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Local Headlines Archives for 2021-12

State releases COVID-19 data for Greater Danbury area

The state department of Public Health is reporting New Milford's COVID-19 infection rate jumped about 2 points to 11 percent.  Bethel and Newtown increased about 2.5 percent to 10 percent and 11.4 percent respectively. New Fairfield increased about 3.5 percent to 13.8. Redding and Ridgefield's infection rates each jumped about 4 percent to 10.7 percent and 10.4 percent respectively. Danbury's COVID-19 infection rate increased by 4.5 percent to 12 percent. Brookfield almost 5 percent to 12.8.

The state department of Public Health is reporting COVID-19 infection rates for the Greater Danbury area ranging from 10 percent to 13.8 percent.  The lowest test positivity is in Bethel and the highest is in New Fairfield.  The infection rates are:

Bethel 10 percent

Ridgefield 10.4 percent

Redding 10.7 percent

New Milford 11 percent 

Newtown 11.4 percent

Danbury 12 percent 

Brookfield 12.8

New Fairfield 13.8

The state department of Public Health is reporting COVID-19 case rates for the Greater Danbury area ranging from 61 to 102 per 100,000 population. The lowest case rate is in New Milford and the highest is in Ridgefield, based on population. 

The case rates are:

New Milford 61

Redding 62.7

Bethel 67.1

Danbury 69.9

New Fairfield 80.8

Newtown 85

Brookfield 99.7

Ridgefield 102.7

Local lawmaker urges flexibility on school days

State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says he's heard from parents and teachers across the 2nd District with concerns about school returning fully in person after the holiday break. While not advocating for remote learning, Allie-Brennan says he has written to the Governor's office urging him to sign an executive order to allow school districts to have the flexibility of going remote or hybrid and have it count toward the 180 required days. As long as positivity rates continue to surge, he says teachers and parents need every option at their disposal to educate their students while ensuring their own health and the health of their family.  Allie-Brennan says remote learning should be part of the tool kit to ensure that students can be safely and effectively educated.

Ribbon cut on new facility for Center for Empowerment & Education

A new facility for women and children seeking resources and assistance while transitioning from instances of either domestic violence or sexual assault is now open in Danbury.  The ribbon was cut on the facility last month by the Center for Empowerment & Education, formerly the Women's Center. 

Following a multi-year fundraising campaign entitled “Speaking Up Speaking Out Enrichment Campaign,” The Center completed the new residential facility to more efficiently serve the individuals and families seeking safe and secure housing.  The new residential facility features nearly a three-acre campus that offers an ADA compliant safe housing option as well as a walking path and playground for children. The new facility has been named “Patricia House” in honor of Patricia Zachman, who has served as  the organization’s President & CEO for nearly 30 years.   

The Center for Empowerment & Education, formerly the Women's Center, provided services to more than 36,000 people during the past fiscal year.  Included in that total was 12,000 children.  The Center provides no cost Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Resource Services programs. 

Specially trained and certified direct service staff and volunteers provided intervention, support, and counseling to adults and children in person, via the hotlines and virtually while Education, Training and Outreach staff members offered comprehensive primary prevention and education programs to a wide range of audiences both traditionally and using social media platforms. 39 women and children were relocated with new rapid rehousing and there were 2700 hotline calls. 

Most of the assistance was provided to Danbury residents, at 27,530 while the next highest service town was Ridgefield at 2,463.

Regional planning agency releases 2021 annual report

Western Connecticut Council of Governments is out with its 2021 Annual Report. WestCOG conducted a Regional Public Safety Study to evaluate options for the sharing of public safety facilities in five municipalities.  The study looked at shared services in Ridgefield, Redding, Wilton, Weston and New Canaan. 

A follow-up plan was commissioned to provide implementation guidance for one or more regional firing ranges. Based on regional interest, the geographic scope was expanded to include all WestCOG member towns.  The plan draws on discussions with police departments and addresses indoor and outdoor ranges, types of firearms, types of applications with firearms.

The plan is set for release by the end of the month. 

Included in the report was details of the Regional Data Collection Program.  WestCOG has three trail counting infrared devices and a processing application. Staff has been providing ongoing assistance at the Fairfield Hills Trail in Newtown since February 2020. Assistance includes data collection and analysis for use in future applications for funding and studies that would improve the heavily used trail. The trail counters were also used to monitor trail usage at select parks around the region and can be requested for specific studies by municipalities.

New Milford plans to retun with full in person learning next week

New Milford Public Schools will return to in-person learning as planned next week.  Superintendnet Alisha DiCorpo is offering some reminders, including that children not go to school if they are exhibiting any Covid or flu-like symptoms.  The district is working to address transportation concerns with All Star, recognizing that staffing may be affected.  The updated CDC quarantine guidance is being reviewed for schools and at this time does not apply to schools.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Greater Danbury area

Danbury has reported 829 COVID-19 cases to the state Department of Public Health in the last two weeks.  The case rate is now up to 69.9 per 100,000 population with a test positivity rate of 12 percent.  This comes as all but one of Connecticut's municipalities are in the red zone alert level for COVID-19 community spread.  Just Canaan is not showing 15 or more cases per 100-thousand population over the last two weeks.  That town is in the grey with fewer than 5 cases.  

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel has had 186 cases, there were 237 COVID cases in Brookfield, and New Fairfield reported 157.  There were 229 COVID cases in New Milford, 332 in Newtown, Redding reported 80 cases in the last two weeks while Ridgefield had 359. 

There's been a steep rise in the number of COIVD-19 cases in New Fairfield.  As of yesterday, First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says 110 active, reported cases in Town is  more than they've seen for the duration of the pandemic. Del Monaco says wearing a high quality mask such as a KN95 or N95 mask  in public spaces is highly encouraged. 

DEEP to sponsor First Day Hikes

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is once again hosting First Day Hikes.  The nationwide initiative of the National Association of State Park Directors offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1st.  DEEP State Parks and Forests Friends groups have put together a range of in-person and self-guided hikes and programs. Distance and rigor vary from park to park.  The programs will include a hike at Kettletown State Park in Southbury.  DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes says thanks to the Passport to the Parks program, Connecticut is the only northeast state that does not charge day-use parking fees for state residents who are driving Connecticut-registered vehicles, making Connecticut one of the most outdoor friendly states in the Northeast.   

Danbury man allegedly had weapon, drugs on him during traffic stop

A Danbury man was allegedly found with a weapon and a controlled substance in his possession when the car he was riding in was stopped for speeding in New Fairfield.  State Police pulled a vehicle over Tuesday night on Route 39, but the passenger abruptly got out and tried to run away.  There was a brief struggle with 20-year old Guido Bruno Alves, who was taken into custody.  But during that time, the driver fled in the car and headed north toward Sherman. Alves was charged with carrying a pistol without a permit, illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance and resisting/interfering with an officer.

Danbury not considering investments in cryptocurrency

Danbury City Councilman Duane Perkins touted the work of City Finance Director David St Hilaire in saving the City millions of dollars over the years through prudent investments and refinancing of debts.  He asked about whether or not the City would consider bitcoin and other cryptocurrency.  St Hilaire acknowledged that other communities are looking into it as some countries are accepting it for payment and some recently elected officials elsewhere requested to be paid in bitcoin.  But St Hilaire says it's still in its infancy stage and wouldn't rush out to put the City's fund balance into the emerging tradable digital asset.  He says it's not for the City yet, noting that he wouldn't take a gamble like that.

Pedestrian fatally struck on I-84 was suspect in Newington stabbing

The pedestrian who was fatally struck by two cars on I-84 East in Southbury around midnight last night was the suspect in a stabbing in Newington.  State police identified the pedestrian as 52-year old Ricky Izzard of Milford.  Newington Police then said he was identified as a suspect in an attack on a woman in a parking long Wednesday night.  The victim sustained serious stab wounds. 

Last night's accident happened between the Exit 15 ramps.  Troopers say two vehicles were travelling in each lane of the highway when the pedestrian, who was standing in the shoulder, began crossing the travel lanes headed northbound.  The drivers, a 27-year old Waterbury man and a 51-year old Waterbury man, who sustained suspected minor injuries, remained on the scene after crash.

Danbury COVID-19 test site likely to reach capacity early today

Due to the increased demand for COVID-19 testing in the Greater Danbury area, the SEMA4 Testing Site in Danbury, located at 118 Memorial Drive, is again  expected to reach maximum testing capacity before 7pm today.  The site opens at 1pm, but the lab has limited the number of tests available to be administered.  The site closed Monday around 4:45, on Tuesday at 3:45 and yesterday, by around 2:45pm.  The site is scheduled to be open weekdays 1 to 7, with testing on Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 2pm.  Cars have been lining up well in advance on the scheduled start times and likely will reach capacity quickly on the weekend.

Area towns hold off on rescheduling at home test kit distributions

Connecticut officials announced today that the anticipated at-home COVID-19 test kits did not arrive last night therefore no distributions today will be possible.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the town has a distribution plan ready to implement, but there will be no announcements until they are certain the test kits will be available. 

Updated Ridgefield information will be posted on the town website. 

The Town of Bridgewater has worked out a distribution plan for the at-home COVID-19 rapid tests from the state, once they arrive in Connecticut.  First Selectman Curtis Read says the current plan is to first cover critical emergency workers like EMTs, firefighters, police and school staff, then staff at the senior center, library and town hall followed by elderly or at risk populations and eventually the general public.  Bridgewater is expecting an allocation of 200 to 250 kits.  A drive through at the Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department will be set up when kits are available to the public. 

Read noted that this is a stressful time as the Omicron variant of COVID surges, and asked residents to take care to minimize the potential for transmission over the New Year’s holiday weekend.

Vaccine clinics in Danbury, Newtown today

Mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics for kids are being held in Danbury and Newtown today.  The pediatric doses of the Pfizer vaccine is for children 5 to 11 with parental permission.  The clinics are at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown from 2pm to 8 and in Danbury at Jumpz & Thrillz on Prindle Lane from 2pm to 6.  The state Department of Public Health/Griffin Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be holding a walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Danbury today.  No appointment is needed for the clinic for those 12 and older at Jumpz & Thrillz on Prindle Lane from 2pm to 6. 

Out-of-state shipping, warehouse problems delay COVID test kits getting to Conn.

Out-of-state shipping and warehouse problems are causing a delay in at-home COVID-19 test kits arriving in Connecticut.  All Greater Danbury area towns say plans for distribution today and tomorrow are now on hold until the state learns when the product will arrive. 

Danbury Emergency Management Director Matt Cassavechia says the state did not indicate when they are expected.  Nearly 11,000 kits are being set aside for the City, and they will give up to two kits per car on a first-come, first-served basis.  He notes that when the supply comes in, a drive thru site will be set up at WestConn's westside campus.

Redding planned to distribute the town's allotment tomorrow in a drive thru format, with proof of Redding residency. Redding is receiving  about 1,170 tests. Each household is limited to two kits. Each kit contains two tests.  Tests will be distributed at a future date at the Community Center Parking Lot from noon to 3 or until supplies last. 

When the test kits are in Connecticut, Ridgefield will receive 3,150 kits for distribution.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says the kits are intended for adults only—with a limit of one kit for each adult. A separate allocation will be made through the Ridgefield Public Schools—one test kit per student—and the Superintendent will share that information when it becomes available.  Updated information on distribution will be posted on the town of Ridgefield website.  Marconi asks that residents be thoughtful about whether they need a test kit or not.  He notes that this is for immediate use in hopes of limiting the spread.”

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says the Governor's team earlier this week hoped to have them dispersed to the public before New Year's.  As there is no confirmed time of when municipalities will be able to receive their allocations, New Milford and others are postponing distribution of COVID 19 test kits and rescheduling once they have the test kits.  New Milford had residents sign up for a time to pick up the kits and anyone with a confirmed reservation will be contacted with a new date and time when more information is received.

Kent has been allocated 450 at-home COVID-19 test kits from the state.  The town is awaiting information on the N95 mask allocation, which will likely take place next week.  The state has directed municipalities that the focus of test kits is to fill an immediate need to help curb the spread of COVID19 due to heavy holiday travel. First Selectman Jean Speck says the goal was to distribute the kits today so that those who are planning to attend gatherings for New Year’s Eve can self-administer the two tests in their kit. 

When a date is finalized, pick up will be at the Kent Transfer Station from 4pm to 7, on a first come first serve basis.  Speck asked for patience and notes that once supply is depleted, the site will shut down. Speck says they worked around-the-clock over the past two days to stand up this distribution and are prepared to distribute the kits as soon as they receive the product.

Pedestrian fatally struck by two cars on I-84 East in Southbury

A pedestrian was fatally struck by two cars on I-84 East in Southbury.  State police identified the pedestrian as 52-year old Ricky Izzard of Milford.  The accident happened shortly before midnight between the Exit 15 ramps.  Troopers say two vehicles were travelling in each lane of the highway when a pedestrian, who was standing in the shoulder, began crossing the travel lanes headed northbound.  The drivers, a 27-year old Waterbury man and a 51-year old Waterbury man, who sustained suspected minor injuries, remained on the scene after crash.

Brookfield Police K9 help nearby town find missing youth

A Brookfield Police K9 has helped to find a missing youth in a nearby town.  Brookfield Police say the canine unit was requested to help find a missing juvenile who went for a walk without their cellphone and, after about two-and-a-half hours, didn’t return home.  Brookfield Police K9 Major quickly tracked the juvenile, finding them unhurt about a half-mile from their home. The juvenile was brought home by patrol units and reunited with family.

(Photo: BPD)

Masks  required in Wilton municipal buildings regardless of vaccination status

Masks are required while inside Wilton municipal buildings regardless of vaccination status.  This follows several other area municipalities like Danbury, Bethel, Redding, and New Fairfield required masks in municipal buildings.  The new Wilton policy went into effect Wednesday and will be in place until further notice.  Anyone medically unable to wear a mask is asked contact the needed department to arrange for entry into the building or for an alternate service delivery method.  Before entering the building, those individuals will be required to show proof of exemption.  Municipal buildings include Wilton Town Hall, the Annex, Police Headquarters, Fire Headquarters, Fire Station 2 and the Comstock building.

Man shot in Danbury last night is in critical condition

A man in his 20s was shot in Danubry last night.  Police responded to Rowan Street around 7:30 last night on a report of shots fired.  Officers found the man on the ground in a homeowner's yard.  The victim was taken to Danbury Hospital for treatment in critical condition. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Paul Carroccio (203) 797-4662 or the confidential tips line at (203) 790-TIPS (8477).

Danbury officials are still working on logistics for distributing COVID-19 test kits

Danbury officials are still working on logistics for distributing the City's share of at-home COVID-19 test kits from the state.  A drive thru site will be set up to give out two kits per car on a first-come, first-served basis at a date, time and place still to be determined.  Details are expected to be released later today.

Emergency Management Director Matt  Cassavechia says they've identified a number of sites and want to chose the one where vehicles will be able to get through in a safe and efficient manner to keep traffic flowing. 

The City of Danbury has reported triple digit COVID-19 cases on three days in the last week.  There were 129 cases reported last Tuesday, 123 on Sunday and 178 on Monday.  Most other days in recent weeks have been between 35 and 85 cases.  Testing has been limited by the labs and the state run SEMA4 test site in Danbury had to close early on Monday and yesterday.

Monroe to hold COVID-19 test kit distribution tomorrow

The Town of Monroe will be distributing free COVID-19 rapid self-test kits to residents tomorrow.  First Selectman Ken Kellogg says the priority should be for residents who are unable to find an alternative testing location and have a known exposure or who are symptomatic.  Monroe will received about 2400 kits so only one will be provided per vehicle on a first come, first served basis.  Each kit contains 2 tests.  Distributiontomorrow is at Jockey Hollow Middle School from 2pm to 6pm or while supplies last.  Proof of residency will be required.  Residents are asked not to arrive early, as vehicles will not be allowed to line up in advance.

Ridgefield to prioritize first responders for at home COVID-19 test kits

Ridgefield is outlining priority access for the town's share of at-home COVID-19 test kits from the state.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says some of the 3100 kits will go to the police and fire departments and other critical town government employees.  The public distribution details have not yet been determined. 

Easton announces COVID-19 test kit distribution details

Easton will be distributing at-home COVID-19 test kits tomorrow.  The supply is limited so residents who are not having symptoms or who will not be amongst persons with compromised immune systems are asked to pass on this opportunity.  Easton's priority is to reach the vulnerable population.  Distribution tomorrow is at Sanuel Staples Elementary's rear parking lot from noon to 3pm, or while supplies last.  Proof of residency is required.  Easton residents are asked to wear a mask and stay in their vehicle.

Wilton to have drive-thru pick up for COVID-19 test kits

Wilton is holding a drive-thru pickup for at-home COVID-19 test kits at Miller Driscoll School on Friday, from 9am to 3pm or as long as supplies last.  There is a limit of up to three test kits per vehicle with proof of residency.  Anyone who doesn't currently need a kit, is asked not attend, but for those who do, only request what is currently needed.  Vehicles should enter through the Belden Hill Road entrance and follow the directions of the Community Emergency Response Team volunteers.

Local school asks for guidance on new CDC isolation recommendation

The CDC yesterday announced a shortened period of isolation and quarantine for those that are COVID positive and/or a direct contact.  Bethel Superintendent of Schools Christine Carver has asked the Department of Public Health if the mandates for schools will be adjusted.  The biggest adjustment would be for those who have tested positive, as the state has already adopted the Screen & Stay protocol for close contacts.  Bethel is seeing significantly more COVID-19 cases since Thanksgiving and now an increasing number of breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals.  The Omicron variant  is highly transmissible, though vaccinated individuals have reported mild symptoms.  

Danbury Zoners set hearing on changes to The Summit property

A public hearing will be held in Danbury next month about changes to the master plan of The Summit.  The Zoning Commission will hold A Zoom hearing on January 11th about revisions to the development on Danbury's westside.  This would allow for the Career Academy, a City-run public school serving 14-hundred middle and high school students, to be created.  Changes include a minimum of 180 residential units, rather than the previously approved 404 apartments, and  increasing the number of square feet permitted for non-residential use.  The virtual hearing on the 11th is at 7:30pm.

Bridgewater man arrested for attempted break in found with drugs, bulk cash

A Bridgewater man has been arrested on a number of drug related charges after being stopped in an attempted break in.  State Police responded to Garnet Road in Roxbury late Monday night on a report of someone trying to get into a home. 

Troopers were given a description of a white Chevy pickup and one male leaving the scene.  They located the vehicle and the driver, later determined to be 25-year old Samuel Jones.  He exhibited signs of intoxication and failed field sobriety tests.  A search of the vehicle turned up 9.2 pounds of marijuana, 185 Adderall pills, drug paraphernalia, a large assortment of THC infused edibles and more than $25,000 cash. 

Jones was released on bond for a court appearance on the 14th.

New Milford reservations for at home COVID-19 test kits booked

New Milford will distribute COVID-19 at home test kits from the state on Thursday.  Mayor Pete Bass announced on Facebook that residents would need to register for the distribution.  Some people commenting were critical that the social media site was the only place information was announced.  The appointments for about 3600 kits have been filled.  Residents were cautioned that only one registration per household would be accepted and if the address was registered for more than one appointment, it would be canceled without notice.  New Milford residents will need to show proof of residency at pick up.  Only one test kit per household, unless there are minor children, will be distributed. 

Brookfield outlines priorities for at home COVID-19 test kit distribution

Brookfield plans to distribute its 2,225 COVID-19 at home test kits from the state on Thursday starting at 3pm at the High School.  First Selectman Tara Carr says the primary focus will be on first responders. The next in line will be Town volunteers and employees critical to continuity of Operations, and members of the public who have interacted or intend to interact with numbers of people whose COVID status is unknown.  Kits will be distributed on a first come, first served basis and proof of Brookfield residence is required.  Only 2 test kits will be distributed per household.  Schools will be getting tests early in January. Guidance on what to do if an individual should test positive will come in the form of a flyer along with the test kit at the distribution. Any changes to the distribution plan will be posted on the Town’s website by tonight.

Newtown to prohibit early queuing for at home COVID-19 test kit distribution

Newtown officials have announced plans for how to distribute its share of at home COVID-19 test kits coming from the state.  Allocations will be made from Reed Intermediate School Friday at 10am, up to two test kits per household with proof of residency, on a first-come, first served basis.  Because that's a heavily traveled area, Newtown Police will be on Wasserman Way and Trades Lane to ensure no one is queuing up before the site opens.  Queing or waiting will also not be allowed on the Fairfield Hills campus. 

Any Newtown resident seeking to get a test kit will have to plan to arrive at or after 10 am.

There is a sign-up/registration to obtain a test kit. Each household can receive a maximum of two kits. Duplicate appointments will be canceled.  Proof of residency and confirmed appointment will be required. Residents are asked to have the printed email confirmation and ID ready when arriving at the distribution site.  Residents are also asked to only arrive during their scheduled time slot.

Putnam County establishes COVID-19 testing site

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says healthcare providers in the region are overwhelmed with the current demand for testing, with residents waiting days to access tests and, in some cases, are traveling far distances to receive basic healthcare.  A new testing plan, which kicked off this week, is the result of a public-private collaboration with Ambulnz.  Odell says since New York state is not offering a testing site anywhere in the region, the County was proactive and found a way to establish their own site.  Rapid tests are being offered a walk-in basis at the Paladin Center in Carmel seven days a week from 10am to 6pm. 

Danbury COVID-19 testing location closes early

COVID-19 testing in Danbury has moved locations and is now available 7 days a week, though the site is limited on the number of tests available and has closed early each day this week.  SEMA4 is testing at the Pat Waldron Building at 118 Memorial Drive.  No appointment is needed for the PCR testing Mondays through Fridays 1pm to 7pm and Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 2pm.  

The Community Health Center is moving vaccine clinics from that location to Hatters Park Hall on East Hayestown Road Mondays through Fridays 1pm to 7.  All three brands are being administered.  City Health Department officials say they are not expecting any traffic issue as vaccination does not share the same urgency as those traveling during the holiday season and needed testing. 

CHC is also partnering with Griffin Health to hold mobile vaccine clinics at Danbury High School on Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 4pm.  Pediatric Pfizer vaccines will be offered at CIFC's Greater Danbury Community Health Center on Main Street Mondays and Wednesdays 4pm to 6pm.

Danbury Plan of Conservation and Development looking into housing issues

Danbury is in the middle of drafting a new 10 year plan of conservation and development. Public hearings were held recently.  A committee is examining the cost of housing as part of that draft plan.  The group includes the Directors of Planning, Health and business organizations. 

Consultant Francisco Gomes gave a presentation acknowledging that even though Danbury is one of the more affordable municipalities in Fairfield County, it is still very expensive.  He noted that more than 50-percent of renters in Danbury are spending at least 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities.  In order for a renter to be able to afford a two-bedroom Danbury apartment, the minimum wage would have to be $33.60. 

Rents have increased 23 percent since 2010 to a median of $1,460 for a 1-bedroom apartment. 

Danbury is one of only 30 municipalities in Connecticut that exceeds the state requirement that at least 10 percent of housing be considered affordable.  Danbury is at 12-percent, but deed restrictions on affordability expire after 40 years.  If the City falls below the 10-percent minimum, Planning Director Sharon Calitro cautioned that an affordable housing developer would have certain rights of appeal with the state to circumvent land use board decisions. 

