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Local Headlines Archives for 2022-03

COVID-19 pediatric vaccine clinic in Danbury today

Griffin Health will be administering pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations at mobile clinics today, for children 5 to 11 years old with parental permission. Booster doses will also be available for children ages 12 and older.  The vaccine clinic in Danbury is being held at Hayestown Elementary School from 4pm to 7.  Connecticut's daily COVID-19 test positivity rate yesterday was 3.35 percent.  There were 3 fewer people in Connecticut hospitals who tested positive compared to the day before.  The inpatient total is 98 people, 28.6 percent of who are not fully vaccinated.  458 positive cases were detected out of more than 13, 600 tests reported to the state Department of Public Health yesterday.

Brookfield Chief, others take oath of office

The Brookfield Police Department has officially sworn in recently promoted members.  Chief John Puglisi, Major Peter Frengs, and Captain Matthew Donadio took the oath of office on Monday before family, department and town officials and area Chiefs of Police. 

Memorial service planned for former Director of Harambee Youth Center

A memorial service is planned for this weekend for a Danbury resident who worked at the Harambee Youth Center.  The service honoring William Curtis will take place on Saturday at the Center on West Street at 4pm.  Curtis died on March 16th at the age of 89. The center is now housed under the Connecticut Institute for Communities and bears his name.  Curtis started as assistant director in 1967, became director four years later, and held that role until his retirement in 2016.

New Milford approves funding for single-lane temporary bridge on a scenic road

The New Milford Town Council has approved funding to construct a single-lane temporary bridge on a scenic road.  The bridge on Cherniske Road was closed in January 2021 due to poor condition.  The action this week comes as the town continues to debate whether or not to construct a one lane or a two lane bridge.  Police and Fire officials told the Town Council that the detour adds time to their response.  Up to $290,000 has been approved for the temporary infrastructure, for emergency use only.  New Milford Public Works Director Jack Healy says a modular construction, like an erector set, could be assembled by DPW and slid across the area.  Delivery of the parts could come in under 6 weeks.  New Milford has the option of leasing, renting or buying the temporary bridge.  The parts could be disassembled and stored for future use at any other location once a permanent bridge is installed.

Oxford couple ordered to pay restitution for CARES Act fraud

An Oxford couple has been ordered to pay more than $100,000 over allegations that they fraudulently misspent money in small business loans and grants under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.  Janine and Gerard Carbonaro have paid $169,563.  The CARES Act was enacted to provide emergency assistance to those affected by the pandemic, with the Small Business Administration authorized to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans. Gerard Carbonaro applied for funding on behalf of Janine Carbonaro as sole proprietor for Hair Attraction Design Team, a hair salon located in Monroe.  They reportedly used the proceeds to pay off the mortgage of a residential property in Florida, and to purchase an additional residential property in Florida for personal investment purposes.  As part of a civil settlement agreement with the government, the pair has also agreed to withdraw a pending application for a loan increase.

CFO of Wilton-based insurance firm sentenced for $33 million fraud scheme

The Chief Financial Officer of a Wilton-based insurance firm has been sentenced in a $33-million scheme to steal client healthcare funds and defraud multiple lenders.  Erin Verespy was ordered to 66 months in prison. 

United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams says the 50-year old Trumbull woman helped manage a sophisticated, widespread scheme to steal millions of dollars of client healthcare funds, including with false and inflated invoices. 

Employee Benefit Solutions LLC represented an automobile dealership chain headquartered in Westchester County, with the company paying invoiced amounts, expecting that EBS would pay the claims to the healthcare providers.  Authorities say a significant amount of purported checks listed on the EBS “check register” invoices were never actually deposited by the healthcare providers.  The money was used by Verespy's co-conspirators to pay their home mortgage expenses, as well as a personal credit card account with expenses relating to boating, luxury cars, and golf.

Authorities say Verespy personally made over $1 million from her participation in the fraudulent scheme. 

By mid-2017, as EBS buckled under mounting outstanding fiduciary obligations, Verespy and her co-conspirators began an elaborate effort to conceal and perpetuate the ongoing fraud. Verespy was also sentenced to 5 years of supervised release and ordered to pay $16,053,508.19 in restitution and forfeit $1,066,038.02.

Newtown Police, Westport Fire visit with Danbury Fire to learn about drone use

Members of Newtown Police recently visited with the Danbury Fire Department to hone their UAV skills with Communications Supervisor Jamie Gagliardo, the DFD drone program leader.  Westport Fire Command staff also stopped by to view Danbury's equipment to see if a similar Unmanned Aerial Vehicle would meet their needs. Meanwhile, Firefighters from Monroe, Stevenson Volunteer Fire Company and Stepney Fire Department participated in live fire training at the Danbury Fire Training Facility on Sunday. Crews practiced hose line advancement and fire attack, search and rescue, ventilation, RIT and aerial operations.

New regional arts magnet school named after Sandy Hook School shooting victim

A new regional arts magnet school named after a first grader killed at Sandy Hook School has opened in Bloomfield.  The ribbon was cut yesterday on the Academy of the Arts, named for Ana Grace Marquez-Greene.  The Capitol Regional Education Council built the nearly 157,000 square-foot building to house about 850 pre-kindergarteners through 8th graders from across northern and central Connecticut.  Nelba Marquez-Greene and her husband Jimmy Greene are CREC school alumni and former teachers.  CREC renamed its arts elementary school in Avon after Ana Grace, and adopted the family’s “Love wins” motto as a component of messages of kindness, self-worth and mutual respect.

Intoxicated man with loaded firearm arrested at a New Fairfield school

An intoxicated man with a loaded firearm has been arrested on the grounds of a New Fairfield school.  The Resident State Trooper's Office was notified of the incident at the Consolidated School yesterday afternoon by the school resource officer, who discovered 55-year old Richard Logo smoking on school property.  The New Fairfield man was charged with possession of a weapon on school grounds and carrying a firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.   State police says at no time were students or faculty in immediate danger. Logo was taken to Danbury Hospital where he was processed. Police also seized his firearm and revoked his pistol permit.  He was released on bond for an April 12 court appearance.

Conn. man arrested for 2021 burglary in Newtown

A Seymour resident has been arrested for a commercial burglary in Newtown last year.  A 5 month long investigation led to charges against 45 year old James Aspinwall.  He was arrested yesterday for a commercial burglary during the overnight hours of October 28th.  Aspinwall was charged with Burglary, Larceny, Criminal Trespass, and Criminal Mischief.

Juvenile arrested for threat to New Milford school

New Milford Police have arrested a Schaghticoke Middle School student for the threat to the school that forced its evacuation on Tuesday.  The threat, written on a piece of paper discovered by a student, led to the arrest yesterday of a juvenile on a breach of peace charge.  The juvenile, whose name was not released due to his age, is a student at Schaghticoke and determined to be the only individual involved in the threat.  Police say no further arrests are expected. 

Bethel sets date for Annual Town Meeting on budget

The Annual Town Meeting in Bethel will be held on Monday, April 4th.  Residents will be able to discuss and vote on sending the proposed municipal and school budgets for the coming fiscal year to a referendum.  The date of the budget vote will be determined at the Town Meeting.  As proposed, the budget would increase the mill rate in Bethel by about .98 percent.  The final mill rate will be established by the Board of Finance following a successful budget referendum.  The proposed municipal budget is about $34.2 million, which includes the Town Operating Budget, Debt Service and the School’s Building Maintenance account.  The proposed Board of Ed budget is about $51.16 million.  The annual town meeting on the 4th will be held at the Bethel Middle School Auditorium, beginning at 7pm.  The Registrars of Voters will check voter identification, and residents are asked to arrive early to help them efficiently check in all voters and start the meeting on time.

New Milford High School briefly evacuated due to burning odor

New Milford High School students were briefly evacuated yesterday because of an odor in the building.  Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo later received an update from the Facilities Director that the building has been cleared by the fire department and that students and staff were able to return.  It was confirmed by the fire department that a bad internal bearing in the motor of an air handler created the smell that was carried throughout portions of the second floor. Back in December, New Milford High School was evacuated due to a roof construction fire.  The school was closed for two days at that time.

Alex Jones faces fines for skipping Sandy Hook deposition

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut judge says Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones will be fined for each weekday that passes without him appearing for a deposition in a lawsuit brought by relatives of some victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Judge Barbara Bellis issued the penalty Wednesday after finding Jones in contempt of court for failing to appear at a deposition last week. Jones cited a health problem that included vertigo, which turned out to be a sinus infection. Jones' lawyer planned to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Relatives of some of the shooting victims are suing Jones for defamation for calling the 2012 shooting a hoax.

Negotiations, appraisal still underway for proposed Career Academy site

Danbury officials are trying to streamline the process of getting approvals for the proposed Career Academy to meet the targeted August 2024 opening of the middle and high school.  A placeholder currently exists in the budget. 

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says the $57.2 million estimate is the cap of what the City would pay for the property and the Cartus building, but a firm number won't come until after appraisal and final negotiations.  The target closing date is July 29th, or within 60 days after the signing of the formal purchase contract by both parties. 

The City Council is expected to set the date for the referendum at their meeting next week. Iadarola says within a month after passing, construction will be ready to go.  All of the bid packages are ready and some have already been sent out and will be evaluated.  But Danbury can't award bids for any work until after the referendum, if residents vote in favor of the bonding.  He says the construction manager and architect will be on board shortly after the vote.  

Flames from fire pit jump to nearby hillside in Redding

Fire companies from Redding responded to a brush fire yesterday that jumped from the fire pit to a nearby hillside down wind.  With the high winds, fire officials say it could’ve been a lot worse.  The forest fire danger level yesterday was high and West Redding Volunteer Fire Department asked residents not to burn on those kinds of day.  The Forest Fire Danger Level for today is moderate.

COVID-19 vaccine clinics to be held in Danbury today

A pediatric COVID-19 vaccination clinic is being held in Danbury today.  This is for children 5 to 11 with parental permission.  Booster doses will also be available for children ages 12 and up.  The clinic is at Great Plain Elementary from 4pm to 7.

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 at West Conn.  It's in the Colonial Corner Midtown Student Center from 4pm to 8.

Connecticut's daily test positivity rate yesterday stood at 3.65-percent.  Since Monday, 365 positive cases were identified of more than 10,000 tests reported to the state Department of Public Health.  At home results are not reported.  The number of patients in Connecticut hospitals testing positive for COVID-19 ticked up a bit yesterday from Monday.  There are 101 patients who tested positive, an increase of 7 from the day before.  Of the total testing positive, about 29-percent are not fully vaccinated.

DEEP to resume remote non-resident parking fee collection at state parks

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is resuming its remote non-resident parking fee system at some state parks beginning Friday. 

At Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield, that fee is $22 on weekends, $15 on week days.  It's $7 on all days after 4pm.  There is no fee for Connecticut Registered Vehicles.  The fee is paid through the Passport to the Parks program, a charge on registrations and renewals.

DEEP will resume in-person non-resident parking fee collection at several state parks beginning Memorial Day Weekend.  

The remote system, piloted at a small number of state parks last year, requires visitors with out-of-state registered vehicles to purchase a parking pass through Reserve America, DEEP's vendor, using a smart-phone and a credit card.

Signage is being added at those parks so that visitors are aware of the obligation, and to provide directions on how to purchase a parking pass.  Failure to pay the required fee can result in the issuance of a $75 infraction fine.  Visitors with out-of-state vehicles that are frequent visitors are being encouraged by DEEP to consider purchasing a parking season pass, which permits unlimited parking at any state park for the entire season. The cost of the season pass is $112.   

Ridgefield Police receive awards for Special Olympics support

Members of the Ridgefield Police Department have attended the 2022 Law Enforcement Torch Run Kickoff event. At this event, awards were presented to those departments that went above and beyond in supporting Special Olympics of Connecticut last year and the mission, choose to include. The Ridgefield Police Department received a "Level of Excellence" award, "Top Grossing Adopt a Mile" award and "#3 Ranking" award.

Redding Police shave heads in St Baldricks event

In conjunction with John Reed Middle School, Redding Police raised over 9-thousand dollars for the St Baldricks Foundation.  The Police team raised just under $2000.  Several members of the Department then shaved their heads. The organization says world wide, 300,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. And in the U-S, more children die of childhood cancer than any other disease—more than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies and diabetes combined. 

Pipeline worker injured in New Milford

A pipeline worker was injured in New Milford yesterday.  Emergency responders were called to the Rocky River Power Plant shortly after 10am on a report of the injury.  Water Witch Hose, Gaylordsville and Brookfield volunteer fire companies responded for the low angle rescue.  The New Milford Fire Marshal's Office and New Milford Community Ambulance assisted in removing the injured party using a stokes litter wire basket and rope system. The injured worker was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment.  Crews cleared the scene by 11:30.

(Photo: BVFD)

New Milford School evacuated Tuesday due to threat

Schaghticoke Middle School in New Milford was evacuated yesterday due to a threat. Out of an abundance of caution, students and staff walked to Northville Elementary School for dismissal. The threat to the school was written on a piece of paper, discovered by a student, and brought to the attention of a staff member.

District officials are working with the New Milford Police Department as they continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the threat.  Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo says the police are confident that the Schaghticoke building is safe for students and staff to return to on time today.  Students and staff should report directly to K period to acquire their belongings. 

Any homework due today will now be due tomorrow. 

DiCorpo notes that staff and students were calm, followed directions, and were supportive of one another as the evacuation took place.  She says everyone showed a true sense of community.

Danbury Probate Court Judge top retire after three decades on the job

Danbury Probate Court Judge Dianne Yamin is retiring when her term ends January 3rd.  She will not seek a ninth four-year term this upcoming November, instead will be elected President of the National College of Probate Judges during  a national conference in November. 

Yamin says it's been her passion to serve as Danbury Probate Court Judge for the past three decades, but she wants to devote her time to this new role to bring probate best practices from all over the country back to Connecticut.  The National College of Probate Judges produces publications and partners with other national organizations. 

Judge Yamin will continue to serve as Co-Chair of the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation’s Danbury Age Well Council and as Immediate Past President of the Lion’s Club of Danbury. She also serves as corporator with the Savings Bank of Danbury, on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Ancell School of Business, on the Finance Council of The Eparchy of St. Maron, and as Co-Advisor of the Maronite Youth Organization of St. Anthony’s Maronite Catholic Church. She is an associate attorney at Yamin & Yamin, LLP in Danbury with her husband and brother-in-law.

5 men plead guilty in murder, arson scheme

A Danbury man is among five who have pleaded guilty to firearm charges stemming from a murder and arson scheme in Bridgeport.  33-year old George Rivera pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Three Bridgeport men and one from Waterbury also entered the same pleas. 

In April 2018, Bridgeport Police attempted to stop a car that was operating with unlit taillights, but the driver fled and items were tossed out the windows.  The vehicle was stopped after a brief pursuit and officers found two loaded handguns, marijuana, a black ski mask, a pair of binoculars, and a container of gasoline.  The investigation revealed that the five men were involved in a plan to murder an individual and set fire to the Body Shop where the individual worked. 

Rivera and two others were arrested later that morning at a hotel in Milford.  A search of a hotel room revealed a loaded rifle, a loaded revolver, a loaded AR 15, a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, additional ammunition, brass knuckles, binoculars, gloves and a knit mask.  Investigators also located a seized packaged heroin, ecstasy pills, marijuana, a digital scale and other items in the room, and ammunition and shotgun shells in the trunk of their car.

Sandy Hook families reject Alex Jones settlement offer

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Alex Jones has offered to pay $120,000 per plaintiff to resolve a lawsuit by relatives of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims who said he defamed them by asserting the massacre never happened, according to court filings Tuesday. The offer was quickly rejected by the families. A Connecticut judge found Jones liable for damages in November, and a trial is planned for later this year to determine how much he should pay the families. The plaintiffs said they have been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones' followers.

Danbury Fire Assistant Fire Chief to join leadership-development program

The Danbury Fire Department's Assistant Fire Chief has been accepted into a year-long leadership-development program.  William Lounsbury was accepted into the Fire Service Executive Development Institute, competing with new fire chiefs and chief officers from across the country and Canada.  Lounsbury is a 36-year veteran of the career fire service, joining the Danbury Department in 1991. Lounsbury worked his way up the ranks and was promoted to Assistant Chief in September 2021.  This is the tenth year that the Motorola Solutions Foundation has provided the Institute with a grant to fund the program to provide new and aspiring chiefs with the tools they need to have successful and productive tenures.  Members will meet 4 times over the year for onsite training sessions, but also communicate virtually.

Legislative Committee adopts bill requiring more stringent emissions standards

The Connecticut legislature's Environment Committee has approved a bill that would require stringent emissions standards currently being used by California for more vehicles.  Brookfield State Representative Stephen Harding voted against the bill saying it would significantly increase costs to Connecticut businesses and leave future decisions on these standards up to the Legislative Regulations Review Committee and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner. 

Under the federal Clean Air Act, states can adopt Environmental Protection Agency vehicle emissions standards or tougher standards set by regulators in California. Connecticut previously adopted the California standards on most cars and light-duty trucks.

The bill advanced by the Environment Committee would adopt California’s standards for trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds, including larger pickups, delivery vans and tractor-trailers. 

DEEP recently released a report finding that Connecticut can significantly improve air quality and public health by adopting new emission standards for medium and heavy-duty (MHD) vehicles offered for sale in Connecticut beginning in 2026.  Connecticut experienced 21 days of unhealthy levels of ozone this past year, including some of the highest monitored values on the east coast. 

Ridgefield state Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo says the clean air crisis is potentially the greatest public health crisis the state is facing right now, and not something she's will to pass onto her children.

Special Town Meeting, hearing in Brookfield on capital items, ARPA projects

A Special Town Meeting is being held in Brookfield tonight about capital items and setting the date for the budget referendum.  The proposed budget vote is May 17th.  There are several items included in the Town's capital expenses, totalling about $8.27 million.  Tonight's meeting is at 7pm in the Brookfield High School Auditorium. 

The projects are a Town-Wide emergency Radio System, Street Scape Phase 6, a truck replacement, a Payloader Replacement, Parks Department Upper Garage Addition, High School Tennis Courts, High School Baseball and Softball Outfield Drainage, High School Paving and Concrete, and Whisconier Middle School 3-Wall Replacement.

The Brookfield Board of Finance is holding a Public Hearing tonight on the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  Part of the discussion, starting at 7:30pm, will be about proposed American Rescue Plan Act projects. 

The Board of Finance recently finalized the list of projects to be paid for with some of the remaining $3.12 million in federal pandemic relief funds.  More than $300,000 would go to the volunteer fire companies and $200,000 each for a temporary behavioral health specialist position and a small business grants program. 

The Board took out a recommendation for a sewer installation connecting 11 buildings across nine properties in the town center area.  Failing historic dry wells are causing contaminate and disease-causing organisms to leach into the Still River according to the Water Pollution Control Authority.  The sewer project has been under consideration for more than two decades, but has been cost prohibitive. 

Those opposed to the project called it a potential opening for developers seeking to build affordable housing projects under the state’s 8-30g statute. 

Woman charged with OUI following erratic driving complaint

A 22-year old has been charged with operating under the influence following a report of erratic driving in Sherman.  State Police Troopers were notified about the vehicle on Route 37 heading from New Milford around 8:30pm last Tuesday.  The driver was stopped at the intersection with Route 39 in New Fairfield.  She failed field sobriety tests and a search of the vehicle turned up 4 THC Oil packets and 5 suspected Xanax pills.  She was also charged failure to drive right.  She was released on bond for a court appearance April 12th.

