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Local Headlines Archives for 2022-04

Local police taking part in Drug Take Back Day today

Today is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. 

People can bring old, unwanted, or no longer needed prescription drugs to the New Fairfield Police Department from 10am to 2pm.  Police say the majority of opioid addictions start with prescription pills found in medicine cabinets at home, noting that pharmaceutical drugs can be just as dangerous as street drugs when taken without a prescription or a doctor’s supervision.  Police say a majority of people who misuse a prescription medication obtained the medicine from a family member or friend.

People can drop off unwanted, unused or expired prescription medications at Kent Town Hall rom 9am to 1pm.  Resident State Trooper Andrew Fisher says unused or expired prescription medications are a public safety issue, leading to potential accidental poisoning, misuse, and overdose. 

Today is also Shred It Day at the Kent Transfer Station, from 9am to 1pm.  There is no charge and no limit. 

Putnam County fire departments battle brush fires

Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department is reminding residents that the New York State annual burn ban is  in effect through May 14th. Open burning is the single greatest cause of wildfires in New York State. Since the spring burn ban was implemented in 2009, the number of wildfires has decreased by more than 40-percent.  In the past few weeks the Carmel Fire Department has responded to numerous fires caused by open burning during the ban, the latest was Thursday and involved a shed fire caused by an open burn.  They were able to limit the damage and contain the fire before it became larger.

Department of Health updates COVID-19 data for Greater Danbury area

131 of Connecticut's 169 municipalities are in the red zone, the state's highest alert level for COVID-19 community spread.  That means each town had 15 or more cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks reported.  Danbury is in the orange zone.

The state Department of Public Health is providing an update on COVID-19 data for the Greater Danbury area.  According to the report for the two weeks ending April 23rd, there were 131 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 65,  Brookfield had 56 and New Fairfield 65. There were 79 COVID cases in New Milford, 82 in Newtown, Redding reported 29 cases while Ridgefield had 93. 

Case rates for the week ending April 23rd was up slightly from the previous week.  The rates are:

Danbury 11

Newtown 21

New Milford 21.1

Redding 22.7

Bethel 23.4 

Brookfield 23.6

Ridgefield 26.6

New Fairfield 33.5

Test positivity was also up.  At home COVID-19 test results are not reported to the state.  The rates are:

Danbury 6.9 percent

New Milford 9.9 percent

Bethel 11.4 percent

Brookfield 10.4 percent

Newtown 10.5 percent

Redding 11.5 percent

Ridgefield 12.1 percent

New Fairfield 17.6 percent

The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 14 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the fully vaccinated population of 7.12 percent, up a bit from the week before.  The rolling 7-day average positivity rate was 8.92 percent. The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive over during that time increased by 57, for a total of 233.  30-percent of those patients are not fully vaccinated.  

Area police departments participate in DEA Drug Take Back Day

The Bethel Police Department is participating in a Drug Take Back Day tomorrow organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The purpose of this event is to make the community safer by disposing of unused or expired prescription medications in a controlled manner, in turn preventing their misuse or abuse. 

Medication drop off will take place at the Bethel Police Department between 10am and 2pm.  Police cannot accept needles or radioactive medications, typically used for the treatment of cancer, due to state regulations and the safety of officers.  Liquids, inhalers, patches and syringes also cannot be accepted. 

The Danbury Police Department is also participating. Medication can be dropped in the lobby of the Police station between 10am and 2pm. Medicines in the home are a leading cause of accidental poisoning and flushed or trashed medicines can end up polluting the waters.

New Milford Fire Marshal warns of brush fire danger today

The fire danger for today is very high.  New Milford's Fire Marshal says there is no outside burning allowed today, even with a valid permit.  New Milford has already had three large brush fires this week. Dry conditions and strong wing gusts are present in New Milford and throughout the state.

Area police take part in car parade to cheer injured Bridgeport boy

Danbury and Wilton Police joined Connecticut State Police and other law enforcement agencies, fire departments and first responders from throughout Connecticut to help lift the spirits of a 6 year-old boy recovering at Bridgeport Hospital.  The boy suffered serious burns to his face and body in an incident that remains under investigation.  Danbury Police were among 80 first responders that came together yesterday morning for the car parade. 

Danbury Police arrest Waterbury man for drug offenses

Danbury Police have arrested a Waterbury man for drug offenses.  Police received resident complaints about illegal sales in the City for serveral month.  An investigation led to 49-year old Aaron Thompson, who is a convicted drug dealer.  The U-S Drug Enforcement Administration and Connecticut State Police assisted in the investigation.  Police approached Thompson yesterday at a Lake Avenue business and found a stun gun in his car.  He was charged with driving with a suspended license and possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle.  Police the searched his home and found 250 grams of cocaine, 19 grams of crack cocaine, packaging and an electronic scale.  Thompson was then charged with two counts of possession of narcotics with intent to sell, three counts of possession of a controlled substance, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.  He is on federal probation for previous charges and also has a pending sexual assault case.

Ridgefield Planning & Zoning puts off decision on cannabis businesses in town

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission has tabled a discussion about the future of recreational cannabis businesses in town.  During their meeting this week, First Selectman Rudy Marconi encouraged the Commission to join the Selectmen in opposing retailers, growers and other businesses outlined in the state law, which left those decisions up to municipalities.  If nothing is decided, it will be legal to operate a physical business in Ridgefield.  Three public hearings were held with just a handful of people in attendance at each.

Wilton Police to hold one more tour before vote on new facility

The Wilton Police Department is hosting one more tour of the police station ahead of a vote on a new proposed building.  The final tours will be held Saturday 10am to 1pm. 

Voting starts Tuesday after the 7pm Town Meeting, and a referendum on Saturday May 7th from 8am to 6pm at the Clune Center Wilton High School auditorium. 

The Wilton Police Department headquarters was built in 1974 for an all male police force and one dispatcher who used pen, paper, one typewriter and two telephone lines.  Today the building must accommodate a much larger number of officers and civilian staff, a much larger amount of evidence, equipment and technology.  In making the case for a new building, Wilton Police noted that they've already converted part of a hallway and storage closet to a female locker room. 

In 2019, after significant study, the Police-Town Hall Building Committee recommended new construction.  The current building is non-compliant with multiple state and federal requirements.  Locker rooms and lavatories are inadequate and in some cases inoperable.  The firearms training facility is nonfunctional and firearms storage is deficient.

New Milford Police continue to investigate how teen got ghost gun

New Milford Police say the loaded 9mm pistol with no serial number found in a car at the High School Tuesday was allegedly obtained on the streets, without the parents’ knowledge.  The 17-year old's parents will not be charged.  The so-called ghost gun was discovered as police investigated a fight in the bathroom.  New Milford Police say the gun couldn't have been bought in a store and wasn't registered with a serial number so it was classified as illegal under state law.  Anyone who manufactures a gun is required to obtain a unique serial number from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.  The teen was charged with criminal possession of a firearm and possession of a ghost gun.  Police are continuing to investigate how the teen obtained the weapon.

March in support of Charter School in Danbury this weekend

A march in support of a Charter School coming to Danbury is being held this weekend.  Latinos of Educational Advocacy, or LEAD, is organizing the event.  LEAD argues that the school is needed to provide an alternative to the growing Danbury Public School District.  The march on Sunday will begin at 358 Main Street, where LEAD is headquartered, at 1pm.  They will match to City Hall, which speeches are scheduled at 1:30. 

This comes as the legislature's Appropriations Committee included funding for the charter school in a draft budget plan, despite Governor Lamont not including it in his budget proposal.  Danbury Representative Ken Gucker has said in the past that funding should be put toward the public schools, and shouldn't be considered until the state Board of Education approve the school proposal. 

The state Board of Education approved the Brooklyn-based Prospect Charter Schools application in 2018 to open a facility in Danbury, pending state funding. That funding was never approved.  A new operator has since been selected, one based in Connecticut rather than New York.  The state Board of Education must sign off on the new application by Elevate, which is awaiting IRS approval of its nonprofit status.

Redding Police remind residents of 'Blue Envelope' program

 

As Autism Awareness month wraps up, the Redding Police Department and police departments across the state are reminding residents of "The Blue Envelope" program, sponsored by the DMV.  It was created to enhance communication between a police officer and a driver with autism spectrum disorder.  A driver places their insurance card, registration and driver license in the blue envelope so they can hand it to the officer during a traffic stop. On the outside is helpful tips and instructions for both the officer and driver on how to successfully communicate with each other.  Blue envelopes are available in the lobby of the Redding Police Department or any DMV location. 

Senate gives final approval to bill allowing remote public meetings

The state Senate has given final legislative approval to a bill that would allow municipalities to continue holding remote public meetings.  Boards and Commissions were granted the authority during emergency public health declarations at the start of the pandemic in 2020, but the public act is set to expire on April 30th.  Governor Lamont signed the bill into law yesterday.

The measure passed on a vote of 25 to 11, with two Republicans voting with majority Democrats.  The bill extends that time, and includes requirements that agencies post notice of the public meeting.  The Freedom of Information Commission backs the bill and says remote meetings make it easier for the public to participate because it offers more flexibility. 

New Milford Senator Craig Miner says remote meetings make it harder for people to talk directly with their elected officials.  He says people should be able to meet with governing bodies, not necessarily at the convenience of elected officials.  He called for qualifying language about when meetings could be held remotely. 

The House passed the bill on a bipartisan vote on 101 to 40.

245th Battle of Ridgefield anniversary marked in state House

The 245th anniversary of the Battle Of Ridgefield is being commemorated this weekend. 

State Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo gave her colleagues a brief history lesson about the battle on it's anniversary Wednesday. 

The Ridgefield Historical Society will launch events tonight with a panel presentation unveiling the most recent findings on the Revolutionary War era skeletons unearthed in 2019. Revolutionary War reenactors arrive today and will set up camp, with camp tours and demonstrations Saturday and Sunday. Revolutionary War characters will be stationed at several stops along Main Street from tonight through Sunday. Each stop will feature a short and informative script. 

The historic Battle of Ridgefield will be staged Saturday on the streets where it took place nearly two and a half centuries ago. Main Street will be closed to traffic from 10 am until 1 pm.  Also Saturday, from 11am to 1pm, families can meet the field historians who have been working on the Battle of Ridgefield project, participate in a mock dig and other activities. 

The 5th Connecticut Regiment and The Brigade of the American Revolution will conduct a funeral procession and ceremony Sunday for the soldiers discovered in 2019.

Local fire departments warn of high forest fire danger today

While there was some rain this week, the New Fairfield's Fire Marshal's Office is cautioning that the fire danger today is very high.  The sun, wind, humidity level, and the lack of leaves on the trees all affect the fire danger.  Permits are required to burn brush. Burn permits are not valid today due to the fire danger.  The National Weather Service has issued a statement about an elevated fire risk for southern Connecticut.  The Bethel Emergency Management Office cautioned that very dry air mass will combine with gusty northwest winds, resulting in an elevated risk of fire spread today into early evening.

120 pounds expired, unused drugs collected in New Milford

Over 120 pounds of expired and unused drugs have been collected in New Milford.  The Police, Senior Center and others partnered for a Drug Take Back Day at the Senior Center Parking lot yesterday.  Most Greater Danbury area police departments will be collecting expired and unused prescriptions on Saturday as part of the national DEA Drug Take Back Day.  Many police stations also have collection boxes in their lobbies available 24-7.

New Milford Zoners look into zone change along Pickett District

The New Milford Zoning Commission is considering a zone change for a parcel of land located between Route 7, Still River Drive and Pickett District.  This would be a change from industrial to residential and could pave the way for applications for housing.  The property is 13.4 acres.

Bethel, New Fairfield schedule COVID-19 vaccine van visits

The CDC and FDA recently approved a fourth dose of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for those over 50. 

The Town Of Bethel has scheduled a COVID-19 vaccine Booster clinic.  It will be held at Bishop Curtis Homes on Simeon Road on May 5th from 1pm to 6.  The clinic will be set up in the parking lot outside of building.  This is open to the public, those 12 and older.  All three brands of vaccine will be available. 

New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco says those who have underlying health conditions or are older are, in particular, urged to get a fourth dose.   The waiting period for a fourth dose is 4 months.  The local Health Department is again working with the Vaccination Van, with two more visits scheduled.  One is this Saturday from 10am to 4pm at the Senior Center.  The other is May 21st, same time and place. 

The Vaccination Van clinics are walk-in and provide all three vaccine brands.  The Van is giving first, second, third and fourth doses to anyone eligible under CDC guidelines.  Anyone over the age of 12 may get a booster shot (third dose) if it’s been 5 months since the 2nd Pfizer or Moderna vaccination or 2 months from a J&J vaccination.  For the immunocompromised, the waiting period for the next dose is 3 months. 

Nuvance Health names new chair of surgery for Danbury, New Milford hospitals

Nuvance Health has named a new chair of surgery for Danbury and New Milford hospitals.  General and bariatric surgeon Dr. Julio Teixeira will also serve as the health system’s chair for bariatric surgery.  Prior to joining Nuvance Health, he served as chief of minimally invasive surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, part of Northwell Health in New York, since 2013. 

The board-certified surgeon has been in practice for more than 24 years and Nuvance officials say he brings expertise in the treatment of diseases of the gastrointestinal system, including the esophagus, stomach, gall bladder and the small intestine and other complications related to obesity and laparoscopic surgery. 

As chair of surgery for Danbury and New Milford hospitals, Teixeira will lead the department and oversee all administrative and clinical functions of surgical services, including ambulatory and inpatient surgery, in addition to trauma.  Nuvance says Teixeira has led several surgery programs and pioneered new methods to advance the treatment of obesity. He brings experience from participation in FDA trials to evaluate the Realize Gastric Band in the United States and innovate surgical methods, such as endoscopic stenting, to treat complications of bariatric and single incision laparoscopic surgery.

Newtown Police charge man for home invasion, kidnapping

Newtown Police Detectives served an arrest warrant yesterday on Christopher Lemke of Danbury, in connection to a kidnapping and home invasion earlier this month.  On the 14th, Danbury Police and Western CT Regional SWAT attempted to execute a search warrant in Newtown and Lemke ran into the woods. 

He allegedly entered a home, kidnapped an individual, stole a car and engaged State Police in a short pursuit before crashing near Exit 15 off I-84.  He was arrested by Connecticut State Police and held on bond. 

The Newtown arrest warrant charged him additionally with Home invasion, Kidnapping, Burglary, Robbery, Larceny, Criminal Possession of a firearm, Illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, Carrying a dangerous weapon, and Possession with intent to sell narcotics. 

He is still held on bond. 

Newtown Police Spokesman Sgt Jeff Silver says there were several different agencies involved in this incident, and everyone involved did a great job of coordination and communication.  Officers on scene were able to get vital information to dispatch who then relayed it to partner agencies allowing for the swift apprehension of the suspect.  He notes that the Detectives then completed a thorough investigation and built a solid case. 

Ridgefield to mark 245th anniversary of Battle of Ridgefield this weekend

There will be extra police, fire and volunteers on duty in Ridgefield throughout this weekend.  This is in connection with The Battle Of Ridgefield events, commemorating the 245th anniversary of the battle.  Ridgefield Police are reminding residents and visitors to be vigilant and adhere to the old adage--if you see something, say something.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi and the Historical Society will launch the anniversary weekend Friday night with a performance by the Ridgefield High School Symphonic Orchestra, followed by a panel presentation unveiling the most recent findings on the Revolutionary War era skeletons unearthed recently.  Revolutionary War Reenactments will take place throughout the weekend.   Revolutionary War characters will be stationed at several stops along Main Street, and tours of Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center.  The main event is The Musket Ball Saturday night, followed on Sunday morning by a funeral procession and ceremony for the soldiers discovered in Ridgefield in 2019.

Enhanced Police presence at New Milford High School following fight, ghost gun discovery

New Milford Police had an enhanced presence at the High School yesterday, a day after a fight led to three arrests and the discovery of a ghost gun.  Police and school officials continue to review their response to Tuesday's incident.  Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo sent a message to parents noting that there would be more police on campus, along with additional support being offered to students. 

Danbury Planners appoint new Vice Chairman

The Danbury Planning Commission has appointed a new vice chairman for the group.  Bob Chiocchio was nominated to the vacancy and approved unanimously.  He replaces Joel Urice, who died March 24th at age 74.  A Celebration of Life Service will take place in the Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home on May 1st.

Local lawmakers tout House passage of bill to fight opioid epidemic

Local lawmakers are touting House passage of a bill to continue the fight against the opioid epidemic.  New Milford state Representative Bill Buckbee and Wilton Representative Tom O'Dea partnered with others on the measure, which passed the state House unanimously.  The bill makes various changes affecting opioid use prevention and treatment.  It allows practitioners authorized to prescribe controlled substances to treat patients by dispensing things like methadone from a mobile unit and allows multi-care institutions to provide behavioral health services or substance use disorder treatment services in a mobile narcotic treatment program.  It also removes from the statutory definition of “drug paraphernalia” products used by licensed drug manufacturers or individuals to test a substance before they ingest, inject, or inhale it.  This applied to things like fentanyl testing strips, as long as they are not using the products to engage in unlicensed manufacturing or distribution of controlled substances.

DEEP looking to hire lifeguards for Squantz Pond State Park

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is continuing to hire lifeguards for the summer season.  DEEP is still hiring staff for Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield.  The State Parks Division has increased the starting salary and is offering paid training and certifications.  Starting salary for lifeguards has increased to $16 an hour.  Hours of work are 10am to 6pm, 5 days per week, for a total of 40 hours. Most weekends and the July 4th holiday are mandatory.  Applicants must be at least 16 year old, 18 to apply as a lifeguard supervisor.  The deadline to apply is June 17th.  The basic duties of a lifeguard are: to monitor activities in swimming areas preventing accidents and providing assistance to swimmers at State Park beaches; to caution swimmers regarding unsafe areas; to maintain order in swimming areas; to rescue swimmers in danger of drowning and administer first aid and/or CPR as required; to participate in physical and rescue skills training; to perform general maintenance tasks and other related duties as required.  

Annual Town Meeting date set in New Fairfield

The New Fairfield Board of Selectmen has met to set the date for the annual town meeting where residents will vote on sending the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year to a referendum.  The annual town meeting will be Tuesday, May 3 at 6:30pm at the New Fairfield Senior Center.  The proposed municipal budget is $13.3 million.  The Board of Education is seeking $48.2 million dollars.  The schools plan includes nearly $5.2 million in debt service.  The proposed mill rate would increase 3.11 percent to 32.47.

New Fairfield firefighters respond to more brush fires

The New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department has been out twice this week for brush fires.  Residents are asked to be careful with cigarettes and ashes cleaned out of fireplaces, wood stoves and even pellet stoves.  Brush fire season typically begins in early spring before the leaves develop on trees.  The lack of canopy allows the sun to dry out the dead vegetation on the forest floor leaving these combustibles tinder dry and easily ignitable. Once the leaves form on the trees, the threat of a brush fire decreases but is still a possibility depending on rainfall. 

Redding Rid Litter Day collects 1,160 pounds of trash

Redding officials say Redding Rid Litter Day was a success. 1,160 pounds of roadside trash was picked up throughout Redding, including Georgetown, on Saturday. Mounds of garbage bags were collected on the town green to create Mount Trashmore in an Earth Day beautification clean up.

Mock car crash held at Joel Barlow High School

The Redding Police Department along with Easton Police and Redding and Easton Fire Departments held a mock car crash yesterday at Joel Barlow High School.  They brought in two crashed cars to demonstrate the dangers that young drivers may face.

Putnam County Sheriff's Department starting annual fund drive

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department is starting its annual New York State Sheriffs' Institute Annual Membership Drive soon.  Residents may receive a letter from Sheriff Kevin McConville asking to become an honorary member by making  a tax-deductible gift of $25.  Membership is open to everyone.  This is the organization's primary fundraiser used to support the Sheriffs' Summer Camp.  Each year up to 840 kids from across the state attend this camp at no cost to their families.  McConville says these kids are economically disadvantaged and would not otherwise get this chance. While there, they experience swimming, sailing, and friendship, while interacting in a positive setting with deputy sheriffs. https://sheriffsinstitute.org/

Bethel Fire & EMS practice extrication training

Bethel Fire & EMS held a practice drill this week where members focused on motor vehicle stabilization and extrication.  Guest instructors from Connecticut Custom Fire Training led the drill.  Firefighters and EMTs worked in groups to tackle challenges they may come across at a motor vehicle accident, both outside of the car, as well as patient care inside.  With an all volunteer department, officials note that for most, Fire Rescue isn’t their career--they are neighbors who joined a team to help those in need. 

Brookfield Celebrating Month of the Military Child

Brookfield Public Schools are Celebrating Month of the Military Child.  First Selectman Tara Carr says during the month, military bases, cities and school districts honor military children with special events.  Today is Military Kids Day, a day designated by Governor Ned Lamont as Purple Up! For Military Kids.  Local communities are encouraged to wear or display purple to recognize the strength and the sacrifices of military children.  Purple references the joint environment of the military, encompassing all service branches, Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, and Veterans. Purple combines each branch's colors into one: the Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard all use shades of blue, the Army uses green, and the Marines use red

Russia releases US Marine vet as part of prisoner exchange with Danbury FCI inmate

Russia and the United States have carried out a dramatic prisoner exchange, trading a Marine veteran jailed in Moscow for a convicted Russian drug trafficker serving a long prison sentence in Danbury Federal Correctional Institute.

The surprise deal involving Trevor Reed, an American jailed for nearly three years, came about as the result of a long negotiation process.  The U.S. agreed to return Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal prison sentence at Danbury FCI for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. after he was arrested in Liberia in 2010 and extradited to the U.S. 

Reed, a former Marine from Texas was arrested in the summer of 2019 after Russian authorities said he assaulted an officer while being driven by police to a police station following a night of heavy drinking. He was later sentenced to nine years in prison, though his family has maintained his innocence and the U.S. government described him as unjustly detained and expressed concern about his declining health. 

Russia had sought Yaroshenko’s return for years while also rejecting entreaties by high-level U.S. officials to release Reed, who was nearing his 1,000th day in custody and whose health had recently been worsening, according to his family.

The two prisoners were swapped in a European country. Though officials would not say where the transfer took place, in the hours before it happened commercial flight trackers identified a plane belonging to Russia’s federal security service as flying to Ankara, Turkey. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons also updated its website overnight to reflect that Yaroshenko was no longer in custody.

Yaroshenko submitted a request for compassionate release to the Warden of Federal Correctional Institute Danbury on April 2, 2020, which the Warden denied on April 23, 2020. The opinion said while it is "undoubtedly correct that close quarters and other prison conditions increase COVID-19 transmission risk," the FCI Danbury facility appears to have effectively contained the virus: There are presently no known COVID-19 cases at the facility and there have been no deaths since the one noted by Yaroshenko in his motion.

Fight in New Milford High School bathroom prompts lockdown, ghost gun recovered

Two students have been arrested for an incident at New Milford High School yesterday morning.  Police responded to a call of a report of a weapon on school property, sending the High School into lockdown.  A juvenile and two other students were detained at the scene.

New Milford Police made one juvenile referral in addition to the two arrests, stemming from a fight in a bathroom.   A search of the juvenile suspect’s vehicle led to the discovery of a loaded 9mm pistol with no serial number. 

A 17 year old was charged with Criminal Possession of a Firearm and Possession of a Ghost Gun.  18-year old Anthony Jack and 19-year old Christian Acosta, both of New Milford, were charged with assault and breach of peace.  