Consultants estimate that Danbury will grow by 6 percent over this decade to 90,000 people in 2030, and would need 2,150 new apartments and 470 new “owner-occupied housing units.”  Danbury’s fastest growing populations are 18-to-24-year-olds and those older than 55.

Danbury state Senator denies knowing award event connected to Community Party

Danbury state Senator Julie Kushner has issued a statement in response to questions about receiving the Connecticut People’s World Amistad Award this month.  She was one of three recipients and recognized for legislative work to pass the $15 minimum wage and paid family leave program.  The ceremony celebrated the 102nd birthday of the Communist Party USA.  Kushner told Hearst Connecticut Media that she was not aware of the anniversary, is familiar with the Amistad Award and the group's activity in New Haven, organizing youth around jobs and housing and supporting labor issues.  The Facebook event for the ceremony mentioned the anniversary of the Communist Party.  Before being elected, Kushner worked as a union organizer.

Bethel Town Clerk Office work goes remote after COVID exposure

The Bethel Town Clerk's office is asking that all business be done remotely via the phone, drop box, mail, online or email.  There was a direct exposed to a symptomatic, COVID-positive person for an extended length of time yesterday. The remote work is being done for the next 5 to 7 days and after a negative PCR test to protect the public.

Testing capacity limited at Kent Transfer Station

Due to the increase in demand at COVID-19 testing sites around the state, the lab limited the number of COVID-19 tests in Kent yesterday to 175, and that was limit was reached early.  First Selectman Jean Speck says the Omicron variant is overwhelming test sites across the country, which is causing turnaround times for results to exceed the 48-hour timeframe. The lab is increasing the limit to 250 tests for tomorrow in Kent.  The Community Emergency Response Team will have traffic control at the Transfer Station.  First responders should use the priority line through the Town Garage entrance, and park along the fence inside.

New Fairfield Town Hall open by appointment only

Due to the rapid increase in COVID cases in New Fairfield and statewide, Town Hall will be open by appointment only until further notice.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco encouraged residents to use online services when possible.  Tax payments can be made to the secure drop box installed on the back of New Fairfield Town Hall.

Putnam County continuing COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Carmel

The Putnam County Department of Health is continuing COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Carmel.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says they are working on partnerships with businesses to ramp up testing as well.  She says vaccine clinics will continue as long as there is local demand.  A clinic is being held today, December 28, from 1 to 3:30pm at the former Dressbarn in Putnam Plaza in Carmel. Moderna boosters will be available for individuals 18 and older. Pfizer boosters will be available for individuals 16 and older. First and Second Dose Pfizer will be available for the 5- to 11-age group. People can register for a vaccination appointment at:  https://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/covid19/#vaxinfo

Christmas tree disposals in Greater Danbury area to start

The City of Danbury will begin picking up live Christmas trees on January 3rd.  Residents must place their trees curbside for pick-up, with everything removed from the tree including stands, lights and tinsel.  No artificial trees will be picked up.  Collection will continue through January 31st, weather permitting.  There is no set schedule for this free program.  Live Christmas trees can also be dropped off free of charge for Danbury residents, as “wood waste” at Ferris Mulch Products on Plumtrees Road.

Brookfield live Christmas Tree disposal dates have been scheduled.  The Yard Refuse Center will be open on Saturdays January 8th and 15th from 8:30am to 4pm to accept Christmas Trees only. 

New Milford, Parks and Rec says Clatter Valley Park has a drop off area for this purpose.  Signage is up in the driveway for the drop off location.  Trees will be chipped and reused at New Milford parks.  The drop off is from today through February 1st.

New Fairfield sets COVID-19 test kit distribution for Thursday

New Fairfield will be receiving approximately 17-hundred at home COVID-19 test kits containing two tests each.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the purpose of this distribution is to provide tests kits to be used this week to reduce the spread of the Omicron variant and to supplement existing testing.  New Fairfield's primary focus is on the members of the public who intend to gather with others whose COVID status may be unknown. 

Additional tests will be provided to school districts in early January for use in schools.

The test kits will be distributed in New Fairifeld on Thursday from 1pm to 4pm in front of the Middle School. 

Residents are asked to enter the campus via the driveway closest to Peerless Equipment and exit from the new west side driveway.  Traffic is one way, and is marked with arrows. 

Proof of New Fairfield residency will be required, and test kits will be limited to no more than two per household.  The test kits are antigen tests used for screening and cannot be used to replace PCR testing that may be required by your employer or school. Tests will be distributed on a first come first served basis.

Redding releases some details about at home test kit distribution

Redding is scheduled to receive 1,000 at home COVID-19 test kits on Thursday.  Local distribution of the kits could begin as soon as Friday at the Redding Community Center.  The exact time of distribution will be announced tomorrow.  There will be a limit of 2 kits per family in Redding. Each kit contains 2 tests.  The distribution will be done on a first come, first served basis.  Redding Health officials say a negative test result means that the test did not detect the virus, but it does not rule out infection. They suggest repeating the test within a few days, with at least 24-hours between tests.

Bethel to receive 2500 at home COVID-19 test kits from Conn.

The Town of Bethel anticipates receiving about 2500 at home COVID-19 test kits from the state, with two tests in each kit.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says they are working with town agencies to finalize plans for getting them into the community.  He asked that residents not call Town hall to inquire about the distribution plan at this time.  Bethel officials plan to send out a phone and email message via their Everbridge system tomorrow afternoon with details.  The Bethel Public Schools will also be receiving an allotment of test kits for the school community in January.  Those details are also being finalized along with plans for their distribution.  The Bethel Public Schools will send communications directly to their school community.

Redding Town Hall open by appointment only due to staff COVID cases

Redding Town Hall offices and Building Department are operating by appointment only this week due to the number of COVID-19 cases among employees.  Anyone showing up at Redding town hall is asked to call the required department and an employee will be able to provide assistance with information.  Park and Rec programs in Redding are now are running with COVID protocols in place. Masks are required in public buildings in Redding at all times regardless of vaccination status.  A COVID vaccine clinic will take place at the Redding Community Center today from 1pm to 5pm.  This is for anyone 12 and older with all vaccine brands available.

Nuvance asks residents not to go to ER for routine COVID testing

Nuvance Health officials are asking area residents not to come to the emergency department of New Milford and Danbury Hospitals for routine COVID testing. Chief physician executive Dr. Christopher Lehrach says there are many convenient and less expensive options now like retail pharmacies and at-home tests. He asked that the emergency department be used for medical emergencies only.  While Lehrach says Nuvance is prepared for potential surge scenarios and committed to providing continued access to medical care, anyone who thinks they have or are confirmed positive for COVID but have no or mild symptoms, should stay home and schedule a telehealth appointment.

New Milford issues residency, appointment requirements for COVID-19 testing

COVID-19 testing in New Milford is now limited to New Milford and Washington residents only, and require a reservation.  No walk ins are being accepted at the New Milford test site.  Mayor Pete Bass says current turn times for results are up to 5 days due to extremely high volume.  Appointments in New Milford, for those meeting residency requirements, can be made Mondays through Wednesdays and Fridays 9am to 7pm.  Saturday hours are 10am to 3pm.

State Police seek witnesses to fatal Christmas Day rollover in Southbury

State Police are seeking witnesses to a fatal accident that happened on I-84 Christmas Day in Southbury. 

Two vehicles were headed westbound by exit 16 shortly before 11am Saturday when they collided.  Both rolled over.  A 38-year old driver from Southbury was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.  A 62-year old driver and his 59-year old passenger, a couple from Canton, sustained possible injuries.  Both vehicles has to be towed from the scene. 

The case remains under investigation.  Any witness is asked to contact Trooper Elidon Hoxhallari at Troop A 203-267-2000 or Elidon.Hoxhallari2@ct.gov.

Connecticut State Police have released details of their stepped up holiday weekend enforcement.  Between Thursday and yesterday, Troopers investigated 340 accidents, including 34 with injuries.  Troopers made 11 DUI arrests, issued 107 speeding tickets and responded to about 32-hundred calls for service.

New COVID-19 testing site, hours in Danbury

Starting today, COVID-19 testing in Danbury has moved to a new location, with new hours.  SEMA4 will be providing testing services at a state-run site at the Pat Waldron Building at 118 Memorial Drive.  No appointment is needed for the PCR testing Mondays through Fridays 1pm to 7pm and Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 2pm. PCR test results are typically received within 24-48 hours. Anyone not receiving results via email after 72 hours, should call SEMA4 at (800) 298-6470.

No injuries in Christmas Day fire in Brewster

No injuries were reported in a Christmas Day fire in Brewster.  Firefighters responded to Maple Wood Drive shortly after 2pm on a report of flames coming from a home.  The volunteers, along with Putnam Lake firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the flames.  All residents were safely evacuated.  The cause is under investigation.

COVID-19 infection rates increase in most of Greater Danbury area

The state department of Public Health is reporting Brookfield and Danbury's COVID-19 infection rates each increased by about 1 percent to 8.1 and 7.5 percent respectively.  Bethel, Newtown and Ridgefield each went up 1.5 percent to 7.6 percent, 8.8 percent and 6.4 percent respectively. New Fairfield and New Milford each jumped about 2 points to 10.2 and 9 percent infection rates respectively.  Redding's infection rate dipped half a percent to 6.9 percent. 

Connecticut has recorded another 75 COVID associated fatalities in the last week. 

Headed into the holiday weekend hospitalizations had increased slightly.  Of the 837 patients hospitalized with lab-confirmed COVID, 75-point-9 percent are not fully vaccinated.  Compared to being vaccinated against COVID-19, being unvaccinated has a relative risk 13 times higher of being hospitalized and dying, according to the state Department of Public Health.  Being unvaccinated has a 4 times higher risk of being infected with COVID.

The Department is reporting a 1.74 percent breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the state's fully vaccinated population. 

922,000 booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Connecticut to date.  32-percent of Connecticut children 5 to 11 years old have received their first dose of a vaccine, a two percent increase over last week.  The 18 to 24-year old cohort also increased their vaccination rate by two percent.  The 25 to 44 year olds increased vaccination rates by one percent from last week. 

More than 95-percent of Connecticut residents 55 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

DHS track wins American Sports Builders Association annual award

The Danbury High School running track has been named a winner of the American Sports Builders Association annual award for “Distinguished Facilities – Outdoor Running Tracks.” DHS was one of four schools selected nationwide to receive the honor, which was announced earlier this month.  Projects are scored individually based on considerations such as layout and design, site work, drainage, base construction, surface, amenities, innovation, and overall impression.  The athletic track and field facility at DHS, which were completed at the beginning of the school year, were found to rival those at some top universities.  The cushioned running surface is the same as the track at UPenn, where the Penn Relay is held every spring. The track is also made up of multiple layers of gels that shed water and ice.  According to the organization’s website, awards are presented in various categories: Tennis Courts, Running Tracks, Sports Fields, Pickleball Facilities, and Track & Field Facilities.

Brookfield firefighters assist EMS in getting patient to ambulance on snowy road

Just before midnight on Christmas Eve, Brookfield EMS was dispatched to an address on North Mountain Road for a medical emergency. It had just started to snow and the road conditions were declining so Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company fire was sent to assist. Due to the tricky driveway, the patient was placed in The Chief’s Truck with a Paramedic and driven to an awaiting ambulance, which was staged on a side road.

Fire Department warns residents not to throw wrapping paper in fire

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department is warning people as they clean up from Christmas presents this year not to throw wrapping paper in the fire.  Wrapping paper is made of chemical compounds that color the paper and commonly contain high levels of toxic metal. When burned, the chemicals react with the paper, causing hazardous gases to be released.  Light items like pine needles and paper can rise up the flue while aflame leading to flue fires as well as roof and yard fires when flames escape the chimney. The only thing that should go into a fireplace is seasoned firewood. Gas fireplaces are designed to only burn gas. Some gas fireplaces don’t require a chimney, so burning paper will release smoke and particle pollution directly into the house.

Greater Danbury area COVID rates updated by DPH

Danbury has reported 448 COVID-19 cases to the state Department of Public Health in the last two weeks.  The case rate is now up to 37.8 per 100,000 population with a test positivity rate of 7.5 percent.  This comes as nearly all of Connecticut is in the red zone alert level for COVID-19 community spread.  Just 3 small towns--Roxbury, Canaan and Norfolk--are not showing 15 or more cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks.  Those remaining towns are in the grey with fewer than 5 cases.  

Bethel has had 132 cases, there were 131 COVID cases in Brookfield, and New Fairfield reported 106.  There were 198 COVID cases in New Milford, 219 in Newtown, Redding reported just 39 cases in the last two weeks while Ridgefield had 171. 

Redding is the only Greater Danbury area town to have a mask mandate for indoor public places, regardless of vaccination status, where social distancing isn't possible.  Bethel is requiring masks in town buildings like the municipal center and library.  Brookfield is encouraging masking in town buildings.

State mandated property revaluation in Rdgefield for October 2022

A state mandated property revaluation is being done in Rdgefield for October 2022.  The Town has contracted with e-Quality Valuation Services of Waterbury to assist Ridgefield with Assessments, which are required by State law to be 70% of October 1st 2022 market values.  Revaluation Assessments will affect the July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024 Fiscal Year.  Revaluation is the mass appraisal of all real property within the assessment jurisdiction.  Starting this month, representatives from the revaluation company will be taking photos of all properties. The Ridgefield Police Department has photo IDs, names of the field people, and vehicle types of the persons in the field. Each representative of the company has been vetted by the Ridgefield Police.  As part of the process, e-Quality Valuation Services, under the supervision of the assessor’s office will be mailing each Ridgefield resident a data verification letter for review.  Any corrections can be made directly to the form and returned via mail or dropped off at the assessor’s office.

40 high schools participate in 2021-22 Connecticut FAFSA Challenge

40 high schools from 19 districts across the state will participate in the 2021-22 Connecticut FAFSA Challenge, including Danbury.  The initiative is designed to increase Free Application for Federal Student Aid completion rates, improve postsecondary access, and close opportunity gaps among high school students. Participating schools will pilot strategies to help students and families complete the FAFSA and access resources to support college affordability. 

The schools will receive microgrants in order to build awareness. 

Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker says FAFSA is critically important in making higher education more attainable for all students, particularly historically marginalized populations. More than 70% of Connecticut jobs require some form of education beyond a high school diploma, and FAFSA completion is one of the best predictors of whether seniors will pursue higher education.

It takes, on average, less than an hour to complete the FAFSA, however the form can be confusing and 45% of seniors in the Class of 2021 did not complete it, leaving millions of unclaimed dollars in college aid.  Last year, schools participating in the FAFSA Challenge collectively increased their completion rates by nearly 4 percentage points, while the country’s FAFSA completion rates declined by more than 4% relative to 2020.

Education officials look to diversify Conn. teacher workforce

Education officials in Connecticut are looking to diversify the state's teacher workforce.  Governor Ned Lamont noted that people of color now make up 10 percent of all teachers statewide.  That figure was at 7 percent when Lamont took office.  The state has an apprenticeship-like program involving an 18 month residency in a school and upon completion can become certified to teach. It’s open to anyone who already has a bachelor’s degree.  School districts spend just over $60,000 a year, per teacher, in the program, which covers training provided by the program, full pay, and benefits for the resident teacher, and a stipend for a mentor in the school.  Funding is included in the state budget this year for the alliance districts, which includes Danbury.  11 schools were participating in the residency program last, and it's up to 45 this year.  23 school districts are participating this year.  Education Committee co-chair State Senator Douglas McCrory says the data shows all children in this country, all children, whether they’re black, brown, yellow, green, poor, wealthy, all children learn better when they are taught by a diverse teaching population.

Bethel High School NJROTC Annual Christmas Tree pick up scheduled

The Bethel High School NJROTC Annual Christmas Tree pick up is scheduled for Saturday, January 8th from 9 am to noon.  The cadets are asking residents to consider using this program, in which the trees will be mulched and recycled.  They will be adhering to all social distancing guidelines. Anyone donating to the program in order to have a live Christmas tree picked up is asked to have the trees out on the curb or at the end of a driveway by 9 am on January 8th.  The snow date is scheduled for Sunday, January 9th noon to 3pm.   A $10 donation is suggested and goes toward Educational Programs for Bethel cadets.  This service is open to all Bethel residents.

Danbury resident leaves $142,000 to Fire Department

The Danbury Fire Department has received a donation for unrestricted use from a City resident's estate.  Ruth Pearce, who died at age 80 in March 2020, left the Department little more than $142,000 in her will.  She was the sister of Firefighter James Pearce, who predeceased her.  Fire Chief Richard Thode says they don't have any specific plans for the funding, but he is looking to put some of it toward firefighter safety.  He says they could also purchase smoke alarms or CO alarms to distribute to residents.  Thode says Pearce's generosity to the community should turn full circle and give back to the safety of the community.

Save the Sound files lawsuits against municipalities over alleged violations

Environmental advocacy group Save the Sound has filed lawsuits against four Connecticut municipalities over alleged violations in tracking stormwater flow into rivers and streams.  The suit accuses Redding, Ridgefield, Middletown and Burlington of failing to keep track of their municipal stormwater systems.  The Norwalk River is mentioned in the lawsuit as one of nearly a dozen impaired bodies of water threatened by pollution.  Municipalities are required to file paperwork regarding their stormwater systems with state regulators.  The Ridgefield town engineer tasked with filing annual stormwater reports retired in 2018, and the position has not been filed.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi noted that the town plans to upgrade sewer lines and a treatment plant to address water quality and environmental issues.  Save The Sound says there are also concerns in New Milford and Southington, but they have since been in contact with the organization to discuss the concerns.

Metro North trains on holiday schedules

Metro-North will have some service adjustments for the next week to accommodate holiday travelers and those with different work schedules.  Today, Metro North is running an expanded Saturday schedule, but with a few extra trains.  Saturday, Christmas Day, will have a special schedule with hourly service on the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines, and regular Saturday service on branch lines.

Next Monday through Thursday, Metro North will operate on a regular weekday schedule.  On New Year’s Eve, Metro North riders can plan on regular weekday service, but with extra inbound trains to Grand Central Terminal arriving between 3pm and 8pm.  There will be all-night outbound service.

On New Year’s Day, Metro-North will operate on a special schedule with hourly service on the Hudson, Harlem and New Haven Lines with six extra trains on the New Haven Line, and regular weekend service on the branch lines.

Danbury Nurses create petition over 'staffing crisis'

A petition on Change.org for the AFT Union 47 Nurses of Danbury Hospital has over 1,200 signatures.  The petition says that Danbury Nurses are facing an unprecedented staffing crisis, and that requests for support from the administration have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears.  The union says high patient to nurse ratios lead to less time to assess and care for each individual patient as they deserve. 

The petition says that the question of retention bonuses or hazard pay have been ruthlessly declined.  They also say the health system has the power to re-purpose some non-clinical staff such as managers and educators in times of crisis staffing, which they will not discuss.

Nuvance Health spokesperson Andrea Rynn said in a statement to Hearst Connecticut Media that Nuvance is “committed to effectively staffing all of our facilities to ensure we are providing high-quality, safe care to our patients. While every industry has felt the impacts of the nationwide labor shortages, the healthcare industry has been profoundly affected.”

"Nuvance is committed to providing competitive pay and benefits while also using innovative recruitment tactics to attract new hires" Rynn added.

Wrapping paper, ribbons, bows can't be recycled in Conn.

The Town of Redding is reminding residents about recycling guidelines ahead of this weekend's gift opening.  According to Recycle CT, certain items should be reused or put in the trash rather that the recycle bag this Christmas.  Wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows could be reused if in good condition. If it cannot be reused, put this item in the trash.  Shredded paper, whether bagged or lose should also go in the trash.

Local lawmaker tour tree clearing site at Housatonic Meadows State Park

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has removed a number of trees at Housatonic Meadows State Park, which sits along the Housatonic River in Sharon and Cornwall.  New Milford state Senator Craig Miner and Brookfield Representative Steve Harding, ranking members of the legislature's Environment Committee, recently toured the picnic area to see the number of trees taken down.  Miner is asking DEEP to hold a public hearing prior to resumption of tree-cutting, and to provide information about endangered species evaluations in connection with this project.  Miner noted that the "lower" section normally frequented by fly fishermen and those launching or removing watercraft is part of the temporary closure.

Bridgewater/Roxbury Resident Trooper urging drivers not to speed

The Bridgewater/Roxbury Resident Trooper's Office is urging drivers not to speed this holiday season.  They are reminding motorists of the speed limits on certain roadways including Route 67.  The limit is 35, but the average speed is 41.  Route 371 has a 30 mile an hour speed limit, with an average speed of 36.  While the speed limit on Hut Hill Road is 35, Troopers say the average speed has been 32.

Two separate Listeria outbreaks linked to packaged salads

The Danbury Health Department is cautioning residents to two separate Listeria outbreaks linked to packaged salads. One involves packaged salads produced by Fresh Express, the other linked to Dole. 

Fresh Express recalled several brands with Use-By Dates with product codes Z324 through Z350.  Brands include Fresh Express, Bowl & Basket, Giant Eagle, Little Salad Bar, Marketside, O Organics, Signature Farms, Simply Nature, Weis Fresh from the Field, and Wellsley Farms Organic.

Dole recalled packaged salads sold under several brands: Ahold, Dole, Kroger, Lidl, Little Salad Bar, Marketside, Naturally Better, Nature’s Promise, and Simply Nature. 

Listeria is especially harmful for people aged 65 and older, pregnant people, and people with weakened immune systems.

Bethel COVID case rate is six-fold increase, dozens new cases detected in New Milford

New Milford COVID-19 cases increased by another 27 from Tuesday.  Testing will reopen on Monday.  The next COVID vaccine clinic in New Milford is January 5th from 3pm to 6pm at Pettibone Community Center.  Mayor Pete Bass is again urging eligible residents to get vaccinated or a booster.  Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms is urged to stay home.

Griffin Hospital will be administering pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations in Danbury today.  Children 5 to 11 years old, with parental permission, will be able to get a Pfizer dose at Hudson Montessori School on Shelter Rock Road from 3pm to 5pm.

Bethel has experienced a six-fold increase in the rate of new cases, increasing from at rate of 4.9 per 100,000 population just three weeks ago to this week’s rate of 33.9.  Bethel’s daily test positivity rate has climbed to 6.1 percent.  Visitors to all town-owned buildings, including the municipal center and library are again being required to wear masks.  Masks will be provided for visitors at the building entrances.

First Student to replace diesel school buses with electric buses

Connecticut is spending money from the legal settlement in the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal to fund five electric projects, including in Bethel.  the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says $12.7 million will be awarded in this round to help to replace 43 diesel school buses with new electric school buses.  The recipients will match the funding with investments of $7.2 million. 

First Student has been awarded $3.2 million, and will pay an additional $1.7 million to scrap and replace 16 buses in Bethel, Hamden, and Stamford.  This is partial funding of an initial proposal to replace a total of 25 diesel school buses which also included buses in Middlebury and Tolland. 

DEEP says this represent an unprecedented level of investment for Connecticut, at a time when the state needs to make significant strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. 

In 2015, Volkswagen publicly admitted that it had deliberately installed software designed to cheat emissions tests and deceive federal and state regulators – in nearly 590,000 vehicles sold nationwide, with nearly 12,000 sold in Connecticut.  The five projects selected for funding under this funding cycle, over their lifetime, will reduce almost 28.71 tons of NOx emissions and almost 5,589 tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

In addition to NOx and GHG, a total of 2.30 tons of volatile organic compounds and 1.38 tons of fine particulate matter, which contributes to asthma and other negative health impacts, will be cost-effectively reduced from environmental justice communities and other areas of Connecticut that bear a disproportionate share of air pollution.