Man in cardiac arrest in Upper Paugussett State Forest has died

A man in cardiac arrest while in the Upper Paugussett State Forest last week has died.  An emergency call was placed via cell phone from someone hiking with the victim last Wednesday.  The Newtown Bee reports that CPR was being done when the initial call was made to 911, but it took first responders about 20 minutes to locate the caller.  The hiker was pronounced deceased at the scene.  Brookfield Police first responded, along with Sandy Hook and Botsford volunteer fire companies, Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Newtown Police believed to be in the lower part of the forest along the Housatonic.  Hawleyville and Hook & Ladder fire companies were then added to the call when it was determined that the emergency was in Upper Paugussett.  There are at least three marked trails and two access points across 880 acres.  Radio communications reportedly challenged the rescue effort because of the topography and the weather.

Eversource issues Regulatory Briefing about circuit issues in Monroe

Eversource has issued a Regulatory Briefing about circuit issues and power outages in Monroe.  There was icing on a power line February 8th that led to a substation switch failure. Hardware repairs were made, but a storm March 7th caused the same switch to fail, this time due to software fault. The software was updated, but last week, while working to make additional updates, one of two circuits feeding the substation failed. As of Thursday, all repairs to the substation switch and the circuit were complete.  Eversource will be completely replacing the two source circuits that feed the Monroe Substation. This is a large project that will take Eversource several months to complete.

Sherman Fire Department touts new technology

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department is urging people who live alone, have older parents that live alone or are not too mobile to consider a Knox Box.  This device allows for quick access by emergency responders into the house, without breaking down doors or smashing windows. It can only be accessed by the Fire or EMS personnel and electronically tracks who uses the key.  They directed people with question about the technology to contact the Department.

Fentanyl, cocaine found in Danbury man's underwear during arrest

Two Danbury men have been arrested on drug related charges.  Resident complaints led to the investigation of 30-year olds Eric "Eddie" Jose Espinal and Clarence Cherry.  Police say they were followed and seen making suspected hand-to-hand drug transactions.  The pair was stopped in a private parking lot on Mill Plain Road yesterday afternoon. 

Espinal was found in possession of several bags of Fentanyl.  A later search at the police department revealed he was concealing hundreds more, and over an ounce of cocaine in his underwear.   A loaded handgun was recovered from Cherry's car.  

Cherry is currently out on bond awaiting trial after being arrested by the Danbury Police Department for an assault with a weapon.  The Bethel Police Department wanted Espinal for an outstanding arrest warrant.


Eric Jose Espinal
Charges:
Poss. of a controlled Substance 4 counts
Poss. with intent to sell over 1 ounce of Fentanyl and Crack 2 counts
Poss. with intent to sell under 1 ounce of powder cocaine 2 counts
Poss. of a controlled substance within 200' of a housing complex 2 counts
Poss. of drug paraphernalia


Clarence Cherry
Charges:
Poss. of a controlled substance 4 counts
Poss. of over 1 ounce of Fentanyl and Crack 2 counts
Poss. of under 1 ounce of cocaine, oxycodone 2 counts
Poss. of a controlled sun with intent to sell within 200' of a housing complex
Loaded Weapon in Motor Vehicle
Alteration of the serial number on a firearm
Poss. of a high capacity magazine
Operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license

Hearings scheduled on proposed affordable housing plans

Public information meeting have been scheduled by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments about a Regional Affordable Housing Plan.  Several Greater Danbury area towns have signed onto the plan offered by the regional planning group, which stretches from Sherman to Stamford.  All Connecticut municipalities are being required by the state to submit the start of Affordable Housing Plans to the state by June.  The information sessions will be held virtually.  They are set for March 30th and 31st from 6:30pm to 7:30 and on April 1st from 11am to noon.

Calling hours set for Probate Court Judge

Northern Fairfield County Probate Court Judge Dan O'Grady has died.  The 67-year old fought a long battle with lymphoma.  He was days away from his 68th birthday on April 1st.  O’Grady served as Bethel’s probate judge for 20 years until the system was consolidated in 2009.  He ran in 2016 to replace the retired Judge and won two terms serving residents of Bethel, Newtown, Redding and Ridgefield out of Bethel Town Hall.  The longtime Bethel resident is survived by his wife, three children and two grandchildren.  Visitation hours are Wednesday at Collins Funeral Home in Norwalk from 4pm to 7:30. Following the visitation there will be a brief service from 7:30 to 8. Burial will be private.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Praxair Cancer Center at Danbury Hospital or Regional Hospice.  The Office of the Probate Court Administrator is discussing how the probate court judge seat will be filled, including whether a special election will be held.

Information session held on PFAS in Weston wells serving town schools

Recent water tests of the system that supplies Weston school buildings and the municipal campus revealed the presence of PFAS, so-called forever chemicals that, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.  The levels in Weston are below those an EPA advisory states may result in adverse health effects, but Town and school district officials are proceeding with caution. 

A virtual public information session was held last night about the two wells and a pumping station near Hurlbutt Elementary School.  The tests were done by consulting engineers to assess the condition of the wells, pumps, piping, and storage tanks in anticipation of an infrastructure grant application. 

The state Department of Public Health has recommended that a filtration system be designed and submitted to the department for approval and that, once it is installed, ongoing monitoring be conducted. Weston is providing bottled water for drinking and cooking at Town offices and the school buildings until filtration is installed. 

The boards of Selectmen and Finance are meeting jointly on Thursday to discuss moving up replacement of the Town-operated water systems ahead of the planned capital schedule and exploring the potential of obtaining State financial support. The application deadline for one funding program is Thursday.

Ridgefield looking into sale of sewage treatment plant property

Ridgefield is looking into the potential sale of the soon to be decommissioned District II sewage treatment plant.  Upgrades are being made to the District 1 plant to accommodate the entire town.  Negotiations are underway with Ridgefield Professional Office Complex, LLC to buy the Ethan Allen Highway parcel.  The entity owns a triangular parcel of land between Routes 35 and 7, including Little Pond and a nearby medical office complex.  The two acres in the middle of the parcel contains the sewer plant, and is owned by the town. A “pre-concept” for a residential project has been presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission for two attached sets of homes, if the zone is changed to residential.  The site has been appraised at $441,000.

Public hearing held in Danbury on proposed school projects

Only two people spoke during last night's public hearing in Danbury about combining bonding for various school projects into one question for an upcoming referendum.  Mayor Dean Esposito and Board of Ed Chairman Rachel Chaleski were both in favor of the nearly $208 million.  The City Council will likely set the date of the referendum at their meeting next week. Most of the bonding is for the proposed middle and high school career academy proposed for the Cartus headquarters property.  The legislature previously approved 80-percent reimbursement on eligible costs for the estimated $99 million.  Lawmakers are pushing their colleagues to provide the same rate on the newly estimated $164 million cost.  As for the other school projects, eligible costs are typically reimbursed at around 60 to 63 percent.

State Police ID man found dead in Southbury home

The man whose  body was found last week inside a Southbury home has been identified.  State Police did not disclosed the cause of death for 37-year-old Thomas Lazor, but say there does not appear to be a criminal aspect to his death at this time.  A multi-agency response to his Ridgeview Road home Tuesday was prompted by the investigation into his untimely death.  Suspicious materials, included precursor chemicals — substances known to be used in illicit drug production — were found in the home.  Detectives from the State Police Western District Major Crime Squad and Northwest Narcotics Office and Clandestine Lab were called in to investigate. The hazardous materials were safely removed from the scene with help from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Probate Court Judge loses battle with lymphoma

Northern Fairfield County Probate Court Judge Dan O'Grady has passed away.  He fought a long battle with lymphoma. Information about services for the longtime Bethel resident have not been announced, but his family says they will be held in Norwalk.

Greater Danbury area police donate body armor to Ukrainian Citizens

Some Greater Danbury area police departments have donated body armor to Ukrainian Citizens.  The effort was organized by Fairfield Police with the help of the Ukrainian American Club of Southport.  More than 200 previously used ballistic vests and helmets from several Departments were donated to Ukrainian defenders to assist with protecting themselves throughout the Russian invasion. Police departments that joined the humanitarian effort included the Brookfield, Easton, Monroe, Wilton, and Western Connecticut State University.  The body armor is just one of many items that have been specifically requested by Ukrainian aid groups and will provide critical protection for defense units.  The collected body armor will be donated and shipped to the Ukrainian American Coordinating Council which has been vetted by the U.S. government as an appropriate donation point for Ukraine.

Patterson man arrested for alleged Ecstasy sales

A Patterson man has been arrested for alleged Ecstasy sales in Putnam County.  The Sheriff's Department charged the 33-year old, whose name was not immediately released, earlier this month with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance and Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance.  An investigation was launched last May into the sale of MDMA.  The suspect was taken into custody on Interstate 84 in Southeast on the 16th.  He was arraigned and released for an April 20th court date.

New Fairfield Town Hall lit up for Epilepsy Awareness Day

New Fairfield Town Hall was lit in purple Saturday night in honor of Epilepsy Awareness Day.  Celebrated annually, the day was created to increase the public’s understanding of this brain disorder and to eliminate the fear and stigma surrounding it. Over 3.5 million people are diagnosed with epilepsy in the U.S. and over 50 million worldwide.  It can be easily managed if diagnosed and treated correctly, so officials say awareness and research are important.

Danbury Board of Ed resignation, candidacy announcement

The Danbury Board of Education is looking to fill another vacancy.  Republican Kathryn Hodgdon has resigned.  Interested residents can send a letter of application to Board chair Rachel Chaleski through April 7th. The term runs until November 2023.

A Danbury Board of Education member has announced her candidacy for the 24th State Senate district. Michelle Coelho is looking to unseat incumbent Julie Kushner.  The district represents residents in Danbury, Bethel, New Fairfield and Sherman.

Public hearing in Danbury tonight on school bonding proposals

A public hearing is being held tonight in Danbury on combining proposed bond questions into one ballot measure for several school upgrade and building projects. The City Council met last week to refer the matter to the hearing. The bulk of the nearly $208 million is for the proposed Danbury Career Academy property purchase and construction.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola says retrofitting the former Cartus headquarters will save the City money in the long run.  Other bonding is proposed for renovations at Danbury High School, ADA compliance at Hayestown Avenue Elementary and a new roof for King Street Primary. Tonight's hearing is at 7pm in City Council Chambers at City Hall.

Sandy Hook families seek Alex Jones arrest after 2nd no-show

Lawyers for relatives of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims asked a Connecticut judge again Friday to order the arrest of Alex Jones, after he defied a court order to attend a deposition as part of a lawsuit over his calling the massacre a hoax.

Jones missed both days of a scheduled deposition Wednesday and Thursday in Austin, Texas, home to Jones and Infowars. He cited a health problem that included vertigo and revealed Friday that it was a sinus infection. After he didn’t show up Wednesday on the advice of his doctors, Connecticut Judge Barbara Bellis ordered him to appear Thursday, noting he wasn’t hospitalized and had appeared in-person on his show Tuesday.

Bellis did not immediately rule on the new arrest request. She rejected a similar motion by the families’ lawyer seeking an arrest order after Jones failed to appear Wednesday. She has set a hearing by video conference for Wednesday next week.

The families’ lawyers filed a motion late Friday afternoon requesting that Jones be arrested and detained until he sits for a deposition, be fined $25,000 to $50,000 a day until he completes the questioning, be found in contempt of court and to pay their expenses for traveling to Austin this week.

“The plaintiffs subjected themselves to hours and hours of painful questioning by Mr. Jones’s lawyers — and Mr. Jones plays sick when it is his turn to tell the truth under oath,” Alinor Sterling, one of the families’ lawyers, wrote in the motion.

Jones’ lawyer, Norman Pattis, called the request “an unprecedented overreach” and raised concerns about due process, in an email to The Associated Press.

In November, Bellis found Jones liable for damages, and his testimony is now being sought in a deposition ahead of a trial later this year to determine how much he should pay the families.

The families of eight of the victims and an FBI agent who responded to school sued Jones, Infowars and others in Connecticut, saying they have been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones’ followers because of the hoax conspiracy promoted on the show. Jones has since said he believes the shooting did occur.

Jones also was found liable for damages in similar lawsuits filed in Texas by relatives of Sandy Hook victims, and also faces trial later this year.

Jones disclosed that medical testing showed he had a sinus infection. He said he had experienced vertigo, and his doctors initially thought it was a serious heart problem and advised him to stay home and not go to the deposition.

Monroe man pleads guilty for his role in murder for hire scheme

A Connecticut man has pleaded guilty for his role in a murder for hire scheme in which a New Jersey-based political consultant paid him and another man to kill a longtime associate.  73-year old George Bratsenis of Monroe was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire. Two others previously pleaded guilty.  He is accused of stabbing the victim to death in the victim’s apartment, and then setting it on fire.  A co-conspirator solicited Bratsenis to commit a murder on his behalf in exchange for thousands of dollars, and then recruited another to join the plot. He faces a maximum potential penalty of life imprisonment and a 250-thousand dollar fine. Sentencing is scheduled for August 2nd.

Gov. tours Greater Danbury area

Following his address to the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Governor Ned Lamont toured several area towns.  In Danbury, he met with City officials about growing student enrollment.  Lamont says the state has given one of the largest increases in school funding along with adjustments to the state education formula, but that he would look into the capital funds for the proposed career academy project.  He also attended a flag raising ceremony and church care package event for Ukraine. 

Lamont also visited Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield, New Milford and Ridgefield.

He took a tour of Bethel's Veterans Hall.  In New Fairfield, he discussed the effects of fentanyl and in New Milford Lamont toured new small businesses that opened recently. In Brookfield, First Selectman Tara Carr says he met with several officials about the needs for a townwide emergency responder radio system, an updated Police Station and a new library.  They also discussed environmental issues that impact Candlewood Lake.

 

New Milford man charged for Jan. bank robbery

New Milford Police have arrested a man wanted for robbing a bank earlier this year.  Police charged  52-year-old Philip Beach Wednesday for the January 5th robbery.  He allegedly entered the Webster Bank on Main Street, passed a note to the teller reading “Robbery!! NO DYE PACK.” He fled the scene on a bike.  Police recovered evidence and secured several search warrants relating to the robbery, resulting in the identification and arrest of Beach. 

Local lawmaker wants tax breaks considered

New Milford state Representative Bill Buckbee has introduced three bills that could come before the legislature's Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee during the newly opened General Assembly session.  One would reestablish the Job Expansion Tax Credit Program.  Another would be to exempt any stipend paid by a municipality to a volunteer firefighter or ambulance member from the personal income tax.  He's also proposing that for seniors, qualifying income thresholds for personal income tax deductions be adjusted for inflation, and that  income from individual retirement accounts be exempt from the personal income tax starting now, rather than the current phase-out schedule.

Conn. man arrested for alleged 'grandparent scam'

A Connecticut man has been arrested for allegedly scamming a New Fairfield couple of nearly $9,000 in a grandparent scam.  State Police say 40-year old Kylo Simons posed as their grandson on the phone and claimed he needed to be bailed out of jail.  The couple, in their 70s, paid $8,900.  The Hartford man reportedly told the couple not to tell their relatives and another scammer, posing as his attorney, demanded bail.  Simons was charged Wednesday with larceny, burglary and criminal impersonation.  State Police say these criminals may use social media or other methods to learn information about their victims that can help them pose as a grandchild or other relative in need.

Eversource Gas continuing gas main relocation in Ridgefield

Eversource Gas is continuing work for a gas main relocation in Ridgefield. The work was started last year and restarted last week. The relocation is being done in the overnights from 8pm to 6am, but there are a few days that work will start earlier to ensure crews are off the road in time for the morning commute.  Last night, a 2 inch service main was relocated 6 feet deep across Main Street in Ridgefield by the CVS. This also involved transfer service to 378 Main Street. Tonight, services will be transferred to 381 and 385 Main Street. Tomorrow Eversource Gas will open up all abandonment locations and plate them. On Wednesday, that same work will be done on the the Prospect Street and Main Street side of the project. Thursday night the work will be done on the Catoonah and Main Street side of the project. this plan is weather permitting.

Public hearing in Bethel tonight on proposed budget

A public hearing is being held in Bethel tonight on the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  The hearing is set for 7pm in the Bethel Middle School Auditorium.  The Bethel Board of Finance approved an approximate $85.5 million tax and spending plan.  There's $34.3 million proposed on the municipal side and $51.2 million on the school side.  If approved, the mill rate would be 34.64, a .38 mill increase, resulting in a 1.1 percent increase in taxes.  The main budget drivers are personnel and road paving.  The Board of Finance will then consider comments from the hearing and make any final changes.

Congresswoman introduces School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has introduced the School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act.  The proposal seeks to define what a school shooting is and collect data in order to drive decision making to prevent these tragedies from happening again and again.  During discussion on the bill, Hayes noted that since the shooting at Sandy Hook School almost a decade ago, there have been 862 incidents of gunfire on school grounds resulting in 281 deaths, 14 this year alone.  She also cited data from PEW research, which found that 60 percent teens worry about a shooting at their school and their parents share their concern.

National Guard members graduate from Putnam County's Accelerated EMT Class

National Guard members from across New York have graduated from Putnam County’s Accelerated EMT Class at The Barn at Tilly Foster Farm.  The class, made up of 20 National Guards members and one civilian, came from as far away as Monroe County and Suffolk County. They studied for six weeks to meet the requirements of the New York State EMT Program that usually take six months to fulfill.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says their dedication sets an example for others. The class was taught by personnel from the Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services.  Those who go through Putnam County’s EMT Training Program have a high passing rate in the state exam and the program is successful in putting providers in ambulances either as volunteers or in a paid service.

Danbury official raises concerns about inflation on proposed Career Academy costs

A special meeting of the Danbury City Council is being held tonight about bonding for school projects.  The meeting is at 7:30pm in Council Chambers of City Hall.  The proposed ordinance authorizes $207.9 million in borrowing for the Danbury Career Academy and work at DHS, King Street and Hayestown Avenue elementary.  A public hearing on the bonding originally scheduled for Wednesday, instead will be held on March 28th.  

Inflation is playing a role in the projected price increase for the proposed Danbury Career Academy.  Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola noted that the new Cartus site would mean additional square footage, compared to when the middle and high school was planned for the Summit.  Iadarola says cost projections were modified five times in two weeks after the relocation announcement because of market trends and what's happening with inflation.  He's seen indicators showing that inflation in the next year will anywhere from 10 to 12 percent. 

School projects are trending over $700 per square foot, a figure that he called insane. Iadarola says it's been around the $300 mark for as long as he can remember, and he's been doing this for three decades. 

The estimated cost of the Danbury Career Academy is $338 per square foot.  Iadarola noted that while lumber prices are down a bit, copper wire costs are up and steel prices are through the roof.  He added that there are also extremely high trucking costs currently.

New Fairfield, Brookfield looking to hire seasonal workers

The Town of New Fairfield is looking to hire seasonal lifeguards.  They are responsible for the safety of all patrons at the Town Park.  The lifeguards also enforce rules and regulations of the park.  Qualifications include being Red Cross Lifeguard and Waterfront Certified.  CPR and First Aid certification is also required.  Applicants must be at least 16 years old and available to work weekends starting Memorial Day and continuing through June, then daily through Labor Day.  1 year of experience as a lifeguard is preferred.

Brookfield Parks & Recreation will be hiring seasonal camp directors and camp counselors this summer.  An employment application can be found on the town's website.  Interested individuals should return the completed application to the Brookfield Parks & Rec office.

New Milford starts annual street sweeping

New Milford Department of Public Works started the annual street sweeping of the roads yesterday.  Motorists are asked to be patient when driving and give room to the crews as they work.  DPW officials say this is an important operation to remove the accumulation of the salt/sand, leaves, and other materials that happened over the winter months from the sides of the roads.