Police Chief Spencer Cerruto says he has zero tolerance for school related violence, or any violence for that matter, adding that these suspects and juvenile will be dealt with accordingly.

Man found guilty of 2018 killing of Bethel woman

A former Ansonia man has been found guilty of murder for the death of Emily Todd of Bethel.  A jury also convicted Brandon Roberts on charges of robbery and carrying a pistol without a permit.  The 25-year old was killed December 8th 2018  near a boat ramp in Bridgeport.

Police said Todd’s mother told detectives that her daughter had met Roberts on an online dating app, but soon called off the relationship. The 29-year old convinced her to meet him one more time. 

Evidence presented at trial showed Roberts confessed to police after his arrest and stole money from Todd's bank account after the shooting. The murder weapon was later recovered by Cleveland, Ohio police after Roberts sold the gun on the street when he fled Connecticut.

Sentencing is scheduled for June 24th in Bridgeport Superior Court.

 

New Milford High School Principal rescinds resignation

During last night's New Milford Board of Education meeting, High School Principal Raymond Manka rescinded his resignation, which was set to take effect on June 30th.  Hearst Connecticut Media reports that the announcement was followed by applause from those in the audience. 

He only announced his resignation on Friday, which prompted an online petition to have the Board of Ed call a vote of no confidence in Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo and a walkout by students supporting him on Monday.  Manka has not given a reason behind the resignation. 

More than a dozen parents and students spoke in support of Manka during the public speaking portion of the meeting, while others addressed DiCorpo.  The Board then went into recess, and when they returned asked Manka to speak about his resignation.  He then rescinded it.

Newtown residents approve budget for coming fiscal year

Newtown residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year.  There was low voter turn out, about 7-percent of registered voters.  The municipal budget of $46.89 million and the Board of Education's $82.13 million plan were both approved.  The town side of the budget includes all debt service on bonding, including for all school projects. 

The overall budget represents a .07 percent tax rate increase, despite a 4.7 percent spending increase.  This was achieved through a 3.4 percent growth in the Grand List, and by trimming $300,000 from the school budget request. 

Newtown residents also approved two question on the ballot, funding Newtown High School ventilation systems and HVAC renovations and Edmond Town Hall parking lot improvements. 

The high school project involves replacement of existing rooftop heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units servicing the A-wing at the high school.  Edmond Town Hall's parking lot will be resurfaced, existing drainage infrastructure will be refurbished and additional parking spaces will be added.  Overall traffic flow and pedestrian safety will also be improved.  Funding will also pay for demolition of the former firehouse in the rear parking lot.

Ridgefield Affordable Housing Committee releases draft affordable housing plan

The Ridgefield Affordable Housing Committee has released a draft affordable housing plan for the town.  The proposal must be approved by the Board of Selectmen by a June deadline so it can be sent to the state in order to comply with a mandate. 

The draft suggests the Planning and Zoning Commission review regulations to better encourage multifamily housing and adaptive reuse of existing structures, such as mills, and turning them into housing.  The draft also pushed for affordable housing at Prospect Ridge, expanding the Housing Authority's Ballard Green, and restarting a transit-oriented development in Branchville of 15 to 20 deed-restricted units over the next five years.  That project stalled over a lack of sewer capacity. 

Ridgefield needs another 60 to 70 units of affordable housing to qualify for a moratorium from the state's 8-30(g) statute, which allows developers to bypass most local zoning regulations if a percentage of units are designated as affordable.  The committee found that 42 percent of renters and 28 percent of homeowners in Ridgefield are burdened by housing costs.

The Center marks Denim Day

The Center for Empowerment and Education, formerly the Women's Center of Greater Danbury, is marking Denim Day today.  The commemoration began in the 90's after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt --since the victim was wearing tight jeans --she must have helped the person who raped her remove them, thereby implying consent. The following day, women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim.  Wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against sexual harassment, abuse, assault and rape.

Danbury Planners sign off on application for Indian food mart

The Danbury Planning Commission has signed off on an Indian food grocer opening in the CityCenter area.  The Indian market will open in a former dance studio space across Crosby Street from Brookview Commons apartment complex. 

A variance was granted by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals in March to allow fewer parking spaces than are required.  The applicant’s consultants said ethnic markets don’t attract the same volume of traffic as other grocery stores, but the City's zoning regulations don't differentiate between traditional and ethnic markets.  

If it had come in below 3,000-square feet, it would have been considered a convenience store.  But at 5,000-square feet it's considered a grocery store.  The 16,000-square-foot building also houses a Papa John’s, a 40-seat restaurant called Los Andes and two apartments on the second floor. 

According to the report, the market is expected to generate approximately 11 total vehicle trips during the weekday morning peak and 35 trips during the evening peak hour, with an immaterial impact to the adjacent roadways.

Danbury officials back education bill proposed in Hartford

A rally has been held at the state Capitol by educators, students and some lawmakers backing a bill about the Education Cost Sharing Grant Formula and funding of other education programs.  Danbury Superintendent Kevin Walston says city leaders have advocated for years for Danbury's fair share of ECS funding, and this is a solid first step in creating a more equitable funding model for the district. Mayor Dean Esposito says he appreciates a number of local representatives for being co-sponsors of this bill. Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents Executive Director Fran Rabinowitz says this would accelerate the ECS formula’s phase-in schedule and fully funds all districts beginning in Fiscal Year 2025 when one-time federal COVID relief funds expire.  Esposito and Walston say the district would also be able to leverage historic, but temporary, federal funding for on-going expenses.

Lockdown lifted at New Milford High School

New Milford High School went into lockdown this morning due to a police investigation.  Superintendent Alisha DiCorpo said in a message that all students are safe and that police have control of the situation. The lockdown was lifted as of 11am. The building was deemed secure by the New Milford Police Department. Students are returning to their regular rotation. As this is an ongoing police investigation, no further details will be released at this time.

Capsized vessel in Southbury sunk a while ago

It was a busy two days for Southbury Fire Department Sunday and Monday.  Sunday started with extrication training in the morning and was capped with a rescued hiker who had fallen and injured his back.

Seven calls were spread throughout the day yesterday including a brush fire and a reported water rescue.  The brush fire was reported on Roxbury Road shortly before 3:30pm.  The 40 by 40 foot fire was quickly contained and extinguished. 

Last night, Southbury Fire was called by a passerby on River Road about a capsized boat in the water.  The vessel appeared to be a canoe.  NUSAR, Newtown Underwater Search and Rescue, was called and swept the shores, finding nothing. They checked the area with sonar and it was clear. The canoe was then removed and it was determined it had been sunk for quite a while.

Multiple vehicles entered, 1 car stolen in Easton

Multiple vehicles were entered and one vehicle was stolen in Easton Sunday night. Easton Police continue to encourage residents to lock their vehicles and take any valuables inside at night. The criminals are not forcibly entering the cars and usually will go into it if it is already unlocked.  Anyone with home surveillance video of the incidents Sunday night is asked to forward the video to the police department.  Anyone who sees something suspicious is reminded to call police right away.

Putnam County Historic Courthouse lit up honoring fallen FDNY member

Putnam County’s Historic Courthouse will be lit in red for a week in memory of FDNY firefighter Timothy Klein, who was killed Sunday in the line of duty.  The 31-year old was killed when a ceiling collapsed as he battled a house fire in Brooklyn.  Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell called it a great loss, adding that firefighters routinely put their lives on the line to help total strangers.

Kent Land Trust plants 500 trees in honor of Earth Day

Kent Land Trust has planted 500 trees in honor of Earth Day.  Volunteers gathered to learn about Land Manager Clark Gifford's planned restoration of habitat surrounding the freshwater lagoon and plant live stakes including dogwood, arrowwood, buttonbush, and pussywillow.  Kent Land Trust Director Laurie Doss stopped in to provide pointers on using eBird, an online database of bird observations.  The local hotspot and others provide scientists, researchers and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance.

Bridgewater Land Trust participating in Connecticut Community Foundation's 'Give Local'

The Bridgewater Land Trust is participating in the Connecticut Community Foundation's Give Local online fundraising campaign.  Last year, they raised $4,000 for scholarships for  Burnham students to attend camp at Pratt Nature Center.  Their goal this year is to raise $20,000 for more scholarships, to sponsor programs with Shepaug AgriScience students, and to host various events.  Give local takes place today and tomorrow.  Nonprofits will earn bonus dollars for every donor they secure.

Wilton Police have new tool in toolbox

Wilton Police dispatchers now have access to accurate caller location and additional information.  The Department has partnered with RapidSOS emergency response data platform. Wilton residents can assist by signing up for a free Emergency Health Profile with critical information needed in a medical emergency www.emergencyprofile.org.

New Milford High School students walk out over Principal's resignation

Some New Milford High School students followed through on a planned walk out yesterday over the resignation of Principal Raymond Manka.  He plans to leave at the end of the school year.  Students yesterday gathered in gym and listened to speeches from their peers, and then walked out.  They stood in front of the high school, by Route 7 during the early part of the the school day.  After about 10 minutes, students who were outside were led back inside the building, where they returned to class.  An online petition is gathering signatures, calling for Superintendent Alishia DiCorpo's resignation.  The Board of Education is being asked to hold a vote of no confidence.  It says during her 18 month tenure, 10 administrative members of the New Milford School District have left.  The New Milford Board of Education's next meeting is tonight, at Sarah Noble Intermediate School’s Media Center, at 7pm.

Streetscape Phase 3 construction formally kicked off in Brookfield

Streetscape Phase 3 construction in Brookfield formally kicked off with a ceremonial ground breaking yesterday.  The ground breaking was held by the Economic Development Commission in the grassy area in front of the new Dunkin location at 756 Federal Road, at the location where a small pocket park will be built. This phase, the third of six planned, also includes 2,100 linear feet of sidewalk, which will extend the Still River Greenway Trail to Laurel Hill Road.  13 sidewalk lights will be installed.  Significant landscaping and pedestrian-friendly amenities are also planned.  

Danbury Environmental Impact Commission consider self storage application

The Danbury Environmental Impact Commission will continue a hearing at their meeting tomorrow night on an application from a Georgia-based developer for an indoor self-storage building on Mill Plain Road.  The plan is for a vacant 3-acre site adjacent to Aunt Hack Road.  During previous meetings, representatives for Diamond Point Development said there will not be a security fence around the property since it's an interior climate-controlled facility.  The application needs EIC approval because of a ditch that runs across the neighboring property that would be classified as an intermittent water course.  The 100,000 square foot building would be within 100 feet of that.  Plans call for cutting into the sloped hillside at the back of the property, adding a drainage system and doing extensive landscaping.  The Planning Commission has scheduled a hearing on the application for June 1st.

Watertown Police identify 4-year-old killed by farm tractor

Watertown Police have identified the 4-year-old girl who was killed after becoming entangled under a farm tractor this weekend.  Police say Ellie Kuslis was pronounced dead at the scene on Saturday at a family farm on Barnes Road.  The state’s chief medical examiner has ruled her death an accident due to blunt-force trauma.  The tractor was being operated by her father and stationary at the time, but Police say the slice seeder “remained engaged.”  The circumstances of the death remain under investigation by Watertown Police.  The state Department of Children and Families and OSHA have been notified.

Motorcycle hit by car in Bridgewater Sunday afternoon

A motorcycle was hit by a car in Bridgewater on Sunday afternoon.  A Chevy Impala failed to yield while exiting the town boat launch onto South Main Street, shortly before 4:30pm.  The motorcycle was traveling north on Route 133 when the car pulled out.  A 31-year-old New Milford man and 31-year-old Washington Depot woman on the motorcycle were transported to Danbury Hospital with minor injuries.  The car's driver and a passenger were uninjured, but the vehicle had to be towed.  The driver, an 85-year-old Brookfield man, was cited for failure to grant right-of-way at an intersection.

Brookfield Republican Town Committee holding candidate forum tonight

The Brookfield Republican Town Committee is holding a candidate forum tonight.  Officials say they're holding this event for local party members tasked with nominating candidates for the local, state, and federal office at the state nominating convention.  Tonight's gathering at Whisconier Middle School at 7pm will be opened by First Selectwoman Tara Carr.  The Connecticut Republican Party State Convention is scheduled for May 6th and 7th at Foxwoods.  The candidates slated to appear tonight includes gubernatorial hopefuls Bob Stefanowski and Susan Patricelli Regan.  Two Republicans looking to be elected in the 5th Congressional District, George Logan and Michelle Botelho, are also expected to attend.  Treasurer candidate Harry Arora and Comptroller candidate Mary Fay are also expected.

Conn. lawmakers consider bill allowing more time for remote meetings

Connecticut lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow municipalities to continue holding remote public meetings.  Boards and Commissions were granted the authority during emergency public health declarations at the start of the pandemic in 2020, but the public act is set to expire on April 30th.  The bill extends that time and includes requirements that agencies post notice of the public meeting. 

The Freedom of Information Commission backs the bill and says remote meetings make it easier for the public to participate because it offers more flexibility. 

Opponents say remote meetings make it harder for people to talk directly with their elected officials. 

The House passed the bill on a bipartisan vote on 101 to 40, with Republicans Patrick Callahan of New Fairfield and Tom O'Dea of Wilton crossing the aisle to vote with the majority.  The item was sent to the Senate on Monday.

Danbury state Representative Bob Godfrey says more people have been able to participate in General Assembly business because of the remote option.  He added that people can have a public hearing running in the background and not have to sit, captive, through 20 hours of testimony to wait their turn.  He says this makes government more transparent and more accessible.

Redding Planners to hold hearing on affordable housing draft plan

Connecticut municipalities are required by state statute to have an Affordable Housing Plan.  The deadline for submission to the state is June 1st.  A member of the regional planning agency for the Greater Danbury area recently made a presentation to the Redding Board of Selectmen. 

Redding has chosen to join a regional plan to detail how they intend to increase affordable housing developments.  WestCOG will be working with Planning and Zoning on the plan and then send it to a public meeting. 

Affordable housing is defined as less than 30% of a household's income. Redding needs to have 10% affordable housing, but is currently under .5 percent. This translates to 381 units. There are 7613 households in Redding that would qualify for affordable housing right now. 

Former Planning Commission chair Toby Welles, who was involved in past affordable housing asked about Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill playing a role in affordable housing.  He noted that most of Redding is water shed so Georgetown is a good place for this housing, since there are utilities and sewage there.

The draft plan notes that Redding has been taking steps to expand its housing options since the 1970s and will continue to do so, particularly as the Town moves forward with the significant project of redeveloping the former Gilbert and Bennett factory property.  The town gained control of the former wire mill property through legal action taken against the Georgetown Land Use Development Company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2011. 

Foreclosure proceedings began in 2014 and the process was completed last year. A $10 million capital improvement project for the Georgetown Sewer Treatment Plant, completed in 2018, topped the facility’s capacity to discharge treated sewage into the Norwalk River at 245,000 gallons per day.  That's an increase from the 75,000 per day recorded in a 2018 report produced by the town.

Planner Kristin Floberg says 21 percent of households are people living alone.  20 percent of Redding's population is 65 or older, compared to the regional statistic of 15.6 percent.  7 percent of Redding residents work in Redding, the second lowest rate in the region.  17 percent of housing units in Redding are rentals, the rest are owner-occupied.  86-percent of all housing units are detached, single family homes, the rest are multi-family units.

The Planning Commission will host a public hearing on the affordable housing plan at 7:30pm. 

New Milford students walk out over Principal's planned resignation

Some New Milford High School students planned a walk out and protest today over Principal Raymond Manka resigning at the end of the school year.  The student organizers asked their peers to wear school colors, green and white, and to walk out after 1st period.  The students were reminded by organizers to be respectful and go back inside if asked to do so by administrators.  Their plan was to walk out until the end of 2nd period. 

The reason for his resignation has not been publicly announced.

Meanwhile a phone message was sent out last night by Superintendent Alishia DiCorpo about the walk out.  She says while they understand it's an emotional time, they want to ensure student safety.  DiCorpo noted that there are several ongoing construction project near Route 7, where students may convene.  She noted that the Police Department has been alerted to the walk out. 

A petition is also circulating by parents calling for DiCorpo's resignation.  The petition to the New Milord Board of Education garnered more than 1,600 signatures as of this morning.  They are asking for a vote of no confidence.  It says during her 18 month tenure, 10 administrative members of the New Milford School District have left, including the Director of Facilities, Information Technology Director , Human Resources Director, the previous New Milford High School Principal and Schaghticoke Middle School Principal.

Brush fires extinguished in Carmel, New Fairfield, Newtown

A number of brush fires were reported in the region in the last few days.  On Saturday, Mahopac Volunteer Fire Department responded to a blaze caused by a downed primary power line on Buckshollow Road across the bike path. 

The path was closed from about 11:15 until 1:30 when the flames were put out.  The closure was also needed as NYSEG restrung power lines. 

Squantz Engine Company responded to Lake Drive South on Saturday, Candlewood Isle.  Department officials say a quick response knocked down the flames before things escalated.  Firefighters says it was reported by an alert homeowner who call this in early. 

Botsford Fire Rescue responded to an early morning smoke investigation today.  Firefighters located a brush pile smoldering. Very difficult area to reach.  The property owner was turning the pile over and soaking it down themselves. 

Police, firefighters take part in Earth Day clean ups

Members of the Bethel Fire Department participated in the town wide Trashapalooza cleanup event this weekend.  Firefighters were assigned to the waterway behind Durant Avenue.  This was one of many clean ups in the region to commemorate Earth Day. The Newtown Lions Club hosted a "lose the litter event" this weekend in celebration of Earth Day.  Newtown Police, Newtown Cadets and Bethel Police were out on Currituck Road Saturday, with others out on many different roads throughout town.  The police group filled nearly 20 large garbage bags and completed the span of Currituck Road.

High Schooler donates items to Brookfield Fire to assist people with autism

A Brookfield High School freshman has donated items to the Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company to be used on various apparatus.  Chief Ellis met with Shawn Buzzell, who donated 3 Carter Kits.  They are used to help emergency responders assist people with autism during emergencies. Department officials say the timely donation coincides with their Autism awareness T-shirt program currently underway through BrookfieldFirestore.com.

Putnam County Sheriff provides more details on missing person turned murder case

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department is providing more details about how a missing persons case was turned over to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the arrest of a New York State parolee for her murder. 

Sheriff Kevin McConville says after almost three weeks of investigative diligence, with the assistance of the Putnam County District Attorney's office, Deputies were able to locate and recover the body of Lori Campbell in North Carolina.  Dwayne Pulliam, on parole for a previous murder, was charged for her death and for illegal narcotics distribution. 

He was arrested in New Milford last week.

Support during the investigation was provided by the Alamance Sheriff's Office in North Carolina, the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, New York DEA Office, and the Connecticut State Police.  McConville says only a federal prosecution was able to merge all of the offenses across three states into one combined and comprehensive prosecution.

UK teen arrested for obscene, threatening prank phone calls to Newtown, elsewhere

A teen in the United Kingdom has been identified as the source of obscene and threatening prank phone calls made to multiple schools and businesses across the US and Canada.  Newtown Police, along with various law enforcement agencies in Arizona, Florida, Virginia, Michigan, Texas, California, Colorado, Canada, and multiple Federal Agencies participated in this collaborative investigation.  The calls ranged from pranks to threats of immediate violence which prompted police responses and significant disruptions in multiple communities.  The 16 year old juvenile was locate by authorities in the United Kingdom and was taken into custody on April 13th.  Due to the suspect’s age he will not be publicly identified or extradited to the United States, but Newtown Police say he will be prosecuted under applicable UK law.

Alleged drug dealer arrested for killing one of his customers

A New York crack cocaine dealer has been arrested on federal charges of killing one of his customers.  The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York charged 59-year old Dwayne Pulliam for the death of 59-year old Lori Campbell of Carmel.  Authorities say he suspected her of stealing drugs from him.  Pulliam was arrested Thursday in New Milford and is being held without bail. 

From at least January, authorities say Pulliam traveled between New York and Connecticut to sell crack cocaine and used multiple phones to do so.  According to court documents, he was seen driving in the New Milford, Danbury and Brookfield areas. 

Campbell’s friends reported her missing April 2nd to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department.  They told police they hadn’t seen nor heard from her since March 27th. Pulliam, who is a manager at a rehabilitation facility, told police that day that she was getting ready to go to a rehabilitation facility, though not his.  Pulliam hadn’t reported to work since March 26th even though he was scheduled. 

Pulliam allegedly contacted a man to help move Campbell’s car and confronted Campbell, but when she tried to leave, he did not let her.  Pulliam told the man he stopped her from screaming and that this was not the first time he had ‘done this,' according to authorities.   He was released from prison in December 2020 after serving about 24 years for murder. 

The two men reportedly dropped Campbell’s car off at the Connecticut Welcome Center in Danbury and went to Pulliam’s Patterson apartment where her body was wrapped in a sheet.  Pulliam allegedly directed the man to help move the body, and threatened to kill his family if he did not comply.  Authorities say they drove her body to Pulliam’s mother’s home in North Carolina and buried her in a shallow grave.  

Law enforcement found Campbell’s body on Tuesday in the area where Pulliam’s co-conspirator said it was buried.

Pulliam was charged with traveling in interstate commerce, and using a facility in interstate commerce, with intent to engage in a business enterprise involving narcotics, and thereafter committing murder to further that unlawful activity, and participating in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams and more of crack cocaine.  Pulliam faces at least five years in prison for selling crack, and up to life in prison in the death. 

Danbury outsources summer camp programming to Sports Dome

The City of Danbury has announced a partnership with the Danbury Sports Dome for this year’s summer camp program. 

Mayor Dean Esposito says this new approach was a top priority to enhance and expand the summer camp offerings for the city’s youth.  He says now more than ever, the City must provide vital resources for children to excel, and this approach will take our summer camps to the next level.  He added that sports provide an excellent training in leadership and teamwork that is needed to create a strong foundation in every child’s life. 

The summer camp program is limited to 250 campers per week on a first come, first served basis. Each child must be a resident of Danbury to register. Sign-ups can be for single or multiple weeks. The program is for 1st grade through 8th grade and costs $100 per week per camper. 

The first week of camp starts June 20th, the final week starts August 1st. 

During a recent budget workshop, Esposito said declining enrollment numbers in recent years, even before COVID-19, prompted him to look into a partnership that would effectively outsource the programming to the Sports Dome. Residents can register online at www.danburysportsdome.com or in person at 25 Shelter Rock Lane Danbury, CT 06810.

Final hearing held in Danbury Proton's appeal of state application rejection

A final hearing has been held by the state Office of Health Strategy into the appeal of a rejection of Danbury Proton's application to open a cancer treatment center on the City's westside.  Company officials cited the approval earlier this month by the agency of a proton therapy center in Wallingford as proof this novel treatment should be approved. 

The state rejected the center’s application in late February to open an $80 million facility on Wooster Heights. 

Danbury Proton Attorney David Hardy says there’s no downside risk to the state in approving the certificate of need application.  During the half hour hearing, Hardy said 992 patients a year could use proton therapy, and that doesn't include people who could travel from New York.  No decision was immediately made after the hearing.

Newtown Police warn of impersonation phone scam

Some Newtown residents have reported receiving calls from an individual claiming to be the Newtown Police asking for gift cards.  Spokesman Sgt Jeff Silver says this is not the police department and is a scam. Anyone who receives such a call and has any question as to whether the entity asking for money is legitimate is urged to call the Newtown police department for assistance.  He says too many people are falling victim to these gift card scams. Silver added that if someone is asking for gift cards as payment it should be a red flag.