Councilmen call on Danbury Mayor to bring back mask mandate

Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito says after meeting with the City's Health Director on the COVID-19 surge from the Omicron variant, they recommend residents get vaccinated and boosted if they have not done so already.  They also recommend wearing masks in large groups during this holiday season.  4th Ward Councilmen Farley Santos and Joe Britton through are calling on Esposito to re-institute a citywide mask requirement until infection and case rates decrease.  Municipalities across Connecticut, including Redding, are bringing back mask requirements.  As of last Thursday, Danbury's positive infection rate was 6-point-4 percent and the average new case rate is up to 28-point-3 per 100-thousand population.  Danbury's vaccination rate is 67 percent.  The two Councilmen say Danbury should lead by example and take proactive steps to stop the spread, working with surrounding communities, to better protect the community.

Nuvance imposes new restrictions on visitations

Nuvance Health, which operates hospitals in Danbury, Sharon, New Milford and Norwalk, plans to impose new restrictions on visitations, beginning today. Visitation hours for inpatients will be restricted to a maximum of four hours and limited to one support person per day for patients not suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.  For pediatric and NICU patients, visitors are limited to parents or guardians only. Patients under age 21 may only have the two designated parents or guardians present.  Yale New Haven Health announced Wednesday that all visitors planning to see admitted patients will have to show proof they’ve been fully vaccinated or a negative PCR test. The change to the visitation policy, which takes effect on Thursday at 8 a.m., stems from the increased number of COVID-19 cases.  Patients will also be allowed only one visitor per day and that visitor must be 18 years or older.

COVID-19 testing in Danbury

The COVID-19 test site hours in Danbury are only valid through December 27th.  Sema4, which has a contract with the state to run the sites at the Pat Wladron Building and the PAL Building, is getting out of COVID testing at the end of next month.  Their January hours have not yet been disclosed.  There's PCR testing, no appointment needed, today at 35 Hayestown Road from 3pm to 7pm and tomorrow from 10am to 2pm.  There is no testing on Saturday due to the Christmas holiday.  Test results are typically received within 24 to 48 hours, though due to demand it could be on the longer side.

NY STOP-DWI High Visibility Engagement Campaign Underway

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department and Carmel Police will be out in force this long holiday weekend as part of STOP-DWI High Visibility Engagement Campaign.  They are taking part in special efforts to bring awareness to the dangers of impaired driving.  Sheriff Robert Langley says while spending time with families and friends, law enforcement is looking to prevent injuries and save lives.  The special enforcement campaign will end on January 1st.  It's one of many statewide =initiatives promoted by STOP-DWI NY and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. The effort also targets Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Super Bowl weekend and St. Patrick’s Day.

Local officials caution people about 'grantparent phone scams'

Ridgefield Police says residents, especially seniors, should be aware of phone scammers continuing to thrive during the pandemic.  The so-called grandparent scam is once again circulating.  

The caller may allege a relative has been kidnapped or that a family member is being held because they caused an auto accident but won't be allowed to go to the hospital until damages are paid. Scam callers will then typically provide the victim with specific instructions and to stay on the line until money is wired.

The FBI cautioned that some incoming calls have an outside area code, sometimes from Puerto Rico with area codes (787), (939) and (856). 

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass says anyone receiving such a call is urged, while staying on the line with the alleged kidnappers, to try to call the alleged kidnap victim from another phone.

Danbury studying multi-use trail connection to Maybrook Trailway

Danbury is looking to do a feasibility study for a multi-use trail connecting the existing Maybrook Trailway in Putnam County through the city to the existing Ives Trail in Tarrywile Park.  The Department of Planning and Zoning has identified a potential funding opportunity from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Recreational Trails Grant Program.  The Maybrook Trailway currently ends at the state line.  The study will determine the appropriate route and uses for the trail.  Planning Director Sharon Calitro says extending the trail would provide recreational access and activities for residents and visitors in the region and beyond.  The study is 50-thousand dollars, with the grant covering 80-percent of the cost.  The local match is 10-thousand dollars. 

Former state lawmaker joins Board of Finance after initially being passed over

Former State Representative Dan Carter has been seated as a member of the Bethel Board of Finance.  He was recommended by the Republican Town Committee to fill a vacancy on the board, created when member Brian Terzian won election last month as a Selectman.  But the Board of Selectmen voted 2 to 1 to name Nick Hoffman to the position.  Hoffman, who approached the Selectmen for the job, was unaffiliated, but registered as a Republican with the Town Clerk on November 9th.  He withdrew his name on December 7th and Carter was appointed.

Garbage truck fire extinguished in Bethel

A garbage truck caught fire in Bethel late yesterday morning.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company, Bethel Fire, Police and the Highway Department responded to the area of Nashville Road Extension, Canaan Drive and Long Meadow Lane.  Officials say they got the flames extinguished, the truck's load cleaned up and the roadways reopened.  There were no injuries reported and the truck will be able to continue service.

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Redding, Danbury

COVID-19 vaccine clinics are being held today and tomorrow in the Greater Danbury area for kids.  A pediatric clinic for kids age 5 to 11, with parental permission, to get the Pfizer vaccine is being held at Joel Barlow High School in Redding today from 5pm to 8pm.  There's a clinic tomorrow in Danbury at Hudson Montessori School on Shelter Rock Road from 3pm to 5pm. 

WCSU alum raising awareness of challenges faced by veterans

United States Navy veteran and West Conn alum A.M. Huppmann set out to sea last week as a participant in the 2021 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge to raise awareness of the challenges faced by veterans, including high rates of suicide and PTSD.

Huppmann is a member of Foar From Home, one of 35 rowing teams crossing 3,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to Antigua to support a variety of causes.  Foar From Home was formed in 2019 and includes veterans from the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. The teammates all reside on Amelia Island, Florida, which influenced their mantra: “It takes an island to cross an ocean.”

Funds raised by the group will be donated to Florida-based charity and veteran service organization K9s for Warriors, which provides highly trained service dogs to military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma; and  Cross The Line Foundation, to start a vocational or college endowment to assist veterans and their families during job, career or life transitions.

Huppmann enlisted in the Navy in 1984 and completed a range of Cold War-era deployments, strategic ballistic missile submarine deterrent patrols and extended combat cruises in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired from active duty with the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer in August 2004 after a 20-year career.

After returning to civilian life, Huppmann moved to Connecticut and enrolled at WCSU as a nontraditional student in 2016. He was able to fast-track the last two years of his studies into two semesters, graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management in spring 2017.

Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center closing early

The Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center in Ridgefield is closing early this year due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.  The museum will also be closed all of January for planned maintenance. Tours and access to exhibits will resume February 3rd.  Virtual programs will be held in collaborations with the Ridgefield League of Women Voters for Alice Paul Day and the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestrafor its winter series.

Bethel man sentenced for fatal 2020 car crash

A Bethel man has been sentenced for his role in a fatal car accident last year.  66-year old Bradley Stock was sentenced last week to five years in jail, suspended after 18 months.  He was also ordered to then serve five years of probation.  Stock pleaded guilty to misconduct with a motor vehicle in connection with the May 2020 crash on Route 53 near Mansfield Street.  He was headed north and his car crossed the center line while passing another northbound vehicle.  78-year-old Barbara Camlek, the driver of the other car, died three days later.

Kent's Social Services Director recognized for service

Kent’s Social Services Director is being recognized by a state lawmaker for a decade of service.  State Representative Maria Horn presented a citation to Leah Pullaro yesterday honoring her 10 years of service to Kent residents.  Horn says the pandemic has made clear the breadth and depth of the work that social service directors do.

Greater Danbury area projects receive state bond money

A number of projects in the Greater Danbury area have receive state bond money.

The Bond Commission met yesterday and nearly every item was approved unanimously, including funds to make improvements to West Conn and the other three Connecticut State Universities.  This can go to restoration of academic facilities, upgrading safety systems and other ground improvements.

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments, the regional planning agency for municipalities from Sherman down to Stamford is getting $10.78 million to finance Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program grants.

Brookfield is among the municipalities getting state bond money to reimburse the Police Department for costs associated with the purchase of body worn cameras and digital data storage devices.  The pool of money is open to municipalities for first time purchases of bash cams as well.   Brookfield will receive nearly $21,000.

About $105,000 was approved for improvements to the Danbury state courthouse.  The money will be used for circuit breaker replacement.

Half of the cost of fixing a Danbury bridge on Franklin Street Ext. is being funded with state bond money.  The road carries traffic over Mercer Pond Brook.

The Clean Water Fund will get $60 million.  Projects to be funded include upgrades to the Ridgefield Water Pollution Control Facility. DEEP says properly functioning wastewater infrastructure for Connecticut municipalities is critical for water quality, public health and economic vitality.  The Clean Water Fund assists municipalities in planning, designing, and constructing wastewater infrastructure to protect human health and water quality.  The CWF Priority List identifies the projects which have been deemed eligible for funding, as well as reserves and set asides, that are required or allowed under Federal and State regulations.

A number of grants-in-aid for projects was approved yesterday.  $1.8 million will go to New Fairfield for the construction of a multi-use trail at the Margerie Reservoir. Danbury is receiving little more than $1.4 million to renovate the Danbury War Memorial facility. Renovations include upgrades to the utility, fire alarm, and sprinkler systems.  A new elevator and ADA improvements at the Squantz Engine Company in New Fairfield will receive $210,170. The Engine Company's funds would support its addition of an elevator; currently, while the Engine Company's second floor hosts a large hall that could be used for community events, the hall is only accessible by a staircase. The elevator would allow for the building to be ADA-compliant. 

A $2 million grant-in-aid was approved for the Ridgefield Boys and Girls Club for an expansion of the Teen Center in Ridgefield.  Governor Ned Lamont said in a statement that every child should have access to resources that support their growth and development, and that is why he's proud the state is able to partner with the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield to expand its teen center and ensure that it can continue providing top-quality services to the community for many years to come.

Conn. working to find replacement COVID-19 testing vendor for Danbury, Kent sites

State Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani says health care company Sema4 has agreed to continue providing COVID-19 testing services at sites across Connecticut through the end of January. The sites include two in Danbury and one in Kent.  This will give Connecticut some more time to find replacement vendors after Sema4 announced it was ending its COVID-19 testing program. 

Juthani says the Department competitively bid for vendors who are ready and willing to pick up those sites. With the seven new locations coming online, new vendors will be needed for 30 state-run testing sites across Connecticut.

Stamford-based Sema4, whose investors include a venture capital firm run by Governor Lamont’s wife, Annie, recently told its investors and state officials that it planned to drop its COVID-19 testing in mid-January and return to its core business, genomic testing. 

PCR testing in Kent is done at the Transfer Station Mondays and Thursdays 4pm to 7pm.  It's a drive thru site with a priority lane for First Responders. 

In Danbury, testing is done at the Pat Waldron building and at the PAL building.  PCR testing is available at 118 Memorial Drive Mondays and Wednesday 3pm to 7pm and on Saturdays 10am to 2pm or at 35 Hayestown Road Tuesdays and Fridays 10am to 2pm and on Thursdays 3pm to 7pm.  No appointment is needed at these locations.

Danbury man arrested for variety of drug offenses

A Danbury man has been arrested for a variety of drug offenses.  Police received resident complaints about 45-year old Jose Adames allegedly selling illicit drugs in Danbury.  After an investigation, a search warrant was issued for Adames and his Division Street apartment. 

He was seen by police making a suspected drug transaction yesterday afternoon.  When the other man involved, 54-year old Steven Hadad of New Fairfield, was stopped a short time later, he was in possession of illegally purchased narcotics.   He was charged with possession and released. 

Adames was found to be in possession of fentanyl, cocaine and Suboxone.  He was held on $50,000 bond on three counts of possession of a controlled substance, three counts with intent to sell and one count each of Sale of a Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Two dozen new COVID-19 cases reported in New Milford

Two dozen new COVID-19 cases were reported in New Milford yesterday.  There's COVID 19 testing for New Milford residents today 9am to 6pm.  The testing site is closed Friday and Saturday for Christmas. The next COVID vaccine clinic is being held January 5th at Pettibone Community Center.  Mayor Pete Bass is recommending that residents get a vaccine or booster if eligible, and to get tested if experiencing any COVID 19 symptoms.

New Milford Mayor warning residents to be aware of phone scams

New Milford Mayor Pete Bass is warning residents to be aware of phone scammers during this holiday season.  He is cautioning people to a number of scams including business impersonators, scammers who claim to be from companies such as Amazon.  In one version, scammers offer a “refund” for an unauthorized purchase but “accidentally transfer” more than promised. They then ask the difference be sent back.  But what really happens is the scammer moves a victim's own money from one of their bank accounts to the other, like Savings to Checkings, to make it look like a refunded was deposited.

New Fairfield Trooper taking part in Holiday Depression and Community Outreach

The New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office is taking part in a new initiative this holiday season.  Police Officers and Troopers are often first to respond or detect people in the community that need help so they're taking part in Holiday Depression and Community Outreach.  They are in contact with the town's Social Services Department, DCF, schools and churches about the community's mental health, addiction and financial needs.  Anyone with an elderly neighbor or know people at risk for depression during the holiday season, is asked to check on them.  Anyone needing police assistance or intervention was urged to call 911 or 203- 312- 5701.  Police can connect residents to the suicide hotline or addiction and mental health services.

Appointments, masks required at New Fairfield Town Hall

Effective Monday, New Fairfield Town Hall will be open by appointment only.  This is due to the rapid increase in COVID cases.  Visitors and employees will also be required to wear masks.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says the appointment-only services will be in place until further notice.  Residents are encouraged to use online services when possible.  The second installment of real estate and personal property taxes become due January 1st. Motor Vehicle Supplemental taxes are also due in full on that date. Payments can be made online, by mail or delivered to the secure drop box installed in back of New Fairfield Town Hall.  Payments can also be made at New Fairfield branches of Union Savings Bank and Savings Bank of Danbury.

New Fairfield student disciplined for 'disturbing Instagram message'

A New Fairfield student has been disciplined for what school officials called a disturbing Instagram message last week.  In addition to the nationwide TikTok scare, which prompted a police presence at schools across the Greater Danbury area, Superintendent Pat Cosentino says a message was brought to their attention Wednesday. It implied there was a hit list with 100 to 150 New Fairfield High School students’ names on it.  Cosentino says there was no list and the message was deemed not credible.  A student confessed to posting the message and has been disciplined.  At the New Fairfield Board of Education's most recent meeting, a student representative reported that students feel unsafe in school.  The High School senior said the seemingly unchecked misconduct at the high school and rumored threats of violence have been negatively impacting social-emotional well being and learning.

Pediatric, general COVID-19 vaccine clinics today

Griffin Hospital will be administering pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations at mobile clinics throughout the state today.  Mobile vans will be at John Pettibone Community Center in New Milford from 4pm to 7, and in Ridgefield at East Ridge Middle School from 3:30 to 7:30pm.  Pfizer has emergency use authorization for their vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11.  No appointment is needed for these clinics.

Bridgewater Town Hall now appointment only, masks required

Due to the current surge in COVID-19 cases, Bridgewater Town Hall will be open for official business by appointment only.  The week day hours, except Tuesday are 8am to 12:30pm and on Tuesdays 8am to 3:30pm.  All visitors must wear a mask in Bridgewater Town Hall.  Residents are asked to contact the appropriate department by e-mail or phone to schedule an appointment.  Tax bills made be paid online or by mail.  Payments may also be made through the window at the rear of Town Hall. A dropbox located at the rear entry of Bridgewater Town Hall will be checked daily.

Access Health CT extends deadline to obtain health insurance

Access Health CT has extended the deadline to obtain health insurance to December 31st.  Danbury state Representative Bob Godfrey notes that the original deadline was December 15th.  People who enroll by the end of the year will have the option to choose whether their coverage begins on January 1st or February 1st.  Godfrey says some Connecticut residents may be eligible for free or low-cost coverage through the HUSKY Health Program and the Covered Connecticut Program.  Free online help is available at AccessHealthCT.com.

Blumenthal Gets Pushback For Attending Event Tied to Communist Party

Senator Richard Blumenthal is getting push back for attending an awards dinner last week hosted by the Connecticut People’s World Committee, a group associated with the Connecticut Communist Party.  Blumenthal says he was invited by a local labor union to the event honoring three people who have given a lot to Connecticut and their communities.  Danbury state Senator Julie Kushner accepted an award from the group.

Bethel Teacher of the Year nomination process now open

Bethel Public School District Teacher of the Year nomination process is now open.  A questionnaire is available for the different schools on the Teacher of the Year website. The criteria for selecting the nominee includes that they've taught in the Bethel Public Schools a minimum of 5 years, has tenure in Bethel, in good standing and teach children at least 50-percent of the time.  The nominee must also have a superior ability to inspire learning in students. Nominations are due by January 15th.

Redding Police raise thousands to help families for the holidays

Redding Police have raised thousands of dollars to provide toys, gifts, gift cards and holiday meals for families in need.  Through their golf tournament and Operation Blue Santa, Redding Police raised over $5,400 this year.  Redding Police anonymously provide the items to families in need during the holiday season.  Redding Social Services identifies the families who could benefit from the program. 

Dozens participate in first Ridgefield PBA Penguin Plunge

The first Ridgefield Police Benevolent Association Penguin Plunge to benefit Special Olympics Connecticut went off without a hitch over the weekend.  About 3 dozen people took to the water of Great Pond at Martin Park Beach after raising a minimum of $25.  Special Olympics Connecticut Penguin Plunge events benefit its sports, health and fitness programs for athletes of all abilities.  Ridgefield PBA members typically participate in the Torch Run each June, and wanted to find other ways to get involved with the organization.

3 Newtown businesses fail tobacco, vape compliance checks

A compliance check of Newtown business which sell tobacco and vape products has been carried out and three failed to ID the underage volunteers.  Newtown Police received a grant from the Newtown Prevention Council for the initiative, done with members of the Connecticut Tobacco Prevention and Enforcement Program.  Infractions were issued to Newtown Convenience on Church Hill Road, Hawleyville Sunocco on Hawleyville Road and Wheels Citgo on South Main Street.  A similar operation was conducted over the summer and Newtown Police say all of those cited over the summer were found to be in compliance during this operation.  Department officials note that it's against Connecticut State law to sell or deliver tobacco or E-cigarette products to individuals under 21. According to the CDC nicotine can be harmful to the adolescent brain which continues to develop until about age 25.

Most school districts participating in state's COVID-19 Screen and Stay initiative

More than 80 percent of public school districts in Connecticut are opting to participate in the state’s COVID-19 Screen and Stay initiative, according to the results of a survey recently conducted by the Connecticut State Department of Education.  Most of the Greater Danbury area is participating, though Brookfield and New Milford have temporarily suspended the initiative and went back to old quarantine guidelines.  The Weston and Region 14 district, which is Woodbury-Bethlehem, responded to the survey that they were undecided on the Screen and Stay policy.   Under the initiative, K-12 students and staff identified as close contacts to a known COVID-19 case but who are not yet fully vaccinated are able to remain in school if they were wearing masks and don’t develop symptoms.

Redding schedules COVID-19 vaccine clinics

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Redding.  According to state data, cases increased from 21.2 last week to 32.9 per 100,000 this week.  Health Officer Doug Hartline says with cases rising it is required that masks be worn in all indoor settings regardless of vaccination status, where social distancing cannot be maintained. This includes all municipal buildings, places of worship, and congregate living settings.  Redding has a pediatric vaccine clinic scheduled tomorrow at John Read Middle School.  No appointment is needed from 4pm to 8.  This is for kids 5 to 11.  The COVID vax van will be in Redding next Tuesday from 1pm to 5pm at the Community Center.  The clinic is for anyone 12 and older.  No appointment is needed and all vaccines will be available.

Newtown moving forward on Hawley School HVAC project

Newtown is moving forward on the Hawley School HVAC project.  Voters approved funding for the project on last month's municipal election ballot.  The Public Buildings and Site Commission asked project manager Downes to move forward its timetable for bids due to supply chain concerns.  Members discussed availability of construction supplies and equipment. Preliminary subcontractor bids will be due by January 10th, with a Guaranteed Maximum Price to be set by the end of January.  The price will include the contingency and soft costs.

Miniature horse attacked by two dogs in Wilton

Wilton Police say a miniature horse was attacked by two dogs over the weekend.  Officers were dispatched to a Wilton home Sunday afternoon and determined that two dogs got loose from a Kellogg Drive property and were involved in the attack.  The 58-year old owner was charged with two counts of nuisance animals, two counts of roaming dogs and failure to comply with a restraining order.  The man was released on bond and is due in court on the 30th.

Danbury FD Union food drive ends tomorrow

The City of Danbury Firefighters Union Local 801 is again collecting canned and non-perishable foods for the annual food drive to benefit the Salvation Army's holiday basket program and food pantry.  Donations will be accepted at DFD career stations, including headquarters on New Street and the Fire Marshal’s Division on 1st floor of City Hall until tomorrow.  The union has been sponsoring a canned food drive for over 30 years to help those in the area who are in need.  Due to the greater knowledge of food insecurity, which increased as a result of the pandemic, the firefighters are hoping for a large collection this year.  Other collection sites are Engine 23 on Osborne Street, Engine 24 on Eagle Road, Engine 25 on South King Street and Engine 26 on Kenosia Avenue Ext.  The career fire houses are manned 24-7 so donations can be dropped off at any time.  If the firefighters are out on a call, items can be left out front.

Metro-North fares to remain off-peak through February

Metro-North Railroad customers who buy tickets with the MTA eTix app, can take part in a pilot program of promotional fares designed to encourage railroad ridership.  Metro North officials say this is being done in part to provide ticketing options more closely aligned with the evolving needs of those with flexible work schedules. 

There's a new 20-trip ticket, which will offer 20% off the comparable 20 peak one-way fares.  Monthly tickets, which are currently discounted between 48% and 61% of the price of a comparable number of one-way peak tickets, will be discounted by an additional 10%.

The MTA has announced that it will keep Metro-North fares off-peak at all times, through at least February 28th.

Local lawmakers concerned with digital COVID-19 vaccine card app

Two local lawmakers are expressing concern about the digital COVID-19 vaccine card app expected to roll out in Connecticut this week.  New Fairfield Representative Patrick Callahan and Bill Buckbee of New Milford are calling for more transparency in the details about the program.  The legislators were among those to vote against extending Governor Lamont's executive powers and say this is one of the many consequences of allowing the governor to make public policy decisions without the input of the state legislature.  The pair want more information about how individual data will be kept protected from online hackers.  The governor's emergency order powers are set to expire in February of 2022.

Southbury residents put out stove fire with extinguisher

A stove fire in Southbury was quickly extinguished by the homeowners before firefighters arrived.  The residents reported to 911 Saturday night that there were flames coming from the back of the stove.  Crews checked the home for any extension and vented it of smoke.  Southbury Fire officials are touting the benefits of purchasing fire extinguishers and knowing how to use them.

State Police take son of fallen colleague holiday shopping

Members of the Connecticut State Police have taken the son of a fallen colleague holiday shopping.  The trip to Dick's Sporting Goods with Brian Mohl Jr this weekend was done with the help of LEO-ONLY, a non-profit organization that raises funds for children in families of Law Enforcement Officers who have suffered a tragedy or loss.  Sgt. Brian Mohl and his cruiser were swept away in the floodwaters of the Pomperaug River in Woodbury during the remnants of Hurricane Ida.  He was a member of the Connecticut State Police for nearly 27 years and was set to retire next year.