Conn. man arrested for DUI in fatal highway crash

A 44-year old Connecticut man has been arrested for operating under the influence in a fatal accident on I-84 in Southbury Friday morning.  Troopers responded to the area of exit 16 westbound shortly before 8am on a report of a three vehicle accident and determined that Kyle St Denis of Collinsville was at fault.  A vehicle with a flat tire was pulled off to the right shoulder, with a tow truck behind it. St Denis hit both vehicles, pushing the disabled car into the tow truck operator.  The pedestrian was transported to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.  St Denis was transported to the hospital for minor injuries, but declined medical attention.  He exhibited signs of intoxication and failed field sobriety tests.  A passenger in his vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene.  The passenger was not immediately identified, pending notification of next of kin.  St. Denis was charged with Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Drugs/and or Alcohol, and Failure to Maintain a Proper Lane. 

Man killed in rollover crash off I-84 in Danbury

A 21-year-old man was killed in a car accident on I-84 in Danbury early Friday morning.  State Police say Aaron Thomas Young, of Colchester, was traveling east when he dove into the left shoulder and through the wire rope guardrail.  His vehicle came to rest more than 50-feet down an embankment near exit 7 around 1:30am.  Thomas was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. His passenger was transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.  Any witness to the crash is asked to contact State Police Troop A.

COVID-19 rates for Greater Danbury area updated by Conn.

The state Department of Public Health this week did not provide an update on COVID-19 data in Bethel, Danbury and New Fairfield.  According to the report for the two weeks ending March 12, there were 14 cases in Brookfield, 20 COVID cases in New Milford, 21 in Newtown, Redding reported 16 cases while Ridgefield had 3 8. 

COVID-19 case rates for the Greater Danbury area are holding steady from last week. Case rates for the week ending March 12th range from 5 to 12 cases per 100,000 population. 

The rates are:

New Milford 5.3

Newtown 5.4

Brookfield 5.9

Ridgefield 10.9

Redding 12.5

Test rates are also holding fairly steady from last week, ranging from 2.3 percent to 6 percent.   At home COVID-19 test results are not reported to the state. 

The rates are:

Newtown 2.3 percent

Brookfield 3.1 percent

New Milford 4.2 percent 

Ridgefield 4.7 percent

Redding 6.2 percent

Color continues to drain from the map of Connecticut when it comes to COVID-19 community spread.  Sherman, Redding and Ridgefield each reported 10 to 15 cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks.  Brookfield, New Milford, Newtown and Southbury had 5 to 9 cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks.

The number COVID-associated deaths has grown by 62 since last Thursday. 

New state data released Thursday show there were 404 positive COVID cases reported to the state since Wednesday out of nearly 17-thousand tests.  The daily positivity rate was 2.4 percent.  The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive increased by 2, for a total of 100.  43 percent of those patients are not fully vaccinated.  The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the state's fully vaccinated population of 6.5 percent. 

Connecticut is seeing a slight uptick in the number of residents starting their COVID-19 vaccine series since last week.  Now 94-percent of 35 to 44 year olds, 85-percent of 18 to 24 year olds and 48-percent of kids 5 to 11 have gotten at least one dose.  Each is a 1 percent increase.

Nearly 100 percent of COVID-19 tests sent for genomic sequencing in Connecticut came back as a strain of the Omicron variant, according to the latest weekly report.  Delta accounts for 51-percent of variants detected through testing total, Omicron 33-percent and Alpha--the UK variant, about 8 percent.

Conn. man suspected in catalytic converter theft in Southeast

A Bridgeport man has been charged by the Putnam County Sheriff's Department for alleged catalytic converter theft in the Town of Southeast.  The 19-year old was arrested at Patterson Court Wednesday when he appeared on unrelated charges. 

The two counts of grand larceny, criminal mischief and auto stripping charges stem from a February 7th incident at a Southeast business on Tilly Foster Road.  An investigation and canvass of the area by Sheriff's Investigators determined another converter was stolen from a separate vehicle at a nearby business and had yet to be discovered by the owner.  Surveillance cameras showed the thefts from parked cars occurred the night before. 

The Bridgeport man's name was not immediately released.  He was charged this week after being interviewed at the Westchester Medical Center, where he was being treated for an injury unrelated to the converter thefts, and admitted to the crimes.  He is due in court April 7th. 

The suspects allegedly cut the converters off both vehicles with a battery-powered circular saw.  They were involved in another crime handled by New York State Police Brewster later the same night. 

Carmel Police are investigating similar incidents involving the same suspects. The investigation is ongoing, and the identities of additional suspects and arrests are pending.

CIFIC awarded federal grant to improve access to mental health services

The Danbury-based Connecticut Institute for Communities has been awarded a federal grant to improve access to mental health services.  The organization will use the $500,000 to begin the planning and development of a new psychiatric residency program.  Plans calls for 16 psychiatry residents at a time, phasing in four residents per year in a four-year program.  The grant is from the federal Health Resources & Services Administration.  The Teaching Health Center at CIFC, where the residency program will be housed, already has an Internal Medicine residency program.  CIFC officials say Health Care Professional Shortage Area scores of where health professionals are needed most, with 1 being the lowest need and 25 the highest, Danbury is at 23.  That's one of the highest scores in the state.

Brookfield firefighters issue warning about solar panel batteries

The Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company is cautioning residents with solar panel batteries to make sure and check or service the system per the manufacturers and installers recommendations.  They have responded to a few instances with golf cart or boat batteries being charged indoors over the past few years resulting in false readings of elevated carbon monoxide levels.  This new warning comes as a Harwington home had a CO alarm sound, caused by a Lead Acid storage battery for a solar panel system leaking.  Fire officials say while these batteries do not produce Carbon Monoxide, leaking batteries can produce Hydrogen, which has been found to cause a false positive reading on CO detecting instruments due to a chemical reaction that can occur at certain concentrations, especially in confined areas. 

Special meeting set in Danbury on bonding for school projects

A special meeting of the Danbury City Council is being held Monday night about bonding for school projects.  The meeting will be at 7:30pm in Council Chambers of City Hall.  The proposed ordinance authorizes $207.9 million in borrowing for construction and property transfer for the Danbury Career Academy Secondary School concept and associated school improvements, updates and renovation at DHS, King Street and Hayestown Avenue. 

This replaces the two prior ordinances to combine the projects into one bond and one question for the voters at a referendum, still to be scheduled. 

A public hearing on the bonding was originally scheduled for Wednesday at 7pm, but the notice of this new meeting says they anticipate it will be March 28th. 

Of the $207,900,000 some $6,600,000 will be transferred fromt he SNAPP 2020 School Ordinance and $1,400,000 from the Danbury Career Academy Ordinance.  The DCA ordinance included a $2,400,000 transferred allocation from the SNAPP 2020 School Ordinance. 

$164,000,000 is being requested for the Danbury Career Academy.  That amount includes the purchase of a 270,000 square foot building and 24 acre property on Apple Ridge Road, along with a 6.4 acre site. 

The other $43,900,000 is for projects at Danbury High School including updates, renovations and code compliance improvements to the science labs, nurse site and bathrooms, HVAC equipment and duct evaluation, supply and condensate pipe abatement, and ADA accessible routes to the stadium bleachers. ADA compliance at Hayestown Avenue Elementary and a new roof for King Street Primary have also been proposed. 

The previously approved $99,000,000 bond for the Danbury Career Academy project become void with the vote on a new bond package.

Man arrested in New Milford for allegedly operating drug factory

A man has been arrested in New Milford on a charge of operating a drug factory.  Local police and the Connecticut State Police State Wide Narcotics Task Force carried out a search warrant at a Bennitt Street apartment Wednesday after a investigation involving the distribution of narcotics in the greater New Milford area. Detectives seized more than 66 grams of cocaine, 2 pounds of marijuana, numerous Percocet pills and drug packaging materials.  39-year old Felix Rios was also charged with possession of narcotics and non-narcotics with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Rios was released on 100-thousand dollars bond and is due in court on the 31st.

Danbury legislative delegation back application for proton therapy cancer treatment center

Members of the Danbury state delegation are backing an application for a proton therapy cancer treatment center at 85 Wooster Heights in Danbury.  State Representatives Bob Godfrey, Ken Gucker, Raghib Allie-Brennan, Patrick Callahan, and Steve Harding met Wednesday and said this facility would bring a cutting edge treatment to the city’s West Side. Proton radiation therapy destroys tumors with a precise, targeted dose of radiation. Proton beams break the DNA of cancer cells with minimal impact on healthy tissue. It was first used to treat patients in 1954 and received FDA approval in 1988.  Danbury Proton first applied for a Certificate of Need application through the Office of Health and Strategy in April 2020 but was denied.

Former Brewster man found guilty of murdering daughter

A former Brewster man has been found guilty yesterday for the murder of his daughter. 

Robert Honsch’s conviction stems from the death of Elizabeth Honsch. In September 1995, an unidentified female was found shot in the head and wrapped in sleeping bags and garbage bags in a parking lot in New Britain. Several days later, an unidentified female was found shot in the head in the Tolland State Forest in Massachusetts.  

In 2014, they were identified as Elizabeth and Marcia Honsch, the man's wife.  Robert Honsch was later found in Ohio remarried with children and living under the name of Robert Tyree.  He told family that Marcia and Elizabeth had gone to Australia ahead of him and he would be following them due to a job transfer.  Honsch fled to South Africa and came back to the United States years later. DNA and fingerprint evidence linked Honsch to the murder of his daughter.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 15th.

Police seek to ID Danbury burglary suspect

The Danbury Police Department is looking to identify a suspect involved in a burglary in the CityCenter area.  Police have posted a photo of the individual on their Facebook page and are asking for the public's help. Last Thursday, around 2am, the suspect was seen on Liberty Street wearing a black ski mask, green and white scarf, jeans with holes and white shoes with red trim. Anyone with information is asked to contact the anonymous tips line at 203-790-TIPS or by texting DANBURYPD at Tip411. Anonymous web tips can also be submitted through a new Mobile App, which encrypts the information so the sender can't be identified.  Message via the Tip411 technologies are not monitored 24-7.  For a crime in progress or an emergency, people should still call 911.

Road rage incident on I-84 under investigation

A road rage incident on I-84 is under investigation.  State Police received a call from a motorist Monday morning about an erratic driver who allegedly threw objects at his vehicle.  The driver was headed eastbound shortly before 8am around exit 10 when a black four-door Chevy sedan approached in his lane at a high rate of speed.  The other driver reportedly threw objects at his vehicle before getting off the highway at Exit 11.  The described as a young light-skinned male with a close-cut brown or light brown haircut.  A license plate number was provided, but the owner denied driving the car and didn't provide further information.

Recommendations released by task force studying cancer relief benefits for firefighters

A bill has been introduced in the Connecticut General Assembly to adopt the recommendations of a task force studying cancer relief benefits for firefighters.  Among the requirements is that at least two sets of turnout gear be provided to firefighters to ensure clean gear is worn while any contaminated gear is properly cleaned. 

The bulk of the bill deals with a firefighter's diagnosis of cancer.  According to the proposal, it would be presumed to come from the result of exposures on the job.  There are exceptions, including if the firefighter had a physical exam when joining the service showing the cancer, used tobacco products within 15 years of diagnosis, worked less than 5 years as a firefighter, had not not used respiratory protection and other personal protective equipment, or the claimed cancer is not one that is known to result from exposure to heat, radiation or a known carcinogen as determined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer or the National Toxicology Program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. 

As an alternative to workers' compensation coverage for work related cancer, a fire department may purchase a separate, private insurance policy to cover firefighters' illnesses or injuries arising out of and in the course of employment.  Under the bill, the policy must provide benefits that are comparable, or better, than workers' compensation benefits.

Brush fire in Bethel quickly extinguished

A reported brush fire in Bethel last night was quickly extinguished.  While the outside fire was small, Bethel Fire officials say they have been anticipating calls like this as the state is nearing the brush fire season.  The quickly warming air, low humidity, and abundance of fallen brush and dry vegetation makes for the perfect conditions for brush fires.  Burn permits are required for outside fires in Bethel and can be obtained through the fire marshal’s office. 

Eversource releases Tree Reliability Scorecard for Redding

Eversource has released a new Tree Reliability Scorecard for each municipality.  Redding's tree canopy coverage at 78.3 percent is highest among Fairfield County communities, according to the Regional Tree Canopy Analysis produced by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments. 

Historically, downed trees are a significant source of power outages in Redding and throughout the state.  Over the last several years, Eversource has performed significant ‘scheduled’ tree work in Redding to reduce the number of tree related power outages and improve reliability, including in 2019 along 103 miles of overhead lines and in 2020 along nearly 7.5 miles in the right of way along high voltage transmission lines. 

This summer, Eversource will be performing backbone maintenance trimming and scheduled maintenance trimming along 4 miles of roads in Redding in the Georgetown and Branchville areas.

Between 2015-2017 the Town’s open space manager and tree warden inventoried over a thousand dead and dying trees along town roads.  Redding budgets for $50,000 annually for tree pruning and removal, an amount supplemented with funds from a state grant. 

Between 2015 and 2017 the Town’s open space manager and tree warden inventoried over a thousand dead and dying trees along town roads. From July to March of this year, Redding removed more than 100 trees at a cost of over $75,000.

Brookfield Police holding 1st annual penguin plunge to benefit Special Olympics

The Brookfield Police Department is holding their first annual penguin plunge to benefit Special Olympics Connecticut.  The event this weekend takes place on Saturday at 1pm at Brookfield Town Beach off Candlewood Lake Road.  Parking will be across the street at Cadigan Park.  Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company will have a team, led by the Department's Chief.  Today is the final day to donate to raise money for Special Olympics Connecticut.

Longtime Candlewood Company member passes away

Greater Danbury area fire departments are mourning the loss of a longtime Candlewood Company member.  Rob Fish joined Candlewood Company in 1981 at the age of 16, becoming a full member two years later.  He passed away on Sunday at the age of 56. During his many years of service to Brookfield, he served as an Engineer, Lieutenant, Secretary, and Vice President.  He also served on several  Apparatus Replacement Committees, designing past Engines and Rescue. Fish participated in fire department parades, played in the firemen’s softball league and was on the bowling teams over the years.  Danbury, Redding and Stony Hill departments paid tribute to Fish in social media posts.  Family and friends will be received on Saturday, from 2pm to 5, at Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home in Danbury. Interment will take place privately.  

Ridgefield woman advocates for unique tax credit legislation

A Ridgefield woman is advocating for a bill in Connecticut that would grant a one-time $2500 tax credit to families after a stillbirth to put toward burial, genetic testing and mental health services.  Brittney Crystal testified before a legislative committee about the unexpected expenses, including $3,200 for a headstone.  Ridgefield state Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo, who sponsored the bill, says the tax credit would cost the state just under half a million dollars a year.  Minnesota and Louisiana have a stillbirth child tax credit.  New York and New Jersey are considering similar legislation.

Gaylord Road Bridge pre-construction set to start in New Milford

An updated has been given by New Milford officials on Gaylord Road Bridge construction.  The Public Works Department says the recast box sections/walls are currently in fabrication and should be finished by mid-April when work will begin.  Eversource is expected to move the poles in this half of March.  The overhead wires should be relocated around April 11th The contractor will wait for confirmation of the wires being moved before starting the job.  Detour signs will go in this week but will remain covered until work begins.  Completion is expected in mid-August.

Second arrest made in report of shots fired outside Danbury restaurant

A second arrest has been made in the report of shots fired outside a Danbury restaurant earlier this month. Danbury Police charged 21-year old Keenas Council of Danbury with breach of peace and threatening for his role in the disturbance outside Chili's on Newtown Road March 5th.  He was released on $50,000 bond for an April 12th court appearance. 

Earlier this month Danbury Police charged a a 16-year old for illegal discharge of a firearm and other crimes. 

According to the warrant, a woman told police that she recognized Council as part of a group who've had issues with another group, friends of her sons.  Council reportedly started making hand gestures consistent with gang signs and verbally provoking her sons.  He and a group allegedly approached their table, one holding a dagger.  A man with the mother, and his coworkers, stood prompting the group to run outside. 

The adults followed, and then two gunshots were heard.

City planners asked to consider escooters

A task force working on drafting an updated 10 year Plan of Conservation and Development for the City of Danbury is looking into how to improve mobility across all modes of travel and improve transportation connections to the region.  A debate over the future of electric scooters took place during their most recent meeting.  Advocates say escooters are an environmentally friendly way to increase mobility and reduce car congestion.  Opponents see them as dangerous to joggers and other pedestrians.  Bethel-based Lynx City Electric Scooters has a pilot program in New Milford and they are in Bridgeport.

Danbury marking St Patrick's Day today

Danbury is marking St Patrick's Day today.  There will be a mass at St. Peter Church at 11am followed by a flag raising ceremony outside City Hall at noon.  The Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Center on Lake Avenue is then hosting entertainment throughout the day.  The St. Patrick’s Day parade will return on Sunday.  Shuttle buses will be begin at noon at the Greater Danbury Irish Cultural Center. The parade begins at 2pm in front of St. Peter Church at Main and Center streets.

Congressman touts executive order on cryptocurrencies, digital assets

4th District Congressman Jim Himes is touting an executive order recently signed into law.  The order directs federal agencies to examine and report on U.S. policy around cryptocurrencies and digital assets.  Himes says this is a step toward creating a unified U.S. policy on digital assets.  He says their growth  has urgent ramifications in the national security arena as well as an impact on international and domestic financial institutions. The cryptocurrency environment has, to this point, remained largely unregulated.  But Himes says that lends itself to exploitation and poses risks to global financial stability.

DWI Crackdown effort underway across New York

Putnam County police agencies are raising awareness of the dangers of impaired driving.  A statewide DWI Crackdown effort started yesterday and continues through Sunday.  Putnam County Sheriff Kevin McConville says St. Patrick's Day Weekend is a notoriously deadly period for impaired driving due to the number of celebrations and drivers on the road.  New York State Police, County Sheriff, municipal law enforcement agencies, and STOP-DWI Programs across the state will be participating in special engagement efforts to reduce the number of alcohol-related injuries and deaths.  McConville says the highly visible, highly publicized effort also takes place on Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, throughout the Holiday Season, and the Super Bowl.

Danbury Constable nomination advances

A Danbury Constable position is moving forward after the matter was sent to a committee for further consideration.  The City Council Committee is recommending that the full council approve Francis Kieras, a registered Independent to fill the position.  The appointment will now be added to the April council agenda. 

Kieras was a registered Republican until last month, and in 2017 he served as constable as a Democrat.  The fifth constable role, which, based on minority party representation rules, was to be filled by a non-Republican. 

During the meeting this week, Councilman Ben Chianese questioned if there's a waiting period between affiliating with a party and being nominated for or running for a position.  Corporation Counsel Les Pinter says the only affiliation that is relevant is the one the nominee has at the time of appointment. 

Councilman Warren Levy said even though the position was on the November ballot, there was still 60 days after the election for the minority party to make a recommendation, but that wasn't done. 

Councilman Rich Molinaro believes Kieras is a good candidate, but has a problem with the whole appointment because of the party switching so close to the nomination.

Southbury Police warn of robocall scam

Southbury Police are warning residents about a robocall scam.  A Heritage Village resident alerted police to a call that a Mac Notebook and new iPhone were being charged to their account and looking for authorization. The caller ID appeared as a local number, but the call didn’t specify the last four digits of the account like a normal banking institution would.  Southbury Police say this is done to shock the recipient to urgently provide the scammer with personal banking info. The robocall then tries to direct the victim to a menu so they provide that information regardless of choosing the 'No' option.  Southbury Police are reminding residents that a banking institution will not call and ask for an account number.  Anyone unsure about such a call is asked to hang up and dial the bank with the phone number provided on the back of a debit or credit card.  Banks will ask for verification such as last four of social and zip code.

Police K-9 Drake Day declared in New Milford

The New Milford Town Council and Mayor Pete Bass declared March 14, 2022 as Police K-9 Drake Day. His handler, Officer Williams was presented a proclamation, as K9 Ella looked on.  Drake retired from active service in December after nine years of service, but after a few months was diagnosed with cancer.  The New Milford Police Department, as well as K9 Officers from surrounding agencies gathered for Drake’s last ride earlier this month.