One injured in car down embankment accident

One person was hospitalized following a car accident in New Fairfield on the Sherman town line Friday.  Fire and police departments received a call around noon about a car off the roadway and found that the vehicle fell 15 feet down an embankment.  First responders found a person trapped in the car and freed them in a short time. The patient was taken to Danbury Hospital for further treatment.

Connecticut state worker labor deal receives final approval

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Senate on Friday gave final legislative approval to a multiyear labor agreement that includes pay raises and bonuses for tens of thousands of state employees, despite concerns raised by some Republicans that taxpayers can’t afford it.

The four-year deal, reached by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration and recently ratified by 43,000 unionized workers, cleared the Democratic controlled Senate on a vote of 22-13. The Democratic controlled House approved the same agreement on Thursday.

As in the House, debate in the Senate focused on whether the wage enhancements will help stabilize a predicted tsunami of retirements while rewarding a workforce that endured the pandemic, or create future fiscal challenges for the state.

Passage of the major labor deal comes as Lamont and the General Assembly are trying to reach an agreement in the final weeks of the legislative session on revisions to the state budget. Meanwhile, as new revenue projections show the state is now poised to end the current fiscal year on June 30 with a nearly $4 billion surplus, state lawmakers are limited by caps on spending and revenues.

New Milford Sen. Craig Miner, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, questioned how the price of the labor deal - which Republicans predict will cost roughly $1.9 billion over four years - can fit under the spending cap, in addition to other spending some Democrats want to make. For example, there continues to be a push by some lawmakers to spend more than $700 million on pandemic payments to both public and private workers who were designated as essential.

The four-year labor deal approved Friday includes 2.5% general wage increases and step increases retroactive to July 1, 2021. The workers will also receive additional 2.5% general wage increases and step increases beginning July 1 and July 1, 2023. State and union officials are expected to meet again in the fourth year to negotiate wages.

The agreement also includes special lump sum payments of $2,500 for active employees who’ve been on the job since March 31 and $1,000 for those employed as of July 15, 2022. There’s a pro-rated bonus for part-time employees. Some Republicans in the House raised concerns about the bonuses, noting how state workers could still retire even after receiving the bonuses.

Proponents of the deal, however, contend the bonuses will likely save the state more money in the long run. They predict an arbitrator would have probably awarded state employees 3% raises, which would be imbedded in their salaries.

Committee meets about renaming ACE building

A committee of the Danbury City Council has met to start discussions about renaming a street and building after the late founder of the Alternative Center for Excellence. Joe Pepin served as ACE principal for over 20 years.  Two members of the City Council proposed honoring him with the renaming.  The ad hoc committee is looking into what portion of Roberts Avenue could bear his name.  The school is located between 9th Avenue and Locust Avenue.  The name could replace Roberts Avenue or it could be a secondary, honorary name.  Further west beyond 8th Avenue could require state input as those addresses are part of WCSU.  Corporation Counsel Les Pinter recommended a public hearing so any residents could weigh in, though there are no houses with Roberts Avenue addresses between 9th and Locust.  Other stakeholders, such as the postal service, could be contacted as well.  He noted that going to the Planning Commission is optional, but they could look to see if Roberts Avenue has an historical significance, or was named for someone in particular.  This is a one-off until an ad hoc to establish a formal process for renaming buildings or streets.

Pandemic pay for essential workers bill kicked back to committee by Conn. House

A bill from the General Assembly's Labor Committee that allow essential workers to apply for pandemic pay for their service during the public health emergency is slowly moving through the legislative process with the end of the session slated for May 4th.  The House referred the proposal this week to the Committee on Appropriations.  In the Labor Committee, Danbury Senator Julie Kushner and Redding Representative Anne Hughes voted for the measure.  The proposal would give $2,000 for full-time workers, and $1,000 for part-time workers deemed essential.  There is $750 million in the Connecticut Essential Workers’ Pandemic Pay and federal funds from the American Rescue Plan.  The bill would require workers to apply. The money would be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligibility would be verified.

Area legislator advocates for insurance coverage of bariatric surgery

Southbury state Senator Eric Berthel is touting passage in the Senate of a bill expanding medical assistance for bariatric surgery and prescription drug treatment for those suffering from obesity.  Most insurance plans Connecticut do not provide coverage for bariatric and metabolic surgery, but it is available for those on the state's Husky Plans. Under this new legislation, both Medicaid and Husky B beneficiaries may also access these medical treatments.  Berthel himself had bariatric and metabolic surgery, and has advocated for this measure since its first introduction in 2019. 

COVID-19 testing, vaccines continue to be available

PCR testing for COVID-19 is available at the New Fairfield Senior Center Community Room Monday through Friday.  Appointments can be scheduled at curative.com.   The New Fairfield Health Department is again working with the Vaccination Van .  The Van will be in New Fairfield for 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th doses on April 30th 10AM-4PM at the Senior Center and again May 21.  The Vaccination Van clinics are walk-in and provide all three vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J.

The number of people in Connecticut who have received a 2nd booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine has increased significantly from last week. More than 101,000 residents have now had 4 shots, up from about 68,000 the week before.  2nd boosters are approved for those 50 and older.

Vaccinations increased by 1 percent among 5 to 15 year olds this week. 82 -percent of 12 to 15 year olds and 49-percent of 5 to 11 year olds have had at least one dose. 

Connecticut remains 4th in the nation when it comes to the percentage of the state's population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at 78.9 percent.  Rhode Island is first with 82.2 percent followed by Vermont at 80.9 percent, and then Maine at 79.2 percent.  Massachusetts round out the top 5 at 78.7 percent fully vaccinated.  

Department of Health updates Greater Danbury area COVID-19 data

The state Department of Public Health is providing an update on COVID-19 data for the Greater Danbury area.  According to the report for the two weeks ending April 16, there were 128 cases in Danbury, Bethel reported 66, Brookfield had 46 and New Fairfield 45. There were 61 COVID cases in New Milford, 64 in Newtown, Redding reported 22 cases while Ridgefield had 104. 

Case rates for the week ending April 16th range from 11 to 30, up from 8 to 25 cases per 100,000 population.
The rates are:

Danbury 10.8

New Milford 16.3

Newtown 16.4

Redding 17.2

Brookfield 19.4

New Fairfield 23.2

Bethel 23.8

Ridgefield 29.8

COVID-19 infection rates ticked up slightly from last week when they were 4.4 to 9.8 percent.  At home COVID-19 test results are not reported to the state. 
The rates are:

Danbury 5.9 percent

Newtown 7.2 percent

Ridgefield 7.9 percent

New Milford 8 percent

Brookfield 9.4 percent

Bethel 10.5 percent

Redding 10.6 percent

New Fairfield 11.1 percent

The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 17 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the fully vaccinated population of 6.97 percent, up a bit from the week before.  The rolling 7-day average test positivity rate yesterday was 7.6  percent. The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive over during that time increased by 37, for a total of 176.  33 percent of those patients are not fully vaccinated. 

All of the COVID-19 tests sent for genomic sequencing in Connecticut came back as a strain of the Omicron variant, according to the latest weekly report. BA.2 accounted for 81.6-percent of the samples tested. Testing was done for 18 subvariants.

Local lawmaker opposes SEBAC agreements

A local lawmaker is speaking out against the proposed State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition agreement being voted on this week.  Newtown state Senator Tony Hwang says with this agreement, more than 40,000 state employees will receive annual raises for the next three years, including a bonus, while the rest of Connecticut's residents face additional hardship to fund this blanket salary increase.  Hwang says state leaders need to look beyond the federal COVID funding that has provided a financial safety net for Connecticut and municipalities and start prioritizing real fiscal reform and sustained economic relief to an already overburdened populace due to rising inflation and burgeoning government bureaucracy.

Monroe Board of Finance approves budget proposal

The Monroe Board of Finance has adopted adjustments to the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.   The spending plan would raise taxes 1.38 percent.  First Selectman Ken Kellogg says without growth in the grand list, a disciplined approach to spending, and use of alternative funding, taxes would have grown by over 10 percent.  The budget continues to reduce the need for bonding for smaller capital projects and fully funds the Board of Education’s requested appropriation.  The school increase is largely driven by higher student enrollment and pandemic-related student needs.  The Monroe budget referendum is set for May 3rd.

100 of Conn.'s 169 municipalities in red zone for COVID-19 spread

More than 100 of Connecticut's 169 municipalities are in the red zone, the state's highest alert level for COVID-19 community spread.    That means each town had 15 or more cases per 100-thousand population in the last two weeks reported.  Every Greater Danbury area town is in the red zone, except for Danbury which is in the orange zone.  Danbury reported 128 cases reported to the state in the last two weeks, ending April 16th.  The City's test positivity rate is 5.9 percent. For the two weeks ending on April 16th, the case rate in New Fairfield is 23-point-2 per 100-thousand population, similar to the case rate in mid- January.  New Fairfield's test positivity rate in the latest reporting period was 11-point-1 percent, compared to the state wide rate of roughly 7 percent.  These numbers do not include the results from home test kits, as there is no state or town wide mechanism to collect that data.

Walk a Mile In Her Shoes event back in Easton

A community event that aims to end gender-based violence is being held by Easton Police again this year.  The Walk a Mile In Her Shoes event, slated for tomorrow, is held during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Awareness Month. Members of the Department, including the Police Chief will be walking to support this cause. All proceeds will benefit The Center For Family Justice’s Camp HOPE America.

New Fairfield Board of Finance approves budget to send to voters

The New Fairfield Board of Finance has approved a proposed budget to send to voters.  After weeks of tied votes, the Board at their meeting this week found a compromise.  A $13.3 million municipal operating budget passed as presented on a 5-1 vote of the Board.  The proposed $49 million school budget passed by a 4-2 vote.  The school budget includes nearly $6 million in debt service from current school building project bonding, creating an 8.11 percent increase.  The municipal budget reflects a 3.15 percent increase.  The proposed mill rate increase is 3.11 percent, using $1.35 million from bond premium and increasing interest income revenue by $150,000.  The Board of Selectmen will set a date for the annual town meeting, and there residents will vote to set a referendum date. 

Money approved to support events commemorating Battle of Ridgefield anniversary

$75,000 will be transferred from the Ridgefield budget health insurance line to support the upcoming Battle of Ridgefield commemoration.  The Board of Finance unanimously approved the transfer for the 245th anniversary event next weekend.  Plans call for a live reenactment by the 5th Connecticut Regiment, a gala, and a ceremonial funeral procession honoring the discovery of skeletal remains believed to belong to four soldiers who fought in the battle. Last month, the Board of Selectmen voted 3-1 to find an additional funding to cover the costs.

Ridgefield Police investigating residential burglary

Ridgefield Police are investigating a residential burglary.  Police say costume jewelry was taken from a Peaceable Ridge Road home over the weekend.  Police say the burglary likely happened on April 16th, sometime in the afternoon.  The suspect or suspects forced their way into the home by breaking a basement window.  The incident remains under investigation by the Detective Bureau.  Anyone with information is asked to call the tips line at 203-431-2345.

Legislators seek to address mental health needs in law enforcement

The Connecticut General Assembly's Public Safety Committee has been focused this session on mental health needs in law enforcement.  Kent state Representative Maria Horn, committee co-chair, says men and women in uniform face increased stress, PTSD, depression and higher rates of suicide, due both to the kind of traumatic events they respond to, and to the day to day strain of the job.  She notes that they are also tasked with increasing numbers of interactions with those suffering from mental health crises. 

Horn says a bill passed by the House on Wedensday offers the needed support, resources, and tools to address their own needs and those of the communities they serve.  The measure protects officers from penalties for seeking mental health services, it directs the creation of a training curriculum for police interactions with those with mental or physical disabilities, and those who are deaf, and creates a task force of officers and mental health professionals to study the needs, programs, and barriers to access to mental health services and training for law enforcement professionals.  

Horn says it also requires a study of 911 dispatch call data and an analysis of the percentage of calls more appropriate for the 211 system.

Shepaug students can get community service hours for Earth Day events

Shepaug Agriscience students can qualify for community service hours by participating in an upcoming Earth Day event.  The Land Trust Clean-up is being held on Saturday.  Interested students are asked to contact their Counseling or Ag teacher for the paperwork.  The Shepaug Parents, Friends, & FFA Alumni are hosting a landscape bed-improvement event tomorrow as well. The department welcomes any volunteers to support these efforts to improve planting areas and spruce up the campus. This event will be held from 2:30-5:30 PM. High school students can earn community service hours for participating.

Danbury Commission on Aging to host Meet and Greet event

The Danbury Commission on Aging is holding a Meet and Greet event at the Senior Center next month to introduce members to Danbury seniors.  The Commission is looking to hear concerns and answer questions about how to improve and sustain the quality of life for Danbury's seniors.  Their mission also includes identifying solutions and resources for issues and problems that affect seniors.  The meeting event is slated for May 4th at 10am at 10 Elmwood Place.  Residents are asked to RSVP by calling 203-797-4686 or emailing s.tomanio@danbury-ct.gov.

Bethel Police seek backers for Special Olympics Torch Run

Each year, the Bethel Police Department participates in the Law Enforcement Torch Run.  They are seeking the backing of local businesses to help support the Special Olympics by sponsoring the Bethel leg of the run.  The “Adopt-a-mile” option costs $100, and a printed sign will be posted at one of the mile markers. The “adopt-a-town” option costs $500, and a printed sign gets posted at all of the mile markers.  Those interested are asked to contact Officer Jason Broad at jbroad@bethelpd.com (203-744-7900 x670) or Officer Amelia Fekieta afekieta@bethelpd.com (203-744-7900 x691). Requests are due by May 6th.

Bethel Patriotic Association brings back Annual Memorial Day Parade

After two years of cancellations due to the pandemic, the Bethel Patriotic Association will once again be hosting their Annual Memorial Day Parade.  The parade will kick off Sunday May 22nd at 2pm from the intersection of Routes 53 and 302.  Participants will march down 302 east to Barnum Square, left at the square and left onto School Street to the Municipal Center. Any group or organization that has marched in past parades or would like to take part this year is welcomed.  Those interested are asked to contact the American Legion Post 100 at (203) 748-9400 with organization information.  There will be a planning meeting  to share information.

Brookfield Police Department has a new member

The Brookfield Police Department has a new member.  Officer Rocky Ongaro took the oath of office this week.  The Brookfield native served in the Marines as an infantry machine gunner for four years.  He is currently attending Western Connecticut State University and will graduate next year with his BA in business. Ongaro is now off to a 28 week long academy session in New Britain.

"Redding Rid Litter Day " being held once again

"Redding Rid Litter Day " is being held once again.  Redding Green & Clean, in recognition of Earth Day, is an all-community event to help build "Mt. Trashmore" on the Town Green.  Residents looking to volunteer can go to the Town Green Saturday between 9am and 1pm to pick up bags, gloves, a vest and road assignment.  Collected trash should be brought back before 3:45 pm.  All of the bags making up Mt. Trashmore will then be loaded into a dumpster, which will be taken away later that day and weighed to see how much trash was picked up around town.  A STEAM Festival called "Imagine a World Outdoors" is being hosted by the Redding Elementary School PTA at the school from noon to 3 pm that day.

Federal grant awarded to Conn. to fight food insecurity

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt was in Connecticut yesterday.  She toured Connecticut Foodshare with 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.  The announced that the state has been awarded $2.6 million to fight food insecurity and fortify the local food supply chain. 

Connecticut will be the second state in the nation to sign a Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement and receive the American Rescue Plan Act funds. When the Agriculture Committee was drafting their section of ARPA, Hayes says programs to address skyrocketing food insecurity and support local farmers were a top priority. 

She says the funds secured in that bill will allow Connecticut Foodshare and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture to partner with local producers to get healthy, Connecticut grown products to households that need it most, and provide an invaluable opportunity for Connecticut’s small farmers.

New Milford lawmaker takes to House Floor while holding baby goat

After a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic's restrictions, New Milford Day returned to the State Capitol. State Representative Billy Buckbee thanked local businesses, services, and programs representatives who showed up in Hartford.  Buckbee says from baby goats, to innovative childcare programs, New Milford has a little bit to offer to everyone. He addressed his legislative colleagues on the House Floor while holding a baby goat named Catherine.

Buckbee also recognized Police K-9 Drake who recently passed away. He presented Chief Spencer Cerruto with a citation to memorialize the dog's service to the community, and welcomed the newest K-9 officer Mattis.

Participants from New Milford included:
Bagel Barn
New Milford Girl Scouts
Pratt Nature Center
Create a Castle
New Milford Police Department
Goatboy Soaps
Kimberly-Clark
Myke Foo Media

NVCC holding open houses about full scholarships for Advanced Manufacturing Certificate Program

Naugatuck Valley Community College is holding open houses this month and next about full scholarships available for Advanced Manufacturing Certificate Program at it's new location on West Conn's midtown campus.  The open houses are an opportunity for interested students to learn more about the program and meet the instructor.  Those interested can register online through Naugatuck Valley's website.  The Open Houses are this Saturday from 11am to noon, on May 6th from 3:30 to 4:30 and May 20th from 3 to 4pm. All tuition expenses, textbooks, Materials and Technical Equipment packages are included.  Students in the program will have hands-on access to state-of-the-art manufacturing technology in preparation for employment.  Graduates earn 31 college credits in two semesters towards an associate's Degree in Technology Studies.

Danbury to be recognized as StormReady Community

The City of Danbury will be recognized today by the National Weather Service as being a StormReady Community.  The designation has been awarded to the City for its ability to respond to emergency situations.  There are just 10 municipalities in the state with this designation, including Ridgefield. 

The recognition was made after the National Weather Service reviewed Danbury’s hazard mitigation plan and visited the city. 

The organization says Danbury is serious about the partnership to build community resilience to hazardous weather events.  Danbury recently opened a newly renovated Emergency Operations Center and overhauled the emergency notification system for residents.  The application process included feedback from the National Weather Service, FEMA, and the Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security on how the City can enhance its preparation and response . 

The National Weather Service can assist with community weather education, and Danbury is eligible for additional community rating points through the National Flood Insurance Program.

Report: West Conn has expenditure control problem, not revenue problem

A report has been released showing that Western Connecticut State University is worse off financially than the other three schools in the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system.  The system requested the report from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, which says West Conn operates on a structural deficit as enrollment declines and has dipped into its reserves almost every year for the past decade. 

The Colorado-based nonprofit that works with post-secondary institutions across the globe says West Conn has an expenditure control problem, not a revenue problem.   The report suggest cost cutting in the short term and increasing enrollment in the long term. 

The report also calls for a strategic staffing plan, reorganization of the administrative cabinet, identifying ways to reduce part-time faculty, and reviewing programs and curricula.  A second set of recommendations will be released later this year.  CSCU officials say WestConn has held two open forums since the report's release in January and a retreat for staff is planned after the semester ends with the consultant and Board of Regents. 

A faculty union representative told Hearst Connecticut Media that the report didn’t seem to recognize that the cost of living is higher in Fairfield County than in other parts of the country. 

Public hearing set on Danbury Proton's appeal of application denial

A public hearing on Danbury Proton's appeal of the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy's proposed denial of the project's Certificate Of Need application will be held on Friday at 10am.  Danbury Proton filed an official appeal document, which addresses OHS' review comments.  The online Zoom hearing is the last opportunity for Danbury Proton to be heard in the appeal process.  While no public comments will be allowed, interested parties will be able to watch the proceedings. Officials say the proton therapy cancer treatment center proposed for 85 Wooster Heights would improve health care access, patient care quality, health care cost control and economic development.

Brookfield seeks affordable housing moratorium from state

Brookfield officials are seeking an affordable housing moratorium from the state.  Community Development Specialist Greg Dembowski says the town applied to protect local zoning regulations. 

The state requires at least 10-percent of a municipality's housing stock to be considered affordable, and if it isn't, the 8-30g provision applied.  Developers could bypass local zoning laws, with certain exceptions for health and safety, if their plans include a percentage of affordable housing.  Brookfield is at 5.62 percent.  That's a more than 4 percent increase since 2015.  Brookfield has the 5th highest amount of designated affordable housing in the Western Connecticut Council of Government's region, which includes 18 municipalities spanning from Sherman to Stamford.  Only Danbury, Norwalk and Stamford are above the 10-percent threshold. 

The Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commissions do not currently have new 8-30g proposals before them.

Brookfield previously had an affordable housing moratorium from 2017 until 2021.  The town's application was returned in November based on a minor discrepancy in the total count of affordable housing units, with a request that the town’s attorney certify there are policies and procedures to ensure the affordable units in town are actually affordable.

With sewer capacity limits, Dembowski says the system has little room for error until a new agreement on capacity limits can be reached with Danbury.  Brookfield discharges into Danbury’s sanitation network, and three major residential developments are set to come online.

Judge delays Alex Jones trial as Infowars seeks bankruptcy

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) A Texas judge has pushed back the first jury trial over how much conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay the families of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. He's already lost defamation cases over his comments that the shooting was a hoax. But a judge Wednesday delayed the trial after his company this week sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Texas. Attorneys for Sandy Hook families have accused Jones of trying to hide millions of dollars in assets. A new trial date was not set.

Man surrenders to Danbury Police for domestic disturbance at condo complex

A man has surrendered to police following a domestic disturbance at a Danbury condo. Danbury Police responded to Birchwood condominium complex on Crows Nest Lane shortly before 3am.  The man was banging on the door and throwing objects, but was eventually allowed inside.  He allegedly threatened to burn down the building.  According to the complainant, who was able to get out of the condo uninjured, the man may have had access to a handgun.  The Danbury Regional Emergency Services Unit was activated and negotiators were able to contact the man.  He surrendered shortly before 6:30am.  The identity of the male is not being released, as this is still an active investigation.

Brookfield man arrested for alleged break in, credit card theft

State Police have made an arrest in connection to a vehicle break in outside a New Fairfield business in January.  50-year old Scott Palmenta of Brookfield was charged yesterday with Burglary, Larceny, Credit Card Theft, and Identity Theft for the incident at Biscotti’s Ristorante.  State Police determined that credit cards and cash were removed from a car and the cards were later used at Danbury area retail and grocery stores.  The New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office says Brookfield and Danbury Police assisted in the two month investigation.  Palmenta was arraigned at Danbury Superior Court and is being held on bond.

Nuvance Health names new Chief Human Resources Officer

Nuvance Health has named a new Chief Human Resources Officer for the newly expanded leadership role at the seven-hospital system.  Bethel resident Katie Cullinan, who has 25 years of experience as a human resources professional, was promoted from her role as Vice President of Strategic Business Partnering & HR Governance. Cullinan began working for Western Connecticut Health Network in 2016. She previously managed large complex acquisitions, divestitures and integrations for GE Capital.

Revaluation underway in Bridgewater

A private appraisal firm has been retained by the Town of Bridgewater to assist the Assessor’s Office with a state-required revaluation project.  Vision Government Solutions will be performing exterior inspections of all the properties in Bridgewater to ensure accuracy of the town’s data during this phase of the project.  The pair will be carrying a company-issued identification badge and a description of their cars are registered with the local constables and the town hall.  Anyone with questions is asked to contact the Assessor’s Office at 860-355-9379.