Fire dispatcher 2021 Town of Ridgefield Employee of the Year

A Ridgefield Fire dispatcher has been named the 2021 Town of Ridgefield Employee of the Year.  John Rosa is currently the lead dispatcher and supervisor. He has served the Town of Ridgefield for over 40 years, joining the fire department as a teenager.  He served many years as President of Ridgefield Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 1739.  Rosa retired off the firefighting line in 2013 and became a dispatcher. 

Master Plan changes to The Summit pass first Commission hurdle

Revisions to a development on Danbury's westside are being recommended by the Planning Commission to the Zoning Commission.  Changes were proposed for the .2 million square foot Summit property to allow for the Career Academy, a City-run public school which would serve 1,400 middle and high school students.  Zoners will hold a public hearing on the updated master plan on January 11th.  Changes include a minimum of 180 residential units, rather than the previously approved 404 apartments, and  increasing the number of square feet permitted for non-residential use.

Newtown Land Use rejects plans by property owner to subdivide

The Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission has rejected plans by a property owner to subdivide their 26-acre property in order to bring it into compliance with the town's regulations.  There are existing unpermitted homes on the parcel, which the homeowner planned to retain.  The estate is also home to Fairfield County’s only private airstrip.  Santo Silvestro has owned Flying Ridge since 2015, though Newtown owns the development rights to an 18-acre parcel of woods bisecting the property.  In exchange for dividing his land into 4 parcels, the Silvestros would have conveyed a thin connecting piece off Platts Hill Road to the town.  But the family did not agree with the Commission requiring them to pay for more infrastructure, as required by subdivision regulations. 

Company backed by Conn. first lady to exit COVID testing

A health care company whose investors include a venture capital firm run by Connecticut’s first lady will exit the COVID-19 testing business after questions were raised about contracts it received to run state testing sites.

Sema4, the company backed by Annie Lamont’s venture capital firm, has told public health officials and investors that it will leave COVID testing in mid-January and return to its core business, genomic testing.

Stamford-based Sema4 said in a statement that the testing landscape had changed significantly, with more lab capacity and testing options than at the start of the pandemic, and that now “is the appropriate time to dedicate our resources to Sema4’s core mission.”

Sema4, providing services in Danbury and Kent through a State contract, was one of four companies hired by DPH as testing providers to manage 23 testing sites across the state.  DPH has notified the Town of Kent of Sema4's intent to discontinue services January 15, and that they are in conversations with all of the testing providers on the state contract about how to best transition the 23 state-supported testing sites. 

Since Kent started the site back up, Sema4 tested nearly 1,300 people at the Transfer Station.  Testing is being done the next two weeks on Monday and Wednesday, 4pm to 7pm.  The free drive-through PCR testing is open to all, no appointment needed.  PCR test results are available in 24 to 48 hours.  Kent has a priority lane for First Responders.

Gov. Ned Lamont said last month that his wife’s investment had yet to generate a profit, but that any earnings she made would be donated to 4-CT, an independent nonprofit charity created last year to address unmet needs caused by the pandemic.

Sema4 received a $17.2 million contract from the state in July 2020 to provide COVID-19 testing and later received a no-bid contract worth $8.4 million to provide testing in long-term care facilities.

It was also among four companies the state hired in July to manage 23 COVID-19 testing sites.

The CT Mirror reported that Annie Lamont’s company, Oak HC/FT, first invested in Sema4 in 2019, when the state, then run by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, awarded the company two start-up loans. She invested again two months after her husband’s administration signed its first contract with the company, the CT Mirror reported.

Gov. Lamont has said that his office had nothing to do with signing the contract, which was negotiated by the Office of the State Comptroller. The state’s ethics office has found no conflict of interest with the contract.

Ridgefield asks residents, regardless of vaccination status, to voluntarily mask up

With a large climb in the COVID-19 case numbers in Ridgefield, First Selectman Rudy Marconi is asking all residents regardless of vaccination status, to voluntarily mask up, practice social distancing, and step-up precautions to fight the virus.  Marconi added that everyone who is eligible and able should get vaccinated.  Contact tracing has shown that essentially all new cases in Ridgefield are in the unvaccinated population.  Ridgefield's rate of new cases is almost double what it was this time last year, according to data from the state Department of Public Health.

Putnam County Department of Health offering Pfizer, Moderna vaccines

The Putnam County Department of Health will be offering Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for all eligible individuals at three newly scheduled clinics. Children 5 to 11 years of age are eligible for either a first or second dose of the Pfizer vaccine and a limited number of appointments are still available today.

Adults are eligible to receive first doses, second doses and boosters of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. These slots are filled on Monday, but the Putnam County Department of Health says cancellations may occur. 

Today's clinic in Carmel Plaza, at the former Dressbarn location, is from 1 to 3:30pm. A second clinic will be held at the same location, same time, on December 28th.  

Second doses follow three to four weeks after the initial dose, depending which initial vaccine was received. Boosters for adults can be given if six months has passed since the second dose was received, or two months after a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson. Individuals who received the J&J shot initially, may receive either Moderna or Pfizer boosters, since the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will not be available at these clinics. 

To be eligible for a Moderna booster, an individual must be 18 years and older. Pfizer boosters can be given to those 16 years of age and older. If an individual 16 or 17 years old received two doses of Pfizer more than six months ago, a Pfizer booster is the only option. Those 18 years of age and older can switch vaccines manufacturers if desired.

Wilton Police investigating mail thefts

Wilton Police are investigating mail thefts around town.  On Saturday, pieces of opened mail from various residents were located in the northwest area of town.  Streets that appear to be targeted thus far are Keelers Ridge Road, Deforest Road and Vista Road.  This mail theft is assumed to have happened during the late evening on Friday into early Saturday.  Wilton Police are asking any residents with information about the suspect or suspect vehicle to contact Officer Calorossi at 203-834-6260 or joseph.calorossi@wiltonct.org.  Wilton residents are encouraged to go to f-t-c-dot-gov to learn more about identity theft.

Danbury Mayor moves into an apartment in the City

Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito has moved into an apartment in the City.  Mayors are required to live in Danbury. He narrowly won the race last month.  Esposito and his wife are renting a 2 bedroom apartment by Osborne Street and Hospital Avenue.  Prior to the election, Esposito lived in Brookfield but then moved into a family friend’s home on Candlewood Lake. He did not pay rent, but helped with utilities.  Esposito is in the process of selling his Brookfield home, which is designated as affordable through the state 8-30g statute.  The state oversees and governs the price of the Carlins Way house, so a mediator is conducting an evaluation.  The Espositos purchased the home for $242,000 in 2008, when it was listed as affordable housing stock.

Danbury Airport getting Infrastructure Act funding

Airports in Connecticut have been awarded funding from the Federal Aviation Administration as a result of the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure bill.  Danbury Municipal Airport is getting $295,000.  This is the first of a series of grants the airports will receive over the next five years under the law.  Danbury Airport Administrator Mike Safranek says this is a much needed infusion of funds, to help rehabilitate a vital Taxiway. He says Danbury Airport is grateful for the hard work the Congressional delegation to secure this funding and their continued support of General Aviation.  5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes says this funding will support the much needed improvements at airports throughout Connecticut, which will have a tremendous impact on the state.

New Fairfield projects slated to get state bond money

The state Bond Commission will tomorrow and one of the items on their agenda is funding to support the construction of a multi-use trail at the Margerie Reservoir between Danbury and New Fairfield. $1.8 million has been proposed.  The trail funding will support a development along the 270-acre Margerie Reservoir. Consultant Marcy Miller presented a report to the New Fairfield Board of Selectmen on proposed routes during a meeting this fall.  Miller says some of the path would have to cut closer to Route 37 due to wetlands.

Squantz Engine Company in New Fairfield is also expected to get bond money.  More than $210,000 would be provided as a grant-in-aid to the Town of New Fairfield for a new elevator and ADA improvements at the firehouse.

"I am happy to see the trail get the funding it so desperately needs for I have been working on this project for the past many years," said State Representative Ken Gucker. "This valuable resource will provide much needed safe passive recreation as well as be a economic driver for not only Danbury, but the town of New Fairfield. I would also like to express my support for the much needed funds to help squantz fire house becoming ADA compliant. As a past volunteer firefighter myself for New Fairfield, I understand the importance of this project to the community. I especially want to thank the speaker of the house and leadership, as well as the governor for their support."

"During the pandemic, we have experienced a significant increase in the number of people walking, running and riding bikes.  I want to see this trend continue, and there's no question that the Marjorie Trail will provide a natural link for the two communities of New Fairfield and Danbury," said State Senator Julie Kushner.

"I am also thrilled that we are responding to the needs of some our most valued volunteers – the firefighters of the Squantz Engine Company who risk their lives to save ours.  The installation of an elevator will allow the firehouse to, once again, provide a beautiful space, ADA compliant, where the community can gather. I'm so proud that our communities will receive these significant investments by the state, supporting important and meaningful projects that will benefit life for thousands.  I'm grateful to Governor Lamont and the Bond Commission for their support."

Greater Danbury area COVID-19 infection rates updated by DPH

The state department of Public Health is reporting Brookfield and Ridgefield's COVID infection rates increased by about 1 percent each since last week to 7 and 5 percent respectively.  Bethel went up 1.5 percent to 6.1 percent.  Danbury and Newtown each increased by about 2 percent to 6.4 percent and 7.4 respectively.  Redding's infection rate went up 2.5 percent to 7.3 percent.  New Fairfield jumped 3 points to 8 percent infection rate.  New Milford's rate actually ticked down a fraction to 7.2 percent.

Freshman state lawmaker achieves perfect voting record

New Fairfield State Representative Pat Callahan has earned a perfect voting record during his first term for 2021's regular and special legislative sessions.  By the end of the year, the Speaker of the House had asked legislators to cast 426 votes. While some members cast votes from their private offices due to the pandemic, Callahan was in House Chambers on every vote. 

Candlewood Company puts new pumper firetruck into service

Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Candlewood Company has a new pumper truck.  This is a replacement for a 1998 apparatus, which they had for 23 years. Over the past two years the Truck Committee met with different vendors and customized the layout and mounting of equipment.  The new truck was paid for by fundraising efforts done by Candlewood Company and the Town of Brookfield.  Engine 21 went into service Monday night after operators received training on the apparatus.

Redding Police launch Operation Blue Santa

Redding Police have once again launched Operation Blue Santa.  Their goal is to provide toys, gifts, gift cards and holiday meals for families in need.  The mission is supported by donations from Redding residents and businesses.  Redding Police then anonymously provide the items to families in need during the holiday season.  Redding Social Services identifies the families who could benefit from the program.  Redding Police say tax deductible contributions can be sent to the Department on Hill Road for the Redding Police Fund, care of Blue Santa.

Newtown Police collecting items for Mitten Tree

The Newtown Police Department is once again collecting hats, mittens, and scarves for their Mitten Tree.  This is the 21st consecutive year the tree will be in the police station lobby.  All donations are distributed to those in need by the Newtown Social Services department.   Over the past 21 years the donations have totaled in the thousands.  The tree will be in display at the Newtown Police Department until January 1st. 

Easton, Wilton Police offer reminder to lock unoccupied cars

Easton Police are reporting over 20 vehicles entered and 2 vehicles stolen in the last two weeks.  Cash, credit cards, gift cards, and Christmas gifts have all been taken from unlocked cars. Department officials say the crimes are not limited to one area, and have been occurring all over Easton. 

Officers have been patrolling, however say their resources are limited and are calling on residents to do their part and lock unoccupied vehicles. They says not leaving valuables or keys in the car is the easiest way to combat this crime of opportunity.  Easton Police noted that the criminals generally do not smash windows, but rather go for the "soft targets" --the unlocked cars.

The Wilton Police Department is reminding residents that nearly 50% of theft from vehicle and stolen vehicle incidents are occurring Fridays through Sundays.  Head into the weekend, Wilton Police are reminding residents not to leave valuables and Holiday gifts in plain sight or in unlocked cars.

Danbury Schools have increased police presence as precaution

As an added precaution, Danbury Police maintained their presence at secondary schools today.  Superintedent Kevin Walston says the troubling post shared widely this week on the social media platform TikTok refers to a threat to school safety for every school in the USA, even elementary.  The Danbury School District and others across the state have received communication from the state Department of Education and the Connecticut Intelligence Center, which have deemed the threats non-credible.  Walston says even non-credible threats can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety for students, families, and staff. He asked that parents monitor their children’s social media activity and speak with them about proper behavior online.

Parade planned for Brookfield Pop Warner JV Cheer Team champs

Brookfield Pop Warner is celebrating the JV Cheer Team National Championship with a homecoming parade on Sunday.  The parade will begin at 10am at the corner of Silvermine and Federal roads.  The route will take them to the Four Corners, onto Route 25, and to Pocono Road, ending at Brookfield Town Hall.  The Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Championships were held December 6th through 8th in Orlando, Florida. The national championship features more than 500 of the nation's top youth cheerleading and dance teams.

Schools step up security in response to threats on TikTok

There will be an increased police presence at schools in Bethel, Brookfeld, New Fairfield and New Milford among other districts.  This comes  in response to TikTok posts warning of shooting and bomb threats at schools around the country today.   

State Police spokesman Pedro Muñiz says the vague, anonymous posts circulating online warned that multiple schools would receive shooting and bomb threats. The Connecticut Intelligence Center has been investigating and monitoring the social media trend. CTIC has not yet identified any specific or credible threats to any schools within the State of Connecticut. 

If a threat is determined to be a hoax, State Police say there will be a thorough investigation and arrests will be made. This could also lead to further consequences within the school district.

The posts follow a disturbing trend that has had students acting out in response to social media challenges. In September, students across the U.S. posted videos of themselves vandalizing school bathrooms and stealing soap dispensers as part of the “devious licks” challenge.  In October, students were challenged to slap a teacher, prompting the National Education Association to call on the leaders of Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to intervene.

Internet companies such as TikTok are generally exempt from liability under U.S. law for the material users post on their networks, thanks in large part to the legal “safe harbor” they are given by Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

Conn. Gov. taps former Danbury Mayor for second state job

Former Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton is getting a second state job.  The Department of Revenue Services Commissioner has been tapped by Governor Ned Lamont to serve as his senior advisor for infrastructure. In this new role, Boughton will coordinate multi-agency approaches to administering funds from the recently approved, bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.  Lamont says Boughton will be a critical member of the team ensuring that Connecticut investments are coordinated, strategic, and equitable. He noted that Boughton knows how local government works and he knows how state government works, providing a unique and necessary perspective.

Car crashes into shed, home in Brookfield

A car hit a storage shed and a house in Brookfield on Tuesday.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company responded to the intersection of Sandy Lane and Old Grays Bridge Road for the accident. The driver was transported to Danbury Hospital for evaluation.  The Town Building official and the Fire Marshal were on scene evaluating the stability of the structures involved. 

(Photo: BVFD Facebook)

Wednesday night the Brookfield firefighters were dispatched to Route 7 North for a single car crash.  The lone occupant required extrication.  The driver was then transported to Danbury Hospital. Members operated on scene for about 45 minutes and were assisted by the Brookfield Police Department and Connecticut State Police from Troop A.

COVID-19 cases rise in Greater Danbury area

Danbury has reported 335 COVID-19 cases to the state Department of Public Health in the last two weeks.  The case rate is now up to 28.3 per 100,000 population with a test positivity rate of 6.4 percent.  This comes as nearly all of Connecticut is in the red zone alert level for COVID-19 community spread for the second week in a row. 

Just four small towns in the northwest corner are not showing 15 or more cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks.  Washington was in the orange zone last week, but bumped up this week.  The remaining few towns are in the grey with fewer than 5 cases.  

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel has had 94 cases, there were 102 COVID cases in Brookfield, and New Fairfield reported 84.  There were 177 COVID cases in New Milford, 163 in Newtown, Redding reported just 42 cases in the last two weeks while Ridgefield had 119. 

The Department is reporting a range of COVID-19 infection rates.  At the lower end of the scale are Ridgefield and Bethel with 5-percent and 6-percent respectively.  Most of the municipalities have a rate of 7 to 7.5 percent.  The highest is New Fairfield, with an infection rate over the last two weeks of 8-percent. 

Connecticut's daily test positivity rate yesterday stood at 7.14 percent and the state reported another 56 COVID associated fatalities since last Thursday, bringing Connecticut’s total to 9,002.

New Fairfield reports 15 COVID-19 cases in one day

In Redding, the mask mandate for indoor public places regardless of vaccine status came back last week. Brookfield officials are recommending masks in town buildings.  In New Fairfield yesterday alone, 15 new COVID cases were reported.  That brought the  number of current active cases in New Fairfield to 55, compared to 35 last Thursday.  First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says cases are spread across all age groups, and the majority of cases continue to be found in unvaccinated individuals.  New Fairfield's case rate is 43.2 per 100,000 population compared to 18.5 last week.  The state vaccine Van will be in New Fairfield tomorrow  at the High SChool from 9am to 5pm. 

State bonding approval expected for Danbury War Memorial infrastructure upgrades

Funding for improvements to the Danbury War Memorial is on the state Bond Commission's agenda next week.  A $1.4 million grant in aid line item is included for renovations including upgrades to the utility, fire alarm and sprinkler systems. War Memorial Association Board Chairman Chick Volpe says he's very thankful and called the funding, expected to be approved on the 21st, a nice Christmas present.  Being a non-profit, he says there is no way they could have raised that kind of money on their own.
“I am thankful to the State Bonding Commission for the authorization of these critical funds for the Danbury War Memorial,” Rep. Stephen Harding (R-107th) said. “This memorial has served as a historic and vital building for the people of Danbury for generations and this funding will help to ensure it continues to serve in that same important capacity for generations to come.”

“The Danbury War Memorial Building is a block from my house. I spent time using it for decades,” State Representative Bob Godfrey (D-110th District) said. “It’s a community center, an exercise facility, a voting place, and most importantly, Danbury’s Emergency Shelter. It’s electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems are old, and need to be brought up to code. This is a big step forward.”

“Over the years, like most Danburians, I’ve attended countless meetings, veterans’ events and basketball games at the War Memorial,’ Senator Julie Kushner said. “I so appreciate that the War Memorial has been there for our homeless when Covid hit our community hard, and after the last major flooding event the doors were opened yet again to provide shelter to those in need. I’m grateful that this grant-in-aid to the City of Danbury to allow us to upgrade utility systems that are desperately needed, helping to preserve a great Danbury institution and keeping its users safe and secure. I’m grateful to the Governor and the State Bond Commission for supporting the Danbury community.”

“The Danbury War Memorial Building has been a cornerstone of our local community for years. This grant will ensure that the building will be able to undertake some much-needed renovation projects. I’d like to thank the State Bond Commission for their continued commitment to Danbury,” said State Representative Kenneth Gucker (D-109th)

“I was a member at the Danbury War Memorial for about 15 years and echo Rep. Godfrey’s sentiments,” State Rep. Pat Callahan (R-108th) said. “It is a wonderful facility for the Danbury community.”

“The Danbury War Memorial is a vital resource for so many in our community,” said State Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan (D-2nd). “Securing these funds will ensure the War Memorial can be updated to meet the growing needs of Danburians for years to come. I am grateful to the State Bond Commission for granting our request and recognizing the importance of this community mainstay.”

“I am pleased funding for the War Memorial was prioritized in this round of state grants and dated equipment along with critical upgrades to the facility will now happen,” said Rep. David Arconti (D-109th). “With these vital upgrades our community will continue to enjoy this facility for years to come.”

2 men stole credit, debit cards from Southbury retirement community

The Southbury Police Department is looking to identify two males, who stole credit and debit cards from a retirement community offering Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care & Skilled Nursing.  The thefts happened at The Watermark at East Hill.  Southbury Police say the male parties attempted to use the stolen cards at a smoke shop in Waterbury. Anyone with information or who can identify suspects are asked to contact Officer Markette at 203-264-5912. All calls will be kept confidential.

Hearing continued on proposed 8-30g application in Bethel

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission has continued a public hearing into a proposed affordable housing development on Cindy Lane.  A developer is looking to add a second story to an existing three-apartment dwelling, construct a two-story dwelling with six units and build a single residential structure.  If approved, 13 one-bedroom units would be located on the less-than-one-acre of land.  At least 3 would be designated as affordable under the state's 8-30g statute.  Developers can bypass certain local zoning laws if  at least 30 percent of the units are affordable for families earning 80 percent or less of the area or state median income. The hearing was continued to January 11th.

Danbury Museum closed due to possible COVID-19 exposure

Due to a recent possible COVID-19 exposure, out of an abundance of caution, the Danury Museum is closed today.  Officails said this is being done in part in the interests of continuing to keep museum visitors, volunteers, and staff safe.  Staff will be using today to test and verify that they are still COVID negative.

Easton Police raising funds for K9 unit

The Easton Police K-9 unit is funded solely through donations, which pay for K9 TJ’s food, veterinary care and training.  A fundraiser has been launched with photo tiles, available in sets of four, featuring K9 TJ.  The tiles are seal and have a cork backing.  The Easton Police Department is asking for a 25 dollar donation, plus 7 for shipping to the Easton Police PayPal. The QR Code and a link can be found on their Facebook page.  Those donating are asked to include name, address and email in the notes of PayPal.  A check with an order can also be mailed to The Easton Police Dept, 700 Morehouse Rd Easton CT 06612.

Newtown Planners asked to weigh in on proposed lot subdivision

The Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission is meeting tonight.  One of the items on their agenda is an application for a Platts Hill and Orchard Hill roads homeowner to split his lot into 4 in order to bring the property into compliance.  The 26 acre estate has a cottage and a barn that was converted to a two-bedroom apartment without approval.  The homeowner would retain ownership of the 4 subdivided parcels.  At a previous hearing, some commission members raised questions about the only FAA-approved private airstrip in Fairfield County located on the land.  The owner said it's for his own single-engine plane and it's not part of the application.  The 2,000-foot-long, 200-foot-wide grass runway, registered as Flying Ridge Airstrip, is operational and up to code.

Social media threat against a middle school prompts police presence in New Fairfield

A social media threat against New Fairfield Middle School has been determined not to be against the school. Superintedent Pat Cosentino says staff was alerted by students to a video on TikTok stating that there will be a shooting at a middle school on Friday, and the students thought New Fairfield Middle School was being threatened. 

New Fairfield Police researched the video an concluded that the threat is not against the school.  But out of an abundance of caution, and for students’ and staff’s sense of safety, New Fairfield will have an increased police presence at the schools tomorrow. 

District officials spoke with the students and commended them for bringing a serious issues to their attention.  Cosentino urged parents to speak with their kids about social media and the importance of letting an adult know when they see something dangerous or inappropriate. She noted that threats on social media are investigated by the police and are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Man injured after being trapped in machinery in Wingdale mine

Sherman volunteer firefighters have provide mutual aid in Wingedale, New York as firefighters there helped rescue a 40 year old male trapped in machinery underground in a mine.  The Dover Plains-based J. H. Ketcham Hose Company responded to help with the technical rescue operation Tuesday afternoon at Wingdale Materials. 

Rescuers went 2500 feet into the mine and made contact with the man, who was conscious and alert.  He was trapped inside the cab of his excavator by a large boulder that had dislodged form the mine's wall, landing on the machinery.  The 40 to 50 pound boulder was stabilized and the worker extricated after about about an hour. 