Hearing delayed on proposed mixed use development in Danbury

The Danbury Planning Commission is meeting tonight and again putting off continuation of a public hearing into a proposed mixed use development on the City's westside. The applicant for 46 Mill Plain LLC asked that the hearing be continued until the April 6th meeting.  The Commission will not discuss or hear testimony on the Special Exception/Site Plan tonight.  The 30 acre proposal calls for retail, offices, bank with drive-thru, restaurant and housing.  Before the first hearing on the application, staff reports cited concerns about lack of access roads in case of evacuation and sidewalks for pedestrian connectivity.

Democrat announces run for 28th state Senate seat

A Democrat has declared his intention to run for the 28th state Senate District, which includes part of Bethel and Easton, Newtown and Fairfield.  The Fairfield resident and captain in the U.S. Army Reserves is looking to unseat Republican incumbent Tony Hwang, who was first elected to the seat in 2014.  Gavin, an Eagle Scout and a 2017 Yale University graduate is a former infantry officer with the U.S. Army, and works combatting the exploitation of young people on social media as a child safety project manager for Meta.

Danbury legislator opts not to seek reelection

Danbury state Representative David Arconti has decided not to seek reelection.  He's currently serving his fifth legislative term representing the 109th Assembly District.  Arconti says this was not an easy decision, but after serious consideration has decided that it's time to pursue other interests.  He was vice chair of the Environment in 2015 and the General Law Committees in 2018. He has been leading the Energy & Technology Committee as House Chair since 2019. Arconti says the unique experiences as a lawmaker and the many stories shared by my constituents, have reaffirmed his appreciation of Connecticut and its people.

Brotherhood In Action is holding a food drive this Saturday

Brotherhood In Action is holding a food drive this Saturday to collect food for distribution to pre-registered Bethel households for Easter.  Any Bethel Resident facing food insecurity is asked to contact Bethel Social Services for information about available community resources.  Saturday's collection is at Bethel United Methodist Church on Greenwood Avenue from 9am to noon.  Donors are asked to enter from Greenwood Avenue and exit the back lot onto School Street.  Needed items include Cereal, Soup, Mac & Cheese, Rice Sides, Healthy Snacks, Tuna Fish, Mayo, Beans, Pasta, Salad Dressing, Ketchup and Mustard.  Brotherhood In Action cannot accept expired items.

Local lawmaker marks Equal Pay Day

Danbury State Senator Julie Kushner has marked Equal Pay Day.  March 15th was how far into this year the average woman must work to make the same as their male counterpart in 2021.  Kushner, chair of the legislature's Labor Committee, says on average, women make 84 cents to the dollar for a white male counterpart, and the gap for women of color is even more severe.  Kushner touted work last session to pass a salary history ban and salary range transparency requirements to reduce this gap.

Nurturing Fathers Program At Families Network Of Western CT to hold workshops

A new series of free classes from the Nurturing Fathers Program At Families Network Of Western Connecticut are beginning on March 29th, and running through June 21st.  The free 13-week series invites fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers and father figures to develop the skills to create closer bonds with their children and partners.  Classes are Tuesday evenings from 6pm to 8:30 at 264 Main Street, Danbury.  Registration is required.  Families Network is headquarters is at 5 Library Place

Danbury school officials working on Career pathways curriculum

In addition to specific building requirements, the Danbury Career Academy is getting specialized educational programming. There are 6 academies proposed, with 4 at Danbury High School and two at the new school at the Cartus property.  Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning Dr. Kara Casimiro says each academy will have 4 pathways of study. 

The two proposed for the westside campus location are the Academy of Scientific Innovation & Medicine and the Academy of Global Enterprise & Economics.  The current collaborative learning space houses 12 hospital beds and all of the associated equipment for the CNA program, but the classroom is packed.  Casimiro says it's one of the most popular programs.  The District is looking to grow the EMT program since Danbury has a certified staff member who can teach those courses.

The four proposed for Danbury High School are the Academies of Innovation Technology & Cyber Security, Professional & Public Service, Art, Engineering & Design, and Communications & Design.  The engineering pieces will stay at DHS, but Casimiro says they have some decisions to make, including whether to keep biomedical engineering with health or engineering.  She notes that they do have to look at teacher certifications and how to get maximum efficiencies with staffing. 

All freshmen would go to DHS.  Sophomores would start foundational courses in their pathway.  The curriculum also calls for on-site trips and guest speakers.  Juniors will take more specific electives or courses for industry certifications.  Seniors will complete a capstone project, and possibly do an internship. 

All students must also meet regular high school graduation requirements.  Casimiro says the academies promote smaller learning communities, present college preparatory and career-focused curriculum, and allow for an advisory board to connect students with opportunities.  

Rally held in Danbury about affordable, quality child care

A rally was held outside Danbury Library yesterday by United Way of Western Connecticut and its network of Cora’s Kids child care providers.  It was one of 8 rallies across the state as part of Child Care for Connecticut’s Future, a statewide coalition, effort to shine a light on the importance of affordable, quality child care. 

United Way President Isabel Almeida says across Connecticut, including in Danbury, 44 percent of residents live in a child care desert where there are not enough child care options. For 80 percent of parents, the cost of child care is unaffordable. 

United Way launched Cora’s Kids in 2018 in Danbury and New Milford to increase the number of licensed family child care providers so parents will have safe, affordable care for their children while they work.  As of January, United Way has provided support to more than 50 child care providers, creating more than 318 child care spots in greater Danbury and New Milford.   

The Coalition is supporting legislation that would invest $700 million in the upcoming State budget for child care and early education. The funds would be used to support child care educators and extend free or low cost care to families who need it most. This is the first step in a five-year plan to ensure every family has access to free or low-cost care, and every child care provider is paid a fair wage. 

Newtown Board of Ed launches survey in Superintendent search

The Newtown Board of Education has contracted with the New England School Development Council to assist in the search process for a new Superintendent of Schools.  A parent and community participation survey has been launched online to get input about the attributes, experience, and knowledge that the new superintendent should possess.  The survey also asks participants to identify immediate tasks which the new superintendent should address.  The survey will be open through March 31st.  All comments are considered anonymous.  The organization will group the responses by administrators, staff, parents, community members, and students before presenting them to the Board of Ed in a community needs assessment report. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3MVZ9N3
 

Danbury Planning Commission to meet about school project proposals

The Danbury Planning Commission is meeting tonight and expected to start discussions on school building and upgrade work.  The Commission will weigh in on the $164 million Danbury Career Academy and $44 million school improvement packages.  Planning Director Sharon Calitro says the investment in Danbury schools is consistent with the City's master plan.  The bonding would need to be approved by residents in a referendum.  Danbury will have to rezone the Cartus property in order to convert the building into a combined middle and high school.  Tonight's Planning Commission meeting is being held via Zoom at 7:30.

New Milford to make ADA improvements at Butterbrook Hill Apartments

In the recently approved federal omnibus spending bill, funding was included for New Milford.  $1.7 million will be used for  accessibility improvements to Butterbrook Hill Apartments.  New Milford will manage the project with the assistance of the Municipal Building Committee to ensure it meets federal, state, and local compliance and contract requirements.  Mayor Pete Bass says the sprawling five-building complex requires accessibility improvements to meet current ADA compliance standards. A preliminary assessment indicated several areas of modifications are needed.  Bass says the essential improvements are only some of the capital needs that exist at Butter Brook Apartments.

Danbury Republican Town Committee reelects chairman

The Danbury Republican Town Committee has reelected Mike Safranek as the party's chairman.  During the group's meeting Monday night, Safranek was chosen for a 3rd term, having previously served 9 years as vice chair.  Safranek said he believes that the local Danbury Republican party is more representative of the community than ever before and hopes to capitalize on the victories this past November.  The Republicans hold a supermajority on the City Council and flipped control of a number of commissions.

Brewster man arrested for alleged possession of child pornography

A Brewster man has been arrested for alleged possession of child pornography.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Department received information in December from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force that images and videos of child sexual abuse material were being shared online from a residence in Brewster.  On January 14th, investigators carried out a search warrant at a 21-year old's home.  Electronic storage detection K9 Hannah helped to recover items and a digital forensics examination led to evidence against the man, whose name was not immediately released.  The suspect was charged with 5 counts of Promoting an Obscene Sexual Performance by a Child. He was arraigned and released for a future court appearance.  

Convicted felon arrested for allegedly illegally possessing guns

A convicted felon has been arrested for illegally possessing guns.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Department reports that a search warrant was carried out at a Carmel home on Friday and three firearms were seized including one personally made firearm, a so-called ghost gun.  A 33-year-old Mahopac man who has a previous felony conviction for Robbery, was charged with 5 counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon.  The man, whose name was not immediately released, was arraigned and released on electronic monitoring. Investigators were assisted by Carmel Police, Westchester County Police Department, Putnam County District Attorney's Office, and the FBI.

Redding Police see increase of mail theft

Redding Police have seen an increase of mail theft.  The department is offering some tips to avoid being a victim.  The United States Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement branch of the USPS, says some of the biggest take aways are to never mail cash and to deposit mail close to collection time, even when using the blue postal boxes.  They also suggest sending mail from inside the post office if possible.

Redding halts collection for STEAM Fair event

The Town of Redding is halting the collection of paper towels and toilet paper rolls at Town Hall, Mark Twain Library and other locations. This was started by the Redding Elementary School PTA for the upcoming STEAM Fair. This year’s theme supports nature and Earth Day.  The Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Technology event is being held on April 23rd.  Redding is also doing their annual town-wide trash clean up and building “Mount Trashmore” on the Town Green.

New Milford to hold parent conversations on vaping, internet safety

The New Milford Youth Agency has partnered with New Milford Police and the Center for Empowerment and Education, formerly the Women's Center, for a parent conversation event about bullying.  The discussion about keeping safe online is being held on Monday at the Maxx from 6pm to 7:30. Registration is required.  A Parent Conversation with the Western Connecticut Coalition on Vaping and its Effects on Youth is also scheduled.  The discussion on current trends, products available, understanding what vaping is, and the concerns of underage vaping will be held on Tuesday at the Maxx from 6pm to 7.  Registration is required.  The event will be led by Youth Agency Director Jason O'Connor and U-S Air Force MSgt. Sarah Lorenzini.

Drive, snow plow involved in accident in Newtown

A driver was injured in a crash with a snow plow over the weekend.  Newtown Police say an SUV and a plow truck collided around 8:30pm Saturday on the snowy and icy roadway.  Firefighters needed to remove the driver’s door and back left door to help the motorist out of the vehicle.  The crash happened in the area of Hanover Road.  The driver was taken to the hospital to be evaluated for their injuries.

Danbury man, hiding drugs in underwear, arrested for alleged illicit sales

A Danbury man who was hiding several bags of Fentanyl and crack cocaine in his underwear has been arrested.  Detectives from the Special Investigations Division were granted search warrants for 48-year old Julio Perez-Flores after weeks of investigation into illegal drug sales in the City.  The warrants were carried out yesterday as Perez-Flores sat in his vehicle.  He was uncooperative and didn't allow officers to search him. Police later located a glass crack pipe and the drugs on his person.  He was charged with 2 counts each of possession of narcotics substance with intent to sell and possession of a controlled substance and one count each of possession of drug paraphernalia and interference with a search warrant.

Newtown Police Commission looks to put stop signs at intersection

The Newtown Police Commission is looking to put stop signs at a dangerous intersection.  Cricket and Narragansett Trail in the Sandy Hook section of town were once private roads.  The intersection already has a stop sign, but the town has no record of its installation.  The Commission did not believe there was enough traffic on Narragansett to justify a four-way stop, but did approve stop signs on each side of Cricket Trail.  Department of Public Works Director Fred Hurley told the Commission that this is just the beginning of “non-standard public roadways,” which the town is responsible for maintaining, not legally accepted as town roads because they don’t meet town road standards.

Public hearing in Newtown tomorrow on budget proposal

The Newtown Legislative Council is meeting tomorrow night for a public hearing on the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  The hearing is at 7pm in the Municipal Center Council Chamber. 

While the total spending increase is about 5-percent, the proposed tax increase would be .4 percent.  This comes as  Motor vehicle valuations increased 26 percent, growing Newtown's Grand List.  The proposed municipal budget is about $47-million, an 8 percent increase, caused by moving money to the non-recurring fund.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says the money must be accounted for so it's not an actual spending increase.  He likened it to moving money from a checking account into a savings account. 

The Board of Education is seeking an $82.43 million budget, a 3.43 percent increase.  Some of the proposed spending for building maintenance projects and Chromebooks was moved to the Capital and Non-Recurring Fund.  The proposed mill rate is .44 higher, to 34.80 mills in 2022-23.

Following tomorrow's public hearing, the Legislative Council, members will discuss the budget at three meetings planned through the end of the month.  A vote is expected at their April 6th meeting, with a referendum on April 26.

Enrollment study ordered for proposed Danbury Career Academy

During the Danbury Board of Education's meeting last week, Superintendent Kevin Walston was asked about continued enrollment growth in the district and how to accommodate all of the new students. He acknowledged that for years the City has out-performed the projections of demographers.  But enrollment studies are what's used to justify a building project.  Right now, the City can justify the building of a combined 1,100 student high school and 360 student middle school, the Career Academy.  Walston says when the numbers justify it, Danbury could convert the building into a 9 through 12 grade high school and the City would be well positioned to create a middle school based on the proposed land purchase.  But he says at this point it's premature to talk about building new middle school.  The Danbury Career Academy project does require an updated enrollment study, which Walston says will get underway soon.

Local lawmaker wants to amend 8-30g affordable housing statute

A local lawmaker wants his colleagues to take up a proposal to amend the state's 8-30g affordable housing statute.  Bethel Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says the requested bill aims to award five housing unit-equivalent points to towns or cities which develop, review, and amend an Affordable Housing Plan and enact regulations under Section 8-30g. 

All municipalities are required to adopt an Affordable Housing Plan, with at least 10% of all dwelling units in each municipality dedicated to affordable housing.  Allie-Brennan says the state should create incentives for towns to buy into the need for Affordable Housing.  But he added that the law, as currently written, has led to unfair shortcuts which allow developers to bypass local zoning laws.

In June of 2020, The Department of Housing funded a $50,000 grant initiative to award towns with under 50,000 residents up to $5,000 for help in creating Affordable Housing Plans. In June of 2021, the legislature adopted components pertaining to the Zoning Statues and required that Affordable Housing Plans be filed with the State of Connecticut no later than June 1, 2022. 

Danbury opts out of state provision on accessory apartments

Danbury is opting out of a state law requiring municipalities to allow accessory apartments, or so-called granny pods.  Starting this year, accessory apartments, which are also known as garage apartments or in-law suites, will be legal to build and rent to family or other tenants in residential and single-family areas. 

The Danbury Zoning Commission gave final approval to opt out of the requirement. 

For municipalities that don't opt-out, accessory apartments would be limited to 30 percent of the principal dwelling or 1,000 square feet, whichever is smaller. The law prevents local zoning regulations from establishing minimum floor area requirements that exceed proper safety code. 

Planning Director Sharon Calitro says Danbury is best positioned to address housing issues in the City.  She notes that they are in the process of preparing the 10-year Plan of Conservation and Development update and an affordable housing plan.  Calitro says they recognize that Danbury is growing and have discussed the need to reinstate some form of accessory apartment regulation.  

Danbury is above the state required minimum of 10 percent of housing stock being designated as affordable.

Falling tree causes leak at Algonquin Gas Pipeline in Southbury

A falling tree caused a leak of an Algonquin Gas Pipeline in Southbury over the weekend.  Southbury emergency services was dispatched to the IBM property around 10 o'clock Saturday night on a leak of a significant amount of gas.

Multiple houses in the Kettletown Road area were evacuated as a precaution.  An emergency shelter was opened at Southbury Town Hall.  The leak in the 2 inch pipe was remediated and all residents were able to return home just after midnight. 

While waiting for utilities companies to arrive mutual aid from Middlebury Fire Department and Woodbury ambulance responded to the scene and Sandy Hook Fire stood by at Center Firehouse.  These mutual aid crews responded to a single vehicle rollover on I-84 while Southbury crews were at the gas leak.  

Fire Marshals warning about dangers of gasoline as highly flammable

Area Fire Marshals are warning about the dangers of gasoline as there are reports of people "hoarding" gas due to the price increases. Sherman Volunteer Fire Department says gasoline is highly flammable and should only be stored in approved containers and kept in well ventilated locations.  They say it's not worth saving a few dollars to put life and property in danger. 

 

Odor of burning in Mahopac store not due to fire

A report of an odor of burning in a Mahopac store turned out to be from activity by a contractor working on the air conditioning equipment. Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department responded Friday afternoon to the Rite-Aid Pharmacy on Route 6.  A search of the premises with heat detecting infrared cameras and gas detectors, inside the building and on the roof,  led to the equipment at the rear of the building.  No fire was caused and no danger to the occupants existed. 

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccine clinics in Danbury, Wilton

Griffin Hospital will be administering pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations to kids 5 to 11 at mobile clinics throughout the state today. Booster doses will also be available for children ages 12 and older.  No appointment is needed at clinics in Danbury at Park Avenue School from 4pm to 7 and in Wilton at Cider Mill School from 3pm to 7.

FAITH Food Pantry collects pet food

Members of the Newtown state legislative delegation recently took part in the monthly FAITH Food Pantry cat and dog food drive behind St. Rose Church.  According to the FAITH Pantry, over 100 items of dry and wet pet food were collected during the drive.  State Representative Mitch Bolinsky says it's been a challenging couple of years with changes in employment, upended national supply-chains and inflation forcing some people to make difficult choices about things many take for granted.  State Senator Tony Hwang says the FAITH Food Pantry has been a staple for providing food and loving community services by Newtown volunteers for over 30 years, and they are needed now more than ever.

Two Danbury City Council meetings set for Tuesday

There's a committee meeting of the Danbury City Council tomorrow night.  Members are taking up the nomination of a City Constable Appointment.  Independent Francis Kieras was proposed for the position, but Councilman Joe Britton took issue the transparency of the vacancy and the political affiliation of the nominee.  Kieras was a registered Republican until last month and there must be minority party representation among the 5 constables.  Tomorrow's meeting is at 6pm at Danbury City Hall.

The idea of renaming the Alternative Center for Excellence building after its founder will be discussed by a City Council committee tomorrow night.  There's also a proposal to rename the street after the late Joe Pepin.  Tomorrow's Committee meeting at Danbury City Hall is at 6:30pm.

18-year old arrested for alleged assault on 13-year old

An 18-year old Danbury man has been arrested for an alleged assault on a 13-year old.  Police were called to a Wildman Street home on Friday morning on a report of a burglary in progress. Officers found a 13-year-old male suffering from head and facial injuries.  The youth said a white man forced his way in at gunpoint and demanded money.  When the youth didn't give over any money, the man reportedly struck him in the head with the gun multiple times. 

The suspect allegedly stole a PlayStation before leaving.  A man matching the suspect description was located nearby and identified as Mario Alfonso Dominguez.  He was charged with home invasion, assault, disorderly conduct, larceny, robbery with a deadly weapon and risk of injury to a child.

The weapon and PlayStation were not immediately located. 

Investigators are looking into the circumstances surrounding the incident. 

Juvenile arrested for shooting outside Chili's Restaurant

A juvenile has been arrested for the shooting outside Chili's Restaurant in Danbury earlier this month.  Recovered physical evidence and anonymous tips, led investigators to a 16-year-old Danbury resident.  A warrant was granted by the court last week and the teen was taken into custody at his home on Friday for threatening, illegal discharge of a firearm, breach of peace, reckless endangerment and criminal attempt to commit assault. 

He was transported to Bridgeport Juvenile Corrections on a remand to custody ordered by the Superior Court Judge. 

The investigation remains ongoing and police say more arrests are anticipated. 