Kent Resident Trooper to take part in DEA Drug Take Back Day

Kent Resident State Trooper Andrew Fisher will be accepting any unwanted, unused or expired prescription medications on April 30th as part of National Drug Take Back Day.  He says unused or expired prescription medications are a public safety issue, leading to potential accidental poisoning, misuse, and overdose.  Fisher says proper disposal of unused drugs saves lives and protects the environment.  The collection will be at Kent Town Hall on the 30th from 9am to 12:30pm.

Bethel residents approve budget in referendum

With low voter turnout, Bethel residents have approved a budget for the coming fiscal year on the first try.  The  $34.2 million municipal budget was approved on a vote on 902 to 551.  About twice as many people said it was too high as said it was too low on the advisory question.  There is no option for saying the budget is adequate.  The $51.1 million Board of Education budget was approved on a vote of 872 to 581.  Again, more voters said it was too high than too low.  Turnout was about 14 percent.  The Board of Finance will meet to set the mill rate, which would increase by about .98 percent.  

West Conn has a new mascot

West Conn has a new mascot.  The university is changing from the Colonials to the Wolves.  That option was selected by 49-percent of total votes cast among five options.  A unique voting link allowed each individual to vote only once.  There were nearly 3,000 respondents, 51-percent were students, 39-percent alumni and 10-percent were faculty and staff.  A Mascot Advisory Committee was created in June 2019 to identify five mascot options from submissions from the community in town halls and previous ballots that have taken place in the past two years.  The committee also consulted with the Connecticut Board of Regents, the university's government body, and a representative of the Mohegan Tribe among others.  The 4 students and 6 staff members were led by Student Government President Patrick Moody, a Digital & Interactive Marketing major from Bethlehem and Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services Jay Murray. 

Redding Police Department looking to crack down on speeding

The Redding Police Department is looking to crack down on speeding and other issues in town.  They are hosting a public information meeting tomorrow to hear from residents about their concerns, and to discuss the Police Department's current and future measures to curtail traffic issues.  Residents interested in attending the meeting were asked to reserve a spot to ensure adequate space for the meeting.  The location will be determined by the number of attendees.

New Milford man injured in wrong-way crash

Two men were injured in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 691 in Meriden early yesterday morning.  State Police say a 24-year old New Milford man was headed east in the eastbound lanes when a 34-year-old Cromwell man, driving the wrong way, collided with his vehicle shortly after midnight.  The two drivers sustained serious injuries and were transported to the hospital.  The crash remains under investigation.

Local officials provide resources for residents to help Ukraine

As the Russian war on Ukraine enters its third month, many Connecticut residents are asking how they can help.  Bethel officials are sharing information from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, in partnership with the National League of Cities. They direct the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund at the United Nations.  Global and local humanitarian partners are committed to delivering direct assistance to the people of Ukraine. While cash donations are accepted, the United Nations can coordinate the donations of in-kind goods and services as well.

Bethel High School holds mock car crash

There will be a number of police and fire trucks on the Bethel Schools campus today.  High School students will be participating in an assembly of a mock car crash to demonstrate the impact of driving under the influence.  The purpose of this advisory is to raise awareness.  Local first responders will be simulating an actual accident response.  Along with Bethel Police and Fire, New Milford, Danbury and the Redding Police Department will be on site.  Students have arranged for Life Star to do a flyover as part of the presentation. 

Blumenthal, Hayes visit Danbury and New Milford

Senator Richard Blumenthal and 5th District Congresswoman Jahana Hayes visited Danbury yesterday to tout a grant for the nonprofit New American Dream Foundation.  The organization will use $50,000 in federal funding to provide more low income seniors in Danbury with hot meals.  This funding was secured through the 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.  

The Foundation currently provides 90 percent of all Danbury seniors living in affordable housing with hot meals, meeting the needs of those who do not qualify for Meals on Wheels.  The money will allow them to buy 8,000 meals in 2023. 

The New American Dream Foundation has been providing meals, first to students and then to seniors, for about two years now.  Hayes touted the group's work for providing help it in a way that seniors can maintain their dignity.  She notes many people, for the first time in their lives needed help they never needed before, due to the pandemic. 

Hayes and Senator Richard Blumenthal also visited New Milford, stopping by the Butter Brook Hill Apartments.  $1.7 million in federal funding will be used to upgrade the affordable senior housing complex and improve accessibility and mobility for residents.  More than 100 residents, who are 62 years or older or disabled, live in the five building complex .

By widening walkways, installing remote operating door openers, renovating bathrooms, and expanding parking spaces, the delegation says the federal grant will make the Apartments compliant with standards established by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Redding health officials offer reminders with COVID-19 back on the rise

With the increase in COVID-19 cases, coupled with gatherings of friends and family, the Redding Health Department is reminding residents of what to do if testing positive or exposed to a positive case.  Anyone testing positive, develops respiratory or other symptoms, should isolate at home for 5 days or longer if symptoms persist, and a mask should be worn for at least 10 days starting from the day of the positive test. 

Anyone deemed a close contact and fully vaccinated, should monitor for symptoms and mask around others for 10 days and test on day 5 if possible. 

Hartline says there's a new Test to Treat option in the region. Residents can get tested for COVID-19, and if they are positive and treatments are appropriate for them, they can obtain a medication from a health care provider, all in one location.  Those include the CVS on Durant Avenue in Bethel and Physician One Urgent Care locations in Ridgefield on South Street and Newtown on South Main Street. 

Hartline is reminding residents that while COVID-19 home test kits are available at stores and pharmacies, free tests can be ordered through the federal government at COVID.gov/tests.  Households are now eligible to order a total of eight kits.  Those who ordered four kits in January or February, can order four more.

Self storage company looking to build on Danbury's west side

A self storage company is looking to build a facility on Danbury's west side.  When the Planning Commission holds their meeting tomorrow night an application for special exception site plan approval will be presented for 95 Mill Plain Road.  Self Service Storage (Diamond Point Development) is looking to build on the vacant lot next to Aunt Hack Road, across from Duchess fast food restaurant.  A public hearing on the application will be held June 1st.  Tomorrow's meeting is at 7:30pm and will be held via Zoom.

Pick up truck fire extinguished in Brewster

Brewster firefighters extinguish a pickup truck fire on Sodom Road and Route 22 yesterday afternoon. The 1:30pm call was the 6th fire call of the day for the Brewster Fire Department.

(Photo: BFD)

Danbury Schools honored for Music Education

Danbury Public Schools have been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation.  Danbury was recognized for its outstanding commitment to music education for the fourth year in a row.  The designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.  The NAMM Foundation, the National Association of Music Merchants, is funded through trade association activities and donations.

New pedestrian signs installed at New Fairfield crosswalks

The New Fairfield Resident State Police Trooper's Office is touting new pedestrian signs installed at crosswalks.  Troopers are reminding drivers that if the yellow lights are flashing or a pedestrian is entering, or is in the crosswalk, they must yield.  According to a new law, a driver must slow or stop if the pedestrian is within any portion of the crosswalk or “steps to the curb at a crosswalk's entrance and indicates an intent to cross by raising a hand or arm to oncoming traffic.

Danbury Fire Department warns of Dollar Tree product recall

The Danbury Fire Department is cautioning residents to a product recall.  Crafter’s Square Glue Guns sold at Dollar Tree stores can malfunction when plugged in, posing fire and burn hazards.  The plastic glue gun is black with an orange trigger and tip. Dollar Tree has received seven reports of electrical malfunctions when using the glue guns, including four reports of fire and one report of skin irritation.  Over a million of these hot glue guns were sold nationwide.

Route 35 intersection improvement project to start

An intersection improvement project in Ridgefield is getting started this weekend.  The state Department of Transportation will be working on Route 35 just north of Prospect Street and extending just south of Governor Street. The project scope involves a realignment of the intersection at CVS and Prospect Street, along with pavement rehabilitation, updated sidewalks, new signalization, and numerous safety improvements.  The $3.18 million project is slated for completion on November 21st.  The DOT says the work will be completed is various stage which will not interfere with on-street parking and will allow one lane of traffic in each direction Monday through Friday between 6am and 7pm and Saturday and Sunday between 10am and 7pm.

DOT provides update on I-84 exit 11 improvement project

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has provided an update on the I-84 exit 11 improvement project in Newtown.  The existing traffic alignment is not anticipated to change this week.  The next phase of the project is to continuing widening Berkshire Road between Wasserman Way and Toddy Hill.  New drainage will be installed in that area.  Crews will continue stripping topsoil between the I-84 ramps and build up the new on-ramp.  Utility crews are continuing to install and relocate overhead wires.  State and local police are on site during all times to help with traffic control. 

Newtown Health District holding COVID-19 vaccine clinic

The Newtown Health District is holding a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Newtown Municipal Center this afternoon.  The clinic is for Moderna vaccine only and is for individuals age 18 and up only.  The clinic is by appointment only, no walk ins accepted. It's from 1 to 4:30 pm.  Appointments can be scheduled on the town of Newtown website, under the health district page.  People getting second or booster doses are asked to bring their vaccine card with them.

Bethel residents voting on budget in referendum today

Bethel residents are at the polls today voting on a budget for the coming fiscal year.  If approved, the mill rate would increase by about .98 percent.  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 $51.1 million.   The Board of Education budget was presented to residents without cuts, for the first time in several years.  During the annual Town Meeting, a motion was made to cut $500,000  in school spending, but it was rejected and the budget was adopted without change.  Poll close at 8pm.

Bethel man pleads guilty to tax evasion charge

A Bethel man has pleaded guilty to a tax evasion charge.  According to court documents, 54-year old Timothy Draper, who owns T&M Lawn & Landscape, failed to deposit numerous checks into his business accounts resulting in about $1.8 million in underreporting on his tax returns for the 2015 through 2017 tax years.  Draper also reportedly paid personal expenses out of the business accounts and failed to categorize them as income.  That resulted in underpayment of more than $500,000.  Draper will be sentenced on July 11th and faces up to 5 years in prison.  He's paid more than $1.1 million in back taxes, interest and penalties.

Trial starts for man accused of killing Bethel woman

The trial has started for an Ohio man accused of killing a 25-year old Bethel woman.  A couple of witnesses took the stand yesterday in the trial of former Ansonia resident Brandon Roberts, who is accused of shooting Emily Todd. 

Police said Todd’s mother told detectives that her daughter had met Roberts on an online dating app, but soon called off the relationship. The 29-year old allegedly convinced her to meet him one more time, near a Bridgeport boat ramp.  Roberts is charged with murder, felony murder, robbery and carrying a pistol without a permit. 

His Public Defender will be raising a defense of extreme emotional disturbance.  If a jury is convinced, Roberts could be found guilty of a lesser manslaughter charge. 

Police said that after killing Todd, Roberts took her car, cellphone and credit cards. Video surveillance allegedly showed Roberts, in her car, using her debit card to withdraw $400 from Todd’s bank account.

Danbury reports uptick in crime

The City of Danbury has seen a recent uptick in the number of crimes reported and being investigated.  Chief Patrick Ridenhour says this is likely in part to a return to normalcy since the pandemic.  Compared to this time last year, when there were still a lot of emergency declaration restrictions in place, there's been a rise in theft, burglary and auto theft.  The latest Uniform Crime Report lists 133 thefts, 29 burglaries, 16 motor vehicle thefts, five assaults, five robberies and two forcible rapes during the first two months of 2022. Ridenhour says that data is similar to the number of incidents to the time before the pandemic in March 2020.  Ridenhour told the City Council at their most recent meeting that there's a slower than usual data verification processing at the state-level so March figures were not available. 

Fire departments warn again of t-shirt text scam

A number of volunteer fire departments in the Greater Danbury area are warning of texting scams circulating again. Brookfield and New Fairfield are cautioning people that texts purporting to be from the fire department about purchasing t-shirts are a scam.  They are unauthorized, and have no affiliation with the local fire departments.  Residents are asked not to click on the link and not to purchase anything through that scam text.  Many Greater Danbury area fire departments only raise funds through the mail in annual fund drives, or events at their firehouses.

Suspect in Newtown kidnapping investigated in Danbury missing person case

A suspect in a Newtown kidnapping is being investigated in connection with a missing person case in Danbury.  On Thursday, Danbury Police went to carry out a search warrant related to an ongoing investigation regarding the theft of a handgun, and the individual believed responsible, Christopher Lemke.  The 33-year old fled, kidnapping a resident and led police in pursuit before crashing off I-84. During their investigation, Danbury Police learned that Lemke might have information related to Carlos Reyes, a local man reported missing at the end of March.  As Lemke was also directly related to the April 7th search warrant execution at a Ball Pond Road residence, investigators are hoping he can provide them with information to help locate Reyes or his whereabouts.  

Putnam County Sheriff creating alert notification system for businesses

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department will be implementing an alert notification system for county businesses. Enrollment is voluntary.  The alerts would be to provide notification or communication of incidents including emerging and patterned criminal activity, street closures, and weather events among other topics.  The alert system can also provide immediate updates of emergency situations.  Notifications can be sent to an email or cell phone.

Danbury Spring Leaf Pick-Up program underway

The Danbury Spring Leaf Pick-Up program is underway.  The program begins on April 18th and will run through May 27th.  Only leaves bagged in paper leaf bags, with no tape, will be collected curbside in front of residences by the city’s Highway Department.  Plastic bags, larger debris, grass clippings and brush or tree stumps will not be collected.  There is a separate collection for branches.  Limbs must be cut into lengths no longer than 4 feet, no limb may be larger than 4 inches in diameter.  Branches must be bundled with twine in bundles no heavier than 35 pounds. The Leaf Pick Up program is divided by I-84; Section A is south in zip code 06810 and section B is north in zip code 06811. Section A will be picked up the first week.  Residents are asked to place their bags curbside Sunday evenings. Section B will be collected the next week and so on. 

WCSU taking part in first Consortium Virtual Career Fair

Western Connecticut State University is taking part in the first Consortium Virtual Career Fair on April 20th.  The 4 state universities have partnered with CareerEco, a virtual platform and event management company, to produce this opportunity for employers and students.  The forum Wednesday is from noon to 4pm.  During the career fair, students will be able to engage with potential employers through pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings, receive access to organization profiles and job postings, upload their resume and other documents for corporate representatives to view, and utilize audio and video capabilities in private interactions with organization personnel officers.  More than 100 employers are committed to participating in the event.  Students were encouraged to attend for networking, summer internship leads, interviewing practice, video skill development, job search refinement, pitch practice, and to get resume feedback.

State redistricting leads to some changes in voters at local polling precincts in Bethel

When the state redistricting panel approved new House and Senate district boundaries based on 2020 census data, that led to some changes on the local level.  Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says some residents will have to go to a different polling location for tomorrow's budget vote.  The precinct lines were changed, while the polling locations themselves are the same. 

A postcard was sent out to residents with a QR code leading to poll location information. 

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 $51.1 million. 

The Board of Finance approved the budget on a narrow 4 to 3 vote.  The Board of Education budget was presented to residents without cuts, for the first time in several years.  During the annual Town Meeting, a motion was made to cut $500,000 in school spending, but it was rejected. 

The referendum is April 19th from 6am to 8pm.

Local lawmaker introduces bill for unemployment benefits for workers on strike

Danbury state Senator Julie Kushner is touting passage of a bill in her chamber that would provide unemployment benefits for workers on strike for more than two weeks. Currently, there are no unemployment protections for striking employees and they don't get paid for as long as the labor dispute lasts.  Kushner says this gives employers an unfair advantage, as they can stall negotiations, draining their employees’ resources and putting pressure on the employees to settle for less in wages and benefits or inferior working conditions. She says unemployment benefits will help them pay their bills while exercising their right to strike.

Earth Day to be marked by Greater Danbury area towns

Earth Day is coming up and will be marked in many Greater Danbury area towns next weekend.  Redding's town-wide roadside litter pick-up will be held on the 23rd.  Residents are called on to help build "Mt. Trashmore" on the Redding Town Green between 9am and 4pm. Safety vests, trash bags and gloves will be provided, along with a street assignment.  New Fairfield residents are being called on to participate in Community Clean-Up Day on April 23rd by picking up trash along the roadside.  The Selectman’s office will have a coupon for disposal of one large bag of trash at the Drop Off Center at no charge.  Officials say this will not only keep New Fairfield beautiful, but reduce waste and plastic pollution improving habitats for wildlife and humans.

Danbury Police taking part in Drug Takeback Day

Law enforcement agencies across the region will be taking part in the national DEA Drug Take Back Day April 30th.  Danbury Police say this is a time to clean out medicine cabinets and drop off unused medicines in the front lobby of the Police Department between 10am and 2pm.

Bethel Social Services collecting to Easter Basket program

The Bethel Social Services Department Easter Basket Program is still looking for some donations.   Six High School students made bags for the Easter goodies to be stuffed.  The Department is looking for more than 70 additional $10 gift certificates with Giving Trees at some local eateries, including Sycamore, Peach Wave and Biksbee's.  The certificates will be picked up from those locations by Social Services.  

Department of Health updates COVID-19 rates in Greater Danbury area

COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in the Greater Danbury area.  Bethel, Brookfield and Redding have moved into the Red Zone, the highest of four alert levels for community spread.  They join Southbury, Ridgefield, Wilton and Weston which were at that level last week, each town having 15 or more cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks reported, ending April 9th.  

Newtown, New Fairfield, Sherman and Easton are in the orange with 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 population.  New Milford and Danbury are in the yellow zone at 5 to 9 cases. 

Over the last two weeks there were 95 cases reported in Danbury, Bethel reported 53, Brookfield had 39 and New Fairfield 21. There were 32 COVID cases in New Milford, 5 5in Newtown, Redding reported 21 cases while Ridgefield had 90. 

The state department of Public Health is reporting COVID-19 case rates for the Greater Danbury area ticked up slightly from last week. Case rates for the week ending April 9nd range from about 8 to 25, up from 7 to 17, cases per 100,000 population.
The rates are:

Danbury 8

New Milford 8.5

New Fairfield 10.8

Newtown 14.1

Brookfield 16.4

Redding 16.5

Bethel 19.1

Ridgefield 25.8.

The lowest test positivity is in Danbury and the highest is in Brookfield.  At home COVID-19 test results are not reported to the state. 
The rates are:

Danbury 4.4 percent

Newtown 4.6 percent

New Milford 5.7 percent

New Fairfield 5.7 percent

Bethel 7.1 percent

Ridgefield 7.7 percent

Redding 8.2 percent

Brookfield 9.8 percent

The number COVID-associated deaths in Connecticut has grown by 14 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the state's fully vaccinated population of 6.83 percent, up a bit from the week before.  

Owner of Danbury grocery store pleads guilty to tax fraud charge

A Brookfield woman has pleaded guilty to a federal tax offense. 

The U.S. Attorney's office says 47-year old Lizbel Sanchez waived her right to indictment.  She is a minority owner of Danbury Food Corporation, which operates C-Town grocery store in Danbury.  Sanchez was responsible for accounting and financial records, and for collecting and paying  federal income taxes and FICA contributions for employees.  An investigation determined that Sanchez and DFC paid several employees in cash and failed to collect federal income taxes and FICA taxes and its Federal Unemployment Tax. 

She is scheduled to be sentenced July 7th.  Sanchez has paid $408,121.85 in restitution to the IRS.  She also has acknowledged similar conduct for DFC in 2017 and 2018, and for other businesses in which Sanchez had an interest in 2016, 2017 and 2018. 

Additional tax losses will be addressed civilly by the IRS.

New Fairfield Police receive report of drivers passing school buses

The New Fairfield Resident State Police Trooper's Office has received multiple complaints this past week of motorists passing stopped school buses.  Motorists are being reminded that passing a stopped bus could result in a $450 fine.  School bus drivers have been instructed to provide police with the violator's license plate and vehicle description so Troopers can take enforcement action.

Danbury Board postpones hearing on grocery store sign

The Danbury Zoning Board of Appeals postponed a public hearing last night into an application for a 211-square foot, illuminated LED sign with changing content at the soon-to-be-opened Caraluzzi's.  The market is looking for two variances for the sign at their Mill Plain Road locations.  The sign would change no sooner than every 10 seconds, which is slower than the sign at City Hall, where some messages change every four or five seconds.  The sign would be larger than the digital Stew Leonard sign, the digital sign for ShopRite and the nearby Danbury Green on Mill Plain Road.  The next meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals is April 28th.

Police: Man kidnapped Newtown resident at gunpoint, stole car

A Bethel man who fled from police trying to serve a warrant kidnapped a person at gunpoint and fled in a stolen car. Newtown Police say Danbury officers and the Western Connecticut Regional SWAT team were in the Hawleyville area yesterday.  The warrant is for firearms ralted charges.

The individual, 33-year old Christopher Lemke, fled from the residence through the woods on foot and emerged in a nearby neighborhood.  He entered an unlocked residence and kidnapped a person gunpoint fleeing the scene. 

Newtown Police say the victim was able to escape a very short distance away and was not physically injured. 

State Police heard the vehicle description and engaged in a short pursuit east on I-84 near the Rochambeau Bridge.  The vehicle was involved in a crash near exit 15 and Lemke was apprehended. 

Charges are pending from Newtown. 

State Police charged Lemke with reckless endangerment, illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen firearm, criminal possession of a pistol, engaging police in a pursuit, reckless driving, possession of narcotics with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Eversource to have low flying helicopter survey utility lines

Eversource is scheduled to survey the transmission lines across several towns in the Greater Danbury area over a five day period. This will take place from today through the 19th, between the hours of 9am and 4pm, weekends included, weather permitting.  Ridgefield Police are alerting residents that they may see a low flying blue and yellow helicopter (Bell 206B3) with tail number N803JB.  Bethel Emergency Management officials say the same chopper will be doing survey work in that town as well.

Ridgefield Selectmen vote to prohibit cannabis businesses

The Ridgefield Board of Selectmen has voted to prohibit cannabis businesses within the municipality.  When the state legalized adult use recreational marijuana, municipalities were able to decide on how cannabis establishments such as retailers, distributors, and growers among others would be allowed to operate, if at all. 

Selectman Sean Connelly was the only one of 5 to vote in opposition, saying it should go to the voters during the May 10th budget referendum.  Selectman Bob Hebert was concerned that there would only be a small group of people voting on the budget ballot, saying people can petition and there would be a larger turnout. 

First Selectman Rudy Marconi touted the work of the Community Coalition Against Substance Abuse and believes a dispensary in Ridgefield would lead to a greater presence of marijuana in town.  Selectwoman Barbara Manners acknowledged that people can make a purchase in other towns, but says Ridgefield doesn't have to encourage it. 

The Ridgefield Planning and Zoning Commission passed a one-year moratorium in September on the 11 different types of business uses.

Ridgefield Board of Finance signs off on proposed budget

The Ridgefield Board of Finance has signed off on a tax and spending plan to send to residents in a referendum.  The $40.8 million municipal budget and $101.6 million for the Board of Ed will be discussed during the annual town meeting on May 2.  Residents could then sent it to a referendum on May 10th.  The overall budget is a .77 percent increase over the current year.  The Board of Finance voted to use $1.55 million of the town’s fund balance to offset tax increases.  Ridgefield is looking to add employees in the building and highway departments, as well as a new part time recycling coordinator.  Ridgefield school officials say nearly 80 percent of their budget is for salaries and employee benefits.  There's also a 19 percent increase in special education outplacement and tuition costs.