(Photo: J. H. Ketcham Hose Company)

He was airlifted to Westcherster Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries to both legs and 1 hand. 

New Fairfield makes 35 radon test kits available to residents at no charge

The New Fairfield Health Department has partnered with the state Department of Public Health Asbestos and Radon Program to promote radon testing and mitigation efforts. New Fairfield has 35 radon test kits available to residents at no charge on a first come, first served basis. More kits could be made available to the town next year. 

Connecticut residents are urged to test their homes for radon gas, the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Radon is a radioactive gas formed from the decay of naturally occurring uranium. It is found in rock, soil and water. Health officials estimate that radon is responsible for more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. 

Residents can call the New Fairfield Health Department at 203-312-5640 to pick up a test kit. Residents may conduct the test themselves, or set up an appointment with the Sanitarian to conduct the testing.  

Radon in outdoor air poses a relatively low risk to human health, but it can enter homes from the surrounding soil and become a health hazard inside buildings.  Radon is odorless and invisible. Radon problems can be corrected by a qualified radon contractor, with costs typically ranging between $1,200 and $1,500.

Deer Season for Shotgun/Rifle opens tomorrow

Deer Season for Shotgun/Rifle opens on December 17th.  The Bethel Town Clerk's Office is no longer issuing hunting licenses as the state has an online system.  While official say it's easy to navigate, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Licensing and Revenue does have a phone number for assistance: 860-424-3105 .

Mutual aid agreements signed by Danbury Police, Fire and Danbury FCI

Agreements have been approved by the Danbury City Council between the Federal Correctional Institute and the Danbury Police, Fire and Emergency Management Departments.  The Memorandum of Understanding covers situations of mutual assistance between the agencies.  That includes natural disasters and law enforcement emergencies prompting short term action.  The agreements will be in place for the next 5 years.  The agreement with the Police Departrment allows the Bureau of Prisons to transport state and pre-trial prisoners and to search for escaped state or local prisoners on BOP property.  In the event of an emergency at the prison requiring evacuation, Danbury Police may provide security and escort vehicles to other institutions.  The agreement with the Emergency Management Department covers emergency preparedness and joint training exercises.  BOP staff could provide blankets, food, water, medical supplies and temporary use of large or specialized equipment.  OEM can in turn help in obtaining potable water and food supplies in the event of a disaster effecting FCI Danbury.

Center for Empowerment & Education now accepting Cryptocurrency donations

The Center for Empowerment & Education, formerly the Women's Center, is now accepting Cryptocurrency donations. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that can be used to buy goods and services.  The Center has partnered with The Giving Block and Gemini for people who want to securely make this kind of contribution. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency donations are tax deductible. This is similar to donating stock.  Because the IRS treats cryptocurrency as property, donors will not be liable for capital gains tax and it can be written off on taxes.  The Center says they are pleased expand giving options, adding another tool to their fundraising toolkit.  Donating cryptocurrency is easier than entering a credit card by using a widget found on the Center's website.

Judge: Alex Jones' lawyer broke ethics rules in Newtown case

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut judge says a lawyer for Alex Jones broke attorney conduct rules during the deposition of a witness. The ruling Wednesday by Judge Barbara Bellis came in a defamation lawsuit filed by relatives of some victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting against Jones for his calling the massacre a hoax. Bellis says she is considering reprimanding Jones lawyer Jay Wolman, who denies breaking ethics rules. At issue is whether Wolman badgered and intimidated a former Jones employee during a deposition in September. Bellis found Jones liable for damages to the families last month. A trial on how the damages should be is set for next August.

Cryptocurrency charity donates $50,000 Sandy Hook animal sanctuary

A cryptocurrency charity has donated $50,000 to an animal sanctuary founded in the memory of a Sandy Hook victim.  Pawthereum, a “decentralized, community-run charity” that converts digital currency into dollars to benefit shelters and other animal welfare organizations, announced th donation to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary on the ninth anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook School.  The donation will go toward the Senior Paw Project, an outreach for elderly individuals who face difficulty caring for their pets. The Senior Paw Project operates in 12 towns and has helped provide veterinary care and 250,000 meals for pets in need.  The program could be expanded to 10 additional towns through this donation.  The 34-acre animal sanctuary on Old Farm Road, has been running wildlife education programs and family-themed events and will offer veterinary care, animal boarding and hands-on events for the public when it’s built.  Pawthereum Community Charity Coordinator Matthew Courchene-Roy, whose family has roots in Newtown, donated an additional $25,000 to the animal sanctuary.

Local lawmaker joins call for adequate staffing at FCI Danbury

Bethel state Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan is calling on Congress to push the Bureau of Prisons to increase staffing at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution.  He says FCI Danbury is short about 80 officers and has additional non-officer vacancies, which has resulted in officers working vast amounts of forced overtime and  non-officer employees-- including medical staff, teachers, counselors, and cooks --being assigned to guard inmates. 

Allie-Brennan says staffing cuts and a hiring freeze implemented by previous administrations have reduced the maximum number of employees the Bureau of Prisons can hire to roughly 75% of the "mission critical" staffing level the agency has said is necessary to keep officers and inmates safe. 

Members of Connecticut's Congressional delegation have written to the Bureau of Prisons urging the agency to address short staffing.  Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and the two U.S. Senators say they are concerned that the large number of vacancies has led to many issues at FCI Danbury.  They  acknowledged that the pandemic exacerbated the staffing shortfalls, but say the safety and security of staff and inmates must be prioritized at all times. 

The delegation says ongoing staffing issues have led to low morale, fatigue and exhaustion among staff, which exacerbates the potential for incidents or injuries to staff and inmates.

NY Troopers seek identities of Grand Larceny suspects

New York State Police in Brewster are attempting to identify two people in relation to a grand larceny investigation.  The credit information of a victim was used to steal over $14,000.  Troopers have released images from earlier this year, the only ones available to the State Police at this time.  Anyone with information on the location or identity of the two subjects are asked to contact New York State Police at (845) 677-7300 and refer to case # 10462769.

COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Danbury

With the new uptick in COVID-19 cases, Redding will again be updating the information posted on the Town website Mondays through Thursdays.  A link can be found on the home page at townofreddingct.org.  The Easton Redding Region 9 School District also publishes a COVID-19 Dashboard.

The Department of Public Health/Griffin Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be holding a walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Danbury today. No appointment is needed, with all vaccine brands being administered.  The clinic is at the PAL building on Hayestown Road from 2pm to 6:30pm.

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations will be administered mobile clinics in Danury today.  The Pfizer vaccine has emergency use authorization for children 5 to 11 years old.  The clinics are at Westside Middle School Academy and Broadview Middle School from 3pm to 6pm and at the PAL building on Hayestown Road from 2pm to 6:30pm.

The Danbury Department of Health & Human Services will host a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic open to all eligible ages on Friday.  There will also be an opportunity for kids to meet with Santa.  The clinic Friday at Rogers Park is noon to 6pm.  Santa visits start at 3pm.

Services held in Newtown to mark 9th anniversary of 12/14

By this time next year, Newtown expects that the Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial will be open to the public.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says the plans have been scaled back to fit the budget, but the main themes that the Commission agreed to will still be featured, included a central water fountain with a sycamore tree and winding paths. 

Rosenthal says the site work and clearing started in August and is mostly complete.  The subsurface work for the central water feature is also moving along. 

Church services in Newtown yesterday marked the 9th anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook School.  Bridgeport Diocese Bishop Frank Caggiano delivered remarks at the annual memorial Mass and said the darkness did not engulf Newtown because for the past nine years the community has chosen to walk in the light.  The service was held at St. Rose of Lima Church. 

The names of the 20 first-graders and six educators were read as bells rang. 

The annual Interfaith Service of Remembrance was also held at Trinity Episcopal Church. Newtown Congregational Church senior minister Reverend Matt Crebbin says this  is a journey of hope and transformation in a world filled with brokenness.

President Joe Biden released a video message marking yesterday's 9th anniversary of the shooting that claimed the lives of 20 first graders and 6 educators.  He says the nation owes the families of those killed more than prayers, but action.

Demolition to start in Brookfield to make way for Federal Road improvements

Construction work to ease traffic congestion on Federal Road in Brookfield is moving into the next phase.  The demolition of Ramen House at 316 Federal Road and the home north of it are schedule to start tomorrow.  That work will last two weeks.  

Economic Development Director Greg Dembowski says there will be survey workers along the roadway over the next couple months preparing for the relocation of utility poles in the spring. Drivers are asked to take extra care when traveling through the area. No construction is planned until the Spring.  

This project is fully funded by the state Department of Transportation and includes 5,300 feet of roadway improvements from BJs’s to the shopping plaza at 317 Federal Road and 800 feet 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.

Danbury FCI union employees to rally for increased staffing

A rally is being held in Danbury today by union workers of the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution. FCI Danbury is short staffed and non-officer employees are tasked with filling in as corrections officers, working 16 hour shifts.  A billboard is now up in Danbury that states “Dangerously understaffed federal prison ahead. Are you safe?” 

The rally will be held this morning at the intersection of Hayestown Avenue and North Street.  They're calling on Congress to increase prison staffing levels, provide recruitment bonuses and take other measures to address the problem.  Mayor Dean Esposito plans to attend the rally. 

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes and the state's two U.S. Senators wrote to the director of the Bureau of Prisons on Tuesday urging staffing guidelines be met. 

The Bureau of Prisons says FCI Danbury is staffed over 94 percent with 112 corrections services staff.

New Milford, Pomperaug District Department of Health consider merger

New Milford's Health Director has been working with the Pomperaug District Department of Health since that official was suspended in early June.  Now the two departments are looking to merge.  A presentation was made to the New Milford Town Council at this meeting Monday night by VMC Consulting. 

The combined departments would be known as the Houstatonic Valley Health District.  They have been sharing staff and resources since August. 

The Pomperaug District--which covers Washington, Southbury, Oxford and Woodbury--was investigated following allegations against longtime director Neal Lustig by an employee.  The investigation found that the department had wide-ranging, systemic and cultural problems. 

New Milford Health Director Lisa Morrissey told the Town Council she would spend three days in New Milford and two in Pomperaug each week.  A public hearing will be held January 10th so New Milford residents can weigh in on the matter.

If the merger goes through, the department could leverage state funding, an incentive for regionalizing.

COVID-19 vaccines, boosters in New Fairfield today

Teens who are 16 and 17 years old are now eligible for Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots 6 months after their second dose of vaccine. The  Griffin Health/state Department of Public Health Mobile Vaccination Team will be back in New Fairfield today at St. Edward's Church from 11:30 to 6:15 PM and on Saturday, in the New Fairfield High School cafeteria from 9am to 5pm.  The last clinic of the year will be held on Wednesday,  December 29 at St. Edward's Church.  There will be no clinic on Christmas Day.  Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccine will be available. The clinic will vaccinate anyone over the age of 12, however those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Vaccination will be  provided free of charge. 

Danbury paves more than 21 miles of road

Danbury has paved more than 21 miles of road in recent months.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says this construction season has been a pretty remarkable year, possibly with the most amount of paving done in the city in a year.  Iadarola predicted Danbury would pave 12.3 miles of roadway, but bonding and budgeted funding helped exceed that expectation.  The city spent just under $7 million on paving.  About 13 miles of road were milled or reclaimed, while about 7.4 miles were treated with cape sealing. a process that gets another 10 years out of road.  Last year, the City Council approved $18.5 million for road improvements, including paving, as part of a larger borrowing package.

Route 7 nominated as a designated FHA EV Corridor

Route 7 has been nominated as a designated Federal Highway Administration EV Corridor. In order to be eligible to apply for EV Corridor Designation, three Level 3 Fast Chargers were required within 5 miles of the route.  Those Chargers are located in Danbury, Darien, and New Milford.  The Federal Highway Administration is establishing a national network of alternative fueling and charging infrastructure along national highway system corridors. 125 nominations were received from state and local officials covering about 165,722 miles of the National Highway System.  That covered 49 states plus Washington D.C. along segments of 134 Interstates and 125 US highways/state roads.

Youth basketball coach relieved of duties following arrest

Danbury PAL Board of Directors and Executive Director have released a statement about the arrest of a volunteer coach for drug related offenses.  The Board says the nature of these accusations are extremely serious and disconcerting.  33-year old Samuel Perkins has been relieved of all coaching duties effective immediately. The organization noted in a statement that PAL was founded in 1964 with the goal of providing children a safe and healthy alternative to drugs, violence, and crime.  The Board plans to work with the Danbury Police Department regarding this matter.  A substantial quantity of money and illegal drugs were seized from Perkins' Newtown home on Wednesday.  He and 24-year old Kayla Martin were charged and released to appear in court at a later date. 

Local lawmaker marks 9th anniversary of 12/14

Newtown state Senator Tony Hwang is marking the 9th anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook School.  In recalling this time of tragedy, Hwang offered his support and appreciation to members of the Newtown and Sandy Hook community who continue to heal from the emotionally traumatic impact. He says the Newtown community is full of kindness and caring, with much good being done in honor of those lives lost that day. Hwang says each day is a testament to the indefatigable spirit of Newtown’s resilient residents to be kind and strive to make a positive difference in people’s lives to honor those tragically lost.  While nine years have passed, Hwang noted that there are voids and sadness that will never be filled, but reaching out and offering support would be a fitting tribute to honor the 20 first graders and 6 educators who lost their lives 9 years ago.

House fire sends two New Fairfield residents, firefighter to hospital with injuries

Two New Fairfield residents and a firefighter were hospitalized late Sunday night with minor injuries.  New Fairfield Emergency Communications Center received a fire alarm on Jeremy Drive from an alarm company shortly before 11pm with the information that someone was yelling “send fire” with no further details. Firefighters saw flames coming from the 2nd floor when they arrived, but the fire was too heavy to make an interior push.  Defensive operations helped contain the blaze from the exterior. Fire damage was limited to the second floor, with many items salvaged from the first floor.   Mutual aid from Putnam Lake and Sherman responded to the scene.

COVID-19 vaccine clinics, testing ramp up in Greater Danbury

New Milford is expanding their COVID-19 testing program.  Mayor Pete Bass announced a partnership with Ridgewood Diagnostic Laboratory for testing at Petttibone Community Center 5 days a week.  There is no testing on Thursdays and Sundays.  Testing will be done Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Fridays 9am to 6pm and Saturdays 10am to 3pm. 

Moderna COVID-19 booster shots will be available today at the Bethel Municipal Center.  The clinic is being held in the General Purpose Room from 4pm to 7pm.  Everyone aged 18 and older who had their initial vaccines six months or more ago are eligible. There is no cost. No appointment is necessary; walk-in's are welcome.

Griffin Hospital will be administering pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations at mobile clinics throughout the state today.  Mobile vans will be in Danury at Mill Ridge Primary and Morris Street Elementary schools from 4pm to 7.  There's a clinic in Ridgefield at East Ridge Middle School from 3:30 to 7:30pm and in Wilton at Cider Mill School from 3 to 8:30.

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccine clinics continue in Danbury tomorrow.  A mobile van will have health staff administer Pfizer shots to kids 5 years old to 11 at Broadview Middle School and Westside Middle School tomorrow from 4pm to 7.  PAL is holding both pediatric and general clinics tomorrow from 2pm to 6:30 at their building on Hayestown Road.

Putnam County won't enforce NY Gov. mask mandate

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says the County government, Health Department and Law Enforcement will not be enforcing Governor Kathy Hochul’s mask mandate, calling the requirement unrealistic.  The mandate requires masks or proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter all public spaces in New York. 

Odell says one issue she has is that the order called for the Putnam County Department of Health to police the requirement, but she says the health care professionals are not a policing agency.  She noted that they're tasked with informing residents about the steps necessary to protect themselves.

Odell questions whether the Health Department, which is already working overtime, should stop running essential vaccine clinics and redirect efforts to checking whether the unvaccinated are entering buildings unmasked. 

A private-public partnership in Putnam County will create a COVID testing site that will open at the Donald B. Smith campus in Carmel before Christmas and operate six days a week.

Eversource to conduct aerial scans across transmission lines

Eversource will be conducting aerial scans across transmission lines in Connecticut, which includes helicopter flights over the transmission lines at 1400 feet.  The high-tech survey of the transmission system allows Eversource’s engineers to optimize the analysis, design, and configuration of the transmission lines using up-to-date electronic data.  Weather permitting, the flyovers will be taking place today through the 23rd, including on the weekend.  The Blue and Yellow Bell 206B3 with tail #N803JB will be in the air 9am to 4pm.  Among the 135 municipalities is most of the Greater Danbury area.  The towns are: Bethel, Bethlehem, Brookfield, Danbury, Easton, Kent, Monroe, New Milford, Newtown, Oxford, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, Southbury, Washington, Weston, Wilton, and Woodbury.

Gov. orders Conn. flags to half staff in remembrance of 12/14

Governor Ned Lamont has directed flags to be lowered to half-staff today in remembrance of those killed nine years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Lamont says the tragedy that occurred that day nine years ago is one of the worst in Connecticut history, but in its aftermath, Lamont says there's been an outpouring of love, humanity, and kindness from over the entire world, spreading a message of hope. 

Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz called for a day of comfort and peace.  She asked that residents continue the legacy of those lives lost, through acts of kindness and generosity.

Newtown students are learning remotely today, the 9th anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook School, in part because of hoax threats that have been made at schools across the state. 

Southbury State Senator Eric Berthel, ranking member of the legislature’s Education Committee, is calling on the Department of Education to use law enforcement professionals, in particular School Resource Officers, wherever possible to curb the recent spate of violent threats.  He says these incidents disrupt the learning process and prohibit students from receiving a proper education.  State agencies are working with the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection to curb this marked uptick of violence in schools.

Sandy Hook nonprofit highlighting peer-based programs

A Sandy Hook nonprofit is highlighting its peer-based programs about red-flag behavior as kids deal with the effects of the pandemic.  Sandy Hook Promise was founded almost 9 years ago by the parents of two of the 1st graders killed at the Newtown elementary school.  One of their programs is called “Know the Signs” and teaches people the early clues of a youth in crisis.  Founder Nicole Hockley says the pandemic has left kids feeling isolated and disoriented with remote learning.  One PSA released this year is called “The Kids Are Not Alright” and was prompted by a significant increase of calls to their life crisis center.  Hockley says the goal of their programs and PSAs is to have early peer intervention, before the youth develops a plan and the means to carry it out.

Danbury City Council approves raises for some municipal employees

The Danbury City Council has approved raises for some municipal employees.  A revised contract with the Danbury Municipal Employees Association calls for 1.5 percent raises, retroactive to July 2020.  This is similar to the revised agreement with the city firefighters’ union.  Both agreed last year to hold wages steady due to the pandemic, provided the contract could be renegotiated if the city’s financial circumstances improved.  The new contract runs through June 30, 2023.  The cost of the raises through the entire term of the agreement is $180,000. 

Mark Twain Library in Redding now fine free

Mark Twain Library in Redding is now fine free.  In an effort to provide equal access to books, the library has eliminated all late and overdue fines for everyone.  Library cards will no longer be blocked due to fees and all Mark Twain Library patrons will be able to continue to use physical and virtual resources.  In making the announcement, library officials are encouraging patrons to return books in a responsible and timely fashion so others can then borrow those items.  The only charge that remains is if a resident loses or damages a book.

Downed utility line melts pavement, boils water in Bethel

A downed utility line in Bethel caused the pavement to melt Saturday night.  Payne Road was closed into early Sunday morning because the utility line caught fire.  Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company says the intensity and temperature caused the 2,000 gallons of water on the affected area to instantly boil.  Department officials say this is a prime example of why downed power lines should be treated as live, to avoid the area and call 911.  Eversource mitigated the hazard and Payne Road reopened.

Congresswoman to hold telephone town hall

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes is holding a telephone town hall this week.  She plans to discuss the recently signed bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the proposed Build Back Better Act.  Hayes will also update constituents on her ongoing work in Congress.  Those interested in the Wednesday night telephone town hall at 6pm must register on her Congressional website.

WCSU department receives accreditation

Western Connecticut State University’s education and educational psychology department has received accreditation.  The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation gave the designation following an on-site review and study. The accreditation remains in effect until spring 2028.  Department Chair Katherine Roe says the lessons provided by education and educational psychology department offers a successful multidisciplinary program that integrates theory with practice to prepare West Conn students to become competent and effective professionals that will contribute to the community upon graduation.

Monroe child gets finger stuck in baby gate, freed by firefighters

On Friday Monroe firefighters freed a child with a finger stuck in the metal bar of a baby gate that ultimately required cutting through the metal. It was the third time in three months Monroe firefighters freed a child with a stuck finger or hand.  Department officials say the boy was shaken up but was all smiles when the crew let him sit in the fire engine afterward.

Interim principal of Brookfield High School steps down

The interim principal of Brookfield High School has stepped down.  Dr Tom McMorran has tendered his resignation effective immediately.  Superintendent John Barile says he's disheartened by the news, but that the resignation is unrelated to anything related to the faculty, staff, or students of Brookfield High School.  McMorran, former Region 9 Supertiendent, took on the role in while Principal Marc Balanda is out on a leave of absence.  The mid-October leave was not disciplinary in nature, but officials have not disclosed the reason behind it.  Balanda is not set to return until January 3rd.  A central office administrator will serve as principal as schedules allow.

67 firefighters graduate from Connecticut Fire Academy

67 firefighters have graduated from the Connecticut Fire Academy.  The recruits started classes at the end of August and went through 14 weeks of training focused on all aspects of Firefighting, Hazardous Materials, Rescue and other subjects.  A graduation ceremony was held on Friday.  The recruits are going on to several departments across Connecticut, including Ridgefield and Wilton. The New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department congratulated Niels Ebbesen on his graduation as he's been hired by Ridgefield as a firefighter/paramedic.. Ebbesen had been a member of Company A for years and worked as a paramedic for the city of Danbury. Easton Volunteer Fire Department congratulated Alex Cohen and Dan Magner, who were also part of Friday's graduating class.

Builder makes donation to Ridgefield Historical Society after tearing down structures

A builder is making a $1,000 donation to the Ridgefield Historical Society instead of paying the maximum $500 fine for tearing down two buildings without the proper permits.   CV Building Concepts owner Rich Szentkuti owns 8 and 10 New Street, where a house and a garage stood.  The house was built in the 1870s in the Queen Anne style. 

The Ridgefield Press reports that a demolition permit was submitted for review by the Building Department, but the structures were demolished before the end of the town’s 30-day demolition ordinance.  

The  2020 ordinance requires any person, corporation or other entity to first obtaining a permit from the town’s building department.  While notification was made to the Ridgefield Historical Society, it wasn't sent by certified mail.  The Historical Sociery sent a letter to Szentkuti a few days after submitting the permit for review that the house had historical value.  The letter triggered a provision in the ordinance that should have delayed the issuance of the permit for a period of 90 days. 

During the most recent Board of Selectmen's meeting, First Selectman Rudy Marconi explained that the waiting period allows concerned parties to work with applicants on finding ways to maintain historic characteristics in their site plans to ensure potentially historic homes are preserved.