Officers responded to Chili's on March 5th on the report of a disturbance with gunshots fired.  A fight between two groups of patrons moved outside, and one person fired several shots.  No one was injured in the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call the confidential tips line at (203) 790-TIPS (8477).

Unattended kayak on Lillinonah prompts large emergency response

A report of an unattended kayak along the shores of Lake Lillinonah prompted a large emergency response this weekend.  The initial call was a capsized kayak with a life jacket attached floating in the water with no one in sight. 

The vessel was reported in an area not easily accessible from land.  The first Brookfield Police Officer at the Bridgewater boat launch noticed a truck with a kayak rack. Concerned for the safety of a possible kayaker, a search was launched.  The  kayaker from the truck was located in no distress. 

The original kayak was deemed by state EnCon Police to be derelict.  The vessel apparently had broken loose in the high winds.  Brookfield Police are working on locating who it belongs to.

Bridgewater, Brookfield, and State Police, EnCon Police, Newtown Underwater Search and Rescue, Newtown Hook & Ladder, along with a stand by from the EAGLE 2 helicopter responded.

Sherman School briefly evacuated due to smoke conditions

The Sherman School was evacuated Friday due to a smoking fan motor.  The Sherman Volunteer Fire Department responded to an activated fire alarm at the school around 8am and found light smoke conditions inside.  Firefighters located the source of the smoke, an overheated exhaust fan motor on the roof.  Fans were used to dissipate the smoke inside the school and the fire marshal then determined it safe to have students and staff re-entered the building about an hour later.  Gaylordsville Fire Department provided mutual aid.

Danbury man arrested on drug related charges

A Danbury man has been arrested on drug related charges.  Bounmy Douangta was charged last Monday following an investigation into illegal drug sales in the City.  Search warrants were carried out as the 38-year old sat in his car in a Newtown Road parking lot.  Police seized Oxycodone, and Amphetamine pills and 760-dollars cash.  He was charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance, two counts of possession with intent to sell and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Danbury puts out request for proposals for Danbury Career Academy

Danbury has put out a request for proposals for the Danbury Career Academy.  A mandatory pre-bid walkthrough will be held at the Apple Ridge Road site on the 21st.  Bids are due by the 31st.  Due to the current funds available of $400,000, the project is broken into three phases, with the balance of the work subject to a summer referendum vote. 

Residents previously approved $99 million in bonding, but that was when the project was planned at The Summit.  There have also been inflation and other cost changes since the earlier referendum.

All building systems are to be evaluated for potential reuse or replacement. Building additions will be required for additional stair capacity, educational programming, and gymnasium with associated spaces. Egress including handicap accessibility must be provided throughout the building to effectively accommodate the projected student and employee population. 

The projected total construction cost is approximately $84 million.  The City is looking at a strict timeline, with final occupancy slated for August 2024. 

Local lawmaker touts emissions bill proposal

A pair of bills designed to minimize emissions in the transportation sector are being introduced in Connecticut.  One would introduce new emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in Connecticut.  The other would incentivize the purchase of electric vehicles in the state.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection released a report finding that Connecticut can significantly improve air quality and public health by adopting new emission standards for medium and heavy-duty (MHD) vehicles offered for sale in Connecticut beginning in 2026.  

For almost 45 years, DEEP says Connecticut has failed to meet federal health-based air quality standards for ground-level ozone (smog), subjecting generations of Connecticut residents to adverse health and economic impacts. Poor air quality exposure worsens acute and chronic respiratory problems such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and other lung diseases.  Ridgefield state Senator Will Haskell says this past year, Connecticut experienced 21 days of unhealthy levels of ozone, and documented some of the highest monitored values on the east coast.

The transportation sector is responsible for 67% of the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a key component of smog. MHD vehicles—which include trucks, buses, and smaller delivery vehicles—account for as much as 53% of NOx emissions, despite being only 6% of the on-road vehicle fleet. The transportation sector is also the largest source of statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at 37%, and as DEEP’s most recent GHG Emissions Inventory found, emissions from that sector are increasing, when they must decline by roughly one-third in this decade if the State is to meet its GHG emissions reduction target for 2030. MHD vehicles are responsible for 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.

Constable nominee on hold in Danbury

A committee of the Danbury City Council has been called for to review the nomination of a constable.  Francis Kieras was recommended by the Mayor for the role, but Councilman Joe Britton says he only  recently switched from the Republican party to an Independent.  Kieras served as constable before, running in 2017 on the Democratic ticket.  He was appointed as a Justice of the Peace by the Republican party and took office in January 2021.  Danbury has five elected constables, one must belong to the minority party.  Britton asked the city attorney’s office and the registrar about the vacant position, but during his council meeting comments, Britton also cited a political mailer endorsing Republican council candidate John Esposito III signed by Kieras. The mailer specifically mentioned Britton, Esposito’s then-opponent, and questioned his ability to properly serve Danbury as he was serving with a law firm in Massachusetts.  Britton was on the Danbury Board of Education at the time of the Danbury municipal election in November.   

Send off ceremony held for members of 411th Civil Affairs Battalion

A send off ceremony has been held in Danbury for members of the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.  The Headquarters Company is preparing to deploy for a year long mission in Africa under the Company Command of Lt Colonel Nathan Bech.  The 411th CA BN has a long history of service in Europe, Africa and the Middle East working to build host nation infrastructure, governance and civil stability through partnerships with the Department of State and USAID as well as Doctors Without Borders and the International Red Cross. The ceremony was held at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Danbury.  Delivering remarks were Bech, 411th CA BN Commander Lt Colonel Robert Beat, State VA Commissioner Thomas Saadi, and Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito.  Saadi presented the deploying soldiers with a State flag flown at the Department of Veterans Affairs main Campus in Rocky Hill to bring with them to Africa. As a former member of the 411th CA BN, Saadi called it an honor to be a part of the ceremony.

Fire officials: Change the clock, change the batteries

Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue is reminding residents that Daylight Saving Time returns at 2am tomorrow.  They suggest when changing the clocks, to also change batteries in smoke detectors.  The National Fire Protection Association reports that nearly 75% of smoke alarms which failed to operate had missing, disconnected or dead batteries.  Fire officials say this reinforces how important it is to take this time each year to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Legislative committee to hold hearing on juvenile crime reform bill

The legislature's Judiciary Committee will be holding a public hearing on issues related to juvenile crime.  New Fairfield state Representative Patrick Callahan says several bills are on Monday's agenda, including revisions to juvenile and Criminal Justice Statutes and Insurance Statutes Concerning Theft of a Motor Vehicle.  Email testimony can be submitted to JUDtestimony@cga.ct.gov while those looking to speak during the hearing must register by 3pm tomorrow.

Local lawmaker backs suspension of gross receipts tax

Connecticut Republican lawmakers this week proposed a temporary suspension of the gross receipts tax on gasoline.  New Milford Senator Craig Miner says families are frustrated and at a breaking point from historically high prices at the pump.  He says cars are the only means to access jobs in Litchfield County as mass transit is largely not an option.  He called it irresponsible to withhold relief from families who’ve paid dearly and are the reason why the state’s budget is flush with reserves.

FuelCell Energy: Fiscal Q1 Earnings Snapshot

DANBURY, Conn. (AP) _ FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCEL) on Thursday reported a loss of $40.6 million in its fiscal first quarter.

The Danbury, Connecticut-based company said it had a loss of 11 cents per share. Losses, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were 4 cents per share.

The results met Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was also for a loss of 4 cents per share.

The fuel cell power plant maker posted revenue of $31.8 million in the period, which topped Street forecasts. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $26.1 million.

3 Danbury residents arrested for allegedly operating a drug factory

Three Danbury residents have been charged with operating a drug factory, following an 8 month long investigation by the Special Investigations Division and the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

Detectives say the target of the investigation was 49-year old Peter Paul Vetere.  Police seized a large amount of narcotics, cash and a loaded 9mm handgun when he was stopped while entering his vehicle.  A search warrant was carried out at his Shelter Rock Road apartment and detectives seized a large quantity of methamphetamine, fentanyl, crack cocaine, cocaine and marijuana.  Several hundred plastic bags of packaging material and scales used for the distribution of narcotics were also seized. 

Danbury Police say an area in the home was set up for the packaging of various narcotics for sale. 

Vetere was charged with possession with intent to sell over 1 ounce of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, operating a drug factory, criminal possession of a firearm, criminal possession of ammunition, ghost gun restrictions, four counts of possession of narcotics with intent to sell and five counts of possession of a controlled substance.  Two people at the home during the search were also charged. 

30-year old Cassandra Richter and 31-year old Matthew Melillo were each charged with possession with intent to sell over 1 ounce of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, operating a drug factory, possession of drug paraphernalia, two counts of possession with intent to sell over 1 ounce of cocaine and three counts of possession of a controlled substance.

State Dept. Public Health releases COVID-19 data for Greater Danbury area

Between March 1st and 6th, the latest data available, Danbury reported 29 COVID-19 cases.  According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Bethel reported 17 cases in the last two weeks. There were 20  COVID cases in New Milford over the last two weeks, 30 in Newtown, Redding reported 11 cases while Ridgefield had 28. 

The state department of Public Health is reporting COVID-19 case rates for the Greater Danbury area continue to fall. Case rates for the week ending March 5th range from 5 to 8 cases per 100,000 population, down slightly from 5 to 10 cases the week before. The lowest case rate is in New Milford and the highest is in Redding, based on population.    

The rates are:

New Milford 5.3

Bethel 6.1

Newtown 7.7

Ridgefield 8

Redding 8.6

Brookfield, Danbury and New Fairfield were not reported this week

The state department of Public Health is reporting COVID-19 infection rates for the Greater Danbury area ranging from 2.3 percent to 4.5 percent, about even with last week.  The lowest test positivity is in Newtown and the highest is in Redding.  At home COVID-19 test results are not reported to the state. 

The rates are:

Newtown 2.9 percent

Bethel 3.1 percent

Ridgefield 3.3 percent

New Milford 3.5 percent 

Redding 4.5 percent

Brookfield, Danbury and New Fairfield were not reported this week

The number COVID-associated deaths has grown by 100 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the state's fully vaccinated population of 6.5 percent. 

New state data released Thursday show there were 291 positive COVID cases reported to the state since Wednesday out of more than 16-thousand tests.  The daily positivity rate was 1.79 percent.  The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive for COVID dropped by 7, for a total of 155.  43.2 percent of those patients are not fully vaccinated. 

Danbury Police launch new crime mapping tool

The Danbury Police Department has released a new tool for residents to monitor crime in their neighborhood.  The new Lexus Crime Mapping software automatically imports data from the Danbury Police Department records system, and uploads it with the case number and a couple of details from the incident.  The program also allows anyone to report information about an incident directly from the map using Tip411, the recently launched anonymous tip reporting software.

Senate approves funding for Conn. projects in appropriations bill

The omnibus federal appropriations bill that just cleared the U.S. Senate and is headed to the President's desk for his signature includes funding for a number of projects in Connecticut. 

There's $983,000 for public safety communication system upgrades in Wilton, $2.15 million for Nuvance Health to expand mental health outpatient services and $1.2 million for United Way of Western Connecticut to serve low-income families.  The Danbury-based New American Dream Foundation will receive $50,000 to serve meals to low-income seniors. Considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on families the nonprofit created a Hot Meal Program.  It was expanded from seniors to school children as the pandemic wore on. 

According to United Way, in parts of the city, food insecurity among older adults is as high as 30 percent, which believes these figures likely increased due to the pandemic.

Tweaks made to Danbury Career Academy plans to accommodate future students

The Danbury Board of Ed has gotten an update on plans for the Danbury Career Academy.  Superintendent Kevin Walston says they've had several behind the scenes meeting since the announcement of the new proposed location at the Cartus building on the City's westside. 

He says this has created options for them to look at whether the academic focus will be changed and what opportunities should be maximized right now.  He notes that they have held talks with their architects, the City's Public Works Director and the Mayor about the plans.  Students will come out of 8th grade and all enter Danbury High School for grade 9 for a college and career exploration course, with additional opportunities with guidance counselors for planning. 

Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning Dr. Kara Casimiro says they are making some small tweaks that were cost neutral.  The gym designed for the project when it was proposed at The Summit was not regulation sized.  Now it will be upgraded from a middle school sized gym so basketball games could be played there.  She notes that if the Danbury Career Academy becomes a second high school in the future, that old gym would have been an expensive project to fix. 

They're also now planning room for band and music down the road, again if in the future this becomes its own high school, there are spaces carved out within the existing footprint.

Two 3 alarm fires in Danbury, one firefighter injured

A 3 alarm fire was reported in Danbury late evening Wednesday at a commercial building in CityCenter.  Firefighters responded to 135 Main Street, which houses a Church, a dentist’s office and a convenience store.  The fire was reported in the kitchen of the large size of the single story structure. 

All occupants were out of the building when firefighters arrived. 

As conditions in the kitchen worsened, a 3rd alarm was struck bringing in relief of working personnel and to assist in an extensive overhaul operation. Heavy smoke was found throughout the structure, but no fire extension.

The Salvation Army provided firefighter rehab. 

The Fire Department was alerted to smoke coming from a townhouse on Virginia Avenue yesterday morning.  Smoke was showing from the roofline of a large 8 unit townhouse building when they arrived.  Firefighters were  faced with high heat and smoke throughout the unit. Initial crews located the fire on the third floor and knocked down the bulk of the flames with one hose line. 

One firefighter was transported for evaluation and has since been released. 

The Danbury Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fires which are undetermined at this time.

Mask mandate to end at WCSU in April

The mask mandate at West Conn is ending on April 4th.  The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system announced that masks will be optional at all of their 17 institutions, along with the system office.  

According to the CDC, all of Connecticut is at low risk of spreading COVID-19. 

The campuses will move from pandemic emergency response to routine disease prevention. On April 4th, the COVID reopen plans that were developed in June 2020 will expire.  West Conn will end weekly testing of employees and students and individual case contact tracing.  PCR testing on campus will be available through April 1st. 

Physical distancing restrictions will be removed in areas such as lounges, cafeterias, conference rooms, and other non-academic setting. However, in most instances, current classroom arrangements will remain throughout the semester.  COVID Coordinators will continue to make masks and rapid tests available for employees and students who want them. 

Employees and students are expected to continue to self-monitor their health and stay home whenever they have COVID-like symptoms and follow current CDC guidance on quarantine and isolation. Employees and students who test positive should continue to follow the campus process for notification.

Bethel, New Milford funding included in federal omnibus spending bill

$144 million of the newly approved 2022 Omnibus Appropriations bill funds projects in Connecticut.  Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal say community-based projects in Connecticut designed to promote economic growth, upgrade infrastructure, and other programs were included.  Bethel will receive $2.24 million for two waste water treatment projects.  New Milford will get $1.72 million for low-income senior housing renovations at Butter Brook Apartments. 

Driver killed in Bridgewater crash identified

A New Milford man has been killed in a single-car crash in Bridgewater.  State Police say 36-year old Robert John Lemke was the driver involved in the collision near the intersection of New Milford Road East and Barn Road Monday afternoon.  State Police say he continued straight while on a curve, ran off the roadway and crashed into a tree.  Airbags inside the Jeep deployed but Lemke was not wearing a seat belt.  The crash remains under investigation.

Local lawmaker introduces bill to reducing e-book digital costs

A local lawmaker has introduced a bill to reducing e-book digital costs to better support Connecticut’s libraries.  Newtown Senator Tony Hwang says libraries are facing ever-increasing budgetary shortfalls, but are important community cornerstones and resources.  A public hearing was held on the bill and lawmakers heard about the challenges libraries face to balance providing virtual and in person visitors with cutting edge materials.  Hwang says Connecticut public libraries now receive an average of only 1-point-15 percent of municipal budgets to provide needed services to the communities they serve. According to the State Library, the cost to obtain an eBook license is twice what it costs to purchase a hardcover copy of the same resource and these licenses often expire after a set period of time or number of uses. An audio version that can be accessed by those with vision or other reading impairments, can be 4x greater still.

Roxbury Police investigating a larceny

Roxbury Police are investigating a larceny at the Wine and Spirits Store that occurred on Friday around 5pm. The Resident State Trooper's Office is attempting to identify the individual pictured in surveillance footage posted to their Facebook page. Anyone with any information is asked to contact Ofc. Witkowski at 203-267-2240. All calls will be kept confidential.

Man arrested for alleged burglary in progress in Sherman

A man has been arrested for an alleged burglary in progress in Sherman.  On Sunday evening, State Police responded to the area of the Sherman IGA, for the report of a male creating a public disturbance.  Troopers arrived and determined there was a burglary down the street at Giddings Garage.  27-year old Daniel Finley was charged with burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and two counts of larceny. 

Redding Police to raise money for St. Baldrick's Foundation

Members of the Redding Police Department will be participating in a St. Baldrick's event held at the John Reed Middle School on March 28.  Some members will be shaving their heads to spread awareness of the St. Baldrick's Foundation.  The organization says world wide, 300,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. And in the U.S., more children die of childhood cancer than any other disease—more than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies and diabetes combined.

Funding for Monroe included in congressional appropriations bill

An appropriations package passed by Congress yesterday includes funding for organizations in Connecticut.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes says Monroe will get $200,000 to update, improve and replace STEM computer labs and PCs for K-12 students.  Housatonic Community College will use $1 million for the expansion of the advanced manufacturing training program.  The bill is a result of compromise with the Senate and will be signed into law by the President later this week.

Bethel man loses battle with ALS

A Bethel man has lost his battle with ALS.  Mike Tamburino passed away Monday at age 50.  He was celebrated last summer by the Bethel Baseball Association and was inducted into the State of CT Babe Ruth League, Inc Hall of Fame. Bethel Baseball also named an award for him, The Mike Tamburino Lifetime Achievement Award.  He was a member of both the Bethel Baseball and Bethel Youth Lacrosse boards.  Calling hours will be held at Bethel Funeral Home on Greenwood Avenue tomorrow from 5pm to 8.  The funeral will be held at Bethel United Methodist Church on Saturday at 2pm.

Public hearing date set for proposed Danbury school bonding proposals

Danbury officials have scheduled a public hearing on proposed bonding for school projects, including the updated $164 million price tag for the Danbury Career Academy project.  The public hearing will be held on March 23rd at 7pm.  Residents can also weigh in on $43.9 million in bonding for projects proposed at Danbury High School. It includes updates, renovations and code compliance improvements to the science labs, nurse site and bathrooms, HVAC equipment and duct evaluation, supply and condensate pipe abatement, and ADA accessible routes to the stadium bleachers. ADA compliance at Hayestown Avenue Elementary and a new roof for King Street Primary have also been proposed.  Members of the City Council will meet as a committee of the whole immediately following the public hearing.  

Newtown students to have day off on 10th anniversary of 12/14

The 10th anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook School will be a day off for Newtown students.  The Board of Education has voted on a school calendar for the upcoming academic year.  December 14th will be a professional development day for educators.  Last December 14th was a remote learning day for Newtown Public School students in response to a series of anonymous threats to schools across the state.  Superintendent of Schools Dr Lorrie Rodrigue says she heard from teachers that they prefer to be together on the date of the tragedy.

Brookfield Board of Selectmen to end Zoom participation

The Brookfield Board of Selectmen has voted to end Zoom participation at Selectmen meetings.  First Selectwomen Tara Carr proposed the agenda item, with Selectman Harry Shaker joining in support and Steve Dunn opposing.  Shaker said he would be in favor of Board members still being able to phone in if they are ill or out of town.  That practice was in place prior to the pandemic.  A live stream on the town's website will still be offered for the public.  Carr says she made the proposal because Zoom adds an undue burden to staff tasked with organizing the virtual meeting link.