Budget plan to be sent to Newtown referendum this month

Newtown residents will vote on a proposed budget during a referendum on April 26th.  The Legislative Council has signed off on a $129 million budget, a 4.7 percent increase over the current year.  The tax rate was held virtually the same as this year though.  The 3.4 percent tax base growth, and a $300,000 school budget reduction, would lead to a .07 percent tax rate increase.  If approved, the mill rate would be 34.67.  Despite the slight reduction in the Board of Education budget, the school district will be able to hire 12 new teachers.  Much of the school increase is due to pandemic response, additional special education costs, and a rising population of ESL students.

New Fairfield Board of Finance to meet again to recommend budget plan

The New Fairfield Board of Finance has again not been able to come to agreement on a budget plan for the coming fiscal year to send to the voters.  The Board will meet again on April 20th.  During their regular meeting last week, the Board tied 3 to 3 on various votes on plans and opted to hold a special meeting this week.  Two votes on plans that would result in 3.3 and 3.1 percent mill rate increases ended in tied votes.  The Board of Selectmen proposed a $13.3 million budget, a 3.15 percent increase over the current year.  The Board of Ed plan is $49 million, an 8.1 percent increase. That includes $5.9 million in debt service from current school building project bonding.  The New Fairfield Board of Finance April 20th meeting is at 7:30pm.

Public hearing held in Danbury on proposed budget

The Danbury City Council has held a public hearing on the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.  The various Council committees are still scheduled to meeting to discuss individual portions of the plan, though the education committee has already met to vet the proposal. 

About two dozen people participated, and nearly all of them spoke about school funding calling for more money being added to the Mayor's plan.  During the hearing,  elementary school students, middle schoolers and a sophomore spoke out, asking for more education funding.  8 parents, two recent grads and two teachers and a mental health clinician also asked that the Board of Education's proposal be fully funded. 

If the overall $277.5 million budget is approved as is by the City Council,  the mill rate would go up 2-.25 percent.  With a mill rate of 28.22, the typical homeowner will see a quarterly real estate tax bill that is about $40 higher.  Sewer and water rates would also increase by 2.75 percent. 

The Superintendent's budget request, approved by the Board of Education, asked for an additional $8.7 million in annual local funding. The budget proposed by the Mayor includes $4 million in additional dollars.

Caraluzzi's seeks variance for large, illuminated LED sign with changing content

Caraluzzi's market is looking for approvals for a sign that's nearly three times the size allowed by Zoning regulations for their soon to open location on Mill Plain Road in Danbury. They have an application before the Zoning Board of Appeals when the group meetings at 7pm via Zoom.

Caraluzzi's is looking for a permit for a 211-square foot, illuminated LED sign with changing content, that's 20 feet high.  The application for two variances says the sign would change no sooner than every 10 seconds, which is slower than the sign at City Hall, where some messages change every four or five seconds. 

Examples of other signs in the City were included in the application.  It would be larger than the digital Stew Leonard sign, the digital sign for ShopRite and the nearby Danbury Green on Mill Plain Road.

Bridge repairs needed in New Milford due to flood damage

The heavy rains last week caused the Housatonic River in New Milford to overflow on the deck of the Indian Trail Bridge.  Mayor Pete Bass says that caused damage to the bridge deck and concrete and stone abutments.  Materials for the repair have been ordered and are expected to be delivered by May 2nd.  The tentative completion date of the repair is May 6th.  The Department of Public Works and their contractor are continuing the paving of Wellsville Avenue and Aspetuck Ridge Road.  Motorists are cautioned to expect delays, avoid the area if possible, and plan accordingly.

Danbury Board of Education filling vacancy with former member

The Danbury Board of Education is filling a vacancy with a former member.  The board voted on Wednesday to appoint Republican Ralph Pietrafesa to the open seat, out of 4 candidates who sought the position.  He's replacing Republican Kathryn Hodgdon.  The father of two was elected to a four-year term on the board in 2013 and was appointed to finished out a year of a vacancy in 2018.  Theresa Buzaid will become the Board's secretary.

Danbury City Council adds money to City's litigation budget

The Danbury City Council has signed off on putting more money in the City's litigation budget.  An additional $300,000 was transferred to handle various lawsuits, including tax appeals.  This is the 3rd time this year that money needed to be added, with the additional funds totalling $ 850,000.  Officials say it's been an historic year for tax appeals settling or being resolved.  One of the biggest issues this year is a lawsuit over assessments of the former Filene’s and Sears properties at the mall.

Bill permanently allowing virtual meetings passed by House

The Connecticut house has passed a bill that would allow municipalities the ability to allow for a permanent option to remote meetings.  Kent state Representative Maria Horn says while there were some challenges, having in person and virtual options increased flexibility and accessibility.  The bill now awaits Senate action. 

House approves bill on nonprofit charitable property tax exemptions

A bill has been approved by the Connecticut House that would ensures nonprofit charitable property tax exemptions are protected. Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan says nonprofits have helped to guide many of communities through the past couple years – providing critically needed support even as their own staffing levels and resources were strained.  The bill moves to the Senate for debate and consideration.

Brewster FD collect items for family who lost home in fire

The Brewster Fire Department has hosted a donation drive to help the family of an active firefighter in their department.  Wappingers Firefighter Josue Melendez and his family, which includes 5 children, lost their home and all of their belongings in a recent house fire.  Clothing, kitchen appliances, cookware and even a new crib for their 9 month old baby were donated.

New Milford woman arrested for alleged relationship with 15-year old

A New Milford woman has been arrested on sexual assault charges for an alleged relationship with a 15-year old boy.  Danbury Police arrested 34-year-old Krystal Jones on Tuesday at the Quality Inn on Federal Road.  The investigation was launched at the end of March into a complaint from the state Department of Children and Families that a juvenile was involved in a sexual relationship with Jones.  She was charged with 4 counts of risk of injury to a child and 3 counts each of illegal sexual contact with a victim under age 16 and sexual assault. 

Wilton Police warn of phone scam

Wilton Police have received several phone calls from people stating that they were contacted by an "Investigator" of the police department seeking personal identifying information.  Phone numbers appear to be spoofed with Caller IDs indicating it is the Wilton Police Department.  Anyone receiving such a call is advised to obtain the name of caller and tell them you will call back.  Recipients are then asked to call the Wilton Police non-emergency line, 203- 834-6260, and ask for the officer by the name provided to verify legitimacy.

Lawmakers continue consideration of pandemic pay for essential workers

With the Connecticut General Assembly session slated to adjourn in just a few weeks on May 4th, lawmakers are still considering a bill that would provide essential workers with pandemic pay for their service during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The measure was voted out of the Labor and Public Employees Committee. 

This week, it was reported out of Legislative Commissioners' Office and is now sitting on the House calendar.  The Legislative Commissioners added a clarification to the language so that it complies with other general statutes, giving it more accuracy. 

The proposal would give $2,000 for full-time workers, and $1,000 for part-time workers deemed essential.  There is $750 million in the Connecticut Essential Workers’ Pandemic Pay and federal funds from the American Rescue Plan.  The bill would require workers to apply. The money would be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligibility would be verified.

Red Cross hosting 'Battle of the Badges' blood drive in Danbury

The American Red Cross of Connecticut is hosting a Battle of the Badges in Danbury.  The City Department of Health & Human Services is hosting a blood drive with the Police and Fire Departments in collaboration with Danbury and New Milford Hospitals to see who can recruit the most blood donors.  During the event on April 27th, the Red Cross will be offering demonstrations of Hands-Only CPR, and Home Fire Safety, as well as installing smoke alarms in the city of Danbury as part of a community preparedness event.  The blood drive is being held at the mall from 10 am to 6:30 pm.  Appointments can be made online at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.  People can also sign up for a free smoke alarm installation visit: SoundTheAlarm.org/Connecticut

Brookfield Health Department offering second booster doses

The Brookfield Health Department is now offering a second booster dose for Moderna and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.  Pfizer is not available through the town clinic, but Moderna can be substituted.  Second boosters are now recommended by the CDC for individuals ages 50 years and older.  Booster vaccination is by appointment only, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 1 and 3pm.  Reservations can be made by calling the department at (203) 775-7315 during regular hours.  Doses are limited.

Danbury homelessness task force issues report

A report has been issued by the Danbury Task Force on Homelessness.  The group has identified several locations for emergency shelter beds, an overflow shelter and transitional housing.  The homeless population in the City is estimated at about 100 individuals.  The recommendations include reopening the New Street shelter, a city-run facility that closed during the pandemic, and at 98 Elm Street, which is owned by the Danbury Housing Authority.  The group suggests people not be forced to leave in the morning, and that outside organizations provide medical and other services.  The task force plans to update the Mayor's office every 60 days.

Towns continue to adjust regulations for virtual meetings

There are still some issues that arise nearly two years into the pandemic when it comes to public meetings.  In Ridgefield, two groups were slated to meet virtually on the same night at the same time earlier this year.  The town has an option to make the Zoom into a webinar so only authorized individuals are able to speak. This was done to help prevent so-called Zoom-bombing, the often vulgar or offensive interruption of a virtual gathering.  The Affordable Housing Committee hadn't received a Zoom link on their agenda, and later requested that it be a webinar, but Ridgefield can only host one at a time.  The meeting was postponed.  First Selectman Rudy Marconi says this is something that they will continue to discuss as the legislature deals with the Governor's executive orders.  He notes that some Boards and Commissions have better attendance when the meetings are virtual.  Planning & Zoning also makes a laptop available at Parks & Rec, which is open late, for the public to use during their meeting.

Easton Police: black bears have become active again

Now that spring has arrived, Easton Police note that black bears have become active again.  Residents are reminded to keep trash cans secured, to not leave any food outside and bring in any bird feeders.  The Kellogg Environmental Center is hosting an online presentation on how residents can coexist and reduce conflicts with bears.  Topics will include the natural history of black bears in Connecticut and how Wildlife Biologists study and manage the bear population.  DEEP Wildlife Biologist Kyle Testerman will lead the Zoom discussion on the 26th at 6pm.  Registration is required. 

Wilton Police Department holds Annual Awards Ceremony

The Wilton Police Department has held their Annual Awards Ceremony.  The 2021 Officer of the Year Award recipient is Officer Brandon Harris.  The 2021 Community Officer of the Year Award winner is Sergeant Anthony Cocco.  Wilton Police say Harris is one of the most active in the department, noting that his proactive approach to motor vehicle enforcement and the removal of illegal drugs from the streets plays a vital role in making the roads and community a safer place. Cocco began his career with the Wilton Police Department in April of 2000.  He has participated in many community policing events the Department has hosted such as Coffee with a Cop and Tip a Cop.  He has worked on and off duty with Wilton Social Services, assisting in gathering donated groceries for the food pantry and delivering the donations to families during COVID.  He assisted in organizing the “Letters to Santa” program which were dropped off by children at a mailbox in front of the Police Department. 

Local lawmaker opposes extending 4 of Lamont's remaining COVID orders

Four of Governor Ned Lamont's remaining pandemic-related executive orders have been extended by the state Senate.  The emergency bill now awaits approval by the House. 

The Senate voted 19-13 on Tuesday to prolong orders until June 30 that deal with physical distancing in certain congregate settings; making the patient vaccination database available to medical providers; using temporary nurses aides to help alleviate staffing shortages; and providing more time to send out rental assistance payments to people facing eviction who’ve already applied to the state’s UniteCT program.

Newtown state Senator Tony Hwang spoke out in opposition to the extension.  While he supports the concepts raised, Hwang says lawmakers could codify these executive orders into law.  He called for a committee discussion, full vetting and input from all stakeholders on these policy decisions.  Hwang says the concepts are important in this endemic phase of COVID, but called it frustrating to not be able to contribute to these issues.  Hwang says it doesn't make sense to bypass the voice of the people considering that the legislature rescinded the executive powers. 

Putnam County Sheriff to take part Drug Takeback Day

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office is taking part in a nationwide drug take back day later this month. Individuals can dispose of prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, and pet medication during the event on Saturday April 30th.  Certain items will not be accepted including syringes, lancets and sharps.  There will be free Naloxone training available.  The Take Back Day is 10am to 2pm.

Public Hearing to be held in Brookfield on marijuana moratorium

A public hearing is being held tomorrow in Brookfield on a proposed moratorium on cannabis businesses in town.  11 types of license holders are defined in the state law on Regulation of Adult-Cannabis.  The Brookfield Zoning Commission is looking into a temporary moratorium to allow time to review the state law and hold public hearings into the issue.  The meeting is set for at 7pm in Brookfield Town Hall.  The Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend the ban last only six months, but the Zoners could seek a year moratorium.

Bethel earns EPA recognition for improvements to Public Water System

The Town Of Bethel has earned Federal Environmental Protection Agency recognition for improvements to its Public Water System.  The Connecticut Department of Public Health recently released the names of the 2021 EPA Aquarius winners. Bethel and its Public Utilities Department received Honorable Mention for its work on the new Chestnut Ridge water storage tank. Only 22 water systems in the nation received recognition. Bethel was the only community in the state to be recognized through the Aquarius program. The Chestnut Ridge water tank was the most recent improvement made as part of a decades-long project to improve Bethel's public water supply. Other improvements include the first new storage tank at the Eureka Lake site, refurbishing current wells, starting work on two new wells, adding new pump station equipment, and an ongoing water main replacement program.

New Milford residents approve 2nd round of ARPA allocations

During a Special Town Meeting in New Milford Monday, residents approved nearly $2 million in projects funded by a portion of the town's share of the American Rescue Plan Act.  13 items were approved in the second round of funding, leaving New Milford with about $200,000.  About 50 people participated in Monday's meeting.  Most of the money is set aside for bridge work at Lovers Leap, Boardman, Harrybrook Park and Cherniski bridges.  $500,000 was also set aside for COVID-19 response needs in the future.  Other projects being funded are a VFW roof, New Milford ambulance adjustment and sewer abatement.

Date set for appeal of Danbury Proton's application denial

The State Office of Health Strategy has approved an application for a proton therapy center for cancer in Wallingford.  This follows denial last month of Danbury Proton's application for a similar facility.  An appeal hearing is set for April 22nd in the case. 

Danbury Proton says the state’s decision on the proposed partnership between Yale New Haven Health and Hartford HealthCare systems, whose application came six months before Danbury Proton's application, was good news for the cause of proton therapy in Connecticut.  But in their appeal application, Danbury Proton says Connecticut will become the first state in the nation to affirmatively deny its cancer patients access to a life-saving technology that is proven to minimize harmful side effects and preserve the patient's quality of life.

The highly targeted radiological proton therapy delivers a more accurate dose, producing less damage to healthy surrounding tissue and fewer side effects.

State Police investigating catalytic converter theft in Southbury

State Police are investigating a catalytic converter theft from a commuter parking lot in Southbury.  The theft happened on Old Waterbury Road in the Exit 16 commuter lot Friday night. State Police say a Southbury resident called shortly before midnight to reported that his exhaust emission control device was missing.  The man parked in the lot around 5:30pm and saw an older gray sedan with two to three passengers parked to the left of it when he returned.  The driver left the commuter lot shortly after the man arrived.  The incident remains under investigation.

Danbury officials looking to clean up voting precincts

Danbury officials are looking to clean up voting precincts in the City based on new state General Assembly maps drawn up by a legislative Reapportionment Committee, based on 2020 census data. 

The Danbury group includes two Republicans and two Democrats.  The committee couldn't agree on a tie-breaking 5th member.  They held several meetings to try to come up with someone they hoped would be non-political, preferably a woman since the committee is all male. 

The panel is an advisory group for the City Council, which will take their proposed map under consideration.  At least three of the four members need to agree on the plan submitted to the Council. Danbury has seven wards, and some include multiple state House Districts. 

Committee Chair Mike Safranek wants to start by looking at the precincts where there were are a couple hundred or fewer voters and better align those polling locations.  He says that will cut down on costs because they won't have to have separate poll workers and machines to tally the different ballots.

The committee is also looking to purchase a software program to help draw the new voting lines.

Public hearing scheduled in Danbury on proposed budget

The Danbury City Council is holding a public hearing tomorrow night on the proposed budget. The Superintendent's budget request, approved by the Board of Education, asked for an additional $8.7 million in annual local funding. The budget proposed by the Mayor includes $4 million in additional dollars. If the overall $277.5 million budget is approved as is by the City Council,  mill rate would go up 2.25  percent if approved.  With a mill rate of 28.22, the typical homeowner will see a quarterly real estate tax bill that is about $40 higher.  Sewer and water rates would increase by 2.75 percent.   Tomorrow's hearing is at 7pm in Council Chambers of City Hall.

Danbury Mayor looking for interns for Constituent & Community Outreach

The City of Danbury is looking for interns for Constituent & Community Outreach.  There are positions for during both summer and academic year.  The unpaid, part-time, internship in the Mayor's Office requires 8 to 12 hours per week, with a minimum of two days per week.  Summer interns would participate for an 11-week period starting in May or June.  The academic year internship can also be for one college semester.  Internships are available for students with strong computer, phone, and people skills in good academic standing. Interns must have their own reliable transportation to and from work and must be able to work occasional special events on nights and weekends. People interested in the internship can contact Executive Aide to the Mayor Lindsay Seti at l.seti@danbury-ct.gov for an application.

Danbury Fire Department warning of t-shirt fundraiser texting scam

The Danbury Fire Department is warning of a t-shirt fundraiser texting scam.  A family member of a Danbury firefighter received the spam text this week.  The Danbury Fire Department is not selling t-shirts.  Anyone receiving such a text is encouraged not to click the link.  In previously reported similar scams officials it's likely a phishing attempt to steal personal information, or could lead to malware.

Architect approved by Bethel officials to oversee firing range work

The Bethel Board of Selectmen has signed off on an architect to oversee engineering and architectural changes to design plans for the police station firing range.  The proposal from Jakunski Humes Architects is not to exceed 45-thousand dollars.  The agreement was approved unanimously.  At their last meeting, the Board put out a bid for the equipment and installation.  The firing range has not been used since police moved into their new headquarters due in part to leaks that would develop in rain storms, and it was not outfitted with equipment because that was not part of the project approved by voters.  Bethel plans to purchase a specialized HVAC unit and other equipment using money in a capital reserve fund.

New Milford Dog Park closed for maintenance

The New Milford Dog Park is closed today for tree management operations.  Officials say the closure is needed for public safety as large equipment is being used.  The large dog area is expected to be open and available for use tomorrow. The small dog area remains closed and will reopen on April 24th.

House candidate secured donations to participate in public financing

Within four days of announcing his candidacy for the state legislature, a Danbury City Councilman has raised the required number of donations and dollars to qualify for a public financing grant.  City Councilman Farley Santos is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 109th House district.  He plans to participate in the Citizens Election Program.

Nuvance Health receives federal funding to expand mental health services

Nuvance Health is receiving little more than $2 million in federal funding to expand mental health and substance abuse treatment services.  The funding was included in the 2022 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.  The federal grant will fund the creation of a new outpatient services center in Norwalk, which is slated to begin providing services later this year. This will be the first phase of a three-phase initiative to improve mental health services delivered in the Nuvance Fairfield County region’s hospitals in Norwalk, New Milford, and Danbury.  Senator Richard Blumenthal visited Norwalk Hospital today to discuss the funding.

New gazebo on Still River Greenway in Brookfield

There's a new gazebo on the Still River Greenway in Brookfield.  The project started as an Eagle Scout project.  It's in the spot of a previous gazebo.  Board of Selectmen members touted the collaboration with the Brookfield High School class of '78 and others, including the Parks and Rec, Highway, Building and Public Works Departments.

Bethel seeks to restart sidewalk project

Condemnation proceedings will start soon in Bethel to obtain permanent sidewalk easements for six Wooster Street properties.  The Board of Selectmen voted at their meeting last week to get the legal proceeding underway so the town an move forward with a downtown streetscape project. 

The residents would be compensated for the easements, but one said they don't want to be responsible for clearing snow on the town-installed sidewalk.  Local ordinances call for property owners to clear snow, and they’d responsible if somebody hurts themselves. 

A $1.5 million grant hangs in the balance for the ongoing public safety improvements.  First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the project will make downtown more walkable, accessible and safer.  Knickerbocker says because of the shape of the property and where the property lines fall, it’s not possible to redesign the sidewalk to stay entirely within the town’s legal right of way. 

Bethel Town Attorney Martin Lawlor has been writing letters requesting easements from every Wooster Street property owner whose property does not already have a sidewalk.  Bethel will get appraisals from two different appraisers for the six properties, and then go to a judge to prove the sidewalk project is in the interest of public safety and good for the town.

Driver found unresponsive in I-84 accident in Newtown

An accident on I-84 in Newtown Sunday night is under investigation by State Police. Troopers were notified of the accident on the westbound side of the highway near exit 10, shortly before 10pm. A driver was found unresponsive and State Police had to force entry to the vehicle to help the driver. The motorist was transported to the hospital by ambulance.  No further details about the accident have been released, but State Police are asking that anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact Troop A in Southbury at 203-267-2200.

Pedestrian struck by car in Ridgefield

A woman was struck by a car in Ridgefield yesterday morning.  The pedestrian was hit on Route 35, near the South Street intersection, shortly before 11:30am.  The woman was transported to the hospital for further evaluation.  Her condition and other identifying information was not immediately released.  Police say the woman was struck in the north lane by a northbound vehicle.  Anyone with information about the crash is asked to contact Ridgefield Police Lt. Durling at 203-438-6531.

Brookfield launches Small Business grant program

The Town of Brookfield has opened a Small Business grant program.  Funding for the grants is being paid for through a portion of the town's share of the American Rescue Plan Act.  Small businesses were heavily impacted by COVID-19, experiencing large losses of revenue and additional costs for PPE, outfitting and other expenses. In communities like Brookfield, Community Development Specialist Greg Dembowski says these small businesses often do not have the means to easily or quickly recover. 

At the recent Special Town Meeting, Brookfield voters approved a $200,000 program.  Applications are due by 1pm on April 19th and by 2pm on May 6th.  Two rounds of recommendations by a committee will be made to the First Selectman and awardees will be notified. 

Eligible businesses may apply for grants up to $5,000. Funding is limited and not all businesses approved for participation will receive the maximum amount.  A business may submit only one application. 

The Brookfield-based business must be registered with the Town, currently in operation and have an annual gross revenue prior to the COVID-19 pandemic of less than a million dollars.  Non-profits with 501(c)3 exempt status may apply.  Applicants must be in good standing and current on its federal, state and local tax obligations and have no liens or judgements.  The business must be able to demonstrate that it has been negatively impacted by the pandemic and that funding will enable the business to continue to operate. The business must have a clear and specific use for the grant money on future expenditures including, but not limited to: payroll, mortgage interest, rent, utilities, costs associated with compliance with health measures and construction of outdoor dining area. 

A  committee of five will review the applications.  Those members are the Economic Development Commission Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary, Economic Development Manager and the Brookfield Tax Assessor. 

Applications can be e-mailed to Greg Dembowski, Economic Development Manager at GDembowski@BrookfieldCT.gov, mailed to Brookfield Town Hall, 100 Pocono Rd., Brookfield, CT, ATTN: Greg Dembowski, or dropped off at Brookfield Town Hall, Land Use Office, room 103. 

42 percent of Connecticut's children live in financial hardship

According to the new research, 41% of Connecticut families below the ALICE Threshold reported in the fall of 2021 that their children “sometimes or often” didn’t have enough to eat, in contrast with 17% of higher income families.  United Way of Western Connecticut defines ALICE as Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. 