Brookfield Selectman tests positive for COVID-19, masking encouraged

A Brookfield Selectmen has tested positive for COVID-19 and now masks are being encouraged in town buildings.  Selectman Harry Shaker, who attended Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting tested positive last week.  The Selectmen were unmasked and First Selectman Tara Carr is now quarantining, but tested negative Friday.  Selectman Steve Dunn also tested negative Friday.  Brookfield, like nearly every other Connecticut municipality is in the red zone for having 15 or more COVID cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks.

Hydraulic fluid spill cleaned up at Candlewood Lake School Construction Site

A hydraulic fluid spill has been reported at the Candlewood Lake School Construction Site in Brookfield.  Town officials say no one at risk from the hazmat spill on Friday.  The cause was a burst hose from a concrete pump truck.  About  5 to 15 gallons of hydraulic fluid leaked at the far northwest corner of the Huckleberry Hill School property.  The spill was kept contained to a limited area by the Fire Department through the use of absorbent pads and booms, and the fluid on the ground’s surface was quickly picked up by vacuum trucks operated by Moran Environmental.  The wells that service the school are not in the vicinity of the spill so Huckleberry Hill Elementary School is deemed safe for students and staff today.  Town officials say all neighboring wells are sufficiently far enough away so as not to be a health concern. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and local officials will be on site today to collect soil samples, direct any additional mitigation measures and to review and direct the scope of soil removal and remediation to protection of local wetlands and water sources.

NY found guilty of robbery, assault in Danbury

A New York man has been found guilty of multiple charges stemming from an attempted robbery in Danbury in May 2018.  The evidence presented at the six-day trial showed that 29-year old Rodney Harvey of the Bronx and two other individuals entered a home and stabbed two victims numerous times while attempting to steal illegal drugs. The three individuals fled.  Harvey faces a maximum of 70 years in prison when he is sentenced early next year.  Last month, co-defendant Collin Hedley pleaded guilty to Assault and other charges.  He faces 10 years in prison when he is sentenced next year. The other co-defendant, Diego Trejo, died in a car crash while his criminal case was pending.

Danbury officials still working on plan to deliver homeless services

When Pacific House bought the former Super 8 motel in Danbury, the nonprofit took over services for the homeless from the City.  The Danbury Zoning Commission last month rejected an application that would have allowed the motel to officially be a shelter and transitional housing.  Without that approval, the City, state and Pacific House must begin talks about how to move forward.  The shelter will remain in operation on Lake Avenue Extension through at least February because of the governor's executive orders allowing more room in congregate settings during the pandemic.  Typically the Danbury Health Department would have included an update in its monthly report to the City Council on the homeless population and operations at the shelter, but there was no update this month.  Health Director Kara Prunty says they will make sure everyone is safe and protected as the entities figure out a long term plan.

Danbury PAL coach arrested for alleged drug sales

A Danbury PAL youth basketball coach has been arrested for allegedly selling drugs in the City. An investigation was launched into 33-year old Samuel Perkins, also known as Sonya Perkins, based on resident complaints. Investigators witnessed Perkins engaging in suspected drug transactions throughout the Danbury area.   A search warrant was carried out on Wednesday.  Members of the Newtown Police Department assisted Danbury and established surveillance of the Danbury PAL building and Perkins’ Newtown home. Perkins was seen entering the PAL building at approximately 5:30pm and leaving an hour later.  He was accompanied by 24-year old Kayla Martin, with whom he resides.  A substantial quantity of money and illegal drugs were seized.  Both were released to appear in court at a later date and time.  Perkins and Martin were each charged with Possession of drug paraphernalia and two counts each of Possession of a controlled substance and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell.

Local lawmaker reminding youths that threatening a school is a felony

A juvenile has been arrested for allegedly sending threatening emails to Danbury teachers.  Danbury Police were notified December 3rd that several Danbury High School teachers and students received emails indicating a bomb was in the high school. The Investigation determined that the threatening emails originated from within the School and were not credible. State Senator Tony Hwang, whose district includes Newtown, says threatening a school is a felony charge for anyone over 15 years old.  He says it's important to understand this is not a joking matter, and that it's a criminal act.  Hwang sponsored a law for stiffer penalties for threats against schools in 2016, though the law doesn't apply to juveniles. The state has seen a sweeping number of threats made at schools over the past few weeks, and all were deemed not credible.

Danbury woman charged in connection with July overdose death

A Danbury woman has been arrested in connection with the untimely death of a 22-year-old Danbury resident in July. An autopsy conducted by the Medical Examiner confirmed the cause as acute intoxication from the combined effects of several substances, which included fentanyl. Based on the circumstances of the death and the report from the medical examiner's office, the investigation pointed to Susan Quinn’s involvement in the death of the 22-year-old.  The 35-year old was arrested on Wednesday and later released.  She will appear in Danbury Superior Court on January 7th to respond to charges of possession of a Controlled substance and Reckless Endangerment.

State Department of Health provides COVID-19 update for Greater Danbury area

The state Department of Public Health is reporting Bethel and Ridgefield COVID-19 infection rates each went up 1.5 percent since last week to 4.6 percent and 4.2 percent.  Brookfield, Newtown and Danbury increased by about 2 percent each to 6.3 percent, 5.7, and 4.6 percent, respectively.  New Fairfield and Redding went up 2.5 percent each to 5.3 and 5.8 percent.  New Milford's rate actually ticked down a fraction to 7.3 percent.

After days of dozens of new hospitalizations in Connecticut of people with lab confirmed COVID-19, there was just one new patient yesterday compared to Thursday.  Of the 576 patients currently hospitalized, 77.4 percent are not fully vaccinated.

Compared to being vaccinated, the state Department of Public Health says being unvaccinated currently has a relative risk 5 times higher of being infected with COVID-19, 12 times higher of being hospitalized and 16 times higher of dying from COVID-19.

As of December 8th, little more than 29,000 cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated persons in Connecticut have been identified. Of the fully vaccinated Connecticut population, that means less than 1.2 percent breakthrough rate.

27-percent of Connecticut children 5 to 11 years old have received their first dose of a vaccine. 

Danbury Police promotions, new officers confirmed

Two new Danbury Police Officers have been confirmed to the Department and several promotions have been approved. 

Matthew O'Connor, an officer for the last three-years in Trumbull, and John Martinez, an officer from Wappinger Falls, have been appointed.  O'Connor was previously employed as a security guard.  Martinez was previously an officer in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Danubry Police Detective Lieutenant Chris Carroccio has been prompted to Police Captain.  He began his career in Danbury in 1996 and served as Evidence Technician and Public Information Officer.  Carroccio has received numerous awards and citations. 

Two Danbury Police Sergeants have been promoted to Lieutenant.  The City Council confirmed Gary Guertin and David Pardovich to the roles.  Pardovich started in Danbury in 2006.  He was a Field Training Officer and has been awarded a number of commendations throughout his career.  Guertin began his career in Danubry in 2001.  Noted in his confirmation letter was that Guertin investigating the circumstances surrounding the 1896 line of duty death of Officer Florence Sullivan, one of Danubry's first police officers, and having his name added to the National Police Memorial in Washington, D.C.  Sullivan attempted to break up a disorderly drunken disturbance by 5 men on December 1, 1895. While attempting to arrest one of the men he was physically beaten by the other four. He subsequently died as a result of his injuries on September 8, 1896.

Two Danbury Police officers have been promoted to Sergeant.  The City Council confirmed the promotions of Officer Vito Iacobellis and Stephen Hilderbrand.  Iacobellis has been an officer since 2015 and participated in Stadley Rough School's Nobody Eats Alone program.  Hilderbrand joined the force in 2014 and is current President of the Danbury Police Union.  He is a Crisis Negotiation Team member and Field Training Officer as well. 

Winter themed COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Danbury today

The Community Health Center, Griffin Hospital and the City of Danbury Health and Human Services Department have teamed up to host a pediatric COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Danbury.  No appointment is needed for the free Pfizer shots from 10am to 1pm.  The clinic for 5 to 18 year olds, with parental permission, will be held at the Danbury War Memorial.

Danbury Juvenile arrested for allegedly sending threatening emails

A juvenile has been arrested for allegedly sending threatening emails to Danbury teachers. Danbury Police were notified last Friday, December 3, that several Danbury High School teachers and students received emails indicating a bomb was in the high school. The Investigation determined that the threatening emails originated from within Danbury High School and were not credible. Over the course of several days, detectives continued to investigate with the assistance of the school administration. Detectives arrested the juvenile responsible for the threatening emails today.  The juvenile is being charged with 11 counts each of Breach of Peace, Falsely Reporting an Incident and Threatening.  Due to the Juvenile’s age, police say no identifying information will be released.

Funeral services announced for Danbury Police Officer

Funeral services have been set for Danbury Police Officer Andrew Katkocin, who died on Sunday.  Visitation for the 37-year old will be held Sunday at Green Funeral Home on Main Street from 2pm to 6pm.  A Mass will be held at St. Edward the Confessor Church in New Fairfield on Monday at 10:30am. A private interment will be held on Long Island Tuesday.  The decorated 12-year veteran of the Danbury Police Department  received several commendations for his service. The West Conn graduate was a member of the university's Football and Lacrosse teams. In lieu of flowers, his family asked that donations be made in his memory to The Wounded Blue at: thewoundedblue.org

 

2nd Annual Newtown Holiday Laser & Lights Show this weekend

The Newtown Community Center and Newtown Chamber of Commerce are spreading holiday cheer again this year on the Fairfield Hills campus with the 2nd Annual Newtown Holiday Laser & Lights Show.  Community Center Director Matt Ariniello says families can drive thru a 16-minute professional musical holiday light show.  Children will be able to drop their letters off to Santa.  The cost per vehicle is $20 or $85 for the VIP outdoor section which includes cookies and milk for up to 10 people. Half hour slots, beginning at 4pm and continuing until 9pm, are available today through Sunday. Registration can be done through eventbrite.com search for: Newtown Holiday Light Show 2021 or visit NewtownCommunityCenter.org

Shoulder rumble strip installation this weekend on I-84 in Danbury

A shoulder rumble strip will be installed by the state Department of Transportation on I-84 in Danbury this weekend.  The work is being done between Exits 8 to 9 in Newtown, Bethel, Brookfield and Danbury.  Motorists can expect lane closures eastbound and westbound from 7pm to 5am Sunday into Monday the 13th.  The project consists of milling the concrete to add a shoulder rumble strip. The DOT says modifications or extensions to the work schedule may be necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions. Motorists are advised to maintain a safe speed when driving in this vicinity.

Redding seeks cooperation with COVID-19 contact tracers

Redding officials are asking for cooperation from residents who test positive for COVID when receiving a call from the town's contact tracer to break the chain of transmission.  Health Officer Doug Hartline says when COVID positive around friends and family, they too could get sick and unknowingly spread it to others. He notes that the phone interview is brief, and honest candid answers help the tracing be effective.  A mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic is being held in Redding on Sunday the 19th and 28th from 1pm to 5 at the Redding Community Center.  This is for people 12 and older, with all vaccine brands available.  No appointment is needed.

Local lawmaker looking into power grid operator comments on winter outlook

The New England Regional Council has gotten a winter outlook update from the region's electric grid operator.  ISO New England President Gordon Van Welie says if there's a prolonged cold snap, they may have to shut off the power.  Danbury state Representative David Arconti, chair of the legislature's Energy Committe, says hoping for a mild winter isn't enough.  He says "luck" is not an answer and "should be ok" is not an answer.  Arconti added that there didn't seem to be a solution from ISO New England to prepare for a worst case scenario and is looking into preventative measures or leverage the state has on this issue.

Redding brings back mask requirement regardless of vaccine status

Due to the quick rise in Redding COVID-19 cases, it is required that masks be worn in all indoor settings regardless of vaccination status, where social distancing cannot be maintained.  Masks can be removed when alone in a room such as a private office or when socially distanced from others.  This includes all municipal buildings, restaurants (when not eating or drinking), places of worship, work, healthcare, and congregate living settings. This does not apply to outdoor activity or private homes.  The Redding Health Department says the beginning of the next COVID-19 wave has begun.  Redding’s average 2-week daily case rate of COVID-19 cases have risen sharply from 2.4 to 21.2 cases per 100,000 population in the past month. Redding, along with most towns in the State, is now in the red zone.

New Fairfield reports as many COVID cases Thursday as all of last week

As COVID cases continue to rise statewide, New Fairfield is once again in the red zone with a case rate of 18.5 per 100,000 population. Yesterday alone, New Fairfield recorded 18 new COVID cases, bringing the number of current active cases in town to 35.  This compares to a case count of 18 at this time last week. 

There are currently 15 cases in children under the age of 12, and the majority of cases continue to be found in unvaccinated individuals.

The Griffin Health/Department of Public Health Vaccination Van will be in New Fairfield tomorrow at the High School cafeteria from 9am to 5pm.  Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccine will be available. The clinic will vaccinate anyone over the age of 12, however those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Vaccination will be  provided free of charge.  Boosters will be available consistent with  CDC and CT DPH guidance.

Brookfield, New Milford temporarily end Screen and Stay in classrooms

A program that allowed certain students to remain in the classroom even after being exposed to COVID-19 is temporarily ending in Brookfield and New Milford.  The Screen and Stay program was for students who were vaccinated, asymptomatic and wearing a mask but identified in close contact with another student who had a confirmed COVID case. 

New Milford Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo says the number of children who have been affected by COVID-19 has risen in the community, and consequently, the number of children in quarantine has risen.  New Milford has 24 active cases in the schools, with 86 students in isolation or quarantine, according to the most recent data on the district’s website. 

New Milford health director Lisa Morrissey is “strongly recommending” students and staff quarantine for 10 days when exposed, but still allows them the option to test out on day five or later and return on day eight. 

Brookfield Superintendent John Barile says moving forward, until further notice, students considered close contacts of a COVID positive individual will return to the district quarantine protocol if they are not vaccinated.  Brookfield plans to reassess COVID metrics after the Winter Recess.

Danbury Police continue search for those responsible for threat hoax

Hoaxes posted to social media by students hoping to get out of school have hit Connecticut. 

The State Police Connecticut Intelligence Center put out a bulletin to local police departments Tuesday regarding a social media trend of students encouraging their peers to post anonymous threats online.  State Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner aide Brian Foley says threats of violence against schools have disrupted classrooms across Connecticut since the fatal shooting in Michigan November 30th.  Foley says the threats do not appear to be related to any one individual or group of people. 

Threats of violence have been deemed not credible at Newtown, New Milford and Danbury High Schools as well as Henry Abbott Technical High School in Danbury.  There was also a report of shots fired near Danbury High School, which Police Chief Patrick Ridenhour says was determined to be unfounded. 

During Tuesday's City Council meeting he encouraged anyone who sees something to say something, but acknowledge the social media trend.  He says detectives are continuing their investigations and is confident they'll be able to get some information to identify those involved.

Nearly all of Conn. back in red zone for COVID-19 community spread

Nearly all of Connecticut is back in the red zone alert level for COVID-19 community spread, with 15 or more cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks.  162 of 169 municipalities have the highest alert level.

The Town of Washington is in the orange zone of 10 to 14 cases, though just barely at 14.6 case cases.  A few small towns along the Massachusetts border are in the grey with fewer than 5 cases. 

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Danbury reported 180 cases in the last two weeks.  The City has a COVID-19 infection rate of 4.6 percent.  Bethel has had 49 cases, there were 80 COVID cases in Brookfield, and New Fairfield reported 36.  There were 131 COVID cases in New Milford, 100 in Newtown, Redding reported 27 cases in the last two weeks while Ridgefield had 89. 

The state department of Public Health is reporting Bethel has a COVID-19 infection rate of 4.6 percent.  Ridgefield has the lowest infection rate at 4.2 percent.  New Milford has a test positivity rate of 7.3 percent and is the highest in the region.  The other Greater Danbury area towns have an infection rate around 5 to 6 percent. 

Connecticut's daily test positivity rate yesterday climbed back up a bit to 6.48 percent and the state reported another 37 COVID associated fatalities since last Thursday.

Putnam County reporting increased number of influenza cases

The Putnam County Department of Health is reporting an increased number of influenza cases in recent weeks. The most recent week’s case count is 7.5 times higher than four weeks ago, rising from 8 cases in the week ending November 13th, to 60 cases in the week ending December 4th. Half of the most recent week’s cases are in individuals in their late teens and early twenties. The Health Department says prevention methods such as mask wearing and frequent handwashing recommended for COVID-19 will also reduce risk for flu. Those who have not already received their flu vaccine this season are encouraged to get a shot. COVID boosters or primary series shots can be administered at the same time as the flu vaccine.

Danbury Firefighters Union Local 801 annual food drive started

The City of Danbury Firefighters Union Local 801 is again collecting canned and non-perishable foods for the annual food drive to benefit the Salvation Army's holiday basket program and food pantry.   Donations may be dropped off at DFD career stations, including headquarters on New Street and the Fire Marshal’s Division on 1st floor of City Hall.  Donations will be accepted at fire stations until the 22nd.  Other collection sites are Engine 23 on Osborne Street, Engine 24 on Eagle Road, Engine 25 on South King Street and Engine 26 on Kenosia Avenue Ext.  A Stuff-A-Firetruck event will be held at Stop & Shop on Lake Avenue Ext. on December 18th from 10am-1pm.  For over 30 years the Danbury Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 801, has been sponsoring a canned food drive to help those in the area who are in need.

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Greater Danbury today

Griffin Health is administering pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations at mobile clinics throughout the state today.  The yellow minivans will be in Danbury at Hayestown Elementary and Pembroke Elementary, and in Easton at Samuel Staples Elementary from 4pm to 7.  A clinic is also being held in Newtown at St. Rose of Lima Church from 4pm to 8.

Kent firefighters bring back holiday toy/fund drive 'Stuff-A-Truck' event

Kent Volunteer Fire Department has brought back the holiday toy/fund drive "Stuff-A-Truck".  Holiday boxes are located at banks and various businesses around Kent, where new unopened toy donations and non-perishables may be deposited. On Saturday, donations may be brought to Kent Volunteer Fire Department between 9am and 3pm and placed in their Rescue Truck. The truck will then collect the rest of the donated toys throughout town and bring them to the town hall for the annual Santa Fund. The Stuff-A-Truck campaign assists local children under the age of 16  during the holiday season.

Lake Zoar Authority to apply for life jacket grant

The Lake Zoar Authority has submitted a budget request for 2023.  It's less than the 2021 proposed budget, but more than the actual expenses.  The difference in expenses is due to savings from switching the insurance provider, combined with rising expenses for boat fuel, law enforcement, and weed treatment. The authority noted that the cost for Lake Zoar Authority identification cards for commissioners and marine patrol drivers was determined to be inexpensive.  The Authority is applying for a Summer Life Jacket Grant. The life jackets will permanently stored in a lock box, with a short supply stored on the patrol boats. They will be loaned out to lake patrons in need, with return required. The life jackets will be sanitized upon return.  The authority says this will help reduce law enforcement citations.

Dec. 14 will be remote learning day in Newtown

On Tuesday, Newtown students will have a remote learning day.  December 14th marks 9 years since 20 first-graders and six educators were killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook School. 

Superintendent Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue asked the Board of Ed on Tuesday to approve using a remote learning day in the wake of recent school threats across Connecticut.  The Board recently approved the use of two of the district’s 182 days to be used as remote learning days in lieu of snow days. 

Rodrigue says anonymous threats add to the level of anxiety, and the goal this year is to minimize the level of stress on students, parents, and staff given the current climate.  Rodrigue said she would have requested the use of a remote learning day for December 14 anyway.  Three years ago, Sandy Hook School was evacuated due to a threatening call to the main office on 12/14.  Rodrigue hopes a remote learning day will relieve some anxiety and stress. 

On Monday, a piece of paper referencing 12/14 was found at Newtown High School though it was not deemed a credible threat.

The school district has always opted to have students in school on the anniversary to keep students engaged, but having to evacuate the building does create and retraumatize staff, students, and families.  Rodrigue told the Board of Ed that she thinks the likelihood of something happening on “that day” is “far greater. 

Newtown plans to use a “compacted” schedule, which will begin an hour later and dismiss an hour earlier. Details for the remote learning day, including when devices will be sent home, is being shared by respective building principals. 

When in school on 12/14, only age-appropriate messaging has been included in remembrance of the day. At the lower levels, they have never discussed the anniversary with younger students and have left that up to parents.  The message to younger students is that the remote date will help them practice their skills as digital learners for the first time this year. This will prepare them if the district uses another remote day for a weather-related closure. For secondary students, the messaging is that the move to remote learning was done to avoid any disruption or distraction to education on 12/14. 7th through 12th graders will begin with a moment of silence.  Teachers are prepared to have private conversations with students and parents if any questions or dialogue occur in remote classrooms regarding 12/14.

Newtown Police Chief leaving to become Conn. Inspector General

Newtown Police Chief James Viadero is leaving to become chief inspector in the Connecticut Office of the Inspector General.  The role was created through the passage of An Act Concerning Police Accountability. 

The resignation announcement was made during the Police Commission meeting on Tuesday night.  Viadero plans to stay on as Chief in Newtown until the end of January. 

Viadero served as a Bridgeport police officer for 29 years, was a Newtown Police Commission member from 2009 to mid- 2014, and then became Middlebury’s police chief before returning to lead Newtown Police.  Commission members touted his work over the last six years, getting the department into a new building, and fostering a great working environment. 

The new independent office within the Division of Criminal Justice will be responsible for conducting use of force investigations of peace officers, prosecuting cases where the Inspector General determines a peace officer used force to not be justifiable, and making recommendations to the Police Officer Standards and Training Council concerning censure and suspension, renewal, cancelation, or revocation of a peace officer’s certification.

Free COVID-19 testing continues at Kent Transfer Station

Free COVID-19 testing continues at the Town of Kent Transfer Station.  The free drive-through testing is open to everyone, no appointment needed, Mondays and Thursdays 4pm to 7pm.  Testing during Christmas week and New Year's week will be on Wednesdays the 22nd and 27th instead of Thursdays.   The site will be set up until further notice. PCR test results are available in 24 to 48 hours.  Connecticut residency is not required nor is insurance.  People must have an email address to get test results.  The site has a priority lane for First Responders.

Putnam County holds virtual update on study to connect Danbury train service to Southeast

Putnam County officials have held a virtual update on a study to connect Danbury train service to Metro North's Harlem line via the old Maybrook railway.  The type of service and how often trains would run is being looked into, along with the needed infrastructure improvements.  Currently, it takes about 122 minutes to go from Danbury to New York City.  One proposal is to build a new ADA-compliant platform at the historic train station on White Street, creating a 104 minute trip on a full service electric line.  The study also found that this could bolster plans to extend rail service to New Milford.  Another proposal is to have a shuttle take riders from Danbury to Southeast.  The study also looked into a battery-powered or electrified light-rail vehicle.  Those options would result in a 111 minute trip.  Some of the challenges of connecting train service include wetlands, noise-sensitive land uses and nearby residential neighborhoods. 

COVID-19 cases detected among staff, clients at MCCA's residential program

Some positive COVID-19 cases have been detected among staff and clients at a Danbury drug rehabilitation center.  The Midwestern Connecticut Council of Alcoholism's residential program is located on Old Ridgebury Road.  Officials declined to disclose the number of people at the 20-bed substance abuse treatment facility who have tested positive.  The state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services says several staff and clients across a variety of levels of care at MCCA tested positive for COVID.  MCCA has a screening and testing protocol in place and follows CDC guidelines on quarantines. Staff and clients are required to wear masks indoors when not in a private office or bedroom.