Danbury detective named 2nd in command at Newtown Police Department

The Newtown Police Commission has named Brian Bishop as Captain of Newtown Police Department.  He previously served as  the commanding officer of Danbury Police Department Detective Division.  The appointment was made to replace Chris Vanghele who left in January to become Plainville Police Chief.  Bishop will now be the second in command at Newtown Police Department, though his start date has yet to be determined.  Bishop, a Shelton resident, was the detective captain at Danbury Police Department, and the commanding officer for the Regional Emergency Services Unit.

PURA to hold listening session

The state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is holding a virtual public listening session on performance-based ratemaking later this month.  Brookfield state Representative Steve Harding says PURA is tasked with regulating the rates and services of Connecticut's energy utility and telecommunication companies. As part of their work, the agency is investigating different systems to help increase efficiency for customers while also reducing costs.  The Zoom listening session on March 16th is at 6:30pm.

Bethel Police, Schools to host an internet safety presentation

The Bethel Police Department and the Bethel Public Schools have partnered to host an internet safety presentation.  The forum called How to Protect Your Children Online is part of Parent University. 

The presentation will be held from 6pm to 7:30. 

Bethel School officials say 69% of teens receive regular personal messages from people they do not know, 33% of teens are bullied online and the average age that children are exposed to online pornography is 11 years old. 

The presenter is Scott Driscoll, who spent most of his 29-year career in law enforcement as a youth officer with a local Connecticut police department, building a rapport with youth in the community and in the school system.  While serving on a federal task force combating crimes against children, he conducted undercover investigations of crimes committed by people using computers and the Internet. 

Driscoll founded Internet Safety Concepts in 2007.

Newly renovated Danbury Emergency Operations Center opened

Danbury's newly renovated Emergency Operations Center has opened.  The renovated space in the basement of City Hall was opened  to the public yesterday.  The large meeting room featured wall to wall monitors, a U-shaped table and smaller side conference rooms.  There's a dispatch office, executive planning office, small breakout rooms and showers. 

Emergency Management Director Matthew Cassavechia says they will be able to troubleshoot, monitor, and respond to high impact incidents in Danbury.  Among those in attendance were members of the City Council, the Chiefs of the Police and Fire Departments, people from neighboring towns, and the FBI. 

A company called Red Thread was awarded the roughly $160,000 bid for the work.  Some of the cost was offset by a donation from Danbury-based FuelCell Energy. 

A task force to determine the best location for the operations center decided that the existing basement location would be a secure area.

Public hearing held on proposed pandemic pay for essential workers

A public hearing has been held by the Connecticut legislature's Labor Committee on a bill that would grant essential workers pandemic pay.  Danbury state Senator Julie Kushner says the proposal is limited to those who had to work during the emergency declared by the governor or fall into the CDC’s phase 1a or 1b of the COVID-19 vaccination program, like healthcare workers and those essential to maintaining infrastructure.   Essential workers would have to apply to be eligible for $2,000 for full time workers, $1,000 for part timers, on a first-come, first-served basis. The money would not be taxed.  If signed into law, the deadline to file in January 1, 2023. There is $750 million in the Connecticut Essential Workers’ Pandemic Pay and federal funds from the American Rescue Plan.

Report of armed man at Brewster train station unfounded

A report of an armed man at the Brewster train station on Sunday turned out to be unfounded.  Putnam County Sheriff's Deputies responded to the Metro North station in response to a 911 call reporting an intoxicated male pointing a pistol at people on the platform.  Deputies, Brewster Police and New York State Troopers secured the platform and searched the surrounding area, but could not locate anyone matching the description of the suspect.  MTA officers interviewed potential witnesses, but an investigation revealed no evidence of an armed man in the area. 

Single tree knocked power out to nearly 700 in Ridgefield

A single tree knocked power out to nearly 700 Eversource customers in Ridgefield yesterday.  The utility says most had their power restored within hours due to smart switches and creative solutions by line crews. Tree and line crews continued to  work throughout the day to clear the road and repair the damage. 

The outages were in the area of Route 116 and the schools, which prompted classes to be cancelled yesterday. 

(Photo: Eversource)

Eversource says the root cause of a big outage in Monroe yesterday was a tree that had fallen on wires on Route 111 near Old Coach Road.  The tree limb making contact with power lines directly impacted the substation that serves the area, which caused power to be interrupted frequently until their crews could clear the tree.  The loud noises heard near the substation was the equipment shutting down as designed to prevent further damage to the system. 

Residents with damage to electrical equipment in their homes were advised to contact Eversource Customer Service at 800-286-2000.

Danbury Zoners approve car dealership for former Sports Authority location

The Danbury Zoning Commission has approved an application by Bruce Bennett Nissan of Danbury to renovate the building that used to house Sports Authority and Bed, Bath and Beyond.  The 78-thousand square foot building would be converted into a showroom, office, 15 bay service center and parts storage.  The proposal for the 8-acre property off Sugar Hollow Road already received approval from the Environmental Impact Commission.  The Zoning Commission vote last night was unanimous.

Danbury Fire Marshal's Fire Prevention Poster Contest winners announced

Winners of the Danbury Fire Marshal's Office Fire Prevention Poster Contest have been announced.  Students Megan Anderson and Juan Reyes were honored by the Danbury Exchange Club last week at a dinner and awards ceremony.  Reyes is the fourth grader at King Street Primary School while Anderson is the fifth grade at Hayestown Avenue School.  Their posters will be entered into the county contest with the ultimate goal of being in next year’s Fire Prevention Calendar. 

Man arrested for assault in Newtown, crashing car into home

A 28-year old Bridgeport man has been arrested by Newtown Police for an alleged assault. Jose Joshua Cruz turned himself in to police Monday on an outstanding warrant stemming from a May 2021 incident. 

When he was stopped by Newtown Police, Cruz fled in his vehicle.  Police later found it crashed into a house.  Both occupants were transported to the hospital. 

Cruz was charged Monday with reckless driving, assault, reckless endangerment, operating without a license, possession of less than half an ounce of cannabis, use of drug paraphernalia, breach of peace, interfering with an officer, and failure to drive right.  He was released on bond and is due in court on the 22nd.

Informational meetings set in Ridgefield on retail cannabis

Three informational meetings will be held in Ridgefield in the coming weeks for residents to discuss the pros and cons of retail cannabis.  The informational meetings will be held in the Ridgefield Town Hall Large Conference room at 10am on Saturdays March 19th and 26th, and April 2nd.  When Connecticut legalized recreational use of cannabis, it was left up to local leaders to determine how their communities would approach retail sales.  Connecticut municipalities can either take no action, allow establishments with regulations, ban them, or impose a temporary moratorium.  When medical marijuana was approved in Connecticut, Ridgefield put a temporary pause on facilities, and later banned them.

Two men arrested for Black Friday altercation at Mall

Two men have been arrested for an altercation on Black Friday involving a gun at Danbury Mall.  Danbury Police say 20-year old Nykeem Hawkins and 24-year old Kenaas Council were part of a group of males causing a disturbance on November 26th.  Each was charged with breach of peace. 

The incident was described as happening by the fountain area where numerous people were waiting in line to see Santa, and it caused countless people to be alarmed.  Police say Hawkins appeared to become angry at something done or said, and walked toward the group.  One individual punched him in the head.  Council and another then started punching Hawkins, who responded by throwing several punches back. 

An item that appeared to be a handgun fell from someone's waist and slid across the floor.  Police say it's unclear who dropped the firearm.  One of the men in Council’s group noticed the object and retrieved it. 

Hawkins was the victim of a December 2021 shooting on Rowan Street and the investigating detective recognized him from the mall altercation surveillance video.

Police say Hawkins and Council were involved in a fight at the Danbury Skate Park in 2020 that resulted in the stabbing death of 21-year-old Willy Plasencia.  Hawkins was accused of starting the fight with Plasencia, while a 16-year-old who got out of the same car as Hawkins and Council pulled out a knife.  The pair, the minor and three others were charged. 

Algonquin Gas looks to make repairs to natural gas pipeline in Housatonic

Algonquin Gas Transmission is looking to make repairs to  a section of exposed natural gas pipeline within the Housatonic River.  The company plans to submit a plan to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for the maintenance project to remediate the pipeline exposed by natural riverbed scouring in Newtown and Southbury.  Algonquin plans to restore adequate coverage to the pipeline in the area of River Road bridge.  

Danbury Democratic Town Committee appoints new chairman

Former mayoral candidate Roberto Alves has been appointed as chair of the Danbury Democratic Town Committee.  He was nominated by outgoing chair Andrea Gartner during the group's meeting Monday night.  The 38-year old also serves as treasurer for the Democratic State Central Committee.  Alves won a Danbury City Council at-large seat in 2019.  He then ran in Danbury's first open mayoral election in two decades in November, ultimately losing the race to now-Mayor Dean Esposito.

Gary Sinise Foundation awards grant to NUSAR

The Gary Sinise Foundation has awarded a grant to Newtown Underwater Search And Rescue.  The $10,000 First Responders Outreach Grant will be used to purchase a new engine for its primary rescue boat.  NUSAR announced the grant award last month.  The all volunteer emergency response team was founded in 1989 to conduct search, rescue and recovery operations.  The organization also promotes water safety awareness education.  The Gary Sinise Foundation was created by the actor, who is an advocate of first responders and veterans.

Danbury looking into renaming Alternative Center of Excellence building

Some Danbury City Council members want Danbury to rename the Alternative Center of Excellence high school after the late founder.  Joseph Pepin, who passed away in January at age 85, served as Director for over 20 years.  An ad hoc committee will be formed tonight to discuss the possibility of renaming the ACE building. If approved, the school would retain its formal name, but the building would bear Pepin's name.  ACE was started in 1977.  ACE Principal John Weber says alternative programs don't typically last 45 years and wouldn't have if Pepin hadn't built such a strong foundation when he served for 22 years as principal.  He spoke to Pepin's wife and daughters to let them know that there was interest in the recognition, and they were deeply moved.  Pepin's wife has since passed away, but before she did sent a letter to the school about how much ACE meant to their family.

Man stabbed in Danbury

A man was stabbed in the neck in Danbury and Police have arrested a suspect.  Officers were called to the area of the railroad tracks on Garamella Boulevard around 1:30 yesterday afternoon to check on the wellbeing of a man.  They found him suffering from an apparent stab wound.  The man was transported to the hospital  A suspect description was obtained, and a search of the area turned up a knife in the Still River, which is believed to be the one used in the assault.  22-year old Gregorio Melchor of Danbury was located and arrested.  He and the victim were known to each other, but police have not yet determine a motive for the assault.  Police determined it was not random.  Danbury Police did not have an update on the condition of the victim.

New Milford Schools to offer supervised early morning drop-off amid continued bus driver shortages

All-Star Transportation continues to experience a shortage of drivers which has again become a challenge in New Milford.   Superintendent of Schools Alisha Di Corpo says All-Star alerted the district that some drivers have resign, and a few are on leave of absence.  Half a dozen people though are training to become drivers, but the certification can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks. 

New Milford schools will continue to work with All-Star to provide the later bus arrival in the morning as well as the later pickup time for those buses that do not run on time in the afternoon. 

Starting tomorrow, the district will begin to offer supervised early morning drop-off only for those buses that are not running on time each morning, so parents drop their kids off before leaving for work. For the middle and high school, the earliest drop-off time with staff supervision will be 6:25am and at the lower grade schools, it's 7:30am.  This is only for those buses that are not running the morning of, not for the entire student body. 

Several arrests expected in weekend shooting in Danbury

Danbury Police expect to make several arrests in connection with the weekend shooting outside the Chili's restaurant.  Investigators are sorting through the information provided by the responding officers and the information they obtained from witnesses.  Spokesman Lt Mark Williams says many of the people involved in the disturbance have been identified and interviewed.  Williams says they this type of incident very seriously and are thankful that no one was injured in the shooting.  

Zoners open hearing on application by Bruce Bennett Nissan of Danbury

The Danbury Zoning Commission is set to open a public hearing tonight on an application by Bruce Bennett Nissan of Danbury to renovate the building that used to house Sports Authority and Bed, Bath and Beyond.  The 78-thousand square foot building would be converted into a showroom, office, 15 bay service center and parts storage.  The proposal for the 8-acre property already received approval from the Environmental Impact Commission.  Tonight's Zoning Commission meeting is being held via Zoom starting at 7:30.

Lawmakers learn outside audit firm to review School Construction Grant program

Connecticut lawmakers learned yesterday that an outside firm will be hired to review the state’s school construction program.  Acting Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Michelle Gilman says this is in response to the ongoing federal investigation of the program’s former director, Kosta Diamantis, who was fired last October.

New Fairfield State Representative Pat Callahan says it's critical that safeguards be implemented this legislative session to protect all future bidding processes.  He says yesterday's presentation glossed over any of the contracting guidelines that had previously been implemented by the department and stressed additional third-party audits going forward.

Gilman says the outside firm will provide an audit by the end of April.

Callahan says education spending comprises most of what's in local municipal budgets, so engaging in behavior that may cast doubt on a program that awards state funding based on district need is a severe misuse of the state's limited resources.  He says lawmakers should set these contracting standards in stone.

Callahan called for a follow-up hearing.

Gilman says there is an auditing team from the Office of School Construction Grants and Review that’s now a part of DAS’s business office. And DAS works with state auditors to review all departmental transactions.

Sen. proposes federal gas tax holiday

Senator Richard Blumenthal was in Danbury yesterday.  He stopped by a gas station on Padanaram Road to discuss a new bill he introduced called the Gas Prices Relief Act.  The legislation to lower high gas prices by temporarily suspending the federal gas tax through the end of the year.  He says this will bring much-needed economic relief to families across Connecticut and the country.  Under the proposal, the 18.4 center per gallon federal tax would be suspended until January 1st.  The legislation requires the Treasury Department to monitor and ensure oil and gas companies are passing along savings to drivers at the pumps.

State Attorney General William Tong says the recent spike in gas prices has triggered consumer protections put in place to safeguard people from price gouging.  His office is monitoring and investigating increases.  Anyone who suspects gouging to file a complaint with the AG's office online at dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/ or by phone by calling 860-808-5318.

Tong acknowledged that gas prices fluctuate constantly, and price changes and price increases are normal. But he says this past week is not typical.  The abnormal market disruption triggers additional consumer protections during this time.

During an abnormal market disruption, it is unlawful to charge an “unconscionably excessive price” for energy resources, including gasoline, electricity, and home heating oil. An “unconscionably excessive price” may occur when there is a gross disparity between the price during the market disruption and the price in the ordinary course of business immediately prior to the market disruption and the price is not attributable to additional costs. Unlike the retail price gouging statute, the abnormal market disruption declaration covers unconscionably excessive prices charged at the retail, distributor and wholesale levels.

Gov. visits Heritage Village

Governor Ned Lamont was in Southbury yesterday.  He met with residents of Heritage Village and discussed policy priorities that support seniors, particularly the affordability of retirement and access to healthcare services. Heritage Village is a residential community for those over the age of 55 and is home to roughly 5-thousand people.

One injured in Bridgewater car accident

One person was injured in a car accident in Bridgewater yesterday afternoon.  State Police responded to the crash on Route 67 near  Barn Road around 2:30pm.  Troopers say only one vehicle was involved.  EMTs provided treatment on scene and then the driver was transported to the hospital.  The accident remains under investigation.

Shooting in Danbury under investigation

A shooting in Danbury is under investigation.  Danbury Police responded to the CHilis Restaurant on Newtown Road Saturday night on a reported of a disturbance with gunshots fired. Officers found that a disturbance started in the restaurant among two groups of patrons. The disturbance moved outside, and a person involved in the fight pulled a gun and fired a couple of shots. Several people fled before police arrived. No one was injured in the incident. The investigation is active and ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Thomas Collins or call the confidential tips line at 203-790-TIPS.

New Milford Police mourn passing of K-9 Drake

The New Milford Police Department is mourning the passing of K-9 “Drake”. K-9 Drake had recently retired from active service in December after nine years of service to the Town of New Milford.  A few months into the start of his retirement, Drake was diagnosed with cancer.  The New Milford Police Department, as well as K9 Officers from surrounding agencies gathered for Drake’s last ride this weekend.  Department officials say Drake will be missed by his handler Officer Williams, his brothers and sisters in blue, as well as the citizens he served.

Man wanted for child sex assault in Florida nabbed in Conn.

A suspect wanted in a 10-year-old case of sexual assault of a child has been arrested in Bethlehem.  U-S Marshals from Connecticut, Deputies from the Florida Sheriff’s office and Connecticut State Police from Troop L arrested 37-year old Benjamin Quinn Saturday morning in the area of Nonnewaug Road.  In March of 2012, an arrest warrant was signed for Quinn on 2 counts of Sexual Battery upon a person under 12, but he fled the state.  He was tracked last year to Connecticut.  Quinn was living and working on a farm under the alias Michael Waters. Quinn is charged as a fugitive from justice in Connecticut, pending extradition to Florida.

Car fires reported in early morning hours in New Fairfield, Brookfield

Two people were injured in a car fire in New Fairfield over the weekend.  Several 911 calls were made around 2:30am on Saturday about a motor vehicle accident with a possible fire in the area of Gillotti Road and Ball Pond Road.  New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department found the crash, fully engulfed in flames.  The fire was quickly extinguished and there was  no fire damage to the nearby structure.  Two people were transported to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

A car fire in Brookfield was reported over the weekend.  Shortly after 1am, Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company Was dispatched to Federal Road.  Firefighters found a mini van with a fire in the engine compartment. The lone operator was able to self evacuate and there were no injuries. The Brookfield Police Department assisted the operator in getting to his intended destination safely. Firefighters were on scene for about an hour.  The cause is being investigated by the Fire Marshal's Office.  Brookfield Public Works assisted with ice control on the road after the fire.

Danbury Police launch anonymous text tip line

The Danbury Police Department has launched Tip411, an internet based tool that enables the public to text message an anonymous tip to police and lets officers respond back during the course of the investigation to create an anonymous two-way conversation.
Anyone with a cell phone may send an anonymous tip to the Danbury Police Department by texting DANBURYPD and their message/tip to 847411 (Tip411). Anonymous web tips can also be submitted.  Danbury Police say the technology removes all identifying information before officers receive it and there is no way to identify the sender. But in the case of an emergency, police encourage people to still dial 911.  Messages via the tip tool are not monitored 24-7. 

Danbury looks to sell contaminated property

The Danbury City Council has signed off on putting a City owned parcel of land out to bid.  The contaminated former Amphenol site is on East Franklin Street and was acquired by the City through the foreclosure process.  The 100,000-square-foot warehouse was $1.1 million behind in taxes when it was seized in 2019.  Councilman Ben Chianese says the request for proposals selection will not be done by the council, but rather the Board of Awards.  He was concerned that they won't know what the final bid was to make a final decision because the City doesn't know what the property is worth.  Deputy Corporation Counsel Les Pinter says the sale will come back to the Council after a selection has been made.  The property is zoned for light-industrial use.

Interfaith peace vigil for Ukraine planned in Danbury

An interfaith peace vigil for Ukraine and the world is being held Monday night in Danbury.  It will be at the First Congregational Church on Deer Hill Avenue at 6:30pm. The church and the Association of Religious Communities are co-sponsoring the vigil.  Multiple religious leaders from the Danbury area will offer prayers. The in-person event will also be live streamed on the church’s Facebook page.

Lake Zoar Authority makes budget presentation to Southbury officials

During a town budget meeting in Southbury this week, a presentation was made by the Lake Zoar Authority.  They discussed payment of a weed treatment schedule spanning two fiscal years.  Another issue presented was if the Lake Zoar Authority should plan to use money from bank reserves or incoming annual budget funds if the marine patrol boats suddenly needed to be replaced. The Authority expressed concerns to the Finance Board that the town of Southbury does not provide patrol assistance from the Southbury Police Department, while Newtown, Monroe, and Oxford cooperate with staffing requests, and therefore receive money back from the budget when the Authority pays for their service hours, while Southbury does not.  A discussion was had about provisions for the eventual replacement of the boats. 

