtown Police investigating theft of catalytic converters

Newtown Police are investigating the theft of catalytic converters from two vehicles on South Main Street.  The devices were stolen from two work vans parked outside a local store overnight last Monday.  Theft of the emissions-reducing devices are on the rise as the value of the metal has soared.  Police believe that is behind the increase in thefts nationwide.  Police say vehicles with high clearance are commonly targeted because they provide easier access to the catalytic converters.  The item can be removed in minutes and costs thousands to replace.

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Westside Middle School Academy lottery opens today

The Westside Middle School Academy in Danbury, the magnet STEM and Global Studies school for grades six through eight, will hold its annual lottery beginning today.  The lottery continues through the 15th.  The drawing for the 22-23 school year will take place on November 19th, and parents will be notified by mail by December 10th.  The lottery is open to all Danbury middle school students.  Applications for admission and additional information are available online at the Danbury Public Schools website.

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Brookfield PTO reschedules Annual Trunk or Treat event

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company and the Brookfield PTO canceled last weekend's Annual Trunk or Treat event due to weather and rescheduled it for this coming Saturday, from 5pm to 8pm.  New this year is Pumpkins in the park.  Carved pumpkins to be included in the display must be dropped off Saturday between 10am and noon.  All participants are asked to bring a donation for the food pantry. Trunk or Treaters not hosting a trunk are asked to please park at the Town Hall parking lot.

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Fire Departments in Bethel, New Milford mourn passing of longtime members

Water Witch Hose Fire of New Milford has announced the passing of Veteran Member Mark Lathrop who served the department for 49 years. Throughout Lathrop's years at the department he served as a firefighter, engineer, as well as holding the rank of Fire Police Captain.   Fire company officials say his personality, humor, and laughter filled the bays whenever Mark was there.  He worked tirelessly for the department at fundraisers even as he battled illness.  Funeral Services will be announced in the upcoming days. 

Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company has announced the passing of Past Chief Richard Gavin. He was a 20 year member of the department, leading it as Chief for 2 of them.  The 80-year old died on Wednesday a his Newtown home.  He worked 31 years as a psychiatric aide at Fairfield Hills Hospital.  The family will receive friends at Honan Funeral Home, 58 Main Street in Newtown, on Saturday, between 11 am and 2 pm.  In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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Open Enrollment begins today for Access Health CT

Open Enrollment begins today for Access Health CT and runs through January 15th. Residents can shop, compare, and enroll in health insurance coverage for the 2022 plan year.  In order to have coverage starting on January 1st, residents must complete the application by December 15th.  Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says a new Covered Connecticut Program allows residents meeting specific requirements to be eligible for $0 premiums for health insurance coverage.  The state will pay monthly premium directly to the insurance company and also pay for certain cost-sharing amounts, such as deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, and maximum out-of-pocket costs.  More details can be found on the Access Health CT website.   

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Danbury proposes solar installation on closed landfill property

Danbury officials have proposed a solar installation on the closed landfill property, adjacent to the City’s wastewater treatment plant. Veolia Water North America, which is currently upgrading the wastewater treatment plant, will work with the City on this installation.  The company has a standing agreement with the City to provide operation and maintenance services for the plant. 

The proposed $10-million system includes a 2.2 MegaWatt Solar Photovoltaic installation, which is projected to generate 70% of the plant’s annual energy usage.  This will also provide a backup power supply for 3 hours of peak demand. 

Mayor Joe Cavo says this solar power project is not only cost-efficient with an impressive rate of return, but also has beneficial impacts on the environment. He says this, combined with a biodiesel production project at the plant, will place Danbury as a municipal leader in the development of alternative green energy.  There would be a 10-year payback period, which could be as short as 6 to 7 years with the possibility of securing incentives and other funding assistance. 

Danbury is projected to save $320,000 a year on utility costs. This project will produce green energy that costs 0.01 $/kWh vs the current utility cost of 0.09-0.15 $/kWh. Veolia projects the environmental benefits of this installation to equate to planting 34,000 trees or avoiding the use of 4,800 barrels of oil annually.

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Conn. man arrested for alleged road rage incident in Newtown

A Connecticut man has been arrested for an alleged road rage incident in Newtown.  Police conducted a lengthy investigation into the report from May.  Officers arrested Joseph Kenyhercz of Bridgeport.  He called 911 to report that the operator of another vehicle was waving a gun at him.  It was determined that the other driver did not have a gun and the incident was falsely reported.  Kenyhercz was charged with Disorderly conduct, interfering with an officer, misuse of 911, falsely reporting an incident, and reckless endangerment. 

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WCSU schedules vigil to remember two freshman killed in Colchester crash

A vigil has been scheduled by West Conn to honor and remember Tyler Graham and Jacob Chapman, who were killed in a car accident in Colchester.  The 18-year old freshmen were part of the Men's Lacrosse team.  The vigil will be held Wednesday at the Western Athletic Complex on the Westside Campus at 4:30pm.  The team will play a scrimmage after the vigil to celebrate the lives of their teammates.   Graham was laid to rest over the weekend.  The wake for Chapman is at Aurora McCarthy Funeral Home today from 3pm to 7.  A private burial for family-only will follow.  A third student-athlete 19-year old Trey Massaro, of Massachusetts, sustained serious injuries but is expected to recover. 

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Brookfield starts COVID-19 booster shot clinics

Brookfield continues to keep a check on COVID-19.  The case rate for the past two weeks is 10.5 per 100,000, up from 9.3 the week before. The positivity rate is 2.7 percent up from 2.3.  Brookfield has also had one additional death reported, which occurred on October 19th. 

While Brookfield health officials believe the town is beginning to turn the corner on this pandemic, they ask that residents be careful and don’t take unnecessary risks.  The mask mandate remains lifted. 