Nuvance hosts Danbury, New Milford Hospitals Community Forum

Nuvance Health has held a virtual annual community forum this week about Danbury and New Milford Hospitals.  The strategic plan calls for prioritizing improved patient access and digital health.  Danbury Hospital is planning a “reimagined” cardiac catheterization lab.  New Milford will get a new cardiac rehabilitation center. 

Danbury and New Milford hospitals president Sharon Adams noted that Nuvance began offering a clinical trial for patients with early Parkinson’s disease and offers a program for COVID-19 patients who have lingering symptoms.  The COVID patients get recommendations for symptom management or provide referrals for additional diagnostic testing and specialty care.

An update was also given on the merger that created Nuvance.  Western Connecticut Health Network merged with three hospitals in New York and an independent monitor conducts a semi-annual review for the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy.  All of the conditions of the merger agreement have been met.  Nuvance recently notified the monitor about moving to a systemwide charity and indigent care policy.

The monitors plan to watch to ensure OB/GYN staffing is sufficient after Nuvance announced plans to close its labor and delivery unit at Sharon Hospital over the next several months.

Danbury residents cut off from public speaking during City Council meeting

Danbury Mayor Dean Espositio has presided over his City Council meeting.  Usually 30 minutes are set aside for members of the public to address items on the agenda.  One man started speaking about the Public Works Department report and the flooding issue at West Street, but Esposito stopped him noting that speaking is only allowed on specific items and not the reports. 

The resident called that a vast departure from prior administrations. 

Another resident then tried to talk about the Public Health Department report and homelessness, but again was cut off. 

No one else stood up to talk. 

Councilman Joe Cavo was presented with a plaque last night in recognition of his service as Mayor.  He stepped up into the position when former Mayor Mark Boughton left for a state job.  Cavo was elected as City Councilman at large last month. 

The Council also appointed a new chief of staff in the Mayor's office, a position previously held by Mayor Dean Esposito.  Roger Palanzo was confirmed to the role.  He was serving as Economic Development Director for the City.

Danbury holds Pearl Harbor Rememberance Day ceremony

Danbury has held a Pearl Harbor Rememberance Day ceremony.  State Department of Veteran Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi delivered the keynote address at the ceremony, organized by the Marine Corps League Hat City Detachment. Two Danbury World War II Veterans, Julius Demo and John Emond, attended the service marking 80 years since the Japanese attack on U.S. Forces at Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu.  The names of the fallen from Connecticut were read aloud during yesterday's ceremony at the Danbury War Memorial.

Kent to hold bimonthly Selectmen meetings

The Kent Board of Selectmen will now hold bimonthly meetings.  This was proposed by First Selectman Jean Speck during the campaign.  She was elected to another term in a 4-way race last month.  Starting in 2022 the Kent Board of Selectmen will meet on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month. The first meeting of the month will be at 4pm and the second meeting will be at 6:30pm. Speck says the goal is to make it convenient for the public to attend the meetings.

Firefighters, SROs brighten the holidays in Danbury

The current Henry Abbott Technical High School School Resource Officer and the two previous SROs have presented a couple students with a gift from The Reach Foundation for the annual Shop with A Cop event.  State Police say the two students exemplify the values of Abbott Tech and the Reach Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 to help children in need - physically, socially, and financially. 

State Police did not hold their traditional Shop with a Cop event due to the pandemic, but say they were pleased to still be able to make the kids' holidays special.  The REACH Foundation was originally established to financially aid educational scholarships, continued education and training for educators, unique and beneficial educational programs, and programs that encourage social and responsibility in and out of the classroom.

Members of the Danbury Fire Department Union Local 801 have delivered their annual “Angel tree” presents to the Danbury Salvation Army. Every year Local 801 members sponsor area children to ensure they receive Christmas presents. This year Local 801 members sponsored 95 children. Included with the toys are warm jackets and clothing to keep them warm.

Parade to be held for Carmel High School Rams state football champs

The Carmel High School Rams have won the New York state football championship.  The team was undefeated all season and beat their semifinal rivals, Buffalo’s Bennett Tigers, in Syracuse on Saturday to cap the Class AA Championship title. It is the first time the Carmel Rams, or any team from Putnam County, has won the state championship.  A parade is being held this Saturday to celebrate the team.  The Putnam County Championship Parade Committee, made up of Carmel High School graduates and community leaders, is organizing the event. Saturday’s parade will start at 11am at Reed Memorial Library and continue to the Historic Putnam County Courthouse. 

Rims, snow tires stolen from New Milford Community Ambulance storage shed

New Milford Community Ambulance recently discovered a break-in of the storage shed at their Headquarters located on Scovill Street. Four Mercedes Ambulance rims with snow tires were stolen.  New Milford Police say the exact date of the theft is unknown, but it is believed to have happened sometime near the end of October.  New Milford Community Ambulance is a volunteer ambulance organization, formed in 1929.  Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Officer Descoteaux at 860-355-3133 ext. 2486.

Human skeletal remains found in Southbury

Human skeletal remains have been found in Southbury.  State Police Western District Major Crime Squad says the discovery  in a wooded area near Berkshire Road came during a search for a 63-year-old man, who has been missing since April.  Police planned to search after the leaves fell. 

The remains have not yet been identified. 

State Police say the investigation into Mark Gasso’s disappearance is ongoing.  He failed to show up to work on April 19th and a coworker called Police to conduct a well being check at his Berkshire Road home.  The man's truck was in the driveway, the door was unlocked, the shower was on and his cell phone and wallet were found in the home.  Police say there were no apparent signs of a struggle inside the dwelling. 

Yesterday's search involved State Police Emergency Services Search & Rescue K9 Unit and Dive Team, FBI Task Force officers, Southbury police and detectives for the Naugatuck Police Department.

Tip to Sandy Hook Promise's Say Something Anonymous Reporting System flagged in Indiana

A tip called in on Sandy Hook Promise’s Say Something Anonymous Reporting System flagged a teenager’s threat against a northern Indiana school this week.  Police confirmed that a youth who was separated from school is under investigation by both law enforcement and school officials. The Portland Indiana Superintendent says there's no evidence that there was either was a plan in motion or the means to carry that out, but Sandy Hook Promise’s Say Something system was highly useful.  The Say Something System allows anyone to submit secure, anonymous safety concerns to help someone who may hurt themselves or others via a Website, 24/7 Crisis Hotline or Mobile App.

Ridgefield, New Milford report more COVID-19 cases

Ridgefield officials say between Friday and Sunday 15 new positive COVID-19 cases were entered into the Connecticut Department of Public Health system.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says all of the positive cases were of people who were unvaccinated, but vaccine eligible.  Only 4 of the 15 cases were school age, the rest were adults.  Meanwhile in New Milford, another 8 COVID-19 cases were reported yesterday.  Mayor Pete Bass is again urging people to get vaccinated or a booster if eligible, and to get tested if experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

66-percent of Danbury fully vaccinated against COVID-19

In a report to the Danbury City Council, Health Director Kara Prunty reported that there are currently 13 COVID-19 related hospitalizations at Greater Danbury area hospitals. The City has a COVID-19 infection rate, as of November 29th, of 2.8 percent and the 14-day running average is 7.5 cases per 100,000 population.  About 66.2 percent of the Danbury population is fully vaccinated and 74.6 percent have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 Vaccine. 

The Danbury Health Department is hosting COVID-19 Vaccine clinics for children aged 5 to 11 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4pm to 6pm at 132 Main Street in Danbury. The Danbury Health Department is also collaborating with Griffin Health and Community Health Center to host a winter-themed COVID-19 Vaccine clinic on December 11th from 10am to 1pm at the War Memorial for children ages 5 to 18.

Appointments are not necessary.

Dogs not permitted at Bethel school playgrounds

New signs are going up at Bethel school playgrounds.  Some of them will say that dogs are not permitted and that police will take notice.  Superintendent Christine Carver says this is being done for a couple of reasons.  While the district doesn't mind people walking dogs around the school campus, she notes that it is not a dog park.  The new playground at the recently renovated Rockwell School is  fenced in and Carver says some people have let their dogs off-leash, and haven't cleaned up after their pets.  Carver says all of the playgrounds are now under video surveillance.  The playgrounds and basketball courts will now be closing at sunset.  She says they want the community to enjoy the resources, but some people aren't being respectful of the new equipment.  Carver notes that they will have police monitor the school campus to protect the district's assets for the long term.

Danbury City Council elects president, sets meeting dates

The Danbury City Council held an organizational meeting last night.  Members elected a Council President and on a partly line vote elected incumbent Republican Council President Vinny DiGilio.  He thanked his colleagues and acknowledged Democrat Farley Santos for throwing his hat in the ring.  The Council also set dates for their meetings for the next two years.  At their planning meeting last night, Councilman Ben Chianese questioned why the November 2022 meeting wasn't going to be held on its typical Tuesday night.  It was noted that the change to Wednesday the 2nd would be to prevent people form travelling to City Hall for caucus meetings when Deer Hill Avenue is closed for Halloween.  Councilman Emile Buzaid, a Deer Hill Avenue resident, noted that between 4:30pm to 9pm last Halloween there were 4,500 people on Deer Hill.

No injuries in early morning townhouse fire in Danbury

There was an early morning fire at a townhouse in Danbury.  Firefighters responded to South Street between Town Hill Avenue and Triangle Street around 5:30am and quickly extinguished the flames.  No injuries were reported.  The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Danbury Fire Marshal's Office and is undetermined at this time.

Carmel High School wins NY state football championship

The Carmel High School Rams have won the New York state football championship.  The team was undefeated all season and beat their semifinal rivals, Buffalo’s Bennett Tigers, on Saturday to cap the Class AA Championship title. It is the first time the Carmel Rams, or any team from Putnam County, has won the state championship.

Eversource contractor making repair at Rail Trail in Ridgefield

An Eversource contractor is making repair at the Rail Trail in Ridgefield.  They are using heavy equipment at specific sections of the Rail Trail for the work, which started yesterday.  The portions of the trail blocked off from recreational users during the work include West of the Ivy Hill Road intersection adjacent to monopole 3305, East of Ivy Hill Road between monopoles 3300 and 3299, further east of Ivy Hill Road near monopole 3299 and further east of Ivy Hill Road between 72 Nutmeg Ridge and 72 Florida Hill Road near monopole 3298.

Report: No Danbury School staff terminated under COVID-19 mandates

93 percent of Danbury school district employees are fully vaccinated.  133 staff members are in the mandatory testing pool.  The state mandate for vaccination or testing went into effect 7 weeks ago.  The Newstimes reports that staff have been placed on unpaid leave 118 times for failing to turn in their COVID-19 test results on time, with a vast majority for only one day.  The Director of Human Resources said in the published report that the failure was because the results didn't come back or they tested too close to the deadline.  No Danbury school district employees have been terminated due to the state mandate and none are going through the termination process. Hearst Connecticut Media reports that extended learning and early childhood staff were placed on leave 57 times while lunch staff had 28 leaves.

Bethel Selectmen disregard RTC recommendation to fill Board of Finance vacancy

Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz performed the official swearing-in ceremony for newly elected Bethel officials last night. The oath of office was also administered to First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker by Bysiewicz.  His running mate, Selectman Rich Straiton, and Republican Brian Terzian make up the 3-member Board of Selectmen.

Following his election last month, Terzian resigned from the Board of Finance creating a vacancy.  The Bethel Republican Town Committee recommended former state Representative Dan Carter fill the role.  Another resident, Nick Hoffman, approached the Board of Selectmen to be appointed to the role.  The former Board of Education member was unaffiliated until last month, but registered as a Republican with the Town Clerk on November 9th. 

Knickerbocker recommended that Hoffman be appointed to fill the vacancy, which prompted a strong negative reaction from outgoing GOP Selectman Paul Szatkowski, the newly elected Town Treasurer. 

Knickerbocker says Carter is highly qualified, is highly respected and served admirably.  But he says Hoffman has more experience with town government having also served on two Charter Revision Commissions, including once as chairman.  Hoffman holds a Masters degree in public administration and has extensive experience in public sector budgeting. 

The Board of Selectmen voted 2 to 1 to appoint Hoffman to the vacancy on the Board of Finance.

No credible threat at NHS after scrap of paper with Sandy Hook reference found

A discarded piece of paper was found at Newtown High School with what district officials described as a concerning reference to the shooting at Sandy Hook School.  But the principal says police and the administration conducted a thorough investigation and deemed that no credible threat to staff or students existed. 

Police will have an increased presence at Newtown High School out of an abundance of caution.  This comes amid threats made to multiple school districts in recent days across the state, and increased concerns following a recent shooting at a Michigan high school that left several students dead. Prior to the paper being found, Newtown Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue said they would have support staff and administrative teams available for those who might be struggling with recent events or the approaching Sandy Hook anniversary.

Bethel Superintendent Christine Carver sent a letter to parents noting that teachers will be attending a training today called ‘Lessons Learned from Parkland.’  They'll discuss warning signs, profiles of potential aggressors, and proactive strategies to provide students with interventions.  Bethel is also developing school-wide climate and security plans.

Nuvance hosting Danbury, New Milford Hospitals Community Forum

Nuvance Health is hosting a Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital Community Forum tonight.  Those attending the virtual event will learn about the latest developments at the hospital and hear an update on the affiliation that created Nuvance Health.  The independent monitor engaged by Nuvance Health will be present to report on its review of compliance with the affiliation agreement issued by Connecticut's Office of Health Strategy.  Hospital leadership will present a virtual community report that includes information on services.  The Zoom webinar is from 5:30 to 7pm. 

Troopers, Officers intercept fraud attempt at Southbury bank

Two men have been arrested for attempting to use a fake Rhode Island license and a fake credit card to defraud someone.  State Police were dispatched to a Chase Bank on Main Street South in Southbury last Monday on a report of a possible fraud in progress. Southbury Emergency Dispatch reported that two black males were in the lobby and that the staff of other branches of Chase Bank had flagged the men as acting suspicious.  44-year old Conrad Carvey of Oakville was attempting to use the fake credentials to link the victim's account to that of 28-year old Victor Ventura's.  Once the accounts were linked, the money could have been funneled from the victim's account into the Waterbury man's.  Both men said they were being paid by a third party and had no intention of stealing from the victim.  The victim was contacted and made aware of the incident so that he could take the necessary precautions moving forward. Carvey was charged and released on bond to appear in Waterbury Superior Court on December 14th. Ventura was charged and released for a December 10th court appearance.

Newtown sets sustainable energy goals

84-percent of Newtown's municipal and school electrical needs are currently met by solar power.  The Newtown Sustainable Energy Commission recently told the Board of Selectmen that the buildings will get 95 percent of their electricity from solar power next year.  That power is coming from the solar panels on schools, firehouses and municipal buildings, plus 4 kilowatts purchased from eastern Connecticut.  The Commission, charged with cutting energy consumption and promoting solar power. is proposing to apply this model town-wide to homeowners and business people.  Their goal is to achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040, matching the state goal.  Townwide, including homes and businesses, 13 percent of Newtown’s energy needs are harvested from the sun.

New Milford reports rise in COVID-19 cases

New Milford is reporting 27 new COVID-19 cases since Friday.  There were 233 cases across Litchfield County over the weekend.  Mayor Pete Bass is urging people to get a COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot if eligible.  For those who are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, he asked that they stay home and get tested.  If a child is not feeling well, they should not go to school or an after-school activity.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Connecticut rose over the weekend to 500, just five months after dropping to a low of 25.

That includes a rise of 80 coronavirus-related hospitalizations since Friday, according to the daily metrics released by the governor’s office.  It is still well below the high of 1,972 hospitalizations in April of 2020 and the 1,183 hospitalizations reported on December 6th 2020.

Governor Ned Lamont credited vaccinations and boosters with keeping hospitalizations down.

Of the 500 patients currently hospitalized with COVID, 386 or 77-point-2 percent are not fully vaccinated, according to the governor’s office.

The seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases in Connecticut has risen over the past two weeks from about 738 new cases per day on November 20 to just over 971 new cases per day on December 4th, according to John’s Hopkins University.

New Milford Police K-9 retires from active duty

A New Milford Police K-9 has retired from active duty.  Drake served for nine years.  The German Shepherd was born in the Czech Republic entered service in 2012 was certified as a Dual Purpose Patrol and Narcotics canine.  He also served on a United States Presidential Secuity detail following the shooting at Sandy Hook School and helped the Secret Service for President Obama's visit.  Drake and his handler were mainly assigned to day / evening swing shifts.  During his nine years of service, Drake assisted and was successful in numerous narcotic investigations in New Milford and surrounding towns, including assisting the Connecticut State Police Narcotics Task Force. Early in his career, K-9 Drake was able to track an incapacitated high school student who was reported missing after school. In another incident, Drake was called into service at 1 o'clock in the morning for a lost individual in a wooded area. Following a two mile track, Drake located one of the involved male parties.  K9 Ella will be taking over patrols in New Milford.

New Fairfield firefighters extinguish chimney fire

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department responded to a report of a chimney fire Friday night.  The fire on Pine Hill Road was brought under control quickly.  Anyone using a fireplace and chimney is urged to be aware of fire prevention tips including making sure the wood is seasoned and a hardwood because a few logs of greenwood can build creosote thick enough to start a chimney fire.  Creosote is highly flammable and formed when vapor from wet wood mixes with gases and condenses.  A professional chimney sweep should inspect the chimney at least annually, but more frequently if the fireplace is lit regularly. Chimney professionals say that a ¼in thickness of creosote means a chimney can burst into flames any minute and should be removed.

Connecticut State Police Annual Toy Drive under way

The Connecticut State Police Annual Toy Drive is under way.  Troops are collecting new toy donations for children of all ages.  State Police say this is another year of hardship, with many families without jobs, income and in need of support.  New, unwrapped toys may be dropped off at the Troop A lobby or, purchased online and shipped directly to Connecticut State Police Troop A C-S-P Toy Drive 90 Lakeside Road, Southbury, CT 06488.

Sherman Fire pancake breakfast fundraiser canceled due to COVID

Due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Sherman and the neighboring communities, the Sherman Volunteer Fire Department has decided to cancel their pancake breakfast fundraiser originally scheduled for December 12th.   Anyone who had already purchased meals for the day should have received an email with information regarding refunds.  

 

Hawleyville Fire wraps up Fill the Boot fundraiser

Hawleyville Volunteer Fire Company has wrapped up their Fill the Boot Fundraiser.  Department officials say the all Volunteer members save Newtown millions every year by offsetting the cost of a paid fire department.  The funds raised over the weekend will help with training of new and current members, acquire needed equipment and offset operating expenses.

Danbury Police Department mourns loss of another officer

The Danbury Police Department is mourning the loss of another officer.  Andrew Katkocin passed away unexpectedly yesterday morning.  Spokesman Lt Mark Williams said in a statement that the 12-year veteran of the department was well-liked and respected by his peers and supervisors alike.  Williams called Katkocin's passing a stunning blow to the Department.   45-year old Sgt David Cooney passed away last Sunday after a year long battle with Leukemia.  As Danubry mourns the two losses, other police agencies are helping out.  Other police departments will be patrolling within Danbury and responding to requests for assistance in order to make it possible for Danbury personnel to attend services for both officers.  The augmented service is temporary and will end when services are complete.  A Mass of Christian Burial for Cooney  will be celebrated at 11am at St. Gregory the Great Church in Danbury. Burial will follow in St. Peter Cemetery. 

Nearly a dozen guns seized from Carmel home

Nearly a dozen guns have been seized from a Carmel home and a 23-year old man has been arrested.  Putnam County Sheriff Robert Langley says the Narcotic Enforcement Unit had a warrant for Thursday's search following a month’s long investigation into the manufacture, sale, and possession of unlawful firearms in the Mahopac area.

10 unlawfully possessed pistols, 1 unlawfully possessed assault rifle, 67 large capacity ammunition feeding devices, and tools and parts to make more than 20 additional firearms were seized. Except for one, none of the firearms had a serial number inscribed on it. 

(Photo: Putnam County Sheriff)

David Goldberg Jr. was charged with Criminal Possession of a Dangerous Weapon, Criminal Sale of a Firearm, three counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon, 10 counts of Criminal Possession of a Firearm, and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance.  He was arraigned and remanded to the Putnam County Correctional Facility.

Ridgefield asks residents opt in to mask wearing indoors

Masks are currently not mandated for the vaccinated except in certain situations.  Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi asks that residents opt in to mask wearing when indoors in settings outside the home. He notes that many local businesses still require masks for everyone, vaccinated or not and added that this is the time to support their efforts to protect their employees and customers.  Marconi is also reminding residents that municipal leaders have the option of requiring masks to be worn by everyone in indoor public places regardless of vaccination status within their respective towns and cities.

Redding to put together ARPA committee

Redding officials are still working on putting together a committee to help make decisions on how the town's $2.7 million federal American Rescue Plan Act funding should be used.  The goal is to make the appointments at the Board of Selectmen meeting this month.  The town plans to seat members from the Boards of FInance and Education, Parks and Rec along with the Commission on Aging.  Residents will have final say on any spending at a special town meeting or through a referendum.  Funds must be obligated by December of 2024 and spent by 2026.

Danbury awaits state grant approval for school construction reimbursement

Danbury officials are still awaiting approval of a state grant for the $99-million Career Academy project.  City officials haven't heard back yet on the application to receive 80-percent reimbursement on the project, but Danbury and the Board of Education are starting to develop academic and construction plans by purchasing the property at the Summit on the City's westside.  The man in charge of school construction projects is on paid leave from the state due to a personal issue.  A Director for the Academy would be charged with developing partnerships in the area to give students relevant experiences outside of school.  The facility is set to open for the start of the 2024 academic year and will serve 1400 middle and high school students, in 6 academies with 24 pathways.  The curriculum ill include internships, job shadowing, early college and other similar experiences.

New way to apply for Bethel Transfer Station Permits

The Bethel Town Clerk's Office has created a new way to apply for Transfer Station Permits. It 's more user friendly than last year.  Residents need to fill out the application, available on the home page of the town's website, or use a QR code.  In order to do that, residents must use the camera on a smartphone, hover over the code as if taking a picture of it, and that will direct the user to the application. You do not need to take a picture, just focus the camera over the QR code.  Permits will be mailed and Bethel residents can begin using them right away.  Households with two cars that will be using the Transfer Station must fill out an application for each.

Danbury man inducted into Conn. Veterans Hall of Fame

Nine men and women have been inducted into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2021, including Brendan Sniffin of Danbury, the President of the Korean War Veteran Association.  The Hall of Fame recognizes distinguished veterans who have made significant contributions after leaving military service. 

State Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Saadi says since 2005, the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame has recognized veterans who then served their communities at the local, regional and state levels as leaders in veterans’ organizations, in public service, and as volunteers and community advocates.  Saadi says these veterans embody the true meaning of service to this nation and to communities. 

While each of these men and women come from different backgrounds, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz says they all share the same characteristics – courage, strength, pride, and selflessness.  Bysiewicz and Saadi were joined by leaders of the state’s veterans’ community at the induction ceremony Friday at the National Guard Armory Drill Shed.