Because ALICE households often earn too much to qualify for public assistance, the report finds that 192,000 at-risk children didn’t access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.  While 13% of all children in the state were deemed in poverty in 2019, the report shows that 29% – more than twice as many – lived in families defined as ALICE households earning more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than what it costs to live and work in the modern economy. 

The report finds traditional measures of poverty have severely undercounted the number of children of all races ages 18 and younger in Connecticut who are growing up in financially insecure households.

Findings released for study of convalescent plasma treatment of early COVID-19

Nuvance Health participated in a nationwide, 16-month study that showed convalescent plasma can be effective and safe in treating early COVID-19.  The clinical trial, led by Johns Hopkins, involved more than 1,100 patients throughout the country between June 2020 and October 2021.  Patients were either given the plasma or placebo with success measured by the patient not requiring hospitalization within 28 days of the transfusion.  Assistant vice president of Clinical Trials MarieElena Cordisco noted that the study started before vaccinations became available and that the results showed giving convalescent plasma within the first nine days of testing prevented hospitalization for COVID 19.  Nuvance Health offered the study at Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals along with Vassar Brothers Medical Center. The New England Journal of Medicine recently published the findings.

Putnam County Sheriff warning of thefts from mailboxes

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department is warning of thefts from mailboxes.  Sheriff Kevin McConville is reminding residents to avoid using home mailboxes for pickup due to the recent cases.  The Sheriff’s Office has taken a number of reports of complaints where residents have had checks that they were sending out stolen from their mailboxes.  These checks are then being altered to a much higher amount prior to being cashed by the suspects.  Putnam County residents are encouraged to only use secure US Postal Service mailboxes when sending checks, and to report any instances of theft to the Sheriff's Office, where the investigation is ongoing with the assistance of the US Postal Inspectors Office.

COVID-19 testing in Danbury gets new hours

Changes are coming to the COVID-19 testing schedule in Danbury.  Starting today, testing will be available Mondays through Thursdays from 3pm to 6.  The testing is still done at Pat Waldron Hall on Memorial Drive.  Anyone needing an at home test kit can contact the City Health Department.  A pediatric COVID-19 vaccine clinic is being held at 35 Hayestown Road on Friday from 2pm to 6. 

Display sign proposed for Bethel High School Stadium Field

The Bethel Planning & Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing tomorrow night on a proposal for  a display sign located at the Bethel High School Stadium Field.  The hearing will be in Meeting Room D at 7pm.  The town of Bethel has an application before the panel for a special permit for the sign to be located at 300 Whittlesey Drive.

Brookfield Police to hire certified officers

The Brookfield Police Department is looking to hire new officers.  The application period is now open for those who are already a certified Police Officer.  Applications are due June 6.  Candidates must be at least 21 years old, a US Citizen, have GED or HS diploma, a valid driver's license, and  no felony convictions.

Southbury Police mark National Public Safety Telecommunications Week

This week is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.  Southbury Police Department is touting the local Emergency Dispatch Center workers who provide critical component of life-saving emergency services to the public.  Public safety telecommunicators answer emergency and non-emergency calls, connect callers to emergency care and provide valuable resources to those in need.

Bethel High School Varsity Winter Guard Team competes in national competition

The Bethel High School Varsity Winter Guard Team placed 10th in the WGI Sport of the Arts Scholastic Open in Dayton, Ohio over the weekend.  They are the first Color Guard team in Bethel history to finish top 10 at this nationwide competition.  The team was welcomed back to Bethel with an escort from the Stony Hill Volunteer Fire Company.

Driver rescued from car down embankment, on fire

A driver had to be extricated from a vehicle engulfed in flames in Carmel Thursday night.  Firefighters responded to Gipsy Trail Road around 8pm.  They were assisted by several police officers and removed the occupant from the vehicle and from the embankment to the roadway. Firefighters extinguished the flames and mitigated a fuel spill. 

(Photo: Carmel Fire Department)

Alex Jones accused of hiding assets over Sandy Hook lawsuits

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Alex Jones is facing a new lawsuit in Texas. Family members of some of the 20 children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting accuse the conspiracy theorist of hiding millions of dollars in assets after they began taking him to court. The families have already won defamation lawsuits against Jones after he said the massacre in Newtown, never happened. An attorney for Jones said there was no attempt to hide assets and called the suggestion "ridiculous." Trials are set for later this year to determine how much Jones should pay the families.

Brookfield Phase 3 Streetscape work gets underway

Phase 3 of the Brookfield Streetscape project is now underway.  Community Development Specialist Greg Dembowski gave an update last week and says this will extend the sidewalk and the Still River Greenway Trail south on Federal Road, and continuing south on Old Route 7 to Laurel Hill Road.  Phase 3 is expected to be complete in September.  A new pocket park will also be created on a triangle of land between Federal Road and Old Route 7.

Renter's Rebate available for Elderly Renters, Totally Disabled Person

Brookfield State Representative Steve Harding is reminding residents about the Renter's Rebate of Elderly Renters and Totally Disabled Persons program.  Connecticut renters who are elderly or totally disabled, and whose incomes do not exceed certain limits may be eligible to receive up to $900 per married couple or $700 for a single person.  Applicants will need to provide rent receipts and utility receipts. Criteria also includes meeting a one-year state residency requirement.  There is a hotline for the program.  Anyone with questions can call (860) 418-6377.

Local lawmaker touts bill on juvenile crime reforms

A bill co-sponsored by Bethel State Representative Raghib Allie-Brennan addressing juvenile crime has been approved by the Judiciary Committee, advancing for further consideration by the General Assembly.  He says proposal would make reasonable adjustments to Connecticut's existing juvenile justice laws without reverting to what he called the failed tough on crime strategies enacted decades ago. This bill would increase funding to expand Regional Police Task Forces devoted to motor vehicle crimes, speed up juvenile arraignments, require GPS monitoring for repeat juvenile offenders and provide flexibility with the 6-hour hold at a community correctional center or lock-up if an arresting officer is in the process of seeking a detention order.  The measure also called for additional funding to the Judicial Branch for juvenile probation flex funding accounts to get youth on probation into after-school, sports, or job training programs.

Danbury signs agreement to be prepared for any mass-feeding need

The Danbury City Council has signed an agreement between the Amber Room and the Office of Emergency Management.  Director Matthew Cassavechia says the city needs to be prepared for any mass-feeding need that presents itself. Danbury previously had agreements with the Salvation Army and is in discussions with the school vendors as another contingency.  He noted that this is not a retainer, but more a pay-as-you-go situation. 

Cassavechia says the Amber Room has a long history of serving the Danbury community, as well as the experience in providing a large quantity of quality meals within a short period time.  Through the pandemic and multiple collaborations, the Amber Room provided 75,000 meals to help with food insecurity. 

The agreement says there would be a  30-meal minimum order, and a minimum of three hours’ notice, with the maximum meal count based upon the meal type and advance notice.  Delivery of the food within 20 miles is included in the price. There are three breakfast options ranging from $10 to $14; three lunch options ranging from $10 to $14; and three dinner options ranging from $15 to $20.

Danbury Council appoints new constable following controversy

After a controversy, the Danbury City Council nearly unanimously voted for a new constable.  Francis Kieras was appointed to the position in a vote of 18 to 2.  He previously served as a constable as a Democrat, was then a registered Republican, but switched his party affiliation Independent shortly before Mayor Dean Esposito appointed him to the role.  Due to minority party representation, a non-Republican would have had to fill the role.  Councilman Joe Britton questioned the transparency of the process and asked that the nomination go to an ad hoc committee for further consideration.  The committee unanimously supported Kieras’ appointment. At their full Council meeting, Britton and Democrat Richard Molinaro voted in opposition.

New Fairfield Board of Finance to meet again on budget proposal

The New Fairfield Board of Finance will have to meet at least once more before deciding on a tax and spending plan to send to the voters in a referendum.  During their last meeting, the Board tied 3 to 3 on various votes on plans.  During the public hearing last week, more than 2 dozen residents spoke out in favor of the budgets as presented by the Boards of Education and Selectmen, with more than 120 people attending the virtual meeting.  The Board of Selectmen proposed a $13.3 million budget, a 3.15 percent increase over the current year.  The Board of Ed plan is $49 million, an 8.1 percent increase.  The New Fairfield Board of Finance will meet again Wednesday night.

Danbury woman named to Conn. Office of Early Childhood Parent Cabinet

The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood has created the Parent Cabinet.  The members will serve as a statewide, diverse, parent-led advisory group.  They've been tasked with identifying ways to make improvements to the lives of children and families.  Commissioner Beth Bye says this will give parents and caregivers of children from birth to age 5 a greater voice and ability in shaping laws and policies that impact them.  The agency oversees childcare and Care 4 Kids--the state program that helps low to moderate-income families pay for childcare costs--along with home visiting, licensing, and early intervention.  The Office of Early Childhood held an extensive application process to seek parents who are interested in serving as members.  Among the members is Maria Vargas, of Danbury.  The mom of three has been working with families with young children as a Parent Educator in the Greater Danbury community for 25 years. She is part of the Danbury School Readiness Council, a Positive Discipline facilitator, a CDA Council Professional Specialist, and is a life coach for YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program.

Danvbury schools seek unspent federal funds from Conn.

Instead of returning unused pandemic response money related to education back to the federal government, Danbury is seeking further reimbursement for eligible costs.  The lobbyist for the schools and the City notes that the request is nearly $3 million.  A letter was sent by the Mayor in January to then Office of Policy and Manage Secretary Melissa McCaw with the request, but there is now a new OPM Secretary.  The Danbury Board of Education spent all of the funds allocated to them for cost mitigation.  Superintendent Kevin Walston says it's a justifiable request.  He notes that STA transportation drivers were paid throughout the pandemic, even though buses didn't run, and the same for food services, which lost considerable revenue during remote learning.  Walston says there are still some outstanding costs, but some districts may not have been as impacted as Danbury.  The District's lobbyist reported that they don't think the state wants to turn back federal funds if there are districts that they could support, and haven't gotten any negative feedback on the idea, but said it's still early in the budget process.

HRRA household hazardous waste drop off event in Danbury today

A household hazardous waste drop off event is being held in Danbury today.  This is for residents of the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority Region: Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Kent, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, Roxbury, Sherman, Weston and Wilton.  Residents must stay in their vehicle at all times.  Items for drop off should be in the back of the vehicle.  Workers, wearing PPE, will remove the items.  Wait times vary from 10 to 30 minutes depending on volume of cars.  The drop off at Danbury Public Works at 53 Newtown Road is from 9am to 2pm.  Items being accepted include paints, resins, clearers, swimming pool chemicals and waste fluids among others.  A full list of items being collected, and those not allowed can be found on the HRRA website.

Danbury resident honored for military service

Danbury resident Tom Saadi is being recognized for his time with the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.  He was recently presented with the Army Meritorious Service Medal for serving as a Judge Advocate from 2014 to 2020.  Saadi says he's thankful for the opportunity to have served with the soldiers of the 411th.

Sales tax free holiday in Connecticut starts tomorrow

A sales tax free holiday in Connecticut starts tomorrow.  Clothing and footwear under 100 dollars will not be subject to the state’s sales tax, through the 16th.  Greater Danbury area lawmakers supported the tax holiday as part of the same legislative package that suspended the state’s excise gas tax.

Search for missing man continues in Danbury as police locate his car engulfed in flames

Danbury Police are continuing their investigation into a missing persons case.  Search warrants were obtained for the Ball Pond Road home of 20-year-old Carlos Reyes, who was reported missing by his family members on March 31st.  They last saw Reyes on the evening of March 28th.  He was known to frequent Danbury, Waterbury, and Naugatuck.  Reyes was also known to be a DoorDash driver and a driver for hire.

His 2008 gray 4-door Infiniti sedan was located in Brewster before midnight on March 29th fully engulfed in flames.  The extinguished vehicle proved to be unoccupied. New York State Police searched the area, but there was no sign of Reyes. 

The search warrant was carried out Thursday as police continue to search for possible evidence or clues.  They collected surveillance footage and evidence, and the case continues to be an ongoing missing person investigation.  Investigators are working with Reyes’ family and other sources to obtain further information.

Reyes is approximately 5’10”, 170lbs fit build, brown eyes, brown hair and facial hair, no tattoos, and has piercings in both ears. When last seen, Reyes was wearing black sweatpants, a black sweater, and red “Uggs” slippers. He regularly wears three gold chains around his neck, each having a gold pendant.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Justin Williams at j.williams@danbury-ct.gov or 203-796-1601. 

Anonymous tips can be made at 203-790-TIPS or by texting DANBURYPD at 847411 (Tip411). Anonymous web tips can also be submitted from www.tip411.com/tips/new?alert_group_id=22782. The Tip411 system is 100% anonymous, as the technology removes all identifying information before officers receive it, and there is no way to identify the sender. 

Flooding blocks roads in New Milford, Danbury

Due to last night's rainfall a portion of Route 7 in New Milford was blocked by flood water from the Housatonic River.  Mayor Pete Bass says the area by Carvel Ice Cream is down to one lane. The peak of the rise in the river is going to be projected 1.5 feet above flood stage and the high water level will max sometime tomorrow. 

He noted that as the Housatonic continues to rise, Route 7 may close entirely. Department of Public Works Director Jack Healy says Indian Trails Bridge is closed due to flooding.

There's also flooding reported in Danbury on Main Street at Wooster Street and at the back of the mall.

Naugatuck man killed in crash on I-84 in Middlebury

A Naugatuck man was killed in a two-vehicle crash on I-84 westbound in Middlebury yesterday morning.  72-year old John Paul Dowling was headed eastbound in the area of exit 16 around 7am.  His vehicle crossed the median, travelling into the westbound lanes, striking a vehicle operated by a 64-year old Tolland man.  The Tolland man was transported to the hospital for treatment of suspected serious injuries.  Dowling was pronounced dead at the scene.  State Police say the collision remains under investigation.  Any witness to the accident is asked to contact State Police Troop A at 203-267-2240.

Wilton Detective organizes ballistic vest collection for Ukraine

A Wilton Police Detective has organized an effort to supply Ukrainian fighters with personal protection equipment.  Detective Eva Zimnoch and her brother, Cheshire Officer Lester Zimnoch, migrated to the U.S. from Poland years ago.  They called on their fellow officers to donate ballistic vest carriers to be donated to the people of Ukraine and collected more than 150 vests.  Among the departments that donated were Stamford, Southington, Cheshire, Darien, and Meriden Police along with Wilton Firefighters.

Police make 2nd arrest for Dec. traffic stop in which driver sped off

The New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office has announced a second arrest in a case from December.  A routine traffic stop was initiated for speeding in the area of Route 39 and Knollcrest Road.  At that time 20-year old Guido Bruno Alves of Danbury, a passenger, was taken into custody for interfering with an officer. 

During a brief struggle police found him in possession of an illegal handgun.  The driver left the scene while the arrest was being made. 

Troopers have now released details about the February 9th arrest of the driver, 19-year old Ataide Pacheco Fernandes of Danbury.  During the traffic stop, Troopers believed Fernandes was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and was asked to take a field sobriety test.  Troopers say he became argumentative and refused several commands to get out of his car.  Troopers tried to pull him out of the vehicle, but he sped away. 

Fernandes left his driver's license on scene, leading to the warrant for his arrest. 

Fernandes was charged with travelling unreasonably fast, disobeying the signal of an officer, interfering with  an officer, assault of a public safety officer and reckless endangerment. 

Alves was charged with possession of a controlled substance, carrying a pistol without a permit, illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle and interfering with an officer.  

Conn. DPH updates COVID-19 stats for Greater Danbury area

The number COVID-associated deaths has grown by 19 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the state's fully vaccinated population of 6.71 percent, up a bit from the week before.   The rolling 7-day average positivity rate was 4.88 percent. The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive over during that time increased by 39, for a total of 127.  37 percent of those patients are not fully vaccinated.  All of the COVID-19 tests sent for genomic sequencing in Connecticut came back as a strain of the Omicron variant, according to the latest weekly report. BA.2 accounted for 70.4-percent of the samples tested, up from about 57 percent the week before. 

The state Department of Public Health is providing an update on COVID-19data for the Greater Danbury area.  According to the report for the two weeks ending April 2nd, Bethel reported 35 case, Brookfield had 23 and New Fairfield 16. There were 26 COVID cases in New Milford, 39 in Newtown, Redding reported 19 cases while Ridgefield had 58. 

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations will be administered at a mobile clinic in Danbury today.  This is for kids 5 to 11 with parental permission.  Booster doses will also be available for children ages 12 and up.  The clinic is at the Danbury Police Athletic League building from 2pm to 6pm.

The state department of Public Health is reporting COVID-19 case rates for the Greater Danbury area ticked up slightly from last week. Case rates for the week ending April 2nd range from about 7 to 17, up from 6 to 13 cases per 100,000 population.

The rates are:

New Milford 6.9

New Fairfield 8.2

Brookfield 9.7

Newtown 10

Bethel 12.6

Redding 14.9

Ridgefield 16.6
 

The state department of Public Health is reporting COVID-19 infection rates for the Greater Danbury area ticked up slightly from last week, ranging from 3.5 to 8 percent, from 3 to 5 percent the week before.  At home COVID-19 test results are not reported to the state. 
The rates are:

Newtown 3.5 percent

New Milford 4.5 percent

Bethel 4.7 percent

New Fairfield 4.7 percent

Brookfield 5.7 percent

Redding 5.9 percent

Ridgefield 8.1 percent

Rent-free lease signed for Danbury Police substation

A police substation is being created on Danbury's westside.  The City Council signed off on a rent-free lease at their meeting this week.  The facility will be located at the Summit, the former Matrix Center.  Chief Patrick Ridenhour says this will serve as an operations base for officers who patrol the westside and serve as a place for them to conduct interviews, complete paperwork and take breaks, without having to return to the Main Street headquarters. 

The substation will not be staffed with a desk officer, but would be available on a flexible basis.  No holding cells would be located at the substation.  The 2,200 square feet includes office space, an interview room, bathrooms and a kitchenette break area.  The Summit is also providing a 950-square-foot office and storage space for the Office of Emergency Management. 

Councilman Paul Rotello raised a concern that it seemed like the Summit was providing some IT equipment that the department will need during the course of their operation.  Ridenhour responded that it will be City equipment and they would have no access to any of the police system

More Greater Danbury area towns in state's Red Zone for COVID-19 spread

COVID-19 cases appear to be on the rise again in Connecticut as state health officials warn of the Omicron subvariant BA.2.  While it spreads more easily than the Omicron variant, officials say it seems to have the same level of severity as Omicron. 

Southbury, Ridgefield, Wilton and Weston are in the Red Zone, the highest of four alert levels for community spread.  Each town had 15 or more cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks reported, ending April 2nd. 

Bethel, Newtown, Easton and Redding are in the Orange with 10 to 14 cases per 100,000 population.  Brookfield, New Milford and New Fairfield are in the Yellow zone at 5 to 9 cases. 

There is again no state data for Danbury.  The latest information from the City's Department of Public Health is from March 13th through 26th.  At that time Danbury's test positivity rate was 1.7 percent. 

Little more than 75-percent of Danbury residents are fully vaccinated, about 86-percent have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.

Former state lawmaker looking to retake her old seat

A former state lawmaker is looking to retake her old seat.  Toni Boucher has announced her candidacy for the open 26th state Senate District, which includes Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton.  The Republican served as state senator from 2008 to early 2019, losing the 2018 election to Democrat Will Haskell who opted not to seek reelection in November. Prior to being a state Senator, Boucher served as state representative from 1997 to 2008, as a State Board of Education member, a local Board of Education chair and a Selectman. Outside of the General Assembly, Boucher is a marketing and investment executive.   Boucher was twice named “Environmental Champion” by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters and named “Children’s Champion” by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance 7 times. 

Historic Grange building in Bridgewater demolished

The historic Grange building in Bridgewater has been demolished.  The 1850s-era building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The state approved plans by Bridgewater to tear down the Main Street South structure.  Southbury-based Stone Construction Company won the bid for the work, which started Wednesday.  During the bid selection, Bridgewater Board of Selectmen agreed to salvage whatever material they could for reuse in a new building.  No official plans have been proposed for site development.  Potential plans include a memorial for Bridgewater veterans who served in wars since WWII and moving the soon to be restored "Captain's House" to its 4th location in town.  The House is now near the Burnham Library.  The Bridgewater Preservation Association tried to save the building from demolition by offering a dollar, but residents rejected the proposal in a vote.  It previously served as a meeting house, school house, and as town hall.

Emergency drainage repairs underway in Town of Washington

Emergency drainage repairs are underway in the Town of Washington.  The state Department of Transportation is performing the work on Route 45.  A drainage structure failed and the work is expected to be completed by next Wednesday, April 13th.  East Shore Road will be closed to traffic between 8am and 4pm.  Detours will be in place using Route 202 to Main Street to Route 45. Traffic control personnel and signs will guide motorists through the work zone. Modifications or extensions to this schedule may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions.  Motorists are advised to maintain a safe speed when driving in this vicinity.

State weighs new charges against Redding businessman accused of witness tampering

The state is weighing new charges against a Redding businessman accused of witness tampering.  54-year old Raymond Sanzone reportedly sent an email to the person he is accused of embezzling 212-thousand dollars from, asking if they could work out their differences outside of court.  Sanzone, who is free on bond, was ordered by a judge not have any further contact with any victims in the case, under penalty of re-arrest.  The initial charges in the case stem from an arrest by Wilton Police in October 2020 on 14 counts each of identity theft and forgery and one count of larceny for the crimes against a Wilton-based company over two years.  He's been offered a plea deal and has until his June 15th court appearance to decide on whether or not to plea guilty to the larceny charge and a 15 year prison sentenced, suspended after 6 years.

Newtown to move forward on plans for Fairfield Hills redevelopment

The Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office recently notified Newtown officials that all buildings on the Fairfield Hills campus must be preserved if a developer wants to qualify for historic credits, offsetting the cost of renovations.  Boston-based WinnCompanies is looking to renovate Kent Hall and Shelton Hall into a mixed commercial/residential development. 

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal says they should still apply for the historic credits with the National Parks Service, noting that the town has a strong case with or without the state historic office.  Newtown has owned the campus for nearly two decades and Rosenthal says the town has made efforts to preserve the buildings while getting them back to productive use. 

The credits could mean as much as $10 million each for renovation projects estimated at $50 to $60 million.  If the town receives the historic credits, it would be unable to demolish any building over the three years the developer was receiving the money, plus five years afterward.  Rosenthal says Cochrane, Norwalk, Stamford, and Plymouth buildings are “unlikely to see use” and the town was looking at a phased demolition over a number of years.

Lawmaker questions one-time funding for anti-crime initiatives

The top Republican on the legislature's budget writing committee is voicing concern over Democrats using one-time federal funds to pay for ongoing expenses, including criminal justice initiatives.

Some Republican legislators on the  Appropriations Committee are questioning why the spending plan, approved by the Committee on a mostly party-line yesterday, relied on one-time federal COVID-19 money to fund some anti-crime initiatives, including 2-point-6 million dollars to fund state and local police efforts to address car thefts. They argued it should instead be included in the regular budget.

Crime has become a major issue in the 2022 election. Both the General Assembly and the governor are up for reelection in November.

New Milford Senator Craig Miner says he believes his colleagues who drafted the budget think those increases in violent crime are not going to need continuing financial support.

Committee chair Senator Cathy Osten said the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection thought it was better to use American Rescue Plan funds to address violent crime, additional speed enforcement and other anti-crime efforts “to give them time to see if this was just a COVID-related issue and will dissipate while they’re addressing the issue.”