New life jackets have updated safety labels

The Lake Zoar Authority is cautioning boaters that there's a new label on the inside of new life jackets with a performance level icon. They are approved for use in the U-S and Canada, while lifejackets with the old label continue to be approved in one country or the other, not both. The new label does not make older life jackets obsolete, as long as it is in good condition and appropriate for the activity.

COVID-19 infections continue to decline in Greater Danbury area

According to the latest COVID-19 data from the state Department of Public Health, Danbury reported 59 cases in the last two weeks, Bethel had 24 cases, and 15 were reported in Brookfield.  There were 23 COVID cases in New Milford over the last two weeks, 41 in Newtown, Redding reported 7 cases, while Ridgefield had 24. 

The state department of Public Health is reporting COVID-19 case rates for the Greater Danbury area continue to fall. Case rates for the week ending February 26th range from 5 to 10 cases per 100,000 population, down slightly from 5.7 to 14 cases the week before. The lowest case rate is in Danbury and the highest is in Newtown, based on population.    

The rates are:

Danbury 5

Redding 5.5

New Milford 6.1

Brookfield 6.3

Ridgefield 6.9

Bethel 8.7

Newtown 10.5

COVID-19 infection rates for the Greater Danbury area range from 2.3 percent to 3.8 percent, down slightly from 2.8 to 6.6 percent last week.  The lowest test positivity is in Ridgefield and the highest is in Newtown.  At home COVID-19 test results are not reported to the state. 

The rates are:

Ridgefield 2.3 percent

Danbury 2.6 percent 

Redding 2.6 percent

Bethel 3.1 percent

Brookfield 3.4 percent

New Milford 3.5 percent 

Newtown 3.8 percent

New state data released Thursday show there were 589 positive COVID cases reported to the state since Wednesday out of more than 27,000 tests.  The daily positivity rate was 2.12 percent.  The number of COVID hospitalizations dropped by 21, for a total of 171.  39.8 percent of those patients are not fully vaccinated. 

The number COVID-associated deaths has grown by 72 since last Thursday. 

The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the state's fully vaccinated population of 6.47 percent.  Compared to being vaccinated against COVID-19, being unvaccinated has a relative risk 9 times higher of being hospitalized with COVID and 14 times higher of dying of COVID, according to the state Department of Public Health.  Being unvaccinated has a 3 times higher risk of being infected with COVID.

Connecticut remains 4th in the nation when it comes to the percentage of the state's population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at 77.9 percent.  Rhode Island is first with 80.8 percent followed by Vermont at 80.2 percent, and then Maine at 78.4 percent.  Massachusetts round out the top 5 at 77.7  percent fully vaccinated. 

98.5 percent of COVID-19 tests sent for genomic sequencing in Connecticut came back as a strain of the Omicron variant, according to the latest weekly report.  A handful were identified as Delta, Alpha or Mu.

Danbury residents asked to approve $43 million in bonding for school projects

Danbury residents will be asked to vote on two separate bonding measures for the schools in the coming months.  $43.9 million is proposed for improvements at Danbury High School, Hayestown Avenue Elementary, King Street Primary and creating improved classroom space to accommodate district wide overcrowding. 

The Danbury High School accreditation work is outlined in the New England Association of Schools & Colleges Inc's Commission on Public Schools report from September 2021.  It includes updates, renovations and code compliance improvements to the science labs, nurse site and bathrooms, HVAC equipment and duct evaluation, supply and condensate pipe abatement, and ADA accessible routes to the stadium bleachers. 

ADA compliance at Hayestown Avenue Elementary includes installation of a new elevator.  King Street would get a new roof.   

Microburst cleanup planned at Pootatuck State Forest

Logging is planned for Pootatuck State Forest in New Fairfield.  The clean up is of downed trees from the microburst that hit the area several years ago.  The work will be supervised by the state and will take place in the next few weeks.  State Representative Patrick Callahan says the contractor will pay for the lumber taken.  The access will be through a private driveway off Short Woods Road.

Danbury official questions future of $99 million Career Academy bond ordinance

A number of questions have been raised by Danbury officials about the new estimated cost of the proposed Danbury Career Academy.  Among them, was what happens with the $99 million bond approved by residents a few years ago.  The resolution wasn't acted on as negotiations around the project were ongoing and it will be withdrawn.  City Finance Director David St Hilaire says when, and if, residents approve the $164 million bonding request at a yet to be scheduled referendum, the old bond measure becomes moot. 

COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Greater Danbury area

Just 23 of Connecticut's 169 municipalities remain in the red zone for COVID-19 community spread, meaning 15 or more cases per 100,000 population over the last two weeks reported.  That includes Kent.  Most of the Greater Danbury area is either in the orange, with 120 to 14 cases, or the yellow with 5 to 9 cases.  Data was not reported this week for New Fairfield.  The towns of Newtown, Sherman, Southbury and Wilton are in the orange zone.  In the yellow are Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury Redding, Ridgefield and Easton. 

New Fairfield Board of Finance annual budget hearing Saturday via Zoom

The New Fairfield Board of Finance will hold the annual budget hearing on Saturday via Zoom. The Board will continue to meet every Wednesday evening in March to discuss the budget and make adjustments before presenting the plan to the taxpayers at a referendum, typically held in early May. 

Leading up to Saturday's hearing, the Board of Selectmen held eight budget workshops and various department requested a total increase over last year of about $957,000.  The requested increase was brought down to $431,000 with existing funds and deferring less critical projects to future years.

The capital requests are proposed for funding this coming year include active shooter kits for the police department, repairs to the Animal Control building and Town Hall Annex, a replacement for a 2008 truck for the Health Department and purchase of a replacement AC unit for Ball Pond firehouse. 

The proposed municipal budget is 13.26 million, 3.15 percent more than the current budget. 

Saturday's annual budget hearing is at 9am.  

Dump truck driver entangled in wreckage, unconscious in I-84 crash

A heavy duty dump truck went off the highway Wednesday afternoon and down a steep ravine between I-84 east and westbound at Exit 7.  The first State Trooper on the scene found the driver entangled in the wreckage and unconscious. The Trooper performed life saving care until Danbury Fire and EMS units arrived moments later. Fire units set up a rope hauling system to get safely down to the wreckage and in order to bring the driver back up the hill to the roadway. Firefighters worked to free the driver from the cab of the truck, taking approximately ten minutes to remove him. Once up and out of the ravine, the ambulance transported the driver to the hospital. The Connecticut State Police are investigating the accident.

Small plane takes off from Danbury, makes emergency landing in Bridgeport

A small plane that made an emergency landing in Bridgeport Wednesday had taken off from Danbury Municipal Airport.  The single-engine Cessna was scheduled to land at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, but landed a few miles away at near a beach in Seaside Park.  FAA records show the plane is registered to Andrew Mitchell, of Bridgeport.  The pilot, the only person on board, took off shortly after 4:30pm Wednesday from Danbury and Sikorsky Airport Tower reported losing contact with the aircraft around 4:50pm.  The pilot was uninjured.  The plane was reportedly low on fuel. 

Eversource trimming trees this month in New Fairfield

Eversource will be trimming trees this month in New Fairfield.  Trees will be trimmed in the Ball Pond area and near the Sherman border on Route 37.  The utility's vegetation management programs involves tree pruning and removal near roadside power lines, as well as high-voltage power line corridors to help ensure public safety and reliable electric service.  Eversource says New England is home to some of the most forested states in the country, but that can cause problems when they grow too close or fall into power lines. Damaged trees cause up to 90 percent of outages during storms.

Trees will be trimmed along the following roads:  Hardscrabble, Laurel Lane, Lost Acre Terrace,  Big Trail, Amber Dr, Twin Ponds Ct, Jewel Lane, Warwick Rd., Satterlee, Hudson, Roseton, Hewlett, Hammond, Ilion, Ansonia, Fulton, Calverton, Darien, Ball Ave, Fairfield Dr, Milltown Rd, Ball Pond Rd East, Gillotti Road (to Titicus Mtn Rd), Lake Dr, Jessie St and Frisbie St, Titicus Mtn. Rd.  

Key Dem senator presses Biden for 'more urgency' on guns

WASHINGTON (AP) —  A leading Democratic senator is calling out President Joe Biden to show “more urgency” to address gun violence by executive action, as the prospects of legislation on Capitol Hill to pass gun control reforms remain slim.

Sen. Chris Murphy, who represented Newtown, Connecticut, when he was in the House at the time of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, told gun control advocates and gun violence survivors Wednesday that Biden needs to prioritize addressing so-called “ghost guns” — homemade firearms that lack serial numbers used to trace them and that are often purchased without a background check — and to nominate a leader for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“Because we are at a logjam in the United States Senate, it means that the burden on the administration to step up and take action is great,” Murphy said. “This administration can do more, this administration should do more. And I think it’s time to see some more urgency from the Biden Administration when it comes to the steps that they can take to save lives.”

Homicides spiked in 2020 as the pandemic raged and millions of frustrated Americans were jobless, scared and angry. Even before the spike, 75% of all homicides in the U.S. were due to firearm injuries and guns were responsible for 91% of all youth homicides.

Record numbers of U.S. residents are buying guns now. Law enforcement officers recovered historically high numbers of firearms last year and are coming across more firearms stripped of serial numbers, making them impossible to trace.

Biden, like other Democratic presidents before him, has called on Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, though that talk diminished since he took office and tried to past more achievable reforms.

Biden has pressed his administration to regulate ghost guns, which Murphy called “increasingly the weapon of choice by criminals in this country.” But while the Justice Department has proposed new rules to crack down on them, the regulations haven’t been finalized.

Biden hasn’t named a new nominee to lead ATF since his first pick, a former ATF agent who worked for a gun control organization, was pulled after both Republicans and Democrats expressed concerns. And the ghost guns initiative doesn’t go far enough, Murphy said.

Biden is limited in what he can do; the most serious legislative effort failed, even after 20 children and six adults were massacred in the 2012 Newtown shooting.

Biden’s efforts have centered on pushing out funding to help police do better at getting guns off the streets, sending in some federal agents to help beleaguered departments. The Justice Department is prioritizing gun cases that come from the “iron pipeline” on Interstate 95, where guns are trafficked up and down the Eastern seaboard.

But the lawmakers say there’s more proactive action Biden can take from the White House.

“The administration can do more,” said Murphy. “This is the time for them to do more.”

Danbury Career Academy project estimated to cost $164 million

The new estimated cost of the Danbury Career Academy is $164 million.  Danbury residents will be asked to sign off in another bond referendum, having previously approved $99 million for the project.  The funding would cover the land purchase as well as retrofitting and furnishings among other related costs.

The proposed sale price of the Cartus building and surrounding land is $57.2 million.  Danbury would be acquiring 24 acres containing the main building, 6.4 vacant acres in a lower lot and Apple Ridge Road. 

The property will be rezoned and the agreement calls for the City to be allowed ample time and regular early entry to the building prior to closing for design phase work. 

The target closing date is July 29th, or within 60 days after the signing of the formal purchase contract by both parties. 

According to the letter to the Council, it's the intention and goal of the City to accomplish the closing with all deliberate speed, given the City's extremely pressing educational need for appropriate additional space and both parties are expected to be cooperative and collaborative.  Corporation Counsel Bob Yamin says the City is very interested and committed to acquiring the property and developing it into the much-anticipated, much needed Danbury Career Academy, and in finalizing the transaction as soon as possible. 

A recommendation is being made to the Danbury City Council to abandon the 89 Wooster Heights/25 Miry Brook land acquisition project.  $790,000 was approved by the Council is September 2019 for the purchase for airport purposes, with an FAA grant.  It was later determined that neither property would be eligible for the grant.  Finance Director David St Hilaire says some of the City funding should now be repurposed for estimated preliminary costs associated with the Danbury Career Academy,  $720,000 could be used for things like a site survey, appraisal, architectural design services and a conditions report. 

The City Council is holding a special meeting at 7:30 tonight on the proposal.  

Levine Auto and Truck Parts acquired by Parts Authority

Levine Auto and Truck Parts has been acquired by Parts Authority. The Danbury based company was founded by Irving Levine more than 60 years ago.  Parts Authority is one of the largest distributors of automotive and truck parts to the aftermarket industry.  AfterMarket News reports that the transaction was finalized last Friday.  Levine specializes in automotive and heavy-duty truck parts and auto-body painting.  Owner and CEO Jeff Levine says transitioning the business was a difficult decision since there was not a next generation to take over.  He noted that his concern was for the staff to be disrupted as little as possible and that Parks Authority understands the most valuable asset in an acquisition is not the location, equipment or customers, but the human capital.

Truck driver injured in Tuesday evening highway crash

A truck driver was injured in a crash on I-84 in Danbury yesterday afternoon.  Shortly before 4 o'clock, a 40-year old man was headed eastbound in the area of exit 7 when he struck the wire rope guardrail in the median.  The Brookfield-based tree service truck also hit a light pole, severing it from the concrete base.  The truck ended up on an embankment about 75 feet from the roadway.  The driver was transported to the hospital due to his injuries.  The vehicle was towed from the scene.  The crash was cleared shortly before 6:30pm.  The case remains under investigation.  

Congresswoman votes for The Honoring Our PACT Act

5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes has voted for The Honoring Our PACT Act.  The legislation would grant veterans with 23 cancers and respiratory illnesses automatic medical coverage from the VA.  Hayes says when servicemembers are sent into harm's way, it's done with a promise to care for them when they come home.  Over 3.5 million veterans were exposed to airborne toxic chemicals from burn pits overseas dating as far back as Operation Desert Storm.  The bill includes a measure she introduced, the Palomares Veterans Act, which will remove barriers to care and benefits for toxic exposed veterans.  More than 1,600 veterans exposed to plutonium while responding to the 1966 nuclear accident in Palomares, Spain.

Three injured in Route 7 accident Monday

State Police have released information about an accident Monday evening that injured several people on southbound Route 7.  An SUV was slowing for traffic near the Exit 10 ramp around 5:30pm when it was rear ended by a 32-year old Brookfield man, whose vehicle collided with a metal beam guide rail in the right shoulder.  The SUV was pushed into the metal beam guide rail in the median and rolled over over multiple times.  The 67-year old driver, a 35-year old woman and a 1-year old boy, all from Newtown, sustained minor injuries and were transported to the hospital.  The Brookfield man continued down Route 7.  He's been charged with evading responsibility and failure to drive a reasonable distance apart.

Roxbury residents approve proposed cannabis ordinances

Roxbury residents have voted on two proposed cannabis ordinances.  During a special meeting last week, residents voted to ban cannabis establishments, delivery services or transporters, and any other types of licensed cannabis-related businesses.  They also  prohibited the use of cannabis on town property.  Violations will result in a $50 fine. 

Bethel Board of Finance signs off on proposed budget

The Bethel Board of Finance has approved a proposed budget to send to the voters.  Residents will get to weigh in at a public hearing set for March 21st at 7pm at Bethel Middle School. 

The approximate $85.5 million tax and spending plan was trimmed by about $114,000.  There's $34.3 million proposed on the municipal side and $51.2 million on the school side.  If approved, the mill rate would be 34.64, a .38 mill increase, resulting in a 1.1 percent increase in taxes.  The average homeowner's tax would go up $82 per year. 

First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says there's a lot of demand for municipal services.  More work is being done this year by the building and health departments in particular.  The main budget drivers include personnel and money for road paving.  Parks and rec enrollment is expected to be back up for their programs, but Knickerbocker says revenue will offset some of that cost, the same for the senior center.

The Annual Town Meeting is scheduled for April 4 at 7pm in the Bethel High School auditorium.

Special Danbury City Council meeting tonight on proposed Career Academy

There will be a Special Meeting of the Danbury City Council tonight about the Danbury Career Academy.  Council members are being asked to look at a Purchase and Sale Agreement, Appropriations and Funding Authorizations and an amended bond issuance.  The meeting is at 7:30pm in Council Chambers at City Hall. 

A corporate building on Apple Ridge Road on the City's west side has been proposed to be retrofitted for 1,100 high schoolers and 360 middle schoolers, since it has plenty of parking, a cafeteria and a gym.  Cartus plans to have employees keep working from home, as they have been throughout the pandemic and is looking to sell the site. 

Danbury residents voted for a $99 million bond for the school, but due to inflation and supply chain issues, the cost estimate rose to  $144.5 million when the City was looking to locate in three pods of the former Matrix Building at the Summit. The state agreed to cover 80 percent of eligible costs on the original figure.

REPORT: Former Brookfield First Selectman looked into pension changes after losing election

Weeks after losing his reelection bid, Brookfield First Selectman Steve Dunn looked into changing the town's pension plan so he would be eligible for a pension.  The News-Times reports that an independent investigation was launched by newly elected First Selectman Tara Carr after noticing an invoice from a law firm that provided outside legal counsel on the matter. 

The Board of Selectmen would have needed to vote to approve the change in the town's pension plan. 

According to the investigation summary, the town's Human Resources Director, Finance Director and chair of the Retirement Benefits Advisory Committee expressed concerns to Dunn about the proposal.  Timothy Herbst, the former Republican first selectman of Trumbull, and an attorney, interviewed the three as part of the investigation. 

The published report says the invoice from outside legal counsel on Brookfield’s pension plan showed the town owed about $9,200 in fees.  Dunn reportedly told Herbst that the idea was considered before the election during a conversation 'in caucus’ with Selectman Susan Slater.  According to the News-Times, Dunn told the investigator previous amendments did not consider years of service as a factor in pension eligibility, and that's what he was looking into. 

Under the Amendment, the First Selectman would have been entitled to a pension after six years of service, if the employee made a 5% matching contribution over the same six-year period.  Dunn was not paying into a pension fund since he was not slated to receive a pension.

John Esposito appointed to fill Danbury City Council vacancy

A familiar face will be filling a vacancy on the Danbury City Council.  John Esposito III was nominated by the Republican Town Committee to replace Colleen Stanley, who is moving out of the City.  Esposito was confirmed unanimously to the at-large seat at the Council meeting Tuesday night and sworn into office.  He was a Democrat, but switched party affiliation after the Democratic Town Committee did not endorse him for Mayor last year.  Esposito previously served three terms as a Democrat on the City Council, representing the 4th ward.  He is a distant cousin of Mayor Dean Esposito and also related to fellow Councilman Michael Esposito.

Newtown's  AAA Stable rating reaffirmed by S&P Global Ratings

Newtown’s  AAA Stable rating has been reaffirmed by S&P Global Ratings, previously Standard and Poor’s.  First Selectman Dan Rosenthal told the Board of Selectmen at their latest meeting that the rating was due to good planning and reflects the town’s consistent financial results.  He credited the work of Finance Director Bob Tait and Economic Development Director Crystal Preszler.  Newtown is rated higher than the nation because S&P believes Newtown can maintain better credit characteristics than the nation in a stress scenario, based on its mostly locally derived revenue base.  Newtown's Grand List grew 3.4 percent  from 2020 to 2021.  The report did suggest some concern over Newtown expecting to issue $19 million in new debt over the next two years, but S&P says it does not expect to revise its view of the town’s debt profile. 

Conn. Office of Health Strategy recommending petition for Danbury Proton be denied

A representative of the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy is recommending that the petition for Danbury Proton be denied.  A physicians group is seeking approvals for Connecticut’s first proton therapy cancer center.  The Deputy Director and Chief of Staff at the state agency says the applicant failed to meet their burden of proof in satisfying the statutory requirements on a clear public need for the proposal and its financial feasibility.  The 17-page decision comes two years after Danbury Proton applied to the state to build an 80 million dollar, 16-thousand square foot cancer treatment facility on three acres off Wooster Heights Road.  Danbury Proton previously obtained local land use approvals and could appeal the state decision to Office of Health Strategy Executive Director Victoria Veltri.