The other inductees are:

1. Gerald Augustine, U.S. Army, Middletown
2. Paul Barry, U.S. Marine Corps, East Hartford
3. John Bevins, U.S. Navy, Waterbury
4. Stanley Borusiewicz, U.S. Marine Corps, Naugatuck
5. Carlita Cotton, U.S. Air Force, Mansfield
6. William Currlin, U.S. Army, Middlefield
7. Brian Ohler, U.S. Army, North Canaan
8. James Shelmerdine, U.S. Army, East Hartford

Bethel in search of town's second Honorary Poet Laureate

Bethel is in search of the town's second Honorary Poet Laureate.  The appointee will be responsible for expanding the community’s knowledge of and exposure to poetry and for composing poems for special events and occasions when requested. Candidates for this three year appointment must submit 3 original poems and a resume of their publications.  The competition is open to anyone over the age of 18.  Applicants must be residents of Bethel.  Entries will be reviewed by an independent committee; three finalists will be selected and interviewed. The poet chosen as laureate will be appointed by the Board of Selectman.  Those interested are asked to email cortneydav@yahoo.com with name, address, phone number.  All poem styles are welcome, but applicants are asked to select ones that are appropriate for a live reading.  The judges will base their decisions of written work on poetic understanding, concept, and style. The deadline for submissions is December 31st. 

Carmel High School Rams to play for NY state title today

The Carmel High School Rams have made it to the New York state football championship for the first time in the school’s history.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says seeing kids from a small town in the small county, against much bigger and better funded rivals brings everyone together as a community.  The team has been undefeated all season and advanced to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. The Rams will play Buffalo’s Bennett Tigers for the state title today. The Rams began the season carrying 40 flags onto the field before their first game, a long-standing Carmel tradition that took on special meaning as it was the eve of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Putnam County lent the flags to the team.

CityCenter Danbury hosting annual Light the Lights tonight

CityCenter Danbury is hosting their annual “Light the Lights” Holiday Celebration tomorrow.  Th free event is from 5pm to 7pm at the Danbury Library Plaza.  Mayor Dean Esposito and former Mayor Joe Cavo will do the official “light up” of downtown.  Santa will arrive by fire truck as part of a decorated fire truck parade down Main Street.

Danbury Police investigating report of shots fired near Danbury High School

Danbury Police are investigating a report of shots fired at Danbury High School shortly before 8am. Patrol units immediately responded to the school, in addition to the officers that were already on the campus.  Chief Patrick Ridenhour says there were no injuries and at this time they have found no evidence of shots fired on the campus or in the surrounding area.  Out of an abundance of caution the school temporarily went into shelter in place, but that has since been lifted. Danbury School Superintendent Kevin Walston says they have not found any evidence that a gun was on campus.  Police have met with the student driving the reported car, but nothing has been substantiated.  The incident is still under investigation.

Greater Danbury area COVID-19 infection rates vary widely

The state department of Public Health is reporting that Bethel and New Fairfield's COVID-19 infection rates have gone up half a percentage point since last week to 3.2 and 2.8 percent respectively.   Danbury's rate ticked up slightly to 2.9 percent.  Brookfield's COVID-19 infection rate over the last two weeks is 4.5 percent. Newtown's rate increased a full point to 3 percent.   Redding's infection rate is 3.3 percent while Ridgefield's positivity rate is 2.9percent.  New Milford's infection rate jumped from 5.9 percent last week to 7.4 percent this week.  104 COVID cases have been reported over the last two weeks.  

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccines will be administered at a mobile clinic in Danbury today.  This is for children 5 to 11 years old, with parental permission.  The clinic is at the Wooster School Dining Hall on Miry Brook Road from 3pm to 6.  On Sunday, there's a pediatric clinic at Pomperaug High School in Southbury from 8:30am to 12:30pm.  The Redding Community Center is hosting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic Sunday for everyone 12 and older.

Another 29 patients were in Connecticut hospitals with COVID-19 yesterday compared to Wednesday.  Of the 414 patients currently hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed cases, 324 or 78.3 percent are not fully vaccinated. Of the fully vaccinated Connecticut population, there's a 1.04 percent breakthrough rate of people who have contracted the virus.

Town meeting in Bridgewater set on funding for Volunteer Fire Department

A Town Meeting is being held in Bridgewater later this month.  Residents are being asked to approve $100,000 from the General Fund be transferred  to the Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Department to purchase safety equipment.  The meeting will be virtual, via zoom on December 14th at 7pm.

Redding residents can recycle broken Christmas lights at Transfer Station

As people start decorating their homes for Christmas, Redding officials are offering a solution for people with burned-out holiday lights that can't be fixed.  The Redding Transfer Station will take them for free.  Redding residents do not need a permit to drop them off during business hours. They will be recycled.

UPDATED: Shelter in place at DHS lifted after report of shots fired found unsubstantiated

Danbury School Superintendent Kevin Walston says the district received a call this morning reporting that shots were fired in the vicinity of Danbury High School.  Walston says they have found no actual evidence that this has occurred, nor do they have any evidence that a gun was on campus.  Police have met with the student driving the reported car, but nothing has been substantiated.   Out of an abundance of caution the school temporarily went into shelter in place, but that has since been lifted.  The investigation is continuing.

Greater Danbury area COVID-19 cases rise

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel has had 31 cases of COVID-19 in the last two weeks, New Fairfield reported 14 and Danbury experienced 97.  They each had about the same number of cases in the previous week's report and remain in the yellow or orange zone for community spread. 

There were 46 COVID cases in Brookfield, 104 in New Milford and 43 in Newtown.  Redding reported 16 cases in the last two weeks while Ridgefield had 61.  Redding was the only town in the Greater Danbury area to see a drop in case rate from the previous week.

The state department of Public Health is reporting that Danbury has a COVID-19 infection rate of 2.9 percent.  That's just a fraction higher than it was the week before.   New Milford has a test positivity rate of 7.4 percent and is the highest in the region.  The other Greater Danbury area towns have an infection rate around 3 to 4.5 percent. 

Connecticut's daily test positivity rate yesterday jumped to 6.52 percent and the state reported another 44 COVID associated fatalities since last Wednesday.

Color returns to COVID-19 community spread map in Conn.

135 of Connecticut's 169 municipalities are in the red zone alert level for COVID-19 community spread, with 15 or more cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks. 

In the yellow zone, with 5 to 9 cases per 100,000 are Danbury, New Fairfield and Weston at 8.2, 7.2 and 9.8 respectively.  In the orange zone with 10 to 14 cases are Bethel, Newtown, Redding and Kent at 11 to 12 cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks. Washington and Roxbury are in the grey zone with fewer than 5 cases. 

The rest of the region has moved up into the Red Zone.

 

Danbury Board of Education elects new leaders

The Danbury Board of Education has elected new leaders.  With a new 6 to 5 GOP majority, Republican Rachel Chaleski was named as Chair.  She was first elected in 2017 and served as Vice Chair , but now takes over from Gladys Cooper, who remains on the board.  The group's new Vice Chair is Republican Loren Daly, replacing Democrat Kate Conetta, who also remains on the board.  Republican Kathryn Hodgdon is the new secretary.  Danbury Board of Ed member Joe Britton, a Democrat, has two years left on his term but was elected last month to the City Council.  He plans to step down from the Board of Ed, creating a vacancy.

3 arrested for Oxford shoplifting incident in viral video

Three people have been arrested for a shoplifting incident in Oxford which went viral.  The video outside Market 32 showed three people quickly tossing bottles of laundry detergent and paper towels into two vehicles and speeding away as onlookers gathered in the parking lot.  State Police say 911 wasn't called until 10 minutes later despite the police station being just down the road. 

44-year old James Hill, 51-year old Nasif Muhammad and 36-year old Brandy Quadrato, all of New Haven, have been charged with larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny.  State Police say they suspect the shoplifting ring has targeted about a dozen stores across Connecticut, including stealing several tvs from a Wallingford BJ's. 

Each was held on $50,000 bond.  A 4th suspect has not yet been publicly identified and the investigation is ongoing.  One of the two vehicles used in the Oxford crime has been recovered and State Police say neither was stolen. 

The estimated value of good stolen from Maket 32 was just over $1,600.

Parents raise concerns about investigation into alleged bullying in Brookfield

During the Brookfield Board of Education meeting this week parents raised concerns about a recent investigation into allegations of bullying on the high school cheer team.  4 parents spoke out during the public comment portion of Wednesday's meeting.  The investigation was launched in mid-October after allegations were made against the team's coach.  District officials say they are confident in the investigative report, which was unable to corroborate the concerns and found no basis for claims of mental and emotional abuse.  The parents claim the conclusion of the report omitted critical testimony.  The Brookfield School District has engaged school climate consultant experts to work with the cheerleaders.

Sherman juvenile arrested for alleged assault on 53-year old

A Sherman teen has been arrested following a police manhunt. State Troopers responded to a Chimney Hill Road home early Saturday evening on a report of an out of control juvenile.  Troopers say a 15-year-old boy allegedly struck a 53-year-old in the face and then fled into the nearby woods.  Police K9s were able to locate the teen, who was charged with assault.  He was released on a promise to appear at Waterbury Juvenile Court today.

Southbury Police investigate dirt bike theft

Southbury Police are investigating a residential burglary in which a group of people stole a dirt bike.  Police received a report of the theft from a Main Street North home early Monday morning.  Police said the garage was open at the time, around 4:30am.  Southbury Police say three unidentified people were spotted fleeing the scene in a white four-door sedan heading southbound on Route 67.

Swearing in ceremony set for Brookfield First Selectman

A swearing in ceremony is being held in Brookfield tomorrow night for the new First Selectman.  Republican Tara Carr will take the oath of office at 7pm at St Marguerite.  The retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel unseated Steve Dunn in last month's municipal election.  He was among the highest vote getters so the Democrat who served three terms, will be sworn in as a Selectmen.  Republican Harry Shaker rounds out the board. Carr's term begins Monday.  Residents are asked to RSVP to the inauguration event by leaving a message at 203-297-4710 to ensure adequate seating.

Two longtime members of Wilton Police Department retiring

With nearly 30 years of service to the Wilton Police Department, Detective Scott Sear is retiring.  He joined the force in 1992 and in 2000 became one of the first officers to fulfill the role of School Resource Officer and the first officer formally trained in digital forensics.  Sear was elevated to Detective in 2005.  He represented Fairfield County for several years as the Regional Intelligence Liaison Officer at the Connecticut Intelligence Center Unit. 

After more than two decades with the Wilton Police Department, Lieutenant Rob Kluk is retiring.  He joined the force in 1999 having started his career as an officer in North Carolina.  Kluk is a U-S Marine Corps veteran.  With Wilton Police he served as field training officer, patrol sergeant, administrative sergeant, detective lieutenant, and patrol lieutenant.  Department officials say Kluk has been a driving force in organizing fundraising efforts to support the Connecticut Special Olympics through Tip-a-Cop and Torch Run events. 

In 2019 Kluk summited Mount Kilimanjaro with a group of Connecticut and New Jersey law enforcement officers in a fundraising effort to support the Special Olympics Connecticut. 

New Milford High School closed due to smoke damage

New Milford High School is closed today as a result of smoke damage.  The school was evacuated shortly after 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon as a result of smoke created by roof work. The Fire Department evaluated the situation into the evening.  The New Milford Fall Sports Awards was postponed yesterday.  After further assessment of the New Milford High School facility, some damage was found that needs to be addressed, as well as other mitigation strategies put in place, before to students and staff can enter the building. Initially students were told they'd be able to return to the building last night to gather materials, but that couldn't happen. The Superintendent says a message will go out today with an update of when items can be acquired.

Connecticut Paid Leave Authority now accepting benefit applications

The Connecticut Paid Leave Authority has started accepting benefit applications for qualifying events happening on or after January 1st. Applications may be submitted through CTPaidLeave.org or via email, fax, mail, or phone.   People can also use that portal to check the status of a claim, review correspondence, add time to an existing claim, view payments, and communicate with case managers.  Connecticut is the eighth state in the nation to enact paid family and medical leave. 

Danbury Senator Julie Kushner, co-chair of the legislature's Labor Committee, says the program provides up to 12 weeks of income replacement for eligible workers who need to take time off to address qualifying family or health reasons. Kushner says nearly everyone has a story about how paid leave could have helped them or someone they know through a difficult time– or joyful occasions like welcoming a new child. 

The amount of income replacement varies based on a worker’s earnings and the receipt of any employer-provided income replacement benefits. It is capped at 60 times the state minimum wage. About 500 people applied by midday on the first day.

Qualifying reasons to apply for CT Paid Leave benefits include:
Medical leave for one’s own serious health condition (which includes pregnancy, as well as serving as a bone marrow or organ donor)
Caregiver leave to care for a family member experiencing a serious health condition
Bonding leave to bond with a new child that has entered a person’s home through birth, adoption, or foster care
Family violence leave to address issues arising from family violence
Qualifying exigency leave to address issues arising from a parent, child, or spouse’s military deployment
Military caregiver leave to care for a family member injured during active duty in the armed forces

Funeral arrangements announced for Danbury Police Sgt

Funeral arrangements have been announced for Danbury Police Sgt David Cooney.  The 45-year old passed away Sunday after a year long battle with Leukemia.  Friends will be received on Sunday from 2pm to 6pm at Green Funeral Home on Main Street in Danbury.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday  at 11am at St. Gregory the Great Church in Danbury. Burial will follow in St. Peter Cemetery. 

Danbury Police officials say they escorted Cooney home yesterday.

Cooney's family thanked the doctors, nurses and staff at Sloane Kettering Memorial hospital in their tireless efforts in his care. 

Cooney obtained a Master's Degree from John Jay University in forensic psychology.  He graduated from the Police Academy in 2001 and joined the Danbury Police Department becoming Sergeant in 2006. During his 20 year career he was awarded many certifications and accolades. He worked closely with the Women's Center as an advocate and liaison for domestic violence as well as supervising the crime scene department. 

In lieu of flowers, his family has asked that donations be made to The Center for Empowerment and Education (formerly the Women's Center of Greater Danbury) 2 West Street, Danbury, CT 06810.

15 more COVID-19 cases reported in one day in New Milford

More than a dozen new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in New Milford since Tuesday.  There were 15 new cases reported yesterday by the Health Director.  Lisa Morrissey says the confirmed COVID 19  cases are stemming from unvaccinated youth contracting the virus and bringing COVID-19 into the households through family and after-school activities.  There was also a recent outbreak at a Senior Care facility.  Morrissey is urging people to get a COVID 19 vaccine and booster, if eligible.  Anyone experiencing COVID symptoms should get tested.

New Milford Library renovation prompts shortened hours

Renovation and addition work continues at New Milford Public Library.  Crews are working on the walkways, which has prompted shortened hours for the rest of this week.  The $8.5 million project is approaching completion, likely in January.  The hours today and tomorrow will be 9am to 5pm.  Patrons are asked to use the side entrance to the library and ring the  bell for service.  There are no evening hours tonight.  The interiors of two historic buildings will be entirely redone, with modern HVAC.  The 1979 addition connecting the two buildings, will get a second story.  65-hundred square feet of space is being added for a new large public meeting room, three small study rooms, a teen-designed space, and a makerspace.  The history room will be significantly larger when it moves upstairs.  The children’s department will have its own story-time and craft room, along with a two-story replica of the bandstand on the town green.

Virtual meeting scheduled on Maybrook Rail Line study

A virtual meeting is being held next week by Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell about the Southeast to Danbury Rail Link Feasibility Study.  Officials in Putnam County and Danbury are looking into the possibility of restoring passenger rail service between the Town of Southeast and the City of Danbury along the Maybrook Line.  Odell will present an overview of the Study, conceptual alternatives, and discuss preliminary environmental, social, and economic considerations.  Monday's 3pm public meeting can be accessed via Zoom at https://zoom.us/join or by phone at (929)-205-6099 with Meeting ID: 876 0875 0898 and Passcode: 135522. The meeting will have Spanish and Portuguese interpretation.  Putnam County welcomes community feedback on the Study and will provide an opportunity to submit comments following the meeting.

Danbury to host workshop on POCD

An in person workshop is being held tonight in Danbury for City officials to hear feedback from residents on a number of topics.  Danbury is in the process of updating the City's Plan of Conservation and Development, something that's done every 10 years.  Officials are looking to hear resident's ideas on economic development, infrastructure, investments, and how to improve the quality of life.  Other topics are housing, open space, cultural resources, transportation and City facilities and services.  The workshop is at 6pm at the Palace Theater. Face masks are required.  A virtual forum will be held via Zoom www.bit.ly/3mMNt4J on December 9th.  An online survey on these topics is available in English, Spanish, or Portuguese at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DanburyPOCD.

Bethel Police investigating incident at Verizon store

The Bethel Police Department is attempting to identify a suspect in an incident at the Verizon store.  Bethel Police posted photos of the woman to their Facebook page last night, noting that the incident in question happened on November 17th.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Iadarola at 203-744-7900 Ext 687

Danbury officials address continued flooding in Lakeview Community

A presentation has been made by Danbury’s emergency management team about continued flooding in the Lakeview Community, on Kenosia Lake.  FEMA and the Red Cross also discussed the situation Monday evening.  State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says he plans to take the information to his colleagues on the state and federal level to see how they can protect residents and mitigate future flooding in the area.  As the intensity and frequency of severe weather events increases, Allie-Brennan says he also wants to continue to push for legislation that invests in resiliency measures and mitigates against inland flooding.

Danbury Hatters D14 Cheer Team is headed to the National Championship

The Hat City Youth Sports Danbury Hatters D14 Cheer Team is headed to the National Championship tournament.  The team will be competing in Florida.  A GoFundMe page has been set up to help offset the cost of the trip to Nationals.  They've also partnered with the Danbury Hat Tricks and anyone with tickets to the Friday night game can have half of the ticket proceeds designated for HCYS. People need to type in "HCYS" as a code when buying online or saying it at the door when purchasing. 

After 27 years with Ridgefield PD, Captain retires

Ridgefield Police Captain Bryan Terzian is retiring after more than 25 years on the force.  He joined Ridgefield PD in 1995 and has moved up the ranks, becoming Captain in 2011.  He was the recipient of the 2020 Exceptional Service Award, instructed a variety of subjects, and held a variety of specialized assignments including Accident Investigation Team Supervisor, Field Training Officer and DUI Instructor.

Man suspected of robbing Wilton bank in custody in Norwalk

A man suspected of robbing a Wilton bank in September has been arrested by Norwalk Police for a robbery in the town.  Wilton police say Eliezer Negron of Bridgeport is in custody.  Norwalk police charged the man with robbery for an alleged armed holdup a few days after the Wilton incident.  The man was wearing a hard hat, sunglasses and mask in both incidents.  He handed the tellers a note demanding cash.  While he did not display a weapon, Norwalk Police say he manipulated his backpack as if he was armed. 

Ridgefield Social Services distributes $300k in grocery gift cards to those in need

Ridgefield Social Services closed their pantry to non-perishable items in 2020, but opened to help local residents with grocery gift cards.  They distributed close to $300,000 in cards since March of last year.  Ridgefield Social Services continues to help residents everyday with heat, housing, food, medical needs and more.  During Giving Tuesday yesterday the department urged people to continue to the Ridgefield Emergency Fund.

Local juvenile identified as being behind New Milford High School social media threat

A threat on Instagram linked to New Milford High School prompted a police presence at the school this week.  School administrators reported the incident to police on Monday.  The social media post showed armed soldiers sitting on the ground, with a caption stating ‘12-1-21...’”

Police Chief Spencer Cerruto and Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo followed up to ensure adequate police coverage at all schools and to address that additional safety measures were in place as the investigation was continued. 

The New Milford Police Department has confirmed that there is no viable threat of harm to New Milford High School students or staff.  The investigation led police to a local juvenile and say appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.

Deeper drawdown planned for Candlewood to eradicate Zebra Mussels

FirstLight Power is modifying the winter drawdown level of Candlewood Lake.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Candlewood Lake Authority have agreed that an intermediate winter drawdown of between 5 feet and 7 feet supports the ongoing weed management, and includes an additional benefit of further management of the Zebra Mussel population seen in the lake. The shallow 4 foot to 6 foot drawdown will instead go to a deeper elevation in response to identification of adult zebra mussels in the entire main stem of the Housatonic River and the Rocky River Impound at self sustaining populations, and at depths in Candlewood Lake outside the drawdown lowest limits.  First Light began monitoring for Zebra Mussels in 2011.  A fall survey done in mid-October identified two adult Zebra Mussels on the powerhouse concrete and 10 adults on the adjacent rocks.

Danbury Mayor takes oath of office

Danbury will officially have a new Mayor as of noon today.  Republican Dean Esposito took the oath of office last night. Swearing in ceremonies included a procession from City hall to the Palace Theater.  That part of the event featured a Pipes and Drum band, Danbury police color guard and fire trucks. 

Esposito, who narrowly won the election, spoke about bipartisanship--noting that the City is going to face some crucial issues over the next two years including a continued influx of school children, COVID cases and economic recovery from the pandemic. 

This was the first inaugural event in 20 years.  Former Mayor Mark Boughton, who served since 2001, until leaving for a state job last year, was the Master of Ceremonies last night.  Outgoing Mayor Joe Cavo was among the City Council members who also took the oath of office as he was elected to an at-large position last month.  Esposito served as Chief of staff to both Boughton and Cavo.   Roger Palanzo, who has been the city’s economic development director, will become the new mayor’s chief of staff.  

Members of the Zoning Commission, Board of Education and others were also sworn in.

New Milford Municipal Swearing-In Ceremony tonight

The New Milford Municipal Swearing-In Ceremony takes place tonight.  The inauguration will be held at 5:30pm for all elected officials to take the oath of office. The event will be MC'd by State Representative Billy Buckbee.  The swearing-in will be conducted by Probate Court Judge Martin Landgrebe. The ceremonies will also include an inaugural address by Mayor Pete Bass.  Residents are invited to attend the ceremony in the E. Paul Martin room, with refreshments available afterward. The event will also be simulcast to The Town's Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCU6x8tuVFw.

Ridgefield man sentenced for shooting at teens trying to steal his car

A sentence has been handed down to a Ridgefield homeowner who shot at a group of teens while they tried to steal an SUV from his driveway in 2017.  On Monday, Mauro Tropeano was given a suspended sentence of 364 days with three years probation.  He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of assault for the shooting.  A Waterbury girl was injured when a bullet passed through the rear of the car and into her back.  Tropeano's sentence was the same for two counts possession of a controlled substance.  A search of his home after the shooting reportedly turned up a large numbers of pills, including steroids, seven pounds of cannabis and $26,000.

New Milford reports 41 COVID-19 cases over three days

New Milford like other parts of the state and country is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases.  Mayor Pete Bass reported  41 new cases between Friday and Monday.  That's the same amount that New Milford experienced during the two previous weeks combined.  7 new cases were reported yesterday alone.  There were about 20 cases around the Thanksgiving holiday last week.  New Milford Health officials say this was not unexpected as the town saw a spike last winter with holiday get togethers and colder weather sending more people indoors.   Connecticut's COVID-19 positivity rate yesterday was nearly 6 percent, the highest single day case rate in several months.  According the state Department of Public Health, the last time the positivity rate was above 6 percent was January 24th. 

Brookfield hosts COVID-19 vaccine, booster clinics

The Brookfield Health Department is continuing to hold COVID-19 vaccine and booster clinics, offering Moderna and J&J.  Shots are administered every Tuesday from 10am to 1pm and Thursdays from 3pm to 6.  Brookfield Health officials say the new variant, Omicron, appears to be similar to Delta and is more contagious but not necessarily more severe.  Brookfield health officials expect that this variant will soon be in the U.S.  They urged residents to become fully vaccinated and those who require booster doses, to receive them as soon as possible.

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