New Milford Police deploy new speed trailer

The New Milford Police Department has deployed its new speed trailer. The device flashes speeds and warns drivers to slow down.  The infrastructure is located on Town Farm Road.  The unit also records speed data which Police Chief Spencer Cerruto says will be useful in deploying enforcement.

Redding Registrars recanvass voters

The Redding Registrar of Voters sent out 457 canvass letters to determine if every registered voter is still active and living in Redding.  302 of those letters were either not returned or returned as undeliverable by the post office.  These voters are now considered inactive.  The Registrars called on residents to look up their registration status on the Secretary of the State's website.  Anyone not finding their registration should then contact the Registrar's Office.

Sherman firefighters practice extinguishing brush fires

Sherman Volunteer Fire Department took part in brush fire training recently.  The Department notes that brush fires are typically more common than house fires in Sherman, especially in the summer.  They have a brush truck with 500 gallons of water on board that can pump at 45 gallons per minute. There are collapsible Indian Backpack fire pumps, chain saws and portable generator and lighting.

Budget referendum date set in Bethel

A budget referendum date has been set in Bethel. 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 $51.1 million. 

During the annual Town Meeting, a motion was made to cut $500,000 in school spending, but it was rejected and the budget was adopted without change.  More than 150 registered residents attended Monday's meeting and only a handful called for cuts. 

Tax watchdog group Bethel Action Committee opposed the proposed budget.  BAC Founder Billy Michael says he was disappointedthe motion failed.  He says it would have still given them a $1.6 million increase.  Michael says there's no such thing as a cut to education, rather reducing the increase.  He says there's so much money in school systems across the state because of the pandemic, saying it's time to cut back on the local level.

Michael also raised concerns that revenue estimates, which are required by the town Charter to be presented, weren't initially available.

The Board of Finance approved the budget on a narrow 4 to 3 vote.  The Board of Education budget was presented to residents without cuts, for the first time in several years. 

The budget referendum is April 19th from 6am to 8pm.

DOT emergency tree removal in Danbury to continue through April 19

The state Department of Transportation Emergency Tree Work along I-84 Westbound in Danbury, will continue through the middle of this month.  The DOT has had crews out on the highway, blocking the right lane, between Exit 5 to Exit 4 and they'll be on site through the 19th.  Hazardous trees along the highway are being removed, and there will be limited access to I-84 from the Exit 4 westbound on-ramp.  Traffic control signing patterns will be used to guide motorists through the work zone.  Modifications or extensions may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions.  Motorists are advised to maintain a safe speed when driving in this vicinity.

Man arrested last month on drug charges, arrested again

A New York man who was arrested last month with operating a drug factory in Danbury, has been arrested on new charges.  Danbury Police Detectives investigating illegal drug sales from local hotel rooms in the area were assisted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and identified 49-year old Peter Vetere of Brewster as the target. 

After last month's arrest related to drugs in his Danbury apartment, Vetere was released on bond. 

Warrants were then granted for a search of his car and a hotel room where he was staying.  Vetere was stopped in the parking lot and found in possession of fentanyl, crack cocaine and more than $1,300 cash.  More crack cocaine, fentnayl and ecstasy pills were located in the room. 

Vetere was charged with five counts each of possession of a controlled substance and possession of narcotics with intent to sell and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was held on $500,000 bond.

Police say his associate, 29-year-old Amanda Fitzgerald of Danbury was charged with three counts each of possession of a controlled substance and possession of narcotics with intent to sell and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.  A passenger in his vehicle, 56-year-old Kathleen McKinney of Danbury, was charged with two counts each of possession of a controlled substance and possession of narcotics with intent to sell and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Alex Jones appears for questioning in Sandy Hook lawsuit

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has traveled to Connecticut to appear at a deposition in a lawsuit over his calling the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a hoax. His trip to Bridgeport comes after he was fined for defying a judge's order to appear for questioning in Texas last month, when he cited a health problem. The deposition began Tuesday and ended Wednesday. Relatives of some of the 20 children and six educators killed in the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, massacre are suing Jones for defamation. A judge found Jones liable for damages and a trial on how much he should pay the families is set for August.

Special Town Meeting scheduled in New Milford on ARPA projects

A Special Town Meeting will be held on Tuesday in New Milford for residents to weigh in on spending some of the town's American Rescue Plan Act funds.  $5.8 million of the $7.9 million in federal pandemic relief funds allocated to the town has been spent.  Residents will now be deciding on another $1.9 million, approved by the Board of Finance and Town Council.  The vote Tuesday is in the E Paul Martin Room of New Milford Town Hall at 6:30pm.  $500,000 is being set aside for future expenses related to COVID-19.  $100,000 would go to a new roof at the VFW hall, $136,000 for sewer abatement allowing for a moratorium on connection fees for the sewer plant, and $38,000 for a sewer camera.  Among the other big projects: work on 4 bridges.  There's $600,000 for Cherniske Bridge, $150,000 for Lovers Leap Bridge, $126,000 for Harrybrooke Park Bridge and $125,000 for Boardman Bridge.  The remaining spending in this round is for Water Witch Hose, a library maker space, medical kits and addiction services.  If approved Tuesday, New Milford would have about $200,000 remaining to be allocated.

Results of Kent Streetscape survey to be released

One of the biggest projects in Kent's history is advancing.  Kent is ready to move forward with Phase I of the Streetscape Project, which uses a half a million dollar grant from the state Department of Transportation Community Connectivity Grant Program. This phase involves replacing the sidewalks on North Main Street as well as Bridge Street to the bridge.  Residents were asked to take an online survey about the project.  The Board of Selectmen says the results of the survey will be used to guide the decision making process of resident's preferences.  Results will be shared during tonight's Board of Selectmen meeting.

Area Fire Departments warn of smoke, CO alarm recall

The Danbury Fire Department is alerting residents to a recall of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms from Universal Security Instruments.  The 2-in-1 Photoelectric Smoke & Fire + Carbon Monoxide Alarms can fail to alert consumers to the presence of a hazardous level of carbon monoxide.  The odorless, colorless, poisonous gas can lead to illness or death.  The company received two reports of units that failed to alarm for the presence of CO within the specified time requirement. No injuries have been reported.  They were sold nationwide and online at Walmart-dot-com and other websites from June 2017 through December 2019 for between $50 and $80.

Putnam County Sheriffs participate in U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office will join law enforcement agencies nationwide today through Monday in the U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign.  The annual event is part of the U-S Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s high-visibility enforcement effort to remind drivers about the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.  According to NHTSA, between 2012 and 2019, little more than 26-thousand people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. While fatalities from motor vehicle crashes decreased slightly from 2018, distraction-related fatalities increased by 10 percent.

Putnam County Sheriff K9 locates man in crisis

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office is touting the work of a K9 officer in helping to locate a man in crisis last Sunday.  Around 10pm Carmel Police asked for assistance in locating a  man who had made several threats to harm himself.  The man's vehicle was found abandoned near the intersection of Belden Road and Route 301.  A deputy and bloodhound-partner began a track there and followed the man’s scent, locating him  short distance away, concealed behind a rock wall.  He was approached without incident.

North Carolina man arrested for drunk driving in Patterson

A North Carolina man has been arrested for drunk driving in Patterson.  A Putnam County Sheriff's Deputy saw a car with expired plates on Fairfield Drive around 1am last Thursday and stopped the driver on nearby Lake Shore Drive.  The deputy observed open beer bottles inside the vehicle. The 41-year old displayed several signs of intoxication and failed a Standardized Field Sobriety Test. The man was charged with DWI, Aggravated Unlicensed Operation, and numerous traffic infractions.  The DWI was elevated to a felony, due to a previous DWI conviction within 10 years.

Danbury Planning Commission member dies at 74

A member of the Danbury Planning Commission has passed away.  Joel Urice died March 24th at age 74.  He was serving as Vice Chair of the Commission.  A Celebration of Life Service will take place in the Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home on May 1st, at a time to be announced.  His family asked that contributions in Urice's memory be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

New Fairfield Prevention Council sponsoring free virtual workshop

The New Fairfield Prevention Council is sponsoring a free virtual workshop for parents and educators.  The aim is to help people recognize warning signs in children of drug-related high-risk behavior and how to manage them.  The “Hidden in Plain Sight” virtual workshop will be presented by a specialist with the Connecticut Association of Prevention Professionals.  The hourlong workshop starts at 7pm.  Participants will have an opportunity to explore a mock teen’s bedroom to see various trends of teen substance use, signs, symptoms and lingo in an effort to raise awareness about substance-use disorders. The workshop also provides resources and tools for parents and community members to identify further prevention tips, treatment options and recovery services.  The workshop is open to all, but registration is required.  https://bit.ly/NFLPC1

Brookfield raising funds through the Library Giving Day campaign

For the second year in a row, The Friends of the Brookfield Library and The Brookfield Library Foundation are raising funds through the Library Giving Day campaign to benefit the building fund. Today's national one-day online fundraising event encourages patrons to make a gift to their local library.  Library Giving Day started in 2019 with a goal to support libraries during Library Awareness Week.  https://www.brookfieldlibraryfoundation.org/donate-now

Danbury Mayor presents proposed budget to City Council

A $277.5 million budget is being proposed by Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito.  The mill rate would go up 2.25 percent if approved.  With a mill rate of 28.22, the typical homeowner will see a quarterly real estate tax bill that is about $40 higher.  Sewer and water rates would increase by 2.75 percent. 

The proposed Capital Budget includes an investment of little more than $30 million to fund over 100 community projects.  He says part of the minimal increase is due in part to adding six new officers to the police force.  He also touted the education budget being proposed. 

City Finance Director David St Hilaire called inflationary pressures a challenge when it came to drafting the plan.  He notes that after three years of no tax increases the City knew they would have to ask for a little more.  Paving is a substantial part of the capital plan.  Funding was increased somewhat, but that's because of additional federal and state dollars expected to be appropriated. 

The City was able to lock in fuel prices in January of 2021 through June of 2023. 

The City and Board of Education have been awarded $32.0 million and $36.3 million, respectively of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to aid in the recovery efforts following the pandemic.  Esposito laid out plans to spend $20 million to support 40 projects and programs.  Much of that is for capital projects to benefit the community, including an enhanced summer camp program.  He notes that there are other needs that have yet to be identified or may arise so ample funds remain to be allocated.

Newtown teacher among three Conn. educators named Finalist for Presidential Awards

A Newtown teacher is among three Connecticut educators being honored for their excellence as teachers in the field of Mathematics by the state Department of Education.  Katherine Mauro, a K – 4 media, technology, computer science teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School has been selected as a Connecticut’s 2022 Mathematics Finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. 

Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker says the honor highlights their years of dedication, perseverance, and content mastery in the subjects they teach.  The other two are from Hartford and Ellington.  Russell-Tucker says they epitomize the innovative educators Connecticut has and the importance of efforts to engage students in STEM fields beginning at a young age. 

The names of all three educators have been forwarded to the national selection committee and are eligible to receive a PAEMST award, the nation’s highest honor for U.S. K–12 science, technology,  engineering, mathematics, and/or computer science teachers.

The awards program is administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Military aircrafts fly low over Kent

There was some low flying military aircraft in Kent yesterday. Town Hall was notified by resident Steve Brooke that a low flyover would be happening around 3pm near the Housatonic River/Kent School area. His son, Captain Major Matthew Brooke and three other U.S. Marines piloted 4 Osprey aircrafts. They were traveling back to base in North Carolina after attending a memorial service for fellow Marines lost in a crash over Norway.

New Fairfield resumes COIVD-19 testing, vaccine clinics

With a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases being reported across Connecticut, due in part to the Omicron subvariant BA.2, New Fairfield officials are ramping testing and vaccination clinics back up. 

The Health Department has arranged for PCR testing by appointment only, Monday through Friday beginning today.  This will be at the Community Room located at the Senior Center at no cost to the Town or patient through Curative.  The CDC and FDA have recently approved a fourth dose of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for those over 50, if the last dose was more than four months ago. 

Three mobile clinics are scheduled.  They are April 20 10AM-4PM at St. Edwards, April 30 10AM-4PM at the Senior Center, and May 21 10AM-4PM at the Senior Center.  The Vaccination Van clinics are walk-in and provide all three vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J.  Anyone over the age of 12 may get a booster shot (third dose) if it’s been 5 months since the 2nd Pfizer or Moderna vaccination or 2 months from a J&J vaccination.  

Two people arrested for alleged attack on student getting off Bethel school bus

Bethel Police have arrested two people for allegedly assaulting a student after getting off a school bus. On January 10, two teens approached a student at the intersection of Hickok Avenue and Wooster Street.  According to Police, one used racial slurs while assaulting him.  The other physically intimidated the student.  A 19-year old was charged with breach of peace.  An 18-year old was charged with assault, breach of peace and intimidation based on bigotry or bias.  Each were released on bond and are due in court later this month.

Danbury man pleads guilty to sexual exploitation of a child

A Danbury man has pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child.  36-year old Wayne Marcell has been detained since his arrest on related state charges last June.  According to court documents, a 14-year-old female in Georgia met Robert Fyke, of Texas on the chat platform Kik.  He drove to her home and brought her back to Texas.  During that time, the minor victim began communicating with Marcell on video game and social media platforms.  Marcell paid an individual $2,000 to drive the minor victim from Texas to Illinois.  Marcell then drove from Connecticut to Illinois, picked up the minor victim, and brought her to his home in Danbury.  Marcell engaged in multiple illicit sexual acts with the minor victim, and took photos and videos of the sexual abuse. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled, but Marcell faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years.

Nuvance Health updating visitation policies at Danbury Hospital

Nuvance Health is updating visitation policies at Danbury Hospital.  Effective this week, visitation for COVID suspected or positive patients has been expanded.  Two support persons will be allowed daily during visitation hours. Visitation was previously limited to only those with extenuating circumstances and special populations. The support persons can be different every 24 hours, but visits should be restricted only to those essential to providing care. Maternity visitation guidance at Nuvance hospitals across New York and Connecticut is being aligned.  The primary support person may be present without having to show proof of full vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test result.   Up to a maximum of two, non-changing, support persons, excluding a vaccinated, trained doula, can accompany obstetric patients during antepartum, labor, delivery, and postpartum care.  The second support person must show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours upon arrival to the hospital. A COVID-19 test must be repeated every 72 hours for the second support person if they are unvaccinated.  

Putnam County Sheriff's Department searching for missing woman

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department is searching for a missing woman.  59-year-old Lori Lynn Campbell hasn't  been seen in several days.  Two of her friends each filed missing persons reports on Saturday afternoon.  They say she usually makes contact with them, but they haven't heard from Campbell.  She has a black 2003 Acura RSX with New York plate HNX3522.  Anyone with information on the woman's whereabouts is asked to contact the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 845 225-4300.

 

Fine Amnesty Week underway at Danbury Library

Danbury Library patrons can have their fines waived this week.  Fine Amnesty Week ends on Saturday.  Library staff say this is the time to check bookcases, underneath the bed, or in the car to recover forgotten library books.  For patrons who do have their fine waived, and are able, Danbury Library is asking that they pay it forward to an organization or charity within the community.

New Milford Rotary sponsoring 'unfood drive'

The New Milford Rotary is sponsoring the "unfood drive" on Saturday.  This is a Drive-up and Drop off event is collecting items such as Laundry detergent, household cleaners, Personal Care items, and paper products. The collection Saturday is from 9am to noon at Pettibone Community Center.

Brookfield firefighters check in on progress of two new vehicles

A contingent from Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company has traveled to a New Jersey manufacturer to go over two new items coming to Brookfield.  The latest vehicles have bene ordered and are now in the pipeline. One is a 2021 Chevy Tahoe Paramedic flycar, slated for completion in the next 30 to 60 days. The vehicle was purchased with funds from their annual fund drive.  The volunteers are also replacing their 2013 GMC Ambulance.  They expect this new unit to hit the streets in early 2023. The Town of Brookfield funded this ambulance with federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Police release body cam footage of Brookfield woman ramming cruiser

Waterbury Police have released body cam footage of a Brookfield woman driving a white hummer and ramming a police cruiser before fleeing the scene.  25-year-old Hannah Casperson was wanted in connection with 41 vehicle break ins allegedly committed by her boyfriend in Wolcott last week.  She was spotted on Sunday in Waterbury.  Police blocked off a street and an officer approached on foot as she sat in the white hummer. 

The door was locked and she drove off.  The body cam footage shows the officer giving chase and several people standing on the corner of the street nearby as the officer pointed his gun at the driver.  He does not fire and has to jump out of the way as the driver rams the other side of his cruiser, and heads in his direction. 

She was able to get through the blockade and eventually led 6 other cruisers on a pursuit, hitting them all in crashes in Monroe.  The officer, whose name has not been released, is being praised by his Department's Chief for not firing his weapon even as the officer's life was in jeopardy and he feared for his life. 

Injuries to the 7 officers included contusions and strained backs.  They have been released from the hospital, but some have not yet returned to work.  Casperson was hospitalized with injuries that included a broken femur and a dislocated hip and was in stable condition yesterday. 

Waterbury Police charged Casperson with assault on a police officer, engaging in a pursuit, reckless endangerment, disobeying an officer’s signal, interfering with an officer, and criminal attempt at an assault on a police officer. She is also facing a number of motor vehicle offenses.

Danbury Councilman calls for appropriate funding of new school in future budgets

The Danbury City Council is meeting tonight about $208-million in bonding for various school projects and whether to send the matter to a referendum.  The largest portion of the bond would be for the proposed Danbury Career Academy, the new middle and high school facility at the Cartus site.  Councilman Irving Fox, a former Board of Ed member wants his colleagues to be aware that if residents approve the bonding, the City will have to fund the teaching positions and related costs into the future.  The Academy would serve 1,400 students. Bonding is also proposed for a new pre-kindergarten academy, ADA compliance at Hayestown Avenue Elementary and a new roof for King Street Primary among other projects.

Conn. Supreme Court rules against Bethel on denial of crematorium special permit

The Connecticut Supreme Court has issued a ruling against the Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission over their rejection of a special permit application for a crematorium. 

Cramer & Anderson Partner Dan Casagrande represented Shawn McLoughlin, who sought approval to open the crematorium on a property adjacent to Mono-Crete Step in Clarke Business Park.  The unanimous April 1st decision reversed the Appellate Court and sends the case back to the trial court, ordering the land-use commission to approve the application. 

The Supreme Court opinion, written by Chief Justice Richard Robinson, concludes that the denial was based only on general facts regarding crematory operations not specific to the proposed site, development decisions motivated by general objections to the proposed facility, and evidence not pertinent to the required considerations. Casagrande says a land use commission has no authority to deny a special permit based on generalized concerns associated with the stigma of a particular use, rather than site specific zoning concerns such as traffic, parking, and loss of property values.

Danbury Councilman announces candidacy for 109th House seat

A Danbury City Councilman has announced his campaign for the state legislature.  Democrat Farley Santos is looking to be the nominee for the 109th House district, a seat held for many years by Democrat David Arconti, who is not seeking reelection. 

Santos says the entire community and the state face critical challenges and believes his experience on the City Council could be put to good use.  He says he's worked to achieve resolutions for many neighborhood issues and has been an advocate for public schools and seniors.

Santos is Vice President, Community Development Manager and Bank Ambassador with Savings Bank of Danbury. He previously served on the Board of Education and has served on the Board of Directors of several non-profit organizations including the Danbury Student and Business Connection and Junior Achievement of Greater Fairfield County.  Santos currently serves as President of the Danbury Police Activities League and President of the Landon Jack Verissimo Santos Memorial Scholarship, Inc. 

Two Danbury men arrested on drug, weapons related charges

Two Danbury men have been arrested on drug related charges.  A search warrant was carried out by Danbury Police yesterday leading to the arrests of 30-year old Terrell Little and 31-year old Taurean Coleman. 

A search of their apartment turned up a stolen 9mm handgun, more than one-quarter pound of cocaine, three-quarters pound of marijuana and more than $3,500 in cash.  Scales and related items on the stove to manufacture powder cocaine into crack cocaine were also located.  

Little and Coleman were each charged with operating a drug factory, possession of a controlled substance, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal possession of ammunition, possession of a stolen firearm, criminal possession of a pistol, and possession of more than five ounces of marijuana. 

Coleman was also charged with interfering with the duties of a police officer and operating with a suspended license.

Danbury Mayor to unveil proposed budget tonight

Danbury Mayor Dean Esposito will present his first budget to the City Council when the group meets tonight.  Republicans have a 14-7 super majority on City Council and they will be voting on the tax and spending plan at their May meeting.  A rally is planned in advance of tonight's 7:30pm meeting.  A group called Danbury Defending Public Education is holding the rally outside City Hall starting at 6:30pm to call on the Mayor and Council to fully fund the Board of Education's 6.2 percent spending increase.  The Board of Ed budget is proposed at $152 million and would use some reserve funding and federal grants to offset some of the increase.

Site preparation, construction of communications tower to start in Monroe

ARX Wireless will begin site preparation and construction of a communications tower in Monroe.  The tower will be located in the wooded area on the northern side of the former Chalk Hill School. This project was proposed by ARX in late 2019, and was presented and discussed at numerous public meetings. 

The Monroe Planning & Zoning Commission and Town Council each approved the project.  The new tower will provide cellular coverage to an area of town, including at the school campus, where there are dead zones.  Monroe officials say this will also help improve the current public safety radio communications system. 

Crews will be clearing, excavation, pouring a foundation, and laying electrical conduit to allow for the construction of the tower.  The hours of construction are 7am to 4:30pm, but ARX has agreed to not interrupt drop-off or dismissal at either Jockey Hollow or Fawn Hollow Elementary.   All employees and workers on site will be clearly uniformed so as to be identifiable for security purposes.

Workers at the site will not have access to either Jockey Hollow or Fawn Hollow.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The New Milford Police Department is partnering with the State Department of Transportation to participate in the spring 2022 Distracted Driving High Visibility Enforcement program.  Police statewide will be out on extra patrols through April 30th to enforce distracted driving laws.  The New Milford Police Department is reminding motorists not to text or talk on the phone while behind the wheel because it's not only dangerous, but it could result in a costly fine.

Wellsville Avenue in New Milford prepared for paving

The New Milford Department of Public Works will have a road crew out milling Wellsville Avenue in preparation for paving.  Drivers are cautioned to expect short delays.  The Town Of New Milford has applied for a grant that will allow for a full reconstruction of the road, plus replacement of the sidewalks.  Mayor Pete Bass says that work is expected to be done next year.

Mock car crash event planned in Bethel

A mock car crash is planned at Bethel High School later this month.  Police officials say students will learn about the consequences of distracted and impaired driving, while emergency responders will use the event for training purposes.  Two cars that have been deemed totalled will be at the senior parking lot on April 20th, along with a number of emergency vehicles.  Student actors will be made up to show injuries that could be sustained in a real distracted or impaired driving accident.  Due to the graphic nature of the mock crash, BHS plans to make counselors available afterward for those in need.  A letter will be sent to parents about the planned event.

Redding Health officials keep eye on Omicron sub-variant BA.2

The CDC has updated its recommendations to allow a second booster dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for certain immunocompromised individuals 12 and older and all people over the age of 50.  The second booster must be administered at least 4 months after the first booster. Although the number of COVID-19 Omicron variant infections has been relatively low the past few weeks, Redding Health Department officials say there's an increase in infections of the Omicron sub-variant BA.2 across the northeast and Connecticut. This variant is considered more infectious than Omicron and has caused significant spikes across Europe.