Booster Shot clinics at Brookfield Town Hall started last week and are held on Tuesdays from 10am to 1pm and Thursdays from 3pm to 6pm.  Brookfield can administer Moderna or J&J doses.  Walk ins are being accepted, but appointments are recommended because they might not have available doses if the appointment schedule is full.  There have been some reported issues with the Vaccine Administration Management System or VAMS portal.  Brookfield health officials say people making an appointment must check the box that you cannot remember which shot you originally received when you go to select a booster type. It will then allow you to make an appointment.  Residents must bring proof of primary vaccination series to the clinic in order to get the booster shot.

Almost 200 booster shots were administered last week.  There is no clinic tomorrow due to Election Day.

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SUV pulls in front of Brookfield bus, both drivers injured

An SUV pulled in front of a school bus in Brookfield Friday afternoon, causing a crash that injured both drivers.  Superintendent John Barile says the crash happened on Candlewood Lake Road around 2:30pm.  High School students were evaluated as they came off the bus, with some complaining of sore necks.  Three students were transported to the hospital as a precaution, due to reported minor bumps.  Police say the two drivers sustained what appeared to be non-serious injuries. As a result of the accident, several other buses were delayed.

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425,000-square-foot mixed use development proposed off Mill Plain Road

Plans have been submitted to Danbury Commissions for a 425,000-square-foot mixed use development off Mill Plain Road.  The proposal is for 30 acres owned by Westconn Park LLC Development.  The property is adjacent to West Conn's Westside campus and would have more than 3 acres set aside as a recreational area.  Plans call for 200,000 square feet of housing units with a clubhouse pool and tennis courts, 80,000 square feet for an assisted living facility, and 50,000 square feet for a corporate building.  Three areas for retail space have been proposed.  Albert Salame, who has owned the property for 20 years, says tenants for 330,000 square feet of the space have been secured.  The Salame Companies, the Morganti Group Inc and Griffin Living are on board.  Griffin would operate the assisted living facility.

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Special Permit for Cafe Liquor License for Golf Lounge 18 approved

The Danbury Zoning Commission has approved a Special Permit for a Cafe Liquor License for Golf Lounge 18, which wants to move into the former Red Robin restaurant space at the Danbury Mall.  There is stipulation in the approval.  Alcohol could only be consumed in the golf lounge, not carried out into the mall.

The virtual golf entertainment chain has two other Connecticut locations: in Orange and Fairfield. 

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. 

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Many Ridgefield Boards, Commissions on ballot tomorrow

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen is elected every four years, and are not on the ballot tomorrow.  There are elections Tuesday for the Boards of Finance, Education and Assessment Appeals as well as Planning, Zoning, Police Commission and Inland Wetlands.

Once the new boards are seated, First Selectman Rudy Marconi says they'll continue discussion about how to allocate the federal American Rescue Plan Act funding.  Ridgefield is receiving abnout $7.4 million.  He says that money can be put to good use, while planting the seed for future growth.  There are restrictions on what is allowed, but includes sewer, broadband and infrastructure.  The Board of Finance allocated some of the funds to help in the current year's budget.  A town meeting held earlier this month approved using $2.9 million to subsidize the sewer plant upgrades.

Marconi says the most important thing on the drawing board in the near term is a new police department and new fire department.  In 2009-2010, a budget referendum question asked residents to allocated money for a new police station, but it was voted down because it was the beginning of the recession.  The plan is to locate a combined police and fire headquarters on Old Quarry Road at the former Schlumberger property.  Marconi notes that the town owns the property and it's in a centralized location.  He estimates it would cost $3 million to $4 million to buy a property.  A town meeting may be held soon to formalize the selection.

Marconi sees a need to better address mental health problems.  He says there's a grey area where police enforcement can't go any further and the medical community can't disclose information to police.  Marconi says there are a number of organizations trying to operate in that grey area.  Marconi says social media has also fueled some of these issues, spilling out into the community.  He added that there are some people who no longer walk in certain areas of town because they're afraid of individuals exhibiting anger issues.  Marconi says the feeling of the community is in jeopardy right now.

The Branchville Transit Oriented Development project is moving forward.  Sidewalks will start in the area next Spring. TAP, Transit Alternative Program, will bring a sidewalk from the Wilton line on Route 7 north beyond the intersection with 102 and along 102 up to Florida Road.  Street lamps, cross walks and pedestrian bridges will also be installed.  The intersection of Route 102 and Route 7 will be redesigned in the near future.  Marconi says this will make it safer and greener.  In 2024, the Depot Road bridge will be redone.  The bridge is closed at Branchville Road and Route 7.  That will be opened up with a sidewalk so the cross walk will allow pedestrians to go from Route 7 over the Norwalk River to the train station. The Portland Avenue bridge will be addressed next. The intersection of Portland Avenue and the railroad tracks will be reconfigured to allow truck traffic to make a left onto West Branchville Road.

The National Resource Conservation Service, under the Department of Agriculture, recently informed the state that it had two options when it comes to the dam at Fox Hill.  One is that it be removed, the other that it be rebuilt to current standards with a concrete wall to envelop the Fox Hill condos.  Residents were concerned about what would happen to the abutting properties along the Norwalk River if the dam is removed.  The formulas that were used were for the worst case scenario.  Marconi says it planned for 33 inches of rain in 24 hours.  If that were to happen, he says the dam would be breached, Route 35 would be flooded and lives could be lost.  Marconi says the dam has performed well in the last couple of large storms.  An investigation of the structural integrity of the dam was found to be in top condition.  Ridgefield is asking the NRCS to take no action, but the decision will ultimately be with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. 

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