Candlewood Lake Authority prepares for warmer weather

As the weather begins to warm up, and the lake level starts to rise, the Candlewood Lake Authority is reminding the community out hiking the shoreline, to pick up any trash, litter or lost belongings before it's covered by water again.  They're also asked to keep an eye out for zebra mussels on the shoreline.  Anyone who goes out to monitor for the invasive species is asked to send their starting and ending address to science@candlewoodlakeauthority.org so CLA can keep track of any searched shoreline.  If any mussels are found, CLA also asked to include a photo for to confirm it is a zebra mussel.

Bethel firefighters rescue pet dog from icy pond

Firefighters have rescued a dog that went through the ice of a private pond in Bethel last night.  Firefighters used their tools and recent training to save the pet and return it to their owners.  The Bethel Fire Department recently conducted a drill reviewing ice rescue equipment and officials say that timing could not have been better.  As Spring weather comes in, Bethel Fire is reminding residents that thawing ice can be extremely dangerous.  If an animal falls through the ice, they urge owners to call 911, as firefighters have the resources to help without risking personal safety.

(Photo: SHVFD)

Two people suspected in Tri-State alleged organized retail theft arrested in Southbury

Two people have been arrested for alleged organized retail theft across multiple states.  Southbury Police were alerted to a shoplifting incident last Friday at HomeGoods in New Milford by a pair currently under investigation by the Southbury Police Department.  Officers then responded to the HomeGoods in Southbury.  Officers spotted a  vehicle that matched the description of the suspect's vehicle.  41-year old Jadion Richards and 42-year old Akwele Lawes-Richards were identified and arrested.  They were found in possession of a large amount of fraudulent HomeGoods receipts, fake driver's licenses from the Tri-state area, and a retail theft device.  Southbury Police say they are suspected in thefts in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

Outdoor bathroom at Newtown Community Center closed due to suspected arson

Sunday's suspected arson at the Newtown Community Center has closed the outdoor bathrooms until further notice.  Extensive repairs are needed.  Executive Director Matt Ariniello says they are also working to adjust the schedules of meeting space due to some fire damage. While deeply saddened by this act, he thanked the staff on duty, Newtown Hook & Ladder, Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue and the Newtown Police Department for their swift response.

New Milford Police to hold Citizens Police Academy

The New Milford Police Department will be holding a Citizens Police Academy.  Residents can sign up by sending an email ahead of the April 6th start date.  Chief Spencer Cerruto says the program provides an increased understanding of police operations, and is not intended to make citizens into police officers.  He called it a learning tool to build partnerships between the public and police, opening  channels of communication.  jtoromanides@newmilfordpolice.org or cgautrau@newmilfordpolice.org

The People's Convoy trucker protest to pass through Danbury

A movement called The People’s Convoy is expected to pass through Danbury today.  The group of truckers and their supporters from all of the New England states are headed to Washington D.C. to protest pandemic restrictions.  The two Connecticut entry points are in Enfield, on Interstate 91, and Interstate 84 in Union, merging in Hartford. 

Among the stops, before their next overnight stay in New York, will by the I-84 Exit 1 commuter lot.  They plan to meet around 2pm, with trucks parking on the westbound on ramp. 

National Guard Troops will be deployed there to assist with traffic control during demonstrations over the coming days. Modeled after recent trucker protests in Canada, separate truck convoys have been planned through online forums with names like the People’s Convoy and the American Truckers Freedom Fund — all with different starting points, departure dates and routes. The U.S. convoys seek an immediate lifting of what they say are heavy-handed government pandemic restrictions like mask mandates and vaccine requirements.

Public school districts in Putnam County make masks optional

Students and staff in Putnam County K-12 schools and daycares will not be required to wear masks as of today.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell says parents who stood together and demanded that state leaders adopt a common-sense response to COVID have prevailed.  School districts and daycare centers have the option of requiring masks on their own, but all public school districts in Putnam County have said they are planning to make mask-wearing optional.  Students and staff exposed to COVID are still required to isolate for five days. On days six through 10, they can return to school but must wear a mask. It is not optional.

Putnam County on CDC list of low-risk counties for COVID-19

The CDC has released new guidelines about COVID-19 risk levels.  In regions where caseloads, hospitalizations and risk factors are high, masks should still be worn indoors. Putnam County is on the CDC list of low-risk counties.  County Executive MaryEllen Odell cautioned that as masking decreases, residents should still use precaution as new variants of COVID could soon return.  Three people are currently hospitalized with COVID in Putnam County.  Health Commissioner Michael Nesheiwat says an evaluation of numerous indicators show Putnam County is currently in a period of decreased risk. With COVID, as with all public health threats, he notes that they continue to work with our state and federal partners to monitor indicators that impact level of risk and ultimately influence the health of a community.

New Director of Economic Development for Danbury named

A new Director of Economic Development for Danbury has been named.  Shay Nagarsheth has been appointed to the position by Mayor Dean Esposito.  He says Nagarsheth’s combination of business experience and public service makes him the right choice to lead the Office. He was employed by Comcast as an Account Executive since 2015 and prior to that was General Manager of Verizon Wireless in Stamford, from 2005 to 2015. Nagarsheth also served on the Danbury City Council from 2003 until 2010 and was on the CityCenter Business Development Committee, Legislative Board of the Danbury Chamber of Commerce, Danbury Civil Service Commission, Danbury Lions Club, Friends of Danbury Library and the Environmental Impact Commission. He holds an MBA, concentrated in Management and International Business from Sacred Heart University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing from the University of Connecticut.

Redding officials consider funding for pickleball courts

The Redding Board of Selectmen has received an update from the Parks and Rec Department about the growing popularity of pickleball.  A proposal has been made to resurface the town’s four tennis courts, and possibly install dedicated pickleball courts as part of the project.  The sport was invented in 1965 and combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong.  Parks and Recreation Director Rob Blick says lines are put down and nets set up in the Redding Community Center to allow play on three courts on select nights during the winter.  In warmer weather, it's played on the tennis courts. The proposed funding is included in the town’s capital budget, which will be up for a referendum in May.

New Fairfield to create Committee on Affordable Housing

With less than 2 percent affordable housing, well below the state required 10-percent, New Fairfield officials have approved a plan outlining its intentions to form an ad hoc committee tasked with exploring affordable housing opportunities in town.  Selectman Khris Hall says a plan must be adopted and sent to the state by June 1. 

Renters and homeowners in New Fairfield are burdened by housing costs according to an analysis by the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.  27 percent of households are burdened by housing costs.  Nearly 56 percent of renters and 25 percent of homeowners spend at least 30 percent of their income on housing. 

The committee will include 5 to 7 New Fairfield residents and three ex-officio members from the Planning Commission, Zoning Commission and the Board of Selectmen. 

The planning requirement relates to Section 8-30g of the Connecticut General Statutes, which allows developers to bypass local zoning laws with certain exceptions for health and safety. Municipalities are subject to 8-30g unless 10 percent of their housing stock is considered affordable, or they are granted a moratorium. 

As of last year, 1.29 percent of New Fairfield’s housing stock met the affordability standards.  New Fairfield has 85 units considered affordable, under 8-30g, and would need either 474 more to meet the 10 percent threshold, or at least 879 units for households making 80 percent of the area median income and spending more than 30 percent on housing costs.

Hall noted that during the last legislative session, the General Assembly came close to passing legislation that she says would have gone much further with state mandates on housing.  State Representative Patrick Callahan weighed in noting that the matter of affordable housing will likely come up again this session.

Car fire in New Fairfield extinguished

A car fire in New Fairfield has been extinguished. Firefighters responded to Fawn Crest Drive around 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon on a report of a fire in a driveway. State Police from the  New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office also responded and confirmed the fire about 50 feet from a home.  The flames were put out within a few minutes.  The Fire Marshal's Office is investigating the cause.

Danbury City Councilmen propose renaming ACE building after founder

Some Danbury City Council members want Danbury to rename the Alternative Center of Excellence high school after the late founder.  Joseph Pepin, who passed away in January at age 85, served as Director for over 20 years.  An ad hoc committee will be formed tonight to discuss the possibility of renaming the ACE building. If approved, the school would retain its formal name, but the building would bear Pepin's name.

Newtown polling precinct changes coming due to reapportionment

Connecticut municipalities are working on voting precinct redistricting now that the state has approved a plan for new General Assembly lines, based on the 2020 Census.  Newtown's Registrars are working to make district dividing lines as easy to understand as possible.  An interactive map is located on the town website for voters to look up their address and find their Legislative Council district, along with state and federal representatives. 

Newtown is no longer part of the state 112th or 2nd state House districts, and is now in the 107th on the Brookfield border.  Most of Newtown remains in the 106th. 

Newtown polling locations have changed.  District 2 now votes at Newtown High School and all of District 3 votes at Reed Intermediate School. District 1 is still at Newtown Middle School.  District 3 was divided because a portion was in the 112th state house territory and had a different ballot, while the rest of the district was in the 106th. 

District 1 added the even side of Schoolhouse Hill. 

District 2 — Remove Schoolhouse Hill even side; remove Berkshire Road even side, house numbers 2 through 86; Remove Fir Tree and Johnny Appleseed to District 3; remove Little Brook even 18 through the end of the street and odd 13 through the end of the street; remove Hemlock Road, remove Button Shop.

District 3 — Add Berkshire Road evens 2-86, Fir Tree Land, and Johnny Appleseed; add Little Brook even 18 through end and odd 13 through end, Hemlock Road and Buttonshop; add South Main Street odd 1 through 273.

American Legion Post 202, Brookfield to host meet and greet for veterans

American Legion Post 202 and Town of Brookfield will be holding a meet and greet for veterans and their families next weekend.  All are welcome to attend regardless of town of residency. A US Congressional Aide will be on hand to answer questions about federal programs. An American Legion Service Officer will also be there to assist those with questions that fall outside the jurisdiction of the Congressional Aide. The event on March 12th is from 9am to noon at Brookfield Town Hall.  Refreshments will be provided. The American Legion will be accepting applications from veteran, active duty, reserve, or National Guard for membership. There is no stipulation on era of service. All veterans who served honorably are welcome whether they served during peace time or during time of conflict and don't need to have served overseas.  

West Conn Permaculture Garden Workshop today postponed

West Conn's Permaculture Garden Workshop scheduled for today has been postponed to March  15th due to conditions in the garden. West Conn is holding four free workshops for fruit and vegetable gardeners who want to know more about permaculture, a method that allows high yields and productivity while gardening in a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly way. Ashley Kenney, a former head consultant and garden manager for WCSU’s Jane Goodall Permaculture Garden and current owner/farmer at Little Spring Farm in Woodbury, is the presenter.  The Jane Goodall Permaculture Garden is located behind the Science Building on the Midtown campus on White Street.

Pre-application meeting set in Bethel on proposed housing development

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to hold a pre-application meeting about a proposed housing development on Stony Hill Road.  The 246-unit apartment complex spanning 34 acres across Bethel and Newtown pre-application meeting is set for March 8th.  This is not a forum to comment or ask questions, but residents may attend to gain information.  This is separate from a proposed development near Copper Square, also on Stony Hill Road.

Himes votes for the COMPETES Act

A bill to address the supply chain has been voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes voted for the COMPETES Act, which is designed to help workers and families by making investments in domestic manufacturing and research and development. 

The proposal also expands several initiatives related to cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. 

Himes says the bill's investments will help companies like ASML in Wilton, which employs more than 16-hundred employees, by bolstering the advanced manufacturing supply chain. 

Himes is a member of the the Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research Subcommittee of the House Intelligence Committee.  The COMPETES Act also includes a provision from Himes that would further empower the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the Treasury Department to enact special measures against international individuals or entities engaged in money laundering.  He says drug smugglers, arms runners, sex traffickers, slavers, and other criminals will use any means necessary to avoid having their assets seized or frozen, but this would allow FinCEN to follow the money trail, while maintaining the transparent public-comment period as it exists now.

Danbury Career Academy has new potential home

The Danbury Career Academy has a new potential home.  After negotiations fell through at the Summit, the former Matrix Center, Danbury received a call from Mel Powers about locating to the Cartus building, also on the west side. 

Cartus plans to move out of the building as most employees have been working from home through the pandemic. Cartus issued a statement saying that in light of its continued hybrid work set-up, it would upgrade its global headquarters, which has been based in Danbury for the past three decades, and transition to a new space. 

The City Council will be asked to study the proposal at their meeting tonight, with a special meeting also planned for Thursday.  As of yesterday, no dollar amount for the purchase and retrofit had been determined. 

Plans call for the academy to serve about 1,400 middle and high school students, and open in the fall of 2024.  The break down would be 1,100 high schoolers and 360 middle schoolers.  The building has 1,600 parking spots, a cafeteria and a gym.  Initial floor plans for the 270,000 square-foot building were finished Saturday and include layouts for a four-floor, academy with a greenhouse, auditorium, and school board administration offices. 

When plans were on track to open in 3 pods of the Summit, costs increased from the initial $99 million estimate to  $144.5 million. The state agreed to cover 80 percent of eligible costs on the original figure.

Danbury Board of Ed votes to make masks optional

Masks will be optional in Danbury Schools as of today.  The Danbury Board of Education Policy Committee held a special meeting last night, followed by a meeting of the full Board of Ed.  Members voted unanimously to suspend its mask policy and two other pandemic-related policies. 

Danbury Health Director Kara Prunty told the Board that updated federal and state guidelines, coupled with the new low transmission rates and relatively high vaccine rates among kids led to the recommendation.  Danbury has a case rate of 8.3 cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of 4.2 percent.  The CDC also announced Friday that masks are no longer required on school buses.

School Nurse Kathy O'Dowd says there are still a few times when masks will be required.  One is when students or staff who tested positive return from quarantine on day 6.  Masks will be required on days six through 10 of COVID infection. 

At the regular Board of Ed meeting last week members said they wouldn't be making a decision until their March 23rd meeting, the day after kids going to the last pediatric vaccine clinic would be considered fully vaccinated. 

Board chair Rachel Chaleski thanked members for  doing their due diligence waiting for all of the guidance that they said they were going to receive.  She acknowledged that they were all under a lot of pressure to take action.  An online petition calling for masks to be optional gained more than 500 signatures in recent days.

Superintendent Kevin Walston met with principals yesterday regarding the possible changes and will circulate a letter to families urging support for those who continue wearing masks.

 

Other policies are:
Temporary Restrictions on Nonessential Visitors to School Facilities

Nonessential visitors will not be allowed access to school facilities before, during, or after the school day when school is in session. This restriction will not apply to visitors or employees who need to access the school systems central office in order to process paperwork, to attend meetings with school officials.  These temporary restrictions shall remain in effect until repealed by the school board.

Policy adopted:  September 23, 2020

Physical Distancing

Students, staff, volunteers, and visitors will attempt to maintain a six-foot distance between themselves and their colleagues and peers throughout the school day inside any school building and on school property before and after school. The District shall strive to maintain the recommended social distancing to the maximum extent possible under the circumstances presented. Staff members will arrange classrooms and restructure instruction, and food service to meet this standard, to the extent possible.

Recess will continue as scheduled in accordance with physical distancing guidance.

Drop off and pick up of students will be completed in a manner that limits direct contact between parents/guardians and staff members and adheres to social distancing expectations around the exterior of the school building while on school property.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Designated school district personnel will routinely both clean by removing germs, dirt and impurities and disinfect by using chemicals to kill germs on all surfaces and objects in any school building and on school property that are frequently touched. This process shall include cleaning objects/surfaces not ordinarily cleaned daily.

Designated personnel will clean with the cleaners typically used and will use all cleaning products according to the directions on the label. Personnel will disinfect with common EPA registered household disinfectants. A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available from the administration. Personnel will follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products used by the District.

The District will provide EPA-registered disposable wipes to teachers, staff, and secondary students so that commonly used surfaces (e.g., keyboards, desks, remote controls) can be wiped down before use. Teacher or administrators are required to ensure adequate supplies to support cleaning and disinfection practices are available.

Student Arrival

Hand hygiene stations will be available at the entrance of any school building, so that children can clean their hands before they enter. If a sink with soap and water is not available, the District will provide hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol. Hand sanitizer will be kept out of elementary students’ reach and such student use will be supervised by staff.

A District employee will greet children outside the school as they arrive to ensure orderly compliance with the provisions of this policy.

Temperature Screening

A school nurse or designated School District staff are authorized to test, when necessary, the temperature of students with an approved non-contact or touchless temperature reader. Students who have a fever or are exhibiting other signs of illness must be isolated in the designated isolation room, and/or waiting outside under the supervision of a staff member until parents, guardians or caregivers arrive at the school to retrieve the student. All surfaces and areas should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected once the student has vacated the area by designated staff utilizing safety measures in accordance with state and/or local health standards as applicable.

When administering a temperature check on a possibly ill student, the nurse or designated staff member will utilize available physical barriers and personal protective equipment to eliminate or minimize exposures due to close contact to a child who has symptoms during screening.

Monroe Board of Ed votes to lift mask mandate

After peaking at an average of over 47 COVID-19 cases per day in Monroe roughly a month ago, the town is currently averaging close to 4.5 cases per day.   The CDC recently announced changes to the metrics for mask recommendations, based upon COVID-19 hospitalizations and overall hospital capacity, in addition to the number of new cases.   Fairfield County’s COVID-19 Community Level is currently classified as “low” by the CDC.  First Selectman Ken Kellogg says the Connecticut Department of Public Health has also advised that communities can be more comfortable in relaxing mask guidelines.  The Monroe Board of Education suspended its mask mandate, in line with the new DPH guidance.  Kellogg noted that some businesses may still choose to require masks and patrons are asked to continue to respect these decisions.

Danbury again seeking bids on lease of Beach Concession Stand

The City of Danbury is again seeking bids on the lease of the Beach Concession Stand at the Danbury Candlewood Town Park.  The City rebid the proposal yesterday, after initially looking for interested parties in January.  The new bids are due by the 22nd.  The five year lease, during the summer months from May 1st through the last day of September, is for the 2022-2026 seasons.  Interested parties must submit the names of the principals involved, business plans, and certified financial statement to reflect financial condition for the past five years among other qualifications. 

Danbury Planning Commission to take up application for vacant warehouse

The Danbury Planning Commission is slated to take up an application tomorrow  for a vacant warehouse and storefront on the City's westside.  Southington-based Superior Products Distributors, a construction equipment and materials supplier, is looking to move into the industrial zone.  They want to locate a full-service construction company in the former Ehrbar warehouse.  This would be the company's fifth sales and service center and applied for permission to locate a 20,000-square-foot warehouse and store on Kenosia Avenue.

Congressman votes for bill to address the supply chain

A bill to address the supply chain has been voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives.  4th District Congressman Jim Himes voted for the COMPETES Act, which is designed to help workers and families by making investments in domestic manufacturing and research and development.  The proposal also expands several initiatives related to cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.  Himes says the bill's investments will help companies like ASML in Wilton, which employs more than 16-hundred employees, by bolstering the advanced manufacturing supply chain.  Himes is a member of the the Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research Subcommittee of the House Intelligence Committee.  The COMPETES Act also includes a provision from Himes that would further empower the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) of the Treasury Department to enact special measures against international individuals or entities engaged in money laundering.  He says drug smugglers, arms runners, sex traffickers, slavers, and other criminals will use any means necessary to avoid having their assets seized or frozen, but this would allow FinCEN to follow the money trail, while maintaining the transparent public-comment period as it exists now.

New Milford man arrested on state drug charges

A New Milford man has been arrested on state charges for allegedly operating a drug factory.  37-year old James Anderson was arrested on February 23rd after search warrants were carried out at his Danbury Road home.  State Police K9 Waffle and New Milford Police K9 Mattis searched and located numerous items associated with the distribution of crack-cocaine. In addition, detectives seized a fully loaded 9mm Smith and Wesson hand gun, an amount of currency, 155.5 grams of marijuana packaged for sale and a digital scale.

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