COVID-19 vaccine clinics, new infection reporting requirements today

A walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic is being held in Wilton today.  There will be a separate area for pediatric vaccinations.  The clinic at Cider Mill School is from 3pm to 7.  Pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations will be administered at mobile clinics throughout the state today, including in Danbury.  This is for kids 5 to 11 with parental permission.  Booster doses will also be available for children ages 12 and up.  The clinic is at Park Avenue Elementary from 4pm to 7. 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health has modified their reporting of COVID-19 metrics, consistent with a change in federal requirements.  The state will no longer require the reporting of negative rapid antigen and rapid PCR test results.  Negative molecular test results. must still be reported.  Starting today, the state Department of Public Health, in line with federal requirement changes, will now calculate COVID-19 test positivity as a rolling 7 -day test positivity by specimen collection date. 

The change in hospitalizations will also be reported over 7 days instead of daily.

Chimney, trash can fires extinguished in New Fairfield

New Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department were called to a possible chimney fire Saturday and found a problem with a pellet stove.   Firefighters responded to Whipstick Road and found that the stove was very dirty.  The owner was advised to have it cleaned before firing the unit back on.  Firefighters also responded to a garbage can on fire at the High School on Saturday.  Residents were asked to use caution about what's thrown out in the garbage.  The Fire Marshal is investigating the incident.

Easton Volunteer Fire Department starts expansion work

The Easton Volunteer Fire Company is expanding.   The initial phase of this project involves the clearing and leveling of the two acre field adjacent to the fire house.  This effort will significantly expand their training area, and add additional rides to their annual fundraiser--the Fireman Carnival.  The second phase of the project will be the construction of a pole barn which firefighters will use to remove unsightly equipment that was historically stored at the back of the field.  100% of the project will be paid for with funds raised by volunteers during the annual carnival fundraiser as well as via direct donations from the members of the Easton community. 

Candlewood Lake Authority annual clean up scheduled

The Candlewood Lake Authority's  50th Anniversary is being marked with an annual event.  The date has been announced for the annual J. Marsicano and F. Cioffi Memorial Candlewood Lake Clean Up, which will take place on Saturday, May 21st.  Like last year, Volunteer Boat Captains will assemble their own clean-up crews. CLA will assign a section of the lake to each Boat Captain. Crews depart in the morning to collect debris from the shoreline of the Lake.

Woman wanted for car break ins crashes into 7 police cruisers during pursuit

A Brookfield woman wanted by Wolcott Police for helping her boyfriend vandalize 41 vehicles has been arrested after hitting seven police cruisers and eventually crashing into a pole in Monroe.  Wolcott Police launched an investigation last week into smashed car windows in the area of an elderly complex, and items being stolen. 

The suspect vehicle was spotted Thursday.  Officers spotted the vehicle in Pats IGA lot.  The female driver saw the officers and fled south.  Police entered the store and observed that the male suspect was standing with a load of meat in a carriage heading towards the exits.  He was immediately stopped and placed under arrest.  He was wearing the same coat that he wore when committing crimes in area towns.  31-year-old Thomas Crawford, of Naugatuck was charged.  

A tip was received by Waterbury Police shortly before 9am Sunday about the vehicle.  They tried to make contact, but 25-year-old Hannah Casperson, of Brookfield fled, hitting a police cruiser and another vehicle.  Multiple police department attempted to pursue. 

Casperson eventually lost control in the area of Wheeler Road and Monroe Turnpike, closing Route 111 for several hours.  Monroe Police Chief Keith White says seven cruisers were hit during the chase. Seven officers from the Waterbury Police Department were transported to the hospital for treatment, where they are all listed in stable condition.

Casperson was transported to Bridgeport Hospital and is being treated for non life-threatening injuries.

She has multiple outstanding warrants and additional charges pending.  She previously pled guilty to criminal mischief in Southbury and failed to appear in court.  According to the Connecticut court system, Casperson is in the middle of serving 18 months of probation due to her first crime.   

Crawford has several previous arrests including Failure to Appear. 

Police alert residents to a Publishers Clearing House scam

The New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office is alerting residents to a Publishers Clearing House scam.   Letters have been circulating to residents claiming that they are a winner of the Free Lotto Association of North American lottery and provincial sweepstakes.  The letter says the winners are required by international Sweepstakes and the IRS to pay toward taxes and processing fees, and provided a contact phone number to make a payment.  But State Police say a real Publishers Clearing House letter will never say someone has won, as the Prize Patrol makes that notification in person, and will never ask for taxes or legal fees to be paid upfront.  Real sweepstakes will also never send a check and ask that some of the money be sent back.

Police investigate trespassing, tree removal on FirstLight property

New Milford Police are investigating a trespassing case involving tree removal on FirstLight property.  The licensee for the Housatonic River Hydroelectric Project submitted a report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about the unauthorized excavation on the South Lanesville Dike.  A FightLight employee driving by saw someone operating a small loader backhoe on the crest of the earthen dike and told the person to cease and desist.  The trespassing incident and damage was reported to New Milford Police.  Several small trees were removed and the holes backfilled with gravel.  There were no injuries and Project operations were not impacted. FirstLight stabilized the excavated areas, restoring the site to its original condition and posted “No Trespassing” signs.

Hawley School HVAC project bids come in over budget

Bids for the Hawley School HVAC project in Newtown have come in above budget.  Residents signed off on $8 million for the work, but the lowest bid was $250,000 above that price.  During the recent Public Building and Site Commission meeting, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said it's a pretty straight forward project so there's not a lot of room to find savings.  He suggested installing one new unit to cool 6 classrooms not currently air conditioned, rather than replacing the 6 air conditioning units in the west wing of the school, which were installed in 1997.  Rosenthal noted that the units could be replaced in a later project. Officials hope to perform the work during the summer to avoid student disruptions. 

Danbury's Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day today

This year Danbury's Autism Awareness and Acceptance Day will be commemorated with a flag-raising ceremony held at 4PM at Danbury City Hall. It will feature speakers, and special presentations.  The event's goal is to spread awareness of early diagnosis and promote acceptance for all individuals and families affected by autism.  The Autism Awareness flag will be raised at the City of Danbury in honor of World Autism Awareness Month and as the City continues to raise funds for a sensory room at Danbury Public Library designed to stimulate children with special needs. The space will be the first of its kind in a library in Connecticut. The prevalence of autism in the United States has risen from 1 in 125 children in 2010 to 1 in 59 in 2020. According to the most recent data collected by the CDC, autism is reported in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.

Annual Town Meeting in Bethel tonight

The Annual Town Meeting in Bethel will be held tonight.  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.

Focus group meetings set in search for New Fairfield Superintendent

The New Fairfield Board of Education has started the process of identifying a new Superintendent of Schools and has selected Cooperative Educational Services to conduct the search.  The next superintendent is expected to be chosen in May following a series of interviews with candidates and begin work August 15th, replacing Dr. Patricia Cosentino.  CES has reached out to nearly 2,000 current superintendents, and those certified to serve as superintendents,  in the Northeast and about 7,700 more district leaders and regional superintendent organizations across the country. 

Virtual Focus Group meetings will be held next Monday April 11 to collect feedback and identify desirable leadership characteristics in the next superintendent.


April 11:
10:00 AM Students
3:00 PM HS and MS Teachers and Staff
4:00 PM  MHHS and Consolidated Teachers and Staff
4:45 PM School and District Administrators
5:30 PM Town Elected Officials
6:15 PM Community Members
7:00 PM Parents
An online survey is open to New Fairfield residents and school district staff, accessible now through Sunday, April 10.  Links to the survey can be found at www.newfairfieldschools.org.

Danbury parents urged to talk with kids about drug use

Danbury School Superintendent Kevin Waltson is providing resources for parents to talk with kids about drug use and the dangers associated with ingesting unknown substances.  This follows an incident this week at Rogers Park Middle School in which several students fell ill after eating chocolate suspected to contain THC.  All students involved received school-based medical attention. Parents were notified and advised to seek further medical attention, but district officials believe all the students are recovering safely.  All parents were urged to visit links provided for Kids Health and the CDC, but if they need help in how to start the conversation to contact their child's school for assistance.

Ridgefield firefighters rescue 'Justin Beaver'

Last week, Ridgefield Firefighters received a call for a rescue.  A homeowner of the property where a beaver was trapped was appreciative that they were able to perform a successful extrication.  Ridgefield firefighters then nicknamed the freed animal Justin Beaver.

(Photo: Ridgefield Professional Firefighters)

League of Women Voters, Ridgefield Library hold legislative forum today

An online Meet Your Legislators’ meeting is being held by The League of Women Voters of Ridgefield and the Ridgefield Library.  The Zoom meeting is today from 10am to 12:30pm.  Members of the Legislature will discuss what is happening at the State Capitol and let their constituents know where they stand on various issues.  Members of the delegation expected to participate are 111th District state Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo, 138th House District Representative Ken Gucker and 26th district state Senator Will Haskell.  There will be no live Q&A via Zoom, but people who have already registered for the event were able to also submit questions at that time.  Registration will remain open through 10am on Saturday.

Permit approved by Bethel planners for turf field replacement

The Bethel Planning and Zoning Commission has approved of a site plan and special permit for a new multi-sport turf complex.  The facility is proposed for the area behind the middle school.  A private donor, who asked to remain anonymous, offered to fund the Benzing Field replacement.  The grass surface will be replaced by encapsulated rubber turf.  A four-post lighting system has been proposed to illuminate the area where soccer, lacrosse and field hockey are played.

Department of Public Health provides update on Danbury area COVID-19 data

The state Department of Public Health is providing an update on COVID-19 data for the Greater Danbury area.  According to the report for the two weeks ending March 26th, Bethel reported 28 case, Brookfield had 15 and New Fairfield 15. There were 24 COVID cases in New Milford, 9 in Newtown, Redding reported 12 cases while Ridgefield had 46.  Danbury was not reported this week.

Case rates for the week ending March 26th range from about 6 to 13 cases per 100-thousand population. The lowest case rate is in Brookfield and the highest is in Ridgefield, based on population.    

The rates are:

Brookfield 6.3

New Milford 6.4

New Fairfield 7.7

Newtown 9

Redding 9.4

Bethel 10.1

Ridgefield 13.2

COVID-19 infection rates for the Greater Danbury area ticked up slightly from last week, ranging from 3 percent to about 5  percent.  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 3 percent

Brookfield 3 percent

New Milford 3.7 percent 

Bethel 4.2 percent

Ridgefield 4.6 percent

New Fairfield 4.5 percent

Redding 5.3 percent

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccinations will be administered at mobile clinics throughout the state today, including in Danbury.  This if for kids 5 to 11 with parental permission.  Booster doses will also be available for children ages 12 and older.  The clinic in Danbury is at the Police Athletic League building on Hayestown Road from 2pm to 6

The number COVID-associated deaths has grown by 32 since last Thursday.  The state is also reporting a breakthrough rate of COVID-19 infections among the state's fully vaccinated population of 6.57 percent, the same as the week before.  New state data released Thursday show there were 471 positive COVID cases reported to the state since Wednesday out of nearly 12,000 tests.  The daily positivity rate was 3.95 percent.  The number of people in Connecticut hospitals testing positive decreased by 10, for a total of 88.  29.5 percent of those patients are not fully vaccinated.  

Fire at Putnam Hospital Center extinguished

A fire at Putnam Hospital Center was quickly extinguished yesterday.  Carmel and Mahopac firefighters responded to the Stoneleigh Avenue building for the automatic alarm.  They found a working fire with sprinkler activation which brought in additional units from Brewster Fire Department, and Putnam County Bureau of Emergency Services.  The fire was contained to the area of a heating unit. All companies returned to service within an hour.

Danbury Police search for missing 20-year old

The Danbury Police Department is asked for the public’s assistance in locating a missing 20-year-old. Carlos Reyes has not been seen by his family since late Monday night.  His car was located and recovered by Police in Brewster yesterday.  The 2008 gray Infiniti was unoccupied.  Reyes is described as 5’10”, 170lbs, brown eyes, and black hair.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. LT Adam Marcus at A.Marcus@Danbury-ct.gov. Anonymous tips can be made at 203-790-TIPS or by texting DANBURYPD at Tip411.

State bonding approved for YMCA Camp Greenknoll

A grant-in-aid to the Regional YMCA of Western Connecticut has been approved by the state Bond Commission.  The 350-thousand dollars approved yesterday will be used for the construction of new facilities to replace the old lodge building at Camp Greenknoll in Brookfield.  State Representative Steve Harding says the YMCA provides critical opportunities for many in the local community and applauded the approval.  He says the repairs will help address important infrastructure needs for the YMCA’s summer camp, which countless children look forward to ever year.

Off the Streets collecting household furniture tomorrow

The Bethel Social Services Department is offering a reminder to residents from the organization Off The Streets.  This Saturday is their monthly donation drop off.  The group works to get homeless people with a source of income who are currently living in shelters and on the streets into permanent housing.  There are several items that will be accepted at Prime Storage at 20 Old Ridgebury Road in Danbury-- as the nonprofit can't pick up donations.  The collection Saturday is 10am to noon.  Items include Kitchen Tables with chairs, Twin Mattresses and Box Springs, Floor Lamps, Vacuums, Microwaves, Dishtowels and laundered linens.   

COVID-19 cases back on the rise in Greater Danbury area

20 Connecticut municipalities are now in the red zone alert level for COVID-19 community spread, the highest of the state’s four alert levels. The state Department of Public Health says those towns include Easton, Southbury and Weston.  They each have 15 or more cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks reported.  A few local towns are in the orange zone, with 10 to 14 cases, including Bethel, Ridgefield and Wilton.  The rest of the Greater Danbury area is in the yellow zone with 5 to 9 cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks.  The state does not have data for Danbury, which hasn't been included in reports for about a month.

Middle school students sickened from chocolate with THC

10 middle school students in Danbury were sickened yesterday by THC laced chocolate.  The school resource officer at Rogers Park Middle School assisted school administrators with an investigation into an unusual number of students feeling ill and seeking the nurse's assistance.  Police say the students became ill after ingesting some form of edible chocolate believed to contain THC.  The chocolate in question has been recovered by police investigators, who will attempt to identify its contents.   Students responsible for having distributed the chocolate were identified by school administrators and interviewed.  The investigation is continuing.

Mahopac woman sentenced for fatal drunk driving accident

A Mahopac woman has been sentenced for a fatal drunk driving accident. 

Maggie Deperna was ordered to 6 to 18 years in prison for the June 25th crash.  Putnam County District Attorney Robert Tendy says Deperna pleaded guilty to Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and was sentenced on Wednesday for the death of James Crecco Senior.  The man was getting into his car, which was parked in front of his brother’s Lake Mahopac house on Route 6N.   Deperna struck him with her vehicle and fled the scene.

Drone surveillance revealed the woman's Jeep Cherokee hidden in the brush and trees behind her home with extensive damage to the front passenger’s side consistent with having struck a person.  The right-side rear-view mirror was recovered at the crash scene.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office investigated Deperna’s whereabouts leading up to the fatal crash. Video surveillance, license plate reader technology, and GPS location tracking data revealed that she purchased alcohol from a liquor store on the morning of the crash and again approximately an hour before the crash, while driving to several places in between including a nail salon and McDonalds. Video surveillance showed Deperna consuming a margarita at a nearby restaurant before getting into her car, pulling onto 6N, and swerving into oncoming traffic, almost causing a head-on collision with another driver, within seconds of turning the bend and striking Crecco.

GPS data concluded that after the crash, Deperna did not stop and drove directly home, where the empty bottles of wine that Deperna was on video having purchased that day were later recovered.  The day after the crash, a rental car being driven by a still-intoxicated Deperna, was pulled over.

Bridgeport woman arrested for carjacking Danbury taxi driver

An 18-year-old Bridgeport woman has been charged in connection with a violent carjacking that sent a 42-year-old Danbury taxi driver to the hospital last year. Bridgeport Police say Ashley Reyes is the fifth and final person to be arrested in this case.  She was charged yesterday with conspiracy to commit robbery by carjacking, robbery, larceny and breach of peace.  A Bridgeport Police officer was flagged down on the morning of September 16th by the taxi driver, who said he was pulled out of his vehicle, beaten and robbed by the passengers he picked up in Danbury.  The man sustained multiple injuries to his head, arms and legs.  Three of those arrested previously are juveniles.

New Milford continues debate on Cherniske Rd bridge replacement

New Milford officials are ordering a temporary one lane bridge to install on scenic Cherniske Road.  It will be for emergency responders only as the current bridge has been deemed unsafe and closed, but the detour is delaying response.  There's been a long debate about a permanent replacement for the bridge, and whether or not to widen the current one-lane, 16 foot wide bridge to two lanes.  Mayor Pete Bass says the state considers a one-lane road to be an antiquated design, and the town could lose out on state grant funding for a bridge replacement.  According to the town's scenic road ordinance, alterations or improvements must conform to speed limits, but Bass says the state would supersede that.  $600,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds has been approved for bridge repairs, though construction would likely not happen until next year.  Cost estimates for various one and two lane bridge replacements range from 940-thousand to 1-point-6 million dollars.

Carmel Fire donates rescue equipment to Ukrainian fire service

The Carmel Fire Department has donated personal protective equipment, and other fire/ rescue equipment and supplies to the Ukrainian fire service. They donated multiple sets of older surplus turnout gear.  Firefighters in the United States can safely use their protective ensemble and its elements for up to 10 years. Once a set of gear is 10 years past the date of manufacture, the bunker gear is considered expired and should be retired from service. The Kent, New York Fire Department  coordinated the collection and shipment of the gear.

New Fairfield issues orders to unsafe homes, business building

New Fairfield officials have started the process to possibly demolish two houses and a commercial building which have been deemed unsafe by the town's building inspector.  The Candle Hill Road and Roseton Road homes have had trees through the roofs since a May 2018 storm and were never repaired. 

The damage to the Saw Mill Road commercial building was caused by a November 2019 fire.  The building once housed several businesses, including a construction company, landscaping company and handmade furniture business. 

The owners have all been contacted about the roof damage and doors and windows being left open, but hey never responded.  The town's building official say there is a mold stench and the structures are both a physical and health hazard.  People have also been seen entering the structures.  The Board of Selectmen is issuing orders of its own and if they don't hear back and the homes have not been made safe in 45 days, the structures will be boarded up, repaired or demolished. 

The cost of the work would be billed to the property owners, who would have liens placed on their properties.

Bill allowing farmers to hunt nuisance bears fails in Environment Committee

A bill that would have allowed farmers to obtain a state permit to hunt bears and other wildlife under certain circumstances failed to make it out of the legislature's Environment Committee.  In a close 18 to 13 vote, the bill was rejected on Monday.  The permits would have been issued for hunting of animals responsible for damaging or destroying livestock, poultry, bees and agricultural crops.

Kent state Representative Maria Horn ended up voting against legislation, despite being torn on the vote.  She and other hunting opponents on the committee said the state should be exploring non-lethal means of managing nuisance bears, such as through public education and restrictions on the feeding of bears, including punishment for violators.  Horn says aversive conditioning, using a negative stimuli – shooting with rubber bullets or paintballs, pepper spray, loud noises – to cause pain, avoidance, or irritation to an animal engaged in an unwanted behavior, can work.  The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says research has shown limited effectiveness.

New Milford Senator Craig Miner has been trying to come up with a compromise on how to manage the state’s growing bear population. He argued that the growing bear population in Litchfield County is becoming so unmanageable that hunting should at least be an option because nuisance bears not only cause property damage, but pose a safety risk to people.  Miner added that bear attacks on livestock are vicious, bloody and deadly.

In 2021, approximately 8,600 bear sightings from 156 of Connecticut’s 169 towns were reported to state wildlife officials. There have been nearly 500 since January.

Tribe supports Connecticut town's 'Red Raiders' nickname

A small American Indian tribe is supporting a Connecticut town’s attempt to retain funding put in jeopardy by its continued use of a Native American mascot and imagery for its schools’ athletic teams.

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, which has just over 100 members in Western Connecticut, passed a resolution this month supporting the town of Derby’s use of the nickname “Red Raiders” and logos that include an arrowhead and the profile of the head of an American Indian.

The Kent-based tribe says it supports the use of those images “as a public means of sustaining Native American culture and history of Connecticut’s first citizens,” according to the March 15 resolution from the tribal council.

Derby Board of Education Chair Jim Gildea said town officials sat down with tribal leaders, including Schaghticoke Chief Richard Velky, to discuss the issue. He said the town explained the images are meant to honor the town’s Native American heritage. He also said the term “Red Raiders” has nothing to do with skin color.

“It’s similar to the Duke Blue Devils, the Tulane Green Wave,” he said. “Through the years, people may have lost sight of that, but Derby High School’s colors are red and white.”

The state last year enacted a law that requires towns whose athletic teams use Native American names or mascots to receive written support from a state or federally recognized tribe in Connecticut or risk losing state grants derived from revenue at the state’s two tribal casinos, The Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Most of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns receive a grant from the Mashantucket Pequot/Mohegan Fund, with extra money earmarked for communities located near the gaming centers. The amounts are based on a formula that involves a number of factors, including the value of untaxable property within the community. Payments are made three times a year and can total as much as $5 million or more for the larger cities.

Derby is slated to receive $207,304 for the 2023 fiscal year.

The Schaghticokes do not contribute to the fund, but Gildea said that should not matter.

“We should not cherry pick which Native American, state-recognized tribe we decide to give the ability to grant waivers to,” he said. “They are all honorable, decent tribes who are state recognized and that should be the only litmus test.”

The National Congress of American Indians declined to comment specifically on the Schaghticoke’s decision, but said it supports the retirement of Native “themed” mascots at all levels absent a formal agreement with a sovereign tribal nation.

“NCAI shares the unified voice of hundreds of Tribal Nations, and that voice has been consistent and clear for decades: stereotypical and dehumanizing sports mascots, monikers and symbols cause well-documented harms to Native people, particularly Native youth, and they have no place in American society,” the organization said in a statement.

Gildea said there was no quid pro quo involved in the tribe’s support of Derby’s application to the state. But he said the school district has agreed to work with the tribe, which is based in Kent but has offices in Derby, on educational programs centered around Native American history in the area.

Derby’s application for a waiver from the ban in Native American imagery, including the written support of the Schaghticokes, will be reviewed by the state’s Office of Policy and Management, the governor’s office said.

Alex Jones agrees to appear at deposition in Sandy Hook case

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has agreed to appear at a deposition in Connecticut to answer questions in a lawsuit by relatives of some of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, his lawyers said Thursday, a day after a judge ordered fines against Jones for defying orders to attend a deposition last week despite his claim of illness.

Jones will sit for a deposition April 11 and is asking the judge to put a hold on the daily fines, according to new court filings by his attorney, Norman Pattis. The fines begin at $25,000 on Friday and increase by $25,000 each weekday he does not appear for questioning.

Pattis also asked the Connecticut Supreme Court on Thursday to hear an appeal against the fines. There were no immediately rulings on Jones’ requests.

Lawyers for the Sandy Hook families, who are suing Jones for defamation for calling the 2012 school shooting a hoax, had no immediate comment. T

Connecticut Judge Barbara Bellis found the Austin, Texas, resident liable for damages to the families in November. A trial on how much he should pay them is set for later this year